Rivard apologizes for closed session remarks
Hammond Village Board Trustee Mary Rivard read a statement aloud at Monday night’s board meeting apologizing for making any comments on closed session business regarding public works employee Chuck Fedie, but denied mentioning his name when those comments were made.
“I want to make it clear that I take being a trustee very seriously,” Rivard began her statement.
She went on to say that she makes efforts to fairly represent all residents. She said the comments she made at the Jan. 27 open session meeting referred to all employees working together to clear snow from the fire hydrants, that no public works employee should be exempt from doing so.
Village Trustee Sandy Brecht said she listened to the recording of that meeting and agreed that Rivard never spoke Fedie’s name, but that Village President Tony Bibeau and Trustees Laurie Gruber and Mack Kamm did.
At the Village Board meeting March 10, Fedie accused Rivard of taking information from his closed session employee review and talking about it during an open session meeting Jan. 27.
Rivard said in her prepared statement that village attorney Tim Scott should have warned all trustees at that meeting that confidentiality was being breached.
Rivard also said Bibeau should be reprimanded for talking about the health restrictions of a library employee in an open session meeting.
“I will take responsibility where it’s due,” Rivard said. “If you’re going to discipline, it has to be two-fold.”
Rivard also said the board has trouble following rules and it’s Scott’s job to make sure they stay on track.
Trustee Lynn Pabst agreed, saying the village pays Scott “a lot of money” and maybe his contract should be reviewed when it’s up for discussion.
“We’re volunteering to do this job and we need help,” Pabst said.
Scott said he felt he was being unfairly attacked, considering it would be difficult to warn them they were walking on thin ice since he wasn’t present at the closed session meeting and therefore had no idea they were discussing closed session business.
“It would be helpful to raise this issue ahead of time and not be ambushed,” Scott said.
He said he would appreciate a chance to listen to the tape of the meeting in question first.
The discussion ended after Scott said it’s unreasonable to expect him to warn people when he wasn’t in the closed session and has no idea what was said when and where.
HAA street closure
Paulette Anderson of the Hammond Arts Alliance requested for Charlotte Street from Davis Street to the end of the old bank parking lot be closed from 6-8 p.m. Saturday, May 17, for a unicycling demonstration during the HAA’s art show titled “Wheels.”
Her request came after the board told Hammond Lions Club president Jay Ditlefsen that the Lions need to have their own event insurance policy for Hammond Heartland Days.
Bibeau said it wouldn’t be fair to expect the Lions to get an event insurance policy and not Anderson for her event.
A few trustees disagreed, saying the Heartland Days celebration is much larger in scale than the HAA’s show, plus alcohol is a factor at Heartland Days.
“If you start making every event have insurance for half an hour, it’s ridiculous,” Brecht said. “You’re going to force people to move out of this town.”
Bibeau said other board members have always said that everyone must follow the same rules.
“That’s where the discussion was,” Bibeau said. “That we need to be fair. We need to be across the board.”
Anderson said if she is forced to carry insurance, she will just scrap the unicycling demonstration. She said the HAA doesn’t have extra money to pay for insurance.
“I can just let it go,” Anderson said. “None of us make any money doing these things. I have a mortgage to pay off.”
The board eventually agreed to allow Anderson’s event with no insurance, but decided standards, procedures and distinctions, along with exceptions, need to be put in place for events.
At the last board meeting, discussion ensued following Bibeau’s request to be paid for his and his wife’s time passing out fliers when the Public Works department mandated residents keep water running to prevent frozen pipes.
At Monday night’s meeting, Brecht said Bibeau told the board he and his wife “volunteered,” and therefore should not be paid. Rivard agreed, and said bylaws need to be in place about what board members are paid for and when.
“I don’t think any of us are here to make a wage,” Rivard said.
Bibeau said he and his wife gave up their Saturday when Clerk/administrator Sandi Hazer called and asked him to help pass out fliers. He also said he was the only board member who did so, and the fire department employees who passed out fliers were paid for their time.
Rivard said Police Chief Rick Coltrain, who is the village’s emergency management director, should have been called. Coltrain disagreed, saying that doesn’t fall under his duties, but that he would have helped.
“It’s not about the money, it’s about making Hammond a better place,” Brecht said. “As far I am concerned, we hit the taxpayers too much already. We need to back off.”
As tempers escalated, Trustee Mark Benton called an end to the discussion, saying they were getting nowhere.
- The board agreed to allow the soil to be tested between the lift station and the driveway to the Public Works shop for a potential community garden.
- The fee schedule was approved for the clerk’s office and the Public Works department, making clear that equipment rental prices include the operator’s fee with a minimum labor rate of one hour.