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WATERLOO — Mayor Quentin Hart lost his cool Monday as City Council members bickered over commission appointments and rehashed last week’s controversial hiring decision.

As Councilmen Pat Morrissey and Steve Schmitt traded jabs across the council table Hart raised his voice and implored them to stop.

“This is embarrassing,” he said. “We’re arguing over people that want to serve. People have gave their opinions. Council has given their opinions. But let’s move on and respect Waterloo and respect these people and the citizens.

“Every week I have to defend to businesses and people around this country that are looking in on this type of foolishness,” Hart added. “Come on now; let’s go.”

The flash point came as council members debated Hart’s recommendation to appoint five people to volunteer city boards and commissions.

Schmitt said he was concerned the appointments no longer went through a council subcommittee before being placed on the full council agenda for approval; thought the appointees did not bring new blood and fresh thinking to the commissions; and suggested one candidate may have legal issues that gave him pause.

Morrissey countered: “I’m aware of all five of these people, and all five of these people are upstanding people in our community.”

Councilwoman Sharon Juon said Schmitt should have raised any legal concerns when the agenda came out last week “rather than making a veiled accusation at this meeting, which I am real concerned is just politics at its worst.”

Council members voted to appoint Marty Freshwater and Jeffrey Thompson to the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Board and to put Bob Bamsey, Tom Powers and Jadyn Spencer on the Leisure Services Commission.

Schmitt voted against the appointment of Powers, a former councilman who was defeated in the last election by Margaret Klein. Klein abstained from voting on the appointment because she thought it would be a conflict of interest.

The council chambers were packed prior to the vote as supporters of John Oehlerich turned out in force to urge council members to reconsider a 4-3 decision last week not to hire him as a city mechanic.

Council members Schmitt, Klein, Bruce Jacobs and Chris Shimp voted against the appointment even though the previous council had voted to fill the position last year and extended the job offer.

“I stand here tonight the man who as a result of last week’s council meeting was left in shock and unemployed,” Oehlerich said. “I went from thinking about the possibilities this new job could bring me to simply trying to make it from one day to the next.”

Oehlerich’s previous employer of six years fired him after he submitted his two weeks’ notice.

A line of residents came to the podium to criticize the council members who voted against the appointment over concerns about next year’s budget, while Morrissey urged his colleagues to reconsider their action.

Juon said other major cities do not give council members the right to approve appointments once positions are included in the budget.

“This action is not required by state code or by city ordinance,” she said. “It is merely a courtesy.”

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Waterloo City Reporter

Waterloo city reporter for the Courier

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