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Board of aldermen votes to impeach Marble Hill mayor
MARBLE HILL, Mo. -- Michael Sowers presided over his final board of aldermen meeting as Marble Hill mayor Monday night, when the board unanimously voted him out of office.
Toward the end of the meeting, during which Sowers had mandated be held according to Roberts Rules of Order, alderwoman Deborah Acup noted the gathering had been productive, compared to the previous month.
"The meeting a month ago was upsetting, humbling and some of us should be ashamed of ourselves, plain and simple," Acup said. "We all should have the same common goals here for the good of the city."
Acup referenced Sowers' admonition last month that board members should come to the February meeting prepared to conduct the city's business according to the rules. His remarks stemmed from his perception that board members were questioning routine purchases while ignoring the city's continuing sewer problems and a bond issue that was passed to bring the sewer up to state standards.
In January, Sowers, responding to a comment made by Alderwoman Beverly Johnson about the purchase of a $90 table saw for the city's maintenance department, said: "We're trying to run a city, not a household. They have to have this stuff for their work. We keep going over this same stuff over and over. This is a disservice to the citizens of Marble Hill and we are not getting anything accomplished. You want to have two meetings a month so you can quibble about a $90 table saw? It's getting ridiculous."
On Monday, Acup produced an undated letter written to the board of aldermen by Bill Teeters of Marble Hill outlining a November encounter with Sowers on a Woodland school bus. He told Sowers, who was behind the wheel of the bus, he thought Sowers was driving too fast.
Sowers told Acup she was out of line for bringing up an incident unrelated to city business. He said Acup and Johnson are friends of Teeters' wife, so he viewed their intent in bringing the matters before the board as suspect.
"This has no place in this meeting," Sowers said.
"What bothers me is your behavior," Acup replied.
The final line of Teeters' letter reads "I consider Mr. Sowers to have an uncontrolled temper that may impede good judgment."
Sowers countered that Teeters stood in the road forcing him to stop the bus. Teeters attempted to board the bus and accused Sowers of driving more than 35 mph. Sowers said he not only was upset with Teeters for standing in the road and threatening him, but he had recently learned a fellow bus driver had died of a heart attack and he was under stress from learning about the death. He later apologized personally to Teeters for his behavior but defended his driving skills and said school records show that he is a safe driver.
Sowers again questioned the wisdom of bringing up the incident at a city meeting.
"The aldermen of the city should not be wasting time talking about table saws when you are not concerned about the fact that [administrative assistant] Tammy Whitney went to Jefferson City for an I-and-I [infiltration-and-inflow] issue," Sowers said. "None of you wanted to know anything about that or about the fact that the governor's office informed you that the city was not in compliance and had been told we would be. Why would you bring up something in my private life? The personal attacks against me I don't find worthy."
When Acup repeated her concern, he challenged her to impeach him. Johnson made a motion to impeach. Several minutes passed during which attorney Alan Beussink attempted to explain the procedures for articles of impeachment.
Alderman James Sear questioned if Sowers wanted to resign, adding, "If you are, then I'll second the motion [to impeach]." Sowers accepted that as a second to Johnson's motion and called for a vote.
After Sowers left the board room, the aldermen voted to name Sear mayor pro tem, and passed a motion to remove Sowers' name from the city's checking account.
In a statement provided after the meeting, Sowers thanked Marble Hill voters for electing him, and elaborated on his conflict with the board.
"My goal was simply to keep in the forefront our daunting issues with the Department of Natural Resources and proper allotment of the $1.7 million bond issue indebtedness, but it does not seem to come up in meetings."
Sowers said he would not fight his removal.
"I am not going to fight this; I am not going to go on with this nonsense," he said.
Marble Hill, MO