Deputy mayor Laura Haight attempted to put the rest of council at ease Feb. 18 after allegations surfaced about private meetings between her and mayor Larry Kraemer.
Councillor Marsha Leggett told a local radio station that Haight and Kraemer met monthly with CAO John deRosenrooll. Leggett was concerned that council was not informed of these meetings, or the topics being discussed.
Haight, speaking as a delegation, said the meetings are held to try and improve communication between the mayor and herself. There is no set agenda, Haight said. The topics vary and all of council is aware of the meetings and invited to attend.
“While the mayor and I will continue to disagree on many issues,” Haight said, validating the meetings, “our discourse has been less strained and more civil during the council meetings.”
Leggett said she was glad Haight finally brought this discussion into an open council session. She believes it’s difficult for most councillors to make a day-time meeting and still thinks the agenda should be discussed openly in council.
“I feel (using the radio) was the correct way to bring this out,” Leggett said. “I brought it to the public’s attention in my own way.”
Councillor Ron Hewitt, who has attended at least one of Haight and Kraemer’s meetings, said he often speaks with senior staff and other councillors outside of council chambers without reporting it to anyone. He said open dialogue is an important way to gain information, but he still approaches issues with an open mind.
Councillor Randy Roppel also weighed in on the discussion, telling the heads of council they need to communicate better with the rest of council.
“We seem to live in our own little worlds. We have to learn to communicate,” Roppel said. “From the councillor’s point of view, we feel like outcasts sometimes. It may be wrong, but that’s the way we feel. I’m not saying we have to get along, but we have to communicate.”
Haight said the meetings she has with Kraemer will continue regardless of any outcome to the council discussion. She ensured council that most of the discussions were just basic small-talk and nothing as sinister as Leggett was implying.