February 7, 2016

Council decorum questioned

City council meetings shouldn’t need a Parental Advisory warning, but such is the case with the Gardner City Council, whose last meeting ended when the Mayor shouted “That’s bull——” at another council member.
But it wasn’t just the language that was an embarrassment. From start to finish the Gardner City Council meeting on June 20 was disgraceful.
The disconcerting behavior started early. Several residents addressed the council with concerns about the city’s animal ordinance which allows pit bulls in town. Council members discussed changing the ordinance to ban the breed of dog, but they never voted on the issue.
Council member Larry Fotovich’s request to have the item placed on an upcoming council meeting agenda was soundly rejected, although the Mayor did say he would put the item on a work session agenda. When Fotovich asked the city’s attorney whether he could make a motion to have it put on a future agenda, the city attorney advised that the mayor wouldn’t have to entertain the motion.
We find the attorney’s advice outrageous. Although Mayor Dave Drovetta sets the city council agendas, it is inexcusable that should a majority of council members request an item be placed on an agenda, he could deny that. It’s not good government; it discourages public input and the ability of council members to represent voters.
Elected officials should work at the will of the — taxpayers. Not the mayor. Not city staff. Not us.
Throughout the entire meeting, Council member Dennis Pugh needled Fotovich from the sidelines. He wasn’t speaking into the microphone, but throughout all discussion, Pugh continued to say things like, “You said you’re going to tell the Mayor ‘no’ in your campaign, I’m going to tell Larry Fotovich ‘no.’
Heckling is distracting in any meeting – especially when it is coming from elected officials.
In a public meeting, conversations between council members should be kept to a minimum. Words should be spoken into the microphone for every meeting participant and observer to hear. Otherwise, there is very little point to open meetings.
And, as “chair,” the mayor should discourage such behavior.
Later, theMayor lectured  Council member Chris Morrow for asking questions. Council members should be allowed to ask questions, as many and as often as they want. And they should get an answer more often than not.
However, frequently in this meeting as in others, specific questions about the issue at hand are answered by staff with: “I don’t have that information in front of me” and a shoulder shrug.
Currently, staff works at the will of the mayor, and they know it. After more than a decade on the council, and his first term as mayor, Mayor Drovetta presides over his staff like a Papa Bear, finding offense whenever a question is raised. Asking questions when the city has financial woes should not be personalized; being fiscally responsible is what elected officials should do.
We agree a council should not micromanage, but we also believe staff should show respect for the voters’ representatives. Little quips such as “We’re not going to go into that,” are unacceptable. Failure to provide information is unacceptable. Taking a councilmember to task in a public forum – whether or not an analogy was offensive – is inappropriate.
Can you imagine staff members berating Ford’s board of directors in a public meeting?
Expressing offense in an open meeting to a council member is unacceptable. Concerns should be brought up privately and without righteous indignation. The issue should not have been personalized.
Finally, we take issue with the Mayor standing and walking over to another council member while using inappropriate language and pointing in his face. What’s next? A fist fight?
He should contact former Mayor Carol Lehman about how to chair a meeting. Although we didn’t always agree with her decisions, she had grace under pressure.


  1. Bravo . . . says:

    Ms Humble for writing a most insightful editorial. Based on your information, it appears our mayor isn’t the only bully among our elected officials. Shame on Mr. Pugh for his immature behavior. Your Papa Bear analogy of Drovetta is right on. It’s clear who he best represents, and it’s not the taxpayers.

  2. The Anti-Drovetta Journal? says:

    Rhonda, you should change the name of your publication to more accurately reflect your intended purpouse. What a hypocrite you are!

    You and your staff spend every available moment trying to find all the news that’s fit to lynch Drovetta with, true or not; you cherry-pick, out of context, all the little things that you WANT us to believe makes Drovetta a bully; frequently post undocumented, unwarranted allegations against him; all of that, and you have the bald-faced audacity to chastise him for not being like Carol Lehman, who you and your ilk treated every bit as badly.

    Maybe if you didn’t cater to the rabid, but evidently well-funded minority of malcontents in Gardner you might find the integrity to report the news – the ENTIRE news – not just the petty vendetta agendas of your angry friends and conflict-of-interest employees.

  3. Expletive Deleted says:

    @ Anti-Drovetta … from what I hear floating about town, not just what I’ve read, Mayor Bull*-&@, I mean Drovetta, threw one heck of a temper tantrum. Council meetings are not meant to be hockey contests, and Mayor’s are not supposed to act like baseball coaches.
    Anyone stupid enough to behave so poorly in an open public meeting is; #1 – to stupid to hold elected office, and #2 – deserving of any criticism thrown their way.

  4. @Expletive-deleted says:

    That’s just the point. The scuttlebutt (oops, should “butt” be deleted, too?) we hear is the article blown up in Gardner News. It mentions nothing about the OTHER side of said “confrontation” and let’s be honest…does anyone expect the reporter who wrote that article to offer an objective view of ANYTHING she can use to try to undermine her favorite kicking dog, Drovetta?

    Sure Drovetta needs an upbraiding for uttering the oh-my-ears “S” word. It’s shocking, I say…SHOCKING! But he should know better.

    But until the never-never day that Gardner “so-called” News actually quits playing its vendetta games in trying to fill our city’s government with their favorites, I wouldn’t put too much faith in an article you read out here that plants horns and halos on people involved in such “confrontations”.

  5. Drovetta showed his true colors and the color to me is black like a black hole of dictatorship. You don’t have an open, democratic government here in Gardner and you haven’t had it for years and that government is certainly not working for the citizens – that is my opinion.

    To say that Lehman did a better job, though, to me is ridiculous because she operated in the same manner or perhaps worse for all I know. I remember dearly how she interupted me while speaking and asked who I was speaking to and I advised her that I was speaking to anyone who cared to listen and that most definitely included all citizens who most definitely need to be LISTENING as to what is going on in their hall of local government and beyond.

    That City Hall has a stench that can be smelled for miles and for good reason – that is my opinion.

  6. Fortell the future? says:

    Ms Humble you have a crystal ball.

    “Finally, we take issue with the Mayor standing and walking over to another council member while using inappropriate language and pointing in his face. What’s next? A fist fight?”

    —well yes with Pugh and then the Mayor will follow

    I think it is time we got rid of the mayor and his Pitt bulls from around here!

  7. Sacrificing sacred cows? says:

    Pit bulls? Crystal balls?

    Maybe brass ones, given the audacity of Humble’s pathetic whitewashing of Fotovich’s comparably-bad behavior and her own paper’s blatant electioneering for him. Gardner News ought to have to register as a PAC.

  8. Sacrificing sacred cows? says:

    Hello Everyone,

    Please note the whitewash campaign by “in nostro” to use the stupidity of Dennis Pugh to continue Gardner News’ and Larry Fotovich’s campaign against Mayor Drovetta. Dennis Pugh was the guy arraigned for losing his cool. Dennis Pugh was the guy who resigned. Blaming Drovetta for Pugh’s actions is the same thing as blaming Fotovich for them.

    If Gardner News and its representatives REALLY want Gardner citizens to see Mayor Drovetta sacrificed on their ongoing vendetta run against him, then let’s toss up Councilman Fotovich as well. Put both sacred cows on the auction block and start fresh.

    Because if we’re gonna be honest, with ourselves and with each other, we all need to recognize and admit that conflict between Take Back Gardner types like Fotovich, and Drovetta, with all his supporters, has driven Gardner to its knees.

    Personally, I would prefer our elected officials behave like adults and put their duties first, and their egos/agendas somewhere a LOT farther down the line. That means that WE have to expect them to behave that way.

    But if WE are unwilling to set aside our petty political grudges, then don’t expect our elected officials to do any better. More to the point, don’t be asking Gardner to sacrifice Drovetta without TBG and it’s activist cronies being willing to sacrifice Fotovich.

    So, in nostro…are you willing to ask for a better Gardner government, or are you just playing partisan whitewash games?

  9. “Because if we’re gonna be honest, with ourselves and with each other, we all need to recognize and admit that conflict between Take Back Gardner types like Fotovich, and Drovetta, with all his supporters, has driven Gardner to its knees.”

    Being honest indeed-
    Like I said this is not a new problem — and yes we should expect better from our elected officials. So yes I dare to ask for a better government!

    Something I read in prior Posts about “Gardner needs to join the ranks of the contemporary”

    And Gardener can no longer afford to behave like the small town of Gardner but behave like a ‘City of Gardner’ excreta , excreta , excreta

    Like I said the article predicted the future- so yes Crystal balls told to you with my bronze balls that I demand better :)

  10. Now put those cotton balls back in your purse.

  11. and keep them there Sacrificial Cow.

  12. @in nostro says:

    You can’t get a better government with one-issue activists like Larry Fotovich dragging down the Council. The meetings I’ve attended, and reading about the ones I haven’t attended, Fotovich strikes me as being prepared only for those issues he wants to press, and blindly reactionary toward any issue for which he’s not prepared. The whole “local bank” Legislative Agenda issue that Fotovich raised was based on the face-value notion that Gardner shouldn’t be “constrained” to investing in local banks. Kind of a “why can’t we go elsewhere?” objection that makes his objection appear as if he had just read a subject line on the topic, then decided his opinion without finding out WHY things worked the way they worked. It effectively put him as arguing for a Legislative Agenda change that Gardner would likely not even have the money to be eligible to participate in; that Gardner would not be granted permission to pursue; and that would openly antagonize our local banks.

    From my observations of him, Fotovich raises precisely this kind of question all the time, an objection to something, just for the sake of objecting or just because it doesn’t sound right to him but he hasn’t taken the time to study the facts before he jumps in.

    Gardner can do better.

  13. Agreed. One issue people are issues themselves.

    What i believe started this fervor of recent posting today was that an article written in June foretold the future 5 months later–

    eg..” …….we take issue with the Mayor standing and walking over to another council member while using inappropriate language and pointing in his face. What’s next? A fist fight?”

    est very interesting that that is in fact what happened 5 months later. So, Reinstated is the now obvious problem of behavior mitigated by the mayor in both passive and physically active aggression.

    Weather or not anyone likes Fotovich is a side line issue. We need a cleansing of the toxic personality’s of city council. Someone said in an other articles post about:

    “this town needs an enema”….posted by: Ben Dover

    Well, It does!

  14. Modus Operandi says:

    Was it really fortune telling, or TBG’s goal?

  15. The Outsider says:

    I don’t live in Gardner, but I do care what happens there, because believe it or not, what happens in Gardener affects many of the other small towns in the area.

    There are those who believe Mr. Pugh’s departure is a victory for Take Back Gardner, but there are no winners, only one looser and that is the City of Gardner. It is truly a shame that ALL Gardner City Council members cannot conduct themselves like adults.

    I moved to the Olathe area in the early 1980’s, when it was 20,000 people, today, it is nearly 120,000. It would seem a person of average intelligence should be able to figure out Gardner is poised to be the next boom town down I-35, but the jury is still out on Gardner’s future because of the current lack of cooperation with this council.

    If the obstructionist tactics of Mr. Fotovich and the Take Back Gardner crowd have their way, Gardner will be by-passed in favor of Edgerton. The Take Back Gardner folks think they achieved victory in stopping the Intermodal project. Really? The intermodal is still moving forward, in exactly the same place it was going to be when the Take Back Gardner folks voted it out, so the only thing they accomplished was to send the greatly needed tax revenue to Edgerton. And you still think you won?

    Gardner is at a cross road and soon it will be too late to recover from being taken back. If the city and citizens are not willing to embrace progress and grow, they will eventually be annexed by Olathe or Edgerton when they no longer have the money to support a city government. And once annexed, there will be no Taking Back Gardner, because it will be no more.

    I hope the citizens and city council will choose to work together for the common good of Gardner, your long term future will depend on cooperation.

  16. vous dépliez au-dessus de says:

    To: Modus Operandi

    The bad behavior is still committed by the same Individuals which was foreshadowed (or warned) in an article months prior. Really people, How bad is it really? This is just the tip pf the iceberg.

    Ms Humble did not have to be a Nostradamus to see the next set of consequences so I am not implying mystic crystal revelations. Just basic observations.

  17. Mrs In Nostro Futuro says:

    My Goodness people! All he is saying is that someone had some foresight to predict that city council would get out of hand. That’s it. Quit having a pit bull or sacrificial cow!

  18. Beg to differ, but no he’s not. He’s blaming the Mayor for the actions of Dennis Pugh. Or if you want to be specific, he’s quoting Humble for blaming the Mayor for the actions of Dennis Pugh. Dennis Pugh is responsible for his own actions, as the DA determined by arraigning HIM and not the Mayor.

    If you or the Mister want to blur the lines between the actions of Pugh and the dysfunction of the City Council, then you HAVE to talk about the ongoing feud between the Fotovich and Drovetta…and really, the feud between the people who blame Drovetta for the Intermodal and the people who don’t.

    It’s really difficult for anyone to buy that Mr. In Nostro was making a simple, random observation, given that he posted it in EVERY single comment thread that had anything to do with Gardner government. His actions speak louder than your words.

  19. In Vostro futuro says:

    Only in part!
    Since the Mayor wields the gavel of the council and has the responsibility of keeping the order of the meeting moving along. He should have intervened in long before the escalation to began. So, He influences the situation and seems to promote this kind of activity. Also, I have witnessed this type of behavior before. The mayor Is not solely at fault for Pughs stupid choice. The Mayor has bad behavior all of his own that we have to deal with.

    So I say again, This article predicted the violence and Pughs resignation is not the end of this BS.
    I think there will be a big scandalous lawsuit next time with the Mayor right in the middle of it. That is my prediction. What do you think 6 months? Two Years? Place you bets!

    Humble, thanks for your observations. I am certain your wisdom and observations will come up again.


  20. In Vostro futuro says:

    And by the way: I posted in several related threads. Not every single thread.
    I actions were to spread it wide.

    Mission accomplished!

  21. In Vostro futuro says:

    And besides, No one was even looking or really posting to this article because it was old news.
    Now it has been revitalized.
    A resurrection caused by the authors one simple premonition that relates to a current situation and it’s exposure in a simple act by me to the other related articles causing such zealous reading and posting of opinions by many concerned.

  22. @derp et al. says:


  23. im with stupid animal hoarder says:


  24. Well I do find it interesting that there was some prediction about the city council.
    Video recording (Or videotaping if anyone actually still uses tape) will keep some of this old cowboy behavior at a minimum.

    However, I know that web casting is a relatively cheap operation these days. So the costs better be kept low!

    Or at least for the budget numbers being shot around use something besides Tape!

    I use to be Beta man myself. But VHS took it all away——–back in the 1980s :)
    Right after Video Killed the Radio Star……………………..

Comments do not necessarily reflect those of The Gardner News, or staff. By posting, commentators assume all liability. Please contact webmaster to report comments that infringe on copyrights, or are of a profane or libelous nature. Webmaster reserves the right to edit or remove content deemed offensive.


Speak Your Mind