Mad River Union
TRINIDAD – The Trinidad City Council removed Mike Morgan from the Trinidad Planning Commission at a special meeting Aug. 9. The stated purpose of the meeting was to discuss alleged violations of the City’s Code of Ethics by Morgan.
Morgan, who was appointed to the Planning Commission only three months ago, has aroused controversy throughout the seaside village. At the July 25 meeting of the Trinidad City Council, two residents alleged that he had brought a stun gun or taser to a Planning Commission meeting. One of the residents, Brett Gregory, was the vice chair of the Planning Commission, and resigned, saying that he could not work effectively with Morgan. At the same meeting, Morgan filed a legal complaint against City Manager Dan Berman because of a report which Berman had written about the complaints. That report was posted on the city website.
At the Aug. 9 meeting, Gregory said that Morgan had subsequently entered his place of business with a companion, Tyler James, and created a ruckus. Gregory said that he had videotaped the encounter, and offered to show it to the council.
Other residents spoke during the meeting, complaining of alleged harassment from Morgan. The only one who spoke in defense of Morgan was James. Other people then attested to the good character and honesty of the people who had complained. Morgan was not present at the meeting, although he had been notified about the meeting the previous day by the city clerk.
John Graves, the Chair of the Planning Commission, said that Morgan was a disruptive influence who was slowing down the work of the commission.
Only three councilmembers – Dwight Miller, Jim Baker and Steve Ladwig – were present at the meeting, as was City Attorney Andy Stunich. Mayor Susan Rotwein was absent, as was City Councilmember Jack West. This created a procedural stumbling block. While three councilmembers were sufficient for a quorum, four councilmembers were needed to determine that an ethics violation had occurred.
However, another portion of the town’s ordinances says that the council can remove a member of the Planning Commission for any reason. Three councilmembers were adequate for that action.
The council debated the pros and cons of the situation, with Miller reading portions of the Code of Ethics aloud. Ladwig at first said that he was disturbed that Morgan was not present, but then said that Planning Comissioner Graves’ statements had convinced him to vote for Morgan’s removal.
All three councilmembers voted to remove Morgan from his seat on the commission.
Reached by the Union Monday morning, Morgan said “It’s unfortunate I couldn’t attend such a hastily called meeting. I have no idea why they didn’t care to hear from me or the rest of the council. I don’t know what their specific complaint is. I regret not being able to address it.”
“I did offer to resign Wednesday, if it would help, but it seems a few on the council may have ulterior motives for choosing to hold a Special Meeting that I could not attend – sad,” Morgan continued. “Using authority this way, especially when it appears politically motivated, is certainly not in the best interest of Trinidad.”