Citizens come to Kidwell’s defensePublished 9:51pm Monday, April 4, 2011
Facing a recall effort, Niles Township Supervisor Jim Kidwell had several residents come to his defense at Monday’s board meeting in a standing room only Niles Township Hall.
Four township resident supporters spoke on Kidwell’s behalf during the public comment portion of the meeting.
“The previous administration was nothing but lip service,” said Charles Rogers. “But I support Jim Kidwell. He always has treated me professionally and with respect.”
Kenneth Ray said it looks like all the other board members are against Kidwell.
“It’s like six against one. The checks and balances seem off. There are six balances and one check,” he said.
He went on to criticize the board for its “bickering.”
“This isn’t junior high. This isn’t grade school,” he said. “It’s time to grow up.”
Another resident took the board to task for not supporting some of Kidwell’s recent cost-saving proposals, like building a township website for free rather than purchasing one and hiring the state to do the township audit.
Ollen Baldwin, a township resident who has been vocal at board meetings in his criticism of Kidwell, accused Kidwell of inviting his supporters to Monday’s meeting to publicly support him during the recall process.
“You filled the house up with your cronies back here,” he said. “He (Kidwell) is only telling you half truths.”
During Baldwin’s comments, others shouted out comments like “shut up” and “sucks to be outnumbered, don’t it?”
Township resident Herschel Hoese is leading the recall effort, which began in response to Kidwell issuing a press release to reporters last month notifying them of an investigation of Township Treasurer Jim Ringler for an alleged violation of township policy. An internal investigation revealed he was not in violation.
The recall wording states that Kidwell’s actions “breached both the confidentiality of the township’s attorney-client privileged information of a closed session meeting … and an employee’s right to a confidential investigation under Niles Charter Township’s policy manual.”
At Monday’s meeting, Kidwell fired back at Hoese, questioning how he was able to determine what was said in a closed meeting. Kidwell asked the board members if they had tipped him off. None of the board members responded.
Hoese and his supporters have to collect more than 900 signatures of township residents within a 90-day period in the next six months in order for a recall election to be scheduled.
A recall effort against Ringler, Clerk Marge Durm-Hiatt and trustees Dick Noble and Richard Cooper stalled after it didn’t pass a clarity hearing conducted by Berrien County officials last week.