Tensed Tense Amid Attempt To Recall Mayor Troubled Town Loses Clerk And City Attorney At Strife-Torn Council Meeting
Some locals are calling it “Tensedgate.”
Embattled Mayor Ed Dohrman acknowledged Tuesday that he recently took a grinding tool to City Hall and sawed through a padlock to get into the city files.
“Someone must have forgot to tell them I’m the mayor here,” said Dohrman, Tensed’s mayor for the past 18 months.
Dohrman said he wanted to document financial discrepancies in the city books, and the city’s part-time clerk was the only one with a key. He wouldn’t elaborate on the alleged discrepancies.
City Clerk Yvette Baune said the file just contained old audits and personnel files.
Tensed, touted on the city billboard as “A Quiet Place to Settle,” is in turmoil as the city edges closer to Dohrman’s Aug. 1 recall election. By the end of a fourhour City Council meeting Monday, the city clerk and attorney had resigned, and a councilman stormed out, vowing never to return.
Critics call the mayor a do-nothing and say Dohrman’s profanity at city meetings is an embarrassment. He also has been accused of verbally abusing Baune at public meetings.
About 30 people - a third of the tiny farm town’s population - attended the meeting in the concrete-floored basement of the Tensed City Hall.
Under naked light bulbs, the mayor and his lone supporter on the council, Lyle Hendrickx, skirmished with the clerk and the other three council members. The crowd chimed in, heckling the mayor and pointing fingers. The mayor got up in the middle of the meeting and strolled outside to smoke a cigarette.
“You’re not interested in the business of this city,” Jeanette Rose told him. “A mayor should be proud to be living here.”
“I can’t be very proud of the kind of constituency I have,” he responded.
Councilman Gary Seaton said the uprooting of trees in his yard can be blamed on the mayor.
But the mayor said Tuesday he didn’t do it and doesn’t know who did.
“I know every no-good in town, and they wouldn’t deny (doing) it,” Dohrman said. “I think the (councilman) would do it himself, just to make an issue out of it.”
Critics say the mayor has failed to pass a mobile home ordinance, building codes and a comprehensive plan.
Diane Jensen just wants the city to buy a new “T.” Right now the letters on City Hall spell “ENSED.”
“Something as small as that should be fixed,” she said. “I feel sorry that everyone’s ganging up on him (the mayor). But he’s bringing it on himself.”
Dohrman gives himself “about even” odds in a recall election. Running unopposed, Dohrman won the mayor’s seat in 1993, winning support from 28 of the 46 people who voted.
He said there’s no way he’s stepping down.
“There’s a couple people here in town I really don’t like, and I’d hate to see them running the town,” he said, referring to his council critics.
On Monday, Baune submitted her resignation, effective Sept. 30 - the end of the fiscal year. The city’s “very unprofessional atmosphere” has created turmoil with her family and accounting business, she said.
Baune submitted a $550 bill for 22 hours of extra work due to the conflict. She also asked the city to pay her $200 bill with a local attorney.
“This bill was a result of the mayor’s harassment on the phone and in written form,” she wrote.
She said late Monday night that she won’t work for Tensed anymore, regardless of what happens in the recall election.
“There just needs to be a clean slate. That’s what’s best for Tensed,” she said.
City attorney Jerrold E. Park of St. Maries also quit, saying “the unfortunate confrontational situation which presently plagues the city creates unavoidable conflicts of interest for me, both personal and professional in nature.”
Councilman Hendrickx, irate at being voted down on everything he proposed Monday night, stormed out of the meeting and said he’d send in his resignation.
Dohrman said Tuesday he thinks he’s talked Hendrickx out of resigning, for now.
“I think he’ll be around, at least as long as I’m around,” he said.