News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion

September 9, 2012

READERS’ FORUM: Sept. 9, 2012

(Continued)

Many questions for Seelyville’s Town Council

On Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012, those who attended the Seelyville Town Council meeting were treated to a truly awful spectacle.

It was well-scripted, coordinated, staged, and rehearsed, but sadly, lacked a good musical score. There were threatening and ominous low tones mixed with deep booming drums, like the theme from “JAWS”. The main actors were Jerry Reynolds (owner of Reynolds and Co.), Town Council member; Richard Shagley II (he wants to be sure everyone knew that was his name), town attorney, and Connie Hinsenkamp, the newly elected clerk/treasurer. Council members Jerry Jones and John Wade had minor supporting roles this time.

After the meeting, one person accurately described it as “a bunch of grade school boys bullying a girl who wandered into their midst.”

The stage was carefully set with all the men in taller desk chairs, while the clerk was left a short folding chair; to give the men a more commanding position. I have attended these meetings for over 12 years and seldom do they last an hour (the shortest being 19 minutes). They were brief because the council refused to conduct any business when people were watching. Since the new clerk took office, she has actually read the minutes aloud, and given a brief financial report. Getting revenge, the council, attorney and staff delight in making minor corrections to the minutes; requiring her to make corrections and resubmit them the next month. This never happened once in the previous 12 years. Why?

Mr. Shagley then discussed a new ordinance that would give the town manager power to approve all expenditures; the performance then began. Mr. Shagley led off with an unrelated question about a claim that the council had previously approved.

This cued Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Shagley to begin; working from scripts of written notes, the two verbally attacked the clerk. What followed was a well-timed (and obviously practiced) exchange. All in rapid succession, and ignoring the clerk’s attempts to explain that she did not have invoices with her. Mr. Reynolds warmed to the task, eagerly leaned forward, running his finger over his notes; while Mr. Shagley stood and walked forward, to add height, forcing the clerk to look up, awkwardly, at him as she answered.

He is, after all, a trained lawyer, isn’t he? Were we in a courtroom?

The council, as a matter of public trust, is required, by law, to read the claims before they approve them, and ask any questions (in the open meeting); they never did before, so why change now?

Once they criticized and provoked the clerk, by these tactics, they demanded that she just walk into her “office” and get the files. Again, she went over the facts: since working in her “office”, after office hours, was not acceptable (no access to the restroom); she was not allowed into the Utility Office, and it was quite clear, by locking her out of office, that she was not welcome; she had moved her “office” to her home, like all past clerk-treasurers. Mr. Shagley told her to leave the meeting, drive to her home and get the requested invoices. They knew they were going to ask for them; why not tell her to bring them? Why did they insist she leave the meeting?

Brent Spier, town manager, led the office staff in public statements of what a “warm and fuzzy” place the office was to work, and how the clerk must be mistaken. He showed signs of stress and as things progressed, slumped forward and complained of a headache, at one point. Does this suggest he knew from the start what was going to happen; or did he just realize that the council had made him the fall guy, if anything happened over any claim he may approve?

The council and town staff all worked to get Ms. Hinsenkamp elected, and now they want her gone. Why? What are they all hiding?

The council and Mr. Shagley condemned the newly elected clerk-treasurer, Connie Hinsenkamp, during the August meeting; trying to make her look bad in front of the residents of Seelyville, and as I said before, it did not work.

Someday; somehow, the truth will be exposed. Then the whole town will decide who is wrong. If I am proven wrong; I will be willing to say so, on these pages. If it goes the other way, I will wait for the town to do the same. It may be a long wait, I fear.

On behalf of myself and the others who are watching this drama unfold.

— Wayne Langman

Seelyville

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