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City council cancels a.m. meeting

Was it an illegal meeting or yet another salvo fired between warring factions of city council?

Ironton City Council was scheduled to meet Saturday at noon in a special budget workshop, but the meeting was canceled after one council member questioned the legality of it.

This comes on the heels of a Friday meeting where tempers flared and Councilman Richard Price stormed out saying that the meeting became illegal once the group deviated from the agenda.

A union employee hurled a profanity at Price, another sign that the issue remains heated.

Later that night, council member Jesse Roberts notified council clerk Janet Hieronimus that the Saturday meeting, called by council chairman Jim Tordiff was also illegal.

"The charter says a special meeting must be called by three members of council or the council chairman and must be in writing," Roberts said. "Tordiff called the meeting and I got my notice attached to my agenda when I got my agenda Tuesday for Thursday's meeting."

Tordiff said the charter does in fact stipulate that requests for special meetings must be submitted in writing and must be signed by the person or persons making the request, but he said this has never been an issue before now.

"This is something that has never been done for 23 years and we've had probably thousands of special meetings over the years," Tordiff said. "I don't know why this has not been brought forward in an open arena until now."

Roberts agreed that previously, special meetings were called by other means and not necessarily in writing. But he said recently, Tordiff had objected to the way in which others had called a special meeting.

"We should hold everyone to the same standard," Roberts said. "We shouldn't be 'it's OK if it works for me and not Ok if it works for someone else.'"

Tordiff and fellow council members Chuck O'Leary, Brent Pyles and Bill Nenni showed up for the noon meeting. Roberts and council members Bob Isaac and Richard Price did not. Tordiff said there were enough members present for a quorum but with the issue of illegality hanging over the meeting, they opted not to continue.

Mayor John Elam, who showed up for the meeting, said this meeting was necessary, since the deadline by which city must have a budget in place is rapidly approaching. Arguing over the way a budget workshop is called seems silly, he said.

"So basically, it is like swallowing an elephant and choking on a gnat," he said.

Another special meeting was scheduled for 9:30 p.m.

Saturday to consider two budget proposals before council as well as a $15 fee.

Michael Caldwell contributed to this report.