Fiery Ward Meeting Sounded Like an Episode of Law and Order as Mayor Defended Record on Salvatore
Updated: Mar 25
UPDATED FEBRUARY 21st to include statement by Dr. Kenneth Remy
In case you have not heard, there has been a settlement in the Salvatore vs. Wildwood free speech case.
No doubt the City has had its fingers burned by the free speech case brought by Tony Salvatore. Salvatore filed the complaint over being told by police that that his holding of campaign signs on public property during his failed 2018 race for a city council seat was in violation of a city ordinance. The $295,000 settlement is being payed by the City's insurance company, which reportedly made the decision to settle the case.
Now longtime opponents of Mayor Bowlin are mounting a social media campaign suggesting that Bowlin resign as a consequence for the settlement. Bowlin won re-election with 64 percent of the vote. The lawsuit filed three years ago had figured prominently in the campaign, but now it appears that the settlement has reopened for some what they see as a change to re-litigate the 2020 Mayoral contest.
At a February 17th, Ward 3 meeting what appeared to be another attempt to make political hay out of the recent settlement produced and exchange worthy of a TV drama such as Law & Order: Municipal Mayhem Division.
In response to a question regarding the suit, Mayor Bowlin laid out a clear case using visual aids that many of those now decrying the size of the settlement were responsible for the eventual settlement.
Bowlin demonstrated that former council members Dillard and Shea voted numerous times to not change the ordinance prior to suit being filed. Salvatore and his legal counsel had requested the change to the ordinance prior to the vote and prior to deciding to file the lawsuit. The Mayor's case was laid out with a prosecutorial finesse that seemed to rattle former councilman Dillard who has been now decrying the amount of the subsequent settlement.
For his part Ward 3 Council Member Remy who, has built his career on equipoise and civility, was for the most part at the helm of the meeting. Dr Remy expressed disappointment in the tenor of the meeting.
He also made the comment that most likely expresses the majority of Wildwood opinion. The following is Dr. Ken Remy's answer to the question that started the imbroglio.
"The entire United States has been polarized for nonsense in my view in some ways. And now as much as I can sit here and listen to this, this proceeded both Tracy and my time on council. And so what I am going to say is we have to move forward. As a country, as a city... we have to stop fighting all the time over little things in my view that actually take away from us finding answers for what our citizens problems are and that's rural internet, that's people's bridges and roads falling into creeks. That's people suffering through a pandemic, which I have personally taken care over 2,000 patients. This nonsense has to stop.
"I am sorry to say this but the insurance company paid out three hundred thousand dollars, not the city. This is now done. We can't go back, we need to move forward and we have to stop this divisiveness. I have great respect for you Kevin but we have to move forward. And for a Ward Three meeting, I want to do that."
A St. Louis County Circuit Court jury found Salvatore guilty of interference by a city council member and prohibited acts by a city officer: https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/former-wildwood-councilman-convicted-on-municipal-charges/article_77ce4080-9d73-5037-8e21-4d563ac03901.html
UPDATE- STATEMENT BY DR. KENNETH REMY:
"During the Ward 3 Residents’ Meeting that CM Nyhan and I recently hosted, in the heat of an impassioned discussion after a question from Mr. Dillard, I unknowingly, yet regrettably misspoke that I directly and personally spoke with Mr. Salvatore’s attorneys. I have since discussed and explained my misstatement with Mr. Dillard. At this point in time, I take Mr. Dillard at his word that he did not contact Mr. Salvatore’s attorneys relative to providing deposition in the case.
"I am reminded daily that I am human. It is important for me to be clear and transparent, and, when necessary, to clarify any statement of mine that lends itself to misinterpretation or to be used for ends for which it is not intended.
"It is my hope that we all remain working together towards a better future for Wildwood."