Joe P. Asher
Benham City Council’s first meeting of the year saw some new faces and a heated discussion Thursday. The swearing in of new council member Robert “Monk” Falls, was questioned by the mayor. And a new chapter on the controversy may be written early next week.
Mayor Shirley Dodd informed Falls that he was not sworn in before the deadline (Jan. 1) and was “not legal.”
Council member David Kidwell, also a new member of council, said Falls will be sworn in.
“Whatever it takes to fix this, it will be fixed,” said Kidwell. “We’re not going to circumvent the law and the citizens of Benham over any petty thing. Monk Falls is going to get sworn in, if it’s today, tomorrow or whenever. He is an elected official. This is going to happen. He is a councilman.”
After an uproar from those in attendance, Kidwell assured the audience Falls will serve his term.
Falls, contacted by phone Friday night for an update on the matter, said, “The thing about it is, I was sworn in.”
The councilman said he spoke with officials in the Attorney General’s Office and believes he will be approved to serve.
Noting he was on council before, Falls said “The reason they do not want me on the council is that I won’t stand by and watch (improper) things occur.”
Meanwhile, during the council meeting, Kidwell said, “Remember where we’re at — sometimes we do things a little odd I guess. Monk Falls will be sworn in as your councilman because he was elected. He’s an elected official and it has to be legal no matter what the date is.”
According to Kidwell, missing the Jan. 1 deadline should not prevent Falls from serving as councilman.
“Somebody quoted to me that it was supposed to be Jan 1. Who gets sworn in on New Year’s Day? Nobody. Nobody does anything on New Year’s Day. I don’t know who broke the law. And, I don’t believe it’s a law. He will be a representative of Benham without a doubt. We’ll charge the hill, wherever that hill’s at. He is an elected official and he will be a council member.”
The council decided to table the issue and address it at the next meeting.
Council member George Massey requested a state audit be performed on the city’s books.
“I would like for it to go all the way back to when our former mayor was brought in up until now,” said Massey.
“Point of order, I think this needs to be on the agenda for the next meeting,” said Kidwell.
“We need to make this a serious point on the next agenda,” said Kidwell. “You have all the right in the world to research it and put it on the agenda and we can deal with it the way we’re supposed to deal with it.”
The council made the decision to table the matter for the next meeting.
“This requires research and we will table it for a discussion in the next meeting,” said Kidwell. “It has to be taken serious, and we can’t do this without facts. This is all supposition, and we have to have facts to have an intelligent conversation about this.”
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-573-4510 or firstname.lastname@example.org