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Pridemore Asks Merit Board Members to Resign

Last updated on Thursday, October 6, 2011

(MITCHELL) - The Mitchell Merit Board decided they will not discuss former Police Chief Steve Blair’s case until it is presented to the board.

Blair was fired by the city's Board of Public Works and Safety on Aug. 28, 2010. A judge later ruled it wasn't the board's job to fire Blair, it was the job of the merit board, and that decision was upheld by the court of appeals and the Indiana Supreme Court last week.

"I do not know what the end result will be," said Merit Board President Phil Tincher. "I have not heard from the chief (Jerry Presnell). We will not talk or discuss anything about the case until we have to. Everything is in limbo right now, but we could be involved at a future date."

Terry Bock made a motion to take no questions from the audience at meetings because those comments could influence the board's decisions.

"Our job is to be impartial," Bock says. "If people have a problem with the police department they need to take that problem to the chief, who then if he feels charges need to be brought against the officer will then bring it to us. If we hear public comment then we are no longer impartial."

But board members Jim Wood and Doug Kesterson disagreed.

"This is a Mitchell city meeting and we should take questions," Wood said. "Things in the past were not handled very well and Phil as president needs to have control and we should listen and then have rebuttal and not let things get out of hand. It shouldn't become an argument."

Kesterson agreed with Wood and said the only way the board can learn is by asking questions.

"I agree we should not chew the same rag over and over, because it's old stuff, but it is our job to listen and ask questions," Kesterson said.

The board did pass a motion to let the public speak, but they would not listen to complaints about the police department. Those complaints will be directed to Chief Presnell.

Bock then made a motion to adjourn, but Ron Pridemore spoke up and said he wanted to address the board. Bock and Tincher said the motion was on the table and Pridemore couldn't speak, but Kesterson reminded the members they had just passed a motion to let the public address the board. So Bock rescinded his motion to adjourn.

As soon as Pridemore began to speak, Bock left the room saying he had work he had to do.

Pridemore read from a written statement he prepared:

"I would like to thank the police merit board for letting me speak here today. The subject matter that I would like to comment on here today is unpleasant but I believe is necessary. It deals with the conduct and of two commission members that being Phil Tincher the president and terry Bock the vice president.

"These two members of the commission are charged with being responsible and being about board in the duties they are trusted with at all times in matters concerning the Mitchell police merit commission. Having said this it is my belief based on recorded and documented facts they have failed in these endeavors.

"They have tried to guide the outcome of curtain meeting and hearings they have held private meetings on front porches of residences and they have held private meetings in back alleys and parking lots discussing delicate city and police department business.

"Some of these meetings have been threatening in nature to other city officials and police department officials. These two individuals based solely on their actions should resign from this commission immediately. If they care about the city of Mitchell and the police department and the others affected by this commission they will do this immediately.

"If not I would ask the other three members specifically Marcy Peterson, Doug Kesterson and James Wood to entertain a motion to investigate the allegations I have made here today and under the Roberts Rule of order remove these two individuals permanently if the allegations are found to be true and substantiated. It takes a two-thirds majority vote to remove members under the Robert's Rule Of Order.

"In closing I would like to say this here today what I am taking about is integrity, honesty, and character of this very board. This board was conceived and initiated by the majority of the Mitchell City Council out of hate and vindictiveness toward the Mayor's Office and the police chief it continues on the board this very day it needs to stop immediately.

"I am pleading with the two individuals in question to step down immediately. I am pleading with the remaining three to find out the facts and if these individuals won't resign remove these individuals immediately if the findings support such actions.
Very respectfully, Ron Pridemore."

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