The Bethel City Council met for an ethics hearing regarding two complaints on Thursday, and made no findings.
Discussion for the first complaint lasted three hours behind closed doors. When the public was let back in for the second complaint, Vice-Mayor Raymond "Thor" Williams surprised everyone.
“I have removed my complaint of 19-03. There is no more complaint,” Williams said. “Is there a motion to adjourn?”
“Do I not have an opportunity?" asked council member Leif Albertson. "I was called here to address that.”
“Nope,” Williams responded. “Have a nice evening.”
Vice-Mayor Williams had originally filed an ethics complaint against council members Leif Albertson and Mitchell Forbes. It was about a previous complaint that Albertson had filed. Williams had claimed Albertson had a discussion with Forbes outside of the formal ethics hearing, and that discussion was against the rules.
Asked why he withdrew his complaint, Williams said, “For the betterment of council. It’s better to move forward and not allow a flawed process to continue.”
Council member Leif Albertson had a different opinion of why the complaint was withdrawn.
“I think that was retaliatory based on other things that were going on,” Albertson said.
This would have been the third ethics complaint that a council member has filed in recent months. The first two hearings resulted in no findings, no guilty parties. That means council members can’t talk about those complaints at all.
But Albertson said that if Vice-Mayor Williams hadn’t withdrawn his complaint, they might have had to talk about the first two.
“When we go down the road of investigating one of them and they reference the other one, I think that might have had something to do with why it went away,” Albertson said.
If there’s one thing council members agreed on, it’s that the way the Bethel Municipal Code is written didn't help the process.
“It’s really open to interpretation and it allows council members to throw snowballs at one another,” said council member Perry Barr.
Barr worries about how the council’s quarrels could affect civic engagement.
“If they look at the antics of city council, who would want to be on the city council?” Barr asked.
Despite the way they got there Barr said that in his opinion, the city council achieved the right result last night. He agreed with the outcome, which was no finding in the ethics hearing.