Green Park mayor’s issuance of fireworks permit sparks debate

Thuston says he won’t accept apology from mayor because it’s not necessary

Bob Reinagel

Bob Reinagel

By Mike Anthony

Two Green Park aldermen contend Mayor Bob Reinagel exceeded his authority in issuing a fireworks permit last year, an allegation that sparked a debate last week among Board of Aldermen members.

In a June 27 letter to Reinagel, Ward 1 Aldermen Michael Broughton and Carol Hamilton alleged Reinagel’s approval of the fireworks permit in May 2016 for a Green Park business “was an act of malfeasance,” as the mayor usurped the board’s authority and issued “an invalid fireworks permit.”

The mayor’s actions were a “slap in the face” to the Board of Aldermen and Green Park citizens, the two aldermen asserted.

“In light thereof, we now request that you issue a public apology and, or, submit your resignation as mayor of Green Park,” the aldermen’s letter stated.

The two also wrote, “The resounding ‘booms’ of the 2016 fireworks display caused some Green Park citizens to seek an explanation from their alderman. Aldermen erroneously assured citizens that the source of the ‘explosions’ was not in the city because — at that time, they had no knowledge of the fireworks event.”

At a Board of Aldermen meeting July 17, Reinagel responded to the aldermen’s letter, saying that he had no intention of resigning. He said he approved the 2016 fireworks permit for the business, 1st Phorm at 9779 Green Park Industrial Drive, on the recommendation of then-City Administrator/City Clerk Zella Pope, who resigned last year.

Under new City Administrator/City Clerk James Mello, the Board of Aldermen approved a fireworks permit for 1st Phorm this year at a special meeting on June 12.

“… Apparently I’ve been accused of not doing my job as far as the permit is concerned because I signed off at the recommendation of the city manager at the time,” Reinagel said. “But at that time, we were also talking to the people about the things they needed to do as far as the fireworks permit was concerned. It has been suggested that I owe the citizens of Green Park an apology and the Board of Aldermen an apology for this or I should resign as a mayor.

“Well, I don’t intend to resign and perhaps unintentionally though it was, I will apologize to the citizens of Green Park for any situations I stirred up because of the fireworks and to the Board of Aldermen because of the special meeting they had to have this time to do this. So hopefully this will take care of this and put it to rest. It was unintentional and I don’t think it should be this much of an issue unless we want to carry it forward …,” the mayor added.

But Ward 2 Alderman Tim Thuston said he wouldn’t accept Reinagel’s apology “because I don’t think it’s necessary.”

As for the letter written by Broughton and Hamilton, Thuston said, “I was really insulted by the letter — very much insulted by the letter … They talked about a slap in the face. To me, I think it was a slap in the face to put those — put those accusations forth. It was wrong. It shouldn’t have been done …”

However, Hamilton said she had residents calling her at home when the first fireworks display took place in June 2016.

To Thuston, she said, “Well, I respect your opinion, but I got the calls of people who were challenging me this year why I misinformed them last year, and I had an issue with that. One woman in particular in Ward 2 (said), ‘How did you give me misinformation last year?’ I said apparently it was done not via a vote, as it should have been. I apologized that I gave you the information, but at the time the information I gave you was true to the best of my knowledge because I was not informed by the mayor or anyone else that that had been approved. That was probably part of the origin of that letter.”

Thuston said he didn’t recall discussing the issuance of the 2016 permit.

“No, no one discussed it …,” Hamilton replied, again noting that the same resident who called her last year, called her again this year regarding the fireworks.

“I said, ‘I remember you. This is the same fireworks,’ and she called me to the carpet on it. ‘How come you told me last year that we don’t have the fireworks in Green Park?’ …,” Hamilton said. “I told her there was no way it was in the industrial center because I know we have to approve that. So she called me on it and I looked like a dummy because I did not know. If it was an accident, fine, but I believe I am owed an apology because I had to answer someone inaccurately because I was not informed of that and this year she called me on it … That was not fair to me.

“The letter was written by Michael Broughton, but I agreed with that letter.”

Reinagel said, “Any other aldermen comments or reports?”

Hamilton said, “Yeah, don’t apologize.”

The mayor replied, “I think I did apologize, Carol.”