Planning panel chairman owes citizens an apology

‘Call the Tune’ by Mike Anthony

By Mike Anthony

Crestwood Mayor Gregg Roby should accept newly elected Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Robert Sweeney’s offer to resign from the panel.

As reported last week, Sweeney clashed with commission member Steve Nieder, a former Ward 4 alderman, and resident Robert Miller, a frequent speaker at aldermanic meetings, during the panel’s April 1 meeting. Sweeney’s demeanor during the meeting and his subsequent remarks in an email sent that night to Roby and City Administrator Mark Sime prove he is unfit to serve citizens.

Sweeney bristled when Nieder and Miller questioned whether Sweeney has a conflict of interest serving on the panel. Sweeney serves as city attorney for three municipalities.

Nieder and Sweeney later clashed when Sweeney gaveled Miller out of order as Miller attempted to speak during a public hearing on a request by a gas station and convenience store owner for a conditional-use permit, or CUP, to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In gaveling down Miller, Sweeney contended the resident was out of order. We believe the opposite is true.

Sweeney was out of order and created the disruption, as Miller was attempting to address the CUP request. Nieder defended Miller’s right to speak — after all, it was a public hearing — but Sweeney didn’t want to hear it, saying he was going to summon the Police Department.

Of the meeting, Sweeney wrote, “I’m sure Mr. Nieder is not happy. I suspect Mr. Miller has never been happy in his life — I am not licensed to practice psychology, but I do have a quarter century of experience dealing with really crabby, really irrational folks; and, I think he’s one.”

No citizen should be subjected to the verbal abuse Sweeney directed at Miller during the public hearing, let alone the inappropriate email “diagnosis” Sweeney made about Miller.

Sweeney also didn’t like the fact that Nieder questioned whether he has a conflict. Ironically, Sweeney believes Nieder owes him an apology.

We believe Sweeney owes Nieder, Miller and Crestwood citizens an apology for his appalling behavior. In fact, Roby should accept Sweeney’s offer to resign. But that’s unlikely to happen, given Roby’s defense of Sweeney in an email to aldermen.

Citizens once were treated with respect in Crestwood. Just because Sweeney doesn’t want to hear what citizens have to say doesn’t give him the right to abuse them.