Vincent calls for new board president

Vincent ‘an embarrassment’ to board, Tsichlis contends

Mike Vincent

Mike Vincent

By Mike Anthony

Crestwood Ward 4 Alderman Mike Vincent last week made a motion for nominations to replace current Board of Aldermen President Mike Tsichlis of Ward 4.

Tsichlis was elected board president last April, after being nominated by Ward 2 Alderman Tim Trueblood, the past board president.

At the board’s Feb. 10 meeting, Vincent raised the issue under new business, saying, “… I would move that we revisit the choice of our board president and call for nominations for a new board president.”

Trueblood immediately seconded Vincent’s motion. However, City Attorney Lisa Stump said the board could not vote that night on Vincent’s motion because it was not on the board’s Feb. 10 agenda.

If Vincent wished to pursue the issue, she recommended he ask for it to be put on the agenda for the next meeting.

Vincent then requested the issue be placed on the Feb. 24 agenda, saying he took great exception with an opinion column penned by Tsichlis that was published by the Call last month. Tsichlis’ Jan. 8 opinion piece urged Crestwood citizens to question their city officials.

Vincent said Tsichlis’ opinion column “made me regret my vote for him as president of our board. I felt his words in that article were somewhat ironic in reference to getting with the team because it was my colleague Alderman Tsichlis months ago who told me: ‘There are two teams in Crestwood’ and unless I was naive I’d better ‘figure out quickly which team I was going to be on.’

“I told him that day and I will say tonight and at our next meeting, I am here on only one team — Crestwood’s team. Politics and power games have ruined just about everything I have ever loved. I do not intend to have them damaging progress in this city. There is absolutely no rubber-stamping going on at these meetings, as you witnessed tonight.

“Alderman Tsichlis wrote and seems to think that it is ‘all about power.’ I believe it’s all about service. I feel that it’s necessary and in the best interests of the public, at our next meeting, to have a board president chosen who will work cooperatively with our mayor and the city staff to keep Crestwood moving forward. Thanks to the mayor and thanks to (City Administrator) Mr. (Mark) Sime, I believe there is a very positive momentum to move things forward. This is the time to be dreaming, to encourage and to educate and inform our citizens, not to be divisive and cause citizens to distrust and to question those who are serving with integrity …”

Tsichlis responded, “… I don’t have a prepared statement, as my colleague here does. He’s noted for his prepared statements that slime people’s character. He refers to himself as a man who follows Scripture, but yet in practice does something else.”

Tsichlis said he regretted recommending Vincent to former Mayor Jeff Schlink to fill a vacancy created when former Ward 4 Alderman Dan Tennessen resigned.

“… I recommended Mr. Vincent because I thought, you know, he was a man of character, good character. I had worked with him in the past on some projects. And unfortunately as it turned out, the man that I saw on this board, operating both in public and in closed session and, in particular, … in emails that he loves to stamp confidential — to keep away from the press — he has said some of the most audacious things, some which I find very reprehensible, including and in conversation and I quote — as he liked to quote me — that the ‘team,’ and I borrow the term team from Mr. Vincent. If he is willing to disclose his emails, you would find that that term is used going way back in his limited tenure here, that he referred to people that have other opinions in Crestwood as bothersome to him, that he refers to these people as people that really should not have the kind of voice that they do and I quote: ‘Need to be silenced.’

“I found that completely reprehensible, undemocratic. I believe Mr. Vincent, in my own personal opinion as someone with a doctorate in public policy and has taught American government, that he needs to retake — if he ever took — a course in Civics 101 to understand what open democracy is about, and sharing opinions with others and debating with people — yes — who don’t always agree with you.

“But Mr. Vincent has turned out to be, again, what he is. I had considered at many junctures to actually raise the possibility of a censure of Mr. Vincent. That may happen yet. I think Mr. Vincent has been an embarrassment to this board and he has offered his advice, his opinion on things, but he has also said some things that are so outrageous and mean-spirited and for anyone on this board right now to smile right as I say that is itself reprehensible,” Tsichlis said as some aldermen, including Vincent, smiled.

“And I’m hoping that the board and the public understand that it’s the citizens of Crestwood who deserve representation, including all those that Mr. Vincent may find objectionable. And that is for those people as their right to bring those opinions before this board without some kind of judgment raining down upon them, literally from above,” he continued.

“Again, it’s unfortunate that this turn has been taken, but it really doesn’t surprise me. I would ask Mr. Vincent if he would go on public record because I actually — in all of the statements he made last meeting about why he wasn’t running, every one of those accusations I believe are true, and I know them to be true. There are people on this board who should know. They probably won’t speak up, though …”

At the board’s Jan. 27 meeting, Vincent outlined his reasons for not seeking election, including, “… In the last nine months, I have been called corrupt. I’ve been accused of being part of a conspiracy to get rid of our previous city clerk. I’ve been somewhat ridiculed for abdicating my fiduciary responsibility, for berating constituents, and I would ask you to note the plural of that, and for being part of a new political power machine led by our mayor …

“After a 45-year God-blessed career, I do not need this kind of unjust criticism in my life. It is always been my goal in service here to give a good Christian witness and that is what I have tried to do. (Ward 1) Alderman (Richard) Breeding referred to this fact in a recent meeting, that service to our citizens as an alderman in Crestwood 2015 is not like what I experienced 20 years ago in a somewhat kinder and gentler Crestwood …”

Tsichlis concluded, “… I would have to leave it at that. Again, when I heard Mr. Vincent decided not to run, rather than force an issue, bring up the possibility of censure, that it was better for this board and our community that he actually do step down …”