After an emotional meeting that lasted nearly two and a half hours Tuesday night, Hillsboro City Council’s employee relations committee voted to have Hillsboro Law Director Fred Beery prepare for council a “resolution of disapproval” of Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings’ social media comments that many found offensive – but there is some question as to whether or not the vote was valid, since one of the members of the committee did not appear to vote yea or nay, and did not abstain from the vote.
When the vote was called, committee member Claudia Klein did not appear to make a vote either way, and did not abstain, although chairman Bill Alexander and committee member Rebecca Wilkin voted in favor of the motion. No further action was taken Tuesday night, and the meeting adjourned immediately after the vote.
Reached by phone after the meeting, Alexander said he did not hear Klein vote either way, but he said a majority of the committee voted to approve the matter.
However, council president Lee Koogler told The Times-Gazette that even with a majority in favor, all three committee members must choose one of the three options for the vote to be valid.
“I will have to ask Lee about that. I did know we had a majority,” Alexander said, “but I’ll have to speak to Lee about that in terms of what the procedure would be.”
Alexander said he will speak with Koogler to ascertain the next step.
Alexander explained during the meeting that after the committee votes to have the law director draft the resolution, the draft will be brought back to the committee for a vote approving the resolution’s language so it can be brought to the full city council for a final vote.
The decision came after nearly two and a half hours of public comment from several members of the community who disapprove of Hastings’ comments on social media, with some calling his communiques racist.
“This resolution will distance the council from the hostile, abusive and profane language found in mayor Hastings’ social media postings, and ask him and all elected officials in Hillsboro to serve in harmony, kindness and respect,” Alexander said before calling the vote.
Jaymara Captain and local minister Ariana Jackson spoke passionately for much of the meeting in disapproval of Hastings’ behavior and demanded council take action, with Jackson calling for Hastings to be completely removed from office.
Hastings attended the meeting and gave a prepared statement, saying he felt the whole point of the meeting was unclear, and that the meeting was “strenuously opposed to by our legal counsel.”
“This group alleges that my Twitter postings show a pattern of discrimination,” the mayor said. “I would beg to differ. My overall Twitter postings show a pattern of humor. And the posts that are being labeled discriminatory were humorous posts. Some people could find them offensive. But offensive is not the same as discriminatory. The fact that my sense of humor may not agree with your sense of humor doesn’t give you a moral high ground. I’m an elected official, but I still have a right to free speech.”
In answer to several allegations that he is a white supremacist, Hastings brought up four instances where he said he has helped members of the African-American community here since he took office.
Captain said those actions were part of Hastings’ duties as a mayor in the first place, and after she directly asked Hastings if he was a racist, Hastings said he has had “racist thoughts” before, but said he has never acted on a racist thought.
Later on in the meeting, one audience member who wished to remain anonymous said Hastings’ social media comments were themselves actions that came from racist thoughts.
Captain, Jackson and others in attendance brought complaints against city council as a whole for not taking action when many of the same individuals spoke out against Hastings at a previous council meeting.
For a more complete report on Tuesday’s meeting, please visit www.timesgazette.com.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.