Anonymous letters fuel Niles Township’s Ringler-Kidwell feudPublished 10:45pm Monday, November 21, 2011
A string of anonymous letters caused plenty of argument at Monday night’s Niles Township board meeting.
During his supervisor report, Jim Kidwell read an anonymous letter, written by someone claiming to have written the anonymous
letter last month questioning whether a building on Kidwell’s property is in compliance with township ordinance.
The most recent letter, which was sent to the entire township board and members of the local media, was an apology to Kidwell for the previous letter. The author claims the original letter attacking Kidwell was the result of conversations he had with township residents that have morning meetings at Martins.
The letter goes on to say that author changed his opinion when he saw copies of a complaint submitted by Stefanie Woodrick, township zoning administrator, claiming Township Treasurer Jim Ringler had intimidated her when discussing lot-split issues.
The letter reads: “I believe these complaints to be true because I have seen and heard the hatred that Jim Ringler has towards Ms. Woodrick for making those complaints.”
The letter says Ringler told him and the others at Martins that no permit would be found for Kidwell’s building, causing the author to believe Ringler has an “agenda” to make Kidwell look bad.
When Kidwell finished reading the letter, Ringler shot back, calling the letter nothing but a “character assassination.”
“I don’t know who wrote this but this is about as childish as it comes,” Ringler said. “Anyone who accuses of me of hate doesn’t know me.”
Ringler then took Kidwell to task for continuing to read the flood of recent inflammatory anonymous letters to the public.
“You as the supervisor need to show some leadership and end this trash,” Ringler said.
Quickly erupting into a shouting match, Kidwell shot back that Ringler didn’t have a problem with reading anonymous letters when they were attacking Kidwell.
Trustee Gary Conover said the board should stop reading any letters that are unsigned.
“If they don’t have the cajones to sign it, it doesn’t mean a damn thing,” he said.
Kidwell also read another letter from an anonymous resident, claiming to be a neighbor of Conover. The letter questioned whether Conover had proper permitting and inspections on his recently installed above ground pool.
Conover told the board that he was in the process of working with the building inspector to obtain the proper permitting.
The arguing continued during public comment when Tony Millin, a township resident and member of the Honest Citizens for Honest Government group that has circulated a letter attacking Ringler throughout the township, questioned Ringler about a $26,000 loan the township made in 2006.
“I couldn’t find it in the minutes anywhere,” Millin said.
Ringler said it was a decision made by the entire board and said he had nothing to do with producing the minutes.
Also in public comment, township resident Herschel Hoese wouldn’t let the issue of Kidwell’s shed die. Hoese demanded the township have a third party assess Kidwell’s property to make sure the building is in compliance in order to put the “issue to bed.”
Township building official Jeff Dunlap found the building to be in compliance earlier this month.