BUTLER TOWNSHIP – Butler Township residents expressed their displeasure about incoming Trustee Joe Flanagan’s move to oust Township Administrator Kim Lapensee at an emergency Board of Trustees meeting on Friday.
An estimated 60-70 residents packed the Township Hall on Friday but were ultimately unsuccessful in preventing Lapensee’s resignation after a five hour executive session.
Lapensee’s resignation came on the heels of a letter Flanagan sent to her last week demanding her resignation and threatening her firing if she refused. Flanagan will take office in January.
Before going into that executive session, several residents spoke against Flanagan.
Gil Bauer, who has lived in the township for over 25 years, questioned Flanagan’s timing and integrity.
“As far as I can tell, this issue was never brought up during the election campaign,” said Bauer. “I question the timing of the letter and also the implications of the possible ethical issues of a current trustee having openly stated they are teamed up in support of the same actions that were criticized by the entire crowd this evening.”
Flanagan dismissed the criticism.
“I didn’t listen to any of the s—- in there,” said Flanagan. “I’ve been trashed my entire political life. I’m not going to sit here and listen to it again.”
Beth Cooper began the Turtle Creek/Yorkshire Reserve Neighborhood Watch which encompasses more than 200 households in the township.
“The election of Joe Flanagan has me as concerned as I have ever been about our Township,” said Cooper. “This is an embarrassment what is happening at our township level and I’m concerned about what happens with our Board (of Trustees) once January hits.”
Cooper said she was surprised by Flanagan’s letter which she described as “evasive yet accusatory.”
“There were no specifics, yet there were accusations all throughout it,” she said.
Flanagan took issue with the watch group engaging in political activities.
“I thought they were a watch group, I didn’t know they were a political action committee,” he said. “This was not the residents of the township coming out to speak. I bet you 95 percent came from Turtle Creek. It was not like the residents of the township coming out to speak.”
Carl and Sandy Hayden came to the meeting out of concern for the future of the township police department.
“Chief John Cresie is in fear of his position being eliminated due to Kim (Lapensee) possibly being eliminated,” said Sandy Hayden. “We feel her elimination is uncalled for, she has done nothing wrong.”
Flanagan said that he offered Lapensee a 90 day period to prove herself prior to Friday’s meeting.
“At the end of 90 days, we will do an evaluation, and either you stay or you go,” said Flanagan. “If you stay, you get a contract because you need to be able to tell the Board of Trustees ‘you can’t do that’ or ‘this is where you need to go.’ That’s been my position.”
That possibility was eliminated when the Board of Trustees accepted Lapensee’s resignation late Friday evening.
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.
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