Grantville Councilman Mark King can focus on other things now that he no longer has ethics complaints hanging over his head.
Complaints filed against him last month were dismissed by a unanimous decision Tuesday of a citizens’ ethics panel appointed by the council.
Grantville residents Billy Hand, Brenda Maddox and Deborah Jenkins made up the ethics panel. Jenkins was elected as the chairman.
Grantville resident Marion Cieslik had filed a complaint accusing King of pointing at him, approaching him in a threatening manner and calling him an “idiot” at an ethics hearing to address another complaint Cieslik filed against King, according to complaint documents. He also said King was lying about Cieslik being jealous for not being appointed to the city council.
Jenkins said she wanted to see proof that King actually called Cieslik an idiot, but City Attorney Mark Mitchell said the panel did not have to hear testimony at this time.
Cieslik said he had an audio recording proving King did indeed call him an idiot.
“You’re here to determine whether or not the complaint is valid based on criteria in ordinance,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said evidence would be heard if the complaint was deemed meritorious by the panel.
“You can accept what’s on paper,” he said. “It’s a sworn statement about how the events happened.”
Jenkins said although it may not have been smart for King to call Cieslik an idiot, it didn’t violate the ordinance, which states there had to be a violent act.
“You’re not going to convince me that you were in fear of your safety,” Jenkins told Cieslik.
Jenkins said that since Cieslik filed his complaint based on disorderly conduct, that’s what the panel had to go by.
“This is Grantville, and in the city of Grantville, we should not be calling people idiots,” Cieslik said. “If you let this go, you’re saying it’s OK for elected officials to call people idiots.”
Hand said that he felt Cieslik was trying to get King out of office.
“You began warning me from day one to stay away from him (King), and I believe that’s when you stopped trusting him,” Hand said.
Cieslik asked Hand if he and King were friends. Hand said he and King were only friends on Facebook.
“I’ve never seen him,” Hand said. “I don’t even know which one is him in this room.”
Cieslik also asked Maddox if King appointed her, and she stated yes, but said she was not friends with him. Maddox asked King what her appointment by King had to do with the hearing. Cieslik said, “I don’t want to answer that at this time.”
Jenkins was appointed by Gomez.
King said, “It has been an interesting three months.”
King said he did call Cieslik an idiot twice, but it didn’t merit prosecution and that someone who thought it did didn’t fully understand the ordinance.
“I feel that the city actually got this right tonight,” King said. “When we start to allow social media comments to become prosecutable offenses, it’s infringing on freedom of speech.”