By Ed Martin, Editor
Councilman Eddie Neal
Councilman Eddie Neal

Lemoore City Councilman Eddie Neal has asked that his fellow councilmembers seriously consider removing Billy Siegel from his post because he thinks the mayor is a liability to the City of Lemoore. “Many community members have been hurt and disappointed by the bullying and harassment of the mayor over the past year,” said Neal in a statement.

Neal, in his first term on the city council, also cites a series of phone conversations, text messages and emails which he says Siegel has made that have a bullying nature to them, including remarks regarding disabilities.

“Unfortunately, it is in the best interest of the City of Lemoore and the Lemoore City Council that Mr. William Siegel be removed as mayor and no longer poses any further liability to the city,” Neal stated.

Neal has requested that nominations be held at Tuesday’s council meeting to select a new mayor and mayor pro tem. The reorganization of the council is the last item on Tuesday’s agenda. Normally, organization of the council is the first item on the agenda.

Neal says that recently, in a series of conversations, texts, and emails from Siegel, the mayor has questioned his abilities to fully comprehend issues during city council meetings. Neal said Siegel also questioned his ability to do well in high school. They both attended Lemoore High School at the same time. Neal told The Leader he does in fact have a learning disability, and has worked hard to overcome it.

The issue came to a forefront last week when a series of emails surrounding a matter recently before the council came to light. Councilmember Willard Rodarmel sought clarification of a comment by Economic Development Chair John Lehn regarding that the City of Corcoran was “essentially” bankrupt.

Neal told The Leader that he had originally asked for clarification of the EDC’s stance regarding Corcoran, thinking an email he sent to Laws was just between the two of them.

Deputy City Clerk Jennifer Scarbrough provided an email stating that City Manager Jeff Laws spoke with Corcoran City Manager Kindon Meik who told Laws that Corcoran was not bankrupt and took issue with Lehn’s remark.

Included in a series of emails was one from Siegel regarding Neal: “I think someone is using Councilman Neal's email address and wasting our city manager's time. This is just my opinion but it seems as if the person writing these emails has a far more advanced use of the English language than Mr. Neal normally uses while speaking.”

This incensed Neal who responded to Siegel: “It bewilders me that you received a copy this email when it was only addressed to Jeff Laws,” stated Neal in his email response.  “You are using your position as mayor to harass members of this community, and attack my disability.  You have no professional knowledge of the extent of my disability. And by law, I am not required to disclose that information to you or any other member of this council. It is defamation of character, discrimination, and even bigotry for you to continue to text, email, and spread rumors in regard to the accommodations that I receive according to the disability act.”

Siegel told The Hanford Sentinel that he had no knowledge of Neal’s disability.

Neal, in remarks to The Leader, said he is concern that Siegel’s antics may have a negative effect on the public and hurt Lemoore’s reputation. “We are accountable for what he does,” said Neal. “If we allow him to do this, he is a liability to us. It just bewilders me. We have to have ethical behavior,” he said.

The series of emails were shared by all councilmembers. When contacted by The Leader Willard Rodarmel refused to divulge what action he may take in regards to Tuesday’s meeting. “I’m not an English teacher,” he said in referring to Siegel’s email.

He says he has taken exception to some of Siegel’s actions in the past. “I don’t fully agree with everything he’s done,” said Rodarmel, who is up for re-election in November for a third term on the Lemoore City Council.