Hot Springs decides to remove Mayor. But not quite so fast.
Read it all here at the Rapid City Journal.
Five members of the Hot Springs City Council have asked Mayor Carl Oberlitner to resign in the wake of an audit that found two city property deals violated state law.Three other members of the council refused to sign the letter.
One council member said he plans to circulate petitions to recall Oberlitner, who is serving his sixth term.
At a tumultuous council meeting Monday night, Oberlitner said he would consider resigning but in his own time, according to two council members.
The Journal was unable to reach Oberlitner for comment Tuesday.
A state audit, requested by the council, found that the city violated state law by not following proper procedures in a land exchange that resulted in a nine-hole addition to the city golf course. It also found that city officials, including Oberlitner, at the last minute added requirements for bids on the former city-owned Carnegie Library without council approval, in violation of state law.
Oberlitner said last week that he made mistakes in the two deals but only in efforts to do what was best for the city.
He also said he got bad advice from then-city attorney Mike Ortner on the golf-course land exchange.
Council member Carolann Schwarzenbach said the council members asked Oberlitner to resign as a result of people who demanded that something be done after the state audit report was presented at the Sept. 20 council meeting. “We asked him to resign for the good of the community,” Schwarzenbach said Tuesday.
“He’s at the top. He knew what was going on. He was mayor before. It’s difficult to accept that he was blameless in everything and that everything was done for the good of the community,” Schwarzenbach said.
Other council members signing the letter were Carl Atchley, Don Patitz, Ray Ecoffey and Jose Trinidad.
Trinidad, a longtime Oberlitner foe, said he could understand a new mayor making such mistakes. “I’m surprised that he made these mistakes because he was mayor for the sixth time.”
Trinidad said Oberlitner had been involved in past business partnerships with Ortner and golf course developer Steve Simunek. “I’ve got so many doubts about the person of the mayor with all these conflicts of interests, when only a few people get all the benefits.”
Trinidad said he planned to begin circulating petitions to hold a recall election to oust Oberlitner, although he said he didn’t know who the opposing candidate would be. Trinidad said he wouldn’t be the candidate.