New mayor selected in New Bloomfield, residents skeptical things will change
NEW BLOOMFIELD - New Bloomfield has a new mayor, but it's the way he was selected that has a group of people upset.
On Friday night, the town's board of aldermen selected Terry Shaw, who has served as mayor before.
Shaw said, "I feel eager to serve again and hopefully smooth over the rift we currently have."
But Cheri Wilson, founder of the Facebook group Committed Citizens of the City of New Bloomfield isn't convinced Shaw is the right person for the job.
"He's not gonna be better for the town than what we already have, so that's not very promising," she said.
The board would not let residents ask any questions at the meeting, and gave people just 24 hours notice before the special session to announce who would replace Greg Rehagen, who stepped down last week.
That's just one reason why so many people are dissatisfied with city leaders. Critics say those leaders have been tight-lipped about a wide range of issues, from city spending to the absence of a police force.
New Bloomfield resident Rita Kliethermes said, “It seems like they’re hiding stuff. They won’t let people in there and they keep canceling meetings. And then they have this meeting on a Friday night before Memorial Day when people are usually in bed by then.”
This is not the only problem the city has faced. Its police department dissolved in February after New Bloomfield Police Chief, Greg Mooney, was given the choice to resign or get fired after violating media policy.
For months afterward, the city had no police force until Holts Summit agreed Thursday night to extend its coverage to help out the city.
Crystal Bell, who served on the New Bloomfield police board, said, “They secretly disbanded the police force and now they did a backhand deal with Holts Summit.”
This all came amid the city’s lack of transparency with its budget.
“It’s dirty that we can’t pay our own people and now we are paying Holts Summit,” Kliethermes said. “If they can’t pay $13,000 for our own police force then where are they getting the $20,000?”
Kliethermes referenced the superintendent's salary and the city clerk's salary had also increased over time, yet the city chose to punish Mooney by giving him an ultimatum.
“I was told personally Chief Mooney overspent his police budget by $20,000 but they can’t show us what he bought with the $20,000.”
Another New Bloomfield resident, Lolly Robbins, who also served on the police board, said he was trying to help out the community by fixing up old cars.
Robbins asked the city in January if it had allocated any money for police officers for 2018, and board of alderman members said they could not divulge that information.
“The city is not getting anything done because we can’t ask any questions," Robbins said.
Kliethermes and Robbins agreed Mooney was a great addition to the police department.
“We loved him. People lit up around him. We had a fundraiser and the kids loved him. I loved him,” Robbins said. “He was a wonderful community cop and we are afraid they’re trying to slander him.”
Kliethermes said, “He offered to be a policemen for free but they said 'no.'”
Kliethermes believes, despite all the controversy, the city's budget is the real problem.
“My opinion is they’re trying to hide where the money is going,” she said. “We had to pay $248 for a Sunshine Law Request to look at records that revealed nothing.”
Robbins said New Bloomfield citizens have a right to use their voices to help the community.
“We’re the only town in the county who did not get a ballot for an election," Robbins said. "That hall belongs to us just as much as it does the officials and I use that term loosely,” she said.
Bell said she thinks things will get worse for the city if questions are not answered.
“We’ve had a lot of bad things happen but it is a good community," Bell said. "We just want to know where our money is going.”