Thursday, December 4, 2003

Woman reports Monroe mayor to police

She claims he shouted at her in public on tax vote

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MONROE - A citizen filed a menacing complaint with police Tuesday evening, alleging that Mayor Michael P. Morris shouted at her angrily in public over her husband's involvement in a successful anti-tax petition drive.

Lisa Henderson, 37, told police the confrontation happened after she took her son to Monroe Martial Arts, 11 East Ave., for karate practice around 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Morris, who was also there with his son, "approached her with his hand out, like he wanted to shake hands," a report says. But when Henderson took Morris' hand, "he loudly stated that he wanted to thank her and her husband for putting the city in debt."

Henderson said her husband had been active in last month's ballot repeal of council's reduction of an income-tax credit for residents who work outside the city. Morris and Councilman Richard Kremer lost their re-election bids, leaving a new council to tackle a projected $1 million deficit, which has been blamed largely on two officials who resigned under pressure.

Henderson said Morris was "shouting, cursing and verbally abusing her," a police report says. Henderson told police she felt threatened, although Morris "made no verbal threats of violence." She also told police that Morris had one previous confrontation with her.

Police Chief Earnest Howard said that there is no active police investigation of the incident. "There is nothing we can do as far as citing anybody. ... Apparently, he did not touch her," Howard said. He noted officers told Henderson she could seek a court restraining order against Morris.

After learning of Henderson's complaint, Morris came to the police station Wednesday and "wanted to give his side of the story," a supplemental report says. Morris admitted he shook Henderson's hand and congratulated her on her group's election success. However, he denied making any other statements to her. Further, Morris said he apologized to the martial arts studio's owner, Ernie Pendergrass, about the incident.

Pendergrass told police that he heard parts of the confrontation, including Henderson telling Morris that she was not going to be intimidated by him


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