Thursday, May 6, 2004

Deerfield Twp. meeting sizzles in acrimony



By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

DEERFIELD TOWNSHIP - Tensions among township elected leaders are at a boiling point.

During Tuesday night's marathon meeting on a proposed YMCA here, Trustee Randy Kuvin made Clerk Kristin Spiekerman speak from the lectern the public uses instead of from her clerk's seat. And on Friday, trustees will discuss a resolution, requested by Kuvin, that states Trustee Lee Speidel intentionally misled the public in his campaign materials last November.

Speidel said Wednesday he has not seen the resolution.

Tuesday's episode started after Spiekerman raised concerns about how the township was to fund its part of the proposed partnership with Symmes Township to build a satellite of the Ralph J. Stolle Countryside Y of Lebanon. Kuvin said some of her comments went "well beyond" her role as clerk.

Spiekerman walked to the back of the room, and in front of the 50-plus person crowd, stated that she would write her name on a piece of paper and wait her turn to speak with the public.

"I also wonder if you're afraid of what I might say, Randy?" Spiekerman later said from the lectern. "Is that why you quiet me?" She said she hoped he would listen to all residents, not just the ones he "brought to this meeting."

Kuvin called that comment "absurd.

"The suggestion that I somehow would be afraid of what you might say is ridiculous," Kuvin said. "I did let you speak, from the podium, on issues that are outside the purview of the clerk's office. That's your role. ... And now, you don't have the floor."

Tuesday's wasn't Spiekerman's first clash with trustees. After she was first elected in 1999, there were disagreements with previous trustees over such things as clerical help and office location. In 2000, she sued the board, and they later settled. Even before the disagreement, several residents had expressed concern that differences among elected officials made the township look bad.

At one point, Trustee Barbara Wilkens Reed appeared to be done with the arguing as well. "Mr. Kuvin, I'm not interested in listening to that," she said.

E-mail esolvig@enquirer.com




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