May 13, 2010 - content has not been altered
City files restraining order
By Mark Eisenbeil
Kevin Marks is a man with big ideas. A few weeks ago his "ideas" served him with an armed escort out of city hall and a temporary restraining order for his efforts to "sit in" on a meeting,
"It took place, I believe, on April 8... .I'd been trying to contact [city council members| Ed Hebbe, Karla Rydeen and Dave Austin concerning community planning issues. They had not returned my calls," said Marks, who added he attempted to contact Hebbe three times, Austin two times, and Rydeen two times about issues regarding the draft of the zoning regulations that are being worked on by Wade Humphries of KirK Engineering.
Marks did mention that he had spoken with Rydeen when he bumped into her at the county courthouse and he said she told him that she does not have to speak with him about any issues regarding planning. "I have a lot of questions and 1 would like to have answered," Marks said about the many questions he has regarding the draft document, and added that when he called Dave Austin's house, he was told that Austin was down at city hall.
"So 1 walked from my office over to city hall and the door was open to the meeting room (city council chambers) and I walked in," said Marks.
According to Marks, seated around the table were Powell County Attorney Lewis Smith, Mayor Mary Ann Fraley, and council members Karla Rydeen, Ed Hebbe, Heather Gregory, and Dave Austin. He asked them if they were having a meeting and Mayor Fraley told them that they were not having a meeting.
See restraining order, p. 3
Montana law defines a meeting as the convening of a quorum of a public agency to hear, discuss or act upon a matter over which the agency has control or advisory power.
"I said do you mind if I have seat, it was noon and they looked like they were all relaxing. The mayor then asked me, could you leave, Kevin, and I said, are you having a meeting, and she said no, and I said, well, I don't see why I have to leave," said Marks.
Marks said he told them that he would leave but before he left he had some planning issues that he had recently discovered in the latest zoning regulation draft to talk with them about.
"I turned to Karla Rydeen and said, Karla give me a call. You guys have issued a new board called the planning commission, and not only are you on the planning board and city council, but now you sit on the planning commission which is a very powerful board," said Marks.
Turning his attention to Hebbe, Marks then said he told Hebbe that he is also on the planning commission and he wished to talk to him about planning matters as well. Marks then said that Rydeen said something about his mother and he told her that he wasn't there to talk about his mother.
"At that point Heather (Gregory) jumped up and said I was causing trouble," said Marks, who added that he then left the building.
Approximately 1-2 hours later, Marks said he returned to city hall requesting full copies of the current ordinances and all of the minutes of the board meetings concerning the planning board from all of 2009 and 2010, and a comprehensive copy of all of the latest ordinances that have been signed.
Marks said the clerk was very questioning of him and he said he told the clerk that the information was public knowledge. He said he was then told that he would be charged for the copies and he agreed to the charge and then left with the intention of coming back later to pick up the copies.
When it came time to pick up his documents, Marks said he went back to city hall and noticed Rydeen there. so he asked her if he could talk to her about the planning issues and he said she told them that she does not have to talk with him concerning planning.
"I said, yes you do, and it's a Freedom of Information Act and I do have a right to discuss this with you." said Marks, who added at that point. Gregory stood up and informed him that he was causing trouble and requested the clerk in the office to call the sheriff's office.
Mark said he went and took a seat and waited. A short time later, Powell County Undersheriff Mike Grey came in and escorted him out of the building. Two days later, Marks said he was served with a temporary restraining order.
"I fee! there is an actual effort of silencing, I am being silenced, and the restraining order now says that I cannot go in city hall anymore. My documents are still sitting out there and they won't allow me access to them," said Marks.
Marks said the restraining order will be heard in court on Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 2 p.m. at Powell County Courthouse. He said it was issued by Judge Terry McGillis.
Marks has been promoting the concept of initiating a planning program called SmartCode into the city's planning process since 2008. People might also recognize his name as being the project manager with Crabtree Group, Inc. during their attempt at being chosen as the company to perform a comprehensive needs assessment for the City of Deer Lodge.
Marks' attempts at pushing Smart-Code were rejected by the city. He was also looked over on a recent employment opportunity.
As of press time on Tuesday, Austin, Hebbe, Gregory, McGillis and Grey could not be reached for comment. Fraley, Rydeen, and Smith refused to comment on the meeting until the matter turns up in court. They neither confirmed nor denied they were having a meeting.