May 13, 2010 - content has not been altered
Order will protect councilwoman
By Pat Hansen for The Montana Standard
Tuesday, May 4, 2010 11:31 pm
DEER LODGE - A justice of the peace has issued an order of protection for a Deer Lodge city councilwoman after she claims she was intimidated at city hall.
The 60-day order, issued Tuesday by Justice of the Peace Terry McGillis, replaces a temporary order on April 13 and prohibits Kevin Marks from contacting councilwoman Karla Rydeen or her family. The order followed nearly three hours of testimony.
Marks has been promoting Smart Code zoning for the city for more than a year. Although the city hired another firm to develop growth, zoning and subdivision regulations, Marks continues to promote his ideas in a manner that several city officials said, during testimony, is condescending and arrogant.
Mayor Mary Ann Fraley, who met with Marks the morning of April 13, recalled, "I became very upset by his angry, intimidating attitude."
At noon that day, Marks arrived at city hall as a meeting was concluding. Council members (not a quorum), law enforcement and other officials had met informally to discuss the medical marijuana issue in town.
Although the public is welcome to attend any city meetings, Marks arrived in such an agitated state that Fraley asked him to leave.
"It was my right as a citizen to attend the meeting," Marks said at the hearing on Tuesday. "The public has a right to know and medical marijuana is a planning issue."
Rydeen served on the city planning board until councilman Dave Austin took her place. She was also on the ad hoc zoning committee. Rydeen testified that Marks began calling her home frequently until she finally quit answering the phone.
Marks contended the April 13 gathering was a planning meeting.
Those present at that meeting testified that he became agitated and "completely out of control," lunging across the table and pointing his
finger into the faces of Rydeen, Fraley, Austin and councilman Ed Hebbe IV, ordering, "You call me."
Marks denied any aggressive actions, saying he had agreed to leave, but before doing so wanted to request the council members call him.
Because his actions were interpreted as intimidating, code enforcement officer Heather Gregory stepped in front of Marks and walked him backwards out of the room.
Rydeen and Fraley subsequently filed complaints with victims' advocate Diana Solle.
Later on April 13, Marks returned to city hall to pick up the documents he had requested earlier in the day from the city clerk. Rydeen and Gregory were in the front office with the water clerk Kathleen McNally.
The women testified that Marks acted in a bizarre manner, saying, "I like you. I love you Karla," and then sat in the council chamber saying, "I'm not leaving."
Undersheriff Mike Grey responded to a 911 call and escorted Marks from the building.
Marks told the court Tuesday: "In 49 years I have no history of harming people. I am in no way a physical threat to Karla; an intellectual threat, possibly."
- Pat Hansen may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com
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