An Independence City Council member says he’s sorry for how he addressed citizens during a council meeting last month. A recall petition spurred by that critical speech never got submitted.
Dan Hobart’s sharp comments in the Oct. 4 meeting, in which he criticized how some elected officials and citizens pushed for certain public safety expenditures, in large part led to three other council members walking out of the meeting. Later that week, citizen Tara Kruse took out a recall petition.
Ultimately, the city clerk’s office received no petition by the Nov. 4 deadline. To get a recall of Hobart on the ballot, the petition would have needed the signatures of about 1,300 voters in District 4, generally the southwest portion of the city, which Hobart represents.
Kruse briefly posted a social media video of Hobart apologizing, recorded Nov. 2 at a polling location but later removed. She said she decided later that week, after talking again with Hobart, not to submit the petition. She wouldn’t say how many signatures she had collected, other than, “I had enough signatures to make the change needed.”
“What the petition was for was resolved,” she said. “Turning in those signatures could have negated that.”
In the video, Hobart apologized for his tone Oct. 4, said it was “wholly unacceptable to deliver that message in the way that I did” and added that he’s certainly for body cameras for police, but more work needs to happen with that.
“As smart as I think am, I’m not,” Hobart said in the video. “What I’ve learned, and what I realized is, I talked down to the citizens of Independence, including the citizens that spoke that night.”
Hobart said he’s “absolutely sorry for the manner in which I delivered that message” and that “government exists for the people and by the people; I’ve fought for that my entire career.”
The video happened after Hobart, advocating at a polling location for the police and fire safety ballot measures, had a tense discussion with one of Kruse’s friends who was gathering signatures for the recall petition. Hobart called it an “interaction” while Kruse called it a “verbal confrontation.”
Hobart said he realized his intended message Oct. 4 had been misunderstood, and after he asked to speak with Kruse, she agreed to do so. Kruse confirmed that as well.
What citizens heard, Hobart said, was that they had no voice in local government and that he hates the idea of body cameras for police.
“I don’t know how they got that,” Hobart told The Examiner about body cameras, adding that as a career defense attorney it could helpful for him, as well.
“The message that didn’t get across is, it’s not the best way to govern to pick an item to do, without doing more research. I got emotional about it, but I said what I said.”
At the Oct. 4 meeting, Hobart said federal stimulus funds should go to one-time expenses and not set up new ongoing spending and therefore possible strains on future city budgets. That’s already a general city policy for one-time monies. Other council members had been trying to remove money for Square streetscape work and use it instead on public safety.
“Not a single council person has business shopping for the police department, nor any citizen,” Hobart said at the time. “It’s not picking out what you want to do and claiming it as the right thing to do. It’s incredibly arrogant and incredibly short-sighted.”
Kruse said her decision to not submit the recall petition came after some soul searching and talking with the people who helped her gather signatures.
Ultimately, Kruse said, she wants council members to work together better and always be able to listen to citizen concerns. The council recently appointed her to the citizen Public Safety Sales Tax Oversight Committee – a process that was started before Hobart’s Oct. 4 address. She was nominated by Council Member Mike Steinmeyer.
Kruse said she knows some citizens who signed the petition are upset, but “I believe the changes being made shows that they were heard loud and clear.”
“I know I made a lot of people mad, but it wasn’t meant to be a witch hunt,” she said. “It was mean