Councilman Fred Schmidt cuts ties with North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association

Tuesday, July 3, 2012 | 12:15 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — First Ward Councilman Fred Schmidt announced he is cutting ties with the North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association at Monday's City Council meeting.

The move is a response to what he calls personal attacks against his commitment to his ward.


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Schmidt referred to rumors questioning whether he lives in the ward that he represents. This claim was first reported on the blog The Columbia Heart Beat in an article called, "Where's Frederick?" The site is run by Columbia blogger Mike Martin, and the article stated that Schmidt's neighbors were claiming that the councilman had moved out of the First Ward.

The claim that Schmidt did not live in the First Ward was reposted on a Yahoo! Groups page that is described as the "community listserv for the Village in north central Columbia, Missouri." Schmidt said that when he tried to reply on the page, his comments were blocked.

In response to the situation, Schmidt removed himself from the Yahoo! group and said he will no longer attend the neighborhood association's meetings or read its "censored communications."

"Individual constituents may continue to contact me with concerns," Schmidt said.

John Clark, a principal officer with the NCCNA from 1993 to 2006, said the Yahoo! groups page was started by Martin and that to his knowledge it was never formally controlled by the neighborhood association.

"I think Mike Martin has become a net negative. Period," Clark said. "He has cost the organization, and I can understand Fred's being upset."

The Yahoo! Groups page description states that it is "not affiliated with the North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association, a separate non-profit organization."

Schmidt said the accusations, filed as a formal complaint, wasted the time of the city attorney and Office of Neighborhood Services.

"People shouldn't just throw mud at the wall to see what sticks," Schmidt said. "They are distracting the public from the real issues facing Columbia."

Schmidt has faced criticism recently from Keep Columbia Free for his position on Enhanced Enterprise Zones after the council voted unanimously to re-instate the EEZ Board. The organization has introduced a recall petition for Schmidt, according to previous Missourian reports.

The board president of the neighborhood association, Pat Fowler, had not responded to phone calls requesting comment on Schmidt's statement as of Monday evening.

Supervising editor is Ted Hart.

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Jeremy Calton July 3, 2012 | 2:35 a.m.

"People shouldn't just throw mud at the wall to see what sticks," Schmidt said. "They are distracting the public from the real issues facing Columbia."

Okay, but does he live there or not? Notice that he never addressed that, even I'm guessing not. It takes a distractor to know a distractor, I suppose.

I seriously doubt he's referring to the real issues such as our council members selling out their constituents for the benefit of their rich friends.

As far as Mike Martin being a net negative, that's a perfectly defensible conclusion an observer could reach, but normally a journalist would try to present multiple points of view on something like that, wouldn't they?

Obviously, whatever you think of him, he's caused a city councilman to change his behavior and a daily newspaper to report on his reporting, so he must be relevant.

(Report Comment)
Deborah Thompson July 3, 2012 | 8:41 a.m.

Anyone who wants to know where Fred lives and the phone number to contact him at only needs to read his statement in the "Related Media" box. An early article regarding this topic also gave his address on Ash Street. So, Jeremy, he did address it in a public statement that the reporter chose not to put in the main article.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking July 3, 2012 | 10:08 a.m.

Sounds like Fred might just be spending a lot of time at his fiancee's house, while he gets the one on Anderson (which *is* in the First Ward) ready? That's probably why some neighbors don't see him a lot.

I suspect there's more to this (as far as the HeartBeat) than meets the eye. There's three other Councilpeople eligible for recall, that voted for the EEZ board also, but Fred seems to be getting most of the attention.


(Report Comment)
Chip Cooper July 3, 2012 | 10:35 a.m.

Fred Schmidt, several days ago, issued a detailed response to the accusations that he does not live in the First Ward. He emphatically stated that he has continued, uninterrupted, to live in the First Ward during his service as councilman. I live on the street where his fiance lives. I have not observed anything that suggests that Fred lives here. I think the accusations against him are untrue.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin July 3, 2012 | 12:46 p.m.

Councilman Schmidt is not being entirely forthcoming here.

In April, he unsubscribed from the North Central Columbia listserv, complaining that he had "never subscribed in the first place."

For whatever reason, he signed his complaint emails "Robobill," the facetious social media nickname given Bill Tillotson during his campaign against Barbara Hoppe. Story here:

When Mr. Schmidt tried to post his response to the Ward move accusations to the same listserv last week, he found that he could not.

I reminded him in emails that he had unsubscribed, while also responding to more of his attacks, which started when I quoted him insisting the public call him "Mr. Blighted" back in February:

Regardless, the Columbia Heart Beat ran his response to the accusations last week on all the listservs -- even those he did not subscribe to -- so his complaint here is moot. We just posted his response on our news website (which, for journalists worried about accuracy, has not been a blog since last December).

Meanwhile, why he is "cutting ties" with the North Central Neighborhood -- or even what that means -- is beyond me.

The Ward move accusations DID NOT come from the North Central neighborhood, but from his own neighborhood across Providence near West Ash. The Recall effort did not originate with the North Central neighborhood.

In fact, the North Central neighborhood leadership has been surprisingly tactful in all dealings with Mr. Schmidt, despite that he has rarely if ever stood in their corner, voting for everything from blighting the neighborhood to expanding the Odlesaurus beyond all good sense.

I am also puzzled as to why the Missourian would quote John Clark, the North Central neighborhood association's former president, impeached last year for behavior toward association board members that became, in a word, intolerable:

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance July 3, 2012 | 1:40 p.m.

Don't be fooled people, this recall effort is not a popular uprising, but a handful of radical libertarians and local gadflys. Way to go geniuses, now anyone with a legitimate concern in the North Central neighborhood is going to have that much of a harder time getting attention from the councilpersons. You can disagree with someone without being an ass.

(Report Comment)
Glenn Rice July 3, 2012 | 3:10 p.m.

It's unfortunate that Mr. Schmidt's dispute with Mr. Martin has led him to sever ties with the neighborhood association. More than that, it's baffling. The association had nothing to do with either the original accusations nor the "censoring" -- so why is Mr. Schmidt punishing his own constituents?

Tim Dance is right: "Now anyone with a legitimate concern in the North Central neighborhood is going to have that much of a harder time getting attention from the councilpersons."

(Report Comment)
Glenn Rice July 3, 2012 | 3:18 p.m.

And, Mike Martin is also right (although I'd argue with his use of the word "surprisingly" here): "...the North Central neighborhood leadership has been surprisingly tactful in all dealings with Mr. Schmidt, despite that he has rarely if ever stood in their corner...."

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle July 3, 2012 | 3:24 p.m.

He didn't cut ties with the association proper; he cut ties with a Yahoo Group that wasn't even run the the association.

As one of Fred's constituents, I'm certainly disappointed with his performance as my representative. But the fact that he stopped participating in a Yahoo Group run by an independent individual, as a community resource, is a complete non-starter.

I believe we've got better and more important things to do.

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm July 3, 2012 | 3:40 p.m.

"As one of Fred's constituents, I'm certainly disappointed with his performance as my representative."

I second this!

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 3, 2012 | 5:53 p.m.

Oh Tim, your fear of "radical libertarians" makes me smile. Will you now amend the city charter so citizens cannot vote to recall politicians who wish to blight their neighborhoods and provide tax advantages to well-connected insiders? I'm sure you would be first in line with a petition and pen if the recall target was Kespohl or Dudley...

(Report Comment)
Glenn Rice July 3, 2012 | 11:27 p.m.

Derrick, the headline and first sentence of the story say "Councilman Fred Schmidt cuts ties with North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association". That sounds like the Association "proper" to me.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance July 4, 2012 | 9:25 a.m.

No John, I don't believe a recall should be used over one issue. This very small group of libertarians and gadflies appeared to have made blown a gasket over the EEZ issue. Instead of posturing, recalling, or making stuff up, how about you spend that time gathering evidence that counters his position. But no, they decided they were going to lie, whine, and recall so any evidence contrary will be met by a defensive councilperson. I think Fred should sue for libel. If these bloggers want to play journalists, they need to pay the consequences when they are wrong. I know that there is a group opposing the EEZ. That group needs to jettison these yahoos, they are seriously bringing your credibility down.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin July 4, 2012 | 11:58 a.m.

Tim Dance: You obviously haven't followed the EEZ/Blight debate, or you would know that the many groups and individuals opposing the measure have done exactly what you suggest: gather data, evidence, and other materials to counter both Councilman Schmidt's position and others supporting the EEZ.

You would know, for instance, that REDI and EEZ supporters provided virtually no evidence to back their claims when they presented the program to the Columbia City Council back in February.

You would recall that Council members passed it illegally as a Resolution, instead of the City Charter-prescribed Ordinance, a move EEZ opponents cited, forcing the city attorney to publicly apologize and re-introduce EEZ/Blight as an Ordinance.

You would know that so far, only the EEZ board has been re-established, not the Blight Decree, because so many opponents came forward with hard facts to show that the Blight Decree was a total misfire.

You would know that hundreds of people have continually protested Blight/EEZ over the last few months, not just gadflies and Libertarians.

They have cited inaccurate census data; the lack of economic data that shows the program works. They found out that citizens in Rolla strongly opposed EEZ/Blight, catching REDI in a big lie -- that only people in Columbia had opposed it.

Opponents have cited EEZ's failure to launch in places like St. James and Phelps County; they have brought in outside experts like Dave Roland and David Stokes to address the City Council with their own research and findings. They have gathered thousands of signatures opposing the measure from people all over the city.

They invited Council members to attend a presentation by government accountability expert Greg Leroy, only to have none attend.

You would know that through all this Mr. Schmidt has scolded his constituents, even getting right up into the face of Verna Laboy at a public CiViC meeting a few months ago, in a strange verbal duel over who knew more about the plight of black residents (Ms. Laboy is black).

You would know that Mr. Schmidt has repeatedly told his constituents that the more they argue with him; the more facts they bring to show him he is wrong; the more they oppose the EEZ/Blight Decree, the more he will "dig in" and resist them.

You would know that during the course of this debate, Mr. Schmidt has written this entire EEZ episode off as "a bunch of white people whipping up opposition among black people," a poor choice of words he delivered to a black constituent.

Meanwhile, he has played footsie with REDI and Co., clearly showing how biased he is in their favor.

In fact, Councilman Schmidt has voted against his constituents and in favor of the corporate welfare crowd on more legislation than I can count, so to say that it's just a bunch of gadflies and yahoos angry with him over a single issue goes against his own legislative record.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 4, 2012 | 12:22 p.m.

In the sage words of NBA Jams, boomshakalaka. Try to keep up, Tim.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance July 4, 2012 | 1:13 p.m.

Well good for you Martin and the Libertarians. You are damaging the credibility of others in the opposition. Stop acting like 10 year olds and maybe a councilperson might show up to hear a speaker. Note to everyone in the opposition. I too oppose blighting half of the city, but these people are making this personal and will screw it up for everyone else.

(Report Comment)

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