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.
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.