Police officers escorted former Festus Councilman Tim Montgomery out of the Nov. 20 City Council meeting, following a clash between him and Mayor Sam Richards.
Richards directed the officers, who were already at the meeting, to remove Montgomery from the council chamber.
Montgomery protested, but ultimately complied with officers and left.
Richards said he took exception to Montgomery yelling at him during the public comments section of the meeting.
Montgomery, on the other hand, said he was using his normal speaking voice, which he acknowledges is loud.
Richards said he also took issue with Montgomery’s demeanor after his allotted five minutes to talk during the public comments section of the meeting expired.
Each person who signs up to speak during the public comments are given a five-minute limit.
Montgomery, who regularly tapes Festus council meetings, posted a video he took of his time speaking and his ejection from the meeting on YouTube.
That video shows Richards informing Montgomery that his comment time had elapsed and asking him to vacate the podium.
Then, Montgomery can be heard angrily saying, “I’m getting my paperwork!”
Richards fired back, “I will not tolerate being yelled at,” and asked the officers to escort Montgomery from the council chamber.
On Monday, Richards said when he asked Montgomery to be removed from the meeting, he was responding to what he called Montgomery’s aggressive behavior.
Montgomery said he believes his ejection from the meeting had more to do with his criticisms of Richards and the way city government is being run.
During his allotted time to speak, Montgomery raised several questions, including why the council was meeting just once in November instead of twice like normal but yet still being paid its full salary and why city workers got the day after Independence Day off after a council motion to grant the day off initially failed.
Montgomery also said the council had voted electronically to give city employees the day off on July 5 and asked if that was an illegal, secret meeting. He also brought up several other issues related to those questions.
Richards said he had no comment about any issues Montgomery brought up during the meeting.
Montgomery said he cannot avoid using a high-decibel voice, adding that he believes Richards only used that as an excuse to have him removed from the meeting.
“My dad was in the artillery in World War II,” he said. “That’s why I talk loud. That’s how we talked in our house.”
Montgomery said he believes his removal from the meeting was unwarranted.
“Little by little, they’re taking away citizens’ rights,” he said.
Montgomery vowed to ask for investigations into the way the city is conducting business, and, to that end, he said he has filed a Sunshine Law complaint against the city with the Missouri Attorney General’s Office.
Richards and Montgomery have been at odds at least since May, when the council voted to remove Montgomery from the Jefferson County Water Authority Board of Directors (the governing body of the Jokerst Water Plant that supplies water for Festus and Herculaneum).
Montgomery said he was removed from that board because he complained about an incident involving city and water plant employees. He said the employees used a small pontoon boat owned by Festus while attempting to fix a water plant equipment problem on the Mississippi River, which he said was unsafe.
City officials said Montgomery misinterpreted reports about the pontoon boat incident and that no one was put at risk.
Richards said Montgomery’s behavior was part of the reason he acted to replace him on the Water Authority board. Richards also said that when Montgomery visited City Hall with concerns over the pontoon incident, he used inappropriate language in front of staff.
Montgomery hasn’t been banned from attending future meetings, Richards said
“There’s nothing saying he can’t come back to other meetings,” Richards added.