Casper Councilmember Calls for Reprimand Following Exchange Over Alcohol, Sexual Assault; Huckabay Responds
One member of Casper City Council is calling for the reprimand of another member following a dust-up, which focused on alcohol consumption and sexual assault, at Tuesday's Council meeting.
"I hope Council Leadership will agree with me when I say this type of behavior is not tolerated and a formal reprimand for this behavior is sent to Councilwoman [Amanda] Huckabay and properly recorded," Ward I Councilmember Jesse Morgan wrote to Mayor Kenyne Humphrey and the rest of Council, including Huckabay, in an email sent Thursday afternoon.
Morgan's email is in large part a product of an exchange between he and Huckabay at Tuesday's meeting, in which Huckabay called out Morgan for what she said was an "ignorant" comment about alcohol and sexual assault.
In a recap of the meeting, Morgan said on his Facebook page, "At the end of the meeting, I presented my concerns with people drinking and not knowing what their BAC [blood-alcohol concentration] is. The concern I have is people only get a chance to know it after something bad has happened. Maybe if they knew having 4 beers and a basket of wings they're on boarder [sic] of being legally "drunk" when in fact they feel fine."
In an audio recording of the meeting, which can be found here, Morgan praised outreach efforts by the Casper Police Department and Fire-EMS to improve relationships with the community, specifically getting citizens and children out to look at vehicles.
"Just to be able to extend that, especially being on some of the sexual assault panels, it seemed like there is an issue with intoxication or over serving. A lot of people, or business owners, do offer TIPS training. I think that's great. But getting back to community relations, it'd be great to see police officers when they are making those patrols -- I know we're stretched thin and everything -- just say 'hey look,' if anybody's interested, it could be an educational piece where we could just target, maybe once a month, one establishment at a time. If you're wanting to know, you're sitting in a bar, Saturday night football's on, you've had, two or [inaudible] beer, this is where you're at. You can't legally drive. I think that could be an eye-opener for people, and hopefully it's a preventative thing..."
"The only time they actually blow in something is when they've done something bad. So, just step back, look at it in a different way and say, 'Hey, if anyone's interested, go ahead and take a breathalyzer. It's nothing against you, we're not waiting in the parking lot for you, but this is something we're going to make available just to educate."
"We've done that, actually," Mayor Kenyne Humphrey said. "I kind of remember vaguely and it didn't go over very well, in that patrons got uncomfortable and bar owners kind of felt like we were..."
"I see cops walk through bars and it doesn't intimidate me," Morgan responded.
After further discussion which focused on problems with such an approach, including having to pay overtime in order to dedicate officers to such activity and at least one failed attempt at such a campaign in the past, Morgan concluded his comments.
Then, it was Huckabay's turn to speak.
"I just want to respond to something that you said, Jesse, that I find very ignorant," Huckabay began.
"That's a little bit of an attack, though," Humphrey interjected.
"It is," Huckabay responded.
"No attacks, no attacks. Constructive criticism," Humphrey guided.
"Ignorance means 'lack of knowledge.' So I'm educating you," Huckabay said to Morgan.
"It's just his opinion," another councilmember is heard saying.
"It's not an opinion. No, it's not," Huckabay said. "To say that there are so many sexual assaults that are having to do with alcohol and that perhaps education might remedy this -- "
"I never said that. I just -- " Morgan replied.
"Rapists rape. Alcohol doesn't rape," Huckabay continued.
"I never said any of that," Morgan said. "And I'm glad it is recorded, so you can go back and maybe take back that 'ignorant' comment."
"But anyways," Morgan continued, "what I did say was attending some of the sexual assault panels, there were professionals in each part of their respective field, and they did mention that there is somewhat of a problem of over serving, consumption of alcohol is an issue."
"So hearing professionals say that there is an issue with that, and some of the steps that are in place to prevent over serving -- we've even brought it up here in this body -- TIPS training, maybe we should require TIPS training when we're issuing a license, I think that's great. So that's what I said."
"But to equate those two things, you're suggesting that alcohol is responsible for rape rather than rapists," Huckabay responded.
"No, I didn't -- " Morgan said.
"But that's how it comes across," Huckabay continued.
"Well I'm sorry it came across that way," Morgan retorted. "It's just, that's where I heard it from. And the fact that we are concerned, even people in the audience still brought that up at that forum, saying there's an issue with people drinking a lot, they don't think there should be as many bars and things like that."
"So that's where I heard and got that information, and that's why I brought it up," Morgan said. "And I think, like I said, I think it's great for people to know what their BAC is to prevent DUIs is where I was getting at that. But that's where I heard the information, that's what my angle is."
Councilmember Dallas Laird spoke next, and he began by addressing Huckabay.
"Personally, I respect the work you're doing. I agree with you on [inaudible] about a horrible crime. I also look at the difference between opinions, accusations, what have you. And truthfully, I deal with facts. I don't believe anything anybody tells me until I go check it out myself."
"So I actually didn't hear him say that, and I actually think he's an extremely intelligent and great member of this council, as I think you are, as I actually think everybody is."
"And so, I don't think anybody makes an ignorant statement. I think it's their opinion, they're entitled to it, they have all the facts, they may not have enough facts."
"But it is a touchy issue, and I know that, and I respect that. And there's no way I can say I understand that, because it's never happened to me. Never been involved in it, and it's like the loss of a child. Somebody says 'I understand what you need' -- no you don't. Unless you've lost a child, you don't know. You can tell me how sorry you are, but it makes no difference unless you've lost one."
"I understand. And I understand where your heart is, and I respect it totally. We have to blend a lot of things in here, and I have respect for all my council members. Some of them I don't agree with, they don't agree with me, and I think that's what makes America great," Laird concluded.
Huckabay said that after the meeting, "I just had to get out of the room and compose myself. And I was over it that night."
She told K2 Radio News that Morgan called her around noon Thursday, and asked if she wanted to discuss their exchange.
But Huckabay had been in a car accident, and couldn't speak with him. She also said she couldn't call him back after returning to work, as she is "knee-deep" in preparing for the total solar eclipse coming up Aug. 21.
Before she could return his call, Huckabay said, Morgan had sent the email calling for her to be reprimanded.
"He didn't even wait until after business hours for me to return his phone call before he sends this letter out," Huckabay said Thursday. "Secondly, he's upset that I'm sharing this letter on social media, when all City Council emails are public record."
Initially, Huckabay said Morgan had sent the email to the rest of council, but not her. She corrected that statement Friday morning, saying she had received the email.
As for their exchange at Tuesday's meeting, Huckabay says she called Morgan out for assigning blame for sexual assaults to the victims, by "essentially blaming victims for being drunk."
"If we have a councilperson who is unintentionally and unknowingly adding to that, that's why we have the survivors all riled up," Huckabay said.
"I happen to be that councilperson that the survivors finally feel like they can have representation and a voice on council. These are the people that voted me in, and they want me there for a reason," she added.
Morgan, in his email to Council, chastised more than Huckabay's words at Tuesday's meeting.
"For this governing body to be effective, we must be civil, and show our constituents and state for that matter, that we can work with one another. As leaders, we must hold ourselves to the highest of standards. We must be cool, calm, and collective [sic] when making decisions or speaking at a public meeting. It is our duty to make decisions with integrity, impartiality and within the public's interest," Morgan's email reads in part.
"Unfortunately, this had not been the case with Councilwoman Huckabay as defined in city ordinance 2.60.030 B," the email continues.
"We are human beings on council," Huckabay respond in a phone interview. "Jesse is suggesting that we're to be participating in mind only, because he claims that emotion should have no part and no bearing in that arena. I disagree."
In his email, Morgan also mentions having called a state representative, who Morgan says confirmed that a bill is being created which would allow council members to be removed.
Of that effort, Morgan writes, "This is all due to the conduct of this body."
"I am still proud to serve on this Council and I think we can accomplish a lot of things if we work together; which I am still willing to do! What makes this impossible, is the hostile environment that's created when such outburst has [sic] taken place," Morgan's email concludes.
"Part of being a human being is having emotions, having a soul, having a body, and yes, having a mind. But in order to be a fully functioning human, you can't shut off any one part of those. They all work together," Huckabay continues.
"I feel to call out a reprimand for another equal person is ludicrous," Huckabay added.