Cape Girardeau city commissioners to publicly apologize after ‘hot mic’ moment before meeting

Cape Girardeau city commissioners to publicly apologize after ‘hot mic’ moment before meeting

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - A “hot mic” moment before Wednesday night’s Cape Girardeau Planning and Zoning meeting will lead to a public apology and anti-bias and diversity training for appointed volunteers.

Two members of the commission can be heard on a live stream provided by the city talking about the Black Lives Matter movement, calling it a Marxist organization and saying its supporters want to get rid of the Constitution.

A post on the city’s Facebook page said: “The City Council and management staff will be discussing diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-bias training for all boards and commissions at an upcoming Council retreat to ensure those who volunteer their time on advisory boards do so in a manner that reflects the ONECAPE values of the City of Cape Girardeau.”

Mayor Bob Fox said it was an “unfortunate occurrence” and does not reflect the position of the planning and zoning commission.

City Manager Scott Meyer called the comments offensive and inappropriate, and wanted the public to know why they decided to remove the comments from the video of the meeting, which can be watched on the city’s website and Facebook page.

Vision 2040 Hearing and Planning & Zoning Meeting 7/8/20

We are incredibly sorry for anyone hurt or offended by a personal conversation among a few appointed individuals at last night’s Planning & Zoning Commission (meeting below). The personal conversation took place before the meeting commenced. The remarks do not represent the City of Cape Girardeau Municipal Government, its Planning & Zoning Commission, the Cape Vision 2040 land use plan or our ONECAPE values. The City Council and management staff will be discussing diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-bias training for all boards and commissions at an upcoming Council retreat to ensure those who volunteer their time on advisory boards do so in a manner that reflects the ONECAPE values of the City of Cape Girardeau. We value: • Optimize Opportunity • Nurture Equity & Inclusion • Engage & Empower Everyone • Collaborate, Cooperate, & Communicate • Actively Help Others Succeed • Pride & Professionalism • Employee & Citizen Safety The following is the Vision 2040 Hearing and Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. P&Z makes recommendations to the City Council regarding zoning changes, special use permits, subdivision plats, and other development policy issues involving the Planning Services Division of the Development Services Department. The Planning and Zoning Commission consists of nine citizens, appointed by the City Council. Members serve four-year terms. Meetings are held the second Wednesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.

Posted by City of Cape Girardeau Municipal Government on Thursday, July 9, 2020

“We took the comments down and separated them from that 2040 discussion because we didn’t want people to go there and be offended,” he said. “Certainly, we have been ok and shared...and I know the comments have been shared, and we haven’t taken those down.”

The meeting actually focused on a plan to move the city forward over the next 20 years.

We asked Meyer if comments like that could set those efforts back.

“It certainly, I think, points to the fact that we have some work to do in our community to involve all and to make sure that we have a good public discourse on all of those issues,” he said. “And the comp plan is just one of those issues, but it’s an important one. And in our comp plan, we certainly do want to include the whole community. Hope it doesn’t set it back, and certainly it’s not our intent to let this or anything set it back.”

When asked if the two commissioners should be removed or if someone should be disciplined, Meyer said he wouldn’t offer a personal opinion.

He said by city and state ordinance, removing a member of a planning and zoning commission requires showing cause and holding a public hearing.

One member of the planning and zoning commission not involved in the comments took to social media to denounce them, calling the comments divisive and pledging to make the commission one that serves and represents all residents.

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