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Hood walks out of council meeting

Ward I council member says bullying from Parks & Rec Board caused her to leave

April 6, 2018
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

Ward I council member Cindy Hood left Monday evening's council meeting after discussions with members of the Estherville Parks & Rec Board. Hood told the Estherville News on Wednesday, "I am re-evaluating my options. I love the city, and I would love to be part of it. With the city council, I think that I have had a good impact. I have enjoyed working with every member of the council."

Hood will be traveling for several weeks and plans to make her decision after she returns.

Hood walked out of the council meeting after a discussion with Parks and Recreation board members concerning that board's March 12 meeting.

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Parks & Recreation Board member Gary Phillips held a document entitled "Complaint against councilwoman Cindy Hood," but did not read from it. Instead, he turned the podium over to board member Bob Jensen.

Bob Jensen got up from his seat in the midst of the other Parks & Rec board members, aside from chairman Wayne King, who was unable to attend.

Bob Jensen said, "We felt we were having a discussion after [Hood] brought up the term of service of Gary Phillips, who has served this board for 27 years."

Bob Jensen said he brought a photocopy of the newspaper article in which Hood had indicated she would like to see more diversity on the city's boards and commissions.

"We had some concerns," Bob Jensen said, after reading that Hood voted against Phillips' reappointment to the board.

In what Bob Jensen said was a 25 minute conversation, he said, "Do you not look at the success of an organization, or the quality of the people on the board? We are the only small town with an environmental specialist and college professor on its board," referring to Phillips, who retired last year from Iowa Lakes Community College.

Bob Jensen pointed out the diversity of the Parks & Rec board: "We have three old guys and everyone else is women, and different age groups of women, too." Bob Jensen added that the women come from all walks of life with young children, older children and the only slice of diversity missing was racial. "We do have one in five students at (Estherville Lincoln Central) school who are Hispanic," Bob Jensen said.

"Different boards have different term lengths that work for them. And if things are working fine, it's not a problem," Bob Jensen said.

Bob Jensen addressed Hood, "In my office, we talked about what brought you to Estherville. Less stress, the small town atmosphereif that's the case, why start changing everything?"

Because no members of the media were present at the board's March 12 meeting, Bob Jensen said he felt they were able to discuss their differences and press on.

Hood said she reported to the council she was bullied and made to feel uncomfortable due to the disrespect of two of the Parks & Rec board members, and that she had considered requesting the removal of those board members, but changed her mind, hoping something could be worked out instead.

Bob Jensen said to Hood, "I apologize if you felt uncomfortable or bullied. That's not something I condone, and I've raised my family, my kids, to not do that under any circumstances."

Hood said, "I do feel uncomfortable ever coming back if I have to agree with everyone."

Bob Jensen said, "I stand behind the members of our board. I do apologize if that's how you felt. I felt the conversation wasn't heated."

Tina Jensen took the podium and told Hood, "I witnessed Gary correcting you and you didn't like it."

Tina Jensen addressed the fact that Hood wanted to go through all the Parks & Recreation ordinances with the board.

"We don't need an inspector," Tina Jensen told Hood.

Before Tina Jensen could go on, Hood said she would resign from the council with her letter of resignation turned in Tuesday.

Estherville Mayor Kenny Billings said after Hood left the room that the council needed to conduct city business in an orderly manner.

Hood will be traveling for several weeks and plans to make her decision after she returns. If Hood resigns, it would leave Estherville's Ward I with a vacancy. The council had selected Hood over Shannon Lehmkuhl at its Jan. 2 meeting after both candidates submitted letters of interest and told the council why they were interested in and qualified for service on the city council.



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