Settingsgaard Focus of Spirited Council Meeting

Settingsgaard Focus of Spirited Council Meeting

PEORIA – The River City’s top cop was the center of discussion at Tuesday night's city council meeting.
PEORIA – The River City’s top cop was the center of discussion at Tuesday night's city council meeting.
A crowd of supporters showed up at City Hall in support of Peoria Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard and witnessed a heated exchange between two city leaders.
“Chief, we’re behind you,“ said one police officer to a standing ovation.
Peoria City Hall may have witnessed the largest crowd in recent memory Tuesday. People crammed the room and even the hallways in support of Settingsgaard.
Community leaders, like Carl Cannon, said the police chief is positive for the city. Cannon mentioned Settingsgaard’s involvement and cooperation in elevating his E.L.I.T.E. program for local youth. Cannon says he started the now well known program shortly after the chief was hired, and says Settingsgaard remains supportive.  
"None of us are perfect. But under his leadership, I am encouraged that we as a community are moving in the right direction," said Cannon.  
Settingsgaard is in the spotlight partly in response to a police investigation of former councilmember Dan Irving. However, many supporters, including police officers, say they believe the chief’s reputation is being attacked.
"We no longer are going to standby silently, while a small group of people undermine his credibility and his competence. We are making the council aware that this has crossed a line,” said Jim Powell, pastor of Richwoods Community Church.
"He's a good man. He's leading by example. He listened to everything we've had to say. And I think you need to give him a chance like all of us," said Troy Skaggs, local police union president.  
The night's most spirited moment was a tense exchange between Mayor Jim Ardis and Councilman Chuck Grayeb, who the mayor accused of inappropriately sharing information to the public.
"Please give specifics. How have I gone around the city manager?” Grayeb asked.
 "Councilman Grayeb, what I am going to say is the way that this discussion has developed, I have never seen in city government before," said Ardis.  
 "I haven't either sir, that's what troubles me," Grayeb responded.  
"It is very inappropriate," said Ardis.  
Grayeb requested that the council return from scheduled executive session so city leaders would be awarded the chance to address the public about the issue. However, council members voted against the motion. A nearly four hour executive session followed.
At one point, At-large Councilman Eric Turner stormed out of the session and fellow Councilman Tim Riggenbach followed and brought him back to the meeting.
At 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday, the meeting ended. City Manager Patrick Urich called the discussion “frank, but good.” He said he and the majority of the council remain with strong support for Settingsgaard, though many questions were raised by council members.
“We have some other operational issues that they want us to report back on and to verify and to close the loop on and we will do that over the next couple of weeks,” said Urich.  
Urich would not expand on those “operational issues.”

Also discussed in executive session were applicants for the vacant at-large seat left by the late Gary Sandberg. The city received 31 applications including from former councilmen Clyde Gulley and Bill Spears.
Mayor Ardis says council members will reach out to each applicant prior to returning for executive discussion in two weeks.
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