Lingle council revisits transparency

Rhett Breedlove
Posted 6/21/24

LINGLE – The Lingle Town Council met early Wednesday evening for the bi-weekly discussion of upcoming local events, activities, matters of maintenance, and most notably the reading and revising …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Lingle council revisits transparency


LINGLE – The Lingle Town Council met early Wednesday evening for the bi-weekly discussion of upcoming local events, activities, matters of maintenance, and most notably the reading and revising of local ordinances.

Present at the meeting was Lingle mayor Micah Foster as well as council members Kathy Wilhelm, Tabitha Lambert, and Jeff Jerome.

Board member, Shelly Duncan, was unable to attend the meeting. 

With the subject of local government transparency becoming an apparent large focal point for many Lingle residents, Wednesday night’s meeting was perhaps most notable by the opening public comments of local resident and former mayor, George Siglin.

According to Siglin, the matter of multiple council members having resigned and then positions being swiftly appointed without adequate time for resident awareness is simply unacceptable and can never happen again.

Although Siglin sincerely pointed out the fact all replacing council members are good local people who can be trusted, the town simply cannot set an unhealthy precedent of appointing town council positions within a span of less than two days. 

“I’m back again like I told you guys,” Siglin began. “And I told you I would keep coming back until we got it right. Once again, we are talking about filling vacancies.”

Siglin proceeded to read verbatim from already established town laws and ordinances when it came to filling a local government position. As the former town mayor would reason, a few ordinances possibly should be modified to avoid any future problems or confusion.

“Under election officials, any vacancy in which the office of the mayor or council to be removed from the town due to a conviction or felony, death, resignation, or any other reason under Wyoming statutes; the governing body should appoint an eligible person to the office. If we move down further, it says the town shall advertise the vacancies. The town should not. You guys should as well as the clerk and deputy clerk. It will give you guys ample time to see who is interested and then to interview them then. Then at the next meeting, you can appoint them.”

In response to the comments of Siglin, Lingle attorney Anna Barnes conspicuously added to the discussion; in particular towards any suspicions of rules, regulations or laws being broken while in the process of appointing new council members.

According to Barnes, everything done to appoint new council members after the sudden resignation of three priors was done ethically, justly, and one hundred percent legally.

“As for the vacancies, it was a very unique situation and we reviewed the Wyoming statutes,” Barnes said. “What the town council did was correct, and this was verified with the mayor of Torrington. He actually came into the office the next morning and voiced concern with what was happening. He and I read through, and both looked at statutes and requirements for the situation. There was nothing underhanded, or anyone trying to hide anything. Everything was followed step by step, and it was done correctly.”

Siglin reiterated suspicion of anything unethical is not, and never had been the point he and other Lingle residents were trying to make. Siglin recapped past public comments on the matter as well as did not, and never meant to accuse any council member of anything dishonest.

According to Siglin, the entire matter was simply a lack of transparency to the public. As Siglin explained this of course was going to raise doubts and reservations of council members. Had there been more public awareness, everything would have run so much more smoothly.

In short, Siglin simply advocated transparency and public cognizance is how trust and respect are kept between local government and town residents.

“That’s how this whole mess started because there was no public notification,” Siglin continued. “Anytime there is a vacancy you need to put it out to the public, so they know. This is something I came up with which does not necessarily have to be an ordinance, but something which needs to be put out there, so we don’t have this problem in the future.”

Siglin then proceeded to offer reasonable solutions to the issue of new council members who need to be appointed. 

“The town should keep a roster sign-up sheet for all applications for eligible residents interested in filling a vacancy. Then you have the names of everyone interested, so when you do have a vacancy you can publish it, throw it out there and start contacting good people on this list to ask if they are still interested.”

“What this is about is perception,” Siglin continued. “They [the council] didn’t violate the statutes. I’ve read them as well. I spent sixteen years reading those books, and that’s not the issue. The issue is there was no public notification. It is the perception for what these people present to the town. When there are resignations and open positions, there should be an advertisement. It’s not that they violated anything because they didn’t, but always be transparent in what you do. And yes, I still have questions. One of my main ones is we had a person resign on a Tuesday, the meeting was the next day, and someone was appointed in less than 30 hours. That’s not putting it out there, but you always should be for transparency. They didn’t do anything wrong with statutes, and the people appointed are all good people. It’s just about the transparency. I’m not knocking you guys, because I understand you are still learning.”

It should be duly noted just prior to adjournment, the third readings of two ordinances were reviewed and carried by the council.

Firstly, the reading of ordinance #367, “amending following articles and sections of ordinance #356 establishing rates, fees, and charges relating to water and sewer services; and providing for effective dates,” was motioned to pass, received a second vote, and carried.

Secondly, ordinance #368, “an ordinance providing for the annual appropriation for the town of Lingle for the fiscal year July 1, 2024, to June 30, 2025,” was also motioned to pass, received a second, and carried as well.

The meeting would adjourn promptly at 7:25 p.m. and will reconvene Wednesday, July 3, once again at the community center.