Dayton Mayor Mims defends gaveling; Commissioner Fairchild responds

Dayton Mayor Jeffrey Mims Jr. at Wednesday’s Dayton City Commission meeting defended his actions from a week earlier in which he banged on his gavel to try to get Commissioner Darryl Fairchild to stop speaking.

In brief remarks from the dais on Wednesday, the mayor said he took action because “these meetings should not be used to debate with staff or put them down, especially after a vote has been taken.”

Mims pounded his gavel multiple times as Fairchild was questioning City Manager Shelley Dickstein and making comments about an impact report that police produced ahead of a public hearing and vote about automated license plate readers.

Fairchild, who voted against moving ahead with plate readers, had asked Dickstein whether she felt the impact report satisfied the city’s regular refrain that it makes data-driven and evidence-based decisions.

Fairchild and Shenise Turner-Sloss voted against the technology, while the other three commission members voted in favor of allowing their use.

Mims this week said disagreements are understandable and can be healthy at commission meetings but they are business meetings and commission members have a responsibility to “maintain order and decency.”

“We each have a vote and a voice to explain our vote,” Mims said. “But again, debating or putting down staff is not the purpose of these meetings, nor is it appropriate.”

Commissioner Fairchild during the meeting said he would review video of his exchange with the city manager because he certainly did not intend to “beat up” on city staff.

“If I did so, then I want to apologize, because that’s certainly not my intent to beat anyone up,” he said.

Fairchild said after the meeting said he reviewed the footage and he does not believe it’s a fair characterization of his comments and actions that he put down staff. But he said he welcomes feedback from community members about what they think.

Fairchild said the point he was trying to make is that he does not understand what city officials mean when they say the city makes data-driven and evidence-based decisions.

He said it seems like the city may have a different view of what it means to be data-driven and evidence-based or those standards may be applied some of the time, but not all of the time, or they only apply to some departments, but not all.

Fairchild and other community members during and following the public hearing said they do not believe the impact report that police were required to release about license plate readers contained objective data.

Fairchild said he’s had similar concerns about a lack of objective information provided in the past about different city matters.

Fairchild said he would like the city to find a tool, resource or expert consultant to help explain what it really means to be evidence based and data driven.

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