HUBER HEIGHTS — Huber Heights City Council Monday night decided not to censure Council Member Nancy Byrge for the distribution of a satirical video and for any statements she made in the ensuing investigation.
The animated video was created by Byrge’s husband and was critical of Council Member Richard Shaw, Huber Heights resident Andi Otto and Mayor Tom McMasters. At its June 12 meeting, council debated how the video was distributed and whether Byrge had told the truth about her knowledge of the video. No action was taken at that meeting.
On Monday night, Council Member Glenn Otto, husband of Andi Otto, called on council to censure Byrge.
“I would like to make a motion for the censuring of Councilwoman Nancy Byrge,” Otto said. He called the video “disrespectful and juvenile,” but then said, “My request is not about the video but rather the way in which Ms. Byrge chose to handle the situation through her constant denial of knowledge. Even when confronted personally prior to any action, rather than simply acknowledging the existence of the video and offering to apologize for it and the actions of her husband, she has repeatedly stated that he did this of his own accord and without her knowledge. Ms. Byrge instead chose to repeatedly lie in the face of evidence and made claims of a threat which did not exist and attempted to turn the discussion into how it made it out in the public.”
Council Member Ed Lyons came to Byrge’s defense after Shaw seconded Otto’s motion.
“The whole entire process was political,” Lyons said. “It’s an obvious political stunt.” He said there was no credible evidence to support the complaint about Byrge distributing the video.
Lyons brought up “politics of the day” and events of the past that were not pursued including a police report from 2016 that included some council members but he was cut short by Mayor Tom McMasters, who said past events had no relevance to the issue.
Council Member Tyler Starline expressed his disappointment in council’s inability to work out problems.
“It is my opinion and my opinion alone that there are untruths abundantly out there but it’s not for me to judge my colleagues in a vote to censure,” he said. “This does us no good. It does nothing to truly encourage, promote and support the people we represent. I had hoped that we would do better tonight.”
Starline then took on Lyons for bringing up the old police report. “You sir,” he said, “are a part of this council, we are all part of this council and if you want to engage in that like you did here tonight, shame on you!”
Starline made a plea to council to work together and told Otto his complaint should not have been handled in a public forum.
Otto explained again why he asked for the censure.
“This is based purely on the fact that in statements made to the mayor during his investigation, and statements made right on this dais in front of everyone there were untruths told that were simply, they were – I’m going to call them what they were – they were lies told to the people from this dais and in statements to the mayor,” he said.
Council Member Judy Blankenship suggested that Pastor Randy Griffith, who gave the opening invocation for the meeting, get up and repeat his message of forgiveness. She then went on to say she could not vote for censure and that disagreements like this one should not be aired in public.
“If we have problems with each other, we can talk about it,” she said. “We just have to move on and get past this. People are hurt on all sides.”
Council Member Janell Smith said, “We’re missing the opportunity here. And the opportunity is we need to be apologizing to the residents, we need to apologize to Mrs. Otto and I don’t hear that coming from anybody in here. We need to own what happened so we can move on and begin the healing process and can start learning to forgive.” Smith then went on to apologize to Huber Heights residents, businesses and to Andi Otto.
Council Member Mark Campbell closed the discussion by apologizing to Andi Otto. He said the video was “in poor taste” but could not vote for censure.
“There’s probably more than one lie that has been told,” he said. “It’s been offered up that maybe we could censure more than one person here on the dais. I’m not for censuring anyone tonight.”
When the vote was taken, Starline, Campbell, Blankenship and Lyons voted no while Smith, Otto and Shaw voted yes, so the motion failed.
After the meeting, Byrge had a brief comment.
“It was purely political,” she said. “The charges as stated were not validated.”