Archive for Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Vestal sends email containing nude images to council member’s brother

July 27, 2010

For the second time, Tonganoxie Mayor Mike Vestal is under fire for sending an obscene e-mail from a computer he uses in his duties with the city answering service.

The issue came to light at Monday's Tonganoxie City Council meeting when Councilwoman Paula Crook twice referred to the e-mail.

Vestal acknowledged sending the e-mail from a computer he uses in his duties with a city answering service. He expressed contrition and said he “accepted the Lord as my savior” Sunday at West Haven Baptist Church.

“It was a mistake on my part,” he said. “I ask your forgiveness. I will never, never do this again.”

Vestal refused comment on the e-mail after the meeting, except to say it was sent to Crook's brother.

Crook said she was with her brother, Tonganoxie police officer Danny Ruff, July 14 at an Olathe Bingo parlor when he received an e-mail from Vestal on his Blackberry. The e-mail contained 14 nude photographs of the same woman.

“I’d call it hard-core nudity — hard-core porn,” Crook said. “It showed things that made me blush.”

In September 2007, Vestal admitted and apologized and offered to resign as Mayor for sending an email from his dispatch computer with the words, “Next Monday is National Female Breast Appreciation Day.” It then showed a picture of a woman and her naked breasts. Underneath the picture were the words, “Beats the (expletive) out of Martin Luther King Day! Doesn’t It?”

After the latest incident, Tonganoxie Police Chief Kenny Carpenter sent a letter to the answering service contractor saying there was evidence an inappropriate e-mail had been sent from a city computer to private computer. The letter warned that a reoccurrence would lead to the termination of the contract.

In April, the city council approved a $1,200-a-month contract with James C. Conway doing business as J&M Answering Service for the service. The business listed Vestal’s address and it is the latest of such arrangements that all have had Vestal as an employee.

Tonganoxie City Administrator Mike Yanez said the latest e-mail contained pictures of nudity. There was no script or message on the e-mail sent to a city employee to his private residence, he said.

A city employee would have been subject to “progressive discipline” for violation of the employee policy prohibiting sending inappropriate, harassing, sexist or racist e-mails, Yanez said. A first offense would prompt a letter of reprimand and a second incident would lead to suspension without pay, he said.

The controversy comes two weeks after a lengthy council debate on funding the answering service for 2011. During that discussion, questions were raised about the value of the service and the possibility of a conflict of interest that could arise with Vestal being both Carpenter’s subordinate and boss.

The council voted 3-2 to fund the service in 2011 in part because Vestal said he wasn't running for re-elect next year. Council Burdel Welsh, who was not at Monday's meeting, said that gave him comfort the conflict issues would soon be resolved.

Crook supported ending funding for the service at the earlier meeting, and the councilwoman called Monday for the contract to be immediately terminated.

Vestal’s pattern of inappropriate behavior could get the city sued, Crook said.

A number of residents who filled the council room to speak out against the proposed 2011 city budget also asked the council to put an end to the answering service and one call for Vestal's resignation as mayor.

"If you had any integrity, you would resign," Michelle Selby said.

Resident Velda Roberts questioned the value of the answering service she said was a duplication of the county's dispatch service.

As a contract consultant, Vestal was not subject to the city's employee computer-use policy, said Mike Kelly, city counselor. The issue had been handled with the decision to place a letter of condemnation in Vestal's personnel file. The contract was another matter, he said.

Councilman Tom Potthoff, who voted with Crook to end funding for the answering service in 2011, said the council answered questions about the service's value in the earlier discussion. And although he joined all the present council members at condemning Vestal for sending the latest e-mail, Crook got no support for her demand the service's funding be cut.

Comments

tongieman1900 3 years, 8 months ago

I think the right thing is for the mayor to do is resign. If this is the 2nd time - I assume he was told the first time not to do that again. How can someone focus on their job and their responsibilities if they are doing things like this. The employers I have worked with had appropriate computer usage rules that all employees had to sign acknowledging they had read and understood the company rules. Maybe the city needs to put policies in place, that anyone who is employed by the city - employee or contractor - has to follow appropriate usage regulations when using computers that are meant for city business.

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avoiceofreason 3 years, 8 months ago

Really! Boot this a**clown to the curb. He is an embarrassment to himself but more importantly he is an embarrassment to the hard working people of Tonganoxie. Your resignation please Mr. Vestal.

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tonganoxie 3 years, 8 months ago

Some things don't get a second chance. No matter what your opinion on what he did, some things don't take place at work. Be creepy on your own time, not on my dime.

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cherylh 3 years, 8 months ago

Someone please step up and give our town back it's dignity and pride, I beg you.

I don't understand how we can be on a second time. If you are in the REAL working world the first time something like this happens(be it an accident or not) you are walked out of the office without a chance to pick up your personal belongings. Wrong is wrong and the first time this happened it was Mr. Vestals fault. This time it is not only Mr. Vestals fault but the person or persons that allowed him to stay the first time.

This time Mr. Vestal has to go. If he is not relieved of his position as mayor then someone needs to step in and remove him as well at the people that are letting him stay. What kind of message are we sending to our youth. You can screw up as many times as you want as long as you are in a position of power. What message are we sending the surrounding communities. I attend college at JCCC and last time this happened all my friends at school wanted to know why something wasn't done then. What should I tell them this time. That you at city hall in the position of making this decision just don't care or are you doing it too?

Mr. Vestal, wise up, you are a dirty old man and you need to not be in a position of power in our town.

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