Tempers are flaring between Casper Mayor Bruce Knell and area state lawmakers over problems with homelessness in the city.
They began throwing barbs at each other online when Bar Nunn resident Dan Sabrosky commented on a Cowboy State Daily story about squatting at a local motel in Casper, calling the city council “incompetent” for his belief that there weren’t any arrests made in relation to the squatting.
Four people were reportedly arrested in June for trespassing during a Casper Police Department sweep, and the building's owners were issued a 60-day notice to bring the building into compliance with local codes.
Sabrosky’s comment drew an angry response from Knell.
“Incompetent? When did we (city council) start having the ability to arrest people? You are such a complete idiot, you’re an embarrassment to the Liberty for you(r) party,” Knell said.
It’s not the first time Knell has received backlash for comments he’s made on social media. In April, he got heat after he posted an image of a man dancing in fire in a comment under an Oil City News story about Wellspring Health Access, an abortion and transgender treatment clinic that was opening in Casper. He later apologized for the post.
Knell And Sabrosky
Sabrosky is a member of the Liberty’s Place 4 U Wyoming group, a staunchly conservative political organization in Casper.
Knell has a history with Sabroksy and the group. He recently participated in a debate with Sabrosky at an event hosted by Liberty’s Place 4 U that Sabrosky described as cordial. They also sit on the Central Wyoming Regional Water System Joint Powers Board together.
“We always go back and forth, but it’s usually pretty friendly,” Sabrosky said.
Knell has a different perspective on their interactions, telling Cowboy State Daily that Sabroksy knows how to get under his skin and that he’s had enough of his group’s name calling, which is why he shot back on Facebook.
“They’ve got this group to hide behind,” Knell said. “They want to pretend like they’re all about Wyoming and Wyoming people, but it’s not true.”
He said members of the group often make offensive comments about city staff and members of the city council on social media.
“I don’t have a lot of respect for that,” he said.
Sabroksy told Cowboy State Daily he believes Knell and other members of the council are ignoring the issue of homelessness in Casper, something various downtown business owners have brought to his group’s attention as getting worse.
Legislators Get Involved
The argument quickly escalated on Facebook, with state Reps. Bill Allemand, R-Midwest, and Jeanette Ward, R-Casper, getting involved and criticizing Knell in separate posts.
It’s not often state lawmakers get involved in a public argument like this, especially when it involves local issues and other members of local government.
Allemand told Cowboy State Daily he stood up for Sabrosky because he thought he was being bullied and told Knell he should be ashamed of the way he behaved.
“Bruce, I very seldom comment on these posts. However I can’t let this one go,” Allemand posted. “You calling Mr. Sabrosky an idiot over and over in your posts is not what a mayor does. Are you the mayor? I am sorry you don’t act like one.”
Allemand is a founding member of Liberty’s Place 4 U, a point which Knell believes takes away any legitimacy away from his comments.
Knell doubled down in his response to Allemand on Facebook, calling Sabrosky the “rudest, most arrogant, ignorant person on social media” for comments that he makes against himself and city council. He believes the only reason Allemand and Ward were elected is because of the campaign funding they received from Liberty’s Place.
“They’re like a little pack of wolves,” Knell said.
Rep. Ward stood up for Sabrosky as well
"Calling your constituents idiots publicly, especially a salt-of-the-earth man like Dan Sabrosky is not a good look," Ward said.
Knell didn't blink. "If the shoe fits," he responded.
The two continued their exchange on Facebook for a few more responses, but Knell said he is done with the argument and moving on.
Sabrosky said Liberty’s Place 4 U is “a group of grassroots political activists” passionate about dealing with the issues facing Wyoming residents, like property taxes.
He said there will always be a certain amount of “jousting” when it comes to political issues, but that people need to speak with less animosity and hate when engaging in these debates.
“If we can tamper down the animosity, I think it will be for the best,” he said.
Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.