Tag archive

Gillette Mayor Louise Carter-King

Report: Former Gillette Mayor Did Not Violate Law By Sending Inappropriate Texts

in News
18358

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

While inappropriate text messages sent by Gillette’s former mayor to the city’s former administrator may have been embarrassing, she did not violate any state law by sending them, according to an investigation into the incident.

In January, former Gillette Mayor Louise Carter-King resigned from her position after numerous text messages she sent to former city administrator Patrick Davidson were leaked by Davidson himself. In the messages, Carter-King made insulting and derogatory comments about members of the Gillette City Council.

The City of Cheyenne was asked in late January to investigate the the behavior of the Gillette City Council, a request sparked by Carter-King’s actions. Investigators reviewed text messages, emails and other records from 2019 to 2021 and conducted numerous interviews with current city council members and others who were not identified.

The investigators concluded that while the city was basically “in good hands,” they did detect a failure to maintain civility and respect, an improper influence of elected officials over city staff, abuses of executive session meetings — when members of the public are excluded — a misunderstanding of the purpose of the open meetings law and the improper use of personal electronic devices.

“[The investigators] became aware of instances where elected and/or appointed officials outwardly displayed anger at other officials or constituents, maligned or undermined others by use of electronic communications and social media and failed to abide by proper rules of procedure at public meetings,” the report said. “These actions undermine the trust of the public in the governing body and are harmful.”

The investigators recommended that the city should eliminate the use of council dinners and council “pre-meetings,” “severely” restrict the use of executive sessions, provide proper notice of meetings, hold meetings in accessible locations for the public, restrict communications by elected and appointed officials using electronic communication to city-issued devices and remind elected officials to be civil and respectful when interacting with each other.

“Gillette city government has gone through a number of changes since the end of calendar year 2021 and it is with pleasure that [the investigators] note that nearly every recommendation arising from this review has already been implemented,” the report concluded.

Carter-King did not immediately respond to Cowboy State Daily’s request for comments Wednesday.

Before her resignation, Carter-King took to social media to apologize to her constituents for the messages and explained that on Dec. 31, a number of the text messages she sent to Davidson while he was the city’s administrator were emailed by Davidson to the city council, the Gillette city clerk and an “unknown number of other individuals.”

After Davidson’s release, Carter-King acted on her own to release nearly 500 pages of unredacted texts between her and Davidson.

Many of the messages targeted Gillette Councilman Shay Lundvall, with one message calling him a “bumbling idiot.”

Lundvall also did not immediately respond to Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Wednesday.

In her resignation letter, Carter-King said she knew she would have to have “difficult” conversations with the city council members and others who might have been impacted by her texts.

“It was never my intention to hurt anyone, but I recognize that I have hurt people and damaged relationships,” Carter-King wrote in her resignation letter. “I believe that it is in the best interest in the City for me to step down from my position.”

Carter-King was first elected to the Gillette City Council in 1990 and served five terms in the position. She took office as mayor in 2015 and was re-elected in 2018.

A new mayor, Eric Hanson, has since been appointed to replace Carter-King.

“We recognize that [city council] has gone through a recent period which has damaged public trust,” Hanson said Wednesday. “We’ve made a lot of big changes over the last few months and look forward to moving ahead while continuing to rebuild that sense of trust with our community.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Gillette Mayor Resigns Following Leaked Text Controversy

in News
16237

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Gillette’s mayor resigned late Thursday, almost one week after the leaking of a number of text messages she sent to the city’s former administrator calling city council members idiots, among other things.

Louise Carter-King resigned her position effective immediately Thursday night.

“It is with a heavy heart that I announce my resignation as the Mayor of the City of Gillette,” Carter-King said. “I want to thank [City Council] and the many outstanding staff members who I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years. I am proud to have served the City of Gillette for nearly 30 years.

“I am so proud of what our community has accomplished, particularly the construction of the beautiful campus and most recently, the passage of an independent Gillette College. I look forward to what you will accomplish going forward. I know you will continue to make sure that Gillette remains the greatest city in Wyoming,” she wrote.

This week, Carter-King took to social media to apologize to her constituents and explained that on Dec. 31, a number of her text messages she sent to former City Administrator Patrick Davidson were emailed by Davidson to the city council, the Gillette city clerk and an “unknown number of other individuals.”

After Davidson’s release, Carter-King released nearly 500 pages of unredacted texts between her and Davidson to the public.

Many of the messages target Gillette Councilman Shay Lundvall, with one message calling him a “bumbling idiot”.

“Idiot” appeared to be one of her favorite descriptives. She also called an official from Riverton the same thing during a Wyoming Association of Municipalities meeting. “Riverton is led by an idiot,” she said.

Carter-King did not appear to be impressed by the candidates for an empty city council seat as she bashed the finalists — Troy McKeown, Jeff Raney, and Colleen Faber.

“McKeown, Raney, and (Elgin Faber’s) wife. Monkeys think if they can’t get the guy they will get his wife,” Carter-King wrote Davidson. “Every seat was filled. We have to fumigate the chambers and I want a new chair. (Vikki Kissack) ruined mine I’m sure.”

“That’s funny,” Davidson replied. “I’ll get it cleaned up.”

“Thanks, or trade mine out with Shay’s,” Carter-King continued. “It’s hard to believe those freaks live and breath here. Wow. (Robert Palmer) was clearly the most qualified but that doesn’t matter to them.”

She also poked fun at Councilman Tim Carsrud’s religious beliefs and said Councilman Billy Montgomery could be manipulated to agree with her.

One message to Davidson in January 2020 was about Carsrud considering a run for the Campbell County Board of Commissioners.

“Surely he’s kidding. He would have to go to meetings,” Carter-King wrote in the text.

That same day, the two discussed a presentation Lundvall recently gave, where Davidson alleged that the councilman copied and pasted goals from the city of Lakewood, Washington and passed it off as his own.

Another message from Davidson to the mayor was about Lundvall wanting a phone call with him, which Carter-King apologized for.

“You should get hazard pay,” she joked.

In her resignation letter, Carter-King said she knew she would have to have “difficult” conversations with the city council members and others who might have been impacted by her texts, which she has had in the last several days.

“It was never my intention to hurt anyone, but I recognize that I have hurt people and damaged relationships,” Carter-King wrote in her resignation letter. “I believe that it is in the best interest in the City for me to step down from my position.”

Carter-King was first elected to the Gillette City Council in 1990 and served five terms in the position. She took office as mayor in 2015 and was re-elected in 2018.

“We on the Council would like to thank Louise for her longtime service to the citizens of Gillette. She has been a force within our community for so many years. Her passion and experience will be missed,” said Council President Nathan McLeland. “We wish her all the best.”

The process to select Carter-King’s mayoral replacement will begin soon.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Gillette Mayor Apologizes For Leaked Texts Bashing Council Members

in News
16165

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Gillette’s mayor apologized late Tuesday for text messages she sent containing disparaging comments about fellow city council members and others.

Louise Carter-King took to social media on Tuesday night to apologize to her constituents and explained that on Dec. 31, a number of her text messages were leaked when former City Administrator Patrick Davidson emailed the city council, the Gillette city clerk and an “unknown number of other individuals” to share texts between himself and Carter-King that took place over several years.

“In some of these messages, I am disparaging and disrespectful to members of this City Council and other individuals,” Carter-King said. “I am ultimately responsible for my behavior, and I sincerely apologize for any pain or embarrassment I have caused to my fellow Council Members and other members of the public that I insulted.”

Carter-King did not immediately return Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment.

After the release of the texts, citing transparency interests, Carter-King released nearly 500 pages of unredacted texts between her and Davidson to the public.

Some of the messages target Gillette Councilman Shay Lundvall, with one message saying “Of course Shay didn’t help. No surprise there.”

She also poked fun at Councilman Tim Carsrud’s religious beliefs and said Councilman Billy Montgomery could be manipulated to agree with her.

One message to Davidson in January 2020 was about Carsrud considering a run for the Campbell County Board of Commissioners.

“Surely he’s kidding. He would have to go to meetings,” Carter-King wrote in the text.

That same day, the two discussed a presentation Lundvall recently gave, where Davidson alleged that the councilman copied and pasted goals from the city of Lakewood, Washington and passed it off as his own.

Another message from Davidson to the mayor was about Lundvall wanting a phone call with him, which Carter-King apologized for.

“You should get hazard pay,” she joked.

Former legislator Scott Clem shared the email Davidson sent to the city council in a Facebook comment, but did not explain how he obtained the message.

“Recently I updated my phone and found the following files which may be of interest to you. It is a transcript of the various text messages between Mayor Carter-King and me, for a period of time,” Davidson wrote in the email. “I think you will find them insightful as they contain her unfiltered thoughts regarding members of the Council and the public.”

Davidson was let go from his position as city administrator in February 2021, after taking over in June 2017. Carter-King has been serving as mayor since 2015.

“My only request of the public is not to let my words and actions overshadow the good work of our City employees,” Carter-King wrote in her social media post. “I will spend the remainder of my term committed to rebuilding relationships and continuing to serve the best interests of the City of Gillette.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Blackjewel closures bad, but not the worst, officials say

in Energy/News
Gillette Wyoming coal
1709

By James Chilton, Cowboy State Daily

GILLETTE – It’s been nearly a month since Blackjewel LLC abruptly shuttered its coal production operations, locking some 600 Gillette-area miners out of the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr coal mines. And as Blackjewel continues to hammer out its fate in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Gillette searches for silver linings to this latest economic cumulonimbus.

For as threatening as the Blackjewel storm cloud may be, the city has seen worse; and not all that long ago, either. Mayor Louise Carter-King said that during the Peabody Energy and Arch Coal bankruptcy proceedings in 2016, oil and natural gas prices were also bottoming out, leaving displaced energy sector workers with few places to turn locally for employment.

“Three years ago oil was down, natural gas was down, coal was down. It was like a perfect storm and it hit us very hard,” Carter-King said. “This time it was more due to (Blackjewel’s) mismanagement rather than the underlying economy, because both of these mines were profitable.”

While she expects the mine layoffs to have a ripple effect on the city’s sales tax revenues, it will be some time before that impact is seen because state remittance of sales taxes are backdated by two months. But Carter-King said she doesn’t expect any impact to be especially long-lived this time around, thanks to a stronger job market that’s provided fall-back opportunities for those who can’t afford to wait for the mines to reopen.

“I know some employees are holding out for that, but those who can get jobs that are equal or better are jumping ship,” she said. “The good news is, a lot of people have been able to find jobs.”

Rick Mansheim with the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services said the DWS Employment and Training office in Gillette took immediate steps to get information out about resources available to the displaced miners, as well as to address some of their most urgent economic questions. In addition, DWS called upon its community and statewide partners to swiftly assemble a job fair that brought in employers from across Wyoming and the Mountain West.

“Five days after the (mine) closings, we had a big job fair at Gillette College where we had 40 employers, not just local, but from Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Montana,” Mansheim said. “They saw over 450 people in one day; and I know a good percentage of people were actually offered jobs that day. So if there’s a bright side at all to this layoff or whatever you want to term it, it’s the fact there were jobs available and a lot of these people were able to find employment relatively quickly.”

For the rest, Mansheim said DWS has been helping walk people through applying for unemployment benefits and ensuring they know how to maintain their health insurance coverage.

“A lot of these people have never gone through something like this, so we’re helping them understand the unemployment process – because it is a process, it’s not something where you just come in, type in your name and that’s it,” Mansheim said. “We’ll probably do another job fair if we hear something about whether the mines are going to be bringing people back or not, and we keep in contact with the city and the county to make sure we’re on the same page.”

City Communications Manager Geno Palazzari said Gillette has also been working with nonprofits and social service agencies to marshal assistance in the aftermath of the mine closures. One of the first calls, he said, was to the Food Bank of the Rockies to enlist the aid of that group’s mobile food pantry, which will set up at Family Life Church, 480 S. Highway 50, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. July 29 and Aug. 19.

“They’re already mobilizing to get trucks up here,” Palazzari said. “We’ve also reached out to some of the social service agencies in the community we fund … to make sure they didn’t need an advance on the funding we provide them to make sure they can make it through these times.”

While Blackjewel has been an important contributor to the city’s tax revenue base, Palazzari and Carter-King said they don’t expect these latest closures to impact city services. That’s mainly because the city has been extremely conservative with its spending since the 2016 downturn, when it had to cut nearly four dozen positions and $60 million out of its budget.

“Those were tough days. We had to lay off people and we looked at everything with a microscope,” Carter-King said. “Three years ago woke us up and taught us that we’ve got to be prepared for things like this.”

Prior to 2016, the city had enough cash in reserve to keep things running for 90 days without any new revenues. In 2016, the city council voted to increase that to 120 days, and then to 150 days in September 2018.

“There’s approximately $14 million (of operating reserves) budgeted for Fiscal Year 2020,” Carter-King said. “Now, if not another dime came into this city, we could make it 150 days.”

Go to Top