Dog kennel owner continues fight to keep animals in Oskaloosa
by Dennis Sharkey
An Oskaloosa resident that has been told by the city to get rid of at least three dogs isn’t sending his animals away without a fight.
Brian Ledbetter lost a 3-2 decision by the city council June 7. Councilmen Gary Bryant and Dale Mooney were the two people to vote in favor of Ledbetter having the kennel.
Councilmen John Norman, Kathy Griffin and Emily Malsbury all voted against the kennel being allowed.
Ledbetter has not hired an attorney but said he is considering taking legal action against the city. He is alleging there was a conflict of interest with two council members.
Malsbury is married to Planning and Zoning Commission member Craig Malsbury. Griffin is married to P&Z commissioner Rod Griffin.
Ledbetter asked both women if they had outside conversations about his case before the city council held a hearing on June 7. Both said that they had spoken with their husbands about the case.
Ledbetter said during the hearing when Mayor Mike Paavola asked if anyone had any communications no one stepped forward. Furthermore Ledbetter said that City Attorney Mike Hayes reiterated at the meeting that the council was to have no communication about the issue.
“Mr. Hayes stated that nothing was supposed to be discussed until we reconvene here,” Ledbetter said.
Malsbury said part of her duties as a councilwoman is to communicate with the Planning and Zoning Commission and bring the information back to the council.
“I don’t think that is a conflict of interest,” Malsbury said. “None of the zoning board members are outside influences.”
Both women said the communications they did have played no part in their decision making.
“It had no bearing for me,” Griffin said.
Ledbetter was asked if he is currently working on an appeal. The city has no appeal process but Ledbetter could take the matter to district court. Hayes said Ledbetter could ask a judge to determine if he should be granted a new hearing or ask for a judgement against the city’s decision based on a conflict.
“I don’t’ want to go there but I will,” Ledbetter said.
Both Griffin and Malsbury said they would be willing to consider changing their votes to an abstention which would fall with the affirmative side of the vote which would swing the decision to 4-1 in favor of Ledbetter.
However, Malsbury said she would have to see proof that there is a conflict of interest.
“If I would have thought there was a conflict of interest I would have abstained my vote,” Malsbury said. “At this point I’m not willing to say ‘throw my vote out,’ because I don’t know.”
Ledbetter said there were questions asked at the P&Z meeting about a building permit he obtained for a garage. The questions were again brought up during the city council hearing. Ledbetter questioned as to why he was being asked about the garage if no communications were had.
Furthermore, both Malsbury and Griffin voted against the kennel permit. So did both of their spouses. Ledbetter said neither of the two P&Z members who voted in favor of the kennel were contact nor were the two city council members who voted in his favor.
“The rest of these members have no idea what you and your husband talked about behind closed doors,” Ledbetter said.
Ledbetter told Malsbury and Griffin that he does not have a personal issue with either woman or their husbands.
“I’m fighting for something that I love as much as my kids,” Ledbetter said.
The council went into closed session to discuss what to do with Hayes.
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