Ely City Councilmember Pat Robison was issued an assault citation by the White Pine County Sheriff’s office last Friday, after a citizen’s complaint was filed against her by fellow Councilmember Jolene Gardner.
Gardner had stated to sheriff deputies that she had felt threatened by Robison, who told her during a heated moment of the July 11 meeting between the White Pine County Railroad Foundation Board of Trustees (city council) and the White Pine County Foundation Management Board, that she’d “like to put her under the table.” The complaint was made to sheriff officials the following day, July 12.
The ticket given to Robison states, “Above [Robison] did make verbal threats placing a person in fear of bodily harm.”
The verbal spat came right after the foundation trustees had voted against creating a new corporation to replace the existing board of trustees and management board. Robison, who had remained silent most of the night, began a denunciation of the vote to leave the foundation in the same “dysfunctional” state it had been in over the course of the last eight years.
When the railroad’s executive director, Mark Bassett said that he was going to resign, Gardner told him it was “his choice” and asked the rest of the council if they were supposed to give the railroad away because of “one man.”
“This one man has brought in 86 percent of the money,” Robison told her.
Robison said to Gardner that she acted like she owned the railroad and a heated argument between the two ensued.
“I’m getting fed up with you,” said Robison, a campaigner for Gardner in her election to the board a year ago last June. At that point Robison said to Gardner she would like to throw her under the table, which earned her a lecture on civility from City Attorney Chuck Odgers.
After Robison made the comment, Gardner said, “That’s a threat and I want it on record.”
Robison, who was sitting two seats over from Gardner, sat still in her chair while making the comment and didn’t make any moves toward Gardner other than to make eye contact while berating her attitude. Gardner stayed in her seat and continued to argue back. A city recording of the meeting did not capture the alleged threat though the two briefly raising their voices at one another was clear. There were several people talking over one another on the recording so Robison’s words could not be heard.
Other than Odgers, no one else at the table or in the audience of some 50 people, seemed to notice anything threatening had even occurred, and nothing else was said as the meeting continued for at least another hour.
The five-foot Robison, who said she has known Gardner for over 50 years without having any bad blood or previous issues, said that the misdemeanor complaint was “politically motivated” and exactly the type of “petty and childish behavior” the people of Ely had come to expect from Gardner and others who side with her on the council.
“I’m almost 70 years old and I told her how I felt — now that’s a crime?” she asked. “I don’t think there’s anyone out there, including her, that feels I would have physically thrown her under the table and that she had any reason to be scared. If I accused someone of throwing me under the bus, would the White Pine County sheriff send them a citation, too? This is just an amateurish attempt to discredit me but what she doesn’t seem to realize is that the people of Ely are smarter than that and they can easily see through her drama.”
Gardner, when later asked if she feared Robison, refused to talk
“I have nothing to say about it,” she said.
Two days later, the two sat next to each other at the July 14 city council meeting and no words or bad feelings seemed to be exchanged.
Robison, who was acting in the capacity of a city employee at the time of argument, said that she expected city taxpayers would be forced to cover her legal fees over what she said was “defamation” of her character by Gardner.
“If some of these city council members would only care more about the public they serve rather than their personal egos, this town could prosper greatly,” Robison said. “Instead, the city’s budget is being nickled and dimed by council members who don’t care what their actions cost taxpayers, as long as it’s not coming out of their pocket.
Though never jailed, the bail amount stated on the ticket is $250, the administrative fees are $88 and there are $67 in other fees totaling $355. Robison can pay the $355 amount or else she is due in municipal court on Aug. 17 at 10 a.m.