The city council’s regular session Thursday began with a heated exchange. During the public comments portion of the meeting, a woman asked Councilmembers Diane Forte and Diane Seif to recuse themselves from a vote regarding Summit Place, citing receipt of campaign contributions from RED Development and Townsend Capital, who are development partners of the project. The retail development project was on the council’s agenda once more as part of RED Development’s application for tax increment funding (TIF) subsidies.
The admonishment quickly prompted Forte to read a prepared statement condemning poor behavior and backroom politicking from her fellow councilmembers, specifically Derek Holland. She said Holland had exhibited the worst of this behavior when he called her asking her to support tabling the Summit Place issue. Forte said that when she would not agree to the move, he sought an opportunity to publish an editorial in the Lee’s Summit Journal criticizing the project.
Councilmembers Seif and Trish Carlyle echoed Forte’s comments and called for a unified council. Carlyle, Forte and Seif are the three newest councilmembers. They were elected last month.
Seif advocated “cooperation not confrontation.”
Forte said she told voters before the April 8 election that she would not tolerate such behavior from the council, who had been known for not getting along.
Councilmember Bob Johnson said he was disappointed that, after the previous council had issues with personality clashes, the problem hadn’t been left behind after the election.
“Let’s work together for the betterment of Lee’s Summit and leave the personality differences out of it,” he said.
Holland did not respond directly to the comments made. The citizen accusing Forte and Seif declined an interview.