GENEVA — Ward 6 Councilor John Pruett is apologizing for his uncharacteristic outburst against a fellow city councilor at a meeting last month.
Speaking at City Council’s Monday night work session held remotely by Zoom, a contrite Pruett offered apologies to fellow council members, to residents and in particular to At-large Councilor Anthony Noone, the subject of his scorn at a special meeting on March 24 to discuss candidate interviews for the recently created Police Review Board.
“I lost my temper at the last meeting,” Pruett said to open the session. “I can’t remember being so embarrassed. I was thinking about it. I feel as though I’d been maligned and been rude to.”
He added: “I really hope you can accept my apology. It was truly earnest.”
Pruett blew up at the March meeting when Noone suggested Democratic councilors Laura Salamendra, Jan Regan, Tom Burrall and Ken Camera, as well as Pruett, who is not registered with a political party, were scheming to fill the recently created PRB with like-minded members.
“As long as we get to five (votes), we can stack the interviews any way we want and we can assure that this board is the way we want it,” said Noone in describing the supposed strategy of the councilors. “I know the five already have a plan, and I can’t wait to see the plan.”
He went on to assail Council for endless debates over just about anything that came before it, and he found it frustrating when some Council members, including Pruett, balked at interviewing some 56 candidates interested in the PRB.
“Only this Council could complicate something as simple as going to the restroom,” he said. “I mean, this is simple stuff.”
“Why are you being so snarky?” an agitated Pruett interjected. “I’m tired of hearing you complaining.”
Mayor Steve Valentino tried to call for order, but it didn’t happen.
Pruett then called for an ethics complaint to be lodged against Noone and mocked him with a “flapping gums” hand gesture while Noone was speaking.
When verbal jabs between councilors continued, City Manager Sage Gerling stepped in, muting members and asking them to “take a deep breath.”
The meeting finished without further rancor.
Still, Pruett said Monday that disrespectful behavior on the part of some councilors — both at meetings and on social media — is creating a caustic environment.
“We shouldn’t be put in a position where you do lose your cool and blow your top. … We’re at each other’s throats. The Facebook posts are horrible. This is not right. It has to stop.”
In a review of the meeting on YouTube, Noone did not appear to respond to Pruett’s apology at the meeting, but provided this statement late Monday:
“I really appreciate John's apology and I totally understand how frustrating our meetings are and how our discussions can get heated,” he said. “All of our emotions have gotten the better of us, including myself. This job has been very hard on all of us and I respect how passionate everyone is. I would like to see all of us try our best to work together and improve our efforts in doing so. Personally, I am going to try to do a better job with communicating my thoughts in a more constructive manner.”
This story has been updated from the print version to include Noone’s comment.