It’s time to begin the healing process in Joseph.
Last week, the City Council voted to censure Councilwoman Kathy Bingham for complaints filed against her that alleged she acted inappropriately for a city councilor.
Among other punishments, she was removed from her role as mayor pro-tem and removed from committees. The full spectrum of her punishments are in the Page 1 story in today’s Chieftain.
We have been consistent in this space, saying that if the harassment alleged over the last few months was, indeed, harassment, then those involved should step down.
However, the council, in its vote to censure Bingham, noted the allegations were unsubstantiated and did not, in fact, reach a level of harassment. Had they, we would be calling for Bingham to step down.
As it stands, however, there isn’t evidence enough to make this case. Exactly what Bingham was charged with by those complainants — aside from claiming a businessman flipped her off when it appears that wasn’t the case — cannot be listed here, as those details were shared in executive session. And given what we know, we believe she has been given a fair punishment. Many who spoke up after the open session last week also believe that to be the case.
It would be easy to bash Bingham publicly. But, that would detract from the point of this editorial — as well as the title of it — that healing needs to start in Joseph.
The past couple of months have been difficult for the city of Joseph, and that is putting it mildly. Consider the following:
• The original harassment allegations in early April.
• Former city Administrator Larry Braden resigning.
• More allegations from different individuals.
• Learning, as we did just recently, that claims stretched back to at least February.
For the sake of the city, we certainly hope this is the end of the mess in Joseph. We also hope the punishments levied serve as a deterrent.
Hopefully, there are lessons that can be taken away from this. One, the process did play out, and did work. Two, punishments were doled out.
But third and most importantly, that it’s time to move on from this, and not let the past three months fester. There needs to be forgiveness. There needs to be grace extended. And there needs to be change — read this as people need to see their actions won’t go unpunished — so that this is not duplicated in the future.
If this is done, the city of Joseph can start to heal.