Defamation issue sparks Lonsdale councilman's walkout 

By: 
Andrea Nelson

A special city council meeting to discuss the 2020 budget in Lonsdale Monday became more than that when the mayor read the recommendation by its attorney on a cease and desist letter during public comments, that lead to council member Steve Cherney walking out in response.

The cease and desist letter came from business owner Gary Tupy's lawyer in response to allegations that he and his business, Moderno, were defamed by the council at an April meeting to discuss the construction of a joint city hall and police department project in conjunction with Tupy's senior housing project.

"It hurts a person's good name," Tupy said of comments he heard were made at the April meeting.

Lonsdale's attorney, David Kendall, sent a letter to the city administrator, in which Rud read in its entirety to the council.

"I was not present for the meeting, but regardless of whether the allegations from this letter are true or false or somewhere in between, I recommend that you caution (the council) to not express personal bias against anyone appearing before them," Rud read of Kendall's letter. "There is a legal liability."

Rud went on to read, "council members are free to speak their minds on matters that come before them. That is part of their job. But the council should not comment or express their feelings on the merits of the applications before them."

After reading the letter, he addressed Tupy, who spoke before the council during the public comments portion of the meeting to express how he has been hurt by the comments made by the council and that his reputation has been negatively impacted as a result.

"That is not the feeling of the entire city council," Rud said, specifically stating that council member Cherney was the one to make the negative comments and that these feelings are not felt by every council member. "It is unfortunate that it has come to this. It was totally out of line and totally uncalled for. All I can do is offer our apologizes based on the city council."

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