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City memo warns Councilman Olsen of censure

by Alan Lewis Gerstenecker
| September 20, 2013 12:17 PM

During the Libby City Council meeting Monday, Libby City Attorney James Reintsma explained a memorandum he drafted that warns Councilman Allen Olsen of an impending censure if he continues to be critical of the work done by Jack Ehmann of Jack’s Waterworks.

Ehmann has done sprinkler irrigation work at Riverfront Park and Libby City Cemetery. Councilman Olsen owns Antler Tree Nursery that also does irrigation work.

In his explanation, Reintsma said he wrote the memo, which is dated Sept. 13, to follow a similar letter he drafted on July 6. 

“He has very clearly crossed the line in his personal remarks at the Aug. 5 council meeting,” Reintsma writes. “It almost goes without saying that Mr. Olsen’s continued attacks are a liability for the city and need to come to a screeching stop.”

Reintsma said Ehmann has contacted the city and vowed litigation if the remarks continue.

“Yes, I will,” Ehmann said Thursday when asked whether he will pursue legal action if the attacks continue. “(Olsen) is in competition with me. As a council member, he should not be condemning me, and these attacks are hurting my business.”

Olsen said it is because of his understanding of the sprinkler business, that he is uniquely qualified to comment on the city’s dealings with Ehmann. Olsen said the bills from Jack’s Waterworks to the city do not clearly identify how much the company is charging the city for each of the products and services it provides.

“As a councilman, it’s my job to be a good steward of the city’s finances,” Olsen said. “I think (Ehmann) should be submitting itemized bills. All I want is accountability.”

Ehmann said he believes the bills to the city are sufficiently clear.

“I have been providing itemized bills, for two years now,” Ehmann said. “The city has requested it for payment.”

Former City Councilman D.C. Orr defended Olsen during Monday’s meeting, saying he is only trying to account for how city money is spent.

Orr alleged Mayor Doug Roll, who is challenged by Olsen for mayor in the November election, as being behind the Reintsma memo, which the city attorney denied.

“Allen Olsen initiated this action by his attacks on Jacks Waterworks,” Reintsma said.