Lidderdale city leaders support mayor charged for chasing rabbits
May 14, 2013
Lidderdale Mayor Randy Ayers listens on Monday to resident Cheryl Printer list the reasons why she thinks he should resign. Ayers was charged last week with disorderly conduct for chasing rabbits in town with dogs, golfcarts and fireworks.
It was wrong, childish and stupid for Mayor Randy Ayers to chase rabbits in town last month with dogs, golf carts and fireworks, city council members and residents agreed on Monday, but most want the man to remain at the city's helm.
"He was wrong, 100 percent," Councilman Max Wenck said. "But he does a lot of good for this community. I don't want to see him resign."
Ayers, 52, and another resident, Brad Schleisman, 38, face disorderly conduct charges for the April 28 incident. They are set to appear in court on May 30.
A witness to the incident, Cheryl Printer, of Lidderdale, told the Daily Times Herald she saw a rabbit run through her yard on that Sunday afternoon, followed by two dogs and two golf carts on the street.
Printer said Ayers and his wife rode in one of the carts, and that Lidderdale resident Brad Schleisman, 38, rode in the other with his wife and two children.
The group allegedly cornered a rabbit in a culvert less than a block away. They used firecrackers to try to scare the rabbit into a trap, Ayers told a Carroll County sheriff's deputy.
Ayers told the deputy that he planned to resign as mayor, a position he has held for at least five years, but Ayers later reneged on that pledge.
"It was a poor judgment call," Councilwoman Shirley Jochims said at Monday's city council meeting. "Everybody's human. Everybody makes mistakes."
Jochims said it's important for Ayers to remain in his job to finish a city water project that will give Lidderdale its own water tower and bigger water mains. The city has received several hundred thousands of dollars of grant money to help pay for the project, Wenck said.
Printer asked Ayers to resign at Monday's meeting, but each of the city's five council members said Ayers should stay.
"I feel the sheriff was contacted and took care of it," Councilman Mike Skinner said. "To go further than that is unnecessary. He's paid for it already, and he'll learn from it, I believe."
Ayers has declined to comment on the criminal charge and largely avoided the conversation at Monday's meeting.
"Are we done with this?" he concluded after council members and residents spoke.
Printer reported the incident to law enforcement the day it happened, but Ayers and Schleisman were not charged with a crime until Thursday. No law officers witnessed the incident.
Printer said Ayers recorded an apology on her answering machine three days after the incident.
State law prohibits residents from lighting fireworks without a permit.
Further, Dan Pauley, the state Department of Natural Resources conservation officer for Carroll County, said it's illegal for Iowa residents to harass wild animals, and that the group might have needed hunting licenses under Iowa law to pursue the rabbits.
About a dozen residents attended Monday's meeting. One of them, Cindy Wenck, echoed the council members' remarks and said Ayers shouldn't resign.
"He's been a great mayor," Wenck said. "He's done a good job."
Printer said she was disappointed that the council sided with Ayers.
"There are men and women in our town that would do a good job as mayor and would not think it is OK to break city and state laws," she said.
The disorderly conduct charge Ayers faces is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $625.
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