AP NEWS

Recall drive begun against Broken Bow mayor

September 7, 2019 GMT

BROKEN BOW, Neb. (AP) — A recall drive has begun against the mayor of a central Nebraska city who’s facing a misdemeanor criminal charge alleging abuse of his office.

Petition papers naming Broken Bow Mayor Jonathon Berghorst were filed last week with the Custer County clerk. The filer, John Walters, wrote on the petition that Berghorst has created a hostile work environment for city employees and showed no respect for the employees or members of the city’s volunteer boards.

Berghorst hasn’t return messages from The Associated Press. County clerk Constance Gracey said Friday that Berghorst has until Sept. 23 to turn in a defense statement that would be placed on the recall petitions.

The petition papers also mention two criminal charges facing the mayor. Berghorst pleaded not guilty last month to allegations that he threatened the job of a police officer investigating a fight outside a bar for which the mayor also has been charged.

Berghorst is accused of injuring a man during the April 6 fight. The court records say the mayor later used his position in attempt “to injure, deceive, harm, or oppress another person: Broken Bow Police Officer David Taylor.”

A grievance document filed by another officer said Berghorst was belligerent and didn’t cooperate with the police investigation and threatened Taylor’s employment by asking Taylor, “Do you like your job?”

A hearing on the case is scheduled for Monday.

The city’s electrical superintendent, Jeremy Tarr, has filed two grievances against the mayor as well.

The first says Berghorst violated the city code of ethics and safety and job guidelines by directing Tarr to not perform certain functions and by making decisions that were not the mayor’s to make.

The second says Berghorst gave Tarr an undeserved written reprimand that also violated the city’s anti-retaliation policy and the disciplinary action policy.

On Friday, Tarr declined to clarify the circumstances of either grievance.