Chesterton Tribune



Town Council member Bob Allison had second thoughts about resigning

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Following a second statement by the Chesterton Town Council, 3rd Ward Council member Robert “Bob” Allison says he has formalized his resignation with the Porter County Clerk as of 3:16 a.m. Friday.

The Tribune was reliably informed Thursday that Allison attended a scheduled executive session of the Town Council Wednesday night, though he had indicated plans to “resign effective immediately” on Sunday, May 31 after he came under fire Saturday for comments he made on a Facebook video.

Allison confirmed that he attended the meeting in a phone call with the Tribune early this morning. He reported he walked into the meeting Wednesday intent on “continuing to move forward” on the Council after “the threats had stopped” and he received an outpouring of support from people who urged him not to resign.

Allison said he received threats against himself and his family after he commented “Get the snowplows out” and “straight blade ‘em” on a Facebook Live video of protestors who blocked traffic in Hammond Saturday. He said the threats had died down during the week, but started up again when the Council released their second statement.

“One of the calls told me not to go to sleep last night,” Allison said.

He said “the police are well aware of the threats,” but did not clarify if he has filed an official police report.

Allison would not say who contacted him in support--even when asked off the record-- but said many of them were Town employees and local businesspeople who cannot stand up for him publicly “for fear of repercussions.”

“I have heard from many, many people, even council people and department heads, not to resign,” Allison said. “I’m talking about people who just in my six months of service have been impressed with what I’ve accomplished.”

Allison cited his greatest achievement as retaining Chesterton Police Chief Dave Cincoski after Cincoski was criticized for his handling of the Nicole Gland murder case. “One of the previous council members had drug his name through the mud so bad that he was like I am now, defeated, but he’s a damn good man,” Allison said. He named giving a voice to the 3rd ward and supporting local business as other accomplishments.

The Town Council’s Thursday statement denounced Allison’s apparent “refusal to live up to his word” following his Sunday resignation. “We want the public to know that we do not have the legal authority to remove Mr. Allison from the Town Council. If we had this authority, you can be assured that would be the first order of business at our next Council meeting,” the Thursday statement from the Council reads.

“Once again, all of us, individually and collectively, denounce Mr. Allison’s statements from last Saturday and reiterate our firm belief in the right of peaceful demonstration and redress of grievances. Also, once again, we call on him to honor his word and do what is in the best interest for Chesterton by formally resigning his position as a Town Council member, as he said he would,” the statement continues.

This morning, Allison described the outrage against him as “a staged stunt”, orchestrated in part by the Council, and said, “If they consider me a bad apple, I’m not the only one.”

Allison’s initial resignation came after comments he wrote on a Facebook Live video drew hundreds of shares and outraged replies. The video depicted a May 30 demonstration in Hammond where hundreds gathered to protest racism and police brutality following the May 25 killing of George Floyd.

Demonstrations of varying size and volatility have taken place nationwide and in several Northwest Indiana communities since white Minneapolis, Minn. police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. Two autopsies have since ruled Floyd’s death a homicide and Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder. Floyd had been suspected of passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a grocery store.

Allison commented, “Get the snowplows out!” and “Straight blade ‘em!” on the video of the Hammond protest Saturday and later tried to justify the comments in an apology post by saying that he had a friend who was stuck in traffic behind the protestors who was unable to get to work.

Allison dismissed his comments as jokes but admitted they were “insensitive”, “unwarranted”, and “in poor taste” in the apology that has since been deleted, along with his official Councilman Facebook page.

“Anyone who knows me knows I have devoted my entire adult life to public safety and care for EVERYONE. I would NEVER invoke or intentionally harm anyone. The comments were not serious in nature and in poor taste. They were meant as a joke to my friend and in no way serious. This is not a reflection on me as a Councilman, nor of the Town of Chesterton as a whole. Again, my apologies to anyone that was offended,” the post said in part.

Allison said he deleted the apology due to his receiving threats and not because he was taking it back. “My apology stands as is. I’m not a racist and never have been. I’ve only ever helped people in my life.”

“I’ve dedicated my life to the Town of Chesterton. When the pager goes off and tells you there’s a crash on 94, it doesn’t tell you if the person is black or white,” he said, adding that his first lifesaving award as a firefighter was for saving a black woman from choking. “Would she say I’m racist?”, he asked.

This reporter asked how Allison would feel if the people who’ve threatened him turned around and said they were just joking. He answered: “I’m understanding that people are frustrated. The people that have threatened me, if they were credible, they wouldn’t have told me.”

When asked if he sees why people would think that he condones violence based on his comments, Allison said, “You can take anything anybody said and twist it.”

When asked if he sees how people who saw his comments, who may have had loved ones participating in the protest, may have felt threatened the same way he feels now, Allison said he didn’t, and added, “It’s June. Do you see any snow plows out?”

When this reporter reminded Allison that there have been documented cases of protestors murdered by motorists who ran them over, Allison cut her off and asked, “with snow plows?”

Allison has found himself in hot water over social media comments before. In a Tribune candidate questionnaire published April 23, 2019, Allison was asked the following question and tasked with answering in 75 words or less: “On March 12, 2018, you appeared before the Town Council to apologize for comments which you posted to social media on the subject of employee wages. Those comments you characterized as ‘insensitive, unwarranted, and unfair.’ Why do you believe you have the temperament to serve on the Town Council?”

Allison answered as follows: “I made a promise and commitment to myself and supporters that I WILL NOT engage in mud slinging or negativity. I respectfully request the same. An apology was given and accepted, let’s move the town forward, not backwards.”

This morning, this reporter asked Allison if, from the outside looking in, he would think that someone who’s made poor judgment in social media writings more than once was a fit leader for the Town. He responded, “It depends how well you know them and know where their heart is.”


Posted 6/5/2020





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