Jessica Mathews /

The Howell City Council met Monday night and addressed alleged inappropriate behavior from a Library board member.

At issue were comments and behavior from City Council-appointed Howell Carnegie District Library Board member Anthony Kandt at a meeting October 10th.

A memo from the City states an issue arose relative to Kandt’s depiction of an email received from then-Mayor Pro Tem Jan Lobur in September regarding a potential property purchase.

Over the summer, the City and the Library Board were in talks about a proposal involving the City purchasing a vacant lot owned by the Library for a public gathering space project. The 1.6-acre parcel is referred to as the old Holkins Lumberyard lot at the corner of Clinton and Center Streets. The City’s proposal was ultimately turned down by the Board since it did not address the parking needs of Library patrons and staff.

After the October Library Board meeting, DDA Director Kate Litwin sent a letter to City Manager Erv Suida describing the events of the meeting, which was shared with the City Attorney.

Litwin’s letter stated “This behavior goes against the principles of respect, inclusivity, and professionalism that our city values and upholds. At the Howell Carnegie District Library regular board meeting last night, October 10, 2023, Mr. Kandt read aloud an e-mail he received from Howell City Councilwoman Jan Lobur. In reading this e-mail, Mr. Kandt attempted to emulate a female voice that was shrill, mocking, and condescending in tone and volume. When fellow board members attempted to temper the situation, Mr. Kandt proceeded with additional derogatory comments about Ms. Lobur's correspondence”.

The City determined that a fact-finding review was necessary, and various correspondence was sought from those in attendance; including Mayor Bob Ellis, who serves on the Library Board, a Library Board member, and three Council members who also attended the meeting.

Council and others shared concerns that Kandt’s behavior was inappropriate and unprofessional.

A memo noted the City is not able to remove Kandt from the Library Board, which only the Governor is able to do by statute. However, “Council can make a finding that the behavior exhibited by Kandt was inappropriate and unprofessional and hold him responsible for his actions”.

Mayor Ellis stated Kandt was invited to attend Monday night’s meeting but declined to participate.

The initial motion “to accept all correspondence attached to the City Manager's memo and find that Mr. Kandt's behavior at the October 10, 2023 Howell Carnegie District Library Board meeting was inappropriate and that the statements made by him were, among other things, misogynistic, demeaning, mocking, and condescending” was voted down.

It was stated there were different perceptions but members agreed that Kandt’s behavior was disrespectful and unprofessional. Not all were in favor of the initial motion as it was worded, namely to not necessarily characterize the behavior as misogynistic.

A motion to accept all correspondence received and find Kandt’s behavior at the meeting unfit of an individual selected to represent the city on a local board or commission passed unanimously.

Lobur abstained from both votes.

Some members commented this was not the first incident involving unprofessional conduct from Kandt at a Library board meeting. Others stated that Kandt’s behavior and the lot purchase are different things and need to be separated. Council was also said to be responsible for appointing three Library board members, who are ultimately extensions of the City and their conduct should reflect that.

Resident Kathleen Murray disagreed with the concerns raised and spoke in Kandt’s defense, saying she has regularly attended meetings for over 20 years. She has also worked for the Library but her current role is unclear as it was not listed on the staff section of its website.

Murray stated she attended the meeting and asserted that Kandt did not speak disrespectfully or mockingly when reading the email Lobur sent to the board to encourage them to sell the property to the City. Murray said Kandt is passionate and led a robust discussion concerning the property sale and was not out of order during the meeting. She said they encourage animated discussion and honest debate but do not tolerate bullying at the Library. Murray went on to say the statements were “purely politically motivated” and the City does not like Kandt or his position concerning selling the library’s property. She commented the City invented a situation they erroneously believed would remove him from the library board, saying “This is a disgrace”. Murray said the Library does not need Council to be its moral compass and their board and director “have wasted too much time on this foolishness”, adding the City has no authority over the Library.

Lobur stressed that she was not at the meeting in question and said the email she wrote was a conciliatory letter and it was not “begging” the library to sell the property in any way, nor did she mean it in that way. Lobur said she wants to put all of this behind Council, adding it’s not necessary and she “feels a little bit not right about me having to defend myself for this and I’m sad about that”.

Kandt provided the following email to the City:
“I have done nothing to warrant what the City of Howell has done or intends. Any representation made to the contrary is untrue. Moreover, the City of Howell has no legal authority to do anything it has done or intends as set forth in your letter. Accordingly, I am limiting my participation to this email”.

WHMI did reach out to Kandt for comment following the meeting but did not receive anything as of press time.

Council will be discussing the matter again at its next meeting. City Attorney Dennis Perkins advised that Council could do nothing and move forward, bring forward a censure resolution essentially stating the behavior was inappropriate, or apply to the governor to remove Kandt from the board.

Statements and correspondence are included in the City Council packet, and that link is provided.

Facebook / Howell Library photos.