Chris Mehl

Bozeman Mayor Chris Mehl talks to Bozeman High School students at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in January.

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Bozeman city commissioners Tuesday condemned Mayor Chris Mehl’s behavior outlined in hundreds of documents alleging the mayor bullied and harassed city employees and interfered in the city’s day-to-day business.

Documents released last week after a freedom of information inquiry indicate that former city manager Andrea Surratt resigned at least in part because of how she was treated by Mehl. In the documents, Surratt and former interim city manager Dennis Taylor both allege that Mehl broke the city charter by interfering in city administrative business and bullying staff, a sentiment commissioners echoed.

The commission called a special meeting Tuesday evening to discuss the allegations but had not taken any specific action by press time Tuesday night.

“He has been a devoted elected official for many years now. He is unflagging in his energy,” said deputy mayor Cyndy Andrus during the meeting. “But he has also, over the years, exhibited behavior that is unprofessional, intimidating and unacceptable as a public official.”

Three of the four commissioners asked Mehl to resign. Commissioner Michael Wallner did not explicitly ask Mehl to resign, but condemned his behavior, saying that the allegation that Mehl interfered in city business is one he “simply can’t ignore.”

“There’s no excuse for this behavior,” Wallner said. “Until I have concrete evidence of wrongdoing or interference with administration, I am not prepared to make a final decision as a commissioner (without due process).”

Mehl apologized to commissioners for his behavior and said that he is taking steps to rectify the damage done.

“I, frankly, screwed up,” Mehl said during the meeting. “I clearly need to own the issue, both my passions for the city but also my style that I said sometimes rubs people the wrong way ... I have a sincere commitment to stay in my lane.”

Commissioner Terry Cunningham said that Mehl was one of the major reasons he chose to run for commission but that the mayor’s treatment of him and of other city staff was a major issue that needed to be addressed. Cunningham also apologized for not standing up to what he called “bullying behavior” sooner than he did.

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651.

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