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Snyder, Clem

Portage Mayor James Snyder, left, and Portage City Council member Pat Clem.

It would seem Portage municipal government has more than a dark cloud of felony criminal indictment hanging over the mayor's office.

It also appears to have a problem with the tenets of civility.

Some Portage officials owe their constituents an apology for punctuating a contentious City Council meeting Tuesday with reports of aggressive chest-bumping and name calling.

It's the sort of behavior we wouldn't expect to be tolerated by rival students in a schoolyard, let alone amid important seats of local government.

Near the end of the meeting, council members began to talk about a continuing issue of collective bargaining and an proposed salary ordinance for nonunion city employees.

A contentious debate ultimately culminated into reports of Mayor James Snyder following Councilman Pat Clem, D-2nd, outside of City Hall, with the mayor calling Clem a "coward" or "fat coward."

Clem claims Snyder continually bumped him, called him names and made accusations.

Snyder said Clem "chest bumped" him and used foul language. Snyder also admits to calling Clem a coward several times.

It escalated to the point of police officers having to separate the pair of public officials twice.

This behavior is another unacceptable and embarrassing distraction from Portage public business.

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Snyder already is under pending federal felony indictment, charged with bribery in an alleged towing contract scheme.

We've long argued Snyder should have resigned his mayor post after he was criminally indicted last fall. Though he's innocent unless proven guilty of the charges, a federal felony indictment casts too great a distracting shadow over the city's top government office.

Now Snyder is at the center of another local government embarrassment.

Snyder acknowledged he let his emotions get the better of him while standing up for Portage city employees.

In the end, he succeeded in distracting from his goal by contributing to a spectacle of bad behavior.

The people of Portage deserve better.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Assistant Local News Editor Crista Zivanovic and Regional News Editor Sharon Ross.