A few weeks ago after the “Trash Talk” First Ward Check-In, candidate for the First Ward Council seat vacated by Ginny Chadwick John G. Clark aggressively cornered City Sustainability Manager Barbara Buffaloe, berating her so ferociously that the encounter left her frightened, shaken, and in tears. Witnesses and coworkers described Clark’s actions as “a verbal assault” and “threatening.”
Having spent some time around Mr. Clark and having been cornered by the man on more than one occasion, the story does not surprise me. Clark is a large and loud man who stands well over six feet tall. Next to Barbara Buffaloe, he looks like a giant.
Those who know Buffaloe say she is a hard-working city employee who cares about her job. On the night of her run-in with Clark she was simply trying to do that job. Coworkers describe her as “sweet” and “kind.” One of her peers said this:
“Barb has kind of an impeccable personality – she is sweet and innocent, and I think it’s real and to the core.”
Although Buffaloe declined to comment on the situation, coworkers and witnesses say that Clark’s admonishment was frighteningly relentless. He told her that she was doing a terrible job as Sustainability Manager, but his scolding crossed the line of decency. She was in tears not only because she was offended, she was frightened by the ferocity with which Clark cornered her.
This type of behavior seems to be a pattern for Clark. In 2006 Columbia Police issued Clark a trespass warning after he showed up at Councilwoman Almeta Crayton’s home late at night and threatened her into changing her vote on a controversial First Ward development project. The encounter was traumatic enough that it left the tough councilwoman in tears, tears that re-emerged as she recounted the story at a Council meeting the following day.
Clark also has a rather murky past with the North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association. In 2011, only seven months after being elected as President of the board, Clark was recalled by the group who cited a laundry list of grievances, chief among them that Clark had…
Strangely enough, Clark cites his work in the NCCNA as a reason to vote for him. It seems clear now that his relationship with NCCNA is a reason to NOT vote for him.
While the bureaucrats at the top of the City food chain, i.e. Matthes, St.Romaine, Glascock, and company deserve to be held accountable for their mismanagement, our hard-working city employees do not deserve to be treated like John Clark treated Barbara Buffaloe. Ginny Chadwick reportedly treated city staff as if they were her servants and Ian Thomas treats staff as if they are serfs serving on his royal estate.
Placing John Clark in a seat of power tasked with representing the First Ward and our City is a clear mistake.
If you don’t know Barbara Buffaloe, this video will give you a hint at her demeanor…