Councilwoman Addresses Erratic Behavior, Blames Alcohol

Friday Councilwoman Stephanie Brinkerhoff-Riley, D-Ward 3, admits to struggling with alcoholism.
An embattled Evansville City Council member is thrust into the limelight once again. Friday Councilwoman Stephanie Brinkerhoff-Riley, D-Ward 3, publicly admitted to struggling with alcoholism. She says she relapsed this spring.

The admission came hours after Alex Jarvis, her former campaign chairman, filed for a protective order against her following a hateful Facebook post in which he was the target. One of Brinkerhoff-Riley's comments on the post read, "Alex Jarvis needs a bullet. And that would be humane."

"I'm ashamed that not only did I help her get elected, that I voted for her. When we have a representative of City Council threatening voters, threatening elected officials -- she needs to go," said Jarvis, shortly after he filed an incident report with Evansville Police and applied for a protective order. "I shouldn't be at the Civic Center and worry that I'm going to be shot. I shouldn't have to call my friends and family and tell them to be on the lookout from an elected official."

Brinkerhoff-Riley's controversial timeline of events started in March, when she secretly recorded a meeting with the State Board of Accounts regarding an audit of city finances. In May, the councilwoman allegedly threatened the life of former Councilman Curt John in an online post, much like the recent post targeting Jarvis. Later that month, she left a profanity laced voicemail on Council President John Friend's cell phone.

At the end of July, a special prosecutor cleared Brinkerhoff-Riley of any criminal wrongdoing in recording the audit meeting. The ruling was followed by a celebration among supporters Aug. 1. There she announced she would seek re-election and noted her interest in possibly running for mayor.

In addition to the Facebook post written Thursday night, Eyewitness News obtained a series of messages between Brinkerhoff-Riley and Jarvis' significant other.

"Your mate should be killed," Brinkerhoff-Riley says in one message. "I feel zero remorse to his death. Zero. You should pay attention to what that piece of s*** does." Another message simply and blatantly said, "die."

It appears Jarvis wasn't the councilwoman's only target late this week. Brinkerhoff-Riley responded to an email from Friend shortly after midnight Friday saying, "Who gives a s*** you f***ing criminal."

"Something's wrong with Stephanie, I'm afraid," said Jarvis.

Friday in another Facebook post, she admitted to struggling with alcoholism, blaming her erratic behavior on a relapse that started this Spring. "Even this morning I didn't want to give it up," said Brinkerhoff-Riley during an Eyewitness News In-Depth segment Friday at nine o'clock on WTVW. The councilwoman said she hit rock bottom Friday morning and is seeking help. She noted that she will not go to rehab but does plan to participate in regular AA meetings.

Jarvis suggests this isn't the councilwoman's first battle with substance abuse. He says she spent about a month in rehab shortly after the failed Earthcare deal went through council, adding that he lied about it to help her keep it under the wraps.

"I stood there and lied to people I respect. To the mayor, to the council members that she was fine she was just taking a break. When in reality she was in rehab for a breakdown, substance abuse, that kind of thing. And I think that's where she's at again," said Jarvis.

Brinkerhoff-Riley admits that she did miss about four council meetings in 2012 while she was on medical leave, but denies Jarvis was a "confidant" that lied for her. "What he's saying is not true in that regard," said Brinkerhoff-Riley.

The councilwoman says the Facebook post and venomous messages were nothing more than drunken texts and messages. But her admission to having an alcohol problem may be too little, too late. Friday Vanderburgh County Democratic Party Chair Rob Faulkner sent Brinkerhoff-Riley a letter explaining he was stripping her of the third ward leadership role. In the letter, Faulkner listed the threat against Curt John, a media appearance demonstrating public display of support for a Republican County Commissioner candidate in the 2014 election, the threat against Jarvis, and "perpetuating and fomenting party disunity."

He says there will be talk as to whether the party will ask the councilwoman to resign. "We're not there yet. We haven't really had any discussions about it yet but I'm sure we're gonna have to be talking about it over the next few days," said Faulkner.

Brinkerhoff-Riley says she will not step down if the party asks her to resign, noting many of her constituents are very supportive of her and what she stands for.

Jarvis suggests the third ward councilwoman is unfit for office and should resign. "The City of Evansville deserves a council member whose not mentally unbalanced," said Jarvis. "Elected officials are supposed to be the best and the brightest. Sometimes you don't get that. But they're not supposed to be sociopaths."
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