Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 136
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for April 25, 2002

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

I went on a one-week business trip and found events that happened while I was gone raised questions about elected officials’ compliance with various laws. The city council hired a new city manager who was generally well thought of in his previous stint here. Some people have credited him with having had much to do with building the financial surplus squandered under his successor. However, the fact that the city council got a good man with an excellent resume does not excuse the cavalier treatment of former assistant city manager Joy Rushing, especially when they may have violated the sunshine law. If the termination was a personnel matter it could be discussed in closed session; a budget matter, as the action was purported to be, must be open to the public and press.

This isn’t the only situation where the city council has been accused of violating laws. Several former mayors have stated that the current council is in violation of the term limit ordinance passed many years back. According to the former mayors, Mike Rich should have been limited to two years in that position as intended by the councils who passed the ordinance. However, the current council doesn’t read it that way. The answer? The current council can revise the ordinance to specifically include or exclude the mayoralty.

There have been some allegations of flouting the law in the Ambulance District case. First, the county commission clearly violated the state law requiring the election subdistricts be approximately equal in population. If anyone sues them, they’ll surely lose; an injunction requiring them to realign the districts could adversely affect the ability of the district to get started in a timely manner. Questions have also been raised about certain campaign contributions to the committee supporting the ambulance district issue. From the reports I’ve seen, about $4400 was donated by the medical center and another $1000 by unnamed staff. RSMo 115.646 prohibits contributing public funds to support ballot issues and RSMo 130.031 has specific requirements for identifying contributors of over $25 and to describe functions at which small contributions were raised. This certainly could use more explication.

I hope that our elected officials will be more attentive to the laws they’ve sworn to uphold.

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