Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 306
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for September 1, 2005

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

It's done. The Transportation Development District (TDD) was approved. We all get to pay a little more tax at Wal-Mart in the next few months. And we're likely to keep paying it for the next 20 years. We're going to support building some new roads in the "commercial" side of the Hawthorne Development and fixing up some of the entrances to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart gets better access plus a "no competition" deal - there'll be no big box stores to compete with Wal-Mart in the new area.

I read the agreement ahead of time and raised some issues at the City Council meeting, enough so the lawyers had to say a little more than they'd planned to "reassure" the council members. What I found particularly interesting was the part of the Wal-Mart lawyer's response that sounded something like "we're here because the city wants us." This statement made me wonder if negotiations between the developer and Wal-Mart were the result of the city's enthusiastic response to the developer's initial proposal.

Because of the peculiarities of Missouri law, the developer needed either the city or Wal-Mart to go along with the TDD, but not both. My guess, which is only a guess, is that the developer played them off. If the city was going to sign on, then Wal-Mart was going to be taxed whether they wanted it or not, so it behooved them to get the best deal possible. If Wal-Mart was going to sign on, then it behooved the city to get on board so they'd have some say on the details. I'm wondering what would have happened if the city had told Wal-Mart "we donít want this" - or vice versa.

Prior to the open meeting, the City Council had a closed meeting, presumably about the TDD with their attorneys. From reading the agreements, I'm wondering exactly how the closed meeting was justified under the Sunshine Law. Their justification would have had to be the one for "possible litigation," which seems like a stretch. I guess we'll have to see if they took any votes or kept any minutes of the closed meetings.

Interestingly, the TDD board, run essentially by the developer, is probably subject to the Sunshine Law, which means the records and meetings would be subject to public scrutiny.

See also Gadfly 301, Gadfly 303, Gadfly 304, Gadfly 305, and my statements to the City Council meeting on August 4th and August 29th.

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