Danedri Thompson
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A motion to censure council member Larry Fotovich died for lack of a second during a May 19 meeting.
Council member Tory Roberts moved to censure Fotovich, because she said he does not live in Gardner, and his remaining on council is immoral.
After the motion died, Fotovich asked Roberts on what she based the desire to censure.
“I haven’t done any sleuthing,” she said. “I’m not stalking. I don’t have any facts. I feel like your intent will be to live in Olathe soon.”
Fotovich closed on a house in Olathe recently, but also owns a house in Gardner. He is registered to vote at the Gardner address.
“You do not have any facts. The burden of proof is on you,” Fotovich said. “You basically called me immoral. I still have to ask you what the basis is.”
Council member Heath Freeman said he would have offered a second to the motion. However, Freeman said he wanted to wait for council member Steve Shute, who did not attend the meeting.
Gardner Charter Ordinance 19 requires council members to be suitable electors of the city, which means members must be registered to voter of Gardner.
City council members agreed to change Charter Ordinance 19 during the same meeting, however they did not approve changes to strengthen residency requirements. Instead, the city’s eligibility for office will reflect language in state statute, which requires that council members be qualified electors, or registered Gardner voters.
Charter Ordinance 26, when it is formally adopted, will change how members are appointed to the council when a vacancy occurs. Currently, the mayor appoints into vacant council seats with council approval. Under the current ordinance, council members cannot reject a mayoral appointment without first writing a formal reason for the rejection, which could create a legal issue for the city.
Under the proposed new ordinance, council members would appoint into vacant seats. The process, which is not fully defined in the proposed ordinance, would allow the full council to take up or down votes on applicants for council vacancies. The discussion and votes would be public, but council would not be required to submit a formal, written reason for not appointing an individual into the office.
The proposed ordinance would also change the city’s definition of a quorum. In order to conduct business, the council requires at least four voting members present. The proposal would keep that language, but if a council vacancy occurs, the number for a quorum would drop to three council members.
Though council members agreed to adopt the proposed Charter Ordinance 26, state law requires that the proposed changes be published twice in the city’s official publication of record, The Gardner News, and then wait 61 days.
Fotovich said the changes to Charter Ordinance 19 were years in the making.
Almost five years ago, Fotovich said, three council members signed a letter asking that changes to how the mayor makes appointments to the council be put on the agenda. Their signatures lead to a recall election, which saw Mary Peters and John Shepherd removed from office. Former council member Dan Thompson resigned after the recall election.
“It shouldn’t be forgotten that those three people all tried to do what we accomplished today,” Fotovich said.
In other business, council members:
• conducted a public hearing and authorized the mayor to execute an application for a 2015 Community Block Development Grant. The city is seeking $100,000 in grant money to fund repairs to sidewalks and access ramps to make portions of downtown Gardner compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
• declared a property at Gardner Lake as surplus real property. By declaring the property surplus, the city can consider selling the parcel of land. The neighbors adjacent to the property, Mike and Joyce O’Connor, requested the city consider selling the parcel, because they would like to buy it and build a garage. City staff recommended that the council deny the request, because there is already limited public access to city-owned Gardner Lake. However, council members agreed to consider the sale.
• approved a contract to begin the installation of traffic lights at the intersection of 183rd Street and Center Street.
• approved right-of-way vacancies near the new school.