July 24, 2014

DA finds Shawnee council violates KOMA

Danedri Thompson
dthompson@gardnernews.com
Shawnee city council members violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA), Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe determined.
Howe recommends that the council and mayor receive “detailed and specific” training on KOMA laws.
Howe said the penalty is a slap on the wrist.
“The real power lies where it should: with the electors in the city of Shawnee,” Howe wrote in a letter to the city’s governing body. “The electors will ultimately have the ability to judge the actions of the members of the city council and Mayor (Jeff) Meyers.”
The council violated KOMA when they reached a decision to appoint a relative of Mayor Meyers to a vacant seat on the governing body last summer.
Four of six council members approved the appointment of Allan Willoughby during a special meeting on July 9. However, the district attorney’s office determined that a majority of council members in a series of meetings discussed the appointment prior to the special meeting.
Council member Neal Sawyer did not take part in any of the discussions, however the remainder of the council discussed the appointment prior to the meeting.
In his decision, Howe said while the majority of the council, including members Michelle Dislter, Dawn Kuhn, Jim Neighbor, Dan Pflumm, Mickey Sandifer and Jeff Vaught; did violate KOMA, they did not act in bad faith.
“We must conclude that the legislators acted out of ignorance of the applicable law,” Howe wrote.
“…In the future, the safest way to proceed would be to either provide the notice required by KOMA or avoid discussions where there is an exchange of ideas on the business of the city of Shawnee.”
In 2011, Howe recommended that Gardner City Council members undergo KOMA training after they violated KOMA laws through a series of emails and during an unlawful executive session.
Members of a governing body who knowingly violate KOMA laws could be fined up to $500 per incident.

Comments

  1. Judith Rogers says:

    This coming Gardner city election will tell whether citizens here will hold those accountable for the violation of the Open Meetings Act in 2011. Citizens get and deserve the government they enable and support. With the two candidates running for Mayor, citizens will be guaranteed of getting the same ole status quo government they have had for years and the adverse affects from it – that is my opinion. It will also be interesting to see if citizens will endorse those running for Council seats who continue to rubber stamp anything and everything placed before them by Drovetta and the City Manager and those who would more than likely do the same thing – same ole, same ole. Citizens are not doing their jobs in my opinion and ALL will suffer the adverse affects. When I see a candidate get into office by buying and wearing a few new suits and using some hair gel, it tells me trouble and cronyism government will continue to thrive in Red State Kansas.

  2. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    It should be an interesting Spring 2013 election cycle for Shawnee. Three candidates have filed to run against appointed incumbent Alan Willoughby for the Ward 2 seat on the Shawnee City Council. The Feb. 26 Primary Election will eliminate one of the four candidates. In an effort to deflect voter concerns about his shady appointment to the council last year, Willoughby says he wants the race to focus on qualifications.

    Willoughby, 69, a retired Ford Motor Co. engineer, told the Shawnee Dispatch, “As those who know me well will tell you, there is a lot more to who I am and what I have done than the fact that the mayor just happens to be married to my wife’s niece. I am looking forward to having a conversation with the people of this ward about the challenges we face in these tough times and what I offer to address to challenges. To me service is not just a passing thought or fad.”

    Willoughby, an Air Force veteran, earned his BA in mechanical engineering from KU and an MBA from Oklahoma City University. The 37-year resident of Shawnee served on the Shawnee Planning Commission prior to his City Council appointment. “I have spent my entire life solving problems and building things up, not tearing them down.”

    Running in the Apr. 2 General Election for the seat representing Ward 1 is John Patrick Segale, who served on the Shawnee City Council from 1997 to 2004. He faces 11-year incumbent Dan Pflumm. Segale ran unsuccessfully for Shawnee mayor in 2004 and 2012. He served on the Board of Johnson County Commissioners from 2005 to 2009 and ran for County Commission Chairman in 2010.

  3. Judith Rogers says:

    Lots of adverse affects for citizens when you have a rubber stamp Council, School Board, etc. and poor auditors. Bell, California will be suffering for years because citizens were not doing their jobs as responsible citizens and keeping track of what City Hall was doing. Read this article as an example of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats (just one example) – this could be happening in about any city across the USA in my opinion. Open Meeting and Open Records Acts are most important and if you see where City Hall or any government entity is violating either, then your internal rador should be going off and don’t expect your Dist. Attorney or Attorney General to be doing much to help you. You have to demand and fight for transparency because you aren’t getting it to me in today’s world of slimy politics.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-bell-trial-20130209,0,3843513.story

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