Lynne Hermansen
Two recent heated Edgerton topics were addressed again at the Thursday, July 28 city council meeting.
Lee Hendricks, city attorney, first focused on council member Josie Stambaugh’s Facebook identity being stolen and how Kansas Statute 7543-17A applied.
Hendricks said he continued to feel that it was a private and not city matter.
“The concern is social media—I bang that drum often,”he said. “I’m dismayed that the next day an email was sent to the city administration about a private conversation on a Facebook page.”
Hendricks said the concern was an Open Meetings Violation Act possibility between Mayor Don Roberts and Council Members Josh Beem, Deb Lebakken and Josie Stambaugh.
“How can we get in trouble. We were close to it and it is best to stay off social media especially involving a city matter,”he said. “A quorum is three people whether in person etc and I continue to stress it is a bad idea to be involved.”
Hendricks said the second problem was the discussion of business made by a public body.
“Interactive communication in a series of communication is a problem,”he said. “There were multiple posts and the key is intention to reach an agreement on an action. Review of the posts shows there was no consensus building, so it fails the second hurdle and KOMA didn’t see a mutual exchange.”
Hendricks said he didn’t see it as a city matter as city officials were not trying to reach an agreement.
“To put it bluntly the city dodged a bullet,”he said. “I stress again that I can’t limit the ability to speak to folks outside the room as I understand you’re public officials but the best thing is to stay out of it,”he said. “You don’t want on the front page of the newspaper.”
Stambaugh said that night she had given a cease and desist order to council members Lebakken and Beem.
“Start leading by example,”she said. “This needs to be enforced as a representative of the city. It reflects badly whether it is a city or private matter. Time will tell.”
Hendricks said he won’t speak on the matter.
“I think it is a bad approach, bad idea and mistake,”he said.
Roberts said Stambaugh targeted city members, went to the paper and the County Board of Commissioners and then put it out on Facebook.
Stambaugh said the council members were engaging on the fake Facebook page and she didn’t say they created it.
“Twisting my words will not help,”she said.
Roberts said they hadn’t seen any proof.
“I’m asking to be professional and follow the same rules,”he said. “You accused people of slander, libel and being stalkers and haven’t proven it.”
Stambaugh said it wasn’t city business.
Josh Lewis, council member, said Stambaugh had made their point with her point.
“You made our point,”he said. “It is personal business not city business.”
Hendricks then reclarified the second recent issue on the annexation case with Protect Rural JOCO.
Hendricks said it was important for the annexation procedures to be understood and there are two primary procedures.
The first is through unilateral powers and consent.
“The council and mayor aren’t interested in unilateral without the owner’s consent,”he said. “It comes to us and we act on it. Unilateral requires resolution, a hearing and an involved process.”
The second was the land adjoins the city and a written petition for consent to annexation is filed by the city or owner.
Hendricks said in meetings prior the big buzzword was “narrow corridor.”
He cited the 2010 City of Mulvane case and said it was a 100 foot wide 5 mile property that met three criteria with tangible land value, a narrowing portion of land and no other purpose than to annex further land.
Hendricks said he didn’t see a comparison to the 199th street land and anyone could argue annexing land is to enhance to annex more land.
“This is nothing near Mulvane,”he said. “It fails on all three counts.”
Rural JOCO had cited a portion of land near Gardner Road was a narrow corridor.
Lewis said how was the shape of the land chosen  Edgerton had annexed.
Beth Linn, city administrator, said the property owner had chosen the shape of the land to annex to them.
Roberts said it was important to share factual information.