Jul 26, 2014
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Council Member Suggests City Violated Sunshine Law

Paulette Carr, Ward 2, apologized Monday for what she thought might be a violation of Missouri's Sunshine Law.

Council Member Suggests City Violated Sunshine Law

Ward 2 Councilwoman Paulette Carr issued a mea culpa Monday night, saying she didn't catch what may have been a violation of Missouri's Sunshine Law and 's charter at the last council meeting.

Carr was referring to the city council's vote on Councilman Michael Glickert's request to seek an . The council approved the measure 5-0 July 23. 

Mayor Shelley Welsch and Councilman Byron Price were not present at the July 23 council meeting. 

Carr said that the RFP was not on the agenda prior to the meeting but that Glickert brought it up in a council study session prior to the meeting. He then brought it up again during council member comments during the council meeting.

"It was not mentioned in the agenda or the council notes," Carr said. "It was brought up by one council member one hour before the meeting."

She noted that Missouri Sunshine Law requires that the agenda for a public meeting be posted 24 hours prior to a meeting, unless an emergency exists. The Sunshine Law states:

At least 24 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) before a public meeting, the public body must prominently post a notice of the meeting in its principal office. If there is no such office, the public body should post the notice at the meeting place. The notice must include:

  • Time of meeting;
  • Date of meeting;
  • Place of meeting;
  • Tentative agenda of an open meeting; and
  • Whether the meeting is open or closed.

If the public body intends to hold a meeting by conference call or other electronic means, the notice must specify the location where the public may observe and attend that meeting. If the public body meets via Internet or other computer link, it shall post a notice on its Web site in addition to posting the notice at its principal office.

If exceptional circumstances prevent the public body from posting notice 24 hours in advance or prevent the meeting from being held at a convenient time or in a place reasonably accessible to the public, the reasons should be stated in the meeting’s minutes.

"I profusely apologize if a violation has occurred," Carr said. "The public and the rest of the council deserve advance notice."

Councilman Stephen Kraft noted the request came out of council member comments.

"This was not an ordinance and was not a resolution," he said. "We didn’t spend any money. We asked the city manager to put together an RFP. The Attorney General isn’t here and the usual person who would bring the council to court on this issue cannot." 

Carr filed several Freedom of Information requests and prior to in April. 

City Manager Lehman Walker confirmed that the RFP has been issued, but to date, no bids have been submitted.

"We just put out the RFP," Walker said. "If we choose not to proceed, then we don't proceed."

Councilman Terry Crow said if another vote was necessary, he would be happy to re-vote.

"It was a unanimous vote and it is likely to be again," Crow said. "We are getting our house in order in many ways and this won’t hurt anything to vote again."

Crow also noted that he expressed hesitance in July to move forward on a traffic study until the RFP was presented to council and the body could discuss the cost of such a study.

Arthur Sharpe, Ward 3, also said he believed the council acted correctly in July, but if it hadn't, he had no objection to voting again. Sharpe acts as mayor and runs council sessions—including the July 23 meeting—when Welsch is not present. 

Price asked that the council not continue to debate the issue Monday as the council had a reception planned in memory of former Councilman Larry Lieberman following its meeting. 

The issue will be on the city's next council agenda and the city attorney is looking into whether a violation occurred.

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