Nine commissioners unanimously approve city document
SIKESTON - After approving a few minor changes and hashing out one final issue during Monday's meeting, the Home Rule Charter commissioners unanimously approved a city charter for voters to accept or reject on April 2.
All nine commissioners present for the vote approved the charter. Jeffrey Sutton and Steve Sikes were absent and Shad Old and Manuel Drumm left before the vote was taken.
Among the items addressed in what commissioners hope to be the final meeting were:
* References to the mayor being "appointed" by council members were revised to use the word "selected" after much discussion.
It was first proposed that the word "appointed" be replaced with "elected."
Commissioner Troy Wilson argued the word "elected" would be "somewhat misleading" as he believes the process by which council members choose a mayor to be "more of an appointment."
Council members customarily serve at least one year before being chosen as mayor, and in all but a very few cases the former mayor pro-tem is chosen as the next mayor. But there have been exceptions.
"Anybody who serves on the council can be elected," said Phil Boyer, commissioners and city councilman. "And we have an election."
Scott Matthews, commissioner, said "elected" was an appropriate word as U.S. Senate leaders are elected by peers within that body.
In the end, however, the word "selected" was approved as it is consistent with the ballot.
* Commissioners approved language explaining that if the voters decide to have the mayor elected at large during the April 2 election, the existing Charter language will stand but if voters decide to have the mayor continue to be selected from among the council by fellow council members, the Charter's language will be revised to reflect the change.
* Commissioners approved a public informational committee comprised of Jim Schwaninger, Wilson, Larry Nickell, Harry Sharp and Matthews to take care of informational mailings and other educational efforts.
* Upon the recommendation of Howard Wright, Springfield's city attorney hired to review the Charter, commissioners revisited the section dealing with conflicts of interest and made modifications.
After lengthy discussion, commissioners approved a revised version in which council members, appointed city officials and city employees are prohibited from having business contracts with the city unless they go through the legal bidding process including public notice and are the lowest qualified bid.
"If a councilman's involved, it hits the papers," said Brian Menz, commissioner.
Council members will also be required to not vote or even be present during the portion of a meeting in which they have a conflict of interest.
An exception was included for land purchased through eminent domain.
* Minor revisions cleaning up language in the Charter were approved.