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Board Of Aldermen Express Their Concern Of Tensions Between The Board And City Staff
August 23, 2014
By Carlee Edwards
Some major concerns where expressed during the Alderman Concerns portion of the Lake Lotawana Board of Alderman meeting Tuesday night, August 19.
With Alderman Scott Miles starting off, he expressed his great concern over an email sent by one of the members of the board to a member of City staff. While he didn’t say what the email said exactly, he did claim that it was “a challenge to her work ethic and her integrity.”
“We as aldermen sign up for a position that receives public criticism, but our staff does not,” Miles said.
“If I see this coming from any aldermen in the future, with this kind of tone, I won’t be afraid to ask for somebody’s seat.”
Alderman Flaukenberg agreed with Miles and expressed his worry that a hostile work environment might lead to law suits which are costly and messy and not what Lake Lotawana is about.
Alderman Tillema followed with his statement. “I expected better from this board,” Tillema said. “What concerns me most… is the constant intimidation and harassment of our city employees.”
“I think it’s time we developed an official code of conduct,” Alderman Larry Byrne added with his own concern.
Alderwoman Rita Aholt began her statement by making clear that she had no intention of harassing or intimidating anyone with her email. In fact, she read off to the board and the public audience the exact words she had used in the email that were claimed to be “an attack on the staff’s ethics.”
“I used the words ‘inefficient’ and ‘disorganized’ if it takes you eight hours to come up with five documents that are of vital importance because they are in use right now in 2014.” Aholt clarified.
“This Alderman could not ask for this information as an Alderman because it was refused to me as the rest of the board, because they didn’t think it was important.”
Earlier in the meeting, Alderwoman Aholt had brought up the fact that she feels certain information which she has requested through an RSMO 610 request and a RSMO 109 request is being withheld from her. [RSMO 610 is commonly known as the “Sunshine Law” and provides for open, transparent government. RSMO 109 provides for access to government documents “on demand” as well as retention obligations.
Not following RSMO 109 should result in termination or impeachment.] Specific contracts between the City of Lake Lotawana and J&N Utilities dating back to 2012 are apparently nowhere to be found, despite the fact that they are required by law to be on file.
“We’re required by law to keep those contracts but we don’t have them?” Aholt questioned during the meeting. It was this exact issue however that the email in question covered.
“We can’t find the contract, no,” City Administrator Jill replied.
“If we can’t find it, then we can’t with hold it,” Mayor Welsh said. “And if the staff says they can’t find it, then they can’t find it.”
Alderman Scott Miles ended up suggesting that the City go back and seek help from J&N Utilities.
“It stinks, but can we go back to J&N and ask if they still have the contracts?” Miles asked. The board responded positively to this suggesting and the issue was put to the side until more information could be obtained.