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HOW NOT TO GET A CITY CHARTER PASSED (part 2)

Part 2 of the series on learning from the past…or…don’t do the same thing again and expect a different result.

Be fiscally responsible; otherwise it not only wastes money., it can also undermine the effort to get a charter passed.

The 2005 charter attempt resulted in about $60,000 in legal bills. That was 6 times the amount budgeted by the city and almost 10 times what the last charter for a fourth class city in Missouri cost. Fortunately the City negotiated a major portion of that away.  How can this mistake be avoided in the future? 

1. Don’t involve legal counsel until decisions must be made concerning the end result, and write the Charter in plain English.

2. Do not have a $240 an hour lawyer present at every official and some unofficial meetings of the members of the committee. 

3. Do not allow members of the commission to call up the a firm and run up billable hours unless the committee as a body has specifically authorized the expenditure in advance.

4. Do not take the position that because Missouri law does not limit the expenditures of a Charter Commission, it is the City’s obligation to pay that amount without question.

Four members of the 2005 Charter Commission are running for the 2014 Commission.  Fairness dictates that it be reported how many hours each of these four were linked to in the 2005 bills from the law firm. 

Aziere 0 hours for $0

Wittman 0 hours  for $0

Hartwell 0 hours for $0

Walters 43.5 hours for $10,440

In fairness to Greg Walters, many  of the 43.5 hours were not his alone. The law firm would list 2 or more conferences with Charter Commissioners and give a combined total billable hours for those calls. 

Click HERE to see a scanned copy of the portions of the invoices from the law firm that have the hours and who they were talking to or what they were doing.

Click HERE for a RaytownOnline.com video of the last 2005 Charter meeting that has some discussion of the legal costs.

 

 

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