Lee’s Summit charter amendments on hold

rpulley@lsjournal.comDecember 13, 2013 

One issue that’s unlikely to be on April 2014 ballot is the question of revising the Lee’s Summit City Charter to make it tougher to recall elected officials.

The matter had been before the Rules Committee which recently hasn’t been active.

Rules Committee Chairman Bob Johnson said in interview Dec. 11, that as chairman he’d decided to put it on hold unless he was getting requests from other council members to press forward.

He said the reason was he thinks it’s unwise to put a possibly controversial charter amendment on the same ballot with an important bond issue.

The city is getting ready to ask voters for $10 million to rebuild the U.S. 50/Missouri 291 South Interchange before voters in April.

He said he thinks the recall issue “needs to be done with a citizen’s group, in a bigger package.”

The charter calls for a review commission at least every 10 years. The last commission was in 2007.

Johnson noted that because the Rules Committee has only three members, two members constitute a quorum so he couldn’t ask the other members what they thought without calling a meeting, or he’d violate the Sunshine Law.

The other committee members, Derek Holland and Allan Gray, said in interviews that they agreed with Johnson’s decision.

Gray, who is mayor pro-tem and appoints committee members, said the committee was short because council members already had busy schedules and no one had wanted to be added to that particular committee after Kathy Hofmann resigned.

Both Gray and Holland said the bond election is too important to add the charter revision as a second issue.

Holland said he was lukewarm toward several proposals for charter revisions, except for raising the bar for recalls of elected officials.

He supports requiring a higher number of signatures on petitions to force a recall election.

He said he realized that some people might think of that as self-serving and having the council put the issue on the ballot could “muddy the water.”

“I still think it needs to be done, but it’s not an emergency, perhaps it’s more appropriate to come from a citizen’s commission,” Holland said.

Councilmember Rob Binney, who earlier this year faced an unsuccessful attempt at a recall, said he’s glad the proposal was put on a back burner. He said he’s been silent on the issue because he doesn’t want the issue to be about him.

If other council members or residents think the process needs to be fixed for future councils, he said, a charter commission would handle it.

“You can go back and forth on the percentages,” Binney said. “I don’t think at this point it’s worthy, the next charter commission will be appointed in a year or two.”

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