Forecast for Sunshine Law: still cloudy in Sunset Hills

By Mike Anthony

We’ve written before that while Sunset Hills Mayor Bill Nolan has an excellent grasp of the Missouri Open Meetings and Records Law, some of his city’s aldermen do not.

We’re not sure whether some Sunset Hills aldermen simply don’t understand the Missouri Open Meetings and Records Law, better known as the Sunshine Law, or just elect not to adhere to its provisions.

An excellent case in point is a letter on this page today written by Ward 2 Alderman Thomas Hrastich, who has served on the Board of Aldermen since 2006. Hrastich’s tenure on the board soon will come to an end, as he withdrew his candidacy for the April election.

In his letter, Hrastich is critical of the Revenue Review Committee, appointed by Nolan, that recommended aldermen place a proposition on the April 3 ballot seeking voter approval of a permanent extension of an existing half-cent, capital-improvement sales tax.

Hrastich contends the committee provided aldermen “a single table of numbers with little explanation” at the board’s December meeting, and “no additional explanatory or supporting data was provided before the January meeting.”

What Hrastich doesn’t say, however, is committee Chairman Mike Sawicki, who presented the information to the board in December, asked if aldermen had any questions.

No aldermen posed a single question to Sawicki nor contacted him for any additional information before the board’s next meeting.

At the next meeting in January, aldermen voted 6-2 to reject a second reading of an ordinance to place the proposition on the April ballot. None of the six who were opposed to the second reading commented on their “no” vote at the meeting.

So we’re baffled how Hrastich can write: “The mayor shouldn’t find my voicing the concerns of a majority of aldermen ‘shocking’ …”

How can Hrastich purport to be speaking on behalf of a majority of aldermen when no public discussion of this issue has occurred? We can only infer that a great deal of discussion has transpired behind closed doors, out of the public’s view.

Hrastich goes on to elaborate on those concerns in his letter. Those concerns are exactly the type of issues that should have been discussed during an open, public meeting.

We’re shocked, flabbergasted and disappointed Hrastich apparently does not realize that.