Furrer has much to learn about city’s mayoral post

“Call the Tune” by Mike Anthony

By Mike Anthony

Not much was known publicly about Mark Furrer before Sunset Hills voters elected him as a write-in candidate for mayor in April.

Like it or not, Sunset Hills residents know a great deal more about Furrer today than when he was elected last spring. In fact, Furrer’s encounter with a Fenton bicyclist has attracted international attention.

A grand jury last week indicted the mayor on the same two felonies he was charged with in October that stemmed from that incident — one count of second-degree assault, a class C felony, and one felony count of first-degree property damage, a class D felony. Furrer maintains his innocence on the charges.

This column isn’t about Furrer’s felony charges, as that’s an issue to be decided in court. But we will address the mayor’s performance of his official duties since his election.

To the best of our knowledge, Furrer had never attended a Board of Aldermen meeting before his election. Even if he had attended a board meeting before then, it’s obvious that Furrer had little or no knowledge about the workings of government when he was sworn in on April 22.

We wish we could report that Furrer’s grasp of parliamentary procedure and the workings of city government have improved since April, but that’s simply not the case.

A prime example would be the Dec. 9 board meeting, at which Furrer appeared confused for roughly five minutes after the board deadlocked on ending discussion on hiring outside legal counsel to determine if Furrer meets state criteria for impeachment.

Furrer finally broke the board’s 4-4 tie, after asking Ward 2 Alderman Tom Musich and Ward 4 Alderman Donna Ernst how he should vote.

Furrer also broke a second 4-4 tie against final approval of an ordinance to hire the outside legal counsel.

Furrer should not have voted for two reasons. First, he had an obvious conflict of interest and under state statute, a mayor shall not “preside or vote in cases when he is an interested party.”

Second, he demonstrated an appalling lack of knowledge about the process by which ordinances are enacted — his vote was unnecessary because five affirmative votes are required to adopt an ordinance. With the board deadlocked 4-4, the ordinance failed.

After serving roughly eight months as mayor, it’s disappointing that Furrer is either unwilling or unable to learn basic parliamentary procedure and the duties of the office to which he was elected.