Kudos offered to majority of Crestwood board by Call

Mike Anthony

Mike Anthony

By MIKE ANTHONY

We applaud the majority of the Crestwood Board of Aldermen that recently voted to adopt a resolution approving a policy to send public-meeting notices to media outlets requesting such notification.

Board of Aldermen President Gregg Roby of Ward 3 and Ward 1 Alderman Richard Bland, in particular, should be commended for their efforts to promote the adoption of the resolution, which was approved with a 5-3 vote last month.

Approval of the resolution should have been a no-brainer for aldermen as the measure simply reinforced an administrative policy enacted earlier this year to send public-meeting notices to media outlets requesting such notification. Furthermore, the board had voted unanimously in July to direct city staff to draft the resolution.

Given that, we’re disappointed, but not surprised, by the “no” votes cast by Ward 1 Alderman Mac McGee, Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Miguel and Ward 4 Alderman Steve Nieder.

We’re particularly disappointed by the “no” votes because we view them as a lack of confidence in the leadership of City Administrator Frank Myers and board President Roby. We’re also disappointed because we believe the new policy complies with both the spirit and the letter of the Missouri Open Meetings and Records Law, also called the Sunshine Law.

That’s quite a contrast to the city’s previous policy of simply posting meeting notices on the city’s Web site.

On Jan. 19, the Call requested meeting notices to all boards and commissions in the city, but had been denied until earlier this summer after Mr. Myers decided to change the policy.

Missouri Press Association attorney Jean Maneke has said the city’s previous administrative policy set in January violated the Sunshine Law — an assertion disputed by city officials.

But if the city’s desire is to have transparent government, why would Mr. McGee, Mr. Miguel and Mr. Nieder object to the new policy?

Perhaps Mr. McGee, who has served less than five months as an alderman, bought the load of bunk Mr. Miguel and Mr. Nieder were selling in their objections to the policy.

Consider this: Mr. Miguel had said he was concerned that the requirements of the policy might “burden” city staff. That’s ironic coming from an alderman who for years has endlessly requested unnecessary reports from an overburdened city staff in an effort to buy time to cover up his inability to make tough decisions.

Mr. Nieder had said he believed it was the responsibility of the media — not the city — to be notified of meetings despite the Sunshine Law itself and an opinion to the contrary issued by Attorney General Jay Nixon. We believe residents should question the quality of the representation they’re receiving from Mr. Nieder, who apparently has made it a policy not to talk to any media outlet, not just the Call.

Mr. Myers criticized the Call’s previous coverage of this matter, including a column by this writer that contended Mayor Roy Robinson, as “head of the city,” was to blame for the previous administrative policy. In fact, Mr. Myers took “full responsibility” for such a poor decision.

If one believes Mr. Myers, then that’s an example of another broken promise from Mr. Robinson, who stated on his campaign Web site before the April 2005 election that he “can provide daily oversight and guidance and will insure that the city administrator carries out the Board of Alder-men’s decisions and policies. The city administrator will not be making policy, but will be the chief advisor to the mayor and Board of Aldermen.”

But we’ve come to expect such contradictions from Mr. Robinson, just as we have the unique legal stances taken by City Attorney Rob Golterman on matters of open government that will be addressed in a future column. In the meantime, we applaud the majority of the board for adopting the resolution regarding meeting notices.