Time for city attorney to let the sun shine in Crestwood

Mike Anthony

Mike Anthony


We believe Crestwood officials are on the right track with their request for development proposals, or RDP, for the Westfield Shoppingtown Crestwood. But we question some of the advice they’re receiving from City Attorney Rob Golterman regarding the Missouri Open Meetings and Records Law — also called the Sunshine Law.

In recent months, he twice has been on the opposite side of open government — first regarding providing meeting notices to media requesting such notification and last week defending a consensus vote in a closed session.

In both instances, Jean Maneke, Missouri Press Association attorney, has contended the city violated the Sunshine Law. Not surprisingly, Mr. Golterman disputes those assertions.

On the notification issue, it’s simple: The Call requested such notification. The city didn’t comply, instead contending that posting the notices on the city’s Web site was sufficient.

Mr. Golterman defended that practice, disputing the press association attorney’s interpretation of the law and an attorney general’s opinion that stated, “… The procedure for making a (media) representative aware of a particular meeting will depend on the facts of the specific situation; however, more is required than simply posting the notice …”

He told aldermen: “Yeah, there is an attorney general’s opinion. But the lawyer for the press association might read that much more broadly than I would.”

Read the law, Rob. The Sunshine Law states that the provisions it contains “… shall be liberally construed …” to promote a public policy of open government.

The law also prohibits consensus votes in closed session. Yet that’s what the city did during a Jan. 9 closed session, according to a public record prepared by Mr. Golterman: “… The board concurred with staff’s recommendation that an RDP be prepared for review by and further discussion among the board before being issued.”

Last week, he said, “Contrary to what you may have read, I will assure the board that there was no violation of the Sunshine Law in connection with the Jan. 9 proceedings in closed session — contrary to what you may have read.”

During his time as city attorney, Mr. Golterman at times has appeared to be a chameleon, bending his legal interpretations to suit those who hold power. While that might not be the case now, all we know for sure is the city would be better off without him — contrary to what he might say.