Originally Published on: 2016-07-06
“Call the Tune” by Mike Anthony
Ward 3 Alderman Keith Kostial has brought a unique perspective to the Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen, particularly his belief that physical attendance at meetings is not a requirement of holding office.
Kostial truly believes that he can phone it in at aldermanic meetings.
Since December, he has attended more meetings via videoconferencing than in person, as his job frequently takes him to Wisconsin.
Simply put, he’s not doing the job to which voters elected him. Kostial was elected in April 2015, surpassing Lori Scarlett by three votes.
Had voters known Kostial’s attendance at aldermanic meetings was going to become an issue, we doubt he would have been elected.
It’s simple — elected officials have an obligation to attend meetings of the body to which they were elected.
Residents clearly expect their elected officials to be physically present at board meetings.
Kostial contends his physical presence is not required at board meetings, citing a 2013 change to the Missouri Open Meetings and Records Act to allow roll-call votes to be cast by elected officials attending a meeting “via videoconferencing.”
City Attorney Robert E. Jones has said the Board of Aldermen can impose limits on its members participating in meetings via videoconferencing. Kostial, of course, disagrees with Jones, contending that as a fourth-class city, Sunset Hills cannot restrict anything beyond state law.
The Board of Aldermen is scheduled to consider final approval next week of an ordinance that would establish videoconferencing limits based on recommendations from the Missouri Municipal League. Under the new rules, aldermen could videoconference “only sparingly,” up to three times in a rolling 12-month period, unless otherwise approved by the board.
We urge aldermen to adopt the legislation. Emergencies undoubtedly will arise from time to time requiring a member to attend via videconferencing, but it’s reasonable to impose limits on such participation.
Kostial’s in-person attendance record at aldermanic meetings is abysmal. Heck, former Ward 1 Alderman Frank Hardy attends more meetings in person than Kostial does.
If Kostial can’t or won’t guarantee his physical attendance at meetings on a regular basis, it’s time for him to resign and allow someone to be appointed who will fulfill the responsibilities of the office and represent his or her constituents in person.