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Parkville softens its ethics ordinance

by Alan McArthur
Landmark reporter

The Parkville Board of Aldermen on Tuesday adopted a new ethics ordinance removing some portions and editing other portions of the ordinance.

The new ordinance was put together by Jeffrey Bay, alderman and head of the policy committee, and presented to the board.

Changes to the ordinance include removing some redundant sections and making the ordinance similar to other cities and samples provided by the Missouri Municipal League.

The section regarding municipal officials participating in city elections was reworded to say that if an elected official or member of board uses their title they must state that their actions are not connected to the board they serve on.

Previously the ordinance read:

“No member of any board, commission or committee formed pursuant to the ordinances of the City of Parkville shall participate in any activity on behalf of any candidate for public office in any municipal election of the City of Parkville wherein that person identifies himself (herself) as a member of that board, commission or committee as part of the activity on behalf of such candidate. Participation in municipal elections is a right guaranteed by the United States Constitution, Missouri Constitution and the laws of this State. However, using a position of appointment to any board, commission or committee membership in such a manner as to identify your membership on that board, commission or committee as part of any political activity is improper. Such action may portray certain conduct by a board, commission or committee member as the official action of the board, commission or committee.”

The new ordinance reads:

“When any member of any board, commission, or committed formed pursuant to the Ordinances of the City of Parkville participates in any activity on behalf of any candidate for public office in any municipal election of the City of Parkville wherein that person identifies himself (herself) as a member of that board, commission or committee as part of the activity on behalf of such candidate, such member shall affirmatively state that his or her activities are in no way sanctioned or connected to the board, commission, or committee on which he or she serves.”

The new ordinance also removes the power to subpoena from the officials on the Municipal Officials Ethic Commission.

Issues with the city's ethics ordinance recently came to light when a resident accused former Mayor Kathy Dusenbery of using her title in campaigning for the election of current Mayor Gerry Richardson.

The ethics commission ultimately found no basis for the accusation against Richardson and found that Dusenbery had used her title inappropriately, but recommended no action be taken against her.

Dusenbery raised questions about the ordinance during the investigation by the ethics commission.

The board approved the new ordinance with a vote of 8-0.

The board also voted to vacate Fifth Street east of 9 Highway. Park University had approached the city requesting the vacation in order to use the property as a parking lot for the lodge and for future improvements to the university.

The owner of Four Seasons Lawn and Landscape, John Cazzell, opposed the vacating because he said he uses the street for access to the back portion of his property. Cazzell said there are two parcels of property and the rear property would not have access if the street is vacated.

Sean Ackerson, assistant city administrator, responded that the property had only one deed and that a building on the property extends across the parcel line. Ackerson said the city is not obligated to provide access to each parcel of land.

The board voted 7-1 in favor of vacating the street. Marvin Ferguson, alderman, voted against the measure saying he didn't think it was fair to limit access to Cazzell's property.

The board also created a 'no parking' area at the curve of Bluff Drive in Parkville. Police Chief Bill Hudson brought the recommendation to the board after a number of accidents at the location.

Hudson said he would have signs posted on both sides of the curve to stop parking at the location.

Deborah Butcher, alderman, said it is a blind curve and can be very dangerous in the wintertime.


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