by Ivan Foley
That didn’t take long.
Three newly-elected members of the Ferrelview Board of Trustees took the oath of office Tuesday night, and with a voting majority in their pocket quickly made a couple of moves regarding appointed personnel, including changes to the city treasurer and city attorney positions.
There was no action or discussion on controversial police chief Daniel Clayton.
Sworn in as new trustees were Russell Wilson and his wife Theresa Wilson, as well as Melvin Rhodes. Those three join carry-overs Diedre Carr and Linda McCaslin as the five trustees.
If Tuesday night is an indication of things to come, expect multiple 3-2 votes in the future, with the newcomers in the majority.
The evening included a ruling that the city did not have the legal right to drug test the newly-elected officials. An ordinance passed by the previous board in November seemed to have the desire of mandating drug testing for new board members, but according to city attorney Bill Quitmeier, that ordinance is flawed on multiple fronts.
In opening Tuesday night’s meeting, outgoing board chairman Steve Carr, who had unsuccessfully sought re-election, said: “This is my last meeting. I’ve tried for six years to represent the village. I tried to do the best I could, obviously it wasn’t good enough. It’s kind of hard to do without a lot of support. I felt like I’m fighting an uphill climb.”
Carr then said: “ I have a question. The new board members, have they all passed their drug test?”
Theresa Wilson answered by saying: “We’re not taking your drug test.”
That led to back and forth discussion, with Quitmeier stating his opinion on the city’s ordinance. There was an argument against that
interpretation from the audience in the form of Bart Whorton, who had been a candidate in the city election until being removed from the ballot for failure to pay taxes due to the state.
In a written opinion, Quitmeier said: “The Constitution prohibits states from enacting any laws requiring elected officials to take drug tests or permitting villages to do so. Missouri has enacted no such laws. Villages only have the authority granted to them by the legislature and they have not been granted the authority to drug test elected trustees. While the wording of the ordinance could not and does not apply to elected officials it would permit drug tests to be a condition of appointing trustees to vacant seats.”
Quitmeier also pointed out Ferrelview’s ordinance passed in November stated “Ordinance No. 310 would make a requirement for newly appointed Village of Ferrelview Board of Trustees members to pass a drug test before taking office.”
The new board members were not appointed--they were elected by voters. Carr then said the village “will follow the law.”
“I think it’s wrong,” Whorton said.
“I’m not saying I disagree with you. I don’t know why they don’t want to take the test anyhow,” Carr said.
After the newcomers were sworn in--with Carr remarking “Good luck and may God help you all”--Rhodes was chosen to serve as temporary chairman. A bit later in the meeting, after hearing a report from city clerk Patsy Murray on a variety of issues, the board took up the matter of appointments.
The board appointed Mickey Vulgamott, current city court clerk, to serve as temporary city treasurer “until we can find somebody suitable for the position,” according to the motion by Theresa Wilson.
That motion passed on a split vote.
Vulgamott will continue to serve as court clerk while also performing temporary duties as city treasurer. She replaces Penny Sutter as treasurer.
Patsy Murray was unanimously reappointed as city clerk.
A motion to replace Quitmeier with Scott Campbell, an attorney based in Platte City, as city attorney/municipal court prosecutor was passed 3-2, with McCaslin and Diedre Carr opposed.
“We do appreciate your professionalism, for what it’s worth,” Russell Wilson said to Quitmeier after the vote.
Campbell had previously served as city attorney before leaving the post last summer.
Clayton, the controversial police chief accused by some city residents of being overly heavy-handed in his approach to local law enforcement, is a hired employee, not appointed. His employment status was not discussed Tuesday night. There was no closed session held by the board.
Clayton, normally dressed in riot gear fashion at the board meetings, was not in police uniform at the meeting on Tuesday night, sporting casual wear that included a t-shirt. When asked if he had a report for the board, Clayton responded that he did not. Normally at the monthly meetings Clayton will give an update on police department activity statistics for the previous 30 days.
As reported in last week’s issue of The Landmark, the Wilsons were the two winners in a four-candidate race for two open seats. Incumbent Steve Carr was defeated and another incumbent, Frank Baumann, did not seek re-election.
Rhodes was elected as a write-in for an unexpired one-year term. Rhodes received 26 write-in votes to top the sitting officeholder, Brooks Moseley, with 22.