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Archive for Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Special election to decide quorum issue

November 21, 2007

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Potential Tonganoxie ballot issues released

Tonganoxie residents could have two controversial issues on the ballot for a special election early next year. Enlarge video

Tonganoxie residents will go to the polls in January to decide the council's quorum size and possibly Sunday liquor sales.

The council last week voted 4-1 to schedule the special election for Jan. 15.

Last summer, the council voted unanimously to change the number of council members needed for a quorum from three to four. The increased quorum would allow two council members to meet outside of a public meeting to discuss city business. In September, a petition was filed blocking the ordinance from taking effect.

During the discussion before the special election vote, council member Jim Truesdell said that if somebody were to abuse his or her council member position, he or she would do it regardless of the ordinance.

"I'm perfectly willing to let the people of Tonganoxie decide," Truesdell said. "It's not our decision, it's the people's decision, and I think that's the right thing to do."

Former council member Velda Roberts, who along with Roger and Phyllis Shilling gathered the necessary signatures needed to petition the ordinance, was not happy with the council's decision.

"I'm disappointed, but they certainly have a right to do that," Roberts said. "The idea of open meetings, for me, is that the business of the city should be discussed openly."

Roberts said council members might have good intentions, but closed meetings between two council members is too risky. Council members who want to become better informed about issues involving the city are better off speaking with department heads who are in the know instead of other council members, she said.

Meanwhile, previous attempts to bring Sunday liquor sales to Tonganoxie were unsuccessful because council members didn't want to host a special election. Now, there is another issue to be placed on a ballot that could allow for a liquor sales vote.

Kathy Bard, assistant city administrator, said the council will have to decide to put liquor sales on the ballot during Monday's council meeting.

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