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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

City council member offers advice to commission members

By Charlene Sims, info@linncountyjournal.com


MOUND CITY – Angie Randall, Pleasanton City Council member, spoke to the Linn County Commissioners on Monday, Feb. 26, about a variety of issues.


She spoke on a wide range of issues including the structure of their forum, the need for a five-member county commission, everything is aired out over YouTube, and there are no work sessions where they can iron out some of the issues before a commission meeting so it is not lasting four or five hours. 


She said, ”You can’t even communicate. You can’t even call each other and ask each other questions, because if you do you’ve created a quorum.” 


She asked if they had considered restructuring the commission to have five members where they can have easier work sessions. If somebody has a question, you can at least call one of your other people and ask a question.


“I think that five people would be much better than three,” said Randall.


By state statute, a quorum of a commission cannot meet together outside of a public meeting. So with a three people on the commission, commissioners are not allowed to communicate with each other except in commission meetings.  


In a five-member commission, only two members can speak to each other but if they take their discussion on to other commissioners, that could be considered a serial meeting, which could also be a violation of the Kansas Open Meetings Act.


Commission Chair Jason Hightower said that the commission had discussion of a five-member commission as one of their goals. 


It would take redistricting the county into five commission districts. The districts would be divided up so that the population could be distributed as evenly as possible, and the voters would decide whether to approve it.


County Counselor Gary Thompson said that by state statute the resolution to do this would have to be approved at least 60 days before the general election in November. 


County Clerk David Lamb added that it would have to be done before that for him to have ballots prepared for the election.  


Thompson explained to the commissioners that, under current law, the county could have a special election after the redistricting was approved to elect the new commissioners. But if a bill that was being looked at in the Kansas Legislature now was passed, the election of commissioners could not be held until the next official general election.    


Redistricting could actually result in certain areas having less representation than at present. For example, at present Commissioner Danny McCullough’s close ties to Pleasanton means that city has one-third of the votes cast by commissioners. Depending on how redistricting is set up, the Pleasanton area could only have one fifth of the votes cast.    


Next, Randall told the commissioners that Pleasanton was having a solar meeting on March 18. She asked Lamb for the telephone numbers of solar company representatives so that they could be invited to the meeting. She said she wanted both sides to be represented.


Randall then asked the commissioners if they realized how many elected officials they were going to lose in the next year. She told them they were going to be losing the sheriff, the treasurer and the county clerk.


Lamb, the county clerk, has announced that he will run for reelection and hold the office until he can get someone adequately trained for the job.


“You cannot do your jobs unless you have a good backbone, and a good foundation in that building over there,” said Randall, referring to the county courthouse.


Hightower asked since those were elected positions, how the commission would manage that.


Randall asked if anybody had even addressed it in the Linn County News from this platform.


“The sheriff says he is not going to run because you guys can’t come to an agreement on stuff,” she said.


She asked the commissioners if they knew if anybody was even interested and what they were going to do if nobody runs except somebody without any law experience or accreditation.


McCullough said that when he ran for commissioners he didn’t even know what a commissioner was.


Randall told McCullough that law enforcement is totally different. The last sheriff that didn’t have any experience and went to prison before he died. 


McCullough said he did not think they could control who ran.


Randall said, “You can put the word out there to other counties, start looking for ways of asking if there is interest from another county.”


She told the commissioners they could also work on other things like pay

scales, adding that the sheriff’s office employees are not paid equivalent to other law enforcement personnel. 


“I would like to see the county commissioners take a list of what responsibilities people have for their elected and non-elected personnel based on knowledge, education and training of what has to be done,” Randall said. 


She also said that people who “put their life on the line,” like deputies and first responders should be compensated more than employees that sit in the office all day and do not put their lives on the line.


“If they are compensated lower, I think it should be addressed,” said Randall. 


She then told McCullough, “Danny, I pulled you aside last week and I told you the reason the shop was closed over at Pleasanton. My understanding from talking to people that used to work there years ago.


“There were two people who had passed away before other people were hired. The person running that shop was in a car wreck and couldn’t come back to work, so the commission voted to dismantle that shop. 


“The question being, everybody wanted to know. It was found out but nothing was discussed up here. So, I don’t understand how come that is if somebody’s told something that they don’t do their due diligence to go and look it up or find out or talk to people. There is a wealth of information. People have done research in this county, have come to you guys many times and given you correct information but nobody wants to follow up on it, nobody does their due diligence to go and look back on it or say Hey! Where did you get that information, I would like to go look it up.”

 

Randall then addressed Hightower.


“Jason, I don’t understand last week you asked on this (solar) forum you’re having on March 4 if the property owners were going to be able to be there. You seem to have more concern about property owners versus voters. And in some cases that’s not a bad thing, but in some cases it is a bad thing. 


“Because in the city of Pleasanton, the city of Mound City, in the city of Prescott and the city of La Cygne, you have people that own businesses (from) outside but don’t live in those communities. So they have a chain of command that they have to go through, so to speak. They have a Chamber of Commerce.


“So if the Chamber of Commerce wants to come down and speak at the city council meeting they can. Those citizens can come to city council meetings, but they really don’t have any input, because they’re not voters in that city. So, I think the voters should have more of a say. Property owners can come.”


Hightower pointed out that property owners pay taxes too. They don’t get a voice in our elections, but they do pay taxes and that’s all I’m trying to say – they do pay taxes, he added.


“They do pay taxes, you are 100% correct, but are they invested?,” Randall responded. “Are they invested in this community? Do they live here? Do they put their blood, sweat and tears here? 


“Pleasanton wouldn’t exist right now if we didn’t have people who lived outside of Pleasanton putting their money by owning the businesses that they do in Pleasanton,” said Randall. “But the Chamber of Commerce comes and speaks to them, and we ask them their opinion. 


“If their opinion doesn’t align with the citizens or what we have to do, they don’t have a voting right. Unfortunately that is the way the state of Kansas is set up. I would like to see more emphasis on the elected people that have a vote and not property owners. 


“They have some, but if they are wanting to be that invested in Linn County then they need to live here. That’s the way that the statute was written up; that the people that live there are the ones that are most invested in it.”                                       




                                                                     

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