Monday, April 13, 2009

Public Information Director: "[City Attorney] Dan [Wichmer] did not prepare a written report."

As previously reported, Springfield's City Attorney Dan Wichmer recently told Amos Bridges of the "Springfield News-Leader":

"I [Wichmer] have looked into it and I have found nothing that warranted any further investigation by council. But I'll pass my report along (if it's requested)."

The statement was made in regards to whether the forwarding of an email by City Manager Greg Burris to the president of a local firefighter union, was "illegal." [SOS (Save Our Springfield Citizen's Coalition) had determined the action was "unethical" and had called for either Burris' resignation or further City Council action.]

The email contained an ongoing discussion between two Springfield City Council candidates, on the subject of possible modifications to the police and firefighters' return of contribution benefit.

The union's later decision not to endorse the two candidates involved in the emailed discussion was impacted by information contained in the email which Burris had forwarded to the union president. Some people feel that decision, in turn, might have made the difference in the outcome of what turned out to be very close election. They believe because Burris did not ask for or receive permission to forward the email to the union president, and it had affected the union's decision not to endorse the Council candidates involved, he had, essentially, inserted himself into a municipal election. Such an action, SOS spokesmen Darin Chappell and Mark Wright said, is against Tenet 7 of the ethical code of the International City Manager Association. That code of ethics, said spokesman for SOS Darin Chappell, is the nationally accepted code of ethical conduct for city managers.

Being the curious sort of reporter/blogger I am, before I retired last evening, I sent an email request to Public Information Director Louise Whall asking to receive the report Mr. Wichmer indicated was available upon request. What I found out was there is no written report for Mr. Wichmer to pass along.

According to Ms. Whall, Wichmer's point was "that he would make the same report, verbally or otherwise, if the Council requests it." She assured me that, "Dan [Wichmer] had confirmed that [her] response to [me] accurately represents his position."

Wichmer has indicated, he reviewed the materials and there was no justification for the allegations, Whall wrote in her email response.

An additional inquiry regarding whether the City Council should be advised by the city attorney regarding ethical questions involving the city manager, since the city attorney answers directly to the city manager and is employed by the city manager, were not addressed by Ms. Whall and neither has there been a response, as yet, to an email sent to Mr. Wichmer regarding that question.

Further, some people have raised the question of whether it is ethical for the city attorney, as an employee answering directly to the city manager, to investigate his employer regarding potential ethical indiscretions of his own employer.

"Dan [Wichmer] works for [City Manager] Greg [Burris]. Greg asked him to review the allegations on the day of the SOS news conference to see if he felt there was any cause for concern," Whall wrote. "Dan did that and said that he doesn't believe they have merit. As I said in the last two responses - if the Council requests any further action on this issue, Dan will comply. I have copied Dan on these e-mails and he can certainly respond further if he would like to add anything else."

Story developing.


O'Neal leaves Burris probe up to council Springfield News-Leader (Mayor Elect Asks City Attorney to Put Report in Writing)

"JackeHammer: Springfield City Attorney: City Manager Burris did Nothing Illegal, Actions Warrant no Further Investigation"

JackeHammer: Save Our Springfield (SOS) Citizen's Coalition Calls for City Manager Burris' Resignation"

April 10_Hour 2_Who is Vince calling out and why" (KSGF podcast)

"April 10_Hour 3_Free For All" (KSGF podcast)

"Save Our Springfield group calls for resignation Springfield News-Leader"

"busplunge: Group Calls For Springfield City Manager Called To Resign: Allege Ethical Breach"


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I guess Dan could have said,

"Rhonda Bateman did not take the money"

and that would have been the end of that story.

Thank goodness one person can figure everything out.