"When someone makes the charge that there's something illegal going on, I tend to look into it right away," he [City Attorney Dan Wichmer] said. "I 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 SOS (Save Our Springfield Citizen's Coalition) held a press conference on April 9, charging City Manager Burris' actions, in forwarding an email to the President of Springfield Firefighters Local 152, had inserted the city manager into election politics, and possibly affected the outcome of the City Council election.
In the email, which was blind carbon copied to the city manager by one of the candidates, two City Council candidates were engaged in an ongoing discussion about possible modifications to certain benefits of the Police and Fire Pension plan. The email's contents were not characterized by the candidates or put into context in any way for Mr. Burris.
The day before the City Council election, Firefighter Union President Tony Kelley called local radio station KSGF's Vincent David Jericho Program and stated the email had caused union members to question whether the candidates were lying to them, and had played a considerable role in the union's decision not to endorse the two candidates.
"Whenever we had a candidate forum, one of the questions was, do you support benefit reductions to police and firefighters, and their answer was no, they don't support it. We found that to be disturbing, that I have an email where both of them were exchanging back and forth about what would be a benefit reduction and, you know, two weeks later we have a forum and they both say, 'no, we're not in support of that,' so that played a lot into our decision to not endorse Martz and Ellison." -Firefighter Union President Kelley, April 6 on KSGF's Vincent David Jericho Program.
Burris, who did not deny forwarding the email to Kelley, has issued a statement in response and made the email available for public viewing.
SOS spokesmen Darin Chappell and Mark Wright have said they believe the action was unethical, based on the International City Manager Association's Code of Ethics, and warrants Burris' resignation or removal from the office of City Manager.
Note: See my previous report on the SOS press conference, entered on Thursday evening, where a link to the KSGF podcast with Tony Kelley's comments was provided. A complete tape recording of the April 9, SOS Press Conference is available.