Archive for Thursday, June 1, 2000

Council could have used legal advice in executive session

June 1, 2000

Rumor has it that Bill Harlow has hired an attorney and it's just a matter of time before the former city superintendent, ousted three weeks ago by an unsatisfied Eudora City Council, takes legal action.

An interesting predicament, when you consider that city council claims it eliminated Harlow's job as a way of more wisely spending tax payers' dollars. Fighting legal issues is a waste of money.

While we understand that most people have no defense against being sued, we are certain it would have been wise to invite city attorney Jerry Cooley into executive session.

After all, the city does pay him for his legal expertise on such matters. In some cities, it is mandatory for city councils to go into executive session with the city attorney.

With action as drastic as eliminating the position of one of the city's department heads, one would think the council would have had the foresight to make sure all its ducks were in a row.

Of course, some might say that having Cooley in on the meeting would have given the indication that Harlow's ouster had been preplanned.

Preplanning Harlow's dismissal would have been both illegal and unethical. Instead, the council chose to act without thinking things through.

It was a mistake that could cost the city far more than Harlow's $43,000 annual salary.

Of course, the council still has its integrity, according to one council member. It acted ethically on the issue and if it made a mistake in not consulting with counsel before dismissing Harlow, at least it was an honest mistake.

Some would debate that fact, but the same council member was asked whether it's better to be stupid or unethical. His response was quick.

"It's better to be stupid," he said.

We just prefer they hadn't been either.

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