Archive for Thursday, June 15, 2000

Council removes Blackburn as president

June 15, 2000

The Eudora City Council changed leadership Wednesday, approving council member Tom Pyle's motion to remove Willene Blackburn as council president.

Along with approving Blackburn's removal, the council voted to give the post, largely a figurehead one, to council member Rex Burkhardt.

Pyle's motion was seconded by council member Dan Gregg and carried by a 4-0 vote, including Blackburn's vote. Council member Pat Dardis was not present.

Pyle said Blackburn's appointment in May violated council bylaw 1-205, which states, "The city council shall elect one of their own body as 'president of the council' at its first regular meeting in the month of May following any city election."

He noted that the council didn't select one of its own, but that Blackburn was on a list of appointments given to the council by Mayor Fred Stewart at the May meeting.

"It's been an appointment by the mayor instead of the way it was supposed to be by us (council)," Pyle said.

Pyle said he had received comments concerning the bylaw and after review he discovered it was not Stewart's job to appoint the council president.

Pyle said he wanted to correct the procedural error and he said he believed Stewart had overstepped his authority.

"He's got to follow the law," Pyle said in an interview earlier Wednesday with The Eudora News. "The mayor has no say in who we elect as president of the council. It's an error and we've got to correct it."

Blackburn said she wasn't surprised by the council action and has no hard feelings.

"This job is about doing the business of the city. I'll work just as hard as I have been. I've got my projects and I'll continue to work on them.

Blackburn and Burkhardt agreed the president position was largely symbolic.

In the interview with the News, Pyle expressed displeasure in how the council handled the recent removal of City Superintendent Bill Harlow and his reinstatement this week.

Pyle said it wasn't the place of the council president and mayor to resolve the Harlow dispute without consulting the other council members.

"The mayor and council president have been making up rules they want us to follow. Nobody owns this city. (Blackburn and Stewart) need to know there's more than two people running this city. When (the mayor and one council member) tell four (council members) how things are going to go, that isn't going to fly."

Blackburn was appointed by Stewart a year ago as council president. Pyle said that shouldn't have happened either. After the Bill Harlow events, Pyle said he got to thinking about how the city was being run. "I know what the rules and laws in this town are," Pyle said. "We're going to do things the way they're supposed to be done."

After the vote, Blackburn suggested the council look into having the Kansas League of Municipalities conduct a workshop on city management and communication.

Pyle said communication is an issue that needed to be addressed.

Burkhardt said one of the first things he would do as council president would be to contact Delbert Breithaupt, whose resignation left the city with two qualified electrical linemen.

"We need to talk to him and see if we can get him back." Burkhardt also expressed the importance of communication within the council.

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