Attorney Says Osage City Council Violates KOMA Law

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OSAGE CITY, Kan. (WIBW)- Thelma Humerickhouse has been an Osage City resident for years and says she has always felt the Osage City government is important to her.

"You know, my husband served 14 years in the legislature, so I've been around government,” says Thelma.

But, now the Osage City Council allegedly did something she disagreed with after Council member Rick Martin resigned and left an open seat. Complaints were sent to Osage County attorney Brandon Jones prior to the August 13th council meeting.

Osage City Mayor Quintin Robert filled Martin's position after a private council vote. And that moved the Osage County Herald Chronicle to file a formal complaint.

"You would hope that everyone on a council would conduct themselves in the right way by general council rules and stuff like that sometimes it's just people forget,” says Herald Chronicle Editor, Jeremy Gaston.

"Well, obviously they are trying to hide their vote," says Thelma.

Council voted 5-2 and decided they would secretly appoint a council member at an open meeting. The Osage County Attorney says this is the first time he had a case involving a secret ballot.

"So, I had to investigate that and determine that yes in fact it did happen and that is a violation of the Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA)," says Osage County Attorney Brandon Jones.

Jones says council members violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act by privately voting and electing Bruce Schoepflin to fill Martin’s vacant seat; something that Thelma wasn't very happy with.

"The citizens of Osage City are concerned about their city and about their government and how it's going to be run and we want it run right and fair,” says Thelma.

13 News tried calling all 7 Osage City council members and the Mayor for comment. But so far, those calls have not been returned.

County Attorney Jones has told the council he will not file an open meetings lawsuit on them if they follow an agreement he has drawn. Basically, that agreement says the election of Shoepflin must be voided and all council members and the Mayor must receive training on the provisions of the Kansas Open Meetings Act.

The Osage City council is meeting in special session Thursday night to go over Jones' agreement and discuss the alleged open meetings violation.