Helicopter Lease-Purchase Deal Scrapped

One council member called Saturday's helicopter crash "an omen." Another called on the city manager to get involved in TPD's review of its helicopter unit. When the vote was taken, it was not enough to override Mayor Bill Bunten's veto of the controversial lease-purchase of a 2nd chopper for Chief Ron Miller's department.

The override vote was 5-4. The veto override required 7 votes.

City Councilman Jeff Preisner asked City Manager Norton Bonaparte to prepare a resolution terminating the contract for the Robinson helicopter. Earlier, Councilman Richard Harmon had directed Bonaparte to involve himself in TPD's review of the grounded unit. He said, "we have lost too many officers, and too many helicopters since 2000."

Lana Kennedy said she could not support the override, especially in the wake of the chopper crash near Stoffer Hall on the Washburn campus April 4th. And Bill Haynes, who along with Harmon, is an attorney sitting on the council, said he has had no e-mails from constituents supporting the chopper deal.

Jack Woelfel weighed in with his concerns, saying scrapping the deal would harm the city's credibility of entering into contracts. Acting City Attorney Braxton Copley assured the council the deal met the requirements of the Kansas Cash Basis Law, which is currently an issue being challenged by District Attorney Robert Hecht.

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