Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Election Issues Prompt Council Sunrise Service

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Election Issues Prompt Council Sunrise Service

Article excerpt

The St. Charles County Council convened in emergency session 20 minutes before sunrise on Wednesday in a race with the calendar to line up four propositions for the election April 1.

The council met at 7 a.m. at the Historic Courthouse. Four of the seven members were present along with the county's special counsel, Joann Leykam. The decision to call the emergency meeting was made Tuesday night at a council work session attended by six council members.

In a prepared statement, Leykam said it was "impossible or impractical" to give 24-hour notice of the early-morning meeting as required by the Missouri Sunshine law. She said she posted a notice of the meeting at the courthouse at 7:25 p.m. Tuesday. Leykam noted, too, that reporters from two newspapers were at the Tuesday night session and thus received notice of the Wednesday morning meeting. Lacking a secretary early Wednesday morning, the council members took turns reading aloud four bills - a total of 18 pages. The bills will be taken up for a second reading and final passage at a special council meeting on Jan. 21, the deadline for putting propositions on the April ballot. The council's unusual meeting time Wednesday morning and its tight schedule for processing the bills was necessitated by a requirement of the county charter. It reads: "No final vote by the County Council shall be taken until the expiration of at least 10 working days from the time that such bill was first introduced." An alternate procedure would have been to declare the measures as emergency bills, thus enabling their enactment at a single meeting. But Council Chairwoman Sally Faith, R-5th District, was adamant about avoiding emergency passage of bills that, in fact, did not deal with emergency matters. That left the council with the challenge of squeezing "at least 10 working days" between the introduction of the bills and the final passage. One view was that by meeting at 7 a.m. Wednesday before the beginning of the Wednesday work day the council could count Tuesday, Jan. …

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