Independence Examiner, Wednesday 07/30/02

Rules committee to meet

By James Dornbrook
The Examiner

The Jackson County Legislature will convene its Rules Committee for the first time in several years to discuss whether the county should pay the legal bills of Bob WitbolsFeugen.

WitbolsFeugen won a Sunshine Law case against the Office of Human Relations and Citizens Complaints, but attorney fees were not assessed. WitbolsFeugen has said he spent about $35,000 to pursue the case.

The Jackson County counselor's office defended the OHRCC and the county paid the fines.

WitbolsFeugen asked the Legislature to step in and indemnify him also, for making sure citizens have an open government.

This week, legislators seemed leery about the idea of intervening with the court's decision.

"I would feel better if we got an outside opinion on this matter. We should have a committee consult law firms for an opinion," said Legislator Fred Arbanas, 3rd District at-large. "Since this matter went through the court system, I would feel more comfortable with an outside source of information."

"I share Fred's concern. This seems to be an appeal of the court system. I feel uncomfortable reviewing the court's decision on this," said Legislator Bob Spence, 6th District.

"I don't know if we can rule on the court's decision, but we can hear an appeal regarding actions of the OHRCC," said Legislator Bill Petrie, 2nd District at-large.

"I don't want to be in a position where we are reviewing a judge's decision. This is an opinion on a matter that affects us all," said Legislator Dennis Waits, 3rd District.

Legislators referred the matter to the Rules Committee. The Rules Committee is chaired by Legislator Ron Finley, 2nd District. Waits and Arbanas are also members of the committee.

To reach James Dornbrook e-mail or call (816) 350-6322.
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