Bill Bundschu is a former member Independence Charter Commission
To the editor:
In 1996, the Independence City Charter Section 5.7 restricting political contributions and activities of city employees was invalidated by a decision of the Missouri Court of Appeals. Its invalidation resulted from a procedural “botch” by the city’s legal department. The city’s attorneys were called to defend the lawsuit brought by Local 781 International Association of Fire Fighters, the union representing the city’s firefighters, to declare Section 5.7 invalid.
The court’s decision was not based upon the merits of the case but was solely due to the city’s failure to file the proper pleading papers necessary for the court to render its decision upon the merits of the case.
The resulting invalidation of Section 5.7 has allowed the city’s employee unions, at times, to gain control of a majority of City Council members who then in turn disproportionately raise union members’ compensation and benefits. A recent example of union control was Local 781’s proclamation of “no confidence” for Fire Chief Sandy Schiess. Her “sin” in the eyes of Local 781, was following the city manager and council’s instruction for the Fire Department to live within a tight budget, a theoretical concept not shared by Local 781 because it reduced the previous generous portion of the budget it was used to enjoying.
Now is the time for the citizens and taxpayers of Independence to amend the City Charter restricting the political contributions and activities of its employees.