With no explanation as to why, Judge Ligons threw out our request to reconsider. The city is still trying to get the judge to award them summary judgment on their case against us, the judge should make that decision in the next month.
Author Archives Brian Becker
SEMO.net has compiled this general timeline from Sunshine documents received, DAR reports and personal conversations:
Monday, April 15 – City Clerk Kearbey improperly, and possibly illegally, conducted the Mayoral election. Read earlier post.
Monday, April 16 - Brannum tells City Manager Bagby he intends to make a motion at the May 6 meeting to fire Kearbey for her improper actions during the mayoral election.
Monday, April 22 – Attorney Danny Moore mails a letter addressed to Brannum saying his client, a City employee, is “very concerned about his actions and demeanor toward her.”
Tuesday, April 23 @ 8:50 am - Don Schrieber, Editor in Chief of the Daily American Republic, goes to City Hall and makes a Sunshine Request for “Any files relating to either term Johnny Brannum served on the P.B. City Council.”
- City Clerk waives research and copying fees for DAR.
- – I was charged for these documents
- City Clerk waives typical 3-day waiting period for requests to DAR.
- – I received these documents after three day wait
- Schrieber was handed photocopies of the documents immediately. Documents were 1) an undated, former employee submitted, handwritten letter from “Johnny”; 2)
- front of a business card of Councilman Brannum; 3)
- back of a business card with handwritten message.
Tuesday, April 23 afternoon – Brannum received his copy of the Attorney Moore letter
Wednesday, April 24 @ 9:00 AM - City Council is notified of a special closed meeting to be held on April 26 at noon.
Friday, April 26 @ noon - An emergency Closed Meeting of the City Council was held. The City Clerk did not attend a large portion of this meeting. It is my opinion that these sexual harassment charges were discussed in this meeting.
Monday, April 29 @ 9:20 AM- Don Schrieber made, essentially, the same sunshine request as six days prior “All Records Pertaining to Councilman John Brannum.” Schrieber was given two pages. Schrieber did not pay for these records (again, I was charged for these records) and received them immediately (I had to wait three business days for my copies):
- letter from Attorney Moore to Brannum
- a typed letter describing incidents between a current employee of City Hall and Brannum
It is my opinion that both of these documents were closed records under the Sunshine law. City Ordinance prohibits public disclosure of closed records and disclosure is an offense under the City Code. The offender is subject to termination.
Tuesday, April 30 @ 12:45 PM – Brannum emails Bagby and resigns from City Council.
Tuesday, April 30 @ 2:00 PM – City sends out agenda for Special Meeting on May 1
Tuesday, April 30 @ 7:00 PM – Brannum email Bagby and Mayor DeGaris and recants his resignation
Wednesday, May 1 @ 11:00 AM – DAR has front page expose’ regarding sexual allegations against Brannum, Brannum’s resignation and recantation emails printed in full.
Wednesday, May 1 @ 4:30 – At the Special Meeting of City Council it becomes public information that City Clerk Pam Kearbey was the “current” employee who complained about Brannum.
Friday, May 3 - City posts Agenda for next Council Meeting and includes “E. City Council will review a contract for the City Clerk”
Sunday, May 5 – Schrieber writes DAR editorial and states Brannum is an embarrassment and should resign and calls me a “Disgruntled Malcontent Misfit.”
Monday, May 6 – I made a Sunshine Request for:
- Copy of ALL “Sunshine Requests” made by the Daily American Republic During April or May of 2013
- Copy of Police Reports and/or Employee Complaint Filed against Brannum
Thursday, May 9 - City Clerk stated once in person and twice by email that There are no police reports.
Tuesday, May 14 - City Clerk Kearbey writes, “there is NO police report filed on any of the complaints.”
Wednesday, May 15 – I requested by Sunshine Request a copy of the City’s protocol and procedures for Employee complaints of Sexual Harassment.
So here are my questions:
How did the “Letter from Attorney Moore” and “Personal Statement/Complaint of City Clerk Kearbey” become public record since there was no police report and no employee complaint?
- It can only be given by the Clerk to the DAR if it is a public record
- There is no police report so it didn’t become a public record that way
- I believe those records are “closed session records.” I asked Pearson if she had seen either of the two documents and was told she could not discuss anything from a closed session.
What happens if the City did provide Closed Meeting documents to the Daily American Republic?
- Our own PB Ordinance 7321 states that any employee of the City who discloses any closed record shall “be guilty of an offense under the ordinances of the City” and upon eviction therefore may be punished as provided by law and “subject to termination.”
- Our City Clerk is the Custodian of Records and has apparently violated this ordinance.
Who tipped off Don Schrieber to go make those requests and what was their motive?
- Schrieber was at City Hall asking for documents nearly 10 hours before Brannum got the letter from Attorney Moore.
- Schrieber went back after six days and requested the same documents. How did he know there was something new in Brannum’s file?
How did the DAR get a copy of the resignation email submitted to the City Manager?
- The DAR did not make a sunshine request for that information.
- The resignation letter was emailed from Brannum to Bagby. That email, I believe, was also transmitted to all the council members.
- Leaking emails of this nature to the press, in my opinion, is unethical
- I have made Sunshine Request for any emails sent from City employees to the DAR – I will report the findings.
How can there be a “sexual harassment” issue when no Police Report or Employee complaint has been filed?
How can the DAR report 9 separate times that the Police were involved in an investigation when no police report was ever filed?
- DAR stated “this letter was held by the Poplar Bluff Police Department…”
- DAR stated “a current city employee provided a complaint to the police”
- DAR stated “names of the victims have been withheld by the police”
- DAR stated “the police case file, which has been closed, also states….”
- If they have any respect for their community and the ideal of Journalism, THE Daily American Republic should print a front page retraction!
Why now? After twelve years of employment, why is it now necessary to provide a contract to the City Clerk?
- The contract provides: “termination shall be effective upon twelve (12) months written notice”
- The contract actually states that if the City Clerk is ever fired she sticks around for a full year at full pay. LUNACY!
- Annual salary is $56,656 plus benefits and proportional raises
It is my opinion that there is enough reasonable concern of foul play for our community to request that the Attorney General’s office commission an investigation of how all of these events transpired.
Proudly written by a Disgruntled Malcontent Misfit!
Do you have the time to make the summer of 11 boys better? One of the seven Pony League teams’ coach had to back out and the Parks Dept is looking for a replacement. Some of the boys’ parents are willing to help out, but they need a head coach.
All games are played at McLane Park. You typically play once per week on Monday, Wednesday or Friday night. The season is scheduled to start May 20 and is over by July 18. You won’t really be too far behind any of the other teams because of all the rain. For example, the Pony League team I coach has only had one practice up til now.
The sponsor has already committed to the team; all that is needed is a head coach!
Please help us find someone who will volunteer for this.
For more info or to volunteer contact the Greg Riggs at the Parks & Rec office during business hour (573.686.8645) or after hours call Greg at 573.429.3653.
I spoke with Jim Chrisman today and the Depot Stairs Restoration Project still needs $20,000 to get the matching grant funds of over $250,000 to restore the staircase at the old depot.
This would be such a wonderful enhancement to our downtown area so please get involved and help them with this funding goal.
Check out this promotional video for the project:
Why Do I Think That Brannum is Being Framed?
…because the sexual harasser “victim” who the DAR reported as an unnamed employee of the City…is the one and only City Clerk Pam Kearbey. And, according to the DAR, the witnesses to the alleged events were none other than City Manager Doug Bagby and City Attorney Wally Duncan.
There are only three members of the City’s staff who are hired and fired by the City Council. You guessed it: the City’s Clerk, Manager & Attorney. And the three of them are the ones who brought forth and/or corroborated the sexual harassment charges against Brannum.
The DAR reported that one week before Kearbey filed her police report, Brannum stated “that he would make a motion on May 6 to fire longtime City Clerk Pam Kearbey.”
So let’s be clear: Johnny was about to bring up a motion to fire Pam Kearbey and before he can make the motion, she files a sexual harassment claim against him and the two witnesses presumably have a vested interest in preventing a “change of guard” on City Council.
The other letter reported was deemed not sexual harassment 13 years ago or there would have been charges filed.
I support Brannum because in my opinion these charges are politically-motivated allegations which makes them bogus.
The video is on youtube.com and in places you will have to turn up the volume to hear all of the dialog. Thank you to Show-me Pro Marketing for recording the Special Meeting.
After reading the “Bach Should Resign! Electric Bill’s “Fuel Factor” Goes Up Without Mandatory Calculation,” a friend asked me to do my best at giving an honest analysis of what the Fuel Factor should be. There are many variables, some of which I do not have control of, for instance, I do not have how much the City used for fuel to power the generators. In actuality, it should be cheaper to generate our own power than purchasing it, so one could speculate that the fuel charges would bring down the Fuel Factor rather than raise it.
I’ve given two different ways of calculating the Fuel Factor: With and Without the Capacity Charges. The way power is purchased is by first agreeing to a long-term contract at a specific maximum capacity which you pay for each month. Then the usage fee is based off how much power you actually use in a given month.
Should Capacity Be A Part Of The Calculation?
From what I can tell, no. The city’s web site states the Fuel Factor is “the purchased power cost plus City generation fuel cost” In other words, the cost of building the generator nor the maintenance is figured into the Fuel Factor. That’s basically what the “Capacity” is, it is the city agreeing to pay for a certain portion of the plant. For that reason, I believe that a true calculation of the Fuel Factor should be somewhere near the second calculation and because it is a negative number. The Fuel Factor should be reducing our electric rates. For that reason, it would make sense that the “Capacity” amount is built into standard $0.0384 base rate.
And in that case, Bach is overcharging the citizens of Poplar Bluff by $14M annually.
But Aren’t Our Rates Better Than Other Areas?
From what I can tell, NO! Our rates are not better than other areas because of how large the Fuel Factor has become. In other areas where their rates are the same or slightly higher, their Fuel Factor is .003 (1/3 of a cent).
In the minutes of a City Council meeting on December 3, 2012, City Manager Bagby stated and Lloyd Matthews discussed Marion, Illinois rates for some reason.
[Matthews stated] Marion, Illinois lowered their utility rates 20 percent and he would like to get to that point sometime.
City Manager Bagby stated Marion, Illinois needed to lower rates 20 percent and are still considerably higher than we are.
We need a City Council Fact Checker! I contacted Ameren Illinois today and they provided me with their rate card for Marion, Illinois. The second page describes their purchase power fee and from what I can tell, Marion’s rates are more than 2 cents lower than ours.
Residential Customer using 1000 KWh
City of Poplar Bluff average rate $0.081665 / KWh
City of Marion Illinois average rate $0.056440 / KWh
And Sikeston, Mo has no Fuel Factor on their rates:
First 1,000 KWH $0.058 per KWH
Over 1,000 KWH $0.038 per KWH
It is time for a change. Contact your councilman and request that City Council demand the resignation of Utilities Manager Bill Bach.
I received a response today from my Sunshine Request: “I would like the documents which show the past four calculations made by the City for the Fuel Factor…”
The City Clerk, Pam Kearbey, emailed me today:
There has not been four (4) calculations made by the City on the purchase power adjustment, only two (2). They are attached. Pam
I opened the attachment and my jaw dropped. According to the City Clerk, there has not been an official calculation of the Fuel Factor since 2007. One of the calculations is from 2006 and the other from approximately January 2007.
I verified with Kearbey by asking: “Just to be clear…there have been no calculations since 2006 or early 2007?”
I provided you everything that we have.
Why am I not surprised?
I did some searches of the minutes of City Council over the past five years and found some quotes from our City Manager in December 2011 when they raised the Fuel Factor for the fourth time in as many years:
Mr. Bach looks at it every six months and when Plum Point comes online next year it may be that we will be able to take that down to zero or a negative.
Really? Of course not, the Fuel Factor went up AGAIN “the next year.”
We don’t always have a handle on what those costs are going to be on purchase power and Mr. Bach looks at them every six months.
Mr Bagby, maybe the reason you don’t have a handle on it is because your Utilities Manager is arbitrarily increasing the Fuel Factor because he hasn’t properly calculated a proper Fuel Factor since 2007. Who knows how Bach comes up with this exorbitant Fuel Factor which has gone up every year since 2007 and now represents a 30% increase in our residential electric rates?
The City Council should bring Bach before them and ask for his resignation due to gross misconduct, disregard of public policy, increasing of the Fuel Factor without the proper documentation, impersonating a civil servant, mismanagement of electric utility funds, misrepresenting to council that he performed the calculations every six months, and — since the Fuel Factor is not based on actual expenses it is a tax — raising our utility taxes without a vote of the people. BACH SHOULD RESIGN OR BE FIRED!!!!! Where’s Donald Trump when you need him?!?
And to cap the entire day off, the City Council announced today that they are having a special meeting tomorrow (Wednesday @ 4:30) to discuss the possible resignation of Johnny Brannum. Are you kidding? I cannot believe for one minute that Johnny Brannum is resigning.
Let me get this straight…it is uncovered two weeks ago that MU illegally awarded a bid to the wrong bidder and last week that Bill Bach has been, once again, grossly negligent in his official duties and all of a sudden the biggest whistle-blower on City Council is about to resign? No, I don’t believe it.
It was Brannum who led the three votes against giving an extra $250,000 to Bach and Bagby’s buddies in Wisconsin. And don’t forget that Brannum’s entire campaign was about cleaning up the waste of Municipal Utilities and bringing down the electric rates.
If you ask me, Bagby and his cronies are losing control of this little fiefdom and are trying to strong-arm Brannum out the door. That’s the only way this makes any sense.
DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN POPLAR BLUFF - Get out and go to the Special Meeting on Wednesday (May 1) at 4:30 in the Council Chamber. If you care about this city, if you care about your electric bills, if you care about pushing the corruption out then go and speak up at the Citizen Input portion of the meeting and demand the council fire Bach and tell the council how much you support Johnny Brannum.
It is time for us to have some courage and make a difference!!!!!
I’ve always wondered about the expense of our electric bill and how much it appears to be higher this year than the year before. I went back to the MU website and found that their rates page hasn’t changed since May 2006.
However, we all know that our bills keep going up. The reason? The “Fuel Factor” charge which is on our bill. The “Fuel Factor” is an additional charge per kilowatt hour on top of your normal rate. Right now, the Fuel Factor is 2 cents. So when the City claims their rates are around 6 cents per kilowatt hour, that doesn’t include the Fuel Factor so it’s actually 8 cents per kilowatt hour.
I’ve looked back on past bills and in 2011 our Fuel Factor was 0.85 cents (so not quite a penny). In 2012 it went up to 1.55 cents and then this year it went up to 2 cents.
I contacted the Public Service Commission about the Fuel Factor and they said they don’t have any jurisdiction over a municipality’s charges. That means there is absolutely NO oversight to the “Fuel Factor” charge. That made me realize: Bill Bach probably calculates the Fuel Factor…and we all know that Bach’s accounting skills leave much to be desired.
I went back and read the wording for the Fuel Factor and found that if the city buys or generates power for more than 3.84 cents per kilowatt hour, they are to charge a fuel factor of the overage. But if their purchased power is less than 3.84 cents then they actually are to give us a negative fuel factor. Wouldn’t that be awesome?
Earlier in the week I crafted a sunshine request for public records requesting the most recent invoices for purchased power by Municipal Utilities. Today when I received those documents, I certainly can’t see how the City can justify 2 cents.
The invoice for April from Grand River Dam Authority is the largest bill representing 22,290,000 kWh for $1,157,695.40. That comes out to 5.194 cents per kilowatt hour which would only justify a 1.354 cent Fuel Factor.
As you can see by the image at the top of this post, the City is required to calculate the “Fuel Factor” every six months. In an effort to get a better understanding of this situation, this afternoon I requested via the Sunshine Law to view the last four calculations made by the City for their “Fuel Factor” charge.
I will release those when I get them.(Kudos to Brandon for the “Fuel Factor” image)
Legal Battle Has Been Waged
Update: Here is the petition filed: CSE v City of PB. They will add the citizen’s name to the petition in the coming days. They also hope to have the injunction hearing next week.
At Monday night’s (4/15) meeting, Utilities Manager Bill Bach stood before City Council and said the bids for the EPA-mandated Catalyst/Silencers for the City’s generators had been evaluated and requested the Council disregard the low bid. Bach went on to explain that the second lowest bid was the one he recommended the city accept.
Bach said that the low bidder, CSE Enterprises – a Missouri-based company from Rolla, had designed the access panel 10 foot in the air and could be a safety issue. He reinforced his selection by stating that the second lowest bidder, a Wisconsin-based company, already had a good, longstanding, working relationship with the city. Are you kidding? Any company will be your friend if you give them an extra $250,000 in profit over their competition.
Nick Barrack of CSE Enterprises stood before Council and stated Mr. Bach was not giving them the full story. (Where have I heard that before? Becker Pleads With City Council Not To Trust Bach’s Financials – July 2010) Barrack had already informed Mr. Bach by phone and letter that the drawing was a generic drawing and there would be no additional costs to put the access panel at ground level if that is what the city wanted.
Barrack said that the bid request was for a specific set of specifications at the lowest price. His company, he said, had met all specifications and was the lowest price by a quarter of a million dollars and should be awarded the contract.
The council had to decide: believe Mr. Bach or Mr. Barrack.
Councilman Matthews said that the metal on the second bid was thicker. But Barrack pointed out that if the city had wanted a specific thickness of metal they should have put that in the bid spec.
Matthews asked, “But thicker will last longer, don’t you agree?”
That’s a stupid question. You can’t determine that thicker is better any more than thinner is better. After all, thicker metal is less flexible which creates other consequences. That is for ENGINEERS to calculate, not for COUNCIL MEMBERS to speculate!
This really is a simple problem to solve:
One bid was $735,000
One bid was $983,000
Both bidders say they satisfy the specs
Both bidders have a great reputation
So what did our council do? The council voted 4-3 to award the bid to the Wisconsin-based Fairbanks Morse company and overpay by $250,000.
But the story doesn’t end there.
CSE Enterprises and a local Poplar Bluff Citizen have filed an injunction against the City of Poplar Bluff asking a Judge to stop the contract from being signed. Their lawyer argues that awarding the bid to the second lowest bidder “is an arbitrary, capricious and wrongful abuse of official discretion, lawfully promotes favoritism and collusion” while being “unsupported by an objective factual basis.”
CSE Enterprises is being represented by Scott Robbins of Kennedy, Kennedy, Robbins and Yarbro.
I personally am glad CSE Enterprises is pushing back. This city seems to do whatever they want whenever they want. They give extra money to people they “have a good relationship with” and they deny those who aren’t part of their club.
One citizen wrote:
All of us who pay for electric in Poplar Bluff will be affected by this waste and abuse. Electric bills will go up at some time. With the council’s action on Monday, it will be sooner rather than later. When our bills do go up, we can be happy to know the extra amount we pay for the first couple of months is going to somebody’s friend.
I agree, this will affect our energy bill either by a rate increase or an even higher “Purchase Power Adjustment” charge.
Hopefully our city will realize they are wrong rather than dig in and fight this and spend even more money in legal fees in hopes that a judge will side with them.
At tonight’s City Council meeting the City Clerk, Pam Kearbey, announced that nominations were open for Mayor. Johnny Brannum and Susan McVey started speaking at the same time and Kearbey recognized McVey. She nominated current Mayor, Ed Degaris. Kearbey asked for a second and Lloyd Matthews seconded the nomination.
Kearbey then gave the floor back to Brannum who stated that the city had just made history by seating Angela Pearson and Betty Abshear which made three women serving on the City Council at the same time.
Brannum went on to state that the city should make history again, tonight, by honoring the 4-term City Council member, Robert Smith, and elect him to be the first African-American Mayor of our 140+ year-old city. Angela Pearson’s first action as a new council member was to second that nomination.
As soon as Pearson’s second was out of her mouth, Kearbey closed the nominations and immediately called a roll call vote for Ed Degaris requesting that each member vote yes or no.
What? There are two people nominated…you can’t do a roll call vote with two nominations that way.
DeGaris received “yes” votes from McVey, Matthews, Abshear and DeGaris and “No” votes from Brannum, Pearson and Smith.
But in an even stranger turn of events, Kearbey stated that four votes was enough, they didn’t even need to hold a vote for Robert Smith and declared Ed DeGaris as Mayor. I was stunned. They denied to even let anyone vote for him.
Contrary to what the DAR posted, DeGaris got 4 votes and Smith received 0 votes because his name was never called for the election.
The city abides by Roberts Rules of Order which clearly states in the Elections section:
Nominations and Elections
Before proceeding to an election to fill an office it is customary to nominate one or more candidates. This nomination is not necessary when the election is by ballot or roll call, as each member may vote for any eligible person whether nominated or not. When the vote is “viva voce” or by rising, the nomination is like a motion to fill a blank, the different names being repeated by the chair as they are made, and then the vote is taken on each in the order in which they were nominated, until one is elected.
My guess is that Kearbey and City Attorney Wallace Duncan got confused by the rules of a “Voice Vote” which is when the council is asked “All in favor of … for mayor say ‘Aye’?” In that type of vote, it is allowed to vote in order of nomination and when a majority of the quorum is reached the election is over, but certainly not in a roll call vote. But this is Poplar Bluff where we stack the deck and make sure that only the guy we want to be mayor gets to be voted on. Now I understand why Kearbey awarded the nominations “floor” to McVey before Brannum, that was purposeful so they could slam home their guy.
Not wanting to get thrown out of another city council meeting I remained in my seat (and quiet), but in my opinion Robert Smith was railroaded and denied the opportunity to be voted for as the first African-American mayor of the city of Poplar Bluff.
ADDED on 4/18/2013:
In Poplar Bluff, the mayor is a non-power position and is basically an ambassador for Poplar Bluff. His role include signing ordinances, running the council meeting, and attending local gatherings. The mayor has no veto power and his vote has the same weight as any other council member. The roll is strictly honorary and anyone able to run a campaign and get elected has the capabilities to be mayor of our city.
This is the first year Brannum could make this nomination because last year was his first year on council and its not likely that immediately after being sworn in you nominate someone for mayor.
The fact that Smith has never been mayor rests squarely on the shoulders of Absheer, Matthews, and McVey who have been on council a combined 50+ years. They know that this is Robert Smith’s last year before his next election and that no one is guaranteed a win in the future. They also know that anyone who wants to be mayor and has been on city council for 12 years should be a shoe-in.
Councilman Smith and I have rarely seen eye to eye but he has served this city now for 12 years and to be treated like this is unthinkable. I have been told by several previous city council members that Mr. Smith has been promised the mayor position several times over the years but when the election comes he is passed over and told maybe next year.
Now, Smith finally gets nominated for this honor and they don’t even call his name for a vote. This is like a one-ton polka-dotted elephant in the room, but I’m going to ask the question which is on everyone’s mind: Is this because he’s black?
Not only should they have allowed Councilman Smith to be voted for properly, I am shocked and perplexed what reasons the council members could have for not unanimously voting for Robert Smith as Mayor of Poplar Bluff.
Furthermore, since this was not a properly conducted City Council election, maybe they should do it again…the right way!