by Mark Vasto
Delba McAuley has stepped down as mayor of Dearborn.
Last Thursday, McAuley announced that she has
resigned, a move that became effective Friday,
Donald Swanstone, Jr, president of the citys
board of aldermen, is now the acting mayor of
After weeks of bitter public debate over alleged
abuses in the citys overtime payment structure,
facing a potential state audit and scrutiny for
a possible violation of the states Sunshine
Law, McAuley said she believes she can no
longer be effective in the role of mayor.
In a brief letter addressed to the citys
board of aldermen and residents of the city, McAuley
said she feels there is a climate of negativity
in the city and asked to stay on the citys
The letter reads as follows:
I am tendering my resignation as mayor
of Dearborn, effective Friday, June 25, 2004.
I feel I can no longer be effective in the role
of mayor under the current circumstances. I ran
for the position of mayor to accomplish positive
things for the betterment of Dearborn. I do not
feel that what is currently going on is positive.
I will not take part in airing negative comments
that adversely affect the image of Dearborn, regardless
of whom they are against. I feel confident the
City of Dearborn will do as well with the state
audit as with the yearly audit we have
very competent, hard working employees as well
as a very efficient Board of Aldermen. I would
like, with the boards approval, to stay
on the park board, as the development of the new
park was in large part my reason for running for
mayor. I still feel this is a very positive, and
much needed, amenity.
When reached by The Landmark, Swanstone refused
comment, only saying that he is still under a
doctors care and will not preside over a
Dearborn Board of Aldermen meeting until at least
August. Swanstone is currently recovering from
Alderman Bill Edwards, a vocal opponent of the
mayor and the man responsible for starting a petition
to force a state audit of the citys finances,
said that he had only heard rumors of McAuleys
Nobody has officially told me anything,
Edwards said. After hearing the contents of McAuleys
resignation letter, Edwards said the resignation
was a classic example of the maxim if you
cant stand the heat, then get out of the
When you get elected to public office,
if you cant take the heat, then you resign,
Edwards, one of the towns four city council
members, says he is specifically concerned with
the employment contract of K.C. Davidson, who
is guaranteed to be paid for 50 hours of work
per week, with 10 hours at an overtime rate. In
addition, the city employs Billy Clay Davidson
for 40 contracted hours and Fred Dovel for another
six. Edwards doesnt think the city should
be guaranteeing hours and questions if a city
the size of Dearborn (Dearborn has 355 registered
voters) can offer that kind of workload.
McAuley did not return phone calls for this article.
In her letter, McAuley did not mention Alderman
Bill Edwards' petition effort to force a state
audit or her decision to conduct a recent phone
vote regarding city business without public notice.
According to attorneys, the secret vote violated
Missouris Sunshine Law.
(A phone vote) is not illegal, but there
has to be notice, said Jean Maneke, attorney
for the Missouri Press Association and a noted
expert on the states open meetings and records
laws. If there was no notice, then there
was an illegal vote.
In last week's Landmark, Dearborn City Clerk
Susan Crowley admitted there was no advance public
notice of the phone vote.
According to Maneke, somebody would need to sue
the city government before any action could take
place. Possible penalties could include a fine
plus assessed attorney fees.
Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd said that
if the alleged violation occurred and there was
a subsequent police investigation into the matter,
then his office would consider bringing a case
against the citys government.
Dearborns often-complicated political landscape
is accustomed to the practice of public officials
resigning from their posts. McAuley herself was
appointed to the Dearborn Board of Aldermen in
October 2002, following the resignation of Frank
Downing Jr. Downing had defeated McAuley in that
McAuley was appointed mayor after Mayor Marvin
Landes resigned the post in August 2003, citing
frustration with the work contracts of the Davidsons
and Dovel. Swanstone served as mayor pro-tem after
Landes' resignation before McAuley was appointed
to the position by the board in September 2003.
McAuley said then that she wanted to restore
peace to Dearborn, believing that
the rash of resignations was casting the town
in a bad light. A major advocate for the citys
new park, McAuley was described as being the driving
force behind the citys acquisition of 13-acres
of parkland and was credited with being the lead
negotiator in the deal by Platte County Parks
and Recreation Director Brian Nowotny.
She won the mayoral job in the April 2004 election.
McAuley had previously served as alderman from
1997 to 2001.