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New public participation rules in place at Dearborn

by Bill O'Malley
Contributing writer

If things persist, Monday nights in Dearborn might be relegated to the historical ash heaps as an alternative source of Platte County entertainment.

The more cordial interactions at the recent board of aldermen meetings may just be a testament to the leadership skills of its 25-year-old newly-appointed mayor, Josh Linville.

Since Linville took the reigns of the city just two short months ago, Dearborn’s board meetings have seen more than a bit of a transformation. Gone may be the days of expletive-filled, decibel-piercing congregations. And, if Linville continues to have his way, as he did at Monday night’s meeting, Dearborn may soon return to the more friendly and folksy reputation that better befits this once quiet northern Platte County town.

The city’s most recent hullabaloo ensued when Alderman Bill Edwards successfully initiated a petition drive to mandate a state audit of the city’s finances, prompting the then-mayor and one alderman to resign amid questions about financial matters and employment contracts at city hall. While contentious debate is nothing new to Dearborn, the petition drive triggered added controversy at the city’s recent board meetings.

Among its at-odds residents and council members, the board’s last two meetings have witnessed more disgruntled yet polite abstentions than the volatility that once accompanied its dissensions.

And as this month’s meeting commenced, Linville announced the implementation of two new rules of order. First, he announced that the board would discuss new business and then open matters for public discussion at a later time. Second, people who wish to address the council are now expected to stand, state his or her name, and declare how the statement pertains to the city limits of Dearborn.

Linville explained that he was not trying to limit discussion but renewed the need for order after the turbulence that transpired in past meetings. He decried the demeanor of recent meetings in justifying the new rules.

When the board resumed discussion of the city’s unkempt properties, some residents did not relish the inflexible employment of the more formalized rules, causing Linville to retreat from their rigid application. At Linville’s continued insistence, one Dearborn citizen finally rose to address the council in brief adherence to the new rules but quickly returned to his seat for the duration of his address. As in recent months, this same resident lectured the council on its response to properties that failed to conform to city ordinances.

There was yet again confusion regarding the applicability of city ordinances to the resident’s complaints. When one person declared that he could list at least six specific ordinances of which one property was in violation, Linville asked him to outline the violations and relevant ordinances in a letter to the council. The request sparked this reply from the resident as he chided: “Mr. Mayor, I’m not going to send you a letter to enforce your own ordinances.”

Linville retorted that he was newly appointed and that his job is not to drive around Dearborn in a voluntary capacity to inspect properties. He again pleaded with residents to do their best to help the council on these matters. The mayor additionally volunteered to join with the resident to assist in painting one of the city’s rundown homes if the owners would help in bringing it into conformance with city ordinances.

The city attorney announced that information letters and summonses had already been issued to residents who failed to heed the city’s demands to bring their properties up to code. He stated that a new round of information letters and summons would be sent at the council’s direction.

Dearborn’s former mayor, Delba McAuley, who resigned her mayoral seat this June, was unanimously approved to oversee the city’s parks at the board’s August meeting. She gave an update to the council on the city’s progress with its new parks and parks grant.

McAuley reported that she was still collecting bids for the lighting in the new park but informed the council that it must act before the end of the month, which precedes its next regularly scheduled meeting. The board awarded a contract to JC Construction & Co., LLC to pour the mesh-reinforced concrete for the park’s new basketball court. The bid, in the amount of $10,080, was the only one received by the city for construction of the four inch thick 50’ X 84’ court. The new park facility is being constructed with a partnership grant from Platte County.

McAuley said that the drain tiles at the new park had been installed and the ground appeared to be draining well.

In other business, while the council is still awaiting the results of a state inquiry into its finances, it awarded a bid, in the amount of $3,000, to Karlin & Unger for the city’s end-of-year audit. The Platte City firm has conducted the city’s yearly audit for the past eight years.

Dearborn’s next regular board of aldermen meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m..



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