"Good Faith" or "Good Old Boy Faith"?
We learned from the Court’s ruling last week that former Poplar Bluff City Manager Doug Bagby had been operating under an illegal contract for over 10 years.
Those who actually took five minutes to read the contract along with the unambiguous city ordinance and, equally plain, Missouri state statutes knew immediately that it was an illegal contract.
Any lawyer who saw that city manager contract would tell their client they have no contract. But, Bagby’s lawyer pushed ahead and threatened to sue the city for the money stipulated in the illegal contract.
Council turned to the courts and asked, “How much do we owe on an illegal contract?”
The judges’ answer was, “Not a dime.”
And now, the local Rust-owned daily says they think the city should give Bagby money anyway because of “good faith.” This is not only incomprehensible, but to give someone public monies that they are not legally obligated to receive is illegal.
City Attorney Smith confirmed that the city cannot pay money to someone the city is not obligated to pay.
Stupidity in black ink is still stupidity.
No one is above the law. Not even the former city manager who put his pen to an illegal contract—and received its full benefits for more than 10 years.
But the real onus is on the former city attorney, Wally Duncan. Duncan failed to look out for the taxpayers when he prepared a contract that he knew, or should have known, was plainly illegal.
It is a shame that it took ten years to discover what a first-year law student or a freshman municipal government student would have discovered from a few minutes of research.
Duncan should have advised council that a one-year contract was the maximum allowed under the law. But instead, Duncan resigned.
But going back to the concept of “good faith”…
“Good faith” means doing what is right—no matter what your friends, political supporters, campaign donors, business clients, or fellow board members want.
“Good faith” is when public servants right wrongs when they see them.
“Good faith” is what the public asks of its elected leaders.
For more than ten years, the line between right and wrong had been unnecessarily blurred while “good faith” seemed more like “good old boy faith.”
Now, we have a new city council and city manager. Things are looking much brighter, and remarkably clearer, than they were just a few months ago.
It is amazing how quickly things can change when as a city truly works in “good faith.”