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Judge Denies T.R.O. to Stop City Cable Sale without $17M Bond

Mar 31, 2014

The lawyer for PB citizen Charles Ogden appeared before Judge Prichett in the Butler County Circuit Court this morning asking for a Temporary Restraining Order against the city of Poplar Bluff selling City Cable to New Wave Communications.

The TRO filed yesterday asserts that the City broke a city ordinance and a state law on March 17, 2014, when they passed an ordinance without having the entire ordinance available before passing.

Ogden’s lawyer, Blake Lawrence from the Sunshine Law Practice Group in St Louis, argued that Missouri law is very specific and Missouri Courts have long held that the procedures of passing an ordinance are mandatory. The state law requires that the full ordinance be available to the public before passing. The Courts have also ruled that an ordinance can only reference another document if that document is already a public record.

On March 17th when City Council voted to pass Ordinance #7483 it was 3-page document and referenced an “Exhibit A”. City Manager Bagby and Attorney Duncan told council members and citizens that the Exhibit was not available until after they passed the ordinance. Lawrence had with him the now 195-page Ordinance #7483 with the Exhibit and the three-page ordinance passed by City Council for comparison.

Pritchett said Mr. Ogden did have standing for the TRO but with the sale eminent he could not justify a bond amount less than the sale price of $17.5M. Mr Ogden was not able to afford such an expensive bond and the TRO was denied. Casenet records the ruling as:

Plaintiff appears through attorney, Blake M. Lawrence. Defendant appears through attorney, Wallace L. Duncan.
After full consideration of said Motion, the Affidavit in support thereof, and the argument of counsel, the Court enters its Order overruling and denying said Motion.
See Order. So Ordered – MMP

You can view the Ogden Temporary Restraining Order and Affidavit online.

So I guess the moral of the story is: if a regular citizen has $17.5M laying around then you are allowed to stop the City from breaking the law.