ACLU Calls Duncan to the Carpet and Demands Certification

Dec 03, 2011

From the “Let PB Decide” web site:

A letter from an attorney at the Eastern Missouri division of the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) was sent to Wally Duncan, City Attorney, demanding that the petition be certified because Mr. Duncan had mis-read and mis-applied the Missouri statutes.

Grant Doty, ACLU attorney, notes that only 609 signatures are necessary to file a petition:

The default statutory requirement is that the petition must be “signed by voters equal to twenty-five percent of the votes cast for all candidates for mayor at the last preceding election.” Mo.Rev.Stat. §78.200. While Poplar Bluff does not elect the mayor directly, courts have addressed this issue before. Hickman v. City Council of Kirksville, 690 S.W.2d 799, 801 (Mo.App.W.D. 1985). Looking at the total number of “votes… cast for all candidates for city council” in the election of April 5, 2011 (i.e., 2433), anyone submitting a petition should be required to obtain 609 signatures. [emphasis added]

On July 5th during a City Council meeting, Mr. Duncan cited Mo. Rev. St. 78.573 as the guiding statute for this petition. But Mr. Doty points out that 78.573 can only apply to cities who have passed an ordinance enacting this higher standard. Neither the City Clerk nor the City Attorney have provided any ordinance supporting 78.573.

Mr. Doty’s final paragraph reads:

I request that you inform me if Poplar Bluff has, in fact, adopted “by ordinance” the “procedures… provided in” § 78.573 and when this ordinance was passed. If no such ordinance exists, we demand that the Clerk certify the pending petition and that you let me know why these citizens were informed they needed to meet the more difficult threshold. [emphasis added]

From early on in this process, our group of volunteers has been crying out for a hero to come and stand for what is right. We are thankful that the ACLU has heard this plea and stood up for the great people of our city.