Crazy Claims Regarding Bagby's Contract

May 07, 2014

Many questions are swirling about Doug Bagby’s City Manager contract since KFVS-TV reported that “Bagby’s Remaining Contract” was $270,000. The Daily American Republic regurgitated the same information; quoting David Silverberg in today’s paper “The decision by the new coalition on the Poplar Bluff City Council to fire City Manager Doug Bagby will cost the city nearly $278,000 in salary he still must be paid under his contract.”

Here’s the problem: Missouri has laws and a constitution.

But before we get to that, let’s look at the contract Mr. Bagby is quoting from dated August 26, 2003:

2. Term. The initial term of this agreement shall be for a period of three (3) years, and shall begin on September 1, 2003 and shall terminate on August 31, 2006. Said three year term shall automatically renew annually upon the anniversary of this agreement.

Apparently Mr. Bagby’s understanding of his contract is that every year his contract renews for three more years. I say this because he is quoted by the DAR as saying his contract renewed last August and “I have two years and four months left on my contract.”

There are several ways to read this sentence which was poorly framed to say the least.

  1. Every year, the contract is renewed for three years (as Mr. Babgy claims)
  2. Every year, his contract is extended for 2 additional years. This would mean that in 2006 his contract term extended to 2009, in 2007 his contract extended to 2011, and by 2013 his contract term extends to the year 2023. (You should go for this reading Doug!)
  3. Every year on September 1, his contract is renewed for another year.

I’m going out on a limb and stating that the common sense understanding of this contract would be interpreted by most as a renewable one year term. But now, let’s look at the laws of our city, state and our constitution.

Our city laws actually have the term already defined for our city manager:

The City Manager shall serve at the pleasure of the Council. (R.O. 2007 §2-46; Ord. No. 3674 §3, 5-19-69)

We could just stop there because Mr. Bagby’s contract also states that the parties agree “that their intention that the provisions of this agreement be binding only to the extent that they be lawful under existing applicable laws…”

In other words, since we have a conflict between the contract’s terms of one or three years with the law’s term of “at the pleasure”, the term’s section of Mr. Bagby’s contract become null and void. In fact, in 2008 this question came up in Skaggs v City of Kansas City. Kansas City has PRECISELY the same wording as our City’s statutes regarding the City Manager’s Term (our’s is in section 115, theirs is in section 218). The opinion of the court states:

Section 218(c), as noted above, states: “Term. The City Manager shall serve at the pleasure of the Mayor and Council” and makes no mention of a specific term of office. (Emphasis added.) This language reflects that city manager is to be an at-will position. Wheeler v. Board of Police Comm’rs of Kansas City (Mo.App. W.D.1996).

Again, according to case law, Mr. Bagby’s contract terms of one or three years are null and void. Mr. Bagby is an “at-will” employee who may be terminated at any time without cause specified.

Next, let’s look at Missouri law in Chapter 78:

78.610. The city manager shall devote his or her entire time to the duties of his or her office. He shall be the administrative head of the government subject to the direction and supervision of the council and shall hold his office at the pleasure of the council, or may be employed for a term not to exceed one year.

Our state statutes do allow cityies to contract with their city manager for up to one year rather than to serve at the pleasure of the council. However, in order to give Mr. Bagby a contract in the first place, the City Council back in 2003 would have had to change our ordinances to specifically allow a one year contract.

And then there is our constitution which in Article 6, Section 26 requires that no public entity make any commitments of indebtedness longer than a year. The courts, as far as I can tell, have upheld this since the 1954 landmark case (Grand River Tp., De Kalb County v. Cooke Sales & Serv.) frequently quoted:

It has been well established that this means no contract of such a political subdivision is valid which obligates it to make payments in subsequent calendar years.

Our constitution, without a two-thirds vote of our community, prevents our council from committing us to a contract of more than one year. It is highly unlikely that any court would consider Mr. Bagby’s three-year contract as valid.

It is my opinion that his contract is Void Ab Initio. I love that phrase which pushes English and Latin words together for the meaning “to be treated as invalid from the outset.”

Because there is no severance portion to his contract, Mr. Bagby is owed his final paycheck and that is all other than his retirement/pension.

Finally, for those “inquiring minds”:

The City Clerk/Treasurer shall serve at the pleasure of the City Council. (R.O. 2007 §2-83; Ord. No. 3678 §1(f), 5-19-69)

  1. Kevin Pope

    Considering that the average reported salary of the citizens of PB is 22k, and 46% of those who make less than average make 10k or less a year, it is beyond disgusting that Bagby made such a disproportionately lucrative living off the taxpayers for so long as a public servant! We should definitely instate pay caps and term limits.

    @Jesse Tucker – I have absolutely no doubt that Bagby fully believes he has been wronged. I don’t think he will ever recognize that corruption doesn’t have to be illegal to be wrong. I have doubt that his morals allow him to realize why he finally got thrown out on his rump. It takes a special kind of corrupt to take that kind of pay (while most in town barely pay the rent), pad your own buddy-system, sue the people who call you out for it, and then cry about it when you get the hammer dropped on you. I doubt he will ever look in the mirror and see himself for what he really is, but that is of no matter. The best part is that nobody in town will ever have to see his face behind the “City Manager” title again and that’s all that matters.

  2. Ron P

    The salary of 119,000 dollars is insane. Good luck finding a replacement.

  3. jerry

    hello randy {Jerry “i agree it was time for him to go”
    Jerry why was it time for him to go? What was he doing wrong?} i am not a citizen of poplar bluff nor butler county. why do i think it was time. it was very evident there was time for a change. i have read his remarks made toward others that was very rude and arrogant . imo what p.b had like our county gov was bunch good ol boys never meaning no harm .a council woman filed a legal request of a investigation. in which it was found nothing had been done wrong.

    he then filed a law suit .has the council person made verbal and public remarks of saying he was a criminal ? i dont know but his conduct was very un professional imo .

    the old saying you watch my back i watch yours well it even takes place in court. i am sure you being a retired police officer has seen many good ol boys get off Scot free .
    change is needed . if the newly elected does not hold to the promises –REMOVE THEM TO..

    you have interrogated each person who made a negative comment.

    do you agree with the way business was done.?

  4. Jim

    Personally I have never liked cities that are run by “city managers”, they often seem to turn out to be political appointments rather than someone of expertise. I have lived and worked for cities that had elected mayor and city council plus a city managers. I have also worked in cities that just had the elected mayor and city council that ran the city business. I never understood why we elect a mayor and council to run things and then they hire a manager….isn’t what he does what we elected them to do? I think the salary of a city manager could be used in some other place and let the elected mayor and council handle things. Please understand I have no dog in this hunt when it comes to Poplar Bluff, I don’t know or could I even name the mayor and any city council member.

  5. Tim

    I, believe there are a few more people in the city council need to go. For one reason they have been in there to long!! It is time let someone else take there place. I have live in this town for 66 years. I have seen a lot of wrong here. Because one reason the same people run this town. People this town is growing, and it needs a change, and for the good. So young people get out there and vote. Because you are the ones that going have to change the way this town should be run. Because you are the ones that are going to be here for a long time.This is a great place to rise your family here in Poplar Bluff mo.

  6. Randy Wallis

    After reading all the comments here on SEMO it seems a lot of people are pointing fingers, making accusations and statements without giving a lot of thought. But we do live in a country were we have the freedom of speech. So I made some comments.

    Ruth “If we all stick together Poplar Bluff is going to be better than ever and have honest people running our city”
    Ruth where is your proof that the people that were running the city are dishonest?

    Jerry “i agree it was time for him to go”
    Jerry why was it time for him to go? What was he doing wrong?

    Shirley “Wonder what Wallace Duncan is thinking these days? Could u enlighten us on the terms of his contract? I think we need new, untainted legal blood to serve.”
    Shirley it sounds as if you are saying Mr. Duncan is a “yes man” can you back up your words?

    Bill “I support the city council. They have shown that they are committed to doing what is honest and good for the city.”
    Bill, honest and right? Mr Johnson said they (the new members) meat in secret three at a time to discuss firing Mr Bagby. Why didn’t they want to include Mr. Degaris and Ms. Absheer? Does this mean that the new members don’t care what Mr Degaris and Ms Absheer think on items to be voted on?

    Denise Magruder “I watch our council members make nothing and then to see how much he was paying himself just sickens me”
    Denise the council sets Mr Bagby’s salary and they will set the new city manager’s salary.
    But I wonder who will want to be the City Manager knowing there are five member willing to conspire in secret to fire him without meeting to see if there was any common ground.

    Jesse Tucker “To stupid to remember where he came from, and all the years he spent on the streets, now to be disgraced!”
    Jesse, he was smart enough to work 41 years for the city and he was not disgraced the new council member are a disgrace by their sneaking around and leaving two council member out of a important decision.

    Marlene “I left a long time ago because of this but am so very happy that others have managed to break the good old boy system. Now there is so much to do and hopefully one day I will see my old home town prosperous and happy, not filled with misery and poverty”
    Marlene I assume you will be coming back now that the city is on its way to prosperity. I haven’t seen anything proposed to do that but you must have some inside information.

    SEMO. “The city of Poplar Bluff is at a crossroads. Do you like the status quo and want Poplar Bluff to continue down the path laid out by the “Good Old Boys”? Or, are you ready for our city to be run by people who support open and transparent government, want to listen to the people before making major decisions”
    Is this what then new members demonstrated?

    Just some questions that each of you made me wonder about.
    Randy Wallis, retired from the PBPD after 36 good years working for the city.

    1. Brian Becker

      Randy – first of all, thank you for finally using your real name. You are welcome to contact me personally at 5737786500 and I’ll let you know how I figured it out (jayjay).

      Second, it is a pathetic attempt by anyone to discredit this council by using Bagby’s firing as a slam against open-and-transparent. The DAR did it, the FB & Topix crowd echoes it, and you seem to be implying it as well here as well as “honest and right”.

      First, no employee issue can be dealt with in open session and must remain in closed session. Second, it is totally legal for members of council to discuss what they would like to get done in numbers smaller than a quorum. For you to suggest otherwise is silly.

      Within 18 hours of the meeting, the DAR reported that Johnson spoke to the reporter in time for him to make the deadline. To expect better than that after a closed meeting is ridiculous in my opinion.

      Your complaint about “Open and Transparent” complaint is not only incorrect but a red-herring.

    2. Marlene

      Randy, I will not pretend to speak for the others that you commented on though I do think you may have taken some things out of context. As for myself I know that you either misread my comment or twisted my words to suit your own beliefs.

      My own words state “Now there is so much to do and hopefully one day I will see my old home town prosperous and happy, not filled with misery and poverty”. That is a far cry from having inside information or leaving my life here to go back to Poplar Bluff. It is an expression of hope for the community that things will improve. Even though I left town does not mean that I feel ill will towards my former neighbors and community, in fact quite the opposite. I truly hope one day that they are able to work towards and achieve a town where a majority of its people don’t live in poverty. As a person who has worked on the police force you have seen first hand the poverty and misery of the people there and what it is doing to the people of Poplar Bluff.

      I am sure as a retired police officer you are aware of the connection between high poverty and high crime rates. Are these things not worth combating and making Poplar Bluff a wonderful place to live? Yet given years with the old council this had not been addressed. Instead the only business given the go ahead to come to poplar bluff were all very low paying jobs which still leaves people without a job as there is not enough to go around. There is a group of underused skilled workers in Poplar Bluff and a community college so why has our old council not appealed to businesses that would encourage higher pay, thus giving more people a way out of poverty?

      I will not pretend that I know everything but these are some questions that bothered me when I lived there and still bother me today. Until there is hope for the people of Poplar Bluff the town will never advance. I don’t know if this new council and mayor can offer that hope but the old council has already proven that they did not.

  7. Tom

    It seems to me that the city council is doing the bidding of the people that run this website as to avoid the $200,000 they owe the city. Instead of paying it looks like they are costing the city another few hundred thousand dollars. When will the crew stop hurting a town that already faces serious issues with their own greed?

  8. Marlene

    I am glad to see people in poplar bluff finally stand up and take back their town. This has been a long time coming and only the beginning. People who live there never notice how oppressive and depressive that town is until they leave, which many never have the chance to do. I left a long time ago because of this but am so very happy that others have managed to break the good old boy system. Now there is so much to do and hopefully one day I will see my old home town prosperous and happy, not filled with misery and poverty.

  9. ron

    Wally was hired by the city to work in their behalf. That is just what he did. Right or wrong. He did what he was hired to do.

  10. Mary

    I don’t live in PB anymore but know Doug very well. The new mayor is on a witch hunt. She is trying to make a name for herself. Doug is a good man and did his job very will. He gave many years to the Bluff. People of Poplar Bluff don’t always believe what some people day. This is PB lost. Small town crap!

  11. Jesse Tucker

    You didn’t think the idiot was going to leave quietly did you! He will drag it as long as he can.. To stupid to remember where he came from, and all the years he spent on the streets, now to be disgraced! But when he looks into the mirror he will see where the blame lies. Mike you served this city with pride and honor for many years, and then you let power and a few good old boys take you down! Every elected official should remember, “WE THE PEOPLE” are the boss!

  12. Denise Magruder

    So glad to see this… I truly believe $119.00 a year is to much for this job. This is 1 thing that needs to be changed. I watch our council members make nothing and then to see how much he was paying himself just sickens me. I praise the new council members for their decision. The people of Poplar Bluff are ready for a change in leadership. As for the DAR…its a waste of paper…we need a new newspaper company now…

  13. Bill


    I support the city council. They have shown that they are committed to doing what is honest and good for the city. Please check other positions that the “Power” has placed in in our city government and law enforcement. I am so sorry to say that we have a newspaper in this town that is controlling our city government. Mr. Schreiber shame on you. The majority of the people are not fools like you think.

  14. shirley

    I am at a loss for words…. how could Bagby not see this coming? Then he whines that he has worked for the city for 41 years and hoped for a few more years????? I support our council… The biggest problem they face is the ongoing efforts of Don Schreiber and his minions to create doubt among the citizens. Schreiber is not a journalist; he offers his opinion as the facts. Looks like he has trained Silverberg to do the same.
    I thought it was very tacky for him to put the recent survey regarding the council in the middle of the front page… He wants to know if there will be change? I would say he got his answer. Lets all support the new council members and our Mayor whose family has suffered along with her, She has more lead in her shorts than all of the fellows she deals with. Wonder what Wallace Duncan is thinking these days? Could u enlighten us on the terms of his contract? I think we need new, untainted legal blood to serve.

  15. James

    would love to see the video of his face when he got canned. And I very well remember during the council meeting when the sale of city cable he made a comment to one of the citizens was saying hold up on the sale till we see everything. He made the comment I (Bagby) and be unemployed next month. He knew it was coming come on

  16. jerry

    this will be interesting to say the least..i agree it was time for him to go.

  17. Oliver

    And how soon will all the new business inquiring about our town now look elsewhere if the fell that the city is too unstable?

  18. Ruth

    Just goes to show you, “don’t take anything for granted, everyone CAN be replaced!” I think justice was served and we are ready for a brand new start. If we all stick together Poplar Bluff is going to be better than ever and have honest people running our city. I surely hope it will wake up a few more and when you call them, they will respond for our request. So far, I have had no luck, but I am feeling with this Council this will get straightened out.