Complete Commentary & Constitution

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Preamble

The Truth: The Legal Speak
While the goals listed here are laudable, it will be made plainly clear that this document and its proposed government are designed to allow only a few to benefit from home rule; that it decreases direct representation, it increases the threat of cronyism, it creates a more distant, part-time group of leaders and that it decreases the people’s opportunity to affect their government. We the People of Clay County, Missouri, do hereby establish and adopt this Constitution as the fundamental law of our county government in order to avail ourselves of the benefits and responsibilities of home rule powers, increase citizen participation, improve efficiency, provide for a responsive and cooperative county government, and to assure the people the right and opportunity to make changes in our government.

Article 1 - CORPORATE NAME, BOUNDARIES, POWERS AND DEFINED TERMS

The Truth: The Legal Speak:
Section 1.01. ADOPTION OF COUNTY CONSTITUTION.
This Constitution is adopted by the people of Clay County, Missouri, pursuant to Article VI, Sections 18(m) through 18(r) of the Missouri Constitution.
Section 1.02. NAME.
The name of the County as it operates under this Constitution shall continue to be “Clay County.” The County shall be so named in all actions or proceedings affecting its rights, powers, properties, and duties.
Section 1.03. BOUNDARIES.
The boundaries of the County as it operates under this Constitution shall be those presently designated by law or hereafter prescribed by applicable law.
Section 1.04. COUNTY SEAT.
The seat of County government shall continue to be Liberty, Missouri.
 Section 1.05. POWERS OF THE COUNTY.If this were the only time this power were listed in this document it might be fine. This provision is specific and directed. However, this document continually repeats that the Council and government formed by this document will have the power to supersede state law if and when it interferes with the council, its ordinances or this constitution. Section 1.05. POWERS OF THE COUNTY.
Except as explicitly limited in this Constitution or prohibited by the Missouri Constitution:A. The County shall have all powers of county constitution self-government that are now or hereafter authorized by applicable law. These powers include those provided by Missouri Law when this Constitution was adopted and those provided by any Missouri Law adopted later.

B. The County shall have all the powers necessary and incidental to exercise any other powers that may be implied in the powers granted.

C. The explicit stating of a power in this Constitution or in any Missouri Law is not to be construed as denying or limiting any other power.

Section 1.06. LIMITATIONS OF POWERS.
A. One note: this is just existing state law, and is included here as a matter of form; it’s not anything new or unique.B. This one is littered with issues:
B1. The vague terms used leave in doubt which taxes it seeks to limit, which funds is intends to retain and how the fourteen cents are to be divided.
B2. The current “cumulative property tax rate for all funds” is way more than this; but the current county general levy is about this much, this section seeks to affect the taxing jurisdictions’ funding and/or inhibit the county’s future ability to cope with rising costs.
B3. This section does not address the threat of artificial inflation of property values to increase county revenues. And yes, that has happened recently and not too far away.Website Submission:Section 1.06. LIMITATIONS OF POWERS.B. The document, whether by mistake or intentionally, limits the county’s taxing authority to only $.14 per $100 assessed valuation.  That is a 70% drop from the current amount of $.4653.  The portion which funds county government is currently set at $.12 while the remainder is for the Mental Health Board, Senior Citizens Services Board and the Developmentally Disabled Board (Sheltered Workshops).  If this document is approved by the voters, these programs will be virtually eliminated overnight, leaving our most vulnerable citizens at significant risk and loss.Read Section 11.03. BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS: It directs that Departments and Boards that are inconsistent or in conflict with the effective operation of this Constitution shall not continue.
Section 1.06. LIMITATIONS OF POWERS.
The government established in this Constitution shall not:

A. Impose any new tax unless the same is authorized by the voters at a regular or special election and pursuant to the Missouri Constitution.

B. Increase the maximum cumulative property tax rate for all funds above fourteen cents ($.14) per hundred dollars ($100) of assessed valuation unless the same is authorized by the voters at a regular or special election and pursuant to the Missouri Constitution.

C. Acquire any rights or powers over the operation of the Clay County Circuit Court or any of its divisions, except as specifically provided herein and under Missouri Law.

D. Acquire any rights or powers over or pertaining to the operation of any incorporated municipality, school district, road district, water district, fire district, levee district, the Clay County Health Center or other district or political subdivision established by Missouri Law, that are not granted by Missouri Law to First Class Constitution Counties.

Section 1.07. EXERCISE OF POWERS.
If this document takes immediate effect (as it directs), this directive is utterly untenable. If offices are abolished, if the sitting Commission is disenfranchised, if the taxing process is made suspect – how can the County operate?
Section 1.07. EXERCISE OF POWERS.
All county powers shall be exercised as provided by this Constitution or, if this Constitution makes no provision, by Ordinance or Resolution of the County Council.
Section 1.08. CONSTRUCTION.It is contrary to the entire history of our country to construe powers liberally in the favor of the government. Americans have historically preferred to reserve power to the governed, not its governers.
Yes, that’s right: this “constitution” says that Clay County gets to trump Missouri laws if the Council determines that those laws are “inconsistent with this Constitution and Ordinances,”! The framers of this Constitution may claim that this section only applies to procedural rules, but that limitation isn’t included and therefore their assertions are irrelevant.
Section 1.08. CONSTRUCTION.
The county powers under this Constitution shall be construed liberally in favor of the County. Grants of specific powers shall not be construed as a limit on the general powers of the County. The specific mention of particular powers in the Constitution shall not be construed as limiting in any way the general powers stated herein. Reference to the Missouri Constitution and Missouri Laws in this Constitution shall be construed as a continuing reference to them as they may be amended from time to time. This Constitution and the Ordinances enacted hereunder shall supersede special and general laws of Missouri that are inconsistent with this Constitution and Ordinances, to the extent permitted by the Missouri Constitution.
Section 1.09. LEGAL ACTIONS INVOLVING THE COUNTY.
In any legal actions by or against the County, the County as a corporate body shall be the party named and may appear and participate in the cause on behalf of the County department, officer or employee named in such cause. Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed as a waiver of sovereign immunity.
Section 1.10. INTERGOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS.
One critique of this section is that it does not clearly state that the county also gets to benefits from these collaborations. If the county is footing the bill for a project it should clearly be due some compensation. Also, this section states that the county can help fund private projects without clearly defining who it can work with or who it should exclude.
Section 1.10. INTERGOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS.
In the exercise of its powers or in the performance of its duties, the County may authorize participation in any function, project or activity with any one or more governments, governmental agencies, municipal corporations, or private agencies or corporations in any manner permitted by law, and may share the responsibilities and costs of such function, project or activity.
Section 1.11. SEVERABILITY.
So many sections of this document have glaring errors, omissions and/or vague language that scrapping this document must be a primary option.
Section 1.11. SEVERABILITY.
If any article, section, subsection, sentence, clause, or provision of this Constitution or the application thereof shall be held invalid for any reason, the remainder of the Constitution and any Ordinances, Resolutions, or Regulations made hereunder shall remain in full force and effect. If the application of the Constitution or any of its provisions to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the application of the Constitution and its provisions to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected thereby.
Section 1.12. DEFINITIONS.
As used in this Constitution, the following definitions shall apply unless the context clearly indicates or requires a different meaning:
Constitution — The Constitution of Clay County, Missouri.
Council Member — A Person serving as a member of the County Council as provided in this Constitution.
County — Clay County, Missouri.
County Council Members — The Council Members of the County Council including all District Council Members and the Council Chair.
Majority Vote of the County Council — The affirmative vote of four (4) County Council Members.
Person — A natural person, whether male or female.
Prosecuting Attorney — The prosecuting attorney of Clay County, Missouri.
Quorum — Four (4) County Council Members.
Residency — Place where a Person has a true, fixed, and permanent home and principal establishment and to which, whenever absent, has the intention of returning.
Resident — A Person whose Residency is Clay County, Missouri.
Sheriff — The sheriff of Clay County, Missouri.

Article 2 - County Council

The Truth: The Legal Speak
Section 2.01. GENERAL POWERS.Once again, nice language, but check out Article 3. This Council almost immediately surrenders all power to a non-elected County Administrator, who doesn’t even have to be a Clay County resident to get the job!

Section 3.01. “The County Administrator shall be the chief administrative officer of the County and shall be responsible … … for administration of all County government affairs.

Section 2.01. GENERAL POWERS.
All county powers shall be vested in the County Council, except as otherwise provided by law or this Constitution, and the County Council shall provide for the exercise thereof and for the performance of all duties and obligations imposed on the County by law.
Section 2.02. COUNCIL DISTRICTS.The main weakness of this plan is that it effectively dilutes your vote. Currently, each Clay County voter votes for 2 out 3 members of the commission and a dozen other positions that decide how your County is run. In this new plan, you only vote for 2 of 7, but why is that bad? This model fails to account for is the diversity of needs represented across our County. For instance, if a block of 4 council members disregard either urban or rural interests there is little the other side can do. Section 2.02. COUNCIL DISTRICTS.
The County shall be divided into six (6) numbered Council Districts, which shall be determined by an apportionment commission as provided in Article X of this Constitution. The Council Districts shall be subject to re-apportionment at least once every ten years to coincide with the federal decennial census, according to the procedure set forth in Article X of this Constitution.
Section 2.03. COMPOSITION.
Once again, detractors of this plan see this model as a dilution of your vote not an empowerment.
Section 2.03. COMPOSITION.
The County Council shall be a governing body of citizen legislators composed of seven (7) members, including the County Chair. The County Council Members shall be elected as follows:
A. County Chair. The County Chair shall be elected by the qualified voters of the County at large.
B. District Council Member. One member shall be elected by the qualified voters from each of the six (6) Council Districts.
Section 2.04. QUALIFICATIONS.
These are all standard boiler plate qualifications, with one (1) exception:
D. An odd loop-hole exists here for felons from other states and military courts.
Section 2.04. QUALIFICATIONS.
To be elected or appointed to the County Council, a Person shall possess the following qualifications:
A. Be a citizen of the United States of America.
B. Be a Resident and registered voter of the County for a period of at least twelve (12) months immediately prior to election or appointment and, if a District Council Member, be a Resident of the District for a period of at least twelve (12) months immediately prior to election or appointment, from which elected and remain such a Resident throughout the term of office.
C. Not be in arrears in the payment of any taxes collected by the County as of the date of election or appointment.
D. Not have been found guilty of or pleaded guilty to a felony or misdemeanor under the federal laws of the United States of America or a felony under the laws of the State of Missouri.
E. Any County Council Member who ceases to be a Resident of the County or District from which elected or appointed shall be disqualified, and the office shall be deemed vacant.
F. The County Council shall be the sole judge of the qualifications of its members.
Section 2.05. TERM OF OFFICE.B2. I wonder who gets to carve up the county and number the districts? If they’re interested in running for a Council seat, I wonder if they’ll number their own district odd or even? Section 2.05. TERM OF OFFICE.
A. Length of term. All members of the Council shall serve a term of four (4) years, commencing the first Monday of May following election, except for the first members of the Council elected under this Constitution who shall serve such terms as provided in paragraph B of this section.
B. Initial length of term – exception. At the first election under this Constitution, the initial term of office for County Council Members shall be as follows:
1. Council Chair. The Council Chair shall serve a four-year term.
2. District Council Member. District Council Members elected from odd-numbered Council Districts shall serve a two-year term; District Council Members elected from even-numbered Council Districts shall serve a four-year term.
Section 2.06. COMPENSATION AND EXPENSES.
A. Salary.  One critique of this provision is who can afford to run for these offices with no real compensation for such a tremendous responsibility?
a. the wealthy who don’t need the money and aren’t truly representative
b. those whom are otherwise unemployed and might not be fit for leadership
c. over-worked but dedicated people with other full-time jobs (part-timers)
B. Change of salary.  A point here: if the County can’t increase revenue to meet rising expenses, AND it must maintain a balanced budget, AND the people decide to approve a raise for the Council; only 2 options remain to accommodate that decision:
a. Defund some other program to fund the raise
b. Pass a “County Council Pay Increase” Tax
Section 2.06. COMPENSATION AND EXPENSES.
A. Salary. The salary of the Council Chair shall be $2,000 per month. The salary of all other members of the Council shall be $1,000 per month.
B. Change of salary. There shall be no increase in the salaries of the County Chair or the County Council Members except upon approval of the County voters.
C. Expenses. County Council Members shall receive their actual and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties of office.
D. Benefits. County Council Members shall not be eligible for any benefits such as health insurance or any pension or retirement paid for in part or completely by the County.
Section 2.07. COUNTY CHAIR – POWERS AND DUTIES.
The Council Chair shall:

C. Voting on all matters. Sounds pretty bland, right? but…Does that mean he CAN’T recuse himself if he should? Did you know that past County Commissioners have forfeited their office for voting on a measure where they were deemed to have some self-interest? Not a problem anymore: the Constitution directs that the Chair MUST vote on ALL matters. Even ones that clearly benefit him.
G. The greatest fear here is that these appointed professionals will owe more allegiance to their bosses (the Council) and not their constituents (the voters). Realize also, that most appointed positions don’t require the person to be from Clay County, greatly limiting their understanding of our needs as they enter offices.

Section 2.07. COUNTY CHAIR – POWERS AND DUTIES.
The Council Chair shall:
A. Be the chief elected officer of the County and the official representative of the County.
B. Officiate and preside at all County Council meetings when in attendance.
C. Vote on all matters.
D. Not have veto power.
E. Call special County Council meetings as deemed necessary and in such manner as permitted or required by law.
F. Represent the County and perform other duties as may be prescribed by law.
G. Appoint, with the consent of not fewer than five (5) County Council Members, the members of all County Boards and Commissions, or other bodies as established by applicable law or County Ordinance, except as otherwise provided in this Constitution.
H. Recommend to the County Council such measures as may tend to improve the County government and the general well being of the people.
I. Deliver an annual state of the County public address on the economic, physical, and social conditions of the County, as well as reporting on its accomplishments and future direction.
J. Possess all other powers granted by this Constitution or by applicable state law.
Section 2.08. COUNTY VICE-CHAIR.
At the first meeting of the County Council after each County Council election, the County Council Members shall elect a Council Member to serve as Vice-Chair. The Vice-Chair will preside over the meetings of the County Council and exercise the powers and perform the duties of the County Chair during the Council Chair’s temporary absence or disability. Should a vacancy in the position of County Vice-Chair occur for whatever reason, at the next meeting of the County Council, the County Council Members shall elect another Council Member to serve as Vice-Chair.
Section 2.09. PROHIBITIONS.
Non-interference. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it the job of our elected leaders to give direction for the proper operation of the county. If that isn’t their job, what is? If these, our elected leaders, are aware of an issue isn’t their responsibility to remedy it? Are they even allowed to ask the County Administrator to look into a complaint? Or is that considered interference, too? Oddly, the only stated penalty for violating this provision is forfeiture of office, maybe a censure amendment is needed as a warning. (Section 2.10.)
Section 2.09. PROHIBITIONS.
A. Non-interference. County Council Members may communicate with County employees, officers or agents for the purpose of inquiry or information, but no County Council Member, including the Council Chair, shall give directions to or interfere with any employee, officer or agent.
B. Holding Other Office. No County Council Member shall hold any other elected public office during the term for which the Member was elected to the County Council. Nothing contained in this paragraph, however, shall prevent any County Council Member from holding any position with any political party.
C. Compensated Office or Employment after Leaving Office. A County Council Member shall not be appointed, hired or otherwise hold any other non-elected compensated position with the County while in office or until twelve months after leaving office.
Section 2.10. VACANCIES, FORFEITURE OF OFFICE AND FILLING OF VACANCIES.B. Forfeiture of Office
2. Once again that out-of-state felony loophole arises, can another jurisdiction find someone guilty in the eyes of Clay County?
3. Once again that out-of-state felony loophole arises. So as long our council members cross a border to commit their felonies, all is forgotten.C. Filling Vacancies.
2. By making County Elections non-partisan, the Council forfeits the collective knowledge of the politically astute. The Council must find its own replacement (a fine chance for cronyism) instead of seeking qualified nominations from any political parties.
Section 2.10. VACANCIES, FORFEITURE OF OFFICE AND FILLING OF VACANCIES.A.  Vacancies. The office of a County Council Member shall become vacant upon the member’s death, resignation, removal from office, or forfeiture of office in any manner prescribed by this Constitution or law.
B. Forfeiture of Office. A County Council Member shall forfeit that office if the County Council Member:
1. Lacks at any time during the term of office for which elected any qualification for the office prescribed by this Constitution or by law.
2. Is found by a court of competent jurisdiction to have violated any express prohibition of this Constitution.
3. Is found guilty of or pleaded guilty to a felony or misdemeanor under the federal laws of the United States of America or a felony under the laws of the State of Missouri.
C. Filling Vacancies.
1. County Chair. If there is a vacancy in the office of the County Chair, the replacement for the County Chair will not necessarily be the member then serving as Vice-Chair. The County Council by a Majority Vote of the County Council shall select one of its members to serve as County Chair until the next election date when a new County Chair will be elected to fill any unexpired term of the previously-elected County Chair. The vacancy created by the replacement of the County Chair will be filled in accordance with paragraph 2 below.
2. Council Members. If there is a vacancy in the office of any District County Council Member, the County Council by a Majority Vote of the County Council shall appoint a new District County Council Member who meets the qualifications to be the District Council Member, to serve until the next election date when a new District County Council Member will be elected to fill any unexpired term.
Section 2.11. MEETINGS.
One loophole in this meeting criteria is that “Sunshine laws” hold that any meetings featuring a majority of the elected leaders must be open, advertised and recorded. By expanding the voting body, that can allow up to 3 Council Members can collude without violating that rule.
Section 2.11. MEETINGS.
County Council Meetings shall be held and conducted as provided by Ordinance and law. The County Council shall hold its meetings at times and places that allow the general public the opportunity to attend and participate in such meetings, except to the extent state law authorizes executive sessions. Minutes shall be kept of each public meeting, and the votes taken shall be recorded therein.
Section 2.12. ACTIONS.
Every legislative act of the County Council shall be by Ordinance. Non-legislative acts of the County Council may be by Resolution, and except as otherwise provided by law, a Resolution shall not have the force and effect of law.
Section 2.13. ORDINANCES.We’ll get to this point more in-depth later, but in the intervening months between the approval and immediate implementation of this constitution and the election and installation of the County Council, the sitting County Commission has been abolished and no longer possesses sufficient authority to pass these necessary ordinances to pay bills or operate the County. The possibility exists that from November until May that the County government is in limbo, waiting for new leadership.F. Effective Date of Ordinances. The fact that the Council thought to include this provision should mitigate their claims about the “immediate” activation of this Constitution after the vote. They should have been more mindful of how timing affects various laws

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
G. Adoption by Reference.  Just in case you didn’t believe the part where Missouri laws aren’t binding to Clay County, this section says that the Council can pick and choose what parts of a Missouri law they want to recognize. The framers may claim again this is limited to procedural rules, but where is that limitation clearly stated or even implied?

Section 2.13. ORDINANCES.
A. Every Ordinance shall be introduced in writing and in the form required for final adoption.
B. Ordinances shall be initiated as bills, which shall be passed only after two (2) readings. Reading of bills may be by title only. No bill shall become an Ordinance except by Majority Vote of the County Council.
C. An Ordinance is required to:
1. Adopt or amend an administrative code.
2. Establish, alter or abolish any County department, office or agency.
3. Provide for a fine or other penalty.
4. Levy taxes.
5. Grant, renew or extend a franchise.
6. Regulate the rate charged by any public utility, to the extent otherwise legally permissible.
7. Authorize the borrowing of money.
8. Convey, lease or authorize conveyance or leasing of any County property.
9. Regulate land use, zoning or development, or pertaining to public health, police powers or traffic enforcement.
10. Adopt the annual budget.
11. Provide for appropriations.
12. Amend or repeal any Ordinance previously adopted.D. Ordinance Procedures. No Ordinance shall contain more than one subject, which subject shall be expressed in its title. The County Council shall ensure that proposed Ordinances are available in advance of public hearings on any Ordinance, and that no Ordinance shall be considered with less than twenty-four (24) hours notice to the public of the time and place of the consideration of the Ordinance. At the hearing, the County Council may approve or reject any Ordinance, but if a proposed Ordinance is amended as to any matter of substance, the amended sections shall be subject to the rules of a newly introduced Ordinance.
E. Emergency Ordinances. Any proposed Ordinance may be enacted as an Emergency Ordinance if the County Council finds and plainly states in the Ordinance that an emergency exists and that the Ordinance is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety or welfare. An emergency bill shall be introduced in the form and the manner prescribed for Ordinances. It shall set forth the facts in clear and specific terms to support the declaration of an emergency. No emergency bill shall become an Emergency Ordinance except by the affirmative vote of five (5) County Council Members. An Emergency Ordinance may not levy taxes; grant, renew or extend a franchise; regulate the rate charged by any public utility; or authorize the borrowing of money. An Emergency Ordinance may be repealed by adoption of a Repealing Ordinance in the same manner specified in this section for adoption of an Emergency Ordinances.
F. Effective Date of Ordinances. Ordinances shall become effective when approved and signed by the County Chair or at such later date as may be specified therein. If not signed by the County Chair within three (3) days of passage by the County Council, then such Ordinance shall immediately thereafter become effective.
G. Adoption by Reference. Ordinances may, by reference, adopt in whole or in part Missouri state statutes or any recognized, printed codes or compilations.
H. The enacting clause of all Ordinances shall be “BE IT ORDAINED BY THE COUNTY COUNCIL OF CLAY COUNTY, MISSOURI.” The County Council shall establish by Ordinance procedures to regularly codify ordinances typically codified, to correct deficiencies and conflicts, and to remove obsolete provisions from the code. Complete copies of the code shall be furnished to County officers, libraries, and placed in public offices for free public reference. If the County has a website, a complete copy of the code shall be placed thereon for public viewing.
Section 2.14. RULES OF PROCEDURE.
Except as otherwise herein provided, the County Council shall adopt by Ordinance rules of procedure governing the time, place and conduct of its meetings and hearings and the introduction, publication, consideration, and adoption of Ordinances. All County Council votes, except for procedural voting, shall be by roll call and the yeas and the nays shall be recorded.
Section 2.15. COUNCIL SUBPOENA POWERS.
The County Council may, as part of the legislative process, make investigations into the affairs of the County and the conduct of any County department, office or agency and for this purpose may subpoena Witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony and require the production of evidence, and may invoke the aid of any court of competent jurisdiction to carry out such powers.

Article 3 - County Administrator

The Truth: The Legal Speak
 Section 3.01. CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER.Let’s meet the real person in charge! This Administrator is actually the new leader (I like the term president) of your county, did you get to choose him? NO.Does he answer to you the way an elected official does? NO.

The Council hires him and the Council can fire him; so who do you think he’ll be loyal to? …you? NO.

Section 3.01. CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER.
The County Administrator shall be the chief administrative officer of the County and shall be responsible to the County Council for administration of all County government affairs.
 Section 3.02. APPOINTMENT.This one is mostly just a funny typo, but it illustrates the lack of care in creating this document. Read what this section says about this administrator’s residency requirement. Once he moves here (in his 90 day allowance), he’s stuck here forever, literally forever! It says he must “maintain Residency within the County THEREAFTER.” not until the end of his term or until removed from office, FOREVER. Hope the County provides a burial plot with that job, that’d be an odd job “perk.” Section 3.02. APPOINTMENT.
The County Council shall appoint by a Majority Vote of the County Council, based on education and experience in public administration, a professional County Administrator. The County Administrator need not be a Resident of the County or state at the time of appointment, but shall establish Residency within 90 days of such appointment and maintain Residency within the County thereafter. The County Administrator shall not engage in any other business or occupation while serving as County Administrator. The County Council shall establish by Ordinance the County Administrator’s salary.
 Section 3.03. REMOVAL.That’s pretty clear isn’t it? Disobey your masters and they fire you, they don’t even need to think up just cause.Loyalty issues again. Section 3.03. REMOVAL.
The County Administrator may be removed, with or without cause, by a vote of five (5) of the County Council Members.
 Section 3.04. POWERS AND DUTIES. 

 

 

 
So where we currently have a Treasurer, an Auditor, a Collector and a Clerk to direct personnel and take up these specified tasks, this Administrator now takes on all those responsibilities.

The Administrator is directed to individually oversee each of these offices. A “jack of all trades, master of none.”

Section 3.04. POWERS AND DUTIES.
The County Administrator shall:
Be directly responsible for the daily administrative and operational functions of county government and for all offices thereof, except for elected offices as provided by this Constitution.
Oversee the preparation of the annual recommended budget and capital program and present to the County Council.
Appoint, hire, suspend, demote, fire, or remove all county employees and appointed administrative officers provided for by or under this Constitution, except as otherwise provided by law, this Constitution, or personnel rules adopted pursuant to this Constitution.
Attend and participate in all County Council Meetings, except any meeting in which the job performance of the County Administrator is the business under consideration.
Assist the County Chair in the preparation of meeting agendas, Resolutions, rules, regulations, policies, and all such other matters as may be requested by the County Chair.
Advise the County Council of the County’s financial condition.
Submit to the County Council, and make available to the public, a complete report on the finances and administrative activities of the County at the end of each fiscal year.
Make other reports as the County Council may require regarding the operations of County departments, offices and agencies subject to the County Administrator’s supervision.
Perform any other duties as may be required or assigned by the County Council.
 Section 3.05. ABSENCE OF THE COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR.

Isn’t this statement just a little too broad? Seriously, any county employee gets to be Administrator for a Day? What is this a provision for some sort of contest?

AND, from the “Abuse of Power” file: let’s say this temporary Administrator somehow exceeds their power, does anyone else think someone should have the authority to invalidate the decision that’s getting this person “revoked?”

Section 3.05. ABSENCE OF THE COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR.
The County Administrator may designate another County officer or employee to exercise the powers and perform the duties of the County Administrator during the County Administrator’s temporary absence or disability. By a Majority Vote of the County Council such designation may be revoked at any time and another County officer or employee appointed to serve temporarily as County Administrator.

Article 4 - Elected County Officers

The Truth: The Legal Speak
Section 4.01. ELECTED OFFICES DESIGNATED.
The Prosecuting Attorney and the Sheriff shall be elected by the qualified voters of the County.
Section 4.02. PROSECUTING ATTORNEY AND SHERIFF – POWERS AND DUTIES.
The Prosecuting Attorney and Sheriff shall perform such duties and have such authority for their respective offices as established from time to time by the laws of Missouri pertaining to constitutional counties or counties of the first class.
Section 4.03. QUALIFICATIONS – PROSECUTING ATTORNEY.
To be elected or appointed the Prosecuting Attorney, a Person shall possess the following qualifications:
A. Be a citizen of the United States of America.
B. Be a Resident and registered voter in the County.
C. Be a licensed attorney in Missouri.
Section 4.04. QUALIFICATIONS – SHERIFF.
To be elected or appointed the Sheriff, a Person shall possess the following qualifications:
A. Be a citizen of the United States of America.
B. Be a Resident and registered voter in the County.
C. Be POST certified by the Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission for a first class county on the day of assumption of the office of sheriff.
Section 4.05. TERM OF OFFICE.
The election of the Prosecuting Attorney and the Sheriff shall be held on the regular general county election date in April at the time established by state law.
A. The Prosecuting Attorney and the Sheriff shall serve a term of four (4) years commencing the first Monday of May following election, except for the first election under this Constitution as provided in paragraph B of this section.
B. Initial term and length of term – exceptions.
1. At the 2014 election under this Constitution, the term of office for the Prosecuting Attorney elected shall begin January 1, 2015 and end on the first Monday in May, 2018.
2. At the 2016 election under this Constitution, the term of office for the Sheriff elected shall begin January 1, 2017 and end on the first Monday in May, 2020.
Section 4.06. PROSECUTING ATTORNEY AND SHERIFF – COMPENSATION.
A. The salary of the Prosecuting Attorney shall be the same salary as an Associate Circuit Court Judge of comparable time in office unless otherwise provided for under the laws of the State of Missouri applicable to counties of the first class with a constitutional form of government.
B. The salary of the Sheriff shall be set by the County Council in the annual county budget and shall not be less than that salary authorized by the laws of the State of Missouri for sheriffs in counties of the first class without a constitutional form of government unless otherwise provided for under the laws of the State of Missouri applicable to counties of the first class with a constitutional form of government. The salary of any elected Sheriff may not be reduced by the County Council during the four (4) year term of office which the Sheriff is serving.
Section 4.07. VACANCIES.
The office of Prosecuting Attorney and the office of Sheriff shall each become vacant upon such officer’s death, resignation, removal from office, or Forfeiture of Office.
 Section 4.08.

 

 

C. I’ll say it again, there exists the same loophole for a county executive to be found guilty of a felony in some other state without it affecting their ability to legislate.

Section 4.08. FORFEITURE OF OFFICE.
Such elected officer shall forfeit that office if such elected officer:
A. Lacks at any time during the term of office for which elected any qualification for the office prescribed by this Constitution or by law.
B. Violates any express prohibition of this Constitution upon a final finding by a court of competent jurisdiction.
C. Is found guilty of or pleaded guilty to a felony or misdemeanor under the federal laws of the United States of America or a felony under the laws of the State of Missouri.
D. The Prosecuting Attorney shall also forfeit such office if disbarred or suspended from the practice of law.
E. The Sheriff shall also forfeit such office if he or she is no longer POST certified by the Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission for a first class county.
Section 4.09. FILLING VACANCIES.
Should a vacancy occur in the office of Prosecuting Attorney or in the office of Sheriff, a majority of the County Council Members shall, within ninety (90) days of the occurrence of such vacancy, appoint a qualified person to serve until the end of the term to which such person is appointed or
until the next regular general county election, whichever shall first occur. After a vacancy occurs, and prior to a replacement being appointed by the County Council, the circuit court en banc shall appoint an interim Prosecuting Attorney or Sheriff, as the case may be, to carry out the functions of such office.

Article 5 - Administrative Departments and Organization

The Truth: The Legal Speak
 Section 5.01. GENERAL PROVISIONS.
Provisions A & B work in conjunction to define how the County Council will be to restructure our county offices (ie. County Assessor, County Collector, County Treasurer, County Clerk) to a more streamlined system. The problems here is that there can never be a “final consensus” on how these office will established. It will be right of successive County Council, a body which changes about half its membership every two (2) years, to re-organize these offices however they see fit as often as they like. One of the benefits of the current system is the clearly defined responsibilities of each officer and their staff.C. Enter the “Heavy,” the County Council’s axman, the County Administrator; acting on the Council’s authority, the Administrator gets to re-organize the offices to implement the Council’s new plan every 2 years. One loop-hole to the pending Merit System would be to eliminate an entire class of positions. The County can’t rightly maintain employees if they don’t have jobs, right? So, the Assessor’s staff, the Collector’s staff are let go and may apply for jobs in the new Asse-lector’s Office.
Section 5.01. GENERAL PROVISIONS.
A. The administration of County government shall be organized in accordance with the terms of this Constitution and Ordinances adopted pursuant to this Constitution. The authority to create, alter or abolish any part of the administration of County government is vested in the County Council, except as otherwise herein established.
B. The County Council shall by Ordinance establish the title, authority, and duties of such offices and departments that are required by law and as the County Council deems necessary to conduct the business and affairs of the County. Except as otherwise provided herein, the County Council may adopt by Ordinance changes or modifications to that structure, and shall establish the authority and duties of each such office. The County Council may eliminate, combine, consolidate or otherwise structure the administrative organization of the County in such manner as the County Council determines is efficient, economical and best for serving the citizens of the County.
C. The County Administrator may organize and reorganize the offices and responsibilities of the organization consistent with the structure adopted by the County Council and may recommend changes in the administrative organization of the County to the County Council. Any action that creates, abolishes or merges departments shall be by Ordinance.
 Section 5.02. CIRCUIT CLERK AND PUBLIC ADMINISTRATOR
Provisions A & B here are the first of many demands that this new county government will place on the Seventh Judicial Circuit, seemingly a violation of the separation of powers. I’m not sure why this pending form of government is so eager to surrender power but here they go again. Now it becomes the Circuit Court’s responsibility to tightly monitor these positions and maintain a list of qualifies replacements. We’ll discover a disturbing trend in this document to push off power and responsibility on others, when the council members are the only people we get to elect to make change.Now as most people know, the Public Administrator oversees the living conditions and finances of the counties “wards.” These people are some of the county’s most vulnerable and require special attention. To add oversight of this department to the courts is unreasonable. This provision does not specify a length of term for the Administrator nor does it provide process of review or oversight to evaluate this department. The county must not push off this responsibility onto other parties, especially the already busy courts.
Section 5.02. CIRCUIT CLERK AND PUBLIC ADMINISTRATOR.
A. Circuit Clerk. The Circuit Clerk shall be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of a majority of all judges of the Seventh Judicial Circuit, meeting en banc. The Circuit Clerk shall possess and exercise all powers and duties now or hereafter given to that office for a county of the first class by applicable law except for powers or duties removed or assigned to other offices pursuant to the provisions of this Constitution.
B. Public Administrator. The Public Administrator shall be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of a majority of all judges of the Seventh Judicial Circuit, meeting en banc. The Public Administrator shall possess and exercise all powers and duties prescribed for the office by applicable law.
 Section 5.03. COUNTY AUDITOR.
In a perfect world we wouldn’t need to worry about the independence or neutrality of government offices. In a perfect world the only inconsistencies an auditor would find would be minor errors that are readily admitted and corrected. However, we don’t live in a perfect world!The independence of an auditor is crucial to the powerful operation of their office, and a strong protection against theft and fraud to secure the taxpayers’ money.
Section 5.03. COUNTY AUDITOR.
A. Appointment and Term. The County Auditor shall be appointed by a Majority Vote of the County Council for a term of four (4) years and shall serve as the county budget officer and accounting officer. The County Auditor shall report to the County Administrator and perform such duties as may be assigned by the County Administrator.
B. Removal. The County Auditor may be removed from office during the term by a Majority Vote of the County Council, but only for cause.
C. Qualifications. The County Auditor shall be a citizen of the United States of America, but need not be a Resident of the County or state at the time of appointment, but shall establish Residency within ninety (90) days of such appointment and maintain Residency within the County thereafter. The County Auditor shall be a licensed certified public accountant.
Section 5.04 COUNTY COURT. The County shall establish a County Municipal Court with jurisdiction to hear and determine cases involving violations of this Constitution and Ordinances of the County, as provided by applicable law.

Okay, so here’s an issue no one’s talking about. A whole new level of court structure to be accounted for and administered by the county. It true responsibilities are not very clearly defined but you can imagine that for this court to operate it will need funding. There are no limitations on the slaries to be paid the Prosecutor and Judge. There is no clear direction on what rules it will enforce, what fines it charge or what it’s most extreme penalties can be. Let’s assume it becomes a glorified traffic court. What changes would that entail? 1. Sheriff’s officers will become traffic cops, or the sheriff will need to add sufficient personnel to oversee all their other duties and supply the new Court with a steady stream of violations. 2. That stream of violations and the accompanying revenue from fines will come at the expense of smaller municipalities. 3. Did you know that fines paid when stopped by a state trooper help fund our public schools? 4. If we shut off these revenue streams from schools and smaller municipalities, where will they go for money? That’s right, newer and/or higher taxes.

Section 5.04 COUNTY COURT.
The County shall establish a County Municipal Court with jurisdiction to hear and determine cases involving violations of this Constitution and Ordinances of the County, as provided by applicable law.
A. COUNTY MUNICIPAL PROSECUTOR. The County Municipal Prosecutor shall:
1. Have the authority to prosecute violations of County Ordinances, orders, rules, regulations and other non-felony complaint referrals from the Clay County Prosecuting Attorney.
2. Be an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Missouri and shall be a Resident of the County. The County Municipal Prosecuting Attorney may not be a County Council Member.
3. Be an Assistant County Counselor nominated by the County Chair to serve as the County Municipal Prosecutor for the County Municipal Court and approved by a Majority Vote of the County Council.
4. Serve at the pleasure of the County Council, and may be removed with or without cause by a vote of five (5) of the County Council Members.
5. Have salary and benefits as determined by the County Council.
B. COUNTY MUNICIPAL COURT JUDGE. The County Municipal Judge shall:
1. Adjudicate general County Ordinance violations.
2. Be an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Missouri and shall be a Resident of the County. The County Municipal Court Judge may not be a County Council Member.
3. Be nominated to the County Municipal Court by the County Chair with the approval of a Majority Vote of the County Council.
4. Serve at the pleasure of the County Council, and may be removed with or without cause by a vote of five (5) of the County Council Members.
5. Have salary and benefits as determined by the County Council.
C. COUNTY MUNICIPAL COURT ADMINISTRATOR. The County Administrator shall appoint a County Municipal Court Administrator who shall be the administrative officer of the County Municipal Court and exercise all necessary and proper authority to effectively administer the County Municipal Court.

Article 6 - Merit System

The Truth: The Legal Speak
Section 6.01. MERIT SYSTEM COMMISSION.  What I see here is the picture of bureaucracy: an unfunded and poorly defined mandate. Let’s talk about what it doesn’t talk about:1. the size of this commission,2. the total make-up of the commission,

3. the enforcement mechanism of the commission,

4. the payment or non-payment of members of the commission.

So a commission of indeterminate size and make-up, that may or may not be paid, has to recommend provisions of a Merit System to the Council. Once they recommend enough provisions that please the Council, the system is enacted. Once the system is enacted they must operate it. But, before they can ever decide a Merit System action, they must:

1. Review all personnel policies.

2. Recommend/Demand alterations if policies are not equitable.

3. Review the implementation and common usage of those policies.

4. Advise county officials and department supervisors if policies are not uniformly administered.

5. Create a system to receive and review grievances and appeals of the Merit System and design a format in which to conduct hearings.

6. Then they must find time to meet and hear the grievances and appeals.

Section 6.01. MERIT SYSTEM COMMISSION.
A Merit System Commission shall be established by the County Council to recommend the initial provisions of the Merit System and amendments thereto. The Merit System Commission shall ensure that all personnel policies are equitable and uniformly administered for all County employees except as otherwise provided in this Constitution. The Merit System Commission also shall be responsible for conducting hearings on grievances or appeals filed by County employees concerning the application of Merit System provisions.
Section 6.02. MERIT SYSTEM.To further complicate the task of designing this Merit System, this commission must design a hiring and firing system that lays out for the Council and supervisors how to select potential employees, how to retain them, when to promote (and maybe how much to pay them), how and when to discipline employees and finally a process to separate (fire) them.Now, it’s hard to argue against a merit system or at least a directive that employment decisions be based on merit and professionalism, but this Merit System could easily take years to actually implement and will cost the county considerable time and money.

Consider this: who will the Council select as their 2/3rds of this commission? If 1/3rd of the commission is comprised of county employees, the others will need to be personnel professionals. This mandate doesn’t require that Merit System provisions or amendments be unanimous, so in reality the Council controls who’s on the commission, the Council controls the payments to these professionals, the Council controls what submissions of the commission are accepted and rejected, the Council controls the amount of time the commission can be spent on creating the system, how much time can be spent in review of policies and procedures, how much time is spent in grievance hearings, etc. So what do the employees control?

“Any Ordinance adopted by the County Council establishing the Merit System shall consider the input of County employees.” That doesn’t say “honor the input”, or even “respect the input” of the employees, just consider the input of the employees.

Finally, this commission and all like it must include county employees as at least 1/3rd of its members, selected by the county employees. What mechanism is there to do this? Supervisors and appointed officers are considered employees the same as custodians, maintenance workers and window tellers. How do you organize an equitable meeting of all these diverse employees to select/elect representation?

Section 6.02. MERIT SYSTEM.
All appointments, promotions and individual salary adjustments of County employees shall be made on the basis of merit, except as otherwise herein provided. The Merit System shall establish specific criteria and the process for selection, retention, promotion, discipline, and separation based on qualifications. The goal of the Merit System shall be that employment decisions be based on qualifications and performance rather than political considerations and the Merit System shall be designed to promote professionalism, efficiency and positive employee relations. Any Ordinance adopted by the County Council establishing the Merit System shall consider the input of County employees. To the extent any type of board, commission, committee or similar body is established by Ordinance, or otherwise, to consider any aspect of the Merit System, then not less than one-third of the total membership of such board, commission, committee or similar body shall be employees of the County covered by the Merit System, who shall be voting members of such body and who shall be selected by all County employees covered by the Merit System
Section 6.03. MERIT SYSTEM EXEMPTIONS.
The County Merit System shall not apply to the following positions:
Elected county officials.
The County Administrator.
The County Auditor.
The County Counselor, if such position is created by Ordinance.
The Circuit Clerk.
The Public Administrator.
The attorneys and chief administrative assistant employed by the Prosecuting Attorney’s office.
The command staff of the Sheriff’s office.
Section 6.04. MERIT SYSTEM GUIDELINES.
The Merit System shall ensure that County employees covered by the Merit System shall not be personally solicited by or required to pay any assessment or contribution to or perform any service for anyone occupying or seeking employment, nomination or election to public office. The Merit System shall ensure that no County officer or employee shall promise or threaten to promote, suspend, remove or demote any employee under the Merit System for making or refusing to make any contribution for any political party or purpose, or for rendering or refusing any political service.
Section 6.05. APPLICABILITY TO CURRENT EMPLOYEES.
All persons employed by the County at the time this Constitution is adopted shall be deemed to have been hired under the Merit System required to be established by this Constitution, except those whose positions are exempted herein. Thereafter, all County employees, except those specifically exempted in this Constitution, shall be subject to all provisions of the Merit System. For the purposes of this Constitution, those elected officials holding office at the time this Constitution is adopted shall not be considered to be a part of the Merit System created hereunder.

Article 7 - Initiative, Referendum and Recall

The Truth: The Legal Speak
Section 7.01. DIRECT GOVERNMENT.
The people of Clay County reserve to themselves the power to initiate Ordinances, create a Constitution Review Commission, and to enact or reject such proposals at the polls, independent of the County Council.
Section 7. Many of the items in Article 7 seem to easily and obviously support the voice of the people. This is a good thing! Recalling flawed council members and making proper provisions in that instance are good things. Allowing people to propose county ordinances is a bit unusual, but it clearly supports the voice of the people. Here’s the troubling part: since County Ordinances can so easily trump state laws, what’s to stop a motivated minority from working the system to get an otherwise illegal ordinance passed?

Another issue is the significant expense that special elections will cause the county; if a number of well-backed initiatives are proposed in between regular elections, the county could easily go over-budget honoring this right of the people.

Section 7.02. INITIATIVE.
The power of initiative is reserved to the people. Any Ordinance or amendment to an Ordinance, except as limited by this Constitution, may be proposed by filing with the officer in charge of holding elections an Initiative Petition.
Procedure
Such petitions shall be signed by registered voters equal in number to at least ten (10%) percent of the total votes cast for governor in the County in the last regular general election.
The petitioners shall file with the officer designated by the County Council a statement of intent to circulate an initiative petition and shall have a maximum of twelve months to collect the required signatures from the date of filing the statement of intent.
Each petition shall contain not more than one subject, which shall be expressed clearly in the title and shall contain the full text of the measure and an enacting clause, which shall read as follows: “Be it enacted by the people of Clay County.”
Such petitions shall be filed with such officer designated by the County Council, not less than six (6) months before the next general county election. The County Clerk or such other officer designated by the County Council shall be the sole judge of their sufficiency.
The proposed Ordinance shall be submitted to the voters at the next regular county election held after the petition is filed and certified. If no regular county election is to be held within one year of such filing and certification, the County Council shall provide for a special election within the one year period.
Copies of the proposed Ordinance shall be made available at the polls.
An affirmative vote of a majority of those voting on the proposition shall be sufficient for its adoption.
An affirmative vote of a majority of those voting on a proposition to create a Constitution Review Commission shall initiate the process as provided for by the Missouri Constitution for framing and adopting a County Constitution.
Limitations. The following shall not be subject to initiative:
Ordinances concerning appropriations for the budgetary support of County government and the payment of principal and interest on the County’s debts.
Ordinances concerning the borrowing of funds in anticipation of taxes.
Ordinances directing the issuance of bonds previously authorized at an election.
Ordinances establishing any tax levy.
Ordinances providing for the compensation or working conditions of County employees.
Ordinances providing for redistricting of Council Districts.
Section 7.03. REFERENDUM.
The power of referendum to approve or reject Ordinances of the County Council is also reserved to the County citizens. A referendum may be ordered on any Ordinance, or any part thereof passed by the County Council, except as limited by this Constitution.
Procedure
Petitions signed by five hundred (500) registered voters and certified by such officer designated by the County Council, declaring an intent to seek a referendum on a specified Ordinance, shall postpone for forty (40) days the effective date of such Ordinance.
Petitions proposing a referendum on such Ordinance and signed by ten (10%) percent of the registered voters equal in number to the total vote for governor at the last regular general election in which a governor was chosen shall be filed with such officer designated by the County Council, who shall be the sole judge of the sufficiency of the petitions.
Upon certification of the petitions, the question of approving or rejecting the Ordinance shall be submitted at the next general county election at least sixty (60) days after the petitions are filed.
Any measure referred to the people shall take effect when approved by a majority of the votes cast.
Limitations. The following shall not be subject to referendum:
Ordinances concerning appropriations for the budgetary support of County government and the payment of principal and interest on the County’s debts.
Ordinances concerning the borrowing of funds in anticipation of taxes.
Ordinances directing the issuance of bonds previously authorized at an election.
Ordinances establishing, repealing or levying taxes or fees.
Ordinances providing for the compensation or working conditions of county employees.
Ordinances providing for redistricting of County Council Districts.
Section 7.04. RECALL.
The power of recall of the County Council Members, including the County Chair, is reserved to the County citizens. The County Chair may be recalled from office by the registered voters of the County. Any District County Council Member may be recalled from office by the registered voters of the District County Council Member’s district.
Procedure
Any registered voter of the County, or the district for which the officer sought to be removed was chosen, desiring the removal of any such officer may make and file with the county officer designated by the County Council an affidavit stating the name and office of the person whose removal is sought.
Attached must be a proposed recall petition in the form required by this Constitution.
A receipt will be provided on the same page of the Notice of Recall Petition signed by the designated county officer indicating the date the notice was received, and the date by which the petition must be filed.
The designated county official shall provide a form recall notice.
Recall petition. In addition to those requirements imposed by this Constitution, a recall petition must contain the following:
If recall of Council Chair. A recall petition addressed to the County Chair must be signed by registered voters of the County equal in number to at least twenty (20%) percent of the total vote cast in the County for candidates for the office of governor at the last preceding regular general election.
If recall of District Council Member. A recall petition addressed to a District County Council Member must be signed by registered voters of the District equal in number to at least twenty (20%) percent of the total vote cast in the District for candidates for the office of governor at the last preceding regular general election.
Submission of recall petition. Recall petitions must be submitted to such officer designated by the County Council within thirty (30) days of the date of the County’s receipt of the notice of recall petition. Signatures dated prior to the date of the receipt or dated after thirty (30) days of the receipt will not be counted. Signatures without a date will not be counted.
Election. If the official whose recall is sought does not resign within five (5) days after notification by the county official designated by the County Council, the County Council shall order and fix a date for holding a recall election in the County or District from which the official was elected at the next available regular county election held not less than forty-five (45) days or more than ninety (90) days after the certification by the named county officer was presented to the County Council for which the County can lawfully provide required notices to the election authorities without seeking a court order. If no regular election is scheduled to be held more than forty-five (45) days or less than ninety (90) days from the date of certification, the County Council shall fix a date for the special recall election to be held not less than forty-five (45) days or more than ninety (90) days from the date of certification.
Candidates to Succeed Recalled Official. Candidates to succeed any official whose removal is sought shall properly file for that elected office. However, if more than two (2) qualified candidates properly file there will not be a primary election. The names of all qualified candidates who properly filed shall appear on the ballot as provided in paragraph 6.d. below.
Ballots in recall petition. Ballots used at a recall election shall conform to the following requirements:
“Shall (name of person) be removed from the office of (name of office) by recall?”
“For the recall of (name of person)”
“Against the recall of (name of person)”
Under the foregoing propositions shall appear the words “candidates to succeed (name of person) if recalled,” and beneath such words the names of candidates. The name of the person whose removal is sought shall not appear on the ballot as a candidate for the office subject to recall.
Result of recall election. Unless a majority of the votes cast on the question of recalling an official are for the official’s recall, the official shall continue in office for the remainder of the unexpired term, and not be subject to recall for six (6) months. If a majority of votes cast on the question of recalling an official are for the recall of the official, the official shall, regardless of any technical defect in the recall petition, be deemed removed from office forthwith. In case an official is removed from office by recall, the candidate to succeed such official who received the highest number of votes at the recall election shall be deemed elected and shall serve for the unexpired term unless sooner removed.
Election when an official resigns. If an official, for whose recall a notice has been filed with such officer designated by the County Council, and a petition for recall is filed within thirty (30) days of the receipt, or for whose recall a petition is submitted to the County Council, resigns within five (5) days after the filing of the notice with the designated officer (when followed within thirty days next thereafter by the filing of a petition for recall), or within five (5) days after the submission of a recall petition to the County Council, the election shall be held as hereinbefore provided, except that the propositions for and against the official’s recall shall be omitted from the ballots and that above the names of the candidates shall appear the words, “Candidates for office of (name of office) to succeed (name of person) resigned.” A vacancy resulting from the resignation of an official, after the filing of a notice for recall, when following within thirty (30) days by the filing of petition for the official’s recall, may not be filled for the unexpired term by a Majority Vote of the County Council or of the remaining members of the County Council. That vacancy may only be filled by election as hereinbefore provided.

Article 8 - County Elections

The Truth: The Legal Speak
Section 8.01. REGULAR ELECTIONS.
The regular general county election shall be held in April at the time established by state law. Elections shall be conducted in the manner provided by law for elections of state and county officials to the extent not in conflict with this Constitution.
 Section 8.02. Non-Partisan Elections. Over the years in Clay County, a lot has been made of people trying to fool the voters by putting an (R) or (D) after their name to signify loyalties they didn’t hold. And theoretically, non-partisan politics seem beneficial, but there is something that many voters hold dear about supporting their party and their candidate. Many times voters don’t get know the nominees individually and so they rely on their affiliations to judge them. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your view, that will be lost. Section 8.02. COUNTY ELECTIONS TO BE ON A NON-PARTISAN BASIS.
Elections for all County offices shall be non-partisan and no party affiliation of any kind may appear on the ballot.
Section 8.03. PRIMARY ELECTIONS.
If more than two (2) qualified candidates properly file for any elected office within the County, then the County shall hold a primary election to nominate two (2) candidates for each elected office. The names of the two (2) candidates receiving the greatest number of votes for the position at the primary election shall appear on the ballot in the regular general county election.
If a primary is required under this section, it shall be held on the Tuesday following the first Monday in March for the nomination of all candidates to be voted for at the next following regular general county election.

Article 9 - Constitutional Amendment and Review

The Truth: The Legal Speak
 Section 9.01. Amendments.

Unfortunately, this provision is going to see a ton a work. With all the holes in this document, we are going to need some talented and even-minded Council Members to “iron out” the details of this government.

Section 9.01. PROPOSAL OF AMENDMENT.
Amendments to this Constitution may be framed and proposed:
By Ordinance of the County Council on approval of not fewer than five (5) of its members to submit a proposed amendment to county voters at the next election; or
By Initiative of County registered voters.
Section 9.02. ADOPTION OF AMENDMENT.
If a majority of registered voters of the County voting upon a proposed constitutional amendment vote in favor of it, the amendment shall become effective at the time fixed in the amendment or, if no time is fixed therein, the date of election certification.
Section 9.03. CONSTITUTION REVIEW COMMISSION.
In January, 2023, and every ten (10) years thereafter, a County Constitution Review Commission shall be appointed.
The Circuit Court Judges of the Seventh Judicial Circuit shall appoint a County Constitution Review Commission. Said Commission shall consist of fourteen (14) residents of Clay County and shall be equally divided between the two political parties casting the greater number of votes at the last preceding gubernatorial election.
The members of the County Constitution Review Commission shall receive no compensation but the necessary expenses of the County Constitution Review Commission shall be paid by the County.
The County Constitution Review Commission may draft on or before the following December 31, amendments to this Constitution including an effective date. The County Constitution Review Commission shall then stand discharged and cease to exist. Any proposed amendments to this Constitution must be approved by a vote of at least 60% of the Constitution Review Commission before submission to the voters.
Any amendments to this Constitution approved by the County Constitution Review Commission shall be submitted to the voters at the April general election following the completion of the County Constitution Review Commission.
Amendments to this Constitution, if approved by a majority of voters of the County voting thereon at the election, shall take effect on the day set therein.

Article 10 - General Provisions

The Truth: The Legal Speak
Section 10.01. COUNCIL DISTRICTS AND APPORTIONMENT.  The six (6) Council Districts shall be as compact and equal in population as possible.A.  Initial Apportionment.1. Some critics point out that for the original Constitution Commission to appoint themselves as the Apportionment Commission exceeds their mandate to create a Charter for Clay County. The Commission might argue that it is simply expedient.5. Here is another place that this document bosses around the 7th Circuit. Do we really think that the Court has nothing better to do than draw lines on a map if the Commission can’t pull it off? And to give them 2 weeks to figure out what others couldn’t do in a month seems unfair.

B.  Re-apportionment

3. Here is another place that this document bosses around the 7th Circuit. If these people can’t come to an agreement, just toss the responsibility onto the Court.

Section 10.01. COUNCIL DISTRICTS AND APPORTIONMENT.
The six (6) Council Districts shall be as compact and equal in population as possible.
A. Initial Apportionment.
1. The Initial Apportionment Commission shall consist of all of the members of the Constitution Commission appointed by the Circuit Court Judges of the Seventh Judicial Circuit in January 2013.
2. The Initial Apportionment Commission shall determine the boundary lines of the Council Districts provided for in this Constitution and shall assign the number by which each district shall be designated.
3. A majority of the Initial Apportionment Commission shall approve an apportionment plan and map which shall be submitted to the county election authority no later than December 15, 2013.
4. If the Initial Apportionment Commission fails to file an apportionment plan and map December 15, 2013, the Initial Apportionment Commission shall turn over all documents to the Presiding Judge of the Circuit Court of the Seventh Judicial Circuit and shall stand discharged.
5. Such apportionment shall then be performed by order of the Circuit Court Judges of the Seventh Judicial Circuit, en banc, a majority of whom shall sign and file its apportionment plan and map with the County and the county election authority within fourteen (14) calendar days of the date the Initial Apportionment Commission is discharged.
B. Re-apportionment
1. Following each federal decennial census, the Circuit Court Judges of the Seventh Judicial Circuit, en banc, within thirty (30) calendar days following receipt of the census report shall appoint a Re-Apportionment Commission composed of eight (8) persons, an equal number of whom shall be from each of the two political parties which received the highest number of votes in the last preceding general election in the County. Such Re-Apportionment Commission shall determine the boundary lines of the Council Districts provided for in this Constitution. The Re-Apportionment Commission shall have forty-five (45) calendar days from its appointment to file an apportionment plan
2. A majority of the Re-Apportionment Commission shall approve an apportionment plan and map which shall be submitted to the Presiding Judge of the Circuit Court of the Seventh Judicial Circuit and the county election authority no later than forty-five (45) calendar days after the date of appointment.
3. If the Re-Apportionment Commission fails to file an apportionment plan and map within forty-five (45) calendar days of its appointment, the Re-Apportionment Commission shall turn over all documents to the Presiding Judge of the Circuit Court of the Seventh Judicial Circuit and the Re-apportionment Commission shall stand Discharged. Such apportionment shall be performed by order of the Circuit Court Judges of the Seventh Judicial Circuit, en banc, a majority of whom shall sign and file its apportionment plan and map with the County and the county election authority within thirty calendar days of the date the Re-apportionment Commission is discharged.
Section 10.02. UNIFORM BUDGET PROCEDURE.A uniform budget seems fairly simple and easy to understand, right? Well, maybe not. Currently, each elected officer works with the sitting County Commission to work out their budget in light of planned expenses, anticipated revenues and available funding. In the future government that this document seems to favor, some or many offices will be combined into single offices with combined responsibilities. How do you budget for an unknown quantity?

Also, some municipalities demand that any surplus left at the end the fiscal year be refunded to the taxpayers. There is no directive on how to deal with a surplus.

Section 10.02. UNIFORM BUDGET PROCEDURE.
All County departments, offices, agencies and boards shall operate under a unified and uniform budget system. No County officer or employee shall be compensated by fees, and all fees collected by any office, department, agency, or board shall be deposited in the County treasury. No payment shall be made or obligation incurred except in accordance with an appropriation Ordinance duly adopted.
Section 10.03 BALANCED BUDGET.  The County Council shall adopt an annual balanced budget.“Balanced Budget” is as much a political buzzword as an actual concept. It simply means that your expenditures don’t exceed your income. There are no controls listed in this document for the Council taking the County deep into debt. In a “balanced budget” as long you can pay all your bills, you’re fine! Think about your Visa card; is the $1000.00 you owe the “bill” or is it the $35.00 minimum payment the “bill?” A Council could handcuff the County to years of debt as long as they institute a plan to pay it off some day. Section 10.03 BALANCED BUDGET. The County Council shall adopt an annual balanced budget.
Section 10.04. INDEPENDENT AUDIT.
The County Council shall provide annually for an independent audit of the accounts and other evidence of financial transactions of the County and of accounts selected by the County Council.
Section 10.05. OATH OF OFFICE. Before entering upon the duties of office, every elected and appointed officer of the County shall file with the officer designated by the County Council a certificate of election or appointment and shall take an oath or affirmation that the person possesses all the qualifications for the office, will support the Constitution and laws of the United States of America and of the State of Missouri, will observe all provisions of this Constitution and will faithfully discharge the duties of the office.
Section 10.06. ADJUSTMENTS TO SALARIES OF COUNTY EMPLOYEES.
In addition to salary adjustments based upon merit as described in Section 6.02, the County Council shall also have the authority to grant, at its sole option and discretion, cost of living adjustments for county employees, and shall have the authority to make uniform salary adjustments.
Section 10.07. COUNCIL TO DEFINE DUTIES WHEN IN DOUBT.
In the event any doubt shall exist as to what County department, office, officer, or agency shall exercise or perform any power or duty conferred or imposed by the Missouri Constitution, by applicable law or by this Constitution, the County Council by Ordinance shall specify by whom such power or duty shall be exercised or performed.
Section 10.08. SURVIVAL OF RIGHTS AND ACTIONS.
All obligations, debts, judgments or forfeitures in favor of or against Clay County existing before this Constitution was adopted shall remain in existence and in full force and effect in favor of or against Clay County upon the adoption of this Constitution.
Section 10.09. CONTINUANCE OF COUNTY EMPLOYEE BENEFITS AND RETIREMENT.
All county employee benefits in effect at the time of adoption of this Constitution, including, but not limited to, retirement benefits, shall continue in full force and effect until such time as legally modified. The County shall continue to provide retirement benefits to county employees. Such retirement benefits shall be the same as or equivalent to those retirement benefits provided to county employees on the date of adoption of this Constitution.

Article 11 - Transition Provisions

The Truth: The Legal Speak
Section 11.01. APPROVAL AND EFFECTIVE DATE OF CONSTITUTION. By combining this section with Section 11.06, I think we can clearly see the intent of the framers of this Constitution:

If approved by a majority of voters, this Constitution shall become fully effective the day following the election in November, 2013, except as otherwise provided for in this Constitution. All County Ordinances, Resolutions, orders and regulations which are in force when this Constitution becomes fully effective are repealed to the extent that they are inconsistent or interfere with the effective operation of this Constitution or of Ordinances or Resolutions adopted pursuant thereto. And this Constitution, to the extent authorized by the Missouri Constitution, shall supersede all laws of Missouri, except as otherwise expressly provided in this Constitution.

Website Submission: Section 11.01 Alternative language. A better written document might have had controls and directives written this way (portions in italics have been added to correct the original oversights of the commission):APPROVAL AND EFFECTIVE DATE OF CONSTITUTION.

If approved by a majority of voters, [the following articles and provisions in]this Constitution shall become fully effective the day following the election in November, 2013, except as otherwise provided for in this Constitution. [List of specific clauses and provisions here _____]. [Provisions requiring action by the County Council established under this Constitution shall not take effect until after the Council is elected, seated, and has had the opportunity to act according to a duly adopted Ordinance.] [Once the Council is seated and has acted according a duly adopted Ordinance on any matter authorized by] this Constitution, to the extent authorized by the Missouri Constitution, [the duly adopted Ordinance of the Council, or the provisions of this Constitution] shall supersede all laws of Missouri […].

 

Section 11.01. APPROVAL AND EFFECTIVE DATE OF CONSTITUTION.
If approved by a majority of voters, this Constitution shall become fully effective the day following the election in November, 2013, except as otherwise provided for in this Constitution. This Constitution, to the extent authorized by the Missouri Constitution, shall supersede all laws of Missouri, except as otherwise expressly provided in this Constitution.
 There is a lot in this one, we’re working on our response! Section 11.02. ABOLITION OF EXISTING COUNTY OFFICES.
A. The elected County offices of Presiding Commissioner, Eastern Commissioner, Western Commissioner, County Assessor, County Collector, County Auditor, County Treasurer, Recorder of Deeds, and Public Administrator are hereby abolished and the terms of office of the current holders of these offices are terminated effective on May 1, 2014.
B. The County Assessor, County Collector, County Auditor, County Treasurer, and Recorder of Deeds will continue in office as interim officials and continue to fulfill the duties of their offices as in effect prior to May 1, 2014, until such officials are replaced by appointments made by the County Council.
C. The Public Administrator shall continue in office as interim Public Administrator and continue to fulfill the duties of the office as in effect prior to May 1, 2014, until replaced by appointment made by the Circuit Court of Clay County, en banc.
D. The County Prosecuting Attorney and County Sheriff shall continue in office and fulfill the duties of their offices until the expiration of their respective current terms of office.
Section 11.03. BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS:Could be read this way: This Constitution directs that Departments and Boards that are inconsistent or in conflict with the effective operation of this Constitution shall not continue. Section 11.03. BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS.
To the extent not inconsistent or in conflict with the effective operation of this Constitution, all departments, boards, commissions, and agencies currently in existence shall continue in existence until such time as their existence is terminated or modified by action of the County Council.
Section 11.04. CONTINUITY OF RECORDS.
All departments, officers, boards, commissions, and other agencies provided for in this Constitution or by Ordinance adopted pursuant to it, shall be entitled to the possession of all papers, books, records, documents, maps, plats, and archives now in the possession or under the control of those, respectively, who are superseded under this Constitution by such departments, officers, boards, or other agencies. It shall be the obligation of those holding office at the time that this Constitution becomes effective to maintain all such papers, books, records, documents, maps, plats, and archives and to cooperate with an orderly transition.
Section 11.05. TRANSITION COMMITTEE.
Upon certification of the results of the initial election of County Council Members, those individuals elected to the first County Council after adoption of this Constitution shall serve as a Transition Committee to effect the orderly transition of the form of government for the County.
Section 11.06. LAWS IN FORCE.
All County Ordinances, Resolutions, orders and regulations which are in force when this Constitution becomes fully effective are repealed to the extent that they are inconsistent or interfere with the effective operation of this Constitution or of Ordinances or Resolutions adopted pursuant thereto. To the extent that the Constitution and Missouri Law permit, all laws relating to or affecting this County  or its agencies, officers or employees which are in force when this Constitution becomes fully effective are superseded to the extent that they are inconsistent or interfere with the effective operation of this Constitution or of Ordinances or Resolutions adopted pursuant thereto. All other laws relating to or affecting this County or its agencies, officers or employees and all other county Ordinances, Resolutions, orders, and regulations that are in force when this Constitution is adopted shall remain in full force and effect until repealed, modified or superseded pursuant to this Constitution.
Section 11.07. PENDING MATTERS.
All rights, claims, actions, orders, contracts, and legal administrative proceedings shall continue except as modified pursuant to the provisions of this Constitution and in each case shall be maintained, carried on and dealt with by the county department, office or agency appropriate under this Constitution. All matters pending before the County Commission at the time this Constitution becomes fully effective, to the extent such matters are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution, may be acted upon and disposed of as if they had originated and had been introduced under this Constitution.