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Politics
News covering policy and issues related to city and county governments in the Ozarks.

Council Members Who Initiated Eligibility Investigation Release Statement

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City of Springfield
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The five Springfield City Council members who sent a letter to Mayor Bob Stephens Friday asking for an independent hearing into whether or not councilwoman Kristi Fulnecky is eligible to serve have released a statement.

Mayor Pro Tem Ken McClure, councilwoman Phyllis Ferguson, councilman Craig Fishel, councilwoman Jan Fisk and councilman Mike Schilling say they took action “as soon as we became aware of the matter.  We were concerned by the fact that this problem has been ongoing for approximately seven years.”

The council members question whether or not Fulnecky was eligible to take the oath of office last April due to her failure to “obtain a business license and pay the required tax” for her business, Fulnecky Enterprises, LLC.

“In spite of allegations to the contrary, they say, “our actions on this matter are totally separate from the indecent exposure ordinance and are only taken after careful consideration. We are acting independently of questions raised regarding the ordinance and subsequent filing of a lawsuit. In fact, our voting record shows that three of us voted in favor and two voted in opposition.”

In the statement, the council members say, although members of Springfield City Council don’t always agree on every issue, it’s “the expectation to regard each other with respect and conduct ourselves professionally.”

According to McClure, Ferguson, Fishel, Fisk and Schilling, “we wish we were not put in this position. It is our desire to be able to focus on the important business of the city.”

Since news questioning Fulnecky's council eligibility broke Friday, multiple attempts by KSMU to reach Fulnecky or her attorney, Dee Wampler, for comment have been unsuccessful. But in speaking with other media outlets, Fulnecky has defended herself and claimed that Mayor Stephens is retaliating against her. Earlier in the week Fulnecky had questioned the mayor’s honesty regarding what he knew about an ACLU lawsuit against the city concerning its recently amended indecent exposure ordinance.

A portion of a statement from Wampler and published by the News-Leader reads as follows:

"Along the way, she has tweaked some noses in high places," it says. "Now it is payback time. She says what she thinks, and is entitled to make public comments. She may not always be politically correct.

"She is a dedicated public servant and has never acted intentionally or knowingly in violation of her oath. She will vigorously defend all allegations against her."

The entire statement issued Monday from the five Springfield City Council members who initiated Fulnecky's eligibility investigation is below:

PUBLIC STATEMENT TO THE CITIZENS OF SPRINGFIELD

ISSUED ON BEHALF OF:
Mayor Pro Tem Ken McClure; Councilwoman Phyllis Ferguson; Councilman Craig Fishel; Councilwoman Jan Fisk; Councilman Mike Schilling

As elected officials representing the city, the role of Springfield City Council is to address the pressing needs of our community and be a problem-solving body. In an effort to elaborate on the events of the past few days, it is our desire to offer the following comments.

We are the five City Council members who authored and signed a letter requesting the appointment of an independent hearing examiner to investigate Councilwoman Kristi Fulnecky’s eligibility to serve on City Council.

As noted in our Oct. 29 letter, our questions relate to the failure of Councilwoman Fulnecky to obtain a business license and pay the required tax. Our actions occurred as soon as we became aware of the matter. We were concerned by the fact that this problem has been ongoing for approximately seven years.

Appointment of a hearing examiner is the process authorized through the Springfield City Code (Section 2-60) which states “this section proposes to relieve councilmembers of the impossible task of judging themselves. Instead, this section places judgment in the hands of an impartial hearing examiner…”

In spite of allegations to the contrary, our actions on this matter are totally separate from the indecent exposure ordinance and are only taken after careful consideration. We are acting independently of questions raised regarding the ordinance and subsequent filing of a lawsuit. In fact, our voting record shows that three of us voted in favor and two voted in opposition.

Council members may not always agree on every issue, but it is the expectation to regard each other with respect and conduct ourselves professionally.

We wish we were not put in this position. It is our desire to be able to focus on the important business of the city. 

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