politics

Columbia’s Fourth Ward councilman faces possible recall over reapportionment map

Night-turn story on councilman’s public information meeting that ended in plans to recall him from office / 751 words / The Columbia Missourian

COLUMBIA, MO. — Outrage filled the Friends Room at the Columbia Public Library on Friday afternoon, culminating in an initiative to recall Fourth Ward Councilman Daryl Dudley.

Angry residents alternately talked over one another, cheered each other on, snickered and shouted down Dudley. He had assembled them for a public meeting to discuss his latest proposal for how to redraw the city’s ward boundaries.

He did little talking.

Amidst accusations of gerrymandering, some of the roughly 40 people in attendance started plotting ways to recall him from office. Dudley was elected to the seat in April 2010.

Two Democrats eye vacant county commissioner seat

News update and explanation of how a vacant political seat may be filled / 464 words / The Columbia Missourian

COLUMBIA, MO. — So far, two Democrats have put their names in the hat to replace former Presiding County Commissioner Ed Robb, who died suddenly Saturday night.

Scott Christianson and Don Stamper have both expressed interest in the position, according to Phyllis Fugit, chair of the Boone County Democratic Party Central Committee. Bruce Cornett, Fugit’s counterpart in the Republican Party Central Committee, said no one has come forward as a GOP nominee.

Christianson narrowly lost the election for Presiding County Commissioner to Ed Robb last November. Owner of Kaleidoscope Videoconferencing and adjunct instructor of business at MU, Christianson’s political background includes terms as chair and vice-chair of the Democratic Party Central Committee. He is also former president and currently a member of the Boone County Industrial Development Authority.

Stamper, in his bid for the seat, is looking to repeat history. He served as Presiding County Commissioner for 12 years through the 1990s. He is now executive director of the Central Missouri Development Council. According to the state’s lobbyist registry, Stamper is registered as an active lobbyist for the Central Missouri Development Council and several other entities, including Boone Quarries, Columbia Redi-Mix and Con-Agg of Missouri. Stamper could not be reached for comment Friday evening.

Downtown Columbia Leadership Council weighs in on Short Street Garage

COLUMBIA, MO. — A new trio is in charge of the Downtown Columbia Leadership Council, which voted in its new executive committee Tuesday afternoon.

Outgoing chairman Randy Gray urged the group to “stay the course” on the work they’ve done since 2008. In the immediate future that work includes input on the planned Short Street Garage.

The new executive committee consists of current members Rosalie Gerding as chairwoman, current secretary Brian Treece as vice-chairman, and Historic Preservation Commission representative Brent Gardner as secretary.

Presiding County Commissioner Ed Robb, who passed away unexpectedly over the weekend, had been serving as representative to the DCLC from the Boone County Commission. According to the legislation that established the DCLC, the commission is called on to appoint a representative. Discussion Tuesday afternoon did not go beyond memorial services for Robb.

The Short Street Garage was the topic of the hour, including the most recent design plans, the upcoming public hearing, traffic implications and the private development proposed for an adjoining parcel of land.

Boone County Presiding Commissioner Ed Robb dies

Breaking news story on the death of the presiding county commissioner / 1280 words / The Columbia Missourian

By Alexandria Baca and Hilary Niles

COLUMBIA, MO. — Ed Robb was a tough politician whose expertise in economics and budgeting made him a formidable foe, former political opponents and colleagues said. As a Republican, he didn’t mind going after public offices traditionally held by Democrats.

Robb, who had been Boone County’s presiding commissioner since Jan. 1, died Saturday night, his wife, Rosa Robb, confirmed Sunday morning.

Robb, 69, was elected to the county’s top position in November and sworn in just days after he had a pacemaker installed to address an irregular heartbeat.

Redrawing Columbia’s wards proves puzzling for representatives, residents

Explanatory feature on reapportionment of the City of Columbia’s political districts / 1557 words / The Columbia Missourian

COLUMBIA, MO. — Louis Wilson occupies a rare place in Columbia. What makes him — and his neighbors — unusual is location, location, location.

Anecdotally, many people in Columbia don’t know which of the city’s six wards they live in. As communications director of the Historic West Broadway Association, however, Wilson knows his neighborhood is one of few in the city that straddle two wards, in his case the First and the Fourth.

Because each ward elects one representative to the Columbia City Council, Wilson and his neighbors have the benefit of being able to bend the ears of two council members.

“That may be a stupid type of political addition, but it seems to make sense,” Wilson said. He spoke as an individual citizen, not on behalf of his neighborhood association. “It’s nice to have access to two parties.”

The issues of access and representation are central to the debate over how to redraw the city’s ward boundaries. Equalizing ward populations was the primary goal of ward reapportionment, but the committee charged with the task was also directed by the council to avoid splitting neighborhoods. Aside from neighborhoods, any number of constituencies can be concentrated in one ward or spread among them.

Demand precedes Short Street garage

News update on city plans for a new parking garage / 881 words / The Columbia Missourian

COLUMBIA, MO. — The surprise question looming about the new Short Street garage is whether there will be any public parking spaces left by the time it is built next year.

“It’s a good problem to have, to have it all sold out before you build it,” Third Ward Councilman Gary Kespohl said.

In addition to deciding what Columbia’s fifth downtown parking garage will look like, City Council members now are considering whether to build commercial space into the ground floor of the structure and to add an extra level of parking to accommodate advance demand for leased spaces.

The current four-story design provides for 340 spaces, and already 150 of them could be spoken for. Adding another level would add about 70 more spaces and cost about $1 million more.