WeitkemperReturning control of City Hall to the People

COLUMBIA, Mo 3/5/14 (Beat Byte) -- Fed up with what he calls "non-transparent" city management and lack of public control over public funds, retired Columbia public works supervisor Bill Weitkemper wants the Missouri State Auditor to take a full, public look at City Hall.

His first step:  organize a petition drive that will call the Auditor into action.  

"The conduct of several top city administrators is disgraceful," Weitkemper wrote in an open letter to supporters and media days after city manager Mike Matthes' TIF plan failed.   "They have no concept of the meaning of accountability.  Their manipulation of city ordinances and misuse of public money is disturbing at best, and at worst could be illegal."

The inaugural recipient of the Edward Robb Public Servant of the Year Award, Weitkemper has doggedly pursued city utility billing and spending practices, notably discovering City Hall over-bills rate payers some $1 million annually to subsidize big business and Mizzou utilities.   He was also a candidate for 4th Ward Columbia City Council, running on a platform of open, transparent, and publicly-controlled city governance. 

"For years, I have been trying unsuccessfully to get the attention of city staff and the Council," Weitkemper said.   "City administrators feel they can tell the public and the Council anything, and should be believed simply because of their position.   I refuse to allow this unacceptable behavior to continue unchallenged." 

By law, State Auditor Tom Schweich has no jurisdiction over most local governmental entities until voters invite him via petition or a request from the Governor.   Missouri state statute requires Weitkemper get at least 5,000 registered voters to sign the petition -- and that City Hall pay for the audit. 

"Anyone interested in proper governance of the political subdivision can initiate a petition," the Auditor's website explains.  

After the Auditor receives a Request for Petition Audit form, Weitkemper will become the "chief petitioner," circulating a signature sheet from that explains the estimated cost of the audit.   Only registered voter residents of Columbia may sign the form.  

County Clerk Wendy Noren verifies the signatures.  If the number of signatures is less than required by law, the petition will return to Weitkemper and his team for more signatures.   Once the petition is validated, the audit is activated.

NEXT:  What happens after the State Auditor receives a valid petition
People interested in signing the petition or helping collect signatures can contact Weitkemper here.