Boeckmann: "Arguments can be made in favor of either candidate."

COLUMBIA,11/1/12 (Interview) -- "Traditionally, the filing position is based on the order in which candidates arrive at the door of the city clerk's office," Columbia city attorney Fred Boeckmann told the Heart Beat in an interview about a ballot placement dispute (see story here) that has kicked off the third matchup between Third Ward Council candidates Gary Kespohl, the incumbent, and Karl Skala, a former incumbent.
"Mr. Kespohl arrived first, but at a time when the building was still locked," Boeckmann explained. The Heart Beat asked both Mr. Kespohl and Mr. Boeckmann questions about the contested ballot placement. Mr. Kespohl did not respond.

HEART BEAT: There's a rumor floating around that Mr. Kespohl used his Council pass key to enter the City Hall building to essentially arrive at city clerk Sheela Amin's office first, thereby placing his name at the top of the ballot. I called Mr. Skala about this, and his details were more vague than what I had already heard.

Did Mr. Kespohl use his Council pass key to enter the City Hall building before Karl Skala, who was on the premises hours before but without access to the building?

Here are the facts as best I can determine. Mr. Kespohl appears to have entered the building using his key at 6:45:44 a.m. and walked up the unlocked stairwell to the lobby outside the City Clerk's office arriving at approximately 6:49 a.m.

Mr. Skala was in his car in front of the Daniel Boone Building from around 4:20 a.m. until the building opened at 7:00 a.m. Because the elevator was "locked" when he entered the building, Mr. Skala sat in the lobby reading until 7:45 when he observed that the elevator was operating. The elevator is "unlocked" at 7:30. The adjacent stairwell was unlocked when Mr. Skala entered the building, but he was not aware that he could have used the stairwell to access the lobby outside the Clerk's office.

HEART BEAT: Is Mr. Kespohl's use of a pass key playing any part in your deliberations about how to resolve the dispute? How do you think it should affect the filing positions of each men, based on their time of arrival?

BOECKMANN: Arguments can be made in favor of either candidate. Mr. Skala arrived outside the building well before Mr. Kespohl, but did not arrive outside the clerk's office until much later than he could have, by using the stairwell at 7:00 or the elevator at 7:30.
HEART BEAT: Mr. Skala says you will "flip a coin," a procedure he accepts. However, should a coin toss even be necessary if an unfair advantage put the candidates in a position where random selection became the only way to fairly decide?

BOECKMANN: My advice to the Clerk (assuming that both petitions are valid) is to flip a coin or use some other method of determining the order by chance. An interesting historical fact is that in both prior contests between the candidates [Kespohl and Skala], the winner was second on the ballot.

HEART BEAT: What law or ordinance gives the Office of the City Attorney the legal right to decide such things?

BOECKMANN: I have no legal right to decide this matter. I only give advice.