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Cauthen Contract Tactic Sparks Council Skirmish

By Steve Bell


Kansas City, MO –
A proposal to not let City Manager Wayne Cauthen's Contract automatically renew itself for a year sparked heated words at Thursday's Kansas City Council meeting.

Council members Terry Riley, Sharon Sanders Brooks and Melba Curls protested the ordinance's wording which they said implied that Manager Cauthen had not negotiated in good faith.

Councilman Terry Riley said it was the other way around that the council had not lived up to its commitment to negotiate promptly and efficiently. He also objected to the suggestion that Cauthen's contract be discussed in closed session, saying that would not be fair and transparent when the council has publicly admitted to discussing ending the city manager's contract.

Councilman Ed Ford tried to calm the discussion with the explanation that the move was a negotiation necessity with time running out before the contract automatically renews itself.

But the three African-American members continued to protest last-minute requests for their input, eleventh-hour proposals to Cauthen's lawyer, and as Sanders Brooks put it, a process that left them out of the loop. They also decried the last-minute appearance of the ordinance, which was introduced to late to make the council's formal docket.

Though a memo from the mayor seemed to imply that the proposal was for an immediate vote, it actually goes to committee next, so it can return to the floor before Cauthen's contract automatically renews in two weeks.

All was not conflict at the session. The council heard the first reading on a plan to submit a tougher no-smoking ordinance to the voters without negative comment, unanimously approved Juan Rangel Jr's appointment to the Area Transit Authority, and passed a resolution condemning subprime mortgages with ballooning interest rates without a dissenting vote.

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