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Court Dismisses Alderman's Lawsuit Against Board

A judge dismissed the lawsuit filed by Ward 1 Alderman Bob Tullock requesting a decision on how a board president is elected.

The lawsuit filed by Ward 1 Alderman Bob Tullock against the last year, specifically the board of aldermen, was dismissed.

The case, filed in St. Louis County Court, was dismissed by Judge Mark Seigel last week citing that he granted the defense's request to dismiss the case.

"The judge, in my opinion, dismissed this case because there was no presentable legal issue," said Manchester City Attorney Patrick Gunn.

Tullock has not commented to Patch on the dismissal, but previously said  he filed the lawsuit because he was elected board president and then unfairly stripped of the title. He said he filed the lawsuit in July 2010 because he wanted a judge to clarify the law and make a decision regarding how a board of aldermen president is elected.

Under Missouri statute, the majority vote of board members present is all that is needed to pass a motion, Tullock said. However, Gunn said that is not the case to elect a board president and that all board members were required for that vote.

The issue started back in May 2010 when Ward 2 Alderwoman Marilyn Ottenad was nominated as board president. Tullock abstained from that vote preventing the measure from going through. He said it was because he had a personal interested in the vote, and that is a designated reason to abstain from a vote. The abstention also prevents the mayor from voting to break a tie. 

The issue of board president came up again at the next meeting at which Ward 3 Alderman John Diehl was absent. Tullock was nominated as board president  and the motion was approved 3-2 in Tullock's favor. However, Gunn said that he thought the majority of the entire board was necessary to pass that motion. At that meeting, Gunn said he'd look further into that law and then at a later meeting determined that it took the majority of the board, four members, to elect a president. Tullock then filed the lawsuit citing the need for clarification of the law.

Since then, two more votes have been held on the board president position. One on Jan. 3 where Ottenad was once again nominated. Tullock abstained from that vote, which prevented the measure from going through. Another vote was taken Feb. 7. Tullock was nominated this time as board president and he also abstained from that vote.

Tullock never assumed the role of board president, and Ottenad remained board president by default. Ottenad still serves as  board president. 

Last Friday, the lawsuit was dismissed by the court.

Manchester residents had previously expressed their concern over their tax money being spent on this lawsuit since Tullock was suing the city. At Monday night's board of aldermen meeting, two residents addressed the board stating they wanted the money the city spent recouped from Tullock.

Gunn estimates the city spend about $2,200 in legal fees dealing with the lawsuit.

Just a few weeks ago, Ward 1 Alderman Hal Roth added a last minute resolution to the agenda to have the board vote on directing the city manager to contact the attorney general and request a formal opinion on what the requirement is to elect a board president. That motion never materialized.

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