Concerned Citizen Says He’s Collected Over 200 Signatures for City Audit

September 13, 2018

Abbey Gerveler—September 13, 2018

September 6, 2018, concerned citizen, Jerry Potterfield, stated that he had collected over 200 signatures for a petition audit at Monroe City’s City Council meeting. These come after Potterfield and former Alderman Ralph Lemongelli alleged violations of Missouri’s Sunshine Law by the city’s board of Alderman. Both city residents filed formal complaints with Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley back in July.

Last Thursday, Mr. Potterfield did not hesitate to announce his news during the open forum. “We’ve got over 200 signatures so you all can plan for that,” he said addressing the council. “It’s been over twenty years since the city has had an audit by the state and due diligence will tell you that you should have a substantial audit every five years and I don’t believe we’ve been having none.”

The signatures will soon be sent to Jefferson City to the State Auditor. After receiving enough signatures, the State Auditor’s office will send a copy back to a local election authority to verify the signatures, then proceed to determine the Audit “active” given enough signatures are valid and by registered, resident voters. Often, once this process is complete, scheduling the audit could take several months.

The state auditor’s office estimates the audit could cost the city between $35,000 and 50,000 dollars, this being based on historical experience auditing entities of a similar size and type with similar concerns. “That’s taxpayer money right there,” remarked Alderman Jeremy Moss.

Mr. Potterfield then explained several reasons for his recent action: “When I started getting into these council meetings a few months back I identified some things I didn’t feel comfortable with that were happening just like the lack of a policy on selling city real estate.” Commenting on the board’s executive session discussions of outsourcing the city’s water department operations in a five-year, $3.2 million no-bid contract to PeopleServices, Potterfield stated that he didn’t agree with “the way the contract and the council meeting were handled. I don’t appreciate things being done under the table and I believe in openness.” Mr. Potterfield said he was also concerned with Mr. Long’s actions in appointing the city attorney, specifically claiming Long’s purported consideration regarding Monroe City lawyer, John Russell. “I thought that was really underhanded,” said Potterfield. “That follows up with the letter to the attorney general that Mr. Long had to write and we’re waiting back on their response.”

The extent of the proposed audit will cover concerns by Mr. Potterfield and Monroe City citizens, with any revision in scope to be determined by the State Auditor’s Office.

As for Alderman Connie Painter, she welcomes the audit. Painter: “I’m fine with the audit because if there is anything that’s not right I want to know sitting up here in this position because I was voted in not only as alderman of ward III but for the entire community. I want to know if something’s wrong so I can do what I can to change if I run again. If I don’t run again, I want whoever will follow in my footsteps to know more about what is going on and to take care of priorities of the city instead of dealing with this every other week.”