City of Prairie Village, city councilman square off in state court today

Most city council meetings, Prairie Village City Attorney Catherine Logan and City Councilman David Morrison sit on the same dais at city hall. At 2:30 this afternoon, they’ll be sitting on opposite sides of a state courtroom in Kansas City, Kan.

David Morrison
Both parties will be giving oral arguments in Morrison’s appeal of a district court’s ruling two years ago. The original case stemmed from Morrison’s attempt to compel the city to put a change to the city’s governing document up for public vote.

In 2008, the city passed a charter ordinance that allowed the city to fund parks projects by issuing bonds. State law prevents the use of bonds to fund parks projects without such an ordinance.

The measure passed the city council with the necessary support from two-thirds of the council, but Morrison started a campaign to delay its enactment by collecting signatures on a petition.

Though a group of petitioners was able to collect the required number of signatures — 10 percent of the people who had voted in the last city election — the city took legal action against Morrison, claiming that the petition-gatherers hadn’t following state-mandated procedure.

The district court judge ruled in the city’s favor, saying that the petitioners had failed to attach the exact copy from the ordinance to the petition when they were seeking signatures, rendering the process defective.

Logan, an attorney with Lathrop and Gage, said the legal fees from the original trial and the appeal getting under way today would ultimately cost the city “well over $10,000.”

Morrison said he felt it was important to appeal the original decision because he “wants the citizens of Prairie Village to have the right to decide how their tax dollars are spent.”