The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

May 2, 2012

Turmoil continues in Baxter Springs city government

BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. — Mayor Jenifer Bingham and attorney Kevin Cure squared off during Tuesday night’s Baxter Springs City Council meeting as turmoil in the town continues.

Earlier Tuesday, Bingham again placed City Clerk Donna Wixon on paid suspension, though the council had voted the week before specifically to prohibit the mayor from doing that, unless she had good cause. At the previous meeting, the council also voted to return Wixon to her job, after Bingham suspended her the first time last month.

The controversy came to the forefront when at the April 10 meeting, Bingham appointed people to replace Wixon as city clerk and to replace David Edmondson as police chief. The council voted 6-2 against her appointments, with only newly elected council members Randy Trease and Gretta Day supporting the mayor.

Bingham has never offered an explanation for her suspension of Wixon and Edmondson. Wixon has said she does not know why she was suspended, adding that she has had good reviews for her work.

DUELING

The six members who voted to block Bingham’s move last week also voted to hire Cure to represent them. Cure’s fee is a minimum of $5,000 for up to 25 hours of work, and $175 per hour for each hour above 25 hours.

Bingham on Tuesday repeated her objection to spending taxpayer money on Cure.

Bingham refused to recognize Cure, at one point threatening to order police to have him removed. Cure responded that would result in a lawsuit against her.

“I ask you to take your place and know your place immediately,” Bingham said.

“I ask that you do the same, mayor,” Cure said.

“I am in my place,” Bingham said, drawing applause from her supporters.

The business of Tuesday’s meeting involved the makeup of city committees.

Bingham and Councilman Mike Kaufmann introduced competing lists of committee membership. The council ultimately didn’t vote on either. City Attorney Robert Myers also introduced a resolution, to be considered next week, regarding committee membership and duties. The resolution would allow council members to meet in a work session to determine committee membership, to be approved at the next regular meeting after the work session. It would remove the mayor from the procedure.

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