The Reporter covers Miller, Morgan and Camden County in Central Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks and is published once per week on Wednesdays.
Published June 25, 2014
County hires sunshine attorney
By Jeff Thompson
CAMDEN COUNTY - A law firm specializing in Sunshine Law claims has been hired by the County Commission in the wake of a flood of complaints from a local businessman.
Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken said the commission voted 2-1 during a closed session this month to hire Lowther-Johnson Attorneys at Law, LLC to advise the county on Sunshine Law complaints.
Franken and First District Commissioner Beverly Thomas voted in favor of the measure while Second District Commissioner Cliff Luber voted against hiring the law firm.
Franken said the State Attorney General’s office had advised the county to hire legal counsel based on the sheer volume of complaints filed by Teresa Townsend.
Townsend has recently wrestled with county officials as well as the county Planning & Zoning (P&Z) Committee on a number of topics including rezoning fees and Sunshine Law requests for county documents.
The law firm will not be paid a regular retainer fee and the county will only be charged by the hour when their services are engaged, Franken added.
County Clerk Rowland Todd agreed.
“The commission voted to retain (the law firm) only for Sunshine Law interpretations,” Todd said, “and will be paid on a per-case basis; they’ll get paid as they are used.”
The county taxpayers will bear any legal costs, even if the complaints are set aside.
Franken noted that out of 12 Sunshine Law complaints, five had already been dismissed with seven more pending before the hiring of Lowther-Johnson.
“There may be some bookkeeping errors but we’re doing right here,” Franken said. “She (Townsend) can allege anything she wants to and will not be held financially or morally responsible.”
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