Kansas City Museum Advisory Board violates Missouri Sunshine Law

Northeast News
August 14, 2013

A month after the Kansas City Museum Advisory Board (KCMAB) voted 10-2 to approve the museum’s business plan, the board learned that vote violated the Missouri Sunshine Law, which governs the actions of public governmental bodies.

Board members voted on the business plan July 15 via SurveyMonkey, an online survey service, and failed to provide public notice.

Assistant City Attorney Joseph Guarino informed the board that due to the Sunshine Law violation, the vote was invalid. Guarino also told the board that the vote should have been taken in person.

Now in its fourth draft, the business plan outlines the process for severing ties with Union Station and also outlines how the museum would move forward with its governing structure. According to the business plan, the newly formed 501(c)3 non-profit Kansas City Museum Foundation would oversee the operations of the Kansas City Museum if a split from Union Station was successful.

During the Aug. 13 KCMAB meeting, board member Ramona Davis read aloud a letter from the city attorney’s office addressed to KCMAB Chair Martha Lally. According to the letter, Lally had expressed concerns that the board could be sued by City Council member Glover, Union Station or others, and requested an explanation of the board’s legal coverage.

In his letter to the board, City Attorney William Geary said, “Members of the Kansas City Museum Advisory Board are City officials. Consequently the City Attorney’s Office will represent any Kansas City Museum Advisory Board member sued when acting in their official capacity… A mistake does not remove an official from coverage by the legal defense fund. The City recognizes that it asks its citizen volunteers to devote their time and skills to serve the City, and that mistakes happen.”

KCMAB will vote again on the business plan during an upcoming meeting.

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