The City of Wildwood had seen its fair share of novel legal theories as an anti-mayor group has filed nearly $30,000 in failed ethics complaints.
Now comes one of the most novel theories seen to date. It is being presented to the council for consideration by Bill Kennedy, who is known as a political operative and so-called "city founder". I have known Bill for awhile; he gave me an endorsement during my campaign. I am starting to suspect that might have been a one-off.
Mr. Kennedy is not a fan of the Mayor and has sent an official complaint to the Wildwood City Council alleging that he has done wrong. The alleged wrongdoing centers around an email sent by the Mayor to residents in ward six inviting them to an official city sponsored meeting. There are various components to the allegation, all of which I disagree. I think he employs tortured rationales in trying to prevent the Mayor, a duly elected official, from using city resources to meet with constituents. Council members often use such resources to facilitate ward meetings of their own.
The part of the complaint which typifies the overreach common to these misguided efforts is a suggestion that a photo of city hall used by the Mayor may constitute misappropriation or theft because the building has the Wildwood City logo on it.
Photo: Image taken from official complaint
sent to City Council
In his complaint Mr. Kennedy states, "It is asserted Mr. Bowlin misappropriated the property of the City of Wildwood for what, to a large extent, was his personal use." He also states the Mr. Bowlin had to find, the image, copy it, crop it, and then insert it in the best position in the message to provide the impression of officiality."
In an interview with Wildwood Matters, Mayor Bowlin stated that he took the picture of the city administration building himself and did not copy the image.
Mr. Kennedy then goes a step further and insinuates that actual theft may have occurred as a result of the picture of the public building. Kennedy concludes, "Although not being formally initiated by this complaint at the present time, it seems a discussion should be held on whether a criminal complaint for theft of public property should be considered and further discussed with the St. Louis County police. For reference, the Municipal Code of the City of Wildwood conveys the provision: Section 210.400 Stealing."
I am not an attorney, but the suggestion that the photographing of city hall can constitute theft seems untenable. (In all fairness, some cultures have believed that cameras can steal souls, so the idea is not completely without precedent.)
Not only is the idea fatally flawed, its application would cut against so many innocent photographers that even one of Mr. Kennedy's favorite council members could face jeopardy.
Council Woman Tammy Shea, who is favored by Mr. Kennedy, has proven herself a fan of the Wildwood City logo. She has used it most redundantly in an image on her own website. I believe she has a right to do it without threat of criminal prosecution, which is contrary to the crux of Mr. Kennedy's claim.
PHOTO: An image from Councilwoman Tammy Shea's
campaign website with various presentations of the
City of Wildwood logo. (Logo, much?)
Mr. Kennedy sent his complaint in an email to the entire council requesting that we take official action. I responded to him in an email that included the entire council. It included this image and a suggestion that if his theory of theft from using photographs of the city logo was correct, Councilwoman Shea may be facing a life sentence for her use of it.
Mr. Kennedy responded back in an email to the entire council. He included in his reply a strangely personal rant.
He stated he had, "received a call from a knowledgeable resident who described watching Livestream recently as like watching 'municipal porn' and wondered when 'Mr. Taylor and Mr. Bowlin were going to get a room to consummate the courtship.'"
Thanks for sharing, Bill. Although I might ask, what has happened to your soul?
A story on a homophobic fake Jim Bowlin twitter account can be found with this link.
"Conduct Unbecoming" A story on a controversial site that disparages the Mayor with unfounded allegations and rumor can be found here.
Another example of Councilwoman Shea using logo.