Recently, the Attorney General of Missouri dismissed two complaints that the City of Wildwood had violated the Sunshine Law. But not before Missouri and Wildwood taxpayers were tapped for additional funds. The cost of such complaints by now most likely far exceed the count of $30,000 dollars that was tabulated by the city as the cost of these quixotic claims. All these accusations have collapsed for a lack of evidence. A vast majority of these salacious allegations have been made by a small group of anti-mayor Bowlin activists; a group that includes the wife of former Mayor and current council member Tim Woerther. Mrs. Woerther has penned thousands of dollars worth of these missives herself.
RIGHT FACEBOOK IMAGE: Tim and Kelley Woerther
In the course of the last several weeks numerous complaints that have been filed with the Wildwood ethics committee and with the Attorney General's office have been withdrawn, closed without action or otherwise pronounced kaput. But not before the claimants publicly crowed about how complaints were filed or investigations were underway. Possibly that was the point of them in the first place. Regardless, it is clear that the repeated filing of unsuccessful ethics complaints were primarily political in motive.
And they have been at times bizarre. At one time, a vocal opponent of the mayor asserted that the mayor had stolen city property by taking a photo of city hall and using it in an email. The complaint was intended to embarrass and harass the mayor, but it only succeeded in insulting the intelligence of our residents and wasting city time and resources.
Last week the Attorney General's office closed the case on two complaints that the City of Wildwood was in violation of Missouri's Sunshine law. In both, the Attorney General took no action against the city. But again, this took effort by the City Attorney to address and of course the city was rightfully billed for the work. It should be noted that earlier this year another such complaint was dismissed by Schmitt.
Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and it is essential that our local, state and federal governments be accountable for their actions. But anything can be abused. Oxygen itself if taken in pure concentration will suffocate.
Of course there is nothing wrong with filing a complaint which is later not found to have merit, but as the old adage goes "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, is the definition of insanity." The serial filing of so many failed complaints seems insane but it probably is better understood as an attempt to weaponize the process, and to harass political enemies.
This weaponizing of Wildwood's ethics committee and state Attorney General's office is costing taxpayers in a real sense. It is a crusade that unnecessarily casts a pall over Wildwood's reputation. It is draining resources, staff time and morale. It has cost to date many tens of thousands of dollars.
It costs our city in reputation when anti-Mayor activists squawk that Missouri's Attorney general is investigating the City of Wildwood or that a "complaint has been filed," while knowing it took a cursory filling out of a form to initiate the mandatory review. These claims are insidious half-truths meant to degrade political foes. They have never succeeded. They sound bad. They tarnish the city. They steal from us all. And that is not ethical.