By ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times
On March 5, the city commission voted 4-0 to explore expulsion procedures of commissioner Ron Warren from the board. No official reasons have been released by the commission, but the timing coincides with mechanics liens that have been filed against Warren and his construction company for alleged non-payment of materials and services.
During commissioners comments at Tuesday evening’s city commission meeting, Warren used his time to make the following statement:
“I guess since I’ve been making the newspaper here regularly lately, I’d like to address some issues that showed up in the paper just so I’ve said something in response.
“I’ve had some financial difficulties now for about three years. I tried to create housing in a non-favorable economy, and it didn’t work. Construction has been a hard thing to do in the last several years and I’ve been....some of you that haven’t read – and most of it’s been in the paper – I’ve been behind to J-A-G Construction for about three years now and because of this I’ve been dragging some debt forward until this year.
“I did pay J-A-G for money that I used for the Self-Help houses that are involved. That money did get applied to some of my older debts, which left the houses that were involved at risk. I had contact with J-A-G several times, and my intent is to pay my debt and they also are working with me to take care of this, and I believe their intent, from talking to them and from letters I’ve seen that they wrote, their intent is to allow me to pay my debt and not cause any harm to these families.
“I believe the liens remain to motivate me to work a little harder in paying them back. There has been no loss by the homeowners at this time, and it is my job, personally, to make sure that there never is.
“I have made payment to them as early as yesterday (Monday) to take care of almost 25 pecent of the lien. I realize that this is no one’s fault but my own.
“Through this, I do need to thank my family and my friends for their support. I need to thank the material suppliers and subcontractors who are still continuing to work with me to get through this.
“I have not personally contacted all five of the homeowners affected but they have been aware, been made aware of my intentions. I do believe this is not a city matter and this has been a personal business matter, and I hope it will be treated that way from here on.
“Also to address another issue that was brought up in the newspaper that there was talk of an illegal executive session. I would like to address my opinion, it’s only my opinion.
“I have talked with the Kansas League of Municipalities’ legal counsel this morning, and I believe last week’s executive session....when we started to get off task, I believe the city attorney got us back on task and it is not my opinion that, even though at some points it seemed pointed, that we violated any attorney-client privilege and again, that is only my opinion, but I felt like I needed to say something about that since it was addressed in the paper.
“As far as other issues, I know that everyone up here, my fellow commissioners, have the right to their own opinions. I believe also I have the right to my opinion. I was elected by the citizens of this community. I represent the citizens of this community, not the staff. I do appreciate what staff does, but I don’t feel like, I guess when I make decisions, I base most of my decisions off of common sense, and I can be wrong sometimes. I don’t know, but I believe if I feel like the city is moving in a direction or if the city is not doing something that I believe in – that it is OK for me to say something to my fellow commissioners and to city management about that.
“I know for a fact I have never approached a city staff member with criticism and have always treated them with respect, and I just thought it was important to know where I stand on this since I’m getting a little media attention, and that’s all I have to say. “