June 8, 2021 Camden County Commission Meeting at 10:00 a.m.

All three commissioners were present.

There were at least a dozen people in the audience. Two of them were recording video of the meeting. It was nice to have a bit of a crowd there.

The phone rang several times up at the Commission desk while I was waiting for the meeting to begin. Commissioner Gohagan answered it and put it on speaker. Nathan Rinne was on the speaker and became possibly the first Camden County resident to attend a Commission meeting “virtually”.

Quick timeline recap. I know some folks don’t like me straying too far from the facts of these meetings, but this requires a bit of background:

The Camden County Commission banned Nathan from all county property. They have not publicly stated why they banned him or what authority or violation of criminal statute justified the ban. It is interesting to note that he wasn’t trespassed from the property. The ban only says that he will be escorted off Camden County property by deputies.

Nathan then voted at the Camden County courthouse some days later. He took a video of himself voting at the courthouse on his phone and posted it to Facebook.

The Camden County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office then wrote a search warrant for Nathan’s Facebook account. No judge in Camden County would sign the search warrant so they apparently had it signed by a Laclede County judge. The search warrant return for the warrant was filed in Camden County but as of this date, after numerous Sunshine requests, the Camden County Clerk has told Nathan the actual search warrant with the probable cause statement/affidavit has not been filed with them.

A search warrant return is basically an inventory of what was seized pursuant to the search warrant and is normally required to be filed within 10 days of a judge signing a search warrant. The 10 day filing requirement is intended to ensure that the affiant serves the search warrant in a timely manner and doesn’t just stick the search warrant in his or her back pocket to serve it at a later date when the evidence originally used to justify the search might be stale.

This search warrant would have remained secret except that Nathan then filed a federal lawsuit against the Commission and Camden County.

During the course of this federal lawsuit, it appears that the attorneys from both sides came to an agreement that Nathan is allowed to call in to the Commission meetings on a phone line that is in the meeting room. Charles McElyea, Legal Counsel to the Commission, initially asked why Nathan was allowed to call in, but Commissioner Hasty explained that Virtual Nathan was here to stay.

So now Nathan is on the speaker phone. Up on the Commission desk with the Commissioners. Somebody should get that phone a name plate. We live in interesting times.

The first agenda item was the Plaza Beach Drive rezoning request from R-1 to B-2. Readers will remember that this has been a rezoning issue that has stretched across several Commission meetings. Attorney Aaron Ellsworth was representing a developer that wants to build multi-family rental units on property they own. Attorney Zane Williams was representing the Miramar Condominium Association who opposed the rezoning request. Attorney Greg Williams was previously at these meetings and Zane Williams is his son.

Ellsworth stated that deed restrictions had been prepared by Greg Williams’ office. This would allow the property to be rezoned to B-2 but would restrict the property owner to only certain uses of the property. Attorney Zane Williams said that if the deed restriction was recorded, they would withdraw their opposition to the rezoning. Charles McElyea, legal counsel to the Commission, said he had reviewed the paperwork and it appeared that both parties were in agreement.

The motion to approve the rezoning passed unanimously. This was interesting because at the May 20 meeting, Presiding Commissioner Hasty had stated that he didn’t think the Commission could approve a change that would be contingent on another action (the filing of the deed restriction). Apparently, that didn’t matter anymore.

Attorney Ellsworth said he would go record the deed with the restrictions.

The next agenda item was a Planning and Zoning appointment. This was for the appointment of Jeff Poller (sp?). He would represent Jasper Township on the P&Z Board. Someone mentioned that he is already on the Board of Adjustment. Commissioner Williams made a motion to approve the appointment. He seemed to expect Commissioner Gohagan to second the motion, but when Gohagan didn’t second it, Presiding Commissioner Hasty seconded it. Commissioner Williams seemed exasperated at Commissioner Gohagan. The appointment was approved.

The third agenda item was a Tax Assessor Licensee agreement. This licensing agreement was for Trailhead GIS. These licensing agreements are for companies who will be using our GIS system. This agreement was approved unanimously.

The fourth agenda item was for signatures for a contract with AT&T for a business calling plan for the Sheriff and Health Departments. This contract would switch the Sheriff’s Office from Charter to AT&T and reduce the costs from $35 per line to $32 per line. The Sheriff’s Office was having trouble with their Charter service. The contract was signed by the Commissioners.

The fifth agenda item was for tax abatements. Tax abatements #1200-2435 for May 2021 needed to be ratified. They had been approved previously. This passed unanimously.

The sixth agenda item was for two Budget Amendments.

The Auditor stated that the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office was receiving a grant from the Missouri Bar for $13,453.99 to buy necessary items for meetings and presentations. Virtual Nathan spoke up and asked the Auditor to describe the items needed more loudly so he could hear. The Auditor obliged and explained what the grant money would be used to purchase. Virtual Nathan asked if this functionality wasn’t already provided by the PolyCom systems that were previously purchased. The Auditor explained that these new items were needed for purposes not provided by the PolyCom system. This Budget Amendment passed unanimously.

The second amendment was for $15,000 for the Senior Citizens Tax Board. This sounded like grant money from SB 40. It was approved unanimously.

Presiding Commissioner Hasty then moved to adjourn the meeting and it was adjourned. Virtual Nathan tried to ask if the issue of the asbestos discovered in the historical County Commission building could be placed on the next meeting’s agenda. Commissioners Hasty and Williams ignored him and left the room. Commissioner Gohagan then told Virtual Nathan that DNR is coming tomorrow (June 9) to investigate the building.

As everyone was leaving, I asked the Sheriff and the Camden County deputies if Virtual Nathan was disruptive in the meeting, would deputies escort the phone out of the building? Nobody laughed. My wife thought it was funny. Oh well, I guess I’ll just stick to writing.

And that was that.

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