One Pacific alderman, who also is an attorney, says former city sexton Alan Bruns is still the sexton, three years after a new mayor failed to reappoint him.
Bruns, who owns and operates Bruns Monument Company, served as Pacific sexton from 1988 until April 2014 when the term of the mayor who appointed him ended, and new Mayor Jeff Palmore refused to reappoint him to the office.
Palmore did not appoint anyone to the office of sexton, an act that required approval of the board of aldermen. Instead, as mayor, he said he would assume the role of acting sexton.
Now Ward 1 Alderman Nick Chlebowski said it appears that the failure to appoint a replacement leaves Bruns as the sexton.
Chlebowski offered the opinion after The Missourian asked him if he wished to comment on the dispute between Bruns and Mayor Jeff Palmore over Bruns’ right to set a monument in the city cemetery as other aldermen had.
Bruns Monument had an order to place a monument on a grave in the city cemetery, but Palmore prevented the act by placing a city tractor over the headstone, preventing access to the grave. Palmore ordered the city attorney to notify Bruns to cease doing any work in the city’s cemeteries without a work order, citing an ordinance never before implemented. (See a related story in this issue.)
Chlebowski made his comments late Friday, April 14, stating he had wanted to do some additional homework before he commented on the disagreement. Chlebowski said his research showed the following:
• Bruns was duly appointed and approved as sexton prior to Jeff Palmore’s tenure as mayor;
• Per the terms of Bruns’ contract as sexton his term coincided with the mayor’s term;
• Upon Palmore’s election as mayor, Bruns’ contractual term as sexton concluded;
• However, as an officer of the city — and sexton is an officer created by ordinance — Bruns’ tenure does not conclude until his successor is appointed and qualified (Missouri Constitution Article 7, Section 12);
• Furthermore, State Statute 105.010 also says, “All officers…appointed…shall hold their offices until their successors are…appointed…and qualified”;
• This is backed up in (case law) Moynihan v. Gunn (2006);
• Bruns was never removed as city sexton; and
• No replacement sexton has ever been appointed by the mayor and approved by the board of aldermen.
Chlebowski concludes that Bruns still is the city sexton.
“Thus, it is my opinion that Jeff (Palmore) is acting outside of his authority and that Alan Bruns is still the acting sexton for the city of Pacific,” Chlebowski said. “The only legal basis upon which it can be argued that Alan is not still the sexton is the argument that the sexton is not an officer.”