The Franklin County Commission is facing a lawsuit, filed pro se by a group of county citizens for the second time this year.
Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer spoke about the lawsuit Tuesday at the county commission’s regular weekly meeting, lashing out at several of the plaintiffs.
“We have had a second lawsuit filed against us by Mr. (Art) LeBeau... and Mr. (Eric) Reichert,” Griesheimer said. “We don’t have the particulars at this time.”
The lawsuit, filed in circuit court, challenges the constitutionality of Missouri House Bill 1171, which, through an amendment sponsored by Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, allowed Franklin County to establish a municipal court.
A lack of particulars didn’t prevent Griesheimer from airing his feelings on the matter.
“It is disheartening to me that we continue down the road of harassment,” he said. “We’re all sick and tired of the vindictiveness of certain individuals.”
Citing “vindictiveness” from LeBeau and Reichert, Griesheimer said he would not allow any public comments during commission meetings from the men “for as long as I’m presiding commissioner.”
Commissioner Ann Schroeder interjected that the decision was Griesheimer’s alone.
Commissioner Terry Wilson was not at Tuesday’s meeting.
“If there’s anyone in the general public that feels I am wrong, they have these (men) to blame,” Griesheimer said.
“I’d do anything to prove to anyone we’re not doing any sort of sinister stuff,” he said.
Tuesday afternoon Mark Vincent, Franklin County counselor, said the lawsuit is without merit.
“We have questions with regard to where it was filed and how it was filed,” Vincent told The Missourian.
He said the legislation which allowed the county to form the court was simply an amendment to existing state statues.
Those same statutes were used to establish a municipal county court in neighboring Jefferson County, prior to its transition to a charter or “home rule” form of government.
“The legislation is still on the books,” Vincent said. “It was never appealed.”
During the meeting, Griesheimer incorrectly identified Ron Keeven, a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed pro se against the commission earlier this year, as a plaintiff in the new suit.
The first lawsuit sought clarification as to whether or not commissioners could designate a single signatory to sign legal documents.
The commission order which the plaintiffs — LeBeau, Keeven and Reichert — filed the suit over had to do with the refinancing of the county’s outstanding certificate of participation bonds.
The new lawsuit, according to a copy LeBeau provided to The Missourian, does not include Keeven as a plaintiff.
Following Tuesday’s meeting, Griesheimer spoke with Keeven and said he would issue a public apology during next week’s commission meeting.
Keeven said Griesheimer’s comments linking him to the suit hurt and upset him.
“I’ve stepped back, I’m no longer involved,” he said.
Reichert attempted to correct Griesheimer during Tuesday’s meeting, but Griesheimer slammed his gavel, claiming Reichert was out of order.
“It seems to me you’re out of order,” Reichert said.
“See you next week, bud,” Reichert said as he was escorted out of the meeting. “This is a star chamber.”
The new county municipal court is scheduled to hold its first session Thursday night.