NEOSHO, MO.--- The Neosho Ethics Board meets to discuss unethical conduct by two Neosho City Council members. Former Neosho Resident Derek Snyder filed a grievance complaint against Councilman Steve Hart and Councilman David Ruth. The formal complaint centers around three things: Improper use of public property, divulging confidential information and coercion of council members.
Tonight, the board decided to address all of the allegations within the complaint. Before they can move forward in making a recommendation to the Neosho City Council, they must first find new legal counsel. At the beginning of tonight's Ethics Board meeting, Neosho City Attorney Steven Hays made a statement saying he would not advise the Ethics Board in handling the recently filed complaint.
Attorney Hays says he feels it would be inappropriate and a conflict of interest because he has personal relationships with the involved parties. "After speaking with the mayor and the city manager, we all concluded that it probably would be best for me to recommend that I do step down as counsel to the board," said Steven Hays, Neosho City Attorney.
Attorney Hays will still continue to serve as city attorney and counsel to other boards within the city. Early next week, the Neosho City Council will have a meeting in which they can choose to appoint new legal counsel to advise the Ethics Board, or they can choose to do nothing. If that happens, the Ethics Board will be forced to address the complaint without receiving legal counsel.
"They had two choices to make tonight. 15 on each complaint, they could have found that it was substantiated and that they go forward to a hearing, or that it is unsubstantiated, which effectively, it would dismiss the complaint and it would be over," said Steven Hays, Neosho City Attorney.
The date and time for next week's meeting has not yet been set. The Ethics Board meeting will not be scheduled until the Neosho City Council decides whether or not to seek additional legal aid.