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Patriots group urged to defend right to vote

Staff writer

At their monthly meeting Sunday, Marion city council member Ruth Herbel implored members of Patriots for Liberty of Marion County to vote Dec. 20 against a charter ordinance that would allow sale of general bonds without citizens’ approval.

A charter ordinance the council passed in July would allow the city to issue general obligation bonds without a sign-off from residents or a financial limit. A petition circulated in Marion has forced a vote about the ordinance.

“I told the council I was going to oppose Ordinance 22,” Herbel said. “I think this is a travesty. We’d be giving them a blank check and losing control of the bank account.”

Marion is a home-rule city, so it can opt out of state statutes. Gilmore Bell, the firm Marion uses to sell its bonds, wrote the charter ordinance.

Rather than do as petitioners suggested and simply shelve the ordinance, the city council voted 3-2 earlier this month to spend an estimated $4,000 for a referendum. Herbel and councilman Jerry Kline voted against scheduling a special election.

“This ordinance also removes the debt limit,” Herbel said. “If we don’t vote no, they’re going to be able to do whatever they want to with the money.”

Peggy Blackman, who was mayor from 1977 to 1986, also spoke out Sunday against the ordinance.

As she has for weeks, Blackman stressed that residents have approved bond issues in the past. Instead of making carte blanche decisions, council members should trust the community they serve, Blackman said.

The group also heard from State Rep. Peggy Mast of Emporia who is speaker pro tem of the Kansas House.

She presented a slide show titled “American Exceptionalism: What It Is and Why We Should Work Hard to Keep It.” The slide show consisted of quotes that represent the group’s viewpoints. Mast read them out loud.

From being “forced” to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to schools teaching material that “makes everyone racist,” Mast said, “we’re not treated equally anymore. We are in a battle for freedom in America.”

Scott Hill, who will take office in the Kansas House in January, noted he had just returned to Kansas after attending a WallBuilders meeting.

WallBuilders identifies itself as a group “dedicated to presenting America’s forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on the moral, religious, and constitutional foundation on which America was built – a foundation which, in recent years, has been seriously attacked and undermined.”

“I’m wound up about some of the things we need to do about education,” Hill said. “We need to eliminate pornography and pornographic materials in our schools.”

Asked whether he had an example of pornographic materials being taught in Marion County specifically, Hill said he couldn’t provide one.

Last modified Nov. 24, 2022

 

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