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Crocker names Wayne Gifford as co-counsel in city administrator lawsuit
CROCKER, Mo. (Feb. 26, 2009) — Meeting in special session Wednesday night, Crocker aldermen voted to designate local attorney Wayne Gifford as co-counsel for their primary attorney, Ronda Cortesini, in an ongoing legal dispute with former city administrator Joyce Peterson.

Peterson retained Tyce Smith and sued the city of Crocker after being fired in a closed session meeting which Smith said violated the Missouri Sunshine Law requiring prior public notice of any votes in closed session. Smith also said the city council members violated their ordinance on termination of the city administrator, which is copied from an ordinance Smith wrote for the city of St. Robert nearly a decade ago when Norman Herren insisted on additional protections as a condition of accepting the St. Robert city administrator post. The Crocker aldermen held a subsequent public hearing and voted unanimously a second time to terminate Peterson.

Cortesini, who has been designated by the city council as its spokesman for legal matters, said Gifford’s selection and other legal matters were discussed in closed session and then Gifford was designated as co-counsel in open session. Gifford already serves as the city’s prosecutor for cases in municipal court.

“I’ve got a busy schedule, (Gifford) already does some things for this community and I thought this would be a logical extension of those duties,” Cortesini said.

In a brief open session following the closed meeting, Crocker aldermen also discussed complications with a land transfer of athletic facilities from the Crocker R-II School District to the city for park purposes.

“Apparently a number of years ago an agreement was made and some consideration was paid by the city to the school district, but procedurally, the process was not correct,” Cortesini said. “Apparently nobody ever took final action to complete the process.”

Cortesini said she and the school district’s attorney, who is Tyce Smith, plan to draw up the necessary documents to finalize the transaction that should have been finished years earlier and will present the relevant documents to the two boards.

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