January Newsletter (Issue 01-2017)

Exhaustion Of Administrative Remedies In MHRA Claim

101192074Facts: Gordon Jeffery (Appellant) worked for the St. Louis Fire, Department (Department) for over 25 over years with 16 years as a Captain.  There were a number of vacancies for Battalion Chief and Appellant applied for one of the vacancies.  Appellant was not selected; thereafter, he filed a request for an administrative hearing to determine if the Department discriminated against him by not selecting him to one of the vacancies.

After an administrative hearing, Appellants’ request for relief was denied and he pursued his remedies before the Missouri Human Rights Commission (Commission), which issued him a right to sue letter.  Appellant then filed a complaint in circuit court claiming discrimination based upon disparate treatment and disparate impact on African American’s based on the test used to rank applicants.  The Department filed a motion to dismiss the complaint claiming that the Appellant did not exhaust his administrative remedies, because Appellant did not assert at the administrative hearing a claim for disparate impact.  The trial court granted the motion by the Department and Appellant appealed to the Eastern District, which reversed.

Opinion: The Commission Rules require that a complainant must exhaust his or her administrative remedies prior to petitioning the courts for relief.  The Department claimed that the pleadings in the circuit court were broader than the complaint in the administrative hearing because the Appellant alleged in circuit court that the discrimination was based not only on disparate treatment but also on disparate impact.  Relying on a hostile work environment case the Eastern District concluded that even though the administrative complaint did not allege a disparate impact claim it was likely that the scope of the administrative investigation could reasonably be expected to include whether the Appellant was discriminated based upon disparate impact.

In order to exhaust your administrative remedies, sufficient notice must be given in the administrative complaint that the complainant is pursuing “all incidents that are like or reasonably related to the allegations” in the administrative charge.  The courts have given a broad interpretation as to whether or not the claims in the subsequent civil suit are reasonably related to the allegations in the administrative complaint.  The scope of the subsequent civil suit may be as broad as the scope of the administrative investigation that could reasonably be expected to grow out of the discrimination claim.  Jeffrey vs. St. Louis Fire Department, (ED 104290, 12/27/16)

 Comment Howard: I disagree with the reasoning by the Eastern District in this case.  A claim of disparate treatment is fundamentally different than a claim involving disparate impact.  A disparate treatment claim requires proof of intentional discrimination.  The proof for a disparate impact claim requires no proof of intentional discrimination; rather it involves examination of testing procedures and statistical information with respect to the applicant pool and its impact on the applicant.  These are two totally different types of claims.  In this case, the Eastern District relied upon a hostile work environment case, which is a disparate treatment claim that by its nature is intentional and covers the entire work environment.  Exhaustion of administrative remedies should require that the administrative agency be presented with an opportunity to resolve the matter at the earliest possible stage.

Church Entitled To A Variance For A Digital Sign

unknownFacts: Antioch Church (Church) is located in Kansas City, on Antioch Road, a four-lane roadway, between I-35 and Vivion Road.  The Church property sits within a sizable single-family residential zone that is bookended by commercial areas zoned B4 (the most intense business district), UR (urban residential), D (downtown), and M (industrial), where digital signs are allowed.  Nearly 14,000 vehicles travel this section of Antioch Road every day.

The Church has long had a monument sign (consisting of a glass display cases surrounded by a brick framework) perpendicular to the road to post messages and information about it’s activities by means of letters hung from cup hooks.  After receiving a legacy gift, Church members decided to swap the cup hooks for a digital system that would allow more frequent informational updates in a larger font with significantly less effort.  Unaware that the Kansas City sign ordinance prohibited digital signs on church property in residential zones, they installed the sign in 2010, without seeking a permit or variance, at a cost in excess of $11,000.  The digital component of the sign replaced the display cases that contained the cup hooks and letters; no changes were made to the brick framework surrounding the sign.

After a complaint, Kansas City issued a notice of violation to the Church that the sign violated the sign ordinance, which states that a church in a residential zone may have a monument sign, but that sign “may not include any form of digital or electronic display.” The Church then filed an application for a variance with the Board of Adjustment (Board).  The City staff filed a report with the Board contending that the Board lacked the authority to grant the variance because churches were not allowed to have digital signs.  The Board thereafter conducted a hearing denying the request for a variance without making a written decision.

The Church then filed a petition for writ of certiorari in circuit court challenging the Board’s ruling and the Board thereafter filed its response.  While these proceedings were underway, the City amended its sign ordinance to allow churches on lots of 15 acres or more to use digital signs and churches on 10 acres or more, if located on a major arterial road to use digital signs.  The Church then filed a motion to supplement its petition to show that the City had amended its ordinance along with a motion to dismiss the proceedings.  The circuit court then sustained the Church’s motion to dismiss because the matter was moot and the Board appealed to the Western District.

Opinion: The Western District initially addressed the question of whether or not the monument sign of the Church could be changed to a digital sign.  The Board contended that because a component of a sign that is digital is a “digital sign” and a “digital sign” is specifically listed as a “sign type,” it lacked the authority to grant the Church a variance to add a digital component to its sign.  The Western District reasoned otherwise: “After the Church altered the sign, it remained a monument sign by definition, albeit with a digital display.” It concluded that the Board may grant variances as to sign “requirements,” and the digital-display prohibition applying to churches in residential zones is simply a sign “requirement;” therefore, the Board had the authority to grant the Church a variance from the prohibition on “any form of digital or electronic display.”

The Church argued that it’s request for a variance should have been granted because of practical difficulty, which under the facts necessitated a deviation from the permitted uses.  The courts have identified the factors considered to show there is a practical difficulty:

“(1) how substantial the variance is; (2) whether the variance will result in a substantial change to the character of the neighborhood or create a substantial detriment to adjoining properties; (3) whether the difficulty can be obviated by some method, feasible for the applicant to pursue, other than a variance; and (4) whether, in light of the manner in which the difficulty arose and considering all relevant factors, the interests of justice will be served by granting the variance.”

Based upon the facts of this case, the Church proved that it met the above standards; therefore the Board abused its discretion in not granting the variance.  Antioch Community Church v. The Board of Zoning Adjustment Of The City Of Kansas City, (WD 79676, 12/13/16)

Suspicionless Drug Testing For All Students Found To Violate Constitution

Urine sample in covered cup, close-up

Urine sample in covered cup, close-up

It now seems that the efforts of Linn State, to establish a mandatory, suspicionless drug-testing program for all students has come to an end (assuming that the United States Supreme Court will not take this case).  A recent en banc decision by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, set aside an earlier decision by a panel for the Eighth Circuit.  The en banc decision by the Eighth Circuit upheld the federal district court’s decision, which struck part of the  drug testing program because it did not meet the “special needs” test established by the United States Supreme Court while upholding other parts where Linn State showed there was a special need.

Background: Before discussing the recent en banc decision by the Eighth Circuit some background concerning the extensive litigation involving  the Linn State drug testing program is useful.  Around 2011 the Board of the Regents of Linn State Technical Community College, a state agency adopted a drug-testing policy for the fall of 2011 that required all students enrolled at the Linn State campus or any related campus to submit to periodic drug testing. (Even though the institution’s name has changed I will continue to refer to the institution as “Linn State”).  This policy required as a condition of admission to Linn State, students were required to acknowledge the drug policy and that refusing to be screened for drugs would result in administrative or student-initiated withdrawal.  This policy was a mandatory, suspicionless drug-testing program constituting a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, requiring Linn State to demonstrate a legitimate “special need for drug testing that was sufficient to outweigh the students’ individual privacy expectations against the state.

This program was immediately challenged in federal district court as a violation of the fourth amendment, which protects the right to be free from “unreasonable searches and seizures.”  The federal district court enjoined the drug testing policy, which was immediately appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Eighth Circuit reversed directing the district court to review each Linn State program based upon the specifics of the program and the application of the drug policy to determine if any of the programs met the “special need” exception as defined by the United States Supreme Court.  The district court was directed to review each program to determine if Linn State could show that there was:  “(1) a safety risk where the activities performed posed a threat that “even a monetary   lapse of attention could have disastrous consequences”; (2) the risk at issue were already unique or unusual degree; and (3) a safety risk to others as distinguished from those performing the task.”

Applying the above standards, the District Court concluded that programs, which involved hands-on training in close proximity to active propeller blades; programs where students are required to taxi airplanes; students seeking accreditation in heavy equipment operations, which involved hands-on training with bulldozers and heavy equipment weighing up to 25 tons; power sports; and hands-on training with electricity and live electrical services qualified as a “special need.” The rest of the programs, which did not involve dangerous equipment or activities, like sitting at a computer or a drafting table with a sharpened pencil did not qualify as a “special need.”  See my 2014 Post discussing in more detail the district court’s opinion.


About a year ago, a panel for the Eighth Circuit unexpectedly reversed the district court’s decision holding that due to the uniqueness of the Linn State’s programs, (where hands-on training for all programs was emphasized based upon the expectation that the students would immediately enter the workforce) a suspicionless a drug testing program could be applied to all students enrolled at Linn State.  This opinion was unprecedented, because no other court had ever approved a government authorized drug-testing program for all students based upon general statements by recognized health authorities and agencies that drugs are a serious threat to the health and safety of the population.  (Everyone recognized that drug abuse was a serious problem although it was not sufficient to overcome the  burden placed on individuals to be free from unreasonable searches when a special need had not been demonstrated.) See 2016 Post describing in more detail this decision and my Post in 2016 discussing the opinion issued by the panel.


En Banc Opinion – Special-Needs: The United States Constitution prohibits searches without individualized suspicion except in well-defined circumstances where there has been a demonstration of a “special need” beyond the normal needs of law enforcement.  In those cases where special needs have been shown, “it is necessary to balance the individual’s privacy expectations against the Government’s interests to determine whether it is impractical to require a warrant or some level of individualized suspicion in the particular context.”

Balancing Test: Linn State argued that the need to enhance safety and the need to foster a drug-free environment constituted the “special need” that justified a drug testing all students without any individualized suspicion of drug use.  In determining whether or not the special–needs requirement has been satisfied, the courts must engage in “a context–specific inquiry” by examining competing private and public interests.  The special need for drug testing must be substantial and important “enough to override the individual’s privacy interest” to be free from unreasonable searches under the Fourth Amendment.

Interest in safety can support a special need based upon a factual showing that the activity is unsafe as to others.  Persons who work for the government, particularly in areas where there is a recognized potential for alcohol or drug abuse on the job and that such use can result in accidents or danger to others.  In the Linn State case there was no showing that there was a drug or alcohol abuse problem by the students.  In addition, many of the programs presented no safety risk.

Based upon the examination of the programs offered by Linn State by the District Court, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s decision based upon individualized examination of each program.  This examination showed that the reasons offered for the drug testing demonstrated that only a few programs met the special needs test, others did not.  Kittle-Aikeley v. Strong, (8th Cir,. 13–3264 and 14–1145, 12/22/16)

Comment Howard: If you are working on a case involving drug testing of employees you do not have to travel much farther then this case.  The strength of this case is the well reasoned district court’s 62 page opinion, which provides an analysis of many different programs where special needs are considered.

Selective Enforcement Claim Fails 

police-cars-2Proving that the police engaged in selective enforcement of a traffic law based on ethnicity is no easy task as illustrated by this case.

Facts: Kansas City Police dispatch received a suspicious person report in the area of East 70th Street and Cherry Street in Kansas City.  Dispatchers relayed the report to Officers Matthews and Collins, who were patrolling the area covering East 70th Street.  The report stated that a white male, wearing all white clothing, had been walking between Oak and Holmes on 70th Street and was possibly “casing” the neighborhood.  As the officers drove down 70th Street, they saw an individual (Shahryar Gilani) walking on the south side of the street dressed in all white clothing while talking on his cell phone.  Gilani’s appearance is consistent with what would be considered stereotypical of a Middle Eastern adult male, he has a dark complexion, black hair, brown eyes, and a dark beard.

 Gilani had been walking on the sidewalk but there was a section of yard where the sidewalk ends and does not begin again until the next house.  When he reached this break in the sidewalk, Gilani began walking in the street.  At that moment, Officers Matthews and Collins came upon the scene.  The officers drove their car toward Gilani and shined a spotlight on him.  Gilani, not realizing it was a police car coming at him, continued walking and talking on his cellphone.  The officers exited the vehicle and one of them called out to Gilani.  Gilani did not appear to acknowledge the officers and kept walking. Officer Matthews then moved toward Gilani and shepherded him to the front of the police vehicle.

Officer Collins explained to Gilani that they stopped him because of a suspicious person report that matched Gilani’s description.  Officer Collins also stated that Gilani had violated a city ordinance by walking in the street rather than on an available sidewalk, which prohibited walking in the street when a sidewalk is “provided and its use is practicable.

Officer Matthews handcuffed Gilani as Gilani expressed disbelief that he had done anything wrong.  Gilani protested that no sidewalk existed where he was walking, but Officer Collins insisted there was one.  From where they each stood, a parked truck partially blocked the view of the stretch of yard without a sidewalk. Throughout the encounter with Gilani, neither of the officers walked to the south side of 70th Street to confirm whether a sidewalk actually existed where Gilani had been walking. Shortly after handcuffing Gilani, Officer Collins asked Gilani for identification.  Gilani stated that he did not have any identification on him.  Collins then asked where Gilani lived.  Gilani did not respond and questioned again why he had been detained.  After further conversation, Gilani offered his name, address, and date of birth to Officer Matthews.  The address he provided was a house located just up the street from where they were standing.  Gilani also pointed to his BMW parked on the road.  As Officer Matthews relayed this information to dispatch, he identified Gilani as a white male.  The computer searches run by police dispatch could not verify any of Gilani’s information.  Officer Matthews asked for Gilani’s driver’s license.  Gilani replied that it was not on him but rather in his house.  Officer Matthews then asked for Gilani’s social security number.  Gilani refused to provide it.

The officers decided to call for police transport to take Gilani to a detention center for identification.  While waiting for the police transport vehicle to arrive, Gilani provided his social security number and repeatedly asserted that he had done nothing wrong.  The officers continued to reject Gilani’s claim that no sidewalk existed along the street where he was walking.  Again, neither officer walked the short distance to determine whether a sidewalk existed in the vicinity.  Gilani also stated several times that his driver’s license was in his house and that he could get it.  Officer Collins responded that “there was a point” earlier in the encounter when they might have allowed Gilani to go into the house to retrieve his license.  Officer Collins indicated, however, that he and Officer Matthews were not willing to consider that course of action anymore.

When the police transport arrived and as Gilani was being loaded into the vehicle, a white woman in a black dress was walking in 70th Street toward Officer Collins.  Collins spoke with the woman, who informed Collins that she lived on the street.  The police transport vehicle had blocked her access to the street, and she wanted to reach her house.  Collins let her proceed without a citation and watched her walk to a nearby house.  In his deposition testimony, Collins described the woman as a white female.

Gilani spent approximately fourteen hours in police custody.  The charges against Gilani, were ultimately dismissed.  Gilani brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Officers Matthews and Collins alleging that they violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights by selectively enforcing the Kansas City ordinance against him due to his ethnicity and a claim under § 1983, alleging deprivations of constitutional rights resulting from official policies, procedures, practices, customs, and usages.  Following discovery, the defendants moved for summary judgment.  The district court granted the motion as to all defendants and ruled that qualified immunity protected Officers Matthews and Collins.  Gilani appealed to the Western District, which affirmed the trial court’s decision.

Opinion: The United States Constitution prohibits selective enforcement of a law based upon ethnicity. The constitutional basis for objecting to the intentional application of a law, based on ethnicity is the Equal Protection Clause. In order to establish discriminatory effect and purpose Gilani must prove that similarly situated individuals of another ethnicity were not stopped or arrested.  Gilani argued that with respect to discriminatory intent the evidence showed that a white female came upon the scene of his arrest who was walking in the street, just as he had been, and that the police officers allowed her to continue walking down the street without issuing a citation.

The Eighth Circuit noted that: “A claim of selective enforcement in the context of the Gilani case requires proof that the officers exercised their discretion to enforce the traffic laws solely because of Gilani’s ethnicity.” To succeed on this claim Gilani must show that the enforcement had a “discriminatory effect, and that the enforcement was motivated by a discriminatory purpose.” Gilani argued that the evidence showed discriminatory effect because a white female who was at the scene of the arrest walked in the street, but the police allowed her to continue down the street without issuing a citation. The Eighth Circuit found that this argument failed because Gilani and the woman were not situated “in all relevant respects.” Gilani’s defensive behavior and refusal to provide information reasonably fueled the officer’s suspicions. Unable to verify his identity, they detained Gilani and took him into custody until he could be positively identified. In addition, the police dispatch identified a white male in all white clothing walking along 70th street, which was confirmed by the officers when they arrived at the scene; whereas, the white female appeared later while the officers were preparing to take Gilani to be booked.

Gilani’s statistical analysis of incidents of arrests for walking in the street, when a sidewalk is available, was unconvincing and not probative. The statistics showed that 63% of the arrests for violating the sidewalk ordinance were by black males, while females account for only 5% of the arrests. Census data showed that the population in Kansas City is approximately 59% white and 30% black. “Absent some evidence of racially disproportionate arrests compared to the actual incidence of violation by race, there is no basis for inferring racially selective law enforcement.” Gilani v. Matthews, (8th Cir., 16– 1689, 12/8/16)

St. Louis County Cannot Adopt An Ordinance To Establish Minimum Police Standards For Incorporated Areas In The County Without A Vote Of The Electorate

19-jpg Facts: In wake of the Michael Brown/Ferguson issues the St. Louis County Council on December of 2015, adopted an ordinance authorizing the County Executive to issue minimum quality police standards that would apply to all 57 police departments in St. Louis County.  The recitals in the ordinance (Ordinance) stated that there are  57 municipal police departments within St. Louis County; there are disparities between these departments’ standards; there is an “inherent inequality of services” as a result; St. Louis County wants to ensure equal access to “consistent uniform fundamental public health and  safety services;”  and “uniform fundamental standards will enhance public health and reinforce trust between law enforcement and the community.”

The Ordinance further stated that it was promulgated under authority found in the county charter, the state Constitution and statutes that were enacted to “enhance the public health, safety and welfare” of the people St. Louis County.  After the adoption of the Ordinance the County Executive immediately issued minimum police standards pursuant to the Ordinance, which imposed requirements for the licensing, training, and hiring of law enforcement officers and for Police Department accountability and transparency.

Shortly after the standards were issued the City of Olivette and a number of other cities in the county filed a petition challenging the authority of the County to adopt the ordinance.  The County contended that the Ordinance was a valid exercise of the powers granted to it as a charter county in Article VI, Sections 18(b) and 18 (c) of the Missouri Constitution allowing it to perform the services and functions of a municipality or political subdivision, except school districts.  Article VI, Sections 18(b), requires a charter county to include provisions in its charter for the exercise of powers conferred specifically to it by the state Constitution and the laws of the state.  The County Charter provides in Section 2.180 .14 that the County Council, may by ordinance exercise the power and duties now or hereafter conferred upon counties by the Constitution, by law and by this charter and to determine and make provisions for any matter of County government not otherwise provided herein.

After the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment, the trial court granted summary judgment for the City’s and the County appealed to the Eastern district.  The question was whether or not the adoption by Ordinance by the County Council instead of a vote by the electorate was a valid exercise of the County’s authority under Article VI, Section 18(c) of the Constitution.  By the time of oral argument the County’s position on its 18 (c) argument  had dwindled to the point where at oral argument the County abandoned this point.  Nevertheless, even though the Court’s opinion on this issue was obiter dictum the Court, suggested that Section 18(c) required a vote of the electorate.

The County also argued that under Article VI, Section 18(b), the County had the authority to adopt the Ordinance without a vote of the electorate, because the Constitution allows a charter county to exercise by ordinance “any power conferred to it by the state.”  Section 192.300 RSMo. authorized a County to adopt ordinances to enhance the public health and prevent the spread of infection, contagious, communicable or dangerous diseases into such County.  The attempt by the County to shoehorn minimum uniform “public safety” standards for police into the language in Section 192.300 failed because there was no connection between these standards and the prevention of  the spread of infection, contagious, communicable or dangerous diseases based earlier court cases.  Also, based upon the plain language of the statute and application of the ordinary dictionary meaning of the words used in the statute the Eastern District concluded that Section 192.300 was limited to public health.  City Olivette vs. St. Louis County, (ED 104432, 01/10/17)

Repeal and Replace Strategy To A Proposed Ordinance Pursuant To A Referendum Upheld

University_of_Missouri_-_Jesse_HallCitizens in the City of Columbia (City) opposed a development project to construct a student-housing project in downtown.  The City initially determined that existing public-utility infrastructure was inadequate to serve the Opus project as proposed.  The City and Opus agreed that if Opus would contribute $450,000 for infrastructure improvements that the City would approve the project, assuming all requisite permits complied with the City Code.  This agreement was set forth in Ordinance A, that was adopted by the City.

Resident’s who were opposed to the project collected signatures on a referendum petition pursuant to the City Charter, which was certified by the city clerk as sufficient. Upon the determination that the signatures were sufficient the City Council had a charter obligation to either repeal Ordinance A within 30 days or submit it to the voters for their consideration as to whether or not the ordinance should be adopted.

While the process was underway to determine if there were sufficient signatures on the referendum petition for Ordinance A, the City Council introduced Ordinance B, which was identical in all material respects to Ordinance A, except for a provision that provided in the event there was no referendum to repeal Ordinance A, then Ordinance A would be automatically repealed.  The City Council adopted ordinance B, but neither party signed the development agreement.  Opponents of the Opus project then gathered signatures for a referendum petition to repeal Ordinance B.

While certification of Ordinance B was pending, the City began to issue permits to Opus for the project based upon updated building specifics, which showed that the affected infrastructure could now accommodate the Opus project.  Thereafter, the City Council approved Ordinance B, while Ordinance A was still in effect.

After certification of the signatures for Ordinance B the City Council City repealed Ordinance B.

After the Citizen’s referendum efforts were blocked by the City, the Citizen’s filed suit alleging that once the Citizen’s had initiated the referendum process challenging Ordinance A, the City could not constitutionally interfere with that ongoing process by introducing Ordinance B, which was identical to Ordinance A in all material respects or by authorizing permits for the Opus development project.  In addition, the Citizen’s alleged that conditioning the repeal of Ordinance A on capitulation to the adoption of Ordinance B, was an unconstitutional effort to coerce Citizen’s into giving up their right to participate in the referendum process and express their views.  The Citizen’s alleged that the actions of the City were a denial of their rights under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment and the 14th Amendment.

Eventually, this case ended up in federal district court, which granted the City’s motion for summary judgment.  The Citizens appealed to the Eighth Circuit, which affirmed the district court’s decision.

Opinion: The Eighth Circuit noted that rights with respect to referendums for home rule city’s (like Columbia) come from city charters under home rule powers; therefore, cases dealing with state statutes or the Missouri Constitution are generally not germane to the legal analysis for referendums under a city charter.  The reasoning of the Eighth Circuit was extremely straightforward because the City followed its charter, which allowed the City to repeal an ordinance that was subject to a referendum within 30 days after the referendum was certified to the City Council.  There was no evidence that the City issued the permits to Opus for any other reason then as part of its ministerial duties imposed on the city when an applicant has submitted a valid permit request.  The Citizens failed to identify an independent right to challenge the issuance of the permits.

There was no showing that the actions of the City in repealing the ordinances and issuing permits based upon a valid request for a permit in anyway affected the free speech rights of the Citizens; therefore, the free-speech claim failed.  MacMann v. Matthes, (8th Cir. 15-3400, 12/09/16)

Comment Howard: This case illustrates how difficult it is for citizens to win referendum cases based upon claims that their constitutional rights were violated, particularly when a city is strongly motivated to support a development project.  In addition, if there are no limitations on repeal and replace in the referendum procedures the city can defy referendum petitioners by engaging in actions to thwart petitioners, as happened in this case.

Don’t Get Lost In The Woods: Your Missouri Constitution And Municipal Rules

Your City Council thinks it has a great idea but it is your job to guide them through the woods.  This year we will try to provide you a list of basic rules to remember and a guide to concepts that get stuck on the tip of your tongue.

Rule #1:  Does the proposal violate Article VI Section 25?

Limitation on use of credit and grant of public funds by local governments–pensions and retirement plans for employees of certain cities and counties.

Section 25. No county, city or other political corporation or subdivision of the state shall be authorized to lend its credit or grant public money or property to any private individual, association or corporation except as provided in Article VI, Section 23(a) and except that the general assembly may authorize any county, city or other political corporation or subdivision to provide for the retirement or pensioning of its officers and employees and the surviving spouses and children of deceased officers and employees and may also authorize payments from any public funds into a fund or funds for paying benefits upon retirement, disability or death to persons employed and paid out of any public fund for educational services and to their beneficiaries or estates; and except, also, that any county of the first class is authorized to provide for the creation and establishment of death benefits, pension and retirement plans for all its salaried employees, and the surviving spouses and minor children of such deceased employees; and except also, any county, city or political corporation or subdivision may provide for the payment of periodic cost of living increases in pension and retirement benefits paid under this section to its retired officers and employees and spouses of deceased officers and employees, provided such pension and retirement systems will remain actuarially sound.

Congratulations Cecilia Abbott:

Cecilia Abbott is the new City Attorney for Kansas City.  She takes the position over from Bill Geary who retired.  Cecilia is only the second woman to hold this position and she is the 61st City Attorney for Kansas City.

Cecilia was hired as an Assistant City Attorney in 1990.  She has been been promoted five times during her career and will be in charge of a department which has 52 attorneys and 24 support staff members.

Congratulations and good luck Cecilia.