A Prairie Village councilman who allowed a homeless friend with a criminal record to spend three nights in Prairie Village City Hall during non-business hours last week is the focus of a formal ethics complaint.
Prairie Village City Attorney Catherine Logan filed a complaint Monday against Ward 5 Councilman David Morrison.
Morrison, who has served since 2008, stepped down as council president Monday night and former Council President Charles Clark assumed the role.
“Councilmember Morrison accepts full responsibility for this incident and believes the city staff acted in an appropriate and highly professional manner,” Graydon Price, Morrison’s attorney, wrote in response to the complaint.
In a statement to a reporter for The Star, Morrison said he was fully cooperating with the ethics investigation.
The City Council is scheduled to hold a hearing on the complaint at 6 p.m. Nov. 19. Following the hearing, the council could take no action, censure Morrison or refer the complaint to the Johnson County District Attorney’s office, which could consider removing Morrison from the council.
According to the ethics complaint, Morrison provided his City Hall security access code to Kelly Malone, a friend, and escorted him into City Hall three separate times:
Morrison took Malone into City Hall through the Police Department at 5:52 p.m. Oct. 27, telling the dispatcher that they were going to City Hall for a homes association meeting. Security video shows Morrison giving Malone a tour, “including secure areas inside City Hall,” the complaint states. They both left 14 minutes later.
Morrison escorted Malone into City Hall through the Police Department later that night at 8:56 p.m., telling a police dispatcher that they would be working in City Hall. Morrison left Malone in the building 26 minutes later.
Malone was in the building alone from 9:22 p.m. that night until 1:06 p.m. the next day, 16 hours.
Morrison again took Malone to City Hall through the Police Department at 12:25 a.m. Oct. 29, again telling the dispatcher that they would be working. Morrison left 15 minutes later.
Malone was seen in the city prosecutor’s office that morning. He left at 8:47 a.m. without his duffel bag but returned 6 minutes later with an unidentified female. They stayed until 9:49 a.m. and left with his belongings.
Malone returned alone to City Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 31, at 12:22 a.m. and stayed until city staff discovered him at 7 a.m. in the staff lounge/kitchen area. He left through an exit door but Police Chief Wes Jordan found him later in the men’s locker room, apparently hiding.
Malone later told police that he was a past drug abuser and had recently been released from the Johnson County Jail.
Morrison’s attorney wrote that Malone was an old friend of Morrison’s and that the two did go to City Hall about 6 p.m. Oct. 27. Before Malone returned to City Hall on Oct. 31, Morrison told him not to go back and that he was going to have to have his access code changed.
The attorney said that the police found no city property in Malone’s duffel bag or on his person and that there is no evidence of property damage or that confidential records were viewed or taken.
Administrator Quinn Bennion said Malone had access to city records, computers and equipment as well as locked cash drawers. He did not have access to court records.
“It was a safety issue for our employees and a security issue for our records,” he said. “He appears to have spent most of his time in the employee lounge, where he had access to a couch, TV and vending machines.”
In other action, the council placed a 90-day moratorium on special-use permit applications. The moratorium affects all such permits but was put in place because of the pending Mission Valley Middle School redevelopment project.
The action, approved 7-5, buys the city time to enact an ordinance allowing citizens to file protest petitions in response to special-use applications. Logan is in the process of drafting the ordinance.
Currently, protest petitions may only be filed in response to rezoning requests. If a valid protest petition is filed, a three-fourths vote — or 10 of 13 elected officials — is required to approve the project rather than a simple majority.
City Administrator Quinn Bennion said the moratorium would affect developers of the former Mission Valley site, who were scheduled to submit a special-use permit for the project within two weeks. No special-use permit applications will be accepted during the moratorium.
Several citizens asked the council Monday night to implement the change, arguing that protest petitions are allowed in response to special-use applications in other Johnson County cities, including Overland Park.
“The current ordinances encourage property owners to seek special-use permits rather than seek a change in zoning,” said resident Steve Carman.
Carman said the change would provide citizens with more meaningful participation in the special-permit process.
Earlier this year the council the council left in place residential zoning that restricts future Mission Valley Middle School redevelopment to homes, churches and schools.
The site’s owners, MVS LLC, represented by RED Brokerage, originally planned to construct a mixed-use development on the site.
Bennion said that during pre-application meetings developers have indicated they are now planning a senior housing development for the site.
The council also voted 6-5 to deny a request from Prairie Village Shops developers to remove a requirement for an eight-foot trail on the east side of Mission Lane.