In what may a first for Steelville, the town’s aldermen unanimously asked Mayor Michael Keen to resign last week. He refused, but for the betterment of the town he should reconsider that decision.
Keen, who lives at the Steelville Senior Living nursing home due to ongoing chronic health problems, is unable to attend council meetings and is often unavailable, even by phone, to take care of city business. His term does not expire until next April.
Keen said he was shocked by the request, but he shouldn’t be. He is, in reality, unable to fulfill the duties of his office, something he swore an oath to do. This request by the aldermen was not a personal one, but one made out of concern for the operation of the city government, which should concern all taxpayers.
The mayor told the alderman that it was the city voters who put him in office, and it should be up to them to remove him. The voters, however, also elected the four aldermen to due their duties, which include asking the mayor to resign, or removing him from office is he is unable or unwilling to conduct the city business that is required by his position.
It’s doubtful in Steelville you could find anyone who doesn’t like Keen. He has served the community for decades in a wide range of capacities from emergency responder to mayor. When you can no longer perform those duties, however, the time comes to turn over those responsibilities to others who can.
That time is now.
Legal, but not yet equal
It’s been interesting to see the different responses made by aldermen in Cuba and St. James to the coming development of the medical marijuana industry in Missouri. While both are moving forward with plans on how to handle the real possibility of both manufacturing and distribution coming to their cities, two Cuba council members voted against such measures.
While voting against something is always an alderman’s prerogative, it should concern residents when they vote to deny businesses—legal businesses—entry into their cities simply because they disapprove of the product they will be offering.
Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved the use of medical marijuana in our state, and a lengthy list of rules and requirements on how it can be grown and dispensed has been put into place. As long as those rules are followed, there should be no problem with allowing marijuana growing operations and dispensaries into our communities.
Cities are even permitted to make some of their own restrictions on where medical marijuana can be distributed, which is something St. James opted to do by prohibiting dispensaries within 1,000 feet of any school, daycare, or church (the state guideline).
That leaves plenty of places to operate a dispensary, but you have to consider why such a move is even necessary. Would we prohibit pharmacies from being within 1,000 feet of a church, daycare, or school? What about places that sell alcohol?
Since we’re going to have medical marijuana in Missouri, and will probably have legal pot in our state and across the country in the not-so-distant future, the time is coming when we have to remove the stigma that is associated with it.
Marijuana is a useful drug for some people, whether you choose to use it or not. Those people and the businesses that are created to serve them deserve the same protection under the law as any other business.
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