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Sedgwick County Divided Over New Quorum Policy

LaRissa Lawrie
KMUW/File photo

Sedgwick County commissioners are divided over a new policy that reduces the number of commissioners required to conduct county business.

The change in the quorum rule comes during a tense time at the county. There is a county-initiated personnel review into county leadership and an FBI investigation into the county commission.

Under the new policy, three commissioners instead of four will need to be present to conduct county business or hold meetings including executive sessions.

Commission Chairman David Dennis requested the change at a meeting Wednesday. Dennis said the new policy will comply with state law and allow the county to move forward with an investigation into personnel problems.

"It’s been three weeks since we’ve been trying to get a scope to do an open, external, independent analysis of county leadership," Dennis said.

Dennis wasn’t able to hold executive sessions under the previous quorum rule because Commissioners Richard Ranzau and Jim Howell refused to participate due to concerns over legal issues.

Ranzau said the quorum change is politically motivated.

"This is not a good day for this county, and I’m afraid things are going to get worse," Ranzau said.

The quorum policy passed by a three-to-two vote on Wednesday with commissioners Dennis, Dave Unruh and Michael O’Donnell in favor and Ranzau and Howell against.

An executive session was held at the end of Wednesday's meeting. Ranzau and Howell remained in the commission meeting room.

Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.