Friday, June 26, 2009

Why is Burcham filing lawsuits?

Former State Rep. Tom Burcham, R-Farmington, is turning suing cities into a cottage industry, and no one seems to know why. Burcham has been suing cities in which the voters have passed sales taxes, saying the taxes are being illegally stacked. An effort by the self-proclaimed most powerful man in the state of Missouri, Speaker of the House Ron Richard, to make the taxes lawful never came to a vote, thanks to House Majority Leader (and Ethics Committee Chairman) Steve Tilley, who received $110,000 in contributions from Burcham-connected political committees.

Burcham said he is not doing it for the money, and in the towns where he has won, he has donated his money to charity. Burcham claims he is doing it for the taxpayers, but in a February 2008 report, St. Louis television station KMOV reached a different conclusion:

Burcham's contention he was fighting the gallant fight for "the little man" doesn't fit the facts.

As we showed in our report, none of the plaintiffs in Burcham's lawsuits are residents of the targeted cities. The plaintiff in most of the suits is a woman named Tonya Sheets... Burcham's law office secretary. The other plaintiff named in the suit is a woman named Andrea Penberthy. Burcham would only describe Penberthy as "an acquaintance."

In our discussions with the Missouri Municipal League and city leaders in several of the towns named in the lawsuits, we kept hearing the same thing -- the people who actually live in the targeted towns weren't complaining about the sales taxes!

All of these taxes had been placed on the ballot and approved by a vote of the people.

So we continued to press Burcham for answers. Where did the idea for these suits come from? Finally... 36 minutes into our intervew, the truth came out.

Steve Chamraz: "Who are these 'folks'?"
Tom Burcham: "These would be lawyers, city adminstrators and people who are generally concerned with city municipal matters... mainly table talk at seminars and conferences and over the telephone."
So there's your answer.

There is no grassroots movement out there started
by small town residents outraged over "illegal" taxes. As Burcham put it, this all started with "table talk" among "lawyers."

Thanks to the intervention of Ethics Committee Chairman Steve Tilley and the impotence of Speaker of the House Ron Richard, Burcham's lawsuits have reached Granby and are headed for Joplin.

And no, Burcham never really answered KMOV's question, Which special interests wants these taxes knocked off the books?


Anonymous said...

hope he comes to Neosho next...he's doing a great service

Randy said...

I am curious as to why you would think this is a great service. The taxes he is targeting were approved by the voters. I am surprised that someone would prefer to let lawyers and judges make the final rulings rather than the voters.

Anonymous said...

In an election centered around taxes,some vote not to increase those taxes.

Anonymous said...

Randy - if you don't know why this is a good thing, you need to retire from your form of journalism. Take a look at what voters were told when they were asked for a vote about water and sewage...pure strong arm tactics..would you rather die by hanging or electrocution....that was the choice....someone outside the town needs to air out the back rooms and put somebody on notice..if everything is fine and dandy, why is he winning cases?

Anonymous said...

Since the passage of the public safety sales tax crime in Joplin is down 33% - just checked with Chief Lane Roberts. I'm in favor of low taxes, but Joplin was getting bad and now it's better.