David Morrison’s tumultuous tenure on the Prairie Village City Council appears to be coming to an end.
With an 11-0 vote Monday, Morrison’s council peers voted to oust him from the governing body for violating the city’s ethics code. In late October, Morrison gave Kelley Malone, a homeless man with a drug history and criminal record, unauthorized access to city hall, letting him stay in the municipal building overnight. Police encountered Malone in a restricted area of the building at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 31, and learned during subsequent questioning that Morrison had given Malone his security access code. Morrison never disputed the substance of the allegations.
Over the course of a 20 minute public hearing Monday, Councilor Ruth Hopkins directed a series of pointed questions at Morrison, inquiring about the state of mind that led him to give Malone, who said he feared for his life, access to city hall without taking the safety of city employees into account.
“It doesn’t fit together that you thought it was okay to let him stay here, but you felt you had to lie to the police department multiple times [to get him into the building],” she said.
Asked why he didn’t offer his own home to Malone, Morrison said that because he lives with his elderly parents, “it’s not my home to give.” Morrison said his mother has a heart condition that makes her especially prone to illness. He worried that Malone, whose medical condition he didn’t know, may pose a risk to her.
“In dealing with the homeless, you don’t always know what you’re dealing with,” Morrison said. “Sometimes they have compromised immune systems.”
Morrison also said an associate pastor at his church had counciled him against letting Malone stay at a hotel.
“I was under tremendous stress,” Morrison said. “I made a huge mistake. I recognize that now.”
After deliberating in executive session for a half hour, the councilors returned to the council chamber. Morrison sat motionless in the front row of the spectator area as acting council president Charles Clark called the vote, and then looked shellshocked as the councilors voted unanimously to have him removed from the council. Moments later, after the disciplinary hearing came to a close, Morrison rejoined his fellow councilors behind the dais — and he may join them there again during at least one more council meeting.
The Prairie Village City Council has the power only to initiate proceedings for the ouster of one of its members. It will be up to Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe to complete the process.
Mayor Ron Shaffer said he planned to sign a copy of the ouster request letter to Howe Monday night, and send it to the district attorney’s office on Tuesday. Prairie Village City Attorney Catherine Logan said there was little precedent for the ouster of city council members in the county, so it was difficult to say how long it might be before Morrison could be officially removed.
Should Howe successfully complete Morrison’s ouster, Shaffer would appoint a Prairie Village resident to fill out the remainder of Morrison’s term. Morrison ran unopposed in April’s city council elections to secure his second term representing Ward 5.