Truckload of Cairo records destroyed

Thursday, April 12, 2007

CAIRO, Ill. -- With less than a week to go before voters choose his successor, Mayor Paul Farris gave approval for burning a truckload of city records.

The disposal, reported to mayoral candidate Judson Childs and senior Councilman Elbert "Bo" Purchase by former city worker Ronald Harris, took place Wednesday at a dump site north of the city where tree limbs and other debris are burned regularly.

City clerk Erica Wells was on hand supervising the destruction, Harris said. "I went and got somebody else so I wouldn't be the only one who saw this," Harris said.

The list of records to be destroyed was approved by the Illinois state archivist earlier in the year, Wells said. "I know it looks crazy, but I have only been there since September and the closets are filled with boxes," she said. "We needed some room to get some organization."

Councilwoman Linda Jackson, who is seeking election to the councilman-at-large seat, said council members should have been notified of the proposed destruction of records. She also questioned the timing. "These records could have been destroyed at a later date," she said.

Farris complained when he took office in 2003 that large numbers of city records were missing. The disposal Wednesday was routine, he said, and didn't need council approval.

"We are not getting rid of anything that would hinder the continuance of the city on its daily function. We are within the boundary of the law," he said. "I don't owe these people anything except what is in the boundary of the law."

rkeller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

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