Group opposed to urban deer hunt concerned about 'gray areas'

Friday, September 28, 2012

A group opposed to bowhunting for deer in Cape Girardeau met Thursday night for a final time before a city council vote on whether to repeal the ordinance allowing the hunt.

As the vote has neared, members of Keep Cape Safe are concerned with what they call possible "legal gray areas" with the city's first-ever referendum. The group collected 4,000 signatures on a petition that could result in a special election. The certification of the petition earlier this month suspended the ordinance, which was passed 4-3 in July.

"We feel a need to approach this in the most responsible way possible, so we need to gather all the information we can," said Stephen Stigers, the group's leader.

Stigers contacted the Missouri attorney general's office earlier this week to ask if the city council's action to cancel its second September meeting was allowed since the city charter states the council shall hold two meetings each month. The council voted to cancel its Sept. 17 meeting due to a planned attendance at an annual meeting of the Missouri Municipal League.

The attorney general's office answered that the city must enforce its own charter, Stigers said.

City manager Scott Meyer said Thursday afternoon that the city does not favor missing meetings unless absolutely necessary.

Keep Cape Safe, however, believes not allowing time between the first and second readings of the repeal ordinance may affect the outcome of Monday's vote. Five votes instead of the traditional four would be needed for repeal because the decision will be made in a single meeting.

Stigers said he also asked the attorney general's office how the state determines a date on which a special election can be held. A special election could be called if the council votes against repealing the ordinance.

The group agreed Thursday that seeking legal advice could be the next step if the council votes not to repeal the ordinance because there are many questions about the need for a special election instead of adding the question to a ballot in a regularly scheduled election.

Stigers said that to try to understand why some city council members are in favor of allowing an activity the group views as dangerous, it may submit information requests that members hope may provide some transparency.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

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