Two measures have been proposed in the House by a member of the committee that has looked at the Mamtek situation that would take some grease off the wheels in future, similar deals.
Representative Chris Kelly (D-Columbia) says right now when communities want to issue bonds for industrial development, bond advisors & lawyers might advise the city’s credit be used, such as what happened in Moberly with Mamtek. His proposals target such arrangements.
“That is a, I think, kind of a sneaky method to avoid the Missouri Constitution, because what it does is it requires that one city council effectively bind the appropriations of further city councils without a vote of the people, and the Constitution prohibits that.”
The plan regarding communities would require a change to state statute, found in House Bill 1304, while the prevention of such state-backed bond deals requires a constitutional amendment found in House Joint Resolution 58.
Kelly acknowledges his proposal would put communities in Missouri at a disadvantage when competing with those in other states to bring in new industries, because those deals sometimes develop very quickly. Having to put certain elements before a vote of the people will significantly slow the process down. “That’s one of the things that the cities won’t like about this, but if the only thing that my bill does is it makes cities more aware of this problem, I will think that that in-and-of-itself is a good thing.”
On that line of thought, Kelly says his bill would not have to pass to sound an alarm. “I want to raise the consciousness about the danger here.”
Kelly says if his bill had been law when Mamtek was developing, the deal would have been aired better and might not have reached the stage it has. He notes, he is not critical of the people with the City of Moberly. “I am morally convinced that they did not realize that they were binding the credit of the City. The people I find fault with are the bond advisors and the bond lawyers.”
While discussing who was at fault in the Mamtek deal, Kelly says he thinks the state handled it “probably, actually about right. There’s a lot of political motivation to blame (The Department of) Economic Development because the governor’s a Democrat. But I think the Department of Economic Development handled this under (Governor Jay) Nixon the same way that they handled these under (Governor Matt) Blunt and it’s just handy now that this one went south, to try to find a political way to blame Nixon.
Kelly is not saying that DED could not have done better in certain areas involving communication or contributions to due diligence. “At any given time in any operation … you can find ways to make improvements.” He adds, “if there were sins here, they were pretty venial sins.”