Former Councilman Morgan concerned about membership dues, dogs, and dram law - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Former Councilman Morgan concerned about membership dues, dogs, and dram law

Former city Councilman Jesse Morgan hugs former Councilman Dallas Laird after they handed over their seats to new members on Jan. 8, 2019, in Casper. The two decided not to run for reelection the previous year. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

Jesse Morgan is no longer serving on City Council, but he is still expressing some concerns relevant to the Council.

In addition to questioning whether taxpayer dollars should go towards paying some city employees’ private club membership dues, Morgan told Oil City that he is hesitant about aspects of the proposed changes to the City’s Liquor License and Animal Care and Control Ordinances. Proposed changes to both Ordinances passed a first hearing at the City Council meeting Tuesday, January 22.

Morgan sent an email to the Mayor and other councilmembers in which he mentions a $228 figure which corresponds to claims presented at Tuesday’s Council meeting for City Attorney John Henley’s Kiwani Club dues and Community Development Director Liz Becher’s Rotary Club dues. Morgan said that while he was on the Council, he voted no on a similar item presented at the August 21, 20018 City Council meeting requesting $300 for MPO Supervisor Aaron Kloke’s Rotary Club dues.

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Morgan said that he has less of a problem with taxpayer money going towards the mayor or city manager’s membership dues.

“You want your mayor to be out there and promoting the city,” he said.

Morgan said that he is in favor of City employees getting training or conference fees supported, but thinks that private membership fees are not something taxpayer’s dollars should go towards. He said that when he was a councilman, he used his own funds when he wanted to participate in a private club or event that he thought would promote the community’s interest.

Former Councilman Glenn Januska, expressing his view as a private citizen rather than in his role as airport director said that he thinks it is alright for the Council to pay private membership fees so long as it offers a benefit to the City.

“It doesn’t make as much difference where the funds come from,” he said. “What matters is whether the use is appropriate.”

Januska said he thinks City officials’ involvement in private clubs such as Rotary or Kiwanis offers the ability to connect with knowledgeable and resourceful people in the community and that this constitutes a benefit to taxpayers.

Morgan isn’t only concerned with issue of private membership dues, however. He also said he has some problems with the two ordinances Council passed at a first public hearing on Tuesday.

He thinks the Council is overreaching in aspects of the proposed Animal Care and Control Ordinance. He is concerned it might not protect private property rights sufficiently.

“I’m sitting with my dog on my porch with my son out there on his bike and all of a sudden, that’s illegal,” Morgan said regarding proposed changes that would require dogs to be either fenced in or on-leash in front yards.

He said that the animal bite and attack data should be considered carefully. Metro Animal Services reported 721 dog bites between January 2017 and June 2018 according to the City.

“The data doesn’t even tell you whether dogs were on or off leash when bites occured,” Morgan said.

It is a private property rights problem he also has with the proposed Liquor License Ordinance, which the Council also passed at the ordinance’s first public hearing Tuesday. He is concerned about individuals being charged with over-serving people within their own homes.

Morgan also expressed hesitation with the proposed Liquor License Ordinance because he thinks it would require establishments to monitor people’s drinking too closely. That sounds similar to dram law liability to the former councilman, a concern that current Councilman Mike Huber voiced during Tuesday’s Council meeting.

Both proposed ordinances would not be finalized until Council votes after a third public hearing.