SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — It was a startling and unexpected decision by the city; now the decision will soon be yours.
At 9p.m. Tuesday Springfield City Council voted to send the controversial E-Verify proposal to a vote of the people.
E-Verify is a system used by the federal government to determine workers are legal US citizens. Four states and 90 cities in the country require all employers use it. Now Springfield could be the 91st- it's up to you.
Only council members were allowed to speak on the issue, which drew protestors against it outside city hall earlier Tuesday. And speak council did; every member except Scott Bailes, who was absent.
Cindy Rushefsky, John Rush, and Doug Burlison all pledged to vote no. Thomas Bieker and Bob Stephens said they'd vote yes, then immediately amend the ordinance. Nicholas Ibarra and Jerry Compton both said they support the ordinance.
That made four in favor, three opposed, with five needed to pass and the mayor yet to voice his opinion.
"To me the only fair answer is to put this to a vote of the people, but I don't believe that's practical in its current condition so in the spirit of fairness I would petition council to pass, amend and then put that ordinance to a vote of the people."
Just minutes after Mayor Jim O'Neal uttered those words he voted no. The measure failed and will now go to vote of the people in either February or March, costing the city $145,000.
There is a problem with that though. Springfield's city attorney says at least one portion of the petition submitted by the Ozarks Minutemen is illegal. That portion says businesses that hire illegals will be fined, which is prohibited by the federal government.
If the people vote it in it's predicted there will be numerous lawsuits during the six month period city council will be unable to touch it.
The group that protested, the Springfield Coalition Against Hate, calls the ordinance discriminatory and targeted at hispanics. They had hoped council would pass then repeal it two weeks later.