Councilman under fire after allowing homeless man to stay - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Councilman faces ouster for allowing homeless man to sleep at City Hall

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PRAIRIE VILLAGE, KS (KCTV) -

A bizarre controversy is brewing in Prairie Village, KS, over a city councilman who let a homeless man spend the night in restricted areas of city hall.

The front doors of city hall lock after hours, but there's a way in through the police department if someone has a special access code. Monday, the council will decide whether and how the councilman will be punished for handing over that code to a man who said he was in fear for his life.

City staff discovered the arrangement when they walked into the employee kitchen at 7 a.m. and saw the stranger sitting there on Oct. 31. The man, who said he was homeless, told police he had a code to the hall door leading to that area, a code he got from Councilman David Morrison, who later described the homeless man as an old friend.

Police pulled surveillance video and determined the homeless man was left alone in restricted areas several nights in a row.

As a result, the city attorney has filed an ethics complaint, which the council will handle on Monday. It notes that the man "has a known criminal record and a reported problem with drug use" and told police "he was in fear for his life" because of personal knowledge of criminal activities.

Morrison doesn't dispute the facts, but he's also not stepping down. He said he acted out of compassion and he wasn't afraid the danger would follow his friend to city hall because the police department is so close. The two buildings connect.

In a statement of apology, Morrison said, "I thought at the time the safest place for him was in a secured building connected to the police station. In hindsight, I realize that I made a poor decision."

There is no evidence the man took anything or looked at any confidential records.

Morrison said he didn't just let the man stay at his home because he lives with his mother who has an immune deficiency, and bringing guests into the home compromises her already fragile health.

None of the involved parties agreed to speak on camera.

On Monday, the council had three options with the ethics complaint: do nothing, censure the councilman, or refer the matter to the Johnson County District Attorney's Office to initiate ouster proceedings.

The council voted unanimously to find Morrison misused confidential information and misuse of municipal property. City leaders are asking Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe to undertake legal procedures to remove Morrison from office.

KCTV5's Stephen Mayer and DeAnn Smith contributed to this report.

Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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