Approval expected for Columbia Council nominee Woman to replace councilman who quit in conflict WEST COLUMBIA

November 02, 1992|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff Writer

Suzanne Waller, president of the Town Center village board, has been nominated to represent the village on the Columbia Council and replace Joseph P. Merke, who resigned last month over conflict of interest questions.

The Columbia Association board of directors is expected formally to appoint Ms. Waller to the council at a brief meeting Thursday before the council's regularly scheduled session.

Her local village board nominated Ms. Waller last week.

She would take her seat as a council member at the Nov. 5 meeting, said council Chairman John M. Hansen.

Mr. Merke resigned Oct. 22, saying his integrity had been tainted by council members who criticized his participation in a vote on the proposed Fairway Hills Golf Course, which would abut Mr. Merke's home.

When the council took a vote Oct. 8 to determine if Mr. Merke should be barred from voting on the $5.5 million golf course, Mr. Merke joined in, voting that he should not be barred. The result was 5-4 in favor of his participation.

Two weeks later, he unexpectedly resigned after a council decision to rescind the Oct. 8 vote.

He said that the controversy over the golf course vote had "tainted the Columbia Association, the council, the budget process and my integrity."

The council's action came after the release of a legal opinion by a Columbia Association staff lawyer that Mr. Merke should not have voted on the question of whether he has a conflict of interest.

The council will take up the golf course proposal in coming months as it completes a long-range plan and the 1993 budget. The 18-hole course would be operated by the private, non-profit Columbia Association.

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