Council May Decide to Restrict Funeral Protests Tonight
On Thursday Westboro Baptist Church members are planning to protest law passed by St. Charles County, which St. Charles City Council will consider tonight.
A law that would ban people from protesting during funerals in St. Charles is scheduled to be considered by the St. Charles City Council tonight.
The ordinance, sponsored by Councilman Richard Veit, Ward 1, would prohibit people from protesting within 300 feet of a cemetery or church from an hour before to an hour after funeral ceremonies or memorial services. The council meets on the fourth floor of City Hall.
People would be allowed to protest during funeral processions or wakes without restriction, if the ordinance is passed. The fine for violating the law is a maximum of $500.
The law is similar to a law passed by St. Charles County Council in December. Members of Westboro Baptist Church, who are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, filed suit against St. Charles County in December alleging that the law violates free speech rights. Members of the church have protested at the funerals of 500 soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq and are planning to protest outside the St. Charles City and St. Charles County Administrative Buildings from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m. Thursday, according to the church's website.
"St. Charles and the state (sic) of Missouri are known for persecuting the Saints of WBC and trying to shut down the word of God," the website reads. "Rotsa Ruck!! Didn't Missouri Governor Jay Nixon get the memo that God repays rebels to their face?!? WBC has been telling you!! Listen already!!"
At the Dec. 21 board meeting, council members raised concerns about the cost of a potential lawsuit.
Phase II of Boschert Greenway Trail needs approval
The council is also expected to consider two agreements between the city, the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, and Great Rivers Greenway to complete Phase II of the Boschert Greenway Trail in partnership with Great Rivers Greenway.
Phase 1 of the project linked Fox Hill Park to Boschertown Road. Phase two will continue the trail from Boschertown Road to the Fifth Street Extension, running in between the Little Hills Expressway and Highway 370. From there, bikers would follow a bike path along the Fifth Street Extension, turning left at Olive Street which will take them to Blanchette Landing and the Katy Trail. Great Rivers Greenway would pay 90 percent of the costs and the Parks Department would pay 10 percent, and not more than $150,000 total.
Director of Parks and Recreation Department Maralee Britton said once the Board approves the plans, they would be sent back to the state. The project then could be put out for bids, probably by late January or early February. Construction would start hopefully in 2011, she said.
Other items up for consideration:
- An ordinance that would increase the Municipal Judge's pay to $40,000 from $26,000 starting in April 2011.
- An ordinance that requires the city council to approve any intra-department transfers of more than $10,000.
- A request from the St. Charles Housing Authority to have real estate taxes in the amount of $11,090 waived for 2010. The St. Charles Housing Authority
- Changes to the healthcare benefits for retired city workers. Employees who are hired before Jan. 1, 2011 and retire before Feb. 1, 2012 would receive a monthly Medicare supplement of up to $125. The city will pay between $400 a month for a retiree with 20 years of service and $450 a month for service of 30 years. Once employees are Medicare eligible, they will no longer have access to the city's base medical plan.