Council backs away from atrazine vote

Councilor Bill Holdeman asked the other members of the Marion City Council at their May 18 meeting to rescind a decision the council made in March to join a class-action lawsuit against the manufacturers of atrazine, a herbicide used by corn and grain sorghum farmers.

Before proposing the change, Holdeman and the other councilors heard from Dan Baldwin, city attorney.

?Are you wanting to negotiate your way out?? he asked. ?If the council wants to do this, I need to ask why and (we) will need to find out the repercussions to the lawsuit (from the firm handling the suit). It opens up a big door.?

Baldwin said he would need to review the contract, adding the city could be liable for some costs if it chooses to renege. He wasn?t even sure if Baron & Budd, the Texas law firm litigating the suit, had started the actual process against Syngenta, a Europe-based manufacturer of atrazine.

It would be difficult to disengage from the process at this point because Baldwin said he wasn?t even sure if Baron & Budd had concluded recruiting cities for the class-action suit.

One councilor said he thought more information was needed before opting out.

After hearing the discussion, Holdeman made a motion to overturn the earlier decision, but the motion died for lack of a second.

That issue would later come back to haunt the council during the public forum part of the meeting when Richard Meisinger of rural Marion asked to speak.

Meisinger, who owns land south of the Marion airport, had received a letter from the city asking permission to retrieve model airplanes that might land in his pasture during a special event in June.

The Heart of America Free Flight Association, which is a fellowship of men and women who participate in free flight model airplane competitions, is sponsoring the event.

Marion City Council approved the event for Father?s Day weekend at a previous meeting, but wanted to alert landowners about it in case the model airplanes strayed.

?The dilemma is whether to grant permission for access,? Meisinger said, ?while the city is joining the atrazine class-action lawsuit that will likely cause negative implications for me.?

Even though Meisinger said he has no problem with granting permission on the one hand, he has a problem with the city?s decision on the other.

?Actions produce consequences,? he said. ?At this point, I don?t know what I will do.?

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