May 15, 2013
Donna Hawley Verdict:
On Tuesday, May 14, 2013 a Texas County jury found former Rolla city council member and long time critic of Rolla Municipal Utilities (RMU) Donna Hawley not guilty.
Hawley was on trial for allegedly assaulting RMU finance director Dennis Roberts during an altercation preceding a March 2009 meeting of the Missouri Public Energy Pool (MOPEP) held at the offices of RMU. The meeting was being held to explain a MOPEP billing which some member cities felt was excessive. Rolla is a member of MOPEP.
Hawley claimed that the meeting was open to the public according to Missouri's sunshine law and that in any case, as a city council member of a MOPEP city, she had the right to attend. RMU general manager Dan Watkins disagreed; and Roberts barred Hawley's way by standing in the doorway. A scuffle ensued during which Roberts claimed Hawley assaulted him and caused permanent injury to his right wrist.
At the time of the incident Hawley was disabled. Roberts, according to his testimony, was healthy and weighed over 200 pounds. Two witnesses to the scuffle testified that Roberts appeared to be the aggressor. Roberts did not seek medical attention for his wrist until several days after the scuffle.
Hawley was represented by Rolla attorney and public defender Matthew Crowell. Her original attorney, David Mills, withdrew from the case after Hawley refused to accept a plea bargain.
The State was represented by assistant attorney general Theodore Bruce. Charges against Hawley were originally filed by former Phelps County prosecutor, Courtney George. Current Phelps County prosecutor, John Beger, who was City Counselor and legal advisor to RMU at the time of the incident, requested that the Attorney General's office prosecute the case in his stead.
25th Circuit judge William Hickle presided over the trial.
Hawley served as Ward 6 city council member from 2008 to 2010. She is best known for having discovered in 2007 that RMU had been overcharging its customers and had amassed a surplus of a million dollars. Her research led to a one cent per kWh rollback of RMU's rates which RMU's customers continue to enjoy today.
As a council member, Hawley made herself unpopular with her peers by insisting that making major investments under the assumption that the economy would continue to expand was too risky for a city like Rolla. Her peers censored her for her beliefs. One council member left a threatening message on her answering machine. Another stated in open council meeting: "She needs to shut her mouth."
In 2010 after failing in her bid for a second term on the Rolla city council, Hawley continued the fight against what she felt were unsound investments in electric power infrastructure, this time before the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC). The PSC eventually approved the investments.
The 2009 economic downturn which has continued to this day demonstrates the soundness of Hawley's economic advice.
Hawley has since moved to Springfield, Missouri were she lives with her daughters.
Below are links to previous cartoons and writings on the subject of Donna Hawley, the Rolla city council and Rolla Municipal Utilities:
Donna in Blunderland Cartoons
All White Male Mayor and Council Cartoon
Jimmy Rat Cartoon
RMU Cartoon Logo
Donna D. Hawley Municipal Center
Comments on Resolution to Censure Donna Hawley
Filing in Support of Donna Hawley's PSC Application to intervene
PSC Approves Donna Hawley's Application to Intervene
Response to Intimidation of Donna Hawley by James Stoffer