WICHITA — An odd confluence of political and legal opinions on a 9-year-old complaint emerged at today's Wichita Council meeting.
Former Mayor Bob Knight advocated that the city help anti-abortion activist Mark Gietzen get paid for damages made to his home when Dondlinger & Sons Construction Co. pounded bridge pillars into the ground near 55th Street South and Mosley in 2000.
Wichita City Attorney Gary Rebenstorf said it's not the city's responsibility. He said Gietzen sued Dondlinger and his homeowners insurance company only to have the court dismiss the suit.
Knight said he and others assured Gietzen in 2000 that any damages to his home would be fixed.
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"I don't think there's any question in my mind that somebody owes Mr. Gietzen a significant amount of money," Knight told council members. "He is caught, I think, in Catch-22."
That catch involves a city contract that makes Dondlinger responsible for any damages to nearby homes related to the construction work. But Gietzen said that doesn't specify when those repairs need to be made — allowing a two-year statute of limitations to run out.
Gietzen said Dondlinger's insurance company offered a settlement of $762 to cover heating and water line damage when there were also structural problems that totaled $96,000 in damage.
Now Gietzen and Knight want the city to step in.
Mayor Carl Brewer, who had Knight at his side when he ran for mayor in 2007, said the city would look into it even though the city's legal department has said the city has no responsibility.
"Let's see what we can possibly do," Brewer said.
Vice Mayor Jim Skelton and council members Sue Schlapp and Paul Gray also advocated for the city to review the situation.
"Regardless of the legal aspect of it, there's still ethical responsibility," Gray said.