by Dave Kinnamon
Several Riverside fireworks vendors, including two different older men, John Blogin and Mike Koska, who both claimed to be “the original Riverside fireworks vendor,” became impassioned, and one or two downright irate, at the Riverside Board of Aldermen and city attorney John McClelland specifically at the board’s bi-weekly regular meeting on Tuesday night.
The vendors were disgruntled over proposed changes to the city’s fireworks ordinance.
The board turned its attention specifically to an ordinance amending the city code on the “Sale of fireworks and fireworks occupation license.”
Several citizens approached the podium to speak on the proposed changes to Riverside’s fireworks ordinance.
“It looks like you’re going after the wholesalers, what’s it going to be next? The citizens want fireworks,” Kurt Eckert, the first speaker, said.
“Though we won’t sell fireworks directly to the public, there is room in this town for another wholesaler to do a number one operation,” Kurt Eckert said.
Brenda Teeters approached next.
“I would like to be the only retailer in town. But nobody wants to go along with that. We’re the only Riverside resident, and I do feel that we should be given first choice,” Teeters said.
A man who owns a fireworks warehouse in Kansas City, Mo., and in Kansas City, Kan., wants to move his warehousing and retail operations to Riverside, he said.
Michael Koska, of Mike’s Fireworks, spoke next. Koska has 51 years of experience in the fireworks business, he said.
Though Riverside accounts for only a “trickle” of Koska’s total fireworks profits annually—and ending his Riverside operation would not cause him “to shed any tears”—Koska spoke for longer than any other interested fireworks partisan (about 20 minutes) and had to be politely but assertively cut off by mayor Kathy Rose.
Regarding the proposed ordinance changes, Koska objects to proposed language that restricts fireworks sales to the fireworks season.
“The intent of the staff drafting this the way it was done was to allow anyone with a current fireworks license to be able to get a new license,” city attorney McClelland said.
One fireworks partisan in the audience, Scott Eckert, said, “You pay the city attorney a lot of money and you might want to look into his legal interpretations of some of these laws because he’s not reading this one right.”
“The reason you pay me a lot of money is because I am right,” McClelland replied.
“My brother, my mom, myself, we’re getting the shaft because of doing what’s right. We do pay you a lot of money,” Scott Eckert said, looking directly at McClelland. “I pay you a lot of money, and I don’t want to hear you say what you said with a smirk on your face,” he said.
“The reason I say what I have to say with such confidence is that under Missouri state law, this board has the power to shut down all fireworks sales of any kind within this city. You could do so tonight,” McClelland said.
John Blogin quickly popped out of his chair and approached the podium.
Rose had to sternly reprimand the man and remind him that city attorney McClelland “still has the floor.”
“The city has deep pockets,” Koska yelled out from the audience.
Koska is the only entity in town currently that possesses a fireworks wholesaler’s license, McClelland said.