and rec fiasco gets new wrinkle
appoints two new park members in time for election
Platte City Mayor Dave Brooks burgeoning
parks and recreation fiasco received a new wrinkle when
city officials were given an impromptu civics lesson
at Tuesdays meeting of the Platte City Board of
Currently enmeshed in an imbroglio over
a letter written to the Platte City Park Board, which
called into question park board members' desire to volunteer
physical labor in the pocket park project, Brooks' successful
attempt to appoint new members to the park board was
called into question by Alderman Ron Porter.
Noting that Brooks appointees to
the board were on the consent agenda, a portion of the
meeting which is not open to general discussion before
voting, Porter unsuccessfully attempted to have the
item moved to the regular agenda. Porter stated that
he wanted to discuss the members' qualifications and
that he desired to meet the appointees before voting.
His motion wasnt accepted, however,
and Bart Bradley, Marsha Clark, Steve Sampsell and John
Kurtz were successfully appointed (Bradley and Clark
are reappointments; Kurtz and Sampsell are new members)
to the board in the same manner that minutes of previous
meetings are approved and bills are paid.
During the meetings general discussion period,
Porter again brought up his failed motion.
Porter said that he wasnt trying
to be negative by making the motion, but stated
that he felt the appointments merited further scrutiny.
Porter had questioned the legality of such a move before,
when Brooks appointed members to another city board
in the same fashion. Traditionally, only items that
occur regularly and without dispute are put on the consent
Brooks said that he understood Porters
concerns but said that neither Sampsell or Kurtz could
make it to Tuesday's meeting. With the park board voting
for its president and board members on June
7, Brooks explained that it was important to get the
appointees on the board before then.
Alderman George McClintock then sought to back up the
mayors reasoning with a flawed interpretation
of the Platte City municipal code.
The mayor appoints, McClintock
told Porter. We dont have a say
(putting the matter up to vote) is just a courtesy.
Porter disagreed, saying that the aldermen
had to approve such appointments. A brief no,
yes, he does exchange followed
between the two as the rest of the aldermen looked on,
before City Clerk Tanya Bates put an end to the debate,
confirming Porters take on the lawaldermen
must vote to approve or disapprove of the mayor's appointments.
McClintock immediately apologized.
I stand corrected, McClintock
It was the third time in as many meetings
that the park board had been mentioned during remarks
of the board of aldermen.
In April, Brooks questioned whether park
board members would work with their fingers
in the Main Street pocket park construction. He followed
up on the remarks with a written letter to the board
that was signed by all six aldermen.
As exclusively reported in the May 6 edition of The
Landmark, the letter was summarily ignored by the park
board, under the direction of Dick Stephens, president
of the board. Specifically, Stephens said he objected
to the tone of the letter, and after the board decided
not to respond, it became a non-issue for
the board. The letter did not specify what action, if
any, the mayor and the board of aldermen would take
if the letter was not responded to by a stated deadline
the mayor placed in his letter.
During the May 11 meeting of the Platte
City Board of Aldermen, Mayor Brooks began angrily lashing
out at The Landmark for reporting on the story. He went
on to characterize the letter as an innocent
attempt at communication and questioned the work ethic
of the reporter who wrote the story (Editors note:
Mark Vasto was the journalist who wrote the original
story and this follow-up account).
Stephens is standing by his story.
No one (on the park board) wanted
to react to that letter, Stephens told The Landmark.
Now, they may want to help and thats admirable
if they want to do that but I wanted to react to the
letter and nobody wanted to do it.
Stephens said that at the meeting, nobody
indicated that they wanted to volunteer for the project.
I heard nobody saying they wanted to volunteer.
The discussion was are we going to respond to
the letter?and the letter was in our packet.
Recent mayoral appointees and current
board members Bart Bradley and Marsha Clark did contact
The Landmark the week after the story appeared. Bradley
said he would be willing to help the mayor by volunteering
in the park and Clark stated that Stephens only presented
one side of the story for the article. Stephens, however,
said that no member of the board had called him to refute
or take issue with the story as it appeared in The Landmark.
The mayor and Stephens have not been able
to meet due to scheduling conflicts. When contacted
by The Landmark, Brooks refused to comment on Stephens
remarks, again claiming that the letter was a simple
communication attempt that solicited volunteer help
and had no ulterior motives.
In the meantime, Stephens, who is up for re-election
as board president on June 7, had advice for future
communications from the mayor and the board of aldermen.
What I would like from the board
of aldermen is for them to
if they have a request,
give it to us. If they have a direction they want us
to go, tells us what they think. But dont come
up and tell us this is what youre going
to do. Thats when I get defensive,
Stephens remarked. (The park board) was sold to
be a board independent of city hall.
Earlier, a presentation given by Chris
Tathum of the ETC Institute reported on findings the
company gathered during a survey of Platte City citizens
during the past month (see related story in this issue).
While the survey generally reported high marks for the
city and its services, parks and recreation was repeatedly
singled out in the survey as an area that needed attention
from city officials.
The survey specifically spoke to dissatisfaction
with the citys public pool facility and lack of
walking and biking trails in the city. In general, however,
satisfaction was up from the previous survey conducted
in 2002 with 64 percent of those surveyed saying they
were satisfied with park maintenance as opposed to 54
percent two years ago.