will be among the intriguing stories to
follow in 2007
Hope all Between the Lines readers
had the merriest of Christmases.
Mine was fine and dandy, thanks
Here at Missouri's longest-running
newspaper, the giving doesn't stop after the
holiday. On the contrary. The Landmark
is the gift that keeps on giving 52 weeks
But you already knew that. That's
why you're reading us right now. Welcome home.
Want a heads-up on what will
be some of the top news stories to follow
in the early weeks of the new year?
While the City of Platte City
continues to be engulfed in its involuntary
annexation effort and the legal battles accompanying
it, as the only paper that covers the entire
county, The Landmark won't forget to
look to southern Platte to help readers follow
a few intriguing situations. Here's the first
Jason Grill, 27, will take office
as the 32nd district state representative
serving southern Platte County in January.
As exclusively reported in The Landmark last
week in a fair and balanced front page report
using only the basic details from more than
30 pages of police reports on the alleged
incident, allegations of sexual misconduct
on election night were made against Grill.
A 22-year-old woman told police Grill forced
sexual contact upon her inside her vehicle
in a Zona Rosa parking lot at 2 a.m. Though
the woman--whom Grill had just met earlier
in the evening--later told police that her
recall of some details is "hazy"
and she won't pursue charges, the situation
has made Grill the buzz of the state capitol
for all the wrong reasons. The buzz isn't
happening because anyone is convicting him
or charging him with a crime, but because
of the questionable judgment that was shown
by placing himself in a position where such
an accusation could even have been made.
In order to become the effective
bi-partisan lawmaker he has said he intends
to be, Grill now has some self-imposed obstacles
to overcome. If he hopes to be taken seriously
and become more than a one-term wonder, he
will have to build trust among his colleagues
A second intriguing story to
follow from south of Barry Road? Tom Hutsler's
campaign for the Parkville Board of Aldermen.
In a previous run two years
ago, Hutsler was defeated by 16 votes by Deborah
Butcher in Ward 1. The two are back for a
You've been reading about Hutsler
quite often in your Landmark recently
due to his proposal calling for relocation
of the rail track (make that tracks, as one
more from BNSF is on the way) in downtown
Parkville to the south of his English Landing
development. Critics say his proposal, among
other things, would eat up too much of the
English Landing Park.
Hutsler is an active community
volunteer and a successful entrepreneur. He's
the kind of person who gets things done, and
really doesn't seem to mind that he ruffles
a feather or two in the process. His ability
to think outside the box makes a lot of people
within the city hall establishment more than
just a bit nervous. That's not necessarily
a bad thing.
Fascinating situation. I have
no idea who will prevail, but I do know we'll
keep you posted on what should be a humdinger
of a spring election season in Parkville.
A third attention-getter from
'down south' involves the long-pending misdemeanor
criminal charges against attorney Michael
Gunn, former Platte County counselor. In a
story that has been exclusively followed by
The Landmark (you may have noticed
a pattern here), Gunn is accused of assault
on a female process server. The incident took
place more than a year ago, on Dec. 1, 2005
at the Gunn, Shank & Stover law firm,
Kansas City in Platte County, and the charges
are being handled in Kansas City Municipal
Gunn, 61, for several years
under previous county commissions served as
Platte County's legal counsel for planning
and zoning issues. He is charged with assault
and with resisting police who were called
to the scene. Police said they had to spray
Gunn with mace three times during the course
of his arrest.
He is scheduled to appear in
court this Thursday, Dec. 28 at 2:30 p.m.
but don't hold your breath. He has already
been granted continuances in the case on four
different occasions. Perhaps his legal strategy
is to delay the case until witnesses start
Followers of the Platte County
political scene will want to be on notice
that Friday will be a big day at the administration
Those officeholders successful
in the November election are scheduled to
be sworn in at 11 a.m. This includes Recorder
Gloria Boyer, Presiding Commissioner Betty
Knight, County Clerk Sandy Krohne (more on
her later), Collector Donna Nash, Auditor
Siobhann Williams, and Prosecutor Eric Zahnd.
A reception will follow.
These things are normally a
good time with the public officials in a relaxed
atmosphere. If your schedule permits, I encourage
you to attend.
Sandy Krohne announced Tuesday
she will be unable to attend the public swearing-in
ceremony on Friday due to a death in the family.
Instead, she was scheduled to take the oath
of office administered by Judge Lee Hull on
Wednesday in front of family, close friends
and staff members.
(Ivan Foley won't be sworn in but he's
accustomed to being sworn at. Take your best
shot via email at email@example.com)
comments; A Lamar moment; and more story problems
In the spirit of Christmas, Platte City Mayor
Dave Brooks will soon announce his intention
to annex the North Pole.
After I lampooned the amount of media coverage
his impending death was receiving earlier this
year, I fear that on Christmas Eve I will be
visited by the ghost of Buck O'Neil urging me
to do a reverse home mortgage with James B.
Nutter and Co.
Wow. What a Landmark Christmas party last Friday.
Hollywood is calling for the movie rights.
Thanks to the many special guests, and more
importantly, the devoted readers who took part
in the reindeer games. What's most satisfying
to us as hosts is the way folks have turned
it into a stay-while event to partake in hot
food and fellowship. It's not just a quick come-and-go
holiday sugar rush.
Platte City's obsession with what seems destined
to be another unsuccessful annexation attempt
continues to get more and more expensive for
Spending your money on failed ventures doesn't
seem to be bothering Mayor Dave and the Sunshine
Boys. On Tuesday night they approved hiring
more legal help to assist their apparently overmatched
team of Williams and Campo.
Williams and Campo's charge to the city has
been in the neighborhood of $190 per hour. The
additional hired gun employed this week will
hit taxpayers at the rate of $245 per hour.
How much are the boys going to spend on this
How can they in the future come to the voters
with a straight face and say the city has financial
needs when they are spending this kind of money
on an annexation effort that seems destined
With his unfortunate passing last week, pundits
are chiming in with their favorite Lamar Hunt
story. Let me add some meaningless chatter to
the personal clutter by telling of my only one-on-one
encounter with the Chiefs owner.
It was the fall of 1998. I was going through
chemotherapy for Hodgkins disease at the time.
Never one who enjoys sitting still for any length
of time, I awoke one rainy Sunday morning determined
to take advantage of a sideline photography
credential and go cover the Chiefs game that
day vs. San Diego. Alone. Just to prove I could.
So I'm standing on the sideline prior to the
game and rain is pelting the stadium. Sensing
someone standing over my right shoulder, I turned
around to be face-to-face with Lamar Hunt. Caught
off guard for just a second, I mumbled my way
through a greeting. Showing the humble nature
you've heard so much about, he then engaged
me in conversation.
Turn and look at all those umbrellas in the
crowd. It's very colorful, all the different
shades of umbrellas. I think that would make
a really neat picture," he said.
"You're right, Mr. Hunt, it would,"
I said, and I turned to shoot a few photos of
the crowd and the aforementioned colorful umbrellas
while he continued to politely chat me up.
Of course in 1998 The Landmark printed
only in black and white, so the colorful site
wasn't going to do a whole lot for my purposes.
But I didn't tell him that. After all, this
was Lamar Hunt. If a guy like that gives you
an idea, you do it and figure out any flaws
in the plan at a later time.
Again, not an exciting story. . .just one more
example of the humble nature of a powerful and
wealthy man. Not something found all that often
in today's society.
Reviving a topic at the tail of last week's
column, it's time for more story problems. Between
the Lines has obtained a copy of the Los Angeles,
California High School proficiency exam. Give
it your best shot.
1. Ramon has an AK-47 with a 30-round clip.
He usually misses six out of every 10 shots
and he uses 13 rounds per drive-by shooting.
How many drive-by shootings can Ramon attempt
before he has to reload?
2. Leroy has two ounces of cocaine. If he sells
an 8-ball to Antonio for $320 and two grams
to Juan for $85 per gram, what is the street
value of the rest of his hold?
3. Raul wants to cut the pound of cocaine he
bought for $40,000 to make a 20% profit. How
many ounce bags will he need to make to obtain
the 20% profit?
4. Desmond gets $200 for a stolen BMW, $150
for stealing a Corvette, and $100 for a 4x4.
If he steals one BMW, two Corvettes and three
4x4's, how many more Corvettes must he steal
to have $900?
5. Pedro got six years for murder. He also
got $10,000 for the hit. If his common law wife
spends $100 of his hit money per month, how
much money will be left when he gets out?
6. If an average can of spray paint covers
22 square feet and the average letter is three
square feet, how much tagging can be sprayed
with three eight ounce cans of spray paint left
7. LaShaunda is a lookout for the gang. LaShaunda
also has a boa constrictor that eats five rats
per week at a cost of $5 per rat. If LaShaunda
makes $700 a week as a lookout, how many weeks
can she feed the boa on one week's income?
8. Tyrone knocked up four girls in the gang.
There are 20 girls in his gang. What is the
exact percentage of girls he knocked up?
9. Marvin steals Juan's skateboard. As Marvin
skates away at 15 mph, Juan loads his 357 Magnum.
If it takes Juan 20 seconds to load his piece,
how far away will Marvin be when he gets whacked?
(Platte City's Board of
Aldermen wish you a Merry *#@!!$% Christmas
and Happy *@$%!* New Year! Send email to city
hall's least favorite columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org)
in the Christmas spirit; Landmark party
What better sign of the season
than a little Christmas cronyism at Platte
City's city hall?
Now sprinkled with profanity.
A quick public service announcement:
When you get a chance, sit down
at your computer and surf to www.annexationfacts.com.
It's a new web site that takes a look at Platte
City's current involuntary annexation effort.
It's complete, it's well-thought-out, well-designed
and includes some video commentary from folks
with opinions on the annexation effort.
It's a must-see. Very professionally
done. Kudos to whomever put all the work into
Aldermen Jim $#!% Palmer and
Lee Roy @%&* Van Lew have filed for reelection
in Platte City.
Put earmuffs on the kids.
Anxiously awaiting the updated
special guest list for The Landmark Christmas
party? Thought so. Hang on, the list is coming.
The party is this Friday, Dec.
15 from 4-8 p.m. at the Comfort Inn, located
at 1201 Hwy. 92 in Platte City. Come on, you
know where it is. Complimentary food and beverages
are provided by The Landmark in this open
to the public shindig. The Comfort Inn this
year is graciously donating use of the conference
room and dining area.
The food will be catered by
Platte City aldermen meetings
now rated PG-13.
On to the special guest list,
which continues to grow and will expand even
after this issue has gone to press.
Most recent confirmations include:
Longtime Between the Lines pal
Todd Graves, former county prosecutor
and U.S. Attorney now in private practice
in Kansas City; Attorney Jean Maneke,
one of the state's most recognized authorities
on the Sunshine Law who represents the Missouri
Press Association in open meetings and open
records issues; State Sen. Charlie Shields;
Platte County R-3 Superintendent Dr. Mark
Harpst; Landmark room mother Cora
Barton and her hubby Cecil; Patricia
Stinnett, R-3 school board member; Bob
Shaw, local attorney and R-3 board member;
Lisa Pope, county assessor; Sandy
Krohne, county clerk; Frank Offutt,
former Platte City mayor; Brian Nowotny,
Platte County parks director; Daniel Erickson,
Platte County planning and zoning director;
official Between the Lines hair stylist Victoria
Lynn; Sprint public relations dude/ local
chamber of commerce board member Randy
Knox; Unite's public relations specialist
Joann Lawson; Tom Robinson,
spokesperson for Kansas City Power and Light;
Susan Brown, power plant opponent;
Jeff Roe, well-known political consultant;
several members of Congressman Sam Graves'
staff including chief of staff Tom Brown,
deputy chief of staff Melissa Goss, and
staff members Buffy Smith, Shawna
Pauley, Ben Butler, and Shawn
Graybill; and Platte County Pachyderm
Club PR man Lee Valentine.
The above fine folks are recent
additions to the early list that included
Platte County Commissioners Betty Knight,
Jim Plunkett and Tom Pryor; newly-elected
county auditor Siobhann Williams; former
Landmark sports media columnist Greg
Hall; current Landmark columnist
Brian Kubicki; reporter Stacy Wiedmaier,
who is the reason The Landmark has
the best coverage of southern Platte County;
Landmark legal counselors Scott
Campbell and John Cady; photojournalist
Not-So-Wild Bill Hankins, who will
be autographing copies of his Landmark
People hard-cover book; political power
broker and Landmark pal Jason Klindt,
back from Montana after nearly leading Conrad
Burns to comeback win for U.S. Senate (does
he have some stories to tell); county director
of administration Dana Babcock; Eric
Zahnd, Platte County prosecutor; Quint
Shafer, Weston city attorney; Dave
Rittman, Parkville alderman; Platte County
Pachyderm Club president Lee Pedego;
and Jason Grill, newly-elected 30th
District state representative.
Landmark staff members
will be on hand to meet and greet the public.
Joining your humble host will be office manager
Cindy (Miss Christmas) Rinehart; office
assistant Kristine (There's no place like
the YMCA) Pearson-Pixler; assistant editor
Dave (The sober bartender) Kinnamon;
and ad sales guru Eric (I love my biceps)
Lewis, who has been bulking up big-time in
the company weight room and as a result has
been placed in charge of party security. Eric
believes if his biceps get any bigger he may
need a permit to carry those guns. He's also
mighty proud of a tattoo he just had installed
on one of his upper arms. I fear he may try
to show it off.
Let's close this week with one
of those story problems we used to see on
our math exams in school. Here's your question:
Platte City has six aldermen.
Four of them want annexation. They don't +#1@#(%
know why. They just +#1@#(% do. How many aldermen
have lost touch with planet Earth?
(Email your answer, and your best story
problem, to email@example.com)
embarrassing turn of annexation events for
Every time I'm working in the 110-year-old
Landmark building late into the evening
like I did this Tuesday and nearly every Tuesday
for that matter, I'm reminded of a conversation
I had with a female reporter who worked for
us several years ago. While working alone late
one night here in the office, this young lady
swore she saw an apparition walk from the back
office area and disappear into the bathroom.
She also showed me the outline of a face she
found in the detail of the grain of the wood
on the floor. She accused me of drawing the
face into the wood as a joke. The face spooked
her a bit.
At any rate, the young reporter was convinced
the ol' newspaper office is haunted. I told
her not to be afraid, the "ghost"
was probably former Landmark owner/editor Max
Jones just dropping by to check on things.
If it weren't so sad, this would be laughable.
The latest legal challenge to the newest Platte
City annexation attempt is now on the books.
If the simple allegation made in the plaintiffs'
petition proves to be correct--that the city
failed to notify them as property owners within
the annexation area of the impending land grab
attempt--it is another embarrassing act of incompetence
at city hall.
It's bad enough having a good ol' boy network
in place at city hall. Having an incompetent
good ol' boy network is a sitcom in the making.
Platte City can't even notify property owners
within the annexation boundaries. It's a (supposedly)
simple statutory requirement.
I told you a couple of weeks ago this newest
annexation effort was just a train wreck waiting
to happen. The folks at city hall better be
bracing themselves for another crash.
Stop the madness.
If the annexation effort ever gets to the ballot
box--and at this point with the comedy of errors
being displayed by city hall and its highly
paid consultants, I'm not sure it will ever
get that far--I see no way it will ever get
the two-thirds majority approval that would
be needed from combined voters in the city and
Again, it's time for city hall to blow up the
annexation effort and move on to something more
worthwhile. Get a sewer line to the area screaming
for development on the east side of I-29. Open
that area up to development, get some commercial
activity going there that will generate tax
revenue for the city.
For the folks at city hall, it's time to get
over the obsession with annexation. The community
is laughing at your every screw-up. It has become
a running joke. You're embarrassing yourselves.
No further proof is needed. It's time to blow
up the good ol' boy network at city hall. Voters
take note: Platte City would benefit from the
following elected officials being defeated the
next time their names appear on the ballot:
Dave Brooks, George McClintock, Bill Knighton,
Jim Palmer, and Lee Roy Van Lew.
It's time to break up the rock group known
as Mayor Dave and the Sunshine Boys. I'll hate
it, because these fellas make for some great
column fodder, but I'm willing to take one for
the betterment of the community.
Once defeated by voters, I suppose Mayor Dave
and the Boys could eventually do a reunion tour
of sorts, maybe meeting twice a month for a
couple shots of moonshine and a poker game in
somebody's garage, where they could reminisce
about the good ol' days when they were in power
at city hall taking care of their buddies, holding
illegal meetings and drooling over attractive
females who opposed annexation.
Mayor Dave could break out his ball cap with
the word "mayor" emblazoned across
the front. He could still refer to himself in
the third person. The four aldermen could still,
for the most part, sit there like bumps on a
log or be led around like puppets on a string.
See, life in forced retirement for these guys
would be much the same as things are now. .
. well, minus the paycheck from the taxpayers,
Much of the public continues to be skeptical
about the future of the proposed Shoppes at
North Gate development slated for the I-29 and
HH Hwy. intersection at the northern entrance
to Platte City. Construction of the project,
which was approved for public assistance in
the form of tax increment financing (TIF), was
originally supposed to begin last March. Construction
of anything, or even demolition of existing
structures, still sounds a long way off, based
on a conversation I had with developer Bill
Rabius last week, though Rabius still waxes
positive about the entire project.
"We continue to talk to prospective tenants
and pad purchasers. We continue to get questions.
. can you do this, can you do that. Some spaces
have not had enough parking per pad. We continue
to talk to them and make alterations to fit
their needs and are moving toward getting contracts
and leases," Rabius, of the development
firm Cox-Rabius, told me Friday.
But Rabius said there are no commitments thus
far. And the developers still have not purchased
the motel that sits on the site of the proposed
retail center, which Mayor Dave Brooks one time
claimed would be a development that "looks
like Zona Rosa."
"We'd sure like to be building (this coming)
spring, but we don't have a firm timeline,"
Some folks recently noticed that one of the
signs promoting the upcoming development has
been taken down at the site. Why? Several reasons,
"The picture portion of the sign was peeling
and fading. And the picture portion was no longer
accurate, since we have made changes to the
proposed design. The sign itself wasn't looking
good and the owner of the motel thought the
sign's presence was hurting his business,"
Rabius said. "So we took it down and hope
to get it more accurate and back up sometime
in the future."
(Come back every week
for more ghostly goodness in Between the Lines.
And send your best ghost story to
says he'll seek another term; Brown interested
It was long thought Jim Plunkett would
only serve one term as a Platte County Commissioner.
Not because he would get defeated in a bid
for reelection, mind you, but because Plunkett
has a thriving construction business and
the general thought was he wouldn't want
to spend more than four years away from
it playing county commissioner.
Forget the thoughts of Plunkett being a
one-termer. He has come to the decision
he will run again in 2008.
"At one time, I didn't know whether
I would have the energy for it," Plunkett
told me this week. "But I do."
In just two years on the job, Plunkett
has become one of my favorite elected officials
of all time. The reason why? He doesn't
care whose feathers he ruffles. Democrat
or Republican, if Plunkett sees a wrong,
he will point it out and try to make it
right. Let the cards fall where they may.
I love that approach. . . and a majority
of the voters do too, in my opinion.
Plunkett's approach to his job has not
always placed him in the good graces of
the Platte County Republican stronghold.
Some staunch party leaders wish Plunkett
wouldn't do things like question the Republican
sheriff about fuzzy budget numbers or question
the Republican auditor about $195,000 discrepancies.
They would much rather Plunkett only question
Plunkett doesn't care. .. .he truly wants
to do the right thing, not necessarily what
is popular with the movers and shakers of
the Republican party. He is his own man.
The world of public service needs more people
Who will be most upset Plunkett
has decided to seek a second term? It might
be State Rep. Jason Brown, who insiders are
telling me had the inside track at seeking
Plunkett's seat had the commissioner decided
to step away after one term. Brown, of course,
is in Iraq and unavailable for comment. Not
to be denied, I turned to ol' Between the
Lines pal John Elliott, a good friend of Brown's
who has been very active in Brown's campaigns.
"If Jim doesn't seek reelection,
it would be a great opportunity for Jason
to come home (work close to home in Platte
City as opposed to the statehouse in Jefferson
City)," Elliott said.
So what if Plunkett does run
"Then it wouldn't be a
great opportunity," he chuckled.
Sources say Brown and Plunkett
had a sit-down last week before Brown left
to complete his tour of duty in Iraq. It was
a feeling-out process, with Brown asking whether
Plunkett intended to step aside for him in
two years. That's when Plunkett told him no,
and made it known he will have his name on
the ballot in 2008.
So, does Plunkett anticipate
a challenge in the Republican primary from
"That's a tough question.
I don't know," Plunkett said.
Brown and Plunkett share many
of the same conservative values. It's tough
to imagine Brown deciding to challenge Plunkett.
That's assuming Plunkett remains a financial
conservative, and there is no reason to believe
he will ever be anything but.
"I can't see any reason
why anybody would want to have that fight,"
a GOP insider told me this week.
A Between the Lines salute goes
out to Officer Chris Stackhouse of the Platte
City Police Department for his work in making
the arrest of the three relatively infamous
Band Aid robbers, a trio of bandits who allegedly
pulled off up to seven bank robberies in this
region by handing notes demanding money to
Stackhouse, who has put in about
seven years on the Platte City police force
including the past year or so as the motorcycle
officer, used information being phoned in
by an off-duty Highway Patrol employee to
track the location of the minivan carrying
the suspects as they headed into Platte City
after allegedly pulling off their final heist
in southern Platte County.
Interestingly, the suspects
apparently had a hard time deciding whether
they wanted to pull over willingly when Stackhouse
was on their tail. "They actually stopped
in the turn (at the 92 Spur at Tracy), then
hit the gas. They pulled over to the shoulder
then hit the gas a couple more times before
finally stopping for good," Stackhouse
told me this week.
What was the attitude of the alleged felons
as Stackhouse approached the vehicle? "They
were like 'what's going on, why did you stop
me, acting innocent," Stackhouse said.
He first dealt with the driver, a female,
and after she was handcuffed he took into
custody the passenger in the front. He then
spoke into a PA microphone demanding any other
passengers to exit the vehicle. The third
suspect then appeared from underneath a rear
seat. They were unarmed, at least on their
person. "The FBI seized the van, what
they found I don't know," Stackhouse
More guest confirmations for
The Landmark Christmas party: Dana Babcock,
director of administration for Platte County;
your three county commissioners--Betty Knight,
Tom Pryor, Jim Plunkett; newly-elected county
auditor Siobhann Williams; Greg Hall, former
Landmark sports media columnist of legendary
proportions; columnist Brian Kubicki; Lee
Pedego, president of the Platte County Pachyderm
Club; Jason Klindt, political power broker
who is now back from Montana after nearly
helping Conrad Burns pull off what would have
been a monstrous comeback in the nationally-watched
Senate race in that state; many more announcements
yet to come.
The party is Dec. 15 from 4-8
p.m. at the Comfort Inn in Platte City. No
invitations needed--the public is invited
to come enjoy complimentary food and beverage.
(It is hoped we can
find at least three wise men in attendance
at The Landmark party. You be the judge. In
the meantime, send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org)
to be thankful for, thanks in part to annexation
It's one of my favorite holidays. A time to
relax, break up the normal work routine a bit,
get caught up with some family and friends,
and of course enjoy plenty of meaningful football,
all the while pausing to give thanks for the
many benefits of life in America.
This year, why not give a special thanks to
four Platte City aldermen and other original
colonists who settled this great country?
What was the greatest thing before sliced bread?
I need to take a moment to clarify an item
from last week in regard to the City of Platte
City's legal expenses related to its annexation
As reported here, the city since May has expended
$62,000 toward annexation. Of that amount, $31,000
has gone toward legal fees, but not all of that
has ended up in the hands of Chris Williams,
the city's annexation attorney. Of that $31,000,
around $12,000 has gone toward settling the
Sunshine Lawsuit that brought down the first
annexation effort. The attorneys for plaintiff
Harold Coons were paid a total of $12,300 by
the city, including $3,750 to Bob Shaw and $8,572
to co-counsel Murphy, Taylor and Siemens.
This means of the $31,000 that has been spent
by the city on legal work, roughly $19,000 of
that amount has gone to Williams.
As stated last week, $19,024 has been paid
from taxpayer funds thus far to annexation consultant
Richard Caplan; $4,800 has gone to engineering
and mapping firms; $4,342 has been paid to the
Platte County Citizen for annexation-related
legal notices; nearly $1,300 has gone to cover
election costs for an election that never occurred;
more than $1,000 has gone toward postage; and
$175 has covered miscellaneous expenses.
What if there were no hypothetical questions?
Some things I'm thankful for, well, other than
the obvious of family, good friends, good health:
Elected officials, willing to serve. .. and
willing to be second guessed and critiqued by
those of us who make a living doing so.
Dave Brooks--never before has one man provided
so much material for one columnist. My only
challenge is to not go to the well too often.
Readers. God bless you.
That Vegas vacation waiting for me in March.
Music. All types.
Fried chicken. Colonel Sanders is the man.
Steak, juicy with pink center, no sauce.
A Thanksgiving night game at Arrowhead, where
a Between the Lines entourage will be to cheer
the Chiefs to victory over the Broncos.
An office staff that knows how to work hard.
. .and how to have fun in the process.
LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers running back,
just told a TV audience that he looked up to
legendary running back Jim Brown while growing
News flash: Jim Brown quit playing in 1965.
I was two years old. Tomlinson wasn't even old
enough to be an alleged victim of stem cell
When they pan to the broadcast booth to show
Al Michaels and John Madden on camera during
Sunday night football games, why do they both
insist on so demonstratively talking with their
hands? They do it with such exaggerated motion
that it looks very contrived (I'm showing
off, that's a fancy word for fake).
It's not like their subject matter is so deep
the audience isn't going to understand it without
the hand jives.
Sometimes I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous.
Speaking of football, it's tradition during
Thanksgiving week to have as our Pigskin Picks
guest contestant a member of The Landmark
family. This year the honor goes to Kurt Foley,
high school sophomore son of the publisher.
Kurt performed the Years Ago column duties for
most of the fall while his sister Alyssa was
busy with volleyball activities. Kurt has now
relinquished the column-gathering duties back
to Alyssa while he competes in basketball. In
the spring, I expect I will have to referee
an argument between them to see who "gets"
to write the column at that point.
Just now getting started on contacting special
guests for The Landmark public Christmas party
set for Friday, Dec. 15 at the Comfort Inn in
Platte City. The gathering will run from 4-8
On the early confirmation list thus far are
newly-elected State Rep. Jason Grill of Parkville;
Dave Rittman, Parkville alderman; Platte County
Prosecutor Eric Zahnd; Quint Shafer, attorney
for the City of Weston, who confirmed on election
night by saying "only if you put my name
in the paper;" and hotshot defense attorney
and official Landmark legal counsel Scott Campbell
of Platte City.
Many more to come.
(Shoot the bull with this
Thanksgiving turkey anytime at email@example.com)
the sake of the taxpayers, it's
time to stop the annexation charade
Platte City's mayor
and aldermen really need to stop
the annexation charade. This whole
farce has reached the point it's
tough for me to take it seriously
any longer as a hard-core news story.
I'm this close (I just realized
you can't see me--picture your fingers
one inch apart) to only covering
this topic in full parody mode from
Whether it happens
in the courtroom where countless
legal challenges are already being
planned, or at the ballot box where
a 66.6% majority will be needed
for passage at a second election,
there's no doubt in my mind the
city's proposal is going to crash
and burn once again. It's a train
wreck waiting to happen. It's a
Monty Python episode playing out
right before our eyes.
Why are they continuing
to waste everybody's time? More
importantly, why are they continuing
to waste taxpayers' money?
I am convinced the
mayor's reasoning for pursuing involuntary
annexation is all about ego and
power. The city administrator's
reasoning is dollar signs.
But here's the kicker:
I'm of the opinion a few seasoned
aldermen are being motivated to
continue to beat the annexation
drum simply because of the attention
the process is bringing them from
attractive females who actively
oppose the idea. I watched a senior
citizen-aged alderman engage in
a close-to-the-vest conversation
with one such female during a break
at Tuesday night's annexation hearing.
As I watched the conversation from
afar and observed the body language,
it hit me: There's no other place
in the world that old feller would
rather be right now.
That's right, the
older dudes are loving this. They're
getting attention from an attractive
young female who under normal circumstances
wouldn't bother to look their direction
or give them the time of day. After
the break was over, I half expected
this ol' boy to go back to the table
and make a motion for another meeting
to be held tomorrow night.
My advice is for annexation
opponents to have only their male,
ugly and most verbally aggressive
members approach the aldermen in
private discussion from now on.
Putting an attractive female out
front is actually working against
what they're trying to accomplish.
Getting back to the
topic of the city wasting money
on what is destined to be another
Public records available
from city hall show that Platte
City has already spent nearly $62,000
on annexation since May of this
year. That is an unbelievable waste
of money, folks.
So, who have been
the recipients of the disbursements
from the annexation slush fund?
Glad you asked.
To this point, $31,300
has been paid by the city to annexation
attorney Chris Williams. Over $19,000
has gone to annexation consultant
Rich Caplan. Engineers and mapping
firms have received $4,800. A whopping
$4,342 has gone to the Platte County
Citizen, widely-considered the official
Brooks-Moody propaganda machine,
for the printing of annexation legal
notices. (Zero annexation-related
publications have been sent to The
Landmark, by the way, just in case
you needed proof the boys at city
hall like to play politics with
your tax money.)
include nearly $1,300 involved in
pulling the previous attempt off
the November election ballot after
the Sunshine Lawsuit exposed the
city's illegal disregard for the
public's right to know, nearly $1,100
for postage costs, and $175 for
A date has been nailed
down for the annual Landmark Christmas
party, an open-to-the public hootenanny
that will feature complimentary
food and beverages courtesy of your
favorite newspaper. This year's
bash will take place on Friday,
Dec. 15, and we're working on a
new twist or two to add to what
has become the county's most talked
about holiday hoedown.
Comfort Inn of Platte
City will again be the location.
Brady Rodgers, owner of the Comfort
Inn, has graciously offered up the
conference room and kitchen area
of the hotel to us at no charge
"It's our way
of blessing the community. Your
party is tasteful and neat, and
I want to do my part by donating
the conference room and helping
any way I can," Brady told
me this week.
Good stuff. Brady
stepped forward with his offer without
being asked to do so, and his generosity
is noteworthy and sincerely appreciated.
The ownership and staff at the Comfort
Inn have always gone out of their
way to accommodate our needs for
Many details about the gathering
are still being assembled, such
as the dinner menu and exact time
of day, but what is known is that
award-winning photojournalist Bill
Hankins will have a table set up
and be ready to personally autograph
copies of his impressive hard-cover
book entitled "Landmark
People." Feel free to bring
your copy or purchase one from Bill
the night of the party.
Now we'll get to work
confirming special guests and will
keep an updated list rolling in
this column. If you're one of the
usual suspects and want to drop
me an email to let me know you'll
be here, feel free to do so. If
not, I'll be chasing you down real
Did Brady just say
our party is tasteful? I'm sorry
but I'm not taking the blame for
(Got a guest you'd like to
see crash the Christmas party? Send
your suggestion to Platte County's
Journalistic Santa at firstname.lastname@example.org)
first challenge; and absentee counts
are a precursor
What an election. Two
county races determined by less than
1.26%. Sandy Krohne continues to be
the incumbent who just won't go away
despite organized efforts to unseat
her. Several of famed campaign czar
Jeff Roe's candidates, including Sandra
Thomas and John DeStefano, go down
to defeat. Sandra Thomas can't carry
her home county in the race for state
Where do we start?
Siobhann Williams benefited--but
perhaps not as much as may have been
expected--from the anti-Sandra Thomas
rub that was going against her opponent,
Ruby Maline, who had served as Thomas'
deputy. Williams is your new Platte
County auditor, winning by 170 votes
in an extremely tight race that will
get a recount if Maline desires and
goes through the proper channels in
asking for one.
"I worked awfully
hard. I was surprised it was that
close," Williams told me Wednesday
I agree. I thought the
tidal wave of ant-Sandra sentiment,
which seems to be particularly strong
in the southern part of the county,
would allow Williams to coast to a
wider margin of victory over Maline,
a sweetheart of a person and a capable
auditor's office employee for several
years. Much of the anti-Thomas sentiment
apparently did not stick to Ruby,
which I think surprised some folks.
Either way, the voters were going
to end up with a capable auditor,
in my opinion, as both Williams and
Maline had the credentials to handle
"It's going to
take some time and some energy to
get the office back up to speed,"
Williams said, referring to the fact
Thomas has been away from the office
so much during her statewide campaign,
leaving an added work load for Maline.
"There has to be some things
behind because of that," Williams
pointed out. "There will be no
major changes until I first see where
things are. I will make it the most
efficient office it can be,"
Williams' biggest challenge,
in my view, will be to prove she can
remain independent of influence from
the county treasurer's office. Treasurer
Bonnie Brown served on Williams' campaign
committee. The auditor must be able
to be independent and folks will be
watching to see what happens with
Williams and Brown working so closely
together. Williams, in her defense,
claims she will actually be more independent
than Maline would have been, pointing
out that many Republican officeholders
gave support to Maline's campaign.
The other amazingly
close race featured a 1.26% margin
of victory for Republican Gloria Boyer
over a strong challenge from Democrat
Jennifer Wilmot. Wilmot is telling
folks to expect a recount, but if
you read our front page story you'll
see a recount being ordered in her
race will take some doing because
it falls out of the realm of a less
than one percent margin of victory.
Wilmot will have to give reasonable
cause for a court to believe there
were errors of omission or commission
if she wants to pursue the recount.
Maline, however, could easily get
a recount ordered in her 170-vote
loss to Williams, should she so choose,
because it was a race decided by less
than one percent.
Many readers find the
precinct-by-precinct breakdown of
how the votes tallied an interesting
document to peruse. Check out that
information on page A-5.
It's interesting to
see which areas of the county leaned
which direction in various races.
Betty Knight only defeated
Roger Sullins by 60% to 40%. I say
only because Sullins never really
put any effort into the campaign.
Betty was saved this year because
factions of her own party mercifully
called off the dogs and let her slide
by unopposed in the primary last August.
Had they gone after her in with aggression
like they did against a couple of
commissioners two years ago, Betty
likely would be joining former commissioners
Michael Short and Steve Wegner in
A trio of Landmark staffers
arrived at the board of elections
shortly after 7 p.m. and the absentee
vote totals were handed to us. I'm
of the opinion that in most elections,
you can get a good barometer for how
the night is going to go simply by
viewing the results of the absentee
ballots . . . and that proved true
in this case. By looking at those
absentee numbers at about 7:10 p.m.
it was clear Sandy Krohne was in for
a good night, Talent and McCaskill
were going to run neck-and-neck (only
one vote separated them out of 2,000
absentee ballots in Platte County)
and the races for auditor and recorder
would be extremely tight. Maline led
Williams by two votes in the absentees
and Boyer had gathered only 28 more
absentee votes than Wilmot.
Absentees indeed were
a true indicator on Tuesday in Platte
Long but successful
night for Gloria Boyer on Tuesday?
"When I finally
got to bed I slept like the dead,"
she told me.
And speaking of long
nights, what about for Siobhann Williams?
"Today I'm going
to be a couch potato. That was premeditated,"
she said Wednesday morning.
I'll second Siobhann's
motion for some down time without
politics at the forefront. I need
a few hours to shave, get a haircut,
maybe tuck in my shirt, get my oil
changed, clean my desk, shop-vac the
historic Landmark office, finish a
painting project I started last weekend,
and then dive head-first into whatever
the next big news story proves to
(Email your thoughts on what
the next big news story might be to
the money often a revealing trip
down the campaign trail
With Election Day less
than a week away, I made a trip to
the Platte County Board of Elections
to follow the money. By that I mean
I wanted to take a gander at the campaign
finance reports filed by the folks
seeking to represent you in elected
Following the money
is always an interesting angle. Presumably,
the more campaign donations a candidate
can generate, the better the chances
at success on Election Day.
Here are some of the highlights of
a Between the Lines look at your candidates'
latest financial reports, which represent
numbers "eight days out"
of the election.
COUNTY CLERK'S RACE:
Problems for Sandy Krohne. The
Democrat incumbent filed a report
that lists a negative balance in her
cash on hand. I asked the folks at
the board of elections if this is
possible. "No, a candidate cannot
have a negative balance," Wendy
Flanigan, director for the board of
elections, told me Wednesday morning.
Flanigan then got on the phone with
Krohne to let the candidate know there
are problems with her paperwork. Krohne
will have to file an amended report.
"She may have incorrectly listed
some information dealing with her
fundraiser," Flanigan said. Bottom
line is that Krohne has practically
no money left to spend in the closing
days. Krohne told Flanigan she has
$9 in her campaign bank account.
Challenger Rebecca Rooney
is sitting in a prettier financial
picture. Rooney's report listed over
$4,800 in money on hand as of Monday.
Rooney has spent $9,600 so far on
the campaign, while Krohne has spent
RACE: Incumbent Donna Nash, Republican,
lists $1,569 in cash on hand. She
has spent nearly $9,300 on her campaign
Democratic challenger Betty Reavis
has $3,430 on hand. She has spent
$4,766 on the election thus far. This
seems to indicate Reavis has plans
to do a mailing in the final days,
which could give her a boost but it
would still be a shock if Reavis is
able to upend the incumbent, who seems
to enjoy widespread support.
RACE: Gloria Boyer, Republican,
has only $530 on hand as the election
approaches. She has spent $5,300 on
her election effort thus far, including
$4,500 on a mailer.
Democrat Jennnifer Wilmot
has nearly $3,000 on hand, enough
to do some targeted campaigning. A
potential troubling detail for Wilmot
is that she has only expended $800
on what has been a stealth campaign
effort thus far. She has cash to spend
in the closing days, but will it be
enough to overcome a slow start?
Quite a contrast. Republican incumbent
Betty Knight has plenty of green in
the bank. Her eight-day-out report
lists more than $15,000 in cash on
hand. She has spent just over $10,000
on her campaign thus far.
Challenger Roger Sullins, Democrat,
has only $861 on hand and has burned
only $1,600 on his campaign.
This is turning into a potential problem
race for the Republicans, who currently
hold this office. Ruby Maline, chief
deputy for current auditor Sandra
Thomas, is running against Democrat
Siobhann Williams as Thomas campaigns
for state auditor.
Maline has spent $5,200
on her campaign thus far, but now
lists only $59 in the "money
on hand" line. Expect some Republicans
with extra cash to come to Maline's
financial aid here in the final hours.
Williams has spent $8,600
on the campaign to this point. She
still has more than $5,900 available
in cash, plenty of resources to gain
some momentum in the closing days.
Williams has been busy loaning her
personal money to her campaign committee.
She loaned her campaign $2,500 on
Oct. 24 and then loaned another $1,500
on Oct. 26. Williams' campaign treasurer
is Bonnie Brown, county treasurer,
a potential cause for concern to some
voters who may prefer the auditor
and treasurer not be quite so friendly.
In some voters' minds, a little tension
between offices forms a built-in check-and-balance
30TH DISTRICT: Incumbent Republican
Jason Brown has spent roughly $44,000
on his re-election effort thus far.
He has more than $46,000 remaining
in the bank and sadly one Iraqi bullet
remaining in his lung. I'm going to
go out on a limb and predict your
mailbox will be full of Brown campaign
material from now till Tuesday. Brown
has also had voter awareness raised
with all the recent media coverage
of his injury in Iraq and his return
Jared Welch is a well-qualified, well-organized
opponent who has spent $39,000 on
the campaign and has $20,000 in the
32ND DISTRICT: If campaign finances
are the key to winning elections,
the Democrats will wrestle this seat
away from the Republicans. It's currently
held by Susan Phillips, who is prohibited
from running again due to term limits.
Republican John DeStefano has expended
$75,000 thus far in the race to represent
southern Platte County. He has $21,500
remaining in the coffers.
Democrat Jason Grill,
a Between the Lines favorite who graced
us with his presence at last year's
Landmark public Christmas party, narrowly
lost to Phillips last time around.
Grill has spent a whopping $125,000
on the race, and still has nearly
$27,000 on hand.
(Take a revealing trip into
the mind of Ivan Foley via email to
continues to impress Brooks; Analyzing
the county races
It's World Series week,
so I'm writing this column with my left
hand lathered in a mixture of pine tar,
resin, dirt and spit.
Now try to hit my curve.
Platte City's extremely
lengthy aldermen meeting Tuesday night
(it pushed two hours) was a microcosm
of the Dave Brooks administration. Big
on ceremony, self-importance and attempted
cronyism but not much in the way of
Maybe that's why I found
it so entertaining.
The latest classic quote
from Platte City Mayor Dave Brooks--words
of colloquial wisdom we've come to dub
Brooksisms--was uttered at Tuesday night's
meeting of the aldermen. As you know,
some of my favorite Brooksie quotes
come when he refers to himself in the
third person. He didn't exactly do that
Tuesday, but he came mighty close. When
talking about more than $1 million in
grant money coming toward Platte City
from MoDOT, Brooks muttered this classic:
"Don't tell me that
this board and this administration don't
get things done. We do. Congratulations
to all of us."
There you go. As you go
about your business today, be sure to
congratulate yourself on a job well
done. Be sure to say it out loud so
others can hear you.
The one nice thing about
egotists is they don't talk about other
Platte County political
races this year are interesting, if
for no other reason than the Democrats
actually decided to participate in the
reindeer games by placing a candidate
in many of the open spots (no Democrat
candidate for prosecutor, however, which
I'm sure is appreciated by incumbent
The local Dems have put
together a decent list of candidates
for the most part. Here's a Between
the Lines look at the contested spots:
Democrat Siobhann Williams will face
Republican Ruby Maline. Through political
association, Williams is tied closely
to Democrat treasurer Bonnie Brown,
who recently fell out of favor with
some folks when her office knew about
a $195,000 discrepancy on the county
books for months before bringing the
matter to the attention of other county
officeholders. Despite this negative,
Williams appears to be a qualified and
capable candidate, as does Maline, who
has worked for 10 years as a deputy
auditor for Sandra Thomas. Maline was
left in a tough spot during the recent
bookkeeping fiasco, abandoned without
help from the statewide campaigning
Thomas for much of the time to shoulder
the media scrutiny of what turned out
to be an embarrassing time for all involved.
To her credit, Maline can say there
is no one who has more experience or
knowledge of the current office. Republicans
are trying desperately to hold onto
this office, Democrats trying to take
advantage of a chance to gain a seat.
This race is wide open as the incumbent,
Democrat Ida Cox, is stepping down and
headed for log cabin retirement in Colorado.
Cox's top deputy, Gloria Boyer, is actually
running on the Republican ticket. Like
Maline, Boyer can say no one has more
experience or knowledge of the current
office. Democrat candidate in this race
is Jennifer Wilmot of southern Platte
County. Wilmot, it appears, is focusing
her campaign efforts in the south part
of the county, because her presence
in the north has been of the diaphanous
Republican incumbent Betty Knight,
it is anticipated, will not have much
trouble winning reelection to a fourth
term. Knight has taken on a new personality--in
my opinion, an improved personality--since
the 2004 election of fellow current
commissioners Tom Pryor and Jim Plunkett.
Knight seems to be more in touch with
the taxpayer and the common person than
she did when serving with previous commissioners.
But give Roger Sullins
and the Democrats credit for providing
opposition. Sullins, who works for the
Farley Special Road District, says he
is most proud of the fact he has never
run for political office.
Donna Nash is an entrenched Republican
incumbent who quite often goes unchallenged
by a Democrat opponent. Not this year,
as the Democrats have awoken from their
slumber. Betty Reavis, the Dems' nominee,
is a very likable person but faces what
appears to be an uphill battle to try
to unseat the popular Nash.
COUNTY CLERK: The
most intriguing of the county-level
races, in my opinion. About a month
ago I would have said the Democrat incumbent
Sandy Krohne was going to have little
trouble getting elected to a fourth
term. Krohne puts in a lot of time at
her post and generally is well-received
on the campaign trail by the public.
She has in the past enjoyed crossover
support from some Republicans, but that
well may have run dry. Many Republicans
formerly crossed party lines to support
Krohne because they knew she wasn't
afraid to challenge previous ego-driven
county commissions. But the current
commission has a taxpayer-first, not
me-first, approach to governing and
seems to have a broad base of support,
meaning more Republicans will likely
"stay home" to vote for their
own party this time around. The GOP
candidate is Rebecca Rooney. Rooney's
campaign, in my view, picked up steam
lately when she started focusing more
on job performance and qualification
issues and less on personality differences
between the two candidates. She is smiling
more and nipping less and it seems to
be working for her.
Tough race to call.
(Ivan Foley would like to congratulate
Ivan Foley for using a couple words
never before seen in a Between the Lines
column. Send your congratulations to
the city can't deny it wanted to avoid
Where's the beef?
Wendy's in Platte City is history.
The fast-food chain's stay in town was
short-lived. The business, located near
the Running Horse Road and Hwy. 92 intersection,
has been shut down, presumably because
not enough of us were enjoying their
hamburgers ordered just the way we like
them. Boards have gone up on the windows
and the sign has already come down.
That's a high traffic location for
an empty building and not the kind of
welcome mat you like to see greeting
visitors. Hopefully a new commercial
operation will be able to go in at that
site in the near future.
The situation provides more ammo for
the crowd of folks who believe the city
of Platte City needs to be concentrating
more on taking care of what it has instead
of trying to expand its geographic borders
by three-fold through an aggressive
unfriendly annexation effort.
Most impressive part of
the Platte County R-3 Homecoming parade
through downtown Platte City last Friday?
The Pirate marching band's rendition of
"Carry On My Wayward Son," a
classic song originally done by the rock
group Kansas. Good stuff.
If you're a sports fan,
hope you caught the second half of the
Monday Night Football game. It was something
special, as the undefeated Chicago Bears
overcame a 20-point second half deficit.
The miraculous angle is they did it without
scoring an offensive touchdown, getting
two TD's on fumble recovery returns by
their defense and another on a punt return
for a touchdown.
It was one of those incredible
NFL games that only comes along once every
five or 10 years, and offered a memorable
sports-watching moment for yours truly
and my 15-year-old son as we were chillin'
in the living room in the late evening.
What is the deal with the
guests opening a four-game lead in our
Pigskin Picks contest? To avoid defeat
for all Landmark columnists, I've got
to do a better job finding guest contestants
who know very little about football. Perhaps
The Landmark recently put
in a Sunshine Law request for basically
everything that was sought in discovery
by the plaintiffs in the recent lawsuit
against the city. Of course the city did
not have to turn over documents it claims
are covered by attorney/client privilege.
. .not surprisingly, no documents were
made available to us that showed communication
about the meeting that raped and pillaged
the state's open meetings law on June
7. Call me a skeptic but I have a feeling
there were some pretty interesting email
communications that were conveniently
not provided to the newspaper.
Perhaps the most interesting
public document we acquired from Platte
City through our Sunshine request is an
email that provides positive proof the
city designed its annexation boundaries
to avoid areas of heavy voter population.
This point has been widely alleged by
annexation opponents and repeatedly denied
by some city officials as recently as
last Wednesday night outside city hall
when alderman George McClintock was the
latest to enter the spin zone under intense
questioning from Bill Brown, a resident
of the annexation area.
"We're not afraid of
voters," McClintock said.
But an interesting email
communication obtained by The Landmark
proves otherwise. In an email sent on
Feb. 13 from city administrator Keith
Moody to Shannon Porter, an Automated
Information Mapping System (AIM) employee
contracted by the city to assist with
its annexation mapping, Moody writes (and
I'll put the incriminating portion in
"I would like you to
do another annexation maps (sic), modify
the map that you show Scenario A and B
as follows: 1. Look at expanding the boundary
of Scenario A to include undeveloped land
in the Scenario B areas. Basically we
want to avoid areas that will have voters
in them. Include the islands of unincorporated
area into the boundary calculating for
Area A. "
Bingo. There's your proof
the city intentionally designed annexation
boundaries to avoid voters in an obvious
effort to make the annexation election
easier to win. Case closed. Time to stop
Also of note in public documents
we studied is this tidbit. Did you know
the city originally had an Area C in its
plans for annexation? Area C would have
consisted of about 1,600 acres and would
have taken in the residences of such notable
annexation opponents as Bob Shaw, Trish
Stinnett and Dana Babcock, as well as
the Lakes at Oakmont subdivision. Area
C was eliminated as a proposal in an email
from Keith Moody to the mapping person
on April 26. Apparently too many voters.
Another interesting piece
of information we uncovered is this one,
which dates all the way back to April
of 2005. In a memo to the mayor and board
of aldermen that month, city administrator
Keith Moody wrote: "I would expect
that the lasting effect of proceeding
with the annexation will be that you will
see candidates file for your elected position
during the annexation process as well
as following the annexation process. They
will have support of those who are opposed
to the annexation. In short be prepared
for a well-organized campaign against
your reelection should you support the
Smarter words have never been written
at city hall.
officials have already tried to annex
the scrolling neon message sign in The
Landmark's front window, but so far we've
been able to resist all efforts at a hostile
takeover. Read the sign next time you're
downtown . .. and email the publisher
candidate makes pledge of safer schools;
John Denver chimes in
Why did giant camels die off?
Ancient camels as tall as elephants once
roamed the Syrian desert. Their demise puzzles
Don't worry, that's not really
my column topic. I was just doing some reading
of the headlines on Yahoo.com when I realized
it was past deadline to crank out a column.
Now I'm reading a copy of
People magazine I found lying around the
homestead. I turn to the "Insider"
page and start reading the Hollywood scoop
about celebrities. Here are some of the
celebrity names highlighted in bold print:
Minnie Driver. Criss Angel. Lisa Rinna.
Scott Speedman. Keira Knightley. Rupert
Friend. Mischa Barton. Brody Jenner. Cacee
What do these folks all have
I've never heard of any of
Either this was an "Insider"
page of B-List celebrities or I have been
spending way too much time confined to The
Feeling a need to recharge
my political batteries for the final weeks
as we head toward the November election,
I have spent the past four or five days
going out of my way to avoid those political
functions and canned gatherings that are
good for glad-handing but really provide
no news value to readers. If you are a candidate
or a staunch supporter of such and care
enough to have noticed my absence the past
few days, don't take it personal. In mental
self defense mode to avoid political burnout,
I have tried to boycott all things political
since my last such event, which was the
Pachyderm Club to hear Congressman Sam Graves
With that self-imposed respite
out of the way, I'm back in the saddle and
ready to guide this Landmark thoroughbred
down the home stretch.
Democrat candidate for state
auditor Susan Montee issued a press release
this week saying she has a plan for improving
safety in Missouri schools. Her plan is
to audit implementation of the 10-year-old
Missouri Safe Schools Act, which she says
was written with flexibility to fit the
unique needs of individual school districts.
The reaction of her opponent
to Montee's pledge to make schools safer?
"She has as much to do with that as
she does investigating Mark Foley's IM account,"
said Jeff Roe, consultant for the Sandra
The best part about Roe's
quote is that he said it in a kinder, more
It goes without saying our
thoughts and prayers go out to wounded state
representative Jason Brown, who as the world
knows is now back home in Platte City after
being shot while serving our country in
Readers occasionally like
to contribute to the effort here in Between
the Lines. One reader put his thoughts on
the recent City of Platte City Sunshine
Law fiasco to music. Kind of.
Imagine the late John Denver
singing about that (damn) Sunshine Law.
Here's how it might go, at least according
to this Between the Lines reader who doesn't
want public credit, should any be deserving,
for his work:
Sunshine on my shoulders
makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on others looks so lovely
Sunshine almost always makes me high
If I had a day that I could
I'd give to you a June day in 2006
If I had a song that I could sing for you
I'd sing a song to make you feel this way
Missouri Sunshine makes
Sunshine in my eyes makes me ethical
Sunshine on elected officials looks so lovely
Sunshine always provides moral guidance
(doesn't rhyme but gets the message across)
If I had a tale that I
could tell you
I'd tell a tale sure to make you smile
If I had a wish that I could wish for you
I'd make a wish for Sunshine laws all the
Platte City's newest annexation
proposal has the city bringing into its
mighty municipal limits the residence of
popular Platte County Commissioner Jim Plunkett.
Mayor Dave and the Sunshine
Boys might want to proceed with caution.
(Like that would ever happen). They may
be annexing the next mayor of Platte City.
(Ivan Foley has a friend who says
John Denver must have been a really bad
golfer because on the day of his passing
he put two balls in the water. Plagiarize
a John Denver song and send it to
columnist borrows style; and Roe reacts
to trash talking
You'll catch me saying this
with the arrival of every fall season. It's
time to get out and take a drive around Platte
County or perhaps wheel your way up Interstate
29 between here and St. Joseph and take in
the beautiful colors as the leaves have begun
their annual turn. Good stuff.
Should make for nice scenery
if you're headed to the Applefest at Weston
No Sunshine Law violations at
the City of Platte City yet this week.
It's still early.
I'm wondering if the Royals
would have already fired manager Buddy Bell
and would be searching for his replacement
right now if Bell hadn't developed his health
situation recently. New KC general manager
Dayton Moore may feel like he is caught between
a rock and a hard place, knowing he needs
to make a move in the best interests of the
ball club yet not wanting to come off as callous
toward Bell, who recently had a cancerous
growth removed from his tonsil.
It's amusing to me to notice
that Jeffrey Flanagan, a sports columnist
for the KC Star, has "adopted" the
style previously used by former Landmark/Star/Pitch
sports media columnist Greg Hall. Flanagan
is using quotes from sports media folks followed
by his own opinions in his Monday columns
now, using the exact same format with the
italic font and columnist's initials for the
editorial commentary that Hall's columns featured
in The Landmark.
Flanagan is proof that if you
have no style, you must borrow style from
You would think the Star would at least run
the 10-year-old mug shots of Hall as a tribute
to the originator. Maybe they were too concerned
about taking up space reserved for another
Buck O'Neil bedside update. "Breaking
news from the KC Star. . . 95-year-old man
Shocking. Absolutely shocking.
What makes it even more amusing
to me is I can tell you from firsthand knowledge
that Flanagan was a major playah hatah toward
Hall's popularity when GH was penning his
journalistic goodness. Now Flanagan is trying
to adopt the style and approach he once allegedly
Judging from Monday's column,
he has a long way to go for his comments to
get the reaction that Hall's knowledge and
biting humor reached on a consistent basis.
Got an email Tuesday from Rick
Kindhart, assistant executive director of
the Missouri State High School Activities
Association. Kindhart says there is a player
at Nevada High School who has been drop-kicking
extra points this season. Kindhart wants to
know when was the last time this happened
in the state of Missouri and is any other
team doing this? Can anyone remember a high
school football player using this method to
convert PATs instead of the traditional snap
to the holder?
I've never drop kicked an extra
point but on Tuesday afternoon I was tempted
to drop-kick reporter Dave Kinnamon's computer
after it caused us fits. I think I could have
bounced that thing off the sidewalk in front
of The Landmark and drop kicked that
sucker down to Ronnie Pine's barber shop.
With plenty of hang time.
There will be no Jason Grill
vs. John DeStefano public debate/forum sponsored
by The Landmark. DeStefano wanted questions
to be prepared and forwarded to candidates
What a snoozefest that would
produce. Canned answers don't give the public
a true view of the candidate and his ability
to think on his feet and react to situations
on the fly. It would be a waste of The Landmark's
time to put together such a scripted scene.
If you've been to one of those type forums,
you know what I mean. The canned approach
is an insult to the intelligence of voters,
in my opinion.
Grill, to his credit, was willing
to take unrehearsed questions.
"I get questions every
day, some are nice, some are not very nice.
I'm open to any questions you might ask,"
Grill said. "I want to do these things
(forums). I think we need to do these things.
If you're going to be state rep you need to
be able to answer these questions."
There are unconfirmed reports
that some trash-talking is taking place in
at least one of the campaigns for Platte County
office. As always, readers here in Between
the Lines can expect us to gather the reaction
of experts to specific news events. With that
in mind, I sought out the reaction of well-known
political consultant Jeff Roe on this topic.
Roe's take on the alleged trash talking at
the county level?
"In this era of kinder,
more civil politics, it's unfortunate that
some campaigns get into mean-spirited name
calling," he told me.
Sandra Thomas, Platte County
auditor and the GOP candidate for state auditor,
will be the featured speaker at a meeting
of the Platte Republican Association this
Friday evening at the Granfalloon off of Barry
Road. Attendance at the PRA meetings has been
hurting; maybe the appearance by Thomas will
generate some interest.
Membership is still growing
in the Platte County Pachyderm Club, another
Republican organization. President Lee Pedego
reports the club now has 139 members, making
it the fifth-largest Pachyderm club in the
country after just one year of existence.
(Ivan Foley attempts not to promote
political name-calling, but admits it can
be good column fodder when it happens. Call
the publisher names via email at email@example.com)
leaders shoot themselves in the foot; State
rep candidate once had Blind Date appearance
Our lead story this week comes as no surprise
to anyone who has read The Landmark since the
Platte City aldermen held a 'we could tell ya,
but we'd have to kill ya' secretive meeting
back on June 7. It also comes as no surprise
if you're a regular reader of our website at
plattecountylandmark.com, where we first broke
the story last Friday.
Make no mistake, Platte City deciding to pull
its annexation issues off the November ballot
rather than continuing to fight the lawsuit
alleging the city violated the Sunshine Law
on June 7 is in effect an admission of guilt.
When the settlement is finally approved by the
court, expect to see the city having to pay
thousands of dollars to cover plaintiff Harold
Coons' legal fees. You don't do that unless
you know you're guilty. Also, you don't start
talking settlement right at the time discovery
documents--potential evidence--are due to be
turned over. That's another indication of an
extremely guilty conscience.
Need more proof? Not surprisingly, more proof
is coming from Mayor Dave and the Sunshine Boys
themselves. In a strange press release issued
Tuesday night mayor Dave Brooks is quoted as
"I know many people in Platte City are
disappointed to see a technical glitch slow
the progress of our developing community."
That's just one sentence but it is extremely
revealing in a number of ways.
No. 1: The mayor's comment indicates there
was a technical glitch. He's talking about the
Sunshine Law legal action. If he admits there
was a glitch, he has to be admitting the city
once again spit on the open meetings law and
once again showed disregard for the public's
legal right to know.
No. 2: Many people are disappointed? Who is
he talking about? The four aldermen who voted
for annexation? I like to think I'm pretty well
connected with public opinion, and I get no
sense of an overwhelming support among city
residents for this extremely aggressive and
potentially expensive annexation effort. I'm
getting more of a sense of overwhelming satisfaction
from folks who are tired of seeing the city
getting away with ignoring the state's open
meetings law and operating as a private board
of directors instead of as a public body elected
by and paid by the good people of Platte City.
No. 3: Again, the mayor refers to the public's
right to know as a "technical glitch."
This would be funny if it weren't so sad. The
city's top elected official considers his constituent's
right to be made aware of what's going on at
city hall a technicality. This proves he still
doesn't get it. He still hasn't learned that
he and the board can't continue to operate in
the dark. This is scary. Something tells me
this won't be the last time the city violates
the Sunshine Law.
Let's all assume the city intends to come back
with another annexation effort fairly soon (as
early as February?) and don't' be surprised
if it's the exact same proposal. In the meantime,
it's time to start digging into how much money
the city has spent--and is continuing to spend--to
just get this issue to the ballot box, let alone
how much it will cost residents of the city
to help fund the increases in staff and infrastructure
needed to provide services to the proposed annexation
And let's not forget that some of the landowners
Platte City is interested in annexing would
much rather do a friendly annexation with the
city of Tracy. Tracy's involvement may have
become more of a possibility as a result of
Platte City's action Tuesday night.
My phone rang Wednesday morning with word there's
a group of Platte City folks now considering
a recall petition against the mayor and certain
aldermen based on their activities on this issue.
It will be interesting to see if this potential
action grows legs.
Jason Grill, Democratic candidate for state
representative in District 32 serving southern
Platte County, once appeared on the cable TV
show Blind Date. That's what his opponent's
people want you to know. Grill admits to appearing
on the show, where two people are set up on
a blind date paid for by the TV folks, but says
there is nothing embarrassing about his appearance,
which occurred six years ago when he was 21-years-old
and working as an intern at the White House.
"Some of the people that go on the show
are outrageous. I didn't do any of that stuff.
They wanted young professionals and they picked
me," Grill told me this week, assuring
readers that he doesn't have a Paris Hilton-type
sex tape floating around.
But Jeff Roe, a consultant for Grill's Republican
opponent John DeStefano, thinks it's still an
embarrassing situation for the young Democrat.
"I think it's an embarrassing moment for
a person who wants to represent 34,000 southern
Platte Countians. In his very recent history,
he has participated in a dating show. That's
not what people look for in leaders. It's no
longer the era of 'if it feels good, do it.'
He should at least show some remorse that he
did it," Roe said Wednesday morning. "A
dating show isn't something that represents
the values of Platte County."
An ironic twist to the story? DeStefano's son,
also named John, is a good friend of Grill and
in fact auditioned to be on the Blind Date show
as well. The younger DeStefano was working in
Washington D.C. as an intern for a Congressman
at the time. "He didn't get picked,"
Roe's reaction to the son of his candidate
participating in the audition? "That would
be relevant if Jason was running against John's
son. He's not. He's running against an adult
who doesn't participate in fraternity boy antics.
We expect more from our leaders. State representative
is a serious role with a serious responsibility."
Back to Grill: "This is just another example
of DeStefano's high-priced political consultants
wanting to talk about anything but the issues
in this election. I've challenged my opponent
to several debates and he has refused them.
My moderate message is resonating with Republicans
But bottom line: How did the date go? "Horribly,"
Grill said. "As soon as I talked to her
I knew I wasn't interested."
(Ivan Foley hasn't forgotten.
.. his blog entitled Political Pipeline is coming
soon to plattecountylandmark.com. In the meantime,
email him your tips at firstname.lastname@example.org)
in my eyes; a no-nonsense judge; the murder
As if we really needed further proof, the recent
sudden drop in gasoline prices confirms what
we've often opined in this column space: Gasoline
prices are the result of speculation, manipulation,
and politicalization (I think I may have pulled
a George Bush and invented a new word right
there) and not of simple supply and demand economics.
You'll have to take your high school economics
basic principle of supply and demand and apply
it somewhere else. It simply isn't relevant
in the oil market.
The pace will move quickly in the Sunshine
Law court case against the City of Platte City.
In a story we first reported at plattecountylandmark.com
just hours after the court hearing, Platte County
Circuit Court Judge Lee Hull okayed the plaintiff's
request for an expedited schedule in court Friday
Platte City's mayor and aldermen held a special
meeting Tuesday night in executive session,
likely to discuss "strategy" in their
defense of the open meeting violation that is
alleged against them. By the end of the business
day this Friday, city officials are to have
written discovery provided. That written discovery
is to include documents and electronic correspondence
related to the development of the agenda for
the meeting of June 7, which is the meeting
alleged to have violated the law. All relevant
communications between city officials must be
turned over in the discovery.
Man, will that be some interesting reading
for all parties to peruse.
Depositions of mayor Dave Brooks, city administrator
Keith Moody and the city's special annexation
attorney Chris Williams will be held the week
of Oct. 2.
One thing left undeniable after sitting in
on the court hearing is this: Judge Hull tolerates
little nonsense. The city's attorney, Paul Campo,
told the court the city considers the plaintiff
to have "sandbagged" the city and
the court by waiting until after the annexation
ordinances had been passed to file their allegations
of a Sunshine Law violation.
Judge Hull quickly remarked: "I don't
consider the court to be sandbagged by the filing.
If the ordinances hadn't been passed, we wouldn't
be here, would we?"
Outside the courtroom, Campo wasn't ready to
let it go, repeating for reporters that he felt
the plaintiff intentionally delayed in challenging
the legality of the June 7 special meeting.
"They had 90 days to file it. They waited
until the 11th hour."
Here's an appropriate answer to that. "So
There was no need for the plaintiff to file
the petition until the city went forward with
its intent to annex. And if Mayor Dave and the
Sunshine Boys hadn't (allegedly) abused the
open meeting law to begin with--or had they
backtracked and started over after it was publicly
pointed out they had (allegedly) violated the
law--they wouldn't find themselves a party to
this litigation right now.
Again, nobody should feel sorry for the folks
at city hall over this. They bulldozed their
way into this uncomfortable situation.
I want to publicly thank photojournalist
extraordinaire Bill Hankins for representing
The Landmark at the Missouri Press Association
convention over the weekend at Lake Ozark. Bill
traveled home with several awards from the annual
Better Newspaper Contest (see front page).
We decided to toss an entry into
the Best News Story category this year and are
humbled by the honor of being awarded the top
spot for a news article that appeared Sept.
15, 2005 about the murder of Steve Sandoval
of Platte City. If you're interested in re-reading
it, the story can be found archived on our web
site at www.plattecountylandmark.com/Article10158.htm
I remember vividly the details
surrounding the composition of that story. Foremost
in my mind are two trips out to the site where
Sandoval's body was found on an abandoned outer
road alongside Interstate 29 just south of Platte
City. I received verbal directions from a law
enforcement source on how to find the spot,
and drove out there late on a Monday evening
as the sun was setting. I drove to the end of
that abandoned road, got out of my car and spent
several minutes examining the scene where a
man's life had been taken just a couple days
before. It was an eerie feeling standing out
there alone at the site of a murder as darkness
was setting in. It gave me such a feel for the
story I drove back out again the next day, in
brighter light this time, so as to not miss
any details. I credit those trips to the scene
for having a positive impact on the ability
to develop details for the story.
Quite obviously a journalist is
only as good as his sources, and I credit a
source close to the investigation who was only
willing to speak on a pledge of anonymity. That
source helped me piece together facts for the
story that went above and beyond what could
be found in any other media account of the case.
An interview with a cousin of the victim also
was extremely beneficial.
If you run into Landmark advertising sales
dude Eric Lewis, former top-notch football player
in his high school days at Blue Springs, ask
him how he's doing in his fantasy football league
this year. Speaking on a condition of anonymity,
I will tell you Eric is 0-2 after his team--known
as Da Bears--was soundly drubbed by his boss's
team--known as the Clown Suits--on Sunday.
I'll keep you posted on the fantasy league
standings just as long as I remain in the lead.
(Feel free to keep Ivan
Foley updated on your fantasies and fantasy
leagues at email@example.com)
Coons is bigger than the Beatles; Clarifying
I'm officially declaring Harold Coons,
a Platte City resident who is bringing the
Sunshine Law court case against the City
of Platte City, as a great American hero.
Any private citizen who stands up for the
public's right to know as strongly as Coons
is doing right now is deserving of the rock
star status he is gaining in some circles
of the community.
Harold Coons is bigger than the Beatles
ever were, at least from our seat here in
Between the Lines.
I must admit I'd love to be
a fly on the wall when Dave Brooks, Platte
City mayor, is forced to give his deposition
in the Sunshine lawsuit.
I'm betting this time Dave won't
refer to it as "that damn Sunshine Law."
What's up with the Platte City
pro-annexation committee trying to claim its
group has "grassroots" support?
When the leaders of the pro-annexation
committee are two former aldermen in Ron Porter
and John Andre, and the committee treasurer
is Olin Miller, who draws a $150 paycheck
each month from the city for his duties as
cemetery sexton, how can you claim you have
a grassroots movement?
Combine this with the fact that
the only speakers at a recent annexation public
hearing who talked in favor of the action
were a few folks who sit on the city planning
and zoning board, and you start to understand
the optimism the anti-annexation folks have
about getting the ballot question kicked in
the grass in either November or February,
should it get that far.
There seems to be no "common"
folks stepping forward to publicly proclaim
their support of annexation. . . only folks
who have or have had a vested interest in
the action. There's a word or two for that
type of support, but "grassroots"
isn't one of them.
When the lights go down in the
city. . .
Many townsfolk at Dearborn are
mad as heck, or something like it, and they
don't want to take it anymore. So they're
ready to vent their frustration with frequent
power outages by the city's main electric
provider, Aquila. A special meeting of the
Dearborn Board of Aldermen will discuss the
frequent power blinks with a representative
of Aquila next Wednesday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m.,
providing the lights are on at city hall.
"I expect a crowd four
or five times the capacity of city hall. There
are so many people upset," Frank Downing,
Dearborn's fearless mayor, told me this week.
Bring your candles and flashlights,
just in case.
Crowd size seemed to be down
this year at the End of the Trail Festival
in Platte City, which was a smashing success
in year number one, a borderline flop in year
two, bounced back to decent status from a
crowd standpoint last year, but took a step
back in attendance this year. That's my naked
eye observation from the standpoint of an
unbiased observer who has been at all four
festivals. My observation is not based on
inflated crowd estimates by city reps or rose-colored
observations by others.
At Tuesday night's aldermen
meeting, the mayor attempted to paint the
event as a rousing success for vendors, but
that's what the mayor does. Hyperbole in such
matters is his trademark. I spoke with two
vendors at 7 p.m. on Saturday who were extremely
disappointed and frustrated with the lack
of business the festival was bringing to their
Let's hope for a rebound year
next fall. Some optimistic observers point
out there will be more Harley riders in the
area next year with a special 10-year anniversary
at the Harley plant near KCI allegedly in
the works, so maybe that will mean a significant
increase in attendance at Platte City's festival.
Crowds and fun weren't a problem
at Parkville's festival last Thursday evening.
More than 1,000 people attended the Taste
of Parkville food/drink event in the Farmer's
Market area at the bottom of Main Street.
The atmosphere was great and the weather conditions
were perfect on a very comfortable fall evening
for the event. The Landmark was one
of the corporate sponsors for this event,
so paint me biased should you so choose.
Folks with hearty-sized appetites,
like yours truly and Landmark news hound Dave
Kinnamon, put a hurtin' on some of the vendors'
food supplies while enjoying the evening visiting
with newsmakers and readers.
As the old saying goes, a good time was had
Jason Grill, aggressive young
Democrat candidate for 32nd district state
representative in southern Platte County,
was visiting with potential voters at the
Taste of Parkville on Thursday.
Grill reinforced to me that
he anxiously wants to debate his Republican
opponent, John DeStefano. So much so that
I've informed Grill The Landmark will
attempt to set up a forum for the two candidates,
providing DeStefano is willing to take part.
The olive branch is being extended.
We have tentative plans in place and will
be putting them into action if and when we
get a confirmation from DeStefano that he's
willing to take part in such an event sponsored
by this newspaper, the widely-recognized leader
in Platte County political coverage.
"The voters will have a
clear choice in this election. I'm a moderate,
but my opponent is an extreme radical right
wing Republican. I believe he would be a rubber
stamp for Matt Blunt," Grill told The
Landmark last month.
(Be a part of the Between the Lines
grassroots movement by emailing the publisher
gets a book deal; Sunshine lawsuit sends a
The price for a gallon of gasoline has dropped
as low as we've seen it in quite some time,
down to $2.45 locally. Either the Republicans
are getting nervous about the November elections
or Dick Cheney accidentally shot another hunting
It's a welcome break from the $3 range, but
will it last? And should we really feel like
we're catching a break when just 13 months ago
the price was around $2.15 per gallon?
It's an exciting time here at The Landmark.
Our award-winning photojournalist Bill Hankins
has compiled a collection of his highly popular
Landmark People features into hard-cover book
form, and the attractive publication is for
sale in our downtown Platte City headquarters
or by mail.
Most Landmark readers are quite familiar with
Bill's work. His Landmark People pictorial-stories
have appeared in our newspaper four or five
times per year over the past several years.
He also has provided the best high school sports
pictures around during that time, building relationships
with the athletes and their families in the
process. On top of that, the retired journalism
instructor is simply one of the finer people
you'll ever meet. He has a deep understanding
of what community journalism is all about and,
on a personal note, has become a trusted sounding
board for me.
I'll never forget the first day Bill came walking
into The Landmark office carrying a layout of
a feature he had photographed and written about
Eddie Highlander of Bud's 66 station in Platte
City. Bill, a northern Platte County resident,
introduced himself and explained to me his background
in journalism. He said he was a fan of The
Landmark's style of coverage. A professional
relationship and friendship developed, Landmark
People features soon became commonplace
and he later volunteered to start shooting high
school sports for us. Since that time, he has
garnered 25 awards for his work in the annual
Missouri Press Association's Better Newspaper
His book is an impressive piece of work. Stop
by our office to flip through it and I have
a feeling you'll be moved to buy a copy. Cost
is just $20 or get a discounted price of $14
per book if you take out a new subscription
or renew your current Landmark subscription.
To order mail orders must add $5 for postage
and handling. Email your name and address to
me at firstname.lastname@example.org
and we'll get the process started.
We'll work out the details of a book signing
event in the coming weeks.
I must admit I'm proud of Platte City resident
Harold Coons for having the vigor to file suit
against the City of Platte City for what, in
my opinion, was an obvious violation of the
Sunshine Law on June 7.
I'm also proud to point out The Landmark
broke the story of the city's apparent Sunshine
Law violation in our June 8 and June 15 issues.
Three newspapers, including one daily paper,
were covering the events surrounding that special
meeting on June 7 and The Landmark was the only
publication to point out the city failed to
follow the normal public notification requirements
of the meeting and the agenda items.
It's good to see a Platte City resident was
pushed to act upon his right-to-know being violated.
The Landmark has reported upon several
occasions over the past few years where the
city has assaulted, abused, molested and ridiculed
the public's right-to-know. Finally, others
have had it with the unnecessary nonsense. Coons'
action should be enough of an attention-grabber
to put a stop to it.
And I must emphasize the words should be.
Honestly, if the court rules against the city
of Platte City in the pending litigation, nobody
should feel sorry for the boys at city hall.
I thought the city's high priced annexation
attorneys would have picked up on some hints
that were dropped in a June 15 editorial. That's
the issue in which we quoted the state's most
noted expert on the Sunshine Law, Jean Maneke
of Kansas City. Maneke represents the Missouri
Press Association in matters dealing with open
meetings and open records. I explained to her
how the events surrounding Platte City's questionably
legal special meeting went down on June 7. Maneke's
comment, readers might recall, was to the effect
that she couldn't see how any court would find
the city had legally followed all the requirements
of the Sunshine Law on that day.
Platte City, at that point, would have been
wise to backtrack and start over, doing things
the right way with proper public notification.
Whether due to apathy, ignorance or ego, city
hall instead bulldozed its way forward, apparently
under the questionable advice of high-priced
lawyers who allegedly specialize in annexation
Once the annexation issues were placed on the
ballot at an alderman meeting last week, aggrieved
citizens knew it was the prime time to file
suit. The suit asks the court to declare as
void the annexation steps taken to this point
due to the alleged open meeting violations that
occurred when the annexation bills were first
read on June 7. Such action would pull the annexation
questions off the November ballot and essentially
force the city to start the process over.
Proponents of Platte City's annexation effort
finally filed paperwork with the Platte County
Board of Elections last Friday, three days after
annexation opponents had filed their papers.
The proponents are known as Citizens for Platte
City's Future. Ron Porter is listed as chairman,
John Andre is co-chair and Olin Miller is treasurer.
Hats off to developers Cox-Rabius for cutting
weeds and brush that had painted an unsightly
picture at the site of their TIF project at
I-29 and HH in Platte City. MoDOT has been repaving
an exit ramp at that location and may have received
credit for the clean-up near the roadway, but
city administrator Keith Moody told me this
week the developers had the work done. Signs
have also gone up promoting the upcoming development
and indicating tenant space is available.
The city, meanwhile, is awaiting a sewer capacity
analysis from the developer's engineers, Moody
Fall means the return of Pigskin
Picks, the weekly battle of Landmark columnists,
sponsors and special guests trying to act like
football prognosticators. Check it out by clicking
This week's special guest is self-anointed
stud muffin Dave Stewart of Metro Sports Television/WHB
(The sun always shines
at The Landmark, where you can reach the publisher
with a sunny disposition at email@example.com)
Pipeline cometh; and McClintock stuck in a
Labor Day traditionally signifies the start
of the fall election campaigns, and The Landmark
is ready to kick this thing off in high style.
Beginning soon on our web site at www.plattecountylandmark.com,
I'll be posting a blog entitled "Platte
County's Political Pipeline."
As opposed to many traditional blogs, The Pipeline
won't be written by some partisan hack spewing
vinegar at his opposing party in questionably-relevant
fashion, but instead will be an unbiased mix
of news and commentary on anything and everything
going on in the wide, wide world of politics.
We'll touch on items as local as Platte City's
annexation, to the countywide races, the state
campaigns, and even the national scene.
The Pipeline will be updated as the need arises,
at a minimum of once per week, though as things
get into high gear I expect multiple postings
each week. You'll be able to access The Pipeline
by clicking on a link on the front page of our
Pipe will begin being laid next week, if not
before. Check the web site in the coming days
for the Pipeline icon.
Pipeline news tips can be emailed to
Let's get this party started.
So Platte City's annexation proposal will make
its way onto the November election ballot. Let
the campaign strategy and the legal challenges
begin. This thing has the potential to be a
significant revenue-producer for attorneys on
both sides of the issue.
Opponents, as you'll see in our front page
story, have filed a committee at the Platte
County Board of Elections. Their first financial
report won't be due until Oct. 15, but it's
safe to assume this group will be raising funds
to help in the campaign to attempt to reject
the annexation effort at the November--or if
needed, February--ballot box.
"The purpose of the committee is to educate
the voters on all the issues involved in this
annexation and not just the issues the city
wishes to emphasize," Bob Shaw, a Platte
City attorney serving as spokesperson for the
group, said Wednesday morning.
Will the group have fundraising efforts? "I
can't comment at this time," Shaw said.
Should it choose to partake in fundraising
efforts, the committee shouldn't have to look
far for donations. Several big-time developers
and landowners are strongly opposed to the city's
effort to quadruple the size of its current
Involuntary annexations such as this one are
normally successful because the municipality
can crush the opposition when it comes to resources.
But Platte City's opposition has plenty of resources.
The playing field on this one is virtually level.
This should be fascinating to watch.
By the way, board of elections officials confirmed
for me that the opposition committee known as
Platte City Area Citizens for Responsible Growth
is the only committee dealing with the annexation
issue that has filed paperwork.
Interesting. Former aldermen John Andre and
Ron Porter have announced they have a committee
in place to support the annexation effort, and
according to at least one published report,
have started taking donations. But they have
no paperwork on file.
The only way to explain Platte City Alderman
George McClintock's bizarre voting pattern at
Monday night's special annexation meeting is
to speculate that McClintock is worried about
a potential conflict of interest being brought
to the forefront.
McClintock first abstained on a vote to bring
the annexation topic to the table for discussion
and a final reading. He then proceeded to vote
yes on all succeeding roll calls/final readings.
So why the abstention? "I knew we had
enough votes to bring it to the table so I just
abstained. That was it," McClintock told
The Landmark during a sit-down interview.
Not exactly a strong explanation. When asked
if he fears he may have a conflict of interest
due to the fact his wife serves on the Platte-Clay
Electric board of directors, (Platte Clay
is currently in line to provide utility service
to much of the area set to be annexed by the
city, but that could possibly switch to the
city's franchise holder, Aquila, if annexation
is approved), McClintock said no. He said
there is no conflict because his wife, Shirley,
"is not an employee" of Platte-Clay.
Some opponents, however, seem extremely anxious
to point out McClintock's wife does sit on the
utility's paid board of directors. So anxious
it makes one wonder if some legal challenge
is being pondered.
It needs to be understood that without McClintock's
yes vote on Monday night, the city's annexation
effort would have come to a screeching halt.
Four yes votes are needed to pass an ordinance,
and with Aaron Jung voting no and Kenneth Brown
abstaining due to his employment connection
with Platte-Clay Electric, there were only four
aldermen remaining with potential yes votes.
Had McClintock abstained on the vote to place
the measure on the ballot, it would have failed
for a lack of support from a majority of the
six member board.
Jung was voting yes on motions to bring the
issues to the table for discussion, then voting
no on the final readings. He voted prior to
McClintock the first time around, and the speculation
is McClintock then took that opportunity to
abstain. Later when he realized Jung was voting
no on the ordinances themselves, McClintock
was forced to vote yes or the annexation effort
would have died a quick death. From his point
of view, apparently he had no choice, because
an abstention would have meant the issue couldn't
have passed due to lack of majority. As it played
out, his yes vote got the issue on the ballot,
but it may have opened the city up to being
challenged on a possible conflict.
McClintock was in a Catch 22 Monday night.
I'm speculating the fact he abstained the first
time around is a sign he has this potential
conflict of interest issue in the back of his
mind. Had Jung been voting yes on the ordinances,
the smart money says McClintock would have been
abstaining to avoid any legal questions.
(Don't forget to send
your political news tips and thoughts to the
Pipeline Pontificator at firstname.lastname@example.org)
time to accept facts, recommendations and
So the external auditor's report came in
last Thursday, basically signalling the
end to the search for $195,000 in "unaccounted
for" money in Platte County's general
ledger. The Landmark broke the story
on our web site at 7 p.m. last Thursday
night, and the story has since found its
way into daily newspapers and television
newscasts across the state.
Read the gory details in our front page
articles and you'll gain a better understanding
of the blame game. Problems centered on
incorrect postings by the auditor's office,
and the review notes problems were also
caused by an overall lack of communication
between the offices of Democrat treasurer
Bonnie Brown and Republican auditor Sandra
As discussed here in previous columns,
Brown knew she was unable to properly reconcile
the bank statements with the county's general
ledger for several months and failed to
tell anyone about the problem. That lack
of disclosure falls squarely on Brown. What
the external audit noted, in basic terms,
is that the reasons for Brown's inability
to reconcile the accounts were primarily
errors in entries posted by the auditor's
office, and that falls squarely on Thomas.
There's really no sense sugarcoating it
or trying to shove fault onto a previous
county commissioner or the external auditor,
as Thomas has attempted to do in recent
days. Instead of dodging the facts, here's
my best advice to all involved: Accept the
findings, admit mistakes were made, follow
recommendations of the external auditor,
improve communication between the offices,
and come up with a game plan that will keep
Platte County out of this uncomfortable
position in the future.
The taxpayers deserve at least that much.
Between the Lines readers are
a creative bunch. Check out this thought emailed
to me last week by a reader who has been following
the Platte County bookkeeping fiasco:
"Maybe we should just
close the auditor's and treasurer's offices
and let the cost savings cover the amounts
that would come up missing."
I laughed out loud when I first
read it. Then I realized it makes some sense.
Kudos to the City of Platte
City for scheduling a street sweeping project
It's a nice program that helps
keep the local roadways attractive and will
spruce things up a bit for Mayor Dave Brooks'
and Alderman George McClintock's pet project,
the End of the Trail motorcycle rally on Sept.
The good but apparently free-spending
folks on the newly-formed Southern Platte
County Ambulance District are finding out
the hard way that since The Landmark expanded
its coverage area southward a few years ago,
there's now a media outlet serving as a taxpayers'
watchdog south of the Barry Road equator.
Reporter Stacy Wiedmaier's front
page story last week exposed the fact the
new board was giving serious consideration
to establishing its maximum tax levy right
off the bat. Our report that hit the streets
late Wednesday was obviously accurate, because
the board meeting's minutes that came out
on Friday stated the same thing. Nonetheless,
the report was denied by at least one board
member during the group's next meeting held
on Friday. This board member then went on
to attempt to make derogatory comments about
The Landmark's style of coverage during Friday's
Ah, spoken like a free-spending
liberal who got caught with his hand in the
government's cookie jar. Gotcha. The Landmark
is not only inside this guy's head, we're
rearranging the furniture.
Yes, welcome to the big time
and welcome to the public spotlight, Mr. Fred
Lesson number one, Fred, is
when you're spending public dollars, be prepared
for your decisions and comments to be scrutinized.
If you'd like to avoid such, spend your personal
money to finance the ambulance district. Until
then, every financial decision you make is
going to be probed with a microscope by the
only Platte County media outlet willing to
go where no media outlet has gone before.
As you continue to use taxpayers'
bucks to build your dynasty, we'll make sure
the public is aware of the cost of your dynasty's
construction. Keep reading.
A salute to Kathy Dusenbery,
mayor of Parkville, for having the intestinal
fortitude to appear at the South Platte Ambulance
board meeting and state her disapproval of
their tax-and-spend ideas. You may not always
agree with Dusenbery's point of view, but
you've got to appreciate her spunk.
Claire McCaskill's campaign
for U.S. Senator--apparently with some pride--distributed
a press release this week touting an endorsement
from veteran country singer Willie Nelson.
I enjoy some of his music, but Nelson is known
for smoking weed and has a history of alleged
tax evasion. Is his endorsement something
to brag about? It would have been more beneficial
for Claire to encourage ol' Willie to endorse
Jim Talent instead.
Best of luck to the City of
St. Joseph as it renews its push to bring
the Chiefs training camp to that neck of the
woods. The two main reasons for the Chiefs
moving their training camp to River Falls,
Wis. about 15 years ago were the close proximity
to other team's training camps for scrimmaging
purposes and the allegedly cooler weather.
Both of those factors can now be discounted,
as the Vikings are the only team still training
anywhere nearby. And as for the weather, forget
it. I was there three weeks ago for a three-day
visit and each day the temperature either
approached or topped 100 degrees with thick
humidity. Maybe it's Al Gore's global warming
at work, but whatever the case, you'll never
convince me the late summer weather is any
more pleasant in River Falls than it is in
(Ivan Foley is determined
to tick off free-spending liberals everywhere.
Contact him at
tribute to high school English students everywhere
As I was driving home from the Platte City
annexation meeting late Tuesday night, a black
cat had planted herself in the middle of the
highway, her Bette Davis eyes fixated on my
headlights while she stood there in a trance-like
state of paralysis as my Ford Taurus approached
at a speed of around 70 miles per hour. I did
the humanitarian thing, of course, by trying
to straddle the cat between the tires, hoping
she would survive if she was at worst dinged
by the undercarriage.
'Twas not to be. Miss Kitty finally decided
to make a run for it, darting to her left as
my car was virtually on top of her. Just that
quickly I could sense my tire making contact
with something other than the road. It made
kind of a squishy sound.
I'm attempting to notify her next of kin.
At the annexation meeting, Mayor Dave Brooks
asked me if I could make "at least one
nice comment about us."
I can and I will. I thought the mayor and aldermen
did a nice job of not making any outlandish
statements at the annexation public hearing.
Mayor Dave stuck to a written script. None of
the aldermen said a word.
Good coaching. Maybe that $50,000 consultant
fee didn't go entirely wasted.
Like a columnist with a short attention span
(and that's my self-portrait) my mind is wandering
across a variety of fields today. Will Platte
City be successful in quadrupling the size of
its city limits? Will opponents to the annexation
effort be able to expose the city's allegedly
fuzzy math on figuring costs to provide services?
Will the new South Platte Ambulance District
board of directors really seek the maximum tax
levy right out of the gate? Will the county's
external auditor have the stones to tell us
who screwed up and why in the county's bookkeeping
fiasco? Would Jack Jackson have won the GOP
state auditor's race if his plane had hit one
more deer? Is TiVo everything it's cracked up
My limited brain capacity is on overload.
But let's forget most of that stuff or now,
because it's back to school time. Dreaded by
many students, anticipated by some parents.
In honor of back-to-school, it's time to dig
into that Between the Lines file folder marked
"Hey, this might make a decent column
topic sometime" and pull out some stash
I've been saving for the appropriate week.
Every year, English teachers from across the
USA can submit their collections of actual analogies
and metaphors found in high school essays, or
so the legend goes. These excerpts are published
each year to the amusement of teachers across
the country. As we salute high school English
students everywhere, here are some of the winning
Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle
that had its two sides gently compressed by
a Thigh Master.
His thoughts tumbled in his head, making
and breaking alliances like underpants in a
dryer without Cling Free.
He spoke with the wisdom that can only
come from experience, like a guy who went blind
because he looked at a solar eclipse without
one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and
now goes around the country speaking at high
schools about the dangers of looking at a solar
eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole
Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
She grew on him like she was a colony
of E. coli, and he was room- temperature Canadian
She had a deep throaty laugh, like that
sound a dog makes just before it throws up.
He was as tall as a six foot, three inch
The little boat gently drifted across
the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.
McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the
pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable
From the attic came an unearthly howl.
The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality,
like when you're on vacation in another city
and Jeopardy comes on at 7 p.m. instead of 7:30.
Her hair glistened in the rain like a
nose hair after a sneeze.
John and Mary had never met. They were
like two hummingbirds who had also never met.
The hailstones leaped from the pavement,
like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.
He fell for her like his heart was a
mob informant and she was the East River.
Shots rang out, as shots are wont to
The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law
Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might
The young fighter had a hungry look,
the kind you get from not eating for a while.
He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical
lame duck, either, but a real duck that was
actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land
mine or something.
The ballerina rose gracefully and extended
one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a
(Ivan Foley covers Platte
County like dew on the grass on a humid August
morning. Or something like that. Email him at
situation has become
a comedy of errors
Just when you thought
it wasn't possible, Platte County's
bookkeeping fiasco turned even
more bizarre on Friday afternoon
when Sandra Thomas, Platte County
auditor and state auditor candidate,
sent out one of the strangest
press releases you'll ever see.
I'm sure you've
seen those movies where cops are
standing by the scene of a major
catastrophe and are trying to
clear passersby from the area
by saying: "Move along,
folks, move along. There's nothing
to see here."
what Thomas' email said, or at
least tried to say. One would
have to be pretty naive to fully
consume the goods being spewed
by Thomas and county treasurer
Bonnie Brown in that press release.
It was an attempt to try to take
public attention away from the
train wreck that has occurred
in Platte County's bookkeeping
ledger while Thomas closed out
the final days of a campaign for
the Republican nomination for
has gone from first denying any
involvement or knowledge of the
screw-up to suddenly trying to
claim she rode in on a great white
horse, found the discrepancies,
checked the oil, kicked the tires,
shook hands, kissed babies, and
saved the world.
Friday's press release,
in a word, was ridiculous.
Thomas and county
treasurer Bonnie Brown claim the
discrepancy in the books, where
the bank was saying Platte County
has $195,000 less than the county
books show, has been found.
"Finding problems like this
are exactly why we perform an
annual audit. No money is missing
or ever was missing. The problem
was caused by simple clerical
errors made in the preparation
of the bank reconciliation. These
errors have been identified and
Wow. The Between
the Lines BS meter is jumping
off the charts.
No money was missing?
Again, this is semantics, as we've
discussed previously in this column
space. When for 10 months you
can't account for $195,000, you
have "missing" money
that needs to be accounted for.
That doesn't necessarily mean
anything was stolen, and no media
outlet to my knowledge said the
money was stolen or that there
was any wrongdoing of any type.
What has been said in this column
space all along is that there
are legitimate questions of competency
and of disclosure.
Does it take 10
months and a $2,500 special external
audit to find "simple clerical
errors?" If it does, then
we do have some major simpletons
in charge of our tax dollars.
The county commission
had to hire an external auditor
to take care of a process that
should have been completed in-house
by county officials.
One glaring piece
of the press release that is certainly
humorous is that Brown and Thomas
contradict one another. Thomas'
quote says the problems were clerical
errors. Brown says it was a matter
of "accounting adjustments
that have been identified."
Well which is it?
Or is it none of the above? The
outside auditor, who likely is
sorry he ever agreed to play the
role of Platte County's financial
proctologist, is mysteriously
not quoted in this declaration
Lordy, Brown and
Thomas couldn't even keep from
contradicting one another in their
own bogus press statement. That's
when you know you're watching
a circus act.
Poor county treasurer
Bonnie Brown. Sweet person. But
she simply doesn't get it.
First, she fails
to see that the county bank accounts
are properly reconciled for 10
months. Then she tries to cover
the confusion by asking the presiding
commissioner to authorize the
use of $195,000 from general fund
reserves to balance the ledger.
Now she speaks this bizarre quote
as her claim to fame, as if she
has been absolved of any blame
in this comedy of errors: "It
just confirms that there has been
no wrongdoing in the treasurer's
office and there is absolutely
no money missing."
So there was no
wrongdoing. Nobody ever reported
there was. There certainly was
some shoddy work. How can a treasurer
and/or county auditor lose track
Even worse than
that, there is this major issue
of disclosure. Brown is the only
one claiming to have had knowledge
of the $195,000 discrepancy for
months, so why did she not report
it? If it wasn't the fault of
her office, as she now claims,
why not tell the auditor's office
about it? As you'll recall, the
deputy auditor says the auditor's
office knew nothing of Brown's
problem reconciling accounts until
July. Until then, it apparently
was Brown's little secret.
Deputy auditor Ruby
Maline last week told The Landmark
that if Brown had brought the
matter to her attention when Brown
first was unable to reconcile
the bank accounts, Maline could
have found the problem and the
public mess could have been avoided.
Brown is portrayed
to be grinning like the cat that
just ate the canary. She thinks
because there is no "wrongdoing"
in her office that she escapes
Hello, Bonnie? Is
there anybody home?
We expect our public
officials to be law-abiding citizens,
don't we? If we didn't, we could
just pick our next county treasurer
from a police lineup.
Most folks assumed
all along nobody in Brown's office
had walked out the door with $195,000
stuffed in their pockets. What
taxpayers are concerned about
are issues of competency and disclosure.
Why did the mistakes occur in
the first place and why did Brown
wait for months to let anyone
know her office was unable to
reconcile the bank accounts?
and embarrassing, no matter how
Brown, Thomas and their supporters
try to spin it.
Will the public
ever be able to trust the numbers
spewed from the treasurer's office?
How many other special outside
audits will we have to pay for
to find other mistakes?
Care about your
tax dollars? I recommend you ignore
the suggestion to "move
along, move along, there's nothing
to see here." With Brown
now desperately trying to pass
all blame to Thomas, and with
Thomas now on her way to the general
election for state auditor, don't
look for this issue to die anytime
would love to get back to telling
jokes and commenting on lightweight
matters like stiltwalkers, football
and BS meters, but as long as
duty calls he'll continue representing
readers who can't get enough inside
information about the anal probing
of Platte County's finances. Email
the publisher at email@example.com)
is next to be tossed under the
The saga of the missing--I'm
sorry, "unaccounted for"--money
at Platte County continues. As you
see in our front page story, the
county has now made the decision
to spend money to find money. Auditors
and the county treasurer have identified
the parks and rec fund as the alleged
source of the discrepancy, but are
still working out the details on
how to properly account for the
"unaccounted for" funds.
"It's a timing
issue in the recording of activity"
is how a bizarre memo from county
treasurer Bonnie Brown and deputy
county auditor Ruby Maline explained
the discrepancy, saying that vendor
payments to contractors had been
made while reimbursement from bond
proceeds was in waiting, throwing
Brown's understanding of the bank
balances into a confused state.
So confusing that Brown didn't want
to draw it to anyone's attention,
and in a July 12 meeting with presiding
commissioner Betty Knight asked
that the discrepancy be covered
by using general fund reserves so
that the county could get out yearly
financial statements. It was a move
that would have tossed the issue
under the rug. Knight, to her credit,
balked at that suggestion and called
for a meeting with the entire county
In any event, the
'necessity' to pay the outside auditor
an additional $2,500 on top of his
original fee of $50,000 for the
year is another kick in the gut
for Platte County taxpayers.
There are so many angles of this
story just screaming for some Between
the Lines commentary, we better
get right to it. Fasten your seat
Should we have seen
Comments made by Chris
Dalton, treasurer Bonnie Brown's
opponent in the 2004 election, may
now show Dalton to be a prophet.
Check out these quotes from Dalton
that appeared in the Oct. 28, 2004
issue of The Landmark, one
week prior to Brown's defeat of
Dalton in that year's general election.
a check can be made, printed and
signed without the treasurer being
in the office and I have a problem
three signatures in order to pay
certain funds and the current treasurer
(Brown) isn't doing that all of
the time. That was noted in the
outside auditor's report in 2002."
to reconcile all the accounts."
Wow. Of course to
be fair, Brown wants to reconcile
all the accounts too. She's just
having trouble doing it.
Based on the way matters
are unfolding, Dalton may have been
on to something. He just didn't
get his message out to enough voters.
Now, we're all paying the price.
Even if the $195,000 discrepancy
is discovered, the entire event
has called into question Brown's
competency as treasurer, has exposed
her desire to keep a significant
discrepancy from public view, and
has cost taxpayers at bare minimum
an extra $2,500. Bare minimum.
A Between the Lines phone call to
Brown for comment on this matter
has not been returned, which could
be an indication Brown's next charity
function is the Duck and Run.
Supporters of Brown--or
more accurately--detractors of Platte
County auditor Sandra Thomas are
now busy trying to make sure the
county auditor's office gets as
much blame for the screw-up as the
treasurer's office is receiving.
An article in the Wednesday morning
KC Star was full of Thomas detractors
piling on for her absence in recent
months and trying to give her at
least partial blame for the lateness
in discovery of the case of the
"unaccounted for" $195,000.
Fair enough. When
a major bookkeeping mess like this
grabs headlines, it's pretty commonplace
for a lot of people to get thrown
under the bus.
But as numerous sources
confirm, it's the treasurer's duty
to reconcile the bank accounts to
the general ledger (remember, the
problem is the bank says the county
has $195,000 less than the county
treasurer's records show the county
having). That makes it tough to
point a finger at the county auditor
too strongly unless you're simply
trying to throw stones in her path
to higher office.
a no-show in her office since filing
to run for state auditor, should
have sprinted back to the administration
building when this problem came
to light, if for no other reason
than to show concern for the situation.
She really hasn't done herself any
political favors by staying away
the entire time.
With Thomas gone,
her top deputy Ruby Maline has been
forced into the limelight, signing
strangely worded cover-your-ass
memos with Brown and speaking to
the press when really Thomas should
have been stuck with those chores.
In an interview this week, I gave
Maline a chance to comment on the
position Thomas' absence has placed
"As far as being
put into the limelight, it's true
I wouldn't be the one talking to
you if Sandra were here," Maline
Next question: So
do you feel Sandra has thrown you
under the bus?
laughter here). .. Our staff
is qualified to handle those situations."
Maline, a candidate
for the auditor post being vacated
by her boss, said since the office
prior to this point had never been
assigned the task of double checking
the treasurer's reconciliation of
monthly bank balances, the auditor's
office knew nothing of the problem
until July 12. Brown knew about
it many months prior. That's what
casts Brown in a very unfavorable
So will Maline's run
for county auditor take a major
hit because of this situation? Not
likely. And here's why. Maline's
Democratic opponent in the November
election will be Siobhann Williams.
Do you know who Williams' campaign
treasurer is? It's none other than
When the campaign
heats up in the fall, neither side
is likely to want to talk about
(Talk about a tightwad, try
to grab a loose penny in front of
Ivan Foley and you'll pull back
a bloody stump. Negotiate a settlement
with him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
work is nice, but can you find our
The scandal--and let's
not mince words, when you cannot account
for $200,000, we officially have a
scandal on our hands--at the Platte
County Administration Building is
painting county treasurer Bonnie Brown
in a bright shade of incompetency.
That's best case scenario.
Based on her lack of communication
over the missing money, a situation
the treasurer has known about for
months, many of her fellow elected
officials are painting her as deceptive.
It's tough for anyone to argue against
that perception at this point.
went out of our way to give Brown
a chance to defend herself on this
issue. After she failed to return
phone calls, reporter Dave Kinnamon
made a personal visit to Brown's office
for a polite chat to give her a chance
to tell her version of the missing
funds. (Wait, we're finding the
politically correct term is "unaccounted
for." Sorry, but when I can't
find some of my own personal money
for months, I consider it missing.
When public officials can't find taxpayers'
money, apparently it's not missing,
it's simply "unaccounted for."
If a public official can't find one
of his or her children for several
months, I guess that child wouldn't
really be "missing" . .
.the child is simply "unaccounted
Anyway, despite our
extremely polite and extremely persistent
efforts, Brown declined comment, thus
finding a way to make a bad situation
potentially even worse. Now, readers
are free to draw their own conclusions
without any input from Brown's mouth.
By all accounts, treasurer
Bonnie Brown is a good-hearted person.
That's not even an issue at this point.
Brown spends a lot of
time being involved in community organizations.
She never met a Chamber of Commerce,
or Rotary Club, a TIF panel or some
charitable cause she didn't like or
couldn't kill some time in. Under
the previous county commission, she
would always show up at every ribbon
cutting imaginable. It was like she
was the self-anointed fourth commissioner.
She seems to take great joy in participating
in those kinds of activities.
That's all well and
good and I suppose commendable, though
let's not lose sight of the fact that
quite often when she's attending Rotaries
or Chamber of Commerce activities
she's doing it on the taxpayers' time
Brown admits the problem
of unreconciled county ledgers and
bank account balances (simply put,
the bank shows the county taxpayers
as having $200,000 less than Brown's
office shows us having) dates
all the way to September of last year.
In the meantime, she has still been
going to Rotaries, Chamber meetings,
and other non-essential events. Most
of us would have been working night
and day trying to find the "unaccounted
More important than
the desire to participate in community
causes is the county treasurer's ability
to be a person who can keep track
of public money. It's not necessary
for a county treasurer to be Mother
Teresa. It is necessary for a county
treasurer to keep accurate accounts
of taxpayer funds and immediately
report any discrepancies.
Right now, that ain't happenin', and
every taxpayer should be up in arms
"Had I known we
were short $200,000, I would have
suggested more budget cuts last winter,"
Jim Plunkett, second district commissioner,
told me this week.
You know who did know
last winter that the county was $200,000
short? Treasurer Bonnie Brown.
You know who last winter
knew the county, according to bank
records, has about $200,000 less in
reserves than the county thought it
had, and failed to tell anyone? Bonnie
You know who was one
of the officeholders whining the most
about budget cuts last winter? Bonnie
That's the real kicker.
Had Brown let other
officials in on her little secret
of being unable to account for $200,000,
can you imagine the budget cuts that
would have been justified? Is this
why she kept the screw-up quiet?
In public life, quite
often it's not the mistake that does
you in, it's the cover-up. This mistake
has been covered up and swept under
the rug for months by Brown's office.
Instead of minimizing damage by drawing
it to the attention of other county
officials and to the public early-on,
Brown chose to let this thing drag
out to the point it has reached scandalous
Even if the numbers
are reconciled after a forensic audit,
will the public ever feel it can trust
the numbers produced by Brown's office?
Her political future
is in major peril. Her only hope is
that voters have short memories and
that two years from now the public
forgets this ever happened.
Something tells me her
opponents won't let them forget.
I'm off to Chiefs training
camp in River Falls, Wisconsin this
Friday through Sunday. Trust me, it
won't be all play. Along the way I'll
be checking every roadside ditch for
the county's missing $200,000.
Starting Friday night,
you'll want to click
here for some notes, quotes
and nonsensical observations from
River Falls throughout the weekend.
(If Ivan Foley
over loses $200,000 in public money,
he'll let you now immediately. In
the meantime, keep in touch with him
while he's working in River Falls:
reaching out to stilt walkers; What's
up with mandated pre-pay for gasoline?
Ending days of speculation, Jeri
Willard has announced her intention
to vote for her husband, assistant
Platte County Prosecutor Rob Willard,
for state representative in the 32nd
District that serves southern Platte
"Although my picture appeared
(next to) an ad for Jason Grill, and
I have voted for some Democrats in
the past, I've decided to vote for
my husband Rob on Aug. 8 and Nov.
7," Jeri Willard said in remarks
emailed to The Landmark this week.
Jeri's back was prominently featured
next to an ad for Jason Grill in The
Landmark's preview of the Platte County
Fair last week. Also shown in the
candid photos from previous fairs
next to the Grill ad was former Platte
Republican Association President Joe
Vanover, a little kid and a guy on
stilts. Vanover said he also is leaning
toward supporting Willard. The little
kid remains undecided. The guy on
stilts could not be reached for comment.
"I am proud to welcome Jeri
to my campaign," Rob Willard
said in a written statement to Between
the Lines. "This shows that support
for my campaign runs deep--and I vow
that I will get the endorsement of
the Stilt Walkers of Missouri."
You may or may not have
heard, but Weston was mentioned during
the TV game show Jeopardy show back
on May 22. No contestant could provide
the appropriate question for the jeopardy
statement. This may not be the exact
wording, but the gist of the moment
went like this:
Statement: Located near
a spring at Weston, Missouri, it is
the oldest facility of its type still
Question: What is the
City of Kansas City officials
this past week showed in their eyes
government should just keep getting
bigger and more intrusive.
The KC powers-that-be
have passed a new ordinance mandating
prepayment of fuel at gas stations in
that fair city. It's one of the most
ridiculous examples of government needlessly
sticking its nose into the private business
sector that I've seen in awhile.
Under the ordinance, customers must
either pay at the pump with a credit
or debit card or prepay in the station
or convenience store before pumping.
Stores also have the option to issue
cards allowing customers to fill up
and then pay, a practice I'm told Quik
Businesses in KC that
do not comply would not have their business
licenses renewed when they expire. City
fathers say the purpose is to prevent
drive-offs, a crime that happens when
folks do the equivalent of a restaurant-style
dine and dash.
No word yet on whether KC will make
you pre-pay for your next pizza.
Last year, KC police said, there were
1,104 gas drive-offs in KC. The cost
of taking those reports was--and judging
from my past experience at gathering
cost information from some law enforcement
agencies, I suggest taking this estimate
with a grain of salt--at around $26,000.
That's the bad news. The
good news is that while KC police were
on the scene investigating drive-offs,
there were no armed robberies at said
convenience stores. And income from
doughnut sales spiked.
The KC City Council passed
the ordinance on a unanimous vote with
no discussion, the Associated Press
reported. I'd like to say I'm surprised
by that, but I can't. The libs in KC
have always believed government needs
to put its nose everywhere, including
telling filling stations the manner
in which they must collect payment from
their fuel customers.
The AP news story quoted a man by the
name of Dennis Carter, who owns several
gas stations. Carter said businesses
should be able to decide whether to
require prepayment. Amen, Rev. Carter.
Leave it to an entrepreneur
in the private sector to be able to
easily understand what the bureaucrats
Customers coming in only
to pay for gas are less likely to purchase
other items, which is where the convenience
stores make their biggest profits. In
addition, there's the competition factor.
Other cities in the metropolitan area
do not have mandatory prepay. Customers
who normally fill up in KC now may hit
Gas station customers
are quite often all about convenience.
Make things less convenient for your
customer, and there's a good chance
you'll lose your customer.
I'm a perfect example
of that. I go out of my way to patronize
gas stations who do not mandate pre-pay.
I used to have a favorite fuel stop
right here in Platte City where I filled
up three times a week. At today's prices
that's about $115 in a week's time.
Yes, gas stations love me.
This particular convenience
store not too long ago started mandating
pre-pay. Nothing personal, but I no
longer buy my gas there. To me, fuel
stops are all about convenience.
Pre-pay is a pain in my
My $115 a week, $460 a
month now goes elsewhere, often to Trex
Mart in Tracy or Trex Mart in Camden
Point, two locations who have resisted
the pre-pay movement.
Apparently there aren't
many punks pulling in there to fill
their tanks and drive off without paying.
I'll continue to patronize
the places who resist the punk and liberal-driven
pre-pay requirement. Call me a rebel.
Sandra Thomas, Platte
County auditor running for state auditor,
picked up an endorsement in recent days
from Margaret Kelly, former state auditor.
Thomas, currently running third in the
polls in the five-person race for the
GOP nomination, hopes the endorsement
will help boost her campaign. With 39%
still undecided, she is running third
in polling behind Jack Jackson with
19%, John Loudon 17%, Thomas 10%, Mark
Wright 8% and Al Hanson 7%. That poll
was taken June 19-22.
(Ivan Foley can
be reached at email@example.com
or pumping gas at any area filling station)
heroes are the best heroes; BS meter
working just fine
Hats off to a few silent
community servants this week.
On a Sunday afternoon trip
to the plush offices of your Landmark,
as I drove down Main Street I noticed
Mary Ann Brooks, Betty Fryrear, Joyce
Snyder and maybe a couple others cleaning
up Platte City's Main Street. The ladies
were sweeping, picking up leaves and debris,
etc. in an effort to brighten the square.
And they did it all without
fanfare. They had no idea they would be
recognized for their behind the scenes
efforts. You gotta love it. . .quiet heroes
are the best heroes.
This little note is probably
more recognition than they even desire.
Who has been doing the planting
and maintenance on those impressive flower
boxes located in various spots along Platte
City's Main Street?
That's what I asked downtown
cleaner-upper Mary Ann Brooks when I ran
into her Tuesday night.
Her answer? The Platte City
Area Development Association, which has
become kind of a forgotten club in town
since they no longer have an active public
relations presence of any kind, paid $1,000
for the service, she told me.
It's a nice club project
deserving of praise.
Check this out you guys.
I've got a new invention.
It's a BS meter. I enter printed words
into my BS meter and it kicks out a translation
that tells you what the writer was really
thinking when he penned his thoughts.
This thing is just like
truth serum, without the injection.
I tried out my new toy on
an editorial that appeared in last week's
issue of another area newspaper. What
follows are quotes from that column in
regular type followed by the BS meter
translation in parenthesis. Here we go.
There are some people
who are never happy. About anything. And
they especially do not like having to
play by somebody else's rules. They think
they are the only overtaxed, overworked
and under-appreciated people on the planet.
(Translation by the BS meter: I never
met a tax I didn't like. And hey, nobody
is more under-appreciated than me).
If a public official
deserves whitewashing, I don't have a
problem being first in line with the paintbrush.
(BS meter: As long as that public official
is Jim Plunkett or Tom Pryor).
Many come to me with
their problems and ask me to do something
about it. (BS meter: Those poor schmucks
are better off whizzing against the wind.
No way I'm bucking the establishment).
Most of the time,
it's the same old song and dance--somebody
done them wrong and by the heavens above,
somebody has to pay. I don't have much
patience for that nonsense. (BS meter:
Little patience and even less desire to
do the fair and balanced journalistic
legwork it takes to cover those kinds
of stories. Especially if it's Platte
County Fair week or Pirate season).
One such persecuted
person owns a business on Running Horse
Road. (BS meter: That darn Rick Clark.
. .he doesn't advertise in my paper so
I'm going to take some cheap shots at
his business now. I still can't believe
he kicked me out of his store the last
time I was up there trying to sell him
an ad. Doesn't he know I live in Platte
City and that means he should only advertise
with me regardless of the quality of my
I heard last week
that his latest crusade against the City
of Platte City concerns drainage issues
near his property. (BS meter translation:
I read this exclusively in The Landmark.
I've been scooped again and I'm ticked
Just chalk it (the
drainage issue) up to the latest in a
long line of disputes he has had with
the city and his neighbors ever since
he opened his doors years ago. (BS
meter: It's easy for me to be judgmental
since it's not my property that's turning
into Lake Lotawata. But how dare Rick
Clark question the gospel preached by
Dave Brooks, Keith Moody, etc. To me,
it's perfectly OK if a neighboring business
shoots stormwater directly onto Rick Clark's
property, because as previously stated,
Rick Clark does not advertise with me.
But if any of my neighbors ever shoot
their stormwater onto my property, forget
I wrote this because do you honestly think
I'm going to pay to fix a problem that
my neighbor and the city codes should
have prevented? Of course not. I grew
up in this town and I think Mayor Dave
told me the city codes specifically state
you can't do that to someone who grew
up in this town).
Heck, this guy even
complains about a neighboring bank's fundraiser
walk for juvenile diabetes, which requires
the closing of Running Horse Road for
a few hours one Saturday morning out of
the year. (BS meter: If I owned a retail
store, would I mind if the city closed
down my street on one of my busiest days
of the year? Yes I would. But I can't
support Rick Clark's argument because
Dave Brooks told me not to. And did I
mention Rick doesn't advertise with me?)
This is a classic
example of the exact opposite of what
I believe should be the mantra for every
area business owner. "Ask not what
the community can do for you, but what
you can do for your community." (BS
meter interpretation: I hope no one remembers
how city tax dollars used to go to the
local Chamber of Commerce to hire an assistant
director who also worked part-time selling
ads for my newspaper. She sometimes sold
ads for my newspaper while making her
rounds for the Chamber, all the while
being paid with the taxpayers' dime. I
saw that as productive multi-tasking,
but some folks saw that as a way public
money was subsidizing my business. It
was a good gig for a couple years until
Joe Carroll, Steve Wegner and a couple
other alert Chamber board members became
aware of the situation and put a stop
The Platte City community
does not owe (my newspaper) anything.
(BS meter: Well, at least not for the
time being. With that previously sweet
city/Chamber deal, we've drained enough
public funds for awhile.)
(Test your own BS
meter on Between the Lines and send the
results to firstname.lastname@example.org)
profundity at Parkville parade; Thomas/Graves
I've made an executive decision,
which fortunately my very-able staff here
at The Landmark allows me to do on occasion.
The executive decision is
that I'm heading to Chiefs training camp
in River Falls, Wisc. later this summer
for a few days of loafing. . . err, I mean
attending practices and covering the local
pro team in their first camp under new head
coach Herm Edwards.
I'll make a few whimsical
observations, snap some pictures, arm wrestle
Rufus Dawes, swat mosquitoes and maybe even
use my traveling laptop to post a Chiefs-style
blog from River Falls on our popular web
site at plattecountylandmark.com.
It will be the first time
I've been to training camp since the summer
of 1997. The Chiefs worked their way to
a 13-3 record that season. Let's see if
my trip brings good luck to the 2006 edition.
Speaking of the Chiefs, Bill
Grigsby, who in his prime was a familiar
voice on Chiefs' radio broadcasts and who
now hangs on to what is basically a ceremonial
post with extremely limited air time on
the pre-game show, was the parade announcer
at Parkville's Fourth of July ceremony.
As you know this is a big election year,
which means summer parades are full of candidates
and their supporters. Grigsby apparently
delivered a little too much political commentary
for at least one candidate's taste.
A press release from State
Senate candidate David Mason took ol' Grigs
to task, taking issue with an alleged comment
made by the Prince of Parkville. Mason claims
Grigsby commented that Mason would raise
taxes because he is a Democrat. Mason wasn't
pleased, emailing a reaction to several
major news outlets, including your Landmark.
"Missouri has been
operating in the red since the Republican
tax cut of 2001. Most people of the 34th
district want schools, colleges, and the
needs of people with disabilities, sick
children and seniors, and state workers
adequately funded. But the legislature must
first look at corporations that pay no tax,
corporations that use unfair loopholes to
avoid income and sales taxes, finding and
stopping provider-based Medicaid fraud,
and fair value for use of the citizens'
mineral rights and natural resources. Combined
with a new income tax schedule (the first
in over 50 years), many taxpayers would
pay the same or less state taxes. I am conservative
with the people's money," Mason
wrote in his release.
The only thing I like better
than the government being conservative with
my money is the government keeping its hands
off my money.
I'll be conservative with
it on my own, thank you very much.
State auditor candidate John
Loudon, currently a close second in the
polling behind Jack Jackson in the Republican
primary, will be speaking at the Platte
County Pachyderm Club meeting Thursday night
in Parkville. As we referenced here previously,
it's interesting that Loudon is bringing
his message to the home county of fellow
state auditor candidate Sandra Thomas, who
is currently fourth in the statewide polling.
In a recent phone conversation
with Thomas, I asked her about a political
blog based in St. Louis which basically
chastised her for being "too close,"
if you will, to Sixth District Congressman
"I don't think being
close to Sam is a burden. He has been a
great congressman. I can't think of anybody
better to have backing you than Sam Graves,"
she told me.
"The 'Sam' connection
in northwest Missouri is awesome. It's extremely
helpful when I go visit communities,"
"I'm getting a lot of
very positive feedback. Most people understand
the state auditor needs to be a CPA,"
Thomas said, adding when people choose a
private accountant they wouldn't trust "a
test pilot or career politician. . . they
want a CPA."
A blonde wanting to earn some
extra money decided to hire herself out
as a "handywoman" and started
canvassing a nearby well-to-do neighborhood.
She went to the front door of the first
house and asked the owner if he had any
odd jobs for her to do.
"Well, I guess I could
use somebody to paint my porch," he
said. "How much will you charge me?"
The blonde quickly responded,
"How about $50?" The man agreed
and told her that the paint and everything
she would need was in the garage. The man's
wife, hearing the conversation, said to
her husband: "Does she realize that
our porch goes all the way around the house?"
The man responded, "That's
a bit cynical, isn't it?" The wife
replied: 'You're right. I guess I'm starting
to believe all those dumb blonde jokes we've
been getting by email."
A short time later, the blonde
came to the door to collect her money.
"You're finished already?"
the man asked.
"Yes," the blonde
replied, "and I had paint left over,
so I gave it two coats."
Impressed, the man reached into his pocket
and handed the $50 to her.
"And by the way,"
the blonde added, "it's not a Porch,
it's a Lexus."
(Offer to paint Ivan Foley's porch,
but not his Taurus, via email at email@example.com)
handled tough situation with class; and
Ah, another summer holiday
on the horizon means more time spent firing
up the grill for steaks and ribs and shrimp.
Sure glad my pants are inflatable.
State Treasurer Sarah Steelman
is diligently working to attempt to return
millions of dollars worth of unclaimed property
to its rightful owners. To that end, select
newspapers around the state--The Landmark
included--are publishing lists of owners
of said unclaimed property.
Check the list of Platte County
residents with unclaimed goods printed in
this issue of The Landmark on pages B-9
through B-11. You could be a winner.
I noticed the name of Platte
City Mayor Dave Brooks on the list of people
with unclaimed property. I think it's his
copy of the Sunshine Law.
I have a great deal of admiration
for the professional way Bob and Patty Bennett
handled the entire situation surrounding
their daughter Katie's request to graduate
early and be allowed to return for commencement
ceremonies next spring at North Platte High
Patty Bennett took the lead as media spokesperson
for the couple and consistently expressed
herself and her views in an intelligent
and respectful manner. Husband Bob is equally
calm and quite capable of handling what
turned out to be a media spotlight. He expressed
himself quite eloquently on Newsradio 980
KMBZ one recent Wednesday when the issue
was a topic on one of their morning shows.
Neither Patty nor Bob let a tense situation
get to a personal level, and I'm not sure
many of us thrust into that situation would
have been able to do so.
It's my belief the Bennetts'
recent action has and will continue to bring
about positive changes in the operation
of the North Platte schools and school board
procedures. The district for some time has
desperately needed guidance in handling
public relations and this recent controversy
made that fact more apparent than ever before.
Nice job by some folks who
weren't afraid to step into the limelight
under trying circumstances.
Platte County Presiding Commissioner
Betty Knight threw out the ceremonial first
pitch in softball action at the new Tiffany
My educated guess is that
Betty's pitch started out far right, then
about halfway home drifted over to the left,
then swayed back to the right before landing
somewhere in the middle.
I may poke a little fun at
Betty on occasion but once again I will
profess my unending love and respect for
the way she can charm folks in a downhome
kind of way.
If she would only bake me
some cookies again.
Long separated by cruel fate,
Betty and I are now like two star-crossed
lovers racing toward each other in an imaginary
grassy meadow like two freight trains, one
having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling
at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at a speed
of 35 mph.
Don't try to over-analyze
this stuff. It will only frustrate you needlessly.
Rush Limbaugh was detained
for three hours after authorities found
a bottle of Viagra in his bag at a Florida
airport. One more hour of being held up
by Viagra and Limbaugh would have needed
to seek immediate medical attention.
I have an old friend who swore
the stuff didn't work so he made his way
to the bathroom and flushed his Viagra.
Now his toilet seat won't stay down.
Early polling numbers are
in for the race for the GOP nomination for
state auditor and they are definitely indefinitive.
A survey of 800 likely voters
conducted by Research 2000 released last
Saturday shows that 19% said they prefer
Jack Jackson, 17% said they'll vote for
John Loudon, 10% preferred Sandra Thomas,
8% like Mark Wright, 7% prefer Al Hanson,
and 39% answered "Who the hell are
For a safe Fourth of July
celebration, remember this list of don'ts:
Don't apply ice directly to
any burn unless it is very minor; don't
touch a burn with anything except a clean
covering; don't remove pieces of cloth that
stick to the burned area; don't try to clean
a severe burn; don't break blisters; and
don't serve Uncle Rico's Mexican buffet
too close to the fireworks.
(Email this Yankee Doodle Dandy at
inquiring mind wants to know; Loudon will
invade Thomas' turf
If I were fortunate enough
to be granted an interview with the local
high school lunch clerk charged with possessing
marijuana with the intent to distribute, here
are some of the questions I would ask:
1. In your duties as lunch clerk, did you
ever bring brownies to school?
2. At social occasions, do you ever get
3. Was it your idea to discontinue the
drug resistance education program at the
4. Do you know anything about human growth
hormones, 'cuz I just looked at my gut and
I think I may have been poisoned with some.
5. How many fingers am I holding up?
6. Word problem, please show your work
using charts, graphs and leafy substances:
If it takes ten tokes for Tim to get totally
trashed, but only two tokes for Tom to get
titanically tanked, how do you know when
you're one toke over the line?
7. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck
if a woodchuck would chuck wood?
State Sen. John Loudon of Chesterfield
is one of the candidates in a crowded race
for the Republican nomination for state
auditor. He'll be in Platte County to speak
to the Platte County Pachyderm Club, and
then will host a fundraiser at The National
Golf Club in Parkville immediately after
his speaking engagement.
Normally, it's not an incredibly huge story
that a candidate for state office would
come to Platte County to speak or extract
some political capital. What makes it a
little more interesting in Loudon's case
is that one of his opponents is Platte County's
own Sandra Thomas. Loudon is coming to Thomas'
home turf for a speaking engagement and
to raise some cash. Loudon is said to be
tight with Michael Short, former county
commissioner who is not exactly a friend
of Thomas or her husband James, noted local
political activist. Short is a leader in
the Pachyderm Club and likely helped arrange
the speaking engagement. (Also of note:
Platte County Commissioner Jim Plunkett
is longtime friend of Loudon. What makes
that interesting is that Short and Plunkett
really have no use for one another, yet
they have a mutual friend in Loudon. Politics
really does make strange bedfellows.)
Anyway, my point--and I do have one--is
that I was able to reach Thomas on her cell
phone Tuesday to get her reaction to Loudon
bringing his campaign to her home turf.
"I don't know that I have any reaction
to it. I think when folks meet him they'll
understand why they should vote for me,"
What about the whispers around the Platte
County Administration Building that Thomas
has been a virtual no-show in her office
since filing for state auditor? After all,
earlier this year during budget time she
strongly hinted the staffing cutbacks would
hurt her office's ability to keep up with
the work load, and now her office has basically
lost a full time employee--that being Thomas,
who critics say hasn't been in the office
since. . . well, since no one knows when.
"I'm still doing my job. Folks
who need to contact me about anything they
have questions about know how to reach me.
I have been actively involved in my office
every day. I can do almost anything from
home that I need to do and even out on the
road I am in contact (with her office.)
Anybody at the county can send me an email
or call me and I'll respond," she
She defends the situation by basically
saying she can be productive without physically
being in the office. "I don't think
we've missed a beat," she said
of her county office in her absence.
Still, the political rumor mill is hot
with reports that at least one of Thomas'
opponents plans to attempt to use her extended
absence from her county duties against her
in the state campaign. It will be interesting
to see if it's an issue that resonates with
City officials still tell everyone it's
a done deal and proceeding nicely, but the
Shoppes at North Gate TIF project at I-29
and HH in Platte City has shown no signs
of construction. Remember, by now Mayor
Dave was supposed to be riding on the back
of the first bulldozer brought in to demolish
Reports circling in the business community
indicate the developers have yet to purchase
the Travelodge motel at the site. In the
meantime, some Platte City residents are
buzzing about the way the city seems to
be in no hurry to enforce its ordinance
against weeds in the TIF zone. It is growing
wild with an impressive but unsightly crop
More Platte City TIF talk. This is directly
from a memo from city administrator Keith
Moody to the aldermen, dated June 12:
"North Gate TIF--The developer
has confirmed that it is possible to gravity
sewer from KC Bobcat to a gravity sewer
existing at the intersection of Vine and
Vine View. They will be assessing the flow
capacity of the sown stream sewer system
to determine if there is enough capacity
to serve the redevelopment site as well
as KC Bobcat."
Wow. Shouldn't we have already had all
the details about sewer capacity nailed
down before the TIF was approved?
Nothing new to report on the speculation
that Ilse Smith is contemplating giving
up on a race against Eric Zahnd for prosecutor.
It's just days away from being too late
for her name to be pulled off the ballot,
even with a court order. Smith is still
dodging phone calls.
Zahnd, meanwhile, is continuing to operate
as though the race is in high gear. "I'm
continuing to go door-to-door and do everything
else to win reelection and continue to look
forward to spreading the word about the
good things we've been able to do over the
past several years," he said Tuesday.
More insight into Smith's effort--or lack
of it, if that's the case--will be known
when the next campaign finance reports are
due on July 15.
(Inquire of the publisher
via email to firstname.lastname@example.org)
lacks respect for law that ensures your right
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have named their
baby girl Shiloh.
Apparently she has 18 holes and will cost Platte
County taxpayers millions of dollars.
Did the City of Platte City learn anything
from the failed annexation debacle of three
years ago? In terms of realizing it needs to
develop a more detailed plan for services and
actually be able to provide landowners something
they're not currently getting, perhaps. But
when it comes to handling this whole annexation
process without violating the intent of the
state's open meeting laws, I don't think so.
Case in point are the details around last week's
special meeting at which the city announced
its intention to annex about 6,500 acres. On
Tuesday of last week, the city properly posted
notice more than 24 hours in advance that a
special meeting would be held. Only one item
was listed on the special meeting agenda, an
item designating certain streets for boulevard
But that's where the proper public notification
stopped and the games began. At 1 p.m., just
four and a half hours prior to the meeting,
the city sent notice of additions to the special
meeting agenda. It listed a couple of bills
and resolutions, but strangely, never provided
the normal one-sentence description of what
those bills and resolutions would deal with.
This immediately had the distinct aroma of road
kill being cooked by Mayor Dave and the Sunshine
Boys. In a short amount of time, The Landmark
was able to confirm through multiple and various
sources that annexation was the top secret item
on the city's 'we could tell ya but we'd have
to kill ya' agenda.
With this knowledge in hand, at about 2:30
that afternoon I visited city hall to ask city
administrator Keith Moody for information about
the mysterious agenda items. I never said a
word about annexation, and simply asked Moody
whether he felt it was proper to amend a special
meeting agenda just a few hours prior to the
session, and whether it was appropriate to list
bills and resolutions without listing the topic
of those proposed bills and resolutions. He
declined to give explanation or offer more information,
saying only that a press conference would be
held at 3:30 p.m. and my questions could be
dealt with at that time. I asked if he would
have an attorney present at 3:30. He answered
I never had to ask my question at the press
conference, as it was obvious Moody had already
told the attorney, Chris Williams of Lee's Summit,
that questions regarding proper notice had been
raised. The city's high-priced (see this week's
front page story for details on that) attorney
specializing in annexation matters opened the
press event by explaining why the city had been
so secretive. He said the city chose to go the
undercover route for competitive reasons, explaining
that annexation law dictates the first city
to introduce and approve an intent to annex
certain areas has first rights to annex that
Later, I found out some landowners in one of
the areas Platte City intends to annex had been
in discussion with the City of Tracy about possibly
being annexed by that municipality. It would
appear a slightly paranoid Platte City contingent
didn't want some apparently slick operators
at the metropolis of Tracy to beat them to the
punch on this one.
Or at least that was their story.
In any regard, the high-priced lawyer's explanation
for the failure to follow normal public notice
in regard to holding a special meeting is quite
shaky and likely would not survive a court challenge,
according to Jean Maneke of the Jean Maneke
Law Group of Kansas City. Maneke is widely regarded
as the leading legal expert on the Sunshine
Law in the state. She represents the Missouri
Press Association in matters dealing with the
state's open meetings and records laws.
"They must cite good cause as to why
normal proper posting of the meeting could not
have been done," Maneke said this week
after I explained the city's strange actions
to her. "They've got to provide good
cause as to why they couldn't include that in
the original notice."
When told the reasons given by the city's special
legal counsel for failure to follow the normal
posting procedure, Maneke didn't hesitate in
"That's not good cause. I don't think
any court would find that to be good cause,"
said Maneke, who has 25 years experience
representing clients in matters dealing with
While I had the mind of Maneke on the other
end of the phone, I also queried her as to whether
or not annexation is an allowable topic for
a secret (executive) session. After all,
Platte City has announced this detailed plan
of annexing two huge tracts of land totaling
nearly 6,500 acres, and I can't recall our newspaper--which
with extremely rare exception has a representative
present at every meeting--ever hearing any part
of this plan discussed in a public session.
"Could (the city) argue that annexation
is potential litigation? I would take the position
that it's not, because the city doesn't have
a real threat that somebody is about to sue
them," Maneke said.
At least not yet, anyway.
Oops. That's already two strikes against Mayor
Dave and the Sunshine Boys in this at-bat. Let's
see if they keep whiffing.
What's up with that map the city provided of
the proposed annexation areas? It may be the
only map you'll ever see issued by a government
entity that identifies no streets or other points
Was it simply incompetence or another attempt
to confuse and withhold proper information from
By the way, you'll be able to find that color-coded
map on our web site at plattecountylandmark.com
real soon. Whether you'll find it useful depends
on how well you can navigate as the crow flies.
Or you could go down to city hall, ask for
a map and ask them to explain why they didn't
take the time and effort to make the land areas
more easily identifiable.
(Navigate your way to
Ivan Foley's desk via email at email@example.com)
in my day, unwritten school policies just
A blind man makes his way to a bar stool and
orders a drink. After sitting there for awhile,
he yells to the bartender: "Hey, you wanna
hear a blonde joke?"
The bar immediately falls quiet. In a deep,
husky voice, the woman next to him says: "Before
you tell that joke, sir, I think it is only
fair, given that you are blind, that you should
know five things:
1. The bartender is a blonde girl with a
baseball bat. 2. The bouncer is a blonde "biker
girl." 3. I'm a 6' tall, 175 pound blonde
woman with a Black Belt in karate. 4. The woman
sitting next to me is a blonde and a professional
wrestler. 5. The lady to your right is blonde
and a professional wrestler.
"Now, think about it seriously, mister.
Do you still wanna tell that joke?"
The blind man thinks for a second, shakes his
head and mutters:
"Nah, not if I'm gonna have to explain
it five times."
This North Platte early graduation/walk at
commencement story, which first broke a couple
of weeks ago in The Landmark, has been
gaining region-wide media attention.
A couple of thoughts on this:
1. Allowing Katie Bennett to graduate early
and then walk with her graduating class at commencement
in May would not break from any written North
Platte policy. School officials have been unable
to produce for us any written policy that says
an early graduate cannot walk at commencement.
We all know unwritten, in other words verbal,
policies can be twisted in any fashion the powers-that-be
choose to twist them at the time of the twisting.
It would be tough for anyone to argue that
a policy with the potential to create as much
controversy as this one should be written, not
verbal. Written policies tend to stand the test
of time. .. unwritten policies are easily manipulated
in a case-by-case basis.
Back in my day, unwritten policies just disappeared.
2. As you see in our front page story, Superintendent
Dr. Francis Moran has apparently changed his
stance on a couple of issues since this story
first broke. In earlier interviews with The
Landmark, Moran insisted that denying the early
graduate the chance to walk with her class had
nothing to do with a loss of state funding the
school will encounter after she graduates at
semester. Last week a couple of school board
members went on record with The Landmark as
saying that money certainly was a role in the
matter. This week Moran now agrees with those
board members and says finances play a part
in these types of decisions.
In addition, Moran now has told the girl that
he will recommend to the board that she be allowed
to graduate at semester and allowed to walk
with her class at graduation in May. If so,
this will match the policy that appears on the
North Platte web site as it links to policies
suggested by the Missouri Consultants for Education,
but will apparently go against previous practice
at North Platte in Moran's time there.
Confused? No doubt.
3. I praise Moran and the school board for
their ability to adapt and admit a mistake,
if in fact Moran proceeds with a recommendation
to establish a written policy allowing early
graduates (not just this particular graduate,
but all future early graduates) to walk at commencement
if they so choose. This will be a major sign
of professional growth for Moran and the board
if they show they are willing to be open-minded
enough to admit their unwritten policy stance
was quite shaky, and they deserve respect for
their willingness to adapt. That hasn't always
been the case at North Platte in Moran's time
Commencement is a ceremony for graduates. A
graduate is a graduate, whether that student
met graduation requirements in December or in
May. It's that simple. Or at least it should
Not saying that legal action was on the horizon,
but would that unwritten policy have stood up
to a court challenge? Something to think about.
Maybe Moran and the board did think about it.
Watching the groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday
morning for the new city hall to be constructed
at Parkville took me back in time. When Tony
Borchers of River North developers, the folks
who have brought us The National golf complex
and the impressive new Parkville Commons commercial
development, stepped to the podium, I couldn't
help but reflect on the growth of Borchers as
a person in the time that I've known him.
I remember covering Borchers when he was a
standout football player for Doug Hedrick's
Platte County Pirate football teams in the mid-to-late
1980s. Back in those days it was my job to cover
the team, a task which put me on the sidelines
for every game. I can specifically remember
one game where Borchers, playing defensive line
at the time, was getting ticked that the Pirates'
D was being upstaged by the opposing team's
running game. Borchers delivered a tail-chewing
to a teammate, in no uncertain words telling
that particular teammate where he needed to
be and the effort he needed to be delivering.
"I'm getting tired of doing your damn job
for you," Borchers yelled in a voice that
clearly carried to the sideline that night.
He went on to play some college ball at Northwest
Missouri State University.
My next memory of Borchers is when he worked
in the Platte County Planning and Zoning Department
in the mid-to-late 1990s. Borchers eventually
became P&Z director and as such it was his
duty to stand at the microphone in county commission
meetings and deliver staff recommendations on
change of zoning proposals. He would close every
thumbs-up summary with this line: "Staff
respectfully recommends approval of this request."
Now, among other duties, he's delivering groundbreaking
speeches for a highly respected development
firm. Kinda cool.
(Ivan Foley has an unwritten
policy to criticize unwritten school policies.
Send your written thoughts on unwritten policies
to him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
board members need a memo; County candidate
Memo to school board members at all area school
Your superintendent works for you. You don't
work for him. You are his boss. You and your
constituents pay his salary. You give him guidance.
You set policy, he sees that it is carried out.
You are elected to be district leaders and district
spokespeople. You have this responsibility to
the people who voted you into office.
If your superintendent is controlling you or
intimidating you, you are failing in your elected
duties as a school board member. Grow some stones
or step away from your position.
The political rumor mill in Platte County is
running hot with this gem: Ilse Smith is giving
serious consideration to dropping out of her
race against incumbent Eric Zahnd for Platte
The two are scheduled to square off in August
in the Republican primary. There is no Democrat
in the race, so the GOP primary is basically
for all the marbles. But it may not turn out
to be no race at all, if the speculation about
Smith becomes more than speculation. Sources
close to the Smith camp are hinting to me she
is feeling a lot of pressure about the upcoming
race and her heart may no longer be in what
promises to be a tough summer on the campaign
Multiple phone messages left for Smith by yours
truly have gone unreturned. A relative answering
her phone last Thursday said Smith was wrapping
up a vacation and would return my call in a
couple of days. On Tuesday I tried again and
was told by the same relative---who by the way
is always extremely polite--that my message
was still duly noted and that my call should
be returned shortly. Still waiting.
In order for Smith's name to get taken off
the ballot at this late juncture, she would
need to file action to do so in Platte County
Circuit Court. The request would be granted
by the court, but the lateness of the action
is getting to the point where it may cost Smith
some bucks to reimburse the Platte County Board
of Elections for costs incurred. By the end
of this week or early next week the process
of printing ballots is expected to begin and
"a fairly substantial" cost of reprinting
ballots could be assessed to Smith, according
to election officials.
Smith's sudden shyness is surprising considering
the aggressiveness with which she had started
her campaign. I detailed for you several weeks
ago the salty attitude and verbal bullets Smith
directed toward Zahnd at a Platte County Pachyderm
Club speaking engagement in early May. It was
a signal this is going to be a rugged campaign.
. . and now that realization seems to be hitting
home with Smith, who may no longer want any
part of it.
On the heels of all the talk in last week's
issue about school officials admitting to a
drug problem at the Platte County High School,
The Landmark this week has discovered an interesting
curriculum note. Platte County R-3 no longer
has a DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education)
program in place. The program was formerly operated
at the middle school level. That's according
to Terry Hart, principal at Platte City Middle
School, whom I called to ask about the matter
this week. Hart said the DARE program at R-3
disappeared a couple of years ago and there
are no plans to bring it back at this time.
Hart said the program was cut "due to
funding." He said the Platte City Police
Department formerly supplied the police officer
to come instruct the program. The police department
and school district no longer have such an arrangement.
This begs a couple of questions. 1. A funding
issue? Hard to imagine the R-3 district being
so strapped for cash it couldn't afford to fund
an anti-drug program on its own. And remember,
the school already has its own school resource
officer (SRO) in place. Maybe this is the angle
Dick Modin, school board president, is pursuing
by asking the superintendent for a job description
for the SRO. If the SRO isn't helping with drug
resistance education, what the heck does he
do? 2. Let's hope R-3 isn't trying to blame
the local police department for the lack of
a DARE program. There is money for funding at
R-3, as proven by some curious spending decisions
made over the course of the past year or so.
It's a matter of priorities and where the school
board decides to spend its money.
With the admitted drug problem at the high
school, it would seem a good time to re-establish
a DARE program.
The controversy over whether to allow an early
graduate to walk at commencement in 2007 remains
a point of controversy at North Platte this
week. North Platte Superintendent Dr. Francis
Moran is citing an unwritten school policy allegedly
followed consistently over the past 15 years
as the reason against allowing a pregnant student
who intends to graduate at semester from walking
with her class in the May ceremony.
But apparently Moran's and the school board's
confidence in that policy is being shaken. Amid
criticism---justified in my opinion--coming
from some district patrons, Moran this Friday
morning wants to meet with the young lady and
her parents to try to work out a compromise
This could be interesting. Some folks are pledging
to show up outside the district offices as a
show of solidarity for the student while Moran
meets with the family this Friday morning at
around 6 or 6:30 a.m.
There could be many opportunities for Between
the Lines groupies--and you know who you are--to
catch a road show as we take this circus act
out and about among the good people of northwest
Missouri. Public appearances are possible Thursday
at the Touche night club in Parkville for the
Platte County Pachyderm meeting; Friday night
at Houlihans restaurant for the Platte Republican
Association gathering or maybe a cameo appearance
at Weston to take in the community theatre production
of The Unsinkable Molly Brown; Saturday morning
at 10 a.m. we're planning to crash the groundbreaking
for a new city hall in Parkville; Saturday night
I'm scheduled to be a scholarly attendee at
the Ramada Inn in St. Joe for my 25-year high
school class reunion and at some point in there
if I'm not too tired I may catch a nap at my
(DARE to be a Between
the Lines groupie by emailing the publisher
the school drug problem is the first step to
Hats off to some members of the Platte County
R-3 School Board for their willingness to publicly
acknowledge there is a drug problem at the high
school in Platte City. As you'll note in reporter
Dave Kinnamon's front page story, board members
Dick Modin and Karen Wagoner both talked openly
about the drug problem at a public meeting last
Awareness of the drug problem isn't news to
most of us who follow community events with
a close eye. I started writing this column in
1993 and I can tell you every Platte City police
chief in that timeframe (with the exception
of current chief Richard Sayles, as we have
yet to broach the subject) has made this comment
to me, and I'm paraphrasing here: "There's
a major drug problem at that high school. The
school won't admit it, but there is."
Perhaps school officials were previously of
the belief that if they didn't talk about it,
the problem didn't really exist. Or maybe it's
simply that in any walk of life--and I especially
think this is true at schools where those on
campus are constantly surrounded by fellow humans
whose world, like their own, revolves primarily
around campus life--that sometimes it's hard
to see the forest for the trees. In other words,
problems that are right at our feet can best
be seen from a distance.
But last week's screaming headline news about
an R-3 high school secretary facing felony charges
of using and distributing marijuana from her
home in Weston may have guilted R-3 leaders
into publicly talking about the problem for
the first time. It definitely made the problem
much harder to deny or ignore.
School officials insist the secretary wasn't
dealing the drugs on school grounds, but even
if that's the case there's no denying that her
job certainly put her in daily contact with
a potential clientele base.
Now that the problem has been officially recognized,
the question becomes what can be done about
it. That's a matter the school board apparently
wants to begin dealing with fairly quickly.
Last week Modin asked the superintendent to
provide a job description of the school resource
officer, suggesting the SRO position could be
doing more to help weed out drugs at the school.
Random drug testing of students was briefly
mentioned, though that sounds overly expensive
and overly intrusive to me.
A technique I've seen used--and perhaps R-3
has done this in the past, but if so it would
seem they need to do it more often--is to bring
in drug-sniffing dogs for random walk-throughs
on school property. Let the acute-sniffing canines
do their thing at random times around lockers
and around vehicles in the parking lot. I've
seen random drug dog searches performed at school
districts a lot smaller and with a lot less
money than R-3.
It's a possibility worth investigating.
Yes, drugs in schools are a problem everywhere.
But that doesn't mean we should like it or accept
it. That's why it is refreshing to note that
addressing a drug problem has come to the forefront
of school board discussions at R-3. Perhaps
priorities are getting back in order after a
time period where some of us thought things
were getting athletically out of whack.
What's a greater priority, getting drugs out
of the high school or talking about what conference
the school sports teams are going to play in?
What's a greater priority, getting drugs out
of the high school or worrying about whether
the middle school sports program should be interscholastic
or intramural? What's a greater priority, getting
drugs out of the high school or spending half
a million bucks on fake grass for the football
field? What's a greater priority, winning more
games or making sure student-athletes who use
drugs are dealt with severely?
Do we really want Jailhouse Rock to become
the official school song? Are we headed for
a time when Cheech or Chong can be elected student
Modin and Wagoner should be commended for showing
the intestinal fortitude to openly talk about
the problem. Keep that backbone strong as the
search for a solution--or at least a better
deterrent--begins. And let those of us in the
local business community know what we can do
to help you fight the fight.
(You're free to use your
copy of The Landmark any way you see fit, but
we prefer you not use it to roll your Mary Janes.
Email the publisher at email@example.com)
about stamina; and this local crime beat becoming
a full time job
This week we're proud to announce the presentation
of the annual Landmark English Award, given
to a top writing student at Platte County R-3
High School. The winner is selected by a faculty
panel at the school.
It's the 25th year we have given the award,
which includes a $250 cash scholarship to the
winner from the newspaper.
Here's your complete list of winners from the
original to the most recent:
1982: Natalie Parrett; 1983: Tamera Jones;
1984: Shane Lee Zembles; 1985: Amy Deterding;
1986: Chaundra Crawford; 1987: Sherry Stanton;
1988: Rebecca Ann Brown; 1989: Lisa Pancake;
1990: Jennifer Fowler; 1991: Jennifer Donnelli;
1992: Tyra Miller; 1993: James Davis; 1994:
Megan Boddicker (who later became a Landmark
employee, now an R-3 teacher); 1995: Kerry Durrill;
1996: Jamie Knodel; 1997: Laura Donald; 1998:
Christa Fuller; 1999: Alison Miller (later became
a Landmark employee); 2000: Alison Coons; 2001:
Valerie French; 2002: Devon Paul; 2003: Tara
Gutshall; 2004: Elizabeth Anderson; 2005: Anne
Mullins; and 2006: Branson Billings.
Well it's been a week for season finales on
your television screen. Grey's Anatomy, Boston
Legal and others are showing their final new
shows of the season, in fact Denny Crane (William
Shatner) and friends are closing out the season
in high definition on my tube as I write this.
Here at The Landmark, we're in the midst
of a season finale of our own. This is the last
issue for year number 141 of Platte County's
longest lasting newspaper. Those of you good
with numbers have figured out that means next
week we'll start year number 142.
Those of you really good with numbers can do
the math with me. At 52 weeks per year over
141 years, that's now 7,332 consecutive (that's
in a row) weeks of continuous (that means non-stop)
Wow. More than 7,300 weeks of rapid-fire publication.
Every now and then I like to lean back in my
chair inside The Landmark's historic
yet trendy offices and ponder that thought.
Then I tell myself to get my butt back to work
or the streak will end.
More than 7,300 weeks of uninterrupted publication.
And we're not even short of breath.
Must be all that time I spend on the treadmill
fine tuning this Herculean body.
Former Landmark ad sales guru Heidi McCoy,
affectionately known as Dog (or Dawg, if you
prefer the urban spelling) around the office,
has become a proud mama. Heidi and hubby Kyle,
who is employed by Green Ridge Farms of Platte
City, became the parents of a daughter born
April 29 at Heartland hospital in St. Joseph.
Maely Ann McCoy was born at 9:28 a.m. and checked
in at 6 lbs., 11 ounces. She was 20 inches long.
Dog says the young one does not yet have a nickname,
and she does not like my suggestion of "Puppy."
Heidi has decided to be a stay-at-home mom
at least for a while, so after an aggressive
nationwide search that left no stone unturned,
this week we are able to introduce our new ad
Lori Carey comes to us with a background in
the biz, having previously sold advertising
for a publication in Excelsior Springs. Call
or drop in to say hi to Lori. . .if she doesn't
chase you down first.
What an odd sight in a Platte County courtroom
Tuesday. Present were the two students accused
of making threats of violence against staff
and fellow students at the school. Also present
was one of the high school secretaries, not
so spiffily dressed in jailhouse orange (at
least she was sporting school colors), after
an arrest last week on drug-related charges.
Speaking of the students accused of making
threats at Platte County High School, one of
the accused's attorneys has added an interesting
twist to the topic we speculated upon in this
column space last week.
Brian Costello, attorney for Trevor Fattig,
told The Landmark it's his understanding
Platte County R-3 school officials have been
contacting both Amos and Fattigs
family members daily and having the family members
come to the high school to get the boys
If so, this would seem to indicate they are
still considered students in good standing.
Costello also said his defense strategy will
be to question the prosecution's witnesses,
who are five students at the school. "I
want to talk to the five kids and find out what
they have to say. My understanding is that they
all have a different story to tell," Costello
told the media.
Check out a new column this week by new Landmark
reporter Super Dave Kinnamon. The work of art,
Cinnamon Toast, can be found on page A-4 of
your printed version of The Landmark
See if Cinnamon Toast helps fulfill your hunger
for commentary, Landmark style.
(Ivan Foley thinks he
looks good in orange but would not look good
in jailhouse orange. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
that love in the air or did someone just open
a can of worms?
Ahh, love is in the air.
At least it is for Platte City Administrator
Keith Moody, till now a lifetime bachelor.
Moody will tie the knot with his gal pal of
the last few years in a ceremony to be held
May 20 in a garden at Loose Park in Kansas City.
Anybody at all familiar with Moody knows he
is extremely protective of his private life,
so I think I caught him off guard this week
when I called to quiz him about his approaching
nuptials (and let's be honest, is there anything
more private than a guy's nuptials?)
Moody will be exchanging vows with the granddaughter
of legendary sports stadium groundskeeper George
Toma. I'm guessing the landscaping at Loose
Park will be extremely well-groomed by May 20.
So, is the wedding open to all of Moody's friends
and fans, including his. . . admirers. .in leadership
roles with the Platte City Chamber of Commerce?
"It's an invitation type of event,"
he told me, though he quickly pointed out Loose
is a public park so it's assumed just about
anybody and everybody will have the right to
catch a glimpse of the city's 37-year-old chief
bean counter delving into holy matrimony. "But
we do have (the garden) reserved," he said.
Moody is in the process of selling his condo
and he and Mrs. Moody will reside in a house
he had built in the Estates of Platte Valley.
It is expected they will plant some seed, fertilize
appropriately, keep the shrubs trimmed, mow
every fourth day and live happily ever after.
Say it with me: Nuptials.
Beautiful. I have a new favorite word.
Ahh, love is in the air. . .well, maybe not
There was a closed session held on the topic
Monday night, and obviously anybody and everybody
who was behind the closed door is not talking,
but unofficial word circulating among a variety
of sources is that conflicting opinions might
be getting a little dicey among district officials
as Platte County R-3 deals with the after-effects
of the Columbine-style threats allegedly made
by a pair of students last month.
So what might be the cause of differing opinions
among some school officials? I'm speculating
that some may want the suspects expelled from
the district now, while others want to wait
for the court system to complete its handling
of the case. Sources inside the high school
indicate that at least one of the suspects has
asked for his homework to be provided to him.
Does this mean the suspects are still considered
students in good standing?
Other whispers indicate some district leaders
are bothered by information that was revealed
in court papers filed with the case and printed
in this newspaper. Those court papers allege
that one of the suspects, Trevor Fattig, in
a January counseling session with the school
district's hired social worker drew a CD cover
depicting a school shooting as his "expression
Some high level district officials could be
miffed that communication of that drawing did
not make its way to all levels of district hierarchy
(perhaps to the school board, for instance?).
. . and maybe to other authorities. . .at the
time the drawing was done last winter.
All that plus last week's news that soda pop
sales and a much ballyhooed financial donation
from the soda folks could be hampered by an
agreement involving all the major cola companies
who want to focus on furnishing only the healthier
drinks to help combat childhood obesity?
No one can deny there are some interesting
"what if" issues in play right now
Ahh, love is in the air . . .well, maybe not
so much. Part II.
I took the traveling Between the Lines road
show to Parkville last Thursday night, where
The Landmark was the only media outlet
to witness the first public whizzing match between
the two Republican candidates for county prosecutor.
They each spoke, as did other Republican candidates
for other county offices, at a meeting of the
Platte County Pachyderm Club at the Touche night
Incumbent Eric Zahnd pointed out his opponent,
Ilse Smith, used to be one of Zahnd's biggest
supporters and in fact hosted his kickoff fundraiser
for his reelection. Then she applied for--and
did not get--a job in his office. Suddenly,
she was throwing her name in the hat to run
Smith answered by saying she decided instead
of working for the prosecutor, she wanted to
be the prosecutor. She went on to belittle Zahnd
for what she termed "the worst jury trial
record" in county history, including some
losses in trials on crimes against children.
She claimed Zahnd is using his involvement in
the war against cyber crimes as "a diversion"
to take attention off his alleged failure to
take felony cases to trial in recent months.
Smith's comments raised the ire of Miller Leonard,
a former Zahnd assistant who was in the audience.
Leonard loudly and longly verbally objected
to Smith's comments. As Pachyderm Club President
Lee Pedego repeatedly asked "Mr. Leonard,
do you have a question?" and just as
I was wondering whether Leonard would become
the next Platte County attorney to be restrained
by the use of mace, he finally calmed down.
Smith definitely cast the first significantly
negative stone so now you can bet anything and
everything is fair game from this point. The
gloves are off. Smith won't in good faith be
able to paint herself as a victim of 'negative'
campaigning, as Zahnd's opponent four years
ago attempted to do.
There is no more vigorous campaigner than Eric
Zahnd, so anybody with a feel for politics knows
a strong response will be forthcoming. It's
just a matter of when and with how many pounds
Be sure to strengthen your tummy muscles before
you settle in to watch this race.
(Mace your publisher via
'what if' game has arrived; Manipulating the
Run, don't walk, away from any movie theater
showing the alleged horror flick known as 'Silent
Awful is too kind a word for this disgrace
to the movie industry. A plot line that is both
confusing and ignorant at the same time, combined
with questionable acting (the actress playing
the female cop is particularly baaaaad) that
had me snickering through what was billed as
"an edge of your seat" thriller added
up to an expensive waste of time. If I hadn't
plopped down $7.50 a ticket and spent another
$10 on a large popcorn and drink, I would have
walked out less than halfway into this snoozer.
It depresses me to think I'll never get those
two hours of my life back.
I know what you're thinking. .. ah, the movie
couldn't have been that bad. Foley is using
hyperbole. Let's go see it and judge for ourselves.
Don't do it. If you must, at least wait until
it hits the $1 movie house. Or wait for it to
come out on video and rent it dirt cheap. It's
my duty as a consumer watchdog to tell you this
thing is crap.
I don't want to say The Landmark told
you so. But we did.
The breaking national news on Wednesday morning
is this: America's largest beverage distributors--including
PepsiCo, the soft drink company that pledged
to pay Platte County R-3 $31,000 per year over
the next 10 years with R-3 allegedly using the
money to help fund its installation of field
turf at the football stadium--have agreed to
halt nearly all sales of sodas to public schools.
It's a step that will remove the sugary drinks
from vending machines and cafeterias around
the country. The companies will work to implement
the changes at 75 percent of America's public
schools before the 2008-09 school year and at
all public schools by the 2009-2010 school year.
The companies have agreed to sell only water,
unsweetened juice and low-fat milks to elementary
and middle schools. Only diet sodas will be
sold to high schools.
Under the agreement, high schools will still
be able to sell low-calorie drinks that contain
less than 10 calories per serving, as well as
drinks that are considered nutritious, such
as juice, sports drinks and low-fat milk. (I'm
guessing that low-fat milk option isn't a big
seller in the high schools vending machines,
how about you?)
While the industry says sales of healthier
drinks have been on the rise in recent years,
regular soda, averaging 150 calories per can,
is still the most popular drink among students,
accounting for 45 percent of drinks sold in
U.S. schools in 2005, according to a national
Anyway, regular readers will recall last year
we talked about this health-kick effort and
the negative effect it could possibly have on
the R-3 deal with Pepsi. We said the trend had
already hit some states and it would soon be
coming to schools here in Missouri. Some R-3
officials practically chided us for bringing
the possibility to public consciousness, calling
it "playing a what if game."
Well, it's no longer "what if." It's
here. As we reported last year, there is a clause
in the contract with R-3 that allows Pepsi to
bail out if the health wave brings regulations
or policies that negatively affect sales in
How exactly this week's news will affect Pepsi's
10-year pledge of $310,000 remains to be seen.
What is less in doubt is that the R-3 public
relations machine will be cranking out the propaganda
in full force, downplaying the nationwide deal
made by the American Beverage Association. I
fully expect that we'll soon be hearing from
R-3 headquarters, where some of you have noticed
the sun always shines and everything is always
good and nice and never a problem exists, that
the news will have "little, if any"
effect on the money pledged to R-3.
There will be a desperate effort to spin this
into a positive. Heck, maybe Pepsi will feel
so guilty about it they'll double the donation
to R-3 and a domed field with sky boxes will
be the next "cost neutral" proposal.
Strictly for the good of the band and the PE
classes, of course.
I'll reprint what an alert reader from Texas
told me last year during the field turf controversy
at R-3, as the $31,000 per year for 10 years
deal with Pepsi was being analyzed. Texas is
one of the states that had already eliminated
the unhealthy drinks and snacks from its schools.
"They (R-3) will never get their money,"
the reader from Texas predicted.
Word is circulating in legal circles that Platte
County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd is quite, uhh,
disturbed, shall we say, about the maneuvering
that ended with a DWI charge and leaving the
scene of an accident charge against former Riverside
municipal court judge Charles McKeon being heard
in Kansas City Municipal Court instead of in
circuit court (see our front page story).
An indication that Zahnd is piping hot could
be that he gave his statement on the topic to
me in writing. . . possibly worried that if
he talked off the top of his head he may say
something he would later regret.
Another indication authorities are ticked off
is the rumbling I'm hearing that the alleged
drug possession case being built against McKeon
has been placed on the fast track. Authorities
are waiting on results of crime lab work before
a decision on charges is made. I'm hearing charges
could now be coming sooner rather than later.
And if the public perception is that McKeon
manipulated the court system, I would expect
some less-than-happy folks involved in the judicial
process if he is charged and eventually found
guilty of further criminal activity.
Start watching this case with great interest,
if you haven't already been doing so.
(Manipulate the publisher
via email to email@example.com)
it comes to gas prices, Bush asleep at the political
After months of being oblivious to the topic
even while public outrage has been building
to a boiling point, a stumbling and bumbling
President George W. Bush finally acknowledged
this week he should try to save the political
lives of his Republican colleagues by at least
recognizing the fact gasoline prices are causing
hardship on American families and consumers.
Unless an effective solution is found--even
if it is a temporary solution, say, a solution
that lasts from now through November--a political
price is going to be paid for the ridiculous
prices Americans are paying at the gas pump.
That political price is likely going to be
paid by Republican Congressional candidates
in November's mid-term elections.
Dick Morris, a syndicated columnist who is
a former adviser to Bill Clinton but later became
a staunch Bush supporter in his war on terror,
summed it up best in a column that appeared
in an area daily paper on Saturday. Morris said
this: "Bush has truly become the Republican
equivalent of President Jimmy Carter, out of
control, dropping in popularity, unable to resume
Sadly, I don't even think Bush realizes how
bad things have become in regard to his public
perception. Any Republicans on the ballot in
November better be prepared to run on their
own merits. This isn't the time to be riding
the coattails of a president who often seems
clueless on the domestic issues that common
Americans find important.
History has shown Americans will vote with
their pocketbooks. A recent CNN poll finds 69%
of Americans say the high gasoline prices have
caused them financial hardship. Justified or
not, Bush and Republicans are going to get the
blame for this, in large part because the public
perception is that this administration is in
bed with the big oil companies.
It could be a rough November for the GOP.
The high gasoline prices have much less to
do with supply and demand and much more to do
with market speculation and manipulation. Oil
companies are so large that just one can manipulate
prices in a given market.
An example of legal manipulation of the market
is the way the oil companies have declined to
increase refinery capacity in the U.S. Holding
down refinery capacity in the U.S. helps keep
gasoline prices up. More money for your friends
at big oil.
Blame the lack of refineries on the tree huggers
and environmental restrictions if you like--and
there's justification to place at least part
of the blame there--but that's a little tough
to swallow when you see oil companies posting
record profits (that's profits, not gross sales,
my friend). First quarter profits for the country's
three largest oil and gas companies have been
reported at $16 billion, up 19% from last year.
The money is there. Big oil has simply chosen
to spend a good chunk of it on lavish financial
packages for its executives instead of expanding
Tony Snow of the Fox News Channel is being
introduced this week as the new press secretary
for President Bush. I'm waiting for Snow to
claim his press conferences will be fair and
Latest on the old Interurban railroad car controversy
at Dearborn? Historian David Short, who originally
purchased the car in 1990 and helped bring it
to Dearborn in 1993, told the city he still
has conditional ownership in the car. City officials
said fine, then please get the dilapidated piece
of junk out of our city limits within 30 days.
Whether Short will have it moved or whether
he will simply allow the city to dispose of
it for scrap remains to be seen. Mayor Frank
Downing told me Wednesday morning that a man
from Troy, Ks. has expressed interest in acquiring
the car for scrap. Either way it looks like
the car within 30 days will be a real part of
Alderman Gary Bomar had been the lone Dearborn
alderman still wanting the city to try to refurbish
the old railroad car. Bomar even claimed the
aldermen had voted to name the new city park
under construction as the Interurban Park. Not
so, says Downing, who has researched all minutes
of city meetings since 2004 and found no record
of such a vote. To Bomar's chagrin at a special
meeting last Wednesday, the board voted to name
the new facility Dean Park, the same name the
old park carried. Obviously this will save on
the cost of new signage.
Bomar, by the way, got up from his chair and
walked out of the meeting after getting into
a disagreement with Alderman Bill Edwards over
Never a dull moment at Dearborn. I love these
It has been brought to the attention of Platte
County Clerk Sandy Krohne that her office made
a distribution error last year when handing
out railroad and utility tax revenues to several
school districts whose boundaries are within
Platte County. The flawed handouts of the 2004
tax year revenue took place in early 2005, but
the error wasn't caught until the North Kansas
City School District noticed a significant change
in its distribution amount when the 2005 checks
arrived in early 2006.
The incorrect distribution gave too little
money to Platte County R-3, West Platte and
North Kansas City. Too much of the railroad
and utility tax money was awarded to Park Hill
and Smithville. Corrective measures are being
taken, after a sit-down meeting between Krohne
and school representatives recently.
It will be necessary for Park Hill and Smithville
to send their overpayments back to the county
collector. Park Hill will be returning $33,500
and Smithville will be sending back over $17,000.
That returned money then will be correctly distributed
to R-3 in the form of a nearly $27,000 check,
to North Kansas City in the amount of $15,700
and to West Platte in the amount of $8,000.
"It was an error and it had to be fixed.
I didn't see that there was any other option,"
Krohne told me this week.
(Share your pain at the
pump story with Ivan Foley via email at firstname.lastname@example.org)
whistles blowing at Dearborn? And 'fair and
I'm a conservative who believes much of the
national media carries a liberal slant, so why
is it getting harder and harder for me to watch
the more conservative Fox News channel and actually
believe I'm getting news without a spin of its
Warning bells are sounding after the Dearborn's
Board of Aldermen voted last week to scrap an
old Interurban Railway car that had been given
to the Dearborn Community Betterment Association
about 13 years ago. Nothing has ever been done
with the car, which sits at the city's sewer
plant and by all accounts is in a quite deteriorated
condition. Some folks are tired of seeing it
sit and rot. "It makes our sewer plant
look bad," Alderman Bill Edwards said last
Alderman Gary Bomar was out of town dealing
with a family matter and not present at last
week's meeting when the vote to get rid of the
old railroad car was made. He seems less than
pleased, you might say, firing off this email
on the topic to The Landmark last week.
"For the record, I am vehemently opposed
to the action of scrapping the rail car. I will
do everything I can humanly do to stop this
callous disregard of historic property. I am
not alone in this sentiment. The decision was
made in my absence, otherwise the motion probably
would not have been made.
"There will be input from as far away
as Texas before they can act on their ARBITRARY
& THOUGHTLESS decision to scrap a piece
of history. I opposed the previous Boards
attempt to sell it many years ago, I wasnt
on the Board then. Now I am and they had to
do this one while I was not present. Go figure!
The rail car may not be important to the current
sitting board save one but I guarantee you,
it is important to our children and grandchildren!"
Bomar, who is the alderman in charge of parks,
went on to claim the whole theme of the new
park going in at Dearborn is centered on the
old Interurban Railway.
Hmm. After a lull in the argumentative mood,
it now seems like things might be getting back
to normal at Dearborn board meetings. When it
comes to the old railroad car, the word "scrap"
could have more than one meaning.
Some shaking up is going on in the cabinet
of President George W. Bush, including but not
limited to the resignation of press secretary
Scott McClellan and the giving up of policy
portfolio by top Bush adviser Karl Rove.
Amid declining poll numbers that are reaching
the point of embarrassment, obviously the Bush
administration could use a shot of any kind
of momentum. It remains to be seen whether any
of these moves will provide a kick.
Republican Congressional candidates going before
voters in mid-term elections this November have
to be quite concerned about being associated
too closely with a president who is nosediving
in the polls. The stage seems to be set for
the Democrats to make some serious inroads,
if the often hapless Dems ever figure out how
to take advantage of the many chinks in Bush's
Fair and balanced?
One person who is being considered as replacement
for Bush press secretary McClellan is FOX News
Radio host Tony Snow. Snow, who hosts The
Tony Snow Show, once served as a speechwriter
for President George H.W. Bush.
Who knows whether Snow will get the job, but
just the fact his name is even being considered
does give ammunition to critics who already
lampoon the network as being outstanding apologists
for the Bush administration.
Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shoots
a fellow hunter and chooses Fox News' Brit Hume
to lob him softball questions in his only exclusive
interview after the event. President Bush loses
his press secretary and one of the candidates
to replace him is Tony Snow of Fox News.
Even open-minded conservatives like this strikingly
handsome publisher are starting to chuckle at
this whole fair and balanced claim.
Will we ever see Bill O'Reilly address this
in his no-spin zone?
Another reason I'm having trouble watching
Fox News without cringing is the way Neal Cavuto's
afternoon show consistently finds ways to apologize
for some economic indicators that paint the
Bush administration in a bad light. For instance,
the topic of fuel prices came up during Cavuto's
show Tuesday. Analysts on the show were speculating
crude oil could rise to $100 per barrel and
gasoline could shoot up to $5 per gallon.
To this, Cavuto unleashed this ridiculous gem
that should land him a spot in the Apologists
Hall of Shame: "Even if it does reach $5
per gallon, that's still less than the price
of gasoline in France."
Hey Neal, how about a point of relevancy? In
other words, good luck finding someone who gives
I'm sure that knowledge of the price of gas
in France will be of great comfort to Average
Joe American as he is fighting back tears at
the gas pump this summer.
Campaign finance information on file at the
Missouri Ethics Commission shows Platte County
Auditor Sandra Thomas, who as you know is running
for state auditor, has $182,000 on hand in her
campaign account as of March 31. Of that amount,
$150,000 has come from a personal loan she has
given her campaign.
(You can still reach Ivan
Foley while he is taking extreme comfort in
the high price of gasoline in France at email@example.com)
opinions can be a healthy thing; The new Dearborn
Alleged threats of violence coming from the
R-3 High School, a former employee suing Platte
County, a difference of opinion between the
city and the chamber, there's a potential historic
railroad car controversy at Dearborn. . . all
very newsworthy items deserving of commentary.
But come on, we're overdue for some goofball,
childlike humor in Between the Lines. So here
Three mice are sitting at a bar after the funeral
of an Illinois mouse who had been killed by
an 80-year-old lady with a broom. The three
mice are trying to impress each other with stories
about how tough they are.
The Wisconsin mouse throws down a shot of bourbon,
slams the empty glass onto the bar, turns to
the Iowa mouse and says: "When I see a
mousetrap, I lie on my back and set it off with
my foot. When the bar comes down, I catch it
in my teeth, bench press it 20 times to work
up an appetite, and then make off with the cheese."
The Iowa mouse orders up two shots of tequila,
drinks them down one after the other, slams
both glasses onto the bar, turns to the Wisconsin
mouse and replies: "Oh yeah, when I see
rat poison, I collect as much as I can, take
it home, grind it up to a powder and add it
to my coffee each morning so I can get a good
buzz going for the rest of the day."
The Texas mouse finishes the beer he has in
front of him, let's out a long sigh and says
to the other two: "I don't have time for
this BS. I'm going home to have sex with the
Must say I'm impressed with the report from
the Platte County R-3 School Board reorganizational
meeting held at 7 a.m. Wednesday. (The burning
question: Why in the world 7 a.m.?)
I'm impressed that there was a split vote in
the matter of choosing a board president for
the next year. Dick Modin was reelected to the
post by a narrow 4-3 vote over Bob Shaw (see
Who serves as board president isn't nearly
as important or as healthy a sign to R-3 patrons
as the fact there was a split vote.
This could be an indication that board members
are no longer married to the "let's always
put on a happy face" attitude in the meeting
room. If so, that's a healthy thing for anyone
who believes in open and honest public debate
of school issues.
There's nothing wrong with civil disagreement
on any school board. That's why there are seven
Though they were in the minority, the votes
and actions of Shaw, Trish Stinnett and Dave
Holland will go a long way toward earning the
respect of those who want their elected officials
to always speak their minds and true feelings.
Frank Downing, Jr. has taken the helm of what
can be a wild and wacky ship at the city of
Dearborn. Called "Junior" by those
who know him, Downing has grabbed the reins
from Josh Linville, who declined to run for
reelection as mayor. At the age of 81 years
young, Downing handled his mayoral duties in
spry fashion at his first meeting Monday night.
It's not like he hasn't done it before. . .Downing
previously served as mayor of Dearborn from
1981-86. He also had a nice run as the planning
and zoning director for Platte County.
His experience will be a benefit to the city.
Frank Downing, Jr. was one of the first contacts
I made when I started working at the ol' Landmark
in 1982. In his position with the county planning
and zoning department, he was a source of background
information for me at that time as I began to
familiarize myself with the inner workings of
the people and places of Platte County. We could
often be spotted lunching together at some of
Platte County's finest diners back in those
From the "Whatever happened to?"
department, let it be known former Platte County
Commissioner Steve Wegner is still around. Got
an invitation in the mail to an open house to
be held April 20 at a new business known as
Realty World Northland KC, to be located in
the Kennedy Building west of the Platte City
Post Office. The invitation is signed by Wegner
and he is listed as broker/owner.
After having consistent and aggravating problems
with my desktop computer over the past couple
months (the darn thing always wanted to act
up and re-boot itself right at deadline time,
imagine that) I have trashed that two-year old
E-Machine desktop and have decided to go portable.
I invested in a Compaq Presario laptop a few
days ago and with the help of Landmark technical
guru Cindy Rinehart now have it fully loaded
and connected to our six-station network here
at Platte County's oldest newspaper.
Sure, the portability of the new laptop will
be a nice feature, but another advantage I've
found is that when I'm working at my desk I
now have plenty of room for my ample brain power
No more cramped space from a bulky CPU and
monitor. A nice advantage for a guy with claustrophobic
tendencies. My apologies to readers for not
doing this sooner because who knows what additional
journalistic goodness I could have cranked out
had I previously enjoyed this additional space
for my intuitive cells to operate.
(Reach your publisher
and his traveling laptop at firstname.lastname@example.org)
to spray roundup on the spring election season;
bracket winner cashes in
Welcome back to Between the Lines, where the
commentary is so stimulating you'll need to
think about baseball just to maintain control.
You may have already realized that on Wednesday
of this week at two minutes and three seconds
past 1 a.m., the time and date was 01:02:03
If you slept through it, shame on you. It was
one of those scintillating moments that won't
ever happen again.
If there is a busier time in the weekly newspaper
business than that short burst between gathering
election results and putting the paper to bed,
I have yet to find it. And I'm not sure I want
Kudos to new Landmark reporter Dave Kinnamon
for hanging with me into the wee hours. Dave
joined our staff last week to replace journalism
diva Kim Fickett, who has moved back to her
home state of Iowa.
Dave, a graduate student at UMKC, brings plenty
of newspaper experience to his new position
with The Landmark. He is a former managing editor
of The Star-Herald in Belton and was a reporter
for the Constitution-Tribune at Chillicothe.
He also formerly served as an advertising sales
account executive for the St. Joseph-News Press.
Hats off to all candidates--the winners and
the also-rans--for taking part in the election
process this spring. It was good to see competition
develop in many of the open seats this year.
That's a sign that there are really many folks
with a sincere desire to make a difference.
Here's hoping now that he's back in office
for two more years, Dave Brooks will continue
to grace these pages with quotes that are too
good to miss. It's been well-documented that
the mayor and I over the course of the past
couple of years have been on the opposite sides
of several issues, but I can't deny having Dave
in office has been good for my readership. I
guarantee that he doesn't intend to, but I must
confess Mayor Dave helps me sell newspapers
when he occasionally lets fly with some off-the-wall
The Brooks quote machine is already off and
rolling for another term. Here are some of my
favorite recent ''Brooksisms:"
During the election campaign: "Vote
for me because when I win, we all win."
After Tuesday night's election results: "The
people have spoken--that Dave Brooks has done
a good job the last four years."
You gotta love it when a small town mayor pulls
a Bob Dole and refers to himself in the third
person. Local politics can't get much better
than that, folks.
And Dave's comment on his administration's
accomplishments: "One word. . . quality."
Remember, think about baseball.
There is one item on the city's current agenda
on which the mayor and I can agree. I do hope
the mayor and his board of aldermen, which will
now feature two younger voices in Kenneth Brown
and Aaron Jung, will continue to exert an effort
to make the local chamber of commerce an even
more effective organization. True, the chamber
membership numbers seem to be growing, but is
that because of effective leadership or simply
a product of the local business growth?
The city, as requested by the chamber board,
should put together a written list of conditions
attached to the $10,000 in public money the
city has been giving to the chamber annually.
One of those conditions might include a suggestion
that the executive director enroll in charm
school, or at least learn to fake a pleasant
demeanor at all times.
It also might include a suggestion that when
new or existing chamber members are approached,
they be approached with the attitude of "Here's
what the chamber can do for you" instead
of "What can you do for the chamber?"
Two minor suggestions but it's often the little
things that can go a long away in recruiting
new businesses to continue to fuel the local
Congratulations to the winners in the Platte
County R-3 School Board race. Incumbents Karen
Wagoner and Dick Modin virtually sleepwalked
their way to victory, which is relatively easy
to do in a school board race when there is no
hot button issue raised by challengers. Incumbents
can sleepwalk. Challengers can't.
The closest thing to a hot button issue was
raised by Greg Henson, who claims there is a
textbook shortage at the middle school even
while the school enjoys "a world class
weight room." This is at least the second
straight school board election in which the
alleged textbook shortage has been raised. Successful
school board candidate Patricia Stinnett raised
the issue in her campaign last year. After getting
on the board, Stinnett apparently was later
convinced there is no shortage. Yet Henson in
his campaign interviews maintained teachers
at the middle school will vouch for the shortage.
It would benefit R-3 to have a discussion on
this topic in an open school board meeting and
lay the issue to rest one way or another. If
there is a shortage, what can be done to address
it? If there is no shortage, openly prove the
fact to the public and all school board members.
One way or another, will somebody put the issue
It's time to announce our bracket contest winners
for 2006. First place and $100 goes to Sue Shultz
of Platte City, who was the only person in the
entire field to correctly tab Florida as the
national champ. Impressive stuff. Sue finished
with 156 points.
Second place goes to Todd Mick of Platte City,
a previous champ who this year takes home the
$50 second place prize with his 138 points.
Third place prize of a free one-year subscription
goes to Ron Nelson of Platte City with 136 points.
(Text book shortage? Ivan
Foley is living proof you don't need them anyway.
Email him at email@example.com)
making a push for control of Republican Central
How about the flurry of late activity at the
Platte County Board of Elections on the final
day of candidate filing Tuesday? Fun stuff.
First, incumbent prosecutor Eric Zahnd gets
a challenge, but not from the Democrats who
had been hootin' and hollerin' against him for
the past four years. Zahnd's challenger is a
fellow Republican and (former?) friend who in
the not-too-distant past actually hosted a campaign
fundraiser for the incumbent prosecutor. Ilse
Smith runs a law firm from her home. She applied
for a job in the prosecutor's office late last
year and Zahnd chose to hire another applicant.
Smith says the application process opened her
eyes to things that bothered her about the prosecutor's
office. Zahnd has taken the high road, declining
to publicly paint Smith's candidacy simply that
of a disgruntled former job seeker. See our
front page story for comments from both Smith
and Zahnd on this bizarre twist.
Perhaps the biggest surprise came just minutesmore
accurately, secondsbefore filing deadline
when Republican Rebecca Rooney placed herself
in the political spotlight by throwing her name
in the hat against three-term incumbent Sandy
Krohne for county clerk. Rooney had mentioned
the possibility of her candidacy in passing
conversation among friends in recent weeks,
but her decision to go through with the filing
process wasn't made until the last minute. Her
paperwork was being processed by the good folks
at the board of elections as the clock ticked
near 5 p.m.
Rooney seemed determined to make her presence
felt by firing a volley toward the incumbent.
"With all the budget fuss, I figured
I could do better. I don't like people sticking
it to the taxpayers. I don't think in that kind
of office you need to ask for more from the
Reached Wednesday morning, Krohne said she
will respond but the response will come later.
More pressing matters were requiring her attention
this week, she said.
Here's insight you won't get anywhere else:
Looks like the internal battle is on among Platte
County's Republican party in a big way.
More fascinating than watching the Republicans
vs. Democrats at the local levelbecause,
let's face it, the Democrats are trying but
still haven't created enough progress to make
that an interesting watch partyis observing
the internal battle among Platte County's Republicans.
And make no mistake, after looking at the filings
for the Platte County Republican Central Committee,
there is no doubt the group of Republicans who
like to call themselves the "moderates"
are aggressively going after many seats on the
central committee, which in the past couple
of years has been controlled by the more conservative
wing of the party.
Many of the "moderates" are active
members of the Platte County Pachyderm Club.
The moderates have tossed some candidates in
central committee races for seats currently
held by the more conservative folks. In subdistrict
32-5, for instance, there likely is no more
conservative committee member than Dagmar Wood.
She'll be opposed by Alexandra Denise Kuebler,
daughter of Candy Kuebler, active in the Pachyderm
Club. Rob Sweeney is also a "moderate"
candidate for the male position in subdistrict
32-5. Former county commissioner Michael Short
put his name on the ballot for central committee
post in subdistrict 32-3. Mark Ferguson jumped
in for district 32-4. Lee and Carolyn Valentine
will provide opposition to conservatives in
district 30-4. Cherie Pedego, wife of Pachyderm
president Lee Pedego, filed in district 30-1.
Joyce Yost filed in district 30-2. Jim and Rebecca
Rooney, considered moderates, are the only candidates
for the subdistrict 29 posts.
Look out. The "moderates" are attempting
a coup of the Republican Central Committee.
This will be just as interesting as watching
the officeholder elections. We'll keep you posted
here in Between the Lines.
Unless it's a year with a hot public issue,
such as the installation of field turf, school
board elections often fly under the radar. This
year's race at Platte County R-3 seems to be
attracting little, if any, attention, other
than some rumblings I'm hearing from folks who
wouldn't mind seeing Karen Wagoner politely
asked to leave the table.
Wagoner is seeking her third term. She was
first elected by folks who believed she would
become a leader on the board, but some of her
former supporters aren't shy about stating their
discontent. Wagoner, detractors believe, is
comfortable being a follower instead. She has
settled into a role of being one who prefers
the status quo and tends to be led by the administration
instead of the other way around. My personal
observation about Wagoner is that in her role
as Chamber of Commerce executive director, she
has been combative with those not in her immediate
support group while in her role as school board
member the common perception has been she is
a passive go-with-the-flow type. She would be
doing the public a better service if she reversed
the attitude she brings to those two positions,
in my opinion, doing fanny-kissing with the
chamber and getting feisty while at R-3 board
I've always had the opinion that every public
board needs at least one rebel, so to speak,
a member who isn't afraid to question anything
and everything, a member who isn't afraid to
go against the status quo and think outside
the box. Many observers will tell you the current
R-3 School Board seems to be lacking this type
of role player. If you're looking for a rebel
among this year's field of candidates, based
on the comments made in interviews printed in
last week's Landmark, your best bet would
seem to be Gregory Henson.
With only Final Four weekend remaining, here
are the leaders in our annual NCAA bracket contest:
Luke Mason 134 points, Shelby Buckler 130, Todd
Mick 128, Sue Shultz 126, Ron Nelson 126, Whitney
Stubbs 126, Anna Nutt 120, Jacob Hardie 120,
Randy Knox 120, Randy Meers 118, Rebecca Rooney
118, Kinsey Barton 118, Steve Sampsell 116,
Helen Stiffel 116, and Sherry King 116.
Among the columnists and special guests, the
scoring is done. Dave Stewart is your winner
with 118, followed by CK Rairden at 114, Brian
Kubicki 112, some guy named Foley 106, and Greg
(The Landmark is hands
down Platte County's most popular newspaper
among rebels. Contact the head rebel at firstname.lastname@example.org)
are MIA; Thomas on the verge?; and a chamber
Platte County Democrats, where are you? With
filing deadline now less than a week away, the
local Democratic party seems to be falling short
once again in its effort to field candidates
for important county offices.
The Dems have yet to toss anybody in against
incumbent Presiding Commissioner Betty Knight.
And how about their inability to find a candidate
to challenge incumbent Prosecutor Eric Zahnd?
Remember early in Zahnd's career when he was
having trouble winning jury trials? The Democrats
were all over him, screaming that voters had
made a mistake in choosing Zahnd over Tammy
Glick. The implication was that Zahnd would
be very vulnerable when he sought re-election.
Yet, as filing deadline rapidly approaches,
there aren't even any names of possible Democratic
challengers making the rumor mill. It's bad
when a party can't find any candidates. . .it's
worse when the party can't even hint that it
has some folks at least considering the possibility.
This was supposed to be a comeback year for
the Platte County Democrats. So far it looks
like it will be anything but.
Speaking of the political rumor mill, it's
still hot with unconfirmed reports that Platte
County Auditor Sandra Thomas will file for state
auditor, likely on the final day of filing next
Tuesday. A variety of sources are saying Thomas
has made the decision to seek state office,
with at least one person telling me the word
came directly from Thomas' mouth this week.
Thomas at this writing seems to be running shy
of the media and has made no formal announcement,
other than to say she is ready to "move
on" after serving as county auditor the
past 12 years.
Some Republican power brokers at the state
level would love for Thomas to put her name
on the ballot for state auditor, if for no other
reason than to help U.S. Senator Jim Talent
pull votes from females who might otherwise
cast a ballot for Talent's opponent, Claire
McCaskill. Females often are a tight voting
bloc. The theory is that the presence of a Republican
female on the statewide ballot could help prevent
Republican females from crossing over to vote
for Democrat McCaskill in her race against Talent.
The Talent-McCaskill race is expected to be
close to the end (see Landmark Journal on
page A-4 for more on this).
Amid scuttlebutt that city fathers and the
chamber leaders may be at odds once again, I
took the opportunity to sit in on a board of
directors meeting for the Platte City Chamber
of Commerce last Friday morning. There was plenty
of discussion about the city/chamber relationship
and plenty of defensive verbal positioning from
a couple of chamber board members who seemed
to take it very personal that the chamber's
hired executive director, Karen Wagoner, could
actually be subject to public scrutiny (more
on that a little later). But really the only
newsworthy item to come out of the meeting is
this: The chamber board will ask city aldermen
to list in writing what the city's expectations
are from the $10,000 annual donation.
Chamber President Joe Carroll says Mayor Dave
Brooks has told him he believes the chamber
is still important and a viable part of the
community, and that the mayor still supports
the city making an annual contribution to the
chamber in the amount of $10,000. Brooks, however,
is not sure he has the support of his board
of aldermen on that topic, Carroll said at Friday's
meeting. Alderman Ron Porter serves on the chamber
board of directors and will speak the chamber
board's request to the aldermen. "We need
to know our target before we can hit it,"
said Randy Knox, chamber board member.
Losing the $10,000 annual contribution from
the city wouldn't spell death for the chamber,
but it would cause some cuts. "We would
have to cut some (staff) hours," Carroll
I know it's human nature for all of us to get
a little defensive when we are the subjects
of criticism, even if the criticism is of the
constructive variety. Still, chamber board members
and the chamber executive director should be
conscious of the fact they are charged with
spending public money--and in the case of the
executive director, being paid with public money--and
therefore the public has every right to critique
It's no secret some folks at city hall have
gotten sideways with Wagoner. There is no angel
at that party, let me tell you. It is widely
known that folks at city hall can be combative
and vindictive when they don't get their way.
More surprisingly and possibly a lesser known
fact to the community is that Wagoner can be
equally as combative and vindictive toward those
not in her inner circle. . . not exactly the
type of behavior you expect to see from a person
hired to be the community's ambassador of good
The city of Platte City has every right to
raise questions, especially in light of the
significant $10,000 contribution made on an
annual basis. The aldermen certainly at times
have appeared to be an out-of-touch bunch on
some topics, but they still have the duty to
protect the city's interests and raise questions
when necessary. Their concerns should be considered
legitimate by folks at the chamber and the chamber
board must be open-minded enough to take an
honest and hard look at the job performance
of the executive director and make any decisions
necessary to address potential concerns.
Leaders in The Landmark bracket contest
after two rounds: defending champ Anna Nutt
is tied for first along with Randy Knox at 96
points. Others near the top include Bob Bennett,
Todd Mick and Rebecca Rooney with 94 apiece;
Daryl Grame, Chris Hardeman, Mark Harpst and
Sue Shultz at 92 each; and Jacob Hardie and
Ryan Nichols at 90.
Brian Kubicki currently leads in the columnist
category but his edge could be in jeopardy as
two of his Final Four are already gone. Check
back next week for a more detailed look.
(Is Foley trying to hide
his bracket score? Get him to reveal his paltry
number by sending a request to email@example.com)
about Graves for attorney general? And the battle
Congratulations and good luck to the North
Platte girls basketball team as they head off
to the Class 2 Final Four Thursday and Friday
in Columbia. The balanced attack of the Lady
Panthers is led by 6'3" Michelle Anderson,
who has signed to play Division I ball with
Drake of the Missouri Valley Conference.
I've known the Anderson girlalways referred
to as Little Sly within the walls of The Landmarksince
she was a kindergartner. Her mother, Sylvia,
had two stints of employment at this newspaper,
starting out as a reporter in 1993 and coming
back several years later as advertising sales
Sylvia is only 6'1" so I have no idea
where her daughter gets all that height.
I've never made a secret of the fact that the
connection between Todd Graves and this columnist
runs a little deeper than the normal "public
figure and member of the media" relationship.
It's a friendship that developed in his time
as county prosecutor and we've stayed in touch
on a fairly regular basis. I've told the story
many times of how what has become the biggest
public Christmas party in Platte County developed
its beginning when Graves, John Elliott, yours
truly and three wise men from Wells Bank enjoyed
a holiday beverage in the back of the historic
Landmark office. Graves' annually has
been the special guest at each of the succeeding
Landmark public Christmas parties, not
forgetting us little people even after President
Bush anointed him U.S. Attorney.
"Are you sitting down?" was how Graves
began the conversation when he called last Thursday
to let me know he would be announcing his resignation
as U.S. Attorney the next day. I'd be lying
if I said I didn't feel momentary panic. . .
like maybe someone I knew was in trouble with
the feds. . .or maybe the IRS had told Todd
they didn't like the looks of my tax return.
. . or maybe Todd's brother Sam had been accidentally
shot while hunting with Dick Cheney.
Todd Graves says now that he is stepping away
from his federally-appointed post he can become
more active in state, local and national politics.
And he plans on doing so in a very big way,
doing most of his work behind the scenes.
I'm ready to start the public recruiting process
to get Graves to launch a campaign for Missouri
Attorney General in two years. Current AG Jay
Nixon has plans to run for governor in 2008,
which would leave the attorney general post
Graves for state attorney general may not be
as far-fetched as some might think. If it happens,
remember you heard it here first.
I'm ripe for the picking in The Landmark's
bracket contest this year. It's been one of
those hectic weeks at the ol' newspaper office,
one of those weeks where anything that could
go wrong has gone wrong. . . which occasionally
happens to everybody in every profession, I'm
sure. Thusly (which is fast becoming one of
my new favorite words), I have spent zero time
getting into the ins and outs of bracketology
the past few days. As an example, I'm making
my picks while looking at a bracket that doesn't
even identify for me where the various games
are being played. If I do any good at all in
the contest this year, let's call it luck and
not attribute it to hours of study time.
Having gotten all that BS out of the way, here
are my picks round-by- round.
FIRST ROUND WINNERS: Duke, George Washington,
Syracuse, Iona, West Virginia, Iowa, California,
Texas, Memphis, Arkansas, Pittsburgh, Kansas,
Indiana, Gonzaga, Marquette, UCLA, Connecticut,
UAB, Washington, Illinois, Michigan State, North
Carolina, Seton Hall, Tennessee, Villanova,
Wisconsin, Nevada, Boston College, Wisconsin-Milwaukee,
South Alabama, Georgetown, Ohio State.
SECOND ROUND WINNERS: Duke, Syracuse,
West Virginia, Texas, Memphis, Kansas, Gonzaga,
UCLA, Connecticut, Illinois, North Carolina,
Tennessee, Villanova, Boston College, Wisconsin-Milwaukee,
ELITE EIGHT: Duke, Texas, Kansas, UCLA,
Connecticut, North Carolina, Villanova, Ohio
FINAL FOUR: Texas, UCLA, Connecticut,
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Texas vs. Connecticut.
As the bracket contest moves along, you'll
get the chance to compare your scores to the
scores of Landmark columnists and a couple
of special guests. Special guests include Dave
Stewart of Metro Sports and Greg Hall, the former
popular sports media columnist for The Landmark,
the Star, the Pitch and anybody else who didn't
mind fighting off the legal threats his material
would bring. One of my favorite memories of
GH's time with The Landmark was the day
my fax was smoking with a detailed legal threat
from one of GH's former employers. Yes, the
Star's attorneys actually strongly hinted at
pursuing legal action if GH didn't quit picking
on certain members of their sports department.
That fax brought tears to my eyes. Of course
those tears were from side-splitting laughter.
The threat must have worked because I told GH
to quit writing about the Star's guys. . .at
least until our next issue. But I digress.
Columnist CK Rairden is on the verge of being
disqualified from our reindeer games as he turned
in an incomplete entry. CK filled out his bracket
to the Final Four but then stopped. I'm guessing
he was interrupted by the need to write an apology
piece for the Bush White House. CK will soon
pen an essay telling us that a huge federal
deficit and extremely high gas prices are good
for the American economy. But I digress.
He still has time, but I must note that big-time
celeb Dave Stewart has yet to get his entry
to the plush Landmark offices. I'm confident
Dave's entry will be on its way just soon as
he is done blow drying his hair and manicuring
his nails. But I digress.
The pointand I do have oneis that
only Hall and Brian Kubicki thus far have fulfilled
all the requirements for entry into this category
of the contest. Here are the highlights of their
HALL: His Final Four are Duke, Kansas,
Connecticut and Georgetown. He has Connecticut
winning the championship over Duke. KUBICKI:
Brian's Final Four are Duke, Pittsburgh, North
Carolina and Boston College. He has Duke facing
North Carolina in the title game with North
Carolina winning it all.
(Email the publisher at
prices, television shows, the governor, and
Call it coincidence, but remember
what happened to the price of gasoline the first
few days after Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally
shot a fellow hunter? The price fell to $1.86
per gallon, then took a 23 cent jump to $2.09
the day the victim was released from the hospital.
Today, the price hovers near $2.30
My car is running on fumes. Does
Cheney have any hunting trips planned?
Best comedy on network television?
My TV watching opportunities are extremely limited,
but the one sitcom I make an effort to catch is
Two and a Half Men. Every episode has some good
laughs. Check it out on Monday nights at 8 p.m.
Similarly, Boston Legal is the network
drama worth watching. It combines a heavy dose
of humor with its drama on Tuesday nights at 9
p.m. William Shatner and James Spader are a great
combo in that one.
Governor Matt Blunt was as relaxed
as I have ever seen him during last week's visit
to the Platte County home of James and Sandra
Thomas. He was so at ease he dusted off a version
of an old joke and presented it well:
"Christopher Columbus was the
first liberal. He didn't know where he was, didn't
know where he had been, didn't know where he was
going and paid for the whole thing with somebody
Yes, the governor was behaving like
a man who fully realized he was surrounded by
a friendly crowd. He moved around the impressive
Thomas' h home visiting with supporters before
and during last Thursday night's event. He chatted
and seemed poised throughout, like a politician
who fully realizes he doesn't have to face the
voters for more than two years.
This is the third time I've had
personal contact with the governor and as I said,
this is as comfortable as he has ever appeared.
And I'm not just saying that because he complimented
the designer tie I was sporting, a patriotic Republican-themed
garment presented as a gift by a Democrat friend.
At the prompting of State Sen. Charlie
Shields, Gov. Blunt noted the presence of Rachelle
Brown, wife of State Rep. Jason Brown. As exclusively
reported in The Landmark two weeks ago, Brown
has been called to duty in Iraq by the U.S. Army
Reserves. He reported to Fort Bragg, North Carolina
last week and will soon be on the ground in Iraq.
"Let's keep Jason in our thoughts
and prayers, and work to ensure that he comes
back to his real job," the governor said,
referring to the fact Brown will be running for
reelection while stationed in Iraq.
Somebody at the Kansas City Star
has apparently taken up residence inside the young
governor's head. I've been at two stump speeches
by Blunt twice in the past month and on both occasions
he has mentioned the less-than-flattering press
he receives, and has specifically mentioned the
Kansas City Star.
The insinuation is that the press
is not letting the public know the good things
his administration is doing. He wants Republicans
to be aggressive in spreading the word of successess.
"We need to tell our story
in an aggressive way. I'm grateful for your help."
At this writing, no further news
has yet to come from the camp of Platte County
Auditor Sandra Thomas. You'll recall The Landmark
was first to break the story (you've noticed that
seems to happen with great frequency) that she
will not be seeking reelection as county auditor
and is considering a run for state auditor. She
has not yet filed for state auditor nor made any
formal announcement of her plans. . . nor returned
my phone call yet this week, come to think of
She did tell me at her home last
Thursday that she called Presiding Commissioner
Betty Knight to squelch the rumor that she was
considering a run against the incumbent commissioner,
a fellow Republican.
Enjoyed a visit with a former (and
occasionally present) Kansas City radio personality
at the governor's appearance Thursday night.
I heard the sound of a familiar
voice coming out of the mouth of the person standing
behind me just inside the front door. Shortly
after we had both checked in and applied our name
tags, Chris Stigall walked over and introduced
Stigall is a former radio disc jockey
who got his start in radio through contact with
former radio funny man Randy Miller, back when
Stigall was in high school and Miller was the
man in KC morning radio. Stigall later served
a stint as a summer intern with the David Letterman
television show in New York. He came back to KC
and has had gigs with 101 The Fox, Hot Talk 1510
AM, and 97.3 FM. His most success came with 101
The Fox, where he held down the morning drive
show slot for a couple of years.
So what's he doing now? Occasionally
filling in as a substitute host on talk radio
station 710 AM "when somebody is sick or
on vacation," he says. More often, he's a
field rep for Congressman Sam Graves, working
out of the Liberty office.
And, I discovered we have a mutual
friend. Stigall is a buddy of Landmark pal Jason
Klindt, the former director of communications
for Congressman Graves who recently headed off
to Montana to be director of communications for
U.S. Senator Conrad Burns.
Jim Rooney of Weston was elected
new chair of the Platte County Republican Central
Committee on Monday night. It's a thankless job.
Should we congratulate him or send
him a sympathy card?
Let me get started by saying that
I will not be a candidate for Missouri State Auditor.
Sandra Thomas is either running
for Missouri State Auditor or she simply is so
flattered by speculation that she doesn't want
the conjecture to end.
I'm guessing it's the former, but
hey, I've admitted to being wrong once before.
If it were me and I had made the
decision to step away from politics, I would choose
to be up front with the good folks and say I'm
stepping away from politics. That way I'm going
out on a positive note by being candid with the
public. Leaving a good taste in voters' mouths
enhances the possibility of a well-received return
to public life at a later date, should one so
But if I wanted some publicity to
help stimulate a run for higher office, I would
increase the amount of attention coming my way
by playing it coy. And maybe have the governor
come in for a visit.
The public, by the way, is invited
to a reception in honor of Gov. Matt Blunt at
the James and Sandra Thomas home Thursday night,
March 2. The home is located at 5920 NW 96th Terrace.
A general reception begins at 6 p.m.
In a conversation this week, James
Thomas assured me they'll be prepared to handle
the crowd and didn't want me to shy away from
giving the public advance notice of the event.
I'll be there just in case you can't. If anything
newsworthy happens, look for a report on the front
page of The Landmark's popular web site at plattecountylandmark.com
Technology is a beautiful thing.
Time for some housecleaning from
last week's column.
Remember how I reported that I had
been told by one of the lucky folks directly involved
that the winning Powerball players from Platte
County R-3 School District had won $100,000 to
be split nine ways? Imagine my surprise later
last week when the Lottery sent out an official
news release detailing that the prize money was
Was I sold a bill of goods by a
winner wanting to downplay the amount? Or was
it an honest mistake on the winner's part?
The winner assures me this week
it was an honest mistake. Trust me, if I ever
win the lottery, I'll be able to quote you the
exact dollar amount. Most winners, I assume, would
be able to report the accurate amount within $100,000.
In any event, the actual amount
each of the winners will receive comes to $15,778
after taxes. And, after being fed incorrect information
and seeing their names splattered all over the
AP wire, now I don't have a problem listing the
winners' names for Landmark readers. Here they
Rebecca Stallard, 42, Platte City;
Tamara Judds, 47, Lake Waukomis; Carla Johnson,
43, Edgerton; Steven Myers, 54, Overland Park,
Ks.; Kelli Buckler, 45, Dearborn; Jonna Anderson,
48, Dearborn; Charles Siler, 54, Weston; Coleen
Johnson, 33, Kansas City; and Daniel Stevens,
46, St. Joseph.
Six of the winners are R-3 teachers,
three are R-3 maintenance workers. The winning
ticket was purchased where I buy my occasional
Powerball entry. . .the Trex Mart convenience
store in Tracy.
Selection Sunday will soon be upon
us. And with it will come The Landmark's 10th
annual NCAA basketball bracket contest.
First place prize money this year
is $100. Entry is free and limited to one per
person. Contestants of all ages are encouraged
to take part.
Bracket pairings will be announced
on Sunday, March 12. To enter The Landmark's
contest, fill out a copy of the bracket (clip
one out of the daily papers or print one off of
the many Internet sites that will have them),
predicting winners for every tournament game.
Any lines left blank are counted as a loss. As
a potential tiebreaker, write in how many points
you believe will be scored in the championship
There are several ways to get your
entry to us. The most popular way in the past
has been via fax to 816-858-2313. Entries can
also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org,
dropped by our office at 252 Main Street in downtown
Platte City, or mailed to PO Box 410, Platte City,
Mo., 64079. Entry deadline is 11 a.m. on Thursday,
March 16. Be sure to write your name and phone
number on your entry.
Weekly updates on the standings
of the contest will be reported right here in
Between the Lines. Those who enter will be able
to test their prognosticating skills against yours
truly and Landmark columnists Brian Kubicki
and CK Rairden. And again this year I'll see if
we can force Metro Sports' Dave Stewart to serve
as a mild-mannered celebrity contestant.
Points will be awarded as follows:
Two points for each correct first round pick;
four points for second round winners; six points
in the third round; eight points in the fourth
round; 10 points in the fifth round; and 20 additional
points if you correctly choose the tourney champion.
Got a confession to make: I got
hooked on the Dancing With the Stars TV show the
past several weeks. It wrapped up on Sunday when
Drew Lachey (brother of Nick Lachey, best known
for being the former Mr. Jessica Simpson) was
declared the winner.
Not sure how I got hooked on the
show. Maybe it was that attractive tall blonde
who consistently got rave reviews from the professional
judges but who apparently didn't get enough call-in
votes from the viewing public.
Or maybe my obsession with the show
was simply due to the fact I was in awe of the
superior dance moves these alleged amateurs were
performing. I've always admired that kind of talent,
because when it comes to dancing I am overly Caucasian.
I can't help but tell you we are
quickly approaching one of my favorites times
of the year. I'm a recovering college basketball
junkie and the madness of March and its conference
and NCAA tournaments gets the blood pumping in
my physically imposing physique.
I'll be forcing basketball talk and bracket pools
upon the helpless females in the office. The veterans
have learned to accept it. The newcomers will
The biggest game of the Big 12 season
will happen Saturday night when Kansas travels
to Texas with the conference title almost certainly
riding on the outcome.
I have a commitment to be at the
Missouri Western basketball game Saturday night,
so I'll need a volunteer watching the KU-Texas
game on the tube to call my cell phone periodically
with scoring updates. This is serious stuff.
As a guy who tends to cheer more
often for the Jayhawks than the Tigers, I kinda
like all this talk about Mizzou possibly hiring
former Utah coach Rick Majerus.
Before MU hires Majerus, they may
want to further study other options. Mizzou needs
a coach with a high energy level, one who is an
outstanding recruiter. In Majerus, you would be
getting neither of those attributes.
In addition, do you remember the
extremely boring, slow-down style of play his
Utah teams often displayed? Maybe I'm wrong (that
did happen once before) but I'm not sure the Mizzou
fan base would exactly be dancing with excitement
as Majerus' teams walked the ball up the court
against teams like Texas and Kansas.
And the bigger question might be
whether Majerus' heart would be completely into
coaching. He stepped away from the Utah job for
health and personal reasons. He took the USC job
for about one day last year before changing his
mind. Not exactly encouraging signs.
I don't know if he'd be interested,
but the better role for Majerus at MU would be
in the position of athletic director. He could
possibly excel in those duties and at the very
least would bring instant credibility back to
an athletic department that has turned into a
It's time for Mike Alden, who always
has reminded me of a slick used car salesman,
to step aside as athletic director. Send Gary
Link to fire him.
There are lucky lottery winners
in the Platte County R-3 School District. Lots
of rumors are floating around out there about
the amount won, etc. but here's the story as told
to me this week by one of the parties involved
(some of the winners prefer to keep their privacy
for personal reasons, so no names will be used
in this report).
Six R-3 teachers and three R-3 maintenance
workers combined on a purchase of some PowerBall
tickets last week. One of the tickets was a $100,000
winner, which will be split nine ways. If my math
is correct, that's more than $11,000 per person.
Before taxes, of course.
My pal and Landmark columnist CK
Rairden and I had an interesting email exchange
this week. CK continues to lambast the national
press for what he believes was overexposure on
the Dick Cheney hunting accident. I say the media
was justified for extensively covering the story,
particularly in light of the fact Cheney's folks
waited 20 hours for the news to be publicly announced.
Remember in situations like this one, it's not
so much the event itself that causes public relations
pain, it's the silly attempt at manipulating the
timing and telling of the story.
CK correctly cites a Rasmussen poll
that indicates only 27% hold the view that the
Dick Cheney hunting accident raised any serious
questions at all. I'll agree with that. It was
an accident and though some carelessness was involved,
it really doesn't raise any serious questions,
at least not in my mind.
But from that information, CK draws
the conclusion that the public basically didn't
care, that they reacted with a "collective
yawn." I must loudly disagree with my fellow
columnist on this one. Again, to say that only
27% thought the shooting raised serious questions
I would say is accurate. To suggest that the same
poll result subsequently means only 27% of Americans
cared about the shooting is very flawed
reasoning. You can care about the event for its
news value without believing it "raised serious
questions." What I can tell you is that nearly
every person I ran into last week was talking
about the incident. To me, that's a pretty good
sign it was a story resonating with the public.
When a vice president fires a shot
that strikes another human being, it is an event
that will be referenced in the history books in
years to come. I can't be convinced that it wasn't
worthy of significant news coverage.
As a result, I'm considering CK
an apologist for the administration on this issue.
And at least on this particular issue, I'll play
the role of apologist for the national press in
general. . .a role you won't see very often from
this conservative columnist.
Just a guess, but something tells
me if Al Gore accidentally shot a man it would
be fodder for at least four consecutive CK columns.
Sure, the White House press corps
can be an out-of-control bunch, but you've got
to be careful in trying to apply criticism and
disgust of that group in a blanket manner across
the entire media landscape.
The Rasmussen polling outfit may
want to take a survey on this question: Would
you rather live in a land where there is government
without a free press or a free press without a
I noticed the price of gasoline
went down this week. Don't get overly excited.
I bet this happens every time the vice president
I guess Dick Cheney really is a
political head hunter.
In honor of the vice president's
hunting prowess, I'm digging out a photo of yours
truly with the vice president a couple years back
at a political fundraiser in Kansas City.
Notice the mischievous grin by Cheney.
Notice the deer-in-the-headlights look on my face.
Cheney had just whispered that he wanted to take
Next time Cheney goes hunting, will
Homeland Security put the public on orange alert?
You just know the Democrats are
bragging that yes, Al Gore may be an idiot, but
at least he never shot anybody.
The vice president of the United
States accidentally shoots a hunting partner and
the MU team's radio announcer is sent to fire
the school's basketball coach. . . can the news
world get any more bizarre this week?
Truth really is stranger than fiction.
It's disheartening to watch many
GOP leaning political punditsand by the
way, I've made no secret that I lean strongly
to the righttry to downplay the Cheney hunting
accident. By all means I've been a supporter of
the current administration, but come on. .. you've
got to allow journalistic principles to take over
in times like these.
Sorry, Bush and Cheney apologists,
this story is legitimate and deserving of every
bit of media attention it is receiving. Sure it
was an accident, but in nearly every accident
there is at least a little bit of carelessness
involved, as was the case here by both Cheney
and the victim. (All hunters know that the
victim should have announced his presence back
to the pack of hunters. . . and all hunters know
that Cheney should not swing around and fire without
looking at what was in his line of fire. All hunters
should be aware of where others are at all times.)
No, my friends, anybody trying to
downplay this story is letting his or her partisan
politics get in the way of an unbiased observation
of the facts.
On top of that, admit it, to a degree
it's simply entertaining as hell. Unless of course,
you're the shooting victim. And it goes without
saying that if the victim's health takes any further
turns for the worse, this story quickly downgrades
from being entertaining to simply being sad.
Is there anything more unusual than
this? I mean, on how many occasions in your lifetime
has the vice president of the United States accidentally
Be an apologist if you prefer, but
this story isn't going to fall out of public consciousness
anytime soon. Don't forget, we haven't even yet
heard from the victim, who reportedly will be
hospitalized for another week. When he gives public
comment, no matter how watered down his thoughts
will be, this thing will be shoved right back
into the limelight.
From the Between the Lines email
box: A reader has forwarded me a list of future
headlines from the year 2029. Here are some of
Massachusetts executes last
Supreme Court rules punishment
of criminals violates their civil rights.
Congress authorizes direct
deposit of illegal political contributions.
Couple petitions court to
reinstate heterosexual marriage.
A mother was preparing pancakes
for her sons, Kevin, age 5, and Ryan, 3. The boys
began to argue over who would get the first pancake.
Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson.
"If Jesus were sitting here, he would say:
'Let my brother have the first pancake. I can
wait.'" Kevin turned to his younger brother
and said: "Ryan, you be Jesus."
It sure hasn't taken long for former
Congressman Sam Graves' staffer and Landmark friend
Jason Klindt to shake up the liberals in his new
home state of Montana.
As we told you here a couple of
weeks ago in an exclusive piece of journalism
goodness later picked up and dispatched across
these great United States by a news agency known
as the Associated Press, Jason Klindt left Graves'
staff after three years on the job to accept the
position of director of communications for the
reelection campaign of U.S. Senator Conrad Burns
of Montana. Klindt's arrival in the land that
time forgot, which I picture occurred with him
carrying a six shooter while riding atop a white
horse, has prompted the Montana libs to shake
in their open-toed cowboy boots. Do a Google search
on Klindt's name and you'll be able to read all
kinds of Internet comments about him from liberal
groups in Montana.
The Great Falls (Montana) Tribune,
in addition to getting a comment or two from Klindt
himself, called back to Missouri seeking some
background info on our man Jason. They talked
with two candidates who came up embarrassingly
short in their efforts to unseat Congressman Graves
in recent years. Here is an excerpt from that
article in the Great Falls (Montana) Tribune.
We'll pick it up midstream:
"Meanwhile, Burns' campaign
has hired an out-of-state spokesman with a reputation
as a political street fighter. Jason Klindt comes
to Montana from Burns' home state of Missouri,
where he worked for Republican Congressman Sam
'I'm very excited to be here,"
said Klindt, who is the second out-of-state operative
hired recently by the Burns campaign. 'I think
we're going to try to counter a very slick and
aggressive media campaign by the Democrats that's
full of smears and lies.'
But two Democrats who ran unsuccessfully against
Graves in Missouri said the word 'aggressive'
should be applied to Klindt.
'God help you guys,' said Cathy
Rinehart, who ran against Graves in 2002 and accused
Klindt of assault.
Both Rinehart and Charlie Broomfield,
who ran against Graves in 2004, said Klindt startled
them at campaign appearances by leaping at them
and taking photographs and then melting back into
'He came up to me in the middle
of the nightit was cold, it was dark, it
was icyand he flashed a camera within a
foot of my face,' Broomfield said. 'I talked to
the prosecutors, and I could have brought charges.
And today, I wish I had.'
Both Broomfield and Rinehart said
they called police about Klindt, and Rinehart
actually filed a complaint, but nothing came of
it, she said."
Wow, there you have it. Jason Klindt
once assaulted Charlie Broomfield with a flash
bulb. Wonder if Charlie is still seeing spots.
Don't laugh, I suppose burn by flash
bulb can be a serious thing. Maybe Charlie's eyes
show up red in all his pictures now.
Between the Lines has learned that
in a separate incident on another dark, cold,
icy night, Klindt assaulted Broomfield by frowning
at him. Prosecutors briefly considered charging
Klindt with hurting Broomfield's feelings but
were themselves frightened by his steely gaze.
In his final days here before heading
off to Montana, friends and co-workers of Klindt
presented him with a cowboy hat at a going-away
party held at the Power Plant Restaurant and Brewery
in Parkville. Klindt is getting good use out of
the gift, he told me in an email this week, adding:
"You will be proud to know
that I am wearing my hat, have cowboy boots and
a belt. I'm like John Wayne, but less attractive
A Jan. 23 Kansas City Star article
detailed how a Jackson County legislator, Sen.
Matt Bartle, is proposing a bill that would create
a new judgeship position for Jackson County at
the Independence courthouse. That article talked
about an alleged heavy caseload in Jackson County
as the reason another judge is needed there. Jackson
County has a caseload of 3,200 cases per judge.
This had to be curious news to circuit
court judges in Platte County. There is no public
outcry for adding another judge to the bench here
in Platte, even though the caseload significantly
exceeds the caseload per judge in Jackson County.
Platte County courts handle about 3,800 cases
per judge, the highest number of cases per judge
in the state and 600 more per judge than Jackson
So, how does Platte County do it
without a cry for more judges and without complaints
of a heavy backlog of cases? That's a question
I posed this week to Platte County Associate Circuit
Judge Gary Witt.
"Mostly we can keep up because
we have a history of all of our judges getting
along very well and working very closely together.
If one judge is gone, others figure out a way
to get that judge's docket heard in his absence,"
Witt said. "Our benches work together. No
judge is too good or too bad to do any cases."
As an example, Witt explained that Presiding Circuit
Court Judge Owens Lee Hull has been known to come
down to hear traffic cases in Witt's absence.
That doesn't mean Platte County
will always be able to get by with five judges.
It currently has three associate circuit judges
in Witt, Daniel Czamanske, and Jim VanAmburg,
and two circuit judges in Hull and Abe Shafer.
"Of course it will be up to
the legislature, but it won't be too long before
we're in need of one. Part of the problem is we
don't have any (courthouse) space for one. We
would need another courtroom and chambers,"
For the record, circuit court judges
are paid $108,000 per year.
When a government official doesn't
get the dollar amount for salaries he requests,
but still gets more than his department needed
last year, is that a cut?
Not in my world. How about yours?
Platte County Sheriff Richard Anderson
claims those mean Platte County Commissioners
have cut his budget to the point that it "signifies
a setback in law enforcement to Platte County.
The budget will have serious shortages to law
enforcement. The number of arrests will go down,
the number of drunk drivers arrested will go down."
But one month into the new budget
year, it's hard to sympathize with the sheriff's
attempts to send the public into a frenzy over
the fact commissioners cut some individual salary
lines in his budget. The human resources department
at the county, which handles payroll disbursements,
tells The Landmark the sheriff still has
121 employees. That's the most his department
has ever had. In other words, one month into the
tighter budget year, the sheriff has not needed
to cut any staff. In fact, and this is a real
kicker, not only has the sheriff not cut any staff,
he in fact has authorized 2.5% cost of living
increases to everyone in his department. Remember,
the county commission funded 2.5% COLAs for employees
who would remain after the alleged staff cuts.
As pointed out in the front page
article, when the total payroll amount the sheriff
spent in January is multiplied by 12 to acquire
an estimated payroll dollar figure for the entire
year, it still comes in under the total amount
the commissioners have placed in his salary line.
The only sensible conclusion I can
draw from this is apparently there really isn't
a budget crisis in the sheriff's department. Apparently
there was plenty of lard in the sheriff's budget
last year, so much so that this year's "cuts"
may not affect his staffing levels at all.
So if he's not really feeling a
staffing pinch, why is the sheriff so busy crying
wolf to the local media and showing up on your
TV set complaining about the alleged reductions
in his staff?
My guess is that two things are
at play here. No. 1, the sheriff has an FBI background.
The FBI isn't used to being told no when it asks
for increases in funds it says it needs to fight
the bad guys. This rejection thing is new to the
sheriff and he doesn't like it.
No. 2, I believe the sheriff isn't
so much looking to win this battle. He might be
looking to plant the seed for a whole different
war of sorts. I believe the sheriff at some point
will publicly pose the idea of a dedicated countywide
sales tax for law enforcement, maybe a half cent
sales tax that will bring in revenue to help get
his department to the level he would like to see.
All this rhetoric about an alleged budget crisis
wreaking havoc upon his department (still fully
staffed, where's the havoc?) is his way of prepping
the public and fellow county officials for a proposal
to call for a law enforcement tax.
Hmmm. Platte County already has
one of the highest sales tax rates around. Will
the public go for another tax? I'm getting way
ahead of myself here, because obviously no proposal
is on the table yet from the sheriff (his comments
when I asked him about the topic are coming soon
in this column, don't peek) but maybe, just maybe,
if the county is willing to let that ridiculously
greedy park sales tax fall off the books when
it sunsets at the end of 2010 or early 2011, voters
may look with an open mind at a law enforcement
tax. If not, there will be a tough audience.
So, what about it, sheriff, are
you dreaming of a dedicated law enforcement tax
for Platte County?
"I don't know enough about
that process to even comment at this point. Even
if I did, I would have to speak to the commissioners
first before springing it on them in an article,"
the sheriff told me Tuesday.
"My thought at this point is
there is a need to provide a fund, a stable, predictable,
reliable fund that funds the general critical
function of government. It's an important need
in Platte County, however that is brought about."
As more and more areas of the unincorporated
parts of the county are annexed by cities, the
geographical area for which the sheriff's department
is responsible for patrolling gets smaller and
smaller. Yet the sheriff's budget and his budget
requests continue to grow. Sure there are expected
expenses that will have an inflationary rise each
year, but don't expect the leopard to change his
spots. Anderson is a lifelong government employee,
unlikely to ever become a leader in a tax-slashing
movement designed to relieve the taxpayers of
any unnecessary burden.
The sheriff may regret that he has
gone so public with his displeasure over this
budget situation. As stated earlier, he has been
all over the media claiming his department will
have to cut 11 people in order to make his salary
line work. I firmly believe a deeper look at the
numbers we present in our front page article shows
that the sheriff hasn't exactly been accurate
with the claims he has been making in open meetings,
on your television screen, and in other newspapers.
Facts can be stubborn things. The
facts don't support any claims of devastation
and a threat to public safety.
Deep into the front page story on
the sheriff's situation are some interesting quotes
from commissioners and the sheriff over the sheriff's
decision to pull the security checkpoint from
the front of the administration building. Be sure
to check those out for entertaining reading.
Brace yourself. After two days of
fighting a flu bug followed closely by two consecutive
days of sinus-induced migraines, I'm penning what
I'm sure would have otherwise normally been a
classic column while hopped up on so much medication
and Mountain Dew that it may cause my comments
to be so severely scattered I'll make a Brian
Kubicki column seem like lucid patterns of thought.
At least that's my story. And I'm
sticking to it. For now.
I'm not a betting manwait,
who am I kidding, yes I amand my feeling
is the odds are against Bill Bishop coming back
as executive director at the local ambulance district
(see front page story).
Yes, reading Between the Lines,
I'll be surprised if Bill Bishop ever returns
from his "administrative leave" with
the Northland Regional Ambulance District. Why?
At one point in a series of questions I posed
this week, an official with NRAD told me they'll
be sending out a press release in regard to the
situation fairly soon.
Hmm. Think about it. Would there
be a need to send out a press release that says:
"Bill Bishop has returned from his administrative
No, I would anticipate the press
release will detail how NRAD and Bishop have parted
ways. No confirmations, just an educated guess
at this point.
NRAD has some sales pitching (that's
probably not acceptable grammar, but I'm medicated
and it's deadline time so please forgive me, I
know not what I do) to undertake if it hopes to
pass its tax levy question this spring. A 10-cent
levy question took a beating last August. So what
do you do when a 10 cent increase gets kicked
to the curb by voters in August? Well, isn't it
obvious. . . you turn around and ask for a 15-cent
increase in April.
Not sure that makes a lot of public
relations sense, but again, I'm heavily medicated
Read about the most recent audit
report on our front page and you can see the district
has a need to take care of some in-house financial
operations before it can truly hope to gain the
financial trust of voters. NRAD officials say
appropriate steps for improved operations and
a tighter ship are being taken. I'm just not sure
there's enough time to gain the voters' confidence
in time for the spring vote.
Sticky note attached to my computer
monitor Wednesday morning:
There's the latest update in our
weekly Chip Sherman watch.
There's an idea for a new feature.
. . .I'll start printing the contents of every
sticky note left on my desk.
This could be dangerously fun.
Don't hate the player, hate the
He'll also miss Platte County.
"Platte County has become my second home.
I really have enjoyed the people, the places and
certainly The Landmark in my time here and I'll
miss all of those things," he said.
It wouldn't be appropriate for him
to be a clown in his dealings as a spokesman for
a congressman, so Klindt often hides his keen
sense of humor. We've had a lot of fun with him
at various functions and on his drop-in visits
to the newspaper.. He was annually a special guest
at our Christmas party, is considered the kid
brother I never had, and we even dubbed the 28-year-old
as Platte County's Most Eligible Bachelor.
Be sure to check out our new columnist
on page B-3.
I have a confession to make.
In the aftermath of the Platte County
Commission's recent decision to cut spending rather
than to raise taxes, I must admit I have found
myself being entertained by the reaction of the
bureaucrats and liberals in the county administration
building and the media.
Along with Landmark journalism diva
Kim Fickett, I sat through an hour and a half
of complaining from at least three officeholders
who are still smarting over not getting all the
bells and whistles they wanted in their 2006 budget.
Again, nobody with a heart likes to see another
person's job get cut. But there is a responsibility
issue at play here, and this county commission
met its responsibility to taxpayers by holding
the line on the tax levy and making expenses balance
with revenues. In the process, 13 county staff
positions will be affected either by elimination
or reduction from full to part time.
It doesn't sit well with officeholders
who have come to expect a little fat in their
budgets. One officeholder has even admitted that
during budget talks with the county commission,
officeholders actually consider their requests
"wish lists." This is an indication
they're typically asking for funding over and
above the amount they truly believe is necessary
to run their departments.
The commission's recent action sends
a message. Times have changed at the administration
building. If an officeholder is asking for potatoes
and gravy but it can be proven the department
can operate effectively and efficiently on potatoes
alone, then potatoes without gravy is what you're
going to get.
When tax revenues are flat, there
should be no complaining when "wish lists"
are not met. That's the bottom line.
Second District County Commissioner
Jim Plunkett made a great point this week. Plunkett
pointed out the county's budget is up $5 million
over the past five years; obviously that's equal
to $1 million per year increase in spending. And
some bureaucrats apparently feel an increase of
a million bucks a year in spending still isn't
In the interest of the taxpayer,
at some point the line has to be drawn. Enough
has to become enough. Wish lists need to get tossed.
Excess staff has to be cut. It's the only way
government spending will ever be brought under
From a taxpayer's point of view, if we can't get
this accomplished at the local level, how can
we ever expect it to be accomplished at the federal
If taxes and tax breaks are of interest
to you, be sure to read the article entitled "'More
fair' plan in place for paying off new bridge"
on page A-3. Tucked inside this article you'll
get an explanation as to how the cost of the new
Humphrey's bridge will be spread over road-tax
collecting entities in the county, instead of
just coming from county road district No. 1 (Platte
County Public Works).
It also explains how previously,
taxpayers all across the county were footing the
bill for development incentives known as TIFS
in place in Kansas City, Parkville and Riverside.
Now, those entities awarding TIFS will see the
TIF payments come out of their own personal share
of road tax funds instead of coming off the top
of gross road tax collections.
It's the only fair way to do it.
As an entity, if you give the TIF, you pay the
cost of the tax break. Sounds right to me.
Platte City residents need to take
note that this means the City of Platte City's
road tax collections will be used to make the
TIF payments for the Shoppes at North Gate when
it gets rolling.
In terms of volume, he never seems
to have much to say, but Parkville Police Chief
Bill Hudson is becoming one of my favorite interviews
for the way he says simple things in a homespun
way. In describing the incident last week where
a man threatened to have explosives at Park University
(in a story that first appeared on our web site
last week and is on page A-6 of this issue), Hudson
said "a strange fellow wandered in and
made himself at home in the president's office."
That may not sound like an exciting
use of terminology to you, but keep in mind most
law enforcement agencies would have given me a
statement like this: "A male subject appeared
and while in the office of the president. . .
While on the same topic, Hudson
followed that up with this quote at the Parkville
Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday night: "The
man had taken a shine to one of the women who
worked for the university."
Taken a shine? I love it. I haven't
heard that phrase since watching the old Hee Haw
TV show back in the 70s.
Here's the skinny on the continuing
"will he go or will he stay?" saga of
Platte County Pirate Chip Sherman's flirtation
with other high school football coaching jobs.
Sherman did interview with Kearney
last week. He is interested in the job. Kearney
lists him as a candidate, but it's not a done
"It's still a wide open proposition,"
Chris Belcher, superintendent of schools at Kearney,
told me Wednesday morning. "No offers have
been made. We're very pleased with the quality
of candidates we had apply."
Belcher said Kearney will be interviewing
eight candidates for its open spot. Four of them,
including Sherman, are current head coaches.
"We have three more interviews
this week. We will finish the interview process
on Friday," Belcher said. A decision could
be reached in a couple of weeks, if not sooner,
he indicated, but emphasized even at that he's
not sure when an announcement would be made. The
school board won't meet again until sometime in
February. "Timing is always critical to do
it appropriately and professionally," Belcher
Belcher said a Kearney publication
has indicated the job is Sherman's. "It's
not a done deal and that's far from the truth
at this point," he told me, before adding:
"Over the years, Chip has always had an interest
in Kearney. His interest has been there awhile."
Here we go with another week of
random notes, quotes and sometimes meaningless
chatter while wondering what in the world Platte
County Auditor Sandra Thomas thought she would
gaineither politically or professionallyby
her failure to have a statutorily required budget
document available to the public at the time she
had publicly pledged.
Best of luck to Chip Sherman, the
highly successful Platte County Pirate football
coach since 1988, wherever he decides to coach
"Back then you were the sports
editor, the entertainment editor and the front
page guy," he reminded me. "Times change,
Yes. And I had more hair back then.
Sherman expects a decision on his
future within the next week. His flirtations with
and job offers from Shawnee Mission Northwest
on the Kansas side and Class 4A Kearney in Missouri
have become very public knowledge.
Though he emphasized nothing is
concrete, my feeling after our conversation is
that he is leaning toward coaching somewhere other
than Platte County next year. . . it might just
be a matter of finalizing where that "somewhere
else" will be.
Wow, is there some competition among
the various Platte County Republican clubs or
As reported here recently, the newly-formed
Pachyderm Club has already grown to be the ninth
ranked club in America as far as number of memberships
at 122. Apparently this caught the eye of the
folks in the Platte Republican Association (PRA),
because turnout for the PRA's First Friday event
at Houlihans Restaurant was a whopping 65-70.
That's about three times more than normal for
First Friday, and more than the 45 or so the Pachyderm
Club had for its First Thursday gathering last
There is at least one drawback to
the increased crowd. I arrived at Houlihans about
6 p.m, about 30 minutes into the hour and a half
event and by that time the appetizer trays had
been cleaned out by hungry attendees who were
more prompt than your favorite publisher.
So for my $5 entry fee I gained
only the opportunity to hear speakers Rob Willard
and John DeStefano espouse thoughts and feelings
about their upcoming primary battle for the 32nd
District State Representative race. The 32nd district
serves southern Platte County. Current rep for
that area, Susan Phillips, is prohibited from
seeking reelection due to term limits.
Acoustic quality in the meeting
room provided to the club wasn't the best (to
be more exact. . .it sucked) so I couldn't
catch every word that was said. Willard's speaking
voice boomed more loudly than DeStefano's, so
I can better report upon what the assistant Platte
County prosecutor had to say. Much of what I heard
struck home with me and reinforced comments made
in this column space.
Willard said he believes government
should focus on basic priorities such as education,
infrastructure and public safety. "Everybody
else has to get in line," he said. He carried
it a step further, bringing up the issue of state
government getting involved in funding stadium
improvements to places like Arrowhead and Kauffman
Stadium, which house the Chiefs and Royals, respectively.
"I'm a Chiefs fan like everybody
else. But Mr. Hunt (owner of the Chiefs) and Mr.
Glass (owner of the Royals) are going to have
to get in line. And frankly, they have to get
to the back of the line."
Not sure how those comments impacted
State Sen. Charlie Shields, who was in the audience.
Shields has a cozy relationship with the Chiefs
and has been a proponent of state funds going
toward stadium improvements.
While Willard and DeStefano battle
it out for the Republican nomination for the 32nd
District State Representative position, waiting
for them on the Democratic ticket in the general
election will be Jason Grill, who lost an extremely
close race to Phillips two years ago.
Grill is getting into fundraising
gear. He'll host an event Monday night at Tomfooleries
in Zona Rosa. People from all over the Kansas
City metro area are getting together to watch
the first MU-KU basketball game of the year on
ESPN's Big Monday. Co-hosting the event with Grill
will be Jared Welch, a Democratic candidate for
the 30th District state representative post currently
held by Jason Brown of Platte City.
"It is a fundraiser, but there
is no charge for the event. We would like to raise
money, but at the same time build interest and
a buzz about the two state rep races," Grill
told me recently. "We believe both elections
will be close in 2006. We're trying to do something
different from your typical political fundraiser.
I think everyone in attendance will have a good
The Grill-Welch event starts at
5:30 p.m. Tipoff for the basketball game is 6
That lifesized cardboard cutout
of Elvis Presley you'll see pictured with Platte
County Recorder Ida Cox in this issue has ties
to The Landmark.
The cardboard Elvis, who is volunteering
his time to work in Cox's office after recent
budget cuts, spent the last few years of his life
tucked away in a Landmark closet. He ended
up with us after Ida brought him as her date to
a Landmark Christmas party held in our
upstairs in 2001 or 2002.
We never got a nickel's worth of
work out of him here. . . and the jelly doughnuts
always seemed to disappear.
As a taxpayer, I love it when a
government agency is managed like a private business.
It doesn't happen often, which I guess is why
I find this week's action by the Platte County
Commission so refreshing.
I've often expressed the following
commentary in this column space and I'll do it
again. Government is too big. Government offices
are overstaffed. In the world of government, bigger
doesn't mean better. More staff doesn't always
mean better customer service. Having excessive
staff on the governmental payroll doesn't do the
public any favors.
With revenues less than previously
expected, Commissioners Jim Plunkett, Tom Pryor
and Betty Knight had some tough choices to make.
The county will face increases in costs in areas
such as liability insurance, workers' compensation
and health insurance. It is also believed that
costs will rise in other areas over which the
county has no control, such as utilities, for
instance. (Have you checked your home heating
bill lately? Imagine the utility costs on county
Commissioners are obligated to make
expenses balance with revenues. They did it by
cutting back on excessive staff. Nobody likes
to see another member of the American work force
lose a job or be cut from full time to part time.
But accepting a position in a government office
is not a guarantee of lifetime employment. When
revenues aren't keeping up with expenses, the
taxpayers are not obligated to pony up more cash
just so Suzy Secretary or Checkpoint Chuck can
keep their jobs if the revenue isn't there to
fund those positions. It's not a personal decision,
it's a business decision.
Taxpayers will appreciate it. Liberals
and lovers of big government will see it as a
crime. Any liberal who previously claimed not
to understand the definition of fiscal conservatism
should understand it now. The decisions made by
the commissioners are fiscal conservatism in action,
These kinds of cutbacks and tough
financial decisions happen in private business
all the time. Normally in government, when posed
with the question of whether to increase revenue
(that means increasing your taxes) or to decrease
expenditures, too often the choice is made to
increase revenue (that means increasing your taxes).
I praise the current county commission
for taking the road less traveled. Did I mention
how refreshing this is?
The tax-and-spend crowd is up in
arms. The liberal media will be up in arms. One
liberal scribe already made this comment within
earshot: "If the county commission knew they
were going to look at eliminating jobs, why didn't
they raise the tax levy?"
Hello. County officials' first responsibility
is to make wise spending decisions with hard-earned
tax dollars. Their priority should not be to guarantee
jobs to loyal cronies, jobs that I think you'll
see the county can operate quite effectively without.
I've covered Platte County government
for 23 years and have never seen a step as bold
as this one. I applaud commission newcomers Jim
Plunkett and Tom Pryor, and holdover Betty Knight
who has jumped aboard the fiscal conservatism
bandwagon. In recent years as county revenues
skyrocketed, so did county expenses. Offices that
formerly worked with an officeholder and one or
two other staffers suddenly had three or four.
The county commission's office staff and expenditures
from 1994 to last year grew at a rapid pace. The
sheriff's budget in the past decade has grown
at an enormous rate. The auditor's office staff
has grown, the treasurer's office staff has grown,
among others. Was the staff growth out of a true
and consistent need? I have my doubts. In my opinion,
some of the positions being eliminated were only
there because of officeholders who are not around
to put in a full 40 hour work week.
When 2006 is done, what I think
you'll see is that the county will have operated
just fine with these staff reductions. The general
public will not see a drop off in customer service.
The lives of Platte Countians will not be placed
in an unnecessary risk due to the fact the sheriff's
salary line item has been cut by 5%.
The belief here is that the county
officeholders will survive Black Tuesday just
Taxpayers will appreciate walking
into some county offices and seeing all employees
hard at work. If upset officeholders truly will
have their staffs stressed to the max with this
reduced salary budget, as some of them are saying,
there should never be a time when the public walks
into a county office to find employees playing
computer games or engaging in needless socializing.
Since The Landmark was the only
media outlet in attendance at Tuesday's officeholders
meeting during which the staff reductions were
announced, you're going to get information here
you won't get anywhere else. Information such
as which officeholders were the most shocked by
the news, which ones displayed a liberal tax-and-spend
The reactions of three officeholders
stood out to me. Auditor Sandra Thomas, whose
office staff had grown to the level of two full
time employees plus the auditor herself, was obviously
taken aback by the news. This comes as interesting
since the auditor for years has painted herself
as a conservative. Apparently it's okay to be
conservative with other offices, but when the
county commission wants to get conservative with
the auditor's budget, that's not a good thing.
Thomas' staff will be cut from 2 full timers down
to one full time and one part time. If I'm in
Thomas' chair, I'm feeling lucky the cuts weren't
deeper. They could--and likely should--have been.
Treasurer Bonnie Brown revealed
a definite tax-and-spend attitude. Brown said
she would rather raise taxes than cut what basically
are questionably-needed positions. Hmmm. That's
a bureaucratic attitude that will not be embraced
by a majority of taxpayers.
And of course Sheriff Dick Anderson
never met a public dollar he wouldn't spend. I
like Anderson as a person. We've had our disagreements
on issues over the past 10 years, but it's always
stayed professional. Anderson lambasted the previous
county commission for never, in his opinion, giving
him enough money to run his sheriff's department.
Now he's upset with the current commission for
the same alleged crime. Anderson, who retired
from the FBI before being elected sheriff, has
spent his adult life on the government's payroll.
He has made a career out of collecting and spending
public money. Those types of folks typically don't
value a public dollar on the same level as Joe