Churches should start paying taxes
Acknowledging that responding to Jim DeJarnett and Rita Weise (previous letters to the editor in The Landmark) only encourages their ilk to continue their degenerative religious rants, this needs to be said:
It has become blatantly obvious mega churches are only interested in personal financial gain, having no true intention of protecting the supporting congregation.
Joel Olsteen, who purports to not be clergy, had to be publicly shamed into allowing flood victims into his palace for shelter. Other pastors harangue their congregation
for funds to buy a fourth jet for clergy use. Four jets?
Our founding fathers were specific about separation of church and state. It's time to start making churches pay their fair share of taxes, ALL taxes, just as every citizen has to do. Then maybe churches will better understand how important freedom of speech really is, and what government is really supposed to stand for
When churches start contributing their fair share of sales tax, real estate tax, income tax, etc. for the benefit of ALL, not just the favored few, maybe then they will understand the value of libraries and museums. Maybe then they will understand
that when they become taxpayers, they may lose the opportunity to abolish the public from their overbuilt temples.
My need to understand religion is not as great as your need to understand government for the people, by the people. Times are changing, younger generations are not buying into organized religions for the very reasons being debated over the libraries.
in Platte County
Library is here to serve everyone
By now, many of you have heard about the controversy surrounding a program Mid-Continent Public Library recently offered called Trans 101. After two teen suicides in the MCPL District, a broad community conversation started to explore how to support our LGBTQ+ citizens. The library developed a program where a transgender person could share information on his life experiences. The program, and the public debate over it, have been discussed in multiple venues and news reports. This post is not meant to rehash those conversations, but to share with you the current position of the MCPL Board.
First and foremost, it bears repeating that MCPL’s formal mission statement is, “to enrich our citizens and communities through expanding access to innovation, information, ideas, and inspiration.” This mission can, and always will be, challenging to achieve given the divergent views, needs, and interests of a library district that serves over 816,000 individuals across a wide range of communities. That is why we adopted a set of values to support the mission statement. Two of those values, intellectual freedom and inclusion, help to define MCPL’s commitment to providing valuable information to every member of our community.
In January, the library board reaffirmed its commitment to both the Freedom to Read statement and the Library Bill of Rights. We also reapproved a set of policies that direct staff to make decisions around the collection we provide. Staff, in turn, have a set of policies and procedures they follow in selecting materials and programs for their communities. Staff followed those policies and procedures in developing the Trans 101 program in response to a community request and will continue to follow them as they select future materials and programs.
Some have expressed discomfort with the subject matter of this program, including a member of the MCPL Board of Trustees who expressed her opinions in a letter that was published in The Landmark. Personal opinions of individual board members should not be confused with the position of the board, nor the position of library leadership and staff. Opinions of the board come via formal action, and no action has been taken at this time.
Public libraries are no stranger to controversy—opinions have always been, and will always be, expressed about materials in the library’s collection. One person’s “innovation, information, ideas, and inspiration” is not the same as another’s. This is why a library’s mission is so important.
Mid-Continent Public Library is here to serve our entire community. Our inclusion value states that “the library believes in the right of every individual to access library services regardless of income, education, beliefs, identity, abilities, age, or race.” Everyone is welcome at the library, including members of the LGBTQ+ community, and we look forward to serving each and every one of you.
MCPL Board of Trustees
Changes needed at Ferrelview
TO THE CITIZENS OF FERRELVIEW:
I have read with great concern the article in The Landmark dated Nov. 20, 2019, regarding Ferrelview Police Chief Daniel L. Clayton.
The citizens of Village of Ferrelview need to get rid of the present elected board of trustees, who have continued to support Clayton, and elect a whole new board who really cares about making Ferrelview a safe, quiet, and respectable village for you to live in, and for young children and teens
to grow up in like it used to be some years back.
Why do you allow the board of trustees you elected to keep a police chief who continues to diminish his credibility and trust? In my opinion, Clayton disregards the law himself, shows no respect for others, harasses and intimidates citizens, and tampers with public records, just to name a few. Where did the money go from the tickets he wrote in 2016 that should have been paid to the state? Ferrelview does not need a grant for another police car and more offices when they cannot pay the bills
they already have pending.
If they have not already done so, the Department of Public Safety needs to investigate Clayton’s predatory performance in other small towns he has worked in as a police officer and revoke his license for, in my opinion, abusing the laws.
Any other law enforcement agency would have already had his license revoked.
--Gary D. Bowman
Superintendent comments on incident
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following message from Platte County R-3 Superintendent Dr. Reik was distributed last week to some patrons through the school’s email system.
A little more than a week has passed since the Google document including racist and hateful content was shared throughout our District. The words in that document were hurtful to our students, parents, community, and beyond. I want to apologize to you all.
This incident was hurtful, yet it has given us an opportunity to hear from many of our students and parents who feel their voices have not been heard. Over the past week, I have made it my priority to listen intently and engage in discussions about where we can improve. We need to do better in our efforts to cultivate a climate that is inclusive and
equitable. To that end, our Diversity and Equity Committee is meeting this week to continue charting our path forward. I expect that some action will be taken immediately following the meeting, and some action will be deployed over time. This will be important work and will most effectively be done through sustained collaboration with our students and parents. We will need your input, your insight, and your critical feedback to ensure our actions have the intended positive impact.
In addition to our effort to listen to our parents and students, I want to update you on other related matters. First, we continue to move forward with our investigation and discipline processes to ensure every participating student is held accountable.We will make a strong statement that we do not tolerate any violation of our board policy, including those relating to harassment or
discrimination based on race. Additionally, our principals at Platte County High School, Barry School, and Platte City Middle School have addressed our students to clearly articulate a zero tolerance stance on acts of racism and hate, as well as open avenues for continued conversation related to climate and equity. We ask that our parents partner with us in creating an inclusive environment that is safe and caring for all learners, by reinforcing this message with your students.
I will continue to keep you informed as we work together to address areas of needed improvement. Please do not hesitate to contact me directly with questions or concerns.
--Dr. Mike Reik
It's time to reassess taxes
In mid-June my phone lit up with desperate constituents on the other end of the line. The calls kept coming, all with the same complaint. Residents received notices that their homes had been reassessed and their taxes were going up—significantly. To make matters worse, several of the tax bills arrived at the last minute, just hours prior to the deadline for filing an appeal.
I was not the only legislator to receive such complaints. State law requires property tax reassessment every two years. 2019 was the year county assessors decided that Missourians needed to pay more—a lot more.
In Jackson County, the value of 74,000 properties increased by exactly 14.9 percent—a number that coincidently avoids a state requirement for physical inspections. Not every property owner got off so easy. Other residents—especially
those in lower-income areas—saw property assessments double or even triple. The situation wasn't much better on the eastern side of the state in St. Louis County, where the influx of appeals was so overwhelming that a member of the assessment board there resigned his position, claiming the workload was too great.
For many Missourians, their home is their biggest asset. The equity in their home is a nest egg—the one tangible thing they have to show for a lifetime of work. A number of constituents I heard from this summer expressed fear that they could not afford to keep their home, due to skyrocketing tax bills.
In subsequent months, I and fellow lawmakers met with local officials, Realtors and representatives of the Missouri State Assessors Association. We told them something must be done. Some of the extreme increases we've seen have been egregious.
This session, I will file a number of bills to remedy runaway tax assessments. My legislation will require taxpayers be given adequate notice of proposed increases, ending the era of “eleventh-hour” tax hikes. The legislation will also cap how much assessments can increase during an assessment cycle, so property owners will never see their taxes double or triple overnight.
While I understand property values rise over time, taxpayers should not be subjected to sudden and exorbitant increases. Former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall once said: “The power to tax, involves the power to destroy.” In no area is that more true than in instances involving taxation on real property—literally the ability to tax someone from their home. It's time to stand up for Missouri taxpayers. The unexpected rise in property assessments cannot continue.
--State Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer
Libraries' agenda and the ALA
Thank goodness we have at least one person of sound mind, lucid, rational, and willing to say what needs to be said. I congratulate Rita Wiese for her courage in stating (a letter to the editor in the Nov. 6 Landmark) what the overwhelming majority of Platte Countians and Americans believe and support, namely that the LGBTQ community not only wants inclusion but dominance.
But standing for her beliefs and First Amendment rights has apparently been costly. Checking the MCPL website, her picture is the only one missing of the 12 member board.
First, though, let's correct a few items from Carol Clopton's letter to the editor in the Nov. 13 issue of The Landmark. In her parting shot at Ms. Wiese, Ms. Clopton states, “it's what you are paid to do.” Well, not really. Article II, Section 1 of the MCPL Board by-laws states “No board member shall receive compensation for serving as such.” Members are appointed by county commissions or county administrators and voluntarily serve. I commend her for voicing her opinion.
Next, her “queering” (Ms. Clopton was incorrect when she stated “queer”) and “Drag Queen Events” were not Ms. Wiese's words, she was quoting from the ALA (American Library Association) agenda from this past summer. Nearly 300
workshops were offered with a full 100 (1/3) promoting the LGBT agenda, “Creating Queer-Inclusive Elementary School Library Programming,” “Developing an Online Face for a Lesbian Pulp Fiction Collection,” and “Telling Stories, Expanding Boundaries: Drag Queen Storytimes in Libraries.”
In the one area where all parents should take note, Joy Pullmann in The Federalist, July 10, 2019 wrote “The ALA annual conference's workshop selections also included “A Child's Room to Choose: Encouraging Gender Identity and Expression in School and Public Libraries,” and “Are You Going to Tell My Parents?: The Minor's Right to Privacy in the Library.”
This conference was attended by over 21,000 people. With one third of the workshops aimed at LGBT, diversity, and inclusion, this is not about serving everyone, this is promoting an agenda and doing it with tax dollars. If the ALA was serving everyone, there would be only 1.5 workshops out of the 300 offered based on the latest estimate of four percent LGBT people plus about seven percent transgender.
Dr. Adrian Rogers, the late senior pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn., preached a sermon on the subject of homosexuality which was rebroadcast on Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. You can listen to it yourself on LWF.org and searching the “messages” until you find “Is it really just a
small, small world?”
Expounding on this in an editorial is controversial and I will refrain from that. However the pertinent passages are Lev 18:22, Isa 3:9, and Rom 1:24-26 with a strong concluding condemnation in verse 32. Also, Jesus made an alarming prophesy in Luke 17:28-30. If you need to know about the days of Lot, you can find him in Genesis 19.
I will repeat the words of Dr. Rogers, “I will not argue or debate you about this subject. I have pointed you to the Bible verses. Your disagreement is with God, not me.”
Incidentally, if you don't own a Bible, you may have to go somewhere besides the MCPL to find a Bible. I checked with Platte City and Weston branches. Platte City didn't even have a copy of the Bible. It should be found in the Reference section, catalog #220. However, the librarians were quick to point me to the internet!
Having written this, I understand there are many opinions but the real issue is of course, why are our libraries so focused on promoting this lifestyle? I think this is exactly the issue Ms. Wiese was raising and the alarm she was sounding. We all need to listen. But with less than 5% of the population controlling the entire conversation we need to understand the destructive message we are hearing.
Parks are a quality of life issue
Parks have a major positive impact on our quality of life. Parks amenities like playgrounds, trails, sports fields, and community centers are essential for the health and well-being of Platte County residents. It is short-sighted to think that we do not need to expand and improve existing parks, especially considering our rapid population growth.
Playgrounds are more than simply a place to entertain children. There is the obvious benefit from the physical activity involved, but also the development of social skills from interacting with other children. When I take my 7-year old granddaughter to a crowded playground, a group of children who were strangers inevitably become close friends for the purpose of playing on the playground.
Children learn how to wait turns, build motor skills, and develop self-confidence by mastering playground structures such as climbing walls.
Playgrounds help start our youth off in the right direction in life.
Also, many valuable life lessons are learned by youth who are engaged in team sports. Again, there are physical benefits like development of eye-hand coordination and cardiovascular health. Participation in sports has been linked to reduced rates of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. And, it has been found that children who play sports are less likely to smoke or use drugs. One study by West Virginia University found that teenagers who play sports are happier, feel healthier, and are more fulfilled by life. Youth sports helps keep our youth on the right path.
Parks keep us healthy throughout our lives. The serenity we feel in the natural environment alleviates stress and improves mental well-being. Visit one of the trails in
Platte County and observe the diverse ages of those who are improving their health by walking, running and riding bikes. Many adults join leagues to enjoy sports activities, like softball, that take place within a park. Pickleball, which is becoming very popular, is a healthy sport activity enjoyed by people of all ages. Parks and recreation amenities help us maintain healthy, active lives.
Much progress has been accomplished in the last 20 years in Platte County through the special sales tax for parks that was twice overwhelmingly approved by voters. As we consider renewal of the sales tax next year, we need to push for moving forward on developing and enhancing the amenities that so substantially improve our quality of life.
Libraries are required to serve everyone
After pondering Rita Wiese's nasty observations (last week’s letters to editor in The Landmark) regarding the Mid-Continent Library funding (overwhelmingly approved by voters) and their choice to have an event regarding Trans 101 diversity, I can only say this:
Libraries are considered a form of local government. They are established by statute, and funded by tax dollars. They are required to represent and serve EVERYONE regardless of race, creed or gender. An example: There are no signs on the doors saying transgender people, disabled veterans or blind people are not allowed access to facilities or any of the inventory inside. Ever.
Ms. Wiese engaged her right to freedom of speech using language such as “queer” and Drag Queen Events specifically gauged to belittle and abuse the entire LGBT community, and indicating all libraries across the country are actively engaged in targeting children and young people to lead them to be more vulnerable to be sexually exploited.
Ms. Wiese seems to be following in lock-step with the ugly supremacy groups that have dominated and bullied politics for several years. What they refuse to acknowledge are the real advances the American public is making to refute bullying by educating children and young adults. The intent is to give our children the opportunity to see and understand earlier how they can be influenced and targeted by the very people employed to protect them.
Knowledge is power, and the best way to control the masses is to restrict knowledge. Libraries were established to provide
knowledge. Ergo, attack and destroy all libraries. Anyone notice what happened in Syria in the last 10 years?
The first places attacked and destroyed were the museums and libraries, all the rich history of the country. Then millions of people lost their homes and had to flee the country.
By the way, Ms. Wiese, your right to freedom of speech comes at a continuous price. The very people you disdain and abhor have fought and died through the centuries in this country to defend everyone's rights as established by our Constitution.
If you can't be part of the solution, then recognize you are part of the problem. Be the solution, it's what you are paid to do.
Kansas City in
The library and gender confusion
Since the 2016 Prop L tax levy increase, Platte County's funding of Mid-Continent Public Library (MCPL) has increased to almost $12 million annually, a 53% increase since the 2016 passing of the 25% levy increase under Proposition L.
Our libraries are changing. How spacious they've become. Ask a librarian where all the books have gone. Meeting rooms now enable programs like Trans 101 in which gender identity is challenged.
Notice new books on diversity. Christian tradition and science are no longer viewed as truth. Knowledge is being 'channeled'. The changing library (sends a message/has an agenda).
After the first Trans 101 event in September, several people attended the September MCPL Board meeting and pushed back. Another Trans 101 event was scheduled, and 30 people attended the October MCPL Board meeting to voice their concerns. Three of the four who supported the event were MCPL librarians.
At the June 2019 national conference of the American Library Association (ALA), over 100 workshops were offered on“queering the library and elementary school” (The Federalist, 21,460 Attend Library Conference, July 10, 2019). The ALA advocates for a new 'normal', not to protect our children. Their Office for Intellectual Freedom protects those with other 'views'.
A once safe community setting known as the public library has become a space that, in the guise of intellectual freedom, wants to change thinking on voyeurism and gender confusion, while promoting materials and programs that lead children toward being sexually exploited.
Children's Mercy Hospital sees a dangerous trend involving young kids and pornography, and children abusing children (KC Star, Dec 18, 2018). They also see a spike in suicide related emergency room visits by children and teens (41ActionNews, Apr 11, 2019).
Supporting the ALA is the UN (United Nations) LGBT Czar, Vitit Muntarbhorn (homosexual activist), using taxpayer resources to push this indoctrination into schools world-wide—especially targeting young children. The UN boasts of having the “collective duty” to change children's “attitudes and beliefs”. SEL (Social Emotional Learning) has been introduced
this fall into their digital curriculum to make children as different from their parents as possible.
Although MCPL CEO Steve Potter says no Drag Queen events are being scheduled by MCPL, the ALA would have us believe otherwise. “The younger that children can be targeted, the better,” adds the (UN) LGBT Czar. Globalists wage war on the family and religious foundations to protect the 'diverse' from stigma.
Mid-Continent Public Libraries belong to the ALA. The ALA guides MCPL policies, which promote diversity and inclusion. As taxpayers, you have a voice.
If you'd like to share your thoughts on MCPL promoting this agenda, the MCPL Board needs to hear from you. Email Steve Potter at email@example.com.
The next board meeting is Tuesday, Nov. 19. Guests speak first. You can use 10 minutes to influence the entire board. After close of comments, you're welcome to stay for the meeting.
Praise for the veterans treatment court
To the Platte County Commission and Circuit Court - congratulations!
Ditto to the offices of county sheriff, probation and parole, and assuredly many more who were instrumental in the formation of a veterans treatment court.
Fifty or so years (and not quite that many pounds) ago I returned from service in Southeast Asia, and typical of most of my brother Marines of that day, we found ourselves in what can most kindly be described as socially inappropriate conduct.
We were sandwiched between our dads who had “shell shock” and the generation of new combat veterans with PTSD. But regardless of how our condition and conduct were described, and now diagnosed, we often veered into the criminally proscribed.
“Self medication” was and remains
common. So too for disturbed relations. The one who left is no longer he - and now she - who returns. The terror and triumph of combat in Europe and the Pacific, then Korea, then Vietnam, and now the Gulf irrevocably scrambled our inner stuff.
Until now, we who were not apprehended due to the “inappropriate” conduct were fortunate inasmuch as the assured consequence was confinement - jail. Now, the fortunate ones are those who are apprehended - provided however, veteran treatment court is available.
Thank you, Platte County, for making this available.
Veterans court is neither easy nor soft. It's demanding, disciplined, and requires a Spartan commitment. As the initial coordinator of the veteran mentors in the Clay County Vet Court, I've heard comments to the effect that it would have been easier
simply to go to jail. None did.
Under jurisdiction of the court and with the services of the VA and other providers of treatment and specialized care, a veteran with the inner wounds of combat needing - and deserving - care can be rescued.
Bottom line - it's better to have a veteran as a recovering, socially integrating, tax-paying member of the community than be warehoused at taxpayer expense in a prison. But more importantly, a spouse and kids, a mom and dad, siblings and buddies, co-workers, neighbors, and just about everyone else can have back the ones who gave so much that they didn't hold back enough for themselves.
Opposed to library transgender programs
It's time to alert the public that your tax-payer dollars are going to fund transgender indoctrination (they call it Transgender 101) within the Mid-Continent Public Library (MCPL). The MCPL system includes Platte, Clay, and Jackson counties.
This is fully supported by the CEO & library director Steven Potter and many members of the library board. At this time, the information is for adults, but across the country events are being done for children ages 2 to 5 in the form of “drag-queen” story hours. It has already happened in a St. Joseph library.
This is a well-coordinated assault on the family, which is happening at the direction of the left-leaning American Library Association or ALA and its progressive underground supporters. They argue it is about “intellectual freedom.” One conservative organization recently stated that the ALA's plan is the “queering” of our libraries. Of course, they deny this.
Does the MCPL plan to start drag-queen story hours? You can find some very disturbing videos on the internet that demonstrate provocative and sexually suggestive antics at these story-hour events. Young children should not be exposed to this. This is nothing short of child abuse.
I recently attended a library board meeting were this issue was partially addressed. From what I observed, several board members opposed this agenda.
However, it appears the library director has unilateral authority to implement these programs. During that meeting, one board member addressed the board by asking if background checks will be initiated for transgender presenters. She was laughed-off with a response stating that background checks won't tell if someone is gay. That wasn't the point. They will tell if someone is a former sex-offender.
So, what can the average citizen do? Here are a few ideas:
(1) Voice your concerns to federal and
(2) Attend library board meetings and say NO to drag-queen story hours;
(3) Vote against any future tax levy increase for the MCPL, until this agenda is eliminated;
(4) Demand that transgender reading materials be placed in the adult section of the library and not in the children's section, as they currently are; and
(5) Stay involved in what your local schools and libraries are teaching.
This is not about censorship; it's about what is moral and right for young children who are not yet able to make decisions on their own.
For me, it's about the integrity of the traditional family, which is the bedrock of our nation's freedom.
Committee should incorporate input from the public
Your safety and quality of life will be impacted by the recommendations of the Platte County Sales Tax Structure Advisory Committee.
The Platte County Sales Tax Structure Advisory Committee (PCSTSAC) will make recommendations on county sales tax levels to the Platte County Commission, who will adopt county orders to place tax questions on a ballot in 2020. The committee's work should be thorough, thoughtful, and incorporate public input. They should not be rushed.
Limiting the PCSTSAC to only examining the 10-year budget documents that have been provided will not be enough analysis for this important assignment. And asking for their study and recommendation to be completed by the end of the year is unrealistic.
The PCSTSAC review process should incorporate several elements.
•There should be projections of population growth and commercial
development. What services and facilities will be needed to accommodate this growth?
•The PCSTSAC should be given tax revenue projections from all sources, not just the sales tax and use tax. The projections should show revenue growth associated with the increased population and commercial development. As the county grows, so should revenue.
·•The PCSTSAC should study the 2010-2030 Parks System Master Plan. Extensive public input and professional expertise went into the development of this plan and there are projects yet to be completed. The 10-year budget provided to the PCSTSAC does not include funding for further development or enhancement of our park system as called for in the master plan.
•There should be an examination of peer counties. One member of the committee made this suggestion at the first meeting. This is an excellent idea. How do our tax rates and services compare? What should be measured? Data needs to be gathered and assessed.
•In addition to the 10-year budgets, the PCSTSAC should study trends in crime rates, and latest theories on crime prevention practices that could be funded through sales tax revenue. Municipal police departments in the county also need to be considered. Will they be adding or reducing officers? How much of the population growth will occur in unincorporated Platte County? The PCSTSAC should project the demands and needs of the sheriff, prosecutor and courts.
•Finally, public engagement in the process must be incorporated. Citizen surveys should be conducted, and numerous public forums held to determine how residents want their taxes spent.
The PCSTSAC is made up of highly respected and capable individuals. They must be given the time and provided the information needed to complete their analysis and recommendation.
Kansas City in
Dishonest speed trap at Ferrelview
I just received a speeding ticket from the police chief of Ferrelview.
Officer Daniel Clayton has a speed trap set up to catch the speed of cars coming into town southbound, as the speed abruptly drops to 25 mph.
His fixed radar position records the speed of the oncoming traffic approaching his car directly from the rear before and after the 25 mph zone. He looks in the rear view mirror to make a judgment as to position and speed of the distant oncoming traffic. In this case the driver would need to slow down
about a half mile before the 25 mph zone to not get a ticket. It's a very dishonest setup to take advantage of drivers not from the community to just get there money.
Officer Clayton and the Ferrelview Police Department have had many ongoing issues relating to ticket enforcement. Currently he is the only remaining officer and works part time.
Ferrelview is a low income community of less than 500 residents and it's hard to see how they can justify or afford the very elaborate police equipment used for one part time officer.
The real problem with a dishonest setup
like this is the police trust is eroded. Arguments can always be made with a wink that it's for public safety, but the lazy fish-in-a-barrel approach just leads to revenue generation.
Few drivers will fight this because the court will side with the officer. The public and court want to believe that tickets are issued for legitimate reasons and not just a road use tax.
Kansas City in Platte County
First Amendment binds all freedoms
Freedom of the press, of speech, of religion, of assembly and to petition the government are woven, like stars in the flag, into the fabric of the First Amendment.
The blood of patriots is the seed of the Republic. The founders and those who followed in their footsteps invested their lives in this country. They assured there would be freedom of religion, and from religion, so the government could neither bless nor ban what anyone believes, as occurs under radical theocracies and communist regimes. The founders secured freedom of speech, to assemble and to petition the government to redress grievances, which is denied by China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and others that fear opposition. They also created one freedom that binds and protects all others, and has done so from before the founding of the republic – freedom of the press.
More than four decades prior to the day when Congress ratified the Constitution, colonial printer John Peter Zenger in 1733 began to publish scathing-but-true stories about the misdeeds of New York's haughty royal governor. Zenger languished in prison for nearly 10 months for the crime of truth telling about a politician. But Zenger and his attorney made jurors understand a new
concept – truth is a defense – and Zenger went free.
Shielded by truth, journalists for nearly three centuries have been free to jab their pens at those who threaten the First Amendment. There are myriad examples involving religion alone. They include news reports about Congress trying to disenfranchise Mormons in the late 1880s and extend to modern times and the painful recognition that even vile speech, such as that practiced by Westboro Baptist Church, must be permitted as a religious liberty.
Journalists help keep us free to question, learn and disagree.
Now, as in the beginning, freedom of the press abides in the courage of men and women who report the news, whether those reports arise from between white columns in Washington, D.C., or beside the fountain at Lions Lake in Washington, Missouri. A reporter's work is often more routine than grandiose. On most days, reporters gather police and fire statistics; they report on the scandal de jour and the zoning board meeting; and they describe a range of human experiences, from a walk through a conservatory alive with iridescent blue morpho butterflies to a father and daughter found drowned on the Rio Grande's muddy banks.
But not all journalists complete routine days. A bullet killed Ernie Pyle in a safe zone on Ie Shima during World War II; he is one of many reporters who died to bring the public truth about war. Last year, in Annapolis, Maryland, a man who rejected having his criminal record reported walked into The Capital Gazette and killed five employees. Routine days are not guaranteed.
Seasoned reporters understand the importance of safeguarding the First Amendment. They know, also, that though telling the truth is made more difficult in these topsy-turvy times – when truth is flippantly called “lies” and lies are defended as truth – if they do not do their duty, then no one will. From time to time, explosions of criticism and unfettered hate may around them rage, but because reporters are loyal to the duties of a free press, including to challenge government leaders and policies, each of the First Amendment freedoms continues to wave like stripes in a flag emerging in the dawn's early light.
-- Jack “Miles” Ventimiglia
Executive editor of
Richmond Daily News and
Excelsior Springs Daily Standard
Why is the state auditor giving schools a pass?
I had to chuckle last week reading the letter from Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway.
I get the Clay county situation as it sounds like she is not getting any cooperation, but from my experience with her office the content of her letter makes me laugh. It's all about “transparency” and “I am committed to the promise I made to petitioners — we will get you answers. You deserve nothing less.”
Sounds great, but read on.
Starting in 2017 I sent information to the state auditor's office showing possible misconduct in the local Platte County R-3 School District. I supplied documentation and was led to believe a proposal was being put together for an audit.
I met with representatives from the auditor's office in Jefferson City and was told other patrons from the R-3 district had also called with concerns. I was told the state likes to have all audits done through petition due to the cost, but the auditor's office agreed that seldom will people sign their name on a petition in a small community where so many owe their or a family member’s livelihood to the school district.
(The auditor had a budget at that time of about $8 million).
I was also told during that meeting that several things probably needed to be looked at within the R-3 district, and was told that I would be kept informed. I never heard another word about an audit after the info went up the food chain.
Two key people from the auditor's office
on two separate occasions told me there is a problem that needs to be looked at with R-3, with one auditor telling me it needed to be done quickly due to a couple of the items of concern. And yet nothing happens.
My first thoughts were maybe I had not supplied enough info for the auditor but with a little digging I found virtually no school districts are being audited since the time Nicole Galloway took over. This leads me to ask, why?
A check of donations made to “Nicole Galloway for Mo” will show you that since just last September she has taken close to 100 donations from unions or PACs representing them for contributions in excess of $120,000.
Why do I care about the donations? Included in these donations were funds from Missouri teachers unions.
Once again, why do I care? Previous to Galloway taking over as Missouri State Auditor, Tom Schweichs’ administration was on a rampage to clean up the frivolous waste in our school systems, from how bonds were handled to teacher stipends, saving Missouri taxpayers millions. (Stipend process was changed at Platte County R-3 after the St Joseph School District audit).
One of auditor Schweich’s last audits before he passed away was the St Joseph School District audit which ended up with the FBI involved and legal action being taken against several people.
Even after this terrible audit in St. Joseph, as of September last year, 2.5 years after Nicole Galloway took over, school district audits have pretty much come to a screeching halt, with just two full financial
audits being released by her office from 2016 through 2018.
To give you an idea of the money not being looked at by the auditor’s office, school district budgets in the state of Missouri are about double that of the entire state budget at over $55 billion, yet Galloway at that time had only audited about .003% of those funds.
I requested a list from her staff of school district audits during her tenure and was sent 15 but it turned out many of these were either audits of previous audits (three from Schweich’s time), had nothing to do with finances or they were just checking items like attendance.
Only two appeared to be full financial audits. There are over 500 school districts in the state of Missouri and only two full audits were done. There are only 114 counties in Missouri and it appears over 60 were audited in the same time period from 2016 to 2018.
In the two years prior to 2016, nine school districts were audited.
So what changed from Schweich to Galloway? Did the districts magically become perfect or did the agenda change?
From my experience, when only a petition will get the state auditor to look at $50 billion in tax dollars spent at our schools she is not really worried about your tax dollars. Nicole Galloway is only worried about a Clay county photo opportunity, any good PR she can get from it as she tries to move up the political ladder and the funds it takes to get there.
Rural Platte County
Voters must make changes
On Sept. 12, I received an email from Congressman Sam Graves, lauding his meager achievement. Quote “Today was a long time coming. We finally ditched one of the worst government regulations in my lifetime—The Obama Administration's disastrous “Waters of the U. S. (WOTUS) rule.”
Most of us in Platte County, over many years, have dealt with all kinds of water problems, from floods to over calcified water treatment. We have watched as questionable development takes priority over prudent land management, regardless of whom it impacts.
I take umbrage with Sam Graves’ position. For 20 years, as a grants specialist at the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency when it was located in Kansas City, Kansas, our agency provided substantial grant funding to the State of Missouri for the major environmental programs of Clean Air, Clean Water, Hazardous Waste, Superfund Clean Up.
In the 70's and 80's local grants were issued across the entire state to assist building wastewater treatment plans for a majority of the towns and cities.
I'm talking about billions of federal tax dollars that went to the state offices to fund the organization and salaries of hundreds of state and local employees to perform the services locally which supplemented the federal statutes and regulations issued by Congress.
So Graves not only spits in the face of the prior administration, he spits in the face of practically every federal, state and local employee living in Missouri who dedicated careers to protecting and making our environment safe and livable.
Allegedly Sam Graves is from farm country. In Missouri, it's been long held that good crops indicate a farmer has a green thumb. In my opinion, Graves and his cohorts in crime do not exemplify green thumb success. It's more of a brown thumb and I don't mean planted in the dirt.
Along comes an audit report from the Missouri State Auditor's office, Report No. 2019-085, issued September 2019, which boldly states in the first line “The Governor's office continued to supplement operations by using appropriations of other state agencies, and therefore circumvented the appropriation process established by the General Assembly.”
This means the Governor is literally deconstructing decades of progress. This is the most vile questionable act any office holder anywhere makes. There are too many of “them” in Jefferson City doing this. It has to be stopped.
If we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem. We all want and need to be part of the solution; it's been our way of government for 243 years.
We no longer have the option to turn our faces away. We no longer have the option to plug in earphones and ignore the world. It's past time for corrective action. And you, the voter, can and must make that change.
Kansas City in
R-3 wants safe, caring environment
Near the end of the 2018-19 school year, nooses made from a variety of materials were found in a boys restroom at Platte County High School (PCHS). Students quickly followed our “See Something, Say Something” principle and notified PCHS administration, which initiated the building's investigation.
As a part of that investigation, local police were notified. Law enforcement determined that this incident was not a hate crime and did not pursue the incident further. Our internal investigation supported this conclusion. We realize the impact this incident had on a variety of stakeholders in our community. We fully addressed the incident in accordance with the student conduct provisions of our Board policies and student handbook. Disrupting our school environment in such a manner will not be tolerated.
While this act was not intended to target a person or group, the imagery of a noose has significant impact. This has given us an opportunity to reflect upon race relations in our society in general, as well as in our schools.
Moving forward, we will continue to work with our Diversity and Equity Committee whose purpose is to ensure inclusion for all learners by continuously and thoughtfully improving our cultural competence and responsiveness. Teaching skills and strategies to build community, creating connections, and understanding differences will be a point of emphasis starting this school year.
At the beginning of every school year, PCHS principals review expectations and handbook procedures with our students. During these talks this year, students were specifically reminded that disrupting our school environment in such a manner will not be tolerated. At PCHS's Back-to-School
Night on August 20, parents were given a similar message.
We continue to remind parents, staff, and students that school safety is the responsibility of the entire school community. Please follow the principle of "See Something, Say Something." If anyone (student, parent, staff member, community member) sees or hears anything of concern, please contact the District office at (816) 858-5420 so that those concerns can be investigated. You and your child can also easily report tips on bullying, harassment, or any safety issue you're concerned about through our online SafeSchools Alert system.
We appreciate your partnership in maintaining a safe and caring environment for our learners.
--Platte County R-3 Schools
Statement emailed to patrons
Johnson grass and thistles
While in Jefferson City recently, I talked to a man from the Missouri Department of Transportation. While I told him that I knew there was nothing they could do, I hoped he could answer some questions about Johnson grass and thistles that were growing alongside the roads in the county. When he learned where I was from, he let me know they get complaints constantly. Trees overhanging and damaging box trucks.
Ditches that have not been cleared in years, letting water flow across the road and freeze in the winter.
Johnson grass that the county paid farmers to ride horseback and kill in the 40s, 50s and 60s. All paid by the taxpayers. He also mentioned the number of people who say they never see a car in the parking lot at headquarters.
Do they drive the county equipment home and work? Are their vehicles in the shop and they work on them? Also they hear
about the facilities of kitchen, dining rom, bathrooms, meeting room all first class with the latest equipment.
The Johnson grass needs to be sprayed as well as thistles or the taxpayers will be paying people to ride horseback again.
He wanted to know why the taxpayers keep putting the city boys back in office.
Commentary on Graves' commentary
I have to express my dismay after reading the recent dishonest and schoolyard commentary Rep. Sam Graves emailed to Sixth District constituents. This material is beneath the dignity of a US congressman, clearly singing from the same song book as his president, lyrics and melody.
The congressman referred to “socialists” who need to be stopped. One has to ask, sir, when you have town hall meetings for your constituents in the Sixth District, do you claim to represent all of us, even the “socialists” who are in attendance? Oh, that's right: you don't have town hall meetings. Silly me.
Trump's agenda to lower taxes helped the Wall Street guys. To residents of the Sixth District, I say, “How's that working out for you?”
His agenda to take down China in his trade war has been less successful and will prove to take down the American farmer, too. How's that working for the row crop farmers in Platte County? Wages and jobs for workers aren't all that great when they're working two or more part-time jobs to feed their families. Part-time jobs may make US unemployment numbers look good, but how's that looking for your bank balance these days? Part-time gets you no health insurance, job security, paid sick leave. As businesses tighten their belts against the threat of an impending recession, it's the workers who feel the squeeze of fewer hours on their paychecks.
There has been no “attempt” to impeach the president, much less a “third attempt.” You're witnessing the horror of others in
Congress at this man's duplicity; destruction of relationships with our allies; ugly xenophobic rants; crimes against the desperate humanity at our southern border; attempts to gut the EPA and USDA of climate-warning scientists; and a swamp-laden Administration as attempts at impeachment. When the House of Representatives has built an iron-clad case for impeachment, the country will know it.
Mr. Graves is fully aware the reasons there are no charges of collusion are 1) there is no law specifying crimes of collusion with a foreign enemy to get yourself a presidency and, 2) the special counsel's team could not, by law, bring charges against a sitting president.
Read the Mueller Report, if you can stomach the incredible, well-documented and excruciatingly detailed connections with the Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign. Astounding. The secret meetings in the Seychelles, emails, polling reports on critical electoral states forwarded to the Russians: it's all in there. Is this what makes Sam Graves proud to serve this man as president? I notice Mr. Graves failed to challenge evidence of obstruction of justice. There would be 10 specific instances of that crime, with evidence.
And these “socialists.”
“Medicare for all” has become a catch phrase for health care for all Americans. It may not be the best plan. Show Americans a better one. The Republicans have failed to float another promised “repeal and replace” plan for the dreaded and derided affordable health care plan called “Obamacare.” This is what really chafes Trump.
If Mr. Graves understood the Green New
Deal---and read it---he would know this is not legislation or even a proposed bill. It is a set of resolutions and goals as a roadmap for how to save the planet and create sustainable full-time jobs in infrastructure and a new clean energy industry. It suggests policies and programs to address both economic and environmental sustainability.
So, who's a “socialist?” If you support Social Security and get a monthly check, raise your hand. You're a “socialist.”
If you have a health care plan, public or private, raise your hand. You're a “socialist.”
If you count on police and fire protection and safe roads and bridges and travel out of KCI, you can raise your hand again.
If you're a farmer getting subsidy checks because Trump's tariff game is using you as a chump pawn, raise your hand. Oh, and if you're farming thousands of acres, raise both hands, your checks total in the millions. You're participating in “socialism.”
The Sixth District congressman safely chooses infrastructure, the border and flood relief as important work for Congress. No one can argue these are critical problems to address. But, Mr. Graves, we implore you to think large. Pack all the courage you can muster to go back to Washington and tell the truth. Get some real work done for the American people. We're clamoring for health care coverage for everyone; protection from gun violence; electoral security; immigration reform; and a plan to combat the growing doom of the climate crisis for what's left of the planet our kids will inherit.
-- LeAnn Karbaumer
A travesty to open government
Something wicked, this way come. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt's use of the “First Amendment” to redact public records is a travesty and an aversion to open government and Missouri's Sunshine Laws.
The AG's position reeks of deception and cover up. What is so bad about honesty and openness in government?
The AG's Office had taken the position that is nothing short of a reckoning and assumption that the citizens of Missouri have no rights to open and clean government or so it is implied by facts in the
article about "AG Blocks Release of Records.”
They are and have always been public records to be viewed by the rights of the public to hold government accountable.
Open collective bargaining
Although the 2020 legislative session is still a few months away, I hope Missouri officials are planning to reengage the issue of government union reform, and particularly open collective bargaining. Currently, the vast majority of the contract
negotiations between public officials and organized labor can be conducted out of sight of the taxpayers—the very taxpayers who must pay the salaries and benefits that are agreed to.
Collective bargaining with our government officials should be done in the open and subject to close taxpayer
oversight. Anything less undermines trust in the agreements struck and violates principles of good governance.
'Likely going to cancel subscription'
My husband and I canceled the Kansas City Star about six months ago, because of its left-leaning editorializing. We have subscribed to The Landmark for about a year, because we feel it is a more conservative paper that leaves its editorializing to the editorial columns.
It seems that, as of late, you are departing from that. You seem to be big fans of Jason Maki and quote him quite regularly. It is my opinion that if you are going to give him so much press, why don't you also do a large front page column actually spelling out what the Creekside Development will look like and what it has
planned? Maybe even do an article titled "Who is Brian Mertz?" or "Who is the developer of Creekside?"
In last week’s paper, you say "Johnston gives sarcastic responses." Yuck. That should be in an editorial.
Also, maybe you don't remember the massive study that Parkville paid for many years ago to find ways to make Parkville more walkable, user-friendly and to entice businesses to our lovely downtown. Parkville adopted that plan. It should be no surprise that now they are finally going to put some of it into action.
My point here is that my husband and I used to love your paper, but now you seem to be going the way of the Star. We are
likely going to cancel our subscription unless you start reporting on all sides of these issues.
Thanks for your time.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Developer Brian Mertz and Creekside were the topics of a front page feature story in The Landmark on Jan. 16, 2019, six months ahead of the feature on Jason Maki. Last week’s headline of “Johnston gives sarcastic responses” is factually accurate, no editorializing involved. Thanks for reading).
Chaos and long wait times at the DMV
In regards to the DMV shots fired: Here are just a few pitfalls in obtaining a "REAL ID MISSOURI DRIVERS LICENSE " which are contributing to the EXTREMELY LONG LINES AND WAITS.
1) Born at home? A "proof of life certificate" is not accepted. The state that issued the proof of life certificate must be contacted and an embossed birth certificate must be obtained.
2) Two proofs of residency? The problem many of us older women have run into is that all our bills with our name and address list our husband's name first. That's just the way it was done back then. They're a great proof for whomever's name is first but the second person is like non-existent.
3) Proof of legal name change from
official birth certificate? Not a problem for most men. Again older women especially beware. The marriage license must be embossed to be accepted. The state of Kansas, for example, didn't emboss marriage licenses in 1969. The license I have is the original license issued but not good enough for the state of Missouri.
Divorced and remarried? There has to be an embossed paper trail shown of each divorce, marriage and death. The names listed must match exactly from one certificate to the next to provide a proper trail. Having a marriage license with a full middle name and a divorce paper with just a middle initial is unacceptable.
The DMV agents refuse to look at all papers presented at one presentation. When they declare a paper to be unacceptable the presentation is over, leaving applicants to
obtain the refused documentation and return only to have a different paper denied resulting in another return.
I believe all these factors and more have created chaos that requires long waits multiple times. I have a friend who has been four times only to be told yet another document is unacceptable. The agent’s ruling on any given document varies greatly from agent to agent.
DMV offices typically don't have public restrooms. I know people who waited two hours and leave to find a restroom.
Thanks for letting me vent.
Bill is not fair to US college graduates
While you were enjoying your summer…
Not much going on in Congress, just the dreary days of summer, renaming a post office, shuffling through boring paperwork, and wishing they were home. Nothing happening unless you are considering what your children or grandchildren are going to do after graduation from college.
Your eager-to-please-the-business-community-that-contributes-so-much-to-campaigns Congress men and women were almost by stealth passing HR 1044, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019. Only there’s nothing fair about it if you are a highly skilled college graduate in the United States.
The media was almost silent unless you read Drudge or Breitbart. This bill, if it passes the Senate, will allow 300,000 Indian contract workers and 300,000 of their family members a fast track to green cards and the ability to stay and work in the United States after their work visas expire.
Don’t we have enough high-skilled workers here in America already? Of course we do and more are graduating each year with science, technology, engineering, and math degrees ready to enter the workforce.
These H-1B visas are used to promote low-wage, white-collar job offers for foreign workers, the same jobs that 800,000 American college graduates are seeking each year. But the big tech companies want to cut costs and one easy way to do that is to
hire cheap labor and every congressman who wants money stuffed in their campaign pouch knows that voting to allow cheap labor for businesses is a sure way to get it.
Hopefully enough of us will call our senators to keep it from passing. But if not, ask Kevin Yoder how a vote in favor of cheap-labor work visas affect your re-election.
If you are a parent or grandparent sending your child or grandchild to college hoping to get them a leg up on success, call your senators and tell them to vote NO on Senate Bill S. 386. Your child’s future depends on it.
Reconnecting back home
Nearly six weeks have passed since the Missouri General Assembly adjourned for 2019. It's good to be back in the district, reconnecting with constituents in Platte and Buchanan counties and hearing their concerns. I've especially enjoyed visiting with local business and community leaders, and updating them on legislative activity in Jefferson City.
At separate events, sponsored by the Northland Regional Chamber of Commerce and the St. Joseph Chamber, I joined colleagues from the Missouri Senate and House of Representatives to brief area business leaders on the 2019 session. I also had the pleasure of addressing Northland mayors during their monthly meeting. These community events are vital for keeping open lines of communication, and I appreciate the feedback I receive.
It's been especially gratifying to join community leaders in welcoming the governor to the district. The governor was in the area to sign two important pieces of legislation into law.
On June 11, the governor traveled to St. Joseph City Hall to sign House Bill 821, which authorizes the creation of a land bank redevelopment agency. The St. Joseph Land Bank will allow the city to acquire derelict and abandoned properties and return them to productive use. Vacant buildings and empty lots will either be put to public use or sold to individuals or groups that will develop the properties.
I sponsored the Senate version of this measure and guided the House bill through
the upper chamber. Passage of the land bank bill was the top legislative priority for St. Joseph civic officials, and I was thrilled that we got the job done. The land bank will be a powerful tool that will help St. Joseph rehab dilapidated areas of town and reduce crime.
On the same day, the governor signed Senate Bill 182, otherwise known as the “Border War Bill.” I was proud to co-sponsor this important legislation that will prevent abuse of economic development incentives. This measure recognizes that merely relocating a business across the state line does not always produce job growth, and that neither Kansas nor Missouri benefits by subsidizing address changes.
Relocating from an address in Kansas to a new facility only miles away in Missouri often produces little economic impact for the region. But some businesses have moved frequently in order to capitalize on state incentives. This legislation brings an end to the practice. Pending similar legislation on the Kansas side, Missouri will no longer help pay for business moves that do not create new jobs.
These are just two of more than 90 pieces of legislation the General Assembly sent to the governor's desk in 2019. He has until July 14 to sign or veto this legislation. Already he has approved the budget for 2020, signing every appropriations bill, without a single line-item veto. The new budget includes a number of powerful workforce and economic development initiatives and addresses critical infrastructure needs without raising taxes.
Finally, it's been sobering to travel throughout the district and survey all the destruction from recent flooding. I visited flooded areas alongside the governor and local officials in St. Joe shortly after the legislative session ended. The floods of 2019 have been devastating to the region, with thousands of residents and many hundreds of homes and businesses severely impacted. It's going to be a long recovery effort, but there is help on the way. Missouri's Fiscal Year 2020 budget includes $8 million to help with flood recovery. I was also encouraged to learn that the president signed a $19 billion federal disaster aid package, with at least part of that money likely to be spent in Missouri.
While there's nothing we can do to stop the rain, we do have some influence over where all that water goes. Some of the flooding in our area was made worse by excessive release of water from dams along the Missouri River. The Army Corps of Engineers needs to worry less about fish and wildlife upstream and pay far more attention to the lives and livelihoods of people who live below their dams. This year, I co-sponsored a resolution that called on the Corps to reevaluate its priorities. Hopefully, our pleas will not fall on deaf ears.
It is my great honor to represent the citizens of Platte and Buchanan counties in the Missouri Senate. Please contact my office at 573-751-2183, or visit www.senate.mo.gov/luetkemeyer.
--State Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer
Flooding will affect food prices
Back in March, when the first round of flooding occurred in Nebraska, Iowa, and Northwest Missouri, a reporter asked me if consumers would see an increase in food prices. I replied that while the situation was a tragedy for the local area and a huge inconvenience and expense because of the loss of highways and railroads, the flood would have little effect in grocery stores.
But if someone asked me the same question today, I'd change that answer. This slow-motion disaster, this flood that grows but never subsides, this deluge that has spread far beyond its origins and inundated all of the Missouri River floodplain, much of the farm ground on the Mississippi above St. Louis, and every tributary in the Missouri and Mississippi basin, is going to affect everyone in some manner or another.
The results of the latest Department of Agriculture spring planting survey have just been announced and to say they're disturbing would be an understatement – farmers have planted barely over half of the expected corn acres across the United
States. And it's too late to plant corn and expect normal yields.
Not only that, but we planted almost nothing last week as successive storms pounded the Midwest, adding to the flooding woes, damaging crops that have been planted, and bringing back memories of the terrible flood of 1993.
Commodity prices are increasing as the markets try to ration supply and encourage farmers to plant. Most farmers have crop insurance, including a provision that pays for prevented planting. The payment is just a portion of what farmers would earn from a normal crop, but that horse has left the barn. The markets are increasing the returns to planting, encouraging continued planting even though yields will be low. If we ever dry out, farmers will have to sharpen their pencils as they decide whether or not to plant.
The decision has been made more difficult by the responses of the federal government. Congress has promised a disaster bill but so far failed to deliver. Even if it passes, as is expected, nobody really knows exactly how it will be implemented,
as many critical decisions are left up to the Secretary of Agriculture
The Administration has announced a trade mitigation package, but without releasing expected payment levels. While the taxpayer's generosity to farmers is appreciated by everyone suffering from delayed planting and flood waters, we farmers are going to need more facts in order to make good decisions when the fields finally dry out.
The Flood of 2019 has cost homes, lives, farms and businesses. People are exhausted from months of fighting high waters. Consumers should anticipate higher prices for food and farmers will be dealing with financial pressures and emotional stress for months to come. While the aims of our elected officials are undoubtedly the best, those of us in the midst of this disaster need information, decisions and policies… not just good intentions.
Missouri Farm Bureau
Trade is a job creator, not a job killer
Congress will soon vote on the United States' updated trade agreement with Mexico and Canada.
This much-needed update, called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, will create jobs, open up new markets for U.S. businesses, and strengthen ties with two of America's most important allies.
Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer are both smart legislators. They know the path to victory in 2020 runs through moderate districts. In the recent midterm elections, my party flipped 40 House seats in Republican strongholds like Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma by promising policies that tangibly improve the lives of middle-class Americans.
USMCA is one such policy. Public support for the trade agreement has increased significantly since U.S., Canadian, and Mexican leaders finalized it last year. A new survey found Americans favor ratification of USMCA by a 4-to-1 margin.
The deal promotes a fair, rules-based trade environment that would help
American workers flourish.
Consider how the pact would help farmers. USMCA eliminates some of the barriers that prevent American farmers from selling poultry, eggs, and dairy products in Canada. American farms already employ almost 3 million people. That number will grow if Congress ratifies the agreement and enables farmers to export more food to our northern neighbors.
Or consider how USMCA would boost wages for workers in the auto industry, which supports over 7 million U.S. jobs. To receive duty-free treatment under USMCA, 75 percent of a vehicle's value must originate in North America, up from the current 62.5-percent requirement under NAFTA. This change would create more jobs at auto-parts suppliers.
USMCA also requires nearly half of all car parts to be made by workers earning at least $16 an hour. That provision would ensure American manufacturing workers earn strong wages.
This deal has the strongest labor provisions of any U.S. trade agreement in history. It requires all three countries to protect labor rights recognized by the
International Labor Organization. It also makes it easier for Mexican workers to form unions and collectively bargain. That'll help American workers by raising wages and benefits in Mexico -- thereby making it less attractive for U.S. companies to shift production and operations to our southern neighbor.
And USMCA would make it easier for America's 30 million small businesses to access the Canadian and Mexican markets. The deal reduces the regulatory and tax burden on certain American exports. For small e-commerce firms in particular, this could have a transformative effect on their business.
USMCA will support the growth of current and future U.S. industries. Ratifying the pact would show voters across the country that Democrats prioritize the needs of hardworking Americans. That message will resonate come 2020.
What about books with opposing views?
Just reading your Between the Lines column (May 22 issue entitled DISAGREEMENT AMONG PUBLIC SERVANTS IS NOT A BAD THING) and
particularly the part about the Mid-Continent Library Board action.
It seems that any opposing viewpoint can get a board member kicked off the board (and maybe even put into stocks like in medieval days).
Does this also apply to the books in the libraries? Will the board be removing all books that happen to oppose their views?
Native Platte Countian
Newspapers and their value
Back in the day, as they say, the local one-sheeter newspaper was the lifeblood of a community, large or small. During war years, stories from around the world were wired in to noisy presses in news offices clad in the heady, nostalgic scent of printers’ ink.
In the 50s and 60s in Nebraska, I could read in my hometown newspaper that Natchel Rzeszotarski got stung by bumblebees while fixing fence in the north forty. Editors recognized the significant responsibility of trust the township placed in getting the news ---big news and not so big.
Publishers have to be accountable to their readership for investigation and accuracy. They know citizens will be calling them out for failing the truth.
Reporters have access to newsmakers that we do not. Newspapers can demand transparency in government as reporters probe for truth-in-
governing. Editors are responsible for their content; for assuring the stuff that gets published is worthy of the printed page.
Today, we’re letting some of our small-town newspapers languish in red ink, opting to find out what’s going on in the city and in the world around us through snippets and sound bites and breaking news on 6 o’clock television broadcasts. We count on Facebook to learn what’s going on in our communities. We’re bombarded with nefarious and vague reports of un-truths, half-truths, fake-truths and “truthy-truths” when we naively bite at the click-bait of various social media hacks.
The Kansas City Star is struggling. The bundle of pages in the dew-covered plastic bag at the end of the driveway is getting smaller and smaller. The Star begs its readers to subscribe on-line. But if most of us do that, what happens to the jobs that produce a ‘paper-paper?’ Can the 4 a.m. newspaper delivery guy drop off a couple
quarts of milk instead?
Now for the good news: Congratulations to The Landmark, Ivan Foley and his team for 154 years of uninterrupted service to Platte County in this challenging publishing environment. The editor, advertisers and a county full of readers have kept this newspaper thriving as it delivers local human-interest stories and critical government news that we won’t find sandwiched between “Judge Judy” and “Wheel of Fortune.”
Even if we don’t have time to read the hometown weekly page by page, our citizens’ responsibility to subscribe can at least be an insurance investment that our critical newspapers will survive.
Again, hats off and high fives to The Landmark.
Weston street issues need addressed
Since the City of Weston has new leadership, I have some advice and most of the folks in Weston will agree. The elected officials of Weston own it to themselves and the city citizens to take a trip out Middle Road to the city property line, turn around and come back to Weston. When city streets get in this condition, there is absolutely no excuse for it and this city responsibility is
This situation is not about city workers; it is entirely about city elected officials.
While the city is addressing this ongoing issue, someone in city management can call the highway department and have it address the entrance to Bless Park which is also a joke and the highway department's responsibility.
Neglect is never a good policy, nor is trying to avoid bridge issues, which is not a
good campaign add.
The city workers do a very good job; most of the issues come from elected officials giving the appearance of not knowing where the problems are or not reacting to the problems.
Restoring Parkville's parks after flood
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a letter from Parkville Mayor Nan Johnston to citizens of Parkville)
On March 23, the Missouri River crested at its highest level since the Great Flood of 1993. The river flooded English Landing and Platte Landing parks and the water remained in the park for several days. City crews worked around the clock to assure the safety of our residents and businesses. While we are sad the flood damaged portions of the park, we are grateful that it spared businesses in downtown Parkville.
Our parks are designed for floods, and we know they will recover. We are also mindful that other areas outside of Parkville have seen much worse damage, including people losing their homes, businesses, and farms. Our thoughts and prayers are with them as they recover from this devastating disaster.
Our city crews have spent the past week assessing damaged areas and have begun the cleanup effort. Representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and State Emergency Management
Agency toured the parks and are compiling a damage assessment, which will be used to make a request for federal disaster assistance. Such assistance will provide Parkville with the financial resources needed to help recover from the disaster. During the last major flooding event in 2011, the city was reimbursed for costs related to flood fighting, clean up, restoration of damaged facilities, and for new mitigation projects including the construction of the McAfee Street Bridge over White Alloe Creek.
While we are still assessing the damage and developing a plan of action, we do plan on opening portions of the park as soon as possible. We appreciate the patience of residents and ask they keep out of areas not yet cleared for their safety. Debris needs to be removed and some amenities such as benches and pavilions need to be cleaned of any river contaminants.
The dog park is badly damaged and the crushed stone on the trails has been washed away. We are examining options for temporary facilities for the dog park and the re-routing portions of the trails while damaged areas are being repaired. Areas where heavy silting occurred will require the
removal of truckloads of sandy deposits so that grass can be reestablished.
The city intends to commit the financial resources needed to restore the park as quickly as possible. We believe most of these costs will be reimbursed by FEMA. No funds from the recently approved parks sales tax will be used for park restoration. These funds are reserved for future improvements to the parks. We are also aware the river levels are forecast to remain elevated through the summer and will consider this when prioritizing areas for restoration.
I greatly appreciate the outpouring of support from our residents and the generous offers to volunteer to help clean up the park. We will keep you posted on when this help is needed. The city’s parks are a jewel of the community and the volunteer spirit of our residents is a testament to the wonderful community we all are part of. I commit to you that the city will do its best to restore the park as soon as possible for the continued enjoyment of our residents.
Mayor of Parkville
Climate change deniers
I wonder why your commentator (Brian) Kubicki finds it necessary to use derogatory terms when it comes to talk about people who care about the environment in an otherwise very informative report? He calls them "enviro-whacko groups.” I can think of a number of negative descriptions for climate change deniers, but do not think it is helpful to apply them.
If Mr. Kubicki's predictions about the
use of coal come true, then the planet is in for a very rough ride, which will kill millions of people.
By the way, it is interesting a certain segment of the population denies the science behind climate change warnings, yet the very same people accept medical science going to doctors, rely on agro-chemical sciences when they use fertilizers and pesticides, defend bio-science in regards to genetically engineered plants and even animals, trust the physical sciences when they use airplanes and other modes of transportation etc.
Why this selectivity concerning the sciences? Could there be a different motive behind such distrust in climatology? Is it conservative political loyalty or is it the acknowledgment that we would have to change our economic system and way of life if much of that global warming is caused by man?
Why no term limits for the legislative branch?
Imagine: 80% of the people you work for disapprove of the job you're doing. A mere 20% think you're doing okay. Your CEO notices and becomes aghast. Your misbehavior and divisiveness create a hostile work environment, yet somehow, magically, you're not fired. Instead, you're rewarded with a six-figure salary, a quality pension, and the best health insurance plan money can buy. Boy oh boy, you've got it made! Game. Set. Match.
If you think I'm talking about a corporate fool or a buffoon who embodies The Peter Principle, which observes that people in a hierarchy tend to rise to their “level of incompetence,” think again folks. I'm describing our Congress of the United States where apparently you can suck at your job and still keep it!
Yep! You heard that right. Congress's approval rating hovers at roughly 20% according to a recent Gallup Poll, and yet the rascals continue to get elected and re-elected.
Articles I and II of our Constitution provide guidelines for how long both the legislature and the presidency can remain in office, capping the term of the “leader of the free-world” at eight years. If the president can be shipped out of office after eight years, why not apply term limits to the legislative branch? There is historical precedent for Congressional term limits. In fact, from 1990 to 1995, 23 states imposed
term limits for both representatives and senators until the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in U.S. Term Limits, Inc v. Thorton.
Strict constructionists argue the Constitution is set in stone and need not be altered. “If it ain't broke don't fix it.” Others, however, view the Constitution as a living document that the Founders understood could and should be amended when appropriate. When it comes to term limits for Congress, I reckon it's time.
In a Gallup Poll from January 2013 – the most recent national survey on the subject that I could find – 75% of people said they would vote for a term-limits law if given the chance. That belief is not out of line with one of our Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson.
While Jefferson did not attend the Constitutional Convention in 1787, when he reviewed Madison's notes on the Constitution he responded, “The feature I dislike, and greatly dislike, is the abandonment in every instance of the necessity of rotation in office.”
Jefferson's words were spot-on then and they're spot-on today. According to the Congressional Research Service's Service Tenure and Patterns of Member Service, 1789-2019, “the average tenure of Representatives has increased from approximately three years during the early 1880s to approximately nine years in the most recent Congress.” One thing is certain Houston, we have a problem: career
politicians. And let's be frank: career politicians on both sides of the aisle are guilty of staying in Washington well past their prime.
My dad taught me an early rule in life: Keep It Simple, Stupid. My proposal is just that - commonsensical.
Members of the House could serve a maximum five two-year terms, for ten years total, while Senators could serve a maximum of two six-year terms, for a total of twelve years.
This proposal makes elected officials truly responsible to their constituents. It emphasizes the necessity of pragmatic policymaking, it frees legislators to work for the people rather than dialing for campaign dollars, and it provides an avenue for fresh, new ideas to enter our democracy. Likewise, it could alleviate the cynicism in Washington that elected officials are bought and paid for by corporate lobbyists since their political careers will come to an end. In essence, term limits may very well “drain the swamp.”
Call me naïve, but I echo Jefferson's sentiment that “by throwing the rascals out from time to time, they will remind government that it exists to serve us—not the other way around.”
Missouri 6th Congressional
County commissioners want taxpayers to pay for their mistakes
Pot of Gold.
Every one of us should take note of the people and organizations opposing the half cent sales tax for the purpose of capital improvements to county property.
First, the EDC, the Economic Development Council would not support it by failing to garner a “second” to the motion of support. Next, the lead Democratic organization in Platte County urged a “NO” vote on the tax. Finally, the Platte County Republican Central Committee refused to take a stand saying, “let the voters decide.” That is a strong rebuke to a Republican Commission.
Face it, anyone who attended the “education” shows found they were attending the jail study presentation over and over. I attended the jail study program at the commission's meeting in January. I attended two of the road shows. I was expecting to hear how they planned to allocate and finance a $65 million pot of gold at the end of the cell-block rainbow.
But what we heard was another jail study presentation. The sheriff and his deputies gave a good presentation but, in each case, they were being used by this commission as a buffer to deflect the conversation away from the real question, “How are you going to finance this project?”
After 45 minutes at the Weston meeting and 58 minutes at the Platte City meeting covering projected jail needs, the commissioners begin to talk. We learn, after much coaxing that $19-20 million will be used for financing! How can that be?
And, to add tax on tax, the half cent park tax scheduled to expire in 2020, will be split, according to Commissioner Ron Schieber, and presented for approval in 2020 to fund staff and maintenance of the 380-400 bed facility with a vacant portion suitable for another 150 beds for future expansion! Taxes don't go away under this commission.
Earlier this year the commissioners, by their public statements and actions, managed to lower the county's credit rating to junk bond status. If you didn't know,
Zona Rosa was sold to a new management company. There was a shortfall in the bond payment and the county was expected to pay the difference. The county via the commissioners did not make the payment. There is ongoing litigation, the outcome of which will not be known until after the election.
It is almost a certainty that the “no new taxes” commissioners will not be in office when this pot of gold is being spent. That's unfortunate, I believe they are good people. With the vague objectives outlined by the current commissioners, a new commission would likely decide the fate of the pot of gold at the end of the cell-block rainbow.
And don't be swayed if you receive a glossy flyer in the mail featuring county officials urging a “yes” vote. The commission wants us to trust them. They have betrayed our trust and now want us, the taxpayers, to pay for their mistakes.
Vote NO on the jail tax.
County proposal is pot full of cash tax
For those wondering about the proposed “jail” sales tax, I urge you to carefully read the ballot language and understand the facts. I attended the Parkville forum on Saturday. Below is what I noted.
The presentation spoke about jail issues only and nothing regarding financing. In fact, not one commissioner presented. Not until the Q&A session was it revealed that the commission intends to use debt at some point and that $20+ million of the $65 million is for interest. The jail cost was stated at $41 million. Applying some simple math, $20 million for interest doesn't compute. The Q&A session noted that the current jail facility was financed in the 1990s with a five year sales tax.
We also learned that there are other capital needs such as roof repairs on existing facilities. Why was the presentation limited to the jail and other details excluded?
A second issue is the cost of operating this proposed expanded jail facility.
General funds currently are not sufficient to support the sheriff's staffing projections or the additional costs of operating an expanded jail system. Also needing attention are the current poor office accommodations of county prosecutors.
The commission then noted their intent to place on a future ballot a reallocation of the current half cent parks tax that expires in December 2020. A portion of the current parks tax is to be allocated to law enforcement with the remainder to parks. I.e., there is no plan for decreasing sales taxes.
A third issue is the ballot language, which reads in part: “…for the purpose of capital improvements, including without limitation the construction of a jail expansion and improvements to the existing jail and other county facilities.” There are three issues
here. First, use of the funds is not limited to a jail facility. Second, a future commission could be voted in and use the funds however they wish. Third, nothing in the ballot language requires funds to be set aside for future maintenance.
On a side note, it was stated that the current parks system and community centers require $2-3 million annual maintenance. This was never considered by previous commissions nor the parks board, even though concerns were voiced at various times. The parks board irresponsibly spent funds without considering future maintenance costs. I don't know if that was intentional or otherwise. The point is that voters are now being presented with a proposal to build a $41 million jail facility without a means of funding operations or maintenance, including maintenance of current facilities which appear to have been ignored for years. As I stated at the meeting, this is the cart is before the horse.
A fourth issue is the Garnos expert report. Apparently, there is an 80+ page report forthcoming that no one has seen. This is unacceptable as one of the conditions of expert work is the opposing expert's rebuttal of that detail report. The opposing experts in this case are you and me, the voters.
A fifth issue is the continued proliferation of sales taxes in local municipalities to fund improvements. Parks sales taxes; CID sales taxes; Kansas City's 2% food tax; and so on. This works when taxes have sunset clauses, but many don't, which means the total sales tax rate creeps upward.
Also noted by the sheriff were changes in court processes due to video technologies as well as the impact of state and federal rules. I have a concern with building a large facility assuming static conditions. While that is always risk, the current proposal is like building a mall with several anchor stores
and hoping for tenants. Is there an option is to build one anchor store at a time? Will court and process changes make it viable to consolidate operations with other jurisdictions?
Regarding other jurisdictions wanting Platte County to fund a jail hotel, has the commission sought financial guarantees from those jurisdictions? Why should Platte County residents be solely responsible for the total cost?
I can empathize with the sheriff and his situation, including the inability of the Missouri state legislature to fund public defenders, which seems to also be impacting current occupancy levels. But that doesn't mean Platte County residents should throw $65 million into a pot and hope that this and future commissions spend wisely. Further, the commission and the sheriff shouldn't ignore the sentencing rule changes soon coming into effect.
Back to the matter of getting the horse before the cart: I prefer the commission first get the public to properly fund operations and maintenance, including all existing facilities. They can then address future expansion with a more restrictive ballot proposal. If that means the sheriff has to continue juggling rooms and occupants and have prisoners sleep on cots or the floor or three to a room until this is resolved, so be it.
In less than six months, with no broad public input, and based on an expert's opinion and report that no one has seen, voters are asked to approve a “jail” tax. As worded, this is not a jail tax, it's a pot full of cash tax.
I appreciate the work these commissioners have done, but they can do better.
Vote No on this capital improvements sales tax.
County commission should slow down, stop digging
As a reader about Platte County and in particular about the commissioners comments on the current situation, I am baffled at this moment. I just read Between the Lines in The Landmark dated March 13, 2019 and immediately lots of questions came to my mind. And many of them are along the same lines that you express in your column.
As I think back to all of the news and discussions of the jail project, I just wonder “what is really behind the perceived need for more jail beds?” Before some people want to dump buckets of information on my head, I have already read all the public materials available on the jail capacity study (or maybe I should say “studies”). The info just doesn't make sense to me that more jail beds are needed.
But IF they are needed, aren't there options for providing jail beds besides a very expensive addition to the jail?
Oh and by the way, I have not read anything about the increased operating costs, including staffing, utilities, maintenance, etc.
Then along comes Kansas City with an urgent need to build more jail beds and seem to be promising to build them at much less cost than Platte County. How can they do that? Are the construction costs in Platte County a lot higher ?
Then in your column you mention a discussion with a couple of commissioners that include a discussion of Zona Rose bonds. I realize that the failure to make a payment on the bonds is an issue and has a resulting impact on issuing bonds for a new jail, but it seems to me that the commissioners are just overwhelmed with these issues. Perhaps they should slow down, deal with each issue in a rational manner, and as it is often said when faced with too many problems, just “Stop Digging.”
Just a lot of questions in my mind.
Platte County Native
Creekside will move Parkville forward
There has been much discussion regarding the Creekside Development Project, and we would like to set the record straight.
The development is founded on a smart, thoughtful and comprehensive master plan put forth by the city of Parkville in 2009, and this development meets every element of that plan.
We, of course, understand there will be differing viewpoints and opinions regarding our development. And those critics are certainly within their right to voice those opinions. However, we feel compelled to ensure the facts and overarching benefits are understood by all residents – accurately and comprehensively:
1. The Finances – Parkville Will Benefit Greatly:
· There are no upfront costs to the city or other taxing jurisdictions, and no city-backed bonds will be issued.
· We, the developers, are investing more than $300 million in Parkville's future. We are taking the risk, not the city or its taxpayers.
· The city currently pays a $430,000 annual obligation for Neighborhood Improvement District (NID) bonds on this land. In the mid 2000s, the city installed infrastructure, including sewers and pump stations, in anticipation of a planned development. When that development fell through, the city was left with the bill. The Creekside Development will eliminate this $430,000 annual burden on the city.
· Park Hill schools will receive a net benefit of over $4 million for the incentive investment in the development.
· The city of Parkville and Platte County will each receive more than $550,000 ($1.1 million total) in new sales tax revenues annually.
· All in all, the city and other local taxing
jurisdictions will receive more than $6.9 million annually in property, sales and hotel occupancy taxes after the TIF term.
· Parkville taxpayers will be relieved of debt burden from Brush Creek and Brink Meyer NID bond payments, including saving $315,000 in annual transfers from the General Fund.
· These funds can then be used for capital improvements in Parkville, maintaining an Emergency Reserve Fund balance, and no extension of the temporary tax levy will be required from 2024 to 2034. Property taxes to Parkville citizens will be reduced when current 2004 COP debt is retired.
2. The Opportunities – Parkville and Surrounding Residents Will Benefit:
· More than 4,000 construction job years will be created. Job years equate to the number of jobs created multiplied by the number of years the jobs will remain active.
· More than 750 permanent jobs will be created. Both of these job creation numbers are very positive numbers for our community.
· Vacant land will be transformed into a vibrant mixed-use development, generating tax revenues where none existed before.
3. The Amenities – Breathing New Life Into Our Great City:
· A tournament-quality youth baseball facility will call Parkville home and will bring visitors with disposable income into our city to stay and spend at our local restaurants and shops.
· Reputable hotel brands (not motels, as some have falsely stated) will call Parkville home.
· Market-rate multifamily apartments and affordable single-family homes will help stabilize our community and bring new residents and young families into our city. In fact, with single-family homes around $300,000, we are setting the lowest starting price point in Platte County.
Let's talk incentives. We are pursuing and leveraging four distinct incentives – TIF (Tax Increment Financing), CID (Community Improvement District), TDD (Transportation Development District) and Chapter 100 Bonds. A project of this size and scale in Parkville cannot come to life without them.
The incentives we are pursuing are lower than what other developments have asked for and received around Parkville. For example, 50 percent of property taxes will be used for eligible reimbursable project costs for the first 10 years, increasing to 65 percent in years 11 to 17, then 75 percent for the final five years. Most other projects ask for 100 percent out of the gate.
We have worked very closely with the Park Hill School District and other taxing jurisdictions to ensure all parties' best interests are being met. Making only 50 percent of the property taxes eligible as reimbursable project costs over the first 10 years will allow these districts to have the funds to continue providing their excellent services to our community.
This project will move Parkville forward. The facts are clear and the benefits are real. Mayor Nan Johnston and the board of aldermen are entrusted with ensuring Parkville continues to move forward. As stewards of the city's master plan developed in 2009, they have an obligation to bring this vision to life. The Creekside Development meets or exceeds every aspect of that plan.
Please visit ParkvilleForward.com to learn more about the development and how it will set the community on a positive path forward for all of us, for generations to come.
We are not outsiders. We live here too, and we love Parkville as much as you do.
Together, we will move Parkville forward.
Global warming is all about control
Several weeks ago, in The Landmark, I read a letter to the editor that attempted to make a case for what liberals now call climate change, formally known as global warming. All across this country, in school districts and universities, our children receive indoctrination on the perils of climate. Many simply assume it is scientific fact. I disagree. Since the climate does change, I still prefer to use the original term: global warming. For me, this term is the foundation of a political agenda designed to control our lives.
Enter the Green New Deal at a cost between $52 and $94 trillion dollars over 10 years (Hot Air, Feb. 26, 2019). Does anyone proposing these policies have any idea how big a trillion is? Well, I do. Here is the easy math: there are one trillion seconds in 32,000 + years of time. Once the average person understands this cost, how could any reasonable person vote for a politician that
wants to spend on this level? Your average confused Democrat will say: tax the rich. Today, the top 1% of income earners pay 38% of all federal income taxes collected. That’s significant. Just for grins, the bottom 50% of income earners pay only 3% of all federal income taxes collected. The rich already pay their fair share.
In order to achieve these lofty progressive goals, there is a dirty little secret: you could never tax the rich enough; there are not enough of them. The only way to implement such costly programs is to tax the middle class. The middle class will be the primary bill-payer.
Back to global warming. Global warming has nothing to do with temperatures. Global warming is all about control. All of these scary climate predictions are based on computer models programmed by university professors and scientists that clearly have a progressive agenda focused on proving their arguments and maintaining their lucrative grants at taxpayer expense. These models
typically predict 20 to 30 years or more into the future, so no one can really challenge their findings. They are fools to believe man can control the earth’s climate.
Man-made global warming is an utter lie. The climate is always changing and hence, temperatures change too. We have no control over the climate. Global warming policies and agendas like the Green New Deal are seductive ways for the government to infiltrate every aspect of our lives. We have an entire generation or more of young people being seduced by these lies and scare tactics. Yes, I am a climate denier. I prefer to worship the creator rather than the creation. I like this scripture in Genesis 8:22: While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.
City of Parkville needs discipline, not new taxes
I moved to Parkville in 1994. It wasn't until after the 2004 election that I started following the city's affairs. In 2006, Alderman Brian Atkinson and I exposed the city's incompetence in running the Riss Lake grinder pump system. Soon thereafter, I investigated the new city hall and the related COPs, which were never discussed when the city promoted the 2004 tax levy increase. Numerous financial missteps have followed, the latest being an attempt to impose on residents a new parks sales tax.
Note: COPs (certificates of participation) are in fact debt disguised as a sale and year to year leaseback of assets through an obscure interpretation of Missouri statutes. This deceptive form of financing is used to circumvent the Missouri constitutional requirement of a 4/7 voter approval to issue debt. Anyone wondering why the rating agency analysts are screaming about the Zona Rosa COP debt only need understand that those same analysts told the buyers of that debt that there was virtually no risk of nonpayment. There is in fact a lot of risk since repayment requires an annual budget allocation to cover up the scheme.
The city claims this new park tax revenue will be $500,000 annually, which implies no increase in sales. Therefore, the first lie is that the city predicts future resident and business growth, but no sales tax growth. This same ploy was used on Platte County voters almost 20 years ago. What started as county park tax revenues of $4+ million annually grew to $9+ million. Until recently, Platte County set aside not one dime for future maintenance. There is nothing in the city's website regarding funding future maintenance, which implies their intent to “kick the can.”
In the meantime, in looking at the master plan, something obvious is missing: adequate parking. They even eliminate some vital downtown parking. Simply brilliant!
The proposed parks tax will create another pot of money for the city to squander. Untold is that the city will have available $317,500 annually once they rid themselves of the NID debt related to The Meadows at Creekside development.
As long as the city took care of streets, police and basics, I have overlooked the minor mismanagement. But this group is now getting greedy. Those behind the scenes pushing for endless change don't care about your taxes or your costs. The best thing the rest of us can do it to treat them like children—limit the candy.
The current sales tax rate in the city's shopping areas ranges from 8.1% in downtown to 10.1% in Parkville Commons.
The park tax would add another .5%. (Don't forget the county wants to add another .5%.) Mayor Nan Johnston has stated in newly disclosed emails that there is a limit to how much people are willing to pay in sales tax. If sales taxes increase to 11.1%, people may shop elsewhere. Voters should compile the taxes paid to the city on utilities, phone lines, cell phones, property, etc. It is revealing.
The city has a history of spending mismanagement. Now they give new businesses tax breaks irrespective of how it impacts long standing local businesses. My favorite hardware store, P&G, just went out of business. Who's next?
In 2018, the city added a new 1% community improvement district (CID) tax in Parkville Commons to fund Highway 9 improvements. The parks tax would be on top of this. These CID funds are controlled by the city.
In 2017, city staff conducted a salary survey that showed staff salaries were below “averages” identified. The city raised staff salaries in 2018. Here's a better method for managing salaries: they are too low when staff starts walking out for higher pay elsewhere. Raising salaries because some “expert” says you should is a bureaucrat's way of bilking the public.
In 2016, the city began allocating an increasing amount of General Fund expenses to the Sewer Fund in order to siphon money into a contingency fund for the Brush Creek and Bring Meyer Road NID debt (below). The city hides behind a flawed elementary calculation created by its financial advisor.
In 2007, the city issued NID debt for Brush Creek and Brink Meyer Road (BCBM). When the economy imploded, the city kept spending and adding debt. The initial funding was $6,275,000, although there are indications the amount should have been much less, and ballooned to $9.5 million in 2014. Interest alone now exceeds $4.0 million. During this period, the city forced numerous property owners into loan default and took possession of the properties. Certain banks forfeited property. City officials, who couldn't manage something as simple as grinder pumps, were out of control on a multimillion dollar project.
This colossal management failure has hindered the city for over a decade. For years, the city lied, denied and mislead about the BCBM debt. It put the city into technical insolvency. Former city manager Lauren Palmer foolishly defended the city's position that this debt could be considered a contingent liability.
In 2014, panic set in as the city had no solution for the BCBM debt. They proposed
selling the sewer system to pay the debt. The sewer “business” is a cost recovery system with no future profits. The net present value of all future operations is zero. The city actually believed they could sell something with zero value to pay $9 million in debt. They even paid their financial advisor $13,500 to study this.
In 2004, voters approved a 20 year tax levy to fund $2.75 million for numerous projects. Those of us around then are still waiting on two of the city's promises: cleaning up the Mill Street corridor in downtown and quiet zone train horns. $310,000 was budgeted for Rush Creek erosion control (i.e., rocks on the banks)—the city spent $1.1 million. $1 million was budgeted for rehabbing the then city hall—the city instead spent $4.1 million to build a new city hall after issuing an additional $3.7 million of unapproved COP debt. In total, the city spent $6.4 million when voters approved only $2.75 million.
The city hall component was all a lie, but that's how this group operates. It doesn't take a financial genius to understand why they clamor for parks money. Further to the 2004 levy, the board has already discussed a 2024 “no tax increase” ballot item.
Instead of gouging current residents for more taxes while giving tax breaks to outsiders, the city could favorably impact both residents and visitors by installing quiet zone train horns. Downtown would likely experience a growth boom. But there is no money for this because they have squandered so much elsewhere.
Now, back to the $317,500 of contingency funds the city currently allocates from the General Fund to pay the BCBM debt on the proposed Meadows at Creekside development. Assuming this development, the city has a means for collecting assessments to pay the debt, which means $317,500 is available for parks.
The city doesn't need more taxes; it needs discipline; and to stop lying. Remind the mayor and aldermen of the unfulfilled promises from 2004 (two of them still hold office - Sportsman and Rittman). Ask why they keep piling up non-voter approved COP debt and avoiding voters. Ask why they use faulty accounting techniques to artificially inflate sewer rates. Ask why they lied and misled the public for years about the looming BCBM NID debt disaster.
Under proper guidance and stewardship, the city will have enough revenues for parks.
Parkville should vote No on Proposition P.
Vic Abundis to run against Sam Graves
Perhaps more than ever, America's economy is not working for all. While wealth is concentrated in the hands of very few, middle-class Americans wake up daily worried about how they're going to pay their bills.
As a public school teacher for fifteen years, I share their worries. I grew up believing in the American Dream, and I cherished its idealistic message. But under the burden of the 2008 housing crisis, I faced my toughest economic decision: continue the struggle to fight for my home, or have enough money to survive.
Owning property, whether a house or a farm, gives people a steadfast and powerful belief that they've reached the American Dream. Home ownership symbolizes our most significant values that our Founding Fathers prized—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We proudly proclaim to our children that owning a home is the best investment they will ever make.
Losing my home to foreclosure provided me with an eye-opening experience that left me bruised and humbled. What I learned is that three college degrees from highly regarded universities and a good paying job as a public school teacher in one of the best school districts in Missouri was not enough income to make ends meet. Good ole Sallie Mae was not going to let me off the hook for my student loan payments, so regrettably I had to let the home that I worked so hard to attain go into foreclosure.
I'm sure many citizens in Platte County and throughout the Missouri 6th Congressional District know what it's like to walk in my shoes. FDR once wrote, “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide for those who have too little.” America at its best has always been a country that takes care of the least among us.
America at its best is a country that never passes to the other side when we see that wounded traveler on the road to Jericho because all lives matter.
That's why today I'm announcing my
candidacy for the 6th Congressional District of Missouri. I'm running to help make the economy the central issue in the 2020 election because as Americans we all value the dignity of work.
I'm running against Sam Graves as the Democratic nominee because I'm tired of representatives in Congress giving tax cuts to the wealthy and serving the interests of corporate lobbyists while the people across northern Missouri suffer economically. I'm running because I believe tariffs against China aren't helping Missouri farmers make enough money to support their families, but are rather hurting our rural economy and hindering job growth and investments in our rural communities. I'm running because I believe a person who lives on a teacher's salary has more in common with the folks of northern Missouri than an incumbent whose net worth is 3.5 million dollars.
For 18 years, Sam Graves has served in Congress. While 18 years gives anyone experience, 18 years also causes a man to lose the common touch of his constituents' needs leaving him incapable of understanding the problems Missouri families face every single day such as putting food on the table, paying the mortgage, and finding affordable healthcare for the young and elderly.
Eighteen years causes a man to make alliances with corporate PACs that helped him raise $1,695,130, for his last election, but it's hard to imagine the vales of corporate PACs align with the values of Missouri families in the 6th Congressional District.
Sam Graves has 18 years of experience in Washington DC, not in Missouri. He left the Show-Me State 18 years ago, and he's forgotten his roots while he spends quality time catering to corporate tycoons like Berkshire Hathaway and Northrop Grumman. He has plenty of dirt under his cleats when it comes to partisan politics and building relationships with corporate PACs, ultimately making him an expert at what the rank and file of his party wants, rather than what is good for the people of Missouri.
As a teacher, I've learned that you need to meet the needs of all students: honors
students and vocational tech students; children from high socioeconomic families and those families whose child is on a free or reduced lunch. Relationships matter. People matter. For 14 years, I've built relationships with students, teachers, and parents in Platte County because I believe all of Christ's children deserve a champion who believes in them.
My promise to the fine citizens of the Missouri 6th Congressional District is simple—I will listen to you, the farmer, the teacher, the single mother, the veterans, the emergency service personnel, the elderly, the poor, the rich—regardless of what my party tells me I need to do because I so deeply honor my Catholic faith and Christ's calling that “whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me.”
Politics does not need to be vitriolic and divisive. The quest for a more perfect union begins by electing public servants who serve the people for as Lincoln reminded us at Gettysburg, ours is a nation of the people, by the people, for the people.
I stand ready to go to Washington to do the people's work and cultivate common sense policies that work for all the citizens of northern Missouri.
Missourians know that where there is unity, there is always victory. The abundance of America should be for all, not the few. The abundance of America is the abundance of opportunity which politicians in Washington along with their K Street lobbyists have monopolized for far too long. The abundance of America should be for all, and I pledge to serve the citizens of the Missouri 6th Congressional District with a keen awareness that all people matter. Fellow Missourians, the time is now for honest representation, and every day I go to work for you I pledge to follow Mother Teresa's guidance to “do small things with great love.” I humbly ask for your support.
Missouri 6th Congressional District
Sunshine is your fundamental right
For government to be of, by and for the people it must be out in front of the people.
The theme for Sunshine Week 2019 is simply, “It’s your right to know.” The reason it’s your right to know is that it’s your government.
From the courthouse, to the statehouse to the White House, it is your right to know what government is up to.
Every deliberation by city council, county commission, the General Assembly or U.S. Congress is the people’s business.
Every penny spent by local, state and federal government is your money. Every document held in the halls of government belongs to you.
Transparency is not, or at least should not be, partisan.
Access to government meetings and public documents should never be arduous or even controversial.
Government derives all of its powers from the public and is answerable to the public. It is unfortunate state and federal laws are needed to protect the public’s right to know.
Of course, we know those laws are needed and more often than not must be leveraged by people requesting even the
most basic information from elected and appointed officials.
No branch of government should exempt itself from freedom of information laws and no person in government should seek to circumvent those laws.
Accessing government information and attending deliberative meetings should simply be viewed as democracy in action and not as an adversarial relationship between the governing and the governed.
Access laws are not media laws. Every person should have free and open access.
The right to know is not only an American right, it is fundamentally right.
Government secrecy that goes beyond national security is fundamentally wrong.
So records custodians at city hall, the county courthouse, with the public school system or at the state capitol must not bristle when a person asks for public records. The records requestors are simply asking for a copy of what belongs to them already.
Records requestors should not create an unnecessarily hostile relationship when making requests.
A records request and fulfillment should be a basic, and ordinary, transaction between government and the public it serves.
City council, county commission, the
board of education, the General Assembly and its committees should not balk at the public’s right to attend meetings and should not look for every excuse to retreat into an executive session or closed door meeting.
Attending meetings, sitting in on deliberations, understanding not only what decisions are reached but how those decisions are reached are all things which are simply basic American rights, fundamental to living in an open and free society.
In our politically charged, polarized, vitriolic climate there is very little conservatives and progressives can agree on.
The public’s right to know is one thing that everyone, both in and out of government, both left and right leaning, and at the local, state and federal levels, should agree on.
We are the government. The government is us.
It is, therefore, everyone’s fundamental right to know what government is, and is not, doing.
Valdosta, Ga. Daily Times
Green new disaster
Sometimes you read something that makes you think it must have come from a satire website. I had that experience last week when I read about a plan that said we could save the planet if we just replaced or upgraded every building in the United States and "get rid of airplanes and farting cows!" It turns out it wasn't a joke or a bad dream, it was the “Green New Deal.”
The plan is an actual resolution that is being offered up by some of the new liberal members of Congress to deal with climate change. However, upon further review, the plan is just a framework to completely reshape our country into something unrecognizable.
In addition to putting a stop to bovine flatulence, the plan wants the government to pay for healthcare, jobs, wages, housing, food, college and even “guarantee economic
security to those unwilling to work.” That's right, according to the “Green New Deal,” if you don't want to work, you should still get paid. The only thing green about this deal is the amount of money that you and I are going to have to shell out to pay for it.
It's no surprise that a price tag hasn't been put on the plan and there is no proposed method to pay for it. However, some of the same representatives that put this forward have also proposed incredibly high tax rates of 70% and above. Essentially, if you're willing to work and you're successful, you should pay for the people who aren't. According to the plan, all of this will result in “shared prosperity.” What it will actually result in is “shared poverty.”
The “Green New Deal” is just a grab bag of policies that no sane or successful country should or would adopt. Don't think for a second, though, that bits and pieces of the proposal won't try to find their way into other
pieces of legislation. We've fought hard in the past to keep economically disastrous policies that affect our food, transportation, electricity and other basic needs from becoming law and it looks like we have a fight on our hands again.
While it is true that a heifer with an upset stomach isn't particularly pleasant to be around, the “Green New Deal” stinks way worse. While being done under the guise of saving the planet, it is intended to remake our economy and our nation. Thankfully, most of what's been proposed can't even be discussed with a straight face. However, we must remain vigilant to ensure that outlandish proposals like this don't become serious legislation.
-- Sam Graves
Saving the Saturday mail delivery
There was a time in America when one of the only methods of communication was by mail. Since 1912, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has served as a lifeline for Americans, specifically in rural areas.
With the advent of the internet, things have changed. We can communicate wherever we are with the click of a button. Some say that means the Postal Service should reduce services like six-day delivery.
While we may not depend on mail delivery to communicate like we used to, we depend on it for other things. Imagine the issues that could arise if the mail wasn’t delivered six days a week.
Let's say you've ordered a package and expect to receive it in two days but because there is no Saturday mail delivery, you won’t get it until Monday. Unless Monday is a holiday, in which case you won’t get it until Tuesday. That two-day delivery just became four. Most people I know, myself
included, get frustrated if a package isn’t delivered right away.
Or, maybe you have prescription medication that has been mailed to you – waiting an additional day or two just isn’t going to cut it. Many folks who need that medication are unable to travel long distances; delivering it to their door at an affordable cost as soon as possible is critical.
This affects small businesses, too. Many of the most successful businesses in rural areas depend on the Postal Service to deliver the items they’ve ordered, or ship the products they’ve made, in a timely fashion.
In northern Missouri, Saturday mail delivery is still critical to our success and necessary for our way of life.
Recently I helped introduce bipartisan legislation to express the sentiment of the House of Representatives that six-day mail delivery must be preserved. I introduced a similar bipartisan bill in 2017 with 258 co-sponsors. Not much is bipartisan in Washington anymore, but keeping six-day
mail delivery certainly has broad support.
There is no doubt that the Postal Service needs to make some major reforms to remain a viable service. It’s not good government to maintain the status quo if it is leading to major financial issues. However, there are plenty of ways to reform the USPS without eliminating Saturday mail delivery. That won’t fix the problem; it will only make it worse.
It’s important that the USPS right their financial ship. However, doing so at the expense of rural America should not be an option.
The USPS needs to take all necessary measures to make sure that we still see mail delivery on Saturdays in North Missouri.
Kind in a world that sometimes isn't
Thank you for your Between the Lines column about Matthew Silber.
Matthew was a grade below me in high school and we attended the same youth group every Sunday at Mt. Zion Baptist Church. He was soft-spoken, polite and a good friend to all.
Matthew's parents are wonderful people, full of kind words for everyone. Anytime a crisis, illness, surgery and/or death has taken place in our family (and there have been many), Rick and Mary have been wonderful to send a card with a word of encouragement. They brought all of their boys up to be kind in a world that sometimes isn't.
When we think of a Christian family that truly loves and cares about others, the Silber family is who we think of. Our hearts ache for their loss.
Thank you again for your kind words about Matthew.
Chiefs fan not a Hearne fan
You should find someone else to fill space (write a column) in The Landmark other than Hearne Christopher, Jr.
I have been a Chiefs fan since Day One in K.C. To say our fans are the worst is simply showing his ignorance.
Yes, we had some attendees (NOT
fans) throw some snowballs at the game (HORRIBLE) and Coach Andy Reid chastised them and told them to stop. At least they weren't batteries compliments of our nemesis the Raiders.
The person responsible for the laser has been found and banned from any Chiefs game. They are NOT a fan either. They may face other charges too. Justice
And you could only find one newspaper in Florida who doesn't like our barbecue?
Fan No. 1
Praise for Parkville Road District
I have a lot of things I gripe about, but in truth it's best to count my blessings.
I was traveling east to Clay County on 68th Street, before Highway 169, Friday afternoon and as the sun finally warmed everything up it was very pleasant. However, returning west on 68th Street there is about half a mile of asphalt that has
been decimated by the snow plows.
It's worse than a washboard and driving through it guarantees you will have to get an alignment. Or maybe dental work. Awful.
So it made me think about my roads. Every time it has snowed, the Parkville Special Road District is out and working, no matter the hour or conditions. They do a stellar job of road protection, also.
I have been looking around, and see no potholes, small or large. That says a lot about their expertise in running snow plows and minimizing damage. So I shout out to them my sincere appreciation and thanks. Good job, guys.
--Carol A. Clopton
Kansas City in
A prison palace monument to the county commission
If you haven't read Between the Lines by Ivan Foley in the Jan. 23, 2019 issue of The Landmark, it is a great primer for the tax question being placed on the April 2nd ballot. Pick up a copy. Please educate yourself before going to the voting booth. Here's why.
1) “…we just spent a half million dollars on one community center to replace a humidifier”…“a half million dollars on a community center and swimming pool would give every one of our law enforcement a $3000 a year raise.” Commissioner John Elliott, Jan. 14, 2019 County Commissioners’ meeting, check the tape.
OK. Then why are our commissioners proposing a capital improvement tax which does not address the pay scales for Platte County Sheriff Deputies? Sheriff Mark Owen has attended commission meetings where he has stated the need for deputies' salary increases because he is losing employees to adjoining jurisdictions which pay more. The deputies get trained in Platte County and then leave for higher pay. It is pure hypocrisy to make a statement like this and then not address it.
2) “Current state and county sales tax rate is 5.6. The county sales tax rate is currently 1.375, which is 25% of the total. If the capital improvement sales tax passes, the county rate will be 1.875 which is 31% of the total but only through 12/31/25 when it expires.” Commissioner Elliott.
Be sure to look closely at this one. A 36% tax increase is proposed for something, we haven't been told specifically what. Probably for a prison palace but who knows. The ballot measure as proposed reads, “…imposed for the purpose of capital
improvements, including without limitation the construction of a jail expansion and improvements to the existing jail and other county facilities?” It is a wide open question. Yes, I know, it is for 6.25 years. But when was the last time we had a tax decrease?
3) “$65,625,000 is our estimate. This is sales AND use tax. I highlight AND because all use tax currently received goes into general revenue and used for GR purposes-not for the purpose of the tax. With this tax, we will begin weaning GR off of use taxes.” Commissioner Elliott
I don't know about you, but I don't want to give $65 million to a group of commissioners who have run on the premise of “no new taxes.” Commissioner Schieber even put on his campaign mailings last fall that he had upheld his campaign promise of “no new taxes.” Oh my. The only reason he could say that was because the commission's hastily designed tax for the fall election ran into so much head wind that a ballot measure couldn't be put together. His intent was and is to raise taxes for a prison palace monument to this current commission.
When asked about using bonds to build the jail, here's the response I received.
4) “We will not fully know the answer to this question until the judge rules on our declaratory judgment on May 24.” Commissioner Elliott
Whoa! Isn't that after the election date of April 2, 2019? And won't the judgment simply state what they already know, that the county is not legally bound to pay the shortfall?
There was a rather poor showing for the jail study presentation at the commission's regular meeting. Part of the problem, the jail
study revealed, was the length of stay which has increased dramatically in the last three years. When questioned about this, the commissioners said it was due to a lack of public defenders. Public defenders are provided by the State of Missouri. This was confirmed by Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd, who was present at the meeting.
My thought is for the commissioners to make a trip to Jeff City to speak to the newly elected state senator and chair of the judiciary committee, State Sen Tony Luetkemeyer. All of us can help the commission and the prosecutor by calling Luetkemeyer's office at 573-751-2183 and telling him we need more public defenders to clear out the backlog at the county jail. Call today. Flood his office with calls.
The final item is the park tax, currently at half cent, set to expire in 2020. At least two of the commissioners, Schieber and Elliott, have suggested reducing that to 1/8 cent for park maintenance and redirecting the remaining 3/8 cent portion to law enforcement. I'm assuming this would include personnel issues as well as capital improvements. While they are waiting for the new ballot measure of 1/8 -3/8 split to be introduced, they could get design, location, and specifics in place to “sell” the need. This tax would have to be renewed in 2020 but from our current position it would not be a tax increase.
As for parks, there is 92 acres m/l currently under cultivation that the county owns at Spratt Rd and P Hwy just east of Weston. Why would we want or need a county park there when there is a state park on 45 Hwy., also just east of Weston? Sell that county owned land. I'm sure very, very few people even know that was a park board purchase.
It's a thumbs down for me on this new tax.
For earlier letters to the editor click here