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Between the Lines
by Ivan Foley

The Rambling Moron
by Chris Kamler

Parallax Look
by Brian Kubicki

Off The Beat
by Eric Burke
The K Replay
by Chris Kamler
Chiefs Briefs
by Chris Kamler

Off the Couch
by Greg Hall




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Between the Lines

by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor



Which one of these seems out of touch with the current environment in our state and our country:

President Donald Trump: Has thrown his weight behind a plan that would reduce some prison sentences for convicted drug criminals.

Gov. Mike Parson: “I am absolutely not in favor of building more prisons. Alternative sentencing is the wave of the future.” (By the way, the governor is a former sheriff).

State of Missouri: “Let’s consolidate two existing prisons and invest the savings in wage increases for the corrections officers.”

Missouri Supreme Court Justice Zel Fischer: “Too many people can’t afford bail for low-level offenses and can lose their jobs while (in jail) waiting for trial.” Beginning in July, courts in Missouri will avoid jailing people awaiting trial who are neither a danger to the public nor a flight risk but simply too poor to afford cash bail. Beginning in July courts must first consider non-monetary conditions for defendants’ release. Judges will still be able to set bail, but only at the amount necessary to ensure either public safety or to ensure that the defendant will appear again in court. The new rules will also say judges can only order defendants to be jailed before trial without bail or other conditions for release if they determine that’s necessary for safety reasons. A similar “no bail” system was implemented in Cass County and lowered that county’s jail population by 60 inmates.

Platte County Commission: “We are proposing a $65 million tax increase because we want to more than double the size of our county jail. This week there are only about 140-145 county prisoners in our 180 bed jail--subtracting the 15 or 20 ICE inmates we like to house to put money in our coffers--but we’d like you to believe the facility is in an emergency state of overcrowdedness because we can’t put Joes in with Janes and stuff like that. We can’t tell you exactly where we’re going to build this facility and we can’t tell you how we’re going to finance it since we recently tanked the county’s bond rating. This proposal will NOT increase wages for law enforcement personnel. Yes, our plan is very non-specific on design, exact size and even location of our new prison so you’re just going to have to trust us that the secrets we’re keeping from you are really, really good for you. And yes we know felony crimes in the county actually dropped by three percent last year. But hey, we want our names attached to a legacy of some sort. What could go wrong? We don’t like to hear alternative thoughts so maybe we’ll just put some information on our web site sometime before the April 2 election.”


The county commission’s position sounds like a Saturday Night Live spoof.


Considering things like the above and more, the timing and lack of business acumen behind the county’s proposal is gaining credence for a theory first presented in a letter to the editor by Jim DeJarnatt of Weston. Jim mentioned it seems a lot like the commissioners (and we could safely add the sheriff) seem awfully anxious to build a monument that will have their names on it.

Remember, these were the county commissioners who campaigned on themes of no new taxes, lower taxes, talked about how government should be run debt free as often as possible, etc. etc.

It’s almost like once these folks got into office they suddenly realized nobody gives you a plaque for being fiscally conservative. But you do see plaques all the time in new buildings.


The unfortunate circus involving the City of Parkville’s handling of public records requests by Jason Maki of Citizens for a Better Parkville continues. Some of the newest details pertaining to the city’s desire to charge the group $19,000 for public records are particularly concerning.

The $19,000 bill for total alleged costs, which were accrued in under 28 days and came only after the city was referred to the state attorney general for failure to comply with the Sunshine Law, are nearly seven times greater than all the work the city has done in the previous four months, Maki said. He added that 49 percent of the amount the city is seeking to collect comes from attempting to bill a private citizen for the city attorney’s time, which Maki’s attorney points out is not legal.

Also interesting is that according to the proposed billing by the city, Joe Parente, city administrator, accounts for nearly half of the work not associated with the city attorney. Parente allegedly spent 106 of his 129.5 total hours working on the Sunshine requests in January. Why is the highly compensated city administrator personally spending so much time handling open records requests? In particular after the city says it engaged an outside information technology (IT) firm to assist with identifying and producing responsive records.

While the city administrator has interestingly been heavily involved in combing through the records, the proposed billing info shows the official city custodian of records has only done 13% of the total work. The custodian of records is supposed to be the primary responsible party for these requests and responses, not the city administrator.

The city administrator being so heavily involved in the process raises an eyebrow or two, to put it mildly. What exactly is he doing that these requests require so much of his focus?

Maki says this: “According to the city administrator, a third party IT provider searched for and provided the electronic records in the requests. If the city administrator is doing anything other than copying those records onto portable USB drives then something is amiss as the mayor and aldermen already have the city attorney reviewing the files to determine what is/is not required by law to be disclosed. Who is directing the city administrator’s efforts? Are they providing him criteria for possible additional censorship and withholding?”

The raising of an eyebrow or two becomes the raising of a red flag when you take into account Parente’s somewhat checkered history of handling public information. At a previous job, he was accused of destroying public records. At that time, he worked as a county administrator in Madison County, Illinois, population 270,000 people. He now works as a city administrator for Parkville, population of about 6,500.

To read about the allegations against Parente at his previous employer, Google the phrase “Joe Parente allegations of public records destruction.”

(Get more Between the Lines by following Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley and at Platte County Landmark on Facebook. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)




Reasonable charges for filling Sunshine Law requests are one thing. But entities should not be using requests for public information to 1. make money off of it; 2. charge a fee so high it discourages future records requests from the public. 3. quote a fee so high so high the requestor will drop the request.

Call it throwing shade on the Sunshine Law. It seems the City of Parkville seems determined to throw shade. See the front page for details.

It appears the city is trying to set up a $19,000 pay wall of sorts, which could be an indication there’s some fire in those five Sunshine Law requests the city has yet to fulfill for Jason Maki of Citizens for a Better Parkville. In particular, the request for call logs and call records of elected officials and staff seems to be sending some at City Hall into flip-out mode. This would seem to be a good time to recall that some city officials allegedly made phone calls to certain Parkville businesses telling them to remove Citizens for a Better Parkville signs from their businesses last fall.

“The city is required to maintain these records and make them available to the public. The costs of transparent government should not be this high. They are either totally incompetent and inefficient or they are intentionally trying to get me to stop making any new requests and discourage citizens from making public records requests in the future. Either is unacceptable,” Maki said this week.


“I’ve already paid them $5,300,” Maki of Citizens for a Better Parkville told me this week. Now the city is indicating it will want $19,000 more, Maki says. “They think they have the right to bill me after the fact,” he said.

“They are enabled by law to charge me 10 cents per page,” Maki said. “I have received 8,020 unique records. Assuming each of them is three pages in length, which is generous, that translates to $2,406. I’ve already paid them more than twice that.”

Then Maki brings up another valid argument.

“They don’t have to charge at all if releasing the data is in the public interest. Transparency is absolutely in the public interest.”


Watching the video of last week’s Parkville Board of Aldermen meeting, Alderman Dave Rittman said he was “frustrated” that certain public records were being published or discussed in the media without the aldermen being given advanced notice.

“Why would they be frustrated by transparency unless they had something they want to remain hidden from the public?” asks Maki. “I’m just trying to get to the relevant facts of things.”


It seems possible this disagreement over transparency could eventually lead to some legal action filed by Maki and/or Citizens for a Better Parkville. Theoretically speaking, legal action could lead to every elected official and some staff members being deposed by Maki’s legal team. Those depositions would certainly have the potential to be interesting and newsworthy.


Anybody else watch the video of last week’s Parkville Board of Aldermen meeting and think the 10-minute portion where the Sunshine requests were discussed was staged, with pre-determined questions and answers likely rehearsed in advance by the mayor, city administrator and a couple of aldermen?

We’ve seen better acting in Saturday morning cartoons.


Speaking of interesting, in a bizarre timing of events the three-member board of the Central Platte Fire District is down to one living member. No quorum means the board can’t meet to approve the paying of bills, payroll, etc. so the district’s legal counsel has filed a motion for that action to be approved by the circuit court.
And the circuit court will be officially appointing qualified applicants to fill the two spots created with the recent deaths of fire board members Paul Regan and Stanley George, who died within hours of one another on Jan. 31.

“What are the odds of that happening?” remaining board member Mike Ashcraft asked out loud when he stopped in The Landmark one day last week.

If you’re interested in getting an appointment to the board, be sure to read the front page article to learn the proper steps to follow to express your interest. There’s also a detailed legal notice on the topic published in this edition of The Landmark.


There was a huge turnout for the family visitation and funeral of Matthew Silber at the Mount Zion Baptist Church in Edgerton on Saturday morning. Matthew was The Landmark’s editorial cartoonist who died unexpectedly on Feb. 3.

Matthew’s wife Dawn told me she could answer a question or two about Matthew that I posed in my column last week. One of those questions was why he chose The Landmark as the spot he wanted to submit cartoons. The answer was he knew the freedom to express himself and his opinions would be allowed here.

Dawn tells me Matthew said to her: “Ivan lets me get by with a lot.”

(Get by with a lot via email to Ivan Foley at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com. You can also find him on social media outlets on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube)




He left us too soon. They say the good ones often do.

To say we’ll miss Matthew Silber, The Landmark’s editorial cartoonist whose clever artistic work you’ve been able to enjoy on this page since 2009, is an understatement. Sure, we’ll miss his contributions to our coverage but more importantly we’ll miss his friendship. We’ll miss the magical way he would take an idea for a cartoon and meticulously add tweaks and features that made it even better than could have been imagined in the initial thought process. Matthew had a knack for observing details and creatively working them into his graphic designs, which truly were a work of art. His work often took a complicated topic and broke it down into simple terms, most often with some humor sprinkled in.

Even on those occasions that we had talked about the desired direction of that week’s art, I very much looked forward to clicking open his weekly emails containing his cartoons because I never knew exactly what was inside. In fact, the weeks I had a general idea of what was coming were often the weeks I looked forward to receiving his cartoon the most because I anticipated he would take one of my non-specific, half-baked ideas and turn it into something top notch.

And many Landmark readers had become fans of his work. One frequent emailer never referred to Matthew by name but instead referred to him as Toon Man. “Toon Man knocked it out of the park,” was a message I received on more than one occasion. Matthew always appreciated any feedback. When I passed along a compliment we had received about his recent cartoon concerning the R-3 school board election filings, he responded with a note to the effect of: “It’s always good to know people are paying attention to the cartoons.”

His work eventually came to be recognized by peers in the industry. He won multiple awards in the Missouri Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in the category of editorial cartoons. Matthew never got overly excited about anything during our conversations but I do remember sensing some real joy from him the year his cartoon entries won first, second and third in the statewide contest. Even the humble Matthew thought that was pretty cool.

While his tall frame could cast a long and imposing shadow and his cartoons by design were loudly to the point, real-life Matthew was anything but. He spoke softly and politely. As many deep thinkers are, he was conversationally quiet but get him on the right topic and he would school you with historical facts and a unique perspective that you’d probably never previously considered. Matthew loved history and was particularly fascinated with the Civil War time period. I never really asked him why the Civil War intrigued him so, but I came to assume it was because Platte County in general was a hotbed for activity during that time, as was his hometown of Camden Point. Civil War buffs, after all, are familiar with an event called the Battle of Camden Point.

I often wondered, but absent-mindedly never specifically asked him, what prompted him to approach me in 2009 to ask if he could start submitting editorial cartoons to The Landmark. I guess I figured we’d always have time for that conversation at a later date. That’s the danger in feeling like we’re all going to live forever. This just in: we’re not.

Maybe what attracted him to The Landmark was similar political viewpoints about tax dollars. Maybe what drew him here was The Landmark’s history. The newspaper was established in the closing days of the Civil War, maybe it was simply The Landmark’s ties to Matthew’s favorite era that brought him to us. No matter the reason, The Landmark and its readers were blessed by his desire to grace us with his work. His final cartoon, which he sent to me Friday afternoon, is at top right of this page.


In 2010 and 2011, Matthew created a series of 65 illustrations that depicted moments in Platte County’s history. We ran one each week in The Landmark. Matthew later compiled those into book form and the colorful and informational paperback was published by the Platte County Historical Society.

Over the past several months he had taken a joyful interest in creating cartoons pertaining to the county commission’s obsession with a jail expansion. I recently said to him, only half jokingly, that maybe the jail tax talk will go on so long by the time it’s over he’ll have enough illustrations on the topic to fill another book.
I think a small book would have happened. Who knows, it still might.


Matthew called The Landmark office one day last week. His father-in-law, Daniel Lemasters, had passed away and Matthew wanted to know if we still had time to get it in the paper. Unfortunately the call came just after deadline. So the obituary for Matthew’s father-in-law is in this week’s issue. Sadly, tragically, so is Matthew’s.


On Sunday afternoon Matthew was at home with his son, Josiah, 14. Matthew’s wife, Dawn, was not home at the time, she was assisting at her mother’s, still dealing with the aftermath of the death of Dawn’s father on Jan. 28. The funeral for Dawn’s father had been Saturday.

Matthew, by all accounts seemingly healthy, laid down for a nap on the couch. He had his cell phone with him. His mother-in-law tells me Matthew had communicated via text message with a family member around 4:40 p.m.
At some point after that, Josiah noticed his dad still on the couch and tried to wake him up. He couldn’t get a response. Josiah, whom I’ve met a few times through the years and can verify has always seemed mature for his age, immediately dialed 911. He then ran to summon a neighbor for help. Matthew could not be revived. Josiah dialed his mother’s cell phone number. Dawn was already on her way home when the call came in. Showing that aforementioned maturity, young Josiah told his mother only: “Mom, you need to come home.”

Matthew Silber died Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. He was just 41 years old.

(Landmark publisher Ivan Foley can be reached via email at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)




Nine weeks until our three “no new taxes” county commissioners hold an election to ask us to sign a $65 million (or more) blank check for a jail expansion.


The commissioners haven’t yet bothered to tell us where the jail expansion will be, how big it will be, how much it’s going to cost, method of financing, how much any financing costs are expected to be, what’s the plan to cover increased operational costs, whether they’ll be importing even more of somebody else’s criminals to fill all that empty jail space we’re going to have, etc. etc. etc.

Other than that, they’ve really nailed this thing down . . .


I’ve covered the county political scene a long time. This is the first time the public has been asked to vote on a plan that’s a secret.


Sorry, Joe and Jane Public, apparently you don’t get to learn the plan unless you know the secret password.


It’s like we have three Nancy Pelosis in charge at the county telling us: “You’ve got to pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it.”


It’s worth repeating to yourself from now until election day that this proposed half cent jail sales tax does nothing to address the biggest current need in the sheriff’s department. The biggest need is better pay for deputies. Money from this proposed capital improvement tax does not go to salaries for deputies. By law, it cannot.


The Missouri Department of Transportation (their friends call them MoDOT) says their crews find themselves discussing the pothole problem much earlier this year. Potholes are a natural result of the freeze/thaw cycle that happens throughout winter but this year seems to be more extreme than usual, MoDOT says.

And it’s not just MoDOT roadways that are affected. Private roads are victims as well. For example, how about those extremely deep and wide potholes just inside the entrance driveway at the Platte City Post Office? Proceed with caution to avoid knocking your car’s alignment out of whack.

I noticed online that Platte City Mayor Frank Offutt was fielding questions about the post office pothole problem. The mayor quickly and politely pointed out the post office sits on private property and the roadway in question is not a city street. You might mention your concerns to post office staff so they can pass their concerns along to the owner of their private drive. A short temporary solution to close a pothole is often a cold asphalt mix but a long term fix--a hot asphalt mix--typically isn’t effective until roadway temps rise and remain above freezing. MoDOT said this week the short term fixes are failing to hold for very long.

“This has been a tough season for our roads,” said Susan Barry assistant district engineer for MoDOT. “We have some extreme temperatures and our snow season started three months ago, so we’re seeing a lot of recurring potholes that just won’t hold the temporary patch.”

Potholes form when temperatures warm up during the day but continue to be cold at night. The rain and snow from winter leave moisture that seeps into cracks and joints in the pavement. When temperatures drop, the water freezes and expands the pavement. This expansion causes the pavement to bulge and crack. When cars drive over the bulging pavement it eventually causes chunks of pavement or asphalt to pop out.


Let’s be honest, you knew the Chiefs season was over when the Patriots won the coin toss to start overtime.


Over the weekend, Landmark columnist Chris Kamler donned a Speedo to go running into a lake as part of the Polar Plunge. RIP Chris Kamler’s testes.


All of us at The Landmark would like to apologize to any innocent bystanders whose eyes may have been exposed to Chris’s exposure.

Medical claims for bleeding retinas can be sent directly to chris@somuchshrinkage.com.


Landmark Live is back in action Thursday night, when Brad Carl and I take our circus act to the new location of Patty Farr’s RE/MAX House of Dreams at 303 Marshall Road in Platte City.

We’ll be broadcasting live from 6 p.m. to about 6:30-ish or 6:45-ish, as Patty and friends will give our viewers a tour of the new digs and we’ll talk about the local real estate market and whatnot and such.

“We’ve given the new place some bling,” Patty says, and we’ll give her the chance to show it off during our telecast on Facebook at the page known as Platte County Landmark.

Patty’s place will be hosting an open house and a Platte City Chamber of Commerce After Hours event from 4:30-7 p.m. that night. You’re invited to come tour the new location and meet the agents. Food, drinks, and networking.

Pretty sure you’ll be able to find Brad Carl and I networking near Patty’s ice cream machine.

(Network with Ivan Foley via email at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com and find him on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube)




Just a reminder to keep things in the proper perspective for this spring election.

What do I mean by that?

You don’t owe the Platte County Commission--or any other of your elected officials, school boards, city officials--anything. They work for you. You don’t work for them. They owe you a detailed explanation. You don’t owe them one. Let’s never lose sight of who is the boss (that’s you) and who is the employee (that’s them).

Specific to the county, commissioners owe you a detailed explanation of what they’re proposing to do, why they’re proposing to do it, where they’re proposing to do it, how they’re proposing to do it, and how much it’s going to cost.

Don’t accept generalities and vague answers. Generalities and a lack of specifics should be enough to cause you to vote no.

If the ballot question passes, you’re paying the bill. You deserve the details.


A word to the wise, these commissioners occasionally like to play word games. They’ve been known to say “we didn’t say that” even after they say things.

After their up-to-that-point secret plan was exposed in The Landmark last summer and a headline read “Commission pondering 510-bed jail, tax increase,” one of the commissioners actually stood up in a public setting and gave a reaction that advanced the idea of “fake news” when in fact there was nothing fake or incorrect about it. Apparently at least one commissioner wanted to take the position that adding 330 beds to a 180 bed jail didn’t mean they were pondering a 510 bed jail. Maybe commissioners thought the general public isn’t smart enough to do the math.

In their world of word games, they were pondering a 330 bed jail addition to an existing 180 bed jail, not pondering a 510 bed jail. Hmm.

Let’s add 330 to 180. That would equal a 510 bed jail. Nothing fake about that. What’s fake are disingenuous word games by folks we trust to do better.

And as it turns out, what’s fake are the “no new taxes,” “lower taxes, higher accountability,” and “increased transparency” promises current commissioners made to you when they wanted your vote at the polls.


With a $65 million sales tax increase question now is the time to hold your elected county officials accountable. You may notice to this point it’s an extremely vague plan, questionable in its immediate need, and does nothing to address what many folks say is the most immediate problem in the sheriff’s department. The most immediate need in the sheriff’s department is higher pay for deputies.

The half cent sales tax revenue for a new jail can’t legally be used to increase pay for officers. Don’t incorrectly assume that it does.

Per the ballot language, the half cent sales tax and the $65 million it will bring in is only for capital improvements. Salaries are not capital improvements and therefore revenue from this tax will NOT go to better pay for deputies.

For the sheriff’s department, the proposed new $65 million tax is only for a massive and expensive new jail.


Be on your toes for potential county official doublespeak, contradictions, and broken promises. Ask questions. If they sense you’re opposed to their proposal they’ll try to flip the script by asking you questions, they’ll ask you if you have a better solution. If you have an idea speak it, but don’t feel pressured. Tell them it’s not your job to come up with a solution, that’s what you hired them to do.

If you’re not into confrontation, you don’t even have to tell them which way you’re leaning. Either way, never let any elected official try to question you like you’re on trial. The duty to explain is on them, not you.

You don’t have to convince them their proposal sucks (deep down, they probably already know their plan is questionable, otherwise they would have opened it up to public forums and public input prior to putting it on the ballot). See if they can convince you there is an actual emergency need and that this plan is the best way--and the best time--to address it. When public officials are wanting $65 million of your tax money, don’t make their job easier. Make it harder. Don’t let them put you on the defensive. You put them on the defensive. See above about who’s the boss.

If you’re not into confrontation, that’s ok, you don’t even have to call them out. Some of you might be friends with the commissioners and don’t want to burn a personal bridge. That’s fine. Do your talking via that confidential vote you cast on April 2. They don’t even have to know how you voted.


Rather than doing their own talking, this commission would prefer to lurk in the weeds, hear you talk and then try to convince you that your belief about their plan is wrong and accuse you of having bad info. This is the opposite of how the process is supposed to operate. Make them do the talking.

Ron Schieber, presiding commissioner, says the commission will do an “education campaign” on the ballot question. He wasn’t specific. And really, those types of public forums should have been held to gather public input before a plan was put on the ballot, not afterward.

They’re wanting $65 million of your dollars, primarily for a jail for which the immediate need can be fairly questioned. They’ll tell you a recent jail study says it’s needed. Fact is the most recent jail study didn’t even use the accurate current jail capacity (it used original capacity of 151 when actual number of beds is now 180) when spewing present and future needs. At minimum, that’s what can fairly be called manipulating information to fit a narrative.

Fact is the county commission didn’t even ask the recent jail study to explain why the jail population has increased. Therein lies the problem. Remember, felony crimes in Platte County actually declined three percent in the past year. Let’s figure out why the jail count is supposedly up and see if the problem, if there is one, can be solved through other means.

Let the commissioners do the talking. Then feel free to pick apart their words with your vote.


Another thing: this proposal is not the sheriff’s baby. By law, it can’t be. The sheriff doesn’t have the power to put an issue on the ballot. Only the county commission can do that. This is the county commission’s proposal. Don’t let them try to pass off ownership of the plan. Don’t let credit or blame be handed off to the sheriff. This proposal is the property of the county commission.


How about some Sunshine on a cold winter’s day?

Interesting note. The group known as Citizens for a Better Parkville sent the exact same Sunshine Law request for documents to the City of Parkville and to the Parkville Old Towne Market Community Improvement District (CID) for documents pertaining to interactions between the two entities form the year 2014 to present. The requests were identical and were sent on the same day.

The responses were quite different.

The City of Parkville responded by saying it needs $500 cash up front with an earliest commitment date of one month from receipt of cash. The CID said it will provide the records at no charge in two days.

The city has a staff of more than eight and a budget measured in the millions. The CID has a staff of one and really no measurable budget.


Written 1/16/19

Interesting tidbit from a recent conversation with Scott Roy, the executive director of the Northland Regional Ambulance District (NRAD).

Roy says transports by the ambulance district were down by five percent in the year 2018. Transports are described as a run in which NRAD ends up taking a person to the hospital for treatment.

Roy said he was surprised by that falling number, especially given the growth in the district’s service area. “Our public education is working. People are being safe out there,” he said.

The Northland Regional Ambulance District Headquarters and Education Center are in Platte City at 1000 Platte Falls Road.

NRAD says it provides three Advanced Life Support Paramedic Ambulances 24 hours a day, 7 days a week “to provide the highest possible level of emergency medical care to everyone who lives or works within, or travels to or through our ambulance district.” The district’s ambulances are stationed in Platte City, Camden Point and Smithville. The Camden Point station is located just north of E Highway and Interurban Road. The Smithville station is on Richardson Road, just west of 169 Highway (south of the Smithville Post Office).


To summarize, Platte County’s number of felony crimes dropped by three percent in the past year and the number of local ambulance transports dropped by five percent in the same time period.

So don’t panic. Not all is doom-and-gloom in the world of local public safety.


The Chiefs are one win away from advancing to the Super Bowl. Can you believe it?

In Saturday’s divisional playoff win against the Colts, Kansas City’s defense looked like a different outfit than the one that has been overrun most of the season. The win catapulted KC into the AFC Championship game set for Sunday night at Arrowhead against the New England Patriots. It’s the most successful quarterback of all time (Tom Brady) vs. the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, the league’s phenom and presumed MVP. If the Chiefs win, consider it a proverbial passing of the torch, if you will.

Oh yeah, the forecast calls for temps hovering around single digits for Sunday night’s battle. Don’t offer to give me a free ticket, it wouldn’t matter. I’d rather be watching this one from the comfort of a warm couch.

You know the Chiefs are going to be able to score considerable points against the Patriots, they always do. The question will be which version of the Chiefs defense shows up, the version we saw most of the season or the version we saw against the Colts? If it’s the latter, we can all look forward to watching our local team in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3.

Exciting times for football fans in the region. We’ve waited a long time for this, Kansas City.


But hey, if you want someone to try to whiz on your Chiefs fandom, Hearne Christopher is here to take care of that. Check out Hearne’s comments in the Other Voices section on this page. Hearne probably played the role of Scrooge in Christmas plays as a kid. . .


One week away from a decision by the county commission on whether there will be a law enforcement tax and/or jail tax question on the ballot in April. Nothing firm to report as of yet but the opinion of many folks, based on reading of the tea leaves, is that the county will have some sort of ballot question(s) to announce next Tuesday. Stay tuned.


Had an email exchange one day last week with Bill Garnos, the consultant who performed the most recent jail study for Platte County.

Garnos said that his study included an extensive effort to verify and document the actual number of ICE detainees in the Platte County Jail, so that they could be excluded from the analysis of the county’s own inmate population trends and excluded from the development of his inmate population projections.

“The purpose of the jail population study is to provide an objective and independent assessment to provide transparency and documentation, and to provide a more data-driven means for determining the county’s future jail facility needs,” he wrote.

As noted here previously, the current jail was designed with a total of 154 beds. Major Erik Holland, in an August interview with The Landmark, said 26 additional beds were installed in 2014-15, which increased the capacity to 180. He said the department identified space in particular cells where the square footage was such that it allowed for “an additional bunk here, an additional bunk there.” Holland went on to say: “We identified space inside the current facility where we could add additional bunks and had the DOC (Missouri Department of Corrections) construct those bunks for us and we installed them.”

Based on Holland’s comments, it’s important to note those additional 26 are described as bunks, not the temporary “boat” type accommodations you sometimes hear referenced by county officials. As an example of the confusion and conflicting information that can come out of the mouths of the electeds, recently one county official described to me those 26 beds as temporary bunks. As you can see above, that’s not the way Holland explained it in August.

Holland said when the jail population goes over the 180 capacity, the department is able to place temporary bunks--those often described as “boats”--on the floor.
“Our preference is not to have people in temporary bunks,” Holland said in that August interview.

Conveniently, or not conveniently depending upon your point of view, in latest talks and study calculations the stated capacity of the jail often is reverted back to 151 instead of 180. They say they do this “because when that jail was built it was originally designed for 151 beds.” They’re not wrong about that, it’s just that saying the current capacity is 151 is not exactly accurate. This is similar to school systems who tend to conveniently adjust to a reconfigured “capacity” of school buildings when they’re trying to make a case for new building projects.


Garnos says the current county jail, at 180 beds, is “maxed out” in all areas and has been operating at inmate levels well beyond that. (Current jail population as of Monday night was listed at 170 on the sheriff’s web site.)

“It may not be a good analogy but it’s like running a car continuously at its maximum speed. Parts wear out faster and the car simply won’t last as long,” Garnos said.

(Get more Between the Lines on Twitter @ivanfoley and at Platte County Landmark on Facebook)


Written 1/9/19

Frankly, I’m a little stunned Landmark Live earned zero awards at the Golden Globes Sunday night. We gotta do better.


Will the county commission be placing a jail tax issue on the ballot in April? Ron Schieber, presiding commissioner, says “we don’t know yet,” which might be code for “we know but we’re trying to be coy about it.”

I don’t know whether they will or they won’t, but by two weeks before the ballot deadline one would think the commissioners would have made a decision and be confident about publicly expressing its intentions. If the commission isn’t confident in its decision why should voters be confident?

Placing a tax question on an April ballot would break one of their main campaign promises, but I guess you could say that train has already left the station anyway.


Schieber did say the county commission has not engaged in any further talks with Kansas City or any other agency about renting out bed space in a potential new county jail. “I’d rather not do that. I would like to find a way to do what is constitutionally required, nothing more and nothing less. Part of that has to be getting rid of the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) prisoners,” Schieber said.

There are on average 18 ICE prisoners per day in the Platte County Jail. Schieber said by getting rid of the ICE prisoners, the county would buy nearly two more years of projected jail population growth, as a recent study projects a growth rate of 10 prisoners per year. But if the ICE deal goes away the county seems to want a dedicated law enforcement sales tax to help make up the loss of income from the ICE bed rentals.


Schieber is a little less guarded when talking about the future of the county parks tax. I asked him when he anticipates a vote on a renewal of the county park tax.
“It’s not up until 2020. I don’t see us putting it on a ballot until 2020,” he said. And commissioners have openly indicated the proposal they intend to submit to voters will feature a proposed park tax lower than the current half cent.

“There will be an extension (submitted to voters),” John Elliott, second district commissioner, said during Monday’s session, pointing out that the county has invested about $140 million into a park system that now needs to be maintained. But Elliott reiterated that the extension will not ask for a half cent. Early indications have been that the commissioners favor proposing to voters a park tax as low as 1/8th cent.


So far, four candidates have filed for two open spots on the Platte County R-3 School Board. Here’s hoping the four who have signed up are able to resist any external--or internal--pressure to bow out. School district administrators in the past have shown they favor holding no school board elections, and have been known to gently “encourage” some candidates to drop out of the race after filing. They apparently use the premise it would save the district money not to have to hold a board election.

Why not let voters, not the administration, choose the school board? If more than two candidates remain in the race an election on April 2 is necessary. It will be interesting to see if anyone mysteriously steps aside this year, which is what happened a year ago.


If you’ve been following the Parkville development story, you’ll want to check out the site that has links to many communications to/from the city about the plan. Consider it a deep dive on a quest for open government.

Find ‘Transparency’ at:


If you caught our pre-season football special broadcast live and in color from Tanner’s Bar and Grill in Platte City in early September, you know each of your humble Landmark Live hosts and special guest Jay Binkley of 610 Sports made Super Bowl champion predictions. I must not so humbly say I am the only one who still has his predicted champion alive. My preseason pick was the Saints will be the Super Bowl champs. Our man Chris Kamler predicted the Packers, who did not make the playoffs. Co-host Brad Carl and Binkley both went with the Vikings, who did not make the playoffs.

On the other side of the coin, my prediction on the Chiefs was not very accurate. I tabbed the Chiefs at 8-8. As you know, Kansas City ended the regular season with a record of 12-4 and the number one seed in the AFC.


Earth-shattering announcement. There will be no Landmark Bracket Battle this year, ladies and gents. I’ve made an executive decision based on a desire to save my sanity in the month of March.

The grading of those hundreds of brackets each year has forced my late nights into early mornings for the final time. I love the tournament and the competition but this guy is too old to be staying up half the night marking x’s on your missed picks and updating the standings of my fellow bracketologists. I’ll actually be able to enjoy watching the games this year without the dread of long nights spent grading brackets occupying the back of my mind.

It’s been well over 20 years, kids, since we kicked off this contest, which at first featured about 12 or 15 of us who worked on or near Platte City’s Main Street. The free-to-enter bragging rights battle eventually grew into monster-like status, like a professional athlete on steroids.

Anyway, I’m choosing to make this announcement in January mainly because I’m figuring if I put it in writing I won’t be tempted to change my mind when the adrenaline of March Madness starts flowing in the spring.

While I’m 100 percent certain there will be no more “send me your bracket” contests in which I must personally grade every entry, there is still an outside chance we will host a free-to-enter Landmark contest online where a computerized gizmo can do the scoring. While the online version would eliminate the personal interaction between us--which was the goal and the most awesome part about our annual battle--it would still give us a little sense of competition. If we do form an online contest we’ll let you know in print and on our social media platforms in March.

(Get more from Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley. You can also find him on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube, or email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 1/2/19

It’s NFL playoff time. Will this be another one and done post-season appearance for the Chiefs? Let’s hope not. Kansas City, where the league’s most dynamic quarterback resides, will play host to a playoff game next weekend on Saturday, Jan. 12.

I’d feel better about things if the Chiefs actually had a defense. A playoff caliber football team is not going to come into Arrowhead and gift Kansas City turnover after turnover like the awful Raiders did last Sunday.

Anyway, Kansas City’s long suffering NFL fans have waited patiently for a Super Bowl. The Chiefs won the 1970 Super Bowl, which is before many of you reading this were even born. I was six, almost seven, and really the only thing I can remember about that game is my dad jumping up off the couch when Otis Taylor made a remarkable touchdown catch/run and the Chiefs pulled off the upset over the heavily-favored Minnesota Vikings that year.

Who would have thought in 1970 that this many years later KC fans would still be thirsting for another Super Bowl?

Can this team do it? Maybe, we all like to dream, but the Chiefs defense is so liquid-like the odds seem stacked against them.


Some folks have already offered comments and feedback to us regarding the recent jail study proposal by a consultant hired by the Platte County Commission. A lot of the comments focus on the lack of attention on the word “why?” As in, why is the average length of stay in the jail increasing? While it’s important to know that inmates are staying longer, it’s even more important to know why are they staying longer? Perhaps that’s a problem that can be addressed more effectively than by simply building a state prison-sized county jail.

Also the numbers of ICE prisoners (the county rents bed space to house Immigration and Customs Enforcement prisoners) were included in jail population figures by the consultant, which helps to skew the uptick in prisoners. If the county doesn’t have to house them, why include it other than to show how the facilities are being used? There aren’t any comments in the study relative to courts, the legal system, and impact of changes as it impacts the average length of stay (ALOS).

And regarding ICE, what happens if the feds change how that is done and the need for that space and the revenue that comes with it goes away? We know the answer to that one.

As for general population projections, as we’ve seen in the past trying to predict population growth beyond 10-15 years is mathematical gymnastics. Faulty predictions. First the area has to have available jobs to attract continued population growth. Who are the potential employers 10 or 15 years from now?
Also, the number of felony case filings is interesting to watch. You’ll notice the county’s general population is in an uptrend but the total crime count isn't changing (in fact, in the past year there were three percent fewer felony cases filed in Platte County than the year before), which goes against a narrative that county officials push when they say: “The overall crime rate isn’t going up but the number of serious crimes is going up.” The latest numbers don’t support that narrative.

These are just a few thoughts that are getting tossed around in the community as we head into decision time for the county commission. If the commission wants to put a jail proposal on the ballot in April, they’ll need to get certified ballot language to the Platte County Board of Elections by Jan. 22. That’s just a few short weeks away.


Still waiting for the new Platte City QuikTrip store?

Platte City Mayor Frank Offutt said this week that QT is requesting a temporary occupancy permit to open its new store in Platte City. The mayor says Thursday, Jan. 10 is the date listed on the application to begin operating the new store, which is on the same footprint as the current store along NW Prairie View in Platte City.

You’ll be able to tell which building is the new one when you get there.


Shoutout to the loyal Landmark reader who popped in the office one day last week to ask why we never talk about the new QT opening up soon. At first I thought he was joking. He wasn’t.

This surprised me because we have mentioned the new QuikTrip so often in print and on our social media outlets that I personally felt like we were going overboard with it, and here is at least one reader saying we haven’t talked about it enough. I could only chuckle in slight amusement. It’s funny how individual readers perceive coverage of various topics. I feel certain there are other readers who think the new QT coming to Platte City has been covered ad nauseam. I guess this is more proof it’s impossible to keep everybody happy, my friends.

I mean, to an extent the new QT is big news and worthy of coverage, which it has been given multiple times by The Landmark and other outlets. But when a privately-owned business keeps changing its targeted opening date it’s really up to that privately-owned business to get the word out about that ever-changing target date. It’s not the local media’s job to become a large privately-owned corporation’s public relations team. After all, QT isn’t exactly a mom and pop general store in need of free pub from the local newspaper.

Either way, thanks for reading and keep that feedback coming.


Don’t know if you’ve heard but the new QT in Platte City is scheduled to open Jan. 10.

Just as an FYI, though, I wouldn’t chisel that in stone.

(Find Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley and email him at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 12/26/18

Happy day after Christmas, everybody. And now, back to the grindstone, right?


Have you noticed the newest quirk a lot of our fellow humans are using in their conversations? I just used it in the above sentence. The newest trend is to say the word “right?” at the end of basic observations and statements when there really is no need to do so.

Listen closely and you’ll hear a lot of the sports talk folks doing this. It’s like they want the audience to think they’re saying something so groundbreaking and so profoundly intense that they have to carry the listener along, as if they’re helping us solve an algebraic story problem or something.

During the course of their sports monologue the talking heads might say something like: “So the Chiefs defense hasn’t been very good on third downs, right?” Or something like: “Look, Patrick Mahomes can do some magical things, right?”
Um, yeah. You’re making obvious statements, Sherlock. The audience isn’t clueless, your listeners can hang with a sports talker stating what any Chiefs fan over the age of 12 already knows without adding the word “right?” at the end of 75% of your comments.

I guess what they’re hoping is that the audience will hear the “right?” so many times that at the end of the monologue the audience will be thinking: “Wow, this guy made some really insightful observations. Did you notice how many times he said ‘right?’ so we’d be able to follow his in-depth thought process? That guy is freakishly intelligent.”

Anyway, just a quirky observation about a quirky conversational habit that seems to be becoming prominent.

If I start doing it, somebody please stop me in my tracks.


You guys know that when I see a good movie I like to let you know about it, right? (See what I did there?).

Well on Christmas night I saw a bad movie. So I guess in fairness I better let you know about it, right? (Oops. Did it again).

Vice, the new flick about Dick Cheney, vice president under George W. Bush, is slow moving, dry, and of course has some political spin doctoring to it. If you’ve seen the previews, you may have received the same impression I did--that the movie has a comedic touch. After all, a portion of the previews features an awkwardly entertaining conversation between Bush and Cheney at Bush’s ranch that is, from what the public knows about the contrasting personalities of the two men, very believable in its purported content. But overall there is no comedy in Vice, despite the fact comedic actor Steve Carell has a prominent role.

I do enjoy politics but even that wasn’t enough to keep me from wondering “when is this thing going to be over?”

Go see the movie if you’re a serious national political junkie, I suppose, but if your goal in going to the movie house is to be at least a little bit entertained, sit this one out. Maybe catch it on Netflix or some other cheap option at a later time.

Vice is much closer to a depressing snoozefest than it is a holiday party.


Remember when the county commission earlier this year proposed the idea of building a 510 to 530 bed state-prison sized county jail? Price tag was proposed at $43 million (it would in all likelihood be notably higher than that now, with the county’s credit rating troubles increasing financing costs).

The proposal floated earlier this year by commissioners indicated that if the county really wants to meet its needs for the next 20 years, the 510 to 530 bed jail was what it would require. In the short term, readers will recall, the county commission was discussing renting bed space to Kansas City and perhaps other entities until the time the county needed all the beds for its own prisoners.

Well, if you study his information, it seems even the commission’s own hired jail consultant thinks the 510 to 530 bed jail hotel would be way over the top for the county’s needs over the next 20 years.

Bill Garnos, jail consultant, presented his numbers on Friday. Currently the county has a 180-bed jail. When inmate population gets too high, temporary bunks are set up to handle the ‘overflow.’

Garnos’ projections show the county needing 376 beds in 20 years. The 376 is 134 to 154 fewer beds than what the county was considering building in the monstrosity it was discussing earlier this year.

Here’s how many beds the consultant projects the county will need at various time frames. Again, the number the jail currently has is 180.

In the year 2023: 237 beds needed.
In the year 2028: 283 beds needed.
In the year 2033: 330 beds needed.
In the year 2038: 376 beds needed.


It looks to me like some of the information in Garnos report might need some adjusting. In the “conclusion” section of a hard copy of his report that I’ve been given, he mentions “subtracting 151 beds in the existing jail from the total number of jail beds needed, it is estimated that Platte County will have an inmate housing shortfall of 86 beds in 2023; 132 beds in 2028; 179 beds in 2033; and 225 beds in 2038.”

But since the current jail now as 180 beds--not 151 as his report insinuates in this particular conclusion--Garnos’ numbers quoted above would not be accurate. One would need to subtract the 180 beds in the existing jail from the total number of projected future jail beds needed, which means those shortfall numbers would be less than what Garnos quotes them to be.

The jail did originally have a capacity of 151 but then the sheriff’s department was able to do some maneuvering and found space to install about 30 more beds a few years ago, taking it up to its current maximum bed capacity of 180.

(Folllow The Landmark’s social media postings on Twitter @ivanfoley and on Facebook at Platte County Landmark. Email Foley at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 12/19/18

One last column before Christmas, you guys. It’s probably not what you were hoping would be under your tree but here goes.


The Platte County Commission says the results of a jail study will be presented at a 9 a.m. gathering in the county commission meeting room on Friday, Dec. 21.

Because nothing screams transparency and “we want public engagement” quite like hosting a meeting on the Friday of Christmas weekend.


Remember the evaluation that was performed on the Platte City Police Department earlier this fall to study “cultural issues” within the department? The city paid Worthington Employment Solutions (Katie Worthington) a total of $19,342.50 for that evaluation.

The city board of aldermen members received Worthington’s report--verbal in nature, not written--in a closed session so the public has no way of knowing for certain what kind of conclusions were reached. But we do know shortly after the report was given, Carl Mitchell, the reassigned police chief, retired effective in February, with the city saying he’ll be collecting medical leave payments through that time. The city has been paying him to stay away from the office since early September.

With no public access to the report’s contents, the public is left to speculate. My speculation is it’s very possible the report didn’t change much in regard to what the majority of the aldermen were thinking at the time they reassigned the chief and Lt. Al Devalkenaere. Maybe aldermen just wanted someone else to tell them what they basically already knew needed to happen. Just my speculation.


This Christmas, in lieu of gifts, I’ve decided to give everyone my opinion. If that doesn’t sound like much just remember the good news is you get at least one gift every week of the year.


While the police department evaluation is wrapped up, the City of Platte City still has a review underway of activity in its parks department, where Dannie Stamper was fired as parks director earlier this year, roughly the same time as the police command staff was reassigned. Personnel issues were raining, almost pouring, at City Hall there for a bit, which happens to all public entities at some point in time.
In response to a Landmark inquiry late last week, DJ Gehrt, city administrator, says the parks review is ongoing. City elected officials were set to get an update from the reviewer--Anne Molloy of Encompass Resolution--this week after The Landmark had already gone to press. So right now, head to The Landmark’s social media pages on Facebook or Twitter to get any breaking news that came out of the update given to aldermen.

To this point, the city has received and paid one invoice from Encompass Resolution in the amount of $2,025. Since the evaluation is not yet complete, there will be additional invoices and payments coming.


Rumor has it a new KCI Airport is still eventually coming, folks. Hope those of us who aren’t as young as we used to be are still around to see it come to fruition.
In the meantime, KCI passenger traffic continues to trend upward. The Kansas City Aviation Department says 973,615 passengers arrived and departed through Kansas City International Airport’s gates in November, a two percent increase from November of 2017. Passenger boardings were up 2.2 percent, with a total of 489,306 boarded. Year to date, total passengers in and out of KCI is up by three percent, officials said this week.

And hey, the November increase came despite the fact there was a blizzard on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, traditionally the busiest travel day of the year.


I may have touched on this briefly in a previous column but it’s worth mentioning again. The folks known as Citizens For A Better Parkville are really making a name for themselves as an influential watchdog group over the City of Parkville when it comes to development issues. If you haven’t been paying attention, now’s a good time to start, as this group seems to be kicking things into overdrive. They say their mission is transparency, open government and accountability from city officials, something they say has been a little hard to find at Parkville as of late.

The group is organized, funded and focused. They’re not going away anytime soon. Check out their Facebook page at Citizens For A Better Parkville for more information.


If you’re waiting to hear about the cargo traffic at KCI (and who isn’t?) air cargo tonnages, which consist of both freight and mail transported by air for all carriers at KCI, were down a bit in November but are still up for the year by 3.2 percent.


Just a heads up that The Landmark office will be closed on Christmas Eve (Monday), so there’s an earlier-than-normal deadline if you have an item you’d like to get in our next issue. We’ll need your information by noon on Friday to get it in the Dec. 26 Landmark.

Normally when Christmas Eve falls on a weekday, your Journalistic Santa will come into the office for at least half a day, do a little work and run a subscription special during those hours. Not this year (does that make me a Journalistic Grinch?), as former facilities guru Kurt Foley will be back in town, keeping Journalistic Santa occupied on the Eve of Christmas.

Here’s hoping you and yours enjoy a fantastic Christmas.

(Stay up to date with The Landmark on Twitter @ivanfoley and on Facebook at Platte County Landmark. You can also find Foley on YouTube, where you can hit ‘subscribe’ on his YouTube channel to get notifications when a video is posted. Email him at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 12/12/18

If you haven’t done so yet, you’ll want to head to Platte County Landmark on Facebook and hit the like button on our page. That way you’ll get a notification when we go live.

There is no Landmark Live on Thursday night this week as everyone will be tuned in to the important Chiefs game that night. Instead, we’ll be going live at an unexpected time in the very near future. We don’t want to give away too many details in advance so let’s just say Chris Kamler and I are about to get our Christmas on by doing a drop-in at an unsuspecting location in Platte County.

Think of Secret Santas with a twist or two.


Speaking of the Chiefs, by now the world knows Patrick Mahomes is a fantastic quarterback. Chiefs coach Andy Reid had no idea Mahomes would be this good. Andy Reid hasn’t told me that, but do you want to know how I know this?

Because if Andy had any idea Mahomes would be this good, there is no way Mahomes would have spent last season carrying a clipboard backing up Alex Smith.

Disagree if you want. But you’d be wrong.


Patience is a virtue.

As you can see if you’ve driven by the site, the new QuikTrip in Platte City is coming. It really is. Just not as soon as originally hoped. Early information listed a potential opening in November, then last month the QT folks told us they were targeting a Dec. 20 opening. Latest information QT officials have told the City of Platte City is that the opening will come in January.

Platte City Mayor Frank Offutt dropped that bit of knowledge on us during last week’s episode of Landmark Live, which was telecast from Gary Kerns Homebuilders location on Main Street.


How successful was the prize basket auction put on by local realtor Patty Farr of RE/MAX House of Dreams? The event, which you noticed had been highly publicized in The Landmark over the past month, raised more than $7,400 for the Platte City Police Department’s Shop With a Cop program.

Last year, Patty’s event raised $4,200 for Shop With a Cop, money that was spent this year when the police officers took 42 in-need youths on a shopping spree. With nearly double that amount raised at last week’s event, considerably more young people will benefit from next December’s Shop With a Cop day with Platte City officers.

Donations are still being accepted. If you’re interested in giving to the program, drop a check made out to Shop With a Cop by The Landmark office at 252 Main St. in Platte City or get it to Patty Farr at RE/MAX.


Steve Wegner, a former county commissioner in Platte County, didn’t pull any punches when talking about the recent activity of the current county commission. In an article in the Weston Chronicle, Wegner lambasted the current commission. We have reprinted the entire article in this issue of The Landmark. You’ll find it on page 4.

One of Wegner’s most effective quotes is this one:

“I assumed these guys were business people.”

This is a very legitimate observation. Think back through the timeline of what has been a circus the past six months or so for these county commissioners. They had already back-doored the public, jumping out of the weeds with an idea to increase sales taxes and build on to the jail, including one proposal to triple the current size up to a 530 inmate capacity--a $43 million project that would be accompanied by two sales tax increase proposals, including a 1/8th cent sales tax to build the jail and a 3/8 cent tax for law enforcement operations.

So what did the commission do almost immediately after making it known it would like to finance $43 million? It tanked the county’s credit rating. Yes, at the same time the commission was proposing to borrow money, commissioners made comments and took actions that trashed the county’s ability to get a good interest rate. This is. . . crazy, to put it politely. It is the opposite of good business management.

Many things, frankly, have been surprising from this group. They campaigned on a “no new taxes, lower taxes/higher accountability” platform and in the span of a very short time all of that was tossed out like yesterday’s trash.

“They have embarrassed the (Republican) party,” Wegner is also quoted as saying.

I don’t know if they’ve embarrassed the Republican party as much as they’ve embarrassed themselves politically. I’m not sure this group reached out to other Republicans for advice. The vibe they put off is that they don’t need--or want--advice from the common folk.

Bothered by recent events, many Republicans jumped ship and voted for Schieber’s Democratic opponent in November. Schieber won 53-47 percent over a political newcomer who perhaps didn’t realize Democrats can’t win county races here anymore. It’s likely Schieber was saved only by the (R) behind his name in extremely Republican-heavy Platte County. A Democrat hadn’t pulled that much support in a Platte County race since 2008.

And don’t forget, the sudden thought that the county needs a state prison-sized jail came just a few years after Dagmar Wood, one of the current commissioners, had led the effort to kill a jail expansion proposal. Wood herself dug through misinformation and some overstated numbers to prove that the county, in fact, had no real need to expand. This time around, Wood has shown no interest in turning over rocks and exposing fantasy in jail numbers, instead only showing an interest in pushing ahead with a jail expansion and doubling down on every questionable decision this commission has made.

Talk to them privately and you’ll discover even some folks personally close to the commissioners will tell you they can’t figure out what the hell happened. It was the fastest and most complete turnaround of a political stance we’ve seen in modern day politics in Platte County, and there have been some doozies.

(Get doozies following Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley and at Platte County Landmark on Facebook. You’ll also find him on Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 12/5/18

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. One of the things I enjoy most about this job is that things are never predictable. The last 36 hours proves that.

Rewind to Sunday about 5 p.m. when I’m relaxing in my recliner flipping channels on the Sunday Ticket, watching as many different NFL games as I can get my eyes on. My cell phone lights up with an incoming text message from the main man at the production facility where your Landmark is printed each week.

I said to myself as I looked at his name pop up on my phone: “Self, this is weird. Wonder what’s up.”

Between plays, I solved the mystery by looking at my phone to see this message:

"Will your print schedule change this week since the post office and government is closed on Wednesday for Bush’s funeral?”

Dumbfounded by the question and surprised by the news, I responded appropriately. Ok, not really. To clean it up, I responded something similar to “Um, wut?”

The news there would be no mail service on Wednesday meant I needed to immediately kick things into turbo charge to move our print time up by 24 hours.

Making things worse, this news came shortly after I had received a Sunday afternoon text from longtime Landmark office manager Cindy Rinehart saying:

"Foley, I’m disgustingly sick with a stomach virus, throwing up all day. Not pretty. I won’t be in tomorrow. PS: You’re a terrible boss. I hate you. Always have. Suck it.”

OK, I made up the part about the PS. But the rest is accurate. Cindy had already informed me she would not be working in the office on Monday, and considering all that talk of vomiting and whatnot, I wasn’t necessarily sad about it.

So while all of this sounds challenging enough, I’m not done sharing the unfortunate side of things. Normally on Fridays and Saturdays I start working ahead on the next week’s Landmark. But as luck would have it, that didn’t happen last Friday when I spent my day getting caught up on the bookkeeping side of the business and then focusing on some long range Landmark planning.

And working ahead didn’t happen on Saturday when I chipped in at a community event and then headed out for a visit with the newest Foley grandnewsperson. In other words, I was already well behind by the time I got the news that Cindy was on her death bed and the funeral of former President George H.W. Bush was wreaking havoc on our schedule.

Needing to jumpstart the work week at 5 p.m. on a Sunday, my first official action after getting the news was to email Chris Kamler. Because that’s what I do anytime life kicks me in the groin. . .I email Chris Kamler. I encourage you to do the same. No particular reason. Just do it. Out of the blue. It won’t help a thing but do it anyway. He loves that. He’s been kicked in the groin many times so he can relate. Trust me.

Then other notifications were sent to other contributors and everybody stepped up to the plate with earlier-than-normal submissions of their work. It was like an emergency management plan had worked wonders.

Except for Cindy. She was still throwing up.

Anyway, here we are and here is your Dec. 5, 2018 issue of The Landmark. Thank you for being along for the ride with us.


What about The Landmark front page jinx hitting Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt? The man had his picture on the front page of our paper last week as he made a public appearance in Platte County and a couple days later TMZ was posting a video of him disgustingly hitting and kicking a woman.

Good for the Chiefs for cutting him loose immediately.

Zero tolerance for that crap.


Salute to Sheriff Mark Owen, Major Erik Holland and the rest of the Platte County Sheriff’s Department (and any other county folks involved in the deal) for finding a bargain on medical examiner services that over the course of the next three years will save the county hundreds of thousands of dollars on medical examiner services compared to what it would have potentially paid to Jackson County for the same services.

It seems Jackson County recently constructed a large, new and expensive building for forensics and is passing along some costs involved in that to jurisdictions for whom it performs medical examiner services.


The above scenario would be similar to Platte County building a $50 million prison and then passing along resulting increased costs to jurisdictions for which it houses inmates. Doesn’t sound like a bad plan until those jurisdictions find other ways to handle their inmates and that revenue stream disappears. Then things go south.


Two weeks ago I wrote in this column space that “I would expect a lot of qualified applicants to consider applying for the position of police chief in Platte City.”

Look guys, I got one right. Just a couple weeks into the process and already 74 people have applied for the job. Incredible.


Lt. Al Devalkenaere, who was placed on temporary reassignment at the same time as now-former chief Carl Mitchell (technically Mitchell is on medical leave until his retirement on Feb. 28), remains on his reassignment. I do not expect Devalkenaere to ever return, based on some of the buzz going on involving a potential restructuring of the organization within the department.

Also noteworthy is that acting chief Lynda Bristow has let it be known to The Landmark that she is applying for the job as permanent chief.

These are interesting times. As always.

(Ivan Foley be found on Twitter @ivanfoley and on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email him at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 11/28/18

Don’t look now but the Platte County-backed Zona Rosa bonds have taken another downgrade, which likely will not be a good thing for the county’s future borrowing needs (wants). As first reported in last week’s issue of the Weston Chronicle, the Zona bonds have tanked into a deeper level of junk.

An article in the publication known as Bond Trader said the deeper tanking of the rating was a result of the county’s recent filing of a lawsuit against the bond trustee and a belief that “a default is all but certain.” The article mentioned the value of the Zona Rosa bonds has fallen to 66 cents on the dollar.

As we’ve previously reported, the county filed a lawsuit asking a judge to rule as to whether the county is legally obligated to pay the shortfall on the bond payment. The county says it is not because the debt was approved without a vote of the people, required by the state constitution.

The article goes on to quote an analyst who cuts to the chase about what the county’s lawsuit means. It basically means a waste of time and money.

“It is uncontested that the county only has an appropriation obligation,” says Matt Fabian, a partner at Municipal Market Analytics. “There is nothing legally requiring the county to pay, but if they allow bonds sold in their name to default they are acting in a manner hostile to bondholders that should trigger more caution among investors in appropriation debt generally in Missouri.”

This analysis agrees with what I’ve been told from the start by local legal analysts I’ve reached out to for opinions, who have indicated to me a county “victory” in its recently-filed lawsuit will be virtually meaningless. In other words, it likely won’t do anything to immediately improve the county’s financially-suffocating bond rating.

Legal analysts are telling me a decision in the county’s favor in regard to the lawsuit will still mean--in the eyes of the credit rating agencies--the county didn’t keep its word on the Zona Rosa bonds.

So the county could win an uncontested legal battle but still lose the war.


I was kind of hoping this analysis would not get out until after the county “wins” its lawsuit. I was waiting to spring it after the county commissioners had declared victory, totally envisioning Dagmar Wood spiking the football in a premature end zone celebration while singing “Watch me whip, watch me nae nae.”


There was a fantastic turnout for the annual Holiday Lighting Ceremony in downtown Platte City on Thanksgiving Eve. Organizers put together a great variety of entertainment, including some free activities and--thanks to the City of Platte City--even some free food in the form of 1,623 hot dogs. The mayor doesn’t want to overstate the crowd size--that was a thing with local festivals in the early 2000s--but a conservative estimate of the crowd would be more than 2,000 people.

“A new benchmark has been set,” Mayor Frank Offutt said this week while praising executive director Angie Mutti and the rest of the Platte City Chamber of Commerce for an outstanding job on the event. Very mild weather helped the turnout, undoubtedly. Weather is always a key to getting a crowd to these outdoor community events.

“The goal now is to continue to make it even bigger and better,” the mayor said.

Nice work, everybody.


Speaking of nice work, how about a word of praise for the local crews who worked to clear the biggest snow event this area has seen in nearly five years. As luck would have it, a blizzard hit on the busiest travel day of the year--the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. Nearly six inches of snow fell.

Frank Offutt, who not only is mayor of Platte City but is also manager of the Platte City Special Road District and as such has firsthand observations from the road-clearing process, said it was “a dilly of a storm” that presented challenges. The strong winds--reported to be gusting up to 53 mph at KCI Airport--combined with the wet and heavy snow gave the road crews all they could handle.

“It was so wet that if you put salt down early it just got washed off,” Offutt said.

He explained the biggest benefit to crews was the fact the motoring public stayed off the roads.

“People stayed home. That was the absolute thanks we must express to the public because it allowed the trucks to accomplish their assignments,” he said. “This was a unique storm. I mean it speaks for itself when they shut down I-29. That was a tough storm, not necessarily the accumulation amount but because of the wet snow, the winds and the extreme cold.”

The interstate was shut down in portions of Missouri, from Platte County north to the Iowa border. And KCI Airport even shut down for a time under the blizzard-like conditions.


And let’s continue the good news these, shall we? I mean, it is the holiday season, after all.

The good news for the Platte City Shop With a Cop program is the annual silent auction fundraiser put on by local real estate magnate Patty Farr is well underway, with 130 prize baskets already getting bid on at her office. The auction moves to the Platte County Community Center North next Tuesday, when bidding will close at noon that day and a free luncheon is served. See more in an ad on page A-8.

Last year, Patty Farr’s event raised $4,200 for the local Shop With a Cop effort.
You can learn about all of this and more by watching this week’s Landmark Live episode. We’ll go live from Patty Farr’s RE/MAX House of Dreams office in Platte City Thursday night at 6. We’ll show some of the very cool prize baskets--donated by area businesses--and talk to Patty and some of her agents about the community fundraiser.

(Get more from Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley and find him on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Hit ‘like’ on Platte County Landmark on Facebook. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 11/21/18

Holy heartbreak, Batman, was that Chiefs 54-51 loss to the Rams on Monday Night Football insane or what? The action was non-stop and in the fourth quarter ESPN was rarely going to commercial breaks. I held a pee so long I’m fearing a kidney stone.


If you’re driving to grandmother’s house this Thanksgiving--whereever your grandma might be--you’re catching a break in gas prices. Gasoline prices have fallen nearly 11 cents in the past week in the Kansas City area, averaging $2.30 per gallon in the metro. I noticed the price in Platte City is a few cents less than that. The current average is about 34 cents lower than it was just a month ago. The national average has fallen about six cents in the past week, leaving that national average at $2.62 per gallon. The $2.30 average in KC compares to $2.35 at this time last year. The two years before that were lower, with an average of $1.82 per gallon at this time in 2016 and $1.92 in 2015. All those numbers are courtesy of the website gasbuddy.com.


Carl Mitchell’s pending separation from the City of Platte City, where he has served as chief of police for nearly nine years, really doesn’t come as a surprise. Once Mitchell was dispatched to work from home while an evaluation of the department’s culture and organizational operation was underway, it basically sealed his fate. It was hard to picture any scenario in which Mitchell would be allowed back to be in charge of the same officers whose complaints had forced his temporary reassignment. At best, that would have been an extremely awkward work environment, needless to say.

It’s still not publicly clear what caused the mini-uproar inside the department, which featured some of the officers complaining to elected officials and city staff about department leadership. The report by the evaluator was provided to aldermen in a closed session of the board and given in verbal, not written, form. The choice to request a verbal presentation from the evaluator was an obvious attempt to keep any written copies of the report from floating into areas the city would prefer not to have it land.

Mitchell has been getting paid since his ‘temporary reassignment’ was announced in late August/early September. Now city officials say he is on medical leave and will be using “accrued medical leave” through his retirement date, which is Feb. 28.

When you include the time from his reassignment until his Feb. 28 retirement, that means taxpayers will have been paying Mitchell to stay out of the office for six months total.

Not exactly cost-effective.


I would expect a lot of qualified applicants to consider applying for the position of police chief of Platte City. It’s a well compensated, relatively low stress spot, at least as low stress as a law enforcement post is concerned. Perfect for a qualified candidate who is skilled at organizational and administrative work, wants to be involved in the community and has good public relations skills.


Don’t miss that thick JCPenney catalog of Black Friday specials tucked inside this issue of The Landmark. Hey, Amazon is convenient and all that, but why not do some shopping locally this holiday season and support the brick and mortar businesses right here in Platte County? The sales tax on goods you purchase will aid the coffers of your favorite local governments, as well.

In addition to the JCPenney ad, get your tan on with some hot Black Friday specials from Total Tan, located not far from WalMart on Ambassador. The ad from Total Tan, owned and operated by Vic Perrin, can be found on page 5. Beth Ann’s Boutique in Platte City also has some Black Friday specials going, see their ad in this issue as well.

Let’s all make an effort to shop locally when it’s feasible. And it’s always a good idea to support Landmark advertisers.


Hope you’ll get yourself to downtown Platte City for the annual Holiday Lighting Celebration set for Thanksgiving Eve. The fun starts at 5:30, the lights come on at 6 and there will be some hot dogs and whatnot courtesy of the City of Platte City among the stuff being offered at no charge. If something a little different than a free hot dog is your thing, try the food trucks that will be selling their offerings while stationed near Third and Main.

If a free candy cane is your jam, come into The Landmark office at 252 Main St. and grab one. We’ll be giving them away while supplies last. We’ll also be offering a $10 discount on one-year subscriptions during that time, meaning you can take out a new subscription or renew your current one for just $18 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday night.

The Landmark office will be closed on Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving.


A civic watchdog in Platte City passed away last month. Ed Poncavage was a quiet watchdog of sorts over the city government in Platte City, often sitting in on the smallest level committee meetings and anything above. He was at so many meetings his presence was sometimes given verbal recognition by city officials before, during and after the meetings.

“Ed was often at the podium addressing aldermen on a wide range of topics and was an avid reader of staff reports,” says Mayor Frank Offutt.

That he was.

Before his health failed and he could not get out, Ed was an every Wednesday afternoon visitor to The Landmark office. He paid for a subscription but did not want it mailed--he wanted to pick up his copy of The Landmark as it was fresh off the press.

Ed, age 74, died on Oct. 25 at the Saint Luke’s Hospice House in Kansas City. Notably, his obituary asked that memorial contributions be directed to the Shop With a Cop program of the Platte City Police Department.

(Get more Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley and on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube)


Written 11/14/18

We have a quiet hero in our midst.

Really enjoyed the Veterans Day message from Col. Drew R. Meyerowich on Sunday at the City of Platte City’s ceremony at the Veterans Memorial in Settlers Crossing Park.

Meyerowich, who now lives in the Platte City area, commanded the rifle company that conducted the successful rescue of members of Task Force Ranger in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993. The event has been made famous by the book and movie Black Hawk Down. I felt a desire to re-watch the Black Hawk Down movie after hearing him speak but Meyerowich says the movie is not all that close to the truth. Instead, he recommends a new documentary that came out in recent weeks. That documentary is entitled “Black Hawk Down: The Untold Story.” It recalls the soldiers that the movie and the book overlooked.

A recent article in the Watertown Daily Times in Watertown, NY pointed out:

“A fierce battle involving Fort Drum (NY) soldiers in Somalia began on Oct. 3, 1993, with a radio transmission — ‘black hawk down.’

“The majority of Americans learned about how U.S. and United Nations forces came to the rescue of 99 ambushed U.S. Army Rangers trapped in the streets of Mogadishu through a Hollywood movie and book of the same name.

“But filmmaker and retired Air Force Col. Randall Larsen says the soldiers from Fort Drum, who fought valiantly in a two-day battle in and above the streets of Mogadishu, never got the credit they deserved.

“He has directed and produced a new documentary that depicts the role 341 10th Mountain Division soldiers — from the 2nd Battalion of the 14th Infantry — played in saving the Rangers during the intense fighting on Oct. 3 and Oct. 4, 1993.

“By the time it ended on Oct. 4, 18 soldiers were killed and 80 wounded, but the U.S. forces fought their way into Mogadishu to get the members of the Army’s premier infantry unit out, despite heavy gunfire. Two Fort Drum soldiers died during the rescue mission, then the bloodiest firefight since the Vietnam War.

“Yet the 10th Mountain Division’s involvement is largely overlooked, even with the popular 2001 Ridley Scott “Black Hawk Down” film and the 1999 book by journalist Mark Bowden.

“His documentary is devoted to the story of soldiers of the 2-14. All the U.S. forces who fought in the Mogadishu streets were heroes, the colonel insisted.

“They jumped into armored vehicles, Humvees and troop-transported trucks and drove off into the dark Somalian night into what was considered a do-or-die mission to save the lives of the Rangers who were surrounded by more than 1,000 well-armed hostile forces.”

The new documentary is now available worldwide on ValorousTV.com, Amazon Fire and Roku. Reports indicate more venues will become available in the weeks/months ahead, plus DVDs and Blu-Ray.


There are some cool prize baskets up for bid in the silent auction that local real estate magnate Patty Farr of RE/MAX House of Dreams is conducting as a fundraiser for the Platte City Police Department’s Shop With a Cop program. That’s where the officers take some not-as-fortunate kids on a shopping trip for clothing and a fun item or two as part of helping make their Christmas meaningful.
The prize baskets are worth viewing--and worth bidding on. Check them out at RE/MAX at 2000 Kentucky Ave. (intersection of Hwy. 92 and Kentucky) between now and Dec. 3. Then on Dec. 4 bidding will end during a special luncheon event at the Platte County Community Center North in Platte City.

Get more details in our front page article or on Patty Farr’s ad on page B-1. Last year her efforts raised an impressive $4,200 for the Shop With a Cop program.


Too early for Christmas talk? I don’t think so, Scrooge.

We’ll talk plenty of Christmas lighting ceremony and related topics on this week’s Landmark Live with Angie Mutti, executive director of the Platte City Chamber of Commerce. Tune in for that at 6 p.m. Thursday on Facebook at Platte County Landmark, or watch the video on our page anytime after that. We won’t take it away from you.

Platte City’s holiday lighting event is Thanksgiving Eve. For the non-initiated, that’s next Wednesday, Nov. 21 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. The switch that will light up the Platte County Courthouse and downtown businesses will be flipped at 6 p.m.

The Landmark building is ready. Some little Landmark elves have already decorated our storefront windows. I’ve resisted plugging in the lights that surround the exterior of our building, having been advised by The Landmark elves that I should be a team player and wait for everybody’s to come on at the same time the night of the ceremony.

Come to our office at 252 Main St. the night of the ceremony and grab a free candy cane (while supplies last) and take advantage of an $18 one-year subscription we’ll be offering only on that night (good on new and renewals).


Pretty excited to find out the former Wells Bank building at the corner of Third and Main will be getting an occupant, thanks to the fact the bank is donating the building to the Farmer’s House non-profit organization. Keeping that cornerstone of downtown occupied and hopping will add life to downtown.

There’s nothing that kills a downtown vibe more than unoccupied storefronts (except maybe a state prison-sized jail), so this development is a great thing. The former bank building will be open the night of the Holiday Lighting Ceremony Nov. 21 with traditional Christmastime goodies of hot chocolate with marshmallows, Christmas cookies and candy canes on hand.

(Every day is like Christmas in Between the Lines. Get more on Twitter @ivanfoley or track the sleigh of the Journalistic Santa on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube)


Written 11/7/18

It was a bit of a wild and woolly election day in Platte County, what with a large turnout, some waiting lines at the polls and craziest of all, power outages at a couple of precinct sites. But hey, what’s an election without a little bit of uneasiness, anxiety and conspiracy theories?


The fun started about 9:20 a.m. when a Twitter user, our pal Wes Minder, known as Line Creek Loudmouth on the tweet machine, tagged me in a message that said this: “So my polling place in the Coves in Platte County has no power and the vote count machine isn’t working so we’re being told to just leave our paper ballots out and they’ll scan them later???”

Turns out the Par 4 polling place at Walnut Creek Clubhouse on Clubhouse Cove at Parkville was also without power for a bit, though from what we can tell not as long as the Coves site at the Barry South precinct on NW Overland Drive, Kansas City.

KCP&L says the power outage was due to a contractor hitting a line. No Russian hackers involved in this one, apparently. Word is power was restored at the Barry SouthCoves about 10:40 a.m.

Wendy Flanigan, Platte County Board of Elections director, said voters could continue voting while power remained out and ballots would be submitted to an emergency compartment. I don’t know exactly what that is, but it sounds like a super duper, double secret, vapor locked, hermetically sealed safe place. I think it’s the same compartment where the county commission decided it’s time for a new jail.

“A bipartisan team will feed those into the reader when the electricity comes back,” Flanigan told the media Tuesday while the situation was in minor crisis mode. Casey Beane, a Kansas City, North, resident, told the Kansas City Star that the power was out at his polling location at the Coves Clubhouse when he attempted to vote. Beane said voters were told to leave their ballots behind and election workers would scan ballots when electricity was restored.

“It clearly made a lot of people uncomfortable,” Beane told the Star. Beane said his wife held on to their ballots while she waited for the electricity to come back on.


Give yourselves a hand.

Whether your favorite measure passed or failed, whether your chosen candidate won or lost, thank you for voting. As you see on our front page, voter turnout for this mid-term shindig was a whopping 70 percent. That’s even more than the aggressive 65% prediction made last week by Chris Hershey, one of the directors for the Platte County Board of Elections.


Ron Schieber, Republican, successfully defended a challenge from a Democrat newcomer to politics to win another term as presiding commissioner. Schieber gained the nod by a 53-47% margin, a much closer race than some observers had anticipated, particularly with the Republican party’s absolute dominance in county races for more than a decade. While Schieber deserves congratulations for his win, his opponent, David Park, can be proud of the amount of support he was able to muster, pulling more than 20,000 votes while running as a Democrat political novice in a very Republican heavy county.

As astute local political observers acknowledge with a wink, Democrats typically don’t even try to run for a Platte County office anymore. A lot of county candidates whose views primarily side with Democrats will slide over to the other side and file as a Republican to improve their chances of winning. I don’t know David Park’s inner self well enough to say for certain, but I’m assuming his choice to run as a Democrat was a matter of sticking to his personal political beliefs, and if so, credit to him.

Notable: A Democrat has not won an election for a county office in Platte County since 2008. That’s the year incumbent Bonnie Brown topped a virtually unknown Republican by the name of Mike McCormick by a margin of only 53-47%, which tells you how much the (R) behind the name means in Platte County. That was 10 years ago. And the Republican majority advantage among the electorate has grown considerably since that time, which makes Park’s performance at the polls on Tuesday even more impressive.

Until Park’s 47% showing on Tuesday, the highest percentage total posted by a Democrat since 2008 had come in 2012 when Chris Hershey pulled 45% of the vote in an unsuccessful bid for public administrator.

No Democrats tried to run for county office in 2014. One, John Fairfield, gave it a whirl in 2016, though he probably shouldn’t have.

Schieber’s six point win over Park was considerably closer than his margin of victory when he was originally elected presiding commissioner in 2014. He rolled past Jim Plunkett in the Republican primary that year, winning with 49% to 38% for Plunkett.


As a county commissioner, Dagmar Wood has jumped the shark into areas only previously occupied by the likes of Kathy Dusenbery and Beverlee Roper. I’ve been waiting to proclaim this because I like her as a person and she said all the right things in her campaign. Plus, I really hoped she would reel herself back in. But some slightly out-of-touch-with-reality comments at the end of Monday’s commission session were the clincher. Never say never, but 99% of that hope is gone.

Even after Dagmar led the cheerleading to propose a $43 million, 510-530 bed jail (depending on which version of the commission’s statements we want to use--that’s their discrepancy, not the media’s), I thought she would do some reflecting and see how far out into the water she had ventured. But instead of coming back to shore she keeps drifting further out to sea. The only difference is that Dusenbery (loud) and Roper (expressive) boat-raced into the ocean of ridiculousness with much more flair than the monotone voiced Dagmar. It’s still dramatic and unintentionally entertaining, it’s just harder to catch on the voice recorder.

(Get more Between the Lines on Twitter @ivanfoley and catch Foley on Landmark Live, a weekly video podcast on Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 10/31/18

A friend suggested I go as something scary for Halloween. So I’m dressing up like my monthly DirecTV bill.


No Landmark Live this week, kids. Instead I’ll be taking the time to amp up a dragging Wi-Fi connection, which is code for I’ll be on the phone chewing CenturyLink’s ass.


CenturyLink’s local Wi-Fi speed is less than ideal, which is code for it sucks.


Spectrum is putting a hard sales pitch on us, trying hard to get our Wi-Fi/phone line business. If your home or office is in the Platte City area and you’re using Spectrum, give me a shout or drop me a line to let me know your level of satisfaction: ivan@plattecountylandmark.com or 816.858.0363.


Did you know Wi-Fi is simply a trademarked term meaning IEEE 802.11x?
It’s a good thing they renamed it. Can you imagine having to ask your friends: “Hey, what’s your IEEE 802.11x password?”

That’s a lot of syllables and whatnot.


The false notion that the brand name "Wi-Fi" is short for "wireless fidelity" has spread to such an extent that even industry leaders have included the phrase wireless fidelity in a press release.

There’s your useless knowledge for the week. There is no charge for this.


The Platte County Jail inmate population on Monday was at 167, with 21 of those being Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) prisoners. So only 146 county prisoners in the 180 soft capacity (capacity is considerably higher than that when temporary bunks are put in place) facility.

I’m not convinced this is what “critical mass” looks like.


Missouri Gov. Mike Parson made some very interesting public comments last week that should be taken to heart by those pushing for a new $43-$53 million, 530-bed jail for Platte County.

During a visit to Springfield, Gov. Parson, who by the way is a Republican just like the three-members of the Platte County Commission promoting the idea of a state prison-sized jail here, said this: “The future of Missouri will depend on alternative sentencing. I’m not interested in building any more prisons as governor of the State of Missouri. I am not. I am more interested in getting people through alternative sentencing and getting them into the workforce.”

Notably, Parson is a former sheriff. So we have a former sheriff saying no more prisons. Very interesting.

Alternative sentencing isn’t a brand new buzzword or phrase, but for those who have been paying attention you know the approach is increasingly picking up steam with the general public and with lawmakers. We can like it or not, agree with it or not, but opinion polls will tell you much of America has grown weary of the so-called “War on Drugs.”

Alternative sentencing and opposition to bigger jails will become much closer to the mainstream than support for taxpayer-funded $50 million prisons.

It’s very possible an entity tripling the size of its jail these days will eventually find itself with a lot of empty jail space to go along with hefty bond payments.

Sounds like the recipe for Zona Rosa, Part II.


Hey, here’s a salute to Parkville Police Chief Kevin Chrisman and his fine force.
Mid-day on Saturday, my cell phone lit up with reports that a Landmark news rack located in a downtown alley in Parkville--the spot known as Photo Op Alley because of the murals where so many folks stop to take selfies and group photos--had disappeared.

Normally I would jump in my ride and immediately head to the spot of the alleged disappearance and canvass the area. But by the time I listened to my voicemails we had just sat down at home after waterproofing an upper level exterior area of The Landmark’s 149-year old brick building and then driving to Riverside to fix a stubborn news rack there. (So now you know how a newspaper publisher spends random free time on Saturdays. It’s a glamourous life. Don’t be jealous).

I was out of town much of the day Sunday, then Monday morning came and I still wasn’t anxious to drive to Parkville--not that I don’t love Parkville because I do, especially the historic downtown. But I envisioned myself driving to Parkville just to look at the spot where this news rack used to be, standing there for a minute staring at the empty space while scratching my head and saying to myself: “Yup, news rack’s gone.”

So I made a quick non-emergency phone call to the always affable Chief Chrisman. I explained the reports I had received about the runaway rack. He said give him a couple days and he and his officers would try to track its path of least resistance. Just a few hours later he called back to say the rack had been found safe and sound, actually sitting in a better and more visible location than its previous home in the alley. With all the picture-taking going on in Photo Op Alley, someone had moved the newsrack to the sidewalk in front of the American Legion building.

I thanked the chief for his fine and fast work. “Ivan, we’re here to serve,” he said with a smile. Mind you, we were on the phone so I couldn’t actually see his smile but I could hear it, if you know what I mean.

Note to those folks who buy their copy of The Landmark in downtown Parkville, including those who were kind enough to report the rack was MIA: Thank you. Take note that you can now find your favorite news source on the sidewalk in front of the American Legion.

(Get more Between the Lines on Twitter @ivanfoley and on Facebook at Platte County Landmark. You can also search for Foley on Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube)


Written 10/24/18

You may have heard something about a huge voter registration drive in the urban areas around the state. Don’t get all excited about it. And certainly don’t lose any sleep over it. We are finding out while there is some fact to it, there is also a lot of myth about the results of that registration drive.

You might call it an urban legend. Or as my friend Donnie Baker would say, a bourbon legend.

You may have seen the email circulating in political circles. It reads something like this:

“1. An urban voter registration group submitted 16,000 new voters to Kansas City, just in time for the mid-term elections.

2. The city of Kansas City stretches to cover several counties. These new names were distributed to the various counties in order to verify the new voter names and addresses in their county.

3. Every single name in Platte County was fraudulent.

4. How diligently are other counties verifying their names and addresses? Wonder how many newly registered voters this group turned in to the St. Louis and Springfield offices?

5. Sixteen thousand votes can easily swan an election.”

It was forwarded to me, so I posed the question of its accuracy to the Platte County Board of Elections. Turns out there is some truth, but not much, to the numbers and information in that email.

“There is some truth and a good deal of speculation in the email,” says Chris Hershey, a director for the Platte County Board of Elections.

Hershey confirmed there was a voter registration campaign that centered on Missouri’s urban areas. He said the folks collecting registrations were “incentivized” to collect as many as possible.

“I don’t know what the criteria for payment was. Unfortunately for the organization, many of the registrations which they paid for were inaccurate or incomplete,” Hershey remarked.

He said some examples include getting a real registration then filling out other applications with the same information but slightly altered, making it appear to be a different person, or entering “none” in the social security number.

“We submitted several of the applications to the sheriff’s department for investigation,” Hershey stated.

While inaccurate or incomplete applications do take up valuable staff time they do not rise to the level of voter fraud because these applications don’t result in registrations, the election director explained. “The only people harmed by this action was the organization that paid to collect registrations,” Hershey said.

And this is an important correction from the numbers circulated in the email: Hershey said the actual number was 1,600 not 16,000. Those 1,600 were delivered to the Kansas City Election Board and of those, 100 were forwarded to the Platte County Board of Elections.

It’s also important to note, only about 15 of those 100 became qualified registered voters in Platte County, Hershey said.

So no big impact in Platte County from this registration drive.

“I can’t claim intimate knowledge of the processes of our counterparts around the state but I absolutely do trust their professionalism. This is an example of the system working like it is supposed to, not of voter fraud,” Hershey remarked.


The board of elections director also shared a funny anecdote about the registration drive conducted in the urban areas.

“We got what would have been an address change on the same street. We called the voter to make sure this was right. He said he didn’t trust the guys taking registrations so he gave a false address,” Hershey said.

“It’s a funny world out there,” he added.


It’s been a while since we’ve given you a Between the Lines movie review. Let’s fix that.

Listen, fellow fright show geeks, have you seen the new Halloween movie that came out last week? Jamie Lee Curtis reprises her role from the original 40 years ago. According to Google, Jamie is only 59 years old but on the screen she looks considerably older in the new flick, which we assume (hope) is intentional to fit her role as the grandmother in this one.

I won’t spoil it for you, but if you’re into campy thrillers that might make you giggle occasionally at its over-the-topness, this one is worth your time.


Another quick movie review: Go see A Star is Born, starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. It’s outstanding. Might be a little uncomfortable at times if you have a friend or family member who has ever struggled with an addiction problem, but the film is a winner and the music is fantastic.

I’ve always been a fan of Lady Gaga’s voice and this movie made me an even bigger fan. Also, they tell us Bradley Cooper does his own singing in the movie, which is also impressive.

It’s a definite thumbs up.


Have you ever noticed it doesn’t matter what button you push on the machine, all the soda pop at the AMC Barrywoods 24 theatre complex tastes the same? Punch the Coke button and fill up your cup, punch the Sprite button, hit Dr. Pepper, doesn’t matter. The taste is the same. It’s a syrupy liquid that’s hard to describe because of its flavorful nothingness.

At least it’s wet. And cold. Beyond that, I’m out of verbs and adjectives and such.


Join us to watch Landmark Live Thursday night with our very own Officer Friendly, better known as Platte City Police Sgt. Mike Mand. We’ll have tips and tricks on how to safely survive Halloween. We go live and in living color Thursday night at 6 at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark. Don’t be scared.

(Get more Between the Lines on Twitter @ivanfoley and by finding Platte County Landmark on Facebook. Email Foley at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)

Written 10/17/18

There’s a sports team in Platte County ranked number one in the nation. And you’ll get to meet them on this week’s episode of Landmark Live, the internet’s most omnipresent and unpredictable podcast.

Your Park University women’s volleyball team is number one in the NAIA Coaches Top 25. And better yet, the squad includes a few local names and faces you’ll recognize and we’ll tell you all about it Thursday night when we do our show from the Breckon Center on the campus of Park University located in the quaint, quiet and non-controversial part of Parkville.

Incredibly, the Park ladies are having a great season despite the fact our man Chris Kamler has been handling some of the public address announcing duties for the team’s games. In fact Kamler will have to cut out of our Landmark Live a bit early on Thursday just to powder his nose and try to professionalize himself for his PA announcing duties that night when the Park team tangles with Columbia College beginning at 7 p.m. Co-host Brad Carl and I will then try to finish the show without burning the internet down or having our site overtaken by Russian hackers. Since we have a stash of goodies burning holes in our pockets, we may incorporate some viewer games and prizes. Tune in beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday at Facebook.com/ plattecountylandmark.com or watch the replay at your convenience.


A Platte County businessman stopped in the other day to let me know he is very opposed to the county constructing a $43 million state prison-sized jail. He said if somehow the new jail does go through, the monstrosity proposed to house guests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Kansas City will need a name--oh, and of course a plaque inside so the county commissioners can have their names inscribed for all to see. (From a financial standpoint, the new prison has the potential to become this commission’s version of parking garages at Zona Rosa, so these proactive jail constructors might want to re-think the plaque idea).

As for potential names for the new jail, the businessman has a few suggestions including:

*Gitmo Money.
*Hanoi Hotel.
*ICE ICE Baby.


Remember, county commissioners, the public is here to help. And note they’re not laughing with you. They’re questioning the business acumen of a group that tanked the county’s credit ratings at a time it’s proposing to spend $43 million on a jail that the public is not yet convinced is even needed. Talk about taking a bad idea and doubling down on it.


Let’s be honest, the county commissioners have not had a good 2018. They’ve wandered aimlessly off track from their previously stated goals (campaign promises) without realistic justification for doing so. Hopefully they recognize this. It’s possible they’re living in the administration building’s protective bubble, surrounding themselves with folks who are afraid to give them an honest perspective on things. Or perhaps they have no interest in seeking input from any commoners. In any line of service, when you start thinking you’re much smarter than the people you serve and the people who hired you, things have a tendency to go south. And that may be part of what’s going on in the commission office.
Bad choices have been made. Hey, it happens to all of us. But instead of being followed with a moment of reflection and corrective action, this commission has often pushed forward and doubled down on the mistake. Maybe it’s time to slow down, step back and regroup. Get away from knee-jerk reactions and scattershot ideas like back door planning of a $43 million prison.

It’s as if the sheriff one spring day told the commission he occasionally has to put temporary bunks on the floor and instead of methodically studying all associated issues, the sheriff’s wish list was enough to convince the commission to lose its collective minds and quickly promote the idea of a $40-$50 million 530-bed jail. Talk about an overreaction. Have you ever known an officeholder who didn’t want more money and more resources for his department? I haven’t. Commissioners are supposed to sift through this kind of stuff, separate the wants from the needs, not blindly hit the gas pedal.

Hopefully the commission will get back into a mindset of maintenance and smaller government. On the positive side, Monday’s meeting had some positive moments of focusing on maintenance issues. There was no direct mention, thankfully, of building a large rent-a-bed prison or a tax increase to fund such. Let’s not be naive, we know new prison talk and associated tax increase is coming back on their agenda, since they recently hired a consultant who in so many words has already admitted he’ll be proposing more jail space. That’s what this jail consultant has done for every entity that has hired him over the past several years. It’s what happens when you hire a consultant who you know is going to give you the answer you’re wanting to hear instead of engaging a committee of taxpayers with a vested financial interest.

Anyway, the maintenance items on Monday were a positive sign. On the negative side, there was the revelation that commissioners held private one-on-one meetings with Zona Rosa reps rather than demand to the Zona people that meetings with commissioners be posted and open to the public. That’s a mistake. Like it or not, Zona Rosa is now a taxpayer problem, a very public problem with serious financial risk on the backs of taxpayers, so if the Zona operators have things to say to county officials it should be done in a meeting that requires a public posting. No more secrets. That’s the least the county commission can do for taxpayers at this point.

There was also the hiring of a law firm at $375 an hour, with no request for proposals preceding the selection and no ending date, no maximum dollar figure in the agreement. Exactly what the commission thinks it can accomplish by hiring a law firm in connection with the Zona Rosa issue is murky and unclear.

Commissioner John Elliott, who has said instead of putting $700,000 in taxpayer money toward a Zona Rosa bond payment he’d rather spend that money on legal action against bond attorneys, brokers and ratings agencies, vaguely said the firm was being hired to “protect the taxpayers as much as possible.” Ironic, because taxpayer protection is what a lot of folks thought they were getting when they voted for these commissioners.

So is this a good move or another instance of doubling down on a mistake? Only time will tell.

(Get more Between the Lines on Twitter @ivanfoley and at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark. Email Foley at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 10/10/18

Have you strolled past The Landmark’s front windows lately in downtown Platte City? Check out those fine looking mums. I’m going to not-so-humbly take credit for how healthy those bad boys are looking. Who knew I had a green thumb? Just call me Mr. Mum.


No more worries about a drought and if mold is an allergen for you, good luck. This area has been inundated with rain in recent days. Gary Durand, a Landmark reader who lives just south of Platte City, told us on Tuesday there has been nearly 12 inches of rain in his gauge since last Friday.


I must say the drive-thru flu shot clinics are a heck of a convenient operation put on by the Platte County Health Department. And hey, at a price of free, that’s another advantage.

The Landmark crew on Monday morning decided we’d take advantage of the convenience, filled out the quick paperwork after printing it off the online site and headed to the Platte City Middle School, where we rolled down the car window and let the nice folks from the health department reach in and stick our shoulders. Boom. Process complete.

The clinic was set to run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. We got there shortly after 11. Good thing we did. Later we learned the allocated vaccine was gone by noon, two hours before the scheduled ending of the clinic.


The free drive-thru flu shot clinics were a tremendous success, says Daylin Britt, marketing specialist and public information officer for the Platte County Health Department.

“The clinics were a hit this year, in fact it was a record breaking year. At both clinics (Riverside was last Thursday, Platte City was Monday) we administered our maximum amount of vaccine before the clinics were projected to be over,” Britt said.

And Monday’s large turnout in Platte City even came on an ugly weather day.

“We were concerned that the rain would make for a slow day but it was to our surprise that we administered 230 flu shots in two hours and had to close the clinic two hours earlier than we anticipated. What a wonderful turnout!” Britt added.

Riverside’s clinic also vaccinated 230 people.


Kids, practice those basic math skills. Some of them you’ll need in real life.
All the “extra” expense to take down the Rising Star Elementary School came due to a math error. As you read in last week’s Landmark, the price to drop Rising Star went up by 33% when it was discovered more asbestos containing material (ACM), etc. was present in the building than initially believed when the project was bid at a cost of $84,300. The demolition contractor, Madget Demolition, noticed there was much more ACM than they’d been told. Turns out there was more than twice as much as originally figured.

The error--which was not by Madget nor the city but instead by an environmental assessment company--was due to math when adding up the total square footage of affected area. It’s not that any areas were missed during the company’s inspection, it’s that they didn’t add up the affected square footage properly, says DJ Gehrt, city administrator.

So, as you read last week, the cost to demolish the property went from $84,300 to $112,500, a 33% increase over what was originally believed.

And if you’re interested in retaining some history from the old school, Mayor Frank Offutt says if you’d like to claim a glass block from the building call City Hall at 858-3046 to have your name put on a list. No guarantees as far as condition of the block. Up to 100 will be given away.


Platte County Jail population as we head to press Wednesday morning is 171 inmates (at least one county commissioner would conveniently round that number up to 180). Of the 171, 14 of those are rent-a-bed US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) prisoners, so 157 for-real inmates.

The listed “soft” capacity of the jail is 180. Many more inmates can be housed when the sheriff’s department places temporary bunks on the floor.

Remember, the county says you are supposed to believe this situation has reached “critical mass.”


Our buddy and fellow Platte County resident Jay Binkley of 610 Sports Radio has a pretty big announcement to make, and he’ll do that on our Thursday night episode of Landmark Live. You can catch it live Thursday at 6 p.m. at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark or watch the video anytime after that at your leisure. The videos remain on our Facebook page so no worries if you miss the live telecast.

Football is Bink’s expertise so we’ll, of course, talk about the Chiefs’ and their amazing start to the 2018 season. And Bink knows high school football inside and out, so we’ll chat about the Platte County Pirates and their scintillating come-from-behind victories in the closing moments in back-to-back weeks.

We may need to start referring to the Pirates as the Cardiac Kids for their knack of winning games late.

(Watch Landmark Live, whose hosts are so ornery they’re listed as part of the exaggerated jail population by at least one county commissioner, every Thursday at 6 p.m. at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark. Email publisher Ivan Foley at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 10/3/18

Here’s one thing that has always bothered me. When a government worker or an elected official makes a statement to the effect: “If no one is complaining it must be ok.” Or even worse: “You’re the only one complaining about this.” In other words, there hasn’t been much noise on this so you’re the crazy one.

As if lack of attention being given to a problem can be dismissed with the simple words of “nobody else is complaining.” If you care about how your tax dollars are handled and your tax supported agencies are operated, it’s the type of response that should chap your hide.

“There’s been no other chatter on this from anyone other than this company,” said Paul Kelly, assistant superintendent, talking about JPI Glass pointing out Park Hill’s lack of flexibility when seeing a chance to save taxpayers nearly a couple hundred thousand dollars on doors for a district building project.

That’s a special kind of lame right there. This is where the bureaucratic types always lose me.

Um, hello? Could it be no one else is creating “chatter” because the general public isn’t aware the school district is turning down a chance to save $180,000? Let’s at least consider that could be part of the reason.

It also could be that some other companies in the process also think it’s wrong but are simply choosing not to make an issue of it. Don’t want to rock the boat because it might endanger their chances of getting looked upon favorably for some other project down the road. Also, the particular company that is pointing it out happens to be a taxpayer within your school district, which gives them added incentive to point out the silliness. Some--if not all--of the other bidders may not be.

A more acceptable quote from a Park Hill official should have been something like:

“It’s clear this selection process isn’t perfect, isn’t designed to allow some flexibility and a good point is being made. We’ll look at being more flexible in our selection processes in the future to try to take advantage of potential cost savings like the kind we’re missing out on here.”

At least pretend that you care about your taxpayers instead of exemplifying lazy complacency, as one person quoted in our front page story perfectly described it.


Speaking of bureaucracy, the Platte County Commission is following the bureaucratic protocol by hiring a jail consultant. This makes the commission’s job easier. A consultant will give them the answer to back up their previously-stated positions. The first rule in governmental bureaucracy is “always hire someone who will give you the answer you’re seeking.”

If the county commission appointed a committee of local taxpayers this may not happen, as the county commission of 2014 discovered when it appointed a taxpayer committee that poked holes in population projections and numbers provided by architects, etc. Dagmar Wood was on that jail committee of taxpayers and in fact was the leader in sorting through some fantasy and making a recommendation for no immediate jail expansion. This county commission, at least so far, appears to want no part of a committee of taxpayers making a recommendation.

If only Dagmar Wood were around right now. I mean the 2014 jail committee Dagmar Wood, not the 2018 county commissioner Dagmar Wood. You have to admit she has undergone a drastic personality transition in four years. I would pay money to see the 2014 Dagmar Wood debate the 2018 Dagmar Wood. “Dagmar Wood debates herself! Get your popcorn ready!”

Somebody invent a time machine.


Spoiler alert.

After Monday’s commission meeting, I asked Bill Garnos, the jail consultant hired by the county commission, if in the past five years he has ever been hired by a governmental entity to do a jail study and his report came back to say: “You don’t need to expand.”

His answer? “No.”

So I think we know how this story ends.


During Monday’s commission meeting, Wood said “the jail population this morning is 180 with 14 ICE prisoners.”

This immediately struck me as odd, as The Landmark has been watching the jail population list very closely. Neither I nor other sets of eyes in the community helping watch the list had seen it reach 180 in the past 10 days to two weeks. So as Wood was speaking I went to the internet on my phone and saw the population was actually at 173 with 15 of those being from ICE.

I won’t say Wood was intentionally inflating the jail population but it was easily verified that at the very moment she was speaking her numbers were not accurate. Not sure where she got her numbers but at the moment she spoke them, the jail population was conveniently overstated by seven inmates and the number of ICE inmates was conveniently understated by anywhere from one to four.

At 7 a.m. that morning her “180” comment would have been closer but still overstated and the actual ICE number was considerably different, because at 7 a.m. Monday (I mentioned we have people watching this very closely) we can tell you the population was 177 with 18 of those being ICE.


Sgt. Mike Mand of the Platte City Police Department is officially in charge of day-to-day activities at the department while the city and county work out insurance/liability issues of the previously named interim chief. We think this makes Mand’s title interim interim.

Last week Mand took a training course that officially makes him the department’s public information officer. Mand joked in public information officer training he learned the press is the enemy and how to redirect questions with answers like “that’s a matter for another time.”

All kidding aside, having an assigned PIO will be good for the Platte City department. And Mand has the right personality for the job.

(Get more Between the Lines on Twitter @ivanfoley, on Facebook at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark and find Foley on Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 9/26/18

While we’re still waiting on word as to when the state audit of the Village of Ferrelview might be completed and a report ready for public consumption, it is known an audit report on the Smithville Area Fire Protection District will be presented this week. Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway was set to present the results of the fire district audit Wednesday night, shortly after this issue of The Landmark hit the streets. Smithville Fire Station No. 2 at 341 Park Drive in Smithville is the site where the auditor is set to give the report at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The Smithville Area Fire Protection District serves citizens in both Clay and Platte counties. The audit was requested by residents through a petition process that required 759 signatures. The examination covers finances and operations for the district.


It hasn’t been a good past week or two for the Doomsday crowd.
Anyone wanting to push the panic button by trying to convince the public the county needs to get busy building a $43 million prison-sized, triple the current capacity jail in downtown Platte City has to be disappointed in this development:

The jail population over the weekend was all the way down to 173 inmates. This came just 17 days after the jail population was listed at 207. Could it be we sometimes see wild fluctuations in jail population without a real crisis actually existing? After all, that’s basically what a committee of taxpayers concluded in 2014 when it told the county commission at that time that there was no immediate need to expand.

Of the 173 in the slammer over the weekend, 18 of those were Immigration and Customs Enforcement prisoners. So if we were to melt the ICE out of the equation, the jail population was down to 155.

Maximum capacity is 180, even though the jail can hold considerably more than that when the sheriff’s department places temporary bunks on the floor.

At 155 guests, the jail would be well under the convenient capacity and way under the true capacity.


Many reasonable folks who are opposed to the idea of Platte County running a jail hotel and in the process importing offenders from other jurisdictions are not going to accept the premise that the county has a jail population ‘problem’ until the rent-a-bed inmates from ICE and other jurisdictions are factored out of the equation.

Like it or not, that’s the reality the county commission faces if it tries to convince taxpayers, as commissioner Dagmar Wood recently put it, the situation has reached “critical mass.”


The dramatic interpretations are close to reaching critical mass.
But they’re entertaining so let’s not complain too loudly.


As the tanking of the county’s financial ratings has hit after the commission’s public comments about potentially not paying the obligation on the Zona Rosa debt, is it financially feasible or responsible to even be considering financing $43 million for a jail right now? Surely the bond rating nosedive has killed what was a very questionable proposal to begin with, hasn’t it? Hasn’t it?

With considerably higher borrowing costs now staring the county in the face, that $43 million project would likely run well into the $50s of millions, according to people who do common sense math and story problems and stuff.


A banker from out of state emailed me to talk about Platte County’s credit worthiness after the financial ratings went into a deep dive in recent days. Municipal bond brokers are advising their internal traders/sales reps and subsequently their clients to beware of municipalities--specifically Platte County--that are hesitant to meet their obligations.

“The sales rep we use is basically saying beware of buying bonds that were issued by Platte County, for the time being anyway,” wrote the banker, who asked not to be referenced by name. He then added: “It will be interesting to watch how long it takes the county to dig their ratings out of the hole they find themselves in. Until they do, the cost of borrowing will be more expensive--if they can borrow.”

He continued: “If there are banks or individuals in the county that actually own municipal bonds from Platte County, the market value is likely lower than it was a month ago due to the ratings downgrade. If they hold the bonds to maturity and Platte County makes all of the payments, then it won’t impact them much.”

Without even being asked, the banker added: “After watching several other counties fall for the ‘hotel jail’ concept, including a county not far from Platte County in Atchison County, Kan., I’m opposed to the idea of a municipality taking on these kinds of endeavors.”

He then added: “The good news is it (the ratings downgrade) probably torpedoes the jail idea for now--or if it doesn’t it should.”


As we’ve reported the Platte City police chief has been ‘temporarily reassigned’ to his home for the next 30-60 days while an evaluation of department culture is ongoing. He’s still on the payroll, said to be working exclusively on emergency management duties. So when this ‘temporary reassignment’ is done Platte City should have the best emergency management plan of any town in America.


The Platte County Commission last week indicated it is considering spending the $700,000 it had budgeted to make a Zona Rosa bond payment to instead hire legal counsel to sue bond attorneys, brokers, Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s, etc.

Good luck with that. As one business professional texted me: “That’s like suing the railroad for running trains.”

May as well light that $700,000 in taxpayer cash on fire.

(Landmark Live lights the internet on fire Thursday nights on Facebook. Find Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley, on Facebook at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark and on Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 9/19/18

Sure, there’s chaos again with the Platte County Commission (which has become a weekly thing) and there’s personnel drama in multiple departments within the City of Platte City, but don’t miss this story: Donnie Baker, internet comedic sensation, is coming to Platte County.

That’s right. It’s big news. Donnie Baker will be performing at the Improv comedy club in Zona Rosa on Friday, Oct. 19 and Saturday, Oct. 20. Two shows each night.

Guys, this may be big enough to pay for those Zona Rosa parking garages. Nah, who am I kidding. But it might be big enough to at least revitalize Zona Rosa for a Friday and Saturday night in October.

Donnie Baker is a redneck comedian--his real name is Ron Sexton and in real life he is not a redneck--whose career is red hot right now. Search Donnie Baker on Facebook and YouTube. He’s good for some laughs and you’ll quickly pick up on some of his catch phrases. (My favorite: “I’ll say it right to your face.”)

You may recall we introduced you to Donnie Baker in a July 18 Between the Lines column in which I detailed an email exchange between Donnie and yours truly in which I invited him to come on Landmark Live when I would be near his Florida home in August. You’ll recall Donnie said a contract he has with the national radio show known as the Bob and Tom Show will prevent him from doing a video appearance on our show.

After another email conversation and after he had viewed our Landmark Live DWI Prevention episode, Donnie and I exchanged cell phone numbers and have advanced to the texting stage of this relationship. Never fear, ladies, this is not romantic in any way, but I’m guessing that come October Donnie Baker and I will be in the same room exchanging stories of ridiculousness, or as Donnie says, holding a one-beer press conference.


To let you know how big a fan I have become of Donnie’s shtick, in early August I was this close to driving eight hours to catch one of his shows in Indiana. Decided at the last minute I couldn’t work it into my schedule. Then came another opportunity to drive four hours to catch one of his shows in Iowa. This was even more tempting but that show was on a Monday night and again work got in the way. Now we find out that in October a 10 minute drive will get us to a Donnie show. It’s like Christmas came early.

Patience pays off. (That’s a three word memo someone should send to the county commission, by the way, for them to consider when it comes to topics like jails, taxes, elections, Zona Rosa and inclinations to sue people. Patience is often a much better course of action than reactionary impulses).


On to the drama inside two departments at the City of Platte City.

As exclusively reported in last week’s Landmark print edition, Platte City Police Chief Carl Mitchell has been ‘temporarily reassigned’ while a third party evaluation of the department’s culture is conducted. Lt. Al Devalkenaere, second in command, has also been temporarily reassigned. The consultant is reporting directly to the city attorney and will provide a verbal report to the board of aldermen in a closed session when the evaluation is finished.

Here’s what I can tell you. On the day of a late August meeting of the Platte City Board of Aldermen, I was receiving information from sources in a position to know that there were hard feelings brewing inside the police department. Specifically, I was being told female officers were upset with the chief, the exact reasoning for their displeasure was not entirely clear so we’ll leave it at that and see how it plays out in the evaluation process. But with that background knowledge, it wasn’t surprising to see the city name a female interim chief, which as The Landmark first reported last week is Lynda Hacker-Bristow. She comes on loan from the Platte County Sheriff’s Department. The city will be financially reimbursing the sheriff for the temporary duty officer.

Those same sources also said some police officers, not just females, are not happy with the management style inside the department. A sergeant recently ‘gave up his stripes,’ meaning he did not quit he simply wanted to step down from the rank of sergeant.

A couple of interesting points. After Mitchell was hired as police chief by Platte City in 2010, I received multiple emails from folks familiar with his work in Schaumburg, Ill., a northwestern suburb of Chicago. This is not unusual, I often receive these types of emails from folks when a new public official comes on board in Platte County. The emailers referencing the chief encouraged me to keep an eye on racial disparity for traffic stops and similar cultural issues. I saved all the emails and was reminded of this while reading the city staff report associated with the decision to ‘temporarily reassign’ the chief. That report by DJ Gehrt, city administrator, noted “a low racial disparity for traffic stops,” so at least publicly the city is saying racial disparity is not a problem under Mitchell.

Mitchell has had a controversy or two in his time here. The most serious of this happened in 2012, the year the police department mounted a camouflaged video camera on private property that directly faced a family’s backyard and several bedroom windows. The camera was placed on private property without a warrant and without the permission of the property owner where the camera was placed. The ACLU got involved and this thing got ugly. Many observers were surprised the chief survived that one. The city in a press release at the time said the camera was placed “near the rear entrance to Riverview Park to help the city determine the number and species of wildlife that were drawn to an area where feral cats had been regularly fed.” As noted, it turned out the camera was mounted on private property without a warrant and without the property owner’s permission and was aimed into the backyard of a female resident, who understandably was not the least bit pleased.


As for any inside skinny into the firing of parks director Dannie Stamper, as we’ve reported his employment was terminated and the city has hired a forensic accountant who is also an attorney to investigate “transactions” involving the parks department. In a strongly worded staff report--a public document--city officials say Stamper was fired “due to violation of state statutes, city ordinance and city employment regulations related to public employees.” That’s a ballsy public statement, which is an indication city officials feel confident they have the parks director by the shorts on something. Not necessarily something illegal, but that wording is an indication they feel confident he committed a fireable offense. You don’t generally make a strong public statement like that if things are a little iffy.

We can assume a report on the investigation being done will eventually be made public. The skinny The Landmark has been hearing indicates there may be something unusual about a parks department transaction involving a dump truck that has prompted city officials to want to take a closer look at transactions.

Again, let’s emphasize not necessarily something illegal and not necessarily something particular to Stamper, but enough to prompt them to take a closer look.
Stamper has appealed his firing and his appeal is set to be heard by the board of aldermen next week.

(Get more Between the Lines on Twitter @ivanfoley and on Facebook at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 9/12/18

A few months ago, DJ Gehrt, city administrator for Platte City, and I were having a casual conversation about local news topics. The veteran city administrator remarked how things were going very smoothly at the city at that time, which he admitted normally means “look out” because things will eventually turn the other direction.

That’s kind of the way government works. This isn’t Gehrt’s first rodeo, so he is very aware how quickly things can change.

Things have definitely changed for the city now. The parks director was fired recently after alleged violations of state law and city ordinance, another parks employee has left, and there is drama going on inside the police department. All this at the same time.

“We didn’t want you to be bored,” Gehrt said as I entered a public safety committee meeting Monday night. “That never happens,” was my reply. “I know, but usually it’s not us,” Gehrt smiled back.

He’s right about that.


At a time when trust and transparency issues have already been raised by members of the public, I continue to be surprised by this Platte County Commission. And not in a good way.

On the commission’s calendar for Tuesday, Sept. 18 is a posted “sheriff meeting,” in which the county commissioners and the sheriff will be together at God’s Mountain Bible Camp in Rushville, MO. 64484, in Buchanan County.
The meeting is posted to last from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Why? Seems to be an obvious question. It’s a question I first posed with a call to the office of the county commission and then to each county commissioner via individual emails.

Apparently there is a shooting range at God’s Mountain that is used by the sheriff’s department. We’re told the county commissioners want to “tour the range.” In the way the meeting is posted on the commission calendar, it seems obvious the sheriff will be present while the commissioners are together at the range.

Why should this be a concern for anyone who believes in open and transparent government? Because when two or more county commissioners get together in a posted “meeting,” county business has the potential to be discussed. And as we all know, the county commission right now is in the middle of discussions over a proposed $43 million addition, funded with a suggested sales tax increase, to the county jail that would raise the jail capacity to 510 or more inmates.

So getting all three Platte County Commissioners and the sheriff together for three hours in another county--a 30 minute drive from the county seat in Platte City--at a time when there is a controversial proposal on the table is not a good look. Innocent though it may be, it just isn’t a look the county commission should be creating for itself right now.

The county commissioners can feign outrage over anyone questioning this, they can say it’s a social or educational event, they can say they won’t talk about anything other than a shooting range, they can give a lame “fake news” cry (which we’ve been told has been a recent whimper from a couple of them in certain settings) or say whatever they want but the bottom line is this group campaigned on improving transparency. Posting a “meeting” involving the sheriff in the hills of a retreat 30 minutes away from the county seat in Platte City--in another county, no less--at a time when a controversial jail proposal is on their plate doesn’t exactly improve transparency and trust.

Bad, bad timing.


If county commissioners want to get a look at this shooting range that’s completely understandable. But unless they’re simply wanting to use this as county commissioner play time (multiple commissioners answered my email in part by saying they hope to get the chance to shoot while at the range) is it necessary for the three commissioners to go there at the same time? No, it is not. How about go there one at a time at their leisure? This would avoid the potential to get into discussion of county business--and the controversial proposal on the table--while they’re together with the sheriff in another county.

Consider it this way: The county’s planning and zoning board hears all kinds of development proposals, proposed zoning changes, etc. and zoning board members--individually--often go view the location prior to their meeting. They don’t post a meeting to be held at the site of the proposed zoning change so they can all get together there at the same time and potentially discuss the proposal they’ll be ruling on later.


The most recent update on the jail proposal is that the county is awaiting some estimates from the architects on adding a second level to the basement (known as “futures”) level of the current jail. As reported in The Landmark last week, architects are now saying adding a “mezzanine” level to the basement could make 102 beds possible. Previously, estimated space in the jail had started out at 65 beds, then dropped to 51 based on updated housing requirements and regulations. Relocating some HVAC duct work could make the second level possible, architects are now telling the commission, and raise the potential capacity in futures to 102.


We’re thrilled that the fine folks at the Platte County Farm Bureau have invited us out to do our Landmark Live show from the organization’s 100th-year celebration Thursday night.

That’s right, the Platte County Farm Bureau will be noting its 100th year with an event at the Eighteen Ninety venue at Tracy. (We’re told the celebration is open to Farm Bureau members only).

Guest speaker will be Chris Chinn, director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

While all that is going on, your Landmark Live gang will be doing our show from somewhere nearby, I suppose wherever they get brave enough to place us. We’ll be interviewing local Farm Bureau peeps and some of our favorite local farmers. Chris Kamler and I will pretend we know about farms, crops, tractors and other objects not in our normal skill set.

The only thing I’m sure of is that at some point we’ll get awkwardly off topic. Should be fun. You’ll be able to find the video at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark.

(Get more Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley, on Facebook or email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 9/5/18


It’s one of the most attractive things about the news biz, and it’s what has always kept things interesting for me in the 1,900 weeks worth of Landmarks in which my byline has appeared.

You--and I--just never know what’s going to happen from week to week. That’s something not found in every profession.

Unpredictability such as county commissioners who campaigned on what voters were led to believe were their core beliefs, stances from which they would not stray. In their campaigns they constantly banged the drums of fiscal conservatism, no new taxes, smaller government, lower taxes/higher accountability, ‘let’s stop building stuff and focus on maintenance.’

That was then.

Suddenly a group that campaigned on all those platforms and political principles is jumping into big government mode--promoting higher taxes, more stuff, new buildings, bigger government, more spending.

A group of commissioners who aren’t shy about publicly criticizing a previous commission for potentially putting the taxpayers on the hook for up to $32 million in bonds for infrastructure at Zona Rosa now are promoting the idea of putting taxpayers on the hook for a $43 million jail that they admit can only be afforded by renting out space to 150 prisoners brought here from Kansas City and continuing to rent space for Immigration and Customs Enforcement prisoners.

I mean, we all saw this coming, right?

No, no we didn’t.


I’ve covered Platte County Commissions since 1982. In those 36 years I’ve never seen a more surprising and embarrassing political about-face than this one. The conviction upon which they campaigned on the core principles of no new taxes, smaller government, lower taxes/higher accountability has been topped only by the suddenness in which it all changed and the darkness in which it was happening.


Most elected officials who create a credibility problem for themselves do it over something other than a jail, of all things. As one political lifer told me recently: “A jail is a hell of a thing to be proactive about.”

And make no mistake, the current commissioners have created a credibility problem for themselves. The sudden about-face in their stance of no new taxes. The about-face in the promise of lowering taxes. The jumping out of the bushes on Aug. 6 with a supposed doomsday situation that they wanted to forward to the ballot in three weeks. The lack of transparency, which is quite the opposite of “higher accountability.” Their internal lack of agreement over whether the rush to build is due to jail overcrowding or due to a bond rating. The misrepresentation of what the jail committee’s conclusion was in 2014. The apparent lack of desire to openly ask for help from the general public in developing a jail plan. The wishy-washy back-and-forth over what’s ‘on the table’ or ‘off the table.’

All these behaviors have created trust issues in the public.

The public right now has no idea what to expect from this commission. The public right now has valid reasons to question all actions, comments and statistics. The public will--and it should--want to question everything from this point forward.


The commission’s “please vote for this tax increase now and we'll lower other taxes later” pledge is already being privately ridiculed by many members of the very political party this group represents. It is being lampooned with references to the old Popeye cartoon in which Wimpy says: “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”


This is interesting. Last Monday’s jail population was listed at 183 inmates in the 180-bed jail. Of that number, 19 were ICE inmates occupying beds leased out by the county at $77 per day per inmate.

Fast forward one week and the county jail population is now listed at 207, still including the 19 ICE.

So in one week the listed jail population went from 183 to 207. That’s a 13 percent growth. In a week. You have to admit that makes a reasonable person go “hmmm.” It reminds me that a retired federal agent recently wondered aloud whether the county was intentionally keeping a high prison count to make some kind of statement.


I’m guessing Doomsday Dagmar is already extrapolating the math. A 13% growth rate per week means the county will have a prison population of 510 by Oct. 23. Guys, that new $43 million jail is already full and we haven’t even voted on it yet!


It’s time for fun and games and prizes. Landmark Live is back for Season 2. Join us at 6 p.m. from Tanner’s Bar and Grill in Platte City Thursday night when we’ll talk Kansas City sports radio and Chiefs football with Jay Binkley of 610 Sports. The NFL season kicks off that night so Tanner’s will have the action on its many screens. If the weather is good we’ll be broadcasting from the patio, look for the Landmark Live banner and drop by to say hi. We may even put you on the air. If you can’t make it to Tanner’s watch the show on our Facebook page at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark.

We’ll be giving our predictions on the Chiefs, the Super Bowl and may even talk a little high school football just for fun.

If you hang around long enough, you may get to hear some karaoke, which begins at 8 on Thursday and Friday nights at Tanner’s. And by the way, you know who is good at karaoke? I know a couple guys. One is Mike Johns, one of the owners of Tanner’s, who sounds exactly like Neil Diamond. The other? None other than local attorney Bob Shaw. Yup. I’ve witnessed it.

(Get more Between the Lines on Twitter @ivanfoley and find Foley on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 8/29/18

Friends, the only bad part about the return of NFL season is now we will hear radio personalities and sometimes our buddies and sometimes random dudes we meet on the street talk about their fantasy football teams. This is brutal. Borderline inhumane. Almost like verbal waterboarding.

It’s fantasy football. Fantasy means not real. Guys, we typically don’t start talking about our other fantasies in public so why talk about your fantasy football team? And do you really think anyone is paying attention? Even if a trapped listener is actually hearing what you’re saying, are they really absorbing the information? Like when we’re watching games on Sunday are we really thinking: “Oh man, Tyreek Hill just caught a touchdown pass. I remember random dude told me he has Tyreek Hill on his fantasy team. I bet random dude is very pleased right now. Way to go, random dude. You’re good at fake drafting fake things in a fake league. You’re faking awesome.”


This is an accurate description of what I hear when someone starts talking about his or her fantasy football team: “Blah blah blah, something something something.” And then when the other person doesn’t realize that I’m not really listening and keeps talking anyway, I find myself starting a conversation with myself in my head, something like: “Ok, after work don’t forget to fill up the gas tank and run the car through the wash, maybe hit the DQ drive-through for a banana split. And don’t forget to trim your fingernails tonight, dufus. Look at those things. You’re starting to look like Edward Scissorhands. . .”


The arrival of the CVS Pharmacy distribution center in Platte County (see front page story/photos by The Landmark’s Valerie Verkamp), which we’re told will eventually have 360 jobs, comes at a nice time, with the upcoming closing of the Harley-Davidson plant. In other words, some workers in the region who have been displaced now may have the opportunity to stay in the region. The governor was in Platte County on Friday to help celebrate the opening of the distribution center, which we’re told has already hired about 50 workers and hopes to have about 160 employees on site by the end of 2018 before eventually hitting its goal of 360.

CVS is getting some tax help. The Kansas City Star reported last week that tax incentives for the CVS facility have been approved by Port KC. Those incentives, according to the Star report, include a 22-year property tax exemption and a 10-year exemption on equipment. Officials said the property was not exempted for the first two years while the project was under construction. For 10 years CVS will get a 90 percent property tax exemption, and for 10 years it will get a 50 percent exemption.

Now if you’re like me, when you read that you want a definition of “Port KC.” Here’s what we’re told: Port KC is a political subdivision of the State of Missouri and was established in 1977 by the City of Kansas City. It is governed by a nine-member citizen board of commissioners, appointed by the mayor of Kansas City. Port KC “is granted broad governmental and business enterprise powers for the purpose of promoting economic development and job creation.” These powers include the power to acquire, own, construct, redevelop, lease, maintain, and conduct land reclamation, residential development, commercial and mixed-use development, industrial parks and facilities and terminals, terminal facilities and any other type of port facility.

Port KC’s statutory powers of issuing bonds, land reclamation and the ability to enter into contracts to implement its development projects “make it an influential agency that has the ability to engage in a wide variety of economic development projects,” according to its website.


I’m trying to give myself and my column readers a break from most county jail talk this week. Let’s try to pause and not allow our thoughts to get as scrambled as the folks who are currently pushing the idea of a significant tax increase for a $43 million jail potentially funded in a large part by renting beds to places like the City of Kansas City and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Ron Schieber, presiding commissioner, last week admitted to being on “information overload” when it comes to the commission’s jail discussions.

A potential jail project was apparently the best kept secret in the county until a few weeks ago and now it’s the first thing on people’s minds when they see me on the street. Many have indicated they don’t appreciate feeling like they were being bamboozled in darkness. “Shocked” is a word we’ve heard multiple times.

But I digress. Besides, didn’t I say I was trying to take a break from jail talk?
Yes, I’m primarily avoiding jail talk here this week. But Guy Speckman, publisher of the Savannah Reporter newspaper in Andrew County, had some thoughts on jails in his column in his fine newspaper last week. So instead of more thoughts from me today, here are Guy Speckman’s comments:

“Andrew County is not the only county interested in cashing in on other people’s criminals. Platte County officials are considering building a new jail. They have vacillated between a project of approximately $10 million dollars for a ‘finish the basement’ remodel and a complete new jail or expansion with a $40 million-plus price tag. They had scrapped the plan for the more expensive alternative until some government folks from Kansas City reached out and said they would be glad to put their criminals in a new, fancy jail in Platte County. Now it is back in discussion. None of us will be around for it, but I have a bad feeling about how these jail projects end. Andrew County is running around with 40 years of debt and other counties are going to get in the game. Depreciation creeps on everything and everyone. Combine that with a world that can change its opinion on what is crime and you could see a lot of empty jails someday.”


Wait, Speckman just used the word ‘vacillated’ in the newspaper. Is that even legal? Sounds so dirty.

(Be watching our social media platforms for an announcement about Season 2 of Landmark Live. Follow Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley and find him on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 8/22/18

Welcome back to Between the Lines, where we leave the light on for you.


Raise your hand if you haven’t yet received a payout from Park Hill in a discrimination lawsuit. Okay, thanks. They’ll be getting to you shortly.


Anybody else having bad luck with the watermelons you’re picking out this year? I really haven’t found a good one yet. I realize the ideal time for watermelons in this part of the country is August through September, so maybe my cravings have come just a hair too early. Not sure. But if you know where my chances will be good at finding a winner, shoot me a note. Also, if you like salt on your watermelon then you and I just became best friends.


Let’s applaud the Platte County Commission for deciding to end their talk of putting a jail/law enforcement sales tax increase on the November ballot. It was the right decision. The process was way too rushed and had way too much of a surprise factor to earn the trust of the public. A deep breath was needed. The public was feeling blindsided after this topic had jumped out of the blue from a group of commissioners who had steadfastly campaigned on “no new taxes,” “lower taxes/higher accountability,” and “smaller government.”

Those weren’t just words the candidates said in passing. Those items were the focus of their campaign.

It did seem ironic a county commission that prides itself in long term planning was trying to put together a long term plan with long term implications in such a short amount of time. There’s some irony in trying to do a 20-year jail plan in about three weeks.

While we applaud them at the moment for taking a pause, the public must remain watchful and keep a close eye on the transparency factor in this, which to this point has leaned much more toward darkness than it has toward light. The commission hopefully will realize that working on a plan behind the scenes and then bouncing that plan off a few people in their inner circle is not the same thing as collaborating with the public in an effort to develop a strategy.


A similar doomsday type atmosphere was being pushed in 2014, if you’ll recall, and a county commission at that time eventually appointed a public committee to study all factors. It turned out to be a fine decision. A hard-working committee took the job seriously, examined all the data, poked holes in some of it (poked holes in a lot of it, frankly, as many numbers were shown to be inaccurate or misleading), and eventually a recommendation came down that the committee believed no immediate action was necessary.

In a verbal summary of the committee’s findings she presented to the county commission in August of 2014, Dagmar Wood, who is now a county commissioner promoting a $43 million jail to house more than 500 inmates but in 2014 was a conservative bulldog on the jail committee, said: “Committee members agreed there was no current need to justify the construction of a new jail or expanding facilities to house inmates.” (Aug. 6, 2014 issue of The Landmark).

Committee members unanimously agreed that the initial expert reports provided to the committee regarding a proposed jail expansion and county population projections--as originally relied upon by the commission and sheriff--should be discarded. “Data within those reports conflicted with the findings of the committee and data provided by the sheriff.”

I bring this up to point out that sometimes data provided to or from county officials can be inaccurate, misleading or insufficient in order to make a sound decision. It happens. That’s why having an outside set of eyes go over the information the commissioners are looking at would be a good thing.


If you’re wondering about the chances of getting this snowballing idea of a $43 million jail to house more than 510 inmates stopped, as well as the proposed idea of using the facility as a money-making jail hotel, here’s my quick scouting report on the three county commissioners on this topic. (And by the way, let me say all three are good people and I thank them for their work, their community service and their commitment. We just disagree).

I still hold out hope that the positions of Ron Schieber, presiding commissioner, and John Elliott, second district, can be reeled in. When voters heard the campaign talk of tax realignment and tax restructuring we were told it would happen in 2020. Is the public trying to be spooked into believing a tax INCREASE needs to happen now instead of waiting for a tax REALIGNMENT to happen in 2020?

I’ll simply say this: If you confidently believe a tax INCREASE now will be followed by a tax DECREASE in 2020 then you have more blind faith in government than I do. Government is much more skilled at taking your money than it is at giving you back your money.

I’m not confident when it comes to the public being able to reel in the position of Dagmar Wood, first district commissioner. That train may have already left the station. In fact I fear it’s in danger of leaving the track. For whatever reason, she seems to be the most intent on carrying the water in promoting a new and expansive jail, even though I’m confident the sheriff can carry his own. She also seems to be the most determined to recruit 150 Kansas City prisoners to Platte County for the hotel income.


After reading our recent articles on the jail topic, a retired federal agent who lives in Platte County reached out to The Landmark this week to give some thoughts. I’m hopeful the retired agent will in the future put his experience and knowledge on this topic into words in the form of a letter to the editor. For now, I’ll simply convey a couple of things he mentioned in our conversation.

First a recent quote from Wood got his attention, and perhaps not in the way you’d imagine. The quote from the Aug. 15 Landmark is: “There’s also safety issues. When you get that many inmates in a small space there’s a lot of friction and violence. We’ve had several of our sheriff’s department deputies have to be hospitalized because they’ve gone in to break up fights there.”

The retired federal agent said this: “What she is saying is that the county is not currently managing its resources properly,” is his interpretation of that quote. If the jail is truly crowded to the point it is causing safety issues then the county shouldn’t be having space taken up by 20 ICE prisoners. And the ex-agent suggests prosecutors, the sheriff and judges should hold a meeting of the minds to perhaps agree on procedures that might lessen the jail population.

“Could misdemeanor, trustee (work release), and low bail prisoners be released when the jail population becomes too large? Is the county unnecessarily maintaining high prison populations at risk to the prisoners and sheriff’s department employees to make some kind of statement?” are questions the retired federal agent asked out loud.

More of his thoughts in a future column.

(Get more Between the Lines on Twitter@ivanfoley and on Facebook. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 8/15/18

If they want to place an issue on the November ballot, Platte County Commissioners have 12 days to meet the election board’s deadline for getting ballot language turned in to the election office. At this point the commissioners can’t, or won’t, confirm for the public the size of their proposed tax increase, they have not shared a detailed financial plan, they have not held a public forum of any type to seek public input, nor have they presented any kind of plan to the public that can be evaluated in time for feedback to affect the ballot language.

Is this good government in action?

Not at all.


There’s no legitimate reason this thing has to be rushed to make a November ballot. It’s almost as if they don’t want your input, folks, in developing a plan. Maybe they feel they’re much smarter than the common man and common woman.

Maybe they just want to get the thing on the ballot by Aug. 28, call it a “public safety” tax and then conduct a campaign designed to scare people to voting for it out of concerns for “public safety.” After all, there’s going to be very little time for anyone to vet the plan, evaluate the numbers, fact check the numbers and the sources, etc.

Something this important being pondered by a public entity as large as Platte County normally gets many months of public input and public discussion before ballot language is submitted.

There’s no emergency need or threat to the public for the commissioners to be in such a hurry to get “this” on the ballot. Keep in mind it’s 12 days from the deadline and they’re still not telling us what “this” is.


In an interview session with The Landmark this week, it became clear one reason the commissioners are hurrying to try to get something on the November ballot is that they campaigned on a pledge not to hold county tax issue elections in April or special elections.

“We don’t do special elections,” Dagmar Wood, first district commissioner, said defiantly this week.

Hmm. Commissioners also campaigned on adamant pledges of no new taxes, smaller government and lower taxes/higher accountability. Those promises are getting tossed out the window. But the promise Wood wants to hang her hat on is ‘we don’t do special elections’?

Really? That’s the logic? That’s the campaign pledge you want to hitch your wagon to?

So the commissioners didn’t really mean all that campaign talk about smaller government, no new taxes, lower taxes/higher accountability but they did mean the part about no special elections?

This is starting to feel like an episode of Punk’d.


If the public needed another reason to convince the county commissioners to slow down, here it is: the county commissioners don’t even agree on why they’re in a hurry.

Dagmar Wood, first district commissioner, says it’s jail space. Last week, Ron Schieber, presiding commissioner, said if the commission waits two years “by then you’re out of space,” though his opinion when I asked the question on Monday of this week did not seem to be as strong. Meanwhile, John Elliott, second district commissioner, disagrees, saying the issue of Zona Rosa and potential bond payments the county may make to bail out a private entity are what is causing the urgency in his mind. “I would have been willing to ride it out for two years if we didn’t have Zona Rosa hanging over our heads.”

When three people making the decision to move very quickly can’t even agree on why they need to move very quickly, then maybe it’s time for everyone to take a deep breath, take more time with the process and involve the public in the discussion.

If there’s ever a ballot issue that deserves to be meticulously evaluated on its merits before the ballot language deadline, this is the one.


Prior to being elected in 2016, Dagmar Wood served on a county commission-appointed jail committee in 2014 when talk of a new jail had surfaced. Wood was an admirable bulldog on that committee, which met for months. She helped lead the charge to cut through many projections and reports that proved to be inaccurate or misleading.

Twice in recent days Wood has given us a little bit of revisionist history when she talks about what the 2014 jail committee recommended. We can pick that apart in a future column.

For now, what’s important to notice is how Wood’s attitude has changed now that she is on the other side of the table in the current jail talk.

“She was the one so adamant about vetting all the details in 2014, digging into everything,” a person involved with the 2014 jail committee told me this week.

"Now she wants to do all this stuff without a public forum and without presenting any details.”

Duly noted.


Wood this week seemed to be very bothered with my opinion expressed here last week that the county commissioners haven’t been upfront and transparent in this process. This is a debate I will be more than happy to engage in. I could fill an entire page of the newspaper on this topic.

“I feel like we are doing this (letting people know a law enforcement/jail tax increase idea is on their radar for placement on the November ballot) very early in the process,” Wood said Monday.

This quote makes me giggle like a school kid in a tickle fight.

So three weeks ahead of the ballot deadline is ‘very early in the process?’

Reasonable minds would disagree.

The county commission had not publicly mentioned anything about considering a possible November vote until Aug. 6, three weeks prior to ballot deadline. And even at that Aug. 6 meeting, the intent to put something on the November ballot wasn’t mentioned by the commissioners until a direct question was asked by David Park. Park stepped to the microphone during the public comments portion of the commission’s agenda topic. If Park had not directly asked the question would the commissioners have ever volunteered they are considering a November ballot issue? Since the commission’s portion of the presentation had ended by that time, it seems likely they were not going to share that little tidbit with the public if Park had not asked.

True transparency means you go out of your way to get information out to the public. True transparency isn’t waiting for the public to go out of its way to come ask you questions out of the blue.

(Get more Between the Lines on Twitter @ivanfoley and on Facebook at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark. Find him on Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 8/8/18

Here’s a reminder: The Landmark works for all of our readers. We work for our readers’ right to know. All of them. That includes those readers whose political viewpoints may not match up with our own.


Well this is a plot twist of gigantic proportions.

You’ve probably guessed I’m referring to the Platte County Commission’s sudden and--up till Monday--secret consideration to proposing a new sales tax.

A November ballot proposal, if approved, would be a tax increase. A tax increase proposed by three county commissioners whose entire candidacy and commitment to elected service was based on “we’re going to lower taxes and reduce the size of government.”

And transparency. This commission has prided itself on being transparent. But there’s a difference between having an open door policy, inviting constituents to drop in every Friday for coffee at a rotating restaurant site and being truly forthcoming and transparent with the public you’ve been elected to serve. (And if you think you’re smelling a future column discussing the difference in more detail then you are correct. Bottom line: There is transparency that meets Sunshine Law requirements. Then there is transparency that helps keep the trust of your public. There is a difference).

The detailed proposal the commissioners eventually come forward with, when they’re done talking with no members of the public in the room at work sessions that had no specific items listed on the agenda (again, meeting Sunshine does not always mean you’re meeting public trust), may in fact be an award winner. I hope that it is.

But even if it is, the trust factor has taken a hit. . .


And by sudden consideration, I mean sudden. As mentioned above, the county commission’s first public indication it is considering placing a tax increase on the November ballot came on Monday, Aug. 6. That’s only three weeks before the ballot language has to be finalized and submitted to the Platte County Board of Elections.

Dagmar Wood, first district commissioner, told me in-house discussions among the commission on this potential new sales tax have been going on for only a month or two in work sessions. Is a month or two enough time to hash out a plan that’s going to have long term impact? Why the rush? The sudden sense of urgency gives the impression of being panicky and reactionary. Now, to be fair they may not be feeling panicked or reactionary at all. But no two ways around it, the sudden rush to get something on the ballot puts off that vibe. It’s unexpected from an effective group of commissioners who have been working on long range planning and budgeting.

The fact that the public wasn’t told until the past few days that a new tax is even being considered is very concerning. As anyone who follows Platte County politics knows, previous public comments from this commission had indicated law enforcement needs would be addressed when the current parks tax sunsets in 2020.

Most concerning is that with less than three weeks to go before ballot language deadline, the commission has not reached out to acquire public input on any law enforcement/jail tax plan.

The fact that this thing came flying out of the weeds with no advance public warning on Aug. 6, just 22 days prior to ballot language deadline, is unsettling to anyone who expects more in the way of communication and transparency from its public officials.


Do you have questions? I’m sure you do. Here are a few:

What will be the amount of the proposed sales tax? Half cent? Quarter cent? Will there be one tax for law enforcement operations and a separate tax for jail construction? How much money will go toward jail expansion? How large is the proposed jail expansion project, both in terms of beds and in terms of architectural footprint? Will it look like we have a state prison occupying downtown Platte City?

Is the jail lack of space issue real, is it imagined or is it a little of both? Even if the lack of jail space is real is it possible to put it off for two years? Remember in 2014 the public was being told the jail would soon be overflowing. This is 2018. Jail’s still here and no prisoners are complaining about unsavory conditions. What if the county stopped accepting prisoners from ICE? Would that allow the jail population to stay at an acceptable level until the park tax can be realigned with a portion going to law enforcement?


Taken aback by the sudden about-face political stance of a set of commissioners that had been adamant about their core principles to this point, I reached out to a personal mentor of mine for some conversation. It’s a person who has been involved in government the entire time we’ve known each other, which is about 36 years now. This sudden change of heart by county commissioners to abandon their previous “no new taxes” and “lower taxes, higher accountability” themes was our topic of discussion. Since the county isn’t exactly being forthcoming with its entire thought process to this point, it was time to see if the wise one could help us read between the lines. My friend had this to say as he thought out loud:

“Why in the world would they make the jail an issue? Their entire candidacy was based on ‘reducing the size of government, lower taxes and we’ll all have a great life’ kind of stuff. A jail is a bizarre thing to be proactive about. Why stop in the middle of what they’re doing and bring up a jail issue? I don’t understand why you do that especially when you’ve got that thing about ‘no new taxes,” this observer continued, literally speaking to himself. “As far as I know they don’t have an issue with the jail in the way of prisoner complaints or lawsuits over conditions.”

I sat up in my chair.

“People are driven by two things: fear and money,” the wise one continued.

I then told my wise friend the county has about 20 ICE prisoners in the jail right now and the sheriff says the department takes in $600,000 per year by renting beds to ICE and Kansas City. His thought process continued.

“Maybe that’s the meat on the bone. Maybe they want to be in the hotel business. Maybe it’s a business model. If they get crowded and have to stop taking ICE prisoners the $600,000 goes away. There are too many mixed messages in here. Too many unanswered questions out there. But again, a jail is a hell of a thing to be proactive about.”

(Get more from Foley and the wise one weekly in Between the Lines and on Facebook, Twitter, and wherever you run into them)











Written 8/1/18

Welcome back to another Between the Lines. Feel free to break off into discussion groups.


Speaking of prescriptions--which we will later in this column--here’s a solid tip for you. Download the app GoodRx onto your smartphone. It will guide you to the lowest prescription prices in your area on the medicine you’re looking for and offers money-saving coupons that you simply show to your pharmacy people, who will look at your phone and punch in the coupon code in their system.

Works like a charm. At least it did for me, hopefully you’ll have the same good fortune.

That’s GoodRx. Download it now. Thank me later.


So I made my annual trip to Chiefs training camp in St. Joe on Friday morning. This year’s Chiefs training camp coverage in The Landmark, by the way, is sponsored by local realtor Tony Farr of RE/MAX. Check out his ad on page B-1.

The temperatures were nice and cool, not the usual unbearable heat and humidity experienced for these trips. Special shoutout to Gary Lezak and his dogs for a fine job with the weather, though in reality Mike Thompson probably did the heavy lifting.


First observation: Eric Berry has changed his hairstyle. He has dreadlocks now. Looks very cool, especially if you’re into the whole “I’m a badass and I’m here to knock you into next week” kind of thing.

Maybe he did this for an intimidation factor, though opponents won’t be able to see all of his dreads due to the headgear football players are required to wear. If Berry starts playing without a helmet we’ll know he’s gone full gangsta.


Second observation:

The Chiefs have a guy on their roster whose last name is Smallwood.
I feel sorry for this guy. Gonna go out on a limb and say he was the subject of some ribbing in high school. Kudos to him for overcoming, which proves dynamite comes in small packages.

Think about it. Not only is his name Smallwood but he has to advertise that fact on the back of his jersey in front of thousands of folks in the stands and millions watching on television.

This is indeed unfortunate.

Smallwood should petition the league for permission to only put his first name on his jersey. Or consider changing his name to something like Richard Long.


A third observation: Gasoline is cheap in St. Joe. At least cheap compared to Platte County.

While the price per gallon here is $2.75, prices in Joe Town (does anybody really call it Joe Town?) were at $2.52. So if you’re making the trip to training camp, maybe head that way with a low fuel level and consider filling your tank while you’re up that direction.


These are the kinds of tips you can’t get just anywhere, my friends. Now you know why we charge 50 cents for this newspaper.


Speaking of names, the Chiefs have four guys on the roster named Williams. Even more confusing, three of them play the same position.

Yes, the Chiefs have three running backs named Williams. There’s Darrell, his brother Darrell and his other brother Darrell.

Not really.

Their names are Darrel, Damien and Kerwynn. They are not related.

I worry this at some point could cause the Chiefs to be penalized for having too many men on the field. What happens when the running back coach says, “Williams, get in there!” and three guys sprint to the huddle?

Coaches will need to be more specific. These guys are gonna need nicknames. Maybe one of them could become Smallwood.


Always looking for little tidbits I can share with you fine folks at Chiefs camp, I kept my eyes wide open and hung out for nearly three hours. Normally the practices don’t last that long but on Friday Andy Reid had the boys on the field doing drills for nearly two and a half hours. This forced me into playing hurt, you guys. As you’ve heard me mention previously, 18 years ago this month I broke my back in an unfortunate incident involving some gutters, a garage roof, lack of a tall enough ladder and a boneheaded decision to take a flying leap instead of waiting for backup. Things are mostly fine and I don’t worry about it flaring up unless I take a jarring hit from a defensive back, stand up for too long or sit down for too long. Got to mix it up. When I’m playing photographer at Chiefs camp, it’s all standing. There’s no wussing out while I’m working for loyal Landmark readers and sponsor Tony Farr. Because even though he doesn’t have dreadlocks, Tony strikes me as a badass who wouldn’t put up with wussery.

Anyway, normally I’ll pop a pain pill (shoutout to the prescription narcotic known as Tramadol) right before covering a Chiefs practice to keep my back loose. I always carry some of those helpful bad boys in my laptop case. But this time a problem arose. As I prepared to exit my car before heading to the practice field, I reached down to where my laptop normally rides to grab a pill. But the laptop bag was AWOL. It was back at the office where I had placed it while running in to grab the camera.

So I covered this long practice absent the pain killers. While standing up the entire time. This was not good. In fact this was the opposite of good. By the end of practice my back was screaming ‘just shoot me.’ Things had locked up. I felt like I had just given birth to Bryan Busby.

It was an embarrassingly long and painful walk of shame back to my car, kind of slumped like Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies. I was proud of myself for resisting the urge to ask the Chiefs for a ride in the ambulance that was on standby.

Note to self: Next year charge Tony double to cover the pain and suffering.

(Get more Between the Lines pain and suffering on Twitter @ivanfoley and at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark)


Written 7/25/18

Not sure why but it seems like things that shouldn’t bother me are bothering me this week. Maybe I’m behind on my sleep. Maybe it’s the dog days of summer. Maybe it’s the national embarrassment the United States Postal Service has become. Maybe it’s Brandon Maurer. Maybe it’s Ned Yost. Maybe I picked a bad week to quit amphetamines.

I’ll feel better after writing this column.


Here’s my consumer rant for the week:

Fellow men and women in cars, if you’re headed to the bank to conduct a piece of banking business that’s going to take more than a couple minutes, do us all a favor and don’t use the bank drive through window. I beg of you.

If you’re there to conduct banking business of five or 10 minutes or more please park your car and go inside the lobby. Is this too much to ask? The vast majority of us using the drive-through are there to simply drop off a deposit or some other simple and quick transaction. Folks who are respectful of others realize it’s not cool to use the drive-through lane for anything complicated or time consuming. This really isn’t a difficult concept and should not need to be publicly explained.

Twice in recent weeks I’ve had this happen, where I’ve been stuck behind some inconsiderate soul using the bank drive through lane for a time-consuming transaction. The really frustrating part is the bank has only one drive-through lane. And by the time I’ve realized the person ahead of me is conducting drive-through douchebaggery, a vehicle has pulled up behind mine and effectively pinned me in the line. No escape.

Time is valuable to all of us, my fellow bankers. That’s why we’re using the drive-through.

Don’t be that guy. Or girl.


And let’s apply the same common sense approach at the pharmacy drive-through, you guys. If you’re there to drop off a prescription, don’t plan to park your butt in the drive-through lane to wait while the pharmacist is busy counting your pills and the girl at the register is trying to figure out how badly your health insurance company is going to put the screws to you. And pharmacy employees, be aware of consequences. If the driver is wanting to wait for the prescription please tell the person to pull forward and get out of the line so the rest of civilization can get on with our lives. Making us all wait there as if filling this person’s order takes a village isn’t cool.


Chiefs training camp opens in St. Joseph this week at Missouri Western State University. The real football season can’t be far behind. Thank you, sports gods, for the relief after kicking us in the groin all summer with things like World Cup soccer, golf and extremely awful Royals baseball.

But here’s one downfall: Cover your ears because about 50 percent of the Kansas City sports media people still don’t know how to pronounce the name of the Chiefs’ young starting quarterback.

His name is Patrick Mahomes. Let’s sound it out phonetically: Muh-homes. Right?
So why do so many in Kansas City media say it wrong? A majority of them seem to pronounce it Muh-holmes.

Incorrect. Insert the sound of an annoying game show buzzer right here.

There is no “L” in his name. He isn’t Priest Holmes. There is an “L” in Holmes. There is no “L” in Mahomes. There just isn’t. You can squint and cross your eyes and there’s still no “L” in Mahomes, I promise you.

So please stop. My middle school English teacher’s ears are bleeding. If you won’t do it for me then do it for her.


Have you seen those lip sync challenges among law enforcement agencies on Facebook? A Landmark reader has asked me to encourage the Platte City Police Department to make a lip sync music video.

So here I am, requesting the Platte City Police Department to make one of those lip sync challenge videos and post it on Facebook.

Sgt. Mike Mand would be great in this. I think Chief Carl Mitchell and Lt. Al Devalkenaere might even surprise us with musical skills. Or maybe not. Either way it would be fun to watch.

I’d suggest leaving Officer Robert Newman out, though, to prevent disaster.

Somebody make it happen.


Remember when your mom told you to never hold in a sneeze?

I was in the drive-through line at a local fast food joint on Saturday, trying to speak my order into the microphone when I was suddenly overcome by the need to sneeze. Bigly. I’ve been told my sneezes are extremely loud. So trying to be polite and not burst the ear drum of the poor young lady on the other end of the drive-through speaker, I quickly closed my mouth and choked off that sneeze mid-exit. It was like stopping a pee mid-stream.

This was a mistake. All the air that wanted to expel was suddenly backed up inside of my chest cavity with nowhere to go. Damn near busted a rib on each side.

My rib cage hurt for hours. Better now, thanks for asking.

Don’t do it, kids.


Thank you to Gary Fleming, Troy Jones, Judy Turner-Davis and all the other folks associated with the Platte County Fair for inviting us out to do our Landmark Live show during opening night of the fair last week. Great times. If you haven’t seen it yet, go ahead and become one of the thousands who have watched the video on our Facebook page. An epic Platte County Olympics competition is included.

We’ll be back next year for more fun.

(Get more Foley tomfoolery on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 7/18/18

Have you had the chance to check out the Facebook videos by a man who calls himself Donnie Baker? If you haven’t yet, go to the search box on Facebook and enter the name Donnie Baker. Thank me later.

Donnie Baker can be best described as kind of a charming redneck. He has more than one million followers on Facebook. I’m not even kidding. Or as Donnie likes to say, “I’ll say it right to your face.”

When I need a laugh, Donnie Baker’s page is where I head. Heck, even Landmark office manager Cindy Rinehart laughs along at Donnie’s antics, so that’s saying something.

But here’s the deal, and this may come as a shock to a lot of you: Donnie Baker is not real. Nope. Not a real person. Donnie Baker is a comedic character created by a talented stand-up comedian and professional broadcaster whose real name is Ron Sexton.

The personality of Donnie Baker is based on a combination of guys Sexton grew up with. Let’s don’t name names but for those of us who grew up in a small rural town, we all knew a guy or two who had some of Donnie Baker’s traits, voice and thought processes.

After hearing an in-depth interview with Sexton on a podcast I just happened to run across late one night and becoming more infatuated with his story and his character, I got the wild hair to try to track him down. I learned Sexton lives in Dunedin, Fla. Believe it or not, Ron Sexton, the guy who plays the role of Donnie Baker, is actually a guy who once had a suit-and-tie job with the Indianapolis Colts. Then a show on Fox Sports Radio. And now, in real life the guy who plays Donnie Baker is actually a high school baseball coach in Dunedin.

Yes, Sexton, a huge baseball fan, moved his family from Indiana to Florida for the year-round baseball competition for his sons. He ended up becoming head baseball coach at the high school in Dunedin and even guided his team to the state championship game. When high school baseball is not in session, and even sometimes when it is, he travels throughout the country doing comedy shows as Donnie Baker and performing as lead singer in his band known as Donnie Baker and the Pork Pistols. Yes, the guy is a character actor, a stand-up comedian, a singer and high school baseball coach. Multi-talented.

I tried reaching out to Donnie Baker via Facebook Messenger and Twitter messaging. No response. Then by employing some investigative journalism I found an email address for Sexton that I thought just might work. I shot off an email to him on the afternoon of July 5. Told him who I was, that we do a weekly Facebook Live show for the newspaper and included a link to our Landmark Live DWI Prevention episode. I mentioned to him the dates of my next visit to Florida, just a short distance from him, to visit my oldest daughter and invited him to meet up during that time to do a Landmark Live in person.

I knew this was a shot in the dark and never expected to get a return email. But just a few hours later I got a response from Sexton, who signed the email “Donnie Baker” and even tossed in one of Donnie Baker’s catch phrases (Donnie is known for often saying ‘Swear to God’) along the way.

Here’s what he wrote:

"Ivan, thanks so much for reaching out. Looks like a killer show and I wish I could come on however I’m under contract with Bob and Tom for all broadcast media appearances. So I won’t be able to appear as a guest at this time. Maybe in my next contract the language will permit me to do such things. Swear to God! At the moment, they only let me appear on their show and our affiliates or select affiliated podcasts such as Chick McGee’s and Kristi Lee’s podcast. Hope you understand. Thanks so much for thinking of me. Please keep me in mind for down the road!--Donnie Baker."

The Bob and Tom that he refers to in the email are the hosts of a nationally syndicated radio show of the same name. Way back in 2005 Sexton, in the voice of his Donnie Baker character, called in to the Bob and Tom Show out of the blue and was such a hit his character became a recurring part of the show. A contract ensued, a contract that apparently has Sexton tied up a little tighter than perhaps he might like to be, considering his absolute explosion as an internet cult hero with the popularity of Facebook and other social media platforms.

His life story is truly fascinating.

Anyway, Sexton says one of his life goals now is to have his band Donnie Baker and the Pork Pistols be invited to perform as the opening act for a big star, and he specifically mentions Kid Rock.

Don’t put it past him. It could happen.

In the meantime, with the chances of getting him on Landmark Live now shot at least until his next contract, I’ve taken up researching locations of his future in-person shows and will be making a road trip at some point in the future.


Longtime readers know that every now and then I will reference the work of Guy Speckman, publisher of the Savannah Reporter, my second favorite publisher in the state and my second favorite newspaper in the state. Anyway, this recent piece by Speckman in his weekly ‘Ponder the Thought’ column makes a lot of sense. Here are his words:

“Don’t knock on my door if you are running for office. I’m not impressed that you are out on a hot summer day to “meet the people.” The 1960s are over. You’ve got a Facebook page and Twitter feed, rest assured you’ll get plenty of “interaction” on there. I’m pretty sure people are not sitting at home waiting on you to come by to discuss Jeff City politics, but maybe I’m wrong.

“Think about these stats: Let’s say you visit 1,000 households with two voters in each household. That is 2,000 voters. Let’s say it takes five minutes on average at each house. That’s approximately 83 hours to reach 2,000 voters. Now, keep in mind that about 14% of registered voters will vote. You just spent 83 hours to reach approximately 280 voters. That is approximately three people per hour that vote. That’s not a good use of resources, in my humble opinion.

“Buy an ad in your local newspaper and you’ll triple that type of engagement and feed a journalist. And you won’t have a heat stroke getting your “message” out. I’m pretty sure people who take the time to read the local newspaper also vote at a greater percentage than the typical person.”


(Get more of Foley, if the mood strikes you, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube)


Written 7/11/18

Let’s get this column rolling, you guys. The fair is coming to town and we’ve got things to do.


At the suggestion of a health professional, I’ve started ingesting fish oil. Not exactly sure what it’s supposed to do but I think I’m becoming a better swimmer.


The screaming headline this week is an eye-opening revelation that Park Hill will pay out more than $1.6 million to three plaintiffs and the plaintiffs’ attorneys in an age discrimination lawsuit that obviously the school district and its legal team feared would lead to a very bad outcome. The fact the district chose to settle for nearly $1.7 million rather than risk an even more disastrous result tells you how bad this case looked.

Earlier this spring Park Hill settled another employee lawsuit for “only” $80,000.

And let’s move past this part of the obvious: Yes, the Park Hill School District has insurance for this kind of thing. Most of the nearly $1.7 million will be paid out by the district’s insurer. I’ve noticed Park Hill officials are quick to point this out the past couple of times The Landmark has reported on employment lawsuits the district has chosen to settle, as if having insurance excuses the behavior that brought the lawsuit. It doesn’t.

Let’s cut through their self-defense mechanism. Having insurance is no reason to put public resources at risk with careless administrative behavior.

And keep in mind the insurance is purchased with taxpayer money and the insurance premiums would seem destined to go shooting upward after a pattern of this kind of thing.

The individual defendants listed in the lawsuit (see the front page story for details) all have the word “doctor” in front of their name. Which is again proof that the title of “doctor” in the scholarly community simply indicates a highly educated person. Highly educated doesn’t always equal smart. There is a difference.


Read through some of the facts and the allegations in the Park Hill case. It’s tough to grasp what exactly was going through the minds of Park Hill administrators in this situation. The parent educators who were affected by this were at the lower end of the pay scale and seemed to be close to retirement. Slashing their salaries in half and (allegedly) making statements to them to the effect they could easily be replaced by “less experienced” teachers if they raised objections, or the even more ridiculous “If you fire arrows into our camp, we will fire back” seems beyond reasonable explanation.

By the way, according to court documents that last statement was allegedly made by Dr. Jeanette Cowherd, who is now the superintendent at Park Hill.

District administrators may as well have held up a flashing neon sign saying “please sue us.”

Park Hill needs to do better.


In addition to the nearly $1.7 million payout, Park Hill also has legal costs of its own involved in defending the suit and negotiating settlements.


One of the indications you’re doing something right is when people go out of their way to request your services. We’re finding it rewarding when people ask us to come do a Landmark Live telecast at their place of business or a community event.

A lead official with the Platte County Fair recently strolled into our office and asked if we’d come do our Landmark Live show on opening night of the fair. And before you know it, an advertiser was immediately reaching out to say he wanted his business to be the lone sponsor of the show from the fair. So double the fun.

Details are still being worked out but it sounds like they’ll have us placed near the Dirty Shame Saloon. We’ll be performing interviews with random folks, maybe talking to some random members of the band, engaging in random shenanigans, and perhaps randomly taste tasting a Dirty Shame beer or a Kraut Burger.

Also, we’ll be engaging members of the live audience in contests for valuable prizes, including our grand prize of a bottle of Kansas City Royals 50th Anniversary wine from Manos Wine in Kansas City. Other top prizes will include two tickets to see popular comic Carlos Mencia at Ameristar and a pair of tickets to Chippendales.

Come be part of the live audience beginning around 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 18 somewhere near the Dirty Shame. It won’t cost you anything and we promise not to embarrass you. Look for the big Landmark Live banner with three goofballs in front of it. Our buddy Chris Kamler will join Brad Carl and I as we try to set the internet on fire that night.

The show is sponsored by realtor Brandon Edlin of RE/MAX.


If you follow our information on social media, you may have noticed I mentioned I’ve been in contact with Donnie Baker, the popular internet personality/cult hero and have invited him on a future episode of Landmark Live. As you can tell, because of the unanticipated rant caused by Park Hill ridiculousness I’ve run out of room to talk about the man/the myth/the legend that is Donnie Baker. Come back next week when I promise to fill you in on his answer and will give you plenty of inside skinny on Donnie.

In the meantime, if you’re not yet familiar with Donnie Baker now is the time to find his Facebook page as a way of priming yourself for next week’s column.

(Get Between the Lines 24/7 on Twitter @ivanfoley, find Foley on his personal Facebook page and at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark, on Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 7/3/18

Listen up. On July 4 everybody be sure to take crappy cell phone photos of your fireworks displays and post them on social media. It’s a holiday tradition.


Police will tell you July 4 holiday week is one of the most dangerous times to be on the road. Lots of drinking and driving goes on during this summertime holiday period. Don’t do it.

For a reminder of how dangerous just a few drinks can be to your reactions, watch the Landmark Live DWI Prevention episode we did around Memorial Day. That’s the show in which Landmarkers Chris Kamler, Brad Carl and I drank shots of liquor and had our blood-alcohol content monitored by Platte County Sheriff’s Deputy Kenny Buck.

You can watch that video on our Facebook page at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark. To make it easier to find, we now have the video pinned near the top of our Facebook page for your mid-summer holiday viewing. It has had more than 11,500 viewers.


So 64152 still has periodic mail delivery issues. Not even the head honcho assigned to figure out the delay has yet figured out why there’s a delay. The USPS can’t get out of its own way.

I will say nearly all other zip codes in The Landmark coverage area are experiencing much improved mail delivery times of their newspaper. For example, I received this text from a subscriber in Liberty: “I don’t know what Sam Graves did to the post office, but I now get your paper before I get the Liberty paper.”


Another pretty cool honor coming for Bill Hankins, past photographer extraordinaire for The Landmark who is a member of the Missouri Photojournalism Hall of Fame.

The photography of Bill Hankins will be on display at the Ben Ferrel Museum at Third and Ferrel Streets in downtown Platte City. The Hankins’ exhibit will be on display in August and September.

The official exhibit opening is tentatively set for Aug. 11 at 5 p.m., for which Bill will be present. On Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. at the museum Bill will give a presentation and discuss his photography.

These dates could change but go ahead and put the exhibit in the back of your mind for an August-September trip to the local museum. We’ll keep you posted.


Just an FYI: Heard at the Platte County Commission meeting on Monday that $7.1 million in money generated from the KCI Corridor TIF (tax increment financing) district will go toward construction of the new Tiffany Springs bridge over Interstate 29. Unlike the Zona Rosa debacle, there is no threat of county taxpayers having to be left on the hook to pay this tab, we were told by a representative of the Industrial Development Authority of Platte County, which is its own political subdivision.

Another $1 million from the TIF district will be used to pay back Hunt Midwest for $1 million the developer fronted for improvements to 108th Street in Platte County (which becomes Shoal Creek Parkway as it enters Clay County). And another $1.1 million is penciled in to design eventual improvements on N. Green Hills Road near the new Menards store.


Serious question: Does anybody watch television in the summertime?

I got to thinking about this after reading Hearne Christopher’s column about ratings for Kansas City radio stations. It goes without saying that, with so many commercial-free music options at our fingertips thanks to technology, not nearly as many people listen to local radio as they used to.

You hear a lot of talk about how not as many folks read the actual print edition of the local metropolitan daily newspaper as they did back in the day, and that is undeniably true. But you don't hear nearly as much talk about the very real shrinking audience factor for local radio and television.

Let’s consider television news, for instance. I can’t tell you the last time I watched a television news broadcast. Much of that is due to the fact that Twitter is such a presence for me, both in distributing news to Landmark readers and in keeping up with regional and national news for my own benefit, that I rarely feel the need to turn on the TV for news. I follow many, many news sources on Twitter. Don’t need to watch TV to hear folks saying the same things I’ve already learned about on Twitter. Such is the age in which we live.

In fact, I have not even turned on a television since last Sunday, June 24. Today is Tuesday, July 3. And on June 24 the reason I turned on the TV was to watch something via Netflix, not any actual television programming.

Admittedly, my work habits aren’t typical and I’m not big on sitting still. And for purposes of full disclosure, there’s no way that kind of TV-free stretch will ever happen for me in the fall or winter months. I couldn’t go that long without checking in on the NFL or college basketball. But in the summertime, who needs television?


Speaking of rare idle time, The Landmark office will be closed on Friday so the staff can enjoy a day without a deadline. We’ve printed a day earlier than normal two of the past three weeks, which causes even a few more crammed days than usual for your local journalists. So I’ve made an executive decision to give everybody this Friday off. Our office will be open Thursday, July 5 but closed Friday, July 6.

Even though the office will be closed we’ll still be checking emails and social media so if you have communication needs that can’t wait go ahead and send it our way.

(Send your Between the Lines thoughts to Foley at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com, find him on Twitter @ivanfoley and on his personal Facebook page or at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark. Watch him on Landmark Live and search for his stuff on YouTube, Snapchat, and Instagram)


Written 6/27/18

Listen, I know it’s summer and we’ve all got some things going on. But just in case you’ve forgotten, there’s an election happening in August. It’s true. You can confirm it, if you feel the need to, by looking at those roadside signs.

On Tuesday, Aug. 7 Platte County voters will head to the polls--well, at least some of us will--to cast ballots in a variety of races. Let’s talk about a couple of the more notable ones. As is almost always the case in Platte County, the competitive action is on the Republican ballot.

Platte County Prosecutor: Longtime incumbent Eric Zahnd faces a challenge from Nick Marshall, a term-limited state representative who tossed his hat in the ring for prosecutor at the last minute to the surprise of almost everyone. The feeling was Marshall would either run for state senate or sit things out. Instead he jumped in against Zahnd. Well, I’m assuming Marshall is still in the race. He seems to be running a stealth campaign. Nick, are you out there? Has anyone seen or heard from him? I spoke with Marshall a couple of times shortly after he filed but since that time he seems to have gone MIA. Meanwhile, Zahnd seems to be taking nothing for granted, appearing at numerous events while his signs and bumper stickers have been popping up. And of course his name appears in the media on a regular basis for doing things to bad guys.

Still more than a month to go so Marshall may yet get active but so far not much buzz in this one.

State Senator, District 34: This is the race for the right to represent the Republicans in the general election for the seat currently held by the term-limited Rob Schaaf. Schaaf, a medical doctor, is an interesting guy, a fiercely independent thinker and a likable fellow when you visit with him in person. He spent much of the past year on social media being obsessed with the activities of the now-resigned Gov. Eric Greitens. Those two obviously did not like one another. Some of the postings by Schaaf became borderline unhinged. I was entertained. He was becoming Kathy Dusenbery on steroids. Hey, sometimes cringeworthy happens when things get personal between high profile folks. Anyway, just when you were hoping friends of Schaaf would perform an intervention and convince him to step away from the keyboard, Greitens was gone and Schaaf seems to have jumped off the crazy train before it left the tracks.

But I digress. Schaaf isn’t in the race. We need to talk about the candidates who are.

The GOP primary for state senator in district 34 is between Tony Luetkemeyer of Parkville and Harry Roberts of St. Joseph. The widely held feeling about this race has been it is Luetkemeyer’s race to lose. But in the past couple of weeks, pollsters and pundits have been quietly saying the race is tightening and that Roberts has a chance.

Luetkemeyer has been working his tail off for months, going door-to-door holding conversations with voters, a portion of the conversation no doubt spent explaining how to pronounce his name. Don’t even try to spell it without a reference. It was brought to my attention that a couple of months ago Luetkemeyer was quoted as saying he wished more of the liberal-leaning media would cover the campaign and hear his message, which is a bit of a curious comment considering most liberals aren’t going to be voting in a Republican primary. And Democrats who do cross over to cast a ballot in this race are most likely not going to vote for Luetkemeyer, who is seen as the more conservative of the two choices.

Roberts is presiding commissioner of Buchanan County and--like Luetkemeyer--is a pleasant and approachable guy. As of late, Roberts seems to be working to increase his presence in Platte County and in fact is in Platte City as I write this. You may have noticed some of his signs have started to crop up around the county. His website says: “I’m running for state senate because I believe Missouri can do better. We have too many attorneys and career politicians in Jefferson City who have forgotten the values of limited government, hard work and common sense.”

Look for more thoughts on these and other races as the Aug. 7 primary gets closer.


The resignation of the allegedly felonious Brenda Teters from the Parkville Special Road District board of commissioners (see front page story) looks to spell the end of a mother-son crime team and the financial terror it brought to the tax-supported entity.

Teters resigned effective last Friday after she and her son, Kurt Eckard, had been hit with recent felony charges of stealing road millings from the district and placing the materials--valued at up to $3,500--on the site of the family run fireworks operation in Riverside. It’s a fireworks stand known as Dishonest Don’s, of all things.

For Eckard, the most recent court filing was the second time he has been charged with pilfering from the road district. In April of this year he received a generous plea offer from prosecutors, accepting five years of probation and avoiding jail time after a guilty plea in a case filed in 2016. In that criminal case, he pled guilty to spending more than $2,500 in road district funds to purchase auto parts for his personal use.

At the time of the first charge, Eckard worked for the district. He was later let go. In the most recent alleged crime, his mother allegedly ordered him to take those road millings from a road district project site and have them placed at the family’s fireworks stand location. She allegedly gave Kurt the order after the road district superintendent declined to do it on the advice of the district’s attorney. Just a few days after he had received the generous plea deal, Eckard apparently thought this was a great idea. Perhaps he said “Yes, mother,” and then did the dirty deed as his mom instructed, prosecutors allege.

Ironically, we learned of Teters’ resignation this week just as we were hearing about some other financial funny stuff that may have been going on inside the district. Talk about a taxing entity in need of a comprehensive audit.

(Talk to Foley via email at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com, by phone at 816.858.0363, follow him on Twitter @ivanfoley, find him on Facebook and watch him on Landmark Live each week at Facebook.colattecountylandmark)


Written 6/19/18

The forecast for later in the week looks like relief is on the way, but as I’m writing this KC is still in the middle of a heat alert. Somebody send ice cream. Stat! I’m not even kidding. Well, maybe a little. But still, this sucks.


Is it weird that I’d rather have a little colder winters and little milder summers? Anybody else with me on that or am I the Lone Ranger here?

On days when the temperature gets above 90 degrees I get the urge to become the great indoorsman.


Well, let’s knock on wood. And let’s not do a touchdown dance before we reach the end zone, but I’m happy to say we’re making some progress with mail delivery of your Landmark in southern Platte County. At least over the past two weeks. Until this becomes a consistent thing--which is what we’re paying for--I won’t get too lavish in my praise but it is time to acknowledge some progress that began after we engaged the office of Congressman Sam Graves about the inconsistent delivery patterns in southern Platte County zip codes. Thank you to Wyatt Mullendore in Graves’ local office for his help.

After our complaint was filed we were contacted by Marvin J. Williams, manager of consumer and industry contact for the United States Postal Service Mid-America District based in Kansas City. Marvin (yes, Marvin and I are on a first name basis now) has worked his tail off to try to resolve issues, going above and beyond the normal call of duty. He has traced our paper from its exit point at the Platte City Post Office, taking the initiative to personally meet our load of newspapers after hours as our weekly journalistic excellence and stuff arrived at the mail plant in downtown Kansas City. He even ventured to some individual post offices along the way, including a particular trouble spot at Parkville 64152, which seemed to have him most perplexed.

Marvin has helped identify some clogs in the system, one of which included the fact that often when the significant number of mail bags containing your Landmark goodness arrived at the mail plant in KC the container was often being sent to the wrong floor within the facility. Could have been due to an outdated tag that was being placed on it by the folks at the Platte City Post Office, we’ve been told.

Anyway, that’s just one of the little potential problems in the process that (we think) has been solved. But again, until consistency is achieved let’s not party like it’s 1999.

As for the delays in delivery once Landmarks reached certain spots--like say the post office in Parkville--it remains a mystery as to what the heck was going on. Marvin seemed perplexed about that one but after his unannounced trip there recently things have been improved.

So there’s your update. Since many of you in southern Platte County have expressed to us that you have problems with other mail delivery and not just newspapers, best wishes that you’ll see improvement with those matters. Check out the letter to the editor at right for more postal talk. Mail service problems in southern Platte have become a frequent letter to the editor topic, as you’ve no doubt noticed.

What’s clear at this point is I no longer fear that my buddies Brad Carl, Chris Kamler and I are going to have to personally carry Landmarks to your homes and drop them down your chimneys like a bunch of tall elves, lightweight Santa Clauses or overgrown fairies.


If you’re reading this before Wednesday night at 7:30, you’ve got time to head to your computer or your smartphone and go to Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark to watch Landmark Live from the Fox 4 television studios.

We’ll be telecasting with Mike Thompson, longtime meteorologist in the Kansas City market and asking him questions while trying to resist the urge to grab all the forecasting knobs and punch all the buttons in the Fox 4 weather office. Sure, we’ll talk about the heat, the lack of moisture, the craziness that is the lack of spring in Kansas City in recent years, etc. But by now you may have noticed it’s tough for us to stay serious for too long so expect questions that you don’t normally hear posed to a weatherman.

We’ll also involve Mike in some trivia games with prizes going to viewers who check in during the live video session. Great prizes again this week including concert tickets to Lonestar, The Temptations and Mickey Gilley. Maybe some free wine tastings from Jowler Creek. You just never know what Brad Carl and I might pull from our prize bags. Just don’t ask to see our prize bags or we might get the wrong idea.


Our next Landmark Live on-location telecast after this week will come opening night of the Platte County Fair on July 18. The fair board has asked us to come do a show outside something called the Dirty Shame, which seems appropriate.
I’d like to order weather below 90 degrees on that day, please. What’s the chances of that happening?


Trump may have the economy rolling and unemployment numbers are way down but the county says it sure costs a lot to hire a medical examiner these days.


And who among us knew a dehumidifier could cost half a million bucks? Now you know why those membership fees at the Y are so high.

(No membership fee needed to follow Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley or find him on Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram or to watch free fake TV each week via Landmark Live at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark. Email him at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 6/13/18

Welcome back to Between the Lines, where we find it hilarious that Hollywood stars still have the belief that Americans care to hear their political leanings.

Dear Hollywood. We just want you to entertain us. That’s your specialty. We’re not calling you for guidance before we step into the voting booth. Get over yourselves.


As you may have read in a news brief that appeared in The Landmark in late April, the Platte City Pizza Shoppe has new owners.

Yes, the place where I’ve previously boasted you can get the coldest frosty mug of Bud Light in the area is now owned by a young couple by the name of Frankie and Amanda Nigro.

And no, they’re not related to Bill Nigro of Westport landlord and merchant fame

“We’re not related to any Nigros with money,” Frankie joked when I asked him that question.

Amanda Nigro has worked for the local Pizza Shoppe for six or seven years, always with an eye toward one day owning the place, Frankie said. Now that dream is a reality for the couple.

I didn’t think to ask Frankie if the coldest frosty mugs of beer in the area--at least according to my unofficial research--would continue to be a thing. I mean, I was there a time or two when you could scrape a nice layer of frost off the outside of the mug with your fingernail. And let’s be honest, if you’re going to have a beer, ice cold is the only way to properly enjoy it.

Since I didn’t ask Frankie about it, apparently there’s going to have to be some new in-person Between the Lines research on this topic in the near future. We’ll keep you posted.


I’ve done some more questioning into the mess that is the Parkville Special Road District, where in the past couple of years there have been at least two cases of alleged stealing from the district by members of the same family. Sad but true. You read about it on our front page in last week’s Landmark.

Brenda Teters and her son, Kurt Eckard, are charged with a felony of stealing reclaimed road millings. Eckard allegedly diverted the millings to a private lot where the family has a fireworks stand in Riverside. Teters is a publicly elected member of the three-person board of commissioners who oversee operation of the road district.

Teters last was elected to a three-year term in 2016. This means she’ll be up for election next spring, in April of 2019. Seems like a good time for an opposing candidate to start ramping up plans to get her out of office. If she isn’t taken out of office by her legal troubles, voters will have the chance to get her out of there at the voting booth in April.

Research shows Teters won contested races in 2013 and 2016. After these allegations, her race, if she chooses to partake in one, in 2019 may not have such a positive outcome.

Additional information Between the Lines uncovered this week is that, despite what court allegations indicated and some involved in the case believed, Eckard was not officially an employee of the road district when the latest alleged crime occurred.

As reported last week, Eckard had pled guilty earlier this year to receiving stolen property after using road district funds to purchase more than $2,500 in auto parts for personal use. In a plea deal offered by prosecutors, Eckard avoided jail time and was given five years of probation, ordered to perform 150 hours of community service and ordered to pay restitution. Research this week by The Landmark shows Eckard was no longer working for the road district at the time of the crime for which he and his mother are now charged. After a road district employee had refused to follow Teters’ orders take the millings from a project at Misty Woods to the private lot, saying he had been advised against it by the road district’s attorney, Teters then told the worker she would have her son Kurt “do what he does and take care of it.” Authorities say Kurt Eckard then approached a representative of Superior Bowen Asphalt Company and ordered the diversion of 200 to 240 tons of gravel millings diverted to the family-owned Dishonest Don’s fireworks lot in Riverside. The asphalt company rep told authorities he did not question the order because he recognized Eckard as a road district inspector from previous years. The man told authorities that over the years Eckard had regularly diverted millings from various jobs to the Riverside fireworks stand, however, this year it was in a different location.

Minutes of road district meetings show that Eckard’s employment with the district had been terminated in December of 2016, which was the month after the original charge of receiving stolen property was filed.

This tidbit has no impact on the charges in the most recent case. All it clarifies is that Eckard was no longer officially an employee of the road district when Teters (allegedly) told her son to divert the road millings to the fireworks stand. Eckard (allegedly) took part in this latest (alleged) crime just a matter of days after accepting the plea deal in his first criminal case involving the road district.


No court dates have yet been set in the newest charges against Eckard and Teters. Both posted bond last week.


Hope you’ll tune in for a special Landmark Live episode next Wednesday night, June 20 at 7:30 p.m. as we take our traveling road show to the studios of Fox 4 WDAF-TV in Kansas City to spend some time with chief meteorologist Mike Thompson. They don’t know it yet but we’ll also be trying to chase down other members of the Fox 4 news team while we’re there. This promises to be fun. And heck, maybe even educational, but no promises on that part of it.

This is the second Kansas City television station brave enough to invite us to their turf to do a show, as last December we connected with Kris Ketz, Michael Mahoney and Bryan Busby on the set at Channel 9 KMBC-TV.

(Follow Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. Catch the newspaper’s characters on Landmark Live each week at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark and email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 6/6/18

Woke up this morning at 5 a.m. restless with a headache, thinking of about 100 things I still needed to get done before this week’s newspaper could be put to bed. Before I could start to feel any self pity, it hit me that today is June 6. As in June 6, 1944. D-Day. After reflecting for a moment on what those young soldiers faced on that day, suddenly the start to my June 6 didn’t seem so bad.


The level of corruption in the Parkville Special Road District runs deep. At least deep within one family, according to criminal charges filed this week. See our front page story for details that will make you angry and make you realize why many folks cast a doubting eye at all levels of government.

It’s the second time for a felony charge for Kurt Eckard, the son of road district commissioner Brenda Teters, who both are involved in the latest mess. Just a few days after catching a break and taking a plea deal that resulted in probation instead of jail time for his first offense, authorities allege Eckard was back at it, getting involved in the most recent theft case. Why was the guy still employed by the road district after already pleading guilty to a felony of receiving stolen property that belonged to the road district?


As for Teters, a publicly elected road district commissioner, wow. A mistaken “I don’t have to answer to anyone” belief by some folks elected to public service will always lead to trouble.


If you’ve been missing having an outdoor public swimming pool in Platte City--I guess there were still come folks using the old pool, though let’s be honest, not that many before it closed for good a couple years ago--there are signs of potential progress. Perhaps.

The City of Platte City is making a request for qualifications of consulting firms to conduct a site assessment and preliminary option development for about six acres of land designated for aquatics/park/recreation use. The six acres is the site of the former Rising Star Elementary School that the city acquired from Platte County R-3.

The city is seeking to develop a conceptual master plan for the site that will allow construction of “individual stand alone phases as funds become available,” says the request for qualifications.

DJ Gehrt, city administrator, says the request for qualifications (RFQ) is the first step in what will likely be a long process. “It is tough to develop an implementation timeline until the site assessment is done,” he told me this week.

A common part of all options, Gehrt says, is a water splash pad along with some general park amenities. “If a master plan supports this type of phased development, the park fund has sufficient balance and annual revenue to design and build whatever is selected for the first phase, within a range of $350,000 to $600,000,” Gehrt remarked.

As a quick Between the Lines observation, let me just say $350,000 to $600,000 won’t get you as much as some people might think when it comes to public swimming pools or water parks.

One of the goals of the site assessment will be to provide a professional opinion on whether the site can support either of the two major recreational facility needs--a new pool or a replacement Civic Center, Gehrt says.

“At this point, the city does not have enough information to confirm what the site can support in terms of one of these major projects. The information from this study should at least provide a foundation for future growth from the city, from initial small phases to later buildout,” he added.

Gehrt said without a master site plan it is still too early to make any type of reasonably accurate cost estimates, much less identify a funding source.

“Again, this is the first step of many, but the committee made it clear they would like to move forward with plan development and provide the community with an initial recreational amenity as soon as possible,” the city administrator said.


Last week’s reference to Kathy Dusenbery, the emotional and reactionary former first district commissioner for Platte County from 2008-2012 whose tirades toward me will live in infamy, brought to mind an email I received in 2009 from a reader pretending to be Dusenbery. That same reader sent me the same fake email earlier this week, obviously a sign that we both enjoy fondly looking back upon the Days of Dusenbery.

So here it is, an email initially sent to me in the fall of 2009, when a Between the Lines reader decided to have a little fun by shooting me this note written in the voice of Kathy Dusenbery.

“Ivan, you have to quit picking on me. If you would just read my twitter you would know that I am working hard, attending meetings and doing other stuff for the county, like telling people where the free lunches are.

“If you had a journalism degree, like me, you would know that you are to support the people in charge (that’s me) and tell people about all the ribbon cuttings, school events and other nice things I do, like send twitters to Claire McCaskill. That’s our job. What has happened to your journalistic standards? You have a newspaper and I don’t.

“And quit making reference to fiscal stuff, like balancing budgets and understanding revenues and financial condition, stuff you know I don’t understand. They don’t teach that in journalism school. Of course, you would know that if you had a journalism degree!

“The auditor has not shown up for two meetings now, so that must be why revenues are down. She is supposed to make this stuff work. How can we blame someone for revenues being down when they won’t even show up for a meeting?”


Landmark readers, you are the best.

(Get emotional and reactionary reading Foley’s Twitter @ivanfoley and follow him on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 5/30/18

Gotta love the everyday effect of baseball on the rabid fans. Major League Baseball, unlike the other major sports, is a nearly everyday thing. The games are not a multiple days apart or a week apart as in football. So the season is a roller coaster ride for rabid Royals fans who live and die with every pitch. The effect of this is that on some days they’re celebrating little victories as if they’re large ones. It’s kinda cute. Bless their hearts.

I got a kick out of looking at my Twitter timeline first thing Wednesday morning. Apparently late Tuesday night, the Royals won a 14-inning game when Alcides Escobar, light-hitting shortstop, hit a walk-off homer. Many of the Royals’ faithful on Twitter lit it up like we had just won the World Series. Bless their hearts.

The Royals are now 19-36, they stand 10 games out of first place and are on pace to finish with a record of 55-107. Bless their hearts.


Based on my column last week, the letters to the editor in this week’s paper, the phone calls we’ve received since that column, and the fact that folks in zip code 64152 are still wondering where their Landmark from last week is floating around in the twilight zone, it seems we’ve established the postal service in southern Platte County sucks.

Bless their hearts. But it sucks. Actually, I’m really not sure anybody is trying all that hard down there. I’m not even sure anybody deserves a participation ribbon at this point.

Nothing personal against the postal employees. I’m sure you’re all fine human beings and whatnot. But somebody in the United States Postal Service isn’t getting things done. Bless their hearts.

Let’s privatize that crap show.


Thank you to the continued support of our readers, viewers and advertisers for Landmark Live, our weekly telecast on our Facebook page at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark. We call it fake TV.

We hope you caught last week’s show, an educational demonstration on DWI Prevention with the help of the Platte County Sheriff’s Department. Several shots of whiskey died a hero. So did any inhibitions we may have had. I think the field sobriety tests and behavior of Brad Carl, Chris Kamler and yours truly showed it’s not safe to drive at times with your blood alcohol content still under the legal limit. It’s called buzzed driving.

Anyway, back to the thank you point of this. Last week’s episode has already had more than 8,000 views, making it the second most-watched Landmark Live since we started this shindig, topped only by the show we did from the Channel 9 studios when KMBC took us live on their Facebook page as well. That show was seen by 9,300.

The DWI episode is still on the Platte County Landmark Facebook page for viewing at your leisure.


Call it another successful ceremony.

Fox 4 weatherman Mike Thompson was the featured speaker at the Platte City Memorial Day observance held at the Platte City Cemetery, and I thought his words were poignant and effective. And thankfully short, as the heat was bearing down on the sweet and tender bodies in attendance. Including mine. Bless our hearts.

Olin Miller, local historian/cemetery sexton, knew the Channel 4 weather dude is a military veteran and issued the invitation. Thompson said yes. Bless both their hearts.

Though it was extremely hot, there were no audience members passing out or needing medical attention this time, unlike last year. Warm conditions at last year’s ceremony had the crowd dropping like flies. Or maybe it was the hellfire and brimstone brought by then-speaker DJ Gehrt, not sure.

This year’s addition of a tent or two for some crowd members to stand under seemed to help. Though they weren’t needed, this year paramedics from the Northland Regional Ambulance District were in attendance and standing at the ready. Bless their hearts.


I saw some Facebook postings recently from Kathy Dusenbery, former first district commissioner for Platte County. Dusenbery went to great lengths to post the words “Zona Rosa is not struggling.” Bless her heart.

This gave me a couple of thoughts.

1. Gawd, I miss Dusenbery. The days of Kathy going full Dusenbery on me from the years 2008 to 2012 are memories I’ll carry to the grave. I’ll never forget the phone call that started out with her yelling at me, then drifted into her firing personal insults at me, then some moments where she cried, then some moments where she reminded me she had a journalism degree and how she had once operated a newspaper (it failed), then some moments where I was trying to give her tips on how to deal with a migraine before eventually the call ended with a grand finale of more yelling at me. Bless her heart.

I enjoyed it so much I was grinning from ear-to-ear as the call ended. Office manager Cindy can vouch for me on that.

After her days as commissioner were over, Dusenbery would call our office occasionally to chat about topics in the news and her tone was always friendly. Heck, for a while we were “friends” on Facebook though recently I noticed that’s no longer the case. Kathy has apparently “un-friended” me. Not sure what I did to cause that but whatever it was I’m sure in her mind it was worthy of a tirade. Kinda wish she had called me to loudly explain.

2. “Zona Rosa is not struggling.” Dusenbery posted these words multiple times on a page boosted by Ron Schieber, current presiding commissioner. Let’s break that down. While it is accurate to say there are individual retailers and individual restaurants within Zona Rosa that might not be struggling, in larger context it is very accurate to say the shopping center itself is struggling. I mean, Zona Rosa admits 40% of its retail spaces are vacant. That’s a pretty good sign of a struggle.

And as we all know, the one percent sales tax collected within Zona Rosa is falling way short in paying the $2 million bond annual bond payment that county taxpayers will likely be on the hook for. County officials are estimating that the one percent tax will fall about $600,000 short of making the December bond payment.

This tells you that Zona Rosa is, you know, struggling to meet those financial projections that developers had sold to a previous county commission.

Zona Rosa is struggling. Bless its heart.

(Email Ivan Foley at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)




Written 5/23/18

Ever have one of those days when all you want to do is get on social media and spend hours debating whether the Earth is flat or round?

Me neither. Who does that? I saw it happening on Facebook this week.


Mike Thompson, Fox 4 meteorologist, will be the guest speaker for Platte City’s Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, so if he doesn’t get good weather it’s his own fault.


If you could choose two societal problems to get solved in Platte County during the year 2018, what would they be? Mine would be:

1. Find a school board member with testicular fortitude.

2. Get the postal service to actually provide consistent on-time delivery in southern Platte County. If you live south, you know what I’m talking about. Many of you have contacted me with general concerns about your postal service. Others of you only contact me when there is slow mail delivery of your weekly Landmark. It’s a clown show. More on that in a bit.


So I stepped out of my car at the groundbreaking for the new Park Hill elementary school on Tuesday and immediately was provided proof that my column last week about school board members having no tummy had struck a nerve. And you know what that means? It means we nailed it.

“Hey, Ivan, I have my balls!” hollered Todd Fane, school board member for Park Hill. “Oh, you still have them?” I answered. We shook hands and then for a sentence or two our exchange got slightly locker room-ish, so I’ll spare you the details.

Maybe someday Fane will bring his balls to an actual school board meeting.


More feedback on the “school board members are typically a passive bunch” editorial from last week. An in-tune Landmark reader emailed this observation:
“I have always felt that some board members communicate clandestinely with each other before meetings so they don’t have to think in public or take a lone wolf stand. It is sad.”



Talk to any business that does a large amount of mailing in Platte County and you’ll hear horror stories about delivery service in certain zip codes. Most of the issues seem to occur in the southern part of the county, specifically in the zip codes of 64151 and 64152. It feels like we’re sending mail into the Bermuda Triangle. You never know when--or if--it will get there.

Having had our own bad experiences in mailing newspapers to those zip codes, and then getting calls from residents who say their delivery service of other mail often sucks, I’ve grown weary of filing polite complaints with the post office. Timely delivery of a periodical product is extremely important to the mailer--this is, after all, our livelihood they’re jacking with. The post office bureaucracy often doesn’t seem to care.

So this week I reached out to the office of Congressman Sam Graves. The biggest strength of Sam Graves as a congressman has been outstanding constituent services in the Sixth District for folks needing assistance with any government agency under the federal realm. Just a few minutes after sending an email to a Graves staffer in Washington, D.C. explaining the most recent crap show from the postal service, I received a phone call from a caseworker at Graves’ local office in Platte County.

It’s on. A Graves’ staffer named Wyatt is about to help us go full Wyatt Earp on the post office.

We’ll keep you posted.


If mail service down south gets any worse we’re skipping the post office and sending Chris Kamler out to deliver Landmarks from a bicycle with one of those cute baskets on the front.


You’ll read in this issue that Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd lost his appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court, who on Tuesday ruled that Zahnd deserves a public reprimand for his actions in regard to publicizing names and professional connections of prominent citizens who wrote letters to a judge urging leniency for a confessed child sex offender.

What’s sad about it is the Supreme Court gave no details on why it ruled the way it did. So we are left to wonder: Can a prosecutor (or any lawyer) tell the truth to the media about public matters that occur in court if those things might be embarrassing to someone? No one seems to know where the line is now, and that should be troubling to all of us.

We’ll say it again: If influential members of the community want to write letters to judges--letters that are open records--urging leniency for a confessed child molester those influential members of the community should not expect, and in fact have given up, any right to anonymity. The public deserves the right to know who among the community wants to excuse the type of behavior that occurred in the Darren Paden case.

It is dangerous to each and every one of us if we allow our courts to not be transparent on such matters. Put yourself in the shoes of the victim, not the shoes of the folks who wrote those letters.

(Put yourself in front of a screen Thursday night at 6 to watch Foley, Kamler and Brad Carl drink shots of alcohol at timed intervals with a sheriff’s officer on hand to test how quickly their BAC gets above the legal limit for driving. Only on Landmark Live at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark)


Written 5/16/18

Platte County is the second healthiest county in the state, you guys, which is outstanding. But last year we were number one. What happened? I don’t feel any less healthy than I did last year at this time, how about you?

I guess this is proof when you’re at the top the only direction you can head from that point is downward.


If you’ve been following our reporter Valerie Verkamp’s coverage of Park Hill’s building plan in the Line Creek area and its effect on the forest there, good for you. It’s an important topic. Park Hill’s school board last week pushed ahead with its master plan, ignoring concerns raised by organizers of a group to “Save the Last KC Forest.”

You can learn more by following the group on Facebook. Just enter the words “Save the Last KC Forest” in the Facebook search box and you’ll find their page. Here’s what the group posted after last week’s board meeting. It’s worthy of getting highlighted in this column:

“We’re concerned. And here’s why: the school board members talked about land conservation for just 26 seconds during their 18-minute discussion (before the vote to approve development in the forest). Yes, you read that correctly: 26 seconds.

And it was clear there is a very limited understanding about the land conservation process.

It started when board member Scott Monsees asked if any state or government agency had “sniffed” around and offered to purchase part of the forest from the school.

He asked this because our petition requested the school consider a conservation plan for the part of the school’s forest NOT needed for their master plan. (Since the forest is some of the last remaining original woodland forest in KC / Platte County).

Scott was told “no,” that there was no interest.

But the Missouri Dept of Conservation (MDC) and other environmental non-profits HAVE met with the school about the ecological value of the land. And talked extensively with our team about it as well, describing it as ideal for conservation.

However the MDC process is clear. The landowner must initiate the process if the land is to be conserved, whether through a conservation easement, land swap or purchase.

And our advocacy team would gladly help facilitate this.

Either Scott doesn’t know that the school must initiate the process, or he meant to imply that there is no interest, which is misleading. Sort of similar to a homeowner insisting no one is interested in buying their house before they’ve even posted a for sale sign.

If the school board members were really interested in exploring a possible conservation plan for the remaining acreage, they have options, including using the forest as an outdoor learning classroom.

But instead, this important issue received 26 seconds of discussion before being dismissed.”


I have to admit school board member Scott Monsees’ question nearly made me laugh out loud. Monsees asked school administrators/fellow board members if any agency has approached the school about purchasing or doing a land swap with the school district in regard to some of the forested area in question.

If anyone connected with the school were truly interested in preserving more of the forest, the question would have been worded this way: “Should we approach the Missouri Department of Conservation about doing a land swap? Or maybe we should sell this property and look elsewhere?”

Instead, Monsees’ question was worded in such a way it insinuated the school district’s hands are tied because no one has approached them to do a land swap or to purchase the property. Which is a ludicrous point of view.

If the district were serious about solving the concerns over the forest the district would be actively seeking a solution, not waiting for some other party to “sniff around” showing interest.


Having said that, I will give Monsees credit for at least making open comments and initiating some dialogue during the board meeting.

Let’s be honest, school board members typically aren’t the bravest bunch of elected officials you’ll ever meet. Did I miss something along the way? When did it become a requirement to be spayed or neutered before running for school board? Most are passive individuals, warming a chair, apparently happy just to have the words “school board member” on their resume, and nearly all seem to be intimidated by the very school administrators they’re supposed to be commanding.

Monsees showed the potential to be more than that.

Not sure he’ll become more than that. But the potential is there. Hey, it doesn’t hurt to dream.


Will any school board member in Platte County ever get the courage to show some tummy? And no, by ‘show some tummy’ I’m not asking them to raise their shirts. By show some tummy I mean show some willingness to openly speak your mind, think for yourself, openly question proposals by your administrators, go against the grain. Show some guts. Show some testicular fortitude.

It’s really not that difficult, or at least it shouldn’t be.

Platte County R-3 had one about a decade ago in Trish Stinnett. I haven’t really seen one anywhere in Platte County since that time.


Be sure to tune in to Landmark Live on Thursday, May 24, 6 p.m. at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark when we team up with the Platte County Sheriff’s Department on a DWI prevention episode. Your humble Landmark Live hosts will be drinking shots of alcohol at timed intervals and then we’ll be subjected to the portable breath testing device by a sheriff’s officer to show how quickly normal humans--or in our case, slightly abnormal humans--become intoxicated to the point they shouldn’t be behind the wheel.

It will be fun, unpredictable and educational and just in time for the Memorial Day holiday weekend. We’ll have Uber drivers taking us home after the show. Don’t drink and drive.

(Never drink and drive but always watch Landmark Live. Follow Foley on Facebook and Twitter @ivanfoley and email him at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 5/9/18


Hey guys, you boys were one of the more memorable bands in my high school days of the late 70’s/very early 80s. For years I’d been wanting to go see you in concert when you came to this area. Each time you had been in town I had a scheduling conflict and couldn’t go. That changed Friday night. But I’m going to be honest, it was a bit of a letdown.

Maybe it was me. Maybe I was too impatient. Maybe my mood wasn’t the best that night. Maybe. But maybe it was you.

Anyway, after about 30 minutes of your concert at Ameristar Casino I was out. Too much Little River Band “new stuff,” not enough of the classics that we all know and love. Listen guys, I’m not as old as you but I’m not as young as I used to be, either. I’m also not as patient when it comes to entertainment options. This is 2018. Entertainment options are everywhere. I don’t go to a concert to kill time. I go to a concert to be entertained. And granted, my attention span can sometimes be painfully short.

So when you combine all those things, what it means is that when you have my attention you need to do something to keep it. Jump on my attention like a pit bull on a perpetrator.

In other words, don’t tease me with new stuff when I know your best stuff is your old stuff. If your new stuff was any good we’d be hearing it on the radio. We aren’t.

Nobody headed out to your concert last Friday night by telling their friends: “Hey, I’m going to LRB! I’m really pumped to hear some stuff we’ve never heard them play before!!”

No. They’re not. Absolutely no one is saying that.

So listen my friends, play your new stuff when you get back to your garage or the senior center or wherever it is you’re practicing these days. When you’re in concert, blast those old time hits everybody in the crowd knows and loves. And don’t bury most of them toward the end of concert. It’s like my high school music instructor would tell us before we’d head to a competition: “You’ve got to start strong. Stick it in their ear.”

True, your audience isn’t young anymore but they’re not dead. If you don’t “stick it in their ear” early some of us aren’t gonna hang around for a nightcap of warm and fuzzies.

Maybe you got to the good stuff eventually Friday night. I’ll never know because you lost me. I knew it was time for a cool change so I hit the exit for some reminiscing and didn’t feel like a lonesome loser for doing so.

Maybe I’ll give you a second chance next time you’re in town. If so, I hope you grab my attention and run with it.


At last report, Rob Davenport, the Platte County High School baseball coach placed on paid administrative leave while potential policy violations are investigated, remained on suspension. “Potential violations of school board policy” is a vague explanation and as such can potentially either make something sound worse than it is or less serious than it is.

Not speaking particularly to Davenport’s case but to any such situation in general, is a suspended public employee done a favor by a public explanation being so vague? In some cases it can be viewed as such, in some cases no. For instance, the downside to a vague explanation is that people’s minds sometimes may wander off into an area completely unrelated to the disciplinary action. That’s the potential price paid for a lack of details being made public.

At any rate, will Davenport ever be back at Platte County as a coach? We’ll have to stay tuned.


Hats off to the county commission of Ron Schieber, John Elliott and Dagmar Wood for their continuing effort to pass ordinances designed to protect taxpayers from loopholes that have allowed taxpayers to be placed on the hook for development deals in the past.

They took two more steps toward doing so on Monday of this week when the commissioners passed ordinances that prohibit the county commission from issuing industrial development project bonds and another ordinance to prohibit the county commission from issuing certificates of participation in order to finance the acquisition and/or renovation of real property.

This follows last month’s action of preventing the type of taxpayer-backed bond financing--without voter approval--that was approved for the second phase of Zona Rosa, an investment that now has the taxpayers potentially on the hook for more than $30 million. A one-cent sales tax collected in the Zona Rosa shopping district is not generating enough revenue to cover an annual $2 million bond payment to a transportation development district.

Schieber says the current county commission will continue to look for way to “protect our taxpayers and our county budgets and our school budgets and the budgets of other taxing entities from these types of special interest shenanigans.”
Extra points to Schieber for dropping the word “shenanigans” into a commission meeting. One of my favorite words of all time. At some point I’ll write a column listing many of my favorite words in the English language. But I digress. . .

Wood says the special financing approaches the commission is moving to block are “examples of government overreach” and that it’s “time to tighten up some of these financial loopholes for county taxpayers.”

Elliott pointed out both the financial vehicles targeted by commissioners this week are tools that “can occur without a vote of the people and that’s not right. The fact that these are available to governmental entities is skirting the state constitution regarding debt.”

Schieber noted it was recently reported that Platte County has the highest per capital income in the state. “So why in the world would a county like ours need to get involved in these developer welfare packages?”

Of course the potential weak link to this is that a future county commission could, if it so chooses, simply overturn the ordinances that have been passed by the current group.

(Get further Between the Lines on Twitter @ivanfoley and by following Foley on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 5/2/18

Listen friends, I’ve been craving pancakes and/or French toast. Send me your recommendations on the best place for me to feed this craving and I’ll get this problem solved.


If you watch our weekly Landmark Live telecasts on Facebook, you know several times over the past few months we’ve discussed the local real estate market with our guests and advertisers.

The real estate market remains not just strong but crazy strong, especially for sellers, the local real estate agents are telling us. If you’ve been thinking about selling your home, might be a good idea to put it on the market soon as inventory is low and most homes are selling quickly at prices the sellers are enjoying.


Speaking of real estate, some activity is rolling in the new Windmill Creek subdivision in Platte City. Windmill Creek is on the east side of I-29, south of Hwy. 92. The entrance is slightly east of the Bank of Weston location near there.
There is at least one home already under construction in Windmill Creek, city officials say, and several contractors have been in City Hall filling out business license applications to be able to work there.

A website promoting Windmill Creek says curbs and gutters and other infrastructure work is in place for the first phase. It’s described as “a new subdivision with a great layout, trees, paved roads, Platte City utilities and ready for new construction. Come have a look to build your new home in this community. Many amenities--north of KCI Airport with quick access to downtown Kansas City, highly ranked schools and the county seat for Platte County.”

Local officials are excited about the new development inside the city limits, bringing needed housing additions. Phase one is scheduled to include around 20 homes.

When the subdivision was first being discussed there was mention of price points starting at $225,000 but I noticed newer information mentions prices ranging from $275,000 to the high $300,000s.

According to that same web site promoting Windmill Creek, “10 lots are already reserved and the remaining lots will go quickly. The engineering is in the works on phase two.”

Promoters say Windmill Creek has “several builders and many house plans to choose from. This tract of land is 75 acres and another 80 acres, (still in cornfields, next to Bethel Road) has been reserved for the expansion of the subdivision. Presently there are three phases. There are approximately 179 homes planned for the Windmill Creek Subdivision.”

Now to be clear, let’s pump the brakes just a bit before someone tries to tell us the sky is falling and Platte County R-3 needs to start building new schools like yesterday. That figure of 179 homes is not going to happen suddenly. That’s the total at full buildout, which could take many years, depending upon market conditions, etc.

Remember, phase one is planned for 20 homes.


Kudos and congratulations to Wells Bank on its new headquarters located at 1100 Branch Street (Highway 92) in Platte City. Perhaps you made it out to the bank’s open house last Thursday and toured the impressive facility, the lobby of which--as we pointed out on our Landmark Live broadcast from there--looks like a five star hotel.

I’m also a fan of the way the bank has also incorporated some of the history--including a vault--from its longtime building at the corner of Third and Main in downtown Platte City, which is now vacant.


Want a Ferrelview update? Maybe not, but here’s some of the latest from the little village of dysfunction.

The village people had hired a new city clerk and after working one day the new clerk said, and I feel confident I’m accurately paraphrasing here, “Thanks but no thanks, I’m leaving this freaking circus.”

The former clerk, Patsy Murray, is now city clerk at Tracy, a little town that has had plenty of governmental drama in its past, so good luck to all parties involved in that lateral move. Murray had offered to still come in to work at Ferrelview on Fridays as long as they needed her but the latest word is the board is going to decline that offer.

Also, there is some talk brewing of a potential effort to seek disincorporation of the village. Reportedly in order to do this, a petition would need to be signed by 25% of the eligible voters in the village, which would then put the issue to a vote of the people. If it gets that far--and again, it’s all conjecture at this point, we’ve received no confirmation that a petition is actually being circulated yet--the matter would require a simple majority approval at that election.

Disincorporation would end the city government and turn the village into an area of unincorporated Platte County. You’re welcome, Platte County.


I ran across some gas-buying tips that you may find kind of interesting.

According to the web site gasbuddy.com, the best day of the week to fill your car’s tank up with gas in most states is Monday. “Monday offers the lowest average gas price in 21 states, making it the best day to fill up,” according to the folks at GasBuddy. And yes, Missouri is one of those 21 states where gas prices are best on Monday.

At the other end of the spectrum, Friday is the worst day to buy gas in 19 states, having the most expensive average of any day of the week. But that’s not true in Missouri. Here in Missouri, the most expensive day to fill your tank is Saturday, the experts say.

Oh, and the best day to avoid lines at your favorite convenience store? According to GasBuddy, gas stations across the country are the least busy on Sundays, followed by Mondays. Friday is the busiest day.

The more you know.

(Email your pancake recommendations to ivan@plattecountylandmark.com. Follow Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley and find him on Facebook. Watch him on Landmark Live every week on Facebook at The Platte County Landmark page)


Written 4/25/18

Hey there, sporty types and non-sporty types and such, happy to welcome you to the home of real news and fearless commentary. You’re all welcome here. Thanks for jumping on board The Landmark train.


Can the local news get any crazier? Enjoy the wide variety and depth of topics scattered throughout this issue. Pat yourself on the back, Platte County. There aren’t many counties this size that consistently produce the opportunities for interesting news story opportunities.


Some tweaking to the structure of the Platte City Parks and Recreation Board has been approved by the Platte City Board of Aldermen. From here, it looks like this is a good move that will clarify some misconceptions over how much decision-making “power” the parks board actually held.

At a meeting Tuesday night, the aldermen approved a measure that changes the parks and recreation “board” to a parks and recreation “committee.” Importantly, another change is that the parks committee can now have two members who live beyond the city limits but inside the boundaries of the Platte County R-3 School District. Beyond that, the action helps to clarify some misunderstanding that some parks board members in the past may have had. The parks board has never been in charge of its own budget nor has it had the power to enter into certain contracts, says city administrator DJ Gehrt, despite what some park board members may have believed.

The new ordinance passed this week (alderman Vickie Atkins voted against, she preferred tabling the matter to a later meeting) retains the parks committee’s responsibilities to provide parks and recreation facility, program and budget recommendations to the board of aldermen and lists additional responsibilities for parks and rec issues. The ordinance also assigns additional staff support to the committee, meaning more guidance from Gehrt and his underlings.

“The new ordinance retains most of the existing board structure while increasing flexibility and improving parks and recreation user representation. The parks and rec committee will consist of not more than nine and not fewer than five members, with up to two members who may live outside the city limits as long as they’ve been residents of the R-3 school district for at least two years,” Gehrt said. He said that around 70-80 percent of participants in the city’s organized youth recreation programs are from outside the city limits.


Excited to say Wells Bank’s impressive-looking new headquarters in Platte City at Hwy. 92 and Marshall Road will be the site of this week’s episode of Landmark Live. For you newbies, Landmark Live is a weekly live telecast on Facebook featuring your cast of characters from The Landmark Newspaper with local guests.

Wells Bank is the official sponsor of this week’s show that will air live on Thursday at 6 p.m. The video will remain on Facebook at The Platte County Landmark page for viewing at your leisure. Anticipate between 4,000 and 5,000 viewers of the show over the course of the next week.

We’re looking forward to seeing the bank’s new digs and giving Landmark Live viewers a peak at the facility, which is getting rave reviews from folks who have already been in the place. We’ll have concert tickets and other prizes to give away. My co-host, former radio DJ Brad Carl, is breaking out a new game for us this week called “Dead or Alive?” We name a celebrity, you tell us whether that person is dead or alive.

If you’re in the area, stop by to watch the show live while enjoying the bank open house at the same time.


Uh, oh. Potentially bad news for those who walk the fine line when it comes to the state’s open meetings law.

A bill that would strengthen the Sunshine Law has passed in the Missouri House of Representatives. A combined bill that has the support of Missouri Press Association passed the Missouri House Thursday, April 19, with a vote of 147-1. This legislation will create an office within the Missouri Attorney General's Office for investigating Sunshine Law violations by government entities and gives that office the power to issue subpoenas related to Sunshine Law investigations. The attorney general’s office will also have the power to enforce remedies for violating the Sunshine Law. The bill has been advanced to the Senate and has been first read.

The bill modifies provisions of the Sunshine Law and creates a transparency division within the office of the attorney general to monitor Sunshine Law violations by public governmental bodies. Other provisions in the bill include: seeking authorization to issue investigative subpoenas in the course of its public-record law investigations; and creating remedies for violations of Chapter 109, RSMo, relating to public records retention, adjusting penalties for violations of Chapter 610, RSMo, and giving the attorney general power to enforce those remedies.


We haven’t checked in on Ferrelview for you for a few weeks, as you needed a break from the ‘he said/she said’ game of middle school level political shenanigans. But I sat in on much of a Ferrelview meeting on Saturday and here’s the latest:

*New board chairman Phil Gilliam wants to impeach former board chairman Theresa Wilson. He has a list of “charges” that Wilson, through her attorney Dennis Rowland, denies and refers to as “nonsense.” Full story on this topic starts on our front page.

*The board held its meeting on Saturday, April 21 even though the advanced public posting of the meeting listed the day of the session as Friday, April 21. Right date, wrong day of the week.

*Just in as we head to press Wednesday morning: state officials will be looking into the “taxes owed” status of all newly-elected board members, as an allegation has arisen that at least one of them may owe back taxes, which could put that person’s seat at risk, until/unless the delinquent tax is paid.

(Find Landmark publisher Ivan Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley, on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube and watch Landmark Live every Thursday night at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark)


Written 4/18/18

So the visit by Gov. Eric Greitens to Platte County on Saturday was interesting to say the least. See our front page story for his remarks and go to Platte County Landmark on Facebook for more photos, but in the meantime here are a few behind-the-scenes snippets from the controversial governor’s visit to the Spring to Victory event hosted by Platte County Republicans at a Tom Hutsler-owned building on English Landing Drive in Parkville.

•While most of the crowd--and by the way, hats off to the Republicans for getting 175-200 people to their fundraising event, impressive stuff--gave Greitens a standing ovation when he was introduced, I’m guessing about 10-20 percent of the room did not. I happened to be standing near the table occupied by Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd, his family and associates at the time and noticed that table did not indulge in the standing O. There were a few others, but for the most part the crowd stood and applauded the governor who is engulfed in multiple highly-publicized controversies.

•Local officeholders and local candidates, it seemed to me, avoided Greitens. It was not an obviously rude avoidance, but rather just a casual separation of space. None seemed to want to be close enough to the governor to be caught in the same camera shot with him.

•While the politicians and wanna-be politicians avoided being in close proximity of Greitens, he did receive many up close and personal well wishes from everyday Republicans in the crowd. Many walked up to him to offer a handshake and a message to the tune of “keep up the fight.” Of course if a sitting Republican governor is ever going to get a friendly reception it is at a gathering of the Republican base. I’m sure this played into the governor’s decision to make the trip to Platte County. While his arrival at the event had been scheduled and anticipated for days in advance, there was the thought in the minds of some folks that after the House Committee report hit the media last Wednesday night the governor may not show on Saturday. But he did.

•A news crew from KSHB-TV Channel 41 was waiting outside the front door, hoping to nab some video and an on-camera quote from the governor as he entered the building. While the news crew waited by the front door Greitens--with the help of property owner Hutsler--was secretly guided to an entrance in the rear of the building and made his way upstairs while the event proceeded on the main floor. While the Channel 41 peeps still stood outside by the front door, The Landmark was inside and one of the attendees whispered to me that Greitens was already in the house and waiting on the second floor. If you go to our Facebook page you’ll see a photo I snapped of Greitens bounding down the stairs a few minutes ahead of his speech.


Kudos to the Platte County Commission for taking action in an effort to prevent any more alphabet soup financial disasters for taxpayers at the county level when it comes to backing bonds for transportation development districts (TDD) and similar setups.

Commissioners have passed an ordinance calling for future decisions on these type matters to be put to a vote of the public rather than left in the hands of the county commission. As you know by now, a vote of 2-1 in 2007 put taxpayers on the hook for bonds involved with constructing infrastructure for Zona Rosa. Betty Knight and Jim Plunkett liked the idea, commissioner Tom Pryor voted against.

Of course the bad news is that a future commission could, if it so desires, rescind that ordinance and do its own thing. But as Ron Schieber, presiding commissioner points out, any move by a future commission to do away with the ordinance should be seen as a “red flag” by taxpayers.


It’s correct to say Platte County officially has a death penalty case on the docket.
A trial date has been established for Grayden Denham, the man charged with killing four of his family members in 2016 in Edgerton. The trial date is set for April 22, 2019, which is still a year away. And let’s be honest, chances are there will be delays along the way. So at this point let’s consider that date more a suggestion than anything close to being chiseled in stone.

Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd has filed his notice of intent to seek the death penalty against Denham, who is accused of shooting and then burning the bodies of his grandparents, his older sister and her three-month-old son at the grandparents’ residence in Edgerton. The family dog was also shot and burned, authorities say.


Are you a music fan? Then the Camden Point branch of the Mid-Continent Library has an upcoming program that may spark your interest, especially if you’re old enough to remember the year 1974. And the program is free, so the price is right.

Received this interesting little tidbit from Sylvia Anderson. Longtime Landmark readers will remember that name. Sylvia, better known as ‘Sly’ around the office, served two stints here with us at The Landmark about 20 years ago, first as a reporter and then a later stint in advertising sales. She is now the social media liaison/customer service associate for the library at Camden Point.

On Saturday, May 5 at 2 p.m., the Camden Point library is hosting “1974 Ozark Music Festival." It's a flashback to when more than 350,000 concert-goers swarmed the Missouri State Fairgrounds for the Ozark Music Festival in July of 1974.

Rivaling Woodstock, the festival featured such iconic '70s bands as Lynyrd Skynrd, The Eagles, REO Speedwagon, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Aerosmith.

At the May 5 program, the public is invited to discover the complicated history of that pivotal weekend in the summer of 1974, and learn what prompted the Missouri State Senate to call it “a disaster.”

If you want more info, log on to mymcpl.org/events or call (816) 280-3384.


See you Thursday night on Landmark Live from Total Tan, where you can get a spray tan much better than the one sported by President Trump.

(For more Between the Lines, follow Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley and find him on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 4/11/18

Happy Wednesday. We’re close to pushing our way through another deadline. It’s all over but the crying.


Strange confession: I’m looking forward to watching that HBO documentary on former professional wrestler Andre the Giant that debuted earlier this week. I haven’t taken the time to view it yet but do have it on the DVR and will get to it this weekend.

Andre the Giant, for those who may not know, was 7’4” tall and weighed 520 pounds. I’m guessing that’s how he got his nickname.

A boyhood friend and I in the 1970s were into the wrestling fandom and naive enough at the time to think it was real. Or at least partially real. My neighborhood buddy--who is now a school superintendent in northeast Kansas--and I were about 9 or 10 years old and this was before professional wrestling had become full scripted soap opera for guys, which it clearly has been for quite some time now.

In those days, KQTV Channel 2 in St. Joseph would host Saturday night wrestling matches in a cozy little ‘arena’ within their studio headquarters. Big 2 wrestling, they called it. Fantastic stuff. Or at least we thought so. My buddy’s dad owned a grocery store in St. Joe and would advertise on the Big 2 wrestling show, so we occasionally got ringside seats to all the grunting and groaning. This gave our faces some TV time. The Big 2 wrestling show was taped early Saturday evening but not shown on the tube until 10:30 that night, so we would have time to get home and get camped in front of the television to catch ourselves on the television screen in the background of those action shots.

Good times.

Anyway, that’s a long-winded way of letting you know Andre the Giant was one of the professional wrestling circuit stars in my younger days and for that reason I’ll take the time to digest the HBO documentary. The big man died in 1993 from congestive heart failure at the age of 46.


Not shocking. But also not good news. That’s the reaction from southern Platte County with the announcement that the Hen House store is laying an egg at the end of business Monday. The store near I-29 and 64th Street is closing the barn door for good.

There is likely some research underway at the county level to verify whether that area is part of another one of those infamous TDDs (Transportation Development District, a special taxing district). Sources are telling me the I-29 and 64th St. area has two TDDs, one north of the 64th (the Hy-Vee area) is the Park Plaza TDD and one south of 64th (Hen House area) is the Tremont Square TDD. There is a one percent TDD sales tax in place. It’s not clear what impact, if anything significant, the lost revenue from Hen House might have. Pending some research by those at the county level, it’s also not yet clear if county taxpayers are backing the bonds behind these TDDs.

We know county taxpayers are on the hook at Zona Rosa.

Don’t panic or overreact yet. Just something to keep in the back of your mind for possible future reference.

At minimum, this is just another reminder of how government should stay out of development roles that place taxpayers at risk.


Despite the Zona Rose struggles, with 40% of the second phase of Zona unoccupied and with Hen House closing, sales tax revenues in Platte County thus far in Platte County have shown an increase. Through the first four months of collections in 2018, the sales tax revenue is up by 4.6% compared to the first four months of 2017. And the combined sales tax/use tax revenue is up by nine percent compared to the first four months of 2017.


The new board at the Village of Ferrelview has reinstated a police chief who survived a criminal investigation without being charged but remains under professional investigation at the state level and at risk of having his peace officer’s license suspended or revoked.

That’s really all you need to know about how dysfunctional the village government is.

Disincorporation might be the only hope for sanity to prevail.


Hearing the state auditor’s office might be in the mood to tuck tail and run from Ferrelview. Perhaps the level of dysfunction has scared them away. Remember months ago when I told you Ferrelview was fortunate that Todd Schuler of the state auditor’s staff was assigned as the case manager of the village audit because insiders were telling me he has a reputation of, shall we say, a lack of aggressiveness?

On the back channel: There are also rumors the state auditor’s office is frightened of some kind of political blowback if it started issuing subpoenas to those involved in Ferrelview’s governmental mess. Something about the Democrat state auditor being worried about stirring up Republicans in Platte County with her race on the horizon.

If this is truly the case, talk about being politically out of touch. Politically influential Republicans in Platte County aren’t losing sleep over anything that happens in Ferrelview, trust me. Politically active Republicans in Platte County, if they think about Ferrelview at all, are embarrassed by the happenings and if anything would support cleaning up the embarrassment.

This may come as a surprise to the state auditor but no governmental leaders in Ferrelview are active Republicans in Platte County. Nothing that happens to Ferrelview’s government or the players within it is going to have one bit of impact on political happenings in Platte County, let alone statewide.

(Find Foley on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Watch him on Landmark Live, a weekly Thursday telecast on Facebook on The Landmark’s page, and email him at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 4/4/18

It’s the day after an election, which means my eyes are heavier than they typically are, even for a Wednesday. . .

It also means an entire sleeve of shortbread Girl Scout cookies is about to die a hero.


Kudos to everybody who took the time to head to the polls and cast a ballot Tuesday. It’s not usually 30 degrees with a wind chill as cold as balls for an April election but it was this year. Applaud yourselves for doing your civic duty in less than ideal conditions. Voter turnout countywide was 10 percent, two percent less than local officials had predicted. Tuesday’s bitter cold didn’t help.

Congratulations to the winners, including to Platte City Mayor Frank Offutt, who received a convincing amount of support from the electorate. To those who didn’t win, thanks for your interest in the process. Competition is a good thing and keeps those in office on their toes. Stay involved in the process.


Here’s a piece of advice for local baseball fans. Don’t pay face value for your Royals tickets this year. For 90 percent of games you’ll be able to find tickets at less than face value, I feel confident of this. Why?

Did you notice Opening Day wasn’t even a sellout? Heck, even when the Royals were great at being terrible Opening Day was traditionally a sellout. Not this year.

I had purchased two tickets to Opening Day, wasn’t feeling the greatest on game day, decided I wasn’t going and couldn’t even find a willing taker as I tried to give the darn things away the morning of the game. Yes, I ended up eating two $80 tickets. That’s a pretty un-Foley like thing to do.

To quote an occasionally unhinged person on Twitter: “Sad!”


Remember our fun conversation with Royals PA announcer Mike McCartney on Landmark Live in very early March? During the show I made the comment a small part of me was strangely looking forward to this season because trips to the stadium would be less congested and good seats would be much easier to find.

“There’s still going to be crowds!” our friend Mike shot back.

Uh huh. Maybe when the Yankees or Cardinals are in town. All other times, not so much.

I stand by my earlier comment.


You think Platte City isn’t ready for LC’s Hamburgers?

Late Friday afternoon after we talked to Harold Jordan of LC’s and he confirmed the burger joint would be opening its Platte City location this week, we put a post on the Platte County Landmark Facebook page. The post took off like wildfire. The Facebook post, like LC’s burgers, was never frozen. It was like searing onions right into the patty.

After just a few days the post had been seen by 27,104 people. It had been shared by 231 other Facebook users and “liked” by 458.

There you have it, LC’s. The Landmark has lobbed you a softball. Now hit that thing out of the park.


Some detractors on social media had questioned whether this LC’s location will prove to be as popular as the original location at Platte Woods. Detractors said in the past LC’s had opened another location on North Oak and the food there “just didn’t taste the same.”

Early reviews from folks who visited LC’s in Platte City on its opening day have been positive. Consider this from Facebook user/local realtor Rebekkah Davis:
“Officially tried LC’s today and I can say that it’s just as good as Platte Woods location. Their menu is larger than the one at Platte Woods and they will serve breakfast Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings. So glad they came to Platte City. Yummy.”

There you have it.


Listen, I don’t want to brag but only 32 of you finished ahead of me in the Bracket Battle this year and qualify for a chance to claim a free one year subscription to this fine newspaper. Actually the number is less than 32 because a few of those above me are Landmark employees.

This feels much better than two years ago when 150 of you were ahead of me and not quite as good as last year when only 20 of you finished above me.

See you next year. Yes, we’ll do it again next year even though hosting this Bracket Battle is the most time consuming thing you can imagine. It’s still fun. The public loves it--20 more people entered this year than last. Yes, 187 entries. And we were only a few entries shy of setting a new all-time record. As I recall we had 190 toss in an entry about five years ago.

You can find the complete/final/that’s-all-she-wrote standings elsewhere in this issue. And if you’ve earned the right to a free subscription you need to contact us to claim your prize by April 30, 2018. Claim it by calling us at 816.858.0363 or emailing ivan@plattecountylandmark.com.


We’ll close with a little news tidbit: Someone set off a fire extinguisher on the second floor of the Platte County Administration Building over the weekend, officials say. Those of us attending Monday morning’s county commission meeting were greeted with a view of police tape and investigators surrounding the scene of the crime in the commons area outside of the commission meeting room.

Sheriff’s department officials are indicating the suspect, apparently caught on video, is a juvenile. Authorities at last check are still trying to get an identification on the young suspect and figuring out how the young person gained access to that part of the building. No other areas of the building appeared to have been tampered with, Major Erik Holland of the sheriff’s department said Monday.

(Get down and get funky with Foley on Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 3/28/18

His work is worth a look every week, trust me. This week’s piece by award-winning Landmark cartoonist Matthew Silber at top right of this page is one of my favorites in recent memory.


There was a lot of interesting county and state level political news breaking Tuesday night. We wrap it up for you in a front page story headlined with the Nick Marshall vs. Eric Zahnd race that has developed, at least for now (sometimes candidates file then drop out. . .just saying, with a hat tip to alleged school board candidates at R-3 who have perfected this not-exactly-brave political art form).

So we’ll have a winner-take-all Republican primary for prosecutor in August and a general election in November for presiding commissioner. Again, that’s assuming every filed candidate stays where they are and doesn’t tuck tail.

There was also some drama in the state level races for representative and state senate and we talk about that in our front page story as well. Good times ahead.


But amid all the county and state political talk let’s not forget the April municipal election is next week, on Tuesday, April 3. Go vote.

Inside an article in this issue of The Landmark (on page A-4 to be exact) we list every candidate and issue on the ballot in Platte County for Tuesday’s vote. Some of the highlights include a contested mayoral race and two contested alderman races in Platte City, a contested race for director of the Central Platte Fire District where Dan Laxson is a highly qualified candidate, a couple races for alderman spots at Riverside, a race for mayor at Weatherby Lake, a race for mayor at Lake Waukomis, four candidates for two open seats on the North Platte School Board, half the town running for three spots on the Village of Ferrelview Board of Trustees, and a (surprise!) $10 million bond issue question for Southern Platte Fire District that will require 4/7th majority to pass.


Here at Between the Lines you’ve likely noticed we don’t often dive into social issues. We’re interested in good government and protecting taxpayers, not so much interested in how anyone lives their private lives. At Between the Lines headquarters we’re big believers in the philosophy of “you be you.”

So when we tell you that a man who once was on the Park Hill School Board is now a woman running for Smithville School Board we are telling you this for informational purposes only. I’m not here to criticize someone’s personal decision nor am I going to tell you to celebrate this. Just giving you the news, my friends.

Remember Fred Sanchez? He was on the school board at Park Hill for a time, also served on the South Platte Ambulance District board of directors and if I’m not mistaken also spent some time on the Platte County Democratic Central Committee. Longtime readers will remember that Fred and I were often--almost always--on opposites side of various political topics. This meant his name would occasionally appear in Between the Lines as we pointed out some over-the-top comments he made at public meetings. A good natured jab here, a good natured jab there. One day he came into The Landmark office for a conversation about politics and our opposing viewpoints, saying he wanted to “humanize” himself.

Fred-now-Carmen even tried to good-naturedly return fire. In 2012 when he was taking part in a Park Hill School Board candidate forum, I walked in the room and took a seat toward the back shortly after the forum had begun. “I see my good friend Ivan Foley is here tonight,” Sanchez said straight-faced during part of his remarks. Though we were on opposite sides of nearly every issue, in early 2013 when The Landmark was able to break the news about the tremendous amount of hidden salary and hidden perks in the ridiculous contract of former Superintendent Dennis Fisher, Sanchez opened up with information that helped add depth to our story. Since much of the information didn’t exactly paint Sanchez and other school board members in a positive light, I respected him for his honesty in doing so. Our series of stories on the topic took first place in the Missouri Better Newspaper Contest that year, and the interviews conducted with Sanchez were a big part of being able to inform Park Hill taxpayers to what level the wool had been pulled over their eyes by district hierarchy.

Anyway, Fred Sanchez--who had a conceal/carry permit--resigned from the Park Hill board after unintentionally carrying a firearm into a board meeting. He had a gun strapped to his ankle under his pants leg at a board meeting. This was against school policy. He forgot he had it on him, he said, until fellow board member Boon Lee drew it to his attention. “Boon asked me, ‘Are you packing heat?’” I remember Sanchez telling me as he explained his reason for resigning. Sanchez resigned even though he said the incident was an unintentional violation of policy. He said he felt he had lost the privilege to participate as a board member.

A lot of us lost track of Sanchez shortly after that. At one point I had heard unconfirmed reports he had moved to Florida. Then about two years ago word circulated of his transgender decision. Early this winter at a local business gathering, the news reached me that the new Fred/Carmen is running for school board at Smithville. Shortly thereafter Carmen reached out to The Landmark via that thing known as the internet, confirming the news. She is one of three candidates seeking two open spots on the Smithville board at next Tuesday’s election.

Life is unpredictable, is it not?


Landmark Live returns Thursday, April 5 with a Kansas City recording artist who has ties to Platte County as our special guest, and then April 12 we’re broadcasting live from the newly-renovated Williamsburg Plaza apartment homes in Platte City. Check us out on Facebook and watch next week’s Landmark for more details.

(Get further Between the Lines on Twitter @ivanfoley and find Foley on Facebook, where you can watch episodes of Landmark Live at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 3/21/18

It’s a disaster. No, I’m not talking about my bracket. Well, not yet anyway, that comes later in this column.

I’m still talking about Zona Rosa. Last week we broke the news in this column (you’re welcome, Kansas City Star, who followed up with a story of their own after reading our report on my Twitter feed) about Zona Rosa being in default on its mortgage loan.

The same documents I quoted here last week, the documents that note Zona is in default on its mortgage also note that only 59% of the available leasable space in Phase II of Zona Rosa is currently leased and occupied.

Good grief. I mean, we’ve all noticed some unoccupied spaces in Zona but this is even worse than the naked eye led us to believe. More than 40% of the leasable space is vacant.



And with taxpayers potentially on the hook for the $32 million bonds backed by the county in action taken by county commissioners Betty Knight and Jim Plunkett a decade ago, the current county commission is left in a tough spot. As I speculated here last week, one of the options likely in the back of commissioners’ minds is simply to walk away from those bonding obligations. This would hurt the county’s credit rating, but would that necessarily be a bad thing? What that might actually do is prevent a future “progressive” county commission from putting taxpayers on the hook in ridiculous risky ventures like this.

Another option the county commission has had in preliminary discussions is to consider sliding some revenue from the county’s 3/8th cent sales tax for roads to help meet the Zona Rosa bond obligations. There are legal questions to this angle that are being researched. The Zona bonds are “transportation refunding and improvement revenue bonds” and the sales tax is a “transportation tax” so. . .


The normally feel-good atmosphere at the Zona Rosa Easter parade set for March 31 may have a not-so-feel-good feel to it this year now that the cat is out of the bag and the public is well aware of Zona’s financial troubles and the potential impact on every county taxpayer. Normally several county elected officials take part in the Easter parade fun and games at the shopping district.

Also with Rosemary Salerno, the bubbly former GM who was the public face of Zona from the shopping district’s beginning until the owners parted ways with her earlier this year, now gone, the parade and associated activities on that day will have a new and awkwardly interesting ambiance.

If you love awkward moments the way I love awkward moments, go check it out.


One of these weeks when I’m in the right mood I’m going to share a little behind the scenes talk about Zona Rosa’s corporate-driven advertising approach (bottom line: it sucked) and how it had changed in recent years, and how the former GM Rosemary Salerno and I had held discussions on the topic and what the plan supposedly was going to be for Zona’s advertising this year prior to Salerno’s sudden “departure.”


The Southern Platte Fire Protection District has a question on the ballot at the Tuesday, April 3 election. Don’t feel badly if you didn’t know this. It seems not many folks do. Heck, I’m in the media biz and I didn’t even know it until Monday when a “press release” from the district tipped me off.

I felt guilty for not knowing, like I had been asleep at the switch here at Between the Lines headquarters. I said to myself, “Self, how did you not know the South Platte Fire District has a $10 million bond issue question on the ballot? Self, what the hell is wrong with you?”

But I felt better a few hours later when my phone ran and it was a loyal reader from the southern part of the county, a person who also stays up to date on current local events and local government. He had just seen a yard sign for said South Platte fire election. It was breaking news to him, as well. “What the hell?” I think was his literal reaction, if you want to know the unfiltered truth.

So here we are, two weeks prior to a decision on a $10 million bond issue question and the general public is just now getting wind of the fact there is a vote on the topic.

Some of the things for Southern Platte Fire District residents to consider prior to voting--either for or against--the $10 million question:

1. Is this a refinancing or new additional debt?

2. What do the district’s financial statements show? How do they justify the need if this data isn’t made readily available? How much money does the district have on hand in excess funds?

3. The district’s web site indicates the fire district is projected to grow over the next five years. This growth, officials acknowledge, “will assist in maintaining the tax base while increasing the revenue in order to assist in providing additional services.” That begs this question: if revenues are increasing, why does the district need to borrow?

Whether you believe the tax to be justified or whether you don’t, what is concerning is that it appears the Southern Platte Fire District to this point has really made little or no effort to educate the public on the issue prior to the April 3 vote.


Looking for the early Bracket Battle standings? You’ll find the listing on page A-7 in this issue. Proud to say somebody from The Landmark news staff is in first place. Not quite as proud to admit it’s not me. Reporter Valerie Verkamp has the early lead, you guys. Even Landmark office manager Cindy Rinehart isn’t too far from the top. Those two must have been having basketball watch parties over the winter that the rest of us here didn’t know about.

All I can say is if my pick of Villanova doesn’t come through as the national champion I’ll be giving away a truckload of free subscriptions. But hey, you gotta risk it for the biscuit. I do get a kick out of the way many of you folks come after me with trash talking. Just remember it’s tough to trash talk a trash talker.

The Northland’s longest and most entertaining bracket contest keeps growing. Thanks for your interest and support. We have 187 entries this year, which is a 12% increase over last year’s 167.

(Catch Ivan Foley blowing up his bracket and blowing your minds on Twitter @ivanfoley and on Landmark Live every Thursday night at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 3/14/18

Gonna be a weird day. Woke up with the theme song to Josie and the Pussycats stuck in my head.


Josie and the Pussycats was a Saturday morning cartoon in the 1970s. Google it. And Google the theme song, too. It will prove my musical tastes are top notch.


Looking for the basketball bracket you have to beat in order to win a one-year subscription to The Landmark? I’ll be posting my bracket on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram just prior to entry deadline on Thursday. To do so any sooner would give you an unfair advantage, am I right??

Not that you need one, really.


Things are getting serious at the Village of Ferrelview.

Well, things have long been serious at the Village of Ferrelview. Some of the meetings have been so serious, in fact, that law enforcement had to be called, arrests have been made and even charges have been filed.

But that part of the circus is simply a cover and a bit distracting from the more important issue. The village itself is on the verge of bankruptcy, according to the village treasurer. And behind the scenes, that’s believed to be the attitude of at least one member of the state auditor’s office.

You can read all of the comments from Mickey Vulgamott, village treasurer, in a letter to the editor at right, but I’ll touch on some of the highlights for you. Her letter is a fascinating insight into some of the inner workings of the most dysfunctional city government you may have ever seen. I mean, Tracy has had some dysfunctional moments in its past, in particular when the mayor at the time was running the town as if she had to answer to no one, including the framers of the Missouri Constitution, but Ferrelview wins the top prize for dysfunction.

Important disclaimer: Mickey Vulgamott is one of the reasonable folks involved in this, which puts her in pretty rarified air at Ferrelview.

As you know, a state audit is underway on the village’s books and procedures. I think it’s safe to assume the audit is not going swimmingly. I’m hearing buzz about potential “subpoena power” being used by the state auditor’s office. And Vulgamott says some of the board members don’t seem to be respecting the process or taking the audit seriously.

“Last night I had a list of items that I got out of conversations with the auditor that they (board members) should be aware of. One rolled his eyes and acted impatient and the other did her usual. I have come to the conclusion that not only do they not respect me they do not respect the state auditor’s office,” the village treasurer says. “I told the board that if a water main break occurred I do not know where the money will come from to fix it. Again, eye rolls and impatience.”
Credit to Vulgamott for sticking around for this sticky situation. Many others would have bailed by now.

“I have done my job. I have done everything I can to make the board and the public understand. I have given them the information. The auditor says the bank statements don’t lie,” Vulgamott adds.

Vulgamott has been accused of misrepresenting the finances. I’ve seen this accusation made at board meetings I’ve covered in the past. Let’s go back to what the state auditor told Vulgamott: “Bank statements don’t lie.”

The treasurer for the village people says in 2015 the town had a windfall of $88,000 and “that would have been a good time to put that money aside to replace some of the CDs that had been cashed in. In 2016 there was no budget document for the village and the entire $64,000 that was received in court revenues was spent,” Vulgamott says. “The bank accounts were not reconciled for 2016. There was no accounting, no controls. On Jan. 1, 2017 the general fund was negative. I have made it as clear as I can.”

Vulgamott says she does not fear the audit.

“One minor catastrophe can take us down. We have nothing for collateral for a bank loan. We have a $10,000 CD in the general fund and with us having to pay for the audit and pay back the excess municipal court revenue collected in 2016 we will have to use that $10,000 to make the budget.

“I know my facts will prove out. We (the village) are literally on the verge of bankruptcy,” she said.


Want more bad news from the world of local finance?

There is plenty of disturbing news in a letter to UMB Bank, bondholder for those bonds that are (apparently) backed by you, me and every other taxpayer in Platte County, thanks to the regime of Betty Knight and Jim Plunkett. The letter is signed by Andrea Olshan, chief executive officer of Olshan Properties. Olshan Properties is the New York-based owner of Zona Rosa.

The document is available on the Electronic Municipal Market Access website. I took a gander at it this week.

In the letter dated Jan. 9 of this year, Olshan says the developer’s mortgage loan “is currently in mortgage default. Developer is in ongoing discussions with lender with respect to such default.”


So what happens if/when that happens? Stay tuned.


So what happens if things continue to go south financially for Zona Rosa and the tax revenues there continue to fall way short of making the payments on the $32,200,000 in Transportation Refunding and Improvement Revenue Bonds the county commission of Knight and Plunkett signed onto?

It seems safe to assume the current county commission has to at least be considering walking away from covering these bond payments, right? It’s an option worth exploring.

What a mess.


Welp. Happy spring!

(Get more stuff you can’t find anywhere else on Twitter @ivanfoley, Facebook at Platte County Landmark and find Foley on Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 3/7/18

Some random observations and thoughts while wondering how big those potholes in the drive leading to the Platte City Post Office are going to get. Already large enough to swallow large cattle and small cars.


So if you know a friend or relative who was recently headed to the post office and you haven’t heard from them since, check those holes before filing a missing persons report.

Or have they filled those holes by the time this issue hit the street?


If you’ve been around Platte County for several years, you’re very familiar with the murder case of Alissa Shippert, 22, of Platte City, who was killed in the summer of 2011. She was a popular clerk at the Casey’s General Store in Platte City. It was eventually determined she was killed by pizza maker Quintin O’Dell, a Casey’s co-worker. The murder took place at the Platte River inside the Platte Falls Conservation Area near Platte City.

Now the story is getting re-told on national television. The show is hosted by journalist Paula Zahn and it will air at 9 p.m. Central time this Sunday night on the Investigation Discovery channel. If you’re like me and have DirecTV, Investigation Discovery is channel 285.

You will see some familiar faces interviewed on the show, including local sheriff’s department detectives and the county prosecutor, among others.

From the Facebook page of Paula Zahn, journalist:

“22-year-old Alissa Shippert was savagely murdered while fishing along the river in Platte City. The popular young woman always had a smile on her face and was passionate about her love of fishing. Her case was on the brink of going cold when detectives learned a second woman had been brutally attacked and left for dead. But miraculously the young woman survived. Would her shocking story bring a serial killer in the making to justice? "River of Sorrow" premieres this Sunday night at 10pm/ 9c on Investigation Discovery.”

A preview of the show can be found at the long link of



I’m not an attorney and I don’t play one on TV but occasionally I’ll pretend to play one in this column. I’ve read the probable cause (PC) statement outlining the case against Theresa Wilson, chairman of the board of trustees at Ferrelview. I’m not sure anyone other than the accuser and the accused really knows what went on in that hallway at this alleged incident.

I’m not arguing that Wilson is innocent. I’m not arguing that she’s guilty. But I’ve read PC statements submitted by police in other cases that seemed much more convincing that a crime had been committed and yet no charges were filed.

So as a neutral observer I’m anxious to see how this one plays out.


Listen college hoops fans, now’s the time to put your knowledge to work. You have the chance to win $100 from me--and better yet, you’ve got the chance to win a free one-year subscription to this fine newspaper. All you need to do to win the free subscription is score better than yours truly in The Landmark’s 22nd annual (it could actually be more than that, after a while I got tired of researching) Bracket Battle.

See the front page stories for all the rules and gory details. By now most of you know the drill. The bracket is announced this Sunday. Make your picks, put your name on your bracket, and either email it to me at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com, fax it to us at 816.858.2313 or drop it by our office at 252 Main Street in historically beautiful downtown Platte City.

Some years it has been pretty easy to beat me, like two years ago when I think half the county did. Other times--like last year when only around 20 of the 170 or so entrants did--it’s tough to beat this college hoops fanatic.

Apparently a lot of it depends on whether I’ve taken my meds and primed myself with smart water before filling out a bracket.

Anyway, now is the time for me to tell you good luck even though I may not really mean it. . .


Count me among the majority of Americans who are worn out from Hollywood stars preaching to us. All we want from them is to be entertained. While I’m watching a movie I don’t give two craps about the politics of the folks acting in said movie.

Watch an Oscars show to have a political agenda thrown at me? No thank you.


As The Landmark first reported in December, the Mosaic clinics in Platte City and Parkville are among those that have been sold by Mosaic to Saint Luke’s Health System. The transition will be coming soon--April was the target date mentioned when the story broke.

The Mosaic clinics have begun offering handouts to patients explaining the transition. Among the questions/answers offered on that sheet are:

Q: Will I have to change my doctor?
A: Your physician and the staff permanently based here will now be part of Saint Luke’s, so you can continue to receive care from these clinicians. Rotating specialists based in St. Joseph will no longer see patients at these clinics but you may choose to see them at their St. Joseph location. You also have the option of transitioning this care to a Saint Luke’s specialist if you prefer to continue this care locally.

Q: Will the services at this clinic remain the same?
A: We’re finalizing those plans now and look forward to sharing details as they are solidified in the coming weeks.

Q: Will the name of the clinics change?
A: The locations at Parkville, Platte City, Burlington Creek and Shoal Creek will become Saint Luke’s Multispecialty Clinics.

(Where else can you get movie, crime, health and basketball updates in the same place? Get more Between the Lines on Twitter @ivanfoley and watch Foley on Landmark Live at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark)


Written 2/28/18

It has been a while since I’ve mentioned Guy Speckman, my second favorite newspaper publisher in the state. Speckman owns the Savannah Reporter and pens a column each week entitled Ponder the Thought.

Speckman’s weekly pondering session is always a must-read. In fact, outside of my fellow columnists here in your Landmark, his piece is the only column in any newspaper I make a commitment to read each and every week.

My man Speckman was in fine form last week with some thoughts on political ads on social media. Here’s what he wrote:

“I have laughed at the Facebook and social media statements that they are going to take steps to know who is buying political ads in the future. You want to know who’s been telling you who bought political ads for decades? Newspapers, television, radio. Welcome to the party, social media. On top of the fact that we actually provide advertisements that people read, watch and listen to, established old school media have been meeting the legal requirements of disclosure for decades. Facebook thinks they invented the problem of fake ads. Uh, no, that is why the rest of us have been complying with state and federal laws for years; not to mention our base moral obligations.

“Hopefully they can catch up to us old, seasoned pros in the near future in terms of legal compliance and understanding of their obligation to not spread and disseminate false information.

“One Missouri lawmaker compared newspapers to “horse and buggy” days last year. Seems to me that newspapers are far more advanced and reliable on this issue than the shiny new social media.”


This seems unusual.

Don’t look now but you can still get tickets to next week’s Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament direct from the Sprint Center. At least you could as of Tuesday night when I was a bit surprised to get an email from the Sprint Center folks letting me know this.

But, wow, check out the fees you’ll pay on those when you get to the “check out” function on the web site. I didn’t order any but for craps and giggles went through the process just to research what the cost would be. For two tickets in the 10th row of the upper deck in the corner, the total cost is $511. That’s for all sessions, which means you can see every game of the tourney (if you choose to--hardly anyone goes to those first round Wednesday night games, I can tell you that).

Anyway, that was a quick Between the Lines research project for the week. If you want two all session tickets you can still get them. The email said “limited tickets on sale,” so if you’re dying to go might want to jump on it soon.


One reason Big 12 tourney tickets might still be available is that there are other folks thinking like me--the local KU team is primed for a flame out in the post-season. Prepare for the fizzle, my shizzle.


Caving to political correctness, Dick’s Sporting Goods has announced it will stop selling certain rifles. This came as a surprise to most of us, who had no idea Dick’s even sold rifles.


Maybe Dick’s should change its name to something opposite of Dick’s.


Maybe Dick’s will stop selling jock straps because they’re offensive to those who don’t need them.


I may start buying my fishing equipment somewhere other than Dick’s.


One time I hooked a fish so big the picture weighed 13 pounds.


So you have spring fever? Same here.

Join Chris Kamler and me this Thursday night on Landmark Live when we’ll talk a spring topic--Royals baseball. We’ll have Mike McCartney, the public address announcer at The K, as our guest.

Mike’s is the voice you hear announcing player’s names as they came up to bat. Well, he announces more things than that throughout the course of every home game, but you get the idea. You may not recognize his face but you will recognize his docile tones.

McCartney is a resident of Platte County, living in Platte Woods near the home of LC’s Hamburgers. Maybe we’ll get his opinion on LC’s burgers. We’ll definitely get a behind-the-scenes look at stadium operations on game day and try to get other inside skinny-type info out of him. And he’ll show off his 2015 World Series ring.

Landmark Live, your favorite variety show, starts at 6 p.m. Thursday at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark.


Remember that Landmark video we shot of the historic church in downtown Platte City being demolished in 2013? The one in which the church fell on a vacant house next door?

You may recall a media company signed us to a deal, tossed us some front money and then started promoting our video in various markets overseas. I just noticed in my Paypal account a quarterly residual payment has arrived. I think I’ll take a day off next week and try to figure out a way to spend this $9.98.

By the way, we still own the copyright to the video and you can still view it for funsies on my YouTube channel at


(Get further Between the Lines on Twitter @ivanfoley and find Foley on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Watch him on Landmark Live--not sponsored by Dick’s--every Thursday night at 6 p.m. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 2/21/18

It took nearly 20 years but it finally happened.

An inmate escaped beyond the walls of the facility on Saturday. It was the first time one of the guests had been able to sniff freedom in the history of this detention center, which opened in August of 1998. And his whiff of freedom was very short. After he dropped down from the wall--an estimated height of about two stories--he tried to run but was quickly taken into custody at gunpoint by an officer who just happened to be back there switching out his patrol car. Right place, right time. . .


So how did it go down? This is, after all, a story I never thought we’d be reporting. Nor did the folks who run the jail. So this week I posed the “how did it happen” question to Major Erik Holland. The answer is interesting--almost fascinating--on a variety of levels. Here we go:


Kenneth Wilson, age 29, of Kansas City, had been arrested earlier Saturday for possession of a controlled substance. Authorities believe at the time of his arrest he was on PCP. That sounds like a reasonable assumption based on what he was able to do and not be overly injured. Keep reading. . .


In the booking area of the jail are some holding cells, often used for close observation “if we have somebody on medical watch,” for instance, says Major Holland. These are “observation cells.” Jail personnel went to give Wilson some water or food and the action began. “He assaults them (as of Tuesday Holland wasn’t sure whether there was just one officer--or two--in the booking area at the time of the incident), shoves past them, jumps across the booking desk,” Holland says. Behind the booking desk is a small window. Wilson starts hitting the window. . .with his head. Using his head, he is able to break the frame of the window free and push the window through the opening into the parking lot of the facility. The parking lot referred to is still inside the perimeter of the brick wall that surrounds the facility. This is on the back side of the administration building, by the way, viewable from Second Street.

Let’s talk about that window. It isn’t the standard window you and I have in our homes or businesses.

“This is bullet proof material. This is thick, heavy stuff,” Holland says.

It’s important to realize the glass did not break. “The window pane is still intact. There are shatter points on it but it is still a solid piece. I don’t want people to think this glass broke into pieces,” Holland emphasized. But Wilson’s pounding the glass with his head knocked the window free from the window frame. “We’ll be looking into reinforcements in that window in the very near future,” the major says.

Read on . . .


While Wilson is attempting to get through the window, he may or may not have been hit by a taser fired by the jailhouse officer. Holland says the officer attempted to deploy the taser on Wilson inside, before he had crawled through the window opening. Authorities aren’t sure “whether it struck him or if it was effective. We found the probes from the taser outside the window. Whether it hit him and he was able to go through it or whether it wasn’t a good hit is not clear,” Holland says.

There’s more. Things are just getting rolling. . .


We resume the tale with Wilson now beyond the window, in the parking area of the facility, still within the fence that surrounds the jail property. He somehow manages to scale the roughly two-story high wall. “We’re still looking into how he scaled the wall from the inside. Was he able to simply scale it or did he jump on something. . .” said Holland, who added he has not yet seen security video. And by the way, this is a video I’d love to see.

So Wilson--and remember the state of mind (possible PCP) in which authorities believe he was brought into the jail--scales the interior wall. Of course when he gets to the top there’s no where to go but down. As bad luck would have it for Wilson, he picked the area of the wall that had the farthest drop to the ground--as the land behind the jail slopes off in this area (near the dumpsters), so his descent is estimated to have come from two stories high. “As you know, that driveway goes downhill. So he is descending from the highest part of the wall,” Holland says.

But the drop to the ground didn’t bring him to a halt. He takes off running. A county deputy just happens to be out back, “switching out his patrol vehicle,” Holland says. “It was gratuitous. The officer just happened to be there.”

The officer chased him and was able to get Wilson into custody, holding him at gunpoint.

Very soon other units, including county units and at least one officer from the nearby Platte City Police Department, were closing in. A Platte City police officer was already with the initial deputy when a second county officer arrived.

“So we probably would have had the same result,” even if the deputy didn’t happen to be in the right place at the right time. But the fortunate timing of the patrol vehicle switch by the deputy eliminated any further chase drama.


Wilson was far from passive as he was being placed on a gurney being prepped for a trip to the hospital.

“He had scrapes and minor cuts on his face. He was trying to get off the gurney to fight at that point in time. Still full of energy,” Holland described.

Wilson was taken to the hospital. The injuries from his adventurous afternoon weren’t serious. So we are free to speculate as to why he was kept in the hospital for nearly 48 hours before being brought back to the jail around 6 p.m. Monday.

Wild, wild stuff.


One of the lessons here is that PCP is bad, kids. Really bad.

(Get less PCP and more Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley and find him on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. You’ll also catch him hosting Landmark Live every Thursday night at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark)


Written 2/14/18

It’s Valentine’s Day and Between the Lines is here to give you that lovin’ feeling.


I’ve heard there’s a Royal Wedding coming up in May, though I haven’t yet received an invitation. I don’t completely understand why many Americans have such a fascination with the British Royal Family and their personal activities. I have a hard enough time staying up to date on the social lives of family and friends, so I can’t relate to the desire to be mentally in tune with the personal lives of the highfalutin folks across the pond. More power to those who do, however. You be you.


Sounds like the Missouri Department of Revenue may be acceptable to working out a payment plan with the Village of Ferrelview for the $20,000 the Village People owe the state. Kinda like Best Buy giving you 12 months interest free.


I think Best Buy offers you 12 months interest free as a reward for dealing with employees who can’t answer your questions.


The last time you were in a Best Buy was there anybody else in there? I mean other than the employees who turn and pretend not to see you so they can avoid your questions that they can’t answer anyway?

Times have certainly changed. Remember 20-some years ago when the Best Buy store that was located across from Metro North Mall was a madhouse? In the mid-90s we would go in there looking for a new computer or to browse for new software and the aisles were full of people, shoulder-to-shoulder, positioning for a view of the stock while waiting to speak with an employee who could not answer our questions.

There was always hustle and bustle, pushing and shoving. I hope I didn’t hurt anybody.


It must have been love, but it’s over now. It must have been good, but they lost it somehow.

Speaking of changing times in the retail industry, change is in the air at Zona Rosa. This latest news comes months after we first reported sales tax revenues at the outdoor shopping center are not keeping up with bond payments backed by the taxpayers of Platte County. Those annual revenues are coming up at least $500,000 short, if not more. And Olshan Properties, the owners of Zona Rosa who in the past have covered the shortage in those bond payments, failed to cover the shortfall in 2017. A letter of credit was called upon by the bond trustee to cover the shortage. And at last report, that letter of credit had not been replaced with UMB Bank, the bond trustee.

A personnel change comes with all the above as a backdrop.

The change is that Zona Rosa and Rosemary Salerno, the general manager of the shopping center since the time it opened in 2004, have parted ways. Salerno was the face of Zona Rosa, an outgoing personality always visible at Zona’s public events.

Of course details surrounding the parting of the ways are not publicly known but a reading of the tea leaves--and a reading of Salerno’s Facebook page, where a couple of weeks ago she announced she is no longer associated with Zona Rosa--indicate the departure was probably not completely of her own choosing.

I contacted Salerno to see if she’d like to talk about Zona Rosa in general and her departure specifically.

“I can’t really comment other than to say it was a great 14 years as general manager of Zona Rosa and I wish the center nothing but the best,” she told me Wednesday morning.


I’m currently playing plumber with the bathroom sink in the office, so I’ve dropped my pants halfway down my butt.


Take note: Liquid Drano works much better than Liquid Plumr.


And yes, that’s the correct spelling of the brand Liquid Plumr. Maybe the stuff would work better if they spelled it correctly.


You probably didn’t expect to be reading about drain cleaners in a Valentine’s Day column.


Remember back in mid-January when I predicted the KU basketball team will not survive the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament this year? Still feeling pretty good about that prediction, you guys. And I’ll still be feeling good about that prediction no matter how many wins KU racks up between now and then. I’ll also still be feeling good about that prediction no matter who KU matches up against in the first two rounds of the tourney.


Still waiting on word about the eventual sale of Shiloh Springs, the county-owned golf course. Something could be coming down the pike soon regarding negotiations that have been ongoing for nearly three months between Platte County and GreatLIFE KC, a golf and fitness operation based in Overland Park, Kan.

“I feel confident a deal will get done,” John Elliott, second district county commissioner, told me two weeks ago.

The next county commission meeting is Tuesday, Feb. 20.

(When he isn’t unclogging sinks, you can find Foley on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Catch him on Landmark Live every Thursday at 6 at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark)


Written 2/7/18

I’m a Justin Timberlake fan but I found his Super Bowl halftime show very underwhelming. Anybody else?


If there is still any buzz about a potential second high school for Platte County R-3, it’s time to cool the jets. It’s not in the plan anytime soon. And based on some projected enrollment numbers being discussed, it may still be a very distant vision.
This became clear after I sat in on a meeting of a long range facility planning task force last Wednesday night. A potential plan that may kick in with a bond issue question around 2020 or 2021 talks about expanding the current high school. It talks about adding a new middle school on 80 acres of land that was donated to the district by MD Management along Hwy. 152 near North Platte Purchase Drive.

That donation of land in 2016 triggered some speculation among the public that a second high school for R-3 might be on the not-too-distant horizon. Doesn’t sound like the district is anywhere close to being ready for that, judging by the numbers and the discussion last week.

“A district with less than 8,000 students usually doesn’t have two high schools,” said Jay Harris, the R-3 director of operations, at the meeting.

If 8,000 students is the threshold, R-3 isn’t anywhere close now and still won’t be anywhere close in 2021, according to enrollment projections.

Current district-wide enrollment for R-3 is 4,094 as of September 2017. According to information presented at the task force meeting, in 2021 the district-wide enrollment is projected to be 4,504. Basically that projects a growth of around 100 students per year over the next four years. That’s a little more than two percent per year, not exactly an explosive growth rate.

What it means is that in the year 2021, with 4,504 students R-3 will still be a far, far cry from an enrollment of 8,000.


The loss of the Harley-Davidson manufacturing plant in Platte County--set to close in the summer of 2019--will mean a revenue loss for Platte County R-3 and other taxing entities. The biggest loss, of course, goes to the entity with the highest taxing rate and that is the school district.

For tax year 2017, Harley-Davidson paid $935,024 to Platte County R-3 in personal property taxes.

In real estate taxes, in 2017 Harley-Davidson paid nearly $384,000 to Platte County R-3.

In total, that’s $1.3 million Harley-Davidson paid to the R-3 district in 2017.

If/when that all goes offline, it will be a noticeable loss to the coffers at the school. Of course it’s possible the real estate portion will remain, but still the loss of the personal property tax of around $1 million per year will be noticed in the R-3 checkbook.


Mid-Continent Public Library will lose around $73,000 per year in personal property tax revenue from the loss of Harley-Davidson. Real estate taxes from Harley to the library are $30,000 per year.


As you read in last week’s Landmark, a state audit of the Village of Ferrelview Municipal Court shows the village collected more than 20% of its general operating revenue from municipal court fines, bond forfeitures and court costs allowed by state law. When that happens, the overage must be returned to the Missouri Department of Revenue.

As reported in the audit, the early calculations showed the village would owe about $30,000 to the state DOR. The auditor added a sentence saying “because of potential additional errors in the financial records and uncertainty regarding the fines and court costs amount, it is unclear how much is actually due.” The auditor then recommended the village officials recalculate excess revenues for 2016 and pay that amount to the DOR.

Mickey Vulgamott, municipal court clerk, has since recalculated the total revenues collected and the new figure shows the village collected 36% of its operating revenue through the court instead of 43%. This means the village owes “only” $20,332 to the state DOR instead of the initial estimate of around $30,000, Vulgamott said this week.

It’s unclear when or how the village, with its noted financial difficulties, will make the payment to the state. That’s still being discussed with state officials, apparently.

Todd Schuler of the state auditor’s office, the manager of the Ferrelview scope, has approved of the new calculations made by the court clerk.


Those in a position to know are hinting that Ferrelview may have caught a break in having Schuler as the state auditor staffer overseeing the probe at Ferrelview. His reputation is of being one of the “more flexible” audit managers on the state auditor’s staff.


The excess ticket revenue didn’t begin until 2016, which coincides with a full year of having the controversial and ticket-happy Daniel Clayton as police chief at the village.

The petition-driven audit helped drive attention to the matter of problems in the police department. Clayton remains on suspension with pay at this time. His hearing in front of the Administrative Hearing Commission has been pushed back to July 26, when allegations of misconduct will be heard by the state. The allegations put his police officer’s license at risk. Full story on the front page of this issue of The Landmark.

(Get further Between the Lines by following Ivan Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley and finding Foley on Facebook. Catch him every Thursday night on Landmark Live with Chris Kamler at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark)


Written 1/31/18

Welcome back, everybody. It’s another hump day and you know what that means. Time to get Between the Lines.


My guess is we’ve seen the last HOG rally on Platte City’s Main Street.


HOG, for those who may not know, stands for Harley Owners Group.


The news that the Harley-Davidson manufacturing plant will be killing its engines and shutting its doors in Platte County is indeed a sad development. We’ve been told anywhere from 630 to 800 jobs are being lost. No matter which number is most accurate, that’s a significant economic blow. Not only are those jobs feeding families but that’s also the loss of 600-800 folks coming to the KCI corridor to spend money every workday for things like lunch, gasoline, and other goods.

That’s the bad news. John Elliott, second district commissioner for Platte County, found a bit of a bright spot in the darkness when I spoke with him on Tuesday.

“The good news for the employees is that there are many companies in Platte County hiring,” Elliott remarked.


How about that. John Elliott, Mr. Sunshine in a cloud of darkness.

And to think there used to be an alleged Platte County journalist who several years ago referred to Elliott as a “lurker” and a “naysayer,” whatever that means.

Notice which one is still here and which one abandoned ship.


Speaking of journalism, I hit the movie theater recently to catch the new Tom Hanks/Meryl Streep movie The Post. If you only like fast moving action movies, this flick isn’t for you. But if you’re into fact-based historical accounts and political thrillers, The Post will keep you engaged while helping re-educate viewers on the importance of a free and fearless press. It’s a true story.

The Post, which is directed by Steven Spielberg, follows the early '70s events leading up to the controversial publication of a classified study about the Vietnam War known as the Pentagon Papers in the Washington Post, after it was first leaked to the New York Times. When Post political reporter Ben Bagdikian discovers that his source Daniel Ellsberg has the same leaked documents the Times reported, Bagdikian brings a copy to his editor, Ben Bradlee (Hanks). Bradlee must convince publisher Kay Graham (Streep)--who by the way was the first female publisher of a major newspaper in this country--to publish articles that reveal how many previous presidential administrations knew that America's involvement in the Vietnam War was futile. Graham trusts Bradlee but is cautioned by others against allowing him to publish, because it puts the paper's financial future at risk and opens her up to attempted prosecution/retaliation from the Nixon administration.

And after reading that paragraph I’m sure you’ve figured out why I enjoyed this movie so much.


If you see The Post, in the movie you’ll notice some Linotype machines and other elements of the old letterpress newspaper publishing process. In other words, you’ll catch a glimpse of a lot of the equipment you can still see on display here in The Landmark office every day.

Linotypes are prominently featured in scenes of the film. A 1920’s Linotype is the main piece of typesetting machinery you see on display in The Landmark front window, still sitting in the same place where it was used in this office until 1979. In the film you’ll also notice some printers using handset type to piece together headlines. The Landmark office, as you’ve likely noticed if you’ve been in here, has many handset type cases and printer’s drawers still full of the actual handset type.

It was pretty cool to see the old printing components in a major motion picture. I’m a little surprised Spielberg didn’t contact us to try to borrow our equipment for his movie.


Those of us who lived through the 1970’s will also note a couple of interesting things in The Post. Notice how nearly everyone is smoking. And not just smoking, but lighting up in close quarters and virtually blowing smoke in each other’s faces. In restaurants. In tight office quarters while on the job. In cars. Everywhere.
Accurate. That was normal in those days, I can confirm. That’s something we can hate on about the 70s. Good grief, that time period was horrible in that regard.

Listen, if you want to smoke that’s your choice, I don’t judge you for it and I’m not here to stop you, but to get a visual reminder of the days when smokers had little regard for non-smokers and children in their company reminded me that maybe the 70s weren’t really the good ol’ days.


The audit of Ferrelview’s municipal court isn’t really a disaster. I think we all knew going in that, thanks to an overzealous police chief who likes to constantly dress like he’s headed to the Ferguson riots, Ferrelview was collecting way too much in traffic ticket revenue (per state statute the village can only generate 20% of its annual general operating revenue through court fines) and will need to send in the significant overage--roughly $30,000--to the state department of revenue.

The audit shows there was some drama in accounting for the actual tickets and ticket books in possession of the police department. There are a couple other interesting things you may note when you read the article, but overall the court operation was not a total disaster.

The more interesting and potentially entertaining audit will be of the Ferrelview general government operations and finances. That portion of the state auditor’s work is now underway. The state auditor has already gathered minutes from village board meetings, copies of ordinances and other documents to get rolling.

(Follow Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley and find him on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Catch him hosting the Landmark Live telecast every Thursday at 6 p.m. at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark)


Written 1/24/18

I found the tax appeal process involving the KCI Marriott hotel fascinating. The most fascinating aspect is that the owners of the Marriott had proposed an appraised value of zero for their property. That’s some creative thinking right there. I asked about it three times just to make sure I was understanding their request correctly.

Interesting story. Give it a read on our front page.

Kudos to the assessor’s office for carrying on the battle to get a fair market value established for the property.


There will be no board election this year as two people who had filed as candidates for Platte County R-3 School Board withdrew their names this week, which means if you put your nose to the air you’ll catch the leftover aroma of a post-filing day powwow at R-3.


I’m not sure some of the folks in a position to do something about it realize it--or maybe they do realize it yet choose to ignore it or are scared to speak up--but there is a significant segment of R-3 patrons who believe the R-3 upper level administrative division is a modern day Peyton Place, complete with soap opera storylines and out-of-touch ego trips.


With the spring ballot set for city and school positions, it’s time to look ahead to filing time for some countywide seats up for grabs this year. Filing for six countywide positions opens on Feb. 27.

As you’ll see in a story in this issue, those positions are presiding commissioner, county clerk, recorder of deeds, prosecuting attorney, county auditor, and collector of revenue.

The buzz seems to be pretty quiet thus far. Sheila Palmer, collector, has already announced her intention to seek re-election. Ron Schieber, presiding commissioner, had folks working near the polls at elections last year, so it seems clear he’ll be seeking a second term. There is some intrigue surrounding the county auditor position. At one point several months ago there were whispers current auditor Kevin Robinson was considering running for presiding commissioner, which I think would have Schieber salivating at the chance to go head-to-head.

Then there were whispers Robinson was going to seek re-election as auditor. The latest whispers said that Robinson may be stepping away, fearing he wouldn’t win if challenged in a re-election bid. Others say he’ll be filing and hoping he doesn’t draw an opponent.

We’ll certainly know the final answer on March 27, which is filing deadline day.


Let’s get to the bottom of this flu situation, you guys. It’s nasty this year. So nasty that when we needed an emergency fill-in guest one hour before Landmark Live showtime last Thursday (the Britney Spears musical folks had to bail at the last minute for an audition), I made a call to Dr. Ann Riggs, local physician, to see if she would come on our live Facebook broadcast to talk about health topics and offer advice to those suffering through what the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has called the worst flu season in several years.

The results were amazing. The good doctor not only came on the show but she brought along the latest thing in the preventive approach: elderberry juice. Co-host Chris Kamler and I both gladly took a shot from the medicine cup, and Chris took home the extra juice to his wife, who I’m sure was thrilled when Chris referred to her on the show as a hypochondriac.

And when I say the results were amazing, I mean the results of having Dr. Riggs and the topic of the flu on the show were amazing. The video is getting watched at an impressive 86% rate of those whose Facebook timelines it has appeared. If you’re familiar with Facebook analytics, you know that an 86% engagement rate is through the roof. The episode already has more than 5,000 views and still climbing--it already ranks as our third most watched episode to date, behind only our trip to Channel 9 with Kris Ketz (9,400 views) and the show in which Chris and I tried to make pottery at Parkville Artisans Studio (6,300).

Anyway, get some tips from the doctor and from the CDC in our story, and if you haven’t watched the video with Dr. Riggs you can still find it at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark.


The flu topic was already in my head as I had experienced the flu bug during the first week of January. My battle started with body aches, then a cough that burned in my chest, a slight fever and two nights of chills to the point when I went to bed I dressed like I has headed to an Alaskan dog sled competition. I can’t remember weird chills like that since childhood illness days.

Yes, I have had a flu shot but experts are telling us this year’s shot is only proving to be about 32% effective against the Type A bug.


Good times ahead on this week’s Landmark Live as nationally-known local guy Matt Snook, country musician joins us. He made a name for himself on NBC’s show The Voice. Tune in for some fun, a chance to win a prize and hear Matt sing a tune or two.

(Catch Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley and find him on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube)


Written 1/17/18

After the county commissioners get the golf course sold to GreatLIFE, I wonder if they can talk the GreatLIFE folks into backing those Zona Rosa bonds.


Just as an informational item in case you were wondering if the appointments we talked about in this column space last week are paid posts or voluntary, members of the four-person board of directors that oversee the Platte County Board of Elections are paid $4,800 per year. Typically the board meets once per month.


It is good to see competition in some local elections this year. Kudos to all the folks who put their names on the ballot to fill posts on local city councils and school boards, etc. Choices for voters are always a good thing.


Platte County R-3 School Board, where two positions are open this year, will see four candidates on the ballot. This comes after a recent letter to the editor by a close observer of the district--Kirby Holden--noted the non-existence of any meaningful discussions or “no” votes from school board members in recent years. “New blood is needed” was the message of his letter.

Four newcomers stepping forward to throw their hats into the ring is a good thing. Neither of the sitting board members whose positions are up for grabs this year, Lori Bogart and Steve Goettling, filed to seek re-election. We thank them for their past service.

Candidates at R-3, as you’ll see in the story in this issue, include David Sharp, Douglas Doll, Amy MacCuish and Lenora Miles (a former board member back for another run after being defeated the last time her name was on the ballot).


And how about the fact there are three contested races at the City of Platte City? Unbelievable. In a good way. We haven’t seen this kind of interest in a Platte City election since. . . well, the days of Main Street HOG rallies and Sunshine Law violations. See the story in this issue for the list of candidates.


Back to the aforementioned Zona Rosa bonds. And The Landmark has already written four or more stories on this topic because it’s kind of a big deal to taxpayers. In case you haven’t been paying attention, here’s a quick refresher: In 2007, the county commission obligated taxpayers to the repayment of $32 million in bonds for the completion of phase two of Zona Rosa. The primary funding source for the escalating annual payment is a one percent sales tax that goes into a transportation development district (TDD). That one percent sales tax has not been generating enough revenue to make the annual bond payment and in years past the owners of Zona Rosa have made up the difference. In 2017, however, the developer did not fund the $500,000 deficit and the bond trustee called on a letter of credit to fund the shortfall. To date, the owners of Zona Rosa have not replaced that letter of credit, so going forward it is possible future deficits will have to be covered by county taxpayers.

It was a narrow-visioned “oops” by the 2007 county commission of Betty Knight and Jim Plunkett. Tom Pryor, serving the first district at the time, was the only commissioner to vote against this.

(Coincidentally, you may remember that time many years ago when I wrote in this column space “Betty Knight’s ego has written checks this county cannot cash.” Some folks thought that was a bit overly dramatic. And here we are.)

In a letter accompanying its 2018 budget, the current county commission says: “The commission is aggressively working on a predictable and sustainable long-term solution to this issue, in addition to working on ordinances that prohibit future commissioners from obligating taxpayers to private development risk and to prevent indebtedness without voter approval.”

Thankfully, we now have a county commission that is a firm believer in long-range planning.


I was primed and ready to pen some remarks about how the KU basketball team doesn’t have the horses this year and how Bill Self really left some gaps in his recruiting, with such a bare stable this season while next year’s incoming roster looks loaded for a run at a Final Four.

Then on Monday night, KU decided to go on the road and pull off an upset as a six-point underdog at West Virginia, a team that had become the favorite to end the Jayhawks’ string of consecutive Big 12 championships, which now stands at 13.

So I will delay those remarks, kind of, at least for now.

But looking ahead, KU fan, don’t shed crocodile tears in March when this team breaks your heart with an NCAA Tournament loss, and you know they will. Heck, that loss may happen the first weekend of the tourney this year. This team isn’t built for a deep run and really isn’t talented enough for you to have your hopes up to the point where your heart can be broken. Sit in front of your television during March Madness this year expecting nothing, KU fan, and you won’t get the premature sniffles.

Next season is the year for potential heartbreak. Yes, prepare to have your heart ripped out of your chest in March of 2019 because next year’s roster will have the horses to capture your heart and kick-stomp the hell out of it at the same time.

Hope this makes you feel better.


And while we’re talking sports, yes, it’s time for Patrick Mahomes to quarterback the Chiefs. And no, this move won’t take them to the promised land, at least not in the immediate future. The Chiefs defense is soft and it is trash, not only scheme-wise but also personnel-wise. Until the defense is fixed--and that’s going to take more than one productive off-season--it won’t matter who is playing quarterback

Don’t believe me? Look at the four teams remaining in the NFL playoffs. Three of the four--Eagles, Vikings and Jaguars--have outstanding defenses. And the fourth is the Patriots, who are, well, the Patriots.

(Email Ivan Foley at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com and watch him on Landmark Live Thursdays at 6 at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark)


Written 1/10/18

The writing had been on the wall a while for this one. It had become widely apparent in the summer of 2016 changes were needed. But the matters of “who” and “when” remained to be answered.

Changes are coming to the Platte County Board of Elections commissioners. Last week Gov. Eric Greitens announced appointments of three new members to the four member board that oversees the election process in Platte County.

New to the board are Edward (Pete) Davis (Republican), Stephen Foster (Democrat), and Kurt Killen (R). Being replaced are Jim Everett (D), Betty Knight (R) and Marvin Ferguson (R).

The lone carryover from the previous regime is Diane Pepper, Democrat.

As for the newcomers, Davis, of Kansas City, has been a small business owner since 1977. He is a charter member of the International Watch and Jewelry Guild and a life member of the American Numismatic Association. He served in the Colorado Army National Guard from 1968-1970. Davis earned his bachelor’s degree from Colorado College.

Foster, of Camden Point, is a retired mechanic from Transworld Airlines, where he worked for nearly 30 years. Foster is also a life-long farmer in Platte County. He is a member of the Platte County Steam & Gas Tractor Club and St. John’s Lutheran Church. Foster also volunteers at Camden Point Fire Department.

Killen, of Platte Woods, is a senior vice president for Physician Specialty Resources. He has served on the Kansas City/St. Joseph Diocesan School Board and Mid-Continent Public Library System. He is a member of Knights of Columbus, and the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Killen earned his master’s degree in business from Benedictine College and holds a master’s degree in theological studies from Newman University.


To be clear, the previous board members are all good people with good intentions and I commend them for their time served on the board. They just weren’t taking this whole “election integrity” thing as seriously as they should have, at least not in the summer of 2016.


That’s when it came to light an affidavit signed by two voters who had signed a petition in support of the effort to get Andy Smith on the ballot as a candidate for first district county commissioner swore that their signatures on Smith’s petition were witnessed by someone other than the person who swore to witnessing their signature. This potentially was a first class elections offense. This was a potential felony.

The board of elections commissioners turned a blind eye and deaf ear to the matter. It reached the point the husband of Dagmar Wood, who had won the Republican primary and was already on the November ballot, had to file a police report just to get the matter of Smith’s legal eligibility investigated. The board of elections commissioners declined to investigate the matter themselves, and more importantly, declined to turn the matter into the sheriff’s department for investigation.

That was the easiest thing for the election folks to do. It was also the laziest thing to do. It was also the wrong thing to do.

The public needs to trust there is no funny stuff going on with our elections. Being that lackadaisical about the topic simply was not a good look and raised a lot of eyebrows around the county.


Wood went on to defeat Smith 61% to 39% in the November general election in 2016, which eventually took some of the focus off the fact that Smith may have gained access to the ballot through less than above board means.

But when Greitens--who has a very close advisor or two with deep ties to Platte County--was elected governor in that same November election over Democrat Chris Koster, it became clear the makeup of the board of elections was going to change, in no small part due to that lack of action in the above mentioned matter.


Platte County’s commissioners approved the 2018 budget on Monday. It includes a 1.5 percent wage increase for county employees, commissioned law enforcement officers and communications center employees. It also includes an additional sheriff’s deputy and two full time employees in the assessor’s office.
And as of you’ve read in previous Landmark editions, the commission is budgeting around $750,000 just in case county taxpayers get stuck making a good portion of the annual payment on those Zona Rosa bonds that the county commission of Betty Knight and Jim Plunkett (Tom Pryor was opposed) obligated taxpayers to more than a decade ago.


Heads up. Filing deadline for city, school board, fire board, etc. positions is next Tuesday.

Filing has been non-existent at Platte County R-3, at least as of Tuesday of this week. No candidates have stepped forward for positions currently held by Lori Bogart and Steve Goettling.

At Park Hill, positions currently held by Matt Pepper and Kimberlee Ried are up for election. Filing thus far are Ried and Kyla Yamada.

At City of Platte City, a race for mayor so far features incumbent Frank Offutt and newcomer Bobby Vann. Other filings: ward one alderman (spot currently held by Brad Fryrear)--Brad Wallace; ward two (one year unexpired term)--Steve Hoeger; ward two (2 year term)--incumbent Tony Paolillo; ward three--incumbent Debbie Kirkpatrick.

(Follow Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley and find him on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com and watch Landmark Live on Facebook every Thursday at 6 p.m.)


Written 1/3/18

Welcome to Between the Lines in the year 2018. Let’s make it a good one. I could tell you how many years we’ve been meeting like this but it might make all of us feel old, so let’s just move right along.


Somebody engaged me the other day in one of those meaningless “what if?” conversations. As in, if I had to switch roles with anybody else in Platte County, who would it be?

After thinking about this for a bit, my answer is our friend Kevin Chrisman, police chief at Parkville.

I’ve got to think Chrisman, who by the way seems like a great guy with a good disposition and engaging sense of humor, enjoys the spot he’s in. Chrisman is one of my favorite local characters to speak with--in fact he would make a great guest on our Landmark Live show--so this is not anything to be interpreted as negative toward him.

Chrisman seems to really enjoy what appears from this chair to be a low-stress job. And you could say he has more than 88,000 reasons to do so.

It’s reality in the crazy world in which we live that Chrisman is one of the local small town police chiefs who are paid more handsomely than the Platte County Sheriff, who runs a much, much larger department (plus a jail) over a much, much larger geographical area.

The Parkville police chief, for instance, makes $88,554. The county sheriff makes $71,327. After the 2020 election, the sheriff’s salary will go up to $73,110. Cities, as if it's some governmental rite of passage, typically increase salaries every time they’ve ripped 12 pages off the wall calendar at City Hall, so no telling where the police chief’s salary might be by the time the sheriff hits that $73,000 mark.

Yes, I would accept $88,000 to be chief of a department in a spacious and fancy office space over a small town with an affluent population and low crime rate. Let’s be honest, never say never but the crimes you most often get at Parkville are not wet-your-pants moments. Things like somebody driving their car down a boat ramp into the Missouri River. Shoplifters at the local Price Chopper. Somebody driving a golf cart with reckless abandon. A stubborn motorist not wanting to pull into the appropriate parking spot at one of the city’s family-friendly festivals.

Beyond that, not much to get stressed about from the chief’s chair. Rare is there anything close to a violent crime on the not-so-mean streets of Parkville. And when there is, hey, that’s what the brave officers in the field handle. Remember, I would be chief, rarely if ever on patrol.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d still wear full gear everyday, in part because these days there is no such thing as routine police interaction with the public. But mostly because I think I would rock that bulletproof vest.


Sometimes it’s the little things that matter. A victory for transparency.

After getting some static from Kirby Holden, who runs a website known as plattecountyr3facts.com and also perhaps from one of the newest board members, the Platte County R-3 School District has quietly taken steps to make it easier for patrons to contact your elected school board members. Suddenly email addresses for school board members are on the district’s web site next to the school members bios.

Holden had pointed out R-3 was the only school district he could find in the state that did not list a phone number or email address to contact each board member.
Until now, a perhaps paranoid top administrator at R-3 would prefer the public to have to go through the central office rather than giving the public easy access to its voter-elected school board.

Credit to the leadership at R-3 for getting this handled. It’s more than a little embarrassing that it took this long to happen, however.


I took a gander at every issue of The Landmark for the past 12 months for our annual year-in-review series that starts this week.

After doing so, I recommend Greg Sager for Magician of the Year. Sager has the skills of an escape artist. Sager is the now-former public works director for Platte County. He pulled a disappearing act and failed to show for a follow-up interview with police detectives probing Sager’s handling of county-owned scrap material and the resulting cash from the sale of it. He also escaped criminal charges, perhaps via a friendly mood at the prosecutor’s office. And Sager also escaped being fired, issuing a resignation as the new county commission dragged its feet perhaps in disbelief that one of its top department heads, previously well respected by many in the building, had been recommended by the county sheriff’s department to be hit with a stealing charge.

Government employment isn’t a bad gig. It’s hard to imagine a similar situation ending as happily in the private sector.


I will say the patty-cake handling of the public works personnel situation is the only notable mistake I could find in the performance of the 2017 county commission. Otherwise, in my opinion it was a very successful and effective first year for newcomers John Elliott and Dagmar Wood, who joined incumbent presiding commissioner Ron Schieber to form a strong board the past 12 months.



Landmark Live is back to terrorize the internet on Thursday, Jan. 11 at 6 p.m. when Kansas City Royals public address announcer Mike McCartney will join us for a fun Facebook broadcast from The Landmark’s second story studio in historic downtown Platte City.

(Follow Foley on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube. Email him at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com and catch him hosting Landmark Live with Chris Kamler at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark)


Written 12/27/17

Well here we are, the final week of the year. Normally this is a slow news time so we traditionally run a review of the top stories of the past 52 weeks.

Not so this week. We’ve got a local city expanding its smoking ban, a fairly new alderman already hanging it up, medical facilities in Platte City and Parkville being sold, a woman freed by the governor after serving more than 35 years of a life sentence, and the popular LC’s Hamburgers telling us they’ll be bringing their fantastic menu to Platte City.

So the year-in-review gets pushed back. No biggie. You already know how that story ends, anyway.


To say folks are excited about LC’s Hamburgers intending to open a burger joint in Platte City is an understatement. We tracked down this news in an interview with the LC’s folks last Thursday and when we busted out the article on our social media sites on Tuesday night it spread like wildfire.

Great news for Platte City as a whole and specifically for connoisseurs of fine burgers. Have you been to the LC’s in Platte Woods? The burgers are nothing short of fantastic, my friends. And the sides are awesome as well. Not to mention the ice cream, shakes and floats.

Can’t wait.


I had this discussion with a fellow observer of the Platte City fast food scene. Assuming LC’s puts the drive through window to good use at its location in Platte City--they’ll be on the end of the strip mall on Platte Falls Road in front of Price Chopper, in the spot most recently occupied by New Shanghai Asian Food--they could put a small dent into some of the fast food restaurant business. Some of the less busy local fast food places--like the Burger King or Wendy’s--could feel an effect. Culver’s may feel a slight effect, but that place seems to have a pretty steady business.

“LC’s is just going to have to make sure they can keep up with the demand that will be coming. I will probably call in my orders to beat the crowd,” said this fast foodie. “I think LC’s having a drive-through will help them attract court personnel and other customers who are short on time for lunch.”


And then came this comment:

“Let’s hope the city inspector doesn’t screw up a February opening date for LC’s. You know how those people can be.”

Well there you have it. Apparently the city inspector has a reputation for being a bit over the top on occasion.


Speaking of popular restaurants, the owner of Stone Canyon Pizza locations in downtown Parkville and at Zona Rosa is stepping away as an elected alderman at Parkville after less than a year on the job.

Kevin Heaton, elected last April, is resigning effective Jan. 1. He says with the elected position he was finding “less and less time to dedicate to my livelihood and career, my business of 22 years, Stone Canyon Pizza, Co.”

There is some buzz on the streets of Parkville indicating Heaton is stepping down because aldermen are being muzzled by the mayor and discouraged from speaking out at various meetings on various topics. But Heaton, in a phone interview with me on Tuesday, denies that’s the case.

“Not at all,” he said when asked about the rumors on that topic. “The folks there (involved in the political process at Parkville City Hall) are good people.” He described city leaders as “dedicated and talented.”

“I learned a lot about processes and politics. I’m leaving there a lot smarter than when I came in. But I found out I’m a better businessman than I am a politician,” Heaton said.

“Stone Canyon brought me to historic downtown Parkville more than two decades ago. This business has enabled me to give back to the community through leadership, employment, community development, partnership, and the provision of a solid downtown anchor in an ever-fluctuating economy.

“Strategic growth and development in and around Parkville will continue to be an integral part of my ongoing business plan, whether it involves Stone Canyon or a pursuit of an entirely different nature,” he added.

He pointed out the pizza business is getting highly competitive. “My business needs me right now probably more than ever,” he remarked.

“I feel it’s time to refocus on my business and my extended family,” Heaton added. “I’ve simply come to the conclusion I can best serve my community by doing what I do best, what got me to where I am today.”


Thanks for tagging along for the ride with The Landmark in 2017. I can honestly say it’s impossible to get bored in this job. We appreciate the fact you take the time to check in on what The Landmark is doing and what the Platte County community is doing in the pages of this newspaper each week. Without you, we wouldn’t be us.


Continue to catch us on Landmark Live on Facebook in 2018. The live shows air Thursdays at 6 p.m. and remain on Facebook for you to view at your leisure. Upcoming special guests include country singer Bob Kamler on Dec. 28 and Kansas City Royals public address announcer Mike McCartney on Jan. 11.

Our most-watched episode thus far? The Dec. 14 show from the Channel 9 studios with Kris Ketz has had more than 9,400 views.

(Follow Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley and find him on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 12/20/17

Hey, in case we get busy and I forget to say it at the tail end of this column: Merry Christmas to you. Enjoy every moment.


Here’s a quick piece of Between the Lines life advice: No matter the time of year, the most meaningful gift you can give to someone is your time and attention.


Heads up, lawyers and/or law firms, here’s a rare chance to get your foot in the door at City Hall in Platte City. The city, for the first time I can ever recall, is putting out a public request for proposals (officially they call it a request for qualifications) for a city attorney/city prosecutor.

This comes despite the fact we’re being told there is no in-house unhappiness with the current city attorney, Keith Hicklin, who has been city attorney since dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

I can remember Pearl Brown, who was elected mayor in 1992, getting a wild hair on this topic in the very early stages of her tenure. Pearl, bless her heart, had a habit of experiencing sudden magical moments like that in her six years as mayor. Shortly after being elected in April of 1992, Pearl expressed the opinion the city should switch law firms. In a meeting held on April 27, 1992 and reported in the May 1, 1992 issue of your Landmark, Brown appointed Keith Hicklin as city attorney. There was no official public call for qualifications. Her move to appoint Hicklin was approved on a split 4-2 vote by the board of aldermen at the time. Brown wanted Hicklin to replace the firm of (Mike) McGinness and (Bob) Shaw. Aldermen John Higgins and Paul Renz argued for continuing to employ McGinness and Shaw. Voting in favor of Hicklin were aldermen Roger Baskett, Randy Cannon, Bill Williams, and Cecil Barton.

(Let’s pause for a quick interlude: What the heck ever happened to Pearl Brown? Pearl and I didn’t always agree when it came to politics but I immensely enjoyed her sense of humor when she relaxed enough to let it shine through. We know at one point she and her hubby moved out of the Kansas City area. Did they ever come back? I’d love to do one of those “Where are they now?” type stories on Pearl. True story: several years ago on a Wednesday, I left the office to make a quick fast food run before we were to start mailing papers that day. While I was out, Pearl Brown--or at least someone identifying themselves as Pearl Brown--called our office. She told Cindy she would call me back later. She never called back later that day. Never called back later that week. Never called back later that month, never called back later that year. Or the year after that, or the year. . . you get the picture. When Pearl says “later” she really means it. Pearl, if you’re reading this on that amazing thing called the worldwide web, call me back: 816-858-0363).

But back to the present. I asked DJ Gehrt, city administrator, why the sudden interest in advertising for proposals from law firms. He said: “Generational turnover is inevitable, so it may as well occur when things are going well.”
Nicole Galloway, state auditor, has been critical of the fact that cities across the state do not “go out on the market” very frequently to advertise for legal services. That’s a great point. Good job, Nicole Galloway. More brownie points for our state auditor, one of my favorite Democrats.

Anyway, falling blindly in love with your city attorney doesn’t always best serve the city and its residents. It’s simply a good practice to test the market on these type of professional services every few years. Same goes--and even more so--for auditing services. In fact, it’s my opinion government agencies should switch auditing firms every few years even if it costs a little more money to do so, for the simple fact it’s an accountability thing. Staff--and elected officials--over the years can get too friendly with those folks checking the books. It’s just good government to make a switch in auditors every few years.

As for the city attorney situation, Gehrt said: “Rather than simply nodding our heads and agreeing that the state auditor has a valid point, the mayor and I agree that we should take action to remove Platte City from the category of ‘Missouri cities who have not conducted an open city attorney qualification/selection process for many years.’”

Qualification documents from interested law firms will be received by the city until 5 p.m. on Jan. 9. Applicants can obtain qualification information and application documents at City Hall or by contacting the city clerk by phone or email.

“The city anticipates entering into negotiations for a professional agreement with the responding firm selected as best suited to effectively provide these services to the city,” Gehrt says.


Chris Kamler and I will try to do our part to make your Christmastime merry and such. We’re giving you two episodes of Landmark Live this week (story elsewhere in this issue).

First one comes your way Thursday night when Chris and I will try our hands--and some of our other body parts--at yoga. This will happen at the invitation of the folks from The Wellness Wheel on Broadway in Kansas City. We apologize in advance for the damage we are about to do to the art of yoga.

Do you have a favorite yoga position? My guess is we’ll start with the downward dog. Probably finish with the corpse.

In case you have trouble telling us apart, Chris will be the one wearing spanx.


Will you be enjoying a turkey dinner for the holiday? On Twitter, a guy who goes by the handle of @MrGeorgeWallace posed what I think is a very relevant question:

“Who invented stuffing? Who stopped someone at the oven and said: ‘Hold it! Take some bread and celery and (crap) and shove it up that turkey’s ass?’”

(Catch Ivan Foley via email at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com. Get more of him, if that’s your jam, on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube)


Written 12/13/17

You know you must have gone to bed hungry when your dreams throughout the night are about doughnuts and mini cupcakes.


Who dreams of doughnuts and mini cupcakes?

I do. Thanks for asking.


Speaking of doughnuts, I had a ridiculous experience at a doughnut shop in southern Platte County the other day. It’s deserving of a mini-rant, because we all should take our doughnuts seriously, you guys

I just don’t know when I’m going to unload said rant. I’m not sure printed words would do it justice, you may need to hear my voice to get the full effect. So this mini-rant may come in a future Landmark Live episode.

It will happen whenever the mood strikes, which means if there were a camera in front of me at this moment it would be happening right now.

But there’s not. So let’s try to carry on.


As you’ll see inside this issue, the three-person disciplinary panel consisting of two lawyers and one lay person have recommended the lowest of discipline against Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd for allegedly trying to “publicly shame” writers who sent letters in support of leniency for a confessed child molester.

As nutty as that sounds, yes, it’s true. The panel did come to that conclusion. Even though this is the least possible “punishment” (it has zero effect on his ability to carry out his job) that can be issued against him, Zahnd is seriously considering appealing the recommendation to the ultimate authority in these matters, the Missouri Supreme Court. And I don’t blame him.

Let’s cut through twists and turns in language used by the panel in its recommendation and cut to the common sense aspects of this. Some high profile members of the Dearborn community wrote letters to a judge seeking leniency for a confessed child molester who also happened to be a high profile member of the Dearborn community. By doing so, they voluntarily inserted themselves into a public court proceeding. Zahnd identifies these high profile folks in a press release after the proceedings have concluded. By the way, let’s not forget letters sent to the judge are a matter of public record, this is not protected material.

How is it possible to publicly shame someone who voluntarily inserted themselves into a public proceeding? It’s not like Zahnd was giving away salacious details or talking about any letter writers’ family secrets in his press release. He simply identified them by name and listed their publicly-known occupations. How is this public shaming? If the folks felt shame for voluntarily sending those letters, they publicly shamed themselves. They didn’t need anyone else to do it for them. That public shaming, if they felt it, was self-inflicted.

So this is a ridiculous conclusion by the panel. My guess would be this would get overturned on appeal. But these days, who knows.

It’s the season of snowflakes and this recommendation reeks of a snowflake mentality. Some prominent folks tried to ask for leniency for a prominent man who had confessed to sexually molesting his own daughter for more than a decade. They apparently wanted to do so without anyone knowing they were doing it. Their efforts became public in the interest of transparency and in the interest of sending important messages--a message such as showing that prominent folks won’t get special treatment in our courts, a message that creates a deterrent for other would-be child molesters, a message that encourages other sex crime victims to step forward. Those messages were outlined by Zahnd in his defense testimony. Some of the letter writers felt shame, apparently.

Tell me again who forced them to write those letters? Tell me again who is to blame for any shame they may have felt?

This is America. Our courts are designed to operate in a public, transparent fashion. I’ve said it previously and I’ll repeat it here: if you are happy for anything less, that’s a dangerous attitude. Dangerous to our society, dangerous to anyone who has to be involved in the court process, whether it be as a defendant, a witness or a crime victim. And that’s a criteria that could fit any and/or all of us at some point in our lives.


It’s a world of participation ribbons these days, and that’s what the panel’s recommendation smells like. A public reprimand for Zahnd, I’m sure in their thought process, offered a little something for everybody.

Here is what the panel’s thought process must have been:

For the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel led by attorney Nancy Ripperger, who by the way was stitched a clown suit by Zahnd’s legal team multiple times in the eight hours of testimony I observed: Here, Nancy, this recommendation of a reprimand is a “you tried hard” participation ribbon. You didn’t get the grand prize you asked for, which was a six month suspension of Zahnd’s license. But we’re giving you a little sumpin’ sumpin.’ Merry Christmas, Nancy. We felt sorry for you during the two days we sat through this crapshow.

For Zahnd: Look Eric, this recommendation isn’t a home run for you but it’s a triple. If we gave you a homer the OCDC would be pissed off at us. So take your triple and your participation ribbon and be happy. And please don’t try to be so forthcoming with information when the influential try to secretly influence the court system. You need to learn to fake this idea of transparency a little better, please.

For the letter writers: Here’s your participation ribbon. We’ve decorated it with a picture of a snowflake and a teardrop. We certainly hope this ribbon doesn’t hurt your feelings or shame you in any way. Now go forth in your search of a world where everyone has the same opinion as you.

(Get deeper Between the Lines on Twitter @ivanfoley and follow Foley on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. Watch him on Landmark Live every Thursday night at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark)


Written 12/6/17

Happy Christmas (War Is Over) by John Lennon is a top three Christmas song. I’ll die on that hill.


My Christmas season officially begins the first time I hear that song on the radio. Don’t judge me.


I heard Happy Christmas (War Is Over) on the radio for the first time this year about 15 minutes ago. It is officially now Christmas season, you guys.


Last year I paid a fee to download Happy Christmas (War Is Over) to my cell phone. You know I’m not a fan of frivolous spending. That’s how much I care about this song.


You may think the name of the song to which I’m referring is called “So This Is Christmas.” Because that’s how the song begins. For years I thought that was the song’s title. For years I was wrong.

Those are words you don’t hear very often in Between the Lines. . .


It was December of 1980 and I was a senior in high school. I would spend hours every weekend developing black and white pictures (remember those?) in the darkroom of our family-owned newspaper/printing plant. My dad, only 50 years old and a Type A personality always full of either fury or laughter depending upon how things were going at that particular moment, had died very unexpectedly from a heart attack a few months prior. Every day I would see sadness and loneliness on the face of my mother, widowed at the age of 45 and having never worked outside the home.

As a 17-year-old kid I was trying to develop an idea of what I wanted to do with my life and where I wanted to do it, while at the same time doing my part after school, during the evenings and on the weekends to help keep the family business moving.

Life that Christmas season wasn’t exactly rainbows and unicorns. Developing pictures meant many hours in the dark, alone with my thoughts, the distinct smell of photo-developing chemicals, and a radio.

I remember John Lennon’s Happy Christmas (War Is Over) playing on the darkroom radio over and over that Christmas season. Lennon’s tone matched my half mellow, half mad at the world mood at the time. I think back to those days every time I hear the song.


Not familiar with the song? Happy Christmas (War Is Over) by John Lennon, written in 1972, goes like this:

So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very Merry Christmas
And a happy new year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong
And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red one
Let's stop all the fight

A very Merry Christmas
And a happy new year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas
And what have we done
Another year over
A new one just begun
And so happy Christmas
We hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very Merry Christmas
And a happy new year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear
War is over, if you want it
War is over now


War might be over but what’s not over is the fun we’re having on Landmark Live. Chris Kamler and I hope you’ll join us Thursday night in a festive mood from Shiloh Springs Golf Club as we do the show during a Platte City Chamber of Commerce Holiday After Hours event.

Then next week? It’s on to the Channel 9 television studios for a sit-down on the their news desk--and a walking tour of the studios--with veteran anchorman Kris Ketz. Maybe they’ll let me do the weather. And Chris can do a cooking segment.

(Follow Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley and find him on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 11/29/17

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving and enjoyed the chance to relax, catch your breath a bit. I slipped out of the office for a few days, which is needed every now and then to maintain some semblance of sanity.

It then takes me a day or two to get back into full-on journalism mode. Gotta catch up on so many of the business aspects of the day-to-day operation first. By the time you read this my “getting caught up” activities should be completed, thankfully.

Every small business owner knows the feeling. Today’s technology is extremely helpful in keeping things rolling while we’re out of town--we’re away but we’re never really away, if you know what I mean--but there is no substitute for actually being on site.

Anyway, let’s slowly cruise back into the practice of journalism with some news, notes and quick opinions.


First World problems. Water main breaks are not choosy in their victims. A water main break at the intersection of N. National Drive and Hwy. 45 at Parkville affected about 90 homes north of Hwy. 45 Tuesday, leaving many folks in The National area without water until after midnight while Missouri-American Water crews dealt with the issue. Some of the homes affected included residences on Bunker Hill, Ridge Road, Turnberry Court, North National Drive, Claret, Royal Court and Clarinet Court.

Is there anything worse than having no running water? If we get to choose our problems, I’d rather have to go without electricity rather than without running water any day. How about you?


Speaking of First World problems, Netflix has announced a price increase, you guys. Yes, those of you who do your binge watching will now be paying $1 more per month. Netflix “membership” will rise from $9.99 per month to $10.99 per month effective Dec. 29.

Something tells me this won’t cause many folks to drop their Netflix subscription. It is, after all, a nice alternative to cable and satellite services.

Not typically a big TV watcher these days but I have binge-watched two things on Netflix. One of my binge watching experiences consisted of enjoying many episodes of The Office because a friend told me he envisioned the work atmosphere inside The Landmark office is similar to the work atmosphere in The Office television show. He was right.

The other show that was the subject of binging for me is Ozark. I’m a huge fan of the Missouri Ozarks and a huge fan of the work of actor Jason Bateman, so this show appealed to me from the start. In Ozark, Bateman portrays financial planner Marty Byrde. Marty suddenly relocates his family from a Chicago suburb to a summer resort community in the Missouri Ozarks after a money laundering scheme goes wrong and he must pay off a debt to a Mexican drug lord.

There are some captivating twists and turns along the way, including a scene in the season finale that you likely won’t have predicted.

Anyway, Ozark in its first season was successful to the point the series has been renewed for a 10-episode second season to be released next July. I’ll be waiting.


Do you fly Southwest Airlines? Here’s some news for you.

Effective this week at KCI Airport, the TSA pre-check for Southwest flyers will move from the Gate 37-45 checkpoint to the Gate 31-35 checkpoint, which is located to the right of the Southwest ticket counter.

Airport officials say the move is to alleviate congestion at the Gate 37-45 checkpoint. If you’ve flown Southwest at any point over the last couple of years you may be very familiar with this congestion. Frustrating, isn’t it? It’s part of the reason many of us were asking “what’s so convenient about KCI?”

Possible conspiracy theory alert: It’s interesting this move to alleviate the congestion was not done until after the recent vote on a new KCI. Is there a reason this could not have been done sooner?

Just throwing that out there for those of you who like to chew on conspiracy theories. Not that it really matters all that much. I mean, voters approved the new airport by a wide, wide margin and I’m happy they did.


Speaking of flying, if your goal is to get from Point A to Point B as economically as possible and you don’t want or need any frills, give Allegiant airlines a try. The prices are much better than Southwest--on my particular trip around half the cost.
I have heard from one person who had a bad experience with an Allegiant flight but my experience a few months ago was all positive, from the price to the convenience to the service. I’ll be using them again.


Platte County Auditor Kevin Robinson has come out with his recommended budget for the county’s fiscal year 2018. In it, the auditor recommends a 1.5% salary increase for county administrative employees and commissioned deputies.
It’s important to remember the auditor’s document is simply a recommendation. County commissioners have final say on budget decisions. I can tell you with certainty Robinson’s input, for instance, to the current commission does not carry nearly as much weight as it did with the previous commission, so keep that in mind.

A couple of other interesting things to note about the auditor’s recommended budget: 1. His recommended budget for Shiloh Springs, the county-owned golf course, is similar to last year’s with the exception of a recommendation of $200,000 for capital improvements at the course. 2. He recommends a transfer of more than $650,000 into what is known as Fund 5000 for deferred maintenance and capital improvements of county-owned property.

(Get more of the publisher on Twitter @ivanfoley. Track Foley on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email him at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com and watch Landmark Live Thursdays, 6 p.m. at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark)


Written 11/21/17

Hang in there. It’s almost time for the long weekend. Let’s keep pushing through. Together we can do it.


No new crime scene incidents at Ferrelview City Hall this week. Yet.

Still early. It’s only Tuesday.


Will he or won’t he? Will Scott Campbell come back as Ferrelview city attorney? Or this time is he gone for good?

Every time he thinks he is out they pull him back in. It’s like trying to leave the mob, apparently.


Deer hunters, how has your fall firearms season been?

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, a total of 253 deer were harvested by hunters in Platte County during the recent opening firearms season. That’s down slightly from last year’s opening weekend total of 267.

If you’re a hunter who had a successful hunt, don’t be shy. Feel free to send us your photo and information. Email to ivan@plattecountylandmark.com


One time I used some deer antler spray and a lady named Bambi wouldn’t leave me alone.


The ceremony honoring former Gov. Guy B. Park at his gravesite in the Platte City Cemetery was interesting. See a photo or two on page B-1 and we’ll place more at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark.

Northlander John Dillingham, who was the first to realize that the state had never noted the grave of Park with a special marker as they are supposed to do for all former governors, spoke a bit about the Park family history.

Gov. Park studied at the Gaylord Institute in Platte City before attending the University of Missouri and receiving his law degree in 1896. He practiced law in Platte City from 1896 through 1922 at which time he was elected a judge of the sate circuit court.

In 1932, Francis M. Wilson of Platte City, an attorney, had won the Democratic primary for governor. Wilson then died unexpectedly in early October. Park stepped forward to assume the party’s nominee for his fallen law partner. Park had only three weeks to campaign. He won the general election overwhelmingly.
At that time, Missouri governors were limited to one term, so Park’s time as governor came to and end in 1937. He returned to his law practice in Platte City until his death in 1946. His wife, Eleanor Gabbert, lived until 1984. They had one daughter, Henrietta.

Some of Guy B. Park’s accomplishments as governor included overseeing the institution of the University of Kansas City (now known as University of Missouri, Kansas City, UMKC); establishing both the State Conservation Commission and the State Department of Agriculture; and implementing the numerous federal and state programs to relieve economic hardship during the Great Depression.


Platte City’s Holiday Lighting Ceremony is Thanksgiving Eve, and a fine choice has been made of the person responsible for flipping the switch this year. The honor goes to Bill Collins, a volunteer who has worked tirelessly through the years in helping get Christmas lights hung on so many of the downtown buildings. Collins very much deserves this honor. The downtown business community is lucky to have him.


It’s Thanksgiving so no better time to offer a quick word of thanks to all of you who turn to The Landmark for news, opinions and entertainment. We truly appreciate and welcome each and every one of you who take the time to read our thoughts and opinions, even when we don’t agree. Without you we wouldn’t be us.

I hope you get the chance to slow your roll, take some time to reflect, catch your breath and have a fantastic holiday weekend.


Thankful, also, for the viewers and advertisers we’re receiving for our weekly fun, games, shenanigans and every so often educational Landmark Live episodes on Facebook.com/PlatteCountyLandmark.

This has been a blast. And if I told you I knew it would take off like this I’d be fibbing.

We’ve gone from being pleasantly surprised to get 1,300 viewers in the show’s first week to now getting more than 5,000 viewers for episodes like the one at BethAnn’s Boutique in downtown Platte City. Last week’s show from the Parkville Artisans’ Studio--with expanded viewing time since we won’t have another show until Nov. 30--could finish with 6,000 views.

Huge shout out to my good friend and co-host Chris Kamler, whose technological wizardry adds background music, subtle drops from movies, advertiser logos and other bells and whistles to form an enhanced video from the original live showing. Don’t let him fool you, Chris truly is a technological guru. The enhanced videos are usually posted within 24 hours of the live version of the show. All remain on Facebook for viewing at your leisure.

More new features, including the addition of multiple cameras to be used in the filming of show, are on the way. It’s getting to be quite the production.
Thank you to businesses who have purchased advertising time and/or donated prizes, including Platte Valley Bank, Platte Valley Dental Care, Elite Events Mobile DJ and Event Production, Aric Jennings Real Estate, Parkville Artisans’ Studio, Total Tan Salon, Burger Theory restaurant at the KCI Holiday Inn, BethAnn’s Boutique and more.

Chris and I are thankful for all the folks who have served as special guests in our early days of the show, including Platte City mayor/historian Frank Offutt, noted Kansas City sports media critic Greg Hall, all three Platte County Commissioners, cyber crimes experts from the Platte County Sheriff’s Department, life coach/guidance counselor Alyssa Shifflett, local chamber of commerce representatives Angie Mutti and LeAnna Lightfoot, Tom Hutsler of the Parkville downtown community improvement district, and etc., etc., (which is code for I know I’m forgetting some).

And a big word of thanks to our buddy Brad Carl, radio DJ/funny man who has filled in as special guest co-host when needed. Good times.

So what’s next? A workout challenge issued to us by a Kansas City business known as Flexy Body Babes on Nov. 30. Time to get the eye of the tiger.

(Email Foley at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 11/15/17

Just when you thought (hoped?) the tiny village had dropped out of the news cycle. . .it’s time for another feral view of things at Ferrelview.

I wasn’t in attendance but after talking with multiple folks who were, Tuesday night’s meeting was apparently another melee, with emergency calls to the Platte County Sheriff’s Department even though Ferrelview’s own city cop was on site. Some of those on scene even allege the police chief, Daniel Clayton, was part of the problem in instigating the chaos.

We’ve all seen or heard political division in small towns. But I’m not sure any of us have seen anything equal to the Wild West ridiculousness Ferrelview gets over small town politics. It’s proof that ego and power struggles can take place in the smallest of settings. Let’s be honest, to those of us not directly involved in it the scene sometimes makes us laugh. Sometimes cry. To those directly involved, every word and every action is taken so personally there is the worry of a physical response.

It used to be the majority of the elected board members supported the controversial police chief. That changed last April. Now the other side has the majority and the Clayton supporters have consistently made noise since that time, keeping the atmosphere in the town of about 450 residents very volatile.

On Tuesday night two city employees locked themselves in a room during the aftermath of the session as things were getting out of control in the meeting room. Apparently they told the sheriff’s department via telephone they weren’t coming out until the sheriff’s department sent an officer. Again, this is even though the Ferrelview police chief was on site. The employees expressed concern the chief wasn’t doing all he could to maintain order.

“It was like a riot,” one person--not a city employee--told me.

Anyway, after the original meeting had adjourned, three members of the board reconvened in what they termed an “emergency meeting” and voted to suspend Clayton, the police chief, with pay.

Something tells me this is not the last we’ll hear on this topic. As is always the case at Ferrelview.


What we do know is the police chief’s peace officer’s license is in jeopardy, with the Administrative Hearing Commission of the State of Missouri set to wade through a plethora of allegations against him in a hearing scheduled for Feb. 6.


Speaking of Ferrelview, the board chair and her husband, who is a fellow trustee on the board, have been cleared of any ethical wrongdoing dealing with recent complaints filed at the state level.

Ethic complaints filed by political opponents against Theresa Wilson, board of trustees chairman, and her husband, Russell Wilson, a fellow elected board member, have been tossed out by the Missouri Ethics Commission, who found that “no reasonable grounds exist to support” any alleged violation. The complaints had alleged the Wilsons violated conflict of interest statutes and a nepotism clause.

One complaint alleged Theresa Wilson had committed a conflict of interest by voting for herself as chairman. Chairman of the board is paid $150 per meeting as opposed to $75 per meeting for other board members. “When you voted for yourself to be chair, your vote was not specifically designed to provide a special monetary benefit to you. The board is required to have a chair and, previous to your election, the board had previously decided to pay the chair $150 per meeting,” the ethics commission told Theresa Wilson in writing.

The complaint also alleged Russell Wilson violated a nepotism clause when he voted for his wife as chairman. “The commission determined the board’s selection of Theresa Wilson as chair was not an appointment to a public office because she had already been elected a trustee,” the commission told Russell Wilson in a written ruling.

So there’s that.


And just as we head to press Wednesday morning, The Landmark has been told Scott Campbell has resigned as city attorney at Ferrelview.

I would not expect a long line of attorneys lining up to take that job.


We’re getting close to my favorite holiday weekend of the year, folks. Yes, Thanksgiving, the holiday that gets the short end of the deal because nowadays folks start preparing for Christmas the day after Halloween. Why the disrespect for Thanksgiving?

Anyway, the Thanksgiving holiday always affects our printing schedule here at your ol’ Landmark. As we have done for years during the week of Thanksgiving, next week we’ll go to press on Tuesday instead of Wednesday. This allows our subscribers in Platte County to receive their copy of The Landmark in the mail prior to the Thursday holiday.

Your issue next week will be thick and tight, packed with inserts from retailers promoting their Black Friday deals. Be sure to have a copy in hand as you make your long weekend shopping plans.


Good luck to head coach Bill Utz and the Platte County Pirates as they head to Webb City for the state semifinal football game on Saturday. Chris Kamler and I had the opportunity to get to know Utz on a recent Landmark Live episode and were impressed. A buddy of mine--a 1983 graduate of Platte County High School who now lives out of state--was also impressed. “I have never met Coach Utz but I would eat a brick topped with glass for him right now,” my friend texted me right after the show.

That’s high praise.

Speaking of Landmark Live, brace yourselves, Parkville, we’ll be in you Thursday evening. Alert the authorities.

(Follow Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley and find him on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Watch Landmark Live every Thursday at 6 p.m. at Facebook.com/plattecountylandmark)


Written 11/8/17

Remember in last week’s column when I speculated this week would be nutty? Confirmed.


For up to 16 hours (a little less than that if you count the lunch breaks) testimony was given in the ethics complaint against Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd by John O’Connor, a criminal defense attorney. As you’ll see in our report on the front page, the hearing was held in a meeting room at City Hall in Platte City.

I personally sat in on about eight hours of the proceedings, which I feel has given me a pretty good perspective on the issues and the back story. Some thoughts:

Zahnd did a fantastic job of explaining his thought process and reasoning behind his actions in the Darren Paden case. At question based on the allegations O’Connor put in his complaint is whether Zahnd tried to intimidate witnesses, specifically some of those who had written character reference letters to the judge on behalf of Paden, letters that in effect were written with the intent of gaining leniency for the man who had already confessed guilt to repeated awful acts against a young girl over a period of years. Paden had admitted to sexually abusing a young girl for more than a decade. The details of that abuse, which I won’ t go into here, are sickening.

Zahnd explained he had several reasons for sending subpoenas to letter writers, and for including the names in a subsequent press release identifying them as having sent letters on Paden’s behalf. Several members of the Dearborn community--including several prominent names, including former bank president Jerry Hagg and former Platte County Collector Donna Nash--appeared to have “circled the wagons” around the defendant in the case instead of around the young victim, Zahnd explained. The girl was being ostracized in the community and at school. A prosecutor has a legal and ethical obligation to protect victims of crimes.

Zahnd telephoned Donna Nash, former Platte County Collector, prior to the sentencing hearing to give her a “heads up” that the letter she had sent to the judge is public information and to question if she was up to date on the facts of the case. Nash admitted in her testimony she did not know, at the time of her letter, that Paden had confessed to the crime and pled guilty. Zahnd let her know a press release would be going out with names of letter writers included. He did that rather than have her blindsided by the press release, he said.

In the hearing this week, Zahnd said putting the names of prominent members of the community in the press release would send the message that members of the community with influence--Paden had been chief of the Dearborn Fire Department and was active in the community in other ways--are not above the law and not entitled to light sentencing for their perceived “good deeds” in the community.

Zahnd said--and I can personally vouch for him on this--that he has always been a supporter of the fact that our courts are open and transparent. I can tell you there is no elected official I have dealt with over the years who has been as transparent and easy to work with in regard to obtaining public information as Eric Zahnd. While others will ask the press to submit a “Sunshine request” for the simplest of things, if you ask Zahnd and his office for a public document it is furnished immediately, without unnecessary drama and ridiculous paperwork. Public information is public information, after all.

And if you happen to believe our court system should not be an open, transparent process, then I can’t help you--your opinion is a dangerous one to all of us, including to yourself.


The disciplinary panel that heard the evidence this week will make a recommendation to the Missouri Supreme Court, which has final say in the matter.
After hearing eight hours of the testimony, I left the room with the belief that I had heard no convincing evidence the prosecutor was in the legal or ethical wrong with any of his actions.

Hopefully politics will not come into play in any decision.


What is clear is that some folks had their feelings hurt and may have “felt” intimidated. Listen, if you sent a letter to a judge asking for leniency for an admitted child molester with the mistaken belief your letter would go unnoticed by anyone other than the judge and you later find out from the prosecutor that, oops, the letter you sent is public information and the fact you wrote such a letter is going to be known by the general public--you’re going to feel a lot of emotions.

Perhaps, if you’re the skittish type, you might even temporarily feel a lack of control over your bodily functions.

But that doesn’t mean you were intimidated. And it should not be a career-damaging moment for a widely respected prosecutor.


You’ll want to catch Landmark Live this week on our Facebook page at Facebook.com/PlatteCountyLandmark. The three county commissioners will be our guests, and boy are there some topics we can touch on.


•The proposal to allow open carry of firearms in the county administration building.

•County officeholders voting their elected positions a pay raise effective 2019.

•The future of the golf course.

•The future of the county’s tax structure.

Oh, and we’ll play some games as well. You know, to humanize the electeds for the folks at home.

(Find Ivan Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley, find him on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email him at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com. Watch him on Landmark Live every Thursday night at 6 p.m. on Facebook)


Written 11/1/17

A big day in Kansas City on Tuesday as voters head to the polls to decide the fate of the proposed new single terminal KCI Airport. Remember, if you reside within the city limits of Kansas City inside Platte County you’ll vote on this question Tuesday. Those of us who live in Platte County but not within the city limits of Kansas City are simply spectators in this election.

As stated here previously, I’m on board with this proposal. I came on board when it was made clear no tax dollars will be involved--the only time you’ll pay for this is when you buy your airline tickets.

The importance of KCI to the economy and quality of life in Platte County cannot be overstated. Drive up and down the I-29 corridor and take a gander at all the hotels, restaurants, manufacturing plants, etc. and ask yourself if those businesses would be there if not for KCI.

No one knows this better than Alicia Stephens, executive director of the Platte County Economic Development Council.

“KCI is an economic development driver in Platte County. Companies locate here due to the proximity of KCI. The airport itself is a major employer. Hotels are here due to KCI as well as the Overhaul Base,” Stephens told Landmark reporter Valerie Verkamp this week.

Jobs will also be created by the construction process.

“Jobs, jobs, jobs, which will equal more economic impact for the region,” Stephens added.

“KCI has served the region well for 40 years but it is time for improvements,” says Stephens, and I agree.

“After 9/11, the security wall was constructed in the center of each 72-foot-wide terminal which means 11 million passengers last year moved through 36-foot wide corridors pre-security checkpoint and post-security checkpoint,” she points out. The new airport would also allow mean “airlines have room to grow,” Stephens said.

Folks are legitimately worried about the convenience aspect of KCI going away with the proposed switch to a single terminal. The last few times I’ve flown out of KCI, I’ve found myself standing in a long, long line heading into the security checkpoint and asked myself: “What’s so convenient about this?”

I asked myself the same question after making it through the security checkpoint and into the crowded designated waiting area. The food options--if you can find any--are extremely limited. Good luck finding a spot to charge your mobile device. And men, have you ever used the restroom inside the checkpoint area?

When there’s a line of 10 other guys waiting to pee in front of you what’s so convenient about that?

“We won’t build an inconvenient terminal. There will be more parking at the terminal, separate lanes for commercial drop-off and pick-up traffic, moving walkways, more restrooms (Praise Jesus!), more space in the gate areas,” Stephens said.

Not everyone agrees a new single terminal should be constructed, and that’s fine. We can still be friends. Let’s just agree to disagree on this one.

But what can’t be argued is that KCI is a huge asset to Platte County and to the region.

Here’s hoping Kansas City voters give the question a thumbs up on Tuesday.


The drama surrounding the drawn-out matter of an ethics complaint filed by criminal defense attorney John O’Connor against Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd is finally moving toward some form of resolution. As we reported a few weeks ago, a three-member disciplinary panel will hear the matter next Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 6 and 7. That panel will hear evidence and recommend to the Missouri Supreme Court what discipline, if any, to impose. The panel must issue a written decision within 30 days after the completion of next week’s hearing.

Any final action will lie in the hands of the Missouri Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is authorized to review the panel’s decision and impose any punishment ranging from a public reprimand to a suspension to disbarment. Or do nothing at all.


A few weeks ago I made the comment that playoff baseball is a national treasure. I’d like to thank this year’s participants in the postseason for backing me up on that.

There was a fascinating seven game series for the American League championship, won by the Houston Astros over the Yankees. For the past week the Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers have been engrossed in a wild and woolly World Series that will be decided tonight (Wednesday) in Game 7.

Game 5 on Sunday night was nuts. I won’t recap it here because the craziness of a 13-12 slugfest would take too many column inches. All I know is it was nearing 1 a.m. in these parts when the game ended. It’s the reason I’m still yawning three days later.


Have you ever seen a crop of bullpen pitchers on a World Series team as bad as the relief pitchers on the Houston Astros? Good grief. Those guys are arsonists.

Their presence means no Houston lead is ever safe. The Yogi Berra observation that “it ain’t over till it’s over” has never been more accurate thanks to the Houston bullpen.


This has been a weird week thus far in the reporting biz. There seemed to be a lack of places I was supposed to be, which almost never happens.

There were really no significant meetings or governmental powwows on Monday or Tuesday. This is good for all of us, because the best government is the government that does the least, if you know what I’m saying.

At any rate, I kept checking my calendar and my phone in a momentary state of panic, worried that I was supposed to be somewhere I wasn’t.

No reason to get comfortable. Next week’s schedule looks like a potential crapstorm of governmental ridiculousness. Let’s try to get through it and meet back here next week at this same place and time, shall we?

(Get your weekly governmental crapstorm updates right here. Email Ivan Foley at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com, follow him on Twitter @ivanfoley, and find him on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube)


Written 10/25/17

I’m ready for a hard freeze to get rid of the outdoor allergens floating around in the air, wreaking havoc on many of us. Landmark office manager Cindy Rinehart says she’s ready for a freeze to rid the outdoors of oak mites.

So there, Mother Nature, you have your marching orders. Deliver the goods.


Guys, have you ever put on a pair of jeans that when you sit down the jeans grab and assault you in the unfriendliest place to be grabbed? I’m wearing that pair of jeans today. I’m guessing my voice sounds two octaves higher than normal.

When I get home tonight this pair is going in the trash.


Relief. And I’m not talking about my pants.

I think that’s one of the emotions members of the Platte County Commission are feeling after two bids came in from potential buyers of the county-owned golf course known as Shiloh Springs. Bids were due on Friday at 4 p.m. By the middle of last week zero bids had come in, so the county had begun preparations for its next step of searching for a real estate broker to market the property. The golf course loses around $300,000 to $400,000 of taxpayer money each year, and the current county commission has made no secret of a desire to get the golf course off the county’s books.

The two bids could be an encouraging sign for folks who want the property to remain a golf course. Bidders are Gary Martin of Platte City, a developer who worked in cooperation with the county back in the 1990s in forming the course, and GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness, an outfit that specializes in the concept of combining fitness centers with golf courses.

County officials have sealed the proposals while contract negotiations get rolling. “I’m not at liberty to release any specific information about the proposals,” Ron Schieber, presiding county commissioner, said this week. He said county parks staff and county legal counsel will review the proposals, “doing a comparison so we know what we have. We want to maintain a strong negotiating position.”

Some outside input and advice on the proposals will also be sought by the commission, Schieber said. After various levels of study and review, the county commission could make a decision on a potential bid award at its Nov. 20 administrative session, Schieber indicated.

“I’m very pleased we have options. We’re looking forward to the evaluation process,” he said. Stay tuned.


While giving the show a weekly preview article in the news section, I’ve tried not to go overboard in pimping our weekly Landmark Live broadcasts in this column space. Not out of any ridiculous concept like humility, but rather out of the fact I was waiting to see whether the show would take off with viewers. My thought was we’ll give the show until Thanksgiving and then make a decision on whether to keep ‘er going or pull the plug.

We’ve reached the viewership and sponsorship point now where I can tell you Landmark Live is here to stay. By the time you read this, last week’s episode featuring your humble hosts--yours truly and Chris Kamler--crafting and talking fashion with the gals at BethAnn’s Boutique will have had more than 3,000 viewers. That’s well beyond the level of viewers envisioned when the idea for Landmark Live came to me in a nightmare in August.

The BethAnn’s episode was jazzed up with logos, music and video enhancements by Chris Kamler and his excellent skills with technology. That show was also enhanced by Chris dressing in a shawl and wig.

A big thank you to all who have shown interest in Landmark Live, watched, taken part as contestants in our game show segments, served as special guests, businesses who have served as sponsors, businesses who have donated prizes, and to Cindy Rinehart and Linda Foley for toiling behind the scenes with camera work and other assistance.

It’s a relaxed, unscripted little 30-45 minute thing we do every Thursday night at 6. We said early on if this becomes work we’ll pull the plug. So far it has been nothing but fun.

If you miss the live broadcast, no worries--the videos remain on Facebook for you to view at your leisure.


Landmark Live show schedule for the next few weeks:

Thursday, Oct. 26: We dive into the basement crawl space below The Landmark office for a Halloween-themed episode. Local historian Frank Offutt will give his opinions on the old-time items we found in this space back in June, including that mysterious tunnel in the southwest corner. Former radio DJ Brad Carl joins me as co-host this week, filling in while Chris Kamler recovers from surgery on a knee he injured while break dancing in a back alley in Northmoor.

Thursday, Nov. 2: Bill Utz, head football coach of the very successful Platte County Pirate football team, will be our special guest. We’ll talk high school football and give the coach a chance to speak about his successful program, another successful Pirate season, highlight some of the accomplishments this year and preview what lies ahead (this just may be the night before a very, very big game for the Pirates).

Thursday, Nov. 9: Your three Platte County Commissioners have agreed to come on for a roundtable discussion about all things related to county business. Tune in as we bounce off-the-wall questions at Ron Schieber, John Elliott and Dagmar Wood. Viewers can submit suggested questions in the comments section during the broadcast. We’ll also play an interesting game of Fact or Crap on this night.

Thursday, Nov. 16: Landmark Live goes back on the road, this time to Parkville Artisans’ Studio at 111 Main Street in downtown Parkville. This will be the show’s first trip into Parkville, after previously broadcasting from sponsors located near Barry Road, in the KCI Corridor, and in Platte City. As was the case at BethAnn’s Boutique, it’s likely the hosts will once again be asked to do something out of their comfort zone.

(Follow Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley and find him on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com and watch Landmark Live every Thursday night on Facebook at The Platte County Landmark)


Written 10/18/17

If you’re liking Taylor Swift’s new musical sounds I’m not sure we can still be friends. What happened to the old Taylor? Please bring her back.


There is drama again at Village of Ferrelview. Anybody surprised?

Apparently the embattled police chief there, Daniel Clayton, has found a side job to go along with the maximum 20 hours per week Ferrelview is limiting him to after the village’s financial troubles led the board to strip the police department down to just Clayton and his 20 hours.

The fact Clayton has another job is not surprising in the least. What might be surprising--based on the allegations against Clayton at the state level, allegations that threaten his peace officer’s license--is that Clayton easily found work in another police department at this time.

He has begun working as a police officer for a town many of us may have never head of--Cleveland, Mo. in Cass County. Cleveland has a population of 670. Ferrelview, by the way, has a population now estimated at 633 after officially being at 451during the 2010 census.

Who knows whether the folks at Cleveland knew about the allegations against Clayton before hiring him to their department. Perhaps they didn’t even enter his name in a Google search.

On Aug. 23 The Landmark reported the Administrative Hearing Commission of the State of Missouri will hear a case against Clayton in February. If the commission finds “cause” for the allegations the matter is then advanced to the Missouri Director of the Department of Public Safety for a decision on whether to suspend or revoke Clayton’s license as a police officer. Ryan McCarty, an assistant in the office of Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, told The Landmark Clayton’s appearance before the administrative commission is a process similar to a preliminary hearing. McCarty said in dealing with a police officer’s license, the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Program gathers all reports and all evidence.

Clayton is accused of physically assaulting a 16-year-old male in an unnecessary show of force while also yelling profanities; being verbally and physically abusive toward a 14-year-old female; using unnecessary force to remove a female from her vehicle and performing a sexually aggressive pat down of the woman, including unnecessarily “placing his hands up her shirt to run the underside of her breasts” and also “rubbing his hands all the way up the female’s legs and over her vagina” while the woman was handcuffed; taking that same woman to jail for a 24-hour hold for defective equipment; allegedly without probable cause or reasonable suspicion placing a man in handcuffs and conducting an unlawful search of the man’s person and vehicle, then in an unsafe manner dismantling a firearm for which the man had a valid permit and the existence of the man had announced at the outset of the traffic stop; conducting a blockade of a city road to prevent a man and woman from leaving town and then not providing any reason for the stop, allegedly telling the couple they were trespassing by being in the city and telling them to leave and not return; and while the man had his attorney on the phone in that incident Clayton allegedly grabbed the man’s wrist in a violent and aggressive manner, causing pain.

There are other accusations but you get the drift.


Who are you cheering for in the baseball playoffs? I’m pulling for the Yankees just because so many people hate the Yankees.

Well, that and the fact for whatever reason my baseball heart refuses to embrace the Houston Astros. Maybe it’s because the Astros came so close to eliminating the Royals during KC’s championship run two years ago.


Dagmar Wood, first district county commissioner for Platte County, has been at the White House this week, as you’ll see on our front page.

In a presidential first, the Trump administration in an effort to open up communication with local units of government began inviting county commissioners to the White House earlier this year. Missouri was the eighth or ninth state to get an invitation, Wood tells me.

“I received a call Thursday afternoon from the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs with the invitation extended to all Missouri commissioners for meetings Tuesday with Trump’s various cabinet staffers. It was a whirlwind day as we heard 15-minute presentations from various Trump staffers, including Kellyanne Conway. We had the chance to ask them questions and share our county priorities with them. It was an extremely informative day,” Wood said.
She also met with representatives of members of Congress, including Sen. Roy Blunt’s office, while at the capitol.

Oh yes, and Wood wants to emphasize she and her husband personally paid all expenses related to her trip, no county tax dollars were involved.


Some interesting items and interesting outcomes can be found in Valerie Verkamp’s detailed story about a survey of residents conducted by the City of Platte City. Among other things, you’ll find out what attracted people to Platte City and what keeps them here.

What’s on the horizon in Platte City? In addition to a more focused effort on economic development, in the nuts and bolts category you can expect some attention to city-owned properties like the police station, the civic center, parks, etc.

“The last two surveys have indicated that residents would like additional attention to the condition of city facilities. Addressing these issues is a long term project but has started with a phase one facility study in 2014, a city facility survey in the fall of 2017 and funding for phase two facility alternative development in the budget starting Nov. 1 of this year,” says DJ Gehrt, city administrator.


Speaking of Platte City, your chance to get to know one of the city’s newest businesses will happen in this week’s Landmark Live episode. As you know by now your Landmark staff goes live with a show on our Facebook pages (like us at The Platte County Landmark) every Thursday night at 6. This week we’re broadcasting live from BethAnn’s Boutique in downtown Platte City. One of the goals of the evening will be to see how co-host Chris Kamler looks in a pretty pink outfit.

Never fear, southern Platte County. Landmark Live has plans to come your way again soon. We’ve already done episodes from the Barry Road area and from near KCI Airport. Soon to come? Parkville and/or Riverside. Don’t be scared.
Oh, and Weston? You’re on our list as well. See you soon.

(Find Foley on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email him at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 10/11/17

The air temperature was a little crisp this morning (in the 40s), so at the request of Cindy Rinehart, our easily chilled office manager, the furnace was kicked on for a bit in our building “to take the chill off” for the first time this fall.

Could be the last time the furnace comes on for a while. The weather folks are telling us it will be 74 degrees Thursday, 85 Friday and 82 Saturday. Nuts.


As we all know, this is the month of Halloween. Things could get spooky, you guys.

The Landmark will have a series of ghost stories dealing with supernatural legends from the historic 1875 campus of Park University at Parkville. The stories have been put on paper in recent years by Carolyn Elwess, archivist for the university.
“Students have always delighted in creating ghost stories and some, truly, have had hair-raising experiences,” Carolyn tells us.

Her first entry in a three-part series is on our front page this week. Check it out.


That’s just the tip of the scary stuff coming your way from The Landmark. On Thursday, Oct. 26, you’ll want to watch a special Halloween episode of Landmark Live on our Facebook page. We’ll be getting out the ropes and ladders and dropping ourselves below ground to broadcast live from the dark, spooky and rarely entered basement crawl space underneath the 1869 Landmark Newspaper building in downtown Platte City. That’s the space that has the char marks on the foundation from the Dec. 16, 1861 burning of the original Platte County Courthouse at this location.

Oh my. What if we have some unexplained guests appear in the basement that night?


Social media posts will drive you nuts if you don’t have fun with them. For instance, how many times have you noticed over the past couple of months many folks on social media completely misunderstanding what is guaranteed in the First Amendment?

The First Amendment protects all of us from government sanction against what we say, write or how we may choose to worship. It has nothing to do with the private sector. None of us has First Amendment protection from how the free market reacts to what we say or do.

For example, you have a First Amendment right to protest at work. But your employer can fire you for that protest. Both of these things are legal.

Keep that in mind anytime you’re reading social media posts about the NFL players and their on-the-job protests that include some players refusing to stand for the national anthem.


Respecting the flag, respecting the national anthem, supporting the military and respecting the memory of those who have died for our country are stances that in the long run will always win in the court of public opinion. Count on it.


Doing some reading the other day--it happens occasionally--I ran across a story on baby names and how they follow trends. For instance, classic sounding names like Olivia, Sophia and Ava are in vogue but some more traditional names that were once popular have completely fallen to the wayside.

Female names seem to vary widely in popularity, according to the folks at Ancestry.com, while many of the most popular male names over the years seem to stand the test of time. There are some male names like Ernest, Norman or Bernard that sound retro but all still managed to rank within the top 1,000 names in 2013, according to the Social Security Administration.

So maybe you’re an expectant mother looking for some female names that were formerly popular but are practically non-existent now. Try these babies on for size.

Betty: Throughout the 1930s, Betty was second only to Mary among girl names but has been on a steady decline since 1940.

Ethel: Strong showing for Ethels in the 1890s, hitting eighth place in popularity, but Ethel slipped to 12th place in the first decade of the 1900’s, then dropped to 80th the following decade and has never recovered in the popularity standings.

Tammy: This female moniker skyrocketed out of nowhere in the 1960s and landed in the 13th spot. But by the 1990s it was no longer in the top 200. I hadn’t thought of this until reading the article but when was the last time you heard of a newborn named Tammy? The name seems to have all but disappeared.

Dorothy: In the 1920’s, Dorothy was all the rage (even before the Wizard of Oz) and peaked in the No. 2 spot but since then the name has slipped in popularity significantly. It was most recently ranked at 888th. The similar name of Doris has also been ignored over the past 15 years or so, not even making the top 1,000.

Ida: This classic name was the 7th most popular female name in the 1880s but since then has slipped into virtual non-existence.

Mildred: The name peaked at sixth place around 1910 and held strong into the 1920s, then experienced a rapid decline.

Edna: It never quite reached top 10 in popularity but was a strong contender from the 1880s through the 1920s before it started sounding old-fashioned, apparently.

Gladys: Managed to crack the top 20 at the turn of the century but dropped off by around 1910.

Florence: For about 50 years Florence managed to stay in the top 20 but by the 1930s the name was losing favor. The only Florence I can remember in my lifetime was Florence Henderson of the Brady Bunch.

Bertha: In the 1880s, this name was the 8th most popular female name for the entire decade and then took a slow downturn. I remember in the 1990s, we had a Bertha (now deceased) on the payroll here at The Landmark. Haven’t known anyone else by that name since.

(Ivan Foley can be reached via email at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com. Follow him on Twitter @ivanfoley and find him on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube)


Written 10/4/17

Sure, there are 162 regular season games and sometimes it seems like the season might never end, but Major League Baseball in the fall is something special. Playoff baseball is a national treasure.

Of course it’s even better if the Royals are in the postseason but that won’t be happening again anytime soon.


And how about the Chiefs? Off to a 4-0 start, Kansas City is the only remaining unbeaten team in the NFL. Unfortunately cornerback Marcus Peters is 0-4 when it comes to standing for the national anthem.


How is the state audit at the Village of Ferrelview going? I often get this question as I’m out and about trying to avoid thinking about Ferrelview.

Here’s what I know so far. The state auditors began with the municipal court portion of the examination. I’m sure this has been an interesting situation, as part of this process is dealing with the tickets issued by the police department, which means dealing with the village’s controversial police chief, Daniel Clayton. Word on the street is that Clayton has not exactly been easy for the auditors to communicate with, which comes as no surprise. A meeting between the auditors and Clayton is scheduled for this week, as the auditors try to get their hands on all the traffic tickets, etc. that are a part of the examination process.

Meanwhile, some watchful eyes tell me the auditors have been carrying boxes of items out and loading them in their cars, which is a sign the audit team is grabbing the information it needs and doing most of its work off site. Not a surprise. Probably a good idea for the auditors to be away from potential chaotic interruptions at Ferrelview City Hall while studying documents.

It’s likely the boxes auditors have retrieved contain items such as bank statements, meeting minutes, etc. My guess is they’ll be hitting it hard soon, now that the municipal court portion of the audit is about completed.

From my firsthand observations over the past couple of years I have no doubt there are many procedural issues inside the city’s operation that will be identified and mentioned as concerns by state auditors. Whether they find financial mismanagement remains to be seen, of course. If I were a betting person--wait, I’m not?--I know which side would be getting my money. Of course keep in mind financial mismanagement doesn’t necessarily mean criminal activity, there is a difference.

Regardless, the final report by the auditor will be an interesting read, will it not?


In the meantime, you’ll recall from a Landmark story printed Aug. 23 there’s a hearing scheduled in February that will deal with allegations against the Ferrelview police chief. There could be action against Clayton’s peace officer’s license when the Administrative Hearing Commission of the State of Missouri takes up the matter on Feb. 6.


Not a great week of news for music fans of my era. First, the sad news of the death of Tom Petty, one of my favorite artists. Now here comes word that Bob Seger is postponing the concert he had scheduled at Sprint Center next Saturday. Seger says he is having a vertebrae issue that his doctor is urging him to tend to, thus next Saturday’s show is off.


Last time I saw Seger was on a long and lonesome highway, east of Omaha.


Taxpayers at Parkville, open your wallets. The City of Parkville recently had a “comprehensive compensation and benefits study” performed “to determine appropriate salary rates for all positions within the city.”

I’ve never seen one of these self-serving studies come back with the conclusion that, “hey, the level of pay for your government staff is spot on, no increases are suggested.” Or “hey, your people are overpaid.”

Have you?

A representative from the group that conducted the study for Parkville recently provided some findings to city officials. The Austin Peters Group (I almost typed Austin Powers) says the city’s pay ranges were in the 40th percentile of the market and recommends the city move the pay ranges into the 60th percentile. And the group recommends the city “adjust the ranges every year per different indexes,” which is code for saying “give the city employees raises every year just because we have turned 12 pages on the calendar.”

This kind of governing is entertaining to watch because it is out of touch with what happens in the real world. And by real world I mean in privately owned businesses.

Remember back in the day when Platte County would give “cost of living” increases of around three percent or more even in years when economic indicators showed there was basically zero increase in the cost of living?

Those were funny days.


As I recall the last time my Between the Lines team of examiners took a look at salaries in the City of Parkville there were around five city workers making more than $80,000 per year. That doesn’t sound undercompensated for a city with a population of around 6,000.


It’s the talk of the internet. Or something. Watch another episode of Landmark Live on my Facebook page Thursday night at 6. It’ll be interactive, entertaining and informative. Or your money back.

(Ivan Foley and The Platte County Landmark can both be found on Facebook. Find Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley and catch up with him on Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube)

Written 9/27/17

Welcome back to Between the Lines. Let’s get rolling as we wonder whether this weekend during the national anthem the NFL players will sit, dance, cry, or use their smartphones to check on their millions.


Because I mention it every year, longtime readers know of my infatuation with fall. Actually it’s more than an infatuation.

Finally some recent late summer/very early fall hot temperatures are gone. On Tuesday, temperatures more in line with what we’re supposed to have this time of year arrived and as we head to press Wednesday the air temperature is a fantastic 59 degrees.

I have the doors open. Bring it on.


Just for fun I’m going to pumpkin spice the rest of this column. Let me know how it tastes.


I want to take a minute to say how refreshing it is to see a group of county commissioners not afraid to get their fingernails dirty and dig into ways to make things better for taxpayers.

It would have been easy for Ron Schieber, Dagmar Wood and John Elliott to simply accept another 27% increase in the county’s health insurance costs and pass those expenses on to employees or taxpayers in some fashion.

Instead, the commission’s reaction has been one of pursuing a better course of action. The employee benefits consultant is getting canned because, as Schieber puts it, the status quo isn’t good enough. They’ll search for a better solution than simply accepting drastic rate increases and claiming “it’s too late, our hands are tied, that’s the condition of the health insurance market right now, blah blah blah.”
As Elliott said Monday: “The days of blindly paying rising costs and higher premiums without consideration of other options are over.”

As a taxpayer, you’ve got to love that attitude. A working county commission. What a concept. A refreshing change.


I sat in on a court hearing Tuesday in which this little news nugget came to life: Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd and assistant prosecutor Chris Seufert have filed an ethics complaint against John O’Connor, the criminal attorney who previously filed an ethics complaint against Zahnd that is making its way through the system.

Zahnd’s ethics complaint against O’Connor prompted O’Connor once again to attempt to get Zahnd’s office removed as prosecutor in the Grayden Denham murder case. As we talked about here last week, O’Connor’s initial attempt at this failed when Judge Glen Dietrich ruled against O’Connor. Dietrich’s written ruling exposed several things, including some colorful language from O’Connor that included terms like “mother**cker” and “a**hole” being directed at Seufert. The judge also ruled there was no evidence that Zahnd’s office had ever treated O’Connor unprofessionally or unfairly.

A hearing on O’Connor’s second motion to get Zahnd removed from the Denham case was held Tuesday in Platte County Circuit Court, with a judge from Jackson County brought in to hear the matter. Testimony carried on for more than two hours before Judge John Torrence, the Jackson County presiding judge, decided to continue the matter until next Wednesday.

The only person to take the stand was Cindy Short, a death penalty mitigator, called to the stand by O’Connor’s side.

In listening to the questioning and Zahnd’s cross examination of Short, I was able to gather that Zahnd and Seufert in April filed an ethics complaint against O’Connor. Based on the line of questioning that took place in the open court hearing Tuesday, it would appear some of the complaints lodged against O’Connor in that ethics filing include issues such as allegedly failing to follow the rules of the court, sharing confidential documents, allegations of lawyer dishonesty, fraud or deceit, the aforementioned profane laced conversations, intentionally delaying a case to buy a client as much freedom as possible, and accusing a judge of dishonesty.

Wow. That’s a lot of drama. Allegedly.

So far, the media attention has been on O’Connor’s ethics complaint against Zahnd, which has advanced to be heard by a disciplinary panel later this fall (looks like November at the earliest). Any disciplinary action will eventually be in the hands of the Missouri Supreme Court.

Now O’Connor has his own ethics complaint worries.


Who knows how the judge will rule in O’Connor’s request to get Zahnd off of the Denham murder case trial. But Zahnd has a reputation as a hang ’em high prosecutor, so O’Connor would love to have a softer prosecutor trying his client’s case.


Out of curiosity, I did an internet search on the judge who will make the decision on removing Zahnd’s office from the Denham case. A search of Judge John Torrence guided me to a YouTube video posted by Bill O’Reilly’s former show “The Factor” on Fox News in 2009.

It seems Torrence gave a child molester no jail time--only probation. One of O’Reilly’s producers, Jesse Watters, with video cameras rolling tracked down Judge Torrence inside a fast food restaurant after the judge had failed to return repeated phone calls to talk about the decision in the statutory sodomy case. In the video, the judge refuses to answer the producer’s questions and hurries out of the restaurant and back to his car. You may be interested in viewing this. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97r-bi28qh4

(Catch Ivan Foley in Landmark Live every Thursday at 6 p.m. on his Facebook page. Find him on Twitter @ivanfoley, on Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 9/20/17

How’s your week going? It’s hump day. Let’s get to humping.


Some interesting background involving John P. O’Connor, the criminal defense attorney who filed the ethics complaint against Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd. The ethics complaint against Zahnd, which deals with activity involving the case of Darren Paden, a northern Platte County man who admitted to sexually abusing a young girl for more than a decade, is set to be heard by a disciplinary panel as early as sometime in October. The panel’s recommendation then is forwarded to the Missouri Supreme Court for any action.

In 2016, O’Connor filed a motion seeking to disqualify Zahnd’s office from cases involving five of O’Connor’s clients. Judges in Platte County Circuit Court recused themselves from hearing the matter, and the Missouri Supreme Court appointed Judge Glen A. Dietrich to hear and rule on the matter.

Dietrich ruled against O’Connor’s request to disqualify Zahnd’s office. It should be noted that O’Connor by this time had already filed his ethical complaint against Zahnd. The judge had access to all of the ethical complaint documents in making his ruling on this matter.

This week I’ve taken a look at Judge Dietrich’s order, which is open to the public. It had some notable and interesting findings, including:

•“The uncontested evidence establishes that Mr. O’Connor has repeatedly used profane language against Mr. Seufert (Chris Seufert, one of Zahnd’s top assistant prosecutors) and exhibited personal animosity towards Mr. Seufert,” having, among other things, called Seufert a “mother**cker” and an “a**hole.” The latter comment was made in front of Platte County Circuit Court Judge James Van Amburg.

•“There is no evidence that Mr. Seufert or any other member of the Platte County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has ever acted antagonistically toward Mr. O’Connor or ever treated Mr. O’Connor unprofessionally.” While there was no evidence presented to the court that Seufert or any other member of Zahnd’s office had ever treated O’Connor unfairly or unprofessionally, “suffice it to say, for reasons unclear to the court, over time Mr. O’Connor has come to have some type of professional issues with Mr. Seufert,” the judge wrote.

•In recorded jailhouse conversations the day Paden was sentenced and three days later, Paden’s sister told Paden that O’Connor intended to “do some more” against Seufert and “was (initially) going to let some things drop” but instead decided to “look at it again” after Paden “got what mass murderers get” instead of “maybe 10 or 15 years total.”

•O’Connor represented that he had only “reluctantly” filed his ethics complaints against Zahnd and Seufert on the advice of an independent expert. However, the statements by Paden’s sister (Michele Paden-Livengood) indicate that O’Connor had in fact decided to “do some more” against Seufert “some four months” before he obtained the expert’s opinion.

•O’Connor’s version of various events is contradicted by other evidence such that the court found “there is a reasonable basis for Mr. Zahnd’s opinion” that O’Connor is untrustworthy.


After Dietrich’s ruling went against O’Connor, O’Connor filed a writ proceeding in the Court of Appeals for the Western District of Missouri to contest the circuit judge’s ruling. O’Connor’s writ was denied by the court of appeals.


We’ve given them a little static for inexplicably sleeping through the chance to promote the town during the total eclipse event last month but now it’s time to hand out some kudos to the Platte City Chamber of Commerce staff for its work on the upcoming ‘Sample the City’ event.

‘Sample the City’ will take place next Thursday, Sept. 28 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. on Main Street. Leanna Lightfoot of the chamber staff tells me there are already 59 vendors who have signed up to take part in the downtown hootenanny. That’s impressive.

Vendors, music, food, goods and services to explore, bounce houses for the kids. . . sounds like an event you won’t want to miss. Nice work getting an activity like this scheduled and ready to rock and roll.

Now let’s hope for good weather.


On our front page you’ll notice the City of Platte City will be contracting with the Platte City Chamber of Commerce in a deal that will have the chamber officially performing marketing duties for the city. The only problem I see in the proposed details of the agreement is the city isn’t asking enough from the chamber in the form of office hours. The city asks that a chamber member “be responsive Monday through Friday from 9-4:30,” but don’t read that the wrong way. It doesn’t mean the chamber office will be open 9-4:30 Monday through Friday. It means chamber staff can be at home occasionally checking emails.

In recent months the chamber published its office hours as 9-3 Monday through Thursday, closed on Friday. That’s 24 office hours in a week. Not exactly burning the midnight oil. And it’s not really due to lack of people, as the chamber has three staff members. It would seem simply staggering the office hours of those three folks would make it easy to cover 40 hours per week. The Landmark’s doors are open considerably more than 40 hours per week with an in-office staff of just two people, so from a standpoint of scheduling, covering 40 hours with three people would be a piece of cake. I’m available for scheduling consultation if the chamber would like my services at no charge.


Let’s be honest. A 24-hour per week chamber of commerce doesn’t exactly scream a message that Platte City is open for business. It’s closer to screaming a message of gone fishin’.

If Platte City wants to be a serious player in marketing itself to potential businesses, industries and residents, it needs a full time chamber. It’s a little disappointing the city isn’t asking for this as it prepares to hand the chamber of commerce $15,000 per year.

Other than that drawback, I do believe the city handing off marketing duties to the chamber is a fine idea. As we all know, the city has some empty ground on the east side of I-29 that would be nice to get filled. This is a step in the right direction.

(Catch Foley on Landmark Live every Thursday night at 6 on his Facebook page. Follow him on Twitter @ivanfoley, find him on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 9/13/17

Hey everybody. How ’bout those Chiefs? Off to a great start. Let’s not blow it by losing a home game to Philly.


Your new commander of the KCPD North Patrol Division is Charles Huth.
Not to be confused with singer Charlie Puth.




My co-workers can confirm that saying “Puth” makes me chuckle.

Because I’m immature like that.


The disciplinary panel that has been appointed to hear an allegation of professional misconduct against Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd has not yet set a date for the hearing. The parties are hoping for a hearing date in October.

After the disciplinary panel was appointed last month, the three members of the panel were instructed they have to set the hearing date within 60 days. The date has to allow for at least 30 days notice to all parties involved. The panel has also been told it must issue a decision within 30 days after the completion of the hearing. The panel then makes a recommendation to the Missouri Supreme Court, with whom final action will rest.

As The Landmark exclusively reported on Aug. 30, members of the panel are:

Keith Cutler, an attorney with James W. Tippin and Associates of Kansas City; Thomas P. Shult, an attorney with Berkowitz Oliver LLP of Kansas City; and non-lawyer Robert Michael Ford of St. Joseph. Cutler has been appointed as presiding officer of the panel.

The complaint against Zahnd was filed by John P. O’Connor, a defense attorney.


Zahnd has been considered a leading candidate to be appointed as the next U.S. Attorney of the Western District of Missouri. That appointment will eventually be made by President Trump at the recommendation of the senior senator of the president’s political party, which would be Sen. Roy Blunt. For those of us who follow politics, it is known that Blunt and Zahnd have been close for years.

Of course the complaint clouds Zahnd’s candidacy for the U.S. Attorney spot, and some observers seem to be of the opinion the real intent of the complaint was to do just that.

At any rate, the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys has come out in support of Zahnd, which of course is not a surprise. The Landmark has a copy of a public letter from Amy J. Fite, president of the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.

“I write on behalf of Missouri’s prosecutors regarding Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd. Mr. Zahnd is a worthy candidate for appointment as United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri,” she says.

“Mr. Zahnd has been a leader among his peers, both in professionalism and ethics. In addition to having been selected as the president of our association, he was also recognized as the Prosecutor of the Year in 2014. But his most important and lasting contribution to our profession will surely be his leadership in establishing a standing Best Practices Committee within our association. This initiative has heightened the public awareness and professional pride of prosecutors as ministers of justice. As Mr. Zahnd frequently reminds many of us, we are not merely seeking convictions in criminal cases, but instead we are seeking justice and fairness, both for the innocent and the guilty.”


Notably and interestingly, Fite’s letter goes on to say the complaint against Zahnd mirrors a big picture attack being used against prosecutors nationally.

“Over the past few years we have seen a troubling trend develop nationally. Prosecutors have increasingly been attacked through claims of unethical conduct and have been forced to defend their actions in formal disciplinary proceedings. Unfortunately, Mr. Zahnd now finds himself in the situation of defending his actions for zealously protecting a child victim and the public from a confessed pedophile, and telling the truth to interested parties and the public in general. In other words, for demonstrating the very values that our justice system expects from prosecutors,” she says.

“Prosecutors have an obligation to seek the administration of justice in the fair and vigorous prosecution of their cases from the charging decision and through the sentencing phase. Ethical complaints in the context of this current matter do an injustice if the outcome is to deter prosecutors from speaking out for justice on behalf of our victims and communities.”

Fite goes on to say:

“Prosecutors hold wrong-doers accountable for their actions. In turn, prosecutors are responsible for their own actions as well. Telling the truth and vigorously protecting child victims and the public cannot be wrong. If it is, then we need to re-examine the core values of the criminal justice system.”

(Between the Lines comes at you each week right here in the pages of your printed Landmark. Landmark Live comes at you every Thursday night at 6 p.m. on the Facebook page of Ivan Foley, who can be found on Twitter @ivanfoley, on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 9/6/17

Welcome back. Let’s get this weekly party started.


Park Hill and Park Hill South held a football game and a Ferrelview meeting broke out.


We’ve been told Park Hill South High School hires fewer security officers for games than does Park Hill High School.

Park Hill South was officially the home team Friday night at the football complex shared by the two high schools, so there were fewer security officers working than there would have been had Park Hill been the home team.

Lessons learned.

Fortunately, no injuries, at least none requiring medical treatment, we are told.
Platte County Sheriff’s Department seems anxious to meet with school officials to give advice on how security can be improved.


Here’s where I will give the Park Hill School District credit. The district Friday night quickly sent out a communication in the form of an email to patrons and other interested parties acknowledging the fighting and the game stoppage. There were no attempts at denials or revisionist history, so kudos to Park Hill leaders for owning it. Then Monday afternoon the district superintendent, Dr. Jeanette Cowherd, sent out a follow-up email, somewhat softly worded--I noticed she used the word “fight” instead of “fights”--but still worthy of praise for her willingness to at least address the situation somewhat openly.


Not all school district leaders would have handled it this candidly. Had this happened at Platte County R-3, for instance, my guess the response from Superintendent Mike Reik would have been an internal ‘there’s nothing to see here’ email to his staff worded something like this:

“Contrary to misinformation being circulated, there were no fights in the stands. A group of students were trying out for the debate team.”


Back to the topic of the attorney misconduct complaint filed against Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd, which we reported in a front page story last week. The complaint surrounds the alleged conduct of Zahnd’s office in the criminal case of Darren L. Paden of Dearborn. Paden pled guilty to sexually molesting a young girl for more than a decade. He was eventually sentenced to 50 years in prison. The defense attorney, John P. O’Connor, accuses Zahnd of confronting and pressuring witnesses. After Paden pled guilty to sexually abusing the girl for what he admitted was two to three times a month from the time she was around five years old, 16 friends and relatives of Paden wrote letters to the judge urging leniency. O’Connor alleges Zahnd wanted his prosecutors to ask the letter writers to withdraw their letters. If they refused, according to the complaint, Zahnd’s office would cross-examine the letter writers at the sentencing hearing. Zahnd has said in seeking to persuade the letter writers to withdraw their letters--which are public information--he was trying to spare them from public shame and embarrassment. Zahnd has strongly denied any wrongdoing, insisting that he acted legally and ethically in the matter. He points out his publication of the letter writers’ names in a press release was truthful, a matter of public record and protected by the First Amendment.

In a column I wrote Nov. 4, 2015, I praised Zahnd for including the names of the letter writers in his press release, and I stand behind that position today: “It’s unsettling in particular to see former public servants and names of folks associated with a school district to not be shy in support of a confessed child sex offender. Kudos to Eric Zahnd, prosecutor, for drawing attention to the bizarre level of support shown from some influential names even after it had been explained to them that the man had confessed to the crimes against the child.”--Nov. 4, 2015 Between the Lines.

School districts--and those in charge of and working for school districts, of course--are supposed to be protectors of children, not defenders of those who have confessed to abusing children.

A social media post by a Platte County resident in recent days after our story on the complaint against Zahnd requested that I print the letters that were written in support of the confessed abuser. I can’t devote space here to print all 16 letters in their entirety, but I can reprint the names of the letter writers as they were identified in the original press release sent by Zahnd in 2015. They are:
Michele Paden-Livengood, member, North Platte School Board; Donna Nash, former Platte County Collector; Karlton Nash, Nash Gas; Jerry Hagg, former president, Platte Valley Bank; Sheila S. Goodlet, former teacher, North Platte School District; Paige Newby, former teacher, North Platte School District; Diana Blankenship, secretary to the superintendent, North Platte School District and elder, New Market Christian Church; Sherri Ambler, employee, North Platte School District; Missy Stephenson, employee, North Platte School District; Gene Blankenship, trustee, New Market Christian Church; Beckie Moore, nurse practitioner, St. Luke’s Health System; Darla Hall Emmendorfer, construction engineer; Peggy Bloss; Jim Anderson; Francisco Escobar; Dixie Wilson.


Zahnd appropriately stated in that 2015 press release: “It is said that we can be judged by how we treat the least of those among us. It breaks my heart to see pillars of this community--a former county official, a bank president, church leaders, a school board member, current and former school employees--appear to choose the side of a child molester over the child he repeatedly abused.”

(Follow Foley on Facebook, on Twitter @ivanfoley or track him on Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 8/30/17

Welcome back to Between the Lines. Take a deep breath. Your Labor Day weekend is almost here. Just keep swimming.


Well, the Missouri state auditor’s office has officially begun its petition driven audit of the Village of Ferrelview. Pity the poor bean counter who has been assigned this job. Thoughts and prayers to you and yours at this difficult time.


Maybe we should start a GoFundMe page for the Ferrelview auditor and treat him or her to a night on the town when this thing is over.

Gonna need it.


Word is the state auditor’s office is starting its review of the Village of Ferrelview with the municipal court, due to all the drama with Daniel Clayton, chief of police. It’s assumed auditors will look at all the police chief’s tickets and make sure they are all accounted for, which could be interesting in that the chief has a reputation for not exactly being overly cooperative with his bosses and co-workers. Will he be cooperative when the state auditor asks him for information and documentation?


I admire and support the passion with which Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd performs his job. You may not always agree with every detail of his approach, but there is no arguing the man is always on the side of the good guys, not the bad. And he is transparent with public information as he goes about his work.

Not sure what more we could ask for from a prosecutor. Unless you’re a defense attorney, of course.


At The Landmark, we’re in the business of giving strong opinions when needed and being constantly open to any kind of public reaction to those opinions. So while I respect them as individuals and obviously respect their right to express their feelings, in this instance I have little sympathy for the letter writers who urged leniency in the case referenced in the ethical complaint filed against Zahnd by a criminal defense attorney. Around 16 friends of the defendant in that case wrote letters urging leniency for a confessed pedophile who admitted to sexually abusing a young girl for a decade.

Their names, already a matter of public information, were included in a press release sent by Zahnd after the sentencing. What’s the problem?

Those letters to the judge are a matter of public record. If you’re not willing to have your opinion of urging leniency for a confessed sex offender made public, don’t send the letter. If you’re not proud of your opinion or you’d simply rather not see your opinion become a potential topic for public discussion, don’t send the letter.

Seems to be a pretty simple concept, really.

We give opinions every week here in The Landmark for all to see. We’re not bashful about signing our names. If you send us a letter to the editor and don’t sign it, guess what? It’s not getting into print.

One of the lessons here is if you’re going to give potentially controversial opinions in a public setting you need to be willing to stand behind your words.


If you have an interest in the presence of mountain lions in Missouri--and this has been a topic that has fascinated me since Landmark office manager Cindy Rinehart had an encounter with one near her home in the sticks of northern Platte County about eight years ago--then an upcoming webcast put on by the Missouri Department of Conservation might be right up your alley.

The MDC will present “Wild Webcast: Mountain Lions in Missouri” on Wednesday, Sept. 20 from noon to 1 p.m.

I’m glad the MDC seems to have moved on from its former position of downplaying every reported mountain lion sighting to at least acknowledging their existence and occasional verified sightings in the state. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to imply the general public is in any kind of daily risk from mountain lions roaming the state, because we’re not. But let’s not pretend there haven’t been verified sightings.

If you’re into the outdoors and wildlife, it’s an interesting topic.

You can register for the webcast by going to bit.ly/2h9pcpG.


Speaking of webcasts, The Landmark’s weekly videocast will debut next week. Live and in color. On the internet, which is that thing Al Gore invented.

The first episode of Landmark Live will hit the air at 6 p.m. next Thursday, Sept. 7 on the Facebook page of Ivan Foley (I’ve heard he’s ok with that).

That’s the same night as the Chiefs season opener at New England. The Chiefs game doesn’t start until 7:30. So as you’re pre-gaming (wink wink) and getting ready to park yourself in front of a television to watch the Chiefs and Patriots, park yourself in front of a computer or smartphone to watch Landmark Live.


As you’ll see on our front page, the first guest on our first Landmark Live on the first Thursday in September will be none other than the man whose Twitter persona has become a household name in Kansas City. The Fake Ned, known in real life as Chris Kamler, will join us for conversation, observations and whatnot.
If the show steers off the roadway into a path of ridiculousness, that’s fine too. There will be no apologies. And there may not be pants.


Official sponsor of the premier episode of Landmark Live is Aric Jennings Real Estate. Unofficial sponsor is Bud Light.


The first Landmark Live will come to you from somewhere in or near The Landmark office. Working on a couple of possibilities that may take our show on the road for the second episode on Sept. 14. Those details will likely be announced during the Sept. 7 show.

(Get more Between the Lines on Twitter @ivanfoley and get Foley unfiltered Thursday nights at 6 beginning Sept. 7 on Facebook Live. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 8/23/17

Welcome back to Between the Lines, where I’m in serious need of caffeine. It’s not yet 8 a.m. and I’m already two Pepsis deep. Hope I don’t get the shakes.


The troubles continue to grow for Daniel Clayton, the controversial police chief for the tiny Village of Ferrelview, population 450.

As you’ll see on our front page, there is a long list of serious allegations against Clayton that will be heard by the State of Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission. If the details spelled out in the allegations are true, chances would seem to be good Clayton will eventually be losing his peace officer license as a result.

The chief is fortunate in that his first hearing on the allegations is not until Feb. 6. Despite all those allegations, despite the chaos his over-the-top heavily-armed and heavily-outfitted presence helps bring to the town’s atmosphere, and despite the false imprisonment and malicious prosecution civil lawsuit filed against him by an Olathe man, Clayton seems determined to try to hold on to his 20 hour per week, $15 per hour job.


Listen, which one of you guys irked Mother Nature and prompted her to whiz on our eclipse fun? Come on, man. Thanks for ruining it for the whole class.
We were all excited and whatnot for months and just like that our precious moments of fun were taken from us. Ripped from our hearts.

Well, ripped from a lot of us. Maybe you were among the fortunate few in this area who were able to get to a sunny spot in time for Monday’s total eclipse. If so, congratulations and kudos to you.

Meanwhile, I’m considering making plans to travel to the site of the next total solar eclipse. The scientists say it will happen in April of 2024. Among the cities in the path of totality is Hot Springs, Ark.

See you there?


Your Landmark news team enjoyed two minutes of viewing the partial eclipse from Platte Ridge Park before heavy clouds and off-and-on light rain drops ruined the view. We eventually took off chasing the sun. Never could catch it.

We were in the parking lot at the Platte City Price Chopper when the two minutes of totality hit. The way the dark-as-midnight skies rolled in shortly after 1 p.m., stayed for two minutes and then were gone was a memorable experience, and not just because Chris Kamler had cranked up the music from the open tailgate of his SUV and was singing along with Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart.

Though that was very special as well. In fact I went Facebook Live with it, only to have Facebook quickly remove the video. They said it was because there was licensed music playing in the background. I suspect the real reason was they found Kamler’s singing voice offensive.


You’ll soon be able to find an album of eclipse day photos taken by Landmark staffers Bill Hankins, Cindy Rinehart, Chris Kamler, Valerie Verkamp and yours truly on my Facebook page and also on Facebook at The Platte County Landmark.

Also watch for an album of Parkville Days photos snapped by Debbie Coleman-Topi.


Just when you thought it was safe to get back on the Internet. . .
You may have noticed Landmark things are rarely dull, whether it be in the pages of this newspaper. . .or in The Landmark office. . .or wherever The Landmark news team goes. Which brings us to our next project: Landmark Live.

Landmark Live will be a weekly webcast on Facebook. As its name implies, Landmark Live will be. . . live.

Starting Thursday, Sept. 7, The Landmark will go live on the Facebook page of Ivan Foley (that’s me speaking in the third person) every Thursday at 6 p.m. The show will last anywhere from 30 minutes till whenever the fun ends or the internet explodes, whichever comes first.

If you don’t catch it live, no worries. Landmark Live episodes will remain on my Facebook page and on the Facebook page at The Platte County Landmark so you can later watch them at your leisure.

For the five or 10 humans who still don’t use Facebook, the videos will be copied over to my YouTube channel for viewing there.


Though we’ll have local public figures willing to submit themselves to a live line of questioning from Ivan Foley (that’s me speaking in the third person again), Landmark Live isn’t designed to be hard news. Far from it. If you think I’m in the mood for serious talk after the paper is out then you haven’t been paying attention.
The focus and the topics will be light, with primarily lighthearted topics and guests willing to relax. I’ve already warned my boss if this becomes work then I’m out.

Most of the time the show will be broadcast from right here in the luxurious Landmark offices. Sometimes from the first floor. Sometimes from the second floor. I will go ahead and let you know the week of Halloween we’re going to broadcast from the now-famous basement/crawl space of the 148-year old Landmark building.

Other times we’ll take our video camera on the road. Most of the time the folks at our destination will know we’re on the way. Other times we’ll arrive without warning.

Next week: Who will be the special guest on our first episode?

(Get yourself dug deeper in Between the Lines on Twitter @ivanfoley and by following Foley on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 8/16/17

Welcome back to Between the Lines. Look kids, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but summer’s over. Unless you have a hall pass get your butts back to class.


The hoopla and anticipation surrounding the upcoming total solar eclipse is off the charts. As purveyors of the printed word we know how important your eyes are to you, so The Landmark office served as a pick up point in distributing 1,400 of the ISO-certified eclipse shades at no cost. Amazon may have sent you some bad apples but The Landmark gave you the trusted rating.

We ran out early in the day last Thursday. We could easily have given away at least a thousand more since that time. I’m not even kidding.

Saving eyeballs two at a time, you guys.

(LATE UPDATE: The Landmark has tracked down a supplier and now has eclipse glasses for sale. The Landmark office, 252 Main Street, Platte City, MO. 816.858.0363, open Saturday, Aug. 19 beginning at 8 a.m.).


There hasn’t been this much anticipation about an event that’s only gonna last two minutes since the night of your high school prom.


With all the hubba hubba about the hundreds of thousands of folks that could be on the roadway in/toward the St. Joseph area, where total solar eclipse viewing will be lengthy at two minutes thirty eight seconds, I thought it would be a good time to reach out to Between the Lines friend Lt. DJ Hedrick of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Many Landmark readers will recall Lt. DJ Hedrick of St. Joseph was Sgt. DJ Hedrick in Platte County for several years. In 2007, he invited me to grab a seat in his patrol car on what became an infamous ride-a-long with him on Memorial Day weekend, a night in which what we thought was a routine traffic stop on Barry Road turned into yours truly being along for the ride on a police chase down I-29. The suspect lost control and crashed his vehicle just off the 72nd St. exit. Convenient times for your Between the Lines columnist. Being part of the story made covering the story very easy.

But I digress.

I asked Lt. Hedrick this week what kind of preparations the patrol is doing for the throngs of people and vehicles expected to hit his area. Hedrick said the Missouri State Highway Patrol “plans to coordinate with local agencies to keep traffic flowing to and from the area.” All officers leave day (regular day off) were canceled and officers are going to be strategically placed in areas that may get congested. A fixed wing airplane from the patrol’s aircraft division will also be used to monitor traffic from the sky and hopefully allow officers on the ground to head off areas of congestion before they begin, Hedrick explained. He said an emergency management team in St. Joseph will be using drones at intersections to also provide information for traffic issues or concerns.

“There are multiple events occurring in and around St. Joseph and Lathrop. We will be reactive to those areas to assist with smooth traffic flow. We don’t know what to expect, but according to those who have been planning for over a year they are anticipating 100,000 to 200,000 people to come to the area,” Hedrick said.

The patrol throughout the state will have a trooper assigned to every 20 miles on the interstates “to assist with traffic flow and to keep motorists from stopping in the roadway,” Hedrick explained. He emphasized there is no plan to close any part of I-29, something that you may have heard in a fake news rumor that has been making the rounds.


Considering the city’s prime location along I-29 inside the sweet spot for viewing of an extremely rare solar event, I’m very surprised and a little disappointed the economic development/chamber of commerce folks in Platte City slept on an opportunity to organize an event and pimp the city and its business community during the total eclipse when thousands of folks will be traveling through the area.

Oh well. Maybe next time.


Longtime Landmark office manager Cindy Rinehart celebrated a birthday on Monday, Aug. 14. She turned 29, doesn’t look a day over 30. Cindy will have officially been director of the zoo known as The Landmark office for 25 years next month, providing she doesn’t quit after reading this.

Should we run some kind of wild and crazy Landmark promotional offer celebrating Cindy’s survival of a quarter century working next to a hawt mess? Or maybe just plan an afternoon of tea and crumpets. Or maybe a Landmark open house with Cindy giving demonstrations on the dozens of electronic gadgets and gizmos she has accumulated at her desk. We’d have to put KCP&L on alert.

Email me your ideas. Or don’t. If the party is not about me I don’t really care all that much. . .


Where will you be for the total eclipse on Monday? I’m not sure yet but thanks for asking.

Landmark columnist/Twitter superstar Chris Kamler is coming to town. You’re welcome to come join us wherever we decide to goof off, I mean, wherever we decide to camp ourselves to intellectually study and offer educational commentary upon such a rare celestial event. Our options include Platte Ridge Park, the lawn of the Platte County Courthouse, The Landmark’s front sidewalk, or my personal favorite, the roof of the tall and historic Landmark Newspaper building overlooking downtown Platte City.

Chris and I will be looking for a volunteer to hold the extension ladder as we climb from the roof of our first story to the roof of our second story. Be prepared to sign a waiver. And be sure to hug your kids before you leave the house that day.


Experts say during a total solar eclipse, insects, animals and other living things will react as if it’s nighttime. I’m a little worried. If this applies to humans Chris Kamler will start drinking and his pants will come off.

(You don’t have to wear pants to follow Foley on social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. You can email him from your jammies at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 8/9/17

Can you give me a moment? I covered a Village of Ferrelview board meeting last night. I’ll get back to writing this column just as soon as my therapy session has ended.


The cavalry has arrived at Ferrelview. Everyone can take a deep breath now. Well, kind of. Not really.

And by cavalry, I’m not even talking about the four or five uniformed Platte County Sheriff’s Department officers, two plainclothes detectives and two metal detectors who attended Tuesday night’s board meeting to help ensure there would be no violence. And by the way, kudos to the sheriff’s department for their presence. Without those officers, that meeting would have become the streets of Chicago in no time.

The cavalry I’m referring to now is the state auditor’s office. As you know, a petition-driven audit of the village gets underway soon. Todd Schuler of the state auditor’s office was on hand to announce an examination of the city’s books and processes will get underway by Aug. 28, possibly sooner.

This really takes the pressure off the leadership of the current board. There is a small faction of the community, including at least one holdover from the previous board, who is in denial about the city’s financial problems. Now the board leadership can simply say, “Hey, it’s all in the hands of the state auditor now. We’ll see what the audit shows.” No need for any further arguing about who is right or who is wrong or what led to the financial distress the city is in. Let the state auditor figure it out. As I’ve mentioned previously in this column space, I anticipate a laundry list of problems and irregularities to be uncovered by the state boys and girls.

Schuler hasn’t looked at a single document yet but he already agrees with me.

“Certainly it’s possible we won't find any problems but, frankly based on my attendance here tonight, I'm pretty confident we will,” Schuler said Tuesday night during Ferrelview’s monthly three-ring community circus, known in other cities as a board meeting.


Schuler said among the items to be studied by the state auditor during this examination will be the village’s internal controls (have there been any?) compliance with laws and ordinances (oops) and a look at certain management practices that have occurred (rut roh).


Two of the ring leaders of last month’s verbal outbursts from the audience were not in the meeting room for this month’s hootenanny. Former board chair Steve Carr, defeated in the April election, and former board member Linda McCaslin, who resigned after the balance of power on the newly-elected board had shifted against her side, had verbally active nights at the July 11 session and were two of the biggest reasons that meeting spiraled to an embarrassing level of Jerry Springerness.

McCaslin, as reported by The Landmark last week, ended up with a charge of disturbing the peace out of the deal. That could explain her absence at this month’s meeting. Carr reportedly has health problems, so maybe that contributed to his absence.

Or, who knows, it could be neither of the past board members wanted to be in the same room with the state auditor.


Ferrelview officials this week confirmed there is a special meeting set Monday to consider the removal of Daniel Clayton as police chief. Theresa Wilson, board chair, says the removal of the chief would require a two-thirds majority vote of the five member board. This means at least four of the five members would need to vote for his removal. If you’re a betting person, the smart money says the effort will fall short. Two members of the current board, Diedre Carr and Phil Gilliam, appear to be in Clayton’s corner.


We’re about 10 days away from the total solar eclipse. As of this writing, The Landmark has a few of the free eclipse shades remaining in our office, but not many. When this batch is gone it will put the number of eclipse shades the newspaper has helped distribute at 1,400.

Yes, people are hyped about this.


Local law enforcement is preparing for an influx of traffic the day of the eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21.

“We will have an increase in officer presence in anticipation of traffic congestion and increased call volume. My hope is everybody will be well behaved and it will be nothing more than lots of people in the area helping out lots of local businesses, and then we’re back home,” says Major Erik Holland of the Platte County Sheriff’s Department.

In other words, please don’t turn the eclipse into a Ferrelview meeting.


Platte County Second District Commissioner John Elliott announced this week the lawn of the county courthouse will be open for total solar eclipse watching on Aug. 21.

Even more impressive is the fact Elliott and other commissioners are furnishing bottles of water, paid for out of their own pockets. Anytime John Elliott is personally picking up a tab I say that’s an event you don’t want to miss. Unconfirmed reports indicate it happens about as often as a total solar eclipse.


(Confirmed reports indicate you can find Foley on Facebook, on Twitter @ivanfoley and on Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. Or go old school with an email to ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 8/2/17

After a quick weekend drive to Colorado and back to help son Kurt get settled in his new place of residence, I’m back in the saddle for another week of Between the Lines. Let’s get cranking.


By the way, on a long excursion through sleepy central and western Kansas it doesn’t hurt to have satellite radio in your car. In fact it might be considered a necessity for keeping your sanity.


Don’t look now but the next Village of Ferrelview board meeting is Tuesday night. Say a little prayer for all mankind.


Speaking of the Village of Ferrelview board meetings--and I apologize for that--you’ll notice on our front page that at least one criminal charge has come out of the obnoxious behavior by audience members at the July 11 meeting. That’s the meeting we described for you here as an embarrassment.

Prosecutors have ticketed Linda McCaslin with disturbing the peace. Having been in the room that night, it’s my opinion it’s a charge that is well deserved. McCaslin, by the way, formerly served on the board until resigning a couple of months ago after the balance of power had shifted, and not in her favor.

Hopefully the court action sends a message and will help result in a better behaved audience at future Ferrelview meetings. It’s perfectly fine to disagree but it can be done without being over-the-top disagreeable.


It’s like a game of Monopoly. Ferrelview’s municipal court as of Aug. 1 is no longer in existence. All warrants have been recalled and all pending cases have been dismissed. So if you had been charged with a Ferrelview municipal violation in recent weeks/months and your case was still pending, there’s your get out of jail free card.


“Take this golf course, somebody please.”

If you know anybody who would like to get into the golf course business, check our front page to find one for sale.

Shiloh Springs, the county-owned course east of Platte City, is available. The Platte County Commission will soon be putting out a request for proposals--in essence, a “please take this golf course off our hands” notice.

County commissioners say they’d prefer to find a buyer who will want to keep Shiloh active as a golf course, but they’re not closing the door on other potential buyers who may want to develop the property for other uses. The county desperately wants the financial drain of Shiloh off of its park tax revenues. Shiloh had a $247,000 operational loss in 2016, but factoring in depreciation the loss was actually $366,000. Keep in mind that’s how much money the county lost at Shiloh, that’s not how much the county spent at Shiloh--that total is higher yet. All the park tax money spent at Shiloh can be better distributed to other projects and other maintenance needs, as the current county commission is looking for ways to lower future maintenance costs in anticipation of lowering the half cent park tax that expires in 2020.

It’s a perfect opportunity for Shiloh supporters and Shiloh club members to put their money where their heart is. The county commission says it would love to sell to an association of golfers interested in the sport who would prefer to see Shiloh stay alive.


“Take this park land, somebody please.”

We mentioned a couple of weeks ago the county is preparing an exit plan to get out of owning the land on which Platte Landing Park is located in Parkville. Platte County will be “selling” the land to the city for $1. The county wants away from owning this land so badly it’s also offering the city a one-time payout of future maintenance expenses. The amount of that payout is not yet known but is expected to be thousands upon thousands of dollars.

My speculation at the time the pending deal with Parkville became known was that the county’s lack of interest in being part of the upcoming wetlands project at Platte Landing was prompting the action, and that’s part of it. County commissioners confirmed this week they’re also interested because it’s another way for the county to reduce future park maintenance costs. And it also gets the county out of having any future liability at the park, which includes a boat ramp where some strange things have happened, not the least of which is the much publicized death of a young Kansas City woman named Toni Anderson.

Anderson in the middle of a winter night drove down the ramp and into the river. Her body and vehicle were recovered months later. Her death was ruled accidental by authorities.


KemperSports, the management company hired to run Shiloh Springs the past couple of years, has not been able to work any magic at the course. In fact Kemper has fallen short of its financial targets so badly that the company has had to pay a penalty to the county for its performance shortage.

Earlier this year, Kemper was forced to pay the county a $15,000 penalty for missing the target. That’s the maximum fee allowed per the contract. County officials tell me Kemper has expressed extreme displeasure at having to pay the 15 grand. “I guess I wouldn’t be happy about it either,” Ron Schieber, presiding commissioner, said this week. While Schieber feels Kemper’s pain, rest assured the county isn’t giving back that $15,000.

In 2017, Platte County pays Kemper a management fee of $4,750 per month.


The ink was barely dry on last week’s issue when a North Platte parent let me know the district had sent an alert to parents announcing that due to traffic concerns on that day, the school district will not be holding classes on Aug. 21, the day of the total solar eclipse.

As you’ll see in our story on the front page, other districts in the county as of now are still planning on holding classes on eclipse day. More details in the story.

(The Landmark office closes every time this area has a total solar eclipse. Follow Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley and find freaking Foley on Facebook. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 7/26/17

Welcome back to Between the Lines. Let’s see if we can stick to light topics and get through this column without mentioning Ferrelview. I needed detox after all my recent Ferrelview coverage. So I told myself no mention of Ferrelview in this week’s column.


Well, that didn’t go as planned. By mentioning I wasn’t going to mention Ferrelview I mentioned Ferrelview.

Back to detox.


I feel certain I’m not the first person who has ever mentioned this, but have you noticed the TV show The Bachelorette is a show about a woman dating multiple men that is primarily watched by women who hate men who date multiple women?


One of the biggest shocks some of us get this summer will be when we open our next electric bills.


Not kidding, the air conditioner in your ol’ Landmark office--home of high ceilings and large front windows that face south--has rarely shut off the past couple of weeks. And my desk sits right by the air conditioner, so I have a constant humming in my ears. If you call me on the office line maybe you can hear what sounds like a light wind blowing in the background. I’m not at the beach. That’s the breeze from the AC trying to keep me cool as I compose the hot news.

At least the humming from the AC drowns out those voices in my head.


Hey music lovers, here in no particular order are your Between the Lines picks for a few of the best songs you’ve been hearing on your radios the past few months.

•Sign of the Times by Harry Styles.
•Something Just Like This by The Chainsmokers, Coldplay.
•Castle on the Hill by Ed Sheeran.
•Bad Things by Machine Gun Kelly (my personal favorite).
•I Got Issues by Selena Gomez (my co-personal favorite).


Get ready, Platte City motorists.

The good news is sometime in August, MoDOT will be coming to mill and overlay Hwy. 92 through the city. The bad news is sometime in August, MoDOT will be coming to mill and overlay Hwy. 92 through the city.

So expect some traffic slowdowns. But the new surface will make for a nicer motoring experience when all is said and done.

If you’ve signed up to receive the city’s Nixle alerts, you’ll get a text or email message when the timing of the work is known, says DJ Gehrt, city administrator.


Milling, by the way, is the process of removing part of a surface of a road, for those who might not be familiar with the term.


The buzz about the total solar eclipse continues to grow. I don’t nerd out about much but I’m nerding out about this. I told you this in May when The Landmark first reported on this topic and my nerd level has only grown since.

I’ve been mentioning on my social media outlets--and then mentioned it in my column last week--The Landmark office has free solar eclipse glasses. The public has responded en masse.

Loyal readers quickly reduced our stock but no worries--we have reloaded and once again have a nice supply of the eclipse glasses on hand. Come getcha some.


It could be a bit of a buzz kill if Aug. 21 turns out to be a cloudy and overcast day though, am I right?


So will any Platte County schools be closing Aug. 21 for the eclipse? That was a legitimate question posed to our office more than once in the past week or so.

“They let us out for the Royals (World Series championship) parade,” was a valid point made by one.

We haven’t received word of any local schools canceling classes on eclipse viewing day, though St. Joseph schools will not be in session Aug. 21 due to the total eclipse event. (UPDATED INFO: North Platte School District has informed district patrons that North Platte will not hold classes on Aug. 21 "due to transportation concerns from the eclipse event")

St. Joseph is the fifth largest city along the path of totality and will experience two minutes and 38 seconds of ‘darkness.’ That’s only 1.4 seconds short of the maximum time for totality possible for this event. St. Joseph is said to be bracing for many, many visitors and much vehicle traffic that day. Whether that will actually materialize or is being overhyped we won’t know until the time comes.
Platte City will get two minutes and 10 seconds of ‘darkness.’

If you’re geeking out over this like I am, you’ll enjoy much more info on the total solar eclipse in the graphics and news story on our front page. Clip and save.


And come to The Landmark for your free safety glasses. Note: if you’re coming in this Friday, July 28 do it before noon. We have a staff scheduling cluster that day so the office will close at 12 on that day only, back open first thing Monday morning.

(You don’t need safety glasses to get your Between the Lines fix on Twitter @ivanfoley and find Foley on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 7/19/17

The Landmark brought this into the local news discussion with an article the first week of May, so I know you’re well aware. But here’s a reminder: Platte County--and even more particularly, Platte City--will be a prime spot for viewing the total solar eclipse that will occur on Aug. 21.

Don’t have your eclipse viewing safety glasses yet? Don’t panic. The Landmark has them for you. And best of all they’re free.

So come grab a pair or two or three. While supplies last, we have them for you at no charge at The Landmark, the newspaper that cares about your eyeballs.


Time for some local government updates from various parts of Platte County. Read on for some thoughts on the latest local scoopage.


Ferrelview no longer has a municipal court. Ferrelview still has a police department but it has been neutered. Ferrelview’s police department has been cut to one officer--the chief. And faced with serious financial struggles, village officials at a special meeting on Friday cut the police chief down to a maximum of 20 hours per week at a salary of $300 per week.

According to the way Scott Campbell, city attorney, explained it last week, with the municipal court abolished the police chief will no longer be empowered to enforce municipal ordinances. The chief can only make arrests/citations for state charges, Campbell said at last week’s meeting and again in a follow-up interview with The Landmark the next day.

Things seem clear as mud. Even Daniel Clayton, the embattled but heavily-outfitted police chief, expressed a confused reaction at last week’s meeting over what exactly this means he is empowered to do or not do.

Never a dull moment at Ferrelview, folks.


When I suggested in last Wednesday’s Landmark that the city should ask the sheriff’s department to provide security at Ferrelview board meetings, little did I expect it would be happening so quickly. It seems at the start of the special closed meeting on Friday city officials felt three citizens were being disruptive and dialed the sheriff’s department, looking for help in keeping the peace. Among the three sheriff’s personnel members who responded was Sheriff Mark Owen. That’s impressive.

Anyway, as you’ll read in our front page story, the sheriff says when he arrived the three citizens were walking out the City Hall door, explaining they had only been insisting that the city officials follow proper protocol in conducting their meeting. To hold a closed session, a governing body first needs to open the meeting in open session before entering closed session.

The sheriff said all was then calm. He did say city officials have reached out to the sheriff’s department to request their presence at future meetings. The sheriff is discussing it with legal counsel and will have a decision soon, he indicated.


As you’ll see on our front page, Parkville officials seem excited about getting a wetlands development inside Platte Landing Park. The Platte County Commission, which owns the land on which Platte Landing Park sits, apparently wants no part of it. The county is in the middle of hammering out a deal with the city to “sell” the Platte Landing Park ground to the city for $1. If/when that deal is complete, it will give full control and full financial responsibility of the park land to the city.

Supporters of the wetlands project think it will be a cool addition that will enhance the park’s ecosystem. Let’s be honest, you didn’t think I had an impressive sounding word like ecosystem in my arsenal, did you?

Skeptics of the wetlands project say it will be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Good or bad, the wetlands are going to be the city’s baby. The county is working on an exit plan.


Former dance partners will soon be giving it another shot.

The City of Platte City, in its upcoming 2017-18 fiscal year budget, is putting $15,000 toward a deal with the Platte City Chamber of Commerce. The deal is for economic development support. In short, the city will give $15,000 to the chamber and the chamber will act as the lead entity in city economic development activities, says DJ Gehrt, city administrator.

You may or may not recall several years ago the city had a similar deal with the chamber. The results were not ideal. In those days, the chamber was under different leadership with a personality-challenged executive director.

The Platte City Chamber of Commerce, since that time, has matured. It no longer acts as simply a promotional vehicle for the Platte County R-3 School District, as it did in those days. The personality of the chamber is now more open, more friendly and more focused on the good of the community, not exclusively on what is good for the school district. The organization now has a big picture mentality and an actual purpose to its existence. The high school type cliquishness that festered from the executive director in those days and resulted in some folks dropping out, or at least fading away, is thankfully gone.

So this time the partnership just might work.

“The chamber and its staff have the available skills, time and resources to act as the lead entity in city economic development activities,” Gehrt says. The proposed scope of work includes general marketing, business site visits, rental space marketing, coordinating and managing events and representing the city at county and regional economic development agencies and groups. Gehrt says the city is ready to do the deal because “the current level and need for economic development activity is beyond the capacity and availability of current city staff.”

It’s worth the $15,000 shot.

(More Between the Lines is worth a shot on Twitter @ivanfoley and befriending Foley on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email him at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 7/12/17

It’s one of those weeks where anything that could go wrong has gone wrong, at least when it comes to technological and mechanical matters. Between cell phone problems and vehicle repairs, this has been one of those weeks. And just now the touchpad on my laptop has gone haywire. It’s a week for First World problems, apparently.

I can’t lie, 25 years ago if all these things happened in such a short span I might be slamming a desk drawer or two in frustration. Nowadays my reaction is to take a deep breath and move on, vowing to deal with it all later, after deadline, one thing at a time. Or blame it on office manager Cindy, whichever comes first.

It’s funny how Father Time seems to mellow us a bit on the little things in life, am I right?


I’ll have a follow-up next week with more details--because at this point I’m not convinced even the board members understand exactly what action they took or didn’t take--but let me say the monthly Village of Ferrelview Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night was a total disaster and an embarrassment to everyone in the room and the entire community.

Repeated outbursts--including many laced with over-the-top vulgarity and profanity--occurred. Many outbursts came from two former elected officials and one unsuccessful recent candidate. At one point, two females challenged one another and headed to the door to “step outside,” like an old fashioned bar room brawl, only to see the police chief step in. Two people, including former board member Linda McCaslin, were escorted out of the meeting long after they should have been. (McCaslin was also one of the females who wanted to “step outside.” She had an active night). The inability of the board chair to keep control of the room was extremely disappointing. This comes after I had previously praised Theresa Wilson for her success in that regard at previous meetings. On Tuesday night she let comments from the audience get out of hand early, the crowd became emboldened and it turned into the Jerry Springer Show. On steroids.

Remember those rowdy meetings of the Central Platte Fire Board that I described for you years ago? Those were a Sunday School session compared to Ferrelview.
I would describe the meeting as a train wreck but that would be an insult to train wrecks. It was worse than the time a year ago when Clayton called for backup from the sheriff’s department and the meeting room was cleared by two deputies.

It was unreal. It was embarrassing. Have I mentioned it was embarrassing?

If Donald Trump were to tweet about it he would sum it up with his trademark: “Sad!”


Frankly, disincorporation of the village sounds like the best way out of their mess. But in the meantime, a couple of well-intended suggestions for Ferrelview leaders:

1. You need security at your meetings. And that doesn’t mean your police chief, Daniel Clayton. Clayton’s mere presence is a dividing factor in the community. Some support him, others don’t. This only adds to the tension in the room. I would suggest asking the sheriff’s department to send a deputy or two to sit in on the next meeting.

2. Theresa Wilson, board chair, needs to set and enforce the rules for public participation. Comments from the audience should only be allowed when it comes to the audience participation portion of the agenda. Set a time limit for each speaker. One speaker at a time. This is a meeting of an elected board, not the WWE. Anyone using over the top profanity or being disorderly needs to be asked to leave. Immediately. And if the offender refuses to leave the room after being asked by the board chair, the law enforcement presence in the room (again, this should be the sheriff’s department, not Clayton) needs to escort him/her to the door.

It doesn’t matter how loosely Ferrelview board meetings were run previously. What happened in the past doesn’t matter. Voters elected change. Wilson needs to make it clear there’s a newly-elected regime in place now with rules for decorum and civility that will be enforced. Period.

Establish the rules. Enforce those rules. It’s really not that difficult.


While doing some cleaning on that section of Platte City Post Office boxes from the late 1800s that we found in The Landmark basement (the building was initially a post office when it opened in 1869), we discovered something very interesting. On the back of some of the boxes are handwritten names that identified to whom the post office box was assigned. Among the names:

*Exchange Bank (the bank was located on the corner next to The Landmark. It’s known today as the Farley Law Office building). *G. Cockrill. Some historians tell us this is a name associated with the Exchange Bank. His post office box was located right next to the bank’s box, for what it’s worth. *S. Redman. *C.D. Hall. *Robert Wilson. *J.O. Johnson or J.C. Johnson or J.G. Johnson. *Colman. *William Forman. *Glen Hull or perhaps Len Hull.

If any of these names mean something to you, let us know. We’d love to hear your story.


From Great Moments in Sports History: Three years ago this week on July 11, 2014, a busy newspaper publisher named Ivan Foley, normally allergic to the sport of golf, grabbed what looked to him like a golf club and took to the course at Cool Crest in St. Joseph.

Screams of "It's in the hole" and "Oh, he got all of that one" could be heard from the crowd as Foley whipped that course like a stubborn mule. He posted a 9-under par score of 38. Cool Crest staff quickly grabbed Foley's scorecard, insisted that he sign and date it, and pinned it on their Wall of Fame. This historic occasion was witnessed by Kurt Foley, Linda Foley and Dorothy Donnelli of Platte City, a local insurance company rep who happened to be at Cool Crest that night.

"I don't know why people think golf is so hard. I was bored to tears out there. It was like soccer, only less exciting," Foley said in an interview at the 19th hole, where his trick shot in an attempt at winning a free game bounced out of the cup. He then vowed to post a picture of his scorecard being displayed on the Cool Crest Wall of Fame on Facebook.

Foley added that he plans to go out on top. “I’ll never play golf again--unless my grandkids ask me to.”

The end.

(Get more Between the Lines with Ivan Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley and on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 7/5/17

The slightly slower news pace on Independence Day seems like a good time to reflect a bit on some local history.

In this case, the history is found in that Aug. 28, 1903 issue of The Landmark we found in the basement/crawl space below your historic Landmark building in downtown Platte City last week.

What follows are some of the highlights we found in that 1903 copy of The Landmark. During my early perusal, nothing of monumentally historic impact was found in that issue. So we continue to speculate as to why so many copies of that one were found in the basement, while no other week’s issues were there. At least no others were found in our first excursion. A more thorough examination of the dirt floor of the basement will be done again soon.

And it’s interesting that so many folks have already expressed a desire in being allowed to tag along on our next trip down. Thanks for the interest. We’ll be taking a metal detector or two with us next time. And a couple of local historians will also be making the drop down into the basement, which as most of you now know is accessible only via an extension ladder through a less than 3 ft. x 4 ft. hidden door cut into the main floor.

Oh, and that mysterious red barrel covered in grime? After some early washing with a garden hose in back of the office, it will be getting a power washing about the same time most of you will be reading this. We’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, if you haven’t seen the above ground photos of some of the top “finds” that have already been posted on Facebook, you can view some of those photos on page A-8 of this issue.


From the Aug. 28, 1903 issue of The Landmark, in the upper right corner of the newspaper’s masthead are these interesting factoids about The Landmark itself:

•Issued every Friday.

•Terms--$1.50 per annum (year) or $1.00 if paid in advance.

•This paper is not a stockholder’s organ.

•It will be independent of clique or sect.

•It will support all measures which have in view the advancement of Platte county and the upbuilding of its towns and institutions.

•In politics this paper will be strictly Democratic.

Welp. So much for that last one.

Though in fairness, that Democratic outlook did last a long, long time, from 1865 until 1993 before this newspaper became a voice for fiscal conservatism in government.

Also in fairness, the eventual change in editorial viewpoint had as much to do with the Democratic party leaving The Landmark as it did The Landmark leaving the Democratic party.


So the subscription price of The Landmark in 1903 was $1. Using an online inflation calculator, we see that $1 in 1903 is equal to roughly $27.50 in today’s dollars.

Your annual subscription price in 2017 is $24 (before sales tax, which was not charged on subscription sales in 1903). So the current cost of your Landmark subscription is well below that inflation-adjusted rate. Just in case you were interested in knowing that. Because I was.


By the way, The Landmark hasn’t increased its subscription prices since 2007. Yes, that was 10 years ago. Feel free to make mention of that the next time anyone in government tries to tell you it is impossible to control costs and make the math work.


That 1903 issue notes that in 1870, a newspaper known as the Reveille had consolidated with The Landmark. And in 1880, a newspaper known as the Advocate had done the same.


In 1903 the editor/proprietor of The Landmark, W.T. Jenkins, spent a lot of time quoting news stories from other newspapers around the area and around the state as a way to keep local readers up to date with what was happening elsewhere. He spent a lot of time talking about an upcoming race for governor. You rarely see this type of “news coverage” these days in weeklies, obviously because today’s society has much more advanced lines of communication, including that thing known as the internet.


Interestingly, at various points in the 1903 issue are referenced some local court cases that were heard on Saturdays. Not sure when the courts stopped working on Saturdays but I can tell you in 1903 it was a very common thing.


One of the larger ads in that issue is for something known as the Gaylord Institute, which by all accounts was a ‘finishing school’ for girls. It was run by Mrs. T.W. Park in Platte City. Remember we mentioned last week T.W. Park served as editor of The Landmark for about 15 years before retiring in 1889. We found a printer’s drawer with his name written on it in The Landmark basement. His son was Guy B. Park, who went on to become governor of Missouri.

Anyway, Mrs. Park’s school for girls advertised this way: “A comfortable home; refined surroundings; thorough course of study; musical advantages unexcelled; a competent faculty. . . Place your daughter in an institution where she will receive every advantage that a first class thoroughly equipped school can afford. Next session begins September 8, 1903. For terms, apply to the president. Mrs. T.W. Park, Platte City, Mo.”

(Ivan Foley runs a Twitter school @ivanfoley and offers refined surroundings on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Next session is anytime you want to email him at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com. There is no charge.)


Written 6/28/17

Welcome back to another episode of Between the Lines. I’m actually dressed in shorts, a t-shirt and flip-flops while penning this one. Hope I don’t get reported to HR.


Change is in the air. In fact a couple of changes are in the air in local government operations, and both will be positive moves. You can read about both on our front page. Here are some thoughts:

Change order number one: The City of Platte City becomes the largest city in the county that has eliminated control of its municipal court, handing that function over to the Platte County Circuit Court Associate Division. Good move. Municipal courts are often silly kangaroo-type courts more interested in revenue generation than actually carrying out real justice. Platte City joins the tiny towns of Camden Point and Houston Lake as cities in the county who have handed off the municipal court function to the circuit court. Hopefully others will be following. I’m getting the vibe the attorneys who like to wheel and deal and scratch one another’s backs in these municipal courts are not fans of the change, which should solidify your belief that this is a good move.

Change order number two: Ferrelview officials have opened discussions with the Platte County Sheriff’s Department on the possibility of the sheriff’s office taking over law enforcement responsibility in the tiny village of about 400 residents, many of whom have allegations of overzealousness and attempted intimidation on the part of current police chief, Daniel Clayton. In addition to improving the RoboCop image Clayton has created for the village, a contract with the sheriff’s department would allow the financially strapped town to get rid of its police equipment, cars, personnel, and the added costs that go with it. Maybe the village can sell Clayton’s riot gear on Craig’s List.


The burning question about the upcoming state audit to be conducted on the Village of Ferrelview is not whether the auditors will uncover problems and mistakes in money handling, money management, proper procedures, etc. I think that rap sheet will be as long as my leg. The real question is whether there has been anything that crossed the line into criminality.


If you’re wondering whether the Platte City Parks and Rec Department is hosting its annual fireworks show on July 4, the answer is yes. Dannie Stamper, parks and rec director for the city, tells me the department has purchased $10,000 worth of explosives that will go skyward beginning at about 9:50 p.m. on Tuesday, July 4 at Platte Ridge Park. Get there early. Bring your lawn chairs. Coolers are welcome.

If you need a ride, a shuttle bus will be running from the Harrel Ferrel ball fields near Fourth and Hwy. 92.


Congrats and thank you to Tom Hutsler and other leaders at the Parkville Old Towne Community Market District Community Improvement District for contributing $10,000 from the downtown taxing district to the successful effort to get the statue of Bill Grigsby placed permanently in the Pocket Park in downtown Parkville. Nice use of the funds and a nice addition to downtown. Parkville had no bigger cheerleader than the longtime Chiefs radio announcer.


Our first-ever exploration of the basement crawl space below The Landmark building turned out to be an interesting adventure with several unique “finds,” as the treasure hunters call them. We hope you were able to join us for the live broadcast on Facebook. If not, the video--which as of Wednesday morning has more than 2,150 views--remains on my Facebook page and also on the newspaper’s Facebook page at The Platte County Landmark.

If you don’t have Facebook, you can now find the video on YouTube by entering a search of the words “The Landmark Newspaper.”


What was your favorite “find” from the basement? The old section of 48 post office boxes, which would have to be from the building’s days as a post office that began in 1869, is intriguing. Also the large door with the words “Positively Private” is interesting. After we brought it up into the light we could see the original wording on that window had said “Postmaster,” an indication the door was here when The Landmark building opened in 1869 as a post office and drug store. The empty wooden barrels are also cool, and research is ongoing as to what may have been inside of them. The first barrel--a red one that was visible from the trap door--is getting a variety of opinions. Some think it may have contained fuel for a heating stove back in the day. Others think it was a whiskey barrel. The second barrel is more traditional in nature and almost certainly at one time contained a refreshing adult beverage.

The copies of the Aug. 28, 1903 Landmark were an exciting find for me because I enjoy old newspapers. I’ll be spending time perusing that issue, wondering why so many copies of that particular date were saved. I’ll feature some highlights from that 1903 paper in a future Between the Lines. Also the printer’s drawer, which was used to hold handset type, inscribed with the name of The Landmark editor from 1871--T.W. Park--is fascinating. T.W. Park served as editor until 1889. His printer’s box obviously stayed in possession of the newspaper and came along for the ride when the newspaper moved into this building in 1899. T.W. Park’s son, Guy B. Park, eventually became governor of Missouri, by the way.

We’ll be going back down into the basement sometime in the coming weeks, taking a couple of local historians and Matthew Silber’s metal detector with us.

Updates coming as we know more.

(Follow Foley and his shorts and flip-flops on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 6/21/17

Not sure how others in the office feel about it but in my opinion I’m in fine voice this morning as I’ve been singing along with a couple Lionel Richie tunes coming from the office music box. Feels like I’m really nailing the low notes. It’s all about that bass, no treble.


My granddaughter, set to turn age four next week, has asked for a unicorn for her birthday. So I’m trying to get her a job with the Platte County Parks Department.


Forwarded to my inbox this week was a lengthy, rambling group email addressed to “Dear Northland Community Leaders” from Allen Dillingham, the apparent publisher of something apparently called NORTH magazine. Buried deep within his scattered thoughts and fluffy words it is mentioned something called NORTH magazine is “pausing” print publication.

Good thing he told us. Most of us had no idea it ever started.


Dillingham’s email included veiled shots at every Northland publication and media outlet except his own, which made me smile with satisfaction. Add him to the stack of defeated media types who have taken misguided shots at competitors on their way out the door as they’ve been forced out of the biz or “paused” publication.

Meanwhile, the winners will be around to write history.


As you’ll see on our front page, The Big Reveal of The Landmark basement/crawl space will happen on Sunday. We’ll broadcast it live on Facebook starting at 3 p.m. Go to Ivan Foley’s Facebook page to find the broadcast. And yes, I just referred to myself in the third person.

Remember, the focus isn’t simply on the barrel we can see from above. The barrel is just the only thing we know for certain is down there. In addition to learning more about the mysterious barrel, the other intrigue will be finding any other historical treasures below The Landmark building constructed in 1869.


My Facebook privacy settings will be on “public” so even if you’re not officially one of my Facebook friends you’ll still be able to watch. If not, blame office manager Cindy Rinehart. No particular reason, I just like to blame Cindy for stuff that goes wrong. She loves that.

Should be a fun show, you guys. Maybe we’ll get a Yuuge! online audience. I hope the boys and girls at CenturyLink, Google Fiber, AT&T and Time Warner are prepped. I fear we could brown out the internet with this thing.

I better check with Landmark legal counsel to make sure we can’t be held responsible for overloads knocking customers out of service throughout the Midwest.


Excuse me for a second while I pause publication.


Okay, I’m back.


Here is the crew we’ve assembled so far for the adventure. I’ll be heading into the basement/crawl space first, just because. It’s kind of like the captain going down with the ship, only different. I’ve never asked an employee to do anything I wouldn’t do myself, so no need to start now. Todd Shifflett, son-in-law, woodworking extraordinaire and always a man with a plan, is in charge of developing the strategy for getting that barrel out of the basement after we know exactly what kind of challenges we’re dealing with. Matthew Silber, Landmark cartoonist, will be along for muscle, height (he now stands 6’15”) and the metal detector he’s bringing to the party. Aric Jennings of Platte City, a friend/auctioneer/realtor/small town boy with a creative brain, gets an invite as a random guy we decided to have come along for the ride. Kurt Foley, the Between the Lines son who ably served as Landmark facilities manager in his high school and early college days yet never expressed interest in diving into the crawl space, will be running the video camera.

This will change by go-time, but Kurt can be kind of a wiseacre and I’m not sure he is yet taking this video assignment seriously. For instance in a text exchange with Todd and I the other day as we planned the production, Kurt’s comments were things like: “Are we all wearing matching outfits?” After Todd quickly answered: “Negative, Ghost Rider,” Kurt came back with: “I’d really prefer to coordinate attire on this. We don’t want to look like fools out there.” He also at one time suggested a plot line better suited for one of those late night shows on Cinemax.


Speaking of ghosts, a Facebook friend wanted to know if we’ll be taking a paranormal investigator along for our dungeon dive. Not a bad thought but I don’t want to mix that into the mojo we already have going with the historical fact finding aspect. Maybe we can take a ghost hunter down with us on a later trip, providing we don’t scare them away. Since we’re taking what could be their whiskey barrel, the ghosts may just pack up and leave.


Because we’re doing this on a Sunday, I thought it might be nice if unofficial Between the Lines spiritual leader Pastor Brady Testorff would drop by to bless the event, the building, the basement, me, you, the memory of NORTH magazine and whatnot. But alas, Pastor Brady will be in Roswell, New Mexico on Sunday. Yes, Roswell, New Mexico. Is it coincidence that Brady is in a place known for weird happenings while we’re doing this weird excursion into a 148-year-old crawl space? Spooky.

(He’ll see you live on the internet at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Until then, follow Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley and on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email him at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 6/14/17

Happy Father’s Day. Who’s your daddy?


Kudos to the office of Nancy Armstrong, county clerk, for continuing to work to help advance transparency when it comes to county records. After working with the county commission to get links to background documents pertaining to each meeting agenda item, the latest advancement by the county clerk is to place audio recordings of the county commission meetings on the website.

The clerk has even distributed handouts promoting the fact that commission session audio is now available for your easy listening pleasure.

“What’s the difference between reading the minutes and hearing the session? Experience it for yourself! It’s just a few clicks away,” the handout reads.
Go to co.platte.mo.us then click commission calendar session items, prior sessions, then click county clerk minutes 2017 to find the audio links.


With new county leadership that has a more sensible outlook when it comes to money and government spending, it’s not quite as much fun for me to mention the monthly sales tax revenue reports for Platte County. You may recall under previous administrations, county leaders would start licking their chops if they saw preliminary sales tax income year-to-date numbers start to come in higher than the previous year. Then the next month when the year-to-date revenue would take a huge drop and even itself out, the dreamers were often brought back to reality. The reactions became a fun game for me to watch, I must admit.

I don’t pick up that vibe these days. With a smarter, more conservative, long term vision approach to governing being used by commissioners Ron Schieber, John Elliott and Dagmar Wood, the revenue numbers aren’t going to have a profound effect on their immediate state of mind. Their outlook is always long term, and that’s a good thing for Platte County taxpayers.

Having said all that, sales tax revenue for the county with half the year now gone has increased by only one percent compared to last year. So basically flat. Conservative budgeting/spending will continue to be key. No salivating dreams allowed.


Is the fact we haven’t seen any park enthusiasts recently beg the county commission to continue on a relentless build-and-spend approach a sign that even the most ardent park boosters have realized the county needs to stop building new things and concentrate on maintenance costs for the massive park system it already has constructed? Or are the enthusiasts just pausing to catch their breath?


If you’re into live music--and go ahead and count me guilty--you know summer is a great time for that. The outdoor music venue at Zona Rosa is about to kick into high gear. The Landmark recently printed the Zona Rosa schedule but if you missed it (the story written by Valerie Verkamp is laminated and taped inside the door of one of my kitchen cabinets at home, just in case you’re wondering) go to Zona’s website to check out their summer slate of musical acts. Other good sources for local live music are many of the area wineries on weekend evenings. The monthly Summer Concert Series on the lawn of the Platte County Courthouse is another option--the July 8 concert will feature 80’s style rockers Mojo Saint (I’ve seen them, good stuff). Tanner’s in Platte City, one of your newest Landmark advertisers, also has live music nights on their schedule this summer. Ameristar Casino, a longtime loyal Landmark advertiser, has a solid slate of musical acts coming up as you’ll see in their ad in this issue, including the second appearance this year for those entertaining old timers from Air Supply.

If live music is your jam, get out and enjoy it this summer.


Speaking of live music, if you’re interested in some free tickets to see The Righteous Brothers Friday night at Ameristar, hit me up. First come, first served.


Here’s a quick update on the upcoming adventure of our maiden voyage into the hidden crawl space below your 1869 Landmark office building in downtown Platte City. As mentioned last week, we can see what looks like an old whiskey barrel or wine barrel, and I’m speculating we’ve uncovered some kind of Prohibition Era man cave.

Still finalizing schedules with my co-adventurers, which will include son-in-law/King City teacher-coach Todd and son/former Landmark facilities manager now Topeka banker Kurt. At this point it looks like our adventure into the dungeon, which we plan to broadcast live on my Facebook page, is tentatively set for next weekend. Look for the announcement of a definite time in next week’s Landmark.

In a new development, Matthew Silber, Landmark cartoonist, has a metal detector that he has offered as a tool to be used in our exploration. I’ve also offered Matthew the chance to drop into the cave with us. If you’ve never met Matthew, let me tell you he is a tall lad, standing about 6’13”. Matthew may not need a ladder for entry.

Local historian/fellow downtown building owner Olin Miller came over this week to offer some advice and enthusiasm for this escapade. Olin says be sure to take a broom or mop down with us to knock the cobwebs out of our path. He also says to be on the lookout for a potential open cistern, one of which he says was found underneath his building.

As for the barrel--and by the way, spotting the barrel from above was the initial impetus for this trip but now I’m equally excited for what else we may find--if it’s in solid shape the plan is to make it into a bar-top table. The barrel will serve as the base with either a glass or wooden top. Todd has been known to do magical things with wood so he’ll be in charge of that project. I can also do magical things with wood but not like that, if you know what I’m saying.

Watch next week’s Landmark and our social media outlets for scheduling updates. It’ll be mysterious fun.

(For crawl space explorations and other media adventures, follow Foley on Facebook and Twitter @ivanfoley and search for him on Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 6/7/17

Welcome back to Between the Lines. It’s true, this week marks my 35th anniversary at The Landmark. But no time to party. It’s time to get started on the first issue of the next 35 years.


We’ll do a little bit of looking back, but rather than spend an entire column looking back at my first 35 years at The Landmark let’s look ahead. After all, occasionally in the normal course of writing a column every week we sprinkle in some highlights of past times at The Landmark anyway.

And of course the really good stuff from my first 35 years is getting saved for that book about my experiences at The Landmark that will be coming out. Someday. Maybe.


We’ve got something a little fun and adventurous coming up in the old Landmark office soon. I’ll try to give you the back story, a term you sometimes hear in the news biz.

In the floor of your historic Landmark building is a hidden door. It measures about 3 ft. x 4 ft. When opened, there is about a 10 ft. drop down to a crawl space area that runs under a portion of the office.

The Landmark building at 252 Main Street in downtown Platte City is 148 years old. Constructed in 1869, it initially housed a drug store and a post office, then a grocery store and a hardware store before The Landmark moved in here in 1899. That’s 118 years ago. If these walls could talk it would be a fascinating conversation.

Anyway, back to the crawl space. I’ve pulled the cover back on a few occasions in my time here, the first time in the ‘90s when the boys from Sprint (now CenturyLink) made The Landmark their first downtown Platte City internet customer. They wanted access under the floor to install internet connection hardware in a conveniently centered spot in the office. They asked if the building had a basement. “Here ya go, boys,” I remember saying, using a long screw driver to pry up the hidden wooden floor covering opening. They looked less than thrilled about entering. We grabbed a ladder and one of the guys lowered himself into the crawl space that has a dirt floor. As I held the flashlight from floor level above him, I noticed what appears to be a wine barrel or whiskey barrel in the darkness. I filed the sighting away in the back of my mind.

Several years later, around 2004, I hired local construction guy Steve Evanoff to repair a step that had broken near the bottom of the staircase close to the exterior door that leads to The Landmark’s second story. He needed access under the floor. He asked if the building has a basement. “Here ya go, Steve,” I remember saying, using a long screw driver to pry up the hidden wooden opening in the floor. He looked less than thrilled, but down he went. Looking back, I should have spent more time interviewing him after his experience when he re-emerged.

While the immediate area below the opening in the floor looks to be about 10 feet deep, I recall Steve saying as you work your way to the front of the office the space gets really tight and narrow. This could be confirmed by the fact his clothing was covered with dirt when he came back up. Once again on that day with the crawl space door open, that alleged wine barrel or whiskey barrel caught my attention. In a less intriguing development, I also could see what appears to be an old screen door--or at least a portion of an old screen door--on the dirt floor of the crawl space visible from above.


Anyway, occasionally through the years in conversations with friends and family I have mentioned the mysterious barrel in this open space below The Landmark floor.

What’s the story behind this? Do you think this wine barrel was placed down there during Prohibition? Have I uncovered a Prohibition Era man cave used by the boys at The Landmark around 100 years ago? Did the pressures of weekly deadlines inspire the news boys to go down under for some occasional hooch?


One of our daughters, Alyssa, and her husband Todd, are fans of vintage home decor. So the potential historical/vintage aspect of this really intrigued them. A few years ago Todd and I decided that one day the two of us will descend into this crawl space to attempt to bring up the mysterious barrel and any other hidden treasures we might find. A couple weeks ago at a winery we noticed a bar top table constructed with a wine barrel serving as the base. Inspired by this as a potential use for our barrel, it was on that night--with a glass or two of wine in our systems--Todd and I decided this is the summer we’re dropping ourselves into The Landmark dungeon in our fearless quest.

On Tuesday of this week I opened the crawl space and with my cell phone snapped a ‘view from above’ photo of the barrel. You’ll be able to see the picture by going to my Facebook page and my other social media outlets.

Follow along in the column and on Facebook to learn more details about when we’ll be going into the crawl space for this barrel of fun adventure and a search for any other hidden treasures. The tentative plan is to do it later this month. We’ll have the building open for a live walk-in audience that day, though obviously for safety purposes we’ll be keeping you back a distance from the opening.

Is the barrel full? Is the barrel empty? Is it still in solid shape or will it crumble when we try to move it?

The best part is with today’s technology we can go Facebook Live with this adventure, meaning you’ll be able to watch from the comfort of your home or mobile device. It’ll be like Geraldo going into Al Capone’s vault, only more exciting.

Stay tuned.

(Because the print version is never enough, follow Foley on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Email him at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 5/31/17

A new state appropriations bill will shift state money formerly used to help fund local DWI checkpoints to a different law enforcement tool.

In other words, you may still see some DWI checkpoints put on by the Platte County Sheriff’s Department, but if so the local sheriff’s department will have to fund those checkpoint operations on its own. The state money can no longer be used.

“We see this as a negative. DWI checkpoints are a good enforcement tool and also a good deterrent to drunk driving,” Major Erik Holland responded when I recently asked him about the state’s new funding stance.

Instead of using state money for checkpoints, local departments can use the state money for officer saturations, a designated time when more officers are put on the road, “saturating” the roadways at certain times and locations. This method is also seen as a deterrent by some, but Holland’s remarks indicate the local sheriff’s department does not believe the officer patrol saturations are as effective as the checkpoints.

“Sometimes you get better results with a saturation, sometimes it’s not as effective. It depends on how many officers are out there,” Holland said.

Checkpoints have their proponents and their detractors. Proponents say the same things Holland says above. Detractors argue that all drivers should not be inconvenienced for no obvious reason. Detractors also point out the mandatory stoppages result in drivers being pulled over without probable cause for doing so.

How will this funding change affect the sheriff’s department and its tools against intoxicated driving?

“We will still enforce DWIs as vigorously as we have in the past,” Holland says.
Notice he says they’ll enforce DWIs, he doesn’t indicate whether they’ll still perform the DWI checkpoints after the state funding change takes effect. Time will tell.


She came for a visit. She stayed for seven years. Sounds like a testimonial for the county’s convention and visitors bureau.

Goodbye, Dana Tutor. We hardly knew ya. You never seemed to get out and about much. We do hope you enjoyed your stay in Platte County.

Tutor, the longest-staying inmate in the Platte County Jail, has been incarcerated here since June of 2010. I’m not a math major, but by my calculations that’s seven years.

As you’ll see in our front page story, Tutor and her boyfriend were Bonnie and Clyde wannabes who participated in the killing of a truck driver at the northbound Interstate 29 rest stop not far from Camden Point.

It’s not often you’ll see an inmate take up residency in a county jail for seven years. That’s impressive staying power. Of course, some folks who have experience on the streets will tell you as county jails go, Platte County’s is more comfortable than most. Through the years, Tutor’s court case, usually at her side’s request, kept getting delayed and then delayed and then delayed again. Maybe she liked the food here.

I can tell you in recent years The Landmark put in a request to conduct a jailhouse interview with Tutor. This would have been fun for me and interesting for our readers. We had some great questions lined up for her. Unfortunately she said no to The Landmark’s request for a powwow. Maybe she’s shy. More likely her legal counsel said no for her.

Tutor will get sentenced for her crime on July 27. After that, you can expect her to be moved to a state correctional facility.


Kudos to the VFW Post 4055 and the City of Platte City for the Memorial Day service in Platte City. The weather was pleasant and the ceremony was long enough to leave an impression yet short enough to keep the crowd’s attention. A couple young people, including at least one of the Boy Scouts, apparently get lightheaded and needed some brief medical attention, which was a bit unexpected because the conditions were pleasant and comfortable. The oldsters seemed to weather the ceremony without incident.

“It is my belief that this is either the 70th or 71st service held in consecutive years by the VFW Post 4055 in Platte City,” Olin Miller, local historian and cemetery sexton, told me this week. “We honor soldiers from the Revolutionary War, Mexican War, Spanish American War, Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War. To date, we have no soldiers buried here from later conflicts.”
This year, eight names of deceased soldiers who served the country were added to the list of persons buried in the Platte City Cemetery. Flags were placed on a total of 451 graves of military veterans, Miller said.


Featured speaker DJ Gehrt, a Marine veteran and city administrator for Platte City, went into Monday’s Memorial Day ceremony with the intention of keeping his remarks short. In my book, this makes him a real American hero.

Gehrt chopped his remarks even shorter than planned after a second brief medical situation took place in the crowd.

“I think this is a sign the ceremony has gone on a bit too long. At the Gettysburg Address, President Lincoln spoke for three minutes and 23 seconds and I’m certainly not Abraham Lincoln,” Gehrt said.


A little cemetery history for you. Miller says when Platte County was first established 179 years ago and there were no incorporated cities, all burials were done in family burial grounds. After Platte City was founded in 1840, the land west of Fourth Street and east of Third Street was used as a city burial ground. The land west of Third Street was opened a short time later. On the east side of Fourth Street was the Green family cemetery, which was later marked off as the Marshall Cemetery. In the early 1900s, as the older parts of the cemetery began to lack space, the area designated as the Hillcrest section was opened. In the mid-1950s the city acquired the land known today as the Platte Memorial section of the Platte City Cemetery.

“Overall the cemetery covers 15 acres. In the 1940s, the City of Platte City took over management of the cemetery, which it still operates today,” Miller said.

(You can go over, under, around or through Between the Lines each week on this page and 24/7 on Twitter @ivanfoley and Facebook. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 5/24/17

Memorial Day weekend will soon be upon us. Memorial Day is not just about a sale at Mattress Firm or a paint sale at Sherwin Williams. Not that there’s anything wrong with those things, mind you.

Memorial Day honors the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it began in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.

On Monday, try to take a moment or two to reflect before starting your day of early summer fun.


Memorial Day weekend is also the one-year anniversary of Landmark office manager Cindy Rinehart suffering a compound fracture of her ankle and going on the “disabled/unable to help Ivan in the office/you’re screwed, Foley” list for two and a half months.

I still have the scars.

Hoping for a non-repeat of that event, I’m requesting Cindy cover herself in bubble wrap for the weekend. Doesn’t feel like too much to ask.


Municipal courts. If you’re a longtime Between the Lines reader, you’ve heard my thoughts on them. Many of them are back door dealing/it’s who you know type arrangements that are often more a money grab for municipalities than an actual legitimate court of law.

In many municipal courts, some cases strangely disappear. Other times a very minor violation might be ridiculously prosecuted to the fullest. Other cases are “plea bargained” down based on how much a defendant is willing to pay to make the original charge disappear. A defense attorney in one city’s municipal court may be the judge in another city’s municipal court the next night, and a judge in that attorney’s case one night may be the practicing attorney the next night when the other attorney is then serving as the judge.

That’s not incest. But it can make for some awfully cozy relationships.

The whole municipal court setup is not conducive to real justice for either side. A circuit court it ain’t, shall we say.

With the state tightening the rules on some municipal courts, some of the smaller cities may do away with their courts and transfer their municipal court authority to their district’s circuit courts.

Platte City--and by the way, as municipal courts go, it’s my opinion Platte City’s has been pretty legitimate and non-abusive--will soon be considering making changes to the operations of its municipal court.

The recent death of Greg Dorsey, the city’s municipal court judge, has prompted Platte City to pause and start a discussion on the future of its municipal court. In the meantime, the city’s court is operating as it has in the past, with Mark Ferguson serving as interim judge.

Three options will be considered by city officials in the near future. Those options are:

Option 1: Consider board of aldermen action to declare a special election to be held in November to complete the vacant unexpired term of the municipal court judge, with that term expiring in April of 2018.

Option 2: Consider board action to amend city code to eliminate the elected position of municipal court judge and authorize the board of aldermen to appoint the municipal court judge.

Option 3 (and this is where the dramatic change would take place): Consider board action to transfer municipal court authority and proceedings to the Platte County Circuit Court.

Option 3, in essence, would discontinue Platte City’s municipal court. No more court nights at the ol’ Platte City Civic Center. No more paying for a judge, paying for other court personnel or other related costs. Municipal court matters would be heard by the circuit court judges inside the Platte County Courthouse during daytime hours. The city would still receive money generated by the fines assessed. The circuit court would keep the “court costs” portion of the fines.

It will be interesting to see which direction the city chooses to go on this, and whether anyone in the public has strong feelings on whether the city keeps or disbands its present municipal court setup.

If you’re interested in chiming in, the city will hold a public hearing on this topic on Monday, June 5 at 5:30 at City Hall in front of its public safety subcommittee. If you’d rather provide written comments, send them to the city clerk by 5 p.m. on June 2. You can email your thoughts to cityclerk@plattecity.org.


She keeps on keeping on.

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway appears to be taking no prisoners. Her office is keeping things rolling.

Galloway will be in Platte County tonight (Wednesday) for a Northland Progress meeting at the KC Improv in Zona Rosa. That’s after she has been in Harrisonville this afternoon to discuss the results of an audit of the City of Harrisonville, which is located about 35 miles south of Kansas City in Cass County.

Now comes word her office has started an audit of the Smithville Area Fire Protection District, which serves portions of both Clay and Platte counties. The audit was requested by citizens through the petition process, which allows the public to request a local government audit by collecting and submitting a number of signatures based on the number of voters in that area.

"Citizens have asked for and we will provide a thorough and impartial review of operations of their local fire protection district," Galloway said. "Government works best when citizens are engaged, and I encourage residents to contact our office if they have input or information."

The Smithville Area Fire Protection District petition audit required 759 signatures from registered voters within the district. Individuals who would like to provide information for consideration during the audit may contact the State Auditor's Whistleblower Hotline at 800-347-8597 or moaudit@auditor.mo.gov.

And don’t forget Galloway’s office will be starting an audit of the Village of Ferrelview later this year.

(Between the Lines occasionally takes no prisoners on Twitter @ivanfoley and on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 5/17/17

Welcome back to Between the Lines. There’s a whole lot of interesting news packed tightly into this week’s issue, but you’re used to that.


To clear up some confusion caused by television news reports, the boat ramp where a car apparently went for a swim in the Missouri River at Parkville early Wednesday morning is not the same boat ramp where Toni Anderson’s car and body were found earlier this year.

Wednesday’s incident occurred at an older boat ramp in English Landing Park, not at the new Homeland Security boat ramp inside the nearby Platte Landing Park.

Kevin Chrisman, police chief at Parkville, tells me the English Landing ramp is “sparingly used. This one is kind of steep.”


What are your thoughts on the new single terminal proposal at KCI? Get details in Valerie Verkamp’s front page story.

The private/public partnership passes my early approval, providing all goes down the way we’re being told it will. And by that I mean no tax dollars and no public debt will go toward the construction. The new KCI will be paid for by user fees in higher airline ticket prices and things like parking and concession fees at the airport.

As I said in this space months ago, I’m a seldom flyer--maybe twice a year–so the fees really won’t cramp my lifestyle. The bonus we get is the guarantee that KCI will continue to be an economic driver for Platte County. Providing the picture we’re being painted by city officials is accurate, I say bring it on.


John Elliott, second district county commissioner in Platte County, also is a fan of the fact the financial risk in constructing the new airport will be on the private side. He is trying to emphasize to folks that in the proposal, there is no tax increase.
“Regarding Kansas City (allegedly) still raising taxes to pay for a new terminal, the airlines will slightly raise ticket prices and the airport will possibly increase concessions and parking. Private financing will not allow increased taxes. All will be paid by users--not taxpayers. This is the conservative way of financing and paying for a project. Maybe all future stadiums, arenas, and golf courses will be done this way,” Elliott said on his Facebook page.


Yael Abouhalkah, the recently removed editorial writer for the Kansas City Star now apparently blogging from his basement in his jammies, opined this week that the new KCI plan is “dead on arrival.”

This tells me the plan has a great chance to succeed.


Here’s your local economic activity update.

Through five months of collections, county sales tax revenue is up by 2.8% compared to the first five months of 2016.

The combined sales tax revenue and use tax revenue is up by 3.2% compared to this time last year.

Those numbers are according to Rob Willard, treasurer of Platte County. Not huge growth, but headed the right direction.


Congrats to DJ Gehrt, city administrator for Platte City, for winning the Jay T. Bell Professional Management Award by the Missouri City/County Management Association.

Gehrt has been a steady, productive, solid administrator for Platte City since coming to town in 2011. His low key, personable, open door, down-to-earth, common sense approach to governing has been a positive for the city.


If you’ve been waiting for Costco to open in the Northland--and let’s be honest, a lot of you shopaholics, including Landmark office manager Cindy Rinehart, are acting like kids at Christmas over it--your wait is done. Costco opens Thursday morning at 8 a.m.

The 156,000 square ft. warehouse is located off of Hwy. 152 at 1600 NW 888th St., near the Clay-Platte county line. Unfortunately as far as sales tax revenue is concerned, the store sits just into Clay County, so Clay will get the benefit of the sales tax income.


A consent agenda gives, a consent agenda can taketh away, apparently.
What happens if a city and its residents are being governed by some ordinances that may not have been properly approved?

Check out an interesting read in this issue with Alan McArthur’s coverage of the potential “oops” at Parkville.


Remember the recent “Death of a Lawman” feature on our front page about the killing of a Platte County Sheriff’s Department deputy in a saloon shootout in 1917?

Local historian Shirley Kimsey found some references to the shootout in a 1917 newspaper known as the Topeka State Journal. The article in part describes the wildness of the town known as Drydale at the time, referencing the saloons there as a place for drunken locals and drunken soldiers from Leavenworth. Authorities, specifically the U.S. Attorney Francis M. Wilson, were asking the president to put Drydale in an official “Army camp zone.” This action would mean “Drydale would be closed immediately after orders are received from the war department to the effect that a restricted zone has been established around Fort Leavenworth,” the U.S. Attorney stated.

Considering that Drydale dried up shortly after the shootout in which the lawman was killed, at this point it seems safe to assume the president approved the request.

(Get the wet and the dry from Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley and find him on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 5/10/17

I hate to brag but I covered a Village of Ferrelview board meeting last night.
Leading the glamorous life. Don’t hate me cuz you ain’t me.


More on the Ferrelview meeting in a story on our front page--including the fact the city hasn’t been using a budget since 2013--but let me say the new board chairperson, Theresa Wilson, is doing a nice job at running the meetings. She is staying calm during the attempted storm that past and present political opponents try to create during the sessions. Her husband, Russell Wilson, is also a newly-elected member of the board and has exhibited common sense and desire to improve things such as transparency. So far, I’m impressed with the newcomers.
And Mickey Vulgamott, the new city treasurer, has her hands full with an inherited mess on the city books but is making progress, by all indications.

With a state audit looming, the past train wreck may already be beyond repair but at least things are headed in a better direction.


The resignation of Linda McCaslin, described to me by one townsperson as a “school yard bully,” may help the meetings run a little more smoothly. From my observations, McCaslin was not exactly a team player and clearly used an approach that tried to intimidate others.

If I were making the decisions at Ferrelview--and, really, nobody wants that job, do they?--I would let that seat sit unfilled for a bit. Let the post election waters smooth a little more. Stay calm and swag on.


One of the unintentionally funny moments of the evening was when the city’s public works guy--with innocent intentions on his part, I’m sure-- was talking about fixing some drainage issues and mentioned “we can talk about that in closed session.”

Scott Campbell, back in the saddle as city attorney at Ferrelview, quickly pointed out that drainage issues are not an allowable exception to the state’s open meetings law. So no, there will be no discussion in closed session about cleaning ditches.

Not a big deal on the surface but the way the public works guy assumed this was an allowable closed session topic tells you that under the previous city regime there were some things getting discussed in closed session that had no business being in closed session.


At least one property owner in Weston thinks the county assessor’s office is hating on Weston. Word is some comments by a property owner made at the Weston Board of Aldermen meeting earlier this week seemed to insinuate the Platte County assessor is “targeting” Weston by hitting many property owners there with assessed valuation increases, which of course will mean a higher tax bill for those property owners who see an increase.

The assessor’s answer to the insinuation? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
“In no way, shape or form would we ever target any area. We look at sales,” David Cox, assessor, told me this week. “There were sales and we put values on properties and some of them did increase. It had just been a while since values in Weston had been touched. I’m not blaming any previous assessors, that’s just a fact. So we went in and reassessed the whole area.”

Cox said his office didn’t have time to do a full evaluation of Weston values in 2015 “but we knew we needed to. By law we are supposed to reassess every two years.” Cox said as his office looked at notes in the county assessor’s system there were many situations where no notes of reassessed values on properties had been made all the way back to 2000. In short, virtually every property in Weston had not been reassessed since at least 2007, Cox says.

“We feel we have a good value on Weston now. I have absolutely no desire to overvalue or undervalue any property in Platte County,” Cox added. He emphasized he has no desire--nor would his office even have the time--to specifically target any particular properties or geographic area for tax value increases.

There is some local folk lore--some of it I feel fairly certain is legit--that some assessors back in the day would go in with personal agendas in looking at certain properties. Cox isn’t about that life. I’ve always found Cox--first elected to his position in 2012--to be a straight shooter. He doesn’t strike me as somebody who would get into personal games or vindictiveness.

“I have no desire for that, I have no time for that. I just want a fair value on every property in the county,” he says.

It’s important to note if you don’t agree with the assessed value that has been placed on your property, there is an appeals process. Call the assessor’s office at 816-858-3310 for more info on that. “We have a professional staff that will answer any question that you have,” Cox says.


One of the oldest in the state.

Don’t look now but this issue marks the start of The Landmark’s 153rd year of continuous publication. And we’re not even tired.

This is also a year for some notable Landmark-related work anniversaries. More on this in a future issue.


If you have an unconfirmed mountain lion sighting in Platte County we’d like to hear your story. Email me right meow.

(Get your Between the Lines fix between printed issues by heading to Twitter@ivanfoley or find Foley on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 5/2/17

Welcome back to Between the Lines, where I give thanks every day that I did not pull the trigger on buying a 20-game Royals ticket package a few hours before Opening Day. Because I was this close to doing so.

Gonna be a lot of empty seats at The K this summer, my friends. Might be a good place to hang out if you’re claustrophobic.


Not to go full nerd on you, but I’m already getting excited about the total solar eclipse happening on Aug. 21.

Don’t try to reach us at The Landmark office that day because we’ll be out experiencing something that only happens here like once every 189 years or something. I’m officially declaring this a staff field trip day.

You can read many of the gory details of the upcoming Aug. 21 total eclipse in our front page story. One site has already been determined for a public experience of the eclipse--Platte Ridge Park north of Platte City.


The local hotels will be loving this total eclipse thingamajig. Jennifer Goering of the Platte County Convention and Visitors Bureau tells me Platte County hotels are already starting to see some group reservations specific to the total eclipse. And hotels in St. Joseph, where the darkness of the eclipse will last the longest, are already seeing quite a boost in business for that weekend.

“St. Joseph hotels are not quite sold out yet but are also requiring a two night minimum stay. Hotel rates in St. Joe for that time are now $300-$500,” Goering said.

The depressing part about that would be after paying $300 to $500 you’re still in St. Joe.


Remember when the event is over to put those special Eclipse Shades in your underwear drawer and pull them out again in 189 years.


The solar eclipse experts say during totality, the moon completely covers the disc of the sun. They say you can literally feel the ominous shadow before it arrives. They say the temperature drops. The wind picks up speed. They say the sunlight slowly dims, bathing the surroundings in an eerie twilight that produces colors with shades rarely seen in the natural world.

In other words, it’ll feel like that night your freshman year in college when you accidentally ate one of those funky brownies your roommate left on the counter.


Here’s another benefit of the total eclipse. It makes me think of this: https://youtu.be/cIRiZsDObrU


We’re being told the local economy is sluggish, with just a tiny bit of growth in county sales tax revenue year-to-date. You’d never know it by my trip to three different home improvement stores and Aldi at Tiffany Springs over the weekend. Lots of hustle and bustle, a little pushing and shoving. Hope I didn’t hurt anybody.


Shopping for the right light bulbs isn’t the easy task it used to be. Hell’s bells. I should’ve been wearing a pocket protector and odd fitting glasses.

With terms like lumens, tungsten halogen, LED, incandescent, dichroic, filament, candela, metal halide lamps, etc., I was starting to feel like I needed a very specific college degree just to pick out the right bulbs.

Tip of the cap to the science nerds of my youth. You know who you are, don’t make me name names. You’ve helped master the art of making a simple task difficult as hell. Thanks for nothing.


U.S. News & World Report has released its rankings of high schools based on academic performance. To summarize the local news inside the rankings, the results are excellent for Park Hill, Park Hill South and West Platte, good for North Platte, and not good for Platte County High School.

Kudos to the top scoring schools and their district leadership.

Go to this site to learn more: https://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/missouri/rankings.


Noticing the disappointing performance of Platte County High School in the rankings, I reached out to newly-elected Buffy Smith of the R-3 school board for a quick reaction.

“This is one of the reasons that I ran--to help our students and staff be competitive in school and later in life,” she said.


The always lively Platte County R-3 Facts.com Facebook page operated by watchdog Kirby Holden has more details on the rankings and what it all means for R-3 taxpayers and patrons. Go to Facebook and enter Platte County R3 Facts.com in the search box.


Platte City Chamber of Commerce has ordered some nice weather for its annual golf tournament, which is set for Friday at Shiloh Springs Golf Club east of Platte City.

The weather forecast calls for 70 degrees and sunshine. Even KC Wolf is making an appearance. If you’re looking for an excuse to get out into the nice weather on Friday, maybe this is your chance.

If you don’t already have a team entered, you still have time. Check out the ad in this issue or head to plattecitymo.com.


If books are your thing, don’t miss the Book Sale Blowout being hosted by Kelly Miller, a retiring middle school teacher in the Platte County R-3 School District. She has more than 4,000 books that she personally acquired during her career for her eighth grade classroom. She’s selling them this coming Saturday on the front lawn of the Platte City Middle School from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“These books need a home,” she told me. Paperbacks $1 and under; hardbacks $2. It will be worth checking out. For more details, see her ad on page A-7.

(Follow the Between the Lines badass and whatnot on Twitter @ivanfoley and find him on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 4/26/17

Here’s your fine dining tip for the week. Cheese puffs taste much better if you leave the bag open until the puffs become stale.

This is weird but true. Open the bag and let the air get to those puppies for a few days. You’ll be glad you did. The taste improves as the puffs dry out.

You’re welcome, America.


Oh, Ferrelview. Even though you’re kind of viewed as the red-headed stepchild of the county right now, you still hold a special spot in our hearts. And I’ll tell you why.

There are no scandals breaking at the county, no county department heads in jail or getting hammered or being investigated for stealing.

Ferrelview, Between the Lines turns its lonely eyes to you.

Based on some of the early action following the April election upheaval of incumbents, don’t count on the political drama and in-fighting in this tiny but newsy village east of I-29 and I-435 in central Platte County ending anytime soon. The good news is from this chair it appears the new officeholders would like to right some wrongs and get the village on track to respectability.

“We’re trying to maintain professionalism by not feeding into their anger,” Theresa Wilson, one of the newly-electeds, told me in a phone interview last week, referencing the reaction to the election results by those who ended up on the losing end.

The three newly-elected board members have some thoughts about changes and will be working to implement those ideas. Theresa Wilson was voted in as the new chairman of the board last week. That vote came over the objections of “the old guard” on the board, Linda McCaslin and Diedre Carr. Both McCaslin and Carr voted for Russell Wilson, Theresa’s husband, but Russell, Melvin Rhodes and Theresa voted for Theresa, thereby anointing Theresa the chair at the head of the table.

The board then appointed committee chairs and proceeded to begin addressing some current issues, one of which is to prevent the unbridled access to village’s records, apparently. A motion was made that any member be required to make a request of the village clerk for documents by specific request, with the intention that no longer can any board member “just randomly barge into the clerk’s office and start ‘rifling through the records.’” Allegedly in the past, according to local folk lore, a board member or two would storm troop the city clerk.

“It’s about behavior and respect,” Theresa Wilson says.

And the topic of which city officials hold the password for the village’s computer has also come up for discussion. Word is McCaslin had held the password and declined to relinquish it at last week’s special meeting on the pretext that the password is the same as one she uses for her home computer. Mickey Vulgamott, court clerk and temporary treasurer, suggested that McCaslin log into the computer at which time the city clerk would change the password. McCaslin again balked. A compromise of sorts was reached under which the village’s IT person will gain access to the computer.

Oh, the drama. And we haven’t even reached the part about that state audit of the village’s operations that will be happening later this year. And don’t forget there is still the matter of the controversial and allegedly heavy-handed police chief. The new board seems to be taking a patient approach in dealing with that problem, and that’s a fair plan. Give the guy a chance to react to the new atmosphere his new bosses are bringing to the table. I was encouraged when earlier this month the police chief showed up for a board meeting in regular human clothing instead of in his usual full riot gear. Maybe he’s becoming more self-aware. Maybe he’s realizing the constant over-the-top show of firepower at his disposal isn’t necessary.

Or maybe he simply was running late and didn’t take the time to dress like RoboCop. Only time will tell.


My first TV crush has passed away. Her name? Her name was Joanie Cunningham. At least that’s how most of America will remember her. Her real name was Erin Moran.

Erin Moran played Joanie on the hit 1970s TV series Happy Days, an entertaining show that attracted me to the TV set every Tuesday night as a kid. To be honest, she wasn’t all that cute when the series first started in 1974. Of course that’s because 14 was an awkward age for a lot of us. I was 11 at the time and probably was considered not all that cute, either. But as an astute Happy Days viewer, as time went on I noticed a change in Erin Moran. A maturity, if you will. And then more change. And more maturity, if you will.

She had gone from not all that cute to cute to well, you know. By the early 1980s when she was starring with Scott Baio in the “Happy Days” spinoff known as “Joanie Loves Chachi,” it was on. I would have kicked Baio in the chachis to get time with her.

Erin Moran had become high on the hotness meter. And she and I were an item. She just didn’t know it.


But things went south. She seemed to change, she acted strange and why I never knew. Eventually high on the hotness meter turned into Erin Moran high on other things, none of them legal or good. Meanwhile for me, relaxing Tuesday nights of the 1970s and very early 1980s in front of the TV turned into Tuesday nights making a living at this weekly newspaper thing. I think it’s called putting food on the table. Or adulting. Clearly Erin Moran and I were adulting in different ways.
So we grew apart. I wonder if she missed what we had.


Honestly I hadn’t much thought about Erin Moran during the past 30-some years until this past weekend when I read the alerts that she had passed away. I Googled some of her most recent photos. Sadly, the years and some of her lifestyle choices had not treated her kindly. Not much resemblance to the Erin Moran on whom I had crushed so many years ago.

She died in a trailer park in Indiana where her personal life--beset with apparent addiction issues and resulting financial hardship--had sunk to ocean-like depths. According to internet reports, she recently was diagnosed with cancer. She died in her mother-in-law’s trailer with a feeding tube in her stomach. She was only 56. RIP.

(RIP the Internet when Foley gets on a roll on Twitter@ivanfoley and on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 4/19/17

Welcome back to Between the Lines. This is the column I write as I sit around dreaming of the day Platte City gets a KFC or a Long John Silver’s.

For the love of my gut, come on, Platte City leaders. I’m losing weight without even trying. Let’s work harder on recruiting some fried chicken options. These working conditions are getting inhumane.


I’ve learned planks are actually good for you. Not necessarily those Long John Silver’s chicken planks but the exercise known as planks.

I initially thought planking was simply some kind of woebegone internet photo fad, but come to find out planks are actually a legit and beneficial exercise. So I’ve recently added planks to the fitness plan. Thank you, internet.


Though Platte County was recently named the healthiest county in the state by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, according to information distributed by the Platte County Health Department there still are some areas where the county can improve when it comes to health indicators.

•For zample, ladies and gentle friends, did you know we have a bigh hercentage of dinge brinking in Platte County?


Excuse me. Let me try that again.

Did you know, according to the health department, we have a high percentage of binge drinking in Platte County? Apparently it’s not just an HR problem.

•And around 41 percent of driving deaths in Platte County involved alcohol impairment.

•And 42 percent of respondents to a 2015 Northland Community Health Survey identified drug and alcohol use as one of the three most important health problems in the community.

•There is a 30 percent obesity rate in Platte County. Which means I should probably quit talking about my fast food favorites. I apologize if my words about KFC and Long John Silver’s cravings are causing some of you to overindulge.

•Dammit. I shouldn’t have apologized. Remember that time a reader blamed me for her failure to remember to vote? Now I’ll be getting calls from people blaming me for body flab.

And binge drinking.

•More than 75% of local adults surveyed said they do not eat an adequate diet of fruits and vegetables. The other 25% responded with: “What’s a vegetable?”


Chris Kamler, Rambling Moron columnist on page 3 who knows a thing or two about baseball fields, this week takes a shot at Platte County’s ball field maintenance. You’ll want to read his remarks.


Speaking of maintenance, Platte County Commissioner John Elliott showed his frustration with some “keep building new stuff” parks and rec voices at Monday’s commission meeting.

After a speaker or two urged the commission to continue building more hopes, dreams, rainbows, unicorns and pots of gold, both Elliott, second district commissioner, and Dagmar Wood, first district commissioner, offered some polite rebuttal that renewed the new county commission’s emphasis on maintenance over new things. Wood said the commission is waiting on parks department personnel to come up with a detailed plan on long term costs for maintenance of existing facilities.

Then Elliott reminded that the park tax does have a sunset, which means there is no guarantee the sales tax will continue forever. Voters by around 390 votes in an off-year, off-month special election in August of 2009 approved renewing the park tax. The percentage was 54% to 46%. Elliott pointed out this was not an overwhelming mandate. While Elliott said he favors the tax continuing in some form in the future, he reiterated what the current county commission has been saying for months now.

“I don’t just want to maintain, I want to exceptionally maintain what we have. Until we know where we’re at maintenance wise, I won’t support moving forward with anything new,” Elliott said during the meeting.

“When people voted in support of that tax they voted in favor of that tax knowing it has a sunset,” Elliott added after the meeting.


After four months worth of collections have hit the county’s coffers, county sales tax revenue is up, though only slightly, compared to this time last year. General sales collections are up by 1.55%, according to Rob Willard, county treasurer. Use tax collections are up five percent. The combined sales and local use tax collections are up 2.77% year to date, he says.

Willard points out online sales giant Amazon in the past month started collecting the local use tax on consumer purchases made on its website.

“I’m prohibited on commenting on specific numbers, but there will be a trend of online retailers following Amazon’s lead (in light of recent court cases) which may make the use tax a more robust, if not more consistent, reporting figure,” Willard told me this week.

(Overindulge in The Landmark’s social media offerings on Twitter @ivanfoley and by following Foley on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 4/12/17

Welcome back to Between the Lines. Let’s get this column written so I can move on to other things. Those Girl Scout cookies aren’t going to eat themselves.


Allergy headaches this week, anybody? What the heck is the pollen count right now? Give me all your Flonase and your Claritin D and nobody will get hurt.


Not to go all Hearne Christopher on you here but I was shocked when I went to buy a single copy of the Kansas City Star the other day. I canceled my curbside delivery subscription to the Star several years ago. And by several years ago I really mean several years ago.

I do occasionally buy a Sunday Star, but those occasions are normally during football season when I want to see some NFL coverage. Last Wednesday I walked past a Star newspaper vending machine and said to myself: “Self, you should buy a hard copy of the Star, check out their coverage of the region’s election results.”

So I started to drop a dollar’s worth of quarters in the machine. Then I noticed a funny thing. I noticed the price marker indicated the daily price was $2.
I would like to print for you the next two words that came out of my mouth. But I better not. I walked away without a copy of the paper.

Two bucks for a single copy on a weekday? At a sidewalk vending machine? Is somebody at the Star smoking crack? Is this a good business model? How many people carry $2 worth of quarters in their pocket?

On Monday of this week I was suckered in. On the radio I had heard this was a “special issue” of the Star, in conjunction with Kansas City Day or Royals Opening Day or some other blah blah blah. So I grabbed eight quarters from the office and headed to the rack Monday night as I was chilling at the end of my work day. Reluctantly I dropped eight quarters into the machine and pulled out a copy of the metro’s daily paper. Or remnants of the metro’s daily newspaper.This thing was thin. Very few pages. Zero advertising inserts. The girth of your weekly copy of The Landmark puts the Monday issue of this metropolitan daily to shame. If that copy of the Star was worth $2 your 50 cent weekly copy of The Landmark is worth $4.

Will this $2 weekday single copy price last? Who knows. Better yet, should we even care? This is the same Star that was its own worst enemy when the internet was in its infancy by making all of its news content immediately available on the web at no charge. Their print circulation soon plummeted. And this is the same Star, after all, that spent millions upon millions on a beautiful glass building and newfangled press equipment just as the market for metro daily newspapers was heading south. Way south. And this is the same Star whose lawyers in the early 2000’s faxed me a “cease and desist” order when The Landmark was running fact-based critical pieces of the Star’s lead sports columnist Jason Whitlock and other sports staffers (now you know why Jason Whitlock blocks me on Twitter--he has a long memory). Their cease and desist order was ridiculed and ignored. And this is the same Star whose then-editor of its Northland section called me in 2006 to express his displeasure with the way I had printed the details of a police report involving a candidate for county prosecutor at the time. The Star, by its own choosing, left out many pertinent details. The Landmark didn’t. So the Star editor started the conversation by telling me “I’m going to teach you something about journalism.” I laughed. He got mad. I laughed again. He got madder. I laughed harder. He hung up.

I think that guy now works at a QuikTrip.

Anyway, let’s carry on. Those Girl Scout cookies aren’t going to eat themselves.


Mark your calendars, everybody.

May 12-13 will be Platte County Clean-Up Day at the county public works department, or as it used to be called, “Let’s Collect a Bunch of Recyclable Stuff, I’ll Take It to the Scrap Company and Have the Check Made Out to Me and Stick the Money in My Desk Drawer” Day.


You can certainly understand why they changed the name. That was a mouthful.


“That Money Will Stay in My Desk Drawer Untouched for Two Years” was a name too far-fetched to catch on.


“I’ll Use County Mowers to Cut Personal Lawns” Day was tried but later kicked to the curb.


A lot of stuff happened at the Village of Ferrelview trustees meeting Tuesday night where a new board was sworn in, but the most surprising development was Daniel Clayton, controversial police chief, was not dressed in full riot gear. I repeat NOT dressed in full riot gear.

Maybe the mean streets of Ferrelview aren’t quite as mean all the sudden.


KCUR ran a piece on the adventures of defense attorney John O’Connor’s continued quest against Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd. The KCUR piece seemed to be trying to push a narrative that Zahnd and his office have done something unethical, even though to this point every ruling that has been made in the dispute has gone in Zahnd’s favor and against O’Connor. That fact seemed to be getting downplayed--if not ignored--by KCUR.

Anyway, read it for yourself. The link is http://kcur.org/post/did-platte-county-prosecutor-overstep-legal-bounds-child-molestation-case


I had an inkling the KCUR piece might have some holes when the first sentence read like this: “The Platte County Courthouse, ordinarily a sleepy rural outpost, is abuzz these days with intrigue.”

Um, are you serious? At no time in recent history has the Platte County Courthouse been “ordinarily a sleepy rural outpost.” Things haven’t been sleepy at the county courthouse since the early 1990s when Vic Peters was prosecutor. In reality, this county has a reputation for having some of the most bizarre news stories and crime cases in the KC metro area.

(Nothing sleepy about The Landmark or its social media happenings, which can be found on Twitter @ivanfoley and by following Foley on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 4/5/17

Welcome back to Between the Lines. Adele just told me I still look like a movie, I still sound like a song.


Congratulations to the two newest school board members at Platte County R-3. For those who may believe it’s time for the board at R-3 to work a little harder on accountability when it comes to spending decisions and transparency, the new additions are welcome. The fact that Buffy Smith and Gwendolyn Cooke topped the two incumbents in vote totals also quietly--and maybe not so quietly--sent a message.


So what’s up with this love-hate relationship Kansas City peeps apparently have with country music star Garth Brooks?

I’m old enough to remember when Royals fans revolted against the playing of Garth’s mega hit “Friends in Low Places” every sixth inning at the stadium. Enough was enough, KC finally said, and the team saw to it that the song was replaced.

But last week Garth announced a concert or two or six in Kansas City and the internet nearly browned out with people buying tickets like they were subscriptions to The Landmark. Crazy.


I like Garth’s music but don’t love it, so I wasn’t one of the thousands buying his concert tickets. I suppose I’d go if you gave me some freebies but a Garth concert isn’t on my bucket list.

His wife, Trisha Yearwood, is popular in The Landmark office. Years ago when Trisha performed in Kansas City, The Landmark scored an exclusive face-to-face interview with her. Cindy Rinehart, office manager, and Beth Taulbee, who worked in ad sales for us at the time, still talk about handling that interview. I think there are 35 mm pictures here in the office somewhere that prove how much of a good time the three ladies had that night hanging out for a while.


"He cares about Platte County. He is honorable. He is trustworthy."

Those are the three characteristics that Ron Schieber, presiding commissioner, said led to the county commission making the decision to hand Daniel Erickson the job as director of three county departments. As we reported last week, Erickson will now head the departments of parks and facilities to go along with his previous duties as director of planning and zoning.

The move to streamline department directorship under one person will save the county around $250,000 per year in salaries and benefits, Schieber said. Yes, that’s per year. A substantial savings orchestrated by your fiscally conscious county commission.

As he takes on the additional responsibilities, Erickson’s salary has been bumped from $72,500 to $95,000, Schieber said.

Erickson has some ideas to help further consolidate duties and streamline operations. One of those ideas he is already putting into action. Erickson said the previous facilities directors had spent much of their time entering payables (processing invoices) into the system. He says that function can now be combined with the entering of payables with the planning and zoning department. Other streamlining changes are planned, but since some of those will involve specific personnel Erickson isn’t yet ready to talk about them. He did say Jason Halterman of the planning and zoning department is very capable of stepping in to take over some of the lead duties Erickson has performed as planning and zoning director. “He (Halterman) is very capable of doing that,” Erickson told me on Tuesday.
As for his focus as the new director of parks, Erickson confirmed what we had speculated in this column space last week and what should be no surprise to anyone who has been following the new commission’s actions: park maintenance will be Erickson’s major goal.

“The county commission is very focused on long term maintenance of the parks and trails that have been constructed over the past couple of decades so we’re going to focus on that,” he told me Tuesday.

Asked if he was excited about the opportunity the new position creates, Erickson said: “It’s an opportunity to provide leadership to these three departments. Knowing the employees that are in place makes my job easier, just knowing how dedicated they are. I’m a public servant. When the commission asked me about this opportunity (to take on all three departments) I thought about it and, again, knowing the people that work in these various departments made me decide it was a good opportunity for me.”


Isn’t the concept of downsizing bureaucracy and streamlining operations a refreshing thing in the world of county government? Past county-level bureaucrats have to be rolling over in their political graves.

If only all levels of government adopted the same philosophy. They won’t, but it’s fun to dream.


It’s baseball season, you guys. Landmark columnist and loyal Royal/baseball fan Chris Kamler has a preview and a prediction for your 2017 Kansas City Royals in a feature you’ll find on page B-1. Check it out.


And it’s time to wrap up our 2017 Bracket Battle by letting you know the winner--Helen Steffel--and the score of everyone who entered elsewhere in this issue. First off, Helen, come get your $100.

I hate to brag, kinda, but only like 19 or 20 of you finished with a better score than your humble publisher which means only around 19 or 20 of you are entitled to claim a free one-year subscription. That’s a bit different from last year, you’ll recall, when around 150 people were ahead of me in the standings.

And actually the number of entrants who will be getting a free subscription is less than 19 or 20 this year because some of the folks who are ahead of me are already taken care of in the ‘free subscription’ department. Between the Lines daughter Alyssa Shifflett, an elementary school counselor by trade who watches next to zero college basketball, finished in the top five or six. And former longtime Landmark columnist James Thomas was also near the top. And yet another top finisher, Troy Jones, is the grandson of Lucy Jones, who was owner/editor/publisher of The Landmark for many years until 1979.

For those of you who finished below the publisher? Try again for your free subscription next year.

(Foley will resist talking trash on the folks who talked trash after last year’s Bracket Battle. At least he’s trying real hard not to talk trash about it. Follow him on Twitter @ivanfoley or find him on Facebook. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)

Written 3/29/17

Welcome back to Between the Lines. It’s the last column prior to Tuesday’s election on city and school issues and candidates. That’s a nice way of saying don’t forget to vote in your local election next Tuesday.


I remember last year on the day after the spring election I received a call from a loyal reader who said she had failed to go vote. She blamed me. She said I hadn’t mentioned anything about the election in my column the previous week so it wasn’t on her radar. She was not the least bit pleased with me because of it, and she was entirely serious in her angry comments that the fault was mine.

I politely accepted the fanny chewing even though I’m not sure I deserved the entire blame for this nice lady forgetting to vote. I was flattered to learn she apparently plans a week’s worth of her activities by whatever I say or don’t say in this column space.


Don’t forget to buy milk.


For all the ballot language and a sample look at what your local ballot will look like, peruse the legal notices section in this issue of The Landmark. The legal notices begin on page B-2.


Take a few minutes to read the school board election preview stories in this issue. On page A-4, Valerie Verkamp has a feature on the four candidates for three open spots on the Park Hill School Board, and in a piece that begins on the front page Debbie Coleman-Topi information on the four candidate for the three open seats on the Platte County R-3 School Board.

Here are some of the highlights. At Park Hill, candidate Jim Dunn has some pointed thoughts that I think deserve mention here, including: “It has become almost taboo to question spending and instructional decisions of school districts; it’s as if doing so suggests we don’t care about kids or teachers. I couldn’t disagree more. Districts, like other government or business organizations, change and grow when challenged to improve. I want to work toward creating a culture among the board and leadership that views questions and input as opportunities rather than obstacles.”

Boom. Well stated.

Then, on the topic of consistent unanimous votes by school boards, Dunn said this: “Unanimous votes suggest a lack of diverse perspectives or a deference to policy agreement, neither of which serves schools and children. The board confronts complicated and challenging issues, so it’s reasonable to expect differing opinions and opposing views to emerge.”

Boom. Nailed it again.

As for R-3, it is encouraging to see the two newcomers to the R-3 board candidate scene--Buffy Smith and Gwendolyn Cooke--each touch on topics that longtime board members have avoided. Smith in her comments mentions the need for conservative planning “with the mindset of getting current debt under control.” Cooke, meanwhile, says she plans to address “issues of transparency regarding expenditure of funds for district initiatives.”

Nice to see the new players identify the need for important items that deserve attention from the board.


Daniel Erickson is the new director of Platte County parks. Daniel Erickson is the new director of Platte County facilities. Meanwhile, Daniel Erickson is the continuing director of Platte County planning and zoning.

The county had been operating with interim directors in parks and in facilities for several months. Brian Nowotny had left parks last year to accept a job elsewhere; and the last facilities director was fired after using county funds and materials to build a beer garden at his home.

It’s a move that the county says will increase efficiency through shared staff and resources. Each department will continue to have its own operations. Erickson has served as director of planning and zoning since 2006. He has worked in the planning and zoning office for 18 years.

My first reaction to the move is that I like it. Erickson is low key, not flashy, and seems like the kind of guy who will put priority into the nuts and bolts of an operation and not be worried about taking credit for new and shiny things. Which is probably why he got the job from the current set of commissioners, who have placed maintenance of parks as a priority after so many years when the department’s focus was on consistently adding to its inventory. Also, Erickson seems very well grounded, which means I don’t think you’ll be reading about him in the police blotter, putting him a step ahead of multiple past department heads at the county.

Erickson was introduced as the new parks/planning/facilities director at a meeting of the parks board Tuesday night at the Platte County Resource Center. “He is well liked and well respected in the county and I think he will do a wonderful job. We are pleased he has accepted this position. He knows a lot of people that he will be working with on the board and in the parks department and in facilities. He will be able to hit the ground running,” said Dagmar Wood, first district county commissioner.

“I look forward to this opportunity. There are great people already in place in all the departments, long-tenured people who are there. This creates an opportunity for them to do their thing,” Erickson said to the parks board at the meeting. “It has been a whirlwind. This became official at 2 p.m. today. There are a million questions, some of which don’t have answers yet.”

The move won’t be 100 percent popular. No move is ever going to get a 100 percent approval rating. I doubt the choice is popular with the rainbows and unicorns crowd. They’d rather have a dreamer. And from his long tenure as planning and zoning director, Erickson has a few detractors in the anti-development segment of the county population. But that comes with the territory.

On the surface, Erickson seems like a solid choice who should work well and fit the priorities of the current county commission.

(Make Twitter @ivanfoley a priority. Or follow Foley on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com or find him at 252 Main St. in beautiful downtown Platte City)


Written 3/22/17

Welcome back to Between the Lines. The streak of days that I’ve checked my TimeHop app is now up to 159. You can’t say I don’t have endurance.


It’s looking like the City of Platte City and the Platte City Chamber of Commerce will soon be teaming up in an effort to promote potential economic development opportunities in the city.

It’s another solid move for the chamber, and kudos to the chamber board and executive director Angie Mutti for the big picture view the organization has taken the past four years or so.

For the chamber, the past few years have been a major step forward. It wasn’t too long ago when former leaders at the chamber were more concerned with asking “what can you do for the chamber?” rather than telling the public “here’s what the chamber can do for you.”


What a weekend of basketball watching. Many college hoops fans across the country locked themselves inside their mancaves--I’m sorry, their gender neutral caves--and watched games from Thursday through Sunday.


So in your bracket you had Duke winning the NCAA Tournament? Welcome to the club. Hashtag we’re screwed.


Gotta admit I always enjoy a good whizzing match between the City of Parkville and the Parkville downtown community improvement district.

I wonder if the CID folks will now decide they need bulletproof paneling in their meeting room.


Until Alderman Marc Sportsman broke the news I had no idea there was a mushroom farm in downtown Parkville.


The Sweet 16 comes to Kansas City Thursday and Saturday of this week. National reports indicate this regional is the most expensive ticket of any of the four regionals in the tournament, no doubt because of the presence of the Kansas team increasing the ticket demand to ridiculous levels.

Can you imagine if Iowa State had defeated Purdue and had also qualified for the Midwest Regional? This would have meant Iowa State and KU both at Sprint Center, which would have made it feel like a second Big 12 tournament in two weeks.

In case you haven’t been down to the Power and Light District during a Big 12 Tournament in recent years, the reality is that Iowa State fans often outnumber KU fans for the annual league tourney each year. The Iowa State fans love to travel to KC to support their team, leaving all the feed stores unattended for a weekend.


It was 80-something degrees on Sunday. How did you spend that amazing day? Mine was spent grading basketball brackets and prepping business income tax information to take to my accountant.

Listen, I love owning my own business and don’t want it any other way. The usual freedom it brings is a fantastic thing. But there’s no denying that every once in a while the business owns you. Occasionally every small business owner has a fleeting moment when he/she thinks life would be much more relaxing just working for an annual W-2. Sunday was one of those days, as I stared out the window wishing I could be out there enjoying the great outdoors like the other kids.

But hey, that crazy feeling is gone now. Grading 170 brackets for the first two rounds of the tournament is a time-eating process. Grading the rest of the tournament, with so fewer games remaining, will be a piece of cake.


Sincerest sympathy to the friends and family of Greg Dorsey, who passed away on Monday. Dorsey was the judge of Platte City Municipal Court and he also served in that capacity for some other small cities. He had been battling cancer, city officials say.

“The mayor’s office is saddened to hear of Judge Greg Dorsey’s passing this afternoon. He served the citizens with distinction as municipal court judge. Platte City was fortunate to have a man of Judge Dorsey’s caliber serving our community,” Mayor Frank Offutt said Monday evening. “Our thoughts are with Judge Dorsey’s wife Carolyn at this time and we extend our sympathy for her loss.”


Last week I promised those of you who don’t have the internet (are you really alive right now?) that I’d post my bracket in the paper after putting it on social media last week. So here goes:

First round winners: Villanova, Wisconsin, Virginia, ETSU, SMU, Baylor, Marquette, Duke, Gonzaga, Vandy, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Xavier, Florida State, St. Mary’s, Arizona, Kansas, Michigan State, Iowa State, Purdue, Rhode Island, Oregon, Oklahoma State, Louisville, North Carolina, Seton Hall, MTSU, Butler, K-State, UCLA, Wichita State, Kentucky.

Sweet 16: Villanova, Virginia, Baylor, Duke, Gonzaga, Notre Dame, Florida State, Arizona, Kansas, Purdue, Oregon, Louisville, North Carolina, MTSU, UCLA, Kentucky.

Elite Eight: Villanova, Duke, Gonzaga, Arizona, Kansas, Louisville, North Carolina, Kentucky.

Final Four: Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, North Carolina.

Championship: Duke over North Carolina, 156 total points.

This bracket isn’t officially dead but it is on life support.

(You can find Foley keeping the internet alive on Twitter @ivanfoley and on Facebook. And just the other day he posted a rare snap on Snapchat. Find him on Instagram or YouTube. Or email him at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 3/15/17

The irony here is just too strong not to mention.

In the same week that the Parkville Board of Aldermen approves a plan to spend tens of thousands of dollars for security measures to protect city officials and the police department inside City Hall, the car and body of a missing Kansas City woman are pulled from the area near the boat ramp in Platte Landing Park in Parkville.

Now we’re talking about the lack of security video surveillance inside the park and a shortage of lighting in the park, apparently.

Wouldn’t some of that city money for bulletproof paneling in the board of aldermen chambers and bulletproof windows for the police department be better spent on security features inside a potential haven for nighttime crime, accidents and car dumping?

An unsecured boat ramp in a dark park just seems like a bad idea and an invitation for crime and accidents. How about considering a fence around that boat ramp area, with a gate that is closed and locked at night? Is there something that prevents this from being a good idea? What am I missing?


Remember when Platte Landing Park was being constructed, the boat ramp was promoted because we were told it was needed in part for reasons of Homeland Security. I’m not sure how secure that ramp is keeping the public at this point.


Also, if you were opposed to the idea of county parks system spending less on maintenance and more on building new stuff, hopefully this incident will help steer your opinion the other direction. It doesn’t seem like a stretch to believe county park tax funds perhaps could be used to help the City of Parkville upgrade security measures at Platte Landing Park.


Thinking back to the $50,000 plan for bulletproof paneling, bulletproof windows and such: Is there any city in Platte County that seems less likely to have an active shooter incident at its City Hall than Parkville? I mean, Parkville--with what seems to be a pretty affluent population base and pretty laid back atmosphere in general--would be the last city in the county that I would list as being at risk of a disgruntled person causing a violent security threat.


I know what you’re thinking: If Parkville is the least likely city in the county at risk of a domestic “attack,” now you want me to rank the city in the county that I believe would be at the greatest risk of a security threat from its own citizenry. You really want me to do that, don’t you? Come on, admit it. You want me to go there, don’t you? The suspense is getting to you, am I right?


This just in. If you’re into voting equipment, there’s an event next Wednesday just for you.

The Platte County Board of Elections will introduce upgraded voting equipment at the April 4 general municipal election. The election board will host an open house to showcase the new equipment next Wednesday, March 22 from 9-11 a.m. at the board of elections office located at 2600 NW Prairie View Road in Platte City.

Election officials say that while most voters may not notice the small differences in casting a ballot, the new system offers several levels of improved user interface, improved auditability and more straightforward service compared to the old equipment that was purchased in the 1990s and early 2000s.

“We really hope this move will make everyone’s election day run more smoothly,” said Wendy Flanigan, Republic director for the board of elections.

Chris Hershey, Democrat director for the board of elections, highlighted one of the added benefits of the new equipment by saying: “One of the most exciting features of the new system is that we can now offer independent voting for visually impaired voters at all elections rather than only federal state elections.”

As you probably know, the Platte County Board of Elections administers federal, state, and local elections as well as voter registration.


Don’t be scared.

The deadline to enter The Landmark’s annual Bracket Battle is Thursday morning at 11.

It’s here. Your moment is now. Stand up and fight.

Or don’t. It’s your choice.

You’re waiting to see my picks, aren’t you? Well, we’re doing a little switcharoo this year to keep the contest fresh and delicious.

Instead of posting my picks in this column the day before the contest deadline, this year you’re going to have to make your way to my social media outlets to see my bracket. Prior to the 11 a.m. entry deadline on Thursday, I’ll be posting my bracket on my Twitter account @ivanfoley, on my personal Facebook page and on Instagram @ivanfoley.

For any of you without the internet (is there somebody in Platte County who still doesn’t have the internet?), I’ll repost my entire bracket in the printed newspaper next week.

The entire list of rules is in the article that starts on the front page. A few highlights: don’t forget to put your name and phone number on your entry. The 11 a.m. deadline Thursday is an absolute, not a suggestion. Any lines left blank are counted as a loss. Any illegible picks are counted as a loss.

And if your score ends up being better than mine, you’ll need to contact us to claim your free subscription by April 30. Claim your prize by phoning us at 816-858-0363 or emailing ivan@plattecountylandmark.com.

Be a baller and have some fun.

(Get Between the Lines 24/7 on Twitter @ivanfoley or find Foley on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email him at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com or find him behind his non-bulletproof desk at 252 Main Street in Platte City)


Written 3/8/17

Feeling insecure?

As you’ll see in a story by Alan McArthur in this week’s issue, Parkville’s city leaders have approved spending a boatload of money on security upgrades that will include bullet resistant paneling inside the main counter in the board of aldermen meeting room. Geez, I mean I know the debt the city has on its books from bad NID investments is frustrating to taxpayers but I don’t think Parkville city leaders have reason to fear for their safety.

Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees. There was an easier, more cost-effective solution to this.

Why not just hire Ferrelview’s cop and his full riot gear, his Batman-style utility belt of weapons and crowd dispersing tools to stand guard during Parkville aldermen meetings?

If there isn’t a disturbance to justify the cost of his appearance I’m sure he could easily create one.


So as you’ll see inside this issue, Mary Robinson gets a $13,500 “settlement” after leaving her job as Platte County’s human resources director.

Call me confused. She wasn’t fired when she left. Not yet, anyway.

I don’t understand the logic in a system in which a government employee who voluntarily quits his or her job deserves some sort of financial “settlement.”

Obviously I understand an employee being paid for unused vacation time and the like but beyond that, what kind of system financially rewards a worker for quitting? Secret meetings and attorney-involved “settlement agreements” are not needed to simply pay someone their unused vacation pay, etc., so there is something weird at play here.

When government rewards someone for quitting a job it doesn’t feel like that’s a plan for making America great again.


Having said that, I guess it’s not a stretch to believe paying $13,500 to an employee who on multiple occasions brought embarrassing attention and unwanted headlines to the county is a decent investment.

The settlement basically says this: Here’s $13,500. There’s the door. You’re not allowed to come back, at least not as a county employee.

Anyway, Mary Robinson’s often wild ride as the county’s human resources director is officially history.

You can’t un-break my heart. I can’t un-cry these tears.


More big news inside the county administration building this week. Jim Kunce, former assistant parks director who was fired by previous parks director Brian Nowotny a few years ago, was appointed to the Platte County Park Board.

This is a great move. I’ve always enjoyed Jim Kunce for his reasonable outlook on parks as well as his sense of humor. In his time as assistant parks director, Kunce had a different philosophy than Nowotny on things like park maintenance. He is a common sense conservative who will bring a common sense approach to the park board.

As you may or may not know, the county park board is just an advisory group and doesn’t make any final decisions. But anytime you can get a fiscal conservative in a room typically filled with dreamers of rainbows and unicorns who constantly want shiny new objects regardless of the cost to taxpayers, that’s a good thing.

“Hopefully I can lend a voice of some fiscal responsibility to the board that might help the commissioners move their goals along,” Kunce said this week.

Professionally, Kunce bounced back nicely after surprisingly being shown the door by Nowotny. Kunce now works for the Missouri State Parks System.
“This whole journey for me has been kind of like a Greek tragedy with all the little twists and turns and surprise endings. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it,” Kunce told me this week.

“I’m very honored that this commission sees value in my assistance. It reminds me of those hemorrhoid commercials that say you don’t have to suffer in silence. Now I don’t have to suffer in silence and I can share some thoughts,” he says.

Hats off to the county commission for making this outside the box appointment to the park board.


Speaking of college basketball, which we weren’t but we will now, conference tournaments are underway this week and the national tourney begins next week. This means your entry into The Landmark’s badass Bracket Battle is due next Thursday, March 16 at 11 a.m.

My picking “skills” have not been good the past couple of years. So take your shot, you may win a free one-year subscription to The Landmark.

Let’s get warmed up by trying to pick the winner of this week’s Big 12 Tournament at Sprint Center? Who ya got? I’m picking Baylor.

So now look for Baylor to get smacked in the first round.


Speaking of parks, which we actually were earlier, want to know a big part of the reason why Ron Schieber and his two associate commissioners want to move $2.75 million within the parks department budget from the capital improvements line item to the department’s future maintenance fund?

Because in 2009 when the tax was up for renewal, voters were told in promotional material distributed by supporters of the tax that 31 cents of every park tax dollar collected would be put toward “maintenance and improvement of existing parks.” Schieber has copies of that 2009 executive summary of the Park System Master Plan if you’d like to see for yourself.

The 31 percent going to maintenance hasn’t even come close to happening, folks. Plain and simple, putting more toward maintenance is the smart thing to do--and also the right thing to do, based on that 2009 campaign to voters.

(Get common sense maintenance and more on Twitter @ivanfoley. You can also follow Foley on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube)


Written 3/1/17

You have to read carefully to find it and even when you do it is short on details, but in an emailed newsletter to patrons the Park Hill School District admits the student enrollment growth that is fueling a dollar-filled and wide ranging bond question on the April ballot may not be living up to its previous level.

“Although our current projections show that our growth could slow. . .” admits a sentence in the newsletter. That sentence went on to say that patron input has indicated a desire for a new high school.

“In keeping with that feedback, this is a conservative plan that allows us to wait and see whether we need all that space.”

Park Hill has grown at a steady rate of one to two percent per year for the past 30 years. That rate of enrollment growth, the district now admits, may be ready to slow down. Something to keep in the back of your mind.


If Park Hill’s growth rate is on the verge of slowing, what about at Platte County R-3? The vastly overstated enrollment projections that were made in late 2011/early 2012 never happened. It has been well chronicled in these pages that predictions of a growth explosion coming as a result of Twin Creeks are overstated, in particular as it pertains to over the next several years. If Twin Creeks does take off the way some of the hype artists claim, the enrollment growth that comes as a result will likely be closer to slow and steady than it is explosive.

Stay calm and swag on.


Time for a pop quiz to see how well you’ve been paying attention. See if you can answer these correctly. . if there is a correct answer.

1. While telling authorities his intent was to spend the money on a TV for his co-workers, who would take county-owned material to a scrap plant, have the check for payment made out in his name, cash the $1357 check while asking for at least forty-five $20 bills, then keep that cash in his desk drawer for 2.5 years without it ever leaving the office?
A. Jesus.
B. Gandhi.
C. The Pope.
D. Greg Sager.
E. This story is not believable.

2. Bond payments due on a NID the city helped create to install sewers into still undeveloped property are causing a financial hardship for the City of Parkville. What do the letters NID stand for?
A. Needlessly Into Debt.
B. No Interested Developers
C. Nan’s Insolvent District
D. Nan Inherited Dis

3. The state auditor will be coming to the Village of Ferrelview later this year. What is the purpose of the auditor’s visit?
A. To give the city a virtual colonoscopy.
B. To drive through town at two mph over the limit to provoke local police.
C. To assess the value of the police chief’s weapons, body armor, tear gas, tasers, liquid fire, smoke bombs and water cannons.
D. To search for the invisible gangs terrorizing the city.

4. In order to get a job as a department head with the county, you’ll need:
A. Multiple DWI arrests.
B. A publicly-funded beer garden.
C. A desire to borrow county tools and equipment.
D. Any of the above.

5. If you’ve passed a tax increase to specifically pay for one particular expense, is it excusable to forget to budget for that expense?
A. No.
B. No.
C. No.
D. All of the above.


So, will you be doing your bracket contest again this year?

Well, yeah.

I get this question every year about this time. And every year the answer has been yes.

This will be our 21st straight year of doing this little powwow. It started out as a little friendly deal in the 1990s for the college basketball diehards who worked on or near Platte City’s Main Street and a few followers from inside the nearby county administration building. Before you knew it the contest kept growing. And growing. And growing.

In fact it has grown to the point that each March--as we’re grading the entries at 2 a.m. the night before deadline--I say to myself: “Self, this is it. This thing has gotten too big. It’s taking up too much of your time. Don’t do it next year."

And every year I bring it back anyway. It’s like a bad glue sniffing, amphetamine and crack addiction rolled into one.

Anyway, unless you’re a newbie, by now you know the rules. If your bracket is better than mine you win a free one year subscription to this fine newspaper.
The bracket will be announced on Selection Sunday, which this year is March 12. Entry deadline into our fun little war is 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 16. See a complete list of rules and whatnot in next week’s issue.

(Get his thoughts and whatnot and so forth by following Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley. You can also catch up with him on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. Or email him at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com. Or call him at 816-858-0363. Or visit him at 252 Main in Platte City. Or all of the above)


Written 2/22/17

Welcome back. I’m trudging my way through the emergent wetlands of Platte County to bring you another moist episode of Between the Lines.


Anybody else been sleeping like a baby the past couple of weeks with these spring like temperatures in February? I’m normally a light sleeper but in the past several days I’ve been out like a light--and most surprisingly, since normally this rarely happens--getting more than a couple hours of uninterrupted sleep at a time.
Thank you to Mother Nature or Global Warming, whichever one of you alleged creatures is responsible for this.


These are the conditions under which we need to make some hay on our utility bills, folks. And by that I mean now is the time to take advantage of this weather. When it’s potentially too warm to run the furnace and not warm enough to turn on the AC, that’s when we really need to be alert to the opportunity to bank some savings. Start banking now, if you haven’t already done so.

You don’t need to hire an engineer to tell you this. It’s the kind of info you can free of charge right here in Between the Lines.


Go ahead and pocket that temporary utility bill savings and put it toward gasoline. Because according to the experts at GasBuddy.com, we can expect a significant rise in gas prices between now and Memorial Day.

“The era of falling gasoline prices will likely be coming to an end soon at a gas station near you,” says Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com. “Not to say declines are completely done, but over the next few weeks we’ll likely see more times when stations are raising their prices than dropping them, thanks to gasoline demand that will soon be recovering and crude oil imports will soon reflect OPEC’s lower output.”

DeHaan says the national average typically rises 35-65 cents from February through Memorial Day, and “there’s no reason to believe that won’t happen this year.”

The average retail gas prices in Kansas City have risen more than 10 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.16 per gallon as of Sunday. That price is about 77 cents per gallon higher than last year at this time, according to GasBuddy.com. I had forgotten just how low the cost of a gallon of gas was at this time last year. The average price in KC this time a year ago was just $1.39.

By comparison, four years ago the average price in KC at this time of year was $3.68.


What a freaking disaster the Brink Meyer Neighborhood Improvement District has proven to be for the City of Parkville.

As you’ll see in Alan McArthur’s front page story, the good taxpayers of Parkville are on the hook to make the 2017 bond payments that properties within the NID have not made. City officials admit the Brink Meyer NID has collected only $1,810 out of $388,030 in bond payments due in 2017.

Holy hell.

The city has taken up the practice of transferring money from its emergency reserve fund to make these payments. This year, the city is taking $209,359 from its emergency reserve fund to put toward Brink Meyer NID payments.

The idea of creating the NID began in 2006. I remember a landowner within the district who would often call me and bend my ear for long periods of time about what a bad deal this NID was, that the assessments for the sewer improvements inside the NID would basically bankrupt his properties. Apparently he wasn’t crying wolf. His properties inside the Brink Meyer NID were eventually foreclosed upon and are among those sitting vacant. The City of Parkville, in fact, now owns some of the properties. And the city has been, without any true success thus far, seeking developers for the area to spur growth and tax collection to cover the bond payments.

Now we know why Ronald Reagan used to say the most terrifying words in the English language are: “We’re from the government and we’re here to help.”


It will be interesting to watch the April elections at the interesting and controversial Village of Ferrelview. It looks like an attempted bloodless coup (bloodless means no need for a cop in riot gear, by the way) is underway.

Steve Carr, current chairman of the five-person board of trustees, is one of those up for re-election. There are a pair of two-year board spots up for grabs, and Carr currently holds one of those. Also on the ballot with Carr are Theresa Wilson, Russell Wilson and Wesley Lowther. So four candidates for two spots. Frank Baumann, an incumbent board member, did not file for re-election.

Also open is a third spot on the board, the position currently held by Brooks Moseley. Moseley was appointed to fill that position last year. Moseley has filed as a candidate to fill the remaining one year of that term. He is being opposed by Bart Whorton.

Insiders within the village tell me there is an organized effort to elect three new board members with common interests. A group of three working in concert would obviously have majority control over the five member board. One of the “common interests,” I’m told, is to get rid of controversial police chief Daniel Clayton.

So we have an interesting election coming in early April and then, as we reported last week, a state audit is ready to happen in late spring/early summer.

The drama at Ferrelview is far from over. Buckle up (or the well-equipped cop will get you) and enjoy the ride.

(Buckle up and enjoy the ride from The Landmark on Twitter @ivanfoley and find Ivan Foley on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube)


Written 2/15/17

Though Steve Carr, chairman of the town’s governing body known as the board of trustees, seems to be in a state of denial, Ferrelview will be the target of a state audit in the coming months.

“They haven’t said that for sure yet,” Carr claimed to me in an in-person interview Tuesday night.

Well, there’s strike one.

I doubt the state auditor’s office is going to be thrilled to see the city’s top elected official claim in the press that the state has not made the official notification. State officials way back in a Jan. 11 letter to the leader of the petition drive said village officials have been notified of the pending audit. The auditor’s office verified it for me again this week, saying yes, city officials have been notified. So not only have city leaders been told but according to the state they’ve known about it for more than a month now.

The interesting elected leaders of the interesting little village in central Platte County would be well-advised to move from the denial stage to the preparation stage. Depending upon how aggressive the auditor’s office wants to get, from the outside looking in it appears things have the potential to ‘get busy,’ as the cool kids say.

The state auditors might want to pack a large suitcase and give their loved ones a long hug before heading to Ferrelview. Could be an extended stay. At least there are quality hotels just down the road.


No, there has been no civil unrest in the streets of Ferrelview but you’d never know it by looking at police chief Daniel Clayton. He was dressed in full-on riot gear at the board of trustees meeting. In fact I’ve never seen him in anything other than basic riot gear. He looks like a walking poster for the movie RoboCop.

I was half expecting a rolling gun battle to flow past City Hall at any moment. The streets of Ferrelview must be extremely dangerous. Either that or Clayton is looking for a reality show gig.


“Welcome to Ferrelview, population 450. Our cop dresses like a science fiction character.”


There were only three people in the audience at the board meeting. No one provided resistance.


Penny Sutter, treasurer for the Village of Ferrelview, told the board Tuesday night that salaries to board members have been paid but no 1099s or W-2s have been issued to the elected officials. Ever.

According to state law that she said a CPA had guided her to, the salaries paid to board of trustee members should be on a payroll basis, with withholdings applied and W-2s issued.

“You’ve never done it,” she said.


A couple of board members spoke up to say they claim their salaries as income on their tax returns. But there was no denying the message from the treasurer that neither W-2s or 1099s have ever been issued to board members.

“I say we start getting in accordance to what the law says,” remarked Steve Carr, chairperson, in a rare direct comment from him. Normally his answers to questions or concerns are circular in nature.

Sutter, in an off the cuff remark, noted that with the move to suddenly start following the correct procedures the IRS “might say ‘what’s been going on the rest of the time?’”


See what I mean about auditors packing a large suitcase?


In something that’s still a concern but perhaps less troublesome than board members salaries never being recorded in the issuance of W-2s or 1099s, Sutter said the IRS has contacted her to say copies of W-2s issued by the village to its employees for tax year 2015 were not furnished to the IRS.

Sutter said she has been searching for the records to no avail. She mentioned her next step is to go into the village’s bookkeeping program and “try to regenerate them.”

She said the IRS is allowing 45 days for copies of those W-2s to be filed with the tax agency.


Gena Terlizzi, director of communications for the state auditor, says any Ferrelview resident with a concern about the village’s government should call the State Auditor’s Whistleblower Hotline to report it. That phone number is 1-800-347-8597. “We will review all credible submissions,” she said.


Sports is the easiest form of journalism, am I right? More from the ‘sports can be easy’ department.

I wrote this in Between the Lines after my Aug. 6 trip to watch one Chiefs practice at training camp in St. Joseph.

“The player who made the biggest impression in on-field performance is the player with the depressing off-field issues. That’s Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs controversial fifth round pick in the April draft. In college, Hill was primarily known for his kick returning skills. On the practice field Saturday morning, it was hard not to notice him working with the wide receiver corps, as he not only showed top-end speed but surprisingly was dominant in his pass route running and showed good hands with a couple of tough catches. He looked bigger and stronger than he had appeared in those highlight reels from his college days. On Saturday morning he looked like the second best receiver on the field.”

Boom. Hammer meet nail.

We all saw what Hill did on the field during the regular season.

If only he didn’t have that extremely disturbing incident in his past. It’s tough to cheer for a guy with a serious case of domestic violence on his resume.

(Get journalism made to look easy on Twitter @ivanfoley or email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)



Written 2/8/17

Your new Platte County Commission, comprised of Ron Schieber, John Elliott and Dagmar Wood, is a busy group. All three commissioners have been spending a lot of time at the county complex and related locations dealing in a hands-on approach to county government.

If you’ve been following the coverage in our pages, you know there has been a lot going on at the county. You can count in-depth budget talks that included a late million dollar surprise dropped on them, along with a couple of major personnel issues, as time-consuming issues the commissioners have been dealing with since newcomers Wood and Elliott officially took office on Jan. 1. Add in a couple of other items, including investigating the possibility of outsourcing the county’s human resources needs and the possibility of combining the public works and parks departments under one department head instead of two, and there has been the need for commissioners to be putting in a lot of time on the job.

This is a good thing. And hopefully it will continue. Based on some of the personnel situations we’ve seen at the county in recent years, there clearly seems to be a need for a more hands-on approach from county commissioners. There is no question there has been little of that in recent years.

Need proof? How about the fact around half of the department heads of the eight departments that are under county commission control spent time in the police blotter in recent years? That speaks to a lack of direct oversight.

Remember, the human resources director had multiple DWIs in her past, including one during her time as county HR director, and carried a reputation for not being able to keep confidential matters confidential. Yet she was allowed to keep her job as if everything was fine and dandy. Not only that, she continued to be publicly praised by previous county commissioners for the “fine job” she was doing. Talk about low expectations.

And remember the facilities director who was using county money to buy materials to build a beer garden at his home and also admitted he scrapped some county materials for cash? He was fired, but the fact this went on for an extended period of time again speaks to a lack of oversight. And remember the county public works director who was the target of a criminal investigation, accused of stealing--and whom sheriff’s department detectives recommended be charged with the crime but the county prosecutor curiously took a pass on it--and who admitted using county equipment for personal gain? In my opinion, the only mistake the new county commission has made thus far is allowing this guy to resign rather than to fire him. If his admitted transgressions as well as his alleged ones are not enough to earn a pink slip from the county what does it take? Since when did county department heads become as protected as Supreme Court Justices? These are hired positions, not lifetime appointments. Insist on some accountability. Taxpayers deserve it.

Anyway, there’s your rant for the day. To keep county operations from looking like an episode of Cops, it’s time for a county commission to commit to a more hands-on approach to managing its departments.

Thankfully, it looks like this group is prepared to do that.


With so many off the court incidents, is anybody else finding it hard to cheer for this year’s Kansas basketball team? Just like it’s hard for me to cheer for the Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill. Just like it was hard for me to cheer for Yordano Ventura because of on the mound antics.

Apparently I’m getting old. Now get off my lawn.


Sports can be easy.

During last year’s baseball season when Alex Gordon, the Royals’ left fielder, was struggling mightily with his on-field performance, I remember saying to myself: “Self, last winter you were right in your analysis that the Royals should not re-sign Gordon and that they should let some other team sign him to an over-priced contract. You should dig up those remarks you made in your column and remind everybody that you had seen this train wreck coming. Make yourself look smart.”

Yes, that was the conversation I had with myself. So in the heart of the baseball season last summer I got to looking through my Between the Lines columns from January 2016 forward. I remember spending some time on a busy Wednesday morning unsuccessfully trying to find those remarks that I was certain I had made in print. “Darn, I must have struck those paragraphs from my column at the last minute. Those intelligent baseball comments must have ended up on the cutting room floor,” I said to myself that hot summer day. (By now you might think I spend a lot of time talking to myself. I will neither confirm nor deny.)

Well, not so fast. Turns out those comments actually did make it into Between the Lines. But it was in December of 2015, not January of 2016. I ran across them recently while researching an entirely different topic.

So here they are, my words from the Between the Lines column that appeared in the Dec. 23, 2015 issue of The Landmark, prior to the Royals offering Gordon that ridiculous contract.

“Sure, he has been one of my favorite players in recent years but count me among the apparent few who believe the Royals should just move on from Alex Gordon. Yes, Gordon keeps himself in great shape but Father Time is undefeated. Gordon is a descending player. At this point you’d be paying him for what he has already done instead of what he can do for you in the future. Let some other team overpay Gordon. He deserves a nice overinflated contract. But it doesn’t have to come from the Royals.”

Boom. Now many others in the baseball world agree the Royals overspent on Gordon big-time. He hit below .200 most of last season before finishing the season with a batting average of .220 with 40 RBI. That’s after the Royals signed him to a four-year, $72 million contract. Ouch. No wonder team owner David Glass indicated he wanted to be in a payroll downsizing mode this off-season.

More from the ‘sports can be easy’ department in a future column.

(Twitter is easy when you follow @ivanfoley. You can also follow Foley on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 2/1/17

This is a big week, you guys. I know you probably think I’m talking about the Platte City Chamber of Commerce Celebration of Business event, which is Saturday night at the KCI Marriott. But I was actually referring to the Super Bowl, which will be played Sunday in the aftermath of the chamber’s banquet.
It’s New England vs. Atlanta? Who ya got? Atlanta has looked unstoppable in recent weeks but I can’t forget that the Chiefs went into Atlanta and beat the Falcons this season. And let’s be honest with ourselves, Chiefs fans, the Chiefs were once again proven to be pretenders rather than contenders. So if the Chiefs can beat Atlanta in Atlanta, I have a hard time picturing Bill Belichick and Tom Brady losing to the Falcons on a neutral field.

Give me New England -3. And yes, this advice is for entertainment purposes only.


One of my favorite parts of Super Bowl week is the 30 minute highlight shows from all previous Super Bowls on NFL Network. If you’re a longtime NFL fan, these videos are priceless. I’ve recorded some of my favorites, which is the easy part, and now will try to find time to actually watch them, which is the difficult part.


I’m not sure my butt, my brain and my bladder have yet recovered from the ‘killing me softly’ beating each of them took while sitting through Monday’s four-hour county budget hearing.

One of the entertaining aspects of the Monday marathon was the way Kevin Robinson, county auditor, thought he was hijacking the meeting by going through each of the late changes to the budget in detail. It was a drama queen move in front of a recruited crowd. And in many ways it backfired on him.

I’m not sure what Robinson’s attempted point was in doing this. Maybe it was to try to paint the commission’s cuts as political. Maybe it was to try to cover his butt for the embarrassing mistake he made in not allocating for the $1.2 million radio lease payment in his proposed budget. Maybe part of it was to try to paint the budget as being something so difficult that only he can understand (insert laughter here).

At any rate, his attempted show was cleverly and responsibly handled by the three commissioners, who welcomed the line-by-line discussion with open arms. All three showed a great grasp of all budget details. At all times it was clear this commission was prepared to make tough decisions and prepared to stand behind those decisions, no matter how much it might irritate the auditor and go against his bureaucratic beliefs.

The end result? The public ended up being better informed. And Robinson came off looking a bit petty.

If he still had doubts, I’m pretty sure after Monday Robinson now realizes working with this commission is going to be much different than working with the previous one. And that’s a good thing for Platte County. There will be questions and there will be disagreements. Unlike with previous commissioners Duane Soper and Beverlee Roper, Robinson’s opinions will not be influential with this group. The auditor should focus more on providing accurate numbers and less on trying to influence policy decisions, because while this county commission is professional and will listen to his presentation, it likely will be primarily out of politeness and not because his opinions on policy decisions will carry any weight.


Park Hill School District has a bond issue question on the ballot in April. With this in mind, the Park Hill School Board received a report from Clay Fulghum, general counsel, on legal obligations and ethical responsibilities during elections.

This type of public presentation and public reminder of what is and what is not allowed out of employees of any school district and school board members during school election campaigns is a much needed thing. Remember, Park Hill found itself in trouble and was slapped with an ethics violation in a campaign during former superintendent Scott Springston’s regrettable tenure. Of course if you’re a regular reader of this column, you know Park Hill isn’t the only school district that has crossed the line in promoting certain election campaigns and ballot questions, so this type of report should be noted by all. Here are some of the highlights presented to the Park Hill board:

*Under state law, no contribution or expenditure of public funds shall be made directly by any officer, employee or agent for any political subdivision to advocate, support or oppose any ballot measure or candidate for public office. The statute applies to any public “officer, employee or agent.” Not just employees, but board members, also.

*It applies to a bond issue election and also to election of board members.

*The statute may be broadly interpreted. “Public funds” also means “public resources.” In other words, district-owned property, not just district dollars.

*It is prohibited to use public funds to “advocate, support, or oppose,” which means voicing an opinion or encouraging others to vote in a particular way.

*Not allowed: 1. Sending emails from district account supporting or advocating for a ballot measure. 2. Posting advocacy signs on/around district property. 3. Use of district facilities for advocacy meetings that is preferential. 4. Advocacy at district events.

*Some things that ARE allowed: 1. Providing neutral, factual information using district resources, such as when the election will occur, what’s on the ballot, encouraging voting, explaining how funds will be spent, what will happen if the issue does not pass, and the economic impact on district households. Also allowed are public appearances in support of the ballot issue (as long as not using district resources). Also allowed: sending advocacy, messages on personal devices or accounts; receiving advocacy messages on district email account (but do not forward from the district account), posting advocacy signs/stickers on personal property.

(Foley will see you at the Platte City Chamber’s Celebration of Business on Saturday and then he’ll watch the Super Bowl with you vicariously on Sunday. Follow him on Twitter @ivanfoley or email him at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 1/25/16

Welcome back to Between the Lines. Before you dive in, this is the last call for alcohol.


So things were going along swimmingly for the current edition of the Platte County Commission in regard to finalizing the 2017 county budget. That is, until a $1 million bombshell was dropped on them hours prior to their deadline for getting the proposed budget finalized and ready for online posting. The bomb came in the form of an admission from Kevin Robinson, county auditor, that he had made a mistake. Robinson’s mistake involved a lack of allowance for the $1.2 million emergency radio lease payment.

Oops. Just when you thought I’ve poked Robinson enough through the years for smoke and mirrors and pixie dust budgeting, he serves up another Titanic headed for an iceberg.

It’s tough to sugarcoat this one with candy and spice and everything nice.

This is the much talked about radio lease payment. This is the radio lease payment that prompted former commissioners Duane Soper and Beverlee Roper--political allies of Robinson, you’ll recall--to raise the county property tax levy by five cents, from one cent to six cents of $100 assessed valuation. The sole purpose of that tax increase, the public was told, was to make that annual $1.2 radio lease payment.

This makes it even more unsettling that such a significant item was the object of an error by the auditor, who failed to allow for the $1.2 million payment in his accounting of the cash carryover amount from 2016 into 2017 budget numbers.

“Presiding Commissioner Ron Schieber was adamant a couple of weeks ago about making sure that funds in our budget were allocated appropriately and had asked the county auditor to make certain that 100 percent of the funds from the five cent property tax levy increase were allocated as originally intended toward the emergency radio payments and were not being used for other purposes. The auditor informed us eight days later that he had not allocated for the radio payment appropriately in the county’s 2016 ending cash carryover balance, which bottom line revealed a $1 million shortfall,” Dagmar Wood, first district commissioner, said this week.

So when the county commission’s proposed budget was posted last Friday, Jan. 20, the county commission also posted a letter stating this: “An overstatement of Platte County’s 2016 ending cash carryover balance of approximately $1 million was brought to the county commission’s attention on Tuesday, Jan. 17, three days before the initial commission proposed budget posting deadline. The budget adopted on Jan. 30 will contain substantial changes.”

The $1 million bombshell has forced the county commissioners--Schieber, Wood, and John Elliott--into some last minute wrangling, trying to come up with cuts to get a balanced budget. Privately, the commissioners would probably tell you they wondered why the expected tough budgeting process was going so smoothly prior to Robinson conceding his mistake. After all, a million dollars here and a million dollars there and pretty soon you’re talking real money.

Now, commissioners are busy meeting with fellow officeholders and department heads in an effort to trim budget line items.

“We’ve been busy combing through the budget looking for line items we can reduce. At this time, we have identified $370,000 in cuts and are discussing those with officeholders and department heads. We will continue looking for cuts and savings throughout the year. Most of the officeholders have been very understanding and are looking for ways they can help,” Elliott said Tuesday.

“The correction of the cash carryover (proper accounting of the radio lease payment) did not cause our need to reduce spending, it merely pointed out our need to reduce spending. It is the $750,000 in new expenditures, $500,000 of which is fringe benefit related, that caused us to have to cut spending,” Elliott said this week. “Some of the $750,000 was caused by past commission’s actions in the form of pay raises and increased retirement contributions and some is due to outside factors including the new Platte County Drug Court, health care premiums and the medical examiner’s office potentially doubling of their fee.”

Among the casualties as the commission scrambles to get the budget balanced in a short amount of time (the public budget hearing is Monday, Jan. 30), is the $500,000 contribution to the “futures” reserve fund for future jail expansion. That reserve fund apparently will not get its $500,000 contribution, but the budget does include an increase of $250,000 (including benefits) for an increase in salaries for the sheriff’s department.

Wood listed the fringe benefits increase of $500,000 as a major challenge for the commission to be dealing with. She said more than $350,000 of that $500,000 increase in fringe benefits is in employee health insurance costs.

The commission continues to focus on retaining sheriff’s department employees, whose compensation, it is said, is not regionally competitive. “Having deputies leave the county to work as janitors, as one did last year for better pay, is just wrong,” Wood said.


One more small piece of county budget drama.

A new column is being created in the budget this year to increase transparency and make the budget numbers more realistic, Wood says.

“The commission became very frustrated at the lack of transparency with the current budget format where 2016 encumbrances for bills not yet paid but budgeted for were automatically rolled over into the 2017 budget figures. This made it appear that some individual line items were increasing significantly when in fact they were not. The auditor’s office worked with us to break these figures out into a new budget column called ‘2016 Rollover Purchase Orders.’ This increase in transparency will help the commission, officeholders and department heads get a more realistic view of how each account needs to perform and better enable us to track budget trends from year-to-year,” Wood explained.

(Get transparency and whatnot and such from The Landmark publisher on Twitter @ivanfoley and find him on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube)


Written 1/18/16

So Ringling Bros. is shutting that whole thing down. There goes my dream of joining their circus. Guess I’ll stick with my own circus right here.


He is one of the most polite guys you’ll ever meet so it’s likely he would never say this publicly, but Ron Schieber, presiding commissioner for Platte County, is living in happier times now than in his first couple of years in that position.

With Dagmar Wood and John Elliott now on board as the associate commissioners, Schieber has some like-minded thinkers in the meeting room with him. While Schieber always had a professional working relationship with previous associates Beverlee Roper and Duane Soper, it was always clear his vision of what is best for the county and for the taxpayer was different than the views of Roper and Soper.

Outnumbered by one in the fiscal conservative vs. the not-so-fiscal conservative department during his first two years in office, Schieber in a quiet and professional way simply sought to limit the damage the other two could impose while waiting for help from a conservative cavalry. In November the conservative cavalry arrived in the form of election victories for Wood and Elliott. Now, there’s an extra bounce in Schieber’s step as he looks forward to being able to work with Wood and Elliott to implement some changes the new commission believes will streamline government in a cost-effective manner. Schieber also helped lead the new commission to a greater degree of transparency in pushing for background documentation for agenda items to be publicly viewable online at the time each meeting agenda is posted. That’s a move that should have been made years ago, but obviously and for no worthy reason, there was pushback somewhere inside the administration building.

We’re only a couple of weeks into January and the new commission has already improved transparency and is moving toward greater efficiency by looking to outsource what has been its troubled human resources department. Speaking of troubled departments, the commission is also looking at the idea of combining public works and parks into one department.

Schieber deserves this happier time. He picked his battles for his first two years in office. And there will still be battles ahead, of course, as there always are in politics. But now with like-minded thinkers in the associate chairs Schieber knows some moves can be made that better reflect the governing principles he believes in.

It will be fun to watch.


Get a full review of the flick from Jack Poessiger inside of Hearne Christopher’s column on page 3, but let me co-sign his remarks about the quality of the movie Patriots Day, which deals with the bombing at the Boston Marathon a few years ago. I saw the movie over the weekend and can tell you it was riveting. Often I cringe when I look at the list of movies and see a run time of 2 hours and 15 minutes but the time moved quickly in this one. Very compelling.

Through the entire movie I couldn’t help but think of our buddy and former Landmark columnist Greg Hall, who was running in the Boston Marathon that day. My thoughts went to GH the minute we heard the news while hard at work at The Landmark that day, and my phone lit up with Kansas City media members wanting Greg’s cell number to speak to him about what was going on in Boston.

GH was fortunate enough not to be too close to the explosions but has many stories to tell about that day.


Weatherby Lake police, presumably with not as much to do these days with a lack of Springston mayhem, put out a notice that there has been a flurry of thefts from unlocked vehicles in their fair city. If you can call two thefts from parked vehicles a flurry, then the lake town has had a flurry.

Also, a third vehicle was stolen.

So anyway, the police department strongly advises all residents of Weatherby Lake to lock your vehicles. “The thieves are coming from south of the river to steal from vehicles in our area,” the city’s police department said in an alert to residents.

I’m not sure how the police know where the thieves are from--maybe the crooks dropped their business cards--but apparently the Weatherby Lake popo is confident the bad dudes are from the southland.


They say nothing in life is guaranteed but what’s damn close to being guaranteed is Justin Houston won’t stay healthy and the Chiefs will lose home playoff games.


The folks at The National have inspired me.

I’m getting ready to submit an application for a helicopter landing pad to be placed on top of the ol’ Landmark building here in downtown Platte City. Because every news organization needs a chopper. Of course I wouldn’t use it for fun, only for professional news coverage and whatnot. Like when I’m stranded in traffic along I-29 for eight hours near Faucett, Chris Kamler could jump in that bad boy and come to my rescue. Or least airdrop me some fried chicken.

Choppers are expensive so we may need to make this a joint project. Maybe my downtown neighbors at Central Platte Fire want to go in on this. Or maybe Platte County R-3, we know how much they like toys.

I hope city fathers are ready for this.

(Follow your favorite chopper shopper on Twitter @ivanfoley or email him at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 1/11/16

Remember the days when there was very little notable local news to cover over the holidays and into early January? Me neither.


Don’t ever say it can’t get worse.

Just when you think the local news beat can’t get any nuttier, the now former county facilities manager shows up apparently intoxicated for a court hearing and ends up being tossed in the slammer by Judge James Van Amburg. The judge set Ken Bozenhardt’s bond at $10,000 cash-only, which sent a message that the judge was not happy with new developments in this county soap opera.

Kudos to the judge for not putting up with the silliness. Also, kudos to the sheriff’s department employees who noted the aroma of intoxicants on the defendant at the time of his fingerprinting after he had agreed to a plea deal on a reduced charge. I’m told a captain in the sheriff’s department is one of those who noticed the scent and didn’t let it slide. The blood alcohol content test showed a BAC of .078, according to court documents, and the judge then presumed the defendant intoxicated at the time of his plea. As regular readers of The Landmark know by now after so many DWI stories--and as a point of reference--the legal limit for driving is .08.


You know that book I’ve occasionally mentioned I intend to write someday about my soon-to-be 35 years of experiences here at The Landmark? Let’s go ahead and pencil in a chapter devoted to this winter.

You can’t make this stuff up.


Greg Sager’s time as public works director at Platte County has come to an end, as county officials say he submitted a resignation Thursday.

This seemed a likely outcome after the criminal investigation came to light. There were just too many alarming details, some of which remain unexplained, in those investigative documents. The public trust had been violated beyond repair. Loose handling of public money to the point the sheriff’s department asked for a stealing charge (the county prosecutor declined to file the charge), admitting to using county equipment for personal benefit, having payments for scrap metal made out in his name instead of to the county, and if you read the reports a couple of weeks ago in The Landmark you know there is more. One of the things that still remains unexplained is the $327.25 in scrap metal payment authorities say was made to Sager in 2012 with no corresponding county deposit. You’ll recall, when detectives wanted to question him for a third time--with this payment being one of the topics of that desired third interview--Sager initially agreed to meet with them but then called to cancel, saying he wished to speak with an attorney. That third investigative interview was never held.


There is no denying some excellent improvements were made to county roads during Sager’s time as public works director. He was generally highly regarded for his work with the roads.

Obviously much more than that goes into being a department head, however. Such is the nature of any leadership position.

Of course it also needs to be noted that he oversaw the roads at a time when millions of dollars were available for improvements, thanks to taxpayers who pay the 3/8th cent sales tax for roads. It would have been hard for the county not to have seen considerably improved roads with that kind of revenue stream available.


At first blush, count me in support of the county commission’s idea to study the possibility of outsourcing its human resources needs. I’m also a fan of the county commission looking hard at the possibility of combining the public works department and the parks department.

Streamlining government will result in more efficiency for patrons and taxpayers. It’s refreshing to see that the first answer to any perceived problem is not to grow government but instead to look at a real opportunity to cost-effectively streamline.

Very refreshing.


The new numbers are in for county-owned Shiloh Springs Golf Course. And they’re not pretty, which really should come as no surprise to anyone.
These numbers are according to what was presented by Kevin Robinson, county auditor/avid Shiloh golfer, to the county commission this week. You’ll recall back in the day when Robinson and former parks director Brian Nowotny were in charge of projecting revenues for the course they often sprinkled those numbers with magical fairy dust while riding a unicorn.

KemperSports, the company that was hired by the county to take over management of the course, had projected Shiloh revenues for 2016 to come in at $766,000. Actual revenues came in at $607,000. That’s more than 25% below the projection.

That’s the opposite of good.


While on the topic of numbers, 2017 budget decisions among the new commission indicate the recommendation from the county auditor in regard to employee salaries will be ignored. The auditor had recommended a 2.5% pay increase across the board for administrative employees and a 1.5% increase for commissioned deputies in the sheriff’s department. This week in budget meeting discussions, commissioners indicated their proposed budget will call for no pay increase for administrative employees but a $250,000 increase in total wage/fringe benefits for the sheriff’s department.

This action, if it comes to be, is in line with the three commissioners’ stated preference of prioritizing law enforcement more than has been done by previous commissions. It’s also in line with the desire to slow the trend of deputies leaving to accept positions with better paying agencies.


Remember in last week’s Landmark when Mayor Frank Offutt told you there is no panic over QuikTrip missing a public meeting about its upcoming new store project in Platte City? “New store still coming” was the accurate Landmark sub-headline. The mayor was right in his speculation that QT had simply lacked having anyone to send to last Tuesday’s meeting. “It wasn’t on somebody’s day planner,” the mayor paraphrased. QT officials this week apologized to the city for their absence and said they will be at the March planning and zoning meeting to effectively get the ball rolling.

Stay calm and swag on.

(Get Landmark swag on Twitter @ivanfoley)


Written 1/4/16

Hey MoDOT, the forecast calls for snow tonight. Consider this my public service announcement to you because I know you’re too busy doing stuff and whatnot to pay attention to the weather. Just a heads up because, you know, last time we kind of had a situation.


We’ve received dozens of emails, phone calls, text messages, and walk-in visits since last week’s story about the Platte County Public Works Department being under scrutiny and the criminal investigation into allegations against Greg Sager, public works director (read the story here). And by the way, keep them coming. Tips and feedback are how we get things done.

What is interesting is that the first few reactions I received focused just as much on the prosecutor’s decision not to charge Sager as much as they did on the alleged actions by Sager. I’ve always said The Landmark has the smartest readers, and this is another example of that. It’s my opinion Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd gave up too easily on this case. This is why I successfully went to all lengths to contact Zahnd for last week’s article and eventually acquired his direct quote to The Landmark via text while he was out of the country (he declined the chance to speak by phone but did answer via text). I wanted to be certain he had the opportunity to defend his decision in print because I anticipated there was going to be some blowback headed his direction, in particular knowing that Zahnd had declined to request a special prosecutor look at the case. That was a decision I found particularly curious based on his past history in several similar situations.

Those of us who feel the prosecutor whiffed on this one by not having a special prosecutor at least look at the case do have some members of law enforcement on our side. Remember, after conducting its investigation the Platte County Sheriff’s Department requested a charge of stealing be filed against Sager. It’s important to emphasize that no one is automatically assuming he is guilty of a crime--everyone is innocent until proven guilty--but what some believe is there is enough there for a charge. Then you let the court or a jury decide innocence or guilt. That would be the aggressive approach by a prosecutor, the kind of approach needed to rebuild public trust in its local government.

I will quote in part a couple of the initial emails I received after last week’s story hit the streets.

“The Platte County prosecutor is saving Sager’s job but maybe not his own,” read the first.

The second went like this: “The corruption appears to run deep and wide through Platte County. How in the world could Zahnd not bring up any charges? He had to be looking for a reason not to file charges instead of the other way around.”

As for reaction number one, I don’t think Zahnd is in any danger of losing his next election. Time will tell, but I’m also not sure he will be able to save Sager’s job, even if that was his goal. In my opinion, if Sager is able to keep his job after all the things disclosed--including the fact that he lied to investigators in his first interview--then the public trust in its government leaders will take yet another hit.

As for reaction number two, I say “nailed it.”

Let me preface the rest of this column by saying this: Eric Zahnd is a great person and an outstanding prosecutor. Platte County is fortunate to have him and I hope he remains in the post for years to come. I don’t agree with every decision he makes. He doesn’t agree with every opinion I give in this column. Still, we have a good working relationship. We talk sports. We talk family. We talk politics. Each of us realizes the other has a job to do and there is mutual respect in that regard.

It’s my opinion his handling of the Sager case does nothing to restore the public’s trust in its county government, which as we all know has been rocked by its share of scandals in recent months and years. To me and obviously to some others, the prosecutor’s decision to close the case without at minimum having an outside prosecutor take a look at it was not the best choice available.

Sager works directly for a county commission that is in charge of determining the budget for Zahnd’s office. That’s reason enough for a special prosecutor right there. It has been my observation through the years that Zahnd sometimes prefers not to ruffle feathers inside the administration building. He chose to stay quiet, for instance, in 2009 when county commissioners decided to pursue renewal of a half cent sales tax for parks instead of making good on earlier promises to split the tax into a quarter cent for parks and a quarter cent for law enforcement. He could have--and in retrospect maybe he will tell you that he should have--openly campaigned against it. He chose to be a quiet loyal soldier, perhaps fearing some sort of budget retaliatory game.

So to some, his handling of the public works case may have a faint aroma of establishment protection.

And if recent political outcomes at the state, local and national level have taught us anything it is that the majority of the public right now is not big on protecting the establishment.


I know the sheriff’s department realizes it based on its attitude in the Sager case. But whether other public officials inside the county complex like it or not, whether they realize it or not, whether they admit it or not, the public’s trust in Platte County government and the people inside of it right now is not high. Why do you think two county commission candidates over the summer ran on a platform that called for “higher accountability” in county government? Both--John Elliott and Dagmar Wood--were easy winners in their November elections, by the way. Message sent by voters.

We’ve talked about this previously in this column space. Many times elected officials and high level department heads don’t get out and about among the general public often enough to get a feel for the public’s mood. They work among and are surrounded by a bubble of people who think the same way they do or who don’t question things for fear of causing hard feelings and/or retaliation. Many people simply don’t like conflict, especially conflict with those with whom they work closely. It’s just not in their DNA.

Add it all up and what you have are many folks inside Platte County government who appear to lack understanding of the level of distrust among the public. Wood and Elliott, I believe, as outsiders now on the inside, are aware of it and hopefully are there to correct some problems.

Simply by requesting a special prosecutor Zahnd had the chance to better safeguard the public’s trust and, perhaps even more importantly, work to recapture it. His decision not to expose the case to a set of outside eyes created more clouds than clear skies.

(Get clouds and clear skies from The Landmark publisher on Twitter @ivanfoley and follow him on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 12/28/16

Glad you’re here to help me get through another week of Between the Lines because I’m operating on very little sleep. I picked a bad week to quit amphetamines.


It looks like it might be prime time for some housecleaning at Platte County. And I don’t mean sweeping the floors.

If you believe in higher accountability in county government--and two incoming county commissioners campaigned on that platform--after reviewing the investigative documents and other public records associated with our front page story I can give a recommendation on where to start.

Good grief. This is a circus. In fact it’s worse than that. It’s something my friend and fellow columnist Chris Kamler would so eloquently call a crap show.

From this chair, Greg Sager appears to be a lucky man. As of now, it appears he will face no criminal charges despite the fact the sheriff’s department had requested a case be filed. And lucky that, as of now at least, he still has a job. The public works director is a public figure in a hired position that reports to the county commission. I asked Sager in a face-to-face interview if the situation had become a personnel matter. “With my job?” he asked. “Yes, for you,” I said. “No,” he answered.

If that’s the truth, there are problems at all levels of the food chain at the county.

Hopefully problems that a couple of new county commissioners will get to work solving when their terms officially begin Jan. 1.


There are so many issues with alleged actions by Sager--many of which he admitted to detectives during criminal investigation interview--that even if you believe he should not face criminal charges there are reasons you can argue he should no longer hold the job of public works director.

Read the details of his first interview with detectives. Then read the details of his second interview with detectives. I’ll let prosecutor Eric Zahnd give you the politically correct analysis:

“Mr. Sager was not completely candid with detectives during his initial interview,” Zahnd writes in a letter to Sheriff Mark Owen.

Looking at the police reports and comparing his first interview with his second interview, it is clear “was not completely candid” can more simply be described as he was not truthful. In his first interview he told detectives he does not remember what he scrapped on April 4, 2014 or on May 9, 2012. In his second interview, held the next day, he suddenly not only remembers what he scrapped but he also gives them the money that he says was obtained in the 2014 transaction, cash that he says he had kept in his desk. For two and half years, apparently.

The public will develop its own questions by reading the accounts detailed in the police reports. Anybody who has played the game of Clue or watched episodes of Judge Judy will have some legitimate questions.

Not being truthful with criminal investigators is not exactly the kind of behavior the taxpaying public deserves from a county department head. Other actions that are not becoming of a county department head are using county equipment and facilities for personal benefit, scrapping county-owned street signs and having the scrap company make the check payable to the department head instead of to the public works department, the department head then cashing that check and sticking the $1,300 in his desk, canceling a scheduled third interview with criminal investigators who still had questions they wanted to ask, and this list could go on.


Another disturbing aspect of the public works situation surrounds the human resources director (see front page story on the employment status of Mary Robinson, a situation the presiding commissioner tells me is “an ongoing personnel matter that I won’t discuss”).

Bill Manley, at the time still employed in the public works department, says he went to human resources director Mary Robinson in June to speak concerns about many things, including about missing tools from the department that Manley had been told by superiors were allegedly in Sager’s possession. Manley says he had the talk with Mrs. Robinson on a Friday. Manley says Robinson told him not to go to a commissioner with his concerns. Manley says Robinson told him she would have the county auditor--who by the way is her husband--conduct an in-house audit soon. After that Friday discussion, Manley says on Monday morning when employees reported for work all the tools in question were laid out in the middle of the shop floor with no explanation as to where they had been. Manley said he believes Mrs. Robinson tipped off Sager about the complaints Manley had made and the concerns about missing tools in advance of the audit. By the time the county auditor showed up later in the week for his review of equipment, all the tools in question were accounted for. We may never know for certain, but a reasonable person can understand Manley’s suspicion that the audit had been compromised.

Put yourself in Manley’s shoes. You’ve just filed a concern about your department head’s alleged behavior with the HR department and now you not only fear the HR director might be failing to keep that information confidential but in your mind you also suspect the HR director is working to help protect your department head. That’s a no-win situation for an employee to be placed in.


In a conversation with Sager on Friday, I asked him about county employees--himself included--using county equipment and county facilities for personal benefit. I was not impressed with his answer.

“As far as a guy using a tool or something. . .it would be like you letting (an employee) use your pens or paper or copy machine or something,” Sager told me.

Um, no. The two situations are not the least bit similar. My tools, equipment and facility are mine. Privately owned. I own those items, so if I want to let someone borrow them or an employee take them home it is fine for me to do so. The public works department supervisors and employees--and all other public entity employees, for that matter--are working with taxpayer-owned equipment and facilities. Taxpayer-owned means those facilities and those pieces of equipment are not theirs to loan out. It’s not their equipment, it’s our equipment. And by our I mean every county taxpayer.

This would be like Sager’s neighbor telling some stranger to borrow a tool out of Sager’s garage at his home. “Yeah, go ahead, pull your car into Greg’s garage and change your oil, maybe rotate your tires. Oh, and if you need to borrow a tool to take home, go ahead and borrow one from Greg’s garage while you’re in there. Go ahead, take it home with you.”

Something tells me Sager would not be okay with that.

(See if you’re okay with following Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley. You can also stalk him on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube or email him at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 12/21/16

And so this is Christmas.


I really didn’t want to spend the whole column talking about this but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I let it go without comment. I was one of those motorists stuck for more than eight hours on northbound I-29 Friday night. But first let me have a private word with the fine folks at MoDOT.

Hey, MoDOT? You’ve got hundreds of vehicles stopped between the exits of Dearborn and Faucett and it took nine hours for you to develop a plan to get them out of there? Are you serious? So much for the art of critical thinking.

I mean, it didn’t take a genius to figure out going northbound wasn’t going to be feasible for quite some time so the plan should always have been to get those vehicles directed back south to civilization as soon as possible. Others weren’t as fortunate, but I had plenty of gasoline, a heater blowing warm air, bottles of water, a charged cell phone to keep me entertained and an empty Tupperware dish to pee in (Don’t judge me, it was over eight hours in captivity, you would have done the same thing. This was a resourceful way to handle the situation and was the best approach for public safety. I didn’t have to step onto slick pavement, I didn’t have to get cold, and by not undoing my zipper in public I kept the ladies from getting excited and other guys from getting jealous).

While I was fine, some of those trapped had health concerns and other challenges. I can’t believe in the state emergency manual the plan on dealing with stranded motorists suggests a high level conversation like this: “Well, what should we do? Maybe direct the vehicles who are able to move to an emergency crossover and let them head back south on lanes that are clear? Nah, too simple. We’re with the government, we’ve got to make this complicated. I’ve got it. Let’s let them sit there for nine hours and blame it on budget cuts. Sound good? Brilliant! Let’s grab some coffee.”

Southbound traffic was cruising along just fine at about 60 miles per hour while hundreds of motorists sat paralyzed in the northbound lanes, watching in Christmastime wonderment as the fortunate southbounders motored along, probably laughing all the way as bells on bobtails rang.

And let’s not even get into the fact that, according to some media reports, MoDOT got caught with its pants down by failing to pre-treat roadways in many areas. Hells bells, even Gary Lezak knew this moisture was coming and temperatures were going to drop.

So from 4:15 Friday afternoon until 12:15 a.m. Saturday my truck and I got to know one another more intimately than ever before. I also got to know an older gentlemen in the vehicle behind me, who was having even more bladder concerns than I was. His solution involved walking up to my truck window, asking me to turn off my headlights, walking in front of my truck and draining his radiator right there on I-29. More than once. I’m glad I turned my lights off.

At about 12:15 a.m., an 18-wheeler that had been on my direct left pulled forward several feet. I saw this as my chance to escape. I held my hand out my window as a way of saying to the car behind the 18-wheeler: “Don’t pull forward, my ass is coming over.” For the first time all night, this gave me a clear view of--and a clear path to--the median. I looked over and behind me about 40 or 50 yards I could see one of those “for emergency vehicles only” crossovers. I turned my truck around by using the space the 18-wheeler had vacated. I put my truck in 4-wheel drive just in case things were going to get dicey and headed southbound in the northbound median between the shoulder and the crossover cables.

Once I reached the emergency vehicle crossover driveway, it was an easy left turn into the clear and mostly vacant southbound lanes and an easy trip back to Platte City.


Thanks to friends and family who kept me entertained during the hostage crisis via the Twitter and text messaging. You know who you are, don’t make me name names.

Oh, and that Tupperware dish? It has been taken out of circulation.


All good things gotta come to an end and it’s the same with the wildwood weed.
Wait. Those are lyrics from a 1970s Jim Stafford song about a country boy who chews on a funny looking weed and ends up taking a trip without leaving the farm.
What I meant to say was all good things gotta come to an end and it’s the same with Tax and Spend.

“Our reign of terror is over,” joked Duane Soper to Beverlee Roper at Monday’s final county commission administrative session for both of them.

Soper is a great guy. Everybody agrees. Not everybody agrees with some of the decisions he made over the past four years, of course, and that’s part of the reason Soper did not seek re-election. He doesn’t like to have people upset with him. Super nice guys don’t always make the best elected officials. Thick skin is required.

Early in their terms, after some of their less-than-fiscally conservative governing decisions, I tagged Roper and Soper with the nicknames Tax and Spend. Landmark editorial cartoonist Matthew Silber took it from there. He created the cartoon characters you see to the upper right of this column. The dynamic duo of Roper and Soper, Tax and Spend, became the topic for more than one of Matthew’s cartoons over the past four years.

Soper mentioned during Monday’s meeting that he had intended to bring a copy of the cartoon that day so I could autograph it. While I’d be happy to do that, Matthew really should do the honors. The words are mine, the art is his. The cartoon is most impressive in full color so I’ll try to find the color version and post it on my Twitter and Facebook pages one more time for the sake of nostalgia.

While our political viewpoints didn’t often agree, Tax and Spend are well-intentioned people. I wish nothing but the best to Beverlee Roper and Duane Soper in their personal endeavors.


And so happy Christmas. I hope you have fun.

(Follow Foley’s Follies on Twitter @ivanfoley, find him on Facebook or email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)



Written 12/14/16

Welcome back to Between the Lines. We’re just here to drop Yuletide truth bombs.


Have you paid your Platte County property taxes yet?

Don’t panic, you’ve still got time, I’m just asking the question in a rhetorical sort of way. My routine for paying bills is to keep them all in a file folder at arm’s reach in a desk drawer. I open the folder at least once a week, typically on Thursdays, and pay any bills that I know are due before the time I’ll be reaching into that folder again.

So at this point my Platte County real estate tax bill for the historic Landmark building and my Platte County personal property tax bill for my business equipment, etc. remain on top of the stack.

A lot of you wait until Dec. 31 (which is a Saturday this year, so keep that in mind) to pay your Platte County tax bill, and that’s cool. I typically don’t wait quite that long. I’ll probably drop mine in the mail on Thursday of this week actually, just to be sure, or walk it over to the administration building next week.

And by the way, calling it our “county” tax bill is more than a bit of a misnomer. Check out the information on your tax statement and you’ll notice the vast majority of it goes to the local school district in which your property is located.

Other leaders in the tax game, as you’ll see on your statement, usually include the city where your property is located, ambulance districts, fire districts, and library district (that one will be jumping up next year).


Christmas caroling and Christmas calories. The words look similar but are actually quite different in meaning. When headed out to holiday gatherings this weekend I’ll try to remember to just say (mostly) no to the calorie intake. Gonna need you to wish me luck with that, though.


It is becoming quite clear Platte County is going to have some major influence in Jefferson City in the upcoming administration of incoming Gov. Eric Greitens. The latest example of this is shown in our front page story on Todd Graves, former Platte County prosecutor, being named by Greitens to head the Missouri Republican Party. And by the way, I’m not too humble to mention The Landmark scored the first media interview given by the incoming state GOP chairman, ticking off all the state political writers on Twitter, which is entertaining to me.

Graves also serves as general counsel to the Greitens transition team. When you keep in mind that Eric Zahnd, current prosecutor, is also tight with the incoming governor, it’s easy to see some major players in Platte County are not going to have a hard time getting the ear of the incoming governor.

This is a good thing.


More on this coming in next week’s column, including more on our personal history with him and his time as a county officeholder, but it was good to catch up to longtime Landmark pal/co-founder of what eventually became the world famous Landmark Christmas Party. I texted Todd Graves Tuesday after word was spreading that he was being tapped by Greitens as the new state party chairman. Every major media outlet in the state was trying to contact Graves at that point. Reading the political pundits on Twitter, it was clear to me he was ignoring them.

“As soon to be head of MO GOP, you could give your first interview on the topic to The Landmark,” I texted to him.

A short time later, I received this response: “Count on it. As long as you refer to me as Mr. Chairman.”

Good to know success and recognition hasn’t gone to his head, right?

Those who only know his public persona may not realize Graves has a tremendous sense of humor. He was joking.

At least I think he was joking. Just in case, I started the interview with, “So, Mr. Chairman. . .”


Haven’t yet heard an official announcement on this, but when I was taking a gander at the calendar posted on the web site for the Platte County Commission I noticed the swearing-in for officials who were elected on Nov. 8 is scheduled to be held Wednesday, Dec. 28 at 11 a.m.

Good seats are still available.

Enter that date in your phone or mark that on your personal calendar. It’s often a good time to catch up with political contacts and friends, or to force your political enemies to say hi to you.

Consider attending. They even serve cookies and whatnot and such at this deal.


So who will be sworn in that day?

By now you know the obvious, the two incoming commissioners who were winners in contested races on Nov. 8, Republicans Dagmar Wood in district one and John Elliott in district two.

For the rest, I had to research to see who was on the ballot without opposition. The uncontested winners for their respective seats on Nov. 8 were Rob Willard, county treasurer, who will take office for his second term; Mark Owen, sheriff, also beginning his second term; David Cox, assessor, also beginning his second term; and Jera Pruitt, incoming public administrator, who was elected to her first term.


I’ve checked the Timehop app on my phone for 61 consecutive days now, so you can’t say I haven’t been getting things done.

(Your Landmark publisher gets some things done, not the least of which is irritating other journalists, on Twitter @ivanfoley. You’ll also find Foley on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube or email him at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 12/7/16

It’s that time of year, you guys. Sure, we don’t do a Landmark Christmas Party anymore, but keep an ear out for the Between the Lines singers caroling in your neighborhood. And if you’re really good, Chris Kamler and I will dress like tiny elves and come sweep your chimneys and snake your toilets.


The numbers are in.

To get a gauge on the economic activity in the county, it’s interesting to take a look at Platte County’s sales tax collections and make a comparison to the previous year.

We can now do that definitively, as the county has received the December sales tax dollars from the state, ending the collections for calendar year 2016. The verdict on sales tax numbers? Total sales tax revenues are down by half a percent compared to last year.

Just as important a number to examine--actually, even more so since the use tax and the general sales tax both provide the major revenue stream for the county’s general fund--is the combined use tax/general sales tax total. According to Rob Willard, the combined sales/use tax income for 2016 is down by two percent compared to 2015.

That is down, as in the opposite of up.

I find the totals interesting in that not too many years ago county officials almost always assumed revenue growth from year to year when making their budgets. I remember a conversation I had with an elected official three to four years ago. I won’t mention his name right now because I’ve already nudged him in the recent past for bureaucratic budgeting so there’s no need rubbing salt in an open wound this week. Our talk back then went like this. In projecting revenues for the following year, he said this: “It always grows by about three percent,” he said of the sales tax revenue. “How do you know it will?” I asked. “Because it always has,” was his answer.

I guess the days of “it always has” are over, and have been for a couple years now.

It’s a dangerous practice to assume revenue growth. Under Ron Schieber, current presiding commissioner, the past couple of years the county has budgeted based off of 2013 revenue figures, a fiscally smart and conservative budgeting practice. Because of that conservative approach, Schieber is not freaking out when he sees the sales tax remain flat compared to 2015--or dip by half a percent.

Now, if it ever starts to dip below 2013 numbers, lots of folks may start flipping out.


The QuikTrip at Parkville is now open at the intersection of Hwys. 9 and 45. Enjoy.

It was a long time coming, as it survived some early opposition from the “that’s not a good place for development crowd” even though the “place” is the intersection of two state highways. As was written here in the fall of 2013 when this first came up, if you’re going to buy a home near the intersection of two state highways it would be a good idea to anticipate development eventually occurring at said intersection of two state highways.

That’s what happens. Most folks call it progress. If you bought an expensive home not far from the intersection and anticipated there would never be an increase in traffic at and near the four-way, I don’t know what to tell you other than you were living in a fantasy world.

Welcome, QT. This likely will turn out to be a major sales tax revenue stream for Parkville, just as the one in Platte City has become for its host city. Keep in mind the new Parkville QT is located inside a planned community improvement district--and an accompanying CID extra one cent sales tax--along that stretch of Hwy. 9.
An update on the proposed CID can be found in a story elsewhere in this issue, as well as the front page story on Parkville’s proposed massive sewer rate increase.

Oh, and speaking of the sewer topic, don’t miss Gordon Cook’s letter to the editor on this page. Gordon, who appears to be a middle aged white guy, might be on former City Administrator Lauren Palmer’s naughty list for that and several other reasons right now.


The completion of Kentucky Avenue as a major east-west corridor in the southern part of Platte City is complete and is making travel much easier for motorists to get from residential areas over to commercial areas of Hwy. 92 and then I-29. Credit to all involved on that project and credit to local motorists for being patient in the construction process.

“The vision for a southern east/west traffic corridor has been discussed by many (mayoral) administrations beginning as early as 1962. It’s satisfying to see the success of the joint partnerships aiding this important step in the city’s economic development effort,” Mayor Frank Offutt told me recently.


At the state level, Republicans won all statewide officeholder elections that were up for grabs on Nov. 8. Eric Greitens, the incoming governor, will have the duty and opportunity to make various appointments, some of which will have impact at the local level. Some folks who are influential in the local Republican party have quietly indicated they look forward to prompting Greitens into updating some of the local appointments. For instance, all four spots on the Platte County Board of Election Commissioners--two Democrats and two Republicans--are currently held by folks whose terms have technically expired but have continued to serve because current Gov. Jay Nixon has not acted to reappoint or name a replacement. That’s one board that may get nudged for change by some folks who have influence in the local GOP. It will be interesting to see what happens.


It was good to see a location in Platte County get to host the Chiefs Radio Network’s weekly Chiefs Kingdom show (see front page). The new HyVee Market Grille inside the HyVee at I-29 and 64th Street in southern Platte County received plenty of nice publicity during the radio show. Around 150 Chiefs fans filled seats inside the grill during the live broadcast that went out over the Chiefs network.

The HyVee Market Grille has a bit of a sports bar feel to it, with several televisions and a full service bar. Cool place if you haven’t yet checked it out.

(Check out your Landmark publisher on Twitter @ivanfoley or track him on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, or email him at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 11/30/16

Tuesday night’s gas line explosion and towering inferno in eastern Platte County (see front page) brought back memories of a Tuesday in May of 2001. It was a similar scene, and I would argue it was an even more impressive one than what happened Tuesday night. Maybe my opinion is affected by the fact I had an up close and personal view of the 2001 event, arriving on the scene of that gas line explosion along Hwy. 273 between Tracy and Weston within minutes. Maybe it’s because the 2001 explosion happened in the daytime so views were clearer and more detailed.

It was Tuesday, May 1, 2001. We had a police scanner in the office (we still do, I just rarely turn it on these days because the constant chatter further shortens my easily-distracted attention span) and at 11 a.m. that morning a Platte County deputy radioed in the explosion. He was in his patrol car near Vaughn’s Orchard, a few hundred yards away from the scene. “We’re going to need multiple agencies to respond,” the deputy calmly said to dispatch.

Yes. Yes, you are.

Boom. Immediately your publisher and office manager Cindy Rinehart jumped in the car. This was in the early days of digital cameras, and Cindy had a personal digital camera that recorded the images onto a floppy disk. My, how far digital cameras have come since 2001. This was also in the early days of full color usage on our front page. We had long done spot color, but full color pictures were something rarely done in The Landmark in those days. In fact this may have been the first one, I’ll have to research that later to be 100 percent certain.

Cindy and I were the first media members to arrive on the scene, even beating some of the emergency vehicles, and I’ll never forget the details. Balls of fire rolled high into the sky. There was a roaring sound. We were close enough to feel the heat from the huge flames. I have to admit when I got there, between the heat, the rolling fire and the roaring noise, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be that close. My first comment to Cindy was: “Get a quick picture and let’s get the hell out of here.” After all, while I don’t mind going all out for Landmark readers my goal is to still be around to see the finished product once we’ve got the story. Cindy, however, apparently didn’t feel the same sense of urgency because she kept snapping photos. I remember telling her later the reason the fire didn’t bother her is because she’s used to working around a hot newspaperman. I’m not sure why she laughed.

A minute or so after my “let’s get the hell out of here,” I became more confident the fire was not going to continue to spread throughout the pipeline. I got brave and moved up as close to the scene as authorities would allow (perhaps closer than they intended to allow, but let’s not tell on ourselves) and started signaling Cindy to get closer while hollering out camera angles I thought would be great. She seemed a little more comfortable hanging back. Maybe she just wasn’t appreciative of my photography advice.

I remember interviewing Cody McGee, at the time age 22, a motorist who was driving down Hwy. 273 in his pickup when the explosion occurred. McGee and his passenger heard the “kaboom,” felt the truck shake and saw flames shoot over the top of their vehicle to the other side of the highway. His passenger, Robbie Curtis, also 22, said he was pushed over to the driver’s side of the vehicle by the force of the blast.

Now that’s a cruise down the highway you’d never forget. I failed to ask those guys if they needed a change of underwear. Nobody could blame them if they did.
The flames that day were shooting an estimated (by authorities) 300 feet into the air. I wasn’t near enough to this week’s scene to give you an estimate on how high the flames were billowing, but one of the Kansas City TV stations was reporting 100 to 200 feet.


Platte City’s courthouse/downtown lighting ceremony went off without a hitch last Wednesday night. Unbeknownst to your Landmark staff, there was a contest and prizes awarded to downtown businesses with decorative storefronts. Happy to say The Landmark was awarded third place without realizing we were even in a contest. As I told Mayor Frank Offutt late Wednesday night, now that I realize this is a competition, look out next year. It’s on.


A few readers have asked about our breaking story on last week’s front page involving alleged misuse of money for the Parkville Special Road District by employee Kurt Eckard. As I wrote in our story last week, Eckard is the son of road district commissioner Brenda Teters.

So how does an elected road district commissioner get by with employing her son? Isn’t that nepotism? Sure seems like it.

This mother/son employment situation with the Parkville Special Road District has been investigated by the Platte County Sheriff’s Department in the past, and for whatever reason, no charge of nepotism was filed. How do I know this? Because more than a year ago (it may be closer to two years, time gets away), some folks connected with the road district approached me about the mother/son employment situation. I told them it sure sounded fishy. I texted the tip to someone I know in law enforcement, who agreed. I then encouraged those folks with the road district who had spoken their concerns to me to file a complaint with the sheriff’s department. They did. An investigation was conducted. Where it went from there, nobody seems to know. Some of the folks inside the road district have told me they have a theory as to why the matter disappeared without charges, but at this point that’s hearsay that I’m not ready to print.

All I can tell you is no court action over the apparent nepotism was filed.

It’s interesting, indeed.

Might be time for law enforcement folks to take another look at what happened to that first investigation and reconsider further action.

(Get your Between the Lines fix between issues of the printed paper on Twitter @ivanfoley or email Foley at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 11/26/16

Welcome back to Between the Lines. Hope you’ll come say hi Wednesday evening. More on that in a bit.


Change is on the way in leadership positions at Platte County and with change at the top will come other changes below, I’m guessing, whether those changes be in policies and procedures or in personnel. Or perhaps a combination of the above.
In other words, it’s possible things around the county administration building could get newsworthy in the coming weeks and months.

It’s one of the few downers to government employment. Government jobs are often cushy, with set hours, low stress, offices that are often overstaffed, decent-to-good pay and good benefits. But the downside is when your bosses get replaced by the voters, sometimes heads roll.

If you’re going to gladly accept the good times you’ve got to accept the rough waters when they come.


In glancing over the county auditor’s recommended budget (see story in this issue), a couple of things jumped out. One of those is that county auditor Kevin Robinson, no matter the state of the economy, always proposes a pay raise for county employees, which of course includes his wife, the county human resources director. The county’s sales and use tax income for 2016 is down by one percent through the first 11 months of this year compared to last and the county’s employee health insurance costs are going up significantly but still the increased payroll spending is proposed by the county auditor.

It’s like clockwork. When the calendar turns to a new year the bureaucratic types assume that means an automatic pay raise. A performance-based pay schedule would be a better way to go in terms of accountability to the taxpayers.

Another thing that amused me is the county auditor no longer refers to the proposed raises as a cost of living adjustment (COLA). This is probably because in years past the public in general has scratched its collective heads over the county giving COLAs at a time when the cost of living has not been increasing.
So now instead of calling them COLAs, the county auditor in his written proposal simply refers to the proposed across the board raises as a “wage adjustment.”

The game of semantics made me smile.


Parkville’s newly-accepted park master plan includes a detail that didn’t get a lot of discussion during the board of aldermen’s adoption of the plan last week. That detail is a recommended half cent city sales tax for parks down the road. See the story by reporter Alan McArthur on the front page.

Of course such a city sales tax would need to be voter approved, so if the plan develops legs it will eventually come to the voters.

It’s interesting the recommendation comes at a time when there is much discussion about the county potentially reducing the current half cent park tax. The county’s half cent park tax is overkill, of course, which results in the sharing of excess wealth with other taxing entities, such as the city of Parkville, in the form of “grants.”

A cut in the county tax would result in a cut in the amount of money available for those handouts. Somebody at Parkville may have had this in mind when the recommendation for a city half cent park tax was placed in its new parks master plan.

The county’s long-range plan for a reduced park tax could mean a move away from a “sharing the wealth” strategy to a viewpoint of “if you want it, you pay for it” approach, meaning other entities will have to start taxing themselves, instead of everyone in the county, if they want more amenities.

Makes sense.


Are you ready for Thanksgiving?

To accommodate the schedule of other family members, my Thanksgiving dinner has been moved from the traditional Thursday meal to a time later in the weekend. First time this has happened in my 29 years on this planet (shhhh).

I’m not complaining. This means on Thanksgiving Day I will watch a little football, drink a Bud Light from a frosty mug, hit a movie and maybe slip in a trip to the casino. Just like the pilgrims used to do.


If you believe in making friendly wagers on NFL games, here’s a tip for you. Whenever the Chiefs are playing at home and giving points, take the visiting team. The Chiefs are 1-4 against the spread in home games this year. I may or may not know someone who has taken advantage of this.

The Chiefs are not the dominant home team that the Vegas oddsmakers--and many Chiefs fans--still believe they are.

Frankly, they haven’t been dominant at home in quite some time--this is not a new thing if you’ve been paying close attention the past several years. The Chiefs often win at home but rarely are dominant in doing so.


Here’s another tip. If you believe the Chiefs are going to win the game, take the under. Seven of the last eight times the Chiefs have been favored, the final score has gone under the posted total.

When the Chiefs get a lead they tend to sit on the ball. This leads to a lot of unders, and also leads to the national media basically ignoring the Chiefs because, let’s be honest, they’re a boring team to watch. No explosiveness in this squad at all. When the Chiefs are on TV you can often catch me watching a different NFL game, cleaning my vehicles or folding my boxers.


Catch me in The Landmark office during Wednesday night’s Platte City Holiday Lighting Celebration. During the event, which will run from 5:30 to 8 p.m., we’ve got a super half price deal for you on Landmark subscriptions. For just $12 you can get a new one-year subscription or renew your current subscription. That price is only good from 5:30 to 8 Wednesday night. Drop in the office at 252 Main Street or call in your order to 816-858-2313. Your journalistic Santa Claus hopes to have a Christmas elf or two helping him handle the office during the special offer.

After our long work days Monday through Wednesday of this week, your Landmark office will be closed on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Normally that’s a day where I handle the office solo but I’ve convinced myself that even I deserve the day off this year. Have a great holiday weekend.

(Catch The Landmark publisher even during off hours on Twitter @ivanfoley or chase him down on Facebook or Instagram. Email him at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 11/16/16

With just one month of collections left to come in, it’s worth noting the county’s sales and use tax revenues are down by one percent compared to this time last year. Cautious budgeting pays off for the commission, as the county commissioners chose to budget based on revenues matching sales/use tax income from 2013 rather than play games with lofty forecasts of growth, which would have been the choice of other bureaucrats.

Rob Willard, county treasurer, had some interesting thoughts when I spoke to him about the topic this week.

“There has been focus on the sales tax being flat the last couple of years but something else that has, if not at least flattening but increasing at a smaller rate, and that is Platte County’s population growth. Since 1960, every decade the county’s population has seen a rise of 20% or more, sometimes as high as 50%,” Willard said.

No such big population growth for Platte County in the current decade, at least not yet, and here we are now six years into it. Willard points out the county’s population has grown by only 7% since 2010.

“If the current pace continues the growth may exceed 10% but the county is not growing relatively at the same pace as it had in previous decades,” he said.

Willard is encouraged by the fact come Jan. 1, the county commission will be comprised of three leaders who have called for a long term approach to budgeting and planning.

“Discussion of long term planning is finally on the table and I think the new commission realizes that prudence and planning is called for instead of a population boom panacea. I really hope the Twin Creeks project bumps the numbers but hope is not a plan,” Willard added.

Thoughts worthy of some consideration in your free thinking time.


It’s the little things that annoy me.

Did you notice during the national news coverage on Election Night just how many of the of pundits were mispronouncing the word “Electoral College?” I was taken aback at how many of the allegedly very scholarly national folks were pronouncing the word as “Electorial” College.

No. Incorrect. For the love of Walter Cronkite, just stop. The word is electoral. The word is not electorial.

Kick me in the shins. Slap me upside the noggin. Say bad things about my Mazda pickup that has 317,000 miles on it. Just don’t say “electorial” and we can still be friends.


A quick review of the local election results shows one of the losers again this go-round is Betty Knight. How can we say that, you might ask, since Betty, a former presiding commissioner who often received written smooches from former Kansas City Star far left wing editorial writer Yael (I still can’t spell or pronounce his last name but you know who I’m talking about), has not been on the ballot for years.
Knight, though she serves on the board of directors for the Platte County Board of Elections, is still active behind the scenes in some of these local elections. It’s no secret her favorite candidate in the August Republican primary for district one county commissioner was incumbent Beverlee Roper. Roper lost. It’s no secret that Betty’s preferred candidate in the district one general election was Andy Smith, whose campaign has been the target of a criminal investigation for alleged election fraud. Smith lost. It’s no secret Betty’s preferred candidate in the district two county commission race last week was Democrat John Fairfield. Fairfield lost. Betty’s preferred candidate for presiding commissioner in 2014 was Jim Plunkett. Plunkett lost.

I’m starting to notice a pattern.

It must have been love, but it’s over now.


Make The Day Before Thanksgiving Great Again.

That’s the goal at the ol’ Landmark this year, ladies and gentlemen. Together we can do it.

Don’t miss the Platte City Holiday Lighting Celebration on Wednesday night, the day before Thanksgiving. It will be the best one yet, you see, because for the first time The Landmark building will be included in the rows of downtown structures sparkling with Christmas lights when the switch is thrown at 6 o’clock that night. So get your popcorn ready.

In addition to the lights on the building, I’m planning a Christmas display in our large storefront windows, so you know, go ahead and get pumped about that. A lighted mesh snowman standing in a field of snow will be part of the display, and if that doesn’t get you all warm and fuzzy on the inside then are you even breathing right now?

Think about it: small town newspaperman decorates his Main Street building with lights and snowmen and snowflakes and stuff as passersby stroll the sidewalk with hot chocolate, Christmas music plays in the background and joyous sounds of the holiday fill the air. It’ll be like a movie on the Hallmark Channel.

The ceremony starts at 5:30, lights come on at 6 and the fun on the street goes on till around 8 p.m. or so. I’ll be in the middle of the action snapping photos for a portion of it, but if you don’t see me out there stop in The Landmark office to say hello, Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas or whatever it is you feel moved to say.


Next week’s Landmark will hit the streets a day earlier than normal, as we’ll have it in the news racks and be dropping it in the mail on Tuesday. This way local readers will have a copy of their favorite newspaper in their hands Wednesday, prior to the Thanksgiving holiday.

And if you’re a Black Friday weekend shopper, you’ll be excited about the ads that will be inserted in next week’s Landmark. JCPenney, for instance, will have a YUGE catalog of savings inserted. This thing is at least 72 pages thick, and I say at least because I started counting the pages but got tired after 72.

For the outdoorsy types, Cabela’s has a thick insert of Black Friday savings coming in next week’s issue, and there will be your usual assortment of coupon books coming from P&G and/or Red Plum.

If you don’t want to wait till next week for some holiday specials, Jeff’s True Value has some deals for you in this week’s Landmark on page B-1, so check that out.

Bottom line is that next week’s copy of The Landmark will be a big time weekend shopper’s delight. Getcha some.

(Get your holiday fixings from Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley or hunt his turkey-eating self down on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Email The Landmark publisher at ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)

Written 11/9/16

Day after election around the newspaper office always means too little sleep and too much caffeine. Just a statement of fact, not a complaint, because The Landmark loves elections and the election process. Let’s power through this.


During the Tuesday night social media postings of election results as they came in, I incorrectly posted the Platte County portion of the vote on the library tax, reversing the “yes” totals and the “no” totals. Obviously I get giddy about tax increases, right?

Anyway, just wanted to say in print that I apologize for temporarily confusing those of you who were following along on social media. I make a posting mistake every time Donald Trump wins the presidency.


Platte County voters sent a bit of mixed message in local races on Tuesday, overwhelmingly electing two county commission candidates who ran on a platform of lower taxes but at the same time overwhelmingly voting in favor of a 25% tax increase for the local library district.


It can only be explained by saying that “feel good” type taxes are so hard to defeat. To heck with any study of the actual need or looking at the proposal without emotion playing into it, voting in favor of a tax for libraries or schools or parks or anything else that can be sold as being “for the kids” is just so easy for people to do. It truly does make the voter “feel good” about doing something perceived as being “for the kids.” To many people, it feels like they’re performing a charitable act to vote yes on such items.

Which means anytime any such tax gets defeated, something incredible has happened.


Best of luck to Gordon Cook, an accountant who lives in Parkville who has made a name for himself with insightful letters to the editor of this newspaper over the past several years, on his appointment to the Mid-Continent Public Library Board.
As a fiscal conservative on a library board that just pushed a rousing increase in taxing and spending, Cook may have moments in the near future where he feels like he is beating his head against a wall. Best wishes and a heartfelt thanks to him for being willing to serve.

I reached out to him for a comment on his appointment.

“My purpose in serving on the board will be to see that the financial resources provided to MCPL are used wisely and efficiently while meeting the real needs of citizens and the surrounding communities,” Cook said.

I think the key words in his quote are “wisely and efficiently” and “real needs.”


The drama surrounding the county’s effort to recover all of the money lost when Rob Willard, county treasurer, was fooled in an email scam back in May came to an end this week. Willard is personally repaying the county $25,000. About $20,000 of that is to pay back unrecovered funds and the other $5,000 is to cover legal fees the county incurred as a result of the scam. We can criticize Willard for his role in the unfortunate situation while praising him for at least personally correcting the financial end of things with personal funds.

The embattled treasurer was re-elected Tuesday, running unopposed on the ballot. Filing deadline for candidates had already closed by the time he was spoofed out of the funds.


This probably isn’t the only place you’re going to read this opinion this week--in fact I know it’s not because Chris Kamler mentions it on page 3--but Missouri really needs to embrace the concept of early voting. There were reports of a three-hour wait to vote at the Northland Cathedral polling site in Clay County on Tuesday. Ridiculous.


The LC’s Hamburgers food truck was in Platte City on Tuesday and it was glorious.


I like to look at the little things in election results. For instance on Tuesday’s Platte County ballot, I was anxious to see which of the local circuit court judges up for retention pulled the greatest/least amount of support for keeping their positions.
Four judges were up for retention: Platte County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Fincham and Platte County Associate Circuit Court Judges Quint Shafer, Ann Hansbrough and Dennis Eckold.

I wasn’t sure which judge would get the greatest support for retention--turns out it was Hansbrough--but my feeling going in was that if the public has been paying attention the judge who would get the least support would be Fincham.

I’ve mentioned previously that I don’t know Fincham personally but I’m sure he’s a great guy and I certainly respect his position as judge and appreciate his public service. Having said that, Fincham, you’ll recall, is the judge who made the somewhat controversial ruling on the county commission’s challenge on the legality of the library district’s use of a “forever tax” to fund construction of buildings. And prior to that, regular readers of Between the Lines will recall we’ve discussed a couple of head-scratching rulings Fincham has made in criminal cases in recent years. There was the case, for instance, in which Fincham initially set a child porn suspect’s bond at $200,000 cash-only before later lowering it to $50,000 cash or surety bond, which allowed the suspect to get out for $5,000. Going from $200,000 all the way down to $5,000 was certainly a bizarre decision. Those two opinions are so far apart there’s no way they both could be considered “correct” judgments.

Anyway, Fincham had the least support for retention from voters. At Tuesday’s election, 67.26% of voters wanted him retained to 32.74% opposed.
Vote totals on the other judges: Hansbrough 69.36% yes, 30.64% no; Shafer 69.04% yes, 30.96% no; and Eckold 68.33% yes, 31.67% no.

For what it’s worth.

(For what it’s worth, Landmark publisher Foley can be found on Twitter @ivanfoley, on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. Email ivan@plattecountylandmark.com)


Written 11/7/16

If you’ve been paying attention the past several months, you already know this. Here are your Between the Lines endorsements on important local candidates and issues.

SECOND DISTRICT COUNTY COMMISSIONER: John Elliott. A common sense, ‘let’s get our spending priorities straight’ kind of candidate. No one is better prepared to take over an elected spot than Elliott, after years of working on campaigns and being active in government behind the scenes. I’m very confident with Elliott--unlike with many previous commissioners--you won’t get a person who campaigned one way as a candidate then governs an entirely different way once elected.

FIRST DISTRICT COUNTY COMMISSIONER: Dagmar Wood. An extremely intelligent, determined person who will ‘wow’ you with her detailed grasp of all the issues. She is confident in her stances and her abilities and won’t fall into the trap so many others have in that their bravery to fight bureaucracy disappeared once elected. Like Elliott, she will prioritize law enforcement and support wise maintenance of the county’s vast parks and recreation system.

MID-CONTINENT PUBLIC LIBRARY TAX: Vote no on the library’s proposed 25% property tax increase, which--even if you think it’s legal to fund the construction of buildings with a forever tax--is waaaay too much in this economic climate. Even the Platte County Economic Development Council board has voted to oppose this over-the-top tax, which speaks volumes. When was the last time you saw any economic development group or chamber of commerce oppose a ‘feel-good’ type tax? That almost never happens.


Written 11/2/16

How about this weather? With the high temperature Tuesday nearing 80 degrees, I flipped on the air conditioning at the office and at home. First time I’ve ever done that in the month of November. Anybody else?


I have a bit of a humorous Kansas City Star story for you. Normally these are reserved for page 3 columnist Hearne Christopher but since I was directly involved in this one I will do the honors.

Opened the mail Monday morning to find a letter from the Kansas City Star addressed to me at The Landmark, 252 Main St., Platte City. It read like this:

“Pursuant to our joint distribution agreement, this is a 60-day notice of termination, effective December 31, 2016. The last day your subscribers will receive a Kansas City Star Sunday paper will be December 25, 2016. Regards.”

It was signed by Phil Schroder, regional vice president of audience development for the Kansas City Star.

Here’s the funny part. The Landmark doesn’t have a “joint distribution agreement” with the Star. Never has had. Frankly, it never interested me to get in bed with the Star.

So throughout the day Monday, I left two voice mails for Phil Schroder, the first one vague, the second detailing the fact I believe he sent this letter to the wrong newspaper. After my more detailed voice mail Schroder returned my call. He confirmed he had sent the letter to the wrong newspaper. Schroder also confirmed the Star is canceling the deal it has had with some weekly newspapers to deliver a Sunday Star to subscribers of that weekly.

“It’s not working out like it used to,” he said.

So there you go. If you were subscribing to some weekly just so you could get a free Sunday Star the gig is up on Dec. 25. Merry Christmas.


Newest numbers from the state indicate the average school district in Missouri has a debt of $8,853 per student. At Platte County R-3, the debt per student is more than $20,000.

Something to think about. I know Dr. Mike Reik, R-3 superintendent, once publicly stated a school district’s debt is “irrelevant,” but I’m not sure a majority of taxpayers agree with him on that.


Veteran’s Day will be a big day for Platte City Mayor Frank Offutt. The mayor is very proud of the city’s ability to get the anchor from the USS Platte in Settler’s Crossing Park and the anchor monument is now ready for its dedication.

The anchor dedication will be combined with the city’s Veterans Day ceremony next Friday, Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. at Settler’s Crossing Park, First and Main Streets (perhaps better described as located at the bottom of Main Street).

There will be a second grade choir from Pathfinder Elementary School performing at 10:45 prior to the 11 a.m. ceremony that will feature the Platte City Community Band and Brass Ensemble, a rifle detail from VFW Post 4055, Color Guard from the Smithville American Legion and a presentation of a POW MIA Flag by VFW Post 4055. The ceremony will end with a rifle salute and the playing of Taps.

If you’re looking for a Veterans Day ceremony to attend, this should be a good one.


If you’ve been paying attention the past several months, you already know this. Here are your Between the Lines endorsements on important local candidates and issues.

SECOND DISTRICT COUNTY COMMISSIONER: John Elliott. A common sense, ‘let’s get our spending priorities straight’ kind of candidate. No one is better prepared to take over an elected spot than Elliott, after years of working on campaigns and being active in government behind the scenes. I’m very confident with Elliott--unlike with many previous commissioners--you won’t get a person who campaigned one way as a candidate then governs an entirely different way once elected.

FIRST DISTRICT COUNTY COMMISSIONER: Dagmar Wood. An extremely intelligent, determined person who will ‘wow’ you with her detailed grasp of all the issues. She is confident in her stances and her abilities and won’t fall into the trap so many others have in that their bravery to fight bureaucracy disappeared once elected. Like Elliott, she will prioritize law enforcement and support wise maintenance of the county’s vast parks and recreation system.

MID-CONTINENT PUBLIC LIBRARY TAX: Vote no on the library’s proposed 25% tax increase, which, even if you think it’s legal to fund the construction of buildings with a forever tax, is waaaay too much in this economic climate. Even the Platte County Economic Development Council board has voted to oppose this over-the-top tax, which speaks volumes. When was the last time you saw any economic development group or chamber of commerce oppose a ‘feel-good’ type tax? That almost never happens.


Saddened to learn Wells Bank will be vacating downtown Platte City. The bank has been one of the anchors on the downtown square since 1879 when it was located in what is now known as the Farley Law Office on the northwest corner of Third and Main. In 1934 Wells Bank moved to its current spot at the southeast corner of Third and Main.

Hate to see them go but we understand, business is business. Sounds like the traffic at Hwy. 92/Marshall is an attractive option to them.

Hopefully city and community leaders go ahead and get started working hard to find an eventual occupant for the bank’s attractive building at Third and Main.


A big thank you to volunteers who helped with the installation of Christmas lights on the exterior of The Landmark building Saturday morning. Hats off to Bill Collins of the Platte City Chamber of Commerce, Dannie Stamper of Platte City Parks and Recreation and Arnie Wilkins of the Central Platte Fire Department. That crew