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by Ivan Foley

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Between the Lines

by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor


Posted 12/30/10

Personally, I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions. But this isn’t a personal topic. This is a business topic up for discussion here in the final 2010 episode of Between the Lines.

After the fiscal conservative revolution that swept the country, the state and the county, it’s time to make a resolution to hold these newly-elected officials’ feet to the fire. Make them live up to their pledges of being promoters of smaller, smarter government. Don’t let them fall into the tax and spend habits that afflicted their predecessors.

Now that conservatives received love from voters and have power in government, it’s not the time to become compromising squishes. Instead of doing what’s easy, pressure your newly elected self-proclaimed conservatives to do what’s right--and do what you as voters have directed them to do. Let’s be honest, there aren’t many moderates left among the electorate in this point in time. Any elected official choosing to govern as a moderate in this climate is setting himself or herself up for a negative outcome the next time his or her government paycheck comes up for renewal.

While the fight for fiscal sanity at the national level gets much of the attention, the fight for fiscal sanity at home is where your voice is going to be the most effective. Focus on the spending being done by your local entities. Start at the county level and work your way down. Sometimes your biggest culprits in over the top spending habits occur in places that might not always be at the highest level of your awareness. Places like within your school district, or fire district, or ambulance district, for example.

This will be a fascinating year or year and a half at the county level. I’m curious to see if spenders in the county administration building fully grasp the overwhelming “smaller is better” attitude of the majority of voters right now. Past spending habits could come back to haunt some of the returning officeholders. If the November election is any indicator, the days of getting a free pass for promoting an $82 million tax for horse trails and rainbows during an economic downturn are likely over. To avoid being ousted by voters at the next opportunity, a shift to a more conservative spending approach is going to be necessary for those who attached themselves to that $82 million toys tax in 2009. Decisions like spending more money to “update” the two community centers than it cost to build the two centers in the first place are also going to be tough to defend to an audience demanding smaller, more accountable government.

Jason Brown and other Republicans elected in November take the oath of office Thursday and officially start their terms next week. To keep voters happy, the conservative approach will need to dominate at the county level.


John Elliott, veteran of the local political scene who has been a highly successful consultant (kingmaker) for nearly two decades, pens the guest column this week in the lower right hand corner of page 3. Elliott will be back again next week with an in-depth look at a county topic that will get a lot of attention in 2011. It’s a column that will shine light on what will be a controversial subject in the coming months, a topic that could shape the political future for those involved in the decision making process.


Remember that civil lawsuit filed by Platte County against former human resources department employee Kendra Montgomery? The county commission accused Montgomery of falsifying time sheets, an alleged falsification that resulted in Montgomery receiving more than $2,200 in what the county believed was unwarranted vacation time, medical leave and comp time. Interestingly, shortly after the results of the November election were known, the county commission decided to drop that civil lawsuit against Montgomery.

No surprise there, really. We opined in this space long ago that the county’s case was extremely weak. You’ll recall the prosecutor looked at the details of this situation and came to the conclusion no crime was committed. Still, the commission continued to press forward in its action against Montgomery for months, piling up legal bills and paying for expenses that included attempting to fight Montgomery’s claims for unemployment (the county lost that fight when the state unemployment security division ruled the county’s key witness--human resources worker LeAnna Fannon--was not providing credible testimony). The county no doubt has rolled up more than $2,200 in expenses in trying to recover $2,200. Finally, commissioners decided to drop the legal charade. But not so fast. After the county filed its suit against her, you’ll recall Montgomery came forward with counterclaims against the county. Montgomery is still pushing ahead with those counter claims, which primarily focus on her stance that the county fired her for retaliation because she provided testimony in regard to Fannon’s claim of sexual harassment against the county auditor. You’ll recall Montgomery told investigators she believes Fannon’s claims of sexual harassment by the auditor “are false.”

Got all that? I realize the situation has a soap opera feel to it, but it’s really a topic that deserves to be followed. Mark Jess, Montgomery’s attorney, seems very anxious to continue to help Montgomery push her counterclaims against the county. Depositions are scheduled to be taken in late January from people like Dana Babcock, director of administration; Mary Robinson, human resources director; and of course Fannon.

The county dropping its portion of the suit can only be seen as a positive for Montgomery. “To me it’s an indication that it was a meritless claim in the first place. It’s a shame that they sullied her name and fought her on unemployment. At least they’ve had the decency to show that this is a meritless claim,” Jess told me in a phone interview recently.

Unless a settlement is reached, Montgomery’s counterclaims will eventually go to trial in front of a jury. We’ll stay on top of it.

(When you’re not following him on Facebook or Twitter, you can make a meritless claim against Ivan Foley via email to


Posted 12/23/10

Mary nodded and the ox and lamb are keeping time, so I guess I’ll play my journalistic drum for you.

Pa rum pum pum pum.


On the radio, aging rocker Bruce Springsteen just throated that Santa Claus is coming to town. So it must be true.


Changes are on the horizon in many elected positions around the county. Most newcomers who were elected at the county level will take the oath late next week and begin their terms the first week of January.

Among the changes at the county will be a complete makeover in the office of the county clerk. Sandy Krohne, after 16 years as the elected clerk which followed seven years of service as deputy clerk, was defeated in November by Republican newcomer Joan Harms. Harms has decided against retaining either of Krohne’s two hired staff members, Marcena Fulton and Jill Miller. This isn’t a complete shock considering some of Harms’ closest confidants are very anti-Krohne, but it’s a little disappointing that at least one of the staff members wasn’t retained for a few months to help with the transition and help educate an entirely new staff with the basics of the office.

While it’s true government service isn’t rocket science, some familiarity with the functions of the office would seem to be a benefit in the early days of a new regime. I’m not sure it’s in the best interests of taxpayers to wipe an office completely clean when the incoming official has no experience, but at this point we can only assume Harms is planning her work and working her plan.

In the meantime, some administration building co-workers are planning a farewell and wish you well gathering for Krohne, Fulton and Miller next week. I suggest stocking up on the tissues. After so many years working in the government complex, the final day can’t help but be an emotional one for Krohne and staff.


Another area the public will notice some change in coming months is on the Platte County R-3 School Board. After two terms (six years) on the board, the only real watchdog on the board is calling it quits. Trish Stinnett confirmed this week that she will not be seeking reelection.

Stinnett wasn’t always as conservative as some of us had expected or hoped her to be, but in her time she was often the only independent voice of reason on boards that were often led around on a leash by free-spending administrators. She also took her position seriously enough to study the issues. While I didn’t always agree with her stance, I always respected her opinion because I knew she had put in the work to research the topic at hand and wasn’t just being an echo of the paid staff. She has an independent streak the public appreciated, as evidenced by the large number of votes she attracted each time her name was on the ballot.

R-3 taxpayers have lost a friend on the board. Hopefully someone will take over Stinnett’s role as unafraid seeker of truth.


Now that the Missouri Department of Conservation’s constant “there are no mountain lions ‘round these parts” fairy tale has been proven untrue, it’s time to start questioning the conservation department about another wildlife matter. The topic this time? Elk.

Nicole Brown of State Sen. LuAnn Ridgeway’s staff has focused me on this subject via the social media outlets known as Facebook and Twitter, where daily Foley showings are available, don’t forget to tip your waitress.

Sen. Ridgeway is all over the boys and girls at the MDC for their plan to release 150 elk in southeast Missouri next year. Ridgeway, of Clay County, is concerned--and rightfully so--that there may be some unintended consequences from 150 elk being set free to roam this state.

“Because all Missouri has such fertile feeding grounds, it is only reasonable to assume that, as the original 150 elk reproduce, they will forage for new food plots. An expanding wild elk population cannot be expected to remain in a three-county area (southeast Missouri counties targeted for the elk release are Shannon, Reynolds, and Carter) anymore than wild deer are currently contained,” Ridgeway wrote in a recent memo to constituents.

The concern? Instead of the risk of hitting deer with your vehicle, a new threat will be motorists trying to dodge elk on Missouri’s roadways. The threat of serious injury or even death is present in a car-meets- Rudolph collision. That threat will be magnified many times over in a car-meets-elk crash. Why? A male white tailed deer weighs 150 pounds and stands about 3.5 feet tall at the shoulder. A male elk weighs 700 pounds and stands around 6.5 feet tall at the shoulder. Yikes.

In addition to the safety concerns for motorists, Ridgeway is also talking about threats to farmers in the form of potential devastation to crops as elk herds move through an area. Elk are grazers, just like cows, unlike the current deer population that simply browse. Infectious diseases can be spread to cattle populations, as well, Ridgeway points out. The Missouri Farm Bureau, recognizing all these factors, is opposed to reintroducing wild elk to Missouri.

If you have a concern on this topic, contact your state legislator. Or, encourage Ridgeway from neighboring Clay County to keep up her fight. Her office can be reached at 866.875.8348.


Hoping you and your family have a great Christmas. Thanks for being weekly readers and a part of The Landmark family.

(Search for him on Facebook and Twitter or go the old fashioned route and contact Ivan Foley by email to


Posted 12/17/10

I’ve written this column in a lot of different places over the years. But never a labor room. Until this week.

Yes, the better part of this version of Between the Lines is being composed from the confines of a labor room in the obstetrics section of Western Missouri Medical Center in Warrensburg.

Here it is Tuesday at 8 p.m. and daughter Lindsey has had a long day. She woke up this morning at her home on Whiteman Air Force Base to find her water had broken. Lindsey’s husband, Eric, has been deployed on the Iraq/Kuwait border since July. With his absence, family members have been taking turns staying with Lindsey at night to give her some company and a helping hand. Her sister, Alyssa, was the family member ‘on-call’ on the night/morning of the water break and drove her sister to the hospital at 8:15 Tuesday morning.

Inducement started later in the day and here she is, writhing through the pain of contractions while her mother, sister, and yes, even her old man, try to take her mind off the pain. The gals at The Landmark provided a tip to me in a recent discussion about this day: The tip was to not spew any off the wall remarks while Lindsey is in labor pain. It was their belief some of my attempts at humor might not be well received at such a moment. I’ve tried a couple smart remarks that helped, but a buddy texted me a joke a few minutes ago. I read it out loud. I laughed. The girls in the room did not.

Should have followed my co-workers’ advice, I guess.


Wow, a blood curdling, ear-piercing scream just came from a labor room across the hall, prompting Lindsey to yell: “Oh, close the door!”

Problem? The door was already closed.

Yikes. This is gonna be a long night.


So the moment of truth finally arrived. Roughly--which seems an appropriate word--19 hours after Lindsey arrived at the hospital, Levi William Lewis entered the world at 2:57 a.m Wednesday. He tipped the scales at eight pounds, 10 ounces and was 19.5 inches long.

Mother, baby, aunt, grandma, doctor and the youngest G-Daddy alive are all doing well.
Sleep will have to wait for another day.


A couple of quick Between the Lines memos this week:

Memo to Brett Favre: Come on, man. It’s time to hang it up. You had a good run. It’s over. Move on with your life. Well, within reason. No more texting of your southern anatomy.

Memo to Chiefs: Come on, men. You do not have a backup quarterback whom you trust to throw the ball more than five yards down the field. Translated, this means you have no backup quarterback. Brodie Croyle seems like a nice guy. We’ve all seen his cute wife on TV. But come on, let’s get a backup quarterback with a cute wife who can actually move the team down the field. Is that too much too ask?

It’s time to cut the cord on Brodie.

And yes, I intentionally just used the phrase “cut the cord.”


Last week I put out a call for fill-in columnists during Chris Stigall’s hiatus. Stigall will be back in The Landmark in early January once he is on the air at his new radio job in Philadelphia. The first substitute debuts this week in the form of Andrew Palmer, a conservative school teacher from Clay County who is active in local politics there.

Also penning a column in an upcoming issue will be Logan Lightfoot, a politically conservative school administrator in the Platte County R-3 School District. Finally, my old pal John Elliott, longtime political kingmaker/consultant in Platte County, will author a column on a topic that is sure to get a rise out of some folks.

Don’t miss it.


Next week, we’ll get back to a little more hard core journalism in this spot. Well, maybe. It depends how the mood strikes me. I may slide in another version of our fictitious “Letters to Santa” from public officials.

If we do get back to real journalism, there are many stories awaiting a Between the Lines examination. I’ve been compiling a boatload of notes on several topics, but have been sidetracked the past few weeks. As things get back to a “normal” routine, there are some potentially eye-opening topics deserving of some ink and some hard-lined Between the Lines commentary. I fully realize the holidays are upon us and your attention can get easily distracted at this time of year, but you never want to miss an issue of The Landmark.

And by the way, thanks to all who came out to The Landmark’s annual Christmas party. The crowd was huge this year, no doubt boosted by the 50-some degree weather on Friday. Normally the 4-5 o’clock hour is the slowest of the night, but not so this year. The crowd started pouring in shortly after 4 and kept a steady pace until we kicked it into neutral about 7:15 or 7:30 and coasted to the 8 p.m. shutdown.

Thanks to some friendly volunteers who chipped in to help us out. Special gratitude to folks like Woody Grutzmacher, beverage babe Victoria Lynn Crook, Trish and Bob Stinnett, and Angie Crowell for their gracious help in keeping the setting up or closing down stress load as light as possible for Landmarkers Cindy Rinehart, Rian Babcock, Bill Hankins and yours truly. Most Excellent Catering was again most excellent.

We’ll see you again next year.

(You don’t have to sit on his lap but you’ll want to hear what the Journalistic Santa Claus has to say in next week’s issue. In the meantime, follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or peek in his window at 252 Main Street in Platte City)

(Email your journalistic Santa at


Posted 12/9/10

A couple of “what’s going on at The Landmark” items to get out on the table. Well, in addition to our annual Christmas party coming up this Friday, which we’ll get into a bit later in this column.

No. 1: What’s up with Chris Stigall? Yes, we teased you the last couple of weeks with notes that Stigall’s column would return in the following issue. But after arriving for behind the scenes, off the air work in Philly, Stigall has been slammed. So the mutual decision was made to put his column on hiatus until he hits the airwaves with his new radio station in Philadelphia, which will be the first week of January. I’m toying with the idea of using a fill-in columnist or two until then. Any ideas or suggestions or volunteers? Send your thoughts.

No. 2: After breaking into the world of the written word in last week’s issue, Landmark staffer Rian Babcock is back again this week with a column on the right hand side of this page. We’re taking suggestions from readers on a name for Rian’s column, which will appear periodically. Since her column will be oriented to the lighter side of things, suggestions that show a fun side will get serious attention.

Call or email any suggestions to me or to Rian directly at


Remember a few months ago when I provided in detail the explanation that Platte City Alderman Charles Cook gave to police when he was interviewed about the allegation that he exposed himself to a woman to whom he was providing a ride home? Cook, you’ll recall, told police his shorts didn’t have a button but did have a zipper that doesn’t stay up. He says he was wearing thong underwear, so when he grabbed his crotch he may have accidentally reached underneath the cookie cutter and exposed some dough. Immediately upon perusing his statement to police, it was clear to me Cook’s defense could be summed up in two words: Wardrobe malfunction. I then noted that the “wardrobe malfunction” line of defense could become popular among those accused of such crimes. It seems the half-hearted prediction is coming true.

As you’ll see on the front page, a Kansas City man is accused of exposing his espresso at a coffee shop recently. The Landmark obtained the statement of probable cause in this case to get the accused’s side of the story. His line of defense? Something to do with some bad fitting clothing. Here’s part of his defense:

“The accused later said his (Folgers) moves around inside of his shorts and it is possible the head of his (favorite aromatic blend) was exposed through the openings of the shorts and boxers. He said when he lifted his hands to stretch it felt like his (short handled mug) was exposed and he became embarrassed.”

OK, time for some Between the Lines analysis. First about the moving around part, prosecutors should also charge the man with unabashed boasting or lying, one or the other. I’ll gladly leave it up to the court to examine the evidence to determine which charge would be more appropriate. As to the point about being embarrassed, if he makes that statement in court he should immediately be charged with perjury. For Pete’s sake, the guy has already pled guilty to two earlier counts of exposing himself. It’s not very likely anything embarrasses this guy, especially a little matter about beans falling out of the roaster at a coffee house.

As if he isn’t in enough trouble with the exposure charge, the guy in his contact with authorities was wearing a Nebraska Cornhusker shirt. Come on, man, that’s terrible community awareness. This is Big 12 country and Nebraska is now the enemy. I know for a fact there are a lot of college sports fans in the prosecutor’s office. Not likely they’re happy having to deal with dicks from Nebraska right now.


Here’s your forecast for Friday: 54 degrees and plenty of funshine.

We can argue all day about whom to thank for the outstanding weather forecast. Some folks are partial to Bryan Busby or Gary Lezak. At The Landmark, longtime readers know our commercial-making loyalty lies with Katie Horner. All that matters is that there will be no snow or ice for Landmark party-goers to fight this year, and that’s cause for a celebration in itself. It’ll be great weather to come out in search of three wise men or a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes.

As far as the forecast of fun, that’s guaranteed for all of you who choose to head on out to The Landmark’s annual Christmas party on Friday. We’ll gather for food, your favorite beverages, music, and plenty of friendly conversation from 4-8 p.m. at the Comfort Inn, 1201 Hwy. 92 (Branch St), Platte City. Most Excellent Catering has been hired to serve the goodies, which this year will include pulled pork and fried chicken wings (Warning: don’t try to touch my plate of those or you’ll pull back a bloody stump).

Our talented-in-so-many-ways staff of Cindy Rinehart, Rian Babcock, PJ Rooks, Bill Hankins, Kathy Crawford, and Matthew Silber will be on hand to keep spirits bright. And the columnists you either love or love to hate will be there, including: Brian Kubicki, the man who debunked the mythical Global Warming movement before it was fashionably cool to do so; Greg Hall, my pal and one of the more engaging conversationalists you’ll ever meet, whose Off the Couch columns on our web site are a must-read; Hearne “Man About Town” Christopher; independent Russ Purvis and conservative James Thomas. Will Stigall show?

For those of you new to the party, this annual public hootenanny that is now a big part of the holiday season in Platte County has humble roots. It started as a 5-10 person gathering in the back of The Landmark office in the mid-1990s. It was a Friday before Christmas late afternoon gathering complete with nothing more than an adult beverage or two while cussing and dicusssing the issues of the day. In its infancy the party roster would include the likes of Todd Graves, John Elliott, Jack Coots and a couple other Wells Bankers, some years Bill Brown would drop in, same for Shaker Pepper, Greg Hall, and a pal or two from my high school days. Eventually it grew to the point my claustrophobia kicked in so we moved it to the upstairs of The Landmark, and when we quickly outgrew that spot after only two years it went off-location to the Comfort Inn in 2003. That’s where it has remained ever since, thanks to the generosity of hotel owner Brady Rodgers, who provides use of the Comfort Inn’s conference room and kitchen area to the newspaper at no charge.

Come for 30 minutes or stay well into the evening. Just get there. You’ll be glad you did. To get in the right spirit for the evening, check out pictures from previous years’ parties on my Facebook page. See you Friday.

(Email your journalistic Santa at

Rian Babcock




(EDITOR’S NOTE: Rian Babcock, Landmark ad sales guru, pens this week’s Between the Lines as a result of MU’s victory over KU on Saturday. Enjoy. Oh, and check out a displaced Ivan Foley Between the Lines column on the right hand side of this page. You didn’t really think he would go completely silent for a week, did you?)

Who knew a friendly wager would lead to this? At the time, it was said as more of a joke; never in a million years did I think Ivan would actually agree to it.

Initially, I sat at my desk and asked sarcastically, 'What do I want the people of Platte County to know?' Then the terror set in, and unsarcastically, I thought, 'Holy moly, people in Platte County are actually going to read this.'

A couple of quotes kept popping in my head:

“The written word lives on for hundreds and hundreds of years.”-Ivan Foley

“Don't ever put anything in writing that you don't want anybody else to know.”-My Mother

This is precisely why Ivan should not have written, “So if her beloved MU Tigers defeat KU, Rian and I will switch roles on a future Wednesday morning. I'll be stuffing papers while Rian pens this column…” in his Oct. 27 column.

A bet's a bet, so for you loyal Landmark/Between the Lines readers, especially you KU fans, I am sorry.

Now let's do this.


I will tell you a few things that I am not going to talk about. I am not going to talk about my kids, William and Addison, because that's just annoying. However, I will say that, in my opinion, they are two of the most awesome kids I know. And while I am still not talking about my kids, who drive me a little bit crazy a lot of the time, I am a lot crazy about them a lot of the time. I feel so blessed to have had two healthy, happy kids, and I believe that they were truly made just for me. I guess you could call them Couture.

I am also not going to talk about the whole TSA issue. However, I will say that while flying to Dallas not so long ago, I inadvertently made it through security, not once but twice, with a lighter. I am no shoe-bomber, but for those of you who don't agree with the new policies, I'm thinking it's more important to concentrate on why it is one of those pesky, yet necessary, evils. Count me in; we have to take the good with the bad. Freedom of speech is an essential right, but it, too, has to have its limits. We can thank the fine people of Weston and Harrisonville for “patting down” the same kind of ignorance that is making airport security what it is today.

And finally, I am not going to talk about politics.

This is a good place for me to put in my disclaimer; I usually need one in nine out of every 10 situations. I am not a KU fan. However, if they are not playing my “beloved” Tigers, I hope they do well. That being said, I am going to clarify some things: Yes, I am waiting for basketball season. Yes, I know Lawrence is closer, from where I live, than Columbia. Hell is probably closer, from where I live, than heaven, but you won't see me rooting for hell.

And finally, I know that IF you, and by “you” I mean KU, would have converted on that third down, or IF so and so wouldn't have dropped that pass, or IF you worked harder on your defense than on your excuses, you may have won. How's about, IF you would have had more points on the board at the end of the game, you would have won? It didn't happen.

If that would have happened, I'd be stuffing papers--and Ivan, the man whose initials are IF--wouldn't.

So as it turned out, everybody wins, really.


Stuffing papers, to me, is comparable, mentally, to sitting through a Jennifer Lopez movie: You feel dumber when it's over. It is mind numbing and it turns my fingers black.

So, you ask, why do I keep doing it? In my opinion, there are three essential necessities to any great environment. No, I am not talking about food, water and shelter. I am talking about great people, great compatibility and Bud Light. Working for The Landmark, with Ivan and Cindy, I have two out of the three, which coincidentally enough, was, up until this last Saturday, how many wins Mizzou had over Kansas since they began playing at Arrowhead Stadium in 2007. As you all now know, MU has won three out of the four games over KU.

Ivan, if your Jayhawks can't compete, maybe you could pick up the slack…bring on the Bud Light…and maybe a fire pit.

Now why do I keep putting myself through J-Lo movies? I have no clue. I guess it's her hypnotizing backside, which alone is valued at more than my life. How very sad.

Next week, this MU fan and single mom of three-year-old twins (whom I am still not talking about, but just have to throw in that when they say “Go Tigers!” it melts my heart), will be back to stuffing papers.

So KU fans, don't let the Tiger get you down, just keep rockin' and chalkin'; and to everybody, have a wonderful holiday.

(Rian Babcock can be found each week working all phases of journalistic magic inside the walls of The Landmark. And maybe, just maybe, she’ll be writing an occasional column starting in the not too distant future)



by Ivan Foley

So here I am, unusually perched on the right side of the page. I’m accustomed to being on the right side of issues and topics, just not the right hand side of this page. I’ve been booted this direction because of some wacky off-the-cuff remark I made to a dedicated employee who was expressing frustration at having to stuff papers one recent Wednesday morning. Something about a friendly wager on the MU/KU football game. Wow, bad year for me to throw that idea out there.

Anyway, Rian Babcock’s column is in my usual spot. I am displaced but not disgruntled. Not about to let a pathetic KU football team end my streak of having a column each week since 1999--a streak no other journalist around these parts can even come close to matching--here we go with an abbreviated version of the real Between the Lines.


Feels good to have the Missouri Department of Conservation in essence officially validate the series of articles The Landmark did nearly two years ago about the presence of mountain lions in Platte County (see front page story).

I was beginning to be convinced the MDC was going to remain in a state of denial on this topic. If the MDC hadn’t found mountain lion hair in that tree last Friday, would they be telling us the kitty in that photo is a bobcat?


Some of your Landmarkers and a few tables full of readers spent a good part of Saturday afternoon gathered in the friendly confines of the new River’s Bend Restaurant and Bar in downtown Parkville wathcing the MU/KU battle. Our thanks to Tom Hutsler, general manager, and the fine staff for taking great care of us.
River’s Bend is a fine place to watch sports or simply grab a meal and a beverage.


Some confirmed guests are starting to line up for the annual Landmark open-to-all Christmas party next Friday, Dec. 10 from 4-8 p.m. at the Comfort Inn in Platte City. Your favorite newspaper will furnish all the food, drink and conversation you’ll need for a fun Friday evening. Drop by for 30 minutes or stay for the whole thing, just get there. We prefer you come prepared to grab a plate full of food, grab a chair and sit down and stay for a long while. Visit with your friendly Landmark personalities like Greg Hall, Brian Kubicki and Hearne Christopher; we’ll try to get Russ Purvis and James Thomas to hang around--and hey, if we’re lucky, maybe Philadelphia-bound Chris Stigall will be around for the weekend and drop in for a bit. You’ll also get to visit with Miss Christmas Cindy Rinehart, our newest columnist Rian Babcock, and our straight-shooting news reporter PJ Rooks. Our Hall of Fame photojournalist Bill Hankins will be on hand and is graciously providing a special liquid treat. And you’ll want to visit with our funny and talented editorial cartoonist Matthew Silber.

In addition to Landmark staffers and columnists, you’ll also see public figures such as former US Attorney Todd Graves; current county prosecutor Eric Zahnd; public administrator Terry Edwards; maybe outgoing county clerk Sandy Krohne; Jeff Roe, Jason Klindt and some of the fine boys and girls from Axiom Strategies. More special guests to be announced in next week’s issue.


There’s an old county topic that deserves some fresh Between the Lines analysis but it is not time-sensitive and thus will have to wait till next week when I’m back in my more spacious headquarters on the left-hand side of this page.

In the meantime, get more commentary by continuing to check us out on Twitter at and find me on Facebook.




Posted 11/25/10

Doing my fully-clothed best to keep this column less offensive than an airport pat-down.


Let’s kick things off with a political rumor: Stunned and defeated State Rep. Jason Grill of Parkville will be considering a run against his former (some say still) best bud Kathy Dusenbery for first district county commissioner in two years.

Tough to judge who would win that battle of lib vs. lib. Oh sorry, a battle between the self-proclaimed master of bipartisanship and the self-proclaimed progressive.

Tough to say which one would do the least damage as commissioner, which really is what that choice would be about. But the campaign would be great fun to watch--and cover.

Hey, we’re all allowed to dream a little.


Speaking of Jason Grill, you’ll notice columnist Hearne Christopher on page A-4 tries to entice Grill to talk some trash on me this week. Something about why don’t we do a friendly wager on the MU/KU game this weekend, and if KU wins would Grill wax my Yugo?

Listen, we all have our pet names, but that’s the first time I’ve ever heard it called a Yugo.

And nobody touches my Yugo without my blessing.


Just to be clear, I don’t own a Yugo. But if I did and if that Yugo were female, pretty sure Grill would try to wax it.


Speaking of the MU/KU bloodbath, if you have an interest in this game on Saturday there is a Landmark watch party you won’t want to miss. Readers will recall that Landmark ad sales guru Rian Babcock and I have a friendly wager riding on the outcome. If MU wins, Rian writes a column in this space next week. Pretty sure that means Rian will be writing a column in this space next week.

Anyway, The Landmark open-to-the-public watch party will be held at the new River’s Bend Restaurant and Bar in historic downtown Parkville. It’s located in the old Power Plant restaurant building at 2 Main Street. Hope you’ll make it. The good folks at the restaurant and bar will be offering drink specials during the game. I’m not allowed to get too specific in promoting prices on alcohol, but let’s just say there will be an awesome deal on domestic bottles. The price will make George Washington look like twins. Tom Hutsler, general manager of the restaurant/bar, says there will also be specials on appetizers during the game. Should be fun.

Come by and say hi to your Landmarkers and enjoy the game at the hottest new spot in downtown Parkville. Kickoff is 11:30 a.m. Saturday and we’ll be there until the kicking is done.


Talked about this during my 48-minute stand-up routine at the Clay County Pachyderm Club on Veterans Day: Were the overwhelming victories by the GOP on election day an endorsement of the Republican party?

Not hardly.

Any Republican officeholder at any level of government who believes this is an endorsement is making a huge mistake. What this is for Republicans is a second chance. The GOP had plenty of power in the second stage of George W. Bush’s tenure as president and squandered opportunities by trying to be all things to all people and spending money like a bunch of wild-eyed public school superintendents. Voters have grown tired of that play-now-pay-later approach.

On the national level, results indicate the voting public has also grown weary of a liberal administration trying to socialize our country. Two years ago a lot of folks bought into Obama’s “hope and change” message. Voters have now seen the change Obama envisioned. It has stolen their hope, and they aren’t the least bit happy about it.

Locally, Republican candidates were benefactors from the “sweep them out” mentality. Does anyone envision this whole idea of Kevin Robinson as county auditor having a happy ending? This thing has the potential to be Titanic meets iceberg.

Nothing personal against Robinson or his wife, who seem like nice folks, but this bedroom partnership can’t be healthy for taxpayers. Remember, a small firm run by Robinson--who is not a certified public accountant--was hired to conduct an “audit” of the county’s human resources department. Robinson’s wife, Mary, helped conduct that review, and the county commissioners fell in love with her during the process. So upon completion, they hired her as the county’s new head of HR. But it didn’t stop there. Then the county commissioners recruited Kevin Robinson to run for auditor against Siobhann Williams, who had butted heads with the commissioners during her first term.

So now we have an auditor-elect who was recruited by the county commissioners auditing a human resources department that is headed by the auditor's wife, who was hired by the county commissioners.

Anybody else see some potential conflicts of interest here?

And if you’d like to be further irritated, remind yourself that the Robinson family will now be cashing two paychecks from county taxpayers at a combined cost of more than $110,000 per year.

Anybody who thinks this is a healthy situation for checks and balances is naive or less than forthcoming. Remember, it doesn’t hurt for there to be some conflict among elected county officials. A little conflict keeps everybody on their toes.

Too many cordial relationships and a friendly social club atmosphere in the administration building could lead to an interesting four years.


The entertaining and enlightening Chris Stigall is leaving KCMO 710 AM for a new gig at the eighth largest media market in the country: Philadelphia, which is fitting because Stigall is kinda the Rocky Balboa of morning radio. His last day on the air in KC will be Nov. 30. Tune into Stigall’s show next Monday morning for all the gory details, as Chris is expected to talk extensively about it that day.

No worries, our buddy Stigall will continue to pen a weekly column for The Landmark from Philly. More on Stigall’s move in future issues.

(Email Apollo Creed at or find Ivan Foley on Facebook and Twitter)



Posted 11/19/10

So the next time you fly out of KCI, will you choose the nude body scan or the genital groping?

As disturbing as it sounds, in order to get on the plane you’re going to have to choose one or the other. Talk about government bureaucracy at its worst. That’s what the Transportation Security Administration has become.


Bobby Kincaid, defeated Democrat candidate for presiding commissioner in Platte County, campaigned on the slogan ‘Bob for the Job.’ There was a magnetic sign on his vehicle to that effect. As you know, Kincaid suffered a convincing defeat to Jason Brown by a margin of 62-38%.

The result prompted a phone call this week from a Between the Lines reader at Farley, who points out that the ‘Bob for the Job’ sign understandably quickly disappeared from Kincaid’s vehicle.

“Maybe he’s getting a new one that says ‘Bob Needs a Job,’” the source quipped.


Jason Brown has been a voice of reason, common sense and fiscal conservatism during his time in the Missouri House of Representatives. Will he carry over that fiscally conservative approach when he takes the reins as presiding commissioner for Platte County?

Getting elected as a fiscal conservative is much easier than governing as a fiscal conservative. Locally, we’ve seen public officials paint themselves as watchdogs for the taxpayer during campaigns, but then once the bullets start flying there is a history of some of them caving to pressure from the bureaucrats and progressives. “Progressive,” of course, is just a term used in an effort to put lipstick on a liberal.

It’s not going to be easy for Brown to say no. He’ll have to display intestinal fortitude and stick to his conservative guns. Overwhelmingly, voters in this election expressed a desire for fiscal conservatism and smaller government. Once he takes office and the budget requests start coming in from bureaucrats and others who feel a sense of entitlement, Brown’s job will get tough. He may even have to suffer on the short end of some 2-1 stances once he starts discussing money matters with Jim Plunkett, a self-proclaimed fiscal conservative who has gone ape-crazy liberal on parks, trails, lollipops and double rainbows, and Kathy Dusenbery, a Democrat dressed as a Republican who is always one gentle nudge away from spending as many of your tax dollars as she can get her hands on.


Thanks to those who made it out to the Staley Farms Golf Clubhouse in Clay County on Veterans Day for the Clay County Pachyderm Club meeting in spite of the guest speaker that night. Though we didn’t top radio talker Chris Stigall’s crowd of 69 people attracted at the October meeting, I can easily offer reasons (excuses?) for the shortfall. For instance, it was raining Thursday evening. Yes, this may have kept some folks away, at least that was my thought as the cold drops pelted my face on my walk from the parking lot into the golf clubhouse that night. And of course, we had a couple of scheduling challenges as well--the election was already over, which cools political excitement for some folks, and Thursday was a government holiday, which keeps a lot of professionals away from the office and thus away from stopping by an event such as this on their trip home from work. These are all components of my story and I’m sticking to it.

We had 45-50 folks in the room, and it was a good time with what seemed to be a receptive crowd absorbing some opinions and arrows fired at liberals and RINOs, both national and local.

Landmark office manager Cindy Rinehart recorded audio during the presentation, and we have plans to get that posted on my Facebook page for your listening displeasure in the near future.


Cindy says the size of the audio file is presenting some challenges. The talk lasted 48 minutes.

Good grief, 48 minutes? Who do I think I am, Chris Stigall?


Landmark Christmas party update: If you haven’t yet, mark your calendar for Friday, Dec. 10. That’s the date for this year’s public Christmas party hosted annually by your Landmark staff. We’ll be hosting all comers for food, drink, and good conversation from 4-8 p.m. at the Comfort Inn in Platte City.

Speaking of the food, this year’s menu will be provided by Platte City’s own Jill Wade Daniels and her company known as Most Excellent Catering. The Landmark highly recommends Jill’s classy and professional firm for any event on your party planning schedule.

Also returning will be official Beverage Babe Victoria Lynn-Crook, who, when she isn’t pouring liquid, serves as hairstylist to the local stars and wannabe stars.


Bouncing back strong.

For the first time in the history of The Landmark party, which dates back into the 1990s, former U.S. Attorney Todd Graves did not attend last year’s hootenanny. It seems he and a well-known political operative instead chose to vacation in some far-away tropical setting that weekend. Though they missed the party, they did manage to send me a photo or two from their vacation paradise. I don’t know if that was to prove they had a valid reason for not attending or to rub in the fact they were in a beach-type resort while the rest of us were stuck here in some frosty temperatures.

Public be warned, Graves says he’s back in the fold this year. But don’t let that scare you away.

Should be a fun night. Hope to see you there.


With Thanksgiving on the horizon, take note your Landmark will hit the streets a day early next week. We’ll print and mail on Tuesday so you’ll have your copy in your mailbox in advance of Turkey Day.

(Email your favorite pilgrim at or follow him at and on Facebook)


Posted 11/12/10

It’s been a productive day.

Not gonna lie, it’s only 9 a.m. and I think I’ve already violated every policy in The Landmark’s employee handbook.


Just two days after she lost her reelection as Platte County auditor, rumors were finding their way to Between the Lines headquarters about Siobhann Williams’ future. Chatter in some political circles is that Williams, a Democrat, might be joining the staff of the newly-elected auditor of Clay County, who is a Republican.

“I hadn’t heard that,” Williams said when I asked her about the whispers this week.
William James Norris defeated Democratic opponent Sheila Ernzen 52 percent to 48 percent in last week’s race for the auditor of Clay County. Norris, 27, came under fire from his own party early in the general election campaign, as Clay County Republicans accused Norris of misrepresenting his educational and professional background.

Channel 41 reports officials at William Jewell College said that Norris’ campaign claims to have graduated in 2004 are not true and the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration says Norris’ claims to be a certified public accountant are untrue. So maybe he’ll be looking for some experienced help?

“Maybe there’s an offer coming down the pipeline that I don’t know about,” Williams told me. “But I haven’t had any discussions with him about that.”

Williams, saying she isn’t yet ready to give details, did explain that when she leaves office in January she’ll be working on an audit of a public agency. “It’s a governmental audit,” she said, declining to say what outfit will be audited or for whom she’ll be doing the audit.

Stay tuned.


Early status reports are coming in on Platte County Circuit Court’s two newest judges, Dennis Eckold and Tom Fincham.

Sources in the know are saying this: Eckold comes down hard on folks who are caught speeding at 95 mph or above. Jail time has been awarded to drivers who have shown to have a heavy foot on the accelerator--at least heavy enough to result in more than 95 mph.

Sidenote: Other sources say Eckold also likes to crack the whip on those caught littering.

Early status report on Fincham takes longer to gather, as he hears different types of cases in his division. It is known that Fincham’s recent decision to lower a child porn suspect’s bond from $200,000 cash-only to a level that allowed the suspect to bail out for only $5,000 was a major head scratcher and raised an eyebrow or two.


Hey, the old Power Plant building in downtown Parkville is once again open as a restaurant. Dave Williams, owner of the notable property, tells me he has opened the Riverbend Restaurant and Sports Bar in what is widely known as the Power Plant building. Tom Hutsler is managing the restaurant for him, Williams said.

Riverbend Restaurant and Sports Bar served as the meeting spot for Platte County Democrats last Tuesday night after the election results came in. I’m guessing that was a devastatingly short night with very little partying. Perhaps some drowning of sorrows, however.


These quotes garnered from Sam Graves appeared in The Landmark’s front page election story last week. They’re so important I want to be sure you didn’t miss them:
“Our goal has to be to stop the spending. It has to be slowed down considerably. Now, the question becomes, how are we going to accomplish that with a president who tripled the deficit in 18 months?” Graves said. “Congress has to stand fast. We can’t continue the way we’re going. We have no room for compromise,” said Graves, who proposes going back to the 2008 federal budget levels, freezing discretionary spending, and freezing spending of money left in the stimulus and TARP.

Will conservatives stick to their guns when every government agency is coming up to them with their hand extended? No room for compromise is exactly right. Leave compromise for those in a position of weakness.


Earlier in the week I planned to give this more ink, but have had a change of heart and will keep it short and unsweet. Did you see the local section in Sunday’s Falling Star? The political columns penned by ol’ codger C.W. Gusewelle and by Steve Kraske were condescending and just plain lame, respectively. Gusewelle’s “liberals know best” tone and chastising of the public for voting in fiscal conservatives on Tuesday had the smell of a man so far out of touch with his audience we all should pity him. And gutless Kraske in effect made predictions on races that had already occurred, inferring the general public knew two years ago the pendulum would swing back to conservatives, so anybody in their right mind could have predicted this two years ago. Really, Steve? If you genuinely feel that way, why didn’t you write that two years ago right after your liberal friends were elected? Lame and disingenuous.

The Star still doesn’t get it. It never will. A loyal Between the Lines reader nailed it with this quote in an email to me over the weekend: “An organization that decided to spend $90 million on a press pavilion just as the daily newspaper business was taking a major hit is just the type of organization that would give off the aroma that it is just a bit smarter and a bit more worldly than its audience.”

(Follow Ivan Foley from the comforts of your home on Twitter and Facebook.)


Posted 11/4/10

Welcome back to Between the Lines, where we’ve been known to say inappropriate things at the appropriate time.


Some brief analysis of the local election is forthcoming. You’ll get much more next week.
And speaking of next week, The Landmark will be printed a day earlier than normal. We’ll hit the streets Tuesday afternoon. The reason? Veterans Day is Thursday, which means no mail service. Well, with the current state of the United States Postal Service, lots of other days mean no mail service. This time they’re just warning us in advance.


And speaking of next week Part II, get some in-person election analysis along with a dose of lighthearted commentary next week when the Clay County Pachyderm Club turns me loose at its meeting. Pack your flask and your sense of humor and let’s have a good time.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. At some point they’ll let me start yapping. Engage the speaker at your own risk.

I’ve been told I get to kill 20-30 minutes and then follow that up with 5-10 minutes of Q and A. It all happens at the Staley Farms Golf Clubhouse, 10310 North Olive Ave., Kansas City. Cost is $10 (members) and $12 (non-members), which includes hors d'oeuvres and a drink ticket.

Be there. Remember, we’ve got to top the attendance mark of 69, set by Chris Stigall, the radio talker suffering from small man’s syndrome.


Before we get rolling with new material, let’s roll back the clock. Here’s what I wrote in the Between the Lines column on Nov. 5, 2008.

“For those in the audience who believe things can’t get any worse, buckle your seat belt. Let’s talk about that again in two years during the next round of Congressional elections. The prediction here is that by that time, the political pendulum will be ready to swing back the other direction.”

Somebody yell bingo.


Wow, I must have eaten some intellectual Wheaties the morning of Nov. 5, 2008 because I was on a roll. Here’s something else I wrote in that Nov. 5, 2008 Between the Lines column. It was the day after Kathy Dusenbery’s election as first district county commissioner.

“Since the emotional and reactionary Republican with a journalism degree won, I can now look forward to angry phone calls and bizarre comments from her that result in easy column material. I look for this to happen at least three or four times in the coming year.”

Nostradamus would be jealous as hell right now.


It’s annoying to hear fellow fiscal conservative pundits praising Roy Blunt like he’s some kind of hero to the conservative movement. It’s time to stop that charade. Let’s be honest. While it’s true Roy Blunt will be your new U.S. Senator from Missouri, it’s not because he’s Roy Blunt. Roy Blunt didn’t win this election because of who he is. He won this election because of who he isn’t. He isn’t Robin Carnahan.


Republicans darn near have a lockdown on county offices right now. Bonnie Brown, treasurer, and Terry Edwards, public administrator, are the Democrats’ only remaining officeholders.

Biggest shocker on Tuesday night? The previously-perceived-to-be invincible Jason Grill was edged by Republican Ron Schieber, former Park Hill school board member. Conservatives gotta love it.

Next closest shocker? Longtime county clerk Sandy Krohne going down to defeat to Joan Harms. Krohne was viewed as the least vulnerable of any of the local Democrats, but was overwhelmed by this Republican tidal wave. Harms, to her credit, campaigned her tail off from start to finish in this thing and was outworked by nobody.

Kevin Robinson’s victory over Williams isn’t necessarily shocking, but the crushing margin of victory was eye-opening. Robinson provided me with this underwhelming quote on Wednesday morning. “I’m extremely pleased with the results.”

Scintillating. Hey, he’s a numbers guy, I guess.


Best quote to come across Twitter on Election Night was posted by Jeff Roe’s Axiom Strategies account: “Jason Grill lost. Someone check O’Dowd’s parking lot.”

That’s a reference to Election Night of 2006 when Grill was accused of rape by a young lady just hours after being elected for the first time. The incident occurred in a car in the parking lot near O’Dowd’s. The woman, after filing a police report, later decided to not pursue the case.


This from Congressman Sam Graves, reelected with ease. “We advertised only in newspapers (including The Landmark). Nothing on radio, nothing on television. Everything went into newspapers.”

Be still, my ink-stained heart.


Sympathies to the RINOs who supported Bobby Kincaid for presiding commissioner.

Some of you did it openly, some of you tried to do it in stealth fashion.

You know who you are, don’t make me name names. Console yourselves.

(If you don’t follow Ivan Foley on Twitter or Facebook, your life is not yet complete. Start today and enjoy the riches it brings)


Posted 10/28/10

Here’s the primary thought process to have running through your wise mind next Tuesday when you step into the voting booth: In each race, vote for the candidate you believe will do the least harm to your pocketbook, the least harm to your personal freedoms, the candidate who most believes in small and limited government, and the candidate who owes no favors or has no perceived conflicts that might prevent them from doing what’s right for the taxpaying public.

That’s really what it’s all about, especially in times like now.

If you’re a loyal Landmark reader, by now for the most part you know which candidates are favored by this columnist. Normally endorsements are implied throughout the weekly episodes as we cover political life here in the county of Platte. One must pay attention throughout the entire process--don’t just tune in the week before the election. The twists and turns of politics are a weekly roller coaster ride. That’s why engaged followers of the scene make The Landmark a must-read each and every week.

There are good candidates in the county races this year. We previewed the auditor’s race last week and the other three county races are previewed in this issue.

Read the articles closely and then think small. Think small government. Think small spending. Think small governmental influence on your personal freedoms.

With that thought process in mind, things will be fine.


OK, so here’s the deal. Somebody at the energized and on the rise Clay County Pachyderm Club suffered a moment of temporary insanity and invited me to be the speaker for the club’s November meeting. The crazy elephants probably thought I’d turn them down. I did no such thing.

As part of the madness that night, I’m making it my goal to outdraw the crowd number attracted by conservative talk radio star/Landmark columnist Chris Stigall. You see, my buddy Stigall was the club’s speaker in October. I ventured to Clay County that night--yes, they let me in without checking my naturalization papers--to hear Stigall’s shtick. Stigall told the crowd I was there to learn how to enlighten some Pachyderms, but in reality I was there for no other reason than to count the number of folks in attendance. Sure, I could have asked Stigall after the fact how big a crowd he attracted. But I, like Ronald Reagan, prefer to trust but verify.

So now I call on my friends--the both of you--and my readers--the thousands of you--for a little push up this political hill we’re going to climb. Stigall attracted 69 people. I fully realize that for some Between the Lines readers 69 is your favorite number. But it is a number we now must crush. I want to trample it. Pretend the number 69 represents the entire Obama agenda. Let’s squash it like a bug.

Clay County Pachyderms tell me 69 was a large crowd for one of their meetings. Come on. Couldn’t I stand on that city of Platte City-owned park bench mounted on the sidewalk in front of The Landmark office and draw more than 69 people in a matter of minutes? Well, maybe, if it’s between the hours of 9-5. They roll up the sidewalks in downtown Platte City at 5 o’clock.

We can kick 69. Let’s try to turn it upside down. Remember when your publisher spoke for the Platte County Pachyderms last summer the standing room only crowd number reached 105. It was a record amount for the club at O’Dowd’s in Zona Rosa.

Drop your glasses, shake your asses, we’re gonna do this. It’s time for The Landmark to help take back America. Show up at the Staley Farms Golf Club Clubhouse the night of Nov. 11. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. My fun starts when they let me in the door. If they still let me in the door.

Everyone is welcome. Cost is $10 for members, $12 for non-members. Your entry fee is rewarded with hors d’oeuvres and a drink ticket. You are strongly encouraged to cash in that drink ticket to heighten the experience. Parking, like the speaker that night, is fast and free.

Who knows what we’ll talk about? No, I mean that. That was not a rhetorical question. Who knows what we’ll talk about. Potential topics would include the usual list of suspects: liberals, RINOS, liberal RINOS, liberals, judges, liberal judges, spenders, liberals, liberal spenders, liberals, the media, the liberal media, conservatives, self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives, and liberal self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives.

Hopefully it will be a night of liberal fun. Come getcha some.


How about the Mizzou football team this season? Coming off the huge win over Oklahoma--ranked number one in the BCS prior to being thumped by MU--the Tigers are on quite a roll heading into a huge matchup this week with the Cornhuskers in Nebraska.

Meanwhile, college football fans on the other side of the state line--if there are any remaining--are suffering through the first and possibly only season of football led by overmatched new coach Turner Gill. But you know what, as crazy as this MU-KU football rivalry has been, this would be the nuttiest of all seasons for KU to win the Border Showdown (remember, it is soooo politically incorrect to refer to it as the Border War) on Thanksgiving weekend at Arrowhead. With that in mind, crazy MU fan Rian Babcock, Landmark ad sales/office guru, and your publisher have engaged in a friendly wager. Normally on Wednesday mornings while I’m cranking out a column, Rian is busy helping stuff the early sections of that week’s issue. Let’s just say stuffing papers is not a chore she seems to be all that crazy about. So if her beloved MU Tigers defeat KU, Rian and I will switch roles on a future Wednesday morning. I’ll be stuffing papers while Rian pens this column.

Scary thought, I know. So what do I win if MU loses in a shocker? I will settle for the knowledge of knowing I will not have to stuff papers.

(If he loses his friendly wager, the publisher will be looking for paper stuffing help on a future Wednesday. Apply for the job by emailing ivan@plattecountylandmark, or simply follow his daily adventures and misadventures at and on Bookface, err, Facebook)


Posted 10/22/10

Not that you were wondering or even find it remotely interesting, but sleep and I have been strangers the past several days. A seemingly non-stop personal and business schedule over the past week or so has me short on shuteye, but with the help of two cans of Mountain Dew and a shot of adrenaline I’m determined to crank out this column. My campaign promise is to get another issue of The Landmark on the streets of Platte County by the end of this day.

This is the 23rd week of the 146th year of uninterrupted publication by one of--if not the--oldest continuing publication in the fine state of Missouri. If my math is correct, that’s 7,563 consecutive weeks of a Landmark covering and uncovering the important news of Platte County.

And we’re just getting started.


Landmark columnists aren’t just mentally tough. Check this out: Greg Hall, our sports media sound bite man who cranks out a daily Off the Couch column for our web site at, has been making the marathon rounds and putting up impressive times. Hall ran a 3:31 in the recent 26.2 mile Chicago Marathon, which ain’t bad for an old dude. This after he ran a 3:45 in a marathon in Tucson, AZ last year. The big news? Hall has qualified for the the Boston Marathon in April.

His challenge is to stay in Boston Marathon-type shape during the tough KC winter weather. “I’m gonna try and hang on so I can say I ran it,” Hall recently told me.
Brian Kubicki, our Parallax Look columnist, is also an avid distance runner. I’d like to brag more on Brian but I don’t have his stats in front of me as I’m cranking out this bit of journalistic excellence.

Not to be outdone, I’m a bit of a runner myself. I successfully sprinted from the couch to the refrigerator and back during a timeout in the Chiefs’ game. Top that, haters.


Quick opinion on the sexual harassment lawsuit filed a few days ago by a county human resources department employee against county auditor Siobhann Williams:

The allegations--some of them quite shaky, in my opinion-- have been out there for a year. A right-to-sue letter was issued, without an investigation being completed, by the Missouri Commission on Human Rights way back in July.

So why wait until just two weeks prior to the auditor’s reelection bid to file the lawsuit? Just a hunch here, but in a lot of voters’ minds the timing of the filing of the legal action will take another bite out of the credibility of the suit itself.

My thought? The lawsuit isn’t likely to sway voters one way or another when it comes to picking an auditor on Nov. 2. As this situation has been public knowledge for many months--and voters these days seem really to focus less on personal issues like this one--those who were already in the camp of Williams will remain in her camp and those who already intended to vote for her opponent will stay where they are.

In fact, voter reaction to ugly allegations like those stated in the lawsuit can often be quite the opposite of what was hoped.

The attention and discussion this race has been getting from those inside the walls of the county administration building is no question much greater than the attention this race is getting in the real world. My sense of the situation is that informed voters are already yawning over this months-old sexual harassment talk.


The two ladies seeking to become your next Platte County Collector are two of the nicest people you will ever meet. It’s my belief the collector’s office will continue to be in excellent hands regardless of whether Republican Sheila Palmer or Democrat Becky Dye is the winner of that race. Both have been longtime employees in the office, and word on the street is that the two have reached an agreement that whoever wins the election will continue to employ the other as a deputy. If true, that’s professionally cool.

That being said, at a recent candidate forum each of them answered a question in a fashion that made me cringe ever so slightly.

Becky Dye, in response to a question about declining county revenues in general and the collector’s office budget specifically, said this: “I don’t see a way to decrease the collector’s office budget. I don’t want to increase it, but I don’t way see a way to decrease it.”

Uh oh. In this political climate, bad answer. Really bad answer. Taxpayers are more diligent than ever in demanding fiscal responsibility from its elected officials. You’re telling me there’s not a single line item in the collector’s office budget that couldn’t be trimmed? No way. If Dye truly feels this way, I credit her for being honest about it. But if she truly feels this way, a lot of folks won’t want her to win the election.

Palmer answered a question about whether the office of collector should stay as an elected position or whether it should be an appointed or hired position. Palmer’s response, and I’m paraphrasing here, was that she would prefer the position become appointed “to keep politics out of the collector’s office.”

I don’t like this answer. The voting public is extremely engaged with what’s going on in government right now. This isn’t the time to be taking decisions out of voters’ hands. This is the time to be giving voters more direct power, not less. Furthermore, any county collector should feel a moral obligation to keep politics out of the office, regardless of their party affiliation and regardless of whether the collector acquired the job through appointment or through election.

Just sayin’.


So last Thursday night I made my way to hear KCMO conservative morning talker/Landmark columnist Chris Stigall wow the crowd at the Clay County Pachyderm Club. And wow them he did.

The club has invited me to be their guest speaker on Nov. 11. You may recall a few weeks ago in this space I took it upon myself to turn it into a friendly competition between Stigall and I to see who can draw the larger crowd. I now know the number I need you to help me top in November. That number--and how we’re going to get there--is in next week’s column. Unless breaking news changes it all.

(You can’t avoid him so no sense to even try. Email the publisher at, track him daily at or befriend his sprinting backside on Facebook)


Posted 10/15/10

Big Brother is watching you. Even in the fast food drive-through line.

When you’re pulling up to place your order in the two-lane drive through at the Platte City McDonalds, wear a smile--among other items. You’re being photographed.

Next time you’re in your car in the seemingly always-busy drive through lanes there, right before your vehicle is parallel with the menu board feast your eyes high on the upper corner of the building. You’ll see Ronald McDonald’s camera capturing you in all of your glory.

I guess the best advice here is don’t do anything you wouldn’t want others to see.

Because they are watching.


October weather is my absolute favorite, which means when the opportunity presents itself on the weekends I’m jonesing for outdoor activities. Portions of my last two Saturdays have been spent at small college football games.

Two weeks ago the trip was to Maryville to watch the big Northwest Missouri State vs. Missouri Western game while visiting daughter Alyssa, who has transferred to NWMSU this year as a junior after two years at Highland as a nose-to-the-grindstone student and Classy Lassie dancer. Thanks to the world’s biggest Bearcat fan, local tycoon Bill Brown, my butt was parked in a third or fourth row seat behind the Bearcat bench. As you know by now, the Bearcats destroyed the Griffons. It was my first time cheering for the Bearcats in this rivalry game, as oldest daughter Lindsey is a Mo West grad and former Griffon Girl dance squad member. It was fun to be on the winning side for a change.

This past Saturday I was intrigued by the Coffeyville Community College vs. Highland Community College contest for several reasons, so I jumped in the freshly spit-shined Grand Prix and enjoyed the company of no one (it’s what they call ‘me time,’ everybody needs it at some point) on my drive to Highland. One of the main reasons I wanted to hit this game is that Duron Carter plays for Coffeyville. Who is Duron Carter? Carter is the son of legendary NFL receiver Cris Carter, who had a big-time career with the Eagles and Vikings. His son was a starting receiver at Ohio State as a freshman, then ran into some academic problems and ended up at Coffeyville this season. Since the day I read he was enrolling at Coffeyville, I wanted to see this kid play. Then when I read that he tallied five touchdown catches in a game earlier this season, it confirmed for me that whenever Coffeyville was playing Highland--where Landmark facilities manager Kurt Foley is a sophomore--I would be there.

Journalistically, I also was hoping Duron Carter’s dad might be on hand so I could put on my Landmark hat and pull a few comments out of the potential Hall of Famer, who now is an analyst on ESPN as part of its NFL pre-game show. I got there just as the game was kicking off and the bleachers were full, so I mingled among some Coffeyville fans standing against the chain link fence above the field. I was told the elder Carter was not in attendance on this day, but has been to a couple of games this season and is expected to be at the big game this week when powerhouse Coffeyville hooks up with powerhouse Butler. While I was shooting the breeze with Coffeyville fans, Duron Carter was dominating the Highland defense. Coffeyville’s quarterback, it seemed, was intentionally spreading the ball around to other receivers, as the Carter kid was open on every play. Carter--whom Coffeyville fans described as a “good kid”--finished the first half with two touchdown catches, including a spectacular leaping grab. Simply put, he was making the Highland secondary his bitch. Coffeyville won the game by a score of way too many to not nearly enough.

Duron Carter is listed at 6’5” and 210 pounds. He’s smooth and he can play. I don’t know where he’ll spend the rest of his college eligibility after his year at Coffeyville, but I’m confident in a few years you’ll be seeing him play on Sundays. Remember the name.


It’s on.

The date has been set for the annual Landmark open-to-the-public Christmas party. This year’s festivities will be Friday, Dec. 10 from 4-8 p.m. at the Comfort Inn in Platte City. Brady Rodgers and his family and crew at the Comfort Inn have generously offered the use of their facilities again, and we appreciate the support they give to the cause. Victoria Lynn-Crook, hair stylist to the stars, has already committed to serving as the official dispenser of liquid refreshments.

The scheduling of this year’s hootenanny has been a little tricky as the stork is scheduled to be visiting Landmark families around that time of year. Official party planner/Landmark office manager Cindy Rinehart is scheduled to become a grandma for the second time on Dec. 1. In addition, oldest Between the Lines daughter Lindsey is scheduled to make your publisher a first-time granddaddy on Dec. 13.

Party night Dec. 10 with a due date of Dec. 13? That’s cutting it close and this could get tricky. If you see me rushing out the door during the party you’ll know where I’m headed.
We hope you’ll mark your calendars now and come have some food, drink and friendly conversation. Good time guaranteed or your money back.


Hearing rumors that there is a countywide election on the horizon, I attended what is known as a candidate forum last Thursday night at the Platte County Resource Center. While I give props to organizations who put in the work to host events like this one (Thursday’s was organized by the Platte County University of Missouri Extension Council), unfortunately most of these things are extremely poorly attended by members of the public. The audience at events like this typically includes very few folks who aren’t either friends, family or co-workers of the candidates. Such was the case on Thursday.
And from a journalistic standpoint, let’s be honest--a format where many of the questions are either very generic in nature or have been furnished to candidates in advance limits how much news value comes out of a night like that. That being said, I did make note of a few quotes from some candidates that I found fascinating. Some of the quotes struck me positively, some negatively, and a couple were head-scratchers.

That’s next week’s column. Unless breaking news changes it all.

(Volunteer to help the publisher with maternity ward breathing techniques via email to


Posted 10/8/10

This isn’t an Amber Alert, but it’s something similar.

Paging the vocal cords of Kathy Dusenbery.

Hello, Kathy? Are you there?

Where has Your Loudness gone? Platte County’s first district county commissioner seems to have shifted into stealth mode.

Never thought I’d say this, but I miss Kathy. Let me be more specific, I miss Kathy’s emotional, quick-tempered outbreaks. She hasn’t posted on Twitter since Aug. 4, though a source told me earlier this week she has taken some of her quick-to-fly-off-the handle routine to Facebook.

Kathy’s foot-in-mouth rants on Twitter will forever live in my memory. Talk about unhinged moments of wearing your weaknesses on your sleeve. I loved those moments more than life itself. Well, that’s an overstatement, but you get the picture. I will confess to occasionally signing on to Twitter with one goal in mind--sending out a message that I guessed would tug on Kathy’s pigtails, then starting a 10-9-8-7-6-5. . . countdown of the seconds it would take for her to go postal. She would seldom disappoint in my desire for twisted entertainment. Her response was similar to the reaction heard when someone lights their own hair on fire.

Anyway, whoever sent Kathy’s public emotions away on a long vacation is deserving of some props. And I say ‘public’ emotions because I’m confident she’s still having unhinged moments, but doing them in a more private setting. The guy--or gal--who requested that Kathy check herself before she wrecks herself is a political genius. Dusenbery’s reactionary ways had her on a path of political suicide, a trip to the shrink, or position as one of the talking heads on The View.

Kathy probably doesn’t realize it--and even if she does my guess is she will never admit it--but whoever stole the keys to her vocal motor may have saved her political career.

Just sayin’.


Think back to the days when Dusenbery was campaigning for office. Remember, she was going to be a full time commissioner. Remember, she called herself a “progressive.” Progressive, of course, can be defined as someone who likes to spend other people’s money.

Talk about two red flags. Someone calling themselves a “progressive” was pledging to take up residency in the county administration building for 40 hours a week. Kathy has not made good on her promise to be a full time commissioner. Praise Jesus. Can you imagine how much spending she would have been pushing if that were the case? A “progressive” on the job 40 hours a week, sitting in a comfy leather chair, staring out the big picture windows in the commission office coming up with more ways to spend your money?

That scenario would have had disastrous consequences. For once let’s be thankful a candidate has not lived up to a campaign pledge. While it’s true taxpayers are forking over more than $60,000 in annual salary to Dusenbery, let’s look on the bright side--for the most part she has stayed away from publicly promoting dreamy, expensive and wasteful “progressive” ideas on how to grow government. The more time we can keep her away from that comfy chair, those big picture windows and those “progressive” thoughts, the better. Hell, we’d be money ahead to pay her $100,000 to stay home.

It was disastrous enough that Dusenbery and pals pushed a ridiculous $82 million park tax for horse trails, kayak trails, butterflies and rainbows just as the local economy was starting to tank. Other than that mistake--and granted, it was a huge one that won’t be forgotten by the fiscally sane crowd--Dusenbery’s time in office has really been rather boring. Well, not counting the aforementioned ‘someone get a straight jacket’ moments.

As a fiscal conservative, I accept boring and do-nothing spending habits as positive traits in stewards of public money. There’s no doubt in my mind when Dusenbery reads that her time in office is being referred to as boring and do-nothing, she will take it as a personal insult.

Quick, someone hide her keyboard. And the matches.


Color me virtually disinterested in this Robin Carnahan vs. Roy Blunt U.S. Senate race in Missouri.

When the choice is between a liberal Obama-agenda sypmathizer and a guy who has already been part of the problem instead of part of the solution in Washington, it’s tough to get excited or have high hopes regardless of who wins the brawl.

Any chance we can get a do-over list of candidates?


Joe Greeley, the regional political director for the Roy Blunt campaign, gave a short presentation at the Platte County Republican Central Committee meeting Monday night. And by the way, maybe I should quit going to these sessions. I’m in attendance at more of these things than some of the elected members of the committee. But I digress.

Anyway, Greeley in a portion of his remarks said: “The national Democrats are going to start throwing a lot of money at this race.”

I nominate Joe for the No Sh!t Sherlock Award.

Just sayin’.


You may have noticed last week that Susan Montee, your capable Missouri state auditor, filled in for columnist Russ Purvis on another of our opinion pages. Montee had a powerful piece about POW/MIA recognition. Even conservatives dropped emails to me commenting about the impression that Montee’s column left upon them.

Anyway, during a phone conversation last week, I complimented Montee for the job she is doing auditing of public entities throughout the state. We’ve had stories on her detailed audits of some tax-funded entitites in Platte County, as you may have noticed. The audit reports are always quite enlightening. In closing our phone conversation, I encouraged Montee to “keep crawling up people’s butts with a microscope.”

Uh, was that inappropriate? If so, know that it was meant in a very positive way.

(Read the publisher each week and follow his adventures each day on Twitter and Facebook. Always worth twice the price.)


Posted 10/1/10

Scott Campbell is a Platte City attorney. He does a variety of legal work, including representing a lot of folks who have been ‘requested’ by the state to appear in a court of law.

At least that’s Campbell’s day job. I’m starting to believe he moonlights in the fine arts of walking on water, moving mountains and parting seas.

Case in point: On Friday morning, one of Campbell’s clients awoke in the Platte County Jail. No breaking news there, this had become routine--the man had been a resident there since July on four felony counts of possession of child pornography. He had been dressed in a jumpsuit and residing in a confined space while held with a cash-only bond of $200,000 required for his release. Repeat: Two hundred grand.

By the end of the day Friday, Campbell’s client was walking out of the jail a free man. Well, at least free for now. A judge, after hearing arguments from Campbell and the Platte County Prosecutor’s Office a few days earlier and taking the matter under advisement, decided the man’s bond deserved to be reduced. And not just a little.

Judge Thomas Fincham, new to the bench this year and probably not a familiar name to many readers--at least until now, ruled that the man’s bond deserved to be sliced to $50,000. But it didn’t stop there. The judge’s ruling allowed for a 10% payment of that amount to the court for the defendant to breathe the fresh Platte County air.

So the man who awoke Friday morning needing $200,000 to be able to get sunlight on his skin and dress in a color other than orange hit the street for a price of only $5,000.
Duly noted.

I certainly don’t anticipate it ever happening, but if I ever find myself on the wrong end of a $200,000 debt to society, maybe I’ll ask Scott Campbell to walk on water, move a mountain, part a sea and negotiate $195,000 off that amount.


So Charles Cook, the Platte City alderman accused of showing off his personal junk to a local woman who says she didn’t care to see it, was in court Tuesday. Trust me, you wouldn’t have recognized him.

As I was standing in the hall just outside the courtroom a few minutes before Cook’s scheduled court hearing on the misdemeanor charge of sexual misconduct, a news reporter from Channel 4 approached me. “Do you know what Charles Cook looks like?” he inquired of my journalistic expertise.

Dude. Come on. I make a living covering this stuff. I know what all the elected officials look like. “Think Col. Sanders,” I responded to the TV reporter.

Then I looked around, trying to spot Cookie. Didn’t see him. I looked again. Didn’t see him. I took a third look, peering into the window of the door of the courtroom. Sitting in the back row was a guy about Cookie’s size. But this guy was very clean shaven. Col. Sanders is not clean-shaven. And this guy was dressed in the best-looking suit and tie in a courtroom of high priced legal minds. Didn’t look like the same guy who has worn shorts into aldermen meetings. No, this guy looked a lot more like a Supreme Court judge than a Platte City alderman. Or Col. Sanders. It was Cookie.

“Ah, there he is,” I said to the reporter and his cameraman.

It was like Cookie had placed himself in the Witness Protection Program.

My compliments to his wardrobe coach. The outside view, which is all I care to see or, quite frankly, to think about, was damn spiffy. But you just know much of the public is wondering if he was sporting a now-famous Cookie banana hammock underneath.

While another reporter and I asked a couple of necessary questions of Cook’s attorney in the hallway, Cookie hurried out of the courthouse when his court session was over. But Channel 4 was waiting for him with cameras rolling. Cookie declined comment, briskly walking away to avoid the camera glare and probably in a big hurry to get out of that unfamiliar line of attire.

Let’s hope not in too big of a hurry.


Hey, remember that compromise reached between the Parkville Board of Aldermen and the Parkville downtown Community Improvement District (CID)?

It’s over. The board of directors of the CID has unanimously decided it wants no part of that compromise because, it says, the city only has the right to approve or disapprove of the CID slate of submitted officers. The city, according to the CID attorney, cannot attach conditions to any slate submitted for approval by the CID.

This means a couple of things. No. 1: The ball in this game is now back in the hands of the Parkville mayor and aldermen. Will they try to do anything with it or come to the conclusion that this column said weeks ago: The mayor and the city can’t win this fight. No. 2: The board of directors for the CID still includes the man the mayor and some aldermen desperately wanted to smack off the board: Tom Hutsler.

Here are your members of the CID board of directors:

Tom Hutsler, Mark Bentley, Josh Brock, Adam Eimer, John Kuhns, whose terms won’t expire until 2014. Also still on the board are two folks whose terms weren’t up this year: Dave Williams and Mike Phillips.

Stay tuned.


Each football season there are Northwest Missouri State Bearcat fans who pound me with requests for coverage and tell me how great the Bearcats are. I won’t mention any names, but their initials are Bill Brown, Andy Jones, Jason Klindt and Chris Stigall.

Announcement: I now have a daughter attending Northwest. This makes me a Bearcat fan now. But it still won’t motivate me to provide Landmark coverage of their games, as most Landmark readers couldn’t give a rat’s tail about the Bearcats.

However, you can look for me at this weekend’s big matchup between the Bearcats and my other daughter’s alma mater, Missouri Western.

(Stalk the publisher at this weekend’s Bearcat game, or if that’s not your style simply follow him on Twitter at



From 9/22/10 issue

Well, just a few more days until one of the most talked-about local court appearances in recent memory is scheduled to happen. Is the suspense getting to you?

Charles “Cookie” Cook, now a household name after only serving as an elected official for several months, has a court appearance on the docket for Tuesday afternoon at 1:30. That’s when his name is scheduled to be called in the courtroom of one of the new circuit court judges, Dennis Eckold. It’ll be my first time to sit in on a case in Eckold’s court. I had no idea the first time would involve a case getting this much, uh, exposure.

As we all know by now, Cook is a Platte City alderman who is charged with sexual misconduct for allegedly showing himself to a woman he was giving a ride home from her work at Price Chopper. The incident happened about 9:40 p.m. on Aug. 19. As you know if you’ve read our previous narratives, I’ve put forth great effort to keep the descriptions and accounts of this alleged incident as family-oriented as possible. The woman alleges that when she got back in the truck after Cook, at her request, had stopped at her friend’s house, Cook had his pants down, pulled out his (willy), asked if she’d like to touch it, and inquired as to whether she would like him to touch her (very personal space.)

The woman says she quickly declined the opportunity that was presented to her and asked to be taken home. Cook then pulled up his jean shorts (which Cook says were bad-fitting with no button and a malfunctioning zipper) and drove her home.

Cook, as you know only if you’ve been reading The Landmark as we’ve been the only news outlet to inform you of Cook’s version of the story to police, says he doesn’t think the package was ever completely unwrapped. He told police he was wearing a thong. Then he told police he does remember reaching down to grab that part of the male anatomy just below the equator, and that maybe when he did, it’s possible a trout inadvertently jumped out of the lake.

In other words, according to court documents, Cook told police it’s possible that when he grabbed himself he may have “accidentally reached into his underwear instead of grabbing himself through his underwear, possibly exposing his (hummina hummina hummina) to her.”

Officers confronted Cook with the information the woman was alleging. According to the statement of probable cause filed by police, Cook told officers that if the woman “said his (harrumph) was out, then his (harrumph) was out.”

Wow. Now I’ve completely lost my train of thought. Bottom line is that the court hearing is Tuesday. Check my Twitter page at for up to the minute coverage of the exposure.


This isn’t the only area with these types of problems making news. In chatting with and reading the top-notch news coverage produced by my publisher buddy Guy Speckman of the Savannah Reporter, I learned that Savannah High School’s football coach was suspended for a week. The school’s press release said the coach was suspended “for actions that were, in the opinion of the administration, not in accordance with school and district expectation.”

The fine journalists at the Savannah Reporter reported the allegations that resulted in the suspension of the coach involved “the (alleged) inappropriate touch of a female student.” In other words, grown men really should not be placing their hands in inappropriate places on the bodies of high school girls. To most of us, that doesn’t really sound like it would be a difficult “expectation” to follow.

This doesn’t make anyone feel better about the local allegations, of course. It’s simply proof that situations like this one are not confined only to this neck of the woods.


If the allegations against Cook result in an opening on the Platte City Board of Aldermen (and at this point it seems likely), there’s a veteran local politico anxiously waiting in the wings. Dave Brooks, former mayor, told me a couple of weeks ago he called Mayor Frank Offutt to express interest in receiving the appointment if Cook resigns or is forced out.

Brooks calling me to express his thoughts on this is a major development in itself and I have to admit I was impressed by his willingness to do so.

Longtime readers will recall Mayor Dave and I did not exactly see eye-to-eye on local political topics. Brooks seemed to take my criticism of some decisions in a very personal way, to the point that his only method of communication with me was to glare each time I entered the meeting room. This, of course, prompted continued Between the Lines attention for the then-mayor, and a fictional feature entitled Dave’s Diary was born.

But after our recent phone conversation, perhaps we can put that colorful history behind us and move on if Brooks ends up with a seat on the board of aldermen. His primary concern right now? Electrical service to downtown Platte City and the area immediately near downtown. KCP&L’s service to the area has suffered frequent outages. Brooks would like the city to put as much pressure as possible on the utility company to make improvements to its service.


Do you have plans for Veterans Day evening? You do now. The fearless group known as the Clay County Pachyderms have invited me to be their speaker on Nov. 11. Of course I will have continued shameless promotion of this event forthcoming. What’s relevant now is that you mark your calendar and plan to attend. The meeting will run from 6-8 p.m. at the Staley Farms Golf Clubhouse, 10310 North Olive Ave., Kansas City. Cost is $10 for members and $12 for non-members, which includes hors d’oeuvres and a drink.

I suggest more than one drink. It will make the speaker more entertaining.

(Follow the publisher at, find him on Facebook, or email him at


From 9/15/10 issue

Apparently buckling up his belt and preparing to offer some kind of defense to the accusation that he exposed himself to a woman he was giving a ride home from her work at Price Chopper, Platte City Alderman Charles “Cookie” Cook has hired an attorney. Attorney J. Michael Murphy has filed an entry of appearance as Cook’s legal counsel in the misdemeanor charge of sexual misconduct.

First court date for Cookie (and I’m expecting accolades from any high-fallutin readers for thus far being able to resist the temptation to crack wise about that nickname and how it could relate to this case--heck, I’ve even pulled in the reins on cartoonist Matthew Silber, who this week submitted a cartoon that would make many readers chuckle but likely won’t ever find its way to the printed version of this newspaper, though you may be able to see it at at some point) is set for 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 28.

It’s safe to say there will be media watching the proceedings on Sept. 28. Don’t be completely shocked if a plea is entered at some point in advance of that court time to avoid some of the potential media circus.

But then again, maybe Cook has his story tightly buttoned in a nice package and is strapped and ready to present his version of the naked truth. For his sake, I hope that is the case.

Either way, unfortunately for Cook the criminal case has been the talk of the area since Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd announced the charge on Aug. 31.


Cook’s lawyer has filed a request for discovery. If he looks at the same public court records and investigative documents that we did, the attorney has his work cut out for him. When your client’s line of defense is: “If she says my (hoo haw) was out, then my (hoo haw) was out.”

And if Cook somehow beats this charge, look for the “It may have just fallen out of my thong when I reached down there” line of defense to catch on nationwide. He could turn out to be the poster boy for bad-fitting banana hammocks.

So he’s got that going for him. Potentially.


Cook is fortunate in that there have been no meetings of the Platte City Board of Aldermen since the accusations were announced. The board meets the second and fourth Tuesday nights of each month. His sexual misconduct charge was announced on the fifth Tuesday in August (no meeting that night) and then the first regularly-scheduled session of this month was moved from Sept. 14 to Sept. 21 to allow for some city officials to attend a statewide conference.

Sept. 21 is next Tuesday. Will Cook be present at that meeting?


By the way, in a recent column sidenote, I referenced Cook as “retired” from the gas company. I’m now told he is still employed there. Some sources are saying his employer now has him “on assignment.”

Cook’s employment situation is not a crucial element of the real news story--which is that an elected public official has been charged with sexual misconduct--but from a journalistic standpoint the new information needed to be passed on to readers.


Unless you were watching Channel 41 for about 30 seconds around 9 a.m. on Aug. 28, you missed it, but The Landmark was featured by meteorologist George Waldenberger as an interesting stop on his day trip to Platte City. Waldenberger came popping in our office the afternoon of Friday, Aug. 27 after being intrigued by the old printing equipment he spotted through the window. The young weather dude, wearing a ball cap and shorts, asked a bunch of questions about the old Linotype in the window and I showed him the 115-year-old press in the back. He was fascinated by it all and started taking pictures. We started goofing around with the old press as I showed him what I knew about its operation, and he set the timer on his camera and jumped in a picture. All this time, I had no idea who the guy was. He looked young and I had just assumed he was a college kid killing time taking photos as he spotted interesting “stuff.”

As he was leaving, he finally let it be known he is a meteorologist for Channel 41. He said his Landmark stop may be featured on the next morning’s newscast. It was, and the photo he had taken of the two of us with the historic old press was flashed on the screen.
He also stopped at the Pool Hall, the Ben Ferrel Museum, the Platte County Courthouse, and the Platte Falls Conservation Area that day. Check out pictures he took while in Platte City and his story about his day trip to the town on his weather blog at

Fun guy, nice fellow. I hope he makes it big in the weather biz.


Leonard Hendricks, public works director for the City of Platte City injured in the crash at Second and Main that was pictured on our front page last week, is expected to be off work until around Sept. 20 while he recovers. Friends say he has no recollection of the crash and likely suffered a concussion. He was still having headaches, we’re told, a couple of days after the accident. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.


Last week, I wondered aloud whether radio talker/Landmark columnist Chris Stigall’s speaking engagement at the Platte County Pachyderm Club meeting this month broke the record for attendance for the club. As I boasted last week and will brag again this week, the record attendance mark was set at 105 when your humble publisher spoke last summer. My record is safe. Club officials contacted me to inform that Stigall drew 74 people this month. Close, but no cigar for my friend Stigall. Ah, let’s be honest and say to hell with sportsmanship, that’s not even close.

However, club spokesman Lee Pedego claimed (jokingly, I think) that 31 people asked for their money back after I spoke, so technically in his view, it’s a tie.

(Shameless promotion of his next speaking engagement starts next week. In the meantime, follow the publisher’s daily words on Twitter at


From 9/8/10 issue

Let’s get this out of the way: There is nothing new to report in the case of the sexual misconduct charges against Platte City Alderman Charles Cook. As of this writing, he is still an alderman, though Platte City Mayor Frank Offutt confirmed he is researching all statutes and policies in regard to options for removal of an elected official. “But as of now the mayor has no comment,” said Offutt on Tuesday, speaking in the third person.

Sidenote: Offutt doesn’t yet refer to himself as “Frank Offutt,” only as “the mayor,” so we got that going for us.

Court records indicate Cook has not yet hired an attorney for representation on the misdemeanor charge. His court appearance is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 28 in front of Judge Dennis Eckold in Platte County Circuit Court.

In case you were vacationing in a cave and weren’t one of the avid Landmark readers helping sell out our many news racks around the county last week, you know that Cook is charged with exposing himself to a 37-year-old Platte City woman in his pickup as he was driving her home from her job at the local Price Chopper.

See last week’s issue for details on how each of the two parties recalls the events of that night. I would reprint them again here but feel like if I did that I would need to wrap this issue in brown paper before mailing.


Loved the comment from Platte City Police Chief Carl Mitchell in regard to the resignation of one of his officers after the officer was arrested in Buchanan County. Check out our front page story to read Mitchell’s money quote.


So I was under the weather last Thursday evening and missed Landmark columnist Chris Stigall’s speaking engagement at the Platte County Pachyderm Club meeting. Hope it went well, but selfishly would like to get a crowd count. Anybody? Last August when yours truly was invited to put the crowd to sleep on a night when the room was split in half with folks on either side of a just-approved controversial park tax issue, I was told it was the largest number of attendees at a Pachyderm meeting since the club had moved its meetings to O’Dowd’s Pub several years ago. The lovely and talented Cherie Pedego, taking money at the door, said she had the crowd count at 105 that night last August.

Did Stigall approach that record number? (EDITOR'S NOTE: Once this printed issue hit the streets, Pachyderm officials contacted us with the numbers. See next week's column to find out which of The Landmarkers drew the larger crowd)


Dotting the “i’s” and crossing the “t’s” on an upcoming Between the Lines speaking engagement in Clay County, as we spread the reach of The Landmark into our neighboring county.

With the volatility of the Platte County park tax issue now in the rear view mirror and no worry about inciting a riot, this talk will be more cutting edge than last summer.

We’ll let you know the gory details soon. You’ll want to make plans to attend; the drive to Clay County is an easy one.


Looking for an event to hit this weekend? Consider the Parkville Wine and Cheese Fest. Wine and cheese lovers are invited to sample more than 20 different wines and cheeses from around the world at Parkville’s first-ever Wine and Cheese Fest, Saturday, Sept. 11, from 1-5 p.m. in historic downtown Parkville. Attendees will receive a custom tasting glass and a sommelier will be available for all wine questions.

Featuring wine and cheese samplings from around the world, the Fest will also offer live music, an 18-piece band performing Big Band music, grape stomping, demonstrations of cheese making, cigar cutting, silent auction, and much more.

And don’t forget next weekend is the Riverside Riverfest, a two-day event in that southern Platte County city. Get details on both the wine and cheese fest and the Riverfest by checking out advertisements in this issue.


Tina Zubeck, PR person for the Platte County R-3 School District, called The Landmark Tuesday with the news that her son, Bobby Zubeck, will be piloting one of the Navy helicopters that will be involved in pre-game activities at the Kansas City Chiefs season opener Monday night.

Bobby Zubeck is a 2001 graduate of Platte County High School who graduated from the Naval Academy in 2005. He’ll be handling the controls of one of two choppers that will take part in a flyover above Arrowhead Stadium Monday night before the nationally televised game.

Zubeck is stationed in Norfolk, Va., and has previously been deployed on the USS Eisenhower.


Speaking of the NFL opener, be sure to check out our Pigskin Picks feature that kicks off this week. Landmark personalities will go head-to-head against professional handicapper Mike Austin this season in picking the outcome of every NFL game.

I don’t know how others viewed it, but as I pondered over the list of opening week games I felt like a fish out of water. With a lot going on these days, I have watched virtually zero pre-season football and have a feeling these opening week games are going to kick my tail.

Anyway, as we did last year, we’re offering readers a chance to win a free one-year subscription to The Landmark. Send me an email before noon on Sunday with your choice as to which of the contestants will win this year’s Pigskin Picks contest. The winner will be crowned after Super Bowl Sunday. Last year’s winner was Brian Kubicki. Anyone correctly picking the champ will get one year’s worth of weekly journalistic goodness at no charge.

Send your pick to

(The news never sleeps and rarely does your Landmark publisher. Email him at or follow his running commentary 24/7 at


From 9/1/10 issue

Allow me, if you will, to state the obvious: It’s been a rough week from a public relations standpoint for the City of Platte City. An alderman stands accused of exposing himself. A police officer was arrested in an alleged domestic dispute. Let’s allow for due process and let’s keep in mind in this country we’re all innocent until proven guilty--well, except at North Platte High School, where students must pee in a cup on demand without a case even being made for suspicion.

It’s safe to say each man’s spot at the city is now in a position of peril.


Let’s carry the rough week theme a bit further: It was a rough week for guys wearing shorts. Alderman Charles “Cookie” Cook was apparently having trouble getting his shorts to behave (stay tuned for analysis of Cook’s version of that night in his pickup coming soon in this same column). Meanwhile, Dennis Dodd of was a guest on the KSHB Channel 41 Sports Sunday show. Dodd was wearing shorts for his TV appearance. He was sitting, but not behind a desk. And his shorts appeared to be shorter than what seems to be the currently accepted length for fashionable types. And the positioning of his legs during portions of the broadcast, well, let’s just say they weren’t exactly less than shoulder width apart. Topping it off, Dodd is--and this isn’t his fault, I understand that and am not criticizing him for that part--a man who is challenged in the follicle department. It appeared his legs were as bald as his head. The result? I wasn’t sure if this was really male sportswriter Dennis Dodd or Sinead O’Connor dressed in drag.

Uncomfortable to watch at best. A tad nauseating at worst.

I can’t tell you what Dodd had to say on Sports Sunday that night. Others in the room can vouch that I let out a moan normally associated with a stomach virus and changed the channel.

Let’s hope Dodd has a boss or a fashion advisor who will suggest he wear slacks at his next TV appearance. If there is a next TV appearance.


Be honest, you’ve turned here this week expecting some Between the Lines commentary on the sexual misconduct allegations against Platte City Alderman Charles Cook. The story broke Tuesday morning and since that time it has gone viral--to use a term I don’t really understand but am sure will make me sound young, hip and all that kinda stuff--all over the regional media.

I don’t know Cook personally, though I’ve known of him for years. Many years ago someone mentioned his name to me in conversation. I asked for clarification. “You know, Cookie, he’s the short guy who works for the gas company.” Folks have long identified Cook as “Cookie” or “the short guy who works for the gas company.” I get the impression he is well thought of by many people.

What I can tell you with certainty is that during his eight months or so on the board of aldermen, Cook has generally been quiet, not often offering input on any topic. He did find himself in the spotlight to a certain extent at last week’s meeting when he changed his vote on the question of whether to approve a tax increase. The issue came up for a vote three times. The first two occasions it ended in a 3-3 split, with Mayor Frank Offutt unwilling to break the tie (former Mayor Dave Brooks used to do this and I criticized him for it, so I’ll criticize Offutt for it--break the damn tie, show some leadership, that’s why the people elected you). So the matter was called to question a third time later in the meeting, and Cook switched his vote to be in favor of the tax hike.

Look, I don’t know what went on inside Cook’s truck that night. I wasn’t there, and trust me I’m grateful for that. Fact is, the only folks who do know what went on are Cook and the 37-year-old woman getting a ride home. Some of the details of the woman’s allegations became well known when the prosecutor announced the charges. Wanting to be sure that Cook’s side of the story had an opportunity to be heard, The Landmark gathered all the public court documents. The result is that in our front page story, you’ll read details about the allegations and details about Cook’s view of events as he related them to investigating officers. Be advised: While some of the terms and language might be a bit graphic for younger readers or maybe a few adults who aren’t used to reading real life grown-up words in a newspaper, it’s a serious allegation against a public official and those of us in the media have a responsibility to allow the accused a chance to defend himself publicly.

That being said, I’m not sure that Cook’s line of defense is going to take him places. His supporters probably wish he had consulted an attorney and/or simply stayed quiet. For instance, at one point he told police that if the alleged victim “says it (his penis) was out, then it was out.” He also admits he had multiple drinks that night and probably should not have been driving. It’s not likely the prosecutor took very kindly to those admissions when he read the police reports.

In other portions of his statement to police, Cook says his shorts didn’t have a button but did have a zipper that won’t stay up. He says he was wearing thong underwear, so when he grabbed his crotch he may have accidentally reached underneath that thong and exposed more than he intended.

There you have it. He’s explaining it as a wardrobe malfunction. Maybe Cook is on to something here, because you know what they say: If the thong doesn’t fit, you must acquit.

Could happen to any man, at least under that line of reasoning. Well, any man wearing shorts without a button, no belt, and a zipper that won’t stay up, while sporting a banana hammock underneath. Just for kicks and grins.

Members of the Between the Lines Fashion Police want to write Cook a ticket just for admitting he wears a thong.

At any rate, I’ll make a remark similar to those made in this space previously: When embarrassing allegations like this one are brought forth, the accuser is casting a permanent cloud over the accused, so the accuser better be certain he or she has all, uh, ducks in a row.

Let’s see how it plays out.

(Send your fashion tips to or maybe strap on a banana hammock while you follow him--from a distance--at


From 8/25/10 issue

Kansas City Power and Light officials absorbed some criticism last week at a public meeting in which local residents and business owners unloaded frustration upon three or four KCP&L representatives. You likely read about it in our front page story last week.
The criticism is much deserved. Power outages in Platte City are happening with what seems like increasing frequency--and some of the outages have been for extended lengths of time, which only increases the anger and frustration of folks trying to make an honest living but find that tough to do without a consistent flow of electricity.

As one Platte City resident put it last week, “Come on. This is the 21st century.”
Preach on, frustrated masses.

As last Friday’s afternoon storm blew in, I went to my Twitter page (that’s in case you are one of the unfortunate who has not yet decided to follow the running news and commentary on a daily basis) and posted this comment: “Bet the power goes out any minute in Platte City.”

A few moments later, the power was out at in the 100 block of Main Street, further agitating an already agitated Susan Stewart, owner/operator of the Main Street Pet Resort, and other folks, I’m sure.

Fortunately at the ol’ Landmark office, the power blinked off three times but came back on each time. We never lost electricity for longer than a few seconds that day.

The local businessman with the biggest gripe against KCP&L is Doug Sharp of the new ALPS grocery store in Platte City. Sharp lost $40,000 of inventory and damaged equipment in a June 19 storm that kept his store without power until sometime on June 20--with what Sharp termed an unacceptable level of communication from KCP&L in the meantime. Had he been told the power would not return for that length of time, Sharp said he could have saved much of that inventory by bringing in refrigerated trucks from the store’s warehouse.

KCP&L officials were polite and seemed sympathetic at last week’s meeting, but they also came off as being out of touch. They seemed a bit surprised by some of the problems reported to them and without being able to spout a definite plan to improve service to Platte City, KCP&L did or said nothing that night to calm concerns of those residents and business owners who came to City Hall to let off some frustration.

Let’s see where this situation goes from here. Will KCP&L be taking some much-needed steps to prevent quick-trigger power outages and calm some of the frustration? Or will the concerns fade to black as storm season winds down?

Something tells me there are enough angry customers that KCP&L will be forced to announce some kind of plan to improve consistency of service. The public deserves it.


You’ve heard him on your radio and read him in your newspaper, now there’s a chance to see him in person. Chris Stigall, Landmark columnist and morning host on KCMO Talk Radio 710 AM will be the featured speaker at the Sept. 2 meeting of the Platte County Pachyderm Club.

The Pachyderm meeting will be at O’Dowd’s in Zona Rosa from 5:30 to 7 p.m. that night. Stigall will take the podium around 6 p.m., where I anticipate he will unload upon left wing liberal nonsense for 45 minutes to an hour of what should be entertaining remarks.

You don’t have to be a Republican to attend, though if you’re a left wing pinko commie I’m fairly certain you will not enjoy the message.


Every parent knows the fear--that unsettling feeling in the stomach every time one of your children takes to the highways. Between the Lines children range in age from 19 to 24 but it still hits me every time I know one of them is on the road. Many of you, I assume, get the same feeling. As parents, we’ve traveled thousands of miles through snow, rain, heavy traffic, etc. and never once worried about our own safety. But put the kids on the roadway for a 30-45 minute trip back to college, for instance, and the worrying mechanism kicks in each and every time--even in sunny and clear weather. As last weekend proves, even when young drivers are doing the right thing behind the wheel, other drivers are not.

Every parent’s worst nightmare became reality for a local family with the death of a young lady who by all accounts was a top-notch person. As you’ll see by reading her obituary published in this issue, Abby Cockrill had already accomplished much in her 22 years on this planet and was destined to accomplish much more. While I know Abby’s mother, Diana, from doing business with her at BankLiberty, I didn’t know Abby personally, but I do know many young adults who fit that profile of being beautiful people inside and out. Good parenting helps that process, obviously. Kids like Abby have been brought up with great care, learned right from wrong and stayed on the right path. It breaks your heart to see a young person with a bright future taken away in a heartbeat by a careless and (allegedly) intoxicated driver.

Our deepest sympathy to the Cockrill family.


Questions that many North Platte parents who are remaining silent in spite of a ridiculous student drug testing policy being implemented by their board of education may want to ponder:

1. Where is the documented need for this policy? Not just administrators who don’t want to deal with isolated drug cases that come up over the years, but an actual documented problem?

2. Are you comfortable letting a school district institute a privacy intrusion policy to try to, as Superintendent Jeff Sumy strangely said, “give kids an option?” Exactly what option are they giving kids: You can’t play if you don’t pee? Pee in the cup and if it’s clean you can play sports, if it’s not--or God forbid we get a false positive--you can’t?

3. Is it the school’s responsibility to keep your kids off drugs? Isn’t that a parent’s responsibility? Sure it is. Responsible parents should be offended by yet another governmental intrusion into your life--and the life of your child.

Some things to think about. More on this guilty-until-proven- innocent step by North Platte in a future column.

(Drug testing is not required for you to email the publisher at or to get daily local news and commentary from him at



From 8/18/10 issue

Remember that stench about a mile south of the Dearborn exit on I-29 that we discussed in this column space about a month ago? The one caused when a powdery substance used as a dog food additive spilled out of an overturned truck on the interstate?

The stench is still there. And the “attraction” is getting region-wide attention. The popular Kansas City blog site,, picked up on the Between the Lines column about it a few weeks ago. Now, I have it on good authority the Savannah Reporter, another region-wide media powerhouse, is talking about it in its issue this week.

So there’s really nothing MoDOT or other authorities could have done--or forced others to do--to take care of this unattractive problem? Really? It’s stomach turning.
Sadly, Dearborn is becoming known for two less-than-popular topics: An ugly stench along the interstate near the town’s major exit and a backasswards drug-testing policy at the high school there.


Hall of Fame photojournalist Bill Hankins, a veteran and respected educator, chimes in with a common sense opinion on North Platte’s guilty-until-proven innocent drug policy in the letters to the editor section this week. Bill feels so strongly in his stance against such a policy that he says he is not willing to cover (read that as ‘promote’) North Platte athletics as long as the policy is in place. I support him in his stance and his decision.


From this chair, it looks like the Parkville mayor and aldermen have painted themselves into a corner in their child-like approach to refuse to approve a slate of officers that contains Tom Hutsler for the downtown Community Improvement District board of directors.

Aldermen keep rejecting any slate that includes Hutsler, the CID keeps nominating Hutsler to every slate submitted. Since existing officers continue to serve until replacements are appointed, it looks like Hutsler is safe to remain on the board as long as he continues to receive support from the folks doing the nominating for the CID. It seems Mayor Gerry Richardson and his country club band of merry men and women finally realize that fact. Tuesday night, Richardson handed out a two-page letter trying to explain why he has dragged the aldermen into a fifth-grade level public whizzing match, all in an effort to rid Hutsler from the board of the CID.

I hope the mayor thinks his destined-to-fail effort has been worth it. All it has done is cause more bad blood and bring the city--and some innocent members of the CID--a lot of negative publicity.

Here’s my Between the Lines interpretation of Richardson’s rambling two page letter. What Richardson is really saying in his letter is this: 1. I really don’t like Tom Hutsler. I kinda don’t like John Kuhns. 2. I’m sorry I’ve sullied the names of some good people and caused collateral damage during my witch hunt-like attempt to knock Hutsler off the CID board. 3. Time to wave the white flag. I now realize I can’t win this fight and the CID is going to continue nominating Hutsler as one of its board members. I now have come to realize that Hutsler, as a current officer, will keep serving even if the board of aldermen keeps rejecting the slate of proposed officers. Holy crap.

The end.


Football season is just around the corner--can I get an ‘Amen?’--and that will mean the return of our Pigskin Picks feature.

Based on a phone call I received on Friday, our Pigskin Picks attraction--in which yours truly and other Landmark personalities pick the outcome of every NFL game--will take on a new and exciting dimension this year. A professional sports handicapper from Nevada wants in on the action.

For those who may not be familiar with the term, a sports handicapper is similar to a stock advisor to those folks in Vegas--and other locales where it is legal, mind you--who like to bet on sports. Bettors often pay for advice (commonly called ‘information’ in the biz) on how to place their sports bets. Handicappers and bettors often work out an arrangement for the handicapper to be paid, whether it be on a percentage of winnings or on an established fee per week, month, season, whatever.

Mike Austin is a professional sports handicapper. He has followed our Pigskin Picks contest via our web site the past few years. He knows the background and some of the recent success and non-success of Landmark staffers in picking the games--he chided me for ‘letting’ my son beat me in previous years.

Anyway, Austin this season wants to sponsor the feature--and take part as one of the contestants. So my loyal Landmark staffers and I will now be able to test our prognosticating skills against a professional. In previous years, we’ve compared Landmark staffers’ picks to picks made by sports staffers at the Kansas City Star. If you’ve paid attention, you’ve noticed most of your Landmark guys consistently finish with better marks than the Falling Stars. This season, instead of--or maybe in addition to-- comparing against the Falling Stars, we’ll be going head-to-head against a professional sports handicapper.

Landmark readers can watch the circus show and hassle us for our lack of knowledge, or maybe praise us should we overcome the pro. In addition, there are other benefits for Landmark readers. I suggested to Austin that inside our picks feature each week he offer his best “free” pick of the week. He has agreed to do that. Our deadline is noon on Tuesday and most of the NFL games aren’t until Sunday, so that makes it a little tougher on him. Most handicappers won’t release their picks until the day of the game. But Austin has agreed to each week give Landmark readers his favorite free pick against the spread. On top of that, in his advertising message a phone number will be available for readers to call to get yet another free against the spread pick from Austin later in the week.

Should be fun.

(Follow all the Between the Lines fun and information in real time at or email


From 8/11/10 issue

Between the Lines fishing tip:

Take one Baptist fishing and he’ll drink all your beer. Take two Baptists fishing and neither will drink anything.


Have you been to Chiefs’ training camp in St. Joseph? For a time, a late summer weekend adventure for me was a road trip to River Falls, Wis. to take in the sights and sounds of Chiefs’ camp. So now that they are training right here in the area, no doubt I’ve been hitting a lot of the sessions, right? Wrong. Haven’t been there at all. Not yet, anyway.

Despite oppressive heat and despite my unexplained lack of interest this year, large crowds of folks are taking in open-to-the-public practice sessions at Missouri Western State University.

Landmark facilities manager/intern/jack-of-all-trades Kurt Foley made the trip to St. Joe one recent afternoon, with the temperature hovering near 100 degrees. His journalistic instincts then took him to his Twitter account to post a report. Here’s what he said: “Chiefs training camp=terrible idea. Way too hot.”

Thank you for the detailed update, my son.

For the most informative account of training camp that I’ve seen to date, go to Greg Hall’s Off the Couch column at and read his entry dated Aug. 2.

Excellent stuff, as always, from Hall.


Hall’s review of training camp included a couple of honest observations of the busy--and often dangerous--stretch of roadway known as the Belt Highway in St. Joseph. I found my buddy Hall’s observations interesting. Many of my high school weekend nights were filled “cruising” the Belt. So even though the atmosphere has changed on the Belt somewhat from 30 years ago, it was fascinating to get an outsider’s view of things.

Not so enamored by Hall’s comments was a member of the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce, who contacted the scribe and invited him back to show him some other parts of St. Joe that Hall “may have missed” on his first stop at training camp. If Hall makes it back to camp and hooks up with the sensitive Chamber member, expect a report on that in a future Off the Couch.


Another big time web site has had The Landmark on its mind and in its pages lately. The nationally known and widely-read talked about The Landmark last week in a post about Hall’s colorful history with Star sportswriter Jason Whitlock.

Interesting to get the big time attention, and interesting to re-live that “cease and desist” order the Kansas City Star attorneys faxed to my office one September afternoon in 2003. Disclaimer: I’m not an attorney, I just play one in this column. But as I legally interpreted their mumbo jumbo, the Star basically sent the threat because they didn’t like the way Hall’s column was commenting upon Whitlock. Did it stop Hall’s columns from commenting on Whitlock? (Insert snicker here).

Whitlock apparently still recalls the uproar, and apparently still has tender feelings: He blocks me from following him on Twitter.

Strangely, he does not block Hall.


Latest sales tax numbers from Platte County indicate the county park tax collections are up 3.7% from last year. I’m not a mathematician, I just play one in this column. But that number is an almost 4% increase. Even in a down economy, the cash register in the county parks department just keeps ringing.

Somebody explain to me again why that $80 million half cent park tax renewal couldn’t have been cut in half on last year’s renewal ballot? Can we get a cease and desist?


Congressman Sam Graves is among those advocating the establishment of the Fair Tax system. It’s not a new proposal, but for whatever reason it doesn’t seem to get a lot of play in the normal mainstream (or is it lamestream?) media. The Landmark will never be accused of being the normal mainstream media. So here are some of Graves’ thoughts on the Fair Tax idea. He offers a good, basic explanation of how this thing would work:

“There is little dispute that the current tax code is too difficult to understand, too punitive and too easy to avoid through loopholes. In its place, we need to implement a tax code that is simple, fair and promotes economic growth. That is why I am a co-sponsor of the Fair Tax,” Graves said in an email blast received at Between the Lines headquarters recently.

Graves says the Fair Tax would repeal (basically, cease and desist) the income, employment, estate, and gift taxes. In their place, it would institute a national sales tax on services and goods purchased. However, there would be certain exemptions for personal investment and businesses. It also eliminates all federal taxes for those below the poverty line.

“A national sales tax would be much more transparent than the existing income-based taxation system because you would see exactly how much you had been taxed every time you made a purchase,” Graves says. “ In the process, many experts predict it will provide ample funding for the programs responsible governments are supposed to control while lowering the actual amount paid by many taxpayers.”

Sounds intriguing.

“Many people in Washington hate this idea because they want to spend as much of your money as they can. But just as Congress must address its spending problem, we also need to deal with our taxation problem. The current system just isn’t working,” Graves added.

(For years, Between the Lines has been known to ignore orders of cease and desist. But it never hurts to ask. Send email to or follow his daily adventures at


From 8/4/10 issue

So this is my 50 cents worth. My two cents worth? It’s always free at


Liberal left-wingers have started quoting this column on their website known as Fired Up Missouri. They seem confused by and unable to grasp some of my material, however. That being the case, I will be a gentleman and start. Using. Shorter. Sentences.


As you’ll see in our front page story, the alderman with the deciding vote on the city of Parkville’s decision to deny approval of a panel of proposed downtown community improvement district (CID) board of directors was none other than Jeffrey Bay, he of the mysterious residency status.

Bay has become a hot topic of phone calls to this office and as a result he has become a trending topic on my Twitter page. You’ll recall a front page story last week included Bay vaguely fighting off allegations that he is no longer a resident of Parkville by saying he “has not left Parkville” and that his home is under contract to be sold. When this story hit the streets, the Between the Lines tip line started ringing off the hook. Folks called Bay’s claim to still reside there BS. A new family has moved into Bay’s house, they told me, providing details about watching the move take place. I called the new family and left multiple voicemails asking about the topic. They have not returned the calls. The phone number previously listed for Bay at the residence is “no longer in service,” according to the phone company.

Another person in a position to know Bay’s residency status got even more specific. “He’s living in the Sun Gate Apartments at Hwy. 169 and North Broadway,” I was told. Clearly, that’s not within the city of Parkville. The caller got even more specific. “He’s living on the third floor.” Turns out Bay is listed as the owner of the Sun Gate Apartments, so it seems a reasonable possibility that a guy who has recently moved from his home in The National would take up residency in an apartment complex he owns. That’s worthy of asking for explanation from Bay, wouldn’t you say? After all, to be an elected official of the city of Parkville it is a requirement to be a Parkville resident.

Twice this week I called Bay at his place of employment. Both times I had to leave voicemails. My detailed voice messages were not returned. When he showed up for Tuesday night’s board of aldermen meeting, PJ Rooks did the journalistically-trained thing and approached him with questions. Bay has gone from saying his house is under contract to now saying that he is staying with a friend when he is in town (he says he travels a lot--various tipsters are claiming to Joplin, to Arkansas, and to the Sun Gate Apartments).

His residency drama is becoming the butt of jokes. If Bay is simply trying to hold on to his seat while he really doesn’t reside in Parkville, that’s wrong. If he has moved out of the city he needs to resign his post, even though he has plans to buy another home and return. Is he really living with a vaguely-referenced “friend” in his ward? Or is he simply afraid to give up his seat on the board out of fear that he wouldn’t be able to win it back if and when he does return to the city?


No drama locally. There were no primary run-offs for either party for positions at the county level on Tuesday. Now the general election match-ups are set in stone. With this in mind, it’s a good time to take a look at how each candidate is stocked when it comes to a campaign war chest. Often--though not always--money wins elections. That’s why it’s important to take a look at the financial scorecard.

Some research has garnished the following information. Finance reports are due quarterly, and the latest reports only reflect activity through June 30, which means these numbers you’ll read below could have changed a bit. Taking them by position:

Presiding commissioner: Jason Brown, Republican, who was all set to run for state senate until Betty Knight announced she would not seek reelection to a 27th term as presiding commissioner (though some conspiracy theorists claim Brown all along intended to run for commissioner, regardless of whether Betty was in or out) is loaded. Brown has $29,267 on hand. That’s even after Brown made a $2,000 donation to the campaign of Ron Schieber, Republican candidate for 32nd state representative. The Jason Brown for Senate committee transferred $35,798 when that committee was terminated to the new committee of Jason Brown for Presiding Commissioner. Brown’s opponent, Democrat Bobby Kincaid, has $6,777 on hand. Kincaid has picked up donations from Democrats like Jim Farley, Grill Law Firm and Tammy Glick, and from perceived Republicans like Lee and Cherie Pedego ($150 apiece) and William A. Brown ($200). By the way, Betty Knight still has an active committee. It has $3,673 on hand.

County collector: Sheila Palmer, Republican, has $6,313 on hand. Palmer shows a $5,000 contribution from Gene and Peggy Palmer of Platte City. Other contributors during the quarter were Milton and Mary Hensley ($200), Barbara Bryan ($200), Eric Zahnd for Prosecutor ($250), Golden Key, Inc. ($250) and William Brown ($200). Becky Dye, Democrat, has $5,126 on hand. Dye has given her campaign a personal loan of $4,000. She has also made a monetary contribution of $1,100 to her campaign and has made an in-kind donation to her committee of $2,459.18. John Pepper gave a $200 donation.

County auditor: Incumbent Democrat Siobhann Williams has $2,684 on hand. She received a monetary donation of $2,500 from Katherine Williams and a $100 contribution from Kendall Hunt. Challenger Kevin Robinson, Republican, has zero money on hand.

County clerk: Incumbent Democrat Sandy Krohne has $1,466 cash on hand. She is showing donations from Keith Hicklin ($150), John Pepper ($250), Todd Karlin ($200), and Lisa Rehard ($200). Republican challenger Joan Harms has $2,578 on hand. Harms lists several contributors, including Beverly Worth ($300), Susan Phillips ($200), John Waller ($200), James Thomas III ($300), Deanna Sealey ($150), Knight for Presiding Commissioner ($50), Janet Stark ($110), Theresa Emerson ($100), and various contributions from Vernon Harms.

(Email the publisher at



From 7/28/10 issue

Yes, it’s hotter than blazes and yes, there’s not an overabundance of contested races on the ballot, but don’t forget to head to the polls next Tuesday, Aug. 3 to cast a ballot.
For the complete list of candidates and issues on the summer menu, see the election legal notice on pages B-3 and B-4 in this issue of your Landmark. Some of the highlights? A contested GOP primary for state senate between Rob Schaaf and John DeStefano and a contested Republican primary for U.S. Senate between Roy Blunt, called Bailout Blunt by some groups who question Blunt’s conservative credentials, and Chuck Purgason. In another Republican primary, Allen Icet, whom I interviewed last Sept. 11 when he dropped by The Landmark office, will square off against Tom Schweich of St. Louis for state auditor. On a smaller scale, there are some contested races for party central committee posts, including one involving our own columnist, James Thomas. Let it be known I heartily endorse James C. Thomas in his quest to retain the seat in the high profile position of sub-committee district 32-1 on the Platte County Republican Central Committee.

As far as issues go, the most interesting one is Proposition C, which in essence gives Missourians the chance to give a thumbs up or thumbs down to the idea of Obamacare. Don’t be confused on this one--a yes vote on Proposition C is a vote against Obamacare. The yes vote is the only sensible way to go.


Platte City Mayor Frank Offutt’s one-hour meeting rule was violated, assaulted, raped, pistol-whipped and tasered Tuesday night. The 7 p.m. board of aldermen session, which the mayor has indicated should never run longer than one hour, didn’t end until about 9:40 Tuesday night.

Media types and regular audience members are still thankful Tuesday’s length is the exception, not the rule.


My iPhone 4 arrived on Monday. Don’t ask me how I like it. It’s still enclosed in the UPS box in which it arrived. It just seemed like too big a task to tackle until after deadlines for this week’s paper had been assaulted, raped, pistol-whipped and tasered.

So my iPhone orientation starts Thursday. A report will be forthcoming once I’ve learned to do more than call and text with it.


An Ozone Alert was officially issued for the Kansas City region, warning us that the air quality was going to suck on Wednesday. To be honest, I never used to pay attention to these sorts of indicators. But the older I’ve gotten--which certainly beats the alternative, by the way--the more affected I’ve become by environmental allergies. For those with allergies or other breathing challenges, these air quality alerts actually can be a bit meaningful. I didn’t realize it at the time but that headache from hell that struck me Tuesday afternoon was probably a result of the air quality already heading south.

This has become a long way of saying that I’ve discovered an over the counter product that can help with some of the resulting symptoms. It’s called Sinus Buster, a nasal spray I happened upon on a recent trip to Walgreens in Platte City. Sinus Buster promotes itself as an “all natural nasal spray.” Its all natural ingredients? Capsaicin pepper. That’s it.

Capsaicin is the active natural chemical that puts the heat in hot peppers. Think pepper spray. Think pepper spray used for riot control (cheaper than tasers) and personal defense. This stuff is pretty powerful and isn’t for everybody, perhaps only those of us who are congested and suffering from a headache from hell.

Have you ever crammed a jalapeno up your nose? Neither have I, but if I had I would imagine the sensation would be similar to what this burst of spray gives. This stuff will make your eyes water. It won’t just make tears form in your eyes, I mean it will make water run out of your eyes. It’s a little freaky the first time or two you use the stuff. But it works.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, I just play one in this column. Check with your physician before using, even though I didn’t.


Our Other Voices feature printed below this column takes a look back at a moment in Landmark history. It was 30 years ago this week, and obviously it remains a painful memory for a lot of us. I’ve always thought former Landmark owner/publisher did a fine job in her tribute to my dad back in 1980. Mrs. Jones, by the way, passed away in 1998.

At some point in the future I’ll do a more thorough account, but for now I’ll briefly pass along a couple of lasting impressions. July 25, 1980 was a Friday. I was 17 and had come home from work at the family-owned newspaper and printing plant, showered and was pumped about an upcoming night out to a St. Joe drive-in theater with friends. Mom-- who to this point had spent her adult life being a busy wife and mother of seven kids--and I were the only ones at home. I was standing in my bedroom, staring at the closet, picking out a shirt when the phone in the kitchen rang. The house was quiet, so I was able to hear the uptight tone of voice my mom was using. She hung up the phone and said a chaplain at a St. Joseph hospital had called to say Dad had “gotten sick” on the way home from Platte City. I told her to jump in the car, I would drive.

About halfway through the 15-minute drive, she said: “I wonder why the chaplain would call me instead of Lester (my dad’s friend who was with him that day) calling me.” I avoided the question, fearing that I knew the answer and didn’t want to say it aloud. I’ve grown to be convinced she knew the answer as well, and in a motherly way was simply trying to prepare me for any shock that might lie ahead. The hospital at the time was in the downtown St. Joe area, and feeling a sense of urgency, I ran a red light(s) on the way. As mothers do, Mom chastised me for it, even at that moment. It was a sign of the strength she would continue to show for years, despite the fact she was about to become a widow at the age of 45.

By now you know the news that was waiting for us at the hospital. For me, it meant it was time to become a man at the age of 17. On a larger scale, it meant the beginning of some challenging times that would see everybody contribute in a way larger than some ever imagined, performing some tasks we never expected we’d be performing at that early point in our lives. I now love all aspects of the news business, but it wasn’t all that enjoyable during that time of transition.

It’s not a situation to be wished upon anyone, but I firmly believe everyone who goes through an experience like that eventually becomes a stronger person for having done so.

(Bust Ivan Foley's sinuses via email to or settle for signing up to follow him on Twitter at



This week marks the 30-year anniversary of the sudden death of Dwayne Foley, age 50. Foley, Landmark publisher and publisher of two other weekly papers at the time of his July 25, 1980 fatal heart attack, had purchased The Landmark in November of 1979 from Lucy Jones. Mrs. Jones penned the following remarks about Foley in The Landmark issue the week after his death:


Newspaper people seem to grow a bit immune to shock, as through the years they write and work with all kinds of tragic incidents, including sudden death. But sometimes the shock really hits home, and that is the time when words do not flow from the pen so easy and there is nothing you can do to help. That is what happened to us last Friday evening when we received the report of the death of Dwayne Foley.

Foley and his long-time friend, Lester Shalz, left The Landmark office just about 5 p.m. after having been to Kansas City for supplies. He seemed in good spirits and talked about plans for the next paper--the last thing we expected was for him to suffer a fatal heart attack before he reached his home and family, much less that this newspaper would be printed without his guiding force.

Dwayne Foley was a master newspaperman--not just an editor but a printer, reporter, writer, Comp-IV operator, linotype operator, press man, repairman--and most of all he loved people and had a terrific sense for spotting news. He was never too busy to visit with a friend or miss an opportunity to make a new friend.

He had been in the newspaper business all of his life and knew both the letterpress and the newer offset operations. He purchased his first newspaper, The Wathena Times at Wathena, Kan., in 1959. Several years later he purchased the Horton Headlight at Horton, Kan., then last November he purchased The Landmark.

He was a typical country editor with a sincere desire to help the town and its people any way he could with his newspaper. His philosophy of a weekly newspaper focused on the news of that community, not competing with dailies, but always seeking local news.

We first met Foley during a Landmark crisis when we needed someone to run the flatbed newspaper press to help get The Landmark in the mail when Roland Giffee was ill. When we called him for help he did not hesitate a minute, just “Yes, I'll be there to help you just as soon as we finish printing the Times.”

He was our kind of people. We have lost an immeasurable amount of newspaper knowledge in all phases of the business, but he leaves a great heritage in the vast amount of teaching he has given to all those who have worked with him, especially to his children, who have learned the trade from him.

Foley easily developed a confidence with new friends as well as old--he was always your friend, never betraying your trust. A lot of secrets he knew were never printed because of his deep sense of obligation and compassion.

Foley liked Platte City and its people. He learned to know a lot of people here in the short time he had to spend at The Landmark. He had high ambitions, plans and expectations for the growth of The Landmark as well as Platte City.

We are grateful for the years we knew him and that we could call him our friend. Our memories include dozens and dozens of stories in which only Foley could see the light side and an amusing portion in complicated incidents he had encountered.

He leaves giant footsteps in the sands of time made during his half century.

--Lucile Jones
‘Lines from Lucy’
Aug. 1, 1980 issue of
The Landmark



Posted 7/22/10

Just to let you know, I’m declaring this Weird Analogy and Metaphor Week here in Between the Lines.

Why? Because it sounds like fun.


Wow, a lot going on. There are so many different directions the column could go this week even I don’t know where it’s headed. Thoughts are tumbling in my head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.


My Between the Lines analysis of the Parkville Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday night in regard to the delay in voting on the proposed board of directors for the Old Towne Market Community Improvement District:

Mayor Gerry Richardson showed a lack of a spine in delaying a vote on the topic, using the excuse that Alderman Jeffrey Bay was absent. Please. An alderman is absent, life and the business of running a city must go on. Is the city going to be held hostage every time an alderman is a no-show? That’s about as weak as it gets.

Alderman Marc Sportsman sounds spiteful. Most folks with knowledge of the inner workings of Parkville politics truly believe Sportsman’s goal is to do whatever it takes to keep Tom Hutsler, his nemesis from that hot dog vendor issue--long forgotten by almost everyone except those directly involved--off the CID board. There’s really no sense in trying to pretend otherwise.

Alderman Jeffrey Bay shows a bit of arrogance in asking that a decision on a particular agenda item be delayed until he can be present to vote on it. Bay was elected to serve the people. He knows when the regularly scheduled meetings are held. If a particular agenda item is that important to him, he should find a way to get his snappily-dressed ass to the meeting. Everybody is busy, everybody has tough choices to make as to how we spend our time. Running for alderman meant you really should find a way to be free the first and third Tuesday nights of every month. On those occasions you can’t make it, it’s over the top to ask for special favors from those who do. This is city hall, not a country club.

Come on, gentlemen, good governing is all about common sense. It isn’t brain science or rocket surgery.


Do you ever long for the good ol’ days when First District Platte County Commissioner Kathy Dusenbery would have public meltdowns on Twitter? I sure do. The meltdowns were a little bit shocking at first, but they kinda grew on me, to tell you the truth. The entertainment value was priceless.

We will always have our rough moments, but Kathy herself has kinda grown on me. It’s like she is a colony of E Coli and I’m room temperature Canadian beef.


Uh oh, taxpayers in the Central Platte Fire District might be well-advised to grab our wallets. Between the Lines sources recently spotted two of the three fire board members--Paul Regan and Stanley George– having breakfast with developer/landowner Bill Mann.

A briefcase with documents was also present. I’m guessing a copy of the Sunshine Law wasn’t one of the documents.

The firemen were said to have a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for awhile. Or maybe the kind of hungry look you get when you’re bound and determined to whiz away thousands of tax dollars on an unnecessary burn tower.

Let’s hope not. Stay tuned.


The ink was barely dry on last week’s column in which I talked about that horrific stench along Interstate 29 about a mile south of the Dearborn exit before tipsters were able to point me in the right direction for solving the mystery behind that disgusting odor.

The smell is difficult to describe, but I’ll do my best. If you have kids, think back to the dirtiest diaper you’ve ever changed. Ok, now multiply that times three. Then guys, take your mind back to that aroma from the football locker room on a Friday after a week’s worth of two-a-day practices in the heat of August. Multiply that by two. Now think of slowly driving past a crowded hog lot on a steaming hot summer day. Add all those smells together, carry the one and we’re just about there.

In other words, it’s bad. Especially when it’s wet and the air is heavy.

Sgt. DJ Hedrick of the Missouri Highway Patrol tells me that a tractor trailer left the roadway in that area about midnight on July 1. The driver was cited for drunk driving. The load shifted forward and busted out through the front of the trailer. About that load: It’s a powdery substance that was in bags. It’s known as DL-Methionine. It’s commonly used as a dog and cat food additive. Part of its purpose is to keep dog urine from burning brown spots in lawns after your puppy drains his radiator on your grass.

Some of the bags of the white powdery substance split open and the DL-methionine has leeched into the soil. Three weeks after the accident, the stench still stands strong.

Davis Towing Service of Platte City did the initial clean-up as best it could under the circumstances. Luke Davis tells me the smell wasn’t bad the night of the accident. “When it’s dry, it’s fine. It’s when it gets wet that it stinks,” Davis says. All sources say it’s not a dangerous material, not a threat to human health. But it’s certainly not a pleasant experience for motorists. Sgt. Hedrick says the patrol is still getting complaints about the odor. So is the Missouri Department of Transportation.

My frequent phone contact at MoDOT, Kerri Lewis, community relations specialist for District 4--whom I have never met and in that regard we are like two hummingbirds who have also never met--tells me MoDOT is considering forcing some action to have the problem further addressed. Options might include turning the soil, or perhaps having lime placed on top of the affected area.

There you have it. Mystery solved. Stench remains.

(Ivan Foley would tell you what will be in next week’s column but even he has no earthly idea until the keyboard starts getting punched. In the meantime, follow him on Twitter at



From 7/14/10 issue

According to a resolution passed by the NAACP during its convention this week in Kansas City, those of us involved in the Tea Party movement are a bunch of racists.
Remember, if you were one of the 5,000 folks at that Tax Day Tea Party rally on the lawn of the Liberty Memorial last year, you are a racist. That’s according to an organization that by its name identifies itself as being only for people of color.

I’m not sayin’. I’m just sayin’.


Kinda shocked. I thought the NAACP would be holding its convention at the fairgrounds in Platte County next week during the 147th annual county fair.


About that conversation-starting billboard along I-29 just north of the Dearborn exit in Platte County. You know, the one that used to say Marxist. It now says Narcissist.

A large, one word message.

Any guesses as to at whom the billboard is aimed?


John DeStefano of Platte County, candidate for state senate, reminds me of former Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil. Without the crocodile tears.


More I-29 news and notes. Have you driven north on I-29 near Dearborn lately? If so, you may have noticed a powerful stench about a mile south of the Dearborn exit. What the hell is that? The strong, almost nauseating smell has been there a couple of weeks now. My first instinct was that there must be a dead deer or other animal rotting just out of sight. But unless we have a dead zoo animal or two--maybe a herd of dead elephants lying in the brush--the stench is too strong and lasts for too great of a distance to be a rotting carcass, in my opinion.

Maybe there is a collection of farm chemical run-off standing in the ditch. Remember several years ago when atrazine in the water supply was a problem in that part of the county?

We’ve identified a situation, but I don’t have an answer. When my deadline-heavy schedule slows today, it may be time for a phone call to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to see if they have any interest in trying to solve the puzzle.


Landmark reporter PJ Rooks and I personally covered President Barack Obama’s appearance in Platte County on Thursday. PJ took notes, I took pictures. It appears The Landmark was the only Platte County media outlet with the stuff to get personally credentialed by the White House.

After skipping a President George W. Bush appearance in our coverage area several years ago, I figured it wouldn’t be good for me to miss out on this appearance to Platte County by a president. It doesn’t happen all that often. Bush’s appearance came on a Tuesday when I was swamped and as a result it was covered for us by Cindy Rinehart, office manager, and our intern at the time, Danielle Hillix. Figuring there would not be a better day for me than a Thursday and figuring I shouldn’t keep sneezing at chances to be in the same room with a president of the United States, I went through the credential process for Obama’s visit.

It was interesting to be in attendance. But the 13-minute message Obama delivered at Smith Electric Vehicles– a company, by the way, that received millions and millions of dollars in grant money from the alleged stimulus--wasn’t all that interesting. It was the same ol’ Obama approach. Blame Bush. Try to claim the stimulus worked. Both of those ideas are becoming a tougher sell as time passes.

Somebody wake me when that tired refrain ends.


If I were an advisor to Obama (anybody see that happening in the near future?), here would be a suggestion I would make: Stop speaking to crowds with your chin perched so highly in the air. Your body language puts off an air of arrogant disregard for the very folks you are trying to reach with your message. Sir, as your polling numbers show, people don’t positively respond to someone talking down to them. Keep your head level.


Sorry, soccer moms and little soccer tikes, but the recent World Cup tournament has confirmed for me once again that soccer sucks as a spectator sport.

I gave it a try, I really did. But I’m getting sleepy just talking about it.


In the interest of full soccer disclosure, I must let it be known The Landmark facilities manager has ordered a couple of those annoying vuvulezas off the internet.

Listen as we’ll be blowing those annoying stadium horns someday soon in downtown Platte City. I’m thinking we can use those things as a less-expensive-yet-just-as-efficient replacement for the downtown weather siren.


So I’m going high tech soon. I have ordered the much-ballyhooed iPhone 4. It’ll be my first iPhone. Personally I don’t grasp all the hoopla around it, but techno geek friends tell me I should prepare to be amazed. They expect my pace of tweets on The Landmark’s Twitter page to really pick up steam once my iPhone arrives.

Once it has been taken for a test drive, I’ll let you know if it meets the official Ivan Foley Seal of Approval.

(Check for local news and get the publisher’s opinions each and every day at



From 7/7/10 issue

My buddy, the recently-hitched Aaron Rinehart, son of Landmark office manager Cindy and hubby Mark Rinehart, works for NASA.

Next time we speak, I’ll be asking Aaron if he has been following NASA’s stated mission of making Muslims feel better about themselves.


Israeli soldiers who can dance. This struck me as hilarious and is absolutely my favorite internet video of the week. Check it out. Go to


Mentioned here last week that son-in-law Eric Lewis, stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base, would be deployed last Saturday. He was. He is now on duty in Kuwait at the Ali Al Salem Air Base. The base is situated about 23 miles from the Iraqi border. The airfield is owned by the Kuwaiti government, and the U.S. Air Force continues to maintain a presence alongside its Kuwaiti Air Force counterparts. The base hosts several U.S. Air Force tenant units, including the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing. Their mission is in support of Iraqi Freedom. Their main task is to refuel, repair and provide general support for aircraft in transit to Iraq.

Ali Al Salem Air Base has an interesting history. In 1990, the base was the first to be overrun by Saddam Hussein’s troops. Fighting at that initial battle lasted for less than 30 minutes as most of the Kuwaiti military chose to flee rather than face almost certain defeat. A small number of Kuwaiti regulars, staff officers and the base general stayed to fight. Upon discovery by the Iraqi military, the Kuwaiti general was hanged from the base flagpole by Saddam’s troops. Some folks say new flagpoles have since been installed, however as of a couple of years ago the original pole where the hanging occurred was still standing.

Another interesting tidbit about Ali Al Salem Air Base: Prior to 1990, the French, under contract, built large reinforced concrete hardened aircraft storage bunkers for the Kuwaiti Air Force there. The French told the Kuwaitis that the structures were impenetrable. After Iraq took over the base, the impenetrable claim was proven false. U.S. and allied forces in the opening hours of Desert Storm punched through the concrete bunkers. The Kuwaitis and the French are still involved in legal battles over the “impenetrable” clause of the contract.


Eric’s departure, understandably, comes as a strain upon Between the Lines first daughter Lindsey. Eric flew out commercially from KCI around 7 a.m. Saturday. Friday night, during a loud and long fireworks display on the base at Whiteman, one of Lindsey and Eric’s two dogs jumped the four ft. high fence in their back yard and has not been seen since (Breaking news: Just learned ‘Chief’ is now back from his deployment!). More importantly, Lindsey, who works as a physical therapist assistant in nursing homes in Holden and Warrensburg for a company by the name of Rehab Choice, Inc., is nearly four months pregnant with the couple’s first child. Eric will not be back from his deployment in time for the little one’s arrival in December. Adding to all of this, of course, is the constant safety worry that comes with a family member being deployed to that portion of the globe.

So the stress level for Lindsey is running a bit high at present. It’s not an easy situation, but if there is ever a determined young lady who could handle it, she is one. Those folks who think The Landmark publisher can be persistent, headstrong--maybe a bit stubborn at times--should get to know the Between the Lines first daughter.


Some leading Democrats, including the one who will be in Platte County on Thursday, earlier referred to this as the Summer of Recovery, or Recovery Summer. The message, they said at the time, is that the economy is bouncing back. Of course pundits and politicians on the other side of the fence point to numbers that disprove that belief, including the still high unemployment rate in this country.

Locally, the latest economic news is good. Sales tax receipts received by Platte County in the month of July are nearly 17% ahead of this month last year. Pretty impressive, but Siobhann Williams, county auditor, doesn’t expect that kind of off-the-chart performance to continue. “I don’t expect us to keep sales tax revenues coming in at that level,” she said this week. The revenue received in July is actually a reflection of sales made by vendors during the month of May. The delay in reporting, of course, is due to the time necessary for the forwarding of sales tax receipts by vendors to the state and then the state redistributing the funds to the various taxing entities.

So what caused the spike? “I can’t think of any particular thing that was going on in May to make it happen. It tends to fluctuate month to month, so it’s really hard to say,” Williams said. A look at the numbers backs up Williams being less than certain such a positive trend will continue. For example, county receipts in May were 18% ahead of May 2009. Then receipts in June were down by 8% compared to June of 2009. Fluctuation, indeed. Year-to-date, the county is 3.5% ahead of sales tax collections compared to this time in 2009. Not bad. The county commission, in its budgeting, projected zero sales tax growth this year. Williams had projected a 2.5% growth.

County use tax collections are down by more than 15% compared to this point in time last year. That is not unexpected, and in fact is better than the county had projected. County officials were anticipating a 20% drop in use tax revenue. In the important category of combined sales and use tax collections, the county is down by 4.5% compared to this time last year. That’s better than expected. County officials projected a decline of 7.5% in combined sales and use tax collections.


I was saddened to hear of the passing of Terry Riley, 81, of Platte City last week. Riley, known as ‘TR’ or ‘Ol’ Reliable’ by some of his buddies, served as a Platte City alderman for 13 years back in the day. He was an interesting, colorful fellow with a soft speaking voice. I didn’t always agree with his words, but his observations were always worth my time. Very community-minded and an Eagle Scout as a lad, TR was a big time football fan of the MU Tigers and the Platte County Pirates. Sympathy to his family and friends.

(When he isn't busy helping Muslims feel better about their world contributions to the fields of math and science, Ivan Foley works as owner/publisher of this fine newspaper. Feel better about yourself by emailing him at or by following his daily observations at



From 6/30/10 issue

Welcome back to Between the Lines. Light fuse and run for cover.


Well, here it is, just a few days before the Fourth of July, which means Landmark facilities manager Kurt Foley and your favorite publisher will be heading to the area fireworks outlets to stock up for a bang-em-up holiday.

On our Fourth of July menu will be colorful displays, powerful aerial bombs (long fuses preferred), several large packs of small caliber explosives to be ignited simultaneously, a nice selection of large caliber stand-on-their-own-merits explosives, and a couple of black market artificial limbs that we’ll keep on ice. Just in case.

Gives us street cred.


Credit to the good folks at the Missouri Department of Transportation (their friends call them MoDOT) for the quick and timely fashion in which they completed the new Hwy. HH bridge over Interstate 29 at Platte City. It opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, which featured a wide-brimmed-hat-wearing Frank Offutt, mayor of Platte City.
The old HH (that’s Main Street to locals) bridge was in dire need of replacement, in my opinion. It had many rough spots, which at one point led to colorful former Mayor Dave Brooks to remark that the bridge was “like Vietnam.”

I’m not sure ex-Mayor Dave has ever been to Vietnam, but let’s not get lost in the details. You get the picture.

The original bridge was built in 1959 and had faced multiple closures for emergency repairs in recent years. MoDOT says the bridge serves just over 1,000 vehicles per day. Cost for the new structure is about $1.1 million, broken down by MoDOT to be $290,000 for “roadway items” and $785,000 for “ the actual bridge replacement.” State officials say the new bridge was able to be put on the replacement schedule earlier than otherwise would have happened because of stimulus money (Between the Lines sidenote: I thought the stimulus was about job creation? So how many jobs is this new bridge expected to produce?)

Anyway, the new overpass was completed well ahead of schedule. Early on, the public was told the bridge likely wouldn’t be ready until the end of July. That target date was later moved ahead to July 4. It opened June 25.

Way to get ‘er done.


Memo to the fine folks at the new ALPS store, the official grocery store of Between the Lines: Please expect my presence again in your store during the July 1-3 meat sale you have advertised on page B-1 of this week’s Landmark. Please stock plenty of those KC Strips you’re advertising for $3.88 per pound. My grill is screaming to taste some of those bad boys.


A few other Fourth-of-July-style notes and observations:

•Son-in-law Eric Lewis, husband of Between the Lines first daughter Lindsey, will spend his Fourth of July weekend being deployed. He’ll leave Whiteman Air Force Base, soon to be bound for the Kuwait/Iraq border. Some of you may remember Eric from his days selling ads at The Landmark in 2006-07. He leaves Saturday for a six month deployment. Coincidentally, this is also birthday weekend for the young man, who is an Independence Day baby.

•A special Independence Day illustration from The Landmark can be found on page C-4. It was created by Bill Hankins, our Hall of Fame photojournalist. Also check out Bill’s photos and statistical wrap-up of the Pirate sports year in Section C. Scrapbook material for the young.

•This seems a good week to start a series of editorial cartoons focused on the history of Platte County by Landmark cartoonist Matthew Silber. We introduce the series this week with Matthew’s piece on this page, and it will take off from here. His historical cartoon each week will appear somewhere in the paper, while he continues his weekly page 2 and page 3 work for us.

“I do think there is great interest in the history of the county, as well as seeing how politics and human nature haven’t changed a whole lot through the years,” Matthew says. His series starts with a look at noted local historian William Paxton. Much of Silber’s inspiration for the cartoon series comes after his reading of the well-known Paxton’s Annals. Watch for a depiction of local history each week from now until we tell you to stop watching for it.


Deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Diza Eskridge, former county commissioner for the second district of Platte County, who passed away Tuesday. Diza was first elected commissioner in 1994 and served until 2000.

Diza’s political views didn’t always agree with those espoused here, but she was always pleasant to speak with, always had a kind word for everybody. She was something you don’t always find in a politician--she was a genuinely nice person. She, in fact, was nice and pleasant during a local political time when there was often a lack of civility in the county administration building. Her sense of humor was refreshing. She was so pleasant, in fact, I often got amused when I would interview her on the phone about a sensitive political topic. “You know I can’t talk about that,” she would tell me. This usually prompted a wisecrack from me, after which she would often let out a laugh and then proceed to talk my leg off about the very subject she had just told me she couldn’t talk about.

In that regard, she was refreshingly honest.

The world could never have enough folks with a heart as good as the one Diza possessed. She will be missed.

(Keep your fingers in a safe place this weekend. And safely follow the publisher on Twitter at or blast an email to him at



From 6/23/10 issue

Welcome back to Between the Lines, a weekly stream of fiscally conservative consciousness. Bureaucrats and lovers of big government are cautioned to enter at your own risk.


Time for a quick trip down memory lane. Be calm, this is a test of your recent memory.

Remember in the last episode of Platte County Human Ridiculousness, a running comedy-drama playing exclusively in the uncontrolled pages of your Landmark, a fired worker in the county’s human resources department had been awarded unemployment. Kendra Montgomery, who originally was targeted by the county to play the role of scapegoat in this series but who may be on the verge of turning into the star, had appealed the state’s earlier ruling denying her unemployment. Montgomery won her appeal after a day-and-a-half of testimony in what county commissioner Jim Plunkett referred to as “probably the longest unemployment hearing in the history of the state of Missouri.” The reason Montgomery won her appeal is what is most fascinating. The appeals tribunal noted there was conflicting testimony given. Whom did they believe? The appeals tribunal made it clear whom they did not believe--the county’s star witness.

“It is further found that the testimony of one of the employer’s witnesses, the payroll specialist (LeAnna Fannon), was not credible,” the appeals tribunal wrote in its ruling.


If Fannon’s name sounds familiar to you, it’s because she is the HR worker who has filed accusations of sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation, hurt feelings, a bruised ego and loving gazes against Siobhann Williams, county auditor.

And oh, by the way, Fannon listed Montgomery as a witness when Fannon filed those claims. Fannon says Montgomery saw the county auditor peering at Fannon through a window. Montgomery says Fannon’s claims against the auditor “are false.”

Some folks speculate that the county commission’s hard feelings toward Montgomery began when she did not back up Fannon when interviewed about those accusations against auditor Williams. As you know, the county commission is not the least bit fond of the auditor.

Anyway--and hang with me here because this thing has more inner-connections than an Arkansas family reunion and could end up lasting longer than a Catholic wedding--the unemployment reversal is another shot to the heart of the county’s case. It was the second time the county has come out on the losing end against Montgomery. You’ll recall that following an investigation by the sheriff’s department, the county prosecutor declined to press criminal charges against Montgomery, who was fired last fall after being accused of falsifying time sheets. The county claims this alleged falsification resulted in Montgomery receiving more than $2,200 in unwarranted vacation time, medical leave and comp time.

So despite being batting zero for two against the pitching of Montgomery, the county has continued to take the field in a civil lawsuit against her. Does it really make any sense for the county to continue an expensive legal battle over $2,200? After a day and a half unemployment hearing, many hours and dollars going to legal fees and other expenses, the county no doubt has already spent more than $2,200 of your money trying to collect $2,200 that may or not have been improperly taken (law enforcement authorities obviously lean to the “may not” choice.)

This makes no fiscal sense. But sense, it seems, has already been tossed out the window. It seems now it’s all about ego. What other reason could there be when you’ve already lost two battles against a former employee and the testimony of your star witness has already been ruled as not credible by a state agency? What is the common sense reason to continue an expensive public whizzing match over $2,200?


Montgomery to this point isn’t budging and has filed counterclaims against the county. She alleges the county is pursuing a civil case against her out of retaliation for using her rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and because she was named as a witness in Fannon’s discrimination, harassment and ‘don't look at me that way’ claim against the county auditor. Montgomery says the county interfered with her right to take reasonable leave for her physical therapy due to a serious health condition and interfered with her right to restoration of her employment by terminating her after she took FMLA leave.


So last Thursday, all parties gathered in the courtroom for the latest hearing in the county’s civil case. Among those present was Mark Jess, a successful litigator in employment-related cases, having won large monetary decisions for his clients in previous cases in Platte County. Jess won’t get paid unless his client wins. I realize it’s dangerous to do so, but I would assume that’s a sign that he wouldn’t be this deep into it if he wasn’t fairly confident of a positive outcome for his client. Also present was Matthew Gist, an attorney for the county’s insurance company. Also present was Robert Harold Shaw, county counselor, whose taxpayer-funded meter was running.

The judge in the case is the newly-appointed Dennis Eckold.

Montgomery has requested a jury trial. I don’t blame her. The public feedback I hear while out and about tends to favor Montgomery’s argument over the case being stated by the other side. Many folks tend to agree with the credibility assessment made by the unemployment tribunal.

It’s possible the county commission may not have a grasp of the true public perception of this entire HR situation. Elected officials and bureaucrats often surround themselves in a friendly environment full of people telling them only what they want to hear. That may or may not be what’s happening here.

A jury trial--which the court anticipates could last for an incredible five days-- is scheduled to begin Dec. 6. The county wants to spend more of your money covering more legal expenses in a five day trial over $2,200. When they hear this, taxpayers won’t know whether to laugh or cry.


Of course, a December trial means this case won’t be put to rest until after the November election. That ballot will include a choice for county auditor between incumbent Williams and Kevin Robinson, who is the county commission-pushed candidate. Robinson is the husband of the county’s HR director. In a future column, I’ll offer some thoughts on why the county is probably thrilled to have this issue remain undecided until after that November vote.

(Harass the publisher via email to or track his daily news and commentary at



From 6/17/10 issue

The only line of defense you’ll hear against the stance I’m about to take is the usual head-in-the-sand approach of: “But these guys are volunteers, it’s not right to criticize.” So let’s start with the mandatory disclaimer: As much as anyone else, The Landmark appreciates Central Platte’s volunteer firefighters, we respect, admire and are grateful for what they do. The firefighters themselves have done a fine job, a great public service. But the management of the district--led by a publicly elected board of three--deserves some scrutiny. After all, that’s public money (yours and mine) they’re spending. Let’s not forget Central Platte does have a tax levy. Don’t believe me? Look at your last tax statement from the county.

Now to the main event. This problem can’t be ignored, tip-toed around, or treated with kid gloves any longer. For me, that stopped earlier this week when The Landmark discovered the Central Platte Fire District board of directors has been less than truthful with its facts and figures in regard to its fiscally reckless proposal to build a burn tower for training purposes at Farmers Lane and HH Hwy.

Fiscal watchdogs have long maintained that the fire board likes to play fast and loose with your money. Now we know they like to play fast and loose with the facts, as well. You’ll recall that the fire board’s ignorance--whether feigned or real--in the setting of their own tax levy was exposed earlier this year. You’ll remember when Stanley George, chair of the fire board, and the district’s secretary both tried to explain the Central Platte’s huge tax hike by saying: “We have nothing to do with that. The state tells us what our levy has to be.”

That untruth was exposed in this column space in January. It wasn’t hard to expose. Anyone with a knowledge of the workings of local government knows this either was a case of embarrassing ignorance on the part of Central Platte officials or a foolish attempt to get away with a public lie. You’ll recall a simple call to the state auditor’s office in January blew their line of BS away. “We don’t set the levy. That is the authority they (local board members) have,” Allison Bruns, director of communications for the state auditor’s office, told this columnist at the time. Bruns confirmed the auditor notifies the county clerk what the maximum levy can be for entities like the fire district. Depending on how many of your dollars it wants to spend, the fire board can set the levy at that maximum or choose a lower rate.

Advance the calendar about six months. Apparently the fire board has not yet learned it doesn’t pay to spew half-truths and untruths to the public. Its pattern of dishonesty continued in the recent proposal to build a $300,000 to $400,000 training tower (also known as a burn tower). Fortunately, their proposal was shot down by the Platte County Planning and Zoning Commission last week, so taxpayers for the moment have been spared from this fiscally careless proposal. What is worth talking about this week is that the arguments the fire board presented in stating its case for the tower were full of inaccuracies and untruths. Some fact-checking by The Landmark this week caught fire district officials red-handed in a boat-load of untruths. So many untruths and half-truths, in fact, I’m not sure I have enough space to get to all of them in one week. So many, in fact, that at one point during an interview being conducted by reporter PJ Rooks, fire board member Paul Regan angrily declared that if we printed any of the information being discussed he would “never talk to anybody from The Landmark again.”

Well, as I’m sure you can imagine, Regan’s words got us shaking in our shoes. The entire Landmark staff is now hunkered down in the crawl space below our office floor where we’re curled up in the fetal position, sucking our thumbs. Will someone--not you, Mr. Regan--please drop us down a bit of food and water?

Anyway, you’ll recall those of us who are against Central Platte spending up to $400,000 on a burn tower believe the better option is for the department to simply rent the tower already owned by the neighboring South Platte Fire Department. Central Platte, you’ll recall, offered up a truckload of excuses as to why this was not feasible. Let’s take a look at what Central Platte said, and then a look at what is reality. You’ll notice a pattern here.

•Central Platte: “They (South Platte) want $2,000 every time we go down there to train,” Regan said at last week’s planning and zoning meeting.

The reality: That number is wrong. Richard Carrizzo, fire chief at South Platte, tells The Landmark that if a department brings its own fire truck, the cost is only $850 for an entire day of training.

Central Platte: “They’ve (South Platte) got it leased out pretty regularly and it just doesn’t work with our times,” Regan said. “We’re volunteers. We would need to do the training on evenings and weekends.”

The reality: Again, this is bull. Carrizzo tells The Landmark there are many, many open dates. “It’s available whenever. We have 13 days that have contracts between now and the end of the year. We rent it anytime, evenings, weekends. We even do our own training in the evening. Our tower sits unused 80% of the time,” Carrizzo said.

Hmm. What this means, Mr. Regan, is that other than those 13 days already contracted, the burn tower is just waiting for you to reserve it.

Central Platte: “We will lose our (impressive) insurance rating if we don’t build a burn tower,” Regan told The Landmark.

The reality: Memo to Paul Regan: Central Platte earned its current insurance rating without a burn tower. You’re not going to lose that rating for not building something you never had to earn that rating.

Central Platte: “They (South Platte) want $2,000 every time we go down there to train.”--Paul Regan.

The reality: The same quote was used above, different angle this time. Above, we exposed the $2,000 figure as being bogus. This time, we asked the question: So how many times has Central Platte rented the South Platte facility? “We started renting our facility in 2003 and since then we have received no rental revenue from Central Platte for rental of the tower,” the South Platte fire chief tells us. In other words, Central Platte has not even bothered to use the training tower in its neighboring district.

And let’s keep in mind Central Platte already spent $60,000 to purchase the land where it wanted to place its own tower. The fire board wasn’t business-minded enough to make the purchase contract dependent upon the district being able to acquire the needed permits to build its tower. Another inexcusable move.

The list of Central Platte BS and inaccuracies could go on, but that’s all for this week. If another burn tower proposal is on the horizon, here’s hoping members of the fire board inject themselves with some truth serum before taking the public stage.

(Inject the publisher via email to or get his daily observations on Twitter at




From 6/9/10 issue

Having trouble getting comfortable today. Either I’ve tacked on a couple pounds over the past few weeks or this pair of slacks shrunk while hanging in the closet.


Allow me to draw your attention to our Other Voices feature on page A-2 of our printed edition. It’s where we reprint excerpts from other editorials we think you’ll find interesting.

Last week before getting all caught up in the fun of local Democrats throwing a fit about a conservative using his constitutional right of free speech, I had intended to author some remarks about Gov. Jay Nixon’s decision to put a halt to the goofy Tour of Missouri event that some tree huggers and some RINOS for the last few years had proclaimed as some kind of economic savior for the state. (At your discretion, insert your own chuckle or mouth-gaping yawn right here).

Please, the only thing more ridiculous than the state using tax dollars to fund a damn bike race would be for some taxing entity to dedicate $80 million to parks, bike trails and horse trails during an economic downturn. No government officials in their right fiscal minds would propose such a thing. Would they?

Anyway, I’m glad I waited, because my thoughts would not have been as eloquent as those of my pal Guy Speckman of the Savannah Reporter. His words in our Other Voices feature are worthy of your time.

I’d like to renew my lifetime subscription to the Savannah Reporter right now.


And to think it took a Democrat governor, of all things, to put an end to this Tour of Missouri ridiculousness. There’s proof that fiscal conservatism--and common sense--can cross party lines.

Sure, bicyclists are gonna get their tight little spandex shorts all up in a bunch, but you know what, that sounds like a personal problem. Good grief, in the name of Peter Kinder, it’s time for people everywhere to stop expecting taxpayers to fund your leisure activities. We’ve got bigger problems, folks.

My praises to Nixon for a common sense decision.


While handing out praises, it’s time to shoot some kudos in the direction of the Platte County Planning and Zoning Commission for its intelligent handling of the Central Platte Fire District’s request to build a $300,000 burn tower for training purposes east of Platte City.

Ace Landmark reporter PJ Rooks has a very detailed account of the meeting, which ran well into the night, in our front page story. Bottom line is that the proposed burn tower, at least for the time being, is toast. While the planning and zoning commission’s focus and reasons for denial have nothing to do with how much it would cost the district, many Central Platte taxpayers are celebrating the planning and zoning decision for fiscal reasons.

Hey, I admire and have the utmost respect for Central Platte and its dedicated volunteer firefighters. Those guys are great. But in the excitement of operating a first class volunteer department, let’s also not lose sight of the idea of responsible spending of tax dollars. Let’s not get into a toy-measuring contest against the South Platte Fire District, who already has a training tower that can be used by other departments. Let’s not turn this into a battle of two spoiled rich kids trying to see who can acquire the cooler possessions.

One neighbor to the site of the proposed burn tower may have spoken the feeling of a lot of silent taxpayers when he said these words at Tuesday night’s planning and zoning meeting :

“What I see is a little fire department that's got way too much of our taxpayer dollars.” That’s a quote from resident Rick Smart.

I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’.


Speaking of volunteers, Larry VanFosson, parent in the Platte County R-3 district and soccer fan, offered his photography talents to this newspaper to shoot the second day of the state soccer tournament. Check out his quality work in color on page C-4.

Our award-winning Hall of Fame photojournalist Bill Hankins was able to handle the opening day at state, and you’ll see his top-notch photo layout on page C-1. We had this soccer Final Four double teamed.

Nice job, and many thanks.


I must be in a giving mood this week, huh? Better get in line while the gettin’s good.

Another giving of thanks goes out to those talented techno geeks who made it possible to place video and high quality audio of my recent appearance on the nationally syndicated Rusty Humphries radio show on our web site. If you wanna check it out, links to it are included in the Between the Lines column from last week now posted at

If you have Facebook, you’ll not only hear the audio but you’ll also be able to see the video of Rusty doing the interview. He has a studio webcam recording his show and it’s fun to watch his facial expressions while we’re talking. You’ll also catch him puffing on a cigar. To view the video with static-free audio of that segment, go to your Facebook account and then search Platte County Republicans. I’m told it’s posted on their Facebook page.


I guess that’s proof Facebook isn’t just for high school girls. All this time I thought it was.

(Facebook is good for the teeny boppers, but real men of media use Twitter. Find proof of that at Still scared? Simply email the publisher at



From 6/2/10 issue

The person at the next desk just advised that I should quit reading the latest update at and start cranking out a column for this week’s paper.

Ah, there’s the pressure of that Landmark 146 years of continuous publication thing staring me in the face again.


Somebody last week asked me when was the last time there was an issue of The Landmark that did not contain a Between the Lines column. The year was 1999.

As columnist James Thomas says this week, we get up, go to work, solve our problems.


This feels like it will be a two cans of Mountain Dew Wednesday morning. Late to bed, early to rise. Somebody told me that’s not what makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. Fortunately, I gave up on that a long time ago.


Do you think it’s a bit ridiculous for the Central Platte Fire Department to be spending $300,000 on a training tower? I certainly question the need, particularly when a neighboring department already has a so-called burn tower that surely could be used under some type of cooperative agreement.

I know some of you out there also question the expenditure, because you have communicated the message privately. But some opponents are no doubt afraid to run the risk of being painted as unappreciative of the local volunteer firefighters and first responders by publicly speaking against the spending. My guess is the private opposition will be loud, the public opposition will be minimal. Let’s see if opponents bring sticks to the fight or pillows to the fight. Or whether there will be a fight at all.


Hope you caught my guest appearance on the Rusty Humphries national radio show Tuesday night. If you didn’t, spank your own butt right now. Now pause then repeat. Again. Now stop. A little harder this time. Good.

Rusty’s producer called me Tuesday afternoon after having read last week’s column and the letter to the editor from the Platte County Democrat Central Committee. He asked if I had contact info for Pauli Kendrick, who signed the letter complaining about the fact Rusty Humphries’ event was held in the Park Hill South High School auditorium. They wanted to invite Pauli to come on the show to verbally state why she was offended by the situation. After contacting Pauli, the producer called me back to say Pauli refused to come on the show. He asked if I would be willing to come on to discuss the Democrats’ attempt to create a controversy out of the situation. Later in the day before going on Rusty’s show, I was able to block my number and finally get Pauli to accept my call. She weakly answered some questions about the Dems’ lame protest, saying things like: “I think that the conversation and the evening was certainly not anything (the Democrat central committee) appreciated hearing,” and “Things happen that we have no control over and we often like it to be different so sometimes we just want to talk about it, maybe that’s it.”

Anyway, the result was a fun 12 minute segment on Rusty’s show, which is heard on more than 250 radio stations across the country.

For those who missed it, if you have a Facebook account check out the video of my segment on Rusty's show by clicking here. Listen to just the audio from the interview by clicking here.


Speculation in some political circles was that last week’s redonkulous letter from the Democrats wasn’t actually penned by Pauli Kendrick but instead by Fred Sanchez, who would have a double role in this matter since he is a member of the Park Hill School Board and a member of the Democrat Central Committee. Kendrick, however, denies that Sanchez penned the letter and told me Sanchez in fact had very little input on it. She said the main input (and you’ll get much more on this topic when you listen to the audio from the segment on Rusty’s show) for the letter came from high school and college-age Democrats. I can actually believe that, based on the naivety in the tone of the comments. Anybody have a grasp of the First Amendment? Anybody understand the consistent rules for using public buildings? Anybody recall that Park Hill allowed President Obama’s speech last fall to be fed into the school and teachers and parents were quite fairly given the choice of ‘opting out’ their kids from hearing the message? Remember, no one was forced to attend Humphries’ event. Tickets were sold, no golden invitations were sent. Attendance was completely optional.

Anyway, longtime readers know that Fred Sanchez and I have somewhat of a love/hate relationship: I love the column copy he inadvertently supplies me, and I’m sure Fred hates my column. In the sense of fairness, I emailed Sanchez on Tuesday seeking comment.

Checking to see if you as a member of the Democrat Central Committee would like to comment further on the topic of your letter to the editor last week in regard to the Rusty Humphries show being held at Park Hill South High School. I thought as a school board member as well as a central committee member you might have a unique perspective that you would like to share. If you'd like, you can email an answer or give me a call. Thank you.--Ivan Foley

He responded shortly before 10 p.m., just a few minutes after my radio spot with Rusty, also heard on the worldwide web, ended. Appears he was listening.

Sir, I am currently out of the country. No, not Arizona. Yes, perhaps my view is rather unique as my responsibilities as an elected official sworn to a duty to children out weigh any political or personal commentary I may have to offer. I will give you this. The 1st amendment has more cheese than holes. May God continue to bless this country's foundation of free speech and certainly your right to entertain.-- Federico

(Between the Lines has more cheese than holes. Contact the columnist at or follow his daily adventures at



From 5/26/10 issue

Wow, the liberals are really agitated this week. You know what that means? Life is grand.


Great show put on Friday night at Park Hill South High School by nationwide radio talk show host Rusty Humphries, one of the founding fathers of conservative talk radio and your brother from another mother.

About 350 to 400 folks made their way into the school auditorium to see a show that was opened by The Landmark’s very own Chris Stigall. Stigall, when he is not penning his Landmark column, does a show each weekday morning on KCMO Talk Radio 710 AM. He warmed up the crowd before Humphries took the stage for some entertainment-based political messaging.

Humphries--and rightly so--rails against big government, government bailouts, and the Obama administration’s move toward a socialistic society. Some of the more important points Humphries impressed upon the crowd:

•“Our country is in great peril at this time. Our life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are all in jeopardy right now.”

•“This, I believe (the fiscally conservative, Tea Party movement) is the second American Revolution and I'm proud of it.”

•He is open minded enough to also pass blame to George W. Bush and a crop of RINOS (Republicans in Name Only--Platte Countians are familiar with this concept). “I didn’t like a lot of what Bush did. Bush started it (the idea of government bailouts) in the spring of 2008.” Obama and Co. have continued and expanded that initial bailout model.

“We have soaring deficits and Obama continues to lead with a socialist glove.” He referenced the United States becoming the “United Socialist States of America.”

•The charges of racism--either stated or implied by the liberals against the conservatives and the Tea Party movement–are hogwash. “It’s not racist to judge a man based on his policies,” Humphries emphasized.


•Another Humphries observation: “We are living in a European style socialist welfare state.”

•As if there were any doubt about what to expect among the crowd who had purchased tickets to hear his presentation , Humphries removed that doubt with this line early on: “If you’re a liberal here tonight, I am going to offend you.”

•Humphries, always a capitalist and not a socialist, was selling Tea Party-themed T-shirts. He was clear about where the profits are going. “The money goes to the Hands Across My Wallet Foundation,” he told the crowd.

•I was impressed with his musical ability and singing voice. He writes and performs his own musical parodies. The man has some talent.


Check out the Platte County Democratic Central Committee’s letter to the editor by clicking here. Go ahead, read it now, if you would please. I’ll sing to myself till you get back.

(Doo, doo, doo, lookin’ out my back door).

Ok, so what did you think? I had two quick reactions when I read their letter. No. 1, the letter is written as if members of the Democratic Central Committee were in attendance. If they were, I didn’t spot them, and if they were, were they watching the same show I was? Because I missed the divisive, negative and offensive parts of the show they referenced. Heck, I didn’t sense any divisiveness or negativity from the crowd. Sounded to me like those in attendance were all on the same page. And No. 2: Where were the Democrats with a protest letter last fall when President Obama was piping a speech into public schools? Shouldn’t the local Democrats have been protesting that as an improper use of school facilities?

Bottom line is this: Nobody was forced to show up Friday night. Folks had the choice to attend or not attend Rusty Humphries’ event. He’s a nationally-known figure. There was no doubt which political direction the content was going to lean. The Democrats crying foul after the event, which was highly-publicized in advance, is a lame attempt to grandstand.

If the liberals actually had an entertaining and successful commentator to bring in, I’m sure the Park Hill School District would follow the usual rules in allowing use of a taxpayer-constructed auditorium.


For the record, I called Pauli Kendrick, chair of the local Democrat party, to see if she would like to comment further on this topic. She has declined to return my phone call.

Should I be surprised?


Check out the detailed look at the local economy in PJ Rooks’ front page article. Interesting numbers from various cities throughout the county. It’s as in-depth a look at the economy from north to south in this county as you’ll find.

And speaking of the economy, Platte City’s numbers should get a boost starting this week with the opening of Doug Sharp’s ALPS (Always Low Prices Store) grocery store in the former Cash Saver location at Hwy. 92 and Marshall Road.

The store’s opening today (Wednesday) has been much anticipated by many local consumers who understand there is value in the idea of capitalistic competition and who applaud new businesses that attack a venture without taxpayer assistance of any kind.


While visiting backstage with Rusty Humphries Friday night, I was introduced to Mark Muller. Who’s Mark Muller? He’s the brother of nationally syndicated radio host Mancow Muller. Mark Muller, who isn’t the least bit shy about sharing his conservative political viewpoints, also recently garnered nationwide attention when his car dealerships (in Butler and Nevada, Mo.) offered a voucher for a free AK-47 with the purchase of a truck.

Left-leaning news network CNN did an interview with Muller on the topic, and tried desperately to shame him for the promotion. Muller proceeded to stitch an intellectual clownsuit on the news anchor conducting the interview. It’s one of the most entertaining videos you’ll find on You Tube. Check it out, here’s the link:

(Also not shy about sharing his political viewpoints, the publisher can be reached via email at or you can help tick off the liberals and RINOS by following him on Twitter at



From 5/19/10 issue

It’s The Landmark’s 146th birthday this week. One hundred forty six years old and still amazingly fresh and delicious.


Several interesting occurrences at the county of Platte this week. Let’s get right to them:

Interesting occurrence No. 1: Cheryl Thorp ‘retires’ as director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau with no prior public indication. County officials are telling us it was “totally Cheryl’s decision to step down.” However, it is interesting to note a restructuring of the department occurred immediately upon Thorp’s exit. Despite Thorp’s exit, Jim Plunkett, second district county commissioner, tells me there will be no additions to the payroll. Thorp’s executive director title will be taken by Jennifer Goering. A volunteer now will step in to assist Goering in the office.

So was this surprisingly quick to the public eye move totally up to Thorp? She says yes, the commissioners say yes. In the sake of fairness, let’s take them at their word. Many sources this week say the money-saving move to not replace the salary saved with Thorp’s departure is a precursor to Jason Brown’s assumed arrival as the new presiding commissioner next year. Brown, sources are hinting, would not have been a huge advocate of the past level of spending in the CVB. Cutting some payroll in that department can now be credited to the current commission instead of the fiscally conservative Brown. No matter who wants to take credit, I applaud the county for looking to save some payroll dollars in this department.

This conjecture, of course, assumes that Brown would win the general election campaign he will be running against Democrat Bobby Kincaid in November. Always dangerous to assume, but there’s no question Brown enters that campaign as the favorite.

•Interesting occurrence No. 2: Last week, the advance agenda for Monday’s county commission meeting listed Kathy Dusenbery as acting presiding commissioner for the meeting (Betty Knight, presiding commissioner, was absent). Later, an amended agenda came out listing Jim Plunkett, second district commissioner, as the acting presiding commissioner to lead Monday’s meeting.

Hmm. Some type of internal power struggle? Plunkett says no.

“The girls in the commission office that it would be good experience for Kathy,” Plunkett says in explaining the first public agenda. Plunkett says Dusenbery later came to him to say: “You’re the senior, why don’t you just do it?” So he did.

Was Dusenbery upset about it? All parties are saying no. Perhaps this is just a coincidence, but I can tell you the emotional Dusenbery, after being relatively calm for many weeks, has been especially testy on her Twitter page this week. Maybe time is approaching for me to again fire up that offer of free Dr. Phil sessions.

•Interesting occurrence No. 3: Valerie McCaw will not be reappointed to the Platte County Regional Sewer District Board of Trustees. “We’ll keep her on for the next two to three weeks until we make a decision on a new executive director, just because of her experience as an engineer. She’ll know a lot of the right questions to ask during the interview process,” Plunkett said upon my asking this week.

Their stated desire to make a change in this spot is a good move by the county commission. As has been opined here previously, McCaw was tied too closely to the past executive director. It’s time for a fresh approach.


Cheryl Thorp is an extremely pleasant person and The Landmark wishes her the best in retirement. I had a somewhat fascinating conversation with her over the phone Monday evening, during which I learned she has a special needs son and some still-kicking parents whom she’d like to spend quality time with in her retirement “while I still feel good,” she said.

Thorp then unsuccessfully tried to turn the interview tables on me. “This is the first time you’ve called me at home. This is a cell phone number. How did you get this number?” Never intending to answer, of course, I politely dodged the question the first time. Then she asked again. And then one more time. Sources are always protected, so she did not receive an answer. It was, uh, cute--for lack of a better word--the way she wanted to push the issue.

Then she hit me with this one: “In all the years I never did get a (mailed) invitation to The Landmark Christmas party.”


Big day on the horizon for Pastor Paul Buschmann and one of my favorite congregations in Platte County. The good folks at the Hoover Christian Church east of Platte City will play host to former KU basketball star Wayne Simien on Sunday, May 30. Simien, now actively engaged in a ministry, will speak at both of the Hoover Christian services that day. Services will be held at 8:30 and again at 10:30 that morning. Then, Simien and his wife and three children will be guests at a fellowship meal hosted by the church following the 10:30 service.

Pastor Paul tells me congregation member Ben Harris has a connection with Simien that helped facilitate the event. The public is invited to attend either service.


Don’t forget national conservative radio talk show host Rusty Humphries will be in Platte County Friday night for a show at Park Hill South High School. It starts at 7 p.m. and will be opened by Landmark columnist/KCMO 710 AM talk radio host Chris Stigall. Tickets will be available at the door or in advance at

Enjoyed a recent phone interview with Humphries and since that time we’ve exchanged additional calls and emails. In a future column, I’ll share some of his comments on the national political landscape. You’ll hear his take on folks such as Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, and get some off-the-cuff humor as well.

(Tickets for more of this columnist are always available at or via email to



From 5/12/10 issue

I can remember as a pup anxiously awaiting the first time I would need to shave this allegedly handsome face of mine. These days, shaving is ranked just above shoe shopping and getting a colonoscopy on my list of favorite things to do.


We’re proud to say for the 29th straight year, The Landmark is giving a cash award to the top senior English student at Platte County R-3 High School. This year’s winner, as you’ll read elsewhere in this issue, is Kelsey Boeding. She gets $250 from The Landmark and a fancy (no cheap imitations here) certificate signed by the R-3 principal, the faculty head of the R-3 English department, and yours truly.

It’s been fun to continuously offer this award and watch the development of the fine students who have garnered the honor. Here’s that list of prestigious winners, which reads like a past/present list of Who’s Who among this area’s young people.

1982: Natalie Parrett. 1983: Tamera Jones. 1984: Shane Lee Zembles. 1985: Amy Deterding. 1986: Chaundra Crawford. 1987: Sherry Stanton. 1988: Rebecca Ann Brown. 1989: Lisa Pancake. 1990: Jennifer Fowler. 1991: Jennifer Donnelli. 1992: Tyra Miller. 1993: James Davis. 1994: Megan Boddicker (became a Landmark employee and then an R-3 teacher). 1995: Kerry Durrill. 1996: Jamie Knodel. 1997: Laura Donald. 1998: Christa Fuller. 1999: Alison Miller (later became a Landmark employee). 2000: Alison Coons. 2001: Valerie French. 2002: Devon Paul. 2003: Tara Gutshall. 2004: Elizabeth Anderson. 2005: Anne Mullins. 2006: Branson Billings. 2007: Kelsie Blakley. 2008: Peter Rasmussen. 2009: Hannah Rickman. 2010: Kelsey Boeding.


Occasionally in these pages we give the Falling Star a hard time. This week, I’m gonna sing its praises for doing something that is not in its typical method of operation. Is this a fluke or is the Star actually showing a desire to become the watchdog that media outlets are supposed to be? My guess is the former, but I digress.

Normally an apologetic type when it comes to big government and a promoter of big spending, the Kansas City Star actually provides an excellent tool for taxpayers on its web site. Platte County taxpayers, you’ll want to take note of this. You can now log on to the internet and go to a site to see the salary of your favorite, or least favorite if you have one, county employee/elected official. I talked about this on my Twitter page over the weekend and many of you have already told me you checked it out. The web address you need is this:

Go there. Enter the name of a county employee. Or if you’d rather, enter a position at the county. Or, you may find it more convenient to search by department.

Some of the salaries are eye openers. And keep in mind, county employees--as first district commissioner Kathy Dusenbery likes to point out--have not been given a raise the past two budget years. I guess Dusenbery’s point means a couple of things. No. 1, depending upon your point of view, the credit or blame for these salaries should then go to county commissioners Betty Knight and Jim Plunkett, who have been in office longer than the two years Dusenbery has served. And No. 2, if some of these salaries seem inflated to you in 2010, imagine how inflated they were two years ago.

A few of the salaries that jumped out at me as being, in my opinion, a bit disproportionate, shall we say:

Greg Sager, public works director, earns $77,700. I have found Sager to be an honorable, hard working, trustworthy fellow. But should the public works director be earning about $6,500 more than the county sheriff? No.

Brian Nowotny, parks director, earns $77,600. See above. Nice guy, but this expenditure is ridiculous. Don’t get me started on the county’s bloated parks department. That was a topic all last summer when the county pushed its $80 million park tax. I encourage taxpayers to search the salary database by clicking the parks department. Take a gander at how much the county is spending on payroll in this department. You might start to squirm in your chair--and perhaps realize why the county commission wanted an $80 million tax instead of something more reasonable.

Dana Babcock, director of administration, earns $62,600. Color me surprised. Talking about the position and not the person, is anyone clear on what exactly a director of administration is supposed to do? Babcock is a good person, devoted Landmark reader, fun gal with a sharp sense of humor, and unfortunately a notorious call screener, which is unnecessary in this position. Over the past six years in the many times I have phoned her extension, I can count on one hand the number of times she has picked up the phone live. Normally the call goes to voice mail and she will eventually call back (though my last voice mail was left after 4 p.m. on April 27 and has yet to be returned--things must really be busy in that office). Does she fear for her safety or something? Hell, I take unscreened calls on the fly every day. Honestly, I have found it easier to get U.S. Attorneys, U.S. Senators, U.S. Congressmen, judges, and nationally-syndicated talk radio hosts on the phone than it is the county director of administration. Just sayin’.

Mary Robinson, director of the much-maligned--and rightfully so-- human resources department, earns $57,000. Don’t know her well, but Mrs. Robinson (coo coo ca-choo) seems like a nice enough person. She just started in November, you’ll recall, after she and her husband-owned firm conducted a “performance audit” of the HR department. Her husband, Kevin, has since filed to run for county auditor, which if successful would put the entire Robinson household on the county payroll.

Those are just a few numbers that jumped out at me. Do your own perusing and let me know what you think.


Intended to give you some Rusty Humphries info and humor in this spot but have carried on too long. I still have time to do it next week prior to his May 21 event at Park Hill South High School. Check back.

(Get breaking news, local updates and some occasionally whimsical editorial observations from the publisher at



From 5/5/10 issue

Happy Cinco de Mayo. Strange how it falls on May 5 again this year.


Rock on.

I wasn’t there, but multiple Landmark readers are telling me our very own Chris Stigall, the man of KCMO 710 AM talk radio fame who has branched out into print media with his kick-ass weekly column here in the pages of this fine newspaper, was the real rock star at the Sarah Palin event Saturday at the Independence Events Center.

Should we start speculation of a future Palin-Stigall presidential ticket?


Our man Stigall will be back in the shared limelight on May 21 when nationally-syndicated radio talk show host Rusty Humphries comes to Park Hill South High School for an event sponsored by the Green Dragons The Green Dragons, by the way, are a Missouri nonprofit corporation organized to promote the conservative values of America’s Founding Fathers.

While the Green Dragons are sponsoring the event at Park Hill South, the event is being hosted by the Park Hill South High School Republican Club. It is the brainchild of Park Hill South student Alexandra Olson, whom I’ve met at various political events around the county over the past year or two. Alexandra’s mother is Abby Olson, member of the Platte County Republican Central Committee. Readers may recall I’ve promoted Abby Olson as a sharp-minded, well spoken conservative who I think would make a great political candidate in the future.

Anyway, young Alexandra, who was the driving force behind formation of the Republican Club at her high school, wanted her club to conduct an event to help promote conservatism. The idea of inviting a nationally-known speaker came to her. Price tag, of course, was bound to be an obstacle--at least the club thought--until Humphries made an offer to do it for basically nothing to help promote the conservative cause.

“I’m really excited about being there,” Humphries told me during an exclusive phone interview this week. “I love promoting KCMO, but this isn’t a radio station promotion, this isn’t anything but an event to help a group of adults and kids who are trying to become conservatives learn more about conservatism and politics in America. We’re going this as fundraising for their group. I’m more excited about this event than any other event I’ve done in a long time,” he added. “You want to talk grassroots, this is it.”

Humphries, who spent time at Q-104 radio station in Kansas City in the late 1980s as the producer of the popular Randy Miller radio show, was lively and entertaining during our 30 minute phone conversation. The guy is a fearless, outspoken American. A front page story featuring many more of his comments will be in next week’s Landmark.

But back to the story of the young girl who got the ball rolling on this May 21 event. “For a shy kid, she really surprised me,” Abby says about her daughter Alexandra, who aggressively pursued a list of national conservatives, not giving up when she learned the fee for some of the hot shots might be as high as $15,000 to $20,000. She emailed Humphries, who made the young girl’s dreams come true by saying ‘I’ll work with whatever budget you have, I’d love to help.’

Now that’s pretty cool.

“Rusty has been so sweet to us,” Abby Olson told me Tuesday. “He has been promoting this event on his show.”

She wasn’t kidding. As I was plugging away on this column shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday with Humphries’ show on the radio behind me, Humphries in fact was promoting his Park Hill South appearance, even guiding the audience to where they can buy tickets.
Stigall will do about a 15-20 minute Chris Stigall-trademarked rant to start the show. Then, some high school kids who are headed to the military will be honored. After that, it’s all Humphries. He’ll launch into his musical parodies and some entertaining story-telling and a conservative political message.

“I’m a fun political entertainer. I think they’re going to have a good time. Maybe they all won’t agree with me, but they’ll understand the issues better,” Humphries told me.

In next week’s front page article, we’ll touch on Humphries’ early days in radio (some now-famous radio names started under him), his early work with Rush Limbaugh, his scary moments with terrorists and death threats, and his thoughts on some of the conservatives in the news, including Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney.


We really shouldn’t be surprised the developers of the proposed high density subdivision known as Lake at T omahawke Ridge are continuing their legal battle against Platte County. The recent very short and very non-specific court decision by Judge Charles Curless, apparently a man of few words, almost forced the developers into filing an appeal.

Again, no one has been a stronger opponent to the high density proposal than this columnist, but the judge’s lack of explanation in his decision was an embarrassment to the process. An appeal is warranted if for no other reason than to get a panel to give some sort of legal basis for the ruling.


Next controversy at a Platte County Planning and Zoning meeting might be a proposal by the Central Platte Fire Department to build what is known as a burn tower for training purposes near the intersection of Hwy. HH and Farmers Lane east of Platte City. I’m already hearing complaints from neighbors not crazy about the project for reasons of location, and from taxpayers in the fire district not crazy about the project for reasons of questionable need and fiscal responsibility. The proposal is scheduled to go before the planning and zoning commission on June 8. Stay tuned.

(Stay in tune with the publisher on Twitter at or by email to




Posted 4/30/10

Welcome to another ride aboard your local paper of record. As you’ll see on our front page, it’s been a good week for some (think Kendra Montgomery, Timber Park Sewer Company), and a not-so-good week for others (think LeAnna Fannon in particular, county HR department in general, Michelle Wilson).


Technology is a great thing.

So the high tech geeks on paid staff have shown me how I can hear the local police scanner activity on my laptop. Pretty cool and convenient. Wherever I have my laptop and an internet connection, I can listen to the police calls being dispatched to and from the Platte County communications center. No longer do I have to be sitting at my desk within earshot of the police scanner.

I could tell ya more but I’d have to kill ya.


We’ve shared some of the horror stories in dealing with the “Who do you think you are asking for information?” types at the Platte County Regional Sewer District. This is the agency, remember, that has asked for a new “request for record inspection” every time anyone walks in--or emails, or calls--seeking to take a peek at public documents. This is the agency, you’ll recall, that I’ve told you demands the public to, in writing, “provide as specific a description as possible of the record(s) you desire to inspect. Including record titles, dates, and the names of city agencies or departments which produced or hold the record(s).”

Filling out such a form is not required under the terms of the Sunshine Law, so it’s ridiculous for a public service entity to carry on this way. It is embarrassing that the PCRSD board of trustees has allowed this kind of egomaniacal policy to take hold. Sadly, not all the out-of-control egomaniacal behavior left the agency when Chuck Reineke resigned. One would think an embattled board and its legal counsel would have a better understanding of how to win friends and influence people. Some don’t. But I digress.

So this week, there was a piece of easy information I needed from the PCRSD. Experience told me this very simple request would turn into an act of Congress if I went through the normal game. So instead, I sent the PCRSD records custodian (poor gal, it’s not her fault her bosses sometimes make her behave like the KGB) this note in writing:

“Please consider this an official request for public information per the Missouri Sunshine Law. Please provide for The Landmark a list of current members of the Platte County Regional Sewer District Board of Trustees. With that list, please also provide the beginning service time of each particular board member. Also, please provide the date each current board member's term of service is scheduled to expire. This information can be emailed to me, or if you'd prefer, I can pick it up at your office. Do not bother faxing me one of the Platte County Regional Sewer District "request for record inspection forms." One is not requested nor is it required under the law. I realize old habits are hard to break so if you have already grabbed one of those forms to send to me, feel free to place it in the PCRSD trash can or any other place the PCRSD may find comfortable.

“This email suffices as an official request for public information per the Missouri Attorney General's office.

“Thank you for your help and thank you for your public service.”

The new approach seemed to work. Just a couple hours later, Deb Hammond, who seems to be the board member most aware that the PCRSD has an image problem it desperately needs to improve, sent me the information I had requested. Kudos to her. Here is the info on board members’ terms of office.

Chairman Lewis Sanders--reappointed 5/31/2007, term expires 5/14/2012; Vice Chair Deb Hammond--appointed 4/27/2006, term expires 5/14/2011; Treasurer Valerie McCaw--appointed 9/20/2006, term expires 5/14/2010; County Commissioner Jim Plunkett--appointed 7/23/2009, term expires 5/14/2013; Aaron Jung--appointed 11/5/2009, term expires 5/14/2014.

As you noticed, McCaw’s term expires in just a couple of weeks. Will she be reappointed to the seat by the county commission? Truthfully, let’s hope not. After sitting in on most of the board’s most recent lengthy meeting, I became convinced from her defensive comments that McCaw is still in love with the heavy-handed method of operation that was instituted by the recently resigned executive director Chuck Reineke. If the county commission is serious about initiating positive change at PCRSD, it would be best if McCaw is thanked for her past service but then asked to find another hobby. It will be interesting to see how the county commission handles this. McCaw is a former county employee who recently ran for election to the Park Hill School Board. She finished a very distant sixth out of eight candidates. Her poor showing was not surprising, as the sewer district’s heavy-handed ways have ruffled a lot of feathers in that part of the county.


Constituent service is an area that has long been a strength of Congressman Sam Graves and is one of the major reasons he is consistently reelected with relative ease. From personal experience, we can tell you his office has been on top of things each and every time this newspaper has needed assistance in dealing with a federal agency.

After patiently battling folks at the United States Postal Service for spotty delivery to some Kansas City addresses, we’re calling on help from Congressman Graves’ office. Upon our request, his office is now representing The Landmark in talks with the honchos at the USPS in an effort to get to the root of the problem. Some customers in zip code 64152 seem to often be affected by slow delivery, despite the fact we have met every new rule, regulation, deadline and higher rate the post office has slapped upon us.

We’ll let you know how this plays out. In the meantime, if you have a Kansas City address and are not getting your Landmark in the mail in timely fashion on Thursdays, let us know and we’ll put what is called a “publication watch” on your paper. I’m confident that with the Congressman’s help, this problem will be solved in short order.

(Follow his news and commentary at or put him in your crosshairs via email to



Posted 4/23/10

Last call.

Friendly reminder to all you intelligent basketball prognosticators who kicked me in the Bracket Battle. Most of you have already called or emailed to claim your two years worth of free subscriptions. For those who have not yet done so, remember you need to contact us by April 30 to let us know where you would like your free subscriptions sent.
As much as it pains me to publicly display my place in this year’s standings, I am doing so again this week just to the right of this column. If you see your name on the list above me and have not yet claimed your winnings, do so ASAP.


As you’ll see in a front page report, the tie vote in the election of Weston alderman in ward one was broken with a drawing of playing cards at Weston City Hall Friday evening. I was there for the quick and painless drawing of the cards, snapped a couple of photos, visited with the winner briefly and hit the road, not giving the unique situation another thought. That is until Monday.

On Monday, I was contacted by a Weston resident who also was in attendance for the drawing. This person says in watching the shuffling of cards, a troubling observation was made.

“When the cards were being shuffled, you could see the bottom card each time they were shuffled. The bottom card was the ace,” the audience member tells me. “Everyone in the audience noticed as well as the two candidates. So when the cards were laid out on the table the winning candidate picked the ace. Of course had the other candidate picked the first card, he probably would have reached for the ace as well,” this audience member told me.

Hmm. Interesting. A couple of points to address.

You’re no doubt asking why your sharp-eyed publisher didn’t catch this. The answer is that during the entire time the cards were being shuffled and being drawn, I had my face in the viewfinder of my camera, shooting photos. My ears were still taking notes on what was being said, but obviously my eyes were concentrated on framing the subjects in the viewfinder. This intense concentration--hey, it’s what I do--kept me from giving any particular notice to what cards may or may not have been identifiable during the shuffling process.

Secondly, if the candidates themselves could clearly view a card (especially an ace), why didn’t one or both of them bring this to the attention of the shuffler prior to the drawing? I sincerely doubt Kim Kirby, city clerk and on this night the official dealer of cards, would have been offended by one of the candidates or anyone else in the audience calling attention to the fact that a card was visible. In particular if I were the candidate scheduled to draw second and felt like an ace was clearly visible to everyone, I would have let out a holler before the shuffling was done.

Anyway, the night ended as quickly as it had begun. There were no harsh words or harsh feelings made apparent. All parties seemed to be in decent humor when it was over, though you know it’s tough to lose an elected position on the basis of the luck of the draw. Even the non-winner, Patrick Farnan, left with a consolation prize--he took home the deck of cards.

It’s not ideal, obviously, but personally I don't have a huge problem with a tied election at the city level being decided by a drawing of cards, or a coin flip for that matter. There is a significant financial issue at play. The city would have had to shoulder the entire cost of a special election. And let’s be honest, while every elected position is important, it’s not likely the safety and well-being of the community was going to rest on which of the tied candidates won the contest.

The Weston witness disagrees with me, albeit in a friendly way. “Elections should always be held,” was the witness’ comment to me.


Here’s what it’s like ‘enjoying’ a Royals game on the tube this season, particularly for those of us who don’t often have the time to sit down and watch a game from beginning to end.

Game comes on. Royals take what for most teams would be a comfortable lead. You step away from the TV to tend to errands--or as is the case with me on this most recent occasion--you go back to concentrating on work. A few innings later, you turn your attention back to the game. You notice the Royals’ bullpen has come in to toss gasoline on a fire. KC is behind. Other team brings in their closer. Game over. You say curse word. The end.


The Landmark’s Twitter presence, already enormous, has expanded. The often-talked-about Buddy The Landmark News Dog now has his own Twitter page and is giving his views on the news, his personal life, community happenings and other (somewhat) important matters in his typical whimsical way. Follow him at


Can making a request for routine public records at the Platte County Regional Sewer District get any more ridiculous? Good grief. I’m finding out every time--as in every time--anyone requests public information, the sewer district requires the requester to fill out a form listing their name, address, phone number, and a specific description of what public record the person would like to “inspect.” Keep in mind most requests are for extremely mundane stuff, like minutes of meetings. It’s not like we’re asking to see someone’s medical records, personnel file, or documents sensitive to national security, for pete’s sake. But wait, it gets better. They also ask the requester on the form to “include record titles, dates, and the names of city agencies or departments which produced or hold the records.”

What the hell? I can’t even tell you what the final part of their last sentence means. For an entity that really could use a makeover in the PR department, this is borderline insane. When the simple becomes complex, it’s no wonder a lot of people cringe anytime they share stories of past dealings with the sewer district.

Chuck Reineke’s resignation as executive director will turn out to be a plus for PCRSD, and the county commission is to be commended for subtly--or perhaps not so subtly--helping to craft that move. But major changes in what should be simple procedure are still needed to get the district into a user-friendly mode and improve the district’s image.

(Get into user-friendly mode by emailing or following him on Twitter at




Posted 4/15/10

The court decision on Tomahawke is the right one. Longtime readers of this column have known for more than two years this newspaper’s editorial stance on the controversial high density housing proposal. With that in mind, clearly the judge’s decision to side with the county in the lawsuit brought by the developer is the ruling we had been hoping to hear. A decision in favor of the developers, who claimed the county commission had no legal authority to legislatively deny the subdivision because the developers--at least in their opinion--had met all the subdivision regulations, would have had potentially far-reaching effects in all corners of the state. So the judge’s decision was the safest one available in respect to keeping local jurisdictions in a position to make important judgment calls on such matters.

The decision itself is applauded here in Between the Lines. But what is with the lack of any explanation by Judge Charles Curless of Barton County for his ruling? It’s tough to find fault with the plaintiffs’ frustration at Curless’ lack of public reasoning behind his decision.

The judge’s written ruling was delivered in this fashion: “After considering the pleadings, evidence and arguments of counsel, the court finds that judgment should be entered on both counts of the petition in favor of defendants and against plaintiffs.”

After two years of public cussing and discussing, after hours upon hours of trial preparation by attorneys on both sides of the case, after boxes of documents were prepared and submitted as evidence for the court to allegedly study, the public is treated to a judge’s decision that offers no basis for his opinion? That’s lame.

If an editorial writer offered up opinions without explaining the basis for those opinions, he or she would be rightfully attacked for practicing lazy journalism. Truth be told, there are lazy journalists. Truth be told, there are lazy types in all professions.

Within the courtroom, it’s understood that judges do what judges want to do. Perhaps the judge was fearful that any details he laid out in his decision could be used by the developers as the grounds for an appeal. Even if that’s the case, the public deserves to know on what legal basis the decision was reached. The public and the involved parties certainly deserve more depth of reasoning than what was offered.


Note to fellow sports fans: If you catch yourself watching more than an hour of any televised golfing event, it might be time to get a life. If you catch yourself listening to golf coverage on the radio, seek professional help immediately.


At least one member of the Platte County Regional Sewer District Board of Trustees--Deb Hammond, vice chairman--has pledged further changes in the district. What kind of changes--whether it be in personnel, method of operation, or all of the above--is not yet clear.

What is clear from this chair is that anybody who was tied at the hip with the previous director should move on voluntarily or be shown the door. To gain the trust of what has been in a lot of ways an abused group of district patrons/ratepayers, a clean slate is needed. Change--especially changing long-term personnel or legal counsel--always scares some people. But that doesn’t mean it should be fought. In a lot of situations, such as this one, change is a necessary “evil” for an entity to regain the trust of the public it serves.

The public will soon get to see if the sewer district board of directors has the gumption to make other moves, or whether they’re just blowing smoke up our manholes.


I’m not gonna lie, occasionally it’s nice to be noticed for hard work. After all, my boss is such a tightwad there’s no way he’ll give me a raise, so I’ll take reward in some other fashion.

The popular blog site known as Tony’s Kansas City, or more accurately, over the weekend listed yours truly in the top five of his latest power rankings for members of the Kansas City media. Your humble publisher was listed by Tony as the third most powerful member of media in the Kansas City metro area.

The web site says the rankings are "compiled according to scientific TKC polling and market research data and it's a weekly comprehensive guide to powerful local people, their moves and their relative worth as humans.”

No other Platte County media members made the list.

For the story, go to


Am I more surprised that I made the list or more surprised there were two Kansas City media members above me?


If you’re not following The Landmark on Twitter, spank your own butt right now. You’re missing out.

You’ll get news, notes, quotes, unusual observations and occasional sarcasm, all delivered by yours truly in 140-character messages. It’s not a repeat of items in the paper but rather a supplement to all the journalistic goodness you’re getting here in the printed edition.

Around 250 of you have signed up as followers. The rest of you are either trolling the site ‘secretly’ (there’s a lot of that going on) or depriving yourselves of knowledge and potential entertainment. Check it out at and tell both of your friends to do the same.

Big Landmark Twitter development/announcement coming soon. Become a Twitter follower ASAP.


New information and updated analysis on the mess in Platte County’s Human Ridiculousness department coming soon. Also, we’re busy tracking the first scandal of the 2010 election campaign. Don’t miss your next appointment with The Landmark.

Contact Ivan by email at or stalk him on Twitter at



Posted 4/11/10

This allergy season has the makings of a bad one. Last night I sneezed so hard I pulled a groin muscle. Fortunately it was my own.


Waiting for the outcome of the Tomahawke lawsuit? Join the club.

Attorney Chris Byrd, who represents the developers of the proposed high density subdivision, told me this week he is under the impression a ruling could be handed down by the judge within 30 days. Arguments were heard a couple of weeks ago.

Speaking of Tomahawke, folks close to that situation will recognize the name of Norm Beaman, formerly of MoDOT, on the letter to the editor to the right of this column. His note is worthy of a read.


Deservedly so, Tony Paolillo was reelected to the board of aldermen in Platte City at Tuesday’s popularity contest. Paolillo, whose wife serves on the Platte County Republican Central Committee, has proven to be a solid alderman with a track record of fiscal conservatism.

That being said, Ron Porter, defeated by Paolillo, served the city well years ago as an alderman, and was always my favorite member of the local hit rock group Mayor Dave and the Sunshine Boys. Porter ran against Andy Stanton and lost by only one vote last year. This time around, though he lost by about 20 votes, he still showed he has a core of support. Lee Roy Van Lew, another member of the Sunshine Boys, has not been able to acquire a base of support in repeat runs and was handily defeated by Charles Cook for another alderman post.


The more eventful local elections are on the horizon countywide for August and November.

For example, Siobhann Williams will be challenged by Kevin Robinson in the race for county auditor. I’m not sure but I think I just saw both of them peering at me lovingly through a window.


Economic turnaround locally? Don’t know that anyone is calling it that just yet, but there is some positive news to report.

There’s a bright spot in the new sales tax receipt numbers for Platte County. General sales tax revenue for the month of April (which represents sales made to consumers during the month of February) shows an increase of 7.6% from this month one year ago.
For the year, general sales tax receipts have increased by 1.2% from where they were a year ago at this time. Not bad in a tough economy. County officials had projected basically no increase in sales tax revenue in 2010. Of course it’s still early in the year so we’ll have to see if the growth is sustainable.

As expected, use tax income is down by 19.6% thus far in 2010. Combined total income from the sales tax and use tax is down 7.6% from this time a year ago.


What would spammers be spamming about if Viagra and Cialis had never been invented?


So I hit Opening Day for the Royals on Monday. I really don’t know why. Oh yeah, I remember now. It’s because I’m a fan of the stadium experience. As far as the product on the field, it seemed to resemble the same disaster of the past several years.

The stadium staff seemed to handle the overflow crowd fairly well. My only complaint was that at about an hour and a half before game time, the traffic into the parking lots seemed to be backed up more than it should have been. The team shouldn’t have been surprised by the turnout and therefore I expected smoother sailing into a parking spot as opposed to half an hour or more of inching forward. But all in all, the only rough part of the day was the 8-4 loss to the Tigers.

Don’t get down just yet, Royals fans, there still are 161 more games to go. Plenty of time to get further depressed.


This year’s Bracket Battle has come to a close. Our winner--John L. Steffel--and the complete final standings for our record number of entries can be viewed in the column on the far right of this page. Thanks to all who played along--even the many of you who finished above me and thereby have won two years worth of subscriptions to this award-winning publication.

Remember, if you got the best of me you must contact The Landmark by April 30 to claim your two years worth of subscriptions and tell us where to send your freebies. Contact us by phone at 816-858-2313 or send an email to me at


Many of you have commented on seeing those KCTV-5 weather promos that include Rian Babcock, Landmark ad sales rep, and yours truly. There’s a 30 second version of the commercial as well as a 60-second. Rian is in both, while my pretty face only appears in the longer version.

It is cool to see Roger and Rosie Wade of Platte City in the same promo. The station has played the promos quite often over the past week and they are still getting air time. If you haven’t yet seen it, check out the 60 second commercial spot on YouTube by going to:

Once again, our thanks to Mark Olson, senior promotion producer for Channel 5, for asking us to take part.

(Follow the daily adventures of your favorite publisher on Twitter at, or email him at



Posted 4/2/10

Another column of news, notes, quotes and whimsical observations while wondering why The Lake at Tomahawke Ridge folks picked Tim Dougherty to be their front man.

Mistakes have been made on both sides in what has been a two year battle. But that one was a head scratcher from the start.


This thing has more inner connections than an Arkansas family reunion.

Kevin Robinson of Platte City has filed to run for county auditor against incumbent Siobhann Williams. You’ll remember Robinson’s firm--People Wise--had been hired by the county commission to conduct a performance audit on the county’s human ridiculousness (HR) department last fall after Williams announced she was doing a full body cavity search on HR for alleged screw-ups regarding payroll and health insurance issues. Williams also alleged the county commission and the director of administration were not being cooperative in submitting information that would assist in her probe. Robinson’s wife, Mary, at the time was working for his People Wise firm and was a primary ‘auditor’ for the commission-hired probe. At the end of that ‘investigation,’ the county commission hired Mary as its new HR director. Now Kevin wants to become auditor, in a move that if successful could in effect stop the auditor’s office internal probe of what is now his wife’s department.

Got all that?

Potential conflicts galore?

You decide. I do suspect all the tag teaming will give many voters the urge to take a shower.


Can’t get enough courtroom drama in Platte County? For a full dose of detailed coverage on the arguments in the Lake at Tomahawke Ridge development court trial, check out the story by new Landmark reporter PJ Rooks.


Has there ever been a more quiet spring election season locally? Voters will go to the polls on Tuesday to decide the outcome of city and school races. The pre-game attitude of voters--and let’s be honest, of some of the candidates themselves--seems to be one of boredom. Voter turnout next week could be embarrassingly low.


There is a Ward 3 alderman spot open on Tuesday in Platte City. It is to fulfill a one-year unexpired term. No candidate names will appear on the ballot for this seat, though Kelly Goen, 43, recently declared herself a write-in candidate.

A movement is afoot to write in the name of John Higgins, who currently holds the position but did not file. Reports to Between the Lines worldwide headquarters are indicating Higgins would agree to fill the remaining year if he is elected, though obviously he is not campaigning.


Okay, so the NCAA Tournament has kicked my butt in our Bracket Battle. Somehow I feel I am not alone. I’ve been doing brackets since I was about age 10. Can never remember another time when I correctly picked zero--as in zero--Final Four teams.
My buddy Woody Grutzmacher left me a voicemail on Monday drawing my attention to the fact my picks aren’t doing so well this year. Guess he thought I hadn’t noticed.

Anyway, the standings for Platte County’s largest media outlet bracket contest are below. Congrats to all of you above me who will be able to claim your prize of two years of free Landmarks. And the war is still being waged for the top prize of $100.


Sorry to say, but head coach Frank Martin of K-State got a little intimidated by all the national media cameras focused his direction during the NCAA tournament. It seems he became really conscious about the way his fire and brimstone attitude was coming across to a nationwide audience, and he held back on the “F bombs” while pacing the sidelines. His players against Butler on Saturday looked like they could have used a wake-up call in the form of a patented profanity-laced tirade from the coach. It never came. His Wildcats as a four point favorite were sent packing by a lesser opponent.


If you watch KCTV-5 over the coming weeks you may see a familiar face or two. Mark Olson, senior promotion producer for Channel 5, was in downtown Platte City on Monday filming spots promoting the station’s newly-discovered calmer approach to weather events. Reports in media circles indicate Channel 5 intends to dial down weather gal Katie Horner’s previously hyperventilated approach to tornado watches, etc.

Landmark ad sales rep/office assistant Rian Babcock and yours truly agreed to be filmed in a couple of the Channel 5 weather promos. Rian’s spot was filmed near the bottom of Main Street, with the camera facing east. My lights/camera/action experience was, not coincidentally, shot directly in front of The Landmark building.

Pretty sure Rian’s spot will make the airwaves, as she is more camera- friendly. Mine is more likely to end up on the cutting room floor.

Let us know if you happen to catch a glimpse. Read more about the experience at

(Ivan Foley can be reached prepping for a non-descript TV career by email at Follow his daily surprises on Twitter at


For earlier columns click here