hich one of these seems out of touch with the current environment in our state and our country:
President Donald Trump: Has thrown his weight behind a plan that would reduce some prison sentences for convicted drug criminals.
Gov. Mike Parson: “I am absolutely not in favor of building more prisons. Alternative sentencing is the wave of the future.” (By the way, the governor is a former sheriff).
State of Missouri: “Let’s consolidate two existing prisons and invest the savings in wage increases for the corrections officers.”
Missouri Supreme Court Justice Zel Fischer: “Too many people can’t afford bail for low-level offenses and can lose their jobs while (in jail) waiting for trial.” Beginning in July, courts in Missouri will avoid jailing people awaiting trial who are neither a danger to the public nor a flight risk but simply too poor to afford cash bail. Beginning in July courts must first consider non-monetary conditions for defendants’ release. Judges will still be able to set bail, but only at the amount necessary to ensure either public safety or to ensure that the defendant will appear again in court. The new rules will also say judges can only order defendants to be jailed before trial without bail or other conditions for release if they determine that’s necessary for safety reasons. A similar “no bail” system was implemented in Cass County and lowered that county’s jail population by 60 inmates.
Platte County Commission: “We are proposing a $65 million tax increase because we want to more than double the size of our county jail. This week there are only about 140-145 county prisoners in our 180 bed jail–subtracting the 15 or 20 ICE inmates we like to house to put money in our coffers–but we’d like you to believe the facility is in an emergency state of overcrowdedness because we can’t put Joes in with Janes and stuff like that. We can’t tell you exactly where we’re going to build this facility and we can’t tell you how we’re going to finance it since we recently tanked the county’s bond rating. This proposal will NOT increase wages for law enforcement personnel. Yes, our plan is very non-specific on design, exact size and even location of our new prison so you’re just going to have to trust us that the secrets we’re keeping from you are really, really good for you. And yes we know felony crimes in the county actually dropped by three percent last year. But hey, we want our names attached to a legacy of some sort. What could go wrong? We don’t like to hear alternative thoughts so maybe we’ll just put some information on our web site sometime before the April 2 election.”
The county commission’s position sounds like a Saturday Night Live spoof.
Considering things like the above and more, the timing and lack of business acumen behind the county’s proposal is gaining credence for a theory first presented in a letter to the editor by Jim DeJarnatt of Weston. Jim mentioned it seems a lot like the commissioners (and we could safely add the sheriff) seem awfully anxious to build a monument that will have their names on it.
Remember, these were the county commissioners who campaigned on themes of no new taxes, lower taxes, talked about how government should be run debt free as often as possible, etc. etc.
It’s almost like once these folks got into office they suddenly realized nobody gives you a plaque for being fiscally conservative. But you do see plaques all the time in new buildings.
The unfortunate circus involving the City of Parkville’s handling of public records requests by Jason Maki of Citizens for a Better Parkville continues. Some of the newest details pertaining to the city’s desire to charge the group $19,000 for public records are particularly concerning.
The $19,000 bill for total alleged costs, which were accrued in under 28 days and came only after the city was referred to the state attorney general for failure to comply with the Sunshine Law, are nearly seven times greater than all the work the city has done in the previous four months, Maki said. He added that 49 percent of the amount the city is seeking to collect comes from attempting to bill a private citizen for the city attorney’s time, which Maki’s attorney points out is not legal.
Also interesting is that according to the proposed billing by the city, Joe Parente, city administrator, accounts for nearly half of the work not associated with the city attorney. Parente allegedly spent 106 of his 129.5 total hours working on the Sunshine requests in January. Why is the highly compensated city administrator personally spending so much time handling open records requests? In particular after the city says it engaged an outside information technology (IT) firm to assist with identifying and producing responsive records.
While the city administrator has interestingly been heavily involved in combing through the records, the proposed billing info shows the official city custodian of records has only done 13% of the total work. The custodian of records is supposed to be the primary responsible party for these requests and responses, not the city administrator.
The city administrator being so heavily involved in the process raises an eyebrow or two, to put it mildly. What exactly is he doing that these requests require so much of his focus?
Maki says this: “According to the city administrator, a third party IT provider searched for and provided the electronic records in the requests. If the city administrator is doing anything other than copying those records onto portable USB drives then something is amiss as the mayor and aldermen already have the city attorney reviewing the files to determine what is/is not required by law to be disclosed. Who is directing the city administrator’s efforts? Are they providing him criteria for possible additional censorship and withholding?”
The raising of an eyebrow or two becomes the raising of a red flag when you take into account Parente’s somewhat checkered history of handling public information. At a previous job, he was accused of destroying public records. At that time, he worked as a county administrator in Madison County, Illinois, population 270,000 people. He now works as a city administrator for Parkville, population of about 6,500.
To read about the allegations against Parente at his previous employer, Google the phrase “Joe Parente allegations of public records destruction.”
(Get more Between the Lines by following Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley and at Platte County Landmark on Facebook. Email firstname.lastname@example.org)