big thank you to the 5,000 or so of you who have watched our Landmark Live episode from last week on our Facebook page at Platte County Landmark. We talked local current events including schools and school testing, the proposed $65 million jail tax and bond ratings.
It was our first episode in crystal clear high definition video, thanks to the folks at Spectrum. It’s a major upgrade in the video quality from what we were previously getting from CenturyLink. Like a night and day difference. Not only is the quality better, the price is much better as well.
Just know this: If you’re in or near downtown Platte City and you’re using CenturyLink, you’re not getting near the internet speed that you’re paying for.
Contact me if you want to hear details about how the switch has improved our service and significantly lowered our monthly fee at the same time.
Congratulations to Theresa Wilson, member of the Ferrelview Board of Trustees, on the not guilty verdict in her bench trial on a misdemeanor assault charge stemming from an alleged incident that occurred shortly after she had adjourned a meeting in front of a rowdy crowd inside Ferrelview City Hall in November of 2017. Some of us familiar with both sides of the political divide at Ferrelview were surprised the charge was ever filed by the prosecutor’s office. As I wrote in Between the Lines on March 7, 2018 shortly after the charge was filed against Wilson: “I’ve read probable cause statements submitted by police in other cases that seemed much more convincing that a crime had been committed and yet no charges were filed (a situation involving a now-former county public works director comes to mind). So as a neutral observer I’m anxious to see how this one plays out.”
Obviously Judge Dennis Eckold, also, wasn’t convinced that an assault had occurred. It’s unfortunate the filing of the charge meant that Wilson had to spend a year of her life getting her name cleared in a situation that sounded a bit ridiculous from the start.
As has been reported in The Landmark several times since Jan. 31, the Central Platte Fire District is in need of two new members for its three-member board of directors. The unusual situation has resulted in Platte County Circuit Court being responsible for making the appointments.
On Friday, legal counsel for the fire district entered a request with the court that a three member panel consisting of the remaining board member, the fire chief and the deputy fire chief be allowed to conduct interviews and make recommendations to Judge James Van Amburg on the appointments.
The problem with having that three member panel involved in potentially choosing the two new board members is it might be a bit like putting the foxes in charge of the hen house. Other than when Andy Stanton served, the fire board and department leaders–all good people with good intentions, mind you–have a history of getting a bit gung-ho in making spending decisions without much advance analysis. They’ve also been known to get a little loose with the Sunshine Law.
Having a committee interview applicants and make recommendations to the judge isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but forming a committee that also includes three or four taxpayers not so heavily involved with the department would seem to level the playing field a bit.
Just a thought. This isn’t really anything to pound the table about. The judge would not be bound by any recommendations made by a committee, so maybe all will end well regardless.
Others in the region are chiming in on Platte County’s somewhat bizarre and bizarrely-timed proposal of a $65 million sales tax increase to more than double the size of the county jail.
Here are comments made by Guy Speckman, publisher of the Savannah Reporter, in last week’s issue of the Reporter:
“Interesting jail developments in this part of the world. Two area counties are pushing forward with new jail plans. Platte County, to the south, is trying to vote a new jail and Clinton County is holding hearings regarding a location for a new jail in their community. Clinton County is a major client of the Andrew County Jail. Platte County counts the immigration services, ICE, as one of its major clients.
“I don’t know about you guys, but I get nervous when government people start playing business with government funds. A new jail in Clinton County could have repercussions in Andrew County, since the “business” model locally is to rent out space to other counties to support the operation. The same debate is on in Platte County where they are using the same “quasi government-business” theory that more room is better because of the “rent potential.”
“All this government-business theory espoused by elected officials with no personal skin in the game makes me queasy.”
Platte County Sheriff Mark Owen complains that the jail is overcrowded (though there are some of us who question the legitimacy of his position, particularly if the rent-a-bed prisoners are removed from the equation). Then the Missouri Supreme Court announces that starting in July courts 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. It’s a move that will no doubt lower populations in county jails. Twice now in public settings I’ve heard Platte County Sheriff Mark Owen complain about the new policy announced by the head of the Supreme Court.
Sorry, but when you complain about a problem then immediately complain about one of the solutions to that problem before it even takes effect your credibility can take a bit of a hit. Even when you’re a sheriff. It gives the impression you don’t really want the problem to be solved by any means, or at least by any means other than spending $65 million of taxpayer money.
(Get more Between the Lines on Facebook at Platte County Landmark, on Twitter @ivanfoley, and follow Foley on YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram. Email firstname.lastname@example.org)