t has been a few weeks since Mayor Nan Johnston and crew told The Landmark to please stop delivery of a few complimentary copies of the newspaper to Parkville City Hall. It was a courtesy practice we had carried on for 17-18 years and something we have always done at multiple public buildings in the county, long before Nan Johnston fired her first spittle upon the Missouri Sunshine Law or composed her first angry email about press coverage.
I bring this up because it occurred to me without a copy of The Landmark in City Hall somebody better tell Nan her campaign is under investigation by the Missouri Ethics Commission. She might not know.
Time to update your scorecards.
- The Missouri Attorney General’s office is investigating the City of Parkville over Sunshine Law complaints.
- The Missouri Ethics Commission is investigating the Parkville mayor’s campaign committee over alleged illegal contributions and suspicious reporting activity.
- The mayor seems preoccupied with trying to start a whizzing match over press coverage.
Other than that, things are going swimmingly at Parkville City Hall.
Platte County R-3 taxpayers, per a deal brokered by the Platte County R-3 School Board, are paying $275,000 of their hard-earned tax dollars to a principal to just go away.
That’s the financial meat and potatoes in a “separation agreement” reached between R-3 and Chad Searcey, the principal at Compass Elementary. Searcey, you’ll recall, is the school administrator who displayed questionable judgment in tweeting a picture of himself and his kids shooting guns to David Hogg, noted school shooting survivor who is now a gun control activist. Searcey had been placed on paid administrative leave in June after sending the tweet. The separation agreement was reached last week.
Point of emphasis: Let’s not mix the topics. Searcey’s political views about guns are not the topic. What is the topic is the judgment shown by an elementary school principal in sending a tweet featuring guns–and kids shooting guns–to a school shooting survivor. I get that it’s all hip these days to criticize the media, and there are times it is deserved, but this situation received international news coverage for legitimate reasons.
Let’s also not confuse the topics by saying Searcey’s personal tweets are protected by the First Amendment. This isn’t a First Amendment issue. The First Amendment protects you from having your speech prohibited by the government. The First Amendment does not mean your employer is prohibited from taking action against you because of your speech.
R-3’s employee handbook, in fact, has a section that states:
“Employees should note that all social media communication sites (even personal) can fall under the staff conduct board policy and can be included in your evaluation and used as grounds for disciplinary action.”
So there you go. Twitter douchebaggery is not protected at R-3.
Based on the district’s policy, R-3 had a right to fire Searcey. Don’t know why the R-3 school board felt a $275,000 payment from taxpayers was needed, other than they probably did not want a legal fight.
This is proof that it’s easy to pay people off to make your life easier when you’re using other people’s money to make the payment.
I’m guessing there are much better ways for our local educational system to spend $275,000.
Foley’s guide to getting into political debates on social media:
Step 1: Don’t.
In some circles, there has been negative buzz around the county about it and at least one Platte County employee isn’t at all happy about the county commission’s policy of allowing employees (those who have a concealed carry permit) to carry firearms into the administration building. He let his frustration be known at Monday’s county commission meeting.
Bob Schmidt, who said he works part-time for the county in planning and zoning, parks, facilities, and as an accounts payable clerk, said it should be the county’s responsibility to provide a safe and secure working environment. Employees shouldn’t have to feel like they need to provide their own security, he indicated.Schmidt pointed out there is nothing in the county’s personnel policy about firearms. “Can (employees) carry a pistol, a shotgun, an AR-15? What are the rules?”
Schmidt said had he known this was the policy he might not have started working at the county and knowledge of the county’s policy–which was recently expanded to allow public works employees to carry in the building and also when they’re working in the field–has him wondering if he wants to continue working for the county. A military veteran, Schmidt said with employees having the right to carry firearms he is very worried about “friendly fire” within the county buildings. From the buzz we’ve picked up in the last couple of weeks here in Between the Lines, we can tell you there are other folks working inside the building who share in Schmidt’s concern, they just haven’t taken their concerns public, for whatever reason.
Schmidt said he would like to see the county reinstate a security checkpoint at the entrance to the administration building, a system that was discontinued about a decade ago.
Schmidt’s concerns came in the public comments portion held toward the end of the commission meeting, which by the way ridiculously lasted nearly two hours on Monday (more on that at a later time).
Ron Schieber, presiding commissioner, indicated to Schmidt the commission would have discussions about the lack of firearms wording in the personnel policy and also have discussions on the suggestion of a return to a security checkpoint at the entrance to the administration building. Only time will tell if Schieber’s response is sincere or if it was more of a “thank you for coming, have a nice day.”
(Thank you for reading and have a nice day. Follow Foley on Twitter @ivanfoley and on Facebook and YouTube. Email firstname.lastname@example.org)