’ve been holding off on making this declaration because you never want to be too quick with something like this. But it’s time.
The leadership at the City of Parkville has officially become a clown show. The clincher came this week when the city placed on its board of aldermen agenda the destroying of public records. Apparently suddenly they are too tight on space to house some of these documents.
Nothing weird about this, right? Wrong. The proposed action comes at a time when the city is under investigation by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office for allegations it has violated the state’s open meetings and records law.
So you’re under investigation by the attorney general for alleged public records violations and you decide now would be a good time to destroy some public records? Who in their right mind thought this would be a good idea?
You can’t make this stuff up.
Even if what the city wants to do is legitimate, the “optics” of this paint the city in a bad light. In the eyes of those who appreciate open and transparent government, city officials may as well have tattooed the word “guilty” across their chests.
Wisely, the board of aldermen had second thoughts about this and after the item had been placed on the agenda aldermen got cold feet on the issue.
Attorneys for the Citizens for a Better Parkville contacted the city with concerns, not surprisingly. And the fact the city heard from the state attorney general the day of the meeting might have influenced the eventual decision to delay the destruction. You can bet an idea this preposterous raised some eyebrows at the agency currently investigating the city for Sunshine violations. Upon seeing the item on the Parkville agenda, The Landmark had reached out to the attorney general this week and received this comment from the AG’s office:
“It is the attorney general’s position that the City of Parkville cannot destroy any records that are subject to the Sunshine complaint or required to be retained under their retention policy.”
Let’s not pretend it’s a coincidence that Mayor Nan Johnston was absent from Tuesday night’s meeting. It’s very possible she was hiding in the back room, avoiding the media spotlight. The buzz is that even the Kansas City television media–often not exactly the most aggressive group of folks in the business–has started to read up on the funny stuff going on at Parkville and some TV news folks had indicated a desire to be present on Tuesday night.
Johnston has skipped out on at least three public appearances since The Landmark brought to light her campaign committee is being investigated by the Missouri Ethics Commission for possible illegal activity. She was a no-show at a recent Legislative Breakfast at the KCI Marriott, was not present on Thursday at a meeting some city officials held with downtown Parkville business owners, and was a no-show at the aldermen meeting Tuesday night.
And how about Alderman Marc Sportsman, who was leading the meeting Tuesday night while Johnston was hiding behind the curtain? Sportsman often seems a baby step away from a temper tantrum, which gives him a similar personality to the mayor. Sportsman appears to blame The Landmark and the group known as Citizens for a Better Parkville for the shadiness the city has put on display in recent months.
“In light of the constant harassment of the city, we know how it’s going to be spun. . by the local newspaper,” Sportsman said of the city’s proposal to destroy public records.
First of all, thank you to Sportsman for officially declaring The Landmark the local Parkville paper of record. I mean, we already knew it and you already knew it, so it’s nice of the city to acknowledge it and inadvertently throw a compliment our direction in the process.
Curiously, city officials no longer want us to drop off complimentary copies of The Landmark at Parkville City Hall. Wonder why that is?
So Sportsman blames the watchdogs because city officials already under investigation for Sunshine violations had the bright idea to destroy some public records while that investigation is still ongoing? That’s quite a leap in logic by the short-tempered one.
For Sportsman to claim the city is being harassed on any level is beyond ridiculous. That’s a combination of ignorance and arrogance, which is always a dangerous combo. People asking their local public officials to be open and forthcoming are asking for good government and for their elected representatives to act responsibly and transparently. That’s good citizenship. It’s hardly harassment.
“It’s too bad Sportsman thinks citizens exercising their rights to view public records amounts to harassment,” says Jason Maki of Citizens for a Better Parkville.
Maki gets it. No one at City Hall seems to get it. Which explains why two different state agencies are investigating activities connected to the City of Parkville.
(Get more Between the Lines on Twitter @ivanfoley and on Facebook. Email firstname.lastname@example.org)