Can we get back to some sense of normalcy? The answer is no. No, we cannot. But I thank myself for asking myself.
Listen, it’s about small victories at this point. So let’s celebrate the fact county voters were smart enough to say no to a proposed $65 million county jail monstrosity that was on the ballot last year. That’s a major financial obstacle that would have been staring taxpayers in the face during an economic downturn.
I’m not certain of many things these days but I do feel certain there will be elections in Platte County at some point this year. Don’t hold me to a date. Even if we were allowed to be close to one another right now I wouldn’t want you holding me to that. Remember, the municipal elections for cities, school boards, etc. were originally set for next week, Tuesday, April 7. As reported last week, that election has been changed to Tuesday, June 2. Meanwhile, the primary election for the countywide offices up for grabs this year is scheduled for Aug. 4. Filing deadline for the county positions was Tuesday at 5 p.m. Here is the list of candidates for your countywide offices: County commissioner, district one: Dan Mason, a retired federal agent, is challenging incumbent Dagmar Wood, who by the way was the band leader in promoting that $65 million 200 bed jail expansion. Both are Republicans. County commissioner, district two: This is the district in which incumbent John Elliott has chosen to not seek reelection. Jumping in the chase to be his replacement are Joe Vanover, Republican, who is a former assistant prosecutor for the county; and David Park, Democrat, who is retired from the City of Kansas City and has been actively engaged in following county commission activities the past few years. In 2018, running against incumbent Ron Schieber for presiding commissioner, Park pulled more votes than any Democrat has in this county in a decade. He has made it known his priorities include county parks and much better transparency efforts by the commission. Public administrator: There will be a primary election needed in August for this spot. Jera Pruitt is not seeking re-election. On the ballot will be two Republicans: Shanna L. Burns and Samantha Price. You might be wondering what a county public administrator does. You’re not alone, that question comes up quite often. In short, the public administrator serves as a public guardian and conservator for people who have been declared incapacitated by the probate division of the circuit court. There are approximately 200 people in Platte County under guardianship and conservatorship with the public administrator’s office. County treasurer: Incumbent Rob Willard, first elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2016, will survive without a challenger in 2020. Willard is a Republican. County sheriff: Mark Owen, Republican, first elected in 2012, also will not have a challenger in 2020.
Expect some serious dips in county sales tax revenues in the coming months. Receipts for 2020 use tax and sales tax collections were already pacing ten percent behind last year before the coronavirus pandemic came into play. I would expect–effective with the tax collections that are received in May, which will reflect sales made in the month of March–the drop will be more significant than that. Also gonna go out on a limb and say retail sales in April and May are not going to be peachy.
There are more reasons county officials should be saying “thank you, voters, for being wiser than we were being” in regard to last year’s proposed jail expansion: Not only in regard to the $65 million price tag that would have been staring taxpayers in the face, but now with the COVID-19 pandemic you can expect the jail population to continue to drop. As of Wednesday morning there are only 109 inmates in the jail. So the county would have been doubling the size of the current jail with no prisoners to put in it. Dagmar Wood would be suggesting jail time for traffic tickets. Wow. 109. Capacity–soft capacity, remember, it can actually hold more than this–is 180. So yeah. Not even close. The expansion would have made it 380. Good gawd, man. If jail population gets much lower the inmates won’t have trouble practicing proper social distancing.
More COVID-19 talk as it relates to jails and prisons and such. This week the Missouri Supreme Court sent all state judges a letter calling attention to the rules and statutes governing pretrial release of inmates charged with offenses but not yet found guilty. The court leaves decisions about the release of any such individuals to the discretion of local judges “to make appropriate decisions under the facts and circumstances of each particular case.” The letter from Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice George W. Draper says, in part: “As a result of recent inquiries regarding the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in prisons and county and city jails, the Supreme Court of Missouri wants to call attention to the following rules and statutes” and then goes on to list the legalese which basically says, in my non-expert interpretation: “Hey, with this extremely contagious virus going around, if things get unhealthy in your jail, use your discretion in lowering the jail population.”
Banking tidbits: Platte Valley Bank becomes Central Bank of the Midwest on Monday. Liberty Savings Bank became Central Bank of the Midwest several months ago. Nodaway Valley Bank is coming to Platte City, The Landmark has confirmed for you. Another bank, one with ties to Atchison, is said to be looking to potentially come into this market.
Tune in for the April 9 episode of Landmark Live when we’ll have Kasnas City Mayor Quinton Lucas as our guest. The general public is not being let into City Hall these days due to the pandemic so we’ll do the interview on your screen divided three ways, with Lucas joining yours truly and Chris Kamler in the same place at the same via video conferencing known as Skype. That’s a fancy way to say we’ll be on a three-way video call. Many topics–both serious and fun– will come up. Don’t know if he’ll go there but I’ll be asking Lucas to give his analysis of Gov. Mike Parson’s sleepwalking performance during the COVID-19 situation.