o if you’re scoring at home, the summertime totals (since July 1) within school district buildings, during summer school and during summer activities look like this (numbers reported by the schools):
Park Hill: 20 positive cases of COVID-19, which includes 16 students and four staff members.
Platte County R-3: 19 positive cases, which includes 13 staff members and six students
That’s with roughly 20-25% of the normal student body on campus for summer school, compared to the 75-80% estimated to soon be rolling in for fall semester face-to-face classes and such.
No one seems to be quite sure how the wildfire got started, but on Facebook in the past week a rumor that the Platte County Health Department Board of Trustees was going to take a vote on possibly shutting down high school sports was spreading like wildfire. Even some folks very close to the county commissioners were ‘spreading the word.’ First the Facebook newsies reported the meeting was going to be held Saturday. Then no, the vote was going to be taken at the health board meeting Tuesday. In reality, no such meeting about school sports was ever scheduled and didn’t happen. In fact, according to the health department, the health board had already taken a position on the matter of high school sports. “Our board’s position is that they will support the decisions of the Missouri State High School Activities Association on this matter,” Dan Luebbert, deputy director of the health department, said this week.
The health board does have a special meeting scheduled for Thursday, primarily to discuss items like gating criteria (gating criteria basically means the statistical numbers on which any recommendations for in-person or virtual classes might be made); the desire to expand testing to asymptomatic persons; and, based on discussion at a regular meeting Tuesday night, reinforce its position to support whatever decisions the Missouri State High School Activities Association makes on school sports.
A decision that could impact some local high school sports is if a conference decides to pull the plug on fall schedules. The Greater Kansas City Suburban Conference, for instance, has 27 schools as members, including Park Hill (Gold Division) and Platte County R-3 (Blue Division). Some of the conference’s schools are in areas harder hit by the virus than others. It’s anybody’s guess what might happen at this point.
Latest update on the Platte County Commission’s CPP (Crony Payment Plan) using federal CARES money.
One of the newest recipients is a non-profit youth sports organization, Southern Platte County Athletic Association. The SPCAA was awarded a grant of more than $20,000 by county commissioners on Monday. It was the largest dollar amount awarded that day.
Interestingly, Stephanie Schieber, wife of presiding county commissioner Ron Schieber, is the paid executive director of the Southern Platte County Athletic Association. In late July when the list of applicants was printed, it was publicly pointed out that Schieber’s wife had an employment connection to the SPCAA. So when the vote came around on Monday, Schieber abstained.
The Southern Platte County Athletic Association has also received two other helpings of grant money from the county recently. On Monday, commissioners also approved a youth sports grant of $37,500 to the SPCAA. The youth sports grant comes from the county sales tax for parks and rec. Ron Schieber abstained on this.
And the SPCAA which employs Mrs. Schieber also received a $20,000 parks and recreation grant approved by Platte County commissioners back on April 6. Interestingly, Ron Schieber voted yes on that one, even though his wife’s signature is on the application.
So a quick chronological summary of events:
April 6: Using parks and rec sales tax dollars, county commissioners approve a $20,000 outreach grant to SPCAA for softball field upgrades. Ron Schieber votes yes. His wife’s signature is among those on the organization’s application for funds.
July 29: It is reported in The Landmark that Schieber’s wife is employed by SPCAA and that the SPCAA is on the list of CARES grant applicants.
Aug. 17: County commissioners approve a grant for the SPCAA in the amount of $20,167 using federal CARES money. Ron Schieber abstains.
Aug. 17: Using parks and rec sales tax dollars, county commissioners approve a youth sports grant in the amount of $37,500 to SPCAA for uniforms. Ron Schieber abstains.
I called Ron Schieber Tuesday and we had a 14-minute basically polite conversation about the current state of affairs at the county commission. The conversation included my asking him why the yes vote in April followed by two abstentions that occurred after it was brought to public light he has an immediate family connection to the organization. His answer was a bit of a convoluted explanation that the two most recent grants were “straight operational subsidies” that could be construed to be a conflict. He said he does not see the April outreach grant for softball field upgrades to be a conflict because, in his opinion, it was not an operational subsidy.
Wut? That sounds like splitting hairs. Most reasonable people would believe if you have a spouse drawing a paycheck from an organization, her signature is on the application, and your vote directly helps guide free money to that organization, you have a conflict. It’s not too much to expect elected officials in that situation to not only abstain from voting but also abstain from any discussion on the matter.
At any rate, what we can say for certain is that in recent months county commissioners have approved more than $77,000 in free public money to the youth sports organization that employs county commissioner Ron Schieber’s wife. During that same time, county commissioners have passed along zero CARES dollars to the Platte County Health Department during a pandemic.
I’m sure it’s fine. Nothing to see here.
(Get scoreboard watching and more from Foley via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and find him on Twitter @ivanfoley)