t’s good to have you here for our weekly chat. Settle in.
That sound none of us are hearing is the sound of Mark Comfort returning my call.
He doesn’t seem anxious to talk about his $226,000 Platte County small business grant for Cruise Holidays.
There are some notable quotes from newsmakers throughout this issue. Some absolute gems, even, including multiple memory-makers in our story about a health department trustee firing back at county commissioners who have been busy relieving themselves on the health department. During a global pandemic, nonetheless.
Ahh, the first world problems of an editor.
Is the term “bald-faced lie” or is it “bold-faced lie?” I’ve heard folks use both variations. You probably have, too.
This week there’s a quote from a newsmaker saying either bald-faced lie or bold-faced lie. I listened to the recording many times and still can’t say with 100% certainty which version was spoken. In my initial notes I had typed it bold-faced lie. Then I said to myself: “Self, is that correct? Or is the phrase actually ‘bald-faced’ lie?”
So I consulted one of my best friends. Her name is Google. Love her to death, but Google can sometimes be a fickle little missy. She danced around a bit with her answer.
“Both bold-faced and bald-faced are used, but bald-faced is decidedly the preferred term in published, edited text. Barefaced is the oldest, and is still in use, but it’s the least common. To report otherwise would be a bald-faced lie,” said Google, being a bit of a smarty pants, which I can totally appreciate. Anyway, I ended up typing the quote as “bald-faced lie” since it is “decidedly the preferred term in published, edited text.”
Here’s a quote that made me chuckle. It’s in our latest story on the known assaults the City of Parkville has committed upon the state’s open records requirements, commonly known as the Sunshine Law. Since the time his lawsuit was filed and has been advancing through the process, the city has suddenly “discovered” some emails it failed to turn over to Jason Maki per his requests that began two years ago. Among the “oops, we failed to give these to you” was an interesting one referenced in our front page story. The head of the city’s planning and zoning board had sent an email to an alderman, which was then forwarded to convicted ethics law violator Parkville Mayor Nan Johnston. In his email, Dean Katerndahl, head of the planning and zoning board, questioned the legality of the zoning application approved by aldermen in regard to the density of the apartment portion of the Creekside development. The email was sent Oct. 31, 2018. When our reporter Debbie Topi called Katerndahl for a comment this week, he unleashed this gem: “You mean The Landmark has nothing better to do than to dig up old news?”
Insert giggles here. Trust me, Dean, we would have been on this two years ago had your city officials properly responded to a public records request at that time. Instead, it seems clear Parkville plays illegal games with Sunshine requests. The attitude of Parkville city officials seems to be “You don’t like it? Sue us.”
Thanks to Jason Maki’s determination, that’s happening now. And I’m starting to think it has the potential to end badly for the city.
On Monday I read the City of Parkville’s response to Jason Maki’s amended petition which outlines 59 allegations of Sunshine Law violations. I’m not an attorney nor do I want to be, but it seems to me the response was almost a waving of the white flag and a request for mercy and forgiveness from the court. The city’s responses seem to be changing a bit as the legal action moves along. For instance, the city’s response to Maki’s first petition was a lot of deny, deny, deny. But portions of their response to the amended petition are more of ‘we may have broken the law, but if so we were simply operating on the advice of our attorney,’ and “we may have charged obscene amounts to fill Sunshine requests but the guy paid it.” And some other blah blah blah. You get the picture.
It has been said the truth never changes. As the discovery process moves along, Parkville’s responses seem to be changing. Add in the fact city officials are suddenly ‘finding’ documents they failed to release in Sunshine requests made two years ago and. . .well, you can understand why some of us suspect things aren’t always on the up and up at Parkville City Hall.
Classes began on Sept. 7 at the public schools in Platte County. It’s still relatively early, but how are the schools doing in regard to COVID-19 cases?
“So far, not too bad,” said Mary Jo Vernon, director of the Platte County Health Department when the question was posed to her on Sept. 15 by the health department’s board of trustees. “We’re all crossing our fingers. There have been a few cases here and there but it hasn’t been anything like we thought it could be.”
The schools are certainly doing better than the general population as a whole. In the past two weeks, there have been 130 new cases of COVID-19 in the Platte County Health Department’s jurisdiction, which does not include areas of the county that are within the city limits of Kansas City.
As for the county’s two largest school districts, latest numbers from Park Hill indicate the district has had 20 cases in the first two weeks of classes, most of those due to off-campus exposure. Officials at Platte County R-3 say only three cases have been reported to the school district since the beginning of the school year.
On our front page is a graph showing overall cases by all age groups in the health department’s jurisdiction. Give it a look. “Our data seems to support the decision to start Pre-K through fifth grade in person at our two largest school districts,” says Dan Luebbert, deputy director of the health department. “Our highest number of cases by age is in the 21-year-olds. Every age between 18 and 25 is high compared to other specific ages. Not excusing it, but it’s not surprising given normal social behavior at that age.”
(Feel free to unleash your gem of a quotable quote to Ivan Foley via email to email@example.com)