ave Rittman, Parkville alderman, is kind of a quirky dude.
I know him a little bit but not well. I used to run into him quite often at local First Friday political gatherings about 15-20 years ago. At that time he was working in the business side of a car dealership, which may or may not explain some things. Rittman may be retired now, not sure, it’s not like I’m up to date on his personal life and it’s not relevant here.
I can tell you he is a Landmark subscriber, so unlike Mayor Nan, he does not try to hide the fact he reads this publication. Kudos to him for that. The last time I saw Rittman was very early one Thursday morning several months ago when he was buying a copy of The Landmark out of the news rack in front of our building. Through the window, I could see he seemed to be having a little trouble manipulating the coin-operated machine so I stepped outside, called him by name and offered to help. It’s safe to say he seemed uncomfortably surprised to see me.
Anyway, these days I’ve seen enough of Dave’s emails to Mayor Nan Johnston and to his fellow elected officials to know that he believes in conspiracy theories. I mean, he’s not in Dagmar Wood’s neighborhood when it comes to conspiracies, but he’s getting there.
Let’s get right to it, because this is both interesting and entertaining. Rittman is infatuated–absolutely obsessed–with Landmark news coverage of Parkville City Hall. The Landmark is not just inside Rittman’s head, we’re rearranging his furniture.
Here’s the sad part: Rittman’s obsession with The Landmark has cost Parkville taxpayers a lot of money. This column will explain.
Some quick background: Thanks to Sunshine requests for documents, I’ve seen city emails where Dave Rittman gathers clippings of Landmark articles, pastes them up like a ransom note or something and emails them to Mayor Nan, to the city’s lawyers, and to other aldermen. This is funny to me. No sharing of internet links by Dave. No sir, he goes old school. And why does he bother? Trust me, no matter how much she might try to deny it, Nan is familiar with what’s in The Landmark each week. I’ve seen enough of her emails to tell you that with utmost confidence.
So Rittman is the board of aldermen paper boy, apparently. He’s the internal director of communications, I guess. Making sure his colleagues are up to date on what has been written in The Landmark.
That he does this and sends it to the mayor and aldermen is strange enough, but the fact he sends it to the city’s attorneys–as he did several times during the Jason Maki vs. Parkville lawsuit–is bizarre. And again, quite entertaining to me.
But it shouldn’t be entertaining to Parkville taxpayers. Because taxpayers are paying the bill for Rittman’s strange infatuation with Landmark coverage. Read on to find out more. . .
Did you like how I did that? Kind of a tease. Broke up the column but I let you know there’s more coming below. When it comes to news, I don’t just tease, I put out.
And now, back to the awkward love story between a grown-ass man and a newspaper. . .
A Parkville resident recently put in a Sunshine request for copies of the detailed legal bills incurred by the City of Parkville. Because, well, because since you follow the news you know the city has whizzed away a lot of their residents’ dollars defending city officials due to their less-than-stellar actions when it comes to general governing and transparency. The city, for instance, spent at least $220,000 in legal fees in the Maki lawsuit and then paid Maki an additional $195,000 to settle the case. The settlement is believed to be the largest in Missouri history when it comes to Sunshine cases. So there’s that.
Anyway, in a review of pages and pages of bills from the city’s lawyers are some interesting observations. One of those observations is that Rittman’s consistent infatuation with The Landmark’s coverage cost taxpayers considerable dollars. And for what purpose? That’s not clear. Gotta believe Rittman had developed some kind of conspiracy theory and he was having the attorneys try to chase it down. What a carnival.
The City of Parkville paid its lead attorney on the Maki case $225 per hour. Rittman ate up a lot of the attorney’s time by sending him Landmark articles to review. (I’ve even seen one email in which Rittman indicates that a time period with a lack of Landmark coverage on the case was suspicious to him. LOL. So, Rittman was intrigued when we covered the case and he was intrigued those weeks we didn’t mention the case. You can’t make this stuff up).
I have not gone through all the legal invoices with a fine tooth comb quite yet, but at first glance I have spotted at least 20 instances of Landmark news coverage/Landmark personnel being referenced on the legal bills from the high-priced attorney to the city. Those are mostly listed along with a memo to the effect of “communicate with Rittman regarding recent Landmark articles” and “analyze Landmark articles.”
This is just nuts. Remember, the attorney is charging taxpayers $225 per hour for the ridiculousness of helping Rittman chase unicorns.
Heck, I think our articles were pretty self-explanatory. They never seemed hard to comprehend to me. Pretty straight-forward news and analysis. Didn’t know they needed to be studied by an attorney at taxpayer expense. The way the Maki case was playing out in the courtroom, the outcome seemed to become pretty clear very early in the process. Pretty clear to everyone except Parkville city officials, apparently.
Let me just say if Rittman had consulted with me instead of the attorney, I would have provided analysis for him at no charge to the city. And it would have been quick. It doesn’t take long to say the words “you’re screwed.”
(Get free analysis of Foley’s analysis by email to email@example.com)