f you’re an attorney and you haven’t yet been hired by the City of Parkville please raise your hand and someone will be with you shortly.
A messy situation somehow may have gotten a little bit messier this week when the Parkville Board of Aldermen approved the hiring of the Vanover Law to represent the city’s ethics commission as it hears a complaint against Mayor Nan Johnston. Vanover Law is Joe Vanover. Joe Vanover is the second district commissioner for Platte County. So a county commissioner has now inserted himself into the City of Parkville clutter via his law firm.
From a standpoint of appearances alone, it may have been best for Vanover to sit this one out.
For starters, an elected official who approves the budgets for the county sheriff and prosecutor is going to represent a commission whose city is under investigation by the sheriff and prosecutor. Seems awkward at best. Also, in his role as county commissioner has Vanover had any interactions/working relationship with the mayor who is the subject of the ethics complaint? Is the mayor more comfortable knowing that a fellow elected official is representing the ethics commission that will decide her fate? Will Vanover’s role drag the county commission into the Parkville mess? The fact that question is even being asked–and I’m not the only one asking it in local circles–means it’s already happening, at least by association. The county commission hasn’t really been pulled into all of Johnston’s/Parkville’s troubles to this point, even though it is known Dagmar Wood, first district county commissioner, and Johnston have been quite friendly in the past. Vanover’s fellow county commissioner is known to have been politically cozy with the mayor and now county commissioner Vanover is representing the ethics commission that will decide the mayor’s fate.
Seems like a very tangled web. Maybe it would have been best for Vanover Law to say ‘thanks, but no thanks’ to this gig.
I reached out to Vanover by email Tuesday evening seeking his comments after the Parkville aldermen had approved his hiring. No word yet as of mid-morning Wednesday, but that’s not to say he’s avoiding the questions and concerns. We’ll keep you updated in future editions.
At Tuesday evening’s meeting, Parkville alderman Brian Whitley painted a picture of Parkville being a budding bastion of transparency. Meanwhile, in her 10-page response to an ethics complaint, Mayor Nan Johnston refers to Sunshine Law requests as a form of “harassment.”
I’m not sure how those two points of view can co-exist inside the same City Hall but here we are.
Whitley in fact had a great idea for better transparency. He suggests pursuing the idea of posting all Sunshine requests–and the city’s responses to them–on the city’s web page. Mayor Nan spoke up to say she thinks that’s a great plan, but I’m guessing her point of view reverts to ‘harassment’ anytime a Sunshine request would expose information she’d rather not have exposed.
I guess it really is the Christmas season.
Last week I wrote that I hoped after their in-court whooping at the hands of non-attorney Jason Maki, the City of Parkville would keep the law firm of Baty Otto Coronado around for a long, long time. This week the City of Parkville is entering into a special legal counsel professional services agreement with Baty Otto Coronado.
During a board of aldermen meeting Tuesday night, Joe Parente, Parkville city administrator, said a big reason for entering into the agreement with Baty Otto Coronado is to help the city deal with Sunshine requests. Apparently the city is consistently getting Sunshine requests from members of the public these days and, according to city officials, it is sometimes too much for staff to handle.
Kudos to members of the general public at Parkville for taking an interest in your local government. If you’re not going to be curious about what’s going on inside City Hall at a time like this then the battle has already been lost.
Updated count shows the City of Parkville now has at least four law firms on the payroll. I’m no legal expert nor math whiz but that seems like a lot for a town of 7,000 people.
On Sunday the weatherman said that would be the last of the warm temps for a few days, so I made a dedicated effort to get out to walk the fine Platte County public trail not far from my home.
I didn’t actually walk the trail. I ran the trail. In slow motion. Like a Baywatch lifeguard.
It wasn’t really a good workout but it was a conversation starter.
Not a big fan of cancel culture but I’d be in favor of canceling skinny jeans.
The three hardest things to say:
1. I was wrong.
2. I need help.
3. Worcestershire sauce.
(Email Foley at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask him about the time he tried on a pair of skinny jeans)