Welcome to the first Between the Lines of 2022. It won’t be the last. I’ll try to convince you that’s a good thing.
You might have noticed the last few weeks we generally stayed away from all the ridiculousness at the City of Parkville. It’s not that we weren’t busy digging into new details in old documents or that we weren’t aware of ongoing developments. It’s just that we (okay, I) decided to push further talk of government corruption into the new year instead of peppering your holidays with it. Hopefully this decision helped you better digest your holiday dinners and your family gatherings, though somehow I think that despite our efforts not to force-feed you, the phrase “crooks at City Hall” was probably muttered more than once at some holiday gatherings in the greater Parkville metropolitan area.
If you’ve been paying attention to her words, Parkville Mayor Nan Johnston consistently likes to paint a picture of herself as a victim. She claims to be the victim of some sort of war with political adversaries and a certain media outlet you know and love.
Nan isn’t at war with any of those things. In reality, for years Nan has been at war with the truth. And she is losing.
You’ll want to read–perhaps slowly and perhaps more than once–the story in this edition by Debbie Coleman-Topi featuring Elaine Kellerman’s rebuttal to Nan’s response to the complaints filed against her with the city’s ethics commission.
You’ll remember I had mentioned the wackiness of Johnston’s response, written like a high school kid who is mad at the world and blaming others for her troubles. Kellerman, the Parkville resident who filed the complaint, absolutely shreds Johnston’s response.
You can read both Johnston’s response and Kellerman’s rebuttal at this link: https://plattecountylandmark.com/2022/01/04/rebuttal-to-mayor-nan-johnstons-response-to-the-parkville-ethics-commission/
What is ironic–though not surprising–is that in her response to the ethics complaint, Nan appears to commit more ethical violations. Some of the highlights of her response that the ethics board might find interesting include:
*In her response, Johnston consistently refers to Jason Maki’s Sunshine Law requests for public information as “harassment.” You’ll recall Maki is the guy who sued the city over access to public records and in the process received a $195,000 settlement from city taxpayers, thanks to Johnston and the board of aldermen. One of the terms of the settlement is that city officials would not use the term “harassment” to describe Maki’s attempts to obtain public records from the city. Nan violated that condition of the settlement, not only describing Maki’s fight as “harassment” but indicating she was very happy and proud to be calling it that. Due to Nan’s inability to contain herself, the City of Parkville may face further legal action from Maki for breaching the terms of the settlement agreement.
*Nan talks about her DUI and her phone call to Parkville Police Chief Kevin Chrisman before following orders from the arresting Platte County Sheriff’s Deputy to get out of her car. In her response, Johnston claims that Jason Maki, who remember is a private citizen and is not the subject of the ethics complaint, has also been charged with DUI. “Mr. Maki has also been arrested for driving under the influence,” Nan claims. Maki, meanwhile, says he has never been arrested for driving while intoxicated and wonders where Nan would have received information that might have led her to make such a statement. The Landmark recently came across public records that show Johnston and the City of Parkville used taxpayer money to conduct an investigation of Maki’s background. That investigation, as indicated by public records, included the use of private investigators and included attempts to use the FBI, Department of Justice, the state auditor, and the Missouri Ethics Commission apparently to try to gain leverage on Maki during the course of the Maki vs. City of Parkville lawsuit.
In viewing other public emails, we’ve noticed this is not the first time the mayor has threatened to have citizens she disagrees with investigated. More details in the front page story.
The fact that a municipal government is using taxpayer dollars to investigate private citizens is not only inappropriate it is also chilling to think these people believe it’s perfectly fine to do so. What kind of mob mentality goes on in the minds of some of the folks inside Parkville City Hall? This should not be conveniently overlooked, glossed over or thought of as “no big deal” by anyone.
By the way, The Landmark can find no court records to indicate Maki has ever been charged with a DUI. Our reporter reached out to Nan to ask specifics, including where she is getting that alleged information, which she is publicly spreading about a private citizen. Crickets from the mayor thus far. Shocker.
More on this part next week: There’s a possibility that the board of aldermen voted in executive session to turn the requested public records over to Maki, but those who would have been in charge of making sure the documents got handed over to him–presumably the mayor, the city administrator, and the city clerk–never followed through. Brett Krause, a candidate for an alderman spot in 2020, says on the day of the municipal election in 2020 he was told by Alderman Dave Rittman that Rittman “did not understand why Jason Maki had to file a lawsuit to obtain records when the board of aldermen had already voted to give Maki all of the requested records.”
Isn’t this interesting? So it’s possible the whole lawsuit could have easily been avoided? If indeed a vote to hand over the records took place, the action of following through with that decision never happened and Maki was never informed that the records were available.
So what does Rittman have to say about this? Find out in next week’s Landmark.
(See you next week, same time, same channel. Until then, email firstname.lastname@example.org)