Listen guys, grilling season is almost here. At least at my house. Maybe it already started at your place but not mine. I’m especially excited because I’ve disposed of my six-year-old grill and have been semi-actively shopping for a new one. Hoping to wrap up the shopping experience real soon and then I’ll be inviting all of you over for some outdoor dining. Be watching your mail for that invitation.
I have some updated information on what has been the most interesting road project of the year thus far. It’s the mysterious effort involving the stretch of I-435 from I-29 to the Kansas state line. Remember this is the project we kept doing news updates on when MoDOT would announce a starting date, then fail to meet that starting date and announce a new one. This scheduling merry-go-round was rinse and repeat seven or eight times. Finally, one recent day they moved the equipment in. A few days later they showed up to use that equipment. They found time to lay new asphalt on the exits and onramps to I-435 to I-29. Then suddenly everything stopped. And the machinery disappeared.
What gives now? I reached out to a couple of members of the MoDOT communications team and got a response from Lairyn McGregor, senior communications specialist for MoDOT’s Kansas City district.
McGregor blames all the earlier seven or eight delays on weather, which is interesting but I guess I’ll buy it. Maybe some weather events were especially localized over MoDOT headquarters.
As for the recent start then mysterious sudden stop, McGregor says MoDOT “chose to send this paving crew to the Missouri Hwy. 45 resurfacing project, as there were some areas of pavement there that needed more immediate repairs.” She said the contractor “will return within approximately the next month or two to complete the work along I-435.”
Well, the secret is out. We have a bleeder. New Platte County Presiding Commissioner Scott Fricker has very thin skin, a short temper and a tendency for tantrums. Think Nan Johnston without the skirt, the crocodile tears and the Mike’s Hard Lemonade.
Don’t be afraid of a Fricker firestorm or allow yourself to be bullied. I got you. I’m here to lean into it. I have a limited but very particular set of skills. My wife says I have an uncanny ability to tap dance on a person’s last nerve. I don’t know how she knows this. I thanked her for the compliment. She said it wasn’t meant to be one.
Fricker has been quick to anger several times already in his four months in office. It’s a bit odd because during eight years in office Fricker’s predecessor–Ron Schieber–got short or a bit testy a few times but rarely, if ever, lost his cool. At his final meeting in office, Schieber even thanked the press for helping to keep him grounded, so to speak. Unless he’ll be getting a level-headed mentor fairly soon, it’s hard to envision similar words ever coming from Fricker.
Up till now Fricker’s thin skin and short fuse haven’t gotten any play in this column space because, hey, he’s new at this public figure game and I wanted to give the guy a chance to develop the emotional maturity necessary for elective office. That’s my compassionate side getting the best of me. I’m a softie like that. Media groupies dig that kind of stuff. I mean, there aren’t really any media groupies but if there were I’m sure they’d dig it.
Anyway, in his first few months in office I’ve been cutting Fricker some slack without him even realizing I was cutting him some slack. But the growth in emotional maturity seems to have flatlined. Actually it never got off the ground. If Fricker’s tendency to get easily butthurt is news to you it’s probably because you haven’t yet openly disagreed with him. Once you do, chances are good you’ll see it. Clip and save this column.
Fricker had a mini meltdown on social media over the weekend. I’d give it a C. If he wants to reach Nan Johnston’s level he’ll need to start throwing in some profanity. Go to his Facebook page at Scott Fricker Platte County Commissioner and check it out. He seems perplexed that local “low information” media types are “ranting and raving” so often about Platte County jail stuff. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and suggest the local media (Landmark and Weston Chronicle) is talking about the topic and offering opinions on it because, you know, the county commission has talked about the jail and boogeymen for about three months straight. I mean if the county commission wasn’t focused on it the media wouldn’t be focused on it. That’s kind of how this works.
I guess we could kiss Fricker’s butt or permanently attach our lips to the sheriff’s backside the way the presiding commissioner has, but brown-nosing without asking hard questions or presenting alternative thought is not doing your job. When the media is doing its best work for the public it means commissioners, sheriffs, prosecutors, judges, criminals, beekeepers, horse jockeys, wedding planners, tattoo artists, rodeo clowns, casino owners, bank examiners, maternity caregivers, essential oil dealers, mobile chefs and supermodels all get scrutiny and questions.
The presiding commissioner also posted some graphs and whatnot and said something to the effect that bad guys are running free on the mean streets of Platte County committing misdemeanors as well as felonies. Scary stuff. I’m currently hiding under my desk and I’m afraid to leave the house at night.
At least I think that’s what he said. Frankly I didn’t read it that closely because I’m low-information and the rookie presiding commissioner is much more intelligent than the rest of us and he’s really skilled at calmly and coolly dealing with so many tough, tough decisions that have to be made in the county commission’s non-existent office space.
I do remember in one of Fricker’s graphs I saw an arrow pointing upward. I couldn’t tell if he was predicting jail population or tracking his blood pressure.
Speaking of the sheriff, I noticed he shared the presiding commissioner’s woe-is-me post about media coverage and longing for a big jail on his personal Facebook page. I have no problem with that, of course, it’s Mark Owen’s personal Facebook page and this is America where we all have the right to share whatever we choose. I’m happy he shared it.
It’s interesting that on his personal Facebook page the sheriff hasn’t shared any stories of his jail mistakenly releasing an alleged cop shooter and the continued search for the suspect, which now includes a $10,000 reward offer for information leading to the man’s capture.
Lobbying for a bigger jail and complaining about media coverage? Worth a share. Suspect in attempted capital murder case accidentally released and on the loose? Not worth a share.
Alrighty then. Interesting priorities.
(Find Foley wherever interesting stuff may or may not be happening)