Saturday, August 11, 2018

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Election Notes . . .
BY GREG WALTERS
Last Tuesday’s election was one for the record books. Raytowners turned out in higher than usual numbers to participate in the Primary Election.

No doubt, part of the turnout was fueled by many contests for seats on the Jackson County Legislature. The Right to Work issue also drew a large number of voters. This is evidenced by the extremely high number of absentee votes cast in the election. Over 400 absentee votes were counted. The majority of which were in opposition to the three Raytown tax increases.

All of that aside, the local focus was on three controversial tax increase questions brought before the voters by Mayor Michael McDonough and his City Council.

The final vote tally tells the story most accurately. Raytown voters “roared” their disapproval of the three tax proposals. All three of the tax proposals lost by lopsided landslide proportions rarely seen in issue oriented campaigns.

How did this come to pass? At the beginning of the campaign the Mayor and City Council unanimously approved moving forward with the tax increases. Though there was some dissension by some members of the governing body, neither the Mayor or any members of his Board of Aldermen publicly opposed any of the tax proposals. 
  • The Mayor’s committee had crafted the tax proposals.
  • The Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Main Street Association endorsed all the taxes.The City Council had unanimously approved placing the issues on the ballot.
  • All three of the issues had the managerial backing of Raytown Unleashed. A popular Face Book which boasts a membership of over 10,000.
  • The pro tax campaign claimed the support of organized labor. A contention that was disputed throughout the campaign by the opposition.
In other words, this election was city hall's to lose and lose it they did. Here is what they did wrong.

FACEBOOK REACTION: No doubt the Facebook Page Raytown Unleashed did have an effect on the outcome of the election. Reports of people in opposition or even just daring to post questions on the page were frustrated by learning their posts had been removed by the Administrator of the page. Some members were blocked from commenting. The heavy-handed tactics used by Raytown Unleashed administrators seem to have caused a backlash amongst its members.

HARASSMENT OF THE OPPOSITION: One of the first lessons learned in politics is that it is NEVER a good idea to harass the opposition. Consider the following story as told by Henry Carner, Chairman of a Political Action Committee named No New Taxes.

No New Taxes came together to protect taxpayers from excessive taxation and over-reach by governmental bodies in Eastern Jackson County. The group, No New Taxes, successfully defeated similar tax schemes in Blue Springs and Independence.

Carner relayed he received a phone call from Citizens for Progress. The caller told Carner, “I am calling you as a courtesy”. He wanted to know why Carner was involved in a Raytown campaign since he lived in Independence.

After being told three times that he was being called as a “courtesy” Carner had heard enough.

Carner asked if the phone call was being recorded, and being assured it was not, Carner replied, “That’s too bad, because I want you and your friends to understand very clearly what I think of you and your three tax increases.”

Carner explained, “Three tax increases at once is proof your city is mismanaging the people’s money. Those three taxes are unfair, vile and reprehensible.”

This actually backfired on Citizens for Progress. Carner went on to work to raise funds to help pay for a mailer that was against the tax increases.

More accurately stated . . .  It is NEVER a good idea to try to intimidate the opposition.

DOUGHBOYS: Doughboys is a very popular gathering spot for many Raytowners. The award winning Doughnut shop is a jewel in Raytown’s crown. It is a destination for many that actually draws people to our city. Elisa Breitenbach and her husband, Marjain, were told Raytown Unleashed allowed (with their new censorship policy) the publishing of a post on Facebook in which the poster saying they would never go to Doughboys because they opposed the tax increase.

WHISKEY BARREL: Other businesses have been threatened with a boycott for having the incorrect sign in their yard. In fact, the owner of the Whiskey Barrel, Connie Maxwell, was told her business was on a list of those to be boycotted.

This baffled Ms. Maxwell as she, in fact, did not have a sign on her property.

STATE REPRESENTATIVE JEROME BARNES Ward 5 Alderman Bonnaye Mims mailed a letter with screen shots of comments posted on Facebook by Ward 2 Alderman Jason Greene, Ward 4 Alderman Steve Meyers, and City Collector Cathy Schutte condemning State Representative Barnes for not endorsing the three tax increase.

Mims wrote, "Jerome Barnes is my friend. I will not stand by while he is unfairly attacked."

Mims continued, "The days of paying homage to self-proclaimed political bosses are behind us. We will no longer tolerate that kind of politics."

Barnes’ position that he represents everyone in Raytown, not one side or another in a local political fight, demonstrates statesmanship. His response to me when directly asked where he stood was that he would cast his vote in the privacy of the voting booth.

Well said, Mr. Barnes.

RDA AND NO NEW TAXES: Raytown lacks a regular newspaper, so any news source, be it print or electronic, is generally welcomed with open arms. The Raytown Democrat Association (RDA) stepped up to the plate by publishing a ballot in which its members  voted to oppose all three tax increases all three new tax increases.

No New Taxes mailed a city wide brochure explaining the pitfalls of the tax increases. Henry Carner explained, “We decided early on to stick strictly to the tax issue questions and to leave personalities out of the campaign”.

A FINAL WORD: The voters listened to what the politicians at City Hall had to say. Last Tuesday, it was the voters turn to speak. The question now is will the politicians listen?

Calls for boycotts of local businesses by supporters of the three tax increases are counterproductive. Do they not understand? The businesses they want to boycott pay the taxes that keep our city running.

The Board of Aldermen should renounce and condemn these tactics as  counterproductive to Raytown’s future. If they do not, the faith and trust of the voters may very well be the price they pay.

Paul is off on a road trip this week. Look for his Paul Livius Report of next Tuesdays Board of Aldermen meeting next week.


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Sunday, August 5, 2018

RAYTOWN ELECTION RESULTS
100% of the vote counted WINNER IN RED

Question 1: Property Tax Increase
2063     (31.23%)    YES
3670     (68.77%)    NO         

Question 2: Gasoline Tax
2981     (44.82%)    YES
3670     (55.18%)    NO

Question 3: Internet Use Tax
1924     (29.25%)    YES
4564     (70.75%)    NO

BY GREG WALTERS
DEMOCRAT BALLOT
FOR STATE REPRESENTATIVE, DISTRICT 28
Jerome Barnes
Jerome Barnes has demonstrated he can set aside political party differences to work with others for a common goal. His willingness to work with other legislators has earned him the respect of politicians from both sides of the aisle in Jefferson City. He deserves to be re-elected to a second term as Raytown’s legislator in the State’s capitol.

FOR JACKSON COUNTY LEGISLATURE, 2ND DISTRICT AT LARGE
John Burnett
John Burnett is a combat veteran who fought in the defense of Saigon during the TET Offensive of the Vietnam War. He continued that tradition of service when he returned to civilian life. He has a track record spanning two decades of public service. His experience and leadership (outlined below) will be a blessing on the Jackson County Legislature.
1995-1998: Jackson County Legislator
1998-1999: Bi-State Commission
2003-2004: Missouri State Representative
2005-2006: Missouri State Representative
2007-2008: Missouri State Representative
2009-2010: Missouri State Representative
2010-2011: Commissioner Port Authority of Kansas City

FOR JACKSON COUNTY LEGISLATURE, 2ND DISTRICT
Arimeta Dupree
Arimeta Dupree is the youngest candidate running for the Jackson County Legislator. She is a rising star in Jackson County leadership. She told us “Jackson County is my home. I have a stake in our future and I pledge to make Jackson County a premier place to live, raise a family and retire.” Her actions speak clearly to this last point. In 2015, Arimeta opened her private practice law firm, A. Dupree and Associates in Jackson County.

FOR BROOKING TOWNSHIP DEMOCRAT COMMITTEEWOMAN
Bonnaye Mims
Bonnaye Mims has held many positions in her political career. She served as President of the Hickman Mills School District. She also served two terms on the as a member of the Missouri House of Representatives. She is currently serving her first term on the Raytown Board of Aldermen. She will be a welcome addition to the Jackson County Democrat Central Committee. Voters can vote for two candidates for Democrat Committeewoman. It would be a wise to cast one of those votes for Bonnaye Mims.
 Jackson County and will fight for the best interest of the 2nd District.
REPUBLICAN BALLOT
FOR UNITED STATE SENATE
Josh Hawley
The race for the Senate seat on the Republican side of the aisle has 11 candidates filed. The Democrat Primary has a good number of candidates as well. Senator Claire McCaskill should win he primary wihtout much of a fight. The Republican Primary is a mixed group. Of the candidates filed, Missouri State Attorney General Josh Hawley is the best choice as the Republican standard bearer for Missouri in the United States Senate.

RAYTOWN TAX QUESTIONS
Vote  No . . No . . No
QUESTION 1 . . .  more than doubles city property taxes on real estate and personal property owned by homeowners and business owners from 35 cents to $1.00 per $100 valuation.

QUESTION 2 . . . increases the tax on gasoline, diesel and blended fuels by two cents per gallon. The State of Missouri has a 10 cent per gallon tax increase scheduled for the November General Election.

QUESTION 3 . . .  will place a 2.5% “use tax” on all internet purchases made by Raytowners. Voters in area communities (Independence and Blue Springs) turned down this same proposal at the ballot box last April. Raytown voters should do the same on August 7th.


Paul’s Rant BY PAUL LIVIUS
HYPOCRISY 101
This past week a political group calling itself “Citizens for Progress” targeted opponents to tax increases on a Facebook page named Raytown Unleashed. Raytown Unleashed is managed by Independence resident Susan Vorbeck Brown. Brown manages several different social media websites in the Kansas City area.

The stories targeted the Raytown Democrat Association (RDA), No New Taxes and Greg Walters for their opposition to the three controversial tax increases on the August 7th ballot.

RAYTOWN DEMOCRAT ASSOCIATION (RDA): The Raytown Democrat Association is a local political club formed in the 1960’s. It has been active in every election since its founding. Its members voted in a public session to oppose the three taxes supported by Citizens for Progress. The RDA called for a more conservative method of raising funds (bond issues) that would guarantee the integrity of money collected.

Raytown City Hall has a poor track record of keeping its promises to the voters. Opponents to the three tax increases point to a Public Safety Sales Tax and a Park/Storm Sewer sales tax that were not used as promised when placed before the voters.

NO NEW TAXES: No New Taxes is a Political Action Committee that has been active in Eastern Jackson County campaigns. Last April, the group opposed two Use Tax proposals in Independence and Blue Springs. In both cities, the Use Tax proposals were soundly rejected by the voters.

Spokesman for No New Taxes, Henry Carner, told the Raytown Report the organization was formed to protect taxpayers from unnecessary and excessive tax increases. “So far”, Mr Carner said, “We have a pretty good record. We stick to the issues on the ballot. We do not participate in personal attacks against the opposition”.

He added “The glaring issue here is three new tax increases on the same ballot proves something is wrong that cannot be solved by voting in new taxes”

Carner is not a stranger to the political process. Last April he was elected to the Metropolitan Community College of Kansas City (MCC), Board of Trustees.  MCC has five junior college campuses on the Missouri side of the metropolitan area.

GREG WALTERS is a former Raytown Alderman who served on the Board for 34 years. He is the owner/publisher of the Raytown Report. Walters blames Raytown’s financial problem on the 350 Live TIF created to underwrite what is commonly known as Walmart on 350 Highway.

He said, “The Walmart economic engine in Raytown is so large it can easily swallow up 25% of the sales tax revenue of the City”.

When the Walmart deal was created nearly 20 years ago, Walters was the only member of the Board to vote against the creation of the TIF.


FOLLOW THE MONEY: In the battle of the checkbooks Citizens for Progress has raised $3,673.99 according to a Report Summary from the Missouri Ethics Commission. No New Taxes has spent $1,332.77 in its effort to get its message out to the public.

HYPROCRISY 101: In an op-ed piece published by Citizens for Progress on the Raytown Unleashed Facebook page co-signed by Citizens for Progress (Treasurer and Secretary Treasurer) Brian Morris and Michael Anderson, much is made of Henry Carner making his home in Independence. Ironic as it may be, the page they publish on is owned and operated by Susan Vorbeck Brown, who, like Carner, lives Independence, Missouri. Brown is recognized as a lead spokesperson in support of the tax increases.

The Last Word BY TONY JACOB
As the time for voting approaches there is still so much mistruth being spread. It makes me nervous thinking the Board is responsible for the budget, and yet for years has gone more than a million dollars over budget each year. This isn’t because we didn’t have money, I feel it was because they can’t add. An example of this is trumpeted by the ProTax members that continue to spout out artificially lowered numbers. If we take a look at what our Elected officials will pay as an example (some hide in Trust and family names), we find the average Q1 increase per Alderman is: Ward 1 $184, Ward 2 $242.50, Ward 3 $166, Ward 4 $280, Ward 5 $166. The Mayor has an estimated property tax increase of $254. This is way more than the $10 a month promised. Another concerning thing is the list of residents endorsing the taxes. Some of these people want higher taxes; however, they are currently behind on their taxes, including some Aldermen.

From what I’ve heard talking to residents the wording seems purposefully confusing. All 10 of the pro-tax people say “The wording is State generated.” If this is true why is Lake Lotawana’s question to raise their tax from $0.79 to $1.00 only 26 words and Raytown’s to raise from 35 cents to $1.00 twice that (52)? Triple the raise and twice the words. The fact is the city wants to hide how high the raise is, they want to hide that we will have the highest (with STL County) total taxes in the state, and we will have the highest non-sunset tax allowed by state law.

Question 3 has been widely misunderstood as well. It is interesting to note who is targeted and why. Last year during the budget discussions the Associated Press picked up a story that ran in the national headlines. Alderman Teeman asked the PD if Walmart was a public nuisance, and if they were a drain on city resources. Both, the chief and a Major seemed to indicate there was an issue. Fast forward a couple months and after a secret meeting between Walmart officials and the city and a new tax idea called the “Amazon tax” came to the Board. Amazon already collects tax so that’s an intentional misnomer or Freudian slip. Unfortunately, this isn’t going to affect just the target. This tax is written such that any purchase or storage or use that has not had sales tax attached must now have 2.5 percent use tax attached. This would include garage sales, lemonade stands, and private party purchases.

There is so much to talk about and so many examples of unintended consequences, but we need look no further than the last few months. The tariff raise caused the Feds to have to give away billions in subsides to compensate. The effects of the raises on Commercial properties is double what it is on residents. This will force small business to close, apartments to be vacated, and it to be impossible to attract new businesses.

Last budget I worked hard and showed many areas that could be improved and some were, this year some of those are still on the list, and others are added, these are just ideas and just a start. These are real world solutions that have been shown to work in other areas. The proTax campo has zero plan moving forward, they don’t know how the money will be used, and neither do we.

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Sunday, July 29, 2018


BY PAUL LIVIUS

Paul’s Rant!
ELECTION NOTES
Greg and I have worked hard at keeping to the facts of the issues before the voters this election cycle. We believe we have done so. The following will bring you up-to-date on news concerning the upcoming election.

A GAS WAR ON 40 HIGHWAY is said to be affecting how much gasoline is being pumped at Raytown filling stations. Gasoline stations located at Sterling and 40 Highway have been selling gasoline at 10 cents under Raytown prices. Filling stations, particularly on the north side of Raytown are feeling the pinch.
 
So much for the argument that people will not drive an extra mile or two for cheaper gasoline.
 
SCARE TACTICS: The Yes Campaign in favor of raising three taxes in Raytown has been telling anyone who will listen that if the three taxes do not pass . . . city employees will lose their jobs.
 
It is well known City Hall has steadfastly refused to say how any new tax revenue will be spent. It is equally known the Mayor and some on the Board of Aldermen want to plow most of the money into the police department.
 
The only detail we have heard from City Hall is what will happen if the tax does not pass! And that detail, apparently being repeated at doorsteps throughout Raytown is a threat to employees of their job security.
 
Shame on them. It is dirty politics to lace campaign rhetoric with threats in an effort to intimidate voters.
 
STATE REPRESENTATIVE JEROME BARNES received similar treatment from three members of the Raytown Board of Aldermen. Ward 2 Alderman Jason Greene, Ward 4 Alderman Steve Meyers, and City Collector Cathy Schutte, took Barnes to task for not joining in on the tax increase campaign.
 
Barnes was smart not to fall for their taunts. His job is to work for legislation on the state level for Raytown. Choosing sides in this fight would be counter-productive to that goal.
 
For those who are curious, the following screen shots tell the story.







2.5% INTERNET USE FEE QUESTIONED:  At a recent meeting between the Mayor and the Raytown Fire Protection District the Mayor was asked how people were supposed to report their internet purchases.
 
The Mayor said internet purchases were to be self-reported. This caused a chuckle from some of the Fire District personnel at the meeting. The Mayor did not elaborate as to who the self-reporting would go to. Should internet users address their “self reporting” to whom it may concern at Raytown City Hall?
 
Opponents to the tax are quick to point out that if caught not “self-reporting” purchases, anyone buying on the internet could, by the language in the ballot, be prosecuted for not “self-reporting”.
 
A Word to the Wise . . . It would be in your best interest to carefully read the ballot language on ALL three of the tax proposals before you cast your vote on August 7th.



BY GREG WALTERS AND PAUL LIVIUS
Primary Election
Choices
August 7th is Primary Election Day in Missouri. Voters will winnow the field of contenders running to be chosen the candidate in the November General Election. Also on the ballot are three controversial tax increases for Raytown voters to decide.

Our choices are below. You will note we have not endorsed in all races. The candidates we have chosen to publicly support have impressed us with their campaigns and have a good grasp of the issues facing Raytown voters.

We have previously made our endorsement on the three Raytown tax questions before the voters as well.

So, no matter which party ballot you are choosing, or, if you are choosing an “issues only” ballot, please remember to vote next Tuesday.

DEMOCRAT BALLOT

FOR STATE REPRESENTATIVE, DISTRICT 28
Jerome Barnes
Jerome Barnes has demonstrated he can set aside political party differences to work with others for a common goal. His willingness to work with other legislators has earned him the respect of politicians from both sides of the aisle in Jefferson City. He deserves to be re-elected to a second term as Raytown’s legislator in the State’s capitol.

FOR JACKSON COUNTY LEGISLATURE, 2ND DISTRICT AT LARGE
John Burnett
John Burnett is a combat veteran who fought in the defense of Saigon during the TET Offensive of the Vietnam War. He continued that tradition of service when he returned to civilian life. He has a track record spanning two decades of public service. His experience and leadership (outlined below) will be a blessing on the Jackson County Legislature.
1995-1998: Jackson County Legislator
1998-1999: Bi-State Commission
2003-2004: Missouri State Representative
2005-2006: Missouri State Representative
2007-2008: Missouri State Representative
2009-2010: Missouri State Representative
2010-2011: Commissioner Port Authority of Kansas City

FOR JACKSON COUNTY LEGISLATURE, 2ND DISTRICT
Arimeta Dupree
Arimeta Dupree is the youngest candidate running for the Jackson County Legislator. She is a rising star in Jackson County leadership. She told us “Jackson County is my home. I have a stake in our future and I pledge to make Jackson County a premier place to live, raise a family and retire.” Her actions speak clearly to this last point. In 2015, Arimeta opened her private practice law firm, A. Dupree and Associates in Jackson County.

FOR BROOKING TOWNSHIP DEMOCRAT COMMITTEEWOMAN
Bonnaye Mims
Bonnaye Mims has held many positions in her political career. She served as President of the Hickman Mills School District. She also served two terms on the as a member of the Missouri House of Representatives. She is currently serving her first term on the Raytown Board of Aldermen. She will be a welcome addition to the Jackson County Democrat Central Committee. Voters can vote for two candidates for Democrat Committeewoman. It would be a wise to cast one of those votes for Bonnaye Mims.
 Jackson County and will fight for the best interest of the 2nd District.
REPUBLICAN BALLOT
FOR UNITED STATE SENATE
Josh Hawley
The race for the Senate seat on the Republican side of the aisle has 11 candidates filed. The Democrat Primary has a good number of candidates as well. Senator Claire McCaskill should win he primary wihtout much of a fight. The Republican Primary is a mixed group. Of the candidates filed, Missouri State Attorney General Josh Hawley is the best choice as the Republican standard bearer for Missouri in the United States Senate.

RAYTOWN TAX QUESTIONS
r Vote  No . . No . . No

QUESTION 1 . . .  more than doubles city property taxes on real estate and personal property owned by homeowners and business owners from 35 cents to $1.00 per $100 valuation.

QUESTION 2 . . . increases the tax on gasoline, diesel and blended fuels by two cents per gallon. The State of Missouri has a 10 cent per gallon tax increase scheduled for the November General Election.

QUESTION 3 . . .  will place a 2.5% “use tax” on all internet purchases made by Raytowners. Voters in area communities (Independence and Blue Springs) turned down this same proposal at the ballot box last April. Raytown voters should do the same on August 7th.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Paul’s Rant BY PAUL LIVIUS
Will a history of broken promises haunt Raytown City Hall on August 7th?

Given the city’s track record of broken promises on tax increases, it may very well happen.

Voters have long memories. Raytown voters are not an exception. One only has to look back a couple of years to recall promises made by City Hall that turned out to be false promises.

PUBLIC SAFETY SALES TAX: Raytown voters were promised a Public Safety Sales Tax would hire additional patrol officers. Proceeds from the sales tax were also promised to guarantee solid financial footing for the Raytown Ambulance Service.

Both promises have turned out to be true. Promised positions within the police department were never filled. In fact, just the opposite happened. Once the tax was passed, the Board approved a city budget that stripped funding from positions within the police department.

BAIT AND SWITCH: Many have wondered if this “bait and switch” scheme is in play with the Gasoline Sales Tax on the August 7th ballot.

Here is how it would work. Once the gasoline tax, which is supposed to be dedicated toward street repair, is approved, regular funding for street repair would be cut from the city’s budget. The result would mean no real gain in money being spent on street repair.

Critics of City Hall are quick to remind listeners, “they did it before . . . they will do it again.”

PARK/STORM SEWER SALES TAX FIASCO: In 2010 Raytown voters were promised a “split” of sales tax revenue between Raytown Parks and Storm Sewer repair in Raytown. In reality, the Park Department received 100% of the funding for nearly six years. The Board finally did address the situation with a “split” of 70% for Parks and 30% for storm sewer projects.

AMBULANCE FUNDING: The Public Safety Sales Tax was also supposed to be used put ambulance service on a solid footing. If that is the case, why has the city been shopping for a vendor to take over the ambulance service?

Sources within the Raytown Fire Department have confirmed they have been approached to consider taking over the Raytown Ambulance Service. It has also been confirmed that similar discussions have been held with at least two other private ambulance services as well.

17 DAYS . . . 
ELECTION OVERVIEW BY GREG WALTERS
Seventeen days. That is how many days are left until the August 7th Primary Election.

This election has a little something for everyone. Nationally, Missouri is in the spotlight because of what appears to be a November Election already being played out between Senator Claire McCaskill and Attorney General Josh Hawley. Watch for this contest to heat up to a fever pitch as November comes near. It will be one of the most closely watched races on the national scene.

The state wide vote on a Right to Work Amendment is expected to increase voter participation within Missouri.

Locally, the spotlight is being captured by a set of three poorly timed tax increase questions coming before the voters in Raytown.

The “yes” campaign appears to be a disorganized mess of hefty tax increases designed to hit Raytowners with a three punch knockout.

QUESTION 1 asks voters to more than double city portion of the property tax on homes and personal property (cars, RV’s, motorcycles, etc.).

QUESTION 2 asks voters for a two cent per gallon gasoline tax.

QUESTION 3 asks voters to approve a 2.5% use tax on all internet sales.

IMPACT OF THREE TAX INCREASES at one time has also raised concern of how will affect those on fixed incomes. It is unusual to see a city propose three tax increases in one election. The impact of all three will hurt those on fixed incomes because two of the increases are on items most people have to pay.

The real estate and personal property tax increases affect anyone who owns their home or a car.

The same can be said about the gasoline tax, unless you are driving an electric powered vehicle, you will pay the tax. The 10 cent a gallon tax gasoline tax on the November ballot has also placed a dampening effect on support of the tax hike.

The 2.5% internet sales tax, which was defeated last April in both Independence and Blue Springs by wide margins, also place an additional tax lug internet shoppers will have to face.

CONFUSING BALLOT LANGUAGE: The ballot language on all three Raytown tax questions is long and confusing. Voters are advised to carefully read the ballot language when they go to cast their votes.

Primary Election Day is Tuesday, August 7th. Polls open at 6:00 a.m. and close at 7:00 p.m. Whether you support or oppose the taxes is your private business. Let your voice be heard. Please remember to vote.