Sunday, June 28, 2015

RAYTOWN'S LEADING NEWS SOURCE

 
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BY GREG WALTERS
Do You Ever Wonder?
Paul and I were having a chat the other day and we wondered about how some things have changed. Yes, some things remain stubbornly unchanged at Raytown City Hall. We came to the conclusion that patience may be a virtue on most matters. But when it comes to the City of Raytown, it can be very frustrating to find examples of real change.

We made a short list of what we found since last April’s city election in which all but one elected member of those seats up for election were replaced by a new Mayor and Aldermen.

SUPER SPLASH USA: Raytown’s aging water park, has cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep open. Many former patrons of Super Splash consider it to be an unsafe place to go. Raytown no longer has the large numbers of teens and pre-teens who made up most of its clientele during its heyday in the 1980’s. Factor in competition from other facilities like the Holiday Inn at the Sports Complex, the Lee’s Summit water park and even a beach at Longview Lake, and you realize the market place has shrunk to the point of not being viable.

The only upbeat message on the bailout is that the Board refused City Administrator Mahesh Sharma’s plan to fund it with dollars from the City’s street light program.

STREET LIGHTS: The city is nine months into the budget year and has yet to install new streetlights budgeted in the 2014/2015 budget. We know for certain the money is in the budget. Otherwise, Mahesh Sharma would not have suggested transferring money from street lights in order to make unfunded repairs to the economic black hole known as Super Splash USA.

I sent an email out to the Mayor and four of the Board of Aldermen on June 23rd asking for a list of the locations of the new street lights in Raytown. To their credit, Aldermen Jason Greene and Mayor Michael McDonough replied to our inquiry. Both said they would get back to me. The amount Sharma asked to move to pay for Super Splash was $50,000. That would buy a lot of lights which are very much needed in Raytown’s neighborhoods.

STREET OVERLAY: Normally by this time in the year the city has taken bids and placed orders for planned street overlay improvements. It will be interesting to see if the city continues with the hugely unpopular tar and gravel scheme of street repair that is proving to be former Mayor David Bower’s legacy. The streets that were originally targeted for light aggregate seal have shown a marked amount of wear and tear not found with more traditional street improvements using asphalt.

WALMART DEBT: Shortly after last April’s election Ward 2 Alderman Jason Greene publicly asked at a regular session of the Board of Aldermen for a report on the anticipated debt to be paid by the City of Raytown to fund the TIF bonds used to build the Walmart Store on 350 Highway. To our knowledge, his request has not been answered. It is an important question. The payment of TIF bonds cannot be ignored. The agreement with the bondholders specifically holds the City of Raytown liable for the debt if sales tax revenues from the Walmart Store do not meet the required amount revenue to pay them.

This is one question that should be answered and not ignored.



BY PAUL LIVIUS
Paul’s Rant!
Last Week I wrote the following about the broadcasting of meetings from Raytown City Hall.

“The first 15 minutes had lousy audio due to a “technical difficulty”.  It’s time for the guy monitoring the meeting to get out of his P.J.s and go into the office and do this.  Off site monitoring is not working.

The video is not good.  If you watch the meeting using the 1/4 screen video, it’s almost ok to see (if you squint).  If you make it a full screen video, it is so grainy you can’t make anything out.  What happened to all the fancy, expensive equipment they bought?

I don’t know who is ultimately responsible for making things work at City Hall. But whoever is in charge of rebroadcasting the meetings has dropped the ball big time. The result is a black eye on the city’s reputation to the point it makes a person question their competence. Either that or they simply do not care.”

So you can imagine my surprise when I read articles in the Raytown Times and the Raytown Brooking Eagle about all the fancy upgrades to the re-broadcasting of City Council meetings.

Not as surprising was that the two articles were almost word for word in each newspaper. What does it mean? It means Raytown’s traditional paper news media has fallen into the trap of blindly printing press releases from Raytown City Hall.

This is not a new practice at for the Raytown Times. It has been very clear for quite some time his paper often runs news articles written by someone at City Hall. My favorite was the story about how successful the light aggregate seal used by the City to repair streets. Apparently the writer who penned that story does not live in Raytown. Otherwise they would see where snowplows have effectively gouged away the  surface and the uneven areas where the sealant was used in a failed attempt to repair cracks and potholes in streets.

But, as Mark Twain once wrote, “I digress”.

This rant is about newspapers taking the easy way out and just copying down what is handed them.

Press releases have a place in the news business. But a lot of what comes out of Raytown City Hall is not as much “news” as it is cheer leading and, even worse, arguing a controversial position on behalf of those who run city hall.

This was especially rampant during the Bower Administration.

I hope the new administration does not fall into the same trap. A public document released to the press to a public event is the proper use of a press release. But when taxpayer money is used to pay someone to write an argument on a divisive issue, be it a controversial zoning application, a method of street repair, or the prioritization of services, then it belongs on the editorial page. Not on the front page. The press release should also be signed or identified as to its source. The reader has a right to know whose pen wrote the story.



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Sunday, June 21, 2015

RAYTOWN'S LEADING NEWS SOURCE

 
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BY GREG WALTERS
A Note to Our Readers

Most readers know that Paul Livius uses re-broadcast of City Council meetings to transcribe his bi-weekly reports. I think Paul does one heck of a job. His is the only version of public meetings at City Hall that is completely accurate, easy to read and understand. Anyone who questions that point should go to the city’s website and try to make sense out of the minutes the city is required to keep on record by State Law.

That is not to say the effort is not without its frustrations. Paul’s Retort pretty much says the rest. If you or anyone reading this column agrees, we ask that you contact one of your Aldermen or the Mayor and ask them to please get their act together on the broadcasting of public meetings.

Check out the last story in Paul's Report this week. There is an interesting debate going on at City Hall about City Property Code Enforcement. You may want to chime in with your two cents worth on this week's blog.

Paul’s Rant BY PAUL LIVIUS
The City of Raytown was the first city within the Kansas City metropolitan area to broadcast its city council meetings on the public airways in 1982. The deal to make this happen when two very young Aldermen, Greg Walters from Ward 1 and Garth Bare, from Ward 2, proposed that an exclusive franchise agreement with a Jones Intercable be approved contingent upon Jones Intercable providing community access to the cable service.

Much to the two young Aldermen’s surprise, the cable giant threw into the mix a donation of state of the art equipment so the city could broadcast in real time public meetings at City Hall.

The city aggressively took advantage of the program. Not only were city council meetings broadcast, but so were all committee meetings and other public meetings of interest.

Technologies change and the number of sources for the  public to choose and receive broadcast television has literally exploded.

The City of Raytown has taken advantage of the ability to re-broadcast city council meetings on the internet via YouTube. It is a good plan and makes sense. It costs the city nothing to use the free service of You Tube. And it expands the ability of people to watch meetings from the comfort of their home at a time of their choosing.

The City has been broadcasting meetings since 1982. So why do the rebroadcasts look like someone put The Three Stooges in charge ?

Last Tuesday’s meeting is a good example.

The first 15 minutes had lousy audio due to a “technical difficulty”.  It’s time for the guy monitoring the meeting to get out of his P.J.s and go into the office and do this.  Off site monitoring is not working.

The video is not good.  If you watch the meeting using the 1/4 screen video, it’s almost ok to see (if you squint).  If you make it a full screen video, it is so grainy you can’t make anything out.  What happened to all the fancy, expensive equipment they bought?

I don’t know who is ultimately responsible for making things work at City Hall. But whoever is in charge of rebroadcasting the meetings has dropped the ball big time. The result is a black eye on the city’s reputation to the point it makes a person question their competence. Either that  or they simply do not care.

Either way, the Mayor and Board of Aldermen have a responsibility to make things work right at city hall. For something the city has been doing for the past 35 years, you would think they would start getting it right!

The Paul Livius Report
Raytown Board of Aldermen Meeting – June 16, 2015
Mayor McDonough said the Raytown Amateur Radio Club was founded by John Brown in 1985 at the request of the Raytown Police Department.  The Raytown Amateur Radio Club, KOGQ, will participate with other ham radio operators worldwide on June 27, 2015 by setting up their equipment for a 24 hour emergency drill field day to test radios and the skills of their operation.   The Raytown Amateur Radio Club operators provide emergency communication capabilities in times of disaster, both natural and man-made.  The Raytown Amateur Radio Club does a field day every year and has set up behind the Raytown City Hall for the past 24 years, and the Department of Homeland Defense has recognized this as a Homeland Defense Emergency Exercise.  The mayor named June 27, 2015 as Amateur Radio Day in the City of Raytown.


Alderman Steve Meyers made a motion and the Board approved the motion to move the agenda items pertaining to the public hearings to the beginning of the regular agenda.  He apologized to the members of the audience who had to wait until 9:30 two weeks ago.  He said people who had business before the Board should not have to wait until the end of the meeting.

NEW QUIK TRIP COMING TO 350 HIGHWAY: The Board passed an ordinance granting approval of the site plan for a convenience store on land located at 9323 East Highway 350 in agreement with the provisions of the zoning regulations.  John Benson said Triple M Enterprises, doing business as QuikTrip, is seeking approval of the Site Plan for a new convenience store at 9323 Highway 350 that will replace the existing QuikTrip store. The project proposes demolition of the existing QuikTrip store and gas canopy as well as demolition of existing buildings on adjacent properties to the east and southeast of the existing QuikTrip property.

The following are proposed to be constructed as part of this redevelopment project:

• New convenience store building;

• New gas pumps islands and canopy;

• New entrance / exit drives on Highway 350 and on Maple Avenue including removal and relocation of the existing driveway entrance on Maple Avenue near the intersection of Maple Avenue and Highway 350

• Storm water detention facility constructed to meet pre-development storm water runoff standards

• Five foot wide sidewalks along that portion of Maple Avenue abutting the project.

The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has reviewed the proposed redevelopment plans for this property and has approved the driveway locations on Highway 350. The applicant is not being required to construct or extend the bicycle-pedestrian trail along Highway 350 as the grant obtained by the City will provide the funding for the construction of the trail along this portion of Highway 350. This segment of the trail has already been designed by the City and is anticipated to go out to bid this summer. The design for the new trail has been shared with QuikTrip so that the two projects will be coordinated.  Staff from the City and the Raytown Fire Protection District has reviewed the submitted site development plan in accordance with the bulk regulations of the Highway Corridor Commercial (HC) zoning district as well as the site development plan content requirements and the Highway 350 Corridor Design Standards specified in the Raytown Zoning Ordinance. Based upon this review the proposed site development plan has been found to comply with the bulk regulations of the HC zoning district and the site plan content requirements.

SPECIAL USE PERMIT FOR NEW BAKERY: The Board passed an ordinance granting a conditional use permit subject to certain conditions to allow a residential use in the Neighborhood commercial district on property located at 5902 Blue Ridge Boulevard.  John Benson told the Board Wanda Mullins is seeking a conditional use permit application to allow residential use on property located 5902 Blue Ridge Boulevard, which is zoned Neighborhood Commercial (NC). The applicant is seeking the permit as she plans to open a bakery on the first floor of building and wants to live above the bakery on the second floor. The bakery is a permitted use in the NC District. However, the residential use is not a permitted use in the NC District and requires approval of a conditional use permit

The Board passed an ordinance granting a conditional use permit subject to certain conditions to allow a residential use in the Neighborhood commercial district on property located at 10200 E. 63rd Terrace.

John Benson said John Smith is seeking approval of a conditional use permit application to allow a residential use to be located in the Neighborhood Commercial (NC) zoning district.  The property to which this application applies is located at 10200 E. 63rd Terrace.  Mr. Smith operates an office on the property, which is a permitted use in the NC  zoning district, and is seeking approval of the conditional use permit application so that his mother can live in the building as well.  Mr. Smith has a contract with the current owner, Joe Medlin, to purchase the property.  John Benson told the Board the property has a 353 tax abatement and that will stay in place with the sale. 
 

INDOOR SHOOTING RANGE COMING: The Board passed an ordinance granting a conditional use permit subject to certain conditions to allow an indoor shooting range on property located at 8830 Highway 350.  Jim Bloomquist is seeking approval of his conditional use permit application to allow an indoor shooting range on property located at 8830 Highway 350. The applicant leases space from the property owners, Billy and Marilyn Green at this location. The proposed use will be located in an existing building with multiple tenant spaces adjacent to an existing gun and ammunition store Blue Steel Gun & Ammo), which is owned by the applicant. The property is zoned Highway Corridor Commercial (HC) zoning district.



CHAIN OF HOPE TO OPEN DOG KENNEL ON 67TH STREET: The Board passed an ordinance granting a conditional use permit subject to certain conditions to allow an animal kennel on property located at 8814 E. 67th Street.  Susan Jones, President of Chain of Hope, on behalf of Summit Bank of Kansas City is seeking approval of a conditional use permit application to allow Chain of Hope to operate an animal outreach and rescue facility at 8814 E. 67th Street. Their facility will include offices as well as animal kennels for dogs they take in. A day care was previously located on the property but closed several months ago. The subject property is in foreclosure and owned by Summit Bank of Kansas City.
The property is zoned Highway Corridor Commercial (HC). Chain of Hope is seeking this conditional use permit as they want to move from their current location at 8000 Woodson Road, which is on the northwest corner of Woodson Road and westbound Highway 350 to this location which will allow them to own the property while providing them with additional space. They state in their application, however, that the additional space will not result in additional animals than their current location. Rather it will provide improved facilities and space for the animals they care for. There is past due property taxes due for this property which are yet unpaid. The applicant has stated that these taxes, which were not paid by the previous property owner, will be paid at the time the applicant closes on the purchase of the property from Summit Bank of Kansas City. The payment of these past due property taxes is a recommended condition of approval.

CITY CONTINUES JAIL CONTRACT: The Board passed a resolution approving an agreement for inmate security housing services with Johnson County Sheriff’s Office not to exceed $175,000.00.  Chief Jim Lynch said in 2013, the City of Raytown entered into a two-year agreement with the Johnson County Missouri Sheriff’s office to provide inmate housing for the City of Raytown. This year, an invitation to bid was distributed to solicit proposals for inmate housing. Johnson County Missouri Sheriff’s Office and Henry County Sheriff’s Office responded to the bid. Johnson County Missouri was the low-cost and best bid. The cost of housing has increased from $34.50 to $40.00 a day per inmate and a round trip transportation fee of $20.00 was added. The contract will begin on July 1, 2015 and terminate on June 30, 2017.


PROPERTY MAINTENANCE CODE: The Board passed a resolution approving an agreement with Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity for the operation of a minor home repair program in an amount not to exceed $15,000.00. The Agreement proposed would enable the City of Raytown to partner with the Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity to implement a minor home repair program. The implementation of the minor home repair program would provide another ‘tool’ for the Development and Public Affairs Department to use as part of the City’s neighborhood revitalization program. The program would provide assistance to low-moderate income homeowners who are financially unable to correct the following types of property maintenance code violations on their property:

• Exterior Painting

• Roof Repair and Replacement

• Repair Decks and Porches

• Repair Driveways

• Repair and Replace Flashing and Guttering

• Repair and Replace Siding

• Tree Trimming for House Safety

• Yard Cleanup

Total repair costs per house could not exceed $3,000.00. Homeowners needing to make repairs to address City code violations would be informed of the availability of this program by the Development and Public Affairs Department when discussing specific code violations listed above. Homeowners expressing an interest in this program would be referred to staff at Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity who is experienced working with homeowners to meet their needs. Homeowners would only qualify for this program if their annual household income does not exceed 80% of average median income. No repayment would be required by homeowners who have an annual income less than 25% of the average median Income.
Homeowners with a household income of between 25% and 80% of the average median income receiving this assistance will be required to repay the cost of the repairs by making a small monthly payment, which would be collected by the Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity.  Loans would be at 0% interest for a period of up to 7 years. The funds collected would then be placed in a Raytown Minor Home Repair Account for future use in this program or returned to the City upon request.

The proposed program would use volunteers from local churches and other organizations to lower labor costs. A construction supervisor from Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity would manage each project and supervising volunteers.  There is $15,000.00 in the City’s current fiscal year budget for this program. In addition to this funding, Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity has many national sponsors that donate materials as gifts in kind. Examples of this include paint which is donated from Valspar. Other partners include CertainTeed, Dow, Cree, Whirlpool and many others.

Alderman Emerson said this is a good idea to help low or fixed income residents to keep our city looking good.

Alderman Van Buskirk said people being assisted by this program can’t afford to maintain their homes in the first place.  This is like putting a band aid on a gaping wound.  This won’t eliminate the problem.  This means there are people who own property who shouldn’t own that property.  Something else needs to be done.  This is a welfare program fronted by the citizens of Raytown.  This shouldn’t be funded by tax dollars.  If this came from private donations, he would be all for it.  He said he wouldn’t support it if tax dollars are used.

Alderman Jason Greene said welfare does not describe this program.  It creates ownership and community and will help raise property values.

Alderman Steve Meyers said code violations are a big issue in this city.  Now we have a program before the Board to assist with code issues.


Alderman Eric Teeman asked John Benson how much is collected in code violation fines.  Mr. Benson said he didn’t know for sure, but agreed it was probably $15,000 annually.  Alderman Teeman said he thought the fines should be used to fund this program.  Mr. Benson said he would look into it.  He said they would also have to put it into next year’s budget.

Twin Brothers Arrested for Rape
Twin brothers are facing charges in an alleged rape of a woman in an apartment located in Raytown, the Jackson County District Attorney's Office reports.

Mark C. Hill and Matthew J. Hill, both 17-years-old, have been charged with one count of first degree rape or attempted rape. According to court documents, two other men were involved in the assault.

Court documents showed that the 18-year-old victim said she was sexually assaulted by the men in the 9200 block of East 54th Terrace.  "They grabbed her and dragged her by the hair, stripped her and forced her to repeatedly have sexual intercourse over about an hour," a news release said from the Jackson County District Attorney's Office.


Bond has been set at $100,000.



BY JENN
Sesame Chicken Fingers

He shared a guiltless burger recipe with us last month for Memorial Day and today we’re happy to sharing another recipe from celebrity trainer and wellness guru David Kirsch. Full of protein and flavor, these Sesame Chicken Fingers are a healthy play on what is usually a pretty unhealthy appetizer. Make ’em for your next party — or for your dad this Father’s Day! They’re sure to please a crowd, large or small.  READ MORE



KoGQ to Host Annual
Amateur Radio Day
Raytown Amateur Radio Club K0GQ will participate in the National AARL Field Day on Saturday, June 27th.

ARRL Field Day is the most popular on-the-air event held annually in the US and Canada. On the fourth weekend of June, more than 35,000 radio amateurs gather with their clubs, groups or simply with friends to operate from remote locations.

The event will be held behind Raytown City Hall located at 10000 East 59th Street.

Starting 1:00 PM Saturday June 27, 2015

Ending Sunday 1:00 PM Sunday, June 28, 2015

Operating Class 1A, MO

For more information www.k0gq.com

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