Sunday, September 28, 2014


To leave a comment use this link POST A COMMENT

Brewer and Shipley
Brewer and 
Shipley Concert
 An estimated 1,500 Raytowner’s turned out for the annual Raytown Arts and Music Festival held at Kenagy Park this past Saturday. Headlining the free concert was the American folk rock duo, Brewer and  Shipley.

Originally from the Raytown area, Mike Brewer and Tom Shipley entertained the crowd by reminiscing about memories of Raytown while entertaining with songs that put them on the national stage from the 1960’s and 1970’s. Included in their performance were many of their popular hits like “One Toke Over the Line”, “Tarkio Road” and “Shake Off the Demon”.

The Raytown Arts and Music Festival also highlighted works by local artists who sold art in a vendor area surrounding the concert venue.

Greg's Ramblings
Paul is off this week. So, in place of his “Paul’s Rant” column I thought I would share a couple of photos from my recent trip to Paso Robles, California and, of course share my insight into what is happening on the local political scene.

First the trip.

Paso Robles is located about 30 miles west of the Central Coast of California, roughly halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The area is currently suffering from a three year drought, which, strangely enough, has been somewhat of a boon to the local industry, which is producing grapes for wine.

Stressed grapes make for a better wine. The soil, which is less than perfect for the crops we grow here in the Midwest, the hot weather – temperatures in the 100+ degree range and the drought make for a mixed curse and blessing. The result is excellent grapes for wine.

Just as interesting is the unique nature that is Central California – as is evidenced by the following pictures: 

The locals call it a fish boil. Seismic activity in the Pacific causes water temperatures to rise at the bottom of the ocean. Schools of fish swim to the top of the water for cooler temperatures. Flocks of birds feast on the fish as they reach the top. Sea Gulls and Pelicans make up most of what you see in the picture.

The Hearst Castle, home to Randolph Hearst took over twenty years to build. The newspaper mogul entertained  news makers of the day to visit his estate. Over dinner he would pair liberals across from conservatives to hear the different viewpoints on issues of the day. He would then retire for the evening to create his political commentary for the next day's newspapers. In case you were wondering, Patty Hearst still frequents the Castle, as do many members of the family, and live in the residence section of the estate. One of three swimming pools (the other two are outdoor pools) is pictured above.

Rolling hills with stands of Oak Trees are typical between the Coast and Paso Robles. Three years of drought -- with temperatures frequently over 100 degrees inland (60's and 70's along the coast) have left the landscape arid and dry. Extremely low humidity makes the high temperatures feel almost comfortable by Midwest standards.

Greg’s Rant (with apologies to Paul Livius)
Paul has taken a well deserved break this week so it falls to me to throw in my two cents worth on local issues.

The hot topic in town is undoubtedly the non-anouncement of a Walmart Grocery Store planned for the old Sav A Lot location behind Wendy’s at 63rd and Raytown Trafficway.

City Hall has been mum on what is going on, but our sources are certain what is whispered about now will become reality in the near future.

What I find so interesting is some of the commentary from other news sources. One local writer (Rand Battagler) wrote “it’s probably just a rumor started to rile up the city.”  He went on to say “someone let the cat out of the bag prematurely.”

Riling up city hall? Letting the cat out of the bag? A gunman at the top of a grassy knoll?

Sounds like conspiracy theory stuff, doesn’t it?

I don’t think many people will have trouble with a Walmart Store at the 63rd and Raytown Trafficway location. The zoning is proper. It will fill a space that has been vacant for far too long. It will help the local economy. Most importantly, it will leave the door open to develop the Green Space in Downtown Raytown with something along the lines of what city planners have been working towards.

The only problem (and this is yet to be seen) would be if the Board of Aldermen and Mayor go crazy giving out tax incentives to make this happen.

Let’s hope they do not choose that path.

How to Eat 
Healthy on a Budget
Trying to eat healthy on a budget? Who isn’t these days, right? I mean, as much as we do love Whole Foods (oh, the free cheese samples!), the ol’ “Whole Paycheck” joke is kinda right on (as is this funny video). And healthy eating does have a rep for being pricey. But don’t let that be a reason to reach for the cheaper processed foods or hit the drive-thru. If you’re smart about it, you can totally eat healthy on a budget. And maybe — even quite likely — save money on choosing the healthy stuff versus the less-than-healthy stuff. READ MORE

To leave a comment use this link POST A COMMENT

Sunday, September 21, 2014


To leave a comment use this link POST A COMMENT

I have been gone for the last week and a half on an extended business trip to Paso Robles, California. My thanks to Paul for the excellent articles he wrote in my absence.

During my absence I came under attack from a fellow  Raytown scribe, Bob Phillips. Bob writes for Randy Battagler, owner of the Raytown Times. He lives somewhere down in the Ozarks.  Randy has to fill his paper with something, so he has Bob knock out a column called “Off the Top”. 

It would be accurate to call the bob and Randy Show kind of a “good cop, bad cop” routine. Randy, who lives in Raytown, typically takes the part of the “good cop”. Bob, who lives about three hours south of Raytown takes the role of the “bad cop”.
In his column Bob waxed rhetoric of the evils of the Charter. Then, he threw away all inhibitions and wrote whatever popped into his head – without attention to facts or detail. 

The following are a few of the misrepresentations Bob penned.

Bob wrote that “for over 25 years” (Greg Walters) has been trying to create a law that required city department heads to live within the city limits of Raytown. 

FACT IS . . . up until 1998 ALL of the city’s department heads were required to live within city limits. In the 2005 Charter there was a provision requiring city department heads to live within city limits. That was only nine years ago. The falseness of his “over  25 years” statement is self-evident.

LESSON FOR BOB:  Check your facts before you shoot from the hip. You have only embarrassed yourself by being grossly inaccurate and deceptive in your writing.

Bob also stated he “reviews the minutes of the charter commission meetings in addition to the information Randy sends . . .”

FACT IS . . . The Charter Committee meeting minutes that Bob allegedly based his story only contain motions, seconds and vote totals. I do not know what information “Randy sends” but I suspect that it is not to supportive of the Charter because Randy has done nothing but complain about the Commission since it was formed. 

LESSON FOR BOB: I would suggest you review the video record of the meetings. They are posted on You Tube. You can use the following link to view the record. That way you can make an informed decision before you write.

Bob wrote the Charter Commission’s endorsement of a requirement for the City Administrator to reside within the city was the “start of a rift within the Commission”.

FACT IS: The vote was 10 to 2. That really does not sound very divisive. An 80% positive vote total does not indicate a “rift” of any kind. It indicates a rare example of a near unanimous decision on a difficult decision by the Charter Commission. By the comments given at the meeting by Commissioners, it is fair to say they feel  very strongly they have taken the right path in this decision. 

LESSON FOR BOB: Maybe some remedial rudimentary math is in order. If he is counting Ward 2 Alderman Jim Aziere’s negative comments on the Charter, he should remember this. Mr. Aziere has a track record of opposing recommendations of Commissions he sits on. Remember the 2005 Charter effort? Jim was one of two members who came out against that effort as well. Do you see the pattern developing?

Bob wrote that next on the Charter Commission’s plate is a rule requiring ALL department heads to live within the city limits.

FACT IS: The Charter Commission has not even addressed that section of the Charter. No one has a crystal ball as to what Commissioners will do, but it is doubtful they will make a rule requiring all department heads to live within the city.

LESSON FOR BOB: Your boss, Randy Battagler, started this fiction the week before you wrote your story. You stated in your article that you rely heavily on what Randy tells you. 
A word of advice, take what he tells you with a grain of salt. Randy’s coverage of the Charter Commission and its work has been pretty negative since before the voters chose to form the Commission. 

The Raytown Charter Commission is proving itself to be a calm port in the stormy weather that surrounds Raytown's decision makers. The Commissioners have proven themselves to be intelligent and determined in their recommendations as to what is best for Raytown. Give them a chance before you tear into them with baseless accusations and wild assumptions. 

The Paul Livius Report
Raytown Board of Aldermen Meeting – September 16, 2014

The meeting was opened by the Honor Guard from Boy Scout Troop 1088.

David Hartman went before the Board and said he was a public works employee.  The department is down two employees because there are no incentive or merit raises.  Since the City is starting to look at the new budget, he asked they take care of the employees.

Katherine Nelson, Amy Kirkpatrick, and Gwen Thomas each went before the Board individually to say their properties are being flooded because of the Raytown Water Company.  They had been assured there would be no flooding and now the run-off water isn’t flowing into the retention basin like it should.

Shirley Whitman said she was shocked to view the recent TV article about the Missouri test scores that revealed the Raytown School District was rated 10th out of 12th in the area.  Even though the KCMO Schools re rated 12th, they still improved 6 points, while Raytown schools dropped 13 points from last year.

Mayor Bower said Brewer and Shipley are most widely known for their vocal harmonies that continue to produce music about personal freedom and traditional songs of love.  They enjoyed much of their success while being residents of Raytown in the 1970’s.  He proclaimed September 27 Brewer and Shipley day.

Mayor Bower congratulated Gary Graham, owner of Fun House Pizza, who has consistently used his business to enrich the culture of Raytown with his local support of Youth Sports by sponsoring football, soccer, swimming and baseball teams for being in business in Raytown for 50 years.

The Board passed a  resolution authorizing the City to enter into an agreement with Vance Brothers for the 2014 light weight aggregate seal project. Andy Noll said the City will allow the contractor to close a section of road for up to an hour to place the asphalt emulsion oil to decrease the amount of dust.  Also, the Light Weight Aggregate Seal Project will require the contractor to make a straight edge for the Light Weight Aggregate Seal surface treatment when ending at another street. They are also requesting an additional $8,730.00 (5%) in the approved amount for possible change order overruns in this resurfacing project that are prone to happen with the fast pace of these projects. This amount is included in the amount of $183,330.00.

The Board passed a resolution authorizing the City to enter into an agreement with Thorne & Son Asphalt Paving for the 2014 asphalt overlay.  Andy Noll said they are also requesting approximately a 10% increase ($30,710.30) in the approved amount for possible change order overruns in this overlay project that are prone to happen with milling and overlay quantities advancing at a very fast pace. This will make an approved amount to spend of $330,000.00.

The Board passed a resolution approving a surcharge for criminal cases filed in the Raytown municipal court.  Chief Lynch told the Board collection of a $2.00 surcharge on every court proceeding filed in Raytown  Municipal Court, except for cases where the proceeding is dismissed. According to State Statute, the money collected from the surcharge by the Court Clerk must be placed in an Inmate Prisoner Detainee Security Fund. Once in that fund, the State Statute mandates that the funds be used only for specifically defined purposes related to biometric verification (fingerprinting) and identification systems and also to pay for any expenses related to detention, custody, housing, and other expenses for inmates.

The Board passed a resolution authorizing the expenditure of funds for body cameras and related equipment and supplies from Digital Ally in an amount not to exceed $25,440.00.  Chief Lynch said the Police Department has researched and determined that it would be beneficial to purchase 31 Digital Ally Body Cameras for our Patrol Unit. We would also need to upgrade our software with Digital Ally. Digital Ally is a sole source vendor for our current cameras and data storage.

The Board passed an ordinance establishing the annual property tax levy rate for the City of Raytown general operating fund and the park fund for the year 2014.

Tom Cole said they were establishing the annual Property tax levy rate for the City of Raytown general operating fund and the Park fund for the year 2014.  The City has received its notice of 2014 Assessed Valuation from the County. The finance department has recalculated the levy rates using the formula supplied by the State Auditor's Office. These calculations indicated the City could levy a rate of $0.374 (up from $0.3694) per $100.00 assessed valuation for general city operations and a rate of $0.1845 per $100.00 assessed valuation for park operations. The 2014 proposed rates represent a net increase of $0.0046 over 2013.

The preliminary Adjusted Assessed Valuation:

Real Estate values decreased by $1,274,200 or 0.54% from last year's amounts for a 2014 value of $233,860,218

Personal property value decreased by $3,011,763.00 or 5.4% from last year's amounts for a 2014 value of $52,755,542

 State assessed utilities values had a 2014 value of $8,831,865

Total adjusted assessed values decreased by $3,536,192 for a 2014 total value of $295,447,625

Based on the assessed valuation and the proposed mill levy staff is projecting that approximately $1,104,446.00 will be generated for the General Fund and approximately $551,625.00 will be generated for the Park Fund. However because actual collections are closer to 95% of assessment staff will budget for slightly less than the projected amount.

Alderman Van Buskirk said the property values in Raytown were continuing to decrease.  If a home owner tried to sell his house, he would get less for it, but the property taxes would stay the same. He doesn't think that is fair and said he wouldn't support the ordinance.

Paul's Rant!

The RAYTOWN PARK BOARD made a tough call on SuperSplash. But I think it was the right call. Could it be that the Park Board members recognized an old truism of politics? The slow spiral in attendance is pretty strong evidence that people were voting with their feet.

Despite efforts by the Park Board and the City Council to breathe life back in dying venue the lack of interest by the public was undoubtedly the deciding factor in closing down Raytown’s Water Park.

WHAT A DILEMMA!  It is said by some city officials that City Administrator MAHESH SHARMA has been courted by other cities looking for a City Manager. That may or may not be true. But this much is true. Sharma would probably have to live in the town of his next employer. 

According to a survey conducted by Ward 2 Alderman Jason Greene over 90% of the City Manager/Administrator governments have a residency requirement. Apparently the Mayor’s study of the same issue has come to the same conclusion. As we have not heard of any results since he tasked City Clerk Teresa Henry with the job or researching the issue. No doubt the Mayor would want to share any (new) information learned with the public.  

SHADES OF PAT ROBERTS! Has Ward One’s non-resident Alderman found a home in the Ward yet? Last we heard Joe Creamer had called all the Board members and assured them he would be back in his house by August 25th. The date has come and gone – and still there has not been an announcement from Creamer about his residency woes. Creamer was found to have moved out of the Ward he lives in last May when it was found he was actually living in Ward 2.

The Election Board has ruled that he is qualified to be registered at his old address. The issue of whether his residency allows him to live outside of the Ward has yet to be addressed. Which causes one to wonder . . . . will Creamer decide to run for Alderman in Ward 1 or Ward 2?

RECOGNITION IS DUE THREE ALDERMEN who stood against increasing the property tax levy on Raytown homeowners last week. Ward 4 Alderman Bill VanBuskirk, Ward 5 Alderman Michael Lightfoot and Ward 3 Alderman Janet Emerson stood their ground and voted against the levy increase. 

They based their arguments in opposition to the fact that Raytown homes have actually decreased in value. To increase the property tax levy is clearly not in the best interest of their constituents. Statistics from the Jackson County Property Tax Division supported the three Aldermen's decision in voting against the tax increase.

Voting YES to increase the property tax levy: Joe Creamer, Jim Aziere, Charlotte Melson, Pat Ertz, Josh Greene, Jason Greene, Steve Mock

Voting NO: Bill VanBuskirk, Michael Lightfoot, Jane Emerson


Ravioli Satisfied My Pasta Cravings
There are only a few things I sincerely miss since going totally gluten-free. (This has been deeply pronounced since I got pregnant, of course.) These things include: Lamar’s Donuts (if you come to Kansas City, eat them for me, please!), really good and doughy deep dish pizza, and ravioli. Oh, ravioli.

Decent gluten-free pasta isn’t that hard to come by (and, really, for me, zoodles do the trick most of the time) but ravioli? That’s a different food story. So when we were offered to try some of Three Bridges new products — three of which were gluten-free — I obviously had to try. And, guys, two of them were gluten-free ravioli! READ MORE

 To leave a comment use this link POST A COMMENT