Sunday, July 27, 2014


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Back in the World
As many of you have no doubt determined, I have been out of town this past week to participate in the RAGBRAI (Registers Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa). It was a great ride full of a wonderful mix of experiences of visiting with old friends, making new ones and of course, riding my bicycle on old Iowan highways through a mix of small towns, lake communities and modern urban centers.

So, after a week of head winds so strong you had to peddle hard to go down a hill, tail winds so brisk I was able to reach speeds near 30 miles per hour (talk about exhilarating!), and near perfect weather for a couple of days (one day the temperature reached a high of 76 degrees!), it is time to get back to the business on the Raytown Report.

I see from Paul’s last Report that the city has dropped the ball on the re-broadcasting of City Council meetings. I wonder if the same will hold true for Charter Commission meetings? There is one scheduled for Monday evening at 6:30 this week -- guess we will find out then.

There has been a lot of finger-pointing and blame game going on at City Hall over the re-broadcasting of public meetings. The city has thrown the doors open to Google and more competition between the different broadcast providers. Perhaps now would be a good time to join the rest of the metropolitan area (not to mention the 21st Century) in providing up to date broadcasting and re-broadcasting of city meetings.

It strikes us a little more than ironic that ever since Mayor Bower created a Public Information Office the quality and quantity of information available to the public has actually decreased.

Hopefully, some of our City Councilmen will step up and help right the good ship Raytown in what is becoming an embarrassing situation for our community.

Greg took some time off last week, so I did as well. With the exception of a column I published eight days ago, our page has remained unchanged. The blog portion of the Raytown Report, was, as usual, pretty busy with comments and give and take from readers. Just goes to show the need for a public space like that provided by the Raytown Report as a place to share ideas and build a sense community.

I had some time to reflect on what, from my point of view, is missing from the Raytown Charter Commission efforts to build a new form of government from Raytown.

The missing ingredient is participation.

By participation I do not mean by the Charter Commissioners themselves. I have watched some of the meetings and there is no lack of participation by the Commissioners. Their attendance record is pretty good too. Both are signs of a healthy democratic body.

What is missing is the participation of other city leaders. Not just elected officials, but also senior staff members of Raytown City Hall, members of the Park Board, the Fire District and the Chamber of Commerce should be invited to share their vision for Raytown with Charter Commissioners.

True, there are four members of the Raytown City Council already on the Charter Commission, but there are seven others (if you count the Mayor) who also have their viewpoint to share.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to hear what Ward 1 Alderman Joe Creamer has to say about rules requiring Aldermen to live within the boundaries of the Ward they represent? What would City Administrator Mahesh Sharma have to share about residency requirements for senior staff officials at Raytown City Hall?

These are tough topics to discuss, but at the end of the day, there will have to be a decision made on them.

I did some checking and found that the two previous Charter Commissioners in 1997 and in 2005 both had round table discussions with elected and appointed public officials.

It was a good idea then. It is a good idea now.

Vote NO on Amendment 7 

The campaign for the proposed Highway Sales Tax increase is long on emotion, short on facts and possibly one of the most misleading campaigns in Missouri’s history.

Amendment 7 comes at a very steep price and it is price that is targeted unfairly at those who can least afford it – our senior citizens and young families trying to get by with less disposable income.

The price tag is a three-quarter of a cent sales tax. In Raytown that amount is enough to place the total sales tax burden in the 10 cent per dollar area. At some of our more expensive stores that already have CID and TIF taxes, the sales tax will exceed 10%!

It should not come as any surprise that many of the contributors to Amendment 7 are engineers, construction firms and asphalt paving companies. Nor does it come as much a of a surprise that the ads flooding the airwaves and our mail boxes in support of Amendment 7 are long on hyperbole without any real detail as to how the money will be spent.

The special interests supporting Amendment 7 have put together a very clever campaign that does everything but tell you how much you will pay in tax increases.

Don’t be fooled by their political slight of hand. Vote NO on Amendment 7.
Oh, by the way, in case you were wondering, that strip of Highway 350 that goes through Raytown is NOT on the list of roads to be improved should the tax pass.

Banana Chia Pudding
We love dessert. And we’d eat it with every meal if it, you know, was an okay and healthy thing to do. But typically we save our sweet eating until dinner — or special events. BUT, with a Banana Chia Pudding recipe like this one? Well, yep, we say have dessert for breakfast!

This Banana Chia Pudding recipe comes from Doonya general manger May-Mei Lee. (If you haven’t tried or heard of Doonya yet, give it a look-see here because it’s a fabulously fun dance-inspired workout.) Made with all-natural sugars and rich in omega–3 fatty acids, fiber and protein, this is a sweet treat you can feel really good about. READ MORE

Raytown Charter Web Link 
The Raytown Charter Commission has created a webpage for the public to keep up to date on progress of the Commission.  The page has names, phone numbers and email addresses of Charter Commissioners. Use the following link to visit the page.

To view the page use this link . . . CHARTER COMMISSION

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Sunday, July 13, 2014


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The Paul Livius Report 
Sorry to say folks, but there is not a report of the Raytown City Council meeting held last week to share with you.  The city has not re-broadcast the meeting.

My usual routine is to record the meeting when it airs on Tuesday night. Due to a power outage in my home I was unable to do so.

“No problem,” I thought, I'll just record the meeting when the city re-broadcasts the meeting. So, the following evening, I tuned into Raytown’s Government channel to record the rebroadcast. Imagine my surprise when I saw that the previous night’s meeting was not re-broadcast. In its place was a video recording of the July 1st meeting.  "Ok, they broadcast again on Thursday," I thought.  Well, guess what?  Thursday was also a re-broadcast of the July 1 meeting.

“No worries,”  . . .  Certainly the City of Raytown, in keeping up its efforts to create an image of a modern, professional community of the 21st Century, will have its meeting re-broadcast on You Tube. I remember watching meetings of the Board when Aldermen dutifully congratulated each other and anyone who was watching how great it was that people could watch Board meetings on their home computers.  I went to the You Tube link on the City's web page.  There was no re-broadcast of the July 15th meeting . The link took me to the May 6th meeting! 

Brenda Gustafson, the city’s Public Information Officer, says it is not her fault the meetings don’t get rebroadcast on a timely schedule.  She blames the IT Department for not converting the tape in a timely manner.  I wonder what her excuse is this time?

Instead of a solution, it appears we are going to witness to a contest of finger-pointing at City Hall. Unfortunate, but apparently accurate.

I did take a peek at last week’s agenda.  There were only two items on the agenda, so no doubt the meeting had a short business session.

But there was a report to be given by Mr. John Benson, Director of Development and Public Affairs, about progress in Raytown.  I was really looking forward to the report.  I like hearing how well our City is progressing, but that report will have to wait until another time.

The city’s Public Information Office either re-played the wrong meeting by accident – I really hope  is the case – because if it is not, it means it was done purposely. If that is true then those who run our city should take a hard look into why the meetings are not being rebroadcast on Channel 7 or You Tube.

This is not a nice way to be when your only job is to keep the public informed as to what is going on at Raytown City Hall. 

Boondoggle (noun)
An activity or project that is unnecessary and waste of time or money, especially one undertaken for personal or political gain.A government project of little practical value.

The propaganda machine at Raytown City Hall was working overtime in its pursuit to  protect the Mayor’s plans to spend $81,750.00 to make upgrades to the City Council Chambers at Raytown City Hall.

Most notable was an oft-repeated phrase (which was dutifully reported in the Raytown Times) stating that there had not been any upgrades to the Chambers in the past 35 years.

If this were Jeopardy Alex Trebeck would tell them they had the wrong answer.

The last upgrades were completed about 16 years ago, in the mid nineteen-nineties. At that time the Board of Aldermen voted to create an entryway on the East side of the building that was ADA compliant as an entrance to City Hall. Another upgrade was ordered by former Mayor Jack Nesbitt. He had the wood paneling covered with blue colored cloth panels behind the dais to improve broadcasting abilities of Council Meetings. It is believed attractive wood paneling is still in place behind the cloth panels.

At the time, an access ramp to the raised Council dais was planned but removed from the project because the dais already has two access points that are ADA compliant.

In other words, the story line cranked out by Raytown City Hall is just plain bogus. It is fixing a problem that does not exist in the ADA compliance question and it is creating so-called facts that simply are not true.

Be that as it may, it was good to see that at last four of the City Councilmen broke with the Mayor on a Board that is often criticized for marching in lockstep.

Ward 1 Alderman Josh Greene told the Board he would rather see the money used to fix the streets in residential neighborhoods that are falling apart. The Mayor’s rejoinder, “this is the people’s house and it is our job to keep it up”, makes little sense when residential neighborhood streets go year after year without repair.

There are many in Raytown that wish the Mayor would care as much for their neighborhoods as he does City Hall. Street repair has been neglected for too long. An ill-conceived program using a slurry seal type of overlay has been a failure. Old scars of broken pavement are not fixed but literally encased in the slurry seal once it hardens, leaving ugly cracks and uneven surfaces for motorists and bicyclists to maneuver through in local neighborhoods.

Critics of the plan were successful in blocking the move by the Administration to have the wood ceiling above the dais torn out. Public Works Director Andy Noll told the Board that the designer the city had hired said that wood paneling was “dated and out of style”.

Ward 3 Alderman Janet Emerson told the Board that all the wood needed was to be cleaned and oiled. She also pointed out that high dollar business offices and well accommodated homes are frequently paneled on ceilings and walls in wood. The majority of the Board agreed with Emerson and removed the designer’s recommendation from the plans.
HOW THEY VOTED: $81,750.00 to remodel the Council Chambers
VOTING YES: Aziere, Melson, Ertz, Jason Greene, Creamer, Mock 
VOTING NO: Josh Greene, Emerson, VanBuskirk, Lightfoot

Paul’s Rant!
Six of the ten members on the Raytown City Council apparently believe it is more important to remodel the meeting room they use twice a month than to upgrade the condition of residential streets. It is a sad statement of the priorities of those six errant Board members who voted to waste $81,750.00 on a remodeling project that does not need to be done.

Do they really believe the public wants remodeling of the Council Chambers over better residential streets or adequate street lighting?

The public be damned approach of government exhibited by Aziere, Melson, Ertz, Jason Greene, Creamer, Mock is sad statement of what those elected officials believe the public expects from City Hall.

What is odd is that the Raytown City Council Chambers is one thing that was done right when City Hall was built so many years ago. It has withstood the test of time in good fashion and served the public well. A large mural in the back of the Chamber is an aesthetic balance to the raised dais at the front of the room. Sixteen years ago the Chambers was improved when handicapped access was created and the front d├ęcor made more “camera friendly” for the televising of public meetings.

It is a well know landmark in Eastern Jackson Count that is frequently used for area public events other than Council meetings. As Council Chambers go, Raytown’s is one of the most attractive.

It was chosen by former Vice President Al Gore to kick off his Midwest campaign for President. It has been used as shelter during a bitter ice storm to house people whose homes were without power. It is home to public meetings, art shows and holiday celebrations. The municipal court is held there and it is currently being used the Raytown Charter Commission for its deliberations.

This action, led by the Mayor and endorsed by six of the ten Aldermen, does raise an  interesting question. Can it be assumed that the large sum spent on remodeling is a commitment to keep City Hall at its current location?

The City owns three acres of property behind City Hall if expansion is ever needed at the facility. The Mayor has let it be known that he would like to see City Hall moved to the Green Space in Downtown Raytown.

Voters should remember this unnecessary expenditure when the Mayor and his six Aldermen* come up for election next Spring.

*Mayor Bower and five of the Aldermen who voted “yes” on the $78,500.00 expenditure are up for election next April.

Area Internet 
Service Fees Dropping

It has been a few few years since Brian Morris stood up at a City Council meeting and asked about Google Fiber.

Last week Mr. Morris saw Google Fiber installed in his home.

Installations in Raytown were started on Saturday or at least that was the first day they were available in his part of Raytown. Mr. Morris noted that the competitive nature of wireless service has already forced Comcast to lower prices and offer the same quality equipment it offered in other communities but not in this area. Thus even people who don't switch to Google Fiber will see a financial benefit.

We have also heard from U-Verse subscribers of competitive upgrades and pricing schedules from other providers who compete with Google.

It just goes to show that nothing works better for consumer’s interest than the market place.

According to Morris, Comcast will no lower people’s rates without them calling so people should call Comcast and inquire about their cable and internet rate. He wrote that he was offered the lower rate when he called to cancel.

Farmer’s Market Numbers Growing
The success story known as the Raytown Farmer’s Market is growing in participants according to Ward 3 Alderman Janet Emerson. Counts of over 100 visitors per day have encouraged organizers that they are on the right track with meeting local demand for a Farmer’s Market.

“The most telling evidence is the growing numbers of shoppers," said Emerson. “we have more vendors and a larger variety of product to choose from.”
In a press release to the local media, Market Manager Elisa Bedsworth wrote . . . 

“Every Thursday and Saturday, we'll have a wide variety of produce, farm product, handmade artisan crafts, canned goods, etc, to offer the freshest and finest in the Kansas City area! At our market, you buy directly from the producer - the person who grew it or made it and can tell you how to best cook, use and enjoy it. Plus, your dollars contribute directly to the local economy and assure the future of a healthy regional food system.”

But we're more than a farmers' market, we've provided a community gathering place each Thursday from 2:00 to 7:00 and Saturday from 8:00 to 1:00 with live music, great food, family activities and lots of learning and educational opportunities! Each Thursday and Saturday, savvy shoppers from across Raytown and the KC Metro area come to shop, dine, relax and visit with family and friends. Won't you join us on Raytown Road just west of the Green Space.

Local. Hand-made. High quality.
  • Fresh Produce: vegetables, herbs, berries, tree fruit
  • Baked Goods: artisan breads, pies, cakes, cookies, pastries
  • Condiments and Preserves: jams, jellies, relishes, hot sauces, salsa
  • Sweeteners and Sweets: honey
  • Flowers and Plants: cut and potted flowers, potted herbs, bedding plants
  • Household Items: soaps
  • Artisan Wares: pottery, wool and knitted goods, paper, photography (available during craft fair days)
·         Interested vendors can learn more by contacting Ms. Bedsworth at 816-399-9846 or by email at

Vegan Almond 
Spice Cookies
Has Picnic Week been fun or what? ! And today, it’s getting even sweeter because we have a yummy vegan cookie recipe from Dr. Alejandro Junger!
Dr. Junger just launched his newest book Clean Eats, which  includes 200 plus recipes from Dr. Junger’s kitchen, as well as the cookbooks of his buds (like, er, not to name-drop but Gwyneth Paltrow, Dr. Mark Hyman, Donna Karan, Zoe Saldana, Orlando Bloom and more). He let us borrow this particularly yummy vegan cookie recipe from his book, and let’s just say that they’re delicious whether they’re packed in a picnic basket or straight out of the cookie jar or — who are we kidding? — licked straight from the mixing bowl! READ MORE

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