Sunday, June 25, 2017

RAYTOWN'S LEADING NEWS SOURCE

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BY GREG WALTERS
Significant Progress made on Personnel Code
Last Tuesday the Board of Aldermen made significant progress on their review of the city’s personnel code. City employees, led mainly by a list of demands from the Raytown Police Department, had presented the Board with requests for changes to the Code. The Board adopted the Code by a unanimous vote on December 20, 2016.

The most significant decision by the Board was to require a three-fourths majority vote of the ten member board to approve any changes to the code. The amendment, offered by Ward 4 Alderman Bill Van Buskirk, received unanimous support from the Board.

Another interesting issue which was not resolved dealt with citizen complaints against the Police Department. The second in command of the Raytown Police Department, Major Ted Bowman, told the Board the Police Department handles such complaints through internal affairs. The discussion between City Administrator Tom Cole, Bowman and the Mayor was interesting. There seems to be no apparatus in place to inform the City Administrator of the outcome of the complaints resolved by Internal Affairs.

This could cause quite a problem in certain circumstances, particularly if damages are part of the discussion.

The Police Department does not have the legal authority to settle law suits, or, more importantly, head off potential lawsuits and other obligations or complaints from the public.

It is important that not only should the City Administrator be aware of citizen complaints about ALL city functions, but also, that the direct representatives of the people, the elected members of the Board of Aldermen be aware of such problems. Because ultimately, it is the Board of Aldermen who will be held responsible for the actions within the city they run.

The Board tabled the issue until a later meeting to resolve the matter.

BY PAUL LIVIUS
The Paul Livius Report
Raytown Board of Aldermen Meeting – June 20, 2017
 Allie Lueke told the Board Super Splash is not a money maker but a community service.  It hasn’t had a lot of investment put into it.
Mae Leslie said her carport was blown down by the wind.  A man came to help clean up, but he wanted more money to finish the job.  She wants Neighbor Services to require picture ID from contractors.
Jason Greene told the Board Graceway Church is hosting “Poets in Autumn – Poetry in Faith” on August 4 at 6:30 at the church.  He said tickets can be purchased at www.kingdomtickets.com
The Board approved a resolution approving the appointment of Janet Emerson to the Planning & Zoning Commission.

The Board passed an ordinance amending chapter 2, administration, article iii, division 1, officers, and employees, section 2-105, relating to the adoption of personnel manual.  During the re-codification of the Raytown Municipal Code, the Chapter 14-Personnel Code was removed to be held as a stand-alone document.  The requested amendment is to correct what was overlooked during the re-codification process.  The current the section states: “The city has compiled and adopted, as if set forth in full herein, a city personnel policy manual, a copy of which is available in the office of the city clerk. 


The city has compiled and adopted, as if set forth in full herein, a city personnel policy manual, a copy of which is available in the office of the city clerk.  Alderman Bill Van Buskirk made a motion, which was passed, stating the personnel manual may be amended when needed and approved by ¾ vote of the entire Board.

 The Board passed a resolution authorizing an agreement with Duke’s Root Control utilizing the Houston-Galveston area cooperative contract in an amount not to exceed $18,000.00 Staff contacted Dukes Root Control to investigate needed repairs.  Dukes developed the attached cost estimate of $14,982.56.  This cooperative contract is through the Houston-Galveston Area Cooperative.  Staff is recommending BOA approval to be approximately 20% higher than this estimate ($18,000.00), to cover unforeseen circumstances and overruns that may arise with this underground work.

 The Board passed a resolution approving an agreement with Independent Salt Company for the purchase of salt for the purpose of treating roads and bridges in inclement weather.  The City staff advertised salt supply bids for the upcoming 2017-2018 winter season.  Salt bids must be put out in the spring due to supply allocation procedures practiced throughout the industry.  The bid was advertised in the newspaper, on our web page, and via e-mail and phone correspondence with known salt companies in the Midwest area.  Bid information was sent to seven companies and five submitted responses including two no-bids.  Bids were opened on May 12, 2017, and the low bid was from Independent Salt Company in the amount of $42,616 at a unit price of $60.88 per ton.  Purchases will not occur until the beginning of the 2017-18 fiscal years.

The Board passed a resolution approving the professional services of sanitary sewer infrastructure repair in Raytown from Wiedenmann, Inc. Utilizing Lee’s Summit cooperative purchase contract and approving project expenses for 9404 and 9406 E. 82nd Street in an amount not to exceed $20,548.  During post backup response inspection of the sanitary sewer line, Public Works staff identified an offset, sag, and serious cracking in several areas of the sanitary main line between manhole WOW-282 and WOW-283, which is located in the area of 9404 E. 82nd Street.  The defects create a significant risk for backups in the line.  The recommended repair is to remove and replace approximately 125 feet of pipe to correct the offset alignment and replace the parts of the pipe that have significant sag and cracking.
The Board passed a resolution approving the professional services of storm water infrastructure repair in Raytown from Wiedenmann, Inc. Utilizing the city of Lee’s Summit cooperative purchase contract and approving project expenses for 5736 and 5802 Manning in an amount not to exceed $52,130.  Over the past few years, sinkholes continue to appear in the backyards of 5736 & 5802 Manning and are reported to Public Works staff.  Upon investigation of the sinkholes, it was found that the subgrade around the storm water corrugated metal pipe had eroded due to pipe failure.  Staff has been called out numerous times to temporarily fill in sinkholes.  A permanent solution is to remove and replace about 200 feet of 30” corrugated metal pipe and replace it with 30” HDPE storm water pipe.

The Board passed a resolution approving amendments to the Raytown Personnel Manual adopted December 20, 2016 relating to Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy.  For more information on this resolution go to http://raytownmo.swagit.com/play/06202017-1654 and start on page 37.  Alderman Aziere asked if the Sexual Harassment policy was only at the work place.  He said, for example, if one employee (John) called another employee (Joe) at home.  If John called Joe a name that was meant to mean Joe was cowardly, would John lose his job?  Tom Cole said there would be an investigation, at the very least.  The Board tabled a resolution approving amendments to the Raytown Personnel Manual adopted December 20, 2016 relating to nepotism.  For more information on this resolution go to http://raytownmo.swagit.com/play/06202017-1654 and start on page 44.
The Board passed a resolution approving amendments to the Raytown Personnel Manual adopted December 20, 2016 relating to the Evaluation of Department Heads.  The policy states:

(a) It is the City’s policy to provide a compensation package to the Department Heads which will allow the City to compete with other private and public employers in the area for executive level personnel.  The City recognizes that the compensation package will require periodic review and adjustment in order to remain competitive and that the performance of the Department Head should be considered in connection with such review. 

(b) The City Administrator shall review the performance of each appointed Department Head each year and shall make recommendations to the Board of Aldermen concerning the compensation and benefit package for each Department Head.  While the City generally provides annual cost of living wage adjustments, merit increases may be made at the discretion of the City Administrator based on budget availability.  As part of such review, the City Administrator shall meet with the various appointed Department Heads concerning his evaluation of the incumbent’s performance, communicating his perception of that employee’s strengths and weaknesses to the incumbent and to the Board of Aldermen.  Such reviews and reports to the Board of Aldermen shall not be open to the public; provided, however, that adjustments in the compensation package and/or salary adjustments, if any, shall be a public record as provided by law.
3-5. Evaluation of Department Employees.  (a) All Department Directors shall review the performance of each Department employee each year and shall make recommendations to the City Administrator and Human Resources Manager regarding compensation and performance.  While the City generally provides annual cost of living wage adjustments, merit increases may be made at the discretion of the City Administrator and Department Director based on budget availability.  As part of such review, the Department Director shall meet with the individual employees concerning the evaluation of the incumbent’s performance, communicating the perception of that employee’s strengths and weaknesses to the incumbent and to the Human Resources Manager.  Such reviews and reports shall be kept in the employees personnel file by the Human Resources Manager.  Please note:  the bold text is corrections or additions to the policy.

The Board passed a resolution approving amendments to the Raytown Personnel Manual adopted December 20, 2016 relating to Provisions Applicable to Classified Employees.  For more information on this resolution go to http://raytownmo.swagit.com/play/06202017-1654 and start on page 56.  There was much discussion about the policies on vacation time, sick leave, and citizens’ complaints.  Alderman Jim Aziere said he likes the policy where complaints about the police department go to the City Administrator.  He said many times residents come to the Board with complaints and because it goes to the Internal Affairs Department, the Board knows nothing about the resolution.  Mayor McDonough asked Tom Cole if a complaint is lodged against a city employee if notice of that complaint goes to the Board.  Mr. Cole said no, the complaint only goes to the City Administrator and the director of Human Resources.  If the change to this section were to be passed, all complaints against police officers would only go to the City Administrator and the director of Human Resources.  The Board would not be part of the process.  The Board decided not to make the proposed changes to section 4-15 (Holiday pay), 4-17 (vacation pay), 4-18 (sick pay), 4-19 (bereavement leave), and 4-28 (citizens’ complaints).

The Board tabled several resolutions concerning amendments to the Raytown Personnel Manual adopted December 20, 2016 relating to working hours, violence in the workplace,  substance abuse, city employee on call policy, police department on call policy, take home city owned vehicles policy, time clock policy, gps tagging of city vehicles and tuition reimbursement policy.

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

RAYTOWN'S LEADING NEWS SOURCE

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BY GREG WALTERS
Personnel
Policy Review
Late last year the Raytown Board of Aldermen consolidated the Personnel Code for the City of Raytown. The task was long overdue. Raytown’s personnel code was a hodge-podge of different rules for different departments.

The new Personnel Code as approved by the Board was a well-defined set of rules that fit all employees of Raytown City Hall.

At a work session of the Board last Tuesday, a number of representatives of different departments of the city came forward to make suggestions on how to fine-tune the new document. Some of the changes were minor, some were more far reaching. This article will deal with two of the areas of contention brought forth by the Raytown Police Department.

GPS FOR POLICE VEHICLES
New technology has been a blessing for those who work in law enforcement. Which causes us to wonder why the police department has dug its heels in when it comes to using GPS to track police vehicles.

Nationwide there has been a trend to use GPS to monitor police vehicles. The reasons are many. St. Louis is one such city.

St. Louis Chief of Police Dan Isom believe the GPS system will reduce response times, an improved safety factor for officers, and help in the pursuit of felons on the run.

REDUCE RESPONSE TIMES: When a police officer is dispatched to a crime scene, precious minutes are lost determining who is the closest to respond. With GPS tracking, the location of individual police cars can known in a heartbeat.

OFFICER SAFETY: Most Raytown officers patrol alone. If one of them should be injured and unable to use his or her radio, the GPS will show their exact location, expediting the appropriate response.

PURSUIT OF FELONS: High speed chases can more easily be monitored, enhancing a swift conclusion.

ACCOUNTABILITY: How many readers know there have police vehicles involved in car accidents in which children were in the car? Officers who take their vehicles home can be monitored to make certain police equipment is only used for police business. GPS technology can also be used to protect officers against false accusations.

STOLEN POLICE CARS: Yes, it has happened. With GPS monitoring, the car thief will not get too far.

We live in the 21st Century. It is time to put the technology available to our city to work to make Raytown a safer community. The Police Department should drop its obstructionist action against the use of GPS technology in police cars.

VEHICLE TAKE HOME POLICY
If there is an accounting of what vehicles are taken home by city employees is a closely held secret. Usually the argument in favor of such policies has to do with emergency response by emergency personnel.

Fair enough, the Board of Aldermen should ask for a breakdown of the times and incident so they can make a determination of what is the best policy for the City.

We often hear how Raytown is faced with tight budgets. If we take that statement to be true, then the Board should be made aware of what areas could safely be curtailed in expenses.

We live in the 21st Century. It is time to put the technology available to our city to work to make Raytown a safer community. The Police Department should drop its obstructionist action against the use of GPS technology in police cars.

The Board put together a well thought out personnel code. We have reviewed it, and frankly, we see no reason to change any of the policies put into place late last year.

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Friday, June 9, 2017

RAYTOWN'S LEADING NEWS SOURCE

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DOUBLE CLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE THEM
Due to a family crisis last year, my wife, Mecee and I were unable to take an extended holiday. So we packed up our stuff and headed west last week to Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Jackson Hole and the surrounding areas.

The Grand Tetons are unique because they have no foothills. As the picture above shows, the mountains literally shoot up from the surrounding plains. The Tetons have glaciers, and unlike so many in our world, they are actually growing in size! The high altitude and extremely heavy snow falls in winter are the reason why. The Teton glaciers were formed in what is considered a mini ice age around 1850.

My mind wandered to another part of our planet in the mid 1800’s. Between 1300 and 1850, England endured a “little ice age” that brought harsh winters. The fact is documented in Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carole”, which portrays London as a snowy town with sub-freezing temperatures.  The winters were so cold that contemporary artists painted pictures of people ice skating on the Thames River!

Anyone who has been to London in the 20th and 21st Century knows it can get damp and cold. But it is extremely rare to see snow in London. Furthermore, the Thames River does not freeze over. It is open to navigation year round.

Coincidentally, there was story in the local news paper, the Jackson Hole Daily, which lampooned some the hysteria of scientific experts who spend an inordinate amount of time lamenting global warming.

It was a good read. The most interesting part was a reminiscence of so-called scientific predictions that got it all wrong with dire predictions for the future.
Following are a few examples.

Newsweek magazine featured a cover story in 1975 about “global cooling.” That was supposed to be a scientific consensus.

Prior to 1985, there was “scientific consensus” that acid rain caused by electricity generating plants fueled by coal and emitting sulfur dioxide was destroying vast acres of forests and lakes in the eastern United States. In 1991, “after 10 years and $500 million, the National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program study … concluded, ‘Acid rain was not damaging forests, did not hurt crops, and caused no measurable health problems.’ ”

A June 2010 article in Reason magazine lists some of the other Chicken Little claims about doomsday being just around the corner. The magazine’s science writer, Ronald Bailey, found a July 1, 1979 issue of The Washington Post claiming a “broad scientific consensus” that saccharin causes cancer. It took 30 years before the National Cancer Institute reported, “There is no clear evidence that saccharin causes cancer in humans.”

Today’s hot topic is “global warming”. Not all scientists are in agreement with the popular theory that CO2 controls the climate. Most notably, MIT climate scientist Dr. Richard Lindzen, who claims believing that CO2 controls the climate “is pretty close to believing in magic.”

As for the “Little Ice Age” mentioned earlier in this column, just what did cause the unusually cold weather of the mid-1800’s?

One influence may have been a drop in solar energy. Isotopes of carbon in tree rings and beryllium in ice cores show a drop-off in solar radiation during much of the period. Moreover, sunspot observations that began around 1610 show a near-absence of reported sunspots between 1645 and 1715. However, recent studies have brought down the relative importance of this solar effect on the little ice age.

Also in the mix are volcanoes, which seem to have erupted more frequently after 1500 than during the so-called medieval warm period that preceded it. The 1815 eruption of Indonesia's Tambora – one of the most violent ever recorded on Earth – led to a disastrously cold summer across much of the globe in 1816. That "year without a summer" brought crop failures to northern Europe as well as snows in Vermont as late as early June.

After reading through all of this data, the only conclusion I have come with is that the climate is something everyone can talk about, but none are able to control.



OH NO! NOT AGAIN!!!
Driving down 59th Street on Saturday I saw the problems are not over for one of Raytown’s busiest east/west streets. Another water main break – this one about 15 yards north of where the previous break was repaired.



BY GREG WALTERS
59th Street
to be Repaired
One of the first things I did on my return from vacation was check out 59th Street. It came as no surprise that the street had degraded even further. Whoever  wrote on the blog that driving down 59th Street was like riding on a roller coaster pretty much hit the nail on the head.

I have been watching the comments in the Raytown Report and know more than a few people want the street repaired. So I checked at City Hall to see what the plan is for repairing the street.

I was told there is no doubt the problem with the street is the responsibility of the local Water Company. The city has informed the Water Company of its responsibility to repair the street properly.

At the same time the city has also recognizes its responsibility in making certain the repairs are made in a timely fashion. That being the case, the city may make the repairs and then require the water company to pay for the cost of the repairs.

Whatever the solution, it would be in the best interest of everyone concerned for the street to be repaired soon, properly and efficiently.


BY PAUL LIVIUS
The Paul Livius Report

Raytown Board of Aldermen Meeting – June 6, 2017



Mayor McDonough applauded the efforts of the Raytown Council of Aging for their continued efforts to improve the lives of its Senior citizens.
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Police Chief Jim Lynch introduced Officer Ann Provost. City Clerk Teresa Henry administered the oath.

Will Dyson told the Board he is the HOA President of a sub division at Noland and Bannister Roads.  They received a letter from KCMO telling them they need to purchase flood insurance. The reason the flood plain changed is because the storm water run-off from Raytown.  The Mayor asked Mr. Dyson to email City Hall in order to discuss this further.

Alderman Mark Moore said the City of Raytown does not agree with the assessment in the letter and suggested he (Mr. Dyson) contact the Army Corps of Engineers, whose responsibility it is to evaluate and determine responsibility in matters of flooding.
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Paul Hackenburger said he has been the victim of two break-ins. The first incident, the officer was exemplary of her processing of the break-in.

She dusted for fingerprints using the mobile equipment the department provides its officers and was very understanding and helpful.

Four days later there was another break-in and the two officers dispatched were not as good. Mr. Hackenburger asked the two officers to dust and they said they could not because of the lack of mobile equipment. Mr. Hackenburger asked the Board that the police department improve training of the officers to provide better service.

He told the Board he uses a mobile app called “Next Door” in which community neighbors and friends communicate what is going on in Raytown. He continued that even though there are instances of exemplary service by the police (as demonstrated by the officer that responded to the first break-in). There is a general feeling in the community the police could do more to work with citizens in their time of need.

Mayor McDonough asked if Hackenburger if he had any other communications with the Department.

Hackenburger replied they had been assigned a detective who has been very responsive to their questions but they (Hackenburger) had to take the initiative to involve the detective in the process.”
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Mary Jane VanBuskirk told the Board that code violations abound.  She can drive any street in Raytown and find violations.  She wants to know why the codes department can’t.  She only wants Raytown to look better.
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The Board passed a resolution approving the appointment of Damon Hodges as the Public Works Director for the city.
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The Board passed a resolution authorizing the continuation of an agreement for inmate security housing services with Johnson County, Missouri, Sheriff’s office for fiscal year 2016-2017 in an amount not to exceed $71,500.  On July 1, 2015, the City entered into a contract with the Johnson County Missouri Sheriff’s Department to provide housing for our inmates.  The current contract will expire on June 30, 2017. The Police Department requests approval to extend the contract with the Johnson County Missouri Sheriff’s Department for an additional two years.  The contract would begin on July 1, 2017 and will terminate June 30, 2019.  The only change to the existing contract will be lowering the number of guaranteed prisoner beds per day from 17 to 10.


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