Sunday, June 26, 2016


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PAUL'S NOTES: I made a notation in this week’s Paul Livius Report regarding the hiring of Mr. Ronald A. Williamson  for a fee of $250 per hour to fill in for the position recently vacated by John Benson, Raytown’s former Director of Development and Public Affairs. The note is highlighted in red in this week's Paul Livius Report. Greg told me he already had begun a story about the BOA's decision to hire Strategic Government Resources to conduct a search for a new City Administrator. We agreed the question I asked has merit, and thought it would stand on its own without a story. So we left the “note to Greg” in this week’s Report.

The Paul Livius Report BY PAUL LIVIUS
Raytown Board of Aldermen Meeting – June 21, 2016
Mayor McDonough said in 1985 the Raytown Amateur Radio Club was founded at the request of the Raytown Police Department.  He recognized Abigail Brown as a third generation member of the Raytown Amateur Radio Club.  Mayor McDonough said Ms. Brown’s grandfather, John Brown, Jr. was one of the founding members.  The Raytown Amateur Radio Club operators provide emergency communication capabilities in times of disaster, both natural and man-made and since its formation, Raytown ARC has grown to a membership of over 70 members and has consistently placed among the top five amateur radio clubs in its class nationwide at the annual ARRL Field Day Event.  The Raytown Amateur Radio Club, KOGQ, on June 25, 2016 will participate with other ham radio operators worldwide, 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 does a field day event every year and has set up behind the Raytown City Hall for the past 25 years and the Department of Homeland Defense has recognized this event as a Homeland Defense Emergency Exercise.  Mayor McDonough said he recognizes the Raytown Amateur Radio Club declares June 25, 2016 as Amateur Radio Day in the City of Raytown.

The Board passed a resolution approving an agreement for planning advisory services with Ronald A. Williamson.  With the current vacancy of the Director of Development and Public Affairs position there is a void in staffing for planning and zoning services.  To fill this void it is proposed the City enter into an agreement with Ronald A. Williamson.  As described in Article I of the proposed agreement the type of planning services that Mr. Williamson would provide include:

A. Preparation of staff reports on various zoning and development applications for the Planning & Zoning Commission, Board of Zoning Adjustment, and Board of Aldermen meetings;

B. Preparation of special studies, surveys, designs and reports which may include zoning and subdivision regulations amendments, redevelopment and other matters in the field of planning;

C. Attending meetings with City Staff as needed; and

D. Attending meetings of the Raytown Planning and Zoning Commission, Board of Zoning Adjustment, Board of Aldermen and other organizations and committees, as needed.

The Agreement is temporary in nature and is proposed to be in place until the City has hired staff that can again provide these services internally.  Alderman Moore said this was a lot of money if the city was going to pay Mr. Williamson $210 per hour for 40 hours a week is $36,400 per month.  Mahesh Sharma said it wouldn’t be 40 hours a week, but only as needed and only until John Benson’s replacement could be found.  Alderman Moore said the city has not even started the process of interviewing.  He said he would like to see someone hired from within the department.  Note to Greg – How can Williamson do all of John Benson’s work in less than 40 hours unless John Benson wasn’t working a full 40 hours but getting paid full salary.

The Board passed a resolution approving an agreement with Strategic Government Resources for the recruitment of a city administrator by a vote of 6 to 3 (one member abstaining). Moore asked Debbie Duncan, Human Resource Manager, if the Board was expected to vote for a firm without talking with them.  Alderman Josh Greene said the Board had all the information in their packets.  He recommended Strategic Government Resources and made that motion.  Alderman Moore said there were originally four firms and it has been narrowed down to two firms.  This decision could affect the city for the next eight to ten years.  Alderman Van Buskirk said he liked Colin Baenzinger and Associates.  Alderman Jason Greene said he didn’t see any distinct difference.

On March 22, 2016 the Board of Aldermen approved the preliminary design contract for Improvements to the 83rd Street Bridge which is one half mile east of Raytown Road.  As a part of the contract, which was awarded to Olsson Associates, the findings from the preliminary study and design would be presented to the Board of Aldermen.  Since the time of the contract award, Olsson has completed the preliminary design analysis and has recommended the replacement of the 83rd Street Bridge with a two-span bridge.   Grant Luckenbill and Jamie Fain spoke to the Board during a study session.  They are looking at four options:

·         Option 1 will be a 2 Span Prestressed Girder Bridge at a cost of $2,160,000

·         Option 2 will replace the Superstructure, salvage the columns and replace for 2,300,000 

·         Option 3 will be a Prestressed Arch Bridge costing $2,680,000

·         Option 4 is a Single Span Prestressed Girder Bridge for $2,410,000

Olsson Associates are recommending Option 1.  This bridge will be made of concrete, will require no painting, and will last for years if properly maintained.  The estimates for each option includes all construction costs plus 15% contingency costs, engineering costs, utility relocation costs of $85,000 and construction inspections.

Alderman Mock said Mr. Luckenbill had indicated they wanted to do this project next summer.  He asked why the project couldn’t be started in the winter.  Mr. Luckenbill said their traffic study indicated there are 3,900 cars that travel 83rd Street daily, not counting school buses.  They want to do the project while school is out.  Alderman Mock asked if the bridge is safe enough to wait until next summer.  Mr. Fain said they don’t know for sure because of the amount of corrosion on the primary reinforcing on the bridge deck.  Alderman Teeman asked which option will be the least expensive to maintain on an annual basis.  He was told it is option 1.  Mayor McDonough asked about the life span of the new bridge.  Mr. Luckenbill said 75 to 100 years if properly maintained.  Alderman Aziere asked how long the project will take to complete, start to finish.  It will take 75 to 90 days.

Aldermen Approve
Head Hunter Expense
Last Tuesday the Raytown Board of Aldermen voted to hire a corporate head hunting firm named Strategic Government Resources to conduct a search for a City Administrator. The cost for the services provided by Strategic Government Resources (SGR) is set at $27,000.

No doubt there are many reading this wonder “what’s wrong with that”. Consider the following.

All four of the City’s Administrator’s beginning with Andy McCown in 1994 and continued with his successors, Curt Wenson, Michael Miller and Mahesh Sharma, were hired without the help of professional headhunters.

To read the accolades often espoused by letter writers to the local newspapers for the wonderful services offered by our past City Administrators, Raytown is batting one thousand in choosing City Administrators. On average, their tenure with the city has been lengthy. The guidance they have given the city has been a qualified success according to the local media. So why spend $27,000 of the taxpayer’s money when Raytown has a track record of success in hiring City Administrators?

I sat on the Board of Aldermen for the hiring of each of Raytown’s City Administrators.

It is not a complicated process.

You advertise with the Missouri Municipal League, you contact and advertise with the professional trade group that represents city administrators. Then get ready for a lot of applicants. Believe me, there is not a shortage of individuals willing to prove their worth as the Administrator of a city.

You have your Human Resources Administrator ride herd on the search and provide a contact for interested applicants. Yes, Raytown has an HR Administrator. Her name is Debbie Duncan.

The HR Administrator provides the applications to the Mayor and Board for review.

The Board then picks the most promising applicants and interview them individually. Then it is decision time. The Board either accepts one of the applicants or restarts the process.

The worst part of this “deal” approved by the Board of Aldermen is the choice they have made to do the search for them. They are fishing in waters that do not fit Raytown’s needs or pocket book. Here is a sampling of three City Administrator searches currently conducted by Strategic Government Resources. The information came from the SGR website
Use this link to view . . . SGR WEBSITE

CITY OF DAVENPORT, IOWA - "Nestled in the heart of America along the mighty Mississippi River, Davenport, Iowa, is a bustling, vibrant community of more than 100,000 people. Located halfway between Chicago and Des Moines in Scott County, with easy access to I-80 and I-74, Davenport covers 65 square miles, is the third largest city in Iowa, the largest of the Quad Cities with a regional population of roughly 385,000 people, and has been declared “The Most Livable Small City in America.”

PINEY POINT, TEXAS - "The median income is $230,000 and the average home value is $2.1 million. Residential growth is limited with no surrounding land to annex and the number of lots are fixed. Older homes are sold at a premium and replaced with new homes that double or triple the value in this extremely desirable community."

WILLISTON, NORTH DAKOTA - "While population growth in the area has started to level off recently, the City of Williston experienced explosive growth over the past several years due to increased activity in the oil and gas industry. The City has grown 210% in size since 2010, jumping from a population of 12,120 to 27,763. This prosperous community has managed its incredible growth issues with great success, being named the fastest growing micropolitan (cities under 50,000) in the nation for the last five years."

Can anyone reading this page, and that includes the Mayor and Board of Aldermen, explain what an inner-ring suburb, with all of its land developed and no room for growth, have in common with communities that have a growth rate of 210%, a median income of $210,000 per person, or a population exceeding 100,000?

Could it be the Mayor and Board are over-reaching in their search for a new City Administrator?

The other concern is the rates the city will be charged for the services rendered by Strategic Government Resources (SGR).
SGR will charge the city a flat fee of $1500 to prepare a brochure of the city. Let’s say they received 15 applicants for the job. It becomes an expense of $100 per candidate to view material already in place on the city’s award winning website.

Any copies prepared by the SGR will cost the city 23 cents per copy (industry standards are 5 cents per copy) PLUS binding fees (depending on the binding, the cost could be upwards of $3.00 per bound copy). The city will be required to pay any employee of SGR who travels to the city a per diem of $50 per day for meal PLUS mileage based on the current IRS rate. Travel expenses will be paid by the city. All of this and more will be paid to SGR for just preparing the information to go out prospective applicants.
Other expenses include:

$200 for each recorded online interview (many people will recognize this as SKYPE). Incidentally SKYPE is avaiable to the public for free on the Wonderful World Wide Web.

$350 per candidate for a comprehensive media report.

$300 per candidate for a comprehensive background check prepared by a licensed, private investigator. (information readily available to any police department, including Raytown)

$150 per candidate for a psychometric assessment. (a branch of psychology dealing with the measurement of mental traits, capacities, and processes)

Keep in mind, it is standard business practice for corporate head hunters to work both sides of the deal. The city pays for them to find an applicant. The applicant also uses their services to find the city.

Are the prices listed out of line?

Maybe not for a city with a population of 100,000, or a median residential income of $230,000, or a city that has grown 210% in size in the past six years.

Raytown is not in that league. There is nothing to be gained by pretending to be a size we are not, with an annual income we do not have or a growth record that does not exist.

The Mayor and Board would be better of using the resources at hand, like the Missouri Municipal League and professional associations that represent City Administrators.

In fairness to members of the Board of Aldermen it should be noted that not everyone agreed with the expense.

On the question of hiring Strategic Government Resources.
VOTING YES: Jason Greene, Josh Greene, Jim Aziere, Bill VanBuskirk,  Mark Moore, 
                     Janet Emerson

VOTING NO:   Karen Black, Steve Meyers, Steve Mock

ABSTAIN:        Eric Teeman

Take Me Out to the Ball Game!
Saturday night some friends and I attended a Royals baseball game. Kansas City was hosting the Houston Astros, so the match-up was expected be a good one.

Unfortunately, the game was good only if you were a Houston fan.

Bored with the game, I took advantage of some excellent seats we had in left field and took a few pictures to share.

I call this photo “The Ball Boys Chair”. The ball boy was warming up left fielder Alex Gordon between innings. So I took a picture of his chair and helmet in his absence.

As for the Royals, they were just one short of matching the Astros in hits. But they left a ton of men on base with many base running errors that cut short potentially big innings.

I do not know what type of insect this is --- it landed on the rail in front of my seat and stayed for the longest time.
I call this one “The Wicked Looking Bug”.
I wonder if it may have been the reason there was a bird flying into the wind in left field for most of the game. We speculate it was eating dinner while on the wing.
There were a few bright spots for the Royals in the game as well. Alex Gordon smashed a home run into the right field seats on his return to the line up.
The big surprise was Drew Butera, the back up catcher for the Royals. He pitched in relief in the ninth inning, striking out one and retiring two other hits on pop up and a grounder.
Butera also battedWhich is rare for a pitcher to do in the American League. At his one time at bat he drove in a run with a double to right center field.

The Raytown Fire Protection District has released the video and documents of the Public Information Hearing held on June 6th. The video shows he entire presentation by Raytown Fire Chief Matt Mace. Supporting documentation used in the presentation were also released. The topic of the meeting was the 350 Live (Walmart) TIF package and its impact on Raytown.
Use this link to view . . .  VIDEO
Use this link to view . . . DOCUMENTS

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Sunday, June 19, 2016


Storm Water Blues
Cindy and Pat Morales are second generation Raytowners. They have made their home in Raytown and are raising their family here. Pat owns and operates a private Raytown business.
All is well in the Morales household except for one thing. The city has allowed a commercial property owner that adjoins their home on the east side, to literally dump storm water into their back yard.
Cindy Morales checked the City Code of Ordinances and found the following section.
Sec. 50-16. - Control of stormwater drainage.
All development shall control any storm water drainage that is created as the result of any development of the property according to adopted city standards currently maintained by the community development and public affairs director.
This section of the city’s code is very clear. It means the owner of a covered surface, like a parking lot, has the responsibility to keep the storm water from flooding property owners downstream of the paved surface. The most common way to meet this requirement is to retain the water on the surface so that it is metered out of (for instance) a parking lot into the storm sewer to carry of the water without harming adjoining properties.

It is why you see large commercial curbs on parking lots, concrete retention basins, or grass covered swales built to hold storm water runoff in heavy rains.

In the Morales situation the city allowed the property owner to pave the area up to Morales property without any way of stopping the storm water from flooding into the Morales back yard during heavy rains.

“Before they did the improvements they had some curbs in place to keep the water off our property,” said Cindy Morales.

“When they repaired their parking lot, city engineers did not require the property owner next door to build adequate curbing to divert the water to the storm drainage ditch between our properties,” she continued, “so now all of the storm water drains directly into our back yard.”

Mrs. Morales has not received an adequate answer from city officials as to why the city’s code of ordinances is being ignored by the engineers in the Public Works Department.
“I mean,” she said, “certainly they have to know that water runs downhill. By allowing the property to owner to the east of us to make changes to his property that floods our property, does not make sense.”

To make matters worse, a large sinkhole has developed in the newly paved surface. The Morales’s are concerned the resulting underground flooding will further undermine their property.

Cindy and Pat Morales are the victims of bureaucratic red tape. They did not ask their neighbor to remove curbs that kept water from flooding their back yard. In the winter time, the curbs also offered a degree of safety from snow plows dumping snow on their chain link fence that divides the property.

The city ordinance is very clear in a resolution to the problem. From our point of view the city should enforce the ordinance and have the property owner put curbs on property to divert storm water runoff from flooding the Morales property.

State House Race Heats Up
The five way race to become the Democratic candidate for the 28th District representing the Raytown area is starting to heat up.

We have heard, but not been able to substantiate, allegations of misinformation being spread by one candidate who is taking credit for projects in the Raytown area that are, quite frankly, very hard to qualify.

That being said, it is appropriate that we straighten out what we do know to be true.
The most visible candidate we are aware of is Jerome Barnes. He has a smattering of signs dotting Raytown neighborhoods. No doubt his door to door campaign is paying off.
Barnes is currently serving his second term on the Raytown School Board.

There is some confusion over the status of one candidate. Ward 2 Alderman Jim Aziere is making his third attempt to be elected to the Missouri House of Representatives. The big difference this time is that he is running as a Democrat. Aziere has run twice before as a Republican. He also served as a Jackson County Republican Committeeman.

Former Raytown Alderman Pat Riehle is also making his third attempt for the open seat on the State Legislature. In his first attempt he was removed from the ballot for not making a timely filing of required reports. He was defeated by Tom McDonald (who cannot run for re-election due to term limits) two years ago. Like Barnes, Riehle has been seen campaigning in Raytown precincts.

Diane Krizek and Josh Greene round out the list of candidates. Both are running ads in the local newspapers.

On the Republican side, Ward 4 Alderman Bill VanBuskirk, who does not have an opponent in the Republican primary, has been seen campaigning door to door in area Raytown neighborhoods.

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