Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Look Back by Greg Walters
Raytown has had four separate attempts at writing a Charter. Of those four, the last attempt was truly a grass roots effort.

Interest was high in the community when the last Charter effort was made. Over 30 individuals petitioned to have their name placed on the ballot to serve on the Commission. When the smoke had cleared twelve Commissioners were elected. It was an impressive list of community leaders.

It included current and past members of the City Council, a former Mayor, a former state representative, a former newspaper publisher/editor, business leaders from the private sector and a retired school teacher.

During the roll out of the campaign to create a Charter Commission there were many profound statements from City Hall endorsing the need for change. Mayor Sue Frank told the Board of Aldermen in public session that a Charter was the most important issue before the voters in the last 50 years. Then Alderman John Wiley sagely announced that “now was the time” for the city to write a charter.

All of that changed when the vote total of who would make up the Charter Commission was tallied. Simply put, the Mayor’s candidates did not fair well.

The first sign of discord came when City Administrator Curt Wenson arranged for a meeting between the City Attorney and the newly elected members of the Charter Commission.
Many on the Charter Commission were anxious to begin their work. They also wanted the public to know that the Commission was independent of City Hall. The public venue in which Wenson set up the meeting was perceived by some as a move to show that City Hall was in control of the process.

The city attorney attempted to give a report but was politely told her services were not necessary.

Support and communication between City Hall and the Charter Commission became stilted and rare.

With its position in the community established the Charter Commission went to work.
Public hearings were held at various locations throughout the city. Charter Commissioners brought their ideas to the table. A special sub-committee of the Commission was given the task of reviewing all the proposals.
The final product was reviewed by the members and approved by a vote of nine to two with one member absent.

The proposed Charter was not especially unique. It allowed for initiative, referendum and recall. It also had a clause in it that required that senior department heads reside within city limits.*
Mayor Sue Frank and her supporters, who had been deeply disappointed when her candidates did not win a majority position on the Commission, went public with her opposition to the Charter. Using the Raytown Post and its owner/publisher Randy Battagler as her bully pulpit, she orchestrated a campaign of dirty tricks that included attempts to block distribution of copies of the proposed charter.

The angst and division of the campaign spilled over to City Council meetings. When a member of the Board of Aldermen (who also sat on the Charter Commission) tried to read the location where the public could obtain copies of the proposed Charter, he was shouted down and ruled out of order by Mayor Frank.

Local merchants told of visits from members of the Board of Aldermen who opposed the Charter “requesting” that they refuse to distribute the books. Other merchants told of individuals who tried to walk off with multiple copies of the Charter books.

I personally viewed the extent of the outright thievery of books one evening while visiting the Raytown Public Library. The library had set up a table for distribution of the Charter books. I knew that a case of books had been delivered to the library earlier that day. When I inquired as to where the books were I was told that the Mayor had removed them because they had typographical errors in them.

The books were never returned.

Finally, Election Day arrived. Voters had their say. The negative campaign waged by Mayor Sue Frank and her supporters was successful. The Charter was defeated.
An interesting footnote to this story is the issue that so deeply divided the Charter Commission from the Mayor and her supporters was one of residency for appointed city department heads.

Within one year of the Charter election, four of the city’s senior department heads had moved on to other jobs. Only one of them lived in Raytown.

Were there mistakes in the Charter that were easily exploited by the opposition? Not really. There were differences of opinion – the anti-Charter crowd was unified and able to exploit divisions within the community that had been there before the campaign began.

The Charter Commission had done their homework. They had put together a workable document that would have strengthened Raytown and made its governmental structure more responsive to the public.

The Commission was not formed to run a political campaign. In the end the difference was a one-sided political campaign. Those who put forth the effort carried the day.

*At the time, six of the city’s department heads lived in Raytown. Today, none of the city’s appointed department heads live within the city limits.

Watch for The Paul Livius Report later this week for complete coverage of Tuesday night's Raytown City Council meeting.

Win a “Go! Go! Girls” Doll by Erin Whitehead
Now that I have a kiddo, I’m always on the lookout for fun, educational toys. So when an email from Go! Go! Sports Girls Dolls landed in my inbox, I got genuinely excited. Unlike some dolls that don’t exactly set the best example... Continue reading...

Illegal Signage on the Increase

While driving around Raytown this past week we noticed that there has been an increase of illegally posted signs on telephone poles throughout Raytown. Most of the signs are red and white and advertise low loan rates for homes. Most noticeable were two signs just blocks from City Hall located at 63rd Street and Raytown Trafficway and at 63rd street and Woodson.

Certainly our codes department drives by these signs on a daily basis. If they are not removed by this time next week we will begin publishing pictures of where the signs are located so they will be able to locate them.

O’Hara Basketball Team Goes to 3 - 0 by Brother Richard Geimer
On December 2, behind the 35 point scoring by Daniel Hurtt, the Archbishop O'Hara High School boys basketball team won their third game of the season when they handed the Pembroke Hill Raiders an 83-73 defeat.

In the first half the two teams traded points with a close 30-28 showing, but the Celtics obtained a little more breathing room by outpointing their opponents 22-17 in the third quarter.

For the fans who wanted to see a lot of scoring, the teams combined for a total of 59 fourth quarter points before the game ended with O'Hara ahead by ten.

Rayshaun McDonald contributed 22 points and Kyle Baker had 17.

To post a comment on this blog click on the word comments below:


Anonymous said...

So Greg,
You failed in making charter effort successful. Sue Frank Win.
Admit that she has more political power than you and move on.

Anonymous said...

A city charter becomes the constitution for the city. Sorry people, but it can't be "simple". It must be detailed in order to protect the citizens of the city against unscrupulous people who might get control of the city government. Those who say "keep it simple" are a dangerous bunch; they just don't understand what a charter form of government is all about and how it works. The last proposed charter was not a perfect document (none will be), but it would have served us well. People with wrong motives lead the drive to defeat it. They were able to “fish-in” and manipulate “simple” minded and naive people with the "keep it simple" line. They did this because they lost control of the process when the “wrong” people were elected to serve on the Charter Commission. We need a charter, but it will be an extensive and expensive process to get one that will serve us well.

Greg Walters said...

I will admit that Sue Frank was at the forefront of a movement to defeat the Charter. She was successful. The Charter Commission did a good job of putting together a package loaded with compromises that would have served Raytown well.

It is Raytown's loss that Sue Frank was successful.

Perhaps someday another attempt will be made at bringing a more stream-lined form of government to Raytown that gives a real voice to the people.

Why is it I feel you would be opposed to that change?

Pat Casady said...

The last attempt for a charter was an example
of how Raytown's political system has and still
works. The people wanted a charter. The city wanted a charter only "IF" it fit in with their
agenda. It did not. Then the city administration started their machine. This consisted of the
Raytown Reaching for Tomorrow group, bought
and paid for by Curt Wenson. It also included
the Raytown Chamber of Commerce, also a friend
of the city, and the lies so many lies about the
charter. Add in the fact that the voters
of Raytown have had so little faith in this city's
government because Mr. Wenson and his crew divided
the people from City Hall by this time that they, to this day
don't get out and vote. Sadly this is why we are
in the shape we are in today.
I have to hand it to Mr.Wenson, he could sell
ice to an Eskimo. And did on many occasions.
He ran the Board of Aldermen, he told them how
to vote. It's just too bad that the people
couldn't see that if the city was so against the charter
that they broke laws and at times almost started
fights like at the Round Up Days, that this
charter would have been good for them. The people.
Raytown will never have a charter unless City Hall
writes it then we might just as well not have one.
By the way Anonymous 9:29,
Sue Frank didn't run this city.
Curt Wenson ran and ran down this city.

Anonymous said...

The Sue Frank/Curt Wenson administration was so damaging to Raytown that I'm not sure it will ever recover. The cronyism that reigned at city hall during their abuse of power was just sinful. Again due to their horrible leadership these two provided, I'm afraid Raytown's best days are behind us.

Anonymous said...

I think signage is on the decrease...why, I'm always taking them down. Especially GUTTERS CLEANED, who stupidly used a UPS box with their address on it, and a bunch of yellow and black signs at Woodson and 63rd that didn't last a day.

There are a couple of those white and red ones around I haven't gotten to. One at Sterling and Blue Ridge Blvd. and 57th Place and BRB. But I'll get them some night.

Greg. Charter. Rock on.

Anonymous said...

I have taken down 2 windows installed signs and still have them. I will use them if I want to use the wire for my own, legally placed, homemade sign.

Mr. Wenson was a highly paid tie wearing chair warmer city employee. I wonder who his handler was? It seems to me that his actions were a conflict of interest. He didn't succeed in selling me a bill of goods. We had a few words about Crescent Creek, a new development of miniature homes on miniature lots that has become an issue over a period of time.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

I remember John Wiley was pushing hard for the bridal shop. I don't think they could qualify for a loan or had some sort of financial issue.

The Mayor did not seem to impressed with their proposal.

Anonymous said...

I drive by the three new stores in Raytown on a daily basis. Walmart, IHOP and Aldi's. IHOP is almost always empty unless it is a Sunday. The Walmart parking lot is never as full as it was in years past. Aldi's looks empty compared to the HyVee parking lot.

I wonder how long those places can continue.

I worry about the city's investments in them if they go away.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 8:15 am

You should be worried. The city loaned Aldi's $600,000 to open. Remember, Aldi's was in Raytown years ago and couldn't make it. They picked up and moved on, leaving a empty building for years. The city is on the hook for TIFs and CIDs for IHOP. Walmarts annual report shows revenues are down all across the nation. Raytown holds the bonds for Walmart. If they don't sell enough, Raytown makes up the difference. That's what the candidates were trying to tell us last April. The incumbents lied through their teeth saying it isn't true. Now we know who was really lying.

Anonymous said...

Why don't we quit complaining and start supporting our local businesses

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:23 you sound like one of the chair warmers at city hall. Crawl back into your hole.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 12/6/11 3:23 PM
Why don't we quit complaining and start supporting our local businesses

Because it is easier to "B" (female dog) and moan than to do anything. People would rather make snide remarks about the city leadership and then do something about it.

Anonymous said...

How do you define local business? Are you saying we should support Aldi or SavALot over HyVee? HyVee is just as local as the others and always busy.

IHOP is consistently busy almost every time I pass it near mealtime. SavALot is always empty.

Anonymous said...

Support local businesses? I do! Don't confuse the international mega-giants like Walmart and Aldi's as a local business. If they do not perform the corporate heads will pull the plug and leave the city holding the bag for millions of dollars of debt.

Guess who gets to pay that debt whether or not the store is there.

That's right. The good folks who live in Raytown.

Pull you head out of the sand. I suppport local businesses but those mega-giants getting free tax dollars to open and operate their retail mega-centers are simply the out of town rich getting richer.

Anonymous said...

You guys detract from your message when you find cute ways to use rude language.

Pat Casady said...

Anonymous 3:23,
It's too bad our city leaders don't feel
the way you feel. I don't know how long
you have been in Raytown but, if you were
here when the Wal-Mart opened on 67th and Blue
Ridge you would remember that Raytown lost
over half of our small local owned businesses.
This meant nothing to our city leaders when
W-M wanted to open an even bigger store where
they are now. After that big box opened we
lost another thirty or so local owned businesses.
Anonymous 1:18 was right and wrong. They were
right about Raytown taxpayers having to make up
the difference in bond payments. So far W-M has
cost the taxpayers over $1,800,000.00. That's a lot
of your hard earned tax dollars that could have been
used to make this town better. The Aldi and Ihop deal
was, as reported earlier, over $800,000.00.
That's over $2,600,000.00 taxpayer dollars that have
been loaned (the Aldie's and Ihop deal) and or given away.
These deals were just bad business dealings, and terrible
decision making by our city leaders.
Then after they realized what a bad decision they had made they
raised our taxes. This after our property values went down.
I am not picking on our leaders. These are facts. I don't
see how most of them can look the Raytown citizens in the eye
after what they have done to this town.

Anonymous said...

Q. Does it seem logical for a business that failed in Raytown to reopen in Raytown?

A. Only if the taxpayers cover the loss if it fails again.

Aldi is in the wrong location. They are in a highly trafficed area which is good for a normal business but their target market is the low income and elderly, not the commuters passing by. They would do better where Save-A-Lot is or where the closed grocery store on Blue Ridge was. In other words, withing walking distance of their customer base. I know at least 2 people who WALKED to Thriftway.

I think Aldi would do well in Raytown Park Plaza with plenty of parking and walking base to their customer base.

Some of the language that is classed as bad is classed that way by older people, like myself. My mother wouldn't have allowed it but the word that wasn't used above is more or less in common use in today's vocabulary.

There was a recent Twitter incident from an 18 year old commenting on Gov. Brownback. These words are in common use even though I don't understand the meaning on one of the words.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

I am not a chair warmer at city hall. Just a citizen who wants to see our city grow and will support it. How about you?

Anonymous said...

If you don't like the way city business is being done quit complaining get off your back side and run for an office. Let's see what you can do

Anonymous said...

The Dysfunctional School District had a legal notice in Tuesday's Red Star seeking 2 contestants for the board election in August. Hopefully there are 2 conservative, rational people who till throw in their hat.

I believe the deadline is 1/10 so act fast.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

I remember the economic tsunami that struck Raytown when Walmart opened. Small stores that offered good products for the holiday shoppers were forced out of business by America's biggest price cutter.

You would think that city hall had learned from its mistake.

Anonymous said...

Learn from mistakes??? The city has never acknowledged a mistake! Businesses are closing or leaving town but who will acknowledge that a mistake was make?

I don't consider it a mistake. I consider it to be an idiotic blunder or dismal failure. Either one is a more accurate description.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

I read in the KC Star that Kansas City is almost done with their redistricting process. I wonder where Raytown is with redrawing the lines for City council districts.

Are they staying with five wards or are they planning on reducing the number for better control?

Anonymous said...

Is Mount Olivet every going to mow their extra acreage? We are so tired of looking at the straggly grass and weeds.

Anonymous said...

6:59AM, Yes, the people must be conntrolled since we live in the Socialist Fascist Feif of Raytown under the O'Bummer dictatorship of the United States.
I saw a Page 1 story in a local print newspaper. I think the story was fabricated since the headline was, "ANNUAL CHRISTMAS LIGHTING AND CELEBRATION". I attended many BOA meetings and the city had a Holiday Lighting with no holiday specified. Raytown does NOT recognize Christmas. Last year there was a sign on City Hall, "Closed for the holiday" with no patticular holiday stipulated.

I wonder why a newspaper fabricates fabricates a story? It looks good, but is an untruth.

Our BOA should be known as the Grinches Who Stole Christmas. Obviously this is the first step in contolling the people.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

The bridal shop that has long been talked about as coming to Raytown and building in the area formerly occupied by 1st Baptist has officialy signed a lease for an existing space in a strip shopping center at 91st and Metcalf in Overland Park with an effective opening date of 1/1/12. They were granted access to the new location on 12/1 for move in purposes. For whatever reason the owner has decided to stay in that area less than 5 blocks from their current location.

Anonymous said...

2:25PM, Thanks for the report. I think the cost of building their wedding chapel on the Green Space would be excessive. I believe it would be next to impossible to get financing in this economy. I think a wedding chapel would be a better place for our tax $$$ than Aldi because the this business had customers from out of state and a wedding will bring more people to town than Aldi ever will. From the trickle down effect those coming to a wedding will buy flowers, gifts, gasoline, fast food, and groceries as well as patronize local restaurants.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

I saw where the BOA approved the hiring of a Finance Director after a nation wide search. His name is
Mark Loughry. I googled his name and found some interesting Internet articles regarding his two year stint for the City of Basehor. The best predictor of the future is the past.

Mr. Loughry should fit in very nicely at Raytown City Hall.

Anonymous said...

By Matt Erickson of the Basehor Sentinal

December 8, 2011

His surprise firing continues to reverberate more than two months later in the form of efforts to recall three different elected officials, but former Basehor city administrator Mark Loughry is moving on.

Loughry was hired earlier this week to be finance director for the city of Raytown, Mo.

The city's 10-member board of aldermen voted unanimously Tuesday to approve an employment agreement with Loughry for a salary of $79,500. He is due to start work there Monday.

The aldermen hired Loughry out of 18 applicants for the job, seven of whom were interviewed, said Debbie Duncan, the city's human resources manager. The job opened Nov. 11 when the city's previous finance director resigned.

Raytown City Administrator Mahesh Sharma, who interviewed Loughry along with several other city officials, said officials had looked into the circumstances surrounding Loughry's firing in Basehor. And Loughry was not shy about discussing those circumstances during interviews, Sharma said.

“He was pretty straightforward in answering all the questions that we had with honesty and integrity,” Sharma said.

He said Loughry's skills and experience matched what Raytown was looking for in a finance director. Loughry was finance director for the city of Hays, where he worked before coming to Basehor in 2009, before he became assistant city manager there.

“He is going to be a good fit for our organization,” Sharma said. “We are excited that he chose to join us.”

Mayor Terry Hill said Loughry's hiring showed that he had been an asset for the city of Basehor.

“What a loss for us,” Hill said. “Those people totally dismissed all this silliness going on in Basehor.”

Basehor City Council President Dennis Mertz, who made the surprise motion to fire Loughry at the council's Sept. 19 meeting, declined to comment on Loughry's hiring except to say he wished him “the best of luck.”

As of Thursday evening, attempts to contact Loughry for this story had been unsuccessful.

Raytown, which is east of Kansas City, Mo., and south of Independence in Jackson County, Mo., had a reported population of about 29,500 in the 2010 Census.

Since Loughry's firing in September, the Sentinel has reported on allegations that Loughry illegally received fully paid health insurance benefits for his family and misrepresented the wages he received while working in Hays. Since then, efforts to remove Hill, Mertz and city council member Iris Dysart from office have cited events surrounding Loughry's firing as grounds for recall.

In November, Loughry was named a finalist for the city administrator position in Platte City, Mo., but did not get the job.

Anonymous said...

Will Mark Loughry live in Raytown or will he waste gas and pollute the air driving all the way to Basehor? I think driving that far and making only $79,500 would show pure stupidity if that is his choice.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

Bashhor to Raytown. That's about a 40 mile commute. I wonder if Mr. Loughry plans to move to our fair city?

Anonymous said...

I am almost to the point that I don't blame these people for not wanting to live in Raytown. If I could sell my house for what I owe, I would leave, but the value of my house has dropped so much, I am stuck for years to come.

Anonymous said...

A 40 mile commute? It is actually 80 miles when you figure a round trip. Also figure the time driving. I value my time, All that mileage and time is not worth it for a $79,500 per year job. Is this one of the people that city crews will have to dig out during a snow storm?

When I had to drive that far to work, I was paid a per diem.

The only reason I am living in Raytown is being close to the Post Office and the closed place where I was forced to work because I didn't have the time or money for a long drive to work.

BTW: "Watch for The Paul Livius Report later this week for complete coverage of Tuesday night's Raytown City Council meeting." Has Raytown been elevate to having a City Council? I thought we were in a 4th Class city with a Board of Aldermen.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

The City hires a person for the Finance Director job who was fired from his last job for not being honest about money?

City's generally do not fire person's under contract, immediately without cause or foundation for their firing and then post it in the newspapers and Internet.

Better watch this one carefully.

Greg Walters said...


Technically you are correct. Raytown is governed by a Board of Aldermen. It is the proper term for the governing body of a Fourth Class City in Missouri.

I often mix the two terms, City Council and Board of Aldermen because I view them as synonymous. I have also found that not everyone knows what a Board of Aldermen is -- but everyone does know what a City Council is.

I am often surprised by people who write they wish they did not live here. Personally, I love my home and neighbors. The social ills we face in Raytown are the same everywhere else in the KC area.

I am not always pleased by how our elected officials run the town -- but hope springs eternal that they may improve with time.

Sometimes I am surprised by their actions. For instance, they have not replaced the position of Community Development Director. I always thought the post was unnecessary -- apparently the majority of the City Council has finally reached that conclusion as well.

Anonymous said...


I agree most people don't know we have a board of alderman. I am moving to a a city with a City Council and that council has difficulty finding candidates. The Councilman in my district moved so the councilman in the next district had to overlap into mine. They are paid a lot less than in Raytown. They receive $50 per meeting and no health insurance. My Councilman is an electrician and said he is losing business by using his time for the Council. It takes real concern and dedication.

Agreed, the whole metro has similar conditions except maybe more crime in parts of KCMO. But in Raytown, when the BOA makes a blunder, it really shows because we are dealing with a lower taxpayer base and lower budget. My reason for leaving is not the mismanagement by the BOA. It is because the climate is too miserable and is causing health problems, as well as the fact I can't afford to live here. I have said that Raytown is for the rich. Another reason for living is the Dysfunctional School District because I can't afford the outlandish property taxes of 69% going to the school district! I don't think anyone looks at their tax bill. My house is for sale "as is where is" if anyone is interested in a large fenced yard to contain children or pets along with RV access.

Even though I am not staying in Raytown, I still own property and want to see this city improve and move forward.

Agreed, Community Development Director is unneeded. I have felt it could be absorbed by other departments. Resides that Economic Development is basically the same job. If that position is being eliminated, it is a smart thing to do.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

I have read several negative articles regarding the City’s new Finance Director and his past employment.

These are very serious accusations and should not be taken lightly.

Elected Officials and Department Heads should be held to a higher standard and their conduct beyond reproach.

I think the City should of a taken a pass on this guy.