Saturday, January 19, 2013

Some people have to overcome obstacles in their life. A recent contestant on American Idol shows what determination and the right attitude can accomplish. You will be amazed by  . . .  Lazaro

Paul Livius

The Paul Livius Report BY PAUL LIVIUS
Raytown Board of Aldermen Meeting January 15, 2013
Mayor Bower proclaimed January 21, 2013 to be the Dr. Martin Luther King day in Raytown.

Brenda Gustafson, the new Public Information Officer, gave a short study session to the Board, informing them of the duties of the Public Information Officer.  She said her goal was to increase communications, encourage informed participation, foster community pride and satisfaction, and encourage growth.  There are many ways to achieve these goals.  She plans to use the media, i.e. internet, television, and the newspaper.  After her presentation, Alderman Aziere said he has had several requests to broadcast the Board meetings on the ATT U-verse provider.  The meetings are already being broadcast on Comcast TV.  He asked if she has looked into broadcasting with ATT also.  Mayor Bower said the City looked into ATT a couple of years ago and the cost was $15,000.  The Mayor told Mr. Aziere that they could talk more after the meeting, and called for the first item on the agenda to be read.

The Board passed a resolution approving an annual maintenance agreement with Harris Computer-Global Software in an amount of $36,480.00.  This is for maintenance of records management and computer aided dispatch system for the Police Department.

The Board passed a resolution approving the purchase of Digital p25 capable/compliant mobile and portable radios and equipment from Motorola Solutions in the amount of $18,699 for the Police Department.

The Board passed a resolution approving the purchase of a 2013 Ford F-550 truck from Dick Smith Ford.  They also approved the purchase of aerial equipment from Altec Industries in the amount of $85,717.00.  This bucket truck will be used by the Public Works department.

The Board heard the second reading of an ordinance to grant a conditional use permit to operate a vehicle sales business at 8910 E. 350 Highway.  Greg Wagner was seeking approval of a conditional use permit application that proposes to operate a vehicle sale and display business at 8910 Highway 350. The property is owned by Robert Gear and would be leased and/or sold to the applicant, Greg Wagner, upon approval of the conditional use permit application. Mr. Wagner said he understood there are several requirements of the Zoning Board and agreed he would have to complete all items before opening his business.

Those requirements are:

1. The vehicle sales and display business shall only be owned and operated by Greg

2. The vehicle sales and display business shall be operated on the property and may not move to a different location or expand to another property without first obtaining approval from the City.

3. The vehicle sales and display business shall be in compliance with all applicable City and State ordinances and codes.

4. The conditional use permit shall be valid for a period of ten (10) years from the date of approval.

5. Light fixtures, poles and bases shall be repaired and repainted so that they match in appearance, color and show no signs of rust or disrepair. In addition, Mr. Wagner will remove two existing driveways on Highway 350, the driveway on Lane Avenue will be relocated further to the north on Lane Avenue, the shoulder along Highway 350 abutting the property will be removed, and seeded with grass, the curbing will be constructed along portions of Highway 350 and Lane Avenue next to the property, storm water improvements will be constructed along Lane, and a sidewalk with a minimum width of five (5) feet will be constructed along Highway 350 and Lane Avenue.

6. Additional landscaping will be installed by May 1, 2013 on the property consisting of trees and shrubs along the property next to Highway 350 and Lane Avenue.

The Board amended the ordinance and added the requirement that Mr. Wagner remove the trailer from the premises immediately.  Board discussion included requiring Mr. Wagner to have all conditions met before conducting business on the property.  Mr. Wagner told the Board he had spoken with the City and was led to believe the property would be grandfathered to the code requirements at the time the current property owner, Robert Gear, opened business.  He was told he did not have to meet the other requirements until he had actually purchased the property.  Mr. Wagner told the Board the property was in foreclosure and currently being managed by GMAC.  Due to Mr. Gear’s legal problems, no one was sure when the actual sale would take place.  He also told the Board he cannot afford to spend the money necessary to meet the City’s conditions until he is sure he will be able to purchase the property.  All he wants to do is run his business until the purchase can take place.  The property owner should be responsible for clearing any code violations.  Since Mr. Gear seems unwilling or unable to do so, the City is now forcing him (Mr. Wagner) to take that responsibility.  If the City didn’t want his business here in Raytown, he wished they would have told him that before he signed the lease.  After more discussion, some of which took place during a ten minute break in the meeting, the Board passed a resolution allowing Mr. Wagner six months to have his business up and running, or he would have to remove his cars from the car lot.

Transparent or Opaque? BY PAUL LIVIUS
At the January 15 meeting, the new Public Information Officer, Benda Gustafson, gave the Board an overview of the responsibilities and plans for her office.  One plan, she said, was to increase the City’s transparency.  She wanted more residents to know about more events and services provided by the City. 

She said she plans to use the media more.  By the media, she means the internet, television, and newspapers.  She wants to improve the City’s website.  She wants to make it fresher, with more and news photos of happenings around town.  She wants more advertising on local television, and she wants the Kansas City Star’s Community Page to have more information about Raytown and photos of Raytown citizens.

At the conclusion of her presentation, Alderman Aziere said he has had numerous requests from residents to show the Board meetings on ATT U-verse, as well as Comcast.  He can appreciate her efforts to improve the website, but he said many of the elderly residents are unable to navigate the internet.  They do, however, watch television, and many want to be able to watch the meetings.  He asked Ms. Gustafson if she had looked into broadcasting with ATT.

Mayor Bower interrupted the conversation by saying the City looked into ATT U-verse two years ago and the cost was $15,000.  He then ended the conversation by telling Mr. Aziere they could discuss the subject after the meeting.

Really, Mr. Mayor?  Is there some reason you didn’t want to discuss it out in the open?  Could it be you were afraid the other aldermen would agree with Mr. Aziere?

We, the residents of Raytown would like to know why you are against spending $15,000 to broadcast the meetings to more people.  After all, you were willing to spend $56,000 to renovate City Hall.  You were willing to spend $15,000 on new carpet at City Hall.  And, of course, you were willing to give a $30,000 pay raise to one person.

We would like to know why you are willing to spend money on things that only benefit you and your friends, but you are unwilling to spend money to increase the transparency of the City.

Greg Walters
Annual Financial Report Paints Bleak Picture BY GREG WALTERS
Sales tax revenue figures for the past nine years show that the City of Raytown has not experienced the growth one would anticipate from new construction over the same time period.

In fact, once the annual payment for what is commonly known as the Walmart TIF is taken out, city sales tax revenues are actually in decline.

In 2012 the City of Raytown collected $663,996.00 in sales tax revenue. However, an estimated annual payment for the Walmart TIF for 2012 only, based on actual average, is expected to take back $69,406.00 of that revenue.

That means $69,406.00 for street improvements, police protection, and other city services, will not be spent on those needs. Instead, the money will be used to pay bondholders interest and debt retirement for the construction of the Walmart development.

Subtract the Walmart payment from the total sales tax collected in 2012. The “real” sales tax total drops to $594,590.00.

That total shows a decrease of real sales tax revenue below the 2004 benchmark of $610,486.00.

Dedicated Sales Taxes Captured by Walmart TIF
It is a little known fact that special use sales taxes are also captured by the Walmart TIF in Raytown. Missouri state statutes require that ALL sales tax revenues within a TIF District are collectable for debt retirement.

The last two sales taxes passed by Raytown taxpayers, one named the “Transportation Sales Tax” and the other the “Public Safety Sales Tax” are two such taxes.

Voters were told that if they supported the two sales tax increases (1/2 cent on each tax), that the revenue would be used specifically for street improvements and increased police protection.

What they were not told was that the sales tax collected within the Walmart TIF District would be used for debt retirement of bonds held by private investors of the Walmart TIF.

Even if the tax was passed after the Walmart TIF was created – as was the case with the Public Safety Sales Tax – it is still used to pay down the debt.

Walmart is estimated to produce close to 20% of the city’s sales tax revenue. That means 20% of the sales tax dollars collected for street improvements and public safety are not being used for those purposes.

Next Week . . . Promises Made, Promises Broken

Firefighters Rescue Dog From Frozen Lake BY MATT MACE
On  Tuesday January 15, 2013 members of the Raytown Fire Department rescued a four year old dog from Wildwood Lake. Local residents, who had alerted Raytown’s 911 Dispatch Center, spotted the dog on the ice. The Fire Departmetn was called and Raytown Engine #1 made the rescue and transported the dog to the Raytown Animal Hospital for treatment. The Raytown Animal Hospital has advised the Fire Department the dog’s owner claimed the dog later that same day. 

Fire Marshal Matt Mace said, “Both of our trucks are equipped with cold water suits which allow us to safely effect a rescue from icy lakes and ponds. While we certainly do not want to rescue anyone or anything from icy water, events such as this are valuable training exercises.”

For more information on safety and rescue tips on iced over ponds and lakes contact Raytown Fire Marshal Matt Mace at 816-737-6034 or email at

Chris, Jeannette and Garrett Merrill
Chris Merrill Files for City Council in Ward 3 
My name is Chris Merrill and I am running for Alderman in Raytown Ward 3. I am 36, been married for 14 years with 1 child, and lived at my current address for 15 years. I started attending Raytown schools in first grade and graduated from Raytown South High School in 1994.

I have been a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (I.B.E.W.) Local #124 for 17 years. At the end of my 5 year apprenticeship I passed my masters exam to recieve my Masters Licence. Since that time I have recieved many other certifications. I am a very active member of my union, volunteering my time for DADs day (dollars for diabetes), Christmas in October, Local #124's Childrens Christmas party, and delivering Christmas baskets to the widows of deceased members of Local #124.

My wife, Jeannette Thomas Merrill, is a paraprofessional for students with special needs in the Raytown School District, and my son attends school at a Raytown Elementary School. I am a member of the Union Sportsmen's Alliance. I also like to coach my son’s sports teams. I have coached baseball at Kansas City Baptist Temple and now at Raytown Sports Association. I am also a youth wrestling coach for Mat Rat Wrestling Club overseen by O'Hara High School.

I would like to have the opportunity to be the voice of my ward. I am a very good listener and would work to correct the concerns of the people of my ward. The best way to contact me would be email,

Workout I Did! A Little of This, A Little of That BY ERIN
My workouts are notoriously interrupted these days, but that doesn’t mean I don’t try. It’s a good thing every little bit counts, right? And actually, the good thing about not knowing how long I’ll have to exercise before I get interrupted by the gym daycare is that I do my best to work my hardest and make every... Continue reading

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Salamander said...

Read anything interesting in the local paper recently?
More than likely the answer is "No".

This is a shame because so few take the Star. No subscribing means potential readers missed an interesting story in the Saturday, January 12, 2013 edition.

That day's paper carried a front page report about a Prairie Village councilman who is apparently going to be removed from office.

He is being kicked out on his behind for trying to help a fellow human in trouble.

David Morrison, about to be ex-councilman of Prairie, did the unthinkable. He tried to help someone who obviously needed it.

Here is what took place.

Morrison, a husky fellow gave his friend a warm corner of the public building in which to get some rest and come out of the cold.

More specifically, he gave this unfortunate a key to city hall; told him to find a corner to snooze in.

That's all. But "Not All" to his fellow councilmen.

From their reaction one might think Morrison had invited Jack the Ripper, Jesse James, or perhaps Charles Manson to enter the sacred confines of legislation -- City Hall.

After all, this taxpayer built and paid for structure is where the PV City council meets in their unceasing efforts to give residents of their city better and safer government.

When Morrison's mis-deed became known, ugly talk surfaced. Some on the council wanted him impeached. Others wanted the city attorney to have him immediately removed. Still, others spoke darkly of calling in the FBI or any number of the other myriad groups of "initial" bureaucrats whose sole goal in life is to protect us from ourselves.

Mr. Morrison, to his credit, says all he was trying to do was give a bit of solace and comfort to a fellow person with a problem. It should be pointed out, to his credit, that Morrison took his friend to a local church for assistance. He was offered some grocery store coupons.

Morrison claims he tried to contact the PV chief of police. To no avail. The chief could not be located. There is speculation the chief of police had been made aware of the problem of unauthorized entrance and that he was out of the office, purchasing additional rolls of tape which read, "Police line, do not cross."

Understandable. After all, the scene of a crime as horrible as letting an unfortunate find a warm place to spend the night must be cordoned off, protecting all evidence to such a heinous occurrence.

That is it. Nothing else happened. Nothing at City Hall was damaged or disturbed. No one was hurt.

Some may inquire: "What is all the hell-raising about? Why are they persecuting a fellow councilman for performing a simple act of charity?"

Read on for what may be a clue. According to the Star:

"....Morrison thinks the vote to remove him is political. He is considered the swing vote in the controversial development of the Mission
Valley Middle School which was sold to a developer by the Shawnee Mission School District. He also takes credit for successfully leading
a plan to block development at Meadowbrook Country Club."

Morrison's getting all this flack for trying to help someone in need reminds the Salamander of a memorable scene from the movie "The Magnificent Seven."

In this epic the bandit, Calverra, opines:

"You will be called to account for every good deed you perform."

Mr. Morrison should tell his fellow councilmen to take their greedy, uncharitable attitude and shove it where the sun does not shine.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who gives out a key to any building without authorization should be disciplined. The end does not justify the means. If he wanted to help this man so bad, why didn't he open his home to him?

Anonymous said...

I don't know about the rest of you but I do not think it is fair that the city favors Comcast users of UVerse user. We pay just as much tax on our television bill as they do. We should get to watch city hall meetings too.

Hey BOA -- do the right thing. Broadcast your meetings on U-Verse

Anonymous said...

The Red Star is overpriced which accounts for the lack of readership. I have found that when calling to renew if you tell the representative that you are cancelling because the price is too high, they will offer a lower price. Tell them that is still too high, they check somewhere and come back with a lower offer. Somehow you can get them down close to 1/2 price because they don't want to loose a subscriber.

When I moved, I had a couple of weeks left, called the Star and cancelled effective at expiration, then told my neighbor she could have the paper out of my paper tube.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

What about those of us that have Direct TV or Dish we would also like to see the council meetings. I have not seen a council meeting for 4 years or more as we have Direct TV, why, it was cheaper than Comcast. Shouldn't everyone in our city be able to watch those meetings and see how our tax money is being spent. Why should it be just a select few? From what I hear I keep missing a lot of Boewers rudness to the people who elected him.

Anonymous said...

I have ATT uverse and I pay the franchise fee, same as Comcast users. City hall can't say there is not money for it. The franchise fees payed by the ATT franchise fee should cover any cost to the city. All you people that have ATT, check your bills and you'll see you pay the same franchise fee. It's time we start demanding that we get what we pay for.

Paul Livius said...

Mr. Mayor,

I saw on our blog where someone wrote they paid the same franchise fee as Comcast subscribers. I did some checking, and the ATT U-verse franchise fee is a little over $3.50 per month. That works out to about $42 per year. If only 500 people in Raytown have ATT U-verse, that is $21,000 per year in franchise fees from these fine folks.

Now, please explain to us why the City can’t afford to broadcast the City Council meetings on ATT U-verse if the cost is only $15,000.

Anonymous said...

Let'see. A $30 thousand dollar a year raise for the City Administrator who refuses to live in Raytown, but no money available for Raytown citizens who want to watch channel 7, but do not have Comcast.

Mayor, do you not see a problem here, or are you really that out of touch with the people who live in Raytown?

C'mon Man!!!

Anonymous said...

Over the air TV is priced much better. Namely FREE! I didn't have money to waste on receiving TV. I felt it was discrimination to air the BOA meetings on Comcast so only the rich could watch it. If meetings are aired on pay TV, the should also be aired on antenna TV for us poor people who don't have money to waste on TV. That is why I have had issues with the city claiming putting it on TV (which I and many others couldn't receive) was legal notice. TV is not legally legal notice. Legal notice must be published in a newspaper of general circulation.

8:09PM You may pay $3.50 in franchise fees but I am sure it varies higher or lower depending on what service you have subscribed to. Add on a few premium channels and it will go up.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

the Mayor and his cronies think they can just ignore what you folks have to say. The only way to teach him a lesson is to organize and get the vote out next April. Tell your friends what you know. Tell them how to learn about what is going on at city hall.

With no newspapers left that give honest coverage of news at city hall the internet is out best way to learn what is going on.

Take advantage of it.

The Mayor and his buddies are counting on apathy to keep them in office.

Don't let them win.

Anonymous said...

I find it sooo interesting that at the last meeting the city council went into an illegal 10 minute break to decide how to vote on whether or not to let a business open up in Raytown.

Check it out in the last paragraph of the Paul Livius Report.

"After more discussion, some of which took place during a ten minute break in the meeting, the Board passed a resolution allowing Mr. Wagner six months to have his business up and running, or he would have to remove his cars from the car lot."

Anonymous said...

There is another way to view the meetings is to get up off the sofa and GO to the meeting. We call it citizen participation.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Andy, we all know you can't (or won't) afford cable TV. We've heard about it ad nauseum for years. The rest of us, however can and do choose to have cable and or satellite TV. You don’t pay a franchise fee for your TV because you don’t have cable or satellite. The rest of us do. All we want is what we pay for. Since you don’t pay the fee, you shouldn’t post your opinions about it. That’s like voting when you don’t know the candidates.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:01 - Some of us are elderly and can't go to the meetings. Some of us work the second shift and can't go to the meetings. Some of us have small children and the cost of child care while attending the meetings is prohibitive. There are many reasons we don't go to the meetings. We still have an interest in what's going on and we want to watch the meetings on TV, or record the meetings to watch later. That's not too much to ask, because a small percentage of residents already have that ability. So, why don't you climb down off your high horse and join the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

What is the point in going to a meeting where you are not allowed to participate with your elected officails? Oh, sure, you can be shoe-pegged into a 3 minute time slot to say your piece. But you won't get an answer to any questions, unless you are a friend of the mayor's.

I read that the city council actually stopped the meeting and went into the hallway to hash out their decision rather than discuss something in public.

Sad, typical, maddening!

Anonymous said...

I sure wish the Mayor would of used some of that $30.000 year raise to take care of the citizens of Raytown instead of an out of town City Administrator. How about the Police, EMS, U-verse, better streets, etc

How's the weather out there in Raymore Mr. CA? I bet it's nice out there.

I hear gunshots and police sirens all over. Just another night in the hood (Raytown)

Anonymous said...

Question -- how and who would put it over "free TV" (AKA broadcast)? On Comcast it is a public access, for which it is intended. The only "public access" TV would perhaps be KCPT -- the PBS station, and if they aired it -- it would be for the entire viewing area, just not for Raytown. Other than that, the city would have to apply for and obtain it's own DTV station, and all of the stuff that goes with that. In other words, it would be impossible to have the BOA meetings broadcast over the air on free TV. The same perhaps would be for DSS (Direct Satellite Service, aka Dish and/or Direct TV), it would simply be too hard for them to set aside a certain station, even if it was for so called public access, for one city and/or multiple cities, and how would you limit it to just those in that city? Simply Comcast at least as for as I can recall has a contract with the City of Raytown, to provide cable, with this they have a public access channel. All of the others, do not, and therefore do not have a public access channel available, the same is for free over the air broadcast TV, it simply cannot be done. It is not discrimination, it is simply business. Now, however, there is technology that is could be streamed over the Internet, made into a pod cast, or some other format. Perhaps this is the best way to go.

Anonymous said...

"So, if guns kill people," someone tweeted, "I guess pencils misspell words, cars drive drunk and spoons make people fat."

Anonymous said...

Let's see now, sales tax revenue is on the decline, property values are down, we keep hiring more high paid city employees and giving the ones that are here outrageous raises ($30,000), a police pension fund that is out of control, so how long do you think it will be before the City of Raytown CAN'T PAY IT'S BILLS? This is a formula for disaster. It's only a shame that the UNQUALIFIED elected officials at city hall can't see this. We need new leadership this April. PLEASE GET OUT AND VOTE AGAINST ALL INCUMBENTS!!! If you don't we may not have a city by the next election cycle.

Anonymous said...

The only one I have heard complain about not having AT&T is Greg Walters.

Anonymous said...

Cityhall won't cut the fat. Sure, they can lay off a street department guy, or a secretary working to get by on low wages, but the top snot at Cityhall. They always take of themselves first. And give themselves a $30000 a year raise for their hard work and effort.

Spending is so out of control that stupid is the new common sense at Cityhall.

Anonymous said...

out of curiosity, how much does the Police Chief in Raytown make per year, not including his new take home car?

Paul Livius said...

At the December 4, 2012 Board Meeting, the Board approved an ordinance establishing the compensation for the office of Police Chief. The Elected Officials Compensation Committee recommended and the Board of Aldermen agreed to no increase in the current compensation. Their recommendation was that $96,742.87 should be the yearly compensation for the office of Police Chief for the term beginning April 2013 and ending April 2017.

Anonymous said...

Is a 10 minute break to have a discussion to make a decision technically a violation of the Open Meetings Act? In my opinion that was NOT a public meeting.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

I am surprised that only 17% have antenna TV. Obviously 83% of those voting on the poll are are rich! I sure couldn't afford to live in Raytown due to high property taxes and high utility rates coupled with high franchise taxes. I had antenna TV and couldn't afford to properly heat or cool my house.

Andy Whiteman