Sunday, February 3, 2013

Watch this “short” animated film from Disney and you will understand why it has been nominated for an Oscar this year . . . Enjoy . . . Paper Man

Public Discussion Belongs in Front of the People BY PAUL LIVIUS
Paul Livius
Last week’s City Council meeting did not show the Board of Aldermen at their best. A simple matter of issuing a license to a business became the topic of over an hour of debate.

The issue is understandable. The location on 350 Highway looks like a junkyard. It needs to be cleaned up. The Mayor and some members of the Board want the property cleaned up before the license is issued.

By the end of the evening, a compromise of sorts was reached by issuing a license for a limited period of time with the understanding that the property would be cleaned up.

That is all well and good. But the process that was used to reach that decision was marred by what may be a violation of Missouri’s Open Meetings Law.

Towards the end of the discussion, Mayor Bower declared a five minute recess (which actually stretched to about ten minutes). Someone forgot to turn off their microphone. The video portion of the broadcast was gone, but the audio portion remained live.

As members of the Board were leaving their seats they could clearly be heard discussing the issue at hand. Some of the comments fell into the area of “counting votes”.

That is not proper. They were technically adjourned. The business discussion was out of place during a recess. Those comments should be made on the Council floor, not away from it.

The Mayor knows better and so do members of the City Council. It is known for certain that the Mayor and at least one other member of the Board, Christine White, left the Council Chambers during the recess. We sincerely hope there is not a repeat of this lapse of judgment by the Mayor and those member of the Board who tested the limits of the Sunshine Law that night.

An interesting footnote to the scenario is the vote on the compromise. The motion to set aside a six month period was made by Alderman Shane Pardue. When the roll was called on the vote, he voted against his own motion.

"The voters did not raise taxes so that we would have fewer police.” 

A Promise Made, a Promise Broken BY GREG WALTERS
Greg Walters
April, 2009. Raytown voters approve a half cent sales tax increase.
Named the “Public Safety Sales Tax” by city officials, voters have been promised that proceeds will be used exclusively for improvements and more manpower related to public safety.

The strongest selling point is that six additional police officers will be hired to increase a police presence in Raytown.

As promised, six new police officers are hired. But in the 2012/2013 city budget, five positions in the police department, not funded by the sales tax increase, were eliminated by the City Administrator.

The “bait and switch” tactic has left many of those who campaigned for the sales tax increase angry and disillusioned.

Sources within the Raytown Police Department say Police Chief of Police Jim Lynch was approached by City Administrator Mahesh Sharma with a request to reduce the number of police employees by five positions.

Lynch refused to do so. He explained that the voters had been promised extra police officers and to remove police personnel from the payroll would be breaking a that promise.

In response, the City Administrator removed five positions from the police department in this year’s city budget.

The Mayor and City Council gave its stamp of approval to Sharma’s suggestion when it unanimously adopted the city’s 2012/2013 city budget last October.

The Crime Factor
I was watching the news the other night. There was a story on crime in the metropolitan area. It showed a graph by zip code of where violent crime was most prevalent. According to the map Raytown is not a high crime community. But the areas immediately south and east of Raytown lead the metro in crime.

It speaks of a need for an active police force.

The Mayor and City Council’s action fly in the face of that reality. 

The Walmart Factor
In 2012 the City spent $69,406.13 to pay down the debt of the Walmart Store TIF on 350 Highway. Even if the tax was passed after the TIF was created – state law requires sales tax collected within the TIF District be used to pay down the debt of the special tax district.

The financial impact of the Walmart TIF is huge.

In Raytown it means the half-cent Public Safety Tax revenue collected at Walmart is not used for additional police protection. It is used to pay the debt for the Walmart store, parking lot and related highway improvements. 

It does not just affect the Public Safety Sales Tax. It also takes money from other so-called dedicated sales taxes like the half cent Transportation Tax and the sales tax collected by the Raytown Fire District.

That is why your residential streets are no longer paved with asphalt but with a low-grade slurry sealant that does little to repair uneven pavement. It is also why the City Administrator eliminated five positions from the Raytown Police Department.

The City promised the voters of Raytown improvements with both the Transportation and Public Safety Sales taxes. 

These were promises made by the Mayor and City Council.

These are promises that have broken. 

Janet Emerson
Janet Emerson for Ward 3 Alderman BY JANET EMERSON

My name is Janet Emerson, and I am a candidate for Raytown Ward 3 Alderman this coming spring.  Now having the time to devote to this important position, I have the concern and drive it takes to bring positive change to this City.  I want to help return Raytown to the prosperity it once knew.  In order to do this, I will need your vote in April.

I have been a resident of Raytown for 36 years.  I have seen Raytown thrive from its early years, but I have also witnessed a troubling loss of businesses.  In 1997, I started a company with nothing, and it independently grew to be one of the top international astronomy/telescope stores in less than five years.  In addition, I have been instrumental in founding two other companies which have achieved success.  I will use my knowledge and experience in this field to help guide the commerce policy in Raytown so that businesses want to come to and enrich our city and remain and prosper in it.

I raised my daughter through the Raytown School District from kindergarten to when she graduated and left to go to college.  She received a quality education via the teachers and administrators of this District.  I want to ensure that quality education is available for every student here because our young people are the future.

If elected, I will keep the Citizens in my Ward up-to-date as to what is considered and planned so that they may voice their input about how this City is being run.  Unfortunately, I do not feel that the Citizens are typically aware of the workings of the City.  I want there to be as much transparency as possible and for them to be as involved as they want to be.  After all, it is THEIR community.

I wish everyone in Raytown a marvelous 2013.  Please, if you haven’t done so, register to vote before March 6th (voter registration forms are available at the library on Raytown Road), and if you’re in Ward 3, please vote for Janet Emerson on Tuesday, April 2nd.

Ward 5 Candidate Removed from Ballot
According to a memo released by City Clerk Teresa Henry, Ward 5 candidate Efrem Z. Williams, Jr. has been removed from the April 2nd ballot. His removal means that incumbent Ward 5 Alderman Steve Mock will be unopposed in his bid for re-election. The remaining four races are contested.

New to the Raytown Report!
This week we are proud to introduce to you a new contributor to the Raytown Report. Fit Bottomed Eats is the brainchild of Jenn Walters. This is Jenn’s third web blog that promote healthy lifestyles. Fit Bottomed Eats joins her other two publications, the highly successful Fit Bottomed Girls (#2 in the nation!) and Fit Bottomed Babies.

Fit Bottomed Eats focuses on cooking and how to do so in a way that is both healthy, innovative, and most importantly, yummy.

We hope you enjoy this new addition to the Raytown Report. 

Incidentally, Jenn makes her home in the Kansas City area, as does this week’s featured writer, Karen Romeo. 

Bon Apetit!

Why Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar Stores Rock BY KAREN ROMEO

The Tasteful Olive
Last month I dropped into The Tasteful Olive, just one of the recent outcroppings of gourmet olive oil and vinegar stores that have popped up around the city. At first I was confused; the place looked sparse. All I saw was row upon row of stainless steel spigotted cisterns and empty bottles. After a brief discussion with one of the staff though, my pulse started to race. Unbeknownst to me, I had just entered a healthy taste-testers paradise!

With eyes wide, I counted more than 60 different naturally flavored and infused balsamic vinegar and gourmet oils. Foodie that I am, I tasted my way through the basic balsamic vinegars first: lemon, strawberry, basil and the like; and then the more unusual concoctions of jalapeno, fig and espresso. YUM! READ MORE

Baseball Season may still be over two months away but the 39 degree temperatures of Saturday did not deter one young man from preparing for the season. 

A level surface, a brick wall, a ball and a glove was all that was needed for Justin to warm up for next season – he plays for Avila College.

To post a comment on this blog click on the word comments on the line directly below this sentence.


Anonymous said...

Pretty sad situation. I would like to think that members of the BOA and Mayor have the best at heart for Raytown. But when I read about some of the stuff they have done. The $30,000 pay increase for Sharma, taking away police positions at budget time and ignoring the sunshine laws of Missouri I reaally wonder if they do have the best for Raytown at heart.

Anonymous said...

Any idea why Efrem Z. Williams, Jr. was removed from the ballet? Now that the only thing left for Ward V is school board, why should I even bother to vote?

Greg Walters said...

The information we received from city hall did not elaborate as to "why" Mr. Williams was removed from the ballot. Jackson County tax records show a delinquency in property tax payments from a few years back. That may be the reason.

Candidates for public office in Missouri must have all of their taxes paid in full to be placed on the ballot.

Can't tell you what to do, but if it were me, I would go vote in the School Board race.

Anonymous said...

Where's the budget? The City has the last five budgets on their website the budget that began November 1, 2012 is mysteriously missing...

Pat Casady said...

OK folks, it doesn't doesn't take a genius to
figure why Mr.Sharma asked Police Chief Lynch
to eliminate five police positions. It's to
assure his asinine pay increase!
Welcome to Raytown politics. Sharma got his
to Hell with the public safety!
Lies, secret meetings, taxpayer money being
given away and or loaned to corporations.
It's time for a huge change at City Hall.

Anonymous said...

7:24 PM, That is why I want paper documents. Electronic documents can be deleted or altered!

When I was in HS I read George Orwell's "1984". In that book, printed books ceased to exist and history could be rewritten with keystrokes so thw past was altered or never happened.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

To tell the truth I could careless about the school board. I have not been in school for well over twenty years, and I do not have any kids in school either. If I did have kids I would not have them in public school, I would try and have them in private (I was in C-2 until my Freshman year, when I went to [two] private schools). The only thing I would be for is lower taxes -- and that is not ever going to happen.

Pat Casady said...

The other day I was in a shop in Raytown.
This shop is a good mile away from the
"Green Space." The owners of this shop was
so much against the "possibility" of a new
Wal-Mart owned grocery store going into that
space that every customer that came through
their door they complained about it.
It seems they feel threatened buy the possibility
that a new grocery store could somehow hurt their
The fact is, what will hurt their business is their own
fault. Nobody wants to here it! They will be running
off more business than any store a mile away.
I really hope they read this blog. These are very nice
people. Good hard working people that own their business
and work hard at it.
Trust me, I know what politics and business can do and it's
not good.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the above 10:16 pm. I would not send my dog or cat to a Raytown Public School with all the trash coming in from the inter city. Teachers can't do anything about the problem students and their administration will not back the teachers.............

Anonymous said...

Not only did CA Sharma put the screws to the police department he also padded his pockets on the backs of several park department employees. The mayor, CA Sharma, BOA and the Park Board voted to increase the out of pocket co pay for health insurance by over $3,000 dollars a year for park employees with families. Some were able to go onto their spouses plan and others had to make the choice of buck up or leave. These are people that make between $25,000 - $40,000 a year. This all happened when the MOU was passed between the City and Parks Department. Then CA Sharma gets his $30,000 a year raise and the little guy gets a $3,000 a year lower. This can all be verified by calling the Park Department or CA Sharma.
This is just the tip of the iceberg at the Raytown Parks Department. I invite any and all of you to attend a board meeting and watch the park board president throw his weight around. He and the Mayor rule with the same iron fist and nastiness. This should not come as a surprise since the Mayor appointed him. Things have come to a grinding halt, they city now has its nose in all park business and nothing can get done. This is exactly why the park board is suppose to be the ruling body of the park department and not an advisory board like it is now. Somebody needs to contact the attorney general because the law is being broken. What was once a gem in Raytown is slowly going downhill.

Anonymous said...

10:16PM, I suggest to care about the school board because they are the biggest taxing authority on your property tax bill! I didn't do the calculation this year, but in the past, the wasted 69% of my tax bill! This bears watching especially when there is a person on the school board voting to raise taxes who also has a record of not paying her own property taxes. Is she taxing us for fools?

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

Janet Emerson is so right. The incumbents at city hall are counting on apathy to keep them in office. If you are not registered to vote. Go do it. It doesn't cost a penny. You can register at the Public library.

If you are registered but know someone who is not please urge them to register to vote.

Anonymous said...

You can also register at tha City Clerk's office. I registered there and since I need a typewriter because I can't write they filled out the registration and entered my name incorrectly. I had to call the electgion office to get it corrected. I never though to check their work assuming they could copy from my drivers' license but many people have difficulty understanding my name and enter it incorrectly.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

I oppose the elimination of Saturday mail delivery. This means 2 days without mail for the average person or business and the inability for anyone to have outgoing mail processed on Saturday.
As a former postal employee I know there will be a build up of mail on Mondays delaying delivery and requiring overtime. I am more concerned about Monday holidays which will mean 3 days of NO mail in or out. Carriers will definitely be overloaded on Tuesdays with very late delivery requiring overtime. Outgoing mail as well has already been delayed. I fail to understand how there would be any savings. It would be more logical to eliminate Tuesday delivery when First Class volume is typically at its lowest.
I urge everyone to write their Senators and Congressmen as well as signing an online petition.

Please see:

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

Change at cityhall means more for those at the top and less for the citizens of Raytown. I'm sicken by the nonsense and lies that come from cityhall; If my Raytown home wasn't worth less now than I gave for it 20 years ago, I would gladly pack up and move.

Times are hard and times are even harder if you are a citizen of Raytown.

Anonymous said...

After reading the bio of Janet Emerson, I have a few questions I would like answered. #1 Where are your businesses located and how many people employed? #2 How long have you been in business? #3 What type of business? #4 Are you a member of the Raytown Chamber of Commerce? #5 If you are so concerned about Raytown why have you not been serving on some of the committees and attending the BOA meetings? In order for me to even think about supporting you I would need answers to these questions and lots more not just a bio to make yourself sound good. I'll be watching for you to reply.

Anonymous said...

I would strongly urge anyone in Ward 3 to vote for Janet Emerson and in Ward 2 vote for Jason Greene. I believe these two would bring to light some of the nonesense taking place in the BOA.

Anonymous said...

Greg, I sent a post asking some questions of Janet Emerson. Why have you not posted it? Nothing hateful about it just would like some answers from her.

Anonymous said...

Homes in Raytown are over assessed compared to similar homes. At least mine was as well as other people's homes who I have spoken with. No assessment notice was sent out last year. I called the Assessor's office and was told it cost too much to mail out because there was no change. Hence people were denied the right to protest if they wanted to. The previous year my assessment went way up. I protested over the phone and an appraiser was sent uut. She set my assessment at $97,000. My house was nowhere worth that much based on comps (comparisons). My house is under contract for much less as a short sale.

Is an attorney reading this blog who knows if there is any possible action against the Assessor as well as the taxing authorities for possible illegal assessments as well as refunds of tax dollars wrongly collected? I am thinking of a class action since this potentially affects every property owner in Raytown.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

In view of the recent apartment fire with smoke detectors not working, Raytown needs an ordinance requiring owners of rentals to maintain the smoke detectors.

Andy Whiteman

Marjain Breitenbach said...

Hello everyone this is Elisa Breitenbach with DOUGHBOYS in Raytown. I understand Politics & Business don't mix very well. I understand at least one of you think we are doing “Business Suicide.” We feel politics sometimes can be damaging to our families and business. As responsible citizens, we must take a stand. I believe this because Walmart is very damaging to the community and all the small businesses. Back in the 80's when the first WalMart store went in Raytown, all the small businesses in that area tried to fight. The little businesses went under. The majority of our customers know we respect & appreciate them. Our customers are loyal and are grateful for the stand we are taking. They know we are loving of our community and that we truly care. This may seem offending to some people, but we are honest, hard working citizens and our loyal customers know this. If any person is unhappy with the way we run our business by mixing it with politics, we understand if they want to do business elsewhere. I know from somes views that we are committing "business suicide" but our growing sales has proved otherwise. I feel it is my God-Given responibility to inform and improve my community. I know this may cost me customers, but I have grown customers in exponential numbers because of my support towards Raytown as a community.