Saturday, June 14, 2014


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“Un-Chartered Waters”
The Raytown Charter Commission took some very strong positions on the questions of residency and candidate eligibility at its last meeting.

Specifically, the Commission came to a consensus that required all elected officials in Raytown to be current in their taxes or forfeit their office. The Commission also decided on residency requirements that elected officials must live in the ward they represent.

I voted yes on the two requirements – in retrospect I wonder if the Commission may have moved too quickly.

Don’t get me wrong. I agree 100% with the intent. Anyone who moves out of their Ward should resign their seat on the City Council.  Same goes for paying taxes.

But I am also aware that sometimes there are disputes with taxing authorities in which taxes are not paid. Until those disputes are adjudicated, the City Council may be putting itself in jeopardy by forcing someone who did not pay their taxes timely for reasons that are being disputed in court.

It is a strong argument for the Commission to move forward and find an attorney to act as their legal advisor. There seems to be no lack of individuals on the Commission who are trying their best to act like they have legal knowledge on these subjects, but somehow it does not seem to be the same.

On another issue – term limits – which Paul has a lot to say about – here is the compromise I offered the Charter Commission on the subject. It is modeled after the term limits used by the City of Lee’s Summit. I thought it was a good compromise. I can assure you this topic will be back before the Commission before its work is done.

Here is a short version of what was offered:

  1. Term limits of two four year terms (eight years total)
  2. Individuals who are term-limited out after two terms (eight years), could then run for another seat on City Council
In effect, it requires politicians to take a break after eight years. It would also open the door for other interested Raytowners to serve in public office.

I watched the Charter Commission meeting and was pleasantly surprised by the Commissioners intent to set up tough provisions outlining qualifications for elected officials in Raytown. Those provisions are

  1. Elected officials must forfeit their office if they are delinquent in paying their taxes.
  2. Elected officials must live in the Ward of the people they represent.
Those are two very strong steps in the right direction.

But I also agree with Greg (see the above article, "Un-Chartered Waters"). The Commission has not vetted these rules with the Charter Commissions lawyer. In fact, as of this writing, the Commission has not selected a lawyer to help in crafting the document.

I think it was Abraham Lincoln who said, “A person who represents himself in areas of the law has a fool for a client.”

Our 16th President could not have said it better. The Charter Commission is averaging three hours a meeting. Unless they clear what they are writing with some sort of legal authority it could all end up a waste of their time.

One other thought. A few of the Charter Commission members sound like they are trying to pass themselves off as legal experts.

Bad idea . . . Remember what ‘ol Abe Lincoln said . . . nobody wants to be the fool!

The other thing that struck me as interesting was the debate over term limits. 

I told Greg that it seems a little odd that a man who had 27 years as a member of the Board of Aldermen would be the chief proponent of term limits. His response was interesting. He told me he has always supported term limits provided it is the will of the people to have term limits, but until such time that they are in place, he was not inclined to impose them on himself while other politicians did not.

Makes sense.

I did notice the rushing of politicians on the Board taking the lead in opposition to term limits. Jason Greene took the lead on that side of the debate. He bemoaned how hard it was to find candidates to run for office.

I did some checking, nobody, and I checked with a lot of folks, can remember when there was election for a seat on the Board of Aldermen when there was not a candidate.

They did, however, remember plenty of races where incumbents got what is called “a free ride” to re-election without opposition.

Greg has a good point here. Incumbents usually have a built in advantage in a race for the City Council. That may explain why there was a circling of the wagons at the last meeting of Charter Commission on the question of term limits.

Somehow, I do not think we have heard the last of term limits. The Commission voted 12 no to 2 yes, with one member absent, on keeping it out of the document at this time. Chairman Steve Guenther suggested that the matter may come back as a pull-out issue to let the public make the final decision. If they don’t they may very well see issue come back through the initiative process if the charter is approved by the voters.

It would make more sense (economically speaking) to hold that referendum when the charter is up for election – than to pay for another election brought by initiative petition later on.

HOW THEY VOTED: On the question of term limits the Chairman, Steve Guenther, called for a straw poll to see whether or not to insert term limits into the Charter.

VOTING YES:    Greg Walters, Susan Dolan

VOTING NO:      Jason Greene, Jim Aziere, Charlotte Melson, Janet Emerson, Mary Jane VanBuskirk, Mark Moore, Mike McDonough, Steve Guenther, Lisa Emerson, Sandra Hartwell

ABSENT:               Ted Bowman

Last Week's Poll Results
Last week’s poll asks the question if the Charter Commission should make the question of whether or not to include term limits as a “pull out” issue for the voters to decide. 

73% . . . . Yes
27% . . . . No

Previous Poll Results

Which designation do you prefer for the governing body at Raytown City Hall?

28% . . . . Raytown Board of Aldermen
72% . . . . Raytown City Council

Should the Raytown Charter Commission create term limits for elected officials of the City of Raytown?

57% . . . . Yes
43% . . . . No

Raytown Charter News Link
The Raytown Charter Commission, has created a webpage for the Commission. The page has names, phone numbers and email addresses of Charter Commissioners, links to the Minutes and Video of past meetings. Use the following link to visit the page.

Another Unsung Hero

A couple of weeks ago we ran a short column praising the unselfish efforts of private citizens to make Raytown a better place to live. Our first three recipients were, Lies Emerson, for her work in creating a website for the Raytown Charter Commission, Paul Livius, for his work in documenting Raytown City Council meetings and Michael Downing for recording and publishing meetings of the Raytown Charter Commission on You Tube.

Another notable contributor is local business owner Pat Casady. When Mr. Casady learned of the city’s refusal to allow the Charter Commission to use city owned microphones at Charter Commission meetings he did something about it.

He offered to provide microphones for the Charter Commission to use free of charge.

So far the Commission has not taken advantage of the offer, but they are well aware of it should the need arise. 

All four of the aforementioned individuals are doing their public service without payment from the city.

HyVee Hoax Backfires
We received one call, then another – apparently the local HyVee Grocery Store had run an ad offering free pillows for fathers on Father’s Day. The call came from a friend. The other was an anonymous message left on our answering machine.
So we thought, why not check it out. We called the local HyVee Store.

The lady who answered the phone was very pleasant. She explained that the ad was a joke – it was created to make people laugh. Our response was that apparently it was not too funny because no one was laughing.

She told us that ours was not the first complaint she had received and that those who came up with the ad would be notified.

“Not funny” is a kind way to explain the situation – perhaps a more accurate term would be false advertising. Truth in advertising is supposed to be a given with any reputable company.
HyVee receives a half-cent CID sales tax from everyone that shops at the Raytown Store. 

HyVee also received a hefty tax abatement on its property taxes when they relocated their store to the 350 Highway and Gregory Boulevard location.
Raytowner’s deserve better treatment than a hoax in return.

Wine Country in Kansas?
Wine country and Kansas. Those are two concepts I’d never put together and think it was a good idea. But, people, I’m telling you, I went to some Kansas wineries recently and they were surprisingly awesome. According to the Kansas Grape Growers and Wine Makers Association, there are 19 wineries in Kansas — and four of them READ MORE

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Anonymous said...

To the coward he keeps bashing Mary Jane VanBuskirk. I would rather have her company than yours. She at least speaks her mind. You hide and snipe at her without reavealing who you are. So sad. Your existence must be one of eternal fear and loathing. Not a very good mix to wish on anyone. I sincerely hope you get better.

Susan Dolan said...

Last Saturday morning my husband and I did a welfare check on our neighbor, only to find he had passed away. Not knowing whether his survivors will post an obit or announce a service, I invite you to share this with those who knew him.

Donald Miles (6707 Engelwood Ave, Raytown, MO) was born on January 13, 1933, in Independence, Missouri.
Donald had no middle name.

Donald did not serve in the military but was a member of the Civil Air Patrol.
Don was very active in Boy Scouts year-round. For years, he taught young scouts the arts of weaving, spinning and knot tying during summer camp.
He was a 'lifetime' member of the Freemasons / Scottish Rite and he attended Raytown Christian Church at 6108 Blue Ridge Blvd.
Donald was a lifetime member of the NRA (National Rifle Association).
Donald was always interested in physical fitness and when younger, he could often be seen walking throughout he neighborhood. Even in his later years this trend continued, as Donald was an active participant in the YMCA Silver Sneakers. He liked good food and treats (especially brownies) so he learned to cook and had attended several cooking classes as late as 2014.

Life's Work:
When his children were very young, Don attended college where he studied for a degree in Engineering. Unable to find the solitude he needed in order to study at home, Don quit college and went to work as a machinist. Following that, Don worked for a time at a gun shop and then later as an apartment complex maintenance man. In his sunset years, Donald worked for Sunflower Staffing where he provided food and merchandise samples to prospective customers in various WalMart and other stores.

The Man:
Donald was a very caring person. He never asked much of anyone, and was always positive. A bit of a flirt, he always remarked that he loved holding the hand of 'a nice young lady' and he nearly purred when receiving a hug. Donald and his wife Elizabeth were both gardeners and the two of them grew a great number of tomatoes in their back yard garden. He dearly loved Elizabeth who had passed away in the mid-nineties and he often spoke fondly of her.

A man of many interests, Donald was an avid reader; Clive Custer was a favorite author. He also enjoyed old movies (especially comedies and westerns), old music and he rarely missed a Rush Limbaugh podcast. He loved reading his email and though he rarely wrote an email of his own, he was fantastic at forwarding email he found interesting. Donald was deeply conversant on a wide range of topics and thoroughly enjoyed long conversations with friends, both old and new.

When able, he would always venture into his yard to say hello to his neighbors and indulge in pleasant conversation. He endeared himself to his neighbors so much so that in his later years when a car accident left him unable to care for his home and property he found the help he needed in them. Fiercely independent, Donald overcame many obstacles in order to live out his life in his own home and he most often drove himself to wherever it was he cared to go in his minivan. Anyone who knew him will attest to the fact that he rarely missed Church or a pot luck dinner.... a chance to eat some great food and talk with the people he loved.

He touched the lives of many people, and will be fondly remembered.

Pat Casady said...

OK enough!
The first poster on the comments berates another writer
for “bashing Mary Jane VanBuskirk.” He/she goes on to
state, “You hide and snipe at her without revealing who you are.”
Then he/she signs “Anonymously.”
Isn’t he/she doing the same thing?

Pat Casady said...

Speaking of term limits, just my two cents worth,
I think our aldermen should have a two year two
term limit. As for the mayor, as of late, I think a one
year term would suffice.
At any rate a four year two term limit is better than
nothing. Just look at how our President has managed to
ruin the American way of life in less than his two term
limit. Think about it. Who has benefited in Raytown
for the last six years? Certainly not the people. The
only beneficiaries of the last almost eight years has been
big box stores along with IHOP and Aldi and Aldi won’t
even fix up their parking lot. As for the vote, it’s funny
that almost half the no votes would be directly affected
by term limits. Kind of like Congress voting themselves
a pay raise only in reverse. None of them would vote
against a pay increase and our elected officials wouldn’t
vote themselves term limits.
Anybody such as elected Aldermen or if an Alderman is
in the family should have abstained from this issue.

Lillian said...

Sorry for your loss. He sounds like he will be missed by a lot of friends, family, and neighbors.

Peter said...

To Susan and all who knew Donald
So sorry for the lost of your neighborhood family member Donald

Neighbors become our families and that is what makes a great community.
Thank you Susan for being Donald's family and Thank you for posting a wonderful send off for him.

Anonymous said...

Why is the front of the Hy-Vee store so dirty? There are cigarette butts all over the ground and trash everywhere. You can't get a clean basket. If someone leaves dirty Kleenex in the basket, the staff won't clean it out. If the store is this dirty where we can see it how dirty is it where we can't see? We pay an extra 1 cent sales tax to the store to keep it clean. What are they doing with the money? Certainly not cleaning the store.

Anonymous said...

To Raytown citizens,

We have been duped into believing that city hall and Police have our best interest at heart. Take a look at the past several years and all you see is tax increases for out-of-town department heads and Police becoming even more bloated at the top with more majors and captains than any small Police Department needs.

Crime is up (even with Police driving around in fancy SUVs and making too high of wages), home values are down and City hall continues to pat the out-of-town department heads on the back and tell them what a wonderful job they are doing while they continue to rob Raytown blind.

Does anyone really think the Charter Commission stands a snowball chance in hades of ever accomplishing anything? The powers at City hall do not want change, Police do not want change and the ones who want change will become disenchanted with the whole mess that they will soon give up in despair.

I have seen it before and nothing will change, trust me. There are too many people making too much money to create any change.

Sadly for us poor folks in Raytown, we've have seen Raytown's best days, gone but fondly remembered.

No amount of tax money, or form of government is ever going to bring Raytown up from the travesty and financial collapse that City hall and Police has brought to this town.

Elisa Breitenbach said...

Susan you bring tears to my eyes with your lovely story about Donald Miles. I know he was a very dear and special friend to you and your husband. Friendship is truly the greatest gift we can give. You are truly a PRICELESS FRIEND!!! When we leave this world all we take with us is the LOVE & RESPECT we have for one another. You remind me that the most important things in life are not things. Friendship is a gift beyond measure. Donald Miles made it home, may God Bless him. May his home next to yours hold a future new good friend and may your neighbor always remember him and his kindness.

Anonymous said...

Similar to your last posting, "Anybody such as elected Aldermen or if an Alderman is
in the family should have abstained from this issue.'

Why have Ted Bowman on the Charter Commission when it is well known what his wife, X-Mayor Sue (good name, as in Sue the city) did to derail the last Charter Commission efforts?
Coupled with the other PD employees on the Charter Commission, this one is doomed to fail as well.

Pat Casady said...

To “Anonymous” 11:14,
I will agree with you on one and only one point.
What you say about City Hall I too believe is true but,
I have to disagree with you on the Police Department.
I don’t care if they called every officer a general, I know
our Police Department does have Raytown’s best
interest at heart.
As far as the police being paid too much I beg to differ.
In fact they don’t get paid enough. That is why we lose
so many to other cities and towns that pay more.
Most of us couldn’t make ends meet on what they make.
Almost all of them have a second job. When you see them at
Raytown’s big mistake WalMart and at HyVee they are
working after hours to help make ends meet. I’m
sure they would rather be at home after their twelve
and a half hour shift to be with their families. By the way
no overtime on the shift.
All police departments nationwide are using more SUV’s.
They carry more and with V6’s they are more economical.
I for the life of me can’t and don’t understand why some
people are down on the police. Every one of them are good
people and they do care despite what you think.
You want to blame someone for high crime rates in Raytown?
Blame City Hall for not doing their jobs. Blame them for
letting bad people get away with code violations that would force
them to move out of Raytown. Every single problem Raytown has
is a direct result of our elected officials. You can blame the police,
you can blame the maintenance department, you can blame
me or the guy next door but you would be wrong.

Lillian said...

Pat, You are so right about the police. They do a great job and some of them don't even earn as much as the city administrator got in his pay raise.

Anonymous said...


I agree the cop on the street are the backbone of any Police department and do serve Raytown with distinction, usually with beginning (low) salaries.

What bothersome about Raytown PD is the top heavy bloat each driving City provided Large SUVs or decked out unmarked sports car with smoked windows and alloy wheels (i.e. Chief). Give PD more money to fight crime with and this is what the citizens get?

Why doesn’t PD put that money where it truly belongs and that is in the pocket of the officers who serve on the street?

Employees rarely leave for more money but because of leadership which is where the Police Department suffers.

And I also agree, the same can be said about City hall and the out-of-town department heads.

Anonymous said...

How much do our underrpaid police get paid? So many are writing about the low pay of the police department. They must be speaking with some authority and knowledge. Please share it with us so we can make that deterimination as you already have.

Anonymous said...

Give City Administrator Mahesh Sharma a break. He needs that extra $30,000 a year to help pay his gasoline bills. It's a very long drive from Raymore to Raytown and Mahesh has to make it twice a day except on the 30+ days of vacation and holidays that he takes each year. Give the guy a break!

Pat Casady said...

I once had a list of how much our police get paid.
I believe you can ask and receive the information at
City Hall. Starting wasn’t much over fifteen thousand
a year. Remember Raytown city employees’ wages were
frozen for three years because they were told the
city just didn’t have the money to give. Then the City
administrator got his thirty thousand + a year raise.
So to wipe the egg off the faces of our elected officials
faces they gave the other city employees a two or
three percent pay increase.
By the way, our Police Department lost two more
employees yesterday.
Anonymous 1:01 said “Employees rarely leave for more
money but because of leadership which is where the
Police Department suffers.” I suggest you ask any officer
what they think of our police upper management. I don’t
think you will get a negative thought out of any of them.
I personally think it is the money and in a big part the
underserved, un-appreciation they receive like from
some of the “Anonymous” writers on this site.

Lillian said...

A year or so ago Greg wrote about the wages city people get. He said he got the salaries from the Freedom of Information Act. Greg can you dig that up?

Anonymous said...

Susan Dolan, I very much appreciate the tribute to Donald Miles and his wife Elizabeth. I have known Donald and knew Elizabeth for many years. Two of the nicest people in the world! Thank you again for taking the time to honor them!

Anonymous said...

Pat Cassidy claims the City lost two more of our cops last year.
I haven't noticed any more than I noticed that the government was shut down for almost 40 days last year. Did any readers notice it. Unlikely.
As for the shortage of two cops we should look at the upside. That probably amounts to more than 40,000 in fines they generated last year. Leaves a few more bucks inour pocket I would say.

Also, if we are short of cops maybe some can tell me how come i saw four (4) of the city's finest in a local Spaghetti/Chili joint. They were dining at the same table and at the same time.

Jose Meadro

Pat Casady said...

I said the Police Department lost two employees.
Shame on our policemen! How dare they eat together
on their lunch or dinner break. After all they only work
twelve and a half hour shifts. How dare they even take
time out to eat!
Get your facts straight, find something worth complaining
about and get off the police’s back for a change. Better
yet when you need help call someone else.

Anonymous said...

The inane pettiness of some of the postings here is extremely disheartening. About the Charter Commission.... it will pass if some of you will get off your backsides and attend a meeting or two. So far, I have seen one person at the meetings who seemed to be a private citizen - that's 1 out of 30,000. If you folks don't straighten up and start acting like you give a damn about the outcome by showing up there and speaking up you will reap what you sow. You elected the commissioners. Those on the commission are not paid - they are doing civic duty. Some of them, who are in office in other city jobs, seem to be pushing their own agendas and those commissioners who are acting purely in your interests could sure use your help and support by having you show up and saying what you think. As an example, review the tape of the last meeting and see for yourself how those on the BOA opposed term limits and how some of them wanted to exclude language about sovereign rights of Raytown Citizens. These are the same people who don't want to put any muscle into the language of the charter on the grounds that you're too stupid to understand anything but the most basic language. That's asinine, of course, but since so far no one has cared enough to speak out or even show up it's tough to defend any other position. I don't want to see any more talk about the charter failing up here --- get up off your backsides and get involved in this if you want to see it pass. This is a shitty city and a good part of the blame rests squarely on the shoulders of the citizens who refuse to get involved and would rather sit at their computers or talk over the fence.... complaining and whining about how bad things are rather than sacrifice an hour or so a month to go to the charter meetings and say what they have to say to the very people who are doing the heavy lifting to make a difference for them. You don't have to stay for the who meeting, comments are taken at the very beginning of each meeting.

Anonymous said...

Jose Meadro, It is common practice for police officers to dine and to take breaks together just as you may notice letter carriers taking their lunches and breaks together. For the police you may consider it information sharing. They may discuss various areas, observations, and criminal activity.

I used to dispatch a sheriff's office and when officers were on lunch/break, they could still be contacted by radio so they are available to respond to a call if necessary. When officers are observed on their much deserved breaks, don't assume they are idle because they are still available.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

Raytown has a "Spaghetti/Chili joint"?

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:26:
I would love to watch the tape of the last charter commission meeting. Unfortunately, as stated on the city's website, posting of the meeting is delayed because the tape has to be converted.
I don't know who is doing the converting, but they obviously don't know what they're doing. Some woman was at the last board meeting complaining that the meetings aren’t posted to u-tube like they're supposed to be. I guess they're still being converted.
Why does it take three weeks to convert a tape? Anybody have any idea what they're being converted into? Who can't do their job - the PIO or the Data Processing people? Either way, somebody is incompetent.

Anonymous said...

The reason it is slow to being converted is becasue the city does not want a charter for Raytown. The Mayor and his cronies know that if they keep the Charter and the progress being made on it out of the headlines that the chances of the final document passing are greatly diminished. Ever since the petitions were turned in the city has drug its feet on (1) announcing who had filed before the election, (2) come up with fictitious reasons for not broadcasting the meetings live like they do their own city council meetings, (3) cooperating in giving the city historical data of previous charter attempts. The last meeting was interesting with some pretty lively debate on term limits, qualifications for elected officials and a controversial preamble to the charter.
If it had been a dull meeting it probably would have been broadcast by now.

That lady at the city council meeting hit the nail on the head when she said the city promised to broadcast the meetings on channel 7 and put the on u-tube in a timely manner.

Another promise made. Another promise broken by city hall.

Anonymous said...

Who said the IT department is converting the tape? The city's webpage doesn't say that. Why are you throwing the city's IT department under the bus? The PIO is the one who picks the company that converts the tape to digital.

Lillian said...

When you guys talk converting the data for the web page, do you really mean tape? Surely not. Only my grandpa uses tape and he's 82 years old. Please tell me "tape" is a generic term for recorded data.

Anonymous said...

I just noticed the Hy-Vee "hoax" on the home page. I have had issues with that Hy-Vee and was ignored or received an unsatisfactory response. Greg, the buck does not stop at that store. I started emailing my complaints to corporate. Yhe local level pays attention when they hear from corporate. I suggest contacting:
and click on contact.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

You are so right. Tape is an outdated and inaccurate way to write about broadcasting and rebroadcasting of public meetings in Raytown. At the same time I think it is fair to say we all know what is being talked about. So the lines of communication are very clear and kept own. That's a good thing.

The bad thing is that someone at City Hall has dropped the ball. The blame reflects back on everyone at city hall. Or, as my grandfather once said, "the stink does not stop with the one responsible. It spreads to all those associated with it."

If the Public Information Officer has that responsibility maybe one of the four city councilmembers who are also on the Charter Commission will do something about it. If they don't, well, let's just say my grandfather was so right too!