Sunday, June 29, 2014

RAYTOWN'S LEADING NEWS SOURCE


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Charter Commission Moves Forward
Last Tuesday’s Charter Commission moved forward on a number of issues that had been mired in debate at previous meetings. A preamble was agreed upon with compromise language worked out between Charter Commissioners Lisa Emerson and Ted Bowman. The language for Article Two, which covers the topics of Incorporation and Boundaries was also agreed upon.

Article One, which covers topics of Restrictions and Powers, bogged down over disagreements on language in the document defining specific limitations on the authority of the municipal government in Raytown.  After four unsuccessful attempts to reach agreement, Commissioners agreed to re-visit the issue at a future meeting. 

The Commission then moved on with a first reading of Article Three. (for more information on Article Three check out this week’s column by Paul Livius, Paul’s Rant)

After five meetings the Charter Commissioners appear to becoming more comfortable in their discussions and ease in which debate is accepted by participants. Or, more simply stated, they agree to disagree in a gentlemanly manner.

Divisions within the Commission are becoming more easily defined. One group, whom we call the “keep it simple” crowd – have been consistent in their efforts to block language not in line with a model charter provided the Commission by the Missouri Municipal League. Their efforts have had mixed results.

The preamble of the Charter which specifically spells out individual rights for Raytown Citizens was definitely a “win” for the progressive faction of the Commission who do not agree with the “cookie cutter, one size fits all” concept championed by the “keep it simple” crowd. Compromise language drafted by Lisa Emerson and Ted Bowman was readily accepted by a majority (but not all) of the Commission.

The fifth meeting also saw the first signs of interest from the Raytown Community.. A small number of people came to observe the proceedings. Leslie Schroeder addressed the Commission and spoke on the subjects of Eminent Domain and the importance of individual property rights in the language of the Charter.


Paul’s Rant BY PAUL LIVIUS
There was an interesting debate in last Monday’s Raytown Charter Commission Meeting that should hold a valuable lesson* for the Commissioners.

The discussion was over compensation of elected officials – in this case it had to do with how the Board of Aldermen is given pay increases.

Raytown has ten elected Aldermen. They are elected to four year terms. However, since only half of the Board is elected at a time, elections are held every two years. The alternative to this practice would be to go to one election every four year. So far, the Charter Commission has opted for the split of elections creating the two year cycle for elections.

The two sides in this debate were championed by Alderman Jim Aziere and former Alderman Greg Walters. 

Let’s say that the Board decides to give itself a raise. That is where the “interesting” part of the argument comes into play.

Aziere argued that since a new Board is sworn in every two years, that a new “term” is started. Therefore, all Aldermen would receive the pay increase.

Walters argued that Aldermen were elected to four year terms. Therefore, half of the Board would have to wait for two years to receive the increase.

Walters based his argument on experience. He told the Charter Commission that during his 27 years on the Board of Aldermen the salary was increased three times. Each time, he said, only half of the Board received the increase immediately. The other half had to wait until they finished their term of office.

Aldermen, Walters said, are elected to four year terms, not two year terms. He continued that this was a matter of state law and neither the Commission nor the City could over-ride the State Constitution.

Aziere made an emotional speech in which he repeated his claim that a new term of office begins each time the Board is sworn in every two years.

The vote was taken. Those supporting Aziere’s amendment carried the day by a vote of 10 yes, 2 no, and one absent.

The next day Greg contacted the Missouri Municipal League to find the Chapter and Verse of the Constitution which would settle the argument.

He was directed to the Missouri Constitution, Article VII, Public Officers, Section 13. This section of the Constitution deals directly with question when elected officials can receive pay increases. It reads:

Limitation on increase of compensation and extension of terms of office.

Section 13. The compensation of state, county and municipal officers shall not be increased during the term of office; nor shall the term of any officer be extended. 

When the Charter Commissioners took their Oath of Office at their first meeting they “. . . that I will support the Constitution of the United States and of the State of Missouri; the provisions of all laws of this State affecting Cities of this Class . . .”

There really is not any wiggle room on this point. Mr. Aziere may have had the votes, but for the Charter to be a legal document it must abide by the laws of the State of Missouri. 

*THE VALUABLE LESSON: The Charter Commission has been delving into some pretty complicated issues lately. As the above story illustrates, they are flying blind in areas of legal questions as to what they can and cannot do. Close to 45 minutes was spent debating how City Council Members would receive pay increases. As it turns out the 45 minutes was a waste of time -- the Commission has no choice but to follow State Statutes. An attorney with a rudimentary understanding of State Law would have saved the a lot of time and energy on this question. This is not the first time the Commission has run afoul of State Law. At its first meeting, Greg Walters was surprised to find the minutes did not contain any vote totals or proper motions recorded for public record. He checked with the Attorney General's Office of Missouri. Once again, state law required proper record keeping including vote totals and motions. Clearly, the Commission needs the service of a legal adviser. 

Tardy Broadcast 
Schedule Addressed
At last Monday’s Charter Meeting Ward 2 Alderman Jason Greene answered a question regarding the tardy broadcasts of recent City Council meetings on You Tube.

One of Greene’s Ward 2 constituents, Robbie Tubbs, had raised the question at a recent City Council meeting – asking why it was taking up to two weeks to post the re-broadcasts of Council meetings on You Tube.

Greene told Charter Commissioners and those in attendance that he had spoken with the City’s Public Information Officer and had been assured that future meetings of the Board of Aldermen will be posted to You Tube more promptly.

Greene’s question was in response to a question from Raytown Charter Commissioner Greg Walters. Walters has since been criticized by Michael Downing of Raytown Online, for asking the question during a Charter Commission meeting (because it had to do with “city business”).

When told about Downing’s criticism Walters replied, “Robbie Tubbs used the proper venue in posing the question. However, because of the City Council’s ridiculous policy of not answering questions from the public when they are asked, I felt it was necessary to expedite the response.”

“Jason did the investigation and had an appropriate answer. And now the public has an answer. I really do not see what is wrong with that.” 

The Raytown City Council's next meeting is this coming Tuesday, July 1st.  


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.

Use this link . . . CHARTER COMMISSION



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34 comments:

Anonymous said...

Downing didn't mention any individual in his editorial Greg. This does not seem directed at you.

Anonymous said...

It is nice to know that people you believe to be sane, really are. Of course, there is always the option of having a MMPI test. Perhaps that person is very familiar with this test. I wonder how many times they have had to take it and how low they scored on it!

Anonymous said...

It appears that the Raytown Charter Commission needs legal council NOW. How foolish up them to adopt some silly notion about alderman's pay raises when if any of them (especially the current Board of Aldermen members of the Commission) had any knowledge of the State Constitution, would have known that elected officials cannot accept a pay raise in mid term. HIRE AN ATTORNEY NOW, so you won't look so foolish down the road.

Anonymous said...

It would be wise for the charter commisioners to first pull up on the internet such state laws of question then conduct their discussion so as not to waste time and energy.

Andy Whiteman said...

It sounds like the Charter Commission needs a Constitutional Attorney to answer the technical questions to make sure the Charter is properly written so there are no costly future issues. It would be money well spent!

Here is a link to an ecard for my Raytown friends:
http://www.jacquielawson.com/viewcard.asp?code=4900796845526&source=jl999&utm_medium=internal_email&utm_source=pickup&utm_campaign=receivercontent

Andy Whiteman

Greg Walters said...

I was the one who brought the issue of the long wait periods for the You Tube videos of City Council meetings up a the Charter Commission meeting. No one else could be faulted for something they did not do.

Mr. Downing believes it should not have been discussed in that venue. I believe it was the proper place to do so.

It is not a big deal. But I am quite certain his criticism was aimed at those who started the discussion.

Anonymous said...

It does seem like some of the sniping is starting. Maybe the time of the $50,000,00 legal fee is starting. Locate a qualified lawyer and only one person can contact him with questions. Use the old KISS philosophy, Keep it simple stupid.

Anonymous said...

Lately we have all read or heard about a "constitutional lawyer". I had never heard of the term until this charter election came along. So I looked it up. The following definition pretty much says it all:

If your legal issue involves things like First Amendment rights -- such as freedom of speech, press, and religion -- or privacy rights or due process right, a constitutional law lawyer may be able to help.

All the charter commission really needs is an attorney who well versed in the laws governing charter cities in the state of Missouri.

Those who want to keep it simple should be jumping on this with both feet.

I would rather have an attorney who is street smart and knows the practicality of governing rather than one who has his head in the clouds on the fine points of constitutional law.

The charter commission is writing what boils down to a constitution for the city of Raytown. But the limits of its freedoms are still set by the State of Missouri.

The commission has already had to revers itself twice. Once on proper record keeping in its minutes and now, proper timelines for pay increases for elected officials.

With an attorney at their disposal both of those silly discussions would not have taken place.

$50,000(?!?) for a lawyer? Somebody is dreaming. Probably one of those folks out there who are dead set against a the charter passing.

Pay no attention to them. They have one purpose, to block passage of the charter. They voted against forming the commission and will spread whatever mischief they can to defeat it.

Anonymous said...

The 50,000.00 amount is about what was spent several years ago for the benefit of the uninformed.

Pat Casady said...

To keep the Charter honest, all present aldermen should
excuse themselves from voting on anything that involves
the Board of Aldermen. This is a conflict of interest.
Having said that, wouldn’t you think someone would have
been smart enough to look at the constitution first?
Why not look into seeing if it’s constitutional to put any pay
increase for elected officials before the people at election
time. Letting elected officials vote on, especially those
that the increase would directly effect, is like letting the
fox guard the henhouse.
Let’s face it people, the aldermen elected to the Charter
Commission will not approve anything detrimental to their
position on the BoA.

John said...

Pat, The charter commissioners don't want a lawyer involved. They want to put something together willy-nilly and when they are done, the Board can look at the finished document and say it can't go to a vote because there are so many sections that are in direct violation of state law. The Joe Creamer can sit back and crow I told you so.

Anonymous said...

$50,000. Ha! Give a few more months and witth the help of people like you it will undoubtedly be $75,000!

Anonymous said...

$50,000, $70,000, $100,000 - Does anyone know how much was really spent on the last Charter way back in 2005? I've watched the Charter Commission playbacks on YouTube. I know that the city clerk was asked for the accounting of the 2005 Charter expenditures but apparently she does not or will not release the records.

It is very clear to me that there are some who want to undermine the charter effort. I hope they fail. Raytown needs to change its way of doing business. What has been coming out of city hall does not work. Let's give the charter commissioners a chance. I think they all have the best in mind for Raytown.

Anonymous said...

What was spent on the last charter doesn't matter. We are concerned with the current one. I can tell you way to much was spent on the last one, thanks to some people on the committee who liked to talk all the time and too much.

Pat Casady said...

I think we should learn from past experiences such
as the last Charter Commission. It was expensive
but not only because of the Charter Commission. Yes,
they had their share of bad deals but, the city spent a
small fortune on lawyer fees to fight the charter.
Likewise the Charter Commission spent too much on
their lawyers’ fees.
Someone suggested this Commission bundle several
questions to submit to the lawyer instead of sending
questions one at a time racking up lawyer fees.
Lawyers charge by the hour so if a question is answered
in thirty seconds it is still billed out for an hour.
There is no doubt there are Charter board members
that want only to ruin any chance of Raytown having
a charter. I think most of know who they are and I hope
the other board members will watch them very closely.

Andy Whiteman said...

Raytown Charter---Hope and Change!
Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

I have been reading these comments and I gotta tell you it amazes me that no one can say without any qualification how much was spent on attorneys in the 2005 charter attempt. Think about it. It was said at one charter meeting that the city clerk had the information. Correct me if I wrong but aren't there four city councilmen on the Charter Commission? Isn't there also the wife of a fifth City Councilman? Don't you think that the influence of half of the City Council could get the information that was requested.

After all, the City Clerk does work for the City Council.

Talk about the tail wagging the dog!!!

Anonymous said...

I noticed something the other day, I am not sure if anyone else has, but the dead trees at Walmart --- are gone. I was driving by, and just happened to notice, that there are now several bare spots, where trees once where, and there are no dead trees. As of another note, the NAPA is going to move sometime in the future. It will be staying in Raytown, however I am not at liberty to say when and where it is going to more to, however it will continue in the 350 corridor.

Terrence said...

I believe someone previously said it best; that it does not matter what was spent on attorney fees in 2005 for the charter Commision .
This is the charter Commision of 2014.
Inflation has surely hit in those many years. Does knowing that amount back that many years ago make the 2014 writing of the charter more efficient???
Welcome to 2014 !
Surely there are far more relavant matters to be concerned with.

It would be like comparing what the price of a car , gas, or milk cost back in 2005....... What does it have to do with today?

Anonymous said...

Who cares what was spent on attorney's fees by the last charter commission? Look forward not backward. By the State Constitution the city MUST pay the expenses of the charter commission. The Board of Alderman has NO CHOICE, but to pay ALL expenses incurrred in the performance of the charter commission's duties. Go get an attorney to help yourselves through this process. It's the only way!!!

Anonymous said...

Actually the 2005 expenditures do matter. I have watched this blog as the amount spent, acccording to people who post here, has grown and grown and grown. Not one word of what was written in these little missives is ever substantiated. And here is the interesting part. It would be so easy to prove the validity of the statements. Remember, five of the charter members have very close ties to city hall. Yet they cannot get information about previous expenditurers? Four of them are on the city council and they cannot find out anything?

There is a reason for all the exaggeration and misdirection. The expenditures, if ever revealed by city hall, will show that most of the expense was created by the city, not the charter commission.

Connect the dots. The exaggerations, the misdirection, all of it points to one statement. The charter is bad. Those opposed to it are good, protecting us from the evil charter people.

Make no mistake about it. The campaign to destroy the Raytown Charter has already started.

Next time one of these great defenders of city hall speaks out call their bluff. Ask them to show you where the money was spent, how it was spent. Like the previous writer said, ask them what on earth it has to do with this charter.

Pat Casady said...

I have kept local Raytown papers from 2004 on up to
this date.
In the Raytown Post Vol. No. 48 November 23, 2005
It states:
“Law firm demands $56,710 from city.”
“This was on top of ten thousand already paid to the
Cave firm for a total of $66,710.00.”
However, in a Post dated January 11, 2005 (I’m sure
It was supposed to be 2006) it was stated:
“City settles contested legal bill”:
It states,” With reluctance, the Raytown Board of
Aldermen agreed to a $27,000.00 settlement with
the Bryan Cave law firm.”
This is all I could find in the short time I looked into
this matter.
It was expensive but, it could have been a lot worse.
Both City Hall and the Charter Commission were to
blame for the high cost. It was a matter of them verses
us, and as usual the taxpayers lost.

Andy Whiteman said...

In my opinion, unless the Charter Commission retains a good, knowledgeable attorney, the Charter is doomed to failure. That may or may not be the intention of some.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

This charter commission is in big trouble. I lived in Raytown the last time we were to vote on a charter and from what I see the same things are happening as the last time. Some wanting to put things in the charter that do not belong there. I thought i was voting for commission that UNDERSTOOD what a charter is for. It's to help the city to do business easier and more efficiently without having to ask the state for permission on some things. It is also to give the people more of a voice if they are unhappy with the way things are going.

This charter commission needs to get busy and actually do some efficient work that means something.. From what I can see they need a new chairman who can handle those crazy people that are on that commission. Otherwise I for one will be working against this charter.

Move Raytown Forward said...

Mr. Walters it is very admirable of you as a gentleman to accept responsibility for comments at the last Charter Commission meeting that should have never been spoken as referencing the posting of the Board of Alderman meetings belongs with its respective board and not another independent body.

However, from reviewing the recording of the meeting at 7 minutes 49 seconds you make a very general statement to inquire if there an issue with posting of the meetings Charter or Alderman.
Although you did use the term Alderman, it is truly at 8 minutes 45 seconds that Commissioner Dolan decides that at a Charter Commission meeting that Citizens of Raytown needed clarity on why and what is being done to address the posting of the Board of Alderman meetings to YouTube.

Clearly she doesn't understand that she was elected to the Charter Commission and even more alarming is the Chairman, Mr. Guenther, at 8 minutes 52 seconds didn't call order and reminder her that those question need to be addressed at a Board of Alderman meeting.

These acts are as embarrassing as when Alderman Creamer want on a tangent and believed he could stop the Charter process even though the process is granted to us by the State of Missouri.

When are elected officials going start active respectful and responsible to care out the task that they were elected to do?

Anonymous said...

Why is the Charter Commission not publishing the sections they are working on?

Something to hide?

Anonymous said...

Thank you Pat. That $50,000 figure sounded like someone making up numbers. It's clear to me the Commission needs some legal advice. I am certain they will keep a handle on the price tag. But some of the decisions they have made and found out they were completely wrong like the pay increase mess is just plain embarrassing.

I am puzzled by an earlier comment. Someone wrote a new chairman is needed to handle the crazy people on the Commission.

What on earth is that supposed to mean? What crazy things did they do to deserve that kind of talk?

Please elaborate.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for pointing out the issue with the Charter minutes. I thought it was just me who couldn't follow them, but clearly whoever is typing them up doesn't understand they need to be clear on what is being presented than include who is wanting to add or removing any wording along with the full agreed to version by the board and the roll call vote listing how each member voted. From talking to others in our town it is clear that if we cannot understand what the commission is covering we cannot feel confident in approving what is presented to us as voters.

Anonymous said...

The last post's criticism of the Raytown Charter Minutes is way off base. The minutes are clear, concise and easy to follow. If you want to see a poor example of minutes go to the city's website and read the minutes of a city council meeting. You will also learn that the minutes from city council meetings are one month late in posting. The minutes for the Charter Commission have always been on time.

Chalk this up to another person trying to defeat the Charter before it is written.

Those folks could not kill it at the polls. Do not look for them to quietly into the night.

I've been watching the meetings and like the process. The commissioners are certainly more outspoken than their counterparts on the City Council. The chairman does not act like a grade school bully like our Mayor does.

Give the Commission a chance. If you don't like the product they come up with, vote against it.

At least let them write the charter before making up your mind!

I Want A Charter said...

7:11

The only people who appear to be actively trying to defeat the Charter as it is being written are the 3 ladies who are on the Charter Commission and tied to the Tea Party.

NOTE: Not all those tied to the Tea Party and part of the Charter Commission are a problem!

These three are either talking about tanks, the UN, city business or things that are unenforceable and/or granted to us as citizens by either the US or State Constitution as mentioned several times to them by other members of the Charter Commission. They want to add things to the Charter that will be very costly if left in which means it the Charter passes with them we the citizens are going to be on the hock for many lawsuit challenges.

So before you jump me or anyone else that has pointed out issues with a select few members of the Charter Commission you need to watch of few of the meetings and see the clear pattern by these three to derail the Citizens of Raytown having a Charter form of government.

Anonymous said...

Okay let's see what you had to say of any substance. "They want to add things to the Charter that will be very costly."

Please define "things". You left out what they were in your rant.

Now please explain the "issues" you have pointed out. Oh, my! You forgot to enumerate them as well.

Let's face it. YOu really are not interested in bringing anything of substance to discussion. Instead you waste time with character assassination and petty attacks on those you do not agree with.

Such a waste!

Anonymous said...

To Move Raytown Forward on July 2:

Clearly you have a learning deficit. Walters asked if anyone had any info about the youtube postings for Charter and/or BOA meetings. Commissioner Dolan correctly responded only with regard to the Charter meetings, that the last meeting of June 9 was up on youtube by June 11.

To I want a Charter on July 3 (another who runs mouth without engaging brain first). There are no proclaimed Tea Party members on the Charter Commission - chew on that. There are those who are working hard to including legal protections for Raytown citizens which may otherwise be overrun by unscrupulous government. Since you seem to have issues with that, I must ascertain you're a socialist who is not interested in Freedom or Liberty.

Anonymous said...

July 2, 1:54PM

Did you even read what you wrote before hitting the Publish button? You said, " I thought i was voting for commission that UNDERSTOOD what a charter is for. It's to help the city to do business easier and more efficiently without having to ask the state for permission on some things. It is also to give the people more of a voice if they are unhappy with the way things are going."

Your lack of understanding is appalling! A Charter is absolutely NOT written in order to improve how city business is done. In fact, the City is free to consider doing anything not prohibited by State or Federal Law. The Charter is basically a constitution for a city and can include finite preservations of citizen's rights, freedoms and liberties as well as specifics that the city is prohibited from doing, such as no eminent domain. The city's business is done by the city council. Your ducks are not in a row and until you research the topic please stop broadcasting the misinformation.

Andy Whiteman said...

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Andy Whiteman