Sunday, September 21, 2014


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I have been gone for the last week and a half on an extended business trip to Paso Robles, California. My thanks to Paul for the excellent articles he wrote in my absence.

During my absence I came under attack from a fellow  Raytown scribe, Bob Phillips. Bob writes for Randy Battagler, owner of the Raytown Times. He lives somewhere down in the Ozarks.  Randy has to fill his paper with something, so he has Bob knock out a column called “Off the Top”. 

It would be accurate to call the bob and Randy Show kind of a “good cop, bad cop” routine. Randy, who lives in Raytown, typically takes the part of the “good cop”. Bob, who lives about three hours south of Raytown takes the role of the “bad cop”.
In his column Bob waxed rhetoric of the evils of the Charter. Then, he threw away all inhibitions and wrote whatever popped into his head – without attention to facts or detail. 

The following are a few of the misrepresentations Bob penned.

Bob wrote that “for over 25 years” (Greg Walters) has been trying to create a law that required city department heads to live within the city limits of Raytown. 

FACT IS . . . up until 1998 ALL of the city’s department heads were required to live within city limits. In the 2005 Charter there was a provision requiring city department heads to live within city limits. That was only nine years ago. The falseness of his “over  25 years” statement is self-evident.

LESSON FOR BOB:  Check your facts before you shoot from the hip. You have only embarrassed yourself by being grossly inaccurate and deceptive in your writing.

Bob also stated he “reviews the minutes of the charter commission meetings in addition to the information Randy sends . . .”

FACT IS . . . The Charter Committee meeting minutes that Bob allegedly based his story only contain motions, seconds and vote totals. I do not know what information “Randy sends” but I suspect that it is not to supportive of the Charter because Randy has done nothing but complain about the Commission since it was formed. 

LESSON FOR BOB: I would suggest you review the video record of the meetings. They are posted on You Tube. You can use the following link to view the record. That way you can make an informed decision before you write.

Bob wrote the Charter Commission’s endorsement of a requirement for the City Administrator to reside within the city was the “start of a rift within the Commission”.

FACT IS: The vote was 10 to 2. That really does not sound very divisive. An 80% positive vote total does not indicate a “rift” of any kind. It indicates a rare example of a near unanimous decision on a difficult decision by the Charter Commission. By the comments given at the meeting by Commissioners, it is fair to say they feel  very strongly they have taken the right path in this decision. 

LESSON FOR BOB: Maybe some remedial rudimentary math is in order. If he is counting Ward 2 Alderman Jim Aziere’s negative comments on the Charter, he should remember this. Mr. Aziere has a track record of opposing recommendations of Commissions he sits on. Remember the 2005 Charter effort? Jim was one of two members who came out against that effort as well. Do you see the pattern developing?

Bob wrote that next on the Charter Commission’s plate is a rule requiring ALL department heads to live within the city limits.

FACT IS: The Charter Commission has not even addressed that section of the Charter. No one has a crystal ball as to what Commissioners will do, but it is doubtful they will make a rule requiring all department heads to live within the city.

LESSON FOR BOB: Your boss, Randy Battagler, started this fiction the week before you wrote your story. You stated in your article that you rely heavily on what Randy tells you. 
A word of advice, take what he tells you with a grain of salt. Randy’s coverage of the Charter Commission and its work has been pretty negative since before the voters chose to form the Commission. 

The Raytown Charter Commission is proving itself to be a calm port in the stormy weather that surrounds Raytown's decision makers. The Commissioners have proven themselves to be intelligent and determined in their recommendations as to what is best for Raytown. Give them a chance before you tear into them with baseless accusations and wild assumptions. 

The Paul Livius Report
Raytown Board of Aldermen Meeting – September 16, 2014

The meeting was opened by the Honor Guard from Boy Scout Troop 1088.

David Hartman went before the Board and said he was a public works employee.  The department is down two employees because there are no incentive or merit raises.  Since the City is starting to look at the new budget, he asked they take care of the employees.

Katherine Nelson, Amy Kirkpatrick, and Gwen Thomas each went before the Board individually to say their properties are being flooded because of the Raytown Water Company.  They had been assured there would be no flooding and now the run-off water isn’t flowing into the retention basin like it should.

Shirley Whitman said she was shocked to view the recent TV article about the Missouri test scores that revealed the Raytown School District was rated 10th out of 12th in the area.  Even though the KCMO Schools re rated 12th, they still improved 6 points, while Raytown schools dropped 13 points from last year.

Mayor Bower said Brewer and Shipley are most widely known for their vocal harmonies that continue to produce music about personal freedom and traditional songs of love.  They enjoyed much of their success while being residents of Raytown in the 1970’s.  He proclaimed September 27 Brewer and Shipley day.

Mayor Bower congratulated Gary Graham, owner of Fun House Pizza, who has consistently used his business to enrich the culture of Raytown with his local support of Youth Sports by sponsoring football, soccer, swimming and baseball teams for being in business in Raytown for 50 years.

The Board passed a  resolution authorizing the City to enter into an agreement with Vance Brothers for the 2014 light weight aggregate seal project. Andy Noll said the City will allow the contractor to close a section of road for up to an hour to place the asphalt emulsion oil to decrease the amount of dust.  Also, the Light Weight Aggregate Seal Project will require the contractor to make a straight edge for the Light Weight Aggregate Seal surface treatment when ending at another street. They are also requesting an additional $8,730.00 (5%) in the approved amount for possible change order overruns in this resurfacing project that are prone to happen with the fast pace of these projects. This amount is included in the amount of $183,330.00.

The Board passed a resolution authorizing the City to enter into an agreement with Thorne & Son Asphalt Paving for the 2014 asphalt overlay.  Andy Noll said they are also requesting approximately a 10% increase ($30,710.30) in the approved amount for possible change order overruns in this overlay project that are prone to happen with milling and overlay quantities advancing at a very fast pace. This will make an approved amount to spend of $330,000.00.

The Board passed a resolution approving a surcharge for criminal cases filed in the Raytown municipal court.  Chief Lynch told the Board collection of a $2.00 surcharge on every court proceeding filed in Raytown  Municipal Court, except for cases where the proceeding is dismissed. According to State Statute, the money collected from the surcharge by the Court Clerk must be placed in an Inmate Prisoner Detainee Security Fund. Once in that fund, the State Statute mandates that the funds be used only for specifically defined purposes related to biometric verification (fingerprinting) and identification systems and also to pay for any expenses related to detention, custody, housing, and other expenses for inmates.

The Board passed a resolution authorizing the expenditure of funds for body cameras and related equipment and supplies from Digital Ally in an amount not to exceed $25,440.00.  Chief Lynch said the Police Department has researched and determined that it would be beneficial to purchase 31 Digital Ally Body Cameras for our Patrol Unit. We would also need to upgrade our software with Digital Ally. Digital Ally is a sole source vendor for our current cameras and data storage.

The Board passed an ordinance establishing the annual property tax levy rate for the City of Raytown general operating fund and the park fund for the year 2014.

Tom Cole said they were establishing the annual Property tax levy rate for the City of Raytown general operating fund and the Park fund for the year 2014.  The City has received its notice of 2014 Assessed Valuation from the County. The finance department has recalculated the levy rates using the formula supplied by the State Auditor's Office. These calculations indicated the City could levy a rate of $0.374 (up from $0.3694) per $100.00 assessed valuation for general city operations and a rate of $0.1845 per $100.00 assessed valuation for park operations. The 2014 proposed rates represent a net increase of $0.0046 over 2013.

The preliminary Adjusted Assessed Valuation:

Real Estate values decreased by $1,274,200 or 0.54% from last year's amounts for a 2014 value of $233,860,218

Personal property value decreased by $3,011,763.00 or 5.4% from last year's amounts for a 2014 value of $52,755,542

 State assessed utilities values had a 2014 value of $8,831,865

Total adjusted assessed values decreased by $3,536,192 for a 2014 total value of $295,447,625

Based on the assessed valuation and the proposed mill levy staff is projecting that approximately $1,104,446.00 will be generated for the General Fund and approximately $551,625.00 will be generated for the Park Fund. However because actual collections are closer to 95% of assessment staff will budget for slightly less than the projected amount.

Alderman Van Buskirk said the property values in Raytown were continuing to decrease.  If a home owner tried to sell his house, he would get less for it, but the property taxes would stay the same. He doesn't think that is fair and said he wouldn't support the ordinance.

Paul's Rant!

The RAYTOWN PARK BOARD made a tough call on SuperSplash. But I think it was the right call. Could it be that the Park Board members recognized an old truism of politics? The slow spiral in attendance is pretty strong evidence that people were voting with their feet.

Despite efforts by the Park Board and the City Council to breathe life back in dying venue the lack of interest by the public was undoubtedly the deciding factor in closing down Raytown’s Water Park.

WHAT A DILEMMA!  It is said by some city officials that City Administrator MAHESH SHARMA has been courted by other cities looking for a City Manager. That may or may not be true. But this much is true. Sharma would probably have to live in the town of his next employer. 

According to a survey conducted by Ward 2 Alderman Jason Greene over 90% of the City Manager/Administrator governments have a residency requirement. Apparently the Mayor’s study of the same issue has come to the same conclusion. As we have not heard of any results since he tasked City Clerk Teresa Henry with the job or researching the issue. No doubt the Mayor would want to share any (new) information learned with the public.  

SHADES OF PAT ROBERTS! Has Ward One’s non-resident Alderman found a home in the Ward yet? Last we heard Joe Creamer had called all the Board members and assured them he would be back in his house by August 25th. The date has come and gone – and still there has not been an announcement from Creamer about his residency woes. Creamer was found to have moved out of the Ward he lives in last May when it was found he was actually living in Ward 2.

The Election Board has ruled that he is qualified to be registered at his old address. The issue of whether his residency allows him to live outside of the Ward has yet to be addressed. Which causes one to wonder . . . . will Creamer decide to run for Alderman in Ward 1 or Ward 2?

RECOGNITION IS DUE THREE ALDERMEN who stood against increasing the property tax levy on Raytown homeowners last week. Ward 4 Alderman Bill VanBuskirk, Ward 5 Alderman Michael Lightfoot and Ward 3 Alderman Janet Emerson stood their ground and voted against the levy increase. 

They based their arguments in opposition to the fact that Raytown homes have actually decreased in value. To increase the property tax levy is clearly not in the best interest of their constituents. Statistics from the Jackson County Property Tax Division supported the three Aldermen's decision in voting against the tax increase.

Voting YES to increase the property tax levy: Joe Creamer, Jim Aziere, Charlotte Melson, Pat Ertz, Josh Greene, Jason Greene, Steve Mock

Voting NO: Bill VanBuskirk, Michael Lightfoot, Jane Emerson


Ravioli Satisfied My Pasta Cravings
There are only a few things I sincerely miss since going totally gluten-free. (This has been deeply pronounced since I got pregnant, of course.) These things include: Lamar’s Donuts (if you come to Kansas City, eat them for me, please!), really good and doughy deep dish pizza, and ravioli. Oh, ravioli.

Decent gluten-free pasta isn’t that hard to come by (and, really, for me, zoodles do the trick most of the time) but ravioli? That’s a different food story. So when we were offered to try some of Three Bridges new products — three of which were gluten-free — I obviously had to try. And, guys, two of them were gluten-free ravioli! READ MORE

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Anonymous said...

Bob previously wrote an editorial and chatty column for the Raytown Post called, "Bob's Burnt Ends;" hence, I referred to him as Burnt Bob. I always considered his editorial to be his OPINION. I viewed it as opinion, not fact, and considered it to be entertaining.

Raytown property taxes are way out of line which I feel is the cause of lower property values. People simply don't want to buy a home with high, unaffordable property taxes especially when over 69% of these taxes finance poorly rated "Raytown QUALITY Schools!" When I lived in Raytown, I complained that my property was over assessed. An appraiser came out and lowered my assessment to $98,000 even though I felt the house wasn't worth that much. I attempted to sell the house for $98K and spoke with an investor who stated that homes in Raytown do NOT sell and mine was not worth that much. I spoke with several auctioneers who refused to auction it stating that homes in Raytown do not bring near market value and I would have to pay auction expenses with the likelihood of the home not selling. Two Realtors wouldn't list it and suggested a short sale specialist. My house finally sold for $60K as a short sale. I have checked the assessments and taxes since then and the last time I checked it was assessed at $98K. My house sold for 61% of assessed valuation and, in my opinion, most Raytown homes are worth much less than assessed valuation.

Taxes should not be raised then values are down! This was done before with the explanation that the mill levy was being raised but that tax collection would remain the same. Property in Raytown should be reassessed to bring them in line with true values. If more people would protest their assessment, that would bring change.

As a sidebar, I offered my house to Mahesh and never received a response. I am sure if he wanted to move to Raytown, he could find a home within his price range.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

How about the article Bob put in before the charter commission even had a meeting in which he said the charter commission has formed two factions. Bob, Randy, Aziere, VanBuskirks, the Mayor, City Hall, Creamer were ALL against this charter from the word go. All of them had said things against it at some point. All of them can get the hell out of the way of progress.

Anonymous said...

There are two Raytowns. Read the City of Raytown Newsletter. There are the Mayor's pet projects and the projects of his friends. Then, there are the projects that are not of his friends.

The Raytown Arts and Music Festival grabs the cover and all of page 11. One of our lcoal success stories, the Farmers Market, is held weekly in Downtown Raytown but does not even get mentioned!

It is as much a community event as a one day concert.

Anonymous said...

Farmers Market is one big joke. If you want good fruits and veggies go to the guy who has been around forever on Raytown Road down by the fire station. Sorry the other one is a miserable failure and I can't even call it a Farmers Market

Anonymous said...

I don't think the Farmers Market is a big joke. I go there every week and enjoy shopping from the different vendors. I know about the produce seller you are talking about. He has has been at that location for many, many years. Give the Downtown Raytown Famers Market a chance. It is a beginning and I admire the people who are trying to do something nice in Raytown. They deserve better than to be ignored or worse as with the previous writer, slammed for no reason at all.

Go Raytown!

Anonymous said...

Andy is right. When the city, park board and school district jumped their tax levies up four years ago they did it because property values had fallen. Now, some of those prpoerty values have stabilized. What does city hall do? Raise property taxes again.

You guys tried to shove Walmart down our throat. You give out property tax abatements like it was candy at Haolloween and then you raise our property taxes because you say you need more money!

I cannot wait until next April. If you are in incumbent at City Hall, color yourself gone.

Anonymous said...

8:30AM, Only if a majority of the sheepole get out and VOTE, as they should. The trouble with city elections is too few sheepole vote.

If I was still there, there are some incumbents who I would vote for. Hopefully the others would be gone.

NOTE TO GREG: I suggest you publish the Aldermen's property tax vote just before the next election.

Andy Whiteman

GADSDEN said...

I also think that the Farmers Market is a good thing, this is the first year. Also the produce that you purchase is fresh not frozen while in shipment to our stores from Mexico or where ever. I am sure that next year is will be bigger and better.

Anonymous said...

Andy....Why should you care. You don't live here anymore and frankly all you are at this point is an outside agitator. You had nothing good to say about the state and very little good to say about the city. How about riding off into the sunset there cowboy?

Anonymous said...

The Park Board has done an outstanding job running the parks system into the ground. They have run off several good employees, run the pool into the ground, lost all of his power to city hall, and ran morale into the ground. I am sure the Park Board Director Kevin Boji is being courted by other cities also. The last time Sharma was being courted for other positions he wound up with a $30,000 a year raise!!!!! Hold on to your wallets. Closing the pool for a year. That is silly, you can not just walk away from it for a year, who is going to maintain it.

Anonymous said...

Courted my apples! Mahesh is smart. He saw the writing on the wall, before his back was against it. Well played, Mr. Sharma. Well played.

Anonymous said...

Andy paid his dues in Raytown. He lived here many years and paid his taxes. He cared to find out how city government works and in some cases does not work. And you condemn him for that?

As for Mahesh Sharma. If he makes you a promise that he will do something, a word to the wise, take it with a grain of salt. He promised to relocated to raytown and then backed out of the deal. Not once, not twice, but three times! Don't know whether to think ill of him for being that way or ill of the City Council for letting him get away with it.

Can anyone explain why they gave him a $30,000 pay increase in addition to allowing him to back out of his deal?

Anonymous said...

Just watched the video of the park dept. that Mayor Bower and Ertz were present at. The mayor more or less said that the aldermen will be asked to come up with a way to fund Super Splash. Money does not seem to any object since Bower is such a smart man with other peoples money.

The place is not safe for young people to attend that do want to have to defend them selves. Close it down and try and see if someone else wants to spend thousands of dollars on. Bonds, no way would I buy a bond for this city and maybe no one else either. It was great while it lasted but like all good thinks it has run its course. You all need to watch the video it is great to behold.

Anonymous said...

One thing about the YMCA that if you notice all the ones closed were not with a KC address. One was KC, Ks. one in Independence and ours in Raytown. They are just working on the ones in Kansas City proper. The Y located on Red Bridge is old and in bad shape. If they ever tried to expand or modernize it then they would have to update for ADA for wheelchair equipped.

Anonymous said...

Looks like you guys were right. There have been some workmen from architectural and engineering firms at the old Sav A Lot location behind Wendy's at 63rd and Raytown Trafficway. I hope it is a cash producing Walmart Grocery Store. The city could use the tax revenue. My hope is just as strong that the Mayor and his cronies don't muck it up by giving away everything with more tax abatements.

Anonymous said...

Let’s see, nine policemen down, SuperSplash closing,
streets in disrepair, vacant buildings all over Raytown,
property values going down, taxes going up and
so is the crime rate.
Have I got that right?
How, let’s see where most of the money has gone.
WalMart’s free tax ride has cost the taxpayers millions,
Aldi’s taxpayer loan cost the taxpayers $800,000.00.
HyVee gets a big tax break, Ihop the same and yet
the City Administrator got a $30,000.00 plus a year
raise. FOR WHAT????? Running Raytown into the
If anybody votes for an incumbent elected person
they should have their head examined!

Anonymous said...

Where can I view the video of the meeting with the Park Board, the Mayor and Ertz? I had heard about it have been trying to find it.

Anonymous said...

12:47 PM, As I remember it, Mahesh's $30,000 was NOT a raise. It was to bring his salary in line with what other City Administrator's received. This was when city employees received NO raise.

I ran into an Alderman at Hy-Vee and had a long conversation questioning his vote. He stated that Mahesh had received job offers from other cities while not seeking a job. It was said he couldn't sell his house due to lower value because of the recession. The $30K and waiver of being required to live in Raytown was so, "we won't lose him since he is doing a good job." My response was he could rent the house. Or he could sell it, buy a house in Raytown for less money and come out ahead.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said... the park board

John said...

Andy, You're correct. Mahesh (according to City Hall) was not given a pay raise, but a salary adjustment of $30,000. Keep in mind, none of the other employees received a raise or salary adjustment. Heck, some of the employees didn't even make $30,000 a year. We would have been better off if he had gone to one of the other cities courting him.

Anonymous said...

A lot of employees still don't make $30,000 a year.

Kelly said...

Just curious - the ones that don't make $30,000 are year. We're talking full time right? Not a part timer that works 20 hours a week?

KMCCLA said...

Let's Go ROYALS *clap clap* Let's go ROYALS *clap clap*

The Royals have done it -- we made the post season!!!

Anonymous said...

Just came back from the Lee's Summit October Fest and I think I saw the mayor of Raytown there, could be mistaken but it looked like him

Sure would be nice if we had a Summer Fest like in the old days before everything was killed.

Kelly said...

Lee's Summit has a lot of festivals every year. The main drag down 3rd street is closed off and throngs of people attend and have a great time. It used to be like that in Raytown. Too bad the city went to the dogs.

Anonymous said...

Any organization that gives a $30,000 raise to the head person and nothing to any other employees has pulled the plug on employee morale and dedication to their employer. Morale and dedication are two of the biggest intangible qualities of an employee. Without those qualities, talent means little.

GADSDEN said...

Thank you Kelly, Apparently not many remember the good old days with parades and summer fest etc. Those were the days when we had some civic pride, golly we even had BBQ.

Anonymous said...

Brenda Gustafson our new PIO officer ome to Raytown and wins an award.

Anonymous said...