Sunday, June 28, 2015


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Do You Ever Wonder?
Paul and I were having a chat the other day and we wondered about how some things have changed. Yes, some things remain stubbornly unchanged at Raytown City Hall. We came to the conclusion that patience may be a virtue on most matters. But when it comes to the City of Raytown, it can be very frustrating to find examples of real change.

We made a short list of what we found since last April’s city election in which all but one elected member of those seats up for election were replaced by a new Mayor and Aldermen.

SUPER SPLASH USA: Raytown’s aging water park, has cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep open. Many former patrons of Super Splash consider it to be an unsafe place to go. Raytown no longer has the large numbers of teens and pre-teens who made up most of its clientele during its heyday in the 1980’s. Factor in competition from other facilities like the Holiday Inn at the Sports Complex, the Lee’s Summit water park and even a beach at Longview Lake, and you realize the market place has shrunk to the point of not being viable.

The only upbeat message on the bailout is that the Board refused City Administrator Mahesh Sharma’s plan to fund it with dollars from the City’s street light program.

STREET LIGHTS: The city is nine months into the budget year and has yet to install new streetlights budgeted in the 2014/2015 budget. We know for certain the money is in the budget. Otherwise, Mahesh Sharma would not have suggested transferring money from street lights in order to make unfunded repairs to the economic black hole known as Super Splash USA.

I sent an email out to the Mayor and four of the Board of Aldermen on June 23rd asking for a list of the locations of the new street lights in Raytown. To their credit, Aldermen Jason Greene and Mayor Michael McDonough replied to our inquiry. Both said they would get back to me. The amount Sharma asked to move to pay for Super Splash was $50,000. That would buy a lot of lights which are very much needed in Raytown’s neighborhoods.

STREET OVERLAY: Normally by this time in the year the city has taken bids and placed orders for planned street overlay improvements. It will be interesting to see if the city continues with the hugely unpopular tar and gravel scheme of street repair that is proving to be former Mayor David Bower’s legacy. The streets that were originally targeted for light aggregate seal have shown a marked amount of wear and tear not found with more traditional street improvements using asphalt.

WALMART DEBT: Shortly after last April’s election Ward 2 Alderman Jason Greene publicly asked at a regular session of the Board of Aldermen for a report on the anticipated debt to be paid by the City of Raytown to fund the TIF bonds used to build the Walmart Store on 350 Highway. To our knowledge, his request has not been answered. It is an important question. The payment of TIF bonds cannot be ignored. The agreement with the bondholders specifically holds the City of Raytown liable for the debt if sales tax revenues from the Walmart Store do not meet the required amount revenue to pay them.

This is one question that should be answered and not ignored.

Paul’s Rant!
Last Week I wrote the following about the broadcasting of meetings from Raytown City Hall.

“The first 15 minutes had lousy audio due to a “technical difficulty”.  It’s time for the guy monitoring the meeting to get out of his P.J.s and go into the office and do this.  Off site monitoring is not working.

The video is not good.  If you watch the meeting using the 1/4 screen video, it’s almost ok to see (if you squint).  If you make it a full screen video, it is so grainy you can’t make anything out.  What happened to all the fancy, expensive equipment they bought?

I don’t know who is ultimately responsible for making things work at City Hall. But whoever is in charge of rebroadcasting the meetings has dropped the ball big time. The result is a black eye on the city’s reputation to the point it makes a person question their competence. Either that or they simply do not care.”

So you can imagine my surprise when I read articles in the Raytown Times and the Raytown Brooking Eagle about all the fancy upgrades to the re-broadcasting of City Council meetings.

Not as surprising was that the two articles were almost word for word in each newspaper. What does it mean? It means Raytown’s traditional paper news media has fallen into the trap of blindly printing press releases from Raytown City Hall.

This is not a new practice at for the Raytown Times. It has been very clear for quite some time his paper often runs news articles written by someone at City Hall. My favorite was the story about how successful the light aggregate seal used by the City to repair streets. Apparently the writer who penned that story does not live in Raytown. Otherwise they would see where snowplows have effectively gouged away the  surface and the uneven areas where the sealant was used in a failed attempt to repair cracks and potholes in streets.

But, as Mark Twain once wrote, “I digress”.

This rant is about newspapers taking the easy way out and just copying down what is handed them.

Press releases have a place in the news business. But a lot of what comes out of Raytown City Hall is not as much “news” as it is cheer leading and, even worse, arguing a controversial position on behalf of those who run city hall.

This was especially rampant during the Bower Administration.

I hope the new administration does not fall into the same trap. A public document released to the press to a public event is the proper use of a press release. But when taxpayer money is used to pay someone to write an argument on a divisive issue, be it a controversial zoning application, a method of street repair, or the prioritization of services, then it belongs on the editorial page. Not on the front page. The press release should also be signed or identified as to its source. The reader has a right to know whose pen wrote the story.

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Anonymous said...

Yes Greg, I for one would like to know what amount Wal-Mart has the possibility of getting to the taxpayers of Raytown. It scares me because we all that Wal-Mart does not have a good track record of most anything they do. Thank you Greg and I hope if you get an answer you will publish the story for us.

Anonymous said...

I just came back from walking my dog which was cut shot by the attack on my dog by a male pit bull. It was dragging a ten foot length of heavy chain and had most likely broken free. Luckily I was able to grab him by his collar just as he was trying to seize my dog by the neck. A passerby then made a call to 911 and the results were disappointing to say the least. No animal control available and the police do not deal with such things. I had no choice but to leave the dog tied to a sign beside the road. This was an unaltered adult male pit bull that had attacked me and my pet but it's not considered a police matter.... what if he had bitten me or my dog?

To protect and serve???? I wonder. Anyway, if you are a pit bull lover/apologist he is just up the street from the Lutheran Church on Blue Ridge.

Sign Me Raytown Newbie

Anonymous said...

I just came back from walking my dog which was cut shot by the attack on my dog by a male pit bull. It was dragging a ten foot length of heavy chain and had most likely broken free. Luckily I was able to grab him by his collar just as he was trying to seize my dog by the neck. A passerby then made a call to 911 and the results were disappointing to say the least. No animal control available and the police do not deal with such things. I had no choice but to leave the dog tied to a sign beside the road. This was an unaltered adult male pit bull that had attacked me and my pet but it's not considered a police matter.... what if he had bitten me or my dog?

To protect and serve???? I wonder. Anyway, if you are a pit bull lover/apologist he is just up the street from the Lutheran Church on Blue Ridge.

Sign Me Raytown Newbie

Greg Walters said...

I was on the City Council when the city created an annual animal license fee to fund animal control services on the weekend. A good idea at the time. Within a couple of years animal control services were cut back. They used to have someone on call for emergencies just like you described. Apparently, that is no longer the case.

It is a sad commentary when an animal is allowed to run loose in a neighborhood. It speaks poorly of the owner who does not take the steps necessary to keep his "pet" in an enclosed yard.

What is worse is the response by the police (which reflects poorly on ALL of city hall) that they will not respond to the emergency. What if that has been a child that was attacked? Would it rate as an emergency then?

I sincerely hope our elected officials take note of this problem and fix it. That includes the Chief of Police. He should sit down with his officers and especially the dispatchers to set up clear guidelines so they are not telling the public they will not respond to emegency situations.

The incident you wrote about is not an isolated one. I know of other situations where irresponsible pet owners allowed their animals to stray on weekends because they know the city will not enforce the laws on what they consider their days off.

A simple solution would be to change animal control personnel hours to shorter days during the week and spread them over onto the weekend. They could be cross-trained to respond to property maintenance issues when they are not busy chasing down stray animals.

Another solution would be to shift the responsibility of animal control over to the police department. They would not have to licensed officers on patrol. But they could be crosstrained to serve as another set of ears and eyes in our neighborhoods to watch for criminal activity.

We have some very highly paid personnel at city hall who are supposed to be managing our city. I hope they pick up the challenge of the situation shown in your post and solve it. Last April we literally elected a new governing body. The old governing bod would have swept this under the carpet and hope it would go away. Here is an opportunity to show the proper way to manage a city's problems.

Anonymous said...

Two years ago on Memorial Day a stray cat was injured and crawled under my car in the driveway. I called animal control and one of the personnel who was at a family picnic north of the river called me back on his personal phone and came. He was a very dedicated employee and I've not seen him since so maybe he is no longer with animal control. A person who puts ANY dog on a heavy chain is asking for trouble within that dog reguardless of breed.. I saw a German Shepard treated the same way . Some pet owners only use pets as a mean protective slave. So very wrong

Anonymous said...

Gregg, sorry for the double post. I thought this AM when It did not appear, I had forgotten to press the post button after composing it last night. I was shaken up to say the least. Most by the actual attack and then again by the unwillingness of the police to respond to what most of us would consider a dangerous event. I hope there can be some help available in the future. The police need to understand the difference between the report of a stray and the attack on people or their pets by a vicious dog. I love living on one of the few streets in the city where I can take a nice long walk but I am becoming a bit discouraged. This is the fourth dog attack in two years. The earlier ones involved a large hound up near the CVS that had gotten away from its enclosure. BTW he is still there and barks loudly every time I go by. And then there was the incident last fall where I was shot with a paint ball gun by somebody in a passing car. I hope my comments find their way to someone who can do some good.

Sign Me ... Raytown Newbie

Anonymous said...

Greg, I remember the law being passed and for one year it was there then the next year city personnel forgot all about it.

Our city manager or someone of authority should be on top of these things no matter how small they may appear.

Maybe animal control is run better in Raymore.

Anonymous said...

Raytown Newbie,
Arm yourself, get training, and don't depend on the police to protect you. If you are ever actually attacked by a pit bull, you probably won't be able to call the police or complain on the internet.

Anonymous said...

Mr. 11:21

This not the wild west. I do not advocate that the answer to this problem is that we should all pack heat and be ready to use it. I see many elderly folks, women with babies in strollers, joggers, lots and lots of kids going to and from school, you name it, using the Blue Ridge Blvd sidewalks.

So your answer is that they should all be armed to defend themselves when they are using the public sidewalks?? Get real man.

From the tone of your post, you are one who carries where ever he goes. Makes me a little nervous knowing you are somewhere in Raytown.

Peggy Sue said...

To those out there who have had trouble with stray animals, I suggest you call Brenda Gustafson (737-6000) at city hall. The city's webpage says:

"On any given day in Raytown, the Neighborhood Services Officers get calls on animals that are loose and roaming neighborhoods. They diligently pick up the animals and impound them. In the past, their work stopped there and we just hoped that we would find the animal’s microchip or the owners would come pick their fuzzy friends up. But all of that changed this year and the results have been fantastic."

She should be able to tell you how to get these strays picked up. WARNING - call between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm Monday through Friday. If you get their voice mail, opt out to the operator until a live person answers. That's the only way to get through to them.

Raytown Newbie said...

Just a reminder to all pet owners in the city: June is the month to renew your pet licenses. Cost is $5. Bring your vaccination proof to city hall and get your pet licensed. Please.

Anonymous said...

what does "the results have been fantastic" mean? Sounds like form or substance. An exciting way to end a sentence but it really does not mean damned thing. If the story related by the gentleman who had to protect his puppy from a stray pit bull is any indication, I am not too impressed by the the "fantastic results". Sounds more like our PD and PR Department need to spend some time getting real results.

Anonymous said...

A number of years ago we tried to get pit bulls banned here. Bur pit bull lovers wouldn't have it. But they won't take care of them either let them run loose etc.

Anonymous said...

When I view the city's clumsy efforts at painting a false image of city services I am reminded of of the term "Potemkin Village". It is an impressive facade or show designed to hide an undesirable fact or condition.

Problems with code enforcement? No response from police or animal control on dangerous animals on the loose? Their solution is to write a press release saying how amazing things are!

If as much effort were spent on fixing the problem, no matter how small, they would leave a much better impression.

Raytown Newbie said...

I lived in Independence when the city decided to ban pit bulls. As I recall, it took the death of an elderly man who was mowing his yard when the neighbors two pit bulls got loose and attacked him. A grown man took down and killed. Oh yes, they were not properly trained according to the pit bull fans. I would support a ban on pit bulls for sure. At least unaltered males like the one that attacked my dog Sunday evening.

Peggy Sue said...

Raytown Newbie - Be very careful who to speak to about banning pit bulls. A few year ago, one of the Aldermen proposed banning dangerous dogs. Pit Bulls were one of them. The pit bull people came out of the woodwork and darn near lynched him. They can get to be almost as vicious as their dogs when you talk about banning their animals.

Anonymous said...

It is not the dogs that are vicious, it's the owners who make them mean. Don't lump every animal or person together.

Anonymous said...

It’s true that not all pit bulls are vicious. But the fact is, they were originally bred to be mean enough to take down a bull (hence the name). You can’t blame a dog for doing what a dog was bred to do. If, though, the dog is mean, it should not be around people.

Anonymous said...

If I had a dog attack me or my pet I would be too scared to grab the dog by the collar or tie him up to a sign.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous post about the vicious dog that attacked and the person being brave enough to grab it by the collar. I would be very scared. And then to take the vicious dog and tie it up by its chain to a sign. I think I would of just taken my pet and ran. That just crazy or I'm just a scaredy cat

Raytown Newbie said...

Good Morning. Let me explain how the attack occurred: To begin with, I was a part of a group consisting of My wife and I and our medium sized terrier. My son and his wife and their dog, a golden doodle, and our grand-daughter and her tiny Maltese terrier. I think the pit bull zeroed in on my dog because it appeared to be the largest... who knows?? Anyway, when I saw it charging toward us, I managed to get between it and my dog and landed a kick to it. When it went around me to get at my dog I was able to straddle it and grab its collar from behind. So the dog was between my legs and I was able to lift its front legs off the ground. If the dog hadn't had on a heavy collar, I could not have saved my dog. After getting the dog under control I then had my family get them and our dogs back home. In the mean time a passerby had stopped his car and called 911.

After several minutes and realizing no help was on the way, I was able to nudge the dog along to a point next to a no parking sign where the passerby wrapped the dogs chain around several times and tied a knot and I was able to release him without getting bit.

I think I know where this pit bull calls home now.... It is at the house where he charged from. I had never seen him before as the owner keeps him chained up in a grove of trees behind his garage. I happened to spot him back there as I drove by on the side street. I am pretty sure he is unlicensed as there were no tags on his collar. I see that neighbor, occasionally, while out walking and I intend to have a conversation with him next time I see him out.

Sadly, I have a suspicion that he was aware of the attack and just would not come out of his house so he would not be liable for any damage his dog might have caused. I believe that because my son went up the boulevard after we got home to check on the dog and it had already been taken from where I left it.

Bottom line... I just reacted to the attack without much thought... and I now realize, I (and my dog) was very lucky and what a tragedy it could have been if he had gone after my grand-daughter or her little dog who were 20 feet or so behind and too far away for me to have interceded.

Aaron said...

Next time let the dog bite you. Then the police will have to respond. You can sue the dog owner for not keeping it chained up. That's the only way anything gets done. Oh - and you have to sue in real court, not small claims. Small claims in Missouri is a joke.

Anonymous said...

If you look up the 25 most dangerous dogs you would be really surprised

Anonymous said...

A different subject: When we had the tornado warning Wednesday evening, the siren at Coleman Livingood park did not operate. I heard them in the distance. This needs to be brought to someones attention.

Anonymous said...

Just a comment about animal control: My elderly mother had a dead skunk in her yard and I disposed of it. About a month later a stray feral cat came to her door and she started feeding it like an old lady would do. Then it became sick (might of got a diease from the skunk. I called the city animal control and I talked to a man named Frank. I have never seen so fast action by the city! They came out within an hour and tried to catch it. It got away. Then they came back and trapped it. They got it and said it was in real bad shape and took it to the vet which they probably put it down. All this took place in about 4 hours and the guys couldn't have been nicer. This was on a Tuesday, not on a weekend. I couldn't believe the great service!

Paul Livius said...

Anon - 1:10

The police department is responsible for maintaining the outdoor sirens. You can call Police Chief Jim Lynch and he will take care of it for you.

Peter said...

Have a safe Fourth of July and enjoy family and friends.
Happy Birthday America

Anonymous said...

I wondered about that siren near coleman park as well. I live within two blocks. I could hear other sirens much further away but not the one at coleman. I was outside at the time, so it was not because I was in my house. I hope someone at City hall takes care of this soon.

Anonymous said...

Nobody has said the animal control people are not nice guys. The point made was that the animal control people were not even contacted when the man walking his dog was attacked. He was simply told the city, be it animal control or police, do not respond after regular business hours. It could be a dispatcher over-reaching on their authority. I hope whoever is in charge recognizes the serious nature of the complaint. If the problem is not corrected it will only be a matter of time where the failure to respond causes some real problems. Since the city is aware of the situation, it could be case of negligence on city hall's part.