6:30 - 8:00
Raytown City Hall
EDITOR'S NOTE: Mayor Michael McDonough has issued a press release on the controversial "Cease and Desist" issue brought forth by former Mayor Sue Frank. Due to the length of the press release we have placed the text of the Mayor's Press Release follows the bottom "POST A COMMENT" link at the of this week's news.
|BY GREG WALTERS|
Responds to Criticism
Former Raytown Mayor Sue Frank has sent a letter to Raytown City Administrator Tom Cole requesting the City of Raytown to “Cease and Desist” the actions of Ward 2 Alderman Jim Aziere. Her letter is in response to an article entitled “The View from the Inside”, published in the Raytown Times on March 15, 2017.
Frank has been the target of criticism by both Alderman Jim Aziere and former Alderman Joe Creamer in the current political campaigns for five seats on the Raytown Board of Alderman.
She wrote, “. . . Mr. Aziere has participated in the ongoing libel and slander about me as further perpetuated by the Raytown Times and former alderman, Joe Creamer. The language used by Alderman Aziere is almost verbatim to other false claims.”
The entire letter from Sue Frank follows. It is not known if City Administrator Tom Cole responded to Ms. Frank. However he did send a letter to members of the Board of Aldermen regarding the matter. A copy of his letter follows Ms. Frank’s letter.
Mayor Michael McDonough has placed the item on next Tuesday’s agenda (March 21, 2017).
The March 21st meeting is a regular meeting of the Board of Aldermen and is open to the public. The agenda allows for public comments by private citizens at the beginning of the meeting. The meeting begins at 7:00 o’clock and is held in the Raytown City Council Chambers located at 10000 East 59th Street.
FORMER MAYOR SUE FRANK’S LETTER
Mr. Tom Cole, City Administrator March 14, 2017
10000 East 59th Street
Raytown, MO 64133
Dear Mr. Cole,
I have some serious concerns regarding letters in the local paper written by, and signed as, Alderman Jim Aziere. It appears Mr. Aziere has participated in the ongoing libel and slander about me as further perpetuated by the Raytown Times and former alderman, Joe Creamer. The language used by Alderman Aziere is almost verbatim to other false claims.
Mr. Aziere, when writing recently about the Citizens Oversight Committee states, “What we concluded was the cities were comparable in size, per capita, and arrests.” This article is entitled “The View from the Inside.”
I ask that the City of Raytown Cease and Desist and make a public statement as to the falsity of these claims. Short of this I will have to seek legal remedies.
I appreciate your time and attention to this serious matter.
CITY ADMINISTRATOR TOM COLE’S LETTER
Mayor & Board of Aldermen:
Please review the attached request to “Cease and Desist” from Sue Frank regarding recent articles and columns published in the local newspaper. I believe her footing rests on conditions known as “actual malice” which is defined as:
“Actual malice in United States law is a condition required to establish libel against public officials or public figures and is defined as "knowledge that the information was false" or that it was published "with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not."
As the recent letter(s) to the newspaper were written by an individual identifying himself with the title “Alderman” and the survey distributed to other communities was presented to those communities with the title of “Alderman” atop the page, Ms. Frank and the recipients of those surveys likely view the content of the article(s) and the survey as being “from the City.”
I am providing you with this letter simply to keep you informed and this is not a call to action. Wednesday, I will speak with Joe Willerth (City Legal Counsel) regarding this matter.
Paul's Rant BY PAUL LIVIUS
SIGN, SIGN, EVERYWHERE A SIGN
I have been approached by a number of candidates for the Raytown Board of Aldermen to write a story about the disappearance of political signs from their supporters' yards in the past few weeks.
The Raytown Report has already documented the loss of nearly all of Bonnaye Mimns yard signs in Ward Five. She has since turned over information to the Raytown Police Department in hopes of exposing the guilty party.
Here is a rundown of what we have heard by other candidates on the subject:
WARD 2: Jason Greene says he has lost a small number of signs. He believes the signs were purposely stolen because not only were the signs gone, so were the wires.
WARD 3: Both candidates, Ryan Myers and Janet Emerson, say yard signs have disappeared. Neither candidate blames the other. Though it is doubtful Mrs. Emerson has been involved. She broke her foot in four places a few weeks ago and is scheduled for surgery this coming Tuesday.
WARD 4: Bill VanBuskirk says he has lost some signs but believes most of them were the result of strong winds associated with a storm about a week ago. He tells us the signs were gone, but the wires were still in the ground.
WARD 1: Greg told me he is aware of only one sign that has gone missing. He told me, "The wire was still in the ground so I assume someone needed the paper part of the sign."
The Raytown Report has not received any other complaints from candidates on missing signs.
To leave a comment use this link POST A COMMENT
To leave a comment use this link POST A COMMENT
DATE: March 20, 2017
FROM: Mayor Michael McDonough
SUBJECT: Letter from Mayor Michael McDonough to the Citizens of Raytown
For Immediate Release
I put in over 39 years of dedicated service to the citizens of Raytown as a Police Officer.
Over the years I was blessed to have served the people of this town in many ways, professionally and personally. I was there to help, to protect and to serve. Service above self is what I believed and what I learned to do over those many years. That is what I believe in to this day. Not the politics of old that have kept this town in a quagmire and kept it from flourishing as it should and could.
I worked with some of the most dedicated, honest, caring people that one could have ever had the pleasure to have known. These individuals that made up the group of first responders (police, fire and emergency medical personnel) were and still are family to me. Just like soldiers in battle, we cemented kinships only those who have been tested in the field will ever know.
I believe that it all comes down to the people that do the work. I have enjoyed being the Mayor of my hometown. Most on this board of aldermen and the present city staff have learned to work together for the greater good of our town. I have heard and read many negative things about this board and this administration and I intend to address them here. This Board and I have now had our integrity attacked with half-truths and lies. I always believe in freedom of speech and for opposing views, but I never allow people to attack my integrity and will answer those attacks with the truth.
Over the last year, most of this Board of Aldermen have united and work well together. There have been published writings and innuendoes by several of the same people. To Joe Creamer, I say if you have some kind of evidence that shows that there has been some type of illegal activity from anyone on this Board of Aldermen, then bring it forward to the proper authorities. As Mayor, all I can say is that your rants have caused harm to this City and is nothing but the usual old politics that we are working to leave behind, to move the city forward.
It has been said several times that I was placed in this seat by the Police Department. Do I care about them, well yes, of course I do, I was a police officer for over 39 years. I will not apologize for that, nor will I allow people to try and make something bad about it. I was not placed in this seat by the Police Department. I was placed here by the voters of this city. I worked hard to earn the citizens’ trust and they trusted me and voted me into this office. I take this job seriously and weigh every decision I make as to how it will affect everyone. That is who is important to us all, the citizens. The city staff, board of aldermen, police, emergency medical services personnel, fire protection district and the school district is full of dedicated personnel.
I also want to point out that I have no vote on any matters that any department, including the Police Department, brings forward unless there is a tie vote by the Board of Alderman, and that has not happened yet.
I am a positive person and I believe that most of us have come together and things in this city are getting better. Just look at all the progress around you. That should answer some of the questions as to how this city is progressing in the right direction. In the words of our new City Administrator Tom Cole, “We are doing cool things.” Just watch and see how much more things improve and what we will do in the near future.
The publisher of the local paper, Randy Battagler, wrote that meetings of the Board of Aldermen were being held that are called Work Sessions where things are discussed that will come before the Board of Aldermen at the next meeting. He seemed to imply that there was something amiss about these meetings. He complained that there is no record of what is discussed in these meetings. He also complained that he could not make it to these and then get his papers delivered the next day. Let me be clear. Work sessions include an agenda and are posted on the City’s website and other areas as is required by law. Work sessions are posted and are open to the public. Work sessions are designed as a discussion arena for issues that typically are presented to the Board of Aldermen for consideration at future meetings and are intended to assure that agenda items meet and/or exceed the Board’s goals. Alderman Jim Aziere attends the work sessions also. There are also notes taken as to what items were discussed in the work sessions.
Alderman Jim Aziere wrote a guest editorial in the local newspaper and made inaccurate statements. First of all, there will not be any issuance of debt to build a storage facility for the Police Department that was to include a small training area for officers. That facility has already been in the city budget.
Former Alderman Joe Creamer made the assertion that the issuing of debt would be done by getting loans from banks and even asserted that there would be kickbacks. The accusations that anyone in our government would be involved in such activity is absurd. Mr. Battagler mentioned that normally a city goes out for a bond issue for such things. I have already spoken with the City Manager into looking at the possibility of a future bond issue to get more infrastructure projects of all kinds done and what that would look like. It would also most require a vote of the people for approval and would be for more expensive projects needed for this city’s infrastructure improvement.
For one thing, because of grants that will expire, being attached to the four below listed projects and the rising cost of construction, many of us felt it imperative that we look at borrowing money to get them done and save money down the line in construction costs while getting four of the oldest, important, pending projects done. Since Alderman Aziere was speaking about Mahesh Sharma, I would like to remind him that the idea of borrowing money to get these four projects done and saving money on construction costs and not losing grants was Mr. Sharma’s idea in the first place and was relayed to me by him not too long after I took office. He even asked to eliminate the idea of one sidewalk project along 350 Highway because the cost had risen by 33 percent. While it may tie up money for projects for the next few years, they are all projects that have been waiting for a very long time.
The truth is that issuing debt for Public Works projects is being done by the process of the City releasing a Request for Qualifications seeking a Financial Advisor to assist in identifying means to pay for four primary projects to potentially include:
Re-surfacing of Blue Ridge Boulevard from 59th Street to Woodson.
Improving the 350 Highway and Raytown Road Intersection
Building Sidewalks along 59th Street near Raytown Central Middle School
83rd Street Bridge Replacement
The Financial Advisor will also assist in identifying a means to refinance the existing Tax Increment Financing bonds to assure a significant savings to the City in its annual repayment of the bonds. The Financial Advisor will serve in an advisory capacity only and will not be allowed to offer financial/lending services from his/her own entity. In simple terms, the Financial Advisor will recommend the best options for financial solutions and savings regarding projects and bonds.
Raytown Emergency Medical Services-
The next subject is what Randy Battagler and Jim Aziere said about the restructuring, removing or “giving away” EMS Services. Mark Laughry, who was the Finance Director and interim City Administrator recently, thought there might be a cheaper solution to the cost of running a city-owned ambulance service. It turned out that, after more investigation, this is simply not the case. The City is currently NOT in negotiation with any entity regarding dismissal, sale or outsourcing of EMS services to the Raytown Fire District or any other entity. Over the years, a number of conversations have occurred regarding a merger with the Fire District. However, the costs associated with such a merger would likely be in excess of current EMS operations and provide little to no control of the operation by the City. As such, it makes zero financial sense at this time to pursue such an option. Additionally, private third-party EMS providers occasionally contact the City pitching their services. To date, the City has not received a formal proposal from such firms. In the event a proposal would be delivered to the City, it would be presented to the Board of Aldermen. If the City were interested in outsourcing EMS services, a formal bid process including multiple private EMS providers would have to be initiated. This measure has not been initiated, nor are plans in the works for such measures.
Super Splash Closure-
Mr. Aziere has made the statement that the Aldermen made the decision to close Super Splash. The Raytown Park Board recommended closing the park in 2015, but the Board of Aldermen overrode that decision and opted to allow it to function another year throughout 2016. The Park Board since has made the decision to close the park for the 2017 season to look at options with the park. Also, Mr. Aziere, in response to what you put in your guest editorial, I did not say “Raytona Beach” referring to Super Splash. It was in regard to a cute saying that I have about Raytown. Just so you will remember, I said “Raytona Beach, where every day is a holiday and every meal a feast, and we are always on the sunny side of the street,” because I love this city and the people in it.
Attorney General Sunshine Law letter-
I am aware that Alderman Aziere and Publisher Randy Battagler have stated in their articles that the Board of Alderman received a reprimand or “scolding” from the Missouri Attorney General for conducting “secret meetings”. However, careful review of the Attorney General’s response, dated July 6, 2016, reveals that there was no finding of any violation of the Sunshine Law and reaffirms the position of the Board of Alderman that “no public policy was formulated or vote taken” on the information presented by the Fire District in the meetings of February 15, 2016. The information presented by the Fire District was promptly made public by the Mayor’s press release of February 16, 2016, and the correspondence of the Attorney General’s office, dated July 6, 2016, closed the matter without further action.
I pulled the very first draft of the personnel manual from the Board of Aldermen agenda because it was very flawed and full of mistakes that could have resulted in tax payers paying for lawsuits that may have resulted due to conflicting measures in the original manual. After the first revision was sent to the city attorney for review, we received a “red line” copy of the manual which showed many pages of mistakes, contradictions, or deficiencies that the attorney found. Even when the most recent version was brought forward for a vote, it was recognized that there were still provisions that needed to be corrected. The manual was adopted to give the employees the benefits it provided. The Personnel Policy committee is now in the process of correcting some of those items.
Volunteers on Committees and Boards-
The statement in the guest editorial was made that I had not welcomed the appointees that the former Mayor had made to some of the Committees and Boards of volunteers. I
only replaced a few of those appointees, and most of those that did get replaced were already on expired terms. Many of the appointees that former Mayor Bower appointed right before I took office were retained and are still on the appointed committees and boards.
John Benson left his job as Community Development Director for a job as City Administrator in Marshfield, Missouri. It was something that he had talked about for several years and thus he fulfilled a lifelong desire.
Mark Laughry left the City of Raytown for Leavenworth County, Kansas, to be their County Administrator. That new job was comparable in responsibility and compensation to our City Administrator position, but was a better fit for him. As he put it, “It’s only 10 minutes from home and no night meetings.”
Kati Horner Gonzalez left our employment to seek a job as one of the Public Works engineers in her hometown of Independence, Missouri.
Regarding recent comments and/or letters/articles in the Raytown Times written by Alderman Jim Aziere, former Alderman Joe Creamer and Raytown Times Publisher Randy Battagler.
Our legal counsel has reviewed the recent comments and absolutely and completely dismisses such comments as the thoughts and commentary of the individual authors.
The City of Raytown has not sanctioned or supported the content of such commentaries, nor has the City of Raytown sanctioned or supported the survey regarding the Police Department which was distributed to numerous other communities by Mr. Aziere. In short, none of the authors of such content have been serving as true representatives or spokespersons for the City of Raytown in these matters.
In closing, I say thank you, to all that believe in our city and thanks for those that support all our staff, elected officials and all of our first responders in the great job that they do in keeping this city moving forward and keeping it safe and saving lives. Thanks for being one of us in living here, working here or playing here. God bless our wonderful town of Raytown. God bless our Staff and guide our elected officials and God bless these United States of America.
Michael T. McDonough Mayor of Raytown