Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Jackson County Legislature Extraordinary Secrecy, Without Ethics - Day 99 of the Jackson County Ethics Blackout

When a legislative body sttempts to exempt itself from an Ethics Code, and to deny the Charter-granted right of its citizens to oversee its ethics, the wisest course of action is to start with the assumption that they are up to something untoward. No benefit of the doubt goes to those who insist they are above the scrutiny and accountability they would impose on others.

In that light, yesterday's hijinks at the Jackson County Legislature ought to be raising eyebrows. Chair Scott Burnett introduced a last-minute resolution calling for a closed meeting, excluding the press and citizens from knowing what the Legislature is up to. Typically, such resolutions are introduced at the meeting preceding such an extraordinary action, but this one was introduced and acted upon without normal notice. The exception to the Sunshine Law relied upon by the Legislature was RSMo 610.021(1) - "Legal actions, causes of action or litigation involving a public governmental body and any confidential or privileged communications between a public governmental body or its representatives and its attorneys."

The Jackson County legislature is lawyering up again? What is it this time? Is somebody trying to explain in simple terms to Henry Rizzo that the City is under no legal obligation to spend $2,000,000 on public safety rather than entertainment for suburbanites? Are Tarwater and Tindall fighting it out over the disputed chairmanship of the Anti-Drug Committee? Is yet another federal investigation for corruption focusing on the Jackson County Legislature - a fresh chapter in the rich history of Jackson County crime and corruption?

We can only guess at what went on behind those closed doors. We can be certain, however, that the Jackson County legislature has exempted itself from Ethical Home Rule, and now it feels the need to have emergency meetings about secrets.

Is that the type of government Jackson County deserves?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Legislature sure knows how to violate the intent of the law during Sunshine Week. However, this activity is typical. Closed meetings are the method of first choice for imparting troubles by the county. To know the lawyers is to see the issue. The choice frequently is to hire outside lawyers so the county can spread the wealth (which returns as campaign money) and insulate themselves from stupidity of the home team.

Likely, the problem is the Sheriff’s Department, again. The Feds have learned of some innovative fund-raising by the Mike Sharp during the last election. A promise of anti-drug tax money is the grease that spins this wheel. You will be glad to hear Rizzo is involved again, but Legislators released the money and Tindall kids picked it up.

All this is connected to election funding for Sheriff Sharp. Those funds were supposed to be used for emergency relief programs, but somehow got misplaced.

3/17/2009 10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or maybe County Legislators want to get their hands on Ken McClain's money now that he's got an award of $7.5 million for the popcorn suits.
McClain offered the county a parcel of property worth $25K in exchange for the $2 million of dirt he took from County parkland.
Beautiful how those numbers fit together, isn't it.

3/17/2009 12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The most likely reason for Legislators to close a meeting is that some are worried about maliciously prosecuting the sign protester? Legislators used their private security to force this individual out of legislative chambers to the hallway where they arrested him after refusing to let him reenter the room. I’ve seen and heard the videos on his website from your reference to the Tarwater video.

Recently, this guy filed a complaint against the deputies for excessive force. Apparently, he had already filed harassment charges against some legislators a month before he was attacked. Legislators were also retaliating due to the vote by the Ethics Commission just a week earlier. The Ethics Commission subpoenaed legislators to produce evidence of paying for their legal fees. They were found guilty of unethical use of public money to countersue Legislator Stringfield. He had filed a Sunshine Lawsuit for the same type of action they declared yesterday.

It has been said, “What goes around, comes around.” This blogger believes this issue can never be sanitized from the County record. No matter how many false reports or cover up attempts or threats against other county officials occur the light of the public record will expose this criminal conspiracy and link it to the subversion of the Ethics Ordinance.

3/17/2009 1:14 PM  
Blogger craig said...

I thought of something funny today. If this ethics ordinance had been in place 4 years ago when Tom Phillips was being investigated for Hatch Act violations, the deputies would have been in trouble, but Phillips would have been exempt.

3/17/2009 7:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember Phillips. He was the scum bag who got his picture taken smiling with Dick Cheney.

3/17/2009 8:58 PM  

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