Friday, March 13, 2009

Who is Dan Tarwater Working for? - Day 95 of the Jackson County Ethics Blackout

In the March 9 meeting of the Jackson County Legislature, Dan Tarwater usurped the role of Inter-Governmental committee members and abandoned the economic interests of his constituents. And he accomplished all this misbehavior in only 6 minutes.

An amateur video appeared in the comments of one of my prior posts, but I won't embed the video here because its producer has marred it with a title which engages in childish name-calling.

In the video (I will link to the official video when it is available), Dan Tarwater goes off on a rant about the Mayor's position on stadium financing. While it's kind of disturbing that he has his facts wrong, I wouldn't expect straight talk from someone who has sought to avoid Ethical Home Rule. Sadly, the dishonesty of my County Legislator is neither interesting nor surprising.

What is surprising, though, is that he uses his tirade to attack the interests of his own constituents. Dan Tarwater's district covers a large number of Kansas Citians, who are bearing the burden of double taxation (actually, triple if you count the State money) for the Sports Complex. Those of us in Kansas City pay both as Jackson Countians and as Kansas Citians, to support the same cause.

As a representative of Kansas Citians, Dan Tarwater owes us a full measure of representation. Instead, he abandoned us and got caught up in an inter-governmental spat between the city and the county. In an "us" versus "them" battle, Tarwater foolishly believes that he is on the side of the County as an entity, when, in fact, he should be representing the interests of his constituents. I can understand that as a Jackson County legislator, Tarwater would prefer not having to face the struggle of having to replace the $2,000,000 that the County signed a contract for (but not the City), but not at the cost of having his constituents facing double taxation.

Dan Tarwater should be representing his constituents, not the Legislature.

It's easy to see how someone without intellectual rigor could miss this point, and perhaps that is why Tarwater was not chosen to serve on the Inter-governmental Affairs Committee, and ought not to be injecting himself into that committee's role, anyhow.

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10 Comments:

Anonymous Sophia said...


An amateur video appeared in the comments of one of my prior posts, but I won't embed the video here because its producer has marred it with a title which engages in childish name-calling.


Dan, you're so cute when you go all Victorian on us. "Turdwater" is stupid, but does it really make the link worthy of the Stossel (I shall not grace you with a link) treatment?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fMAMe4XGVs

3/13/2009 9:01 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

I've been deleting Inafunk's comments when they include name-calling, so I felt like I couldn't justify posting the video with the nickname for Tarwater on my blog.

3/13/2009 9:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gosh Dan, if you get bent over a little name calling, are you really in the fight?

These guys are hard core, unethical and will pick the taxpayers to the bone if they get hungry.

They are lean an mean now because this economic downturn has cut into their private slush fund.

3/13/2009 11:09 AM  
Anonymous Kingsfield said...

Keep up the good work, Dan. If you're not going to allow Inafunk to call the Mayor's wife names, then you are doing the right thing by not promoting a stupid name like Turdwater.

The anonymous commenter hasn't been reading this site for very long if he wonders if you're really in this fight . . .

3/13/2009 11:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tarwater and the county should take their lumps on this issue.

Since a larger constituency pays taxes to the county, then it is logical that the burden is divided regionally.

If that is done and some taxpayers don't like it, they can vote the idiots out of office.

Taxation without representation is also carried out with the city earnings tax, but there I put in my eight hours a day.

3/13/2009 2:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is missing in the Code?

1. Of utmost concern to the Commission was the fact that, if enacted, the ethics ordinance would not apply to elected officials at all, which is incompatible with the Jackson County Charter.
2. The inclusion of a "duty to cooperate" with investigations by the County Counselor or the Ethics Commission could subject employees to a form of forced self-incrimination which would violate the Fifth Amendment (p.27).
3. The ordinance prohibits the solicitation of personal benefits related to office or employment, but the prohibition against otherwise receiving them has been deleted (p.30).
4. The provisions concerning felonies, dispensing of drugs, and complicity in violating the code, while well intended, are all overbroad, in that they prohibit conduct, which is otherwise appropriate (pp. 27, 28, and 30-31).
5. The prohibition against soliciting campaign contributions from county employees has been deleted (p. 41).
6. "[P]ublic officials" have been deleted from the provision, which imposes a duty to be honest and free of fraud or concealment of any wrongdoing during the seeking of public office (p. 43).
7. The notice provision outlined in the ordinance calls for simultaneous circulation of a complaint to complainant, respondent(s) and the commission with notification of the commission meeting date and time. As the commission must establish the meeting date and time, it must have the complaint immediately upon its receipt in order to make these arrangements. The actual practice of the commission as outlined in its Rules of Procedure provides for coordinated communication in a timely, responsive manner. The commission's procedures delineated in the code need to conform better to actual practice (p. 58).
8. Deletion of the commission's authority to conduct discovery (interrogatories and depositions) and issue subpoenas, as well as elimination of the commission's authority to determine for itself if outside counsel is required, despite the fact that all of these powers are authorized by Article XII, Section 6 of the Jackson County Charter (p. 62).

3/14/2009 2:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's missing in the minutes?

Mr. James moved and Mr. McCormick seconded a motion to begin work to
move the matter of WitbolsFeugen V Arbanas. et ai, to the Circuit Court of
Missouri. The purpose of this action will be to enforce the subpoenas issued
to the legislators and determine if the legislators' refusal to answer the questions
about payment compliance is protected by the attorney client privilege.

3/14/2009 2:10 AM  
Anonymous Sophia said...

Now that's some exciting detail. Thank you. As for this:

The purpose of this action will be to enforce the subpoenas issued
to the legislators and determine if the legislators' refusal to answer the questions about payment compliance is protected by the attorney client privilege.


Is it just me, or is that perfectly odd? First, is money a "communication" to be protected? I don't see how that serves the policy behind the privilege. Just because I can't ask a witness - what did you tell your attorney about the incident- doesn't mean I can't ask about the incident itself.

And I'm 99% sure there's a Missouri case on point that says - no, the existence and terms of an attorney-client relationship are not privileged in and of themselves. It's kind of a no-brainer when you think about it. Normally, something like payment would be completely irrelevant, not privileged. But when it's the subject of controversy, what's the value in having payment privileged?

Anony- what's missing-- Numbers 3,5, and 6. Wow. That's really bad.

2 doesn't bother me. It would be an as applied challenge. And I don't think the Commission would be foolish enough to find someone guilty of an ethics violation for failing to cooperate after asserting the 5th. (Although someone would probably need a refresher course in how to deal with spurious assertions).

1 & 8, as I've stated before, are (IMO!) toothless. An ordinance can't strip powers granted by the Charter. The new Commission should carry on with its duties in the manner outlined by the Charter and let someone else go to the courts and try to stop them. The only benefit I can see to initiating court resolution is not getting stuck with the county counselor as its attorney (assuming outside pro bono representation).

I get (and share) Dan's outrage that they've tried to strip charter granted powers. I don't get why we should act like they've succeeded. Perhaps I'm naive or unfamiliar with some nuance in the law, but the idea that an ordinance can't remove powers granted by the charter seems like black letter law.

3/14/2009 10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sophia,
I see it as you do, but apparently with the commission walking off the job, it remains the duty of a public official to make the connect. Who will hold the legislators accountable?

We the People, did not elect one with the courage to do the right thing. After the vote to enforce the subpoenas, the commission couldn't get the funding. They were given $70,000 to defend the Legislators but when the needed a few hundred dollars for enforcement, the money fountain was turned off.

Despite the fact that public legal services was the matter which the ethics commission was specifically prohibited by the bylaws of the commission and it was the same issue that legislators were found to have violated, the commission refused to address it.

3/14/2009 8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abnlzBu6uRU&feature=channel_page

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RLjE8YyDWY&feature=channel_page

Here is the video of that redacted motion to go to the court. Members had received an "Amicus Curie" opinion saying that payment of fees it not protected by A/C privilege the even refused to acknowledge receipt in their minutes.

3/14/2009 8:50 PM  

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