Bryan Stalder is running for Kansas City City Council.

It’s a bit surreal to write that last sentence. Bryan and I have been friends since Kindergarten. We both grew up together in the historic Northeast neighborhood. In our teenage years our parents took us north. He eventually found his way back to our old stomping grounds and has taken quite an interest to being involved in his community.

I don’t always agree with Bryan. He’s a little bit different flavor of conservative than I am, but this blog has never been about complete agreement with people. Whether or not we agree or disagree on all the issues, I know he’s passionate about Kansas City and serious about his run for the City Council. His candidacy presents a surprising alternative to the usual embarrassment that is your average Kansas City City Council(wo)man. At least, I don’t see him punching and kicking an aide.

Anyways, enough of my meanderings on the topic. Without further ado, introducing Bryan Stalder:

BryanStalderMy name is Bryan Stalder, and I’m running to be Kansas City’s 4th District At-Large representative on the City Council. The 4th District is kind of weird (it includes the Plaza, Westport, Crossroads, Downtown, the River Market, part of Northeast, Briar Cliff, and Crestview), but because I’m running at large, my role would be to represent citizens from the entire Kansas City area.

This is my first experience running for a public office. I’ve been a stay at home dad, an editorial cartoonist for the community newspaper, and president of our neighborhood association. I chose to take on this challenge because I’m frustrated with the leadership of this city, disappointed with most of the reporting about what is going on, and discouraged by the level of apathy from the voters. It is my hope that I could bring accountability back to City Hall by asking questions that many journalists aren’t asking. I want to make it hard for the media to ignore what is going on.

City Hall makes decisions that directly affect the quality of life in our neighborhoods, and a lot of the money we pay for city services is being used to redevelop downtown Kansas City into a dense neighborhood that is incongruent with the lifestyle accommodations of the traditional family. The result is higher taxes, and Kansas City residents who are trying to raise a family choosing to relocate outside city limits. Even worse, we have seen a decline of jobs in downtown Kansas City by up to 20% over the last decade despite over $1B in redevelopment. I believe these decisions will have a negative economic impact on our region. They will create more challenges before we’ve even created solutions for our currently unresolved problems.

I am someone who is not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom. I may be the youngest candidate running in this election, but as a father of four who is raising a family in Northeast and educating them in the Kansas City Public Schools, I have an alternative perspective to offer those who would rubber stamp an agenda to provide more and more subsidies to large real estate developers downtown. I’ve created a plan to make Kansas City EPIC; by focusing on Education, Parks, and InterConnectivity. We can shift our focus toward creating communities that families are excited to make long term investments in. I hope that you will follow the upcoming municipal elections closely, learn more about all of the At-Large candidates, and consider voting for me.

Please follow me on Twitter: @StalderEsq, or email me at StalderEsq@gmail.com.

I received an email last night from somebody in the county all in a tizzy about the mailer that Carol McCaslin sent out about Ernzen working at Belton and still completing her role as Clay County Auditor. I had known about Ms. Ernzen working in Belton awhile back, but I didn’t know if she was still working there today. Turns out she is. I did what any sensible person would do, I asked her if she was still there.

Here is the response I received:

I am the Clay County Auditor and I work every day for the citizens of Clay County. I also work as the finance director for the city of Belton. It isn’t much different from any other CPA with multiple clients, but I only have two. My days typically start very early and end very late.

When I was appointed by the Governor to finish out William Norris’ unexpired term as County Auditor, after he was forced to resign when it was discovered that he had a felony record, the city asked me to stay. They offered me a very flexible schedule that would allow me to serve Clay County first, in return for my in-depth knowledge of governmental accounting and my experience as a CPA and auditor.

My passion is ensuring transparency and accountability in our County government and I hope very much to be allowed by Clay County voters to continue.

Some things about this mailer:

1) There’s been no accusation, nor is there any evidence, that Ms. Ernzen has failed to execute the job of Clay County Auditor while she has been working in Belton. Admittedly, as she did above, it probably is hard work and a lot of hours.

2) I thought we celebrated hard-work in America?

3) This is probably the thing that irritates me the most about this. Vic Hurlbert was once our County Auditor. Hurlbert ran his own private auditing firm while he was in office. Did he shut his doors on his private practice when he was auditor? No. Should he have. Only if he wasn’t capable of doing both. (We won’t get into his actual performance as auditor here.)

4) McCaslin has no CPA credentials and is not an auditor. Which begs the question, who will be overseeing the auditing of the county and insure that it is done correctly?

5) Oh, this is funny, and I hope you are reading this sitting down. In an email to Sheila Ernzen on November 5, 2012, prior to the last election, McCaslin basically endorsed Ernzen in the auditor’s race:

From: "McCaslin, Carol" <IMCEAEX-_O=CLAY+20COUNTY_OU=CLAY_CN=RECIPIENTS_CN=CMCCASLIN@claycogov.com<mailto:IMCEAEX-_O=CLAY+20COUNTY_OU=CLAY_CN=RECIPIENTS_CN=CMCCASLIN@claycogov.com>>
Date: November 5, 2012 at 3:20:28 PM CST
To: "Ernzen, Sheila" <sernzen@claycountymo.gov<mailto:sernzen@claycountymo.gov>>
Subject: Good Luck

Sorry I missed you this morning.  We may not agree on some things, but there is 
no question that you are the best for the Auditor.

Good luck tomorrow.

At least it will be over !!

Carol McCaslin

PDF of the email.

If you wouldn’t mind, share this post with a friend here in Clay County.

I figure it’s only appropriate that Pitch’s 2014 Blogger of the Year share his thoughts on next Tuesday’s election.

Here is a copy of the ballot for all of Clay County. I will be sharing how I will vote on the races and issues I can vote on. As usual, I’m sure this post will further annoy some local politicos and confuse others. I don’t like boxes and shall not be placed in one.

State Auditor:

I find this race interesting. There’s no Democrat. I am not a fan of Tom Schweich. I had the pleasure of sitting across the table from him before the 2010 election at a Clay County Pachyderm meeting. He was rude, arrogant, and I think he thought he was just going to push me around. I stood my ground, he didn’t like it, and I didn’t like him. I still can’t forgive him for donating to Claire McCaskill many years ago. His excuse to me, that’s just the way things worked in the lawyers office he worked for… Oh… Huh?  I’m voting for Sean O’Toole, the Libertarian candidate. Is Schweich competent, no doubt, but Schweich is also as establishment as they come. I don’t expect everyone to agree with my reasoning here, but that’s where I am at on this one.

US House 6th District

While I voted against Congressman Graves in the primary, I have no doubt he is a better choice than the other two candidates in the race. I believe it is important to hold the house. While I’m not super excited to do it, I have no problem voting for Congressman Graves in this race.

Clay County Presiding Commissioner

I will be voting for Jerry Nolte. I have known Jerry for sometime, and I find him to be a great person. As you know if you are a regular visitor here, I loudly supported him in the Republican primary. I know he will make a far better Commissioner than who is currently in office.

Jay Swearingen and I have a mutual friend. Everything this friend had told me about him had me optimistic that we would have had a different race. Swearingen’s campaign is best described as the “I’m not Jerry Nolte” campaign which really makes little sense. His website has no information about a vision for the county or anything that he will do as commissioner. One thing Swearingen wants you to know is that he will show up to vote. Ok… great!

My one frustration with this race is that there will be no end to “Economic Development Councils” with either race. I find these things to be a complete waste of money and not the role of government. I don’t look to my government to create jobs., Government’s purpose is to create a positive environment for jobs to be created within.

County Clerk

I won’t be voting for either candidate. This is the quintessential Clay County race and something I have spoken out against since the early days of the blog. Follow the connections here: Megan Thompson is somehow related to Matt Thompson who is the son of T.K. Thompson who is friends with Vic Hurlbert. See how this works? Oh, wait, it gets better, Sherry Duffett is close friends with Pam Mason and worked for her when Mason was county clerk. If I was a betting man, which I’m usually not, but I’d put money on the table that Pam Mason receives a job in the Clerk’s office no matter who wins this race.

County Auditor

I will be voting for Sheila Ernzen. I don’t need to rehash all of the history here as to why. If you are curious, just do a search on the blog for Clay County Auditor or Sheila Ernzen. The McCaslins are friends with Hurlbert/Mason et. al. This is yet another Hurlbert inspired candidacy and rehashing of the vendetta against Ms. Ernzen.

Ms. McCaslin has a bit of the I-don’t-know-what-political-party-I’m-from-syndrome. Maybe her and Jay Lawson drink the same water… Anyway, she’s run as a Democrat for past elections, and now, she’s suddenly a Republican. Her husband, Dale McCaslin ran as Democrat in the primary against Ms. Ernzen.

In addition, Ms. McCaslin has no qualifications to be the Auditor. She is not a CPA, nor does she have any experience as an auditor. Wait…this story sounds familiar. William James Norris, Part Deux!

Furthermore, Ms. McCaslin has failed to show up at any voter forums, has no website, no Facebook presence…nothing.

Hopefully nothing I said above was slanderous…I await notification from Mrs. McCaslin’s lawyer. Because based upon her previous behavior, I have no confidence she’d have the courage to send me a note to explain or correct the record. But, just in case:

claycomopolitics@gmail.com

(That’s an email list above. The big font is for effect.)

Clay County Collector

I will be voting for the Democrat Tom Brandom. While I appreciate Mrs. McEvoy’s willingness to update the County’s software system, and thought that helping other municipalities tax collection was a good idea, I just don’t believe she has always acted with the interests of the tax payers in mind.

I have never really understood Mrs. McEvoy. Back in 2010, I wrote a short piece reporting that, McEvoy may have been unbondable after she was elected. Apparently, it was not okay to report facts because shortly after that I received an email expressing her frustration with me through Facebook. I offered to allow her to respond to the piece, but I never heard anything back. Since then, Meanderings tipsters say she buddied up with Hurlbert and Mason.

I’m of the mind if you are a person that runs for office, the truth matters. Guess what? We’re all human and fallible. We all make mistakes in life. Had she simply acknowledged the truth and explained, there’s a pretty good chance I would have moved on and never worried about it. One thing I’ve learned about life, own a mistake and people tend to respect you more.

Anyway, there have been some questionable things happen while Mrs. McEvoy has been collector. There is the trip to Alaska to look at new software. All the county municipalities in America and somehow Alaska was the one that was most promising.

Then there is the issue of diverting funds to an account that circumvented the auditing process. Those funds were then utilized to oppose the County Home Rule Charter that was on the ballot in 2010. On top of that, she attempted to use a private email account to circumvent the Sunshine Law.

A couple of articles from the KC MSM that are worth your time:

Clay County collector: McEvoy disputes criticism from Brandom about how she’s spent money

Clay County collector in hot water after e-mail sent from personal account

I have spoken with Mr. Brandom a couple of times. We disagree on politics, but I find him a decent and trustworthy person. In politics, especially Clay County politics, that’s saying a lot. He deserves your vote for Collector.

Constitutional Amendment No. 2

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that it will be permissible to allow relevant evidence of prior criminal acts to be admissible in prosecutions for crimes of a sexual nature involving a victim under eighteen years of age? If more resources are needed to defend increased prosecutions additional costs to governmental entities could be at least $1.4 million annually, otherwise the fiscal impact is expected to be limited.

On the surface this seems like a pretty simple amendment, but the more I have thought about it the more I am concerned about its implications. If a person is accused of a sexual crime, this would allow the past criminal behavior of the accused to be included as evidence. Normally, Missouri only allows prior sexual criminal acts to be admitted during the sentencing phase of a trial.

Here is my concern with this. Say a person commits a crime 15 years ago, and he/she has truly reformed their lives. They are accused of a sexual crime in the present. Let us pretend in our hypothetical that the current accusation is wrong for whatever reason. Say the evidence is circumstantial, or it is based upon personal testimony only. The prosecutor could introduce the old conviction as “evidence” in this new case. To make it even more convoluted, it appears a mere accusation, not a conviction, could be admissible as evidence.

That’s not the way I conceptualize our justice system nor our civil liberties. Admittedly sexual crimes against minors are of the worst offenses imaginable. You are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. While I’m a true believer that past behavior can lead us to be concerned about present or future behavior, I’m also a big believer that people can change. A person should be judged in a criminal proceeding upon the evidence for that crime and that crime only.

Unless someone can convince me otherwise, and I’m honestly willing to listen, I’m voting no on this amendment. (And I fully acknowledge that if I ever decide to run for office, this post will be turned into some mailer. Whatever…)

Constitutional Amendment No. 3

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:

  • require teachers to be evaluated by a standards based performance evaluation system for which each local school district must receive state approval to continue receiving state and local funding;
  • require teachers to be dismissed, retained, demoted, promoted and paid primarily using quantifiable student performance data as part of the evaluation system;
  • require teachers to enter into contracts of three years or fewer with public school districts;
  • and prohibit teachers from organizing or collectively bargaining regarding the design and implementation of the teacher evaluation system?

Decisions by school districts regarding provisions allowed or required by this proposal and their implementation will influence the potential costs or savings impacting each district. Significant potential costs may be incurred by the state and/or the districts if new/additional evaluation instruments must be developed to satisfy the proposal’s performance evaluation requirements.

I’m going to be up front. I signed the petition to put this on the ballot. I thought it important to allow this discussion about teacher tenure and merit pay to happen. Having said that, I’m voting no on amendment 3.

The language is horrible, and I have a significant concern about this line: “promoted and paid primarily using quantifiable student performance data.”

Public education is currently a mess. It’s only going to get worse in the coming years. One of the biggest problems is the current push for standardized assessments. To promote and pay primarily upon one data point borders on insanity. It won’t improve teaching or public schools. There’s a chance it could even do the opposite of the intention of the amendment. Good teachers may consider leaving the profession for risk of being unfairly judged.

There are lots of better ideas for education reform in Missouri although few people are talking about or proposing them. A couple things I would love to see would be educational savings accounts and allowing charter schools to exist in all counties of Missouri. Don’t get your hopes up because the education “blob” will work its butt off not to allow any positive change in Missouri.

Constitutional Amendment No. 6

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to permit voting in person or by mail for a period of six business days prior to and including the Wednesday before the Election Day in all general elections?
State governmental entities estimated startup costs of about $2 million and costs to reimburse local election authorities of at least $100,000 per election. Local election authorities estimated higher reimbursable costs per election. Those costs will depend on the compensation, staffing, and, planning decisions of election authorities with the total costs being unknown.

Early voting is coming whether you like it or not. I’m not a fan. Some on the left like to use early voting to cheat and win elections. If they had their way, they’d vote as long and as often as possible. They are convinced of a false narrative about ballot access and voting, but then again, many of them are convinced of endless false narratives about our society. This version of early voting may be the most favorable to protecting against fraud and corruption. I will be voting yes on Amendment 6.

My good friend Mike Ferguson puts together a public policy show called Missouri Viewpoints. I’d encourage you to go watch the episode that looks at this issue:

Constitutional Amendment No. 10

Official Ballot Title:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to require the governor to pay the public debt, to prohibit the governor from relying on revenue from legislation not yet passed when proposing a budget, and to provide a legislative check on the governor’s decisions to restrict funding for education and other state services?
State governmental entities expect no direct costs or savings. Local governmental entities expect an unknown fiscal impact.

Fair Ballot Language:

A “yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution regarding the requirements placed on the governor for proposing a state budget and for withholding money appropriated in the budget passed by the legislature. This amendment prohibits the governor from reducing funding passed by the general assembly without receiving legislative consent, and provides certain other restrictions on the governor’s ability to increase or decrease line items in the budget. This amendment further prohibits the governor from proposing a budget that relies on revenue from legislation that has not yet passed in the general assembly.
A “no” vote will not amend the Missouri Constitution regarding the requirements placed on the governor for proposing a state budget and for withholding money appropriated in the budget passed by the legislature.
If passed, this measure will have no impact on taxes.

This is one of those things that could go either way. It may not be the best fix, but I like the idea. I will be voting for Amendment 10. This puts the power of the purse in the hands of the people through the legislature. Governor Nixon has used with-holdings for political ends. One should not vote on this with Nixon in mind, I would fear the same thing with a Republican governor. Because if it’s one consistent thing about Missouri politics, we elect really crappy governors.

Once again, check out the Missouri Viewpoints episode on this topic:

Kansas City Question 1 Capital Improvements Tax

NO!

Kansas City Question 2 Public Transportation Sales Tax

NO! Both Question 1 and 2 are the result of crazy-man Clay Chastain.