Posted: July 13, 2014 in Clay County, Clay County Commission
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Photo courtesy of winnond /

Clay County employees are fearful this week because Presiding Commissioner Pam Mason is terrorizing them with lies and misinformation yet again. This week she is scaring them about their health insurance.


In an effort to manipulate employees into pressuring Commissioner Luann Ridgeway to approve the contract for an employee benefit consultant quickly and without question, Mason has told her staff to scare County employees into believing their health insurance benefits will be cancelled if Ridgeway doesn’t approve the contract immediately.


This is not true. The County has separate, stand alone contracts with Blue Cross Blue Shield, Delta Dental and EyeMed Vision that are not at all affected by whether or not the county has a contract with Garry & Associates.


A benefit consultant is used to evaluate insurance plans offered by insurance companies and negotiate rates with them for the benefit of the company buying its employees health insurance.  They are frequently used by local governments to help ensure that citizen resources are used in the most cost effective way possible.


For several meetings now, the County Commission has had Resolution 2014-137, a contract for employee benefit consulting with Garry & Associates, on its agenda for approval. Commissioner Ridgeway has asked for more information before renewing the contract with Garry & Associates.  Ridgeway’s request is that a contract amendment be made that will allow more transparency in this agreement – and all future contracts the Presiding Commissioner signs on behalf of Clay County taxpayers.


Before Garry & Associates, the County had a contract with CBiz for employee benefit consulting. The County’s $38,500 contract with CBiz was replaced last year after a meeting that occurred behind closed doors on June 3, 2013. The replacement contract was a $90,000 contract awarded to Garry & Associates. Yes, $51,500 more than what the County was paying to CBiz for the exact same services. This year the contract with Garry & Associates is proposed to be renewed for $91,890.


This means Clay County taxpayers are paying an additional $51,500 each year for the benefit consultant alone. If citizens were saving that much or more on the amount the County pays for employee benefits, that would justify the County Commission’s decision last year to spend the extra money with Garry & Associates. However, citizens actually are paying 6% more for County employees’ health insurance this year.  This is approximately $260,000 in added costs to taxpayers on top of the $51,500.


Joshua Garry, the owner of Garry & Associates, contributed $1,000 on 9/14/12 to Gene Owen’s campaign for Commissioner and $650 on 4/9/2008.


It has cost Clay County taxpayers more than $310,000 this year to pay back yet another friend of this County Commission.

  1. Alice Shepard says:

    What about the unemployment you took after the 2010 election that you were not due? The document I saw said you claimed over $1000 in unemployment. To my knowledge elected officials are not eligible for unemployment.

    I have been told that there is a citizens complaint to law enforcement coming in this matter soon. Unemployment insurance fraud. Ignorance of the law is not a defense in the matter. Even though you paid the $ back when the Info was brought to light. You can’t rob the bank and pay the $ baxk without paying that debt back to society.

    Your thoughts on the matter?

  2. Cliff Preston says:

    Let’s remember who got elected as Clay Co. Auditor in 2010 – convicted felon & stalker of numerous women. William Norris. Let’s also remember he was assisted and supported in his campaign by Vic Hurlbert & Pam Mason. Any Republican in Clay Co. that paid any attention to the 2010 elections is aware of this.

    From what I know about this Commission it is the most corrupt in the history of Clay Co. and that is saying a lot considering the Commission in the late 1990’s. It looks like Ridgeway might be waking up by it is too little to late. Josh Garry is is a Democratic “Pay to Play” political hack that will go where he can find elected officials that will play his game. He has found a willing audience in the current Clay Co. Commission.

    Remember who Mason & Hurlbert are supporting this election. Mason for Commissioner, Thompson for Clerk. McEvoy for Collector, and Lawson for Recorder. Does anyone think they can trust anyone supported by Hurlbert & Mason? The question is which one of these might be our next William Norris?

  3. Ron Nelson says:

    Im curious to know what Sheila’s response to the above comment is? Did that really happen? If so something needs to be done about it.

  4. ClayCoMOPolitics says:

    I have intended to respond to this, but just have not had the time. I have known about Ernzen’s issue with the unemployment benefits, it’s actually how the William James Norris story was exposed by NBC News. You see, Norris contacted Russ Ptacek intending to get Sheila into trouble (and if I had to guess, there is a chance that he did it at the encouragement of Hurlbert, et. al.). The problem was it backfired on him when Ptacek realized what was going on and that Sheila had simply made a mistake that she would later fix. When Ernzen lost her job as Clay County Auditor at the end of 2010, she received unemployment benefits for about 3 weeks. It was then that she found a job as the finance director for Belton. Ernzen had been told by the Clay County’s HR Director that she was eligible to receive unemployment benefits because she had been appointed to the Office, not elected. Unfortunately, the advice given was inaccurate. She then took it upon herself to contact the Missouri Division of Employment Security. After questions were raised in June by a reporter, it was determined by the DES that any individual serving in an Office, appointed or elected, would not be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. Ernzen repaid the benefits, which was a whole $1000, after the determination was made.

    So, nothing needs to be done about this because a person who made a mistake upon poor advice righted her violation of the rule of law. The comment made by Alice Shepard above shows the sad state of our political discourse in America. That’s not who we are as people, and if it is, I don’t claim dear Alice as a fellow American. Our court system is plagued with cases, and to try and bring charges against a person who actually paid her debt back to society would be laughed at by the courts. Ernzen was not ignorant of the law, in fact she paid it deference by seeking out information after she was accused by the actual law breaker (as in actual jail time), William James Norris. It’s unfortunate that dear Alice is so passionate about making Sheila pay twice for a mistake caused by another’s error. But, hey, it’s 2014 and that’s how people function. We claim to be a Christian nation that is supposed to “love thy enemy,” but many of us exhibit outward behavior that instead seeks vengeance. I just hope that Alice, our dear savior and defender of the rule of law, is busy doing something about the excessive violations at our Southern border and WADC. For some reason, I highly doubt it.

    So Alice, there are my thoughts on the matter. Hope you liked them!

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