Archive for the ‘Clay County’ Category

I have had this since July 13, and I just failed to get it up. 

I’m glad Commissioner Pam Mason has publicly brought up the budget and personnel cuts she made to the Office of the Elected Auditor of Clay County.

As your elected Auditor, I’d like to tell you more about what those cuts mean for the workers in my office and the citizens I serve in Clay County. It should be noted that the only three county departments receiving budget cuts in the last two years were: elected Auditor, elected Sheriff and Parks & Recreation.

First of all and most disturbing, the budget cut to my office was down to the dollar amount of a long time county employee. Ellen is 58 years old. Sadly, not long ago, Ellen lost her husband of 32 years. As too many people know, it is devastating to lose your life partner. But the loss of a job so quickly after? Ellen had to sell her home and move to Utah to live with family.

The dollars used to pay Ellen to audit the Commission went to the Commission’s Assistant County Administrator who received a $16,500 raise in his first month of employment, then yet another raise bringing his salary to more than $94,000.

Commissioner Mason: By your own public admissions on social media and the fancy mail pieces you send, you did this to send a message to me. But instead of hurting me, you hurt a woman who needed this job to make ends meet. Clay County workers aren’t collateral damage. They are hardworking folks who do an honest day’s work to pay their bills, feed their families and hopefully have a little left to enjoy.

When Commissioner Mason’s husband, Vic Hurlbert, was the elected Auditor his office had four full time deputies. My office has been cut twice since Commissioner Mason took office. The office of the elected Auditor is now down to one full time and one part time deputy.

It’s difficult to set aside one’s personal feelings on the job. However, the people of Clay County deserve officeholders performing at their best. It’s too bad Commissioner Mason cannot let go of her vendetta against my office. Her husband, Vic Hurlbert, resigned from the elected office of Clay County Auditor after an investigation by a special prosecutor and was then rejected by the voters to be their State Representative, in spite of spending more than $120,000 of his own money. The people are sick and tired of political infighting and officeholders who govern based on revenge.

Commissioner Mason, you have also publicly admitted to the hiring of an outside company to work on the county financial statements required by Missouri statute to be completed by the County Commission. My office previously produced these statements as a gesture of goodwill and teamwork. Due to the personnel cuts in my office, we were unable to extend this courtesy for 2014.

I’d like to talk a bit more on the subject of outside financial reporting services. Commissioner Mason, your Purchasing staff went out for bid to retain financial reporting services earlier this year. Two companies of sound reputation responded. The due date for the bid was extended anyway. A gentleman named Bruce Culley responded on the last day of this extension, with a bid that undercut the competition. Bruce Culley was selected by your two votes  – because you voted in place of Commissioner Gene Owen, who was absent.

What the voters may not know about Bruce Culley: he was your first recruited candidate to run against me for Auditor. He filed with the Clay County Election Board as a Republican candidate for Auditor. Then his recent criminal record was uncovered. Within a short period of the financial reporting services bid from Clay County, Mr. Culley withdrew as a candidate for Auditor and was then selected by you to receive a contract.

Commissioner Mason, you slashed the budget of the elected Auditor by $50,000 and ended up paying far more through outside contracts for auditing. Once again, Clay County workers and taxpayers are the losers.

I pledge to continue to independently audit the offices and departments of Clay County, as I am bound to do by Missouri statute. This means there will be more political consequences for me, and for my office. But I will not waiver in my commitment to integrity and transparency in government

 

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Photo courtesy of winnond / FreeDigitalPhotos.net http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1970

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. http://webdocs.claycogov.com/resord/docserv.php?id=2014-137 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. http://webdocs.claycogov.com/resord/docserv.php?id=2013-349

 

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.

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is how the saying goes. This saying is especially true right now in Clay County. They give contracts to their friends; like Meara Welch Brown and Garry & Associates. They give jobs to their friends; like Matt Thompson and Blake Scott. This County Commission has even created brand new positions for their friends.

In May 2013, Dale McCaslin was hired as the assistant director at the Clay County Airport. The newly created job paid $52,000 per year plus benefits. There was no job description for the job at the time he was hired and when he left the position at the end of 2013, after the situation was made public, the position was not refilled.

Dale McCaslin is the husband of former Clay County Treasurer, Carol McCaslin.

Carol McCaslin has been a long time, very close friend of Pam Mason. They take long lunches together, spend hours in meetings together, shop together, and plan their campaigns together.

McCaslin lost her bid for re-election in 2012 to Republican Ted Graves. Since leaving the Treasurer’s office, she has worked part time for Cathy Rinehart, the Clay County Assessor and in May of 2013, the County Commission hired Dale McCaslin into a newly created position at the Clay County Airport. Now she has filed as a Republican for County Auditor and her husband, and Dale McCaslin has filed as a Democrat.

I am certain that it took quite a bit of pressure from Pam Mason to get the McCaslins to file for County Auditor, but when you owe Pam Mason and Gene Owen so much, it is hard to say no. It is even more difficult to say no when you need a job.

Carol McCaslin, flipped parties to file as a Republican. I have spent a fair amount of time with Carol McCaslin over the past few years and she holds no ideological views that are consistent with the Republican party platform. I don’t know much about Dale McCaslin because politics have never really been his thing. When he has attended a political function, it has only been to support his wife.

The citizens of this county deserve some one in the auditor’s office that will work for them, not be a rubber stamp for the county commission. We need a voice that is able to say no when it is necessary. It is important that the County Auditor be independent and not owe anything to any other elected official. Both of the McCaslins are indebted to the County Commission and the County Assessor.