Posts Tagged ‘Clay County’

WARNING: There are some mature photos in this post.

So, I wanted to put this on the blog here because I believed it need to be in the digital record. I just didn’t want to bother the readers of The Northland News with it. I’m so worn out with the childishness and immaturity of things in our political process and things I’ve seen here at the County level since 2008. Plus, the readers of The Northland News don’t have the background that many of you do.

I recently reported on the Clay County Taxes being lowered on The Northland News. I was informed by Assistant County Administrator Nicole Brown that they didn’t need to vote, and it looks like that she was inaccurate on that statement. I have not had the time to ask her about the reason for the second vote.

Strangely, the second vote was taken at the Shoal Creek Golf Course this Tuesday night. I was down covering the North Kansas City City Council and wasn’t able to make it to the impromptu meeting. Here’s a link to the new levies.

It certainly doesn’t look good, but I’m holding out judgement until I find out why.

I got an email that was sent through our contact form on The Northland News yesterday from “J Snyder.” I should have been more aware because looking at the email now it was not a full name. The email address seemed awkward as well.


HopesFuture email 1


From: J Snyder <>
Subject: Clay County Commission – Tax Levy

Message Body:
Mr Palmer,
You generally report on the County Commission’s meetings, I was wondering if you had a report from their special session to reset the tax levy? I believe it occurred last night (10/20/15) in Shoal Creek.
Seems like they were trying to sneak a meeting in with no one noticing. Did anyone even attend?

So, thinking it was a legitimate note, I responded. Then the response came this morning from none other than… Rusty Wallace.

Defenses went up immediately… Rusty Wallace… Really???

Here’s my email response and then “Rusty’s” response.

HopesFuture email 2



I was aware of the meeting. I wasn’t able to attend it because I was at the NKC Council and was not able to have anyone else attend for me. Based upon the agenda they just approved the levy, but I’m going to be asking some questions about the meeting at the next Commission meeting because I was told that they didn’t need to vote on it. Thanks for the note!


Mr Palmer,
Thank you for your response. I wish I were able to attend the meeting last night too.
I believe that last night’s meeting is contradictory with proper procedure for scheduling Special Sessions. I’m sure I read somewhere that 4 or 5 days notice is required, 24 hours notice only applies to event attendance notification. If the commission somehow voted to suspend the rules in order to host this Special Session I suppose they could pull it off but even that seems a stretch?!
I’d be interested to know the language they used to adopt this levy. The first levy they passed was done so resolutely, in consideration of the county’s solvency that I was interested to know how they could accept a lesser percentage. Didn’t they do the math? Don’t they know how money they need? Are we losing money with the lower levy or did they do the math poorly the first time around? Does their math now match what the governor’s office has mandated for them to collect?
I find these all to be very interesting questions.
Thank you for listening to my ramblings.
J Snyder

A lot of people don’t realize this, but if you create a Facebook account with an email that becomes a searchable item on Facebook. Try it sometime, type in an email in the top search bar and see what happens. So, everyone meet our friend Rusty Wallace. Note, I did edit out a mutual friend of “Rusty’s.” Many times people indiscriminately friend on Facebook. I don’t want the individual caught up in this. It’s not fair to him.

Rusty Wallace 1

Now this is where this takes a turn into crazy land. As you can see above, the email properly links this account to the email given. Rusty, or whoever Rusty is, apparently has created a fake Facebook profile for two reasons. 1) Not being who they are. 2) Soft-core pornography.

Rusty Wallace 2

Rusty Wallace 3

I had to laugh at this one. Who does Rusty follow? Two models and me. In case the local media news source thing doesn’t work out maybe I have a modeling career to consider?

Rusty Wallace 4

Update 10/23/15:

Say it ain’t so, Rusty! You had such love, such respect, such profound affinity for the ladies whatever will they do without you Liking their page.

Rusty Wallace 5

And…and…you no longer follow my updates! Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

As a note, I intentionally never responded to his last email to see what would happen and I got this around lunch today.

HopesFuture email 3

No, I had no intention of embarrassing you “Rusty.” I simply intended to expose into the record someone pretending to be someone they weren’t. I swear I’ve seen behavior like this somewhere before… Huh… Probably no connection.

Farewell, Rusty! Best of luck as you slither off into the “anonymity” of the Internet.


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.

It may pay to be a friend of this County Commission, but if you are a taxpayer, it could become very expensive. Clay County taxpayers are being used to pay back the Commissioners friends and campaign contributors.

On March 12, 2013 the County Commission entered into a contract with CPA firm Meara Welch Browne to audit the County’s financial statements. Of all the firms that submitted proposals, Meara Welch Browne was the only one that had NO (zero) technical experience with governmental financial statement audits. Their submitted proposal wasn’t the low bid either. At $95,000 for the first year, it was actually the second highest bid that the County received.

Cochran Head Vick & Company submitted the low bid at $59,750. Not only were they the low bid, they have tons of experience with governmental financial statement audits. Even more importantly, they have experience with Clay County. They audited the County’s financial statements for many of the last twelve years. As a matter of fact, they were the county’s CPA firm and provided key evidence when Vic Hurlbert resigned from the county Auditor position after being investigated by a special prosecutor.

The county received 5 proposals in response to its request for proposals for outside financial auditing services after it extended the deadline to submit proposals 5 different times. The last day to accept proposals finally ended on January 31, 2013, the same day that Meara Welch Browne submitted their proposal.

During one of the audit meetings with the outside auditor, I apologized to the Audit Manager for the Commission not awarding the contract until mid-March, causing the CPA firm to get such a late start on our audit. Her response was that it was okay because the Commission had to keep extending the bid because she hadn’t gotten the proposal in and Meara Welch Browne was going to get the job. I was stunned.

So why did Meara Welch Browne get the contract at a cost of $35,250 annually more than the lowest and best bid received? It may be because Julie Welch, one of the firm’s partners is very good friends with Commissioner Mason’s husband, Vic Hurlbert. They went to college together. It may be because Welch contributed $250 to Vic Hurlbert’s unsuccessful campaign for State Representative on 3/1/2012. It may be because Welch contributed $300 to Gene Owen’s 2008 campaign for Commission on 6/2/2008. It could even be because Welch contributed $50 to Pam Mason’s unsuccessful campaign for KCMO city council in 2007 and then on 1/20/2011 to Mason’s campaign for Commissioner. I don’t know the reason, but I do know it is costing the citizens of Clay County more than $35,000 each year of unnecessary expenditures to pay Mason’s friend. You can see the report that Channel 41 did here

Mason skirted around the state ethics laws by abstaining from the actual vote. Only Owen and Ridgeway officially voted on this contract. There was very little public discussion before this contract was awarded. If my memory serves me correctly, the only discussion involved a comment by Commissioner Mason saying that this firm was being picked for its experience with forensic accounting and Commissioner Ridgeway commenting on the fact that the firm had moved its office to the state of Kansas to avoid income taxes.

If you are interested in looking at the contract and the list of CPA firms that submitted bids, you can see it here

The campaign contributions can be seen, as reported by the campaign committees, at the Missouri Ethics Commission website here