Posts Tagged ‘Luann Ridgeway’

I thought I’d take a minute to throw out a couple theories on what I suspect Commissioner Ridgeway is up to with her recent call for a charter. For those that haven’t seen the long, bloviating email from her, the basic synapsis is she wants to convene a Charter Committee to discuss a potential charter for Clay County.

Nothing like having committees to discuss potential future committees.

So, if you’re wondering why this suddenly appeared, let me explain what I think happened.

After fighting those of us that wanted an audit, Commissioner Owen and Ridgeway’s legal challenge (that we all paid for) fell flat on its face.

Ridgeway is facing a three-way primary against former Missouri State Rep. Doug Ervin and current County Clerk Megan Thompson. Ervin has been actively raising money and Thompson self-funded her campaign with a huge chunk of money.

Everything right now is pointing towards big trouble for Ridgeway because last time I checked she’s not raised any new money, and there’s just no one coming to her defense on anything she’s done. Additionally, Ervin and Thompson both have decent to good name ID and have good reputations with the people that will be electing them.

So what’s a life long politician that makes over $70k a year and pension and health benefits to do?

Deflect and change the narrative.

On it’s surface, it’s somewhat clever because in my experience watching American politics, people fall for this sort of crap all the time.

For those who are actively involved, a call for a charter is bubbling to the surface again as my good friend Jason Withington has began to push for that since the audit is now back underway.

By calling for this charter committee, which BTW is functionally useless as it has no teeth and no legal binding, her and Commissioner Owen will stack the committee with people friendly to them.

This forces the press to begin to discuss this new issue while the audit takes place in the background. She’s able to positively discuss the charter on interviews and begin to look like a leader.

The one thing that might still help Ridgeway in the upcoming primary is ignorance and apathy. I’ve been involved and followed politics in this county for over 10 years now. The one constant thing I’ve seen when it comes to the county offices is people are either ignorant about who they’re voting for and just don’t care because they’re not constantly bombarded by the press with stories on these office holders. After all, when you don’t know who is running, you simply default to the name you know on Team Red or Team Blue and leave the voting booth content in the fact that you did your “civic duty”.

If I’m Ridgeway, and I’m going to be primaried by two legitimate challengers I have to do something to get people to think I’ve not done the things I’ve done. I suspect she’s betting on the ignorant and apathetic to just start tuning in about the time this committee is up and running. It’s probably her hope she looks real good through all of this.

Another more sinister view of all this is that Owen and Ridgeway are hoping to create a committee that is dysfunctional from the start and that turns people away from the idea of charter. After all, they both opposed the charter that was put to the voters almost 20 years ago.

Whatever the case, don’t for a second this has anything to do with benefitting the county, you, or I. Just as sure as the sun rises in the east, Luann Ridgeway is always looking out for Luann Ridgeway.

For those that don’t know, State Representative Ken Wilson has introduced a bill for the recall of County Commissioners. It’s HB 580 and you can read the full text here. This has been at the pushing of local activists that have been involved in the audit movement.

Full disclosure, this bill would give us no ability to recall the two commissioners we’re most frustrated with. The idea arose among many of us that are involved as a way to insure the future.

Last night, I saw Commissioner Ridgeway’s testimony against the bill posted on Facebook. I thought I’d go through her response as there are a couple pertinent points. As usual though, there are multiple things wrong and we learn a little more about her disrespect of the people she represents.

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Commissioner Ridgeway, Representative Wilson doesn’t owe you a thing. He never needed to discuss this legislation with you. He represents a portion of your district in the state house. And most importantly, he represents the people of his specific district. Personally, I hope he represents your full district in a couple years.

Furthermore, I know that you think when you speak just accept what you have to say, but you and Commissioner Owen don’t speak for the full Commission, and the only time the Clay County Commission speaks as one voice is when it passes a resolution that is unanimously supported by all three of your voices. This hasn’t happened, but yet you use that language.

You’ve been asked by Commissioner Nolte to stop doing this. As is usual with your behavior, you demonstrate an outright disrespect of the Commissioner that represents the full democratic voice of all of Clay County. You and Commissioner Owen represent political subdivisions and represent the voice of the democratic body from over two years ago. More importantly, that majority voice just spoke months ago when it told Commissioner Nolte that they were content with his representation, and I’d argue his continual oppostion to you and Commissioner Owen.

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This section of the letter is just an absolute mess. Fundamental proof that just because someone has a law degree, it doesn’t mean they know anything about the principles that founded our country.

An election is not a recall process. It’s a chance for the democratic body of a political subdivision to decide who they want to represent them going forward. A recall gives a strong minority voice of a democratic body the chance to further check the majority.

Sometimes the Democratic winds shift, and not neccessarily at the time of an election. A recall gives those winds a chance to be tempered, but also heard. Tempered by a barrier through a limit on the amount of petition signatures, heard in the form of an election if necessary.

The founders of this country were terrified of the majority voice as they knew that it from time to time makes mistakes. You’re correct in the sense that an election is one place that we can right a majority wrong, but a recall mechanism, rightly constructed, further gives the body politic a chance to correct a mistake. In today’s world, a world that is arguably quicker paced due to various reasons, a recall process makes sense and still pays respect to the construction our representative Republic.

The state constitution currently provides for 3 county commissioners whose terms are staggered. Every four years we allow the full body politic to speak in the form of Presiding Commissioner, then offset by two years, we allow smaller democratic bodies inside of the full body politic to speak.

Since you were last elected we’ve seen a growing movement of a frustrated minority that opposes your actions, the winds have shifted and they blow harder with every news report it seems, but we currently have no check on your actions due to the construction of the Commission.

Commissioner Ridgeway, people often mockingly call you the Queen of Clay County politics. And you’re writing above demonstrates that that sarcastic quip is not completely off the mark.

You’re worried about a minority harming the majority?

You don’t even respect the will of the full democratic body of this County as we just elected Commissioner Nolte for another four years. You and Commissioner Owen seem to care little about what Commissioner Nolte says, and you refuse to listen to the growing minority opposition. If we had a recall option, I suspect your behavior would be markedly different. You’d definitely be listening more than you are. You’d probably be open to compromise. And you’d be acting in ways that you showed you care about the minority criticisms.

I guess that’s maybe what you meant by this sentence:

“The net effect is that every officeholder subject to a potential recall will always be looking over their shoulder for any vocal minority in opposition.”

From your vantage point, I suspect this is terrifying to you based upon your actions of the past years. In my estimation, this should be a feature, not a bug of a well constructed representative democracy.

It was an irate tireless minority that threw off the shackles of the King of England to found this nation. Heck, even the Revolutionary War was supported by a minority of the total population.

You’re just flat wrong here.

In fairness, I always believe that you should give people you vehemently disagree with credit when they are correct. Your following criticisms of the bill are valid and deserve to be listened to.

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I agree. I see no reason to limit this recall bill to just County Commissioners. Let’s put every elected official in the state on notice that if you don’t listen to the people, that you absolutely could face a recall. The natural result of this would be better governance and politicians more in line with the democratic bodies they represent. Yes, action might even be slower, but again, that should be a feature, not a bug. We want quick action only when an overwhelming majority feel it is necessary.

I find the bill language about defining a reason for the recall unnecessary. If you’re going to start a petition, you’re going to define that in your appeal to the public. This shouldn’t be written into law. I don’t think it really matters.

I completely agree that 7.5% is way too low of a barrier for the signatures. I think this bill should be amended, and the amount of signatures increased. She’s right. If we find precedent in statute in Missouri for 25% it’s probably prudent to go with this. I agree with Commissioner Ridgeway in the sense that you don’t want too small of a minority able to do this. A recall should not be a walk in the park and we do not want too small of a minority able to interrupt majority will. The balance is probably debatable, but I think 7.5% tilts way too small.

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I’m not clear on where you’re getting the statement about a recalled Commissioner being banned from being a candidate. If you read the bill in its entirety, you don’t see a clear statement on this. I’d actually agree, I don’t think a recalled Commissioner should not be allowed to run. This would respect the tension that we hold in our form of government between majority will and respecting the minority.

I believe you’re wrong on the last concern. From what I understand, Missouri law provides for solutions to your conerns. You can still have a quorum with 2 commissioners. If you lost 2 commissioners to recall, the Governor can appoint one. If you lost 3 commissioners, decisions of the commission are kicked to the presiding judge of the circuit court.

I agree we need to improve this legislation, but there’s no reason to not support the general goal. I applaud Representative Wilson for being a leader on this bill. I look forward to supporting his primary challenge of Commissioner Ridgeway.

It will truly be for the Best of Clay County.

A significant amount of money from the $50 million certificates of participation that Commissioners Owen and Ridgeway are wanting to spend involves a new Clay County Annex. 

For those that don’t know what the Clay County Annex is, it’s a second building of the County’s that provides some County government functions. It’s supposed to help people in the County who are farther away from the Clay County Courthouse in Liberty, MO. It’s located down in Kansas City at 1901 NE 48th St.

I’ll be the first to grant the Commissioners the point that the building leaves more to be desired and has some problems. Doing something about it could be, and probably is, justifiable.

The question becomes just what is justifiable.

I’ve been told that the proposed new building might cost as much as $20 million dollars. I don’t have any firm information because, well, no one really does.

You swing over to the highly advanced, and modern, Clay County, Missouri web page and you get little, if any, information in the news section. Seems we went through a 2 year period where there wasn’t any news at all to print back in 16 and 17.

Interestingly, you do get a little bit of propaganda about the tax levy kerfuffle. Business as usual folks, your Commissioners unanimously froze tax rates after Commissioner Ridgeway rode in on her legislative steed and saved the day.

Clay County Front Page

Funny, I don’t see a news item from 2017 saying Commissioners raised your taxes in a 2-1 vote. Oh, well, that news wasn’t fit to print. Busy, busy running the County, or something.

Great news though, the County is continuing “to move forward with multiple improvement projects addressing deferred maintenance and infrastructure upgrades and is committed to taking on these tasks without raising taxes.”

Sigh…

One would think that if you were about to leverage the citizens of the County for a cool $20 million that you might want to tell us about your grand scheme.

And that’s where the questions begin to get really interesting.

I find it peculiar that we’re talking about a $20 million dollar building when there’s been no serious public discussion about what this building will look like and where it might be located.

Do architectural plans for said building even exist?

If they do, how were they created?

Was there an RFP?

Who created them?

How was this architect chosen?

If plans don’t exist, how did you arrive at the $20 million?

Did you consult an architectural firm without the full knowledge of the entire commission, or did you all throw darts at a dart board?

Dart throw

Possible future architectural consultant for Clay County, Missouri?

If architectural plans exist, where is this new building going?

Or, more interestingly, do you have an actual parcel of land that you’re going to build on?

That’s a really interesting question actually, and I’m hearing some really interesting rumors.

I’ve been asking around a lot to try and figure out if it’s true or not. I’m not naming any specific names, but will if it can be proven.

There is an individual that may be a friend of a specific Commissioner who could be involved in the land transaction where this new building may set.

Now, I’d like to believe that this is a rumor and is not true, because if a friend of a specific Commissioner financially benefited from a deal like this, it would look really bad.

But, hey, just rumors, right?

I’m a practical guy. I often think we should think a little different in government. After all, it’s my money you’re forcefully confiscating, so you’d think you would want to be as responsible as possible.

Has anyone considered looking at existing office space or older strip malls for the Annex?

The Annex is functional. It serves a purpose. It doesn’t have to be an amazing building. It just needs to do what it’s supposed to do.

Considering a lease agreement on some sort of existing space could save tax payers a boatload of money, and potentially bring more business traffic to another part of the County.

Not saying I’m right here, or if it’s even possible, but we have no idea what you have considered thus far. Again, I’m part of the nearly 8,000 citizens who don’t trust anything you do.

Commissioners Owen and Commissioners Ridgeway would make the most responsible choice they’ve ever made if they just stopped everything on this. If they seriously want to proceed, they need to treat the citizens of Clay County with some respect and start giving us specifics and details. Quit hiding behind executive sessions.