Posts Tagged ‘Matt Thompson’

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.

Anyone mentioned in this post is always welcome to respond in the comment section below or submit an editorial for publication. 

In addition to the special contracts that have been awarded to the County Commissioners’ friends, Clay County taxpayers have additionally spent more than $331,000 on jobs for the friends and political contributors of this County Commission.  The sheriff could have hired 9 additional deputies or the Highway Department could have asphalted 4 additional miles of county roads each year with that money.  Instead of spending taxpayer money on public safety or county roads and bridges, Commissioners are spending public money to pay back their friends.

BRAND NEW POSITIONS:

The County Commission created four brand new positions in 2013 specifically for friends and political contributors. These four positions that are being paid for by Clay County taxpayers have annual salaries totaling more than $151,000 plus benefits.

The Assistant Director at the county airport position that was created for political contributor and former County Treasurer’s (Carol McCaslin) husband, Dale McCaslin, had an annual salary of $52,000 plus benefits.

The Special Assistant to the County Commission position that was created political contributor and friend of the Commission, Steve Hemphill, had an annual salary of $36,500 plus benefits.

The Special Projects Coordinator position that was created for friend of the Commission, Heather Hall, had an annual salary of $36,400 plus benefits

The Assistant Purchasing Agent position that was created for friend of the Commission, Beth Brantley, had a part time annual salary of $27,050 plus benefits

TERMINATION & SETTLEMENT AGREEMENTS:

Clay County taxpayers have paid more than $115,000 in termination agreements and settlement agreements with long time County employees that were fired so that they could be replaced by friends of the Commission.

The Assistant County Administrator was fired and paid a termination agreement costing Clay County taxpayers $60,917. He was replaced by friend of the Commission Steve Wright. His salary annual salary is $94,700 plus benefits.

The Commission’s Secretary was fired and paid a lawsuit settlement agreement costing Clay County taxpayers $50,000. She was replaced by friend of the Commission Pam Cone. Her annual salary is $37,752 plus benefits.

One of the purchasing staff employees was fired and paid a termination agreement costing Clay County taxpayers $4,386.  She was replaced by friend of the Commission Stacey Nickerson. Her annual salary is $31,096 plus benefits.

There are also long term employees that were fired and not paid a termination agreement or settlement agreement, but that is costing Clay County taxpayers because the salaries of the friends of the Commissioners are more than the employees that were replaced.

ATTORNEYS:

The County’s former county counselor team was replaced in 2013. The attorneys that made up the County’s 2013 legal team cost the citizens of Clay County an additional $65,000 in annual salaries than the County’s previous legal team. Political contributor Matt Thompson ($75,000 salary), political contributor Tim Flook ($55,000 salary) and friend of the Commission Don Norris ($60,0000 salary) all receive more than the three county counselors they replaced that each made an annual salary of $41,640.  This doesn’t include the money that has been spent out of the General fund and other special revenue funds on additional, special legal counsel.

“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.