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Letter to the editor from former Alderman Joe Creamer

As many of you may know, it recently came out that 7 of our 10 Alderman have taken part in secret meetings with the Fire District. The content of these meetings is still a mystery as The Disgraceful 7 will not discuss it with staff or you, their constituents. That is precisely the reason they are being investigated by the Missouri Attorney General’s office. Congratulations to the three Alderman( Steve Mock, Bill VanBuskirk and Jim Aziere) for not being part of this group.

I addressed the board through public comment at the last  regularly scheduled meeting and let them know of what I thought and warned if they used their position to try to intimidate me I refuse to back down. So, with that I am going to tell you about my next story.

As many of you know I served 8 years on The Board of Alderman representing Ward 1 but am not currently in an elected capacity. I spent 8 years working with staff and other Alderman to try to make Raytown a better place. I found the staff at City Hall when I had questions in regards to any question I had with anything involving the community. I have set back as I am no longer an Alderman and observed the new board as they lead the community. This is where I want to take things a new direction.

I have had many conversations with people to the every day workings at City Hall and they have brought up to some disturbing revelations into the way the board is working with the professional staff at City hall. The ringleader of the disturbing treatment of staff would be the one and only Jason Greene; he believes that gotcha moments and the use of his henchmen is the way to work with staff. He uses Steve Meyers and Mark Moore to intimidate whomever is around that might disagree, whether it be staff or other Alderman. All of this while your Mayor Mike McDonough sits at City Hall for the entire day every day.

The treatment of staff is so bad that a friend confided in me that they were talking to an employee of City Hall and this person started crying because of the treatment they had seen staff members receive from the 3 listed above. I find that disgraceful! Now there are those that would argue the job of the Alderman is to ensure that staff perform to their highest level possible and that would be correct. However, if you condone the kind of activity at City Hall, put yourself in the position of the employees there. I know of nobody that wants to be in a position where they don’t know where the next attack is coming from.

These elected officials are supposed to be the leaders of our fine community but where is the leadership in idly standing by and watching the mistreatment of other human beings. I believe that Mike McDonough is a very good person but is being pulled by a faction of very selfish people who want to impose their will on the good people of Raytown. I call on our Mayor to stand up and show us the leadership we elected him for.

As a side note I have filed a complaint on all of the Disgraceful 7 with the Missouri Ethics Commission to let them determine if there is any wrong doing. There has been analysis from other news sources in regards to the matter but they are not the experts.

We All Want Good Teachers

Guest editorial by Nicole Nickens:

Teacher educators support higher standards for admission into teacher education programs, and value rigorous and valid assessment of education students.  However, much controversy has arisen surrounding interpretation of the initial results of the new tests for future teachers.

Faulty conclusions are based on low pass rates by prospective teacher candidates on a series of new standardized licensure tests called Missouri Content Assessments.

When a test produces a very high fail rate, a good educator doesn’t say, “My students are all stupid,” but rather, “I did not adequately help my students understand this content” or “This instrument is not a valid measure of the content/skills I intended to measure.”

The first groups administered the Missouri Content Assessments took a test that is not a valid measure of what they learned in their education programs because the curriculum in those programs was aligned to Praxis, the testing series formerly used for licensure.

This is like teaching your teen to drive an automatic, and then expecting him to drive a stick shift during his driver’s test. Your teen understands how to drive and may actually be skillful, but he won’t be able to show off those skills using unfamiliar equipment.

Blaming the test takers for a high fail rate is as incorrect as assuming that the high pass rate on the previous licensure test indicated the test was “too easy”. Does a high pass rate automatically mean a test is too easy?  Consider:

  • University of Missouri reports that in their Physical Therapy program, the licensure examination [ultimate] pass rate is 100 percent according to Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (2010, 2011, 2012).
  • Washington University in St. Louis boasts a 96 percent pass rate for Internal Medicine Board Exams 2012-2014.
  • In Missouri, 88.34 percent of candidates with a bachelor’s degree in nursing passed the NCLEX Exam.
  • For 2014, the first-time pass rate for the Missouri Bar Exam was 87.5 percent.

Using the logic of some state education leaders, it’s very easy to become a physical therapist, a doctor, a nurse or a lawyer in Missouri.

An alternate explanation for a high pass rate is that students must meet entrance criteria for any professional program in Missouri, including teacher education. Upon successful completion, they are well educated and thus well prepared for the exam.

Finally, there is no evidence yet to demonstrate these tests are technically sound in any way. The State Board also acknowledges biases against minority students, who represent the highest fail rates.

For these reasons, critics should step down. Teacher education is working hard to meet unreasonable timelines for implementing a system that is fraught with problems. We all want the same thing: quality education for all the children of Missouri.

Nicole Nickens lives in Lee’s Summit. She is a professor of Educational Psychology and department chair of Elementary & Early Childhood Education at University of Central Missouri and an executive board member of Missouri Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

This op-ed piece was written by one of my colleagues at UCM and also appears in the Kansas City Star today:

http://www.kansascity.com/opinion/readers-opinion/as-i-see-it/article25923097.html

Letter to the Editor from Charlotte Melson

Dear Editor,

Having made the decision not to run again for Raytown Alderman of Ward 3, I wanted to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for the support I have received the past 16 years.  I have thoroughly enjoyed and been honored to represent the residents of Ward 3 and the City of Raytown.  I have learned so much from Raytown residents and City staff on some many issues and topics and appreciate the time taken to answers all of my questions. I sincerely appreciate all those who have contacted me over the years with their gratitude or issues that needed resolve.

My hope when I started my first term in 1999 was to make a difference.  It was with that determination that I made sure that I read every piece of information that came before me, prepared for each meeting with my highlighters, sticky notes and asked the questions that would get to the core of the issue and thus having the information available for me to make for the best decision for our community.

In this upcoming election, I would like to express my support for Ryan Myers who is running for Ward 3 Alderman as he grew up in Raytown and returned as a young professional to make Raytown his home.  His expertise in economics and real estate will be a welcomed addition to the Board of Aldermen and his enthusiasm contagious.

I also support Pat Ertz and his bid for Raytown Mayor.  Pat has not only the expertise but also the leadership and experience which will benefit our city in the coming months and assist to continue the progress in the opportunities that are coming our way.  I have seen Pat’s dedication on the Board of Aldermen since 2007 and in many organizations such as the Raytown Chamber of Commerce and Raytown Summer Lunch Ministry Board. Pat is a very devoted and involved member of our community.

Lastly, I was honored to be elected to serve on the Raytown Charter Commission, as I wanted to make sure the commission followed the rules and maintained a reasonable budget.  After 10 months of work, I could not sign my name to the final document as I felt that it did not ‘mirror’ the current city government and will cause extensive expenses if passed.  It is not the clear, concise document I hoped would be finalized.  I would ask all the voters to read it very carefully as confusion will be prevalent in any attempt to put it in reality.

The City of Raytown has certainly changed over the past 16 years and I sincerely appreciated the opportunity I had to serve as a representative for our great community.

I have trust in the voters of Raytown and know they will make the right decision so that we can continue the progress that has been made and continue forth in the great opportunities we have on the horizon.

Charlotte Melson

The Raytown Times response to Police Chief Lynch’s Letter to the Editor

Recently Police Chief Lynch submitted a letter to RaytownOnline.com. It met our standards and was published. In some ways it was cryptic, as it was in response to an article in the Raytown Times, that was not published on RaytownOnline.com.  The Raytown Times has given permission to reprint their piece on the matter of the Raytown Police Pension Fund. 


 

Raytown is indebted to the Police Pension Fund to the tune of $7.5 million and it could be 20 to 30 years, or more, before that debt is retired, depending on market fluctuations.

A third party hired by the Police Pension Board indicated the fund would have to show a 20 percent return annually to be fully funded, leading city officials to believe that the fund could no longer be sustained. Police Chief Jim Lynch disagreed with that assumption, holding that stock market gains would grow assets and require less contribution from the city.

In January 2014 the Board of Aldermen moved all current sworn officers of the police department into the Missouri Local Government Employees Retirement System (LAGERS) with other city employees. Officers who were vested with at least 10 years of service at the time of the change will continue to draw part of their pensions from the Police Pension Fund and part from LAGERS. The change will have no affect on retired officers, or widows, already drawing pensions.

The Police Pension Fund has been in existence since 1966. The city’s contribution to the fund grew through the years and remained 100 percent funded until 2000. The unfunded liability grew from about $74,000 in 2000 to more than 3.3 million in 2005. It ballooned to $7.5 million by 2014. In that six-year period, 2000-2005, the city ‘s contribution to the fund rose from $110,000 annually, or 6.7 percent of payroll, to nearly $420,000, or 17.8 percent of payroll. By December 2010 the city’s contribution to the pension fund grew to $747,643, or 25.1 percent of payroll, and city officials became worried about its sustainability.

Police officers contributed 3 percent of their pay to the pension fund up until 1999. The Board of Aldermen ended the practice that year, prompted by new rules from the Internal Revenue Service that prevented pension funds from piling up surpluses.

In 2004, a study showed that Raytown police salaries were the lowest of all surrounding departments and a 5.5 percent salary adjustment was enacted. For the next six years the salaries were raised annually by 5.5 percent, thus annually increasing the city’s contribution to police pensions. Those increases put the department into a competitive position among suburban departments.

There is discrepancy in how those raises were enacted, however. Lynch maintains the pay plan was approved by the Board of Aldermen in 2004. Approval by the city could not be found in city records.

The stock market collapse in 2008 immediately reduced the pension fund assets by $1.5 million, thus increasing the city’s contributions even more. Facing a budget bind, the city froze all city employee salaries in 2009, bringing an end to the annual 5.5 percent increases for police. All employees received a 3 percent increase in November 20 14, the first since the recession hit.

Normal retirement for police officers is 55 years of age with 20 years of service. The police department provided the Times a spread sheet showing a range of retiree pensions and the percentages of their pay at the time of retirement. Pension amounts range from $14,376 annually (22 percent of final compensation) to $79,800 (112 percent of final compensation). The lowest was a patrolman who retired early at the age of 46; the highest was a sergeant who worked nine years beyond his retirement age of 55. Pension benefits grow substantially when officers work over 20 years and past the age of 55.

In summary, city leaders felt strongly that the Police Pension Fund could not be sustained while police officials believed it could with improving market conditions. The two sides finally agreed to move police officers to the LAGERS plan, but philosophical differences between the two remain. It is important to realize that during the period from 2000 to 2014, the political landscape changed with new administrators and new elected leaders. All were factors in creating “The Perfect Storm” of controversy over the Police Pension Fund.

Letter to the Editor from former Mayor Sue Frank

I appreciated Bob Phillips comments in the February 4th, Raytown Times about the proposed Charter. I especially appreciate that Bob took the time to read the document. Having quite a bit of experience with previous Charters I have read the proposed Charter several times and have been to a couple of meetings to ask questions. I encourage everyone to read it and attend the upcoming meetings on February 24th and March 24th. I understand that printing is in the works but in the meantime it can be read at Raytowncharter.com. Go to documents.

Bob states, he “does not believe the City Administrator should be required to live in the city. Period.” It seems the residency requirement is the most divisive issue of this Charter. Of the 39 Charter cities in the State, the commission studied 37.  Of those 37 studied, 36 required City Administrator residencies. There is still an ordinance on the books in Raytown that requires a City Administrator to live here, even though this administration has chosen to ignore it. Had the Board of Aldermen simply repealed the residency ordinance, I doubt we would be having this discussion. The three prior administrators were required to live here; no one’s feathers got ruffled then.  Maybe residency requirements aren’t reasonable for Raytown anymore, but the fact remains an ordinance –our law-requires it.  Many people feel just as strongly that a City Administrator should have to live with the consequences of their direction, pay their taxes and spend their income at local businesses within the town that employs them. But to the Commission’s credit, this Charter is not targeting individuals, all contracts the city has with employees will remain in force.  If the Charter passes it will not affect the current City Administrator. Residency would only apply to future City Administrators.

Bob also said that he disagrees with electing a police chief. There have been cases where an appointed police chief is directed to harass the political adversaries of elected officials, and have been fired for not doing so. Like the Judge, maybe the elected police chief should not have to be a resident, but again, the commission chose to write the Charter in a way that mirrors our current ordinance, and how our City is currently doing business and I think that’s proper. This gives us all common ground and a common starting point from which to discuss and/or vote on these types of changes in the future.

In response to Bob’s concerns about the percentages for Initiative, Referendum and Recall being too low, I know the Commission spent many hours of discussion about these. They studied what other cities required. The goal was to make them high enough that it could not become a nuisance or waste people’s time and tax dollars with elections. But at the same time, the percentages needed to be obtainable if the citizens felt so strongly about an issue they wanted change.  I understand that Initiative and Referendum would require about 1400 registered voter signatures. Recall for a Ward would require around 600 from the Ward, and for a city-wide position, about 3000.  For anyone that has tried to collect petition signatures, that’s a lot of work. To quote a friend, “Why would any American citizen argue against a method to redress grievances with their government?” That’s not to say you are un-American if you oppose the charter, but the democratic process of discussion and voting is our American way.  Should the percentages turn out to be too low, and nonsense elections start, I have every faith that the people of Raytown will raise the percentages in the future.

I do agree with Bob about compromise. I think it would be impossible to write a charter that everyone would agree with 100 percent. If I were writing this charter by myself, there would be minor changes I would make, but there is nothing in this Charter that I can’t live with.  Home Rule gives us all an opportunity for discussion and gives citizens a voice in shaping their government. It provides a balance of authority over the direction for the future of our city that we don’t currently have. A charter is a living document. To quote Lee Gray, “change should occur by evolution, not revolution.” As Bob states, the Raytown Charter Commission did a good job, I agree.  I hope we don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Sue Frank former mayor

Raytown Police Chief Jim Lynch Letter to the editor

Raytown Police Correct Inaccurate Police Pension Information

 Raytown, MO – Raytown Police Chief Jim Lynch took an opportunity today (01-06-15) to correct inaccurate information regarding the Raytown Police Pension, which was published in the December 17, 2014 issue of the Raytown Times.  The inaccurate information was listed at the top of page 4, in volume 5, issue 40.

The opinion article, written by Randy Battagler, refers to officers potentially collecting “double pay.”  Officers may only earn a maximum benefit of 60% of their pay (life annuity.)  Those that serve our city longer, wait to receive their pension benefit and retire later, will receive a higher monthly payment.  If an officer retires earlier, their monthly pension payment is lower.  Similar to Social Security benefits, the monthly payment is impacted by how soon an officer retires, after reaching retirement eligibility age.  Taking an early retirement means a lesser monthly payment, and waiting to retire means an increased monthly payment.  However, the maximum benefit, 60%, does not change.  Some officers may have other retirement income, unrelated to the Raytown Police Pension, which could include Social Security, military retirement benefits, and individually-owned income products (IRA’s, etc.)

Mr. Battagler asserted that, “Without contributions from participants the fund had fallen well short of the amount it needed to be solvent.”  There were many factors that impacted the unfunded liability of the Police Pension, including stock market downturns and intermittent payments by former city finance directors.  The unfunded liability must still be paid, regardless of the City moving the Police Officers to LAGERS.    In fact, the LAGERS plan costs more (approximately 12% of payroll) than the former Police Pension plan (approximately 8%.) Even after the unfunded liability has been paid, the LAGERS plan, which has added benefits including cost of living adjustments, will be more expensive than the Police Pension plan.

Mr. Battagler also said that “without the change the city could have faced bankruptcy.”  That is simply not the case.  It was the belief by some that the former Police Pension plan was unsustainable, which prompted the discussion, and subsequent change, not the threat of the plan failing or causing bankruptcy.

In fact, the Police Pension plan is performing very well in the current economic environment.  Since 2008, when the stock market downturn hurt almost every pension plan, the Police Pension plan funded status has increased every year, with contributions decreasing or remaining the same as a percent of pay in that same period.

Chief Lynch is committed to transparency and openness.  The Raytown Police Pension Board meetings have always been, and remain, open meetings.  The schedules of Pension Board meetings are posted in the Police Department lobby, as well as the Police Department News blog, RPD News Room (http://piorpd.wordpress.com/) for the public and media to view any time.

Trick or Treat for REAP (letter to the editor)

I wanted to let you know of a house that has done a very special thing for Halloween for the last couple years. I believe that it is note worthy/new worthy.
The house is located at 8019 Hardy. They decorate to the max and for the last couple years, have had the REAP barrels for people to donate food.
If you get a chance drive by, you won’t be sorry. And the kids won’t be sorry when they trick or treat at this house. They get plenty of candy. It is definitely worth seeing either in the daytime, but especially at night.
I have sent a couple pics, but this was at the beginning of the process of setting up the yard.
Thanks for your time.

pic 3 pic 1 pic 2

More Royals Fever Photos

Alderman Pat Ertz submitted these photos of Water District #2 showing support for the Royals.  Hopefully the water that is delivered to their customers is not blue.

Royals_WaterDist2_2_1024 Royals_WaterDist2_1_1024

Letter to the Editor from Alderman Joe Creamer

It’s with great regret that I have to come to the people of Raytown about my personal life but there are people who feel it necessary to make issue of what is going on.

In the last year I have been separated from my wife and am currently in divorce proceedings. I am unable to maintain residency at my legal address because of issues that I prefer not to get into at this time. My legal residence is still 8808 E 66th st according to state statute. There is also legal opinion to back that. It is my intent to maintain residency at the above address after the divorce is final.

On August 5th I went to the polls as always to vote only to discover my name had been pulled from the voting rolls based on an investigation a former Alderman had requested be done by the board of elections. The poll worker called the headquarters to speak with an election official who conferred with legal counsel while I waited. It was determined at the time that I should be allowed be allowed to cast a ballot as I was displaced through things that were not in my control. I went to the board of election on Friday August 8th to prove my legal residency, along with documentation to show why I do not reside in my legal residence as well as divorce papers that list the house as the place where I intend to reside. There will be a formal hearing within the next week with legal counsel from the board of elections to prove my legal residence.

When I was unable no longer to stay at my residence I went to  former Alderman Greg Walters as a man and expressed what was going on I asked this him to keep my personal affairs out of the political arena and asked him to not use this as a political football. I expressed to Greg that if he had any question or concerns to please contact me and I would be happy to answer any questions. Rather than respect my request he chose to bring light to what is going on in my life.

Through all of what has gone on in my life I have worked hard to maintain a professional attitude and have continued to serve the people of Raytown in the capacity I was elected to. I don’t take the position lightly and intend to continue working not only for the residents of Ward 1 but for all of the people of Raytown.

My divorce court date is August 25th and I do hope to have everything resolved by then and soon after be reunited with my home. I miss my neighborhood as well as my neighbors and soon hope to be able to stand in the driveway and be able to visit with whomever passes by.

If anyone should have any questions in regards to what is going on please contact me at 816-517-4773. I will be glad to answer any questions as well as provide proof of what I have just written about.

Sincerely Alderman Joe Creamer

Farmers Market opening postponed

Vegetables_clip_art_mediumRaytown Main Street Association would like to announce that it is postponing the opening of Raytown Farmers’ Market until Thursday, May 29.  In order to ensure a quality market we have decided to move the date to allow more growing time since many of our vendors do not have sufficient cool weather crops to bring to market.

We would also like to announce our new Community tents These will allow for multiple small farmers to share a space under one tent for a nominal fee. We have listened to feedback from smaller farmers and have taken their input into consideration.  We hope to see many more applications for these spots. They are available on a first come first serve basis.

We are always looking for more vendors, volunteers and entertainers, to fill the market season schedule.  We hope the extra time will allow those interested to contact us at RaytownFarmersmarket @gmail.com

Thank you for your support of the Raytown Farmers Market as we continue to grow.

Elisa Bedsworth
Raytown Farmers’ Market
Market Manager

Letter to the Editor about Google Fiber

I noticed a few posts on your website on Google Fiber and thought I would share what I learned about the process and how this qualification/sign up process worked. First you posted that to qualify that areas had to get 50 sign ups. That was not the case. Each area had a different number of sign ups required. For example, my area is Village Gardens. Our area required 164 sign ups to qualify. That seemed like a lot and in fact so many that there was no way for us to qualify. I was right.

I ask about Google Fiber two years ago at a Raytown Board of Alderman meeting. I’ve been looking forward to this for a while. So finally the day comes and Google unveils the “Fiberhoods“. I noticed a few odd things right off the bat. For example the Fiberhood Shalimar Park was shown to need 50+ sign ups. Yet that area is pretty much park and golf course. There weren’t much more than 50 homes in the entire area. On the face it looked like it was impossible for them to reach their goal and in fact for the first three weeks they sat at 75th or 76th.  They looked to have no chance.

So after about two weeks it started to look pretty bad for my area Village Gardens and at one point I e-mailed Aldreman Greene and asked him what he might know. He said he was seeing the same thing I was which were areas that seemed to have no chance to qualify. So the next day I called Google Fiber’s customer service and asked. They were very nice and told me that the reason the number seemed so high for my area was because of the large number of high density apartment
complexes in my Fiberhood. The only problem is there are no apartment complexes in Village Gardens. For some reason they thought there were and thus the required number of sign ups reflected that.

So the next day I went down to Google’s little shop down near Sutherlands and talked to a very nice lady. She told me that Village Gardens had 71 sign ups but needed 164 total. She agreed something was not right and told me she would send her supervisor a note on the matter. Two days later I got a phone call from a lady with Google in Tulsa Oklahoma of all places. Just by chance she grew up in Raytown and told me she could see there was something wrong because she knows
the area. She promised to call me back in a few days. A few days later she called me back and told me to check online and I would see all was fixes and Village Gardens was now qualified.

Since then I’ve noticed several Fiberhoods go from needing 50+ to suddenly qualified.  Shalimar Park for example went from 75th needing almost 50 more sign ups to #1 and qualified. It seems Village Gardens was not the only area where the numbers needed to be adjusted. I have a feeling there were a number of people in the area calling Google and telling them something was amiss with their numbers.

Mind you I think this speaks well for Google. They listened. Usually when you deal with a company like this and someone says “I’ll send a note to my supervisor” that’s short hand for you’ll never hear from anyone. In this case however I had an answer back in 48 hours and they admitted something was wrong and fixed it. I’m impressed.

Brian Morris

Letter to the Editor

I have lived in Raytown all my life, I worked here as a firefighter/EMT for 20 plus years. I am retired now and I am very upset with what has happened to the fire service and what they are doing to the citizens of this community. We the citizens pay our fire taxes to the county for fire protection for Raytown and yet they are running calls for Kansas City fire.
 
I ran into some of the guys the other day and found out our firefighters are running calls clear down into the plaza! I was shocked to hear they run calls for KC. all over the metro area, leaving our town unprotected.
 
So if our guys are in KC and we need a ALS “advance life support” pumper to run a heart attack call we the citizens don’t have it! and now we have to wait for a BLS “basic life support” pumper to come from KC to help our ambulance service.
 
This is crazy! whose brilliant idea was that? must have come from the fire board because the men aren’t happy about it! also I found out that the board has asked the men to take a 5% pay cut to keep their jobs, ok where has all the money gone too? I guess the fire board has spent it foolishly. Like when they asked us the citizens for more money to remodel the stations and instead of remodeling they knocked them down to build new ones. that is not what they were asking the money for.
 
Now because of the larger call volume the guys are running for KC fire we the tax payers are paying for more fuel for the trucks and maintenance. KC fire isn’t. so is this the reason the men who don’t get paid that well, had to take a pay cut?
I feel we need to get a new fire board whose interest is in what’s best for the citizens. thank goodness the city still has the ambulance service! we may lose our house from a fire but at least we still have the best ambulance service around.
 
Dave Wehner
 

Letter to the Editor about Google Fiber

I am a Raytown resident that signed up for advance notifications from Google

Fiber. The initial hoo ha I saw was that Raytown was the third city to get Google fiber service and that it was available in march. Today I finally got an email from them saying it was finally time to sign up.

Their website shows the map how they divvied up Raytown. My home is in #12 I believe.

Anyway…my KC friends are saying it is faster and more reliable than everything we have now. Most people will take a monthly plan, but if you read the fine print, there is this oddball option that if you pay a one time fee, it is free internet for 10 years! OK. It’s a chunk of money, but 10 years?

I called city hall. They have no one “coordinating” with Google fiber. I asked them to please update the city’s website. I had to leave a voice mail.

Oh, and no, I do not work for Google. I am a resident that lives at 59th and Sterling. All the current internet options stink and Raytown being home of the first few cities to get Google fiber kind of helps put Raytown on the map and show we are not a little podunk town, we are looking forward.

You may contact me if you wish. Or not. Thank you.

Jenni Olsen

Go Red for Women

Dear Editor:

 This year is the 10th anniversary of the Go Red for Women movement, it’s more important than ever before for women to stand side-by-side to end heart disease. It’s time to shout louder, stand stronger and demand change. It’s time for even more women to Go Red!
 
More than 627,000 women’s lives have been saved. But the fight is far from over.  Because this No. 1 killer is still taking the lives of our loved ones and because heart disease is taking a woman’s life every minute.  Heart disease strikes more women than men, and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined. The symptoms of heart disease can be different in women versus men, and are often misunderstood.
 
Heart disease in women requires more attention, more research and swifter action. With the right information, education and care, heart disease can be treated, prevented and even ended.
 
Together, we can end heart disease. Join me, and millions of other women across the country by wearing a red, our public symbol of the fight, on National Wear Red Day – Friday, February 7th
 
We must not be silent.  Raise your voice!! 
 
LaTasha James, Go Red Ambassador

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:
 
Congratulations to the Raytown South Cardinals!
 
As team hosts for the Missouri State High School Boys Soccer Championships in Blue Springs, we had the opportunity to spend time with the soccer players, coaches, cheerleaders and fans from Raytown, MO.  These people were distinguished representatives of their community, and you should be proud of the excellent impression they made in Blue Springs.
 
Congratulations to the town, the high school and most importantly, the TEAM!  We hope to see Raytown South back again for future soccer championships.
 
Sincerely,
 
Steve and Laura Cook
Raytown South Team Hosts, November 2013

Asthma a Growing Concern

Asthma a Growing Concern

By Patricia A Harrison, RN-BSN Student, UMKC School of Nursing

Overview

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airway which makes breathing difficult due narrowing or obstruction of the airway.   The inflammation leads to recurrent episodes of asthma symptoms: cough, chest tightness, wheezing and shortness of air.  Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood and can occur at any age irrespective of ethnicity.   According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (Center of Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2013) over 23 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with Asthma.  This disease is very disruptive, affecting school and work attendance, occupational choices, physical activity and general quality of life.  Allergy is the strongest predisposing factor for asthma.  Asthma can have serious implication on the financial resources of family and public health related to higher insurance premiums and lost productivity.   The US Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) estimates that asthma accounts for $20.7 billion of the annual health care cost. Healthy People 2020 goal is to reduce/prevent asthma through prevention, detection, treatment and education efforts over the next ten years (USDHHS, 2013).

Contributory factor to asthma symptoms

Hereditary (genetics) are the most common predisposing factors to acquiring asthma. An asthma attack can be triggered something the body is allergic to most generally something environmental.    Allergens may include animal dander, feathers, house dust mites, cockroaches and rodents, pollen (from grass, tress or flowers), mold and food.  Other triggers include exposure to tobacco smoke, perfumes, indoor and outdoor pollutants/irritants, certain health conditions and medications (Williams, Schmidt, Redd & Storm, 2003).  Exercise, colds and infections are also triggers to asthma symptoms.  As the winter approaches think ahead and take action to prevent asthma symptoms.

What can be done to decrease asthma symptoms?

As a community, we can play a significant part in decreasing this trend.  We can encourage smokers to quit or not to light up in public places which limit secondary exposure.   In addition you can voice you concerns to your local and state representatives to legislate for ordinances that prohibit smoking in public places.  Report leaks and mold to landlords to ensure prompt repair and removal.  Limit outdoor burning as this affect air quality. Homeowners undertake repairs promptly and service furnace regularly to ensure removal of allergen/irritants and promote good indoor air quality.  Residents can keep windows and doors closed to prevent pollen from entering and avoid line drying clothes. 

Individual Action to prevent asthma symptoms

It is essential that individuals diagnosed with asthma are assessed and monitored on a regular basis.  Assessment will ensure prompt and appropriate treatment of asthma condition/symptoms.  Medication can be very effective in the treatment and control of asthma symptoms; these may include long term control and quick relief medications.  It is important to pay particular attention to the education provided for management of asthma.  Education may include a written asthma management plan and routine self management education on correct technique for inhalers, spacers, peak flow monitoring and nebulizer usage as well as factors that can worsen asthma symptoms.  Avoid use of feather pillows and cover mattress and pillows in a dust proof cover, as well as wash bedding at least once per week at 130 degree Fahrenheit and keep stuffed animals off the bed.

In summary, asthma is a disease that affects people of all ages and ethnicity.   It is important that triggers are removed from the environment and medication is taken as ordered to maintain stability or prevent illness.  Individuals diagnosed with asthma should adhere to education and teaching to decrease loss of productivity and work and school absences. The simple steps outlined above will help achieve the Healthy People 2020 goal and decrease the financial burden of this growing health problem.

 References

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).(2013). Data and Surveillance. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/asthmadata.htm

Children’s Mercy Hosiptals and Clinics.  1995-2011. What is Asthma. www.childrensmercy.org/content/view.aspx?id.

US. Department of Health and Human Services (2013) Healthy People 2020: Respiratory Diseases. http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topicsobjectives2020/overview.aspx?topicid=36

Williams, S. G., Schmidt, D.K., Redd, S.C. & Storm, W. (2003) Key clinical activities for quality asthma care. Recommendations of the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program.   Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Vol.52. No RR-6 March 28, 2003. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/ asthma/asthgdln.pdf).

Letter to the Editor about Raytown Police Dispatch

Good afternoon. I would like to address an article that was posted on the 14th of July regarding Raytown Fire Dispatching and the EMS proposal. While well written there are a few points that need corrections. There have been several numbers that have been floated about the payment that the Raytown Fire Protection District was making to the City for dispatching services by the Raytown Police Department. The actual fee agreed upon by both sides was $50,000.00 per year. You are correct that even though the Raytown Fire Protection District is no longer paying this fee the duties of the Raytown Communications Center have changed but not diminished.

Regarding the paragraph about how dispatching is routed to the Police Communications Center, the following is the correct summation of how this is handled. The Raytown Police Department is the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) for the City of Raytown. All 9-1-1 calls are routed to it through a selective router based on two things: a physical address or the location of the device placing the call. If the call is from a land line it is sent to the AT&T selective router which then looks at two items to determine where to send the call: The ANI (Automatic Number Identification) and the ALI ( Automatic Location Identification). ANI corresponds to the subscriber’s seven digit telephone number and ALI provides for an address display of the subscriber calling 9-1-1. The ALI display includes the subscriber’s address, community, state, type of service and name. If the call is from a cell phone it is routed through the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) wireless router based on the latitude and longitude that are displayed. There are two different types of technologies that are used based on the type of handset technology that each wireless carrier has decided to utilize for their company. One type of handset uses the triangulation method which utilizes three towers to determine a location, while the other uses GPS technology that is located within the handset device to display the position of the caller. The FCC requires wireless service providers to be within 50 to 300 meters of the handset location depending on the type of technology used by that carrier.  

When a 9-1-1 call is connected to the Raytown Communications Center, a Communications Officer will answer the phone, ask a series of questions to determine what type of response is needed, and then either dispatch the appropriate unit or transfer them to the Kansas City Fire Department if it is a Fire incident. The transfer process takes less than a minute to complete, depending on the amount of time that the Kansas City Fire Department needs to answer the 9-1-1 call. Once at The Kansas City Fire Department it is placed in a queue for actual dispatching. Before the change in service was initiated by the Raytown Fire Protection District, the Raytown Communications Center would gather all of the information, dispatch all necessary units at the same time and respond to any request for additional resources necessary to support the response. With the current status of transferring calls to the Kansas City Fire Department, once the Raytown Communications Center delivers the 9-1-1 call to the Kansas City Fire Department the call is disconnected so that Kansas City Fire dispatchers can gather the information and send the appropriate units to the call. This could be a Raytown unit or a Kansas City Fire Department unit depending on which one is closest to the location. If further assistance is needed from any Raytown Emergency responders , the Kansas City Fire Department must place a telephone call to the Raytown Communications Center to request Police or EMS be dispatched to assist them. This slows down the necessary response of units to an incident.

I appreciate being able to respond to your article and I would be happy to sit down with you to discuss dispatching further. If you would like a tour of the Raytown Communications Center please let me know.

Thank you,

James T. Brafford ENP
Director of Communications

Letter to the editor from Jim Aziere about the YMCA

          The YMCA came to Raytown with a powerful mission statement, a Christian label that sported a Board of Directors symbolizing the business magnets of Kansas City.  They built trust, asked for donations, and our community committed almost two million dollars.

          Their patrons today are sitting on blacktop: children, families, and seniors.  Their promises and commitment eroded from Social Darwinism, “survival of the fittest,” and we are YMCA victims.

          It rained Wednesday.  I stood on the YMCA pool deck before high school water polo practice watching water streaming down the walls below the seam of every joyce in the ceiling.  It has done this for years.

          I’ve worked in the YMCA 39 years.  I never dreamed I would outlive this facility built 15 years ago.  “Y,” what went sour? 

          The protective covenant signed by the YMCA in 1997 promises “to protect against  construction of improvements on building sites which are of poor design or quality….and good architectural planning standards….” and  “to conserve the value of the property.”  Filed in the State of Missouri.

          Now the building has a three million dollar lien, and 2.2 million dollars of deterioration.  Such a poor business record of a Board of Directors who eats the breakfast of champions.  Monkeyshine.

          I ask myself, “Why didn’t the YMCA live up to it’s contract, or who in the organization prevented that from happening?  Was there a conflict of interest?” 

          The YMCA credibility has eroded.  Its missions statement seems weak.  The contract it signed with Utilicorp means nothing.  They took our money, but they didn’t deliver.  If that wasn’t true, YMCA members wouldn’t be sitting on the street.

          The YMCA has lost the animation of its image.  Yes, Raytown struggles to survive  economic conditions.  Our property values were hit hardest in the metropolitan area.  People have been out of jobs.  The price of membership went up, patrons left.  Does that make our needs less important.

          From the “Byrd’s Eye view,” yes.  The YMCA needs a 40 million facility downtown, where children don’t live, and everyone has a job, for business people.

          Who heads the Board of the YMCA?  Allen Blair, an attorney.  The whole picture sizes up the motives of corporate leaders and our American legal system.

          I’m proud of Raytown, my home, a bedroom community.  We are symbolic of middle-class America.  We love what we do and give our best.  We don’t want a free ride, and we want to be able to pay our bills.  We aren’t weak or “unfit,” but we cannot keep up with rising inflation caused by Wall Street.  Our economy has left us behind.

          The YMCA picture leaves me sad, and hundreds of others too.   Many wonderful memories were tainted the final moment I walked out of the Richard C. Green YMCA  on April 12th. when it closed. 

          YMCA betrayal changes everything.  A corporation shouldn’t be allowed to have a “not for profit” tax status when it does not abide to the terms of a contract designed to protect the philanthropist. 

          In the past, when the legal system didn’t prevail, a national boycott worked.  I believe people should think carefully before they join the YMCA, or write a check for a donation. 

          It’s empty now.  The pool drained, lights turned off, doors locked.  ‘For Sale – 5.5 million dollars.’  Rain water will stream down the walls of a dark room on hot days, mold will thrive.  It will sit empty for years, testamoney to  the YMCA legacy.

Letter to the Editor by Elisa Breitenbach

The (TIF) project for Blue Ridge Crossing East is a bad plan for the Raytown School District & the City of Independence. City Manager Robert Heacock & Councilman Eileen Weir are mistaken in supporting this plan.

    Dr. Allan Markley did the correct thing in voting against this plan. Raytown has 8,500 students, 63% of those students receive free lunch. Raytown cannot afford to publicly subsidize commercial enterprises. Let the free market determine business success or failure.

    Blue Ridge Crossings development south of 40 Highway owes the Raytown C-2 school district money via Kansas City government.

    Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is a development tool whose time has come and gone and is an economic detriment to public schools, libraries, community colleges, mental health, disabled persons, the blind and others.

   Please Vote NO to this form of Socialism & Communism.  TIF should not be tolerated any longer.

 City council of Independence will be voting on this Monday April 1, 2013 at 6:00 pm.

Letter to the Editor by Elisa Breitenbach

Letter to the Editor from Swope Ridge Neighborhood Association

Dear City Leaders,

 We are the residents of the Swope Ridge Neighborhood and we have a serious concern.  Twenty plus years ago the Winchester TIF was established.  Swope Ridge Neighborhood was the “but for” argument to allow the Winchester development to happen, granting TIF concessions that were given to the developer. The original plan and the subsequent 5 amendments provided for remediation of the residential portion of the TIF plan and promised basic infrastructural improvements that would not otherwise have been made.  To provide a little neighborhood background, Swope Ridge neighborhood is a working class area with a hodge podge group of homes.  Some homes here were built in the 60’s and 70’s and are still inhabited by the original owners.  They have raised their children and are now retired.  Some homes were moved into this area when 71 highway was being built.  Instead of just tearing down the homes, they were given new lives and moved to this quiet little area by the park so there would homes for other families to raise their children.  It is here that this once quiet little community has had to fight for their homes, battling not only developers but politicians also.  In fact, a group of the homeowners were so concerned that the developers would try to take their homes that a legal injunction was issued and made a part of the TIF agreement not to demolish the homes. To this day, we have no sewers, sidewalks, storm sewers, and the roads in and out of this development are subpar.  

 Last summer the TIF commission hired a consultant to do a study of this area and found that we were still considered blighted.  This study was used to attempt to divert funding from our neighborhood to the soccer village.  Swope Ridge Neighborhood is still in need of infrastructural improvements and we are still blighted after 20 years.  

 Because of the development, over 3,000 parking spaces have been added in this small residential area creating undeniable wear and tear and traffic on the neighborhood.    We started our conversations with the TIF Commission and City staff with an attitude toward cooperation and compromise.  We were asked to consider septic tank replacement instead of a sewer system.  We have been asked to participate in an invasive inspection/income dependent home repair program.  We have come to the conclusion that the needs and priorities of the neighborhood are not a priority concern.  We are no longer interested in a compromise that does not meet our infrastructure needs. 

 In 1991 this neighborhood was promised in the TIF plan the following improvements to the infrastructure of our neighborhood in exchange for our allowing the commercial development to come in and basically overrun our quiet little country neighborhood.  Following is the list of items promised in the original TIF agreement: as approved and adopted by City ordinance, and included in the last five amendments, called for the remediation of blight in the following specific instances, for example:

 1.     Exhibit 7-A Infrastructure-Roadway Improvements

    1. a.     Bennington Ave. (north-south) Collector Street Standards, 60’ R/W, 5’ sidewalks both sides, 36’ B-B street width, CG-1 Curb and Gutter both sides, 2” asphalt surface course, 7” asphalt base course
    2. b.     64th Street (east-west) Residential Street Standards, 50’ R/W, 4’ Sidewalks both sides, 28 B-B Street width, CG-2 Curb & Gutter both sides, 2” asphalt surface course, 6” asphalt base course
    3. c.      Cul de Sac (north-south off of 64th Street) Residential Street standards, 50’ R/W, 4’ sidewalks both sides, 28’ b-B street width, CG-2 curb & gutter both sides, 2” asphalt surface course, 6” asphalt base course
    4. d.     66th Street (east-west) Residential street standards, 50’ R/W, 4’ sidewalks both sides, 28’ b-b street width, CG-2 curb & gutter both sides, 2” asphalt surface course,  6” asphalt base course.
    5. e.     Driveways
    6. f.      Roadway grading
  1. 2.     Storm sewer improvements
    1. a.     Enclosed storm sewer systems
  2. 3.     Sanitary Sewer Improvements
    1. a.     6” sewer
    2. b.     Bore under KCS RR Tracks
    3. c.      8” sewer
  3. 4.     Water Main Improvements
    1. a.     Adjust house service line connections
    2. b.     8” water main
  4. 5.     Residential Remediation Program Exhibit 7-B
    1. a.     The funds shall be made available to reimburse the greater of either the cost of sanitary sewer hookup or up to $3,00 which may also be used to reimburse the cost of improvements to the exterior of the residential structure.

     More than 20 years later we are here to defend our neighborhood.  While we agree that commercial development is necessary to grow the economy, neighborhoods are also necessary to grow humanity.  Promises made in the form of a TIF agreement create a contract that should be kept.  Nothing has been delivered for the residents since this agreement went into effect in 1991.   We feel that the original promises made should be honored.  We should not have had to argue and defend the very thing that made our area a TIF qualifier.  With the exception of the TIF promises, we have never been the beneficiary of any improvements by the 5th District representatives.  We still have never had anyone show us the rational basis for why our promised improvements cannot be provided. 

      There is sufficient funding at this time to fund the original TIF agreement as written.  We were offered a diminished amount that is not acceptable with the conditions placed on it for implementation.  We are now asking that our City leaders honor the commitments originally made to this residential area and do the right thing.

 Respectfully,

Swope Ridge Neighborhood Association

Patricia Losiewicz-President

Kansas City, MO 64133       

SwopeRidgeNeighborhoodAssoc@kc.rr.com

www.swoperidgena.org

* note the phone number and address have been removed by RaytownOnline.com as a matter of policy.

The letter to the editor also included supporting documentation. You can read it by clicking HERE for the original TIF plan and clicking HERE to read the latest version of it. This is important as there is a difference in the infrastructure improvements between what was promised and what is proposed now.

Letter to the Editor about the Winchester TIF

There is also another component to this plan that has not been fulfilled.  In order to qualify for TIF status there was a process that declared this neighborhood blighted.  We became the “but for” argument to get the TIF project.  Here it is 20 plus years later and nothing has been done to re-mediate the blight and then they went so far as to use our neighborhood again to gain the blighted status so that they could use the TIF funding in an area that was never included or paid any taxes to this TIF fund. 

The residents have been paying into this TIF tax also and have had to endure traffic from several huge companies with over 3000 parking spots, including the helicopter from Channel 9 news overhead.  Bennington Ave. is a highly traveled road in and out of this complex with Raytown school buses traveling on a inadequate road even by anyone’s standards.  On the crest of the hill before 66th St. the hill is quite steep, only 16 feet wide and has 3 1/2 foot drop-offs on each side.  Only one vehicle can get through on this road at a time and it will only be a matter of time before a terrific accident happens hopefully not with a school bus full of children. 

The streets are in deplorable condition and we were promised sewer lines and other infrastructural improvements and then told it would be too much to impliment these improvements and yet there seems to be more than enough to divert the funding to the park for soccer improvements.  We would like the TIF commission, the city of Kansas City and all the other entities involved to keep their promises to us and fix the infrastructure that will benefit everyone.

Patricia Losiewicz

Mr. Mittens is Missing!!

My Moms cat wandered out of the house yesterday afternoon as I was taking her to the doctor! He is a beautiful black and white tuxedo cat named Mr. Mittens. Near the 6400 block of Blue Ridge Blvd. down the street from Blue Ridge Elementary….

Mittens has has white paws and white on his chest. The picture below is not of him but he looks almost exactly like this. Mittens is an indoor cat, no collar (since he never usually goes outside!) he is neutered but not declawed. My mom has patio doors he loves to look out of so he may be drawn to patio doors or screen doors thinking he is home. This is my elderly mothers companion and I really want to find him and bring him home to her as she is racked with worry for his well-being.

Please if you see him and can grab him, do so! People drive like nuts up and down her street and Im afraid he will get hit. =( You may contact me either by Facebooks message system or by telephone/ text at 816-813-3411 and ask for Debbie.

Thank You!!!


Mr. Mittens look alike stand in

Letter to the Editor

Fellow Citizens,

I want to pass on some information that members of the Wildwood Lakes Homeowners Association learned at a meeting held on March 11. Candidates for the upcoming Raytown election for mayor and Ward 2 alderman accepted invitations to come to the meeting to tell us why they are qualified to be elected at the polls on April 5.

Following the presentation of each candidate, the audience asked questions of current mayor, David Bower,and his opponent, Anwar Khan. We learned from Mayor Bower that the several new businesses moving to Raytown will not cause a negative impact to Raytown’s tax dollars. In fact, these new businesses will be enhancing sales tax dollars for Raytown. In addition, due to the present administration’s efforts, more than several millions of dollars have been given to the city from federal and state grants for projects such as the Center Gateway at Raytown Road and Gregory, the Woodson street overlay, storm and sanitary sewer projects, etc.

Candidate Anwar Khan came across as a nice, pleasant-natured gentleman, but one who seemed to be misinformed about what is going on in Raytown. He made unsupported negative statements and offered nothing at all about how he was going to make Raytown continue to grow. I understand that public records reflect that Mr. Khan has no record for having voted in Raytown elections, despite the fact that he has lived here for more than 30 years. Mr. Khan is supported by two major organizations wanting to see him in the driver’s seat as our city’s mayor. I invite you to conduct an Internet web search of www.ak4raytown.com and see for yourself.

Following the candidates departure from the meeting, members in attendance were100% in favor of David Bower being returned to office and were amazed that Mr. Khan wishes to become our next mayor with so little to offer. In fact the members found it difficult to understand what Mr. Khan was trying to say due to his heavy accent and were puzzled with the statements he made that, when asked, he could not verify.

I truly feel that most Raytown Citizens think David Bower is a shoo-in to be re-elected to another term as mayor and don’t think it is necessary to go to the polls to vote on April 5. This election in not expected to draw more than 18 to 20% to the polls due to voter apathy. BIG PROBLEM!!!!! If you do not go to the polls and vote Bower back into office, we could face a devastating upset because Mr. Khan will have his supporters out in force.This is my town and I want to see Raytown continue to move forward, not backward. PLEASE GO TO THE POLLS ON APRIL 5.

Wittv Wittman

Letter to the Editor by Kendra Albert

Ward 1 residents,

 

I am writing this letter regarding the importance of the election on April 5. Our Ward has a lot of new residents since our last election and many of these people have pets. For those of you who are new to Raytown please let me fill you in on the history of Greg Walters who is running against our current Alderman Joe Creamer. Mr Walters proposed a breed specific ban a few years back. His proposal was to ban 9 different breeds of dogs including Rottweillers, German Sheperds and Pitbulls just to name a few. Raytown residents united in support of our dogs and the right to own any breed we choose. After several months the board decided to go with a Dangerous Dog Ordinance which has been proven to be very effective. Mr Walters still denies he was the ring leader of this proposed ban even though many, many people can confirm it and have handouts from the City Council meetings to back it up.

 

Recently Mr Walters was confronted after advertising a local animal Outreach group on his site. When confronted he adamantly denied he proposed BSL and claimed he had been advertising this group on his site for 2 years. We responded to him that we had the paperwork to back up everything he had proposed and we were also at every single city council meeting and saw him in action. We also informed him he couldn’t possibly have been advertising this group for 2 years as the group was formed 1 year ago. We insisted our name be removed from his site immediately because we help ALL dogs in need regardless of breed and would never endorse a candidate who supported breed specific legislation. At that point we never heard from Mr. Walters again.

 

I want to make sure every single voter in Ward 1 knows Mr. Walters history and casts their vote knowing they have made an educated decision as to who will be our Alderman. As a dog lover it is extremely important to me that I vote for pet friendly candidates who will keep Raytown a city where any dog is welcome regardless of it’s breed.

 

I have debated on whether or not to sign my name to this letter but quite honestly I fear Mr. Walters would stop at nothing to try and retaliate for my informing the voters of his history. I find it very sad that residents have to anonymously speak for fear Mr.Walters will do something out of nothing more than spite and revenge. I intend to vote for Mr. Creamer who is extremely animal friendly but also works tirelessly to better this city that I grew up in and love. Please consider the progress we have seen in Raytown since Mr Creamer took office and let’s keep Raytown moving in the right direction.

 

Sincerely,
Kendra Albert
Ward 1 resident
*Note one sentence from this letter was deleted with the author’s permission. It was a comment on Mr. Walters character that did not directly address a political topic.

Beau Groceman visitation and funeral information

BEAU GROCEMAN

IT IS MY UNDERSTANDING THAT THERE WILL BE A VISITATION THURSDAY EVENING FROM 5-8 AND FUNERAL SERVICES FRIDAY AT 1:00……BOTH AT RAYTOWN FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH.

Barb Schlapia