Old Drum

Commentary on Warrensburg, Johnson County and Missouri issues from a Libertarian perspective. View my earlier commentary at www.olddrum.net.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Filing Season

Filing for political office opens in a few minutes. Candidates for state offices, the legislature, etc., are lining up in Jeff City, while our County Clerk is gearing up to take all the local filings. One of the lesser-known offices open for filing is committeeperson for each political party. People who will have been registered voters in their precinct for a year come August 8th can run for committeman or committeewoman for their preferred political party - Libertarian, Democratic or Republican. There's no filing fee, financial disclosure or anything like that.

If you're a Democrat or Republican and want to get involved in your party (or just shake up its establishment), go file. If you're a Libertarian, give me a call or drop me an email first - filing is open for most of March. Meanwhile, I'm going to file for Libertarian committeeman from Montserrat Township.

In Liberty

City Council Stuff

The City Council report in dB (see article) had several interesting items.

City Manager Jeff Hancock reported on the demographics of the "greater Warrensburg" area in conjunction with the Hawthorne development. My question: if there's that much of a market, why do they need a subsidy?

Is the City doing some creative accounting ala Enron? They're going to borrow money from themselves for the sewer project, until they can borrow money from the state? I wish I'd taken a lot more accounting & finance classes when I got my MBA; I didn't know that kind of knowledge would be important just to understand what our governments are doing.

Finally, a proposal is onthe table to make all resale stores, not just pawn shops, identify who they buy stuff from. Pawn shops have systems for keeping records; resale shops don't. I understand that the police would like to more easily track stolen merchandise, but isn't this a bit excessive? Kudos to the Council members who held it up until affected businesses can comment; I expect they'll get an earful.

In Liberty

Hospital Sunshine - a Follow-Up

Rumors get around. I've heard that the heart of the WMMC Board of Trustees closed meeting was a Powerpoint presentation showing some rather off-putting conditions in the OB/GYN area. If it's as-described, I can see why they don't want the public to see it - it could run off a lot of their business. If it's as-described, I think the public absolutely needs to see it. If it has protected information about specific patients, the Sunshine Law allows that material to be excised before release.

So, how about it, WMMC board? Are you going to comply with the Sunshine Law or not? BTW, you do know that you can be held personally liable for failure to comply?

In Liberty

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Sunshine on the Hospital

Administration at our local hospital (WMMC) wants to expand. The elected Board of Trustees wants to delay the expansion because of concerns about professional staffing (see dB articles on 2/24 and 1/30. Is there anything wrong with this? No - it seems to me that both the Administrator and Trustees are doing their jobs.

However, part of the most recent meeting was held in "executive session" (closed to the public). I would like to see an explanation of know what the legal justification was for closing that part of the meeting. The Sunshine Law allows very few instances, so unless they're discussing actual individual employees or patients, litigation, "leasing, purchase or sale of real estate where public knowledge might adversely affect the amount paid in the transaction" I believe the meeting should have been open.

If anybody on the WMMC Board is listening, it'd be nice to hear the justification.

In Liberty

Monday, February 20, 2006

Libertarians will meet

The local Libertarian County Committe will have a meeting at 7:30 PM tomorrow (Tuesday, 2/21) at the Action Realty building on North Maguire (that's MO-13). Park behind the building and come to the door on the north side (that's across Furmeson St. from Hardee's).

If you're tired of large, intrusive government taking more & more of your tax money, come see us. Sign-up is optional, but you can do so thru the link to the Johnson County Libertarian Party website - see the link on the right side of the Blog.

In Liberty

Keeping Things Quiet

Jim Skelton, who has been quite outspoken in his disapproval of the Hawthorne TDD, wrote another letter to the DSJ. If you remember, to get one of his earlier ones published he had to buy an ad! Well, this one hasn't been published either, so he emailed a copy to me and said I could go ahead and post it someplace. It's far too long to post here, but you can read it, just as he sent it to me, from a link at Old Drum Net. It's in MS Word format, so you'll have to download it to read it.

In Liberty

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

dB's Hawthorne Interview

I read the digitalBurg.com interview with one of the Hawthorne development's principals. I must say, the developer is getting better at explaining his position - maybe that's from getting lots of practice. It also seems to me that portions of the story keep changing.

Back when the TDD popped out of its hidey-hole and didn't see its shadow, one of the reasons given was that excessive rock caused construction costs to exceed original estimates. We haven't heard that reason restated for quite some time now. Nothing in the original information said anything about the State wanting to close the frontage road by Wal-Mart; while it may be true, it's completely counter-intuitive. Why wasn't that information ballyhooed initially - or is it a result of the other changes proposed under the TDD? And were the members of the small church that is to be cut off allowed input into any DoT decision?

I'm taking anything the developer and the City say with a grain of salt. Meanwhile, we need to reform TDD along with TIF and eminent domain.

In Liberty

Sunday, February 12, 2006

More Incentive Needed?

Everyone's laughing about the "Made Fresh Daily" brand and ignoring the rest of the report. Maybe that was the strategy. The report (per published accounts) praised the relationship of the city and CMSU, and said that Warrensburg needs to get closer to Whiteman people and draw them into the city. OK, that's fine. The report is also reported to have said that Warrensburg needs new incentives to get more business here. That's worrysome. "Incentives" is a code word for tax breaks and giveaways. "Incentives" includes such things as TDDs and TIF, eminent domain and other means of taking from the citizens (& thier schools, hospitals, streets, etc.) to give favored developers.

If Warrensburg is so poised for growth and has so many advantages, why do we need to pay businesses to come here? Why shouldn't they pay us, instead, for the opportunity to come here and make a profit? No, that's a disincentive. The best way is to welcome those who want to pay their own way, cutting the red tape and getting extraneous government restrictions out of the way. i.e., let the free market work.

In Liberty

Friday, February 10, 2006


HELP is the acronym for a local agency to assist the homeless, another agency with good intentions backed by a government grant. And it appears to be another agency that has trouble with oversight and financial controls. The DSJ article says that the bylaws "had been suspended for several months..." A new committee will hire an accountant to review their books and handle their taxes, since they haven't paid their withholding taxes since June.

This isn't the first time a local organization has gotten into trouble because of poor fiannacial oversight by its directors. CASA, which was actually a governmental unit under the courts, is defunct after financial irregularities were discovered. I seem to remember that Survival Adult Abuse got into some real trouble for not paying its payroll taxes. The Sheltered Workshop was a money pit under a previous management; it's now doing more, with less tax money. I reported on all of these earlier episodes and more 3 years ago - see Gadfly 175 and Gadfly 176.

In each of the above cases, a board of some sort was charged with oversight. In each of the cases, the borad memebrs didn't perform. Is the problem peculiar to Johnson County or is it wide spread? Who knows!?

Hey, if you can't (or don't want to) understand the financial activities of your organization, don't join its board.

In Liberty

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Who owns Old Drum?

Last week at the Warrensburg Sesquicentennial banquet, Warrensburg's mayor siad that he'd told the brand-designing consulting firm that he "wanted more than just the dog." That started me thinking about the issue - who really "owns" Old Drum? Warrensburg has claimed him for years, but seems to have relinquished that claim.

Let's see - Old Drum lived and died in the western part of Johnson County. The trial that made him famous was held in the Johnson County courthouse of the time; that courthouse is now a museum owned by the Johnson County Historical Society. Old Drum's official statue is on the lawn of the Johnson County Courthouse. Eureka! Old Drum belongs to ALL of Johnson County!

Now, if Old Drum is property of the county as a whole, rather than just the city of Warrensburg, perhaps the County would like my offer of a free "Brand" that would apply to ALL of us, not just the Burg. "Johnson County, A Doggone Good Place" - add "to live," "to shop," "to build a business" - the possibilities are endless.

How about it, County Commission? Are we going to grab it by the collar and unleash our creative forces, or are we going to let Marshall & Saline County get the jump on us with their Jim the Wonder Dog?

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Made Fresh Daily 2

Best I can tell from listening to the radio and reading the DSJ, Warrensburg's new "brand" is the greatest thing since sliced bread. The radio story said it's supposed to show that we're a Holsum® town. The logo even has a Sunbeam® on it. With the new brand, nobody will loaf in their search for new industry, businesses and residents, and they're going to put some real dough behind the effort. Yes sirree, Warrensburg will be a new Wonder®, and those of us who question the effort as half-baked will be labeled as crusty or even heels by those sitting up in the Manor® called City Hall.

I've always worried about what the government has in the oven - maybe it comes from my great-grandfather, who wore the Butternut® and grey. That's why I try, in my writings, to separate the whole wheat from the cracked variety. The brand was unveiled at Thursday night's Roman Meal® where I heard some wry comments by others as we left. Was it a Smart Choice® showing off our Home Pride®? Or is it Nature's Own® mistake? The brand is wrapped and the label slapped on the end; we shall see if the logo serves as the yeast for stronger efforts or if it falls flat on its buns.

Entrepreneurs, subsidies and garbage

On Thursday, I attended Wendell Bailey's symposium on the future of small business - it was part of the sesquicentennial events. One thing he said struck me. Essentially, it was this:

Cities used to go to manufacturers in Chicago and Detroit (and maybe KC & St. Louis) to try to get the big boys to open a plant in their town. That's a waste - the big boys are looking for the "low-cost solution" and we're not it. Thge "low-cost" solutions are in Central America, China and South Asia. Instead, towns should be working to encourage their local entrepreneurs. They're the ones who will create the new jobs locally, more so than national firms.

That same evening, the DSJ had an article about a local start-up company that has essentially outcompeted a major international corporation. Of course, it's a service industry, but Allied Waste has sold all their local routes to a locally-owned and managed company, Heartland Waste. Heartland has aggressively marketed it service; I suspect it had taken enough market share to hurt Allied's profitability, so the big boy punted. It's a victory for local entrepreneurship, and I'm sure Warrensburg's new logo will look good on the side of their trucks.

I don't believe in government subsidies for business, especially retail business, but if Warrensburg is going to expand its participation in the pratice of subsidies, it ought to work on behalf of local entrepreneurs, not subsidize outsiders.

In Liberty

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Made Fresh Daily?

The new and much ballyhooed Warrensburg brand was unveiled tonight, to moderate applause. Made Fresh Daily. Yeah, just like a loaf of bread. The logo even has a little sunbeam on it. I'm disappointed. It's what I was afraid it would be - something non-descript and generic. But, it's not all bad - there's plenty of opportunity for humorists. Remember, businesses are supposed to use it in their advertising...

Would you be confident of dealing with a bank displaying "Made Fresh Daily?" How about shopping at a liquor store or frequenting a bar - might the Revenooers be interested? And I can't imaging a funeral home advertising its services that way. An antique store? Hah!

Of course it does fit certain types of business - too bad we don't have any bakeries or brew pubs. Tomorrow, we'll tell Sharon down at Joy's Donuts that they've finally come up with something to market her!

It's late - plenty more fresh-baked ideas tomorrow.