Political Circuses 101

Following the local political scene these days requires not only patience but also a good sense of humor because in three counties in the metro there seems to be a three ring circus going on in the legislative chambers of the County Courthouse, all at sizable taxpayer expense.
Ring number 1, right here in Jackson County, the legislature is at odds with County Executive Frank White over control of the county jail, COMBAT, (the alleged crime fighting office at the County level) and the control of staffing decisions in the county executive’s office. As in last week’s column about a re-tooling being needed in the crime fighting arena, this LEO supporting Newsdog would advocate a re-vamping of the county’s COMBAT program as well. Zero COMBAT dollars have flowed in to this community since the COMBAT board pulled the funding for Old Northeast Inc and the CAT/CAN program around ten years ago. Jackson County, however, doesn’t hold a circus candle to Wyandotte or Clay County though.

Ring number 2 is usually sleepy Clay County, Missouri that was recently elevated to circus status with fights over disappearing $600 coffee makers, (that mysteriously re-appeared) and two commissioners who recently gave themselves hefty raises while at the same time drastically cutting funding to the Sheriff’s department by over $600,000. Presiding County Commissioner and former State Representative Jerry Nolte has been leading the fight against this corruption in the court house and on social media against rogue commissioners LuAnn Ridgeway and Gene Owen but the recent cuts to the Sheriff’s budget have county taxpayers rushing to his aid. For the record, cuts included funding to such Law Enforcement necessities as body armor, P.O.S.T training and funding to MULES, the Missouri Universal Law Enforcement System that gives Patrol officers vital communications services on a daily basis. The Dog thinks Commissioners Ridgeway and Owen should maybe be sent out to patrol the roadways of Clay County and see how they like it without body armor and sufficient funding.

Center ring however belongs to Wyandotte County, Kansas, delivering the gold standard of local political circuses after the claims by outgoing Mayor Mark Holland that the city’s Fire Department has gouged taxpayers over $900,000 for shifts not worked through a practice called shift trading. Holland, for his revelation was threatened by KCK Firefighter Chris Wing in a Facebook post telling the Mayor he “might need a security detail when you start witch hunts like this…” Wow! Old school thuggery at its finest! Oh goodie! This News-Dog also drew great delight in a heated exchange, recorded for posterity by Kansas City Star Journalist Shane Keyser, between retired Assistant KCK Fire Chief Michael Quinn and Jimmie Hanks of the city’s diversity task force. In said exchange Quinn claimed that shift trading was part of the union contract and that the practice had been going on for over 40 years. Note to Mr. Quinn: forty years of bad practice (and yelling, as noted in the filmed footage) doesn’t make the practice, or you, right regardless of how eloquent you think your profanity laced tirade might be. Frankly Mr. Quinn is lucky Hanks didn’t deck him for his complete lack of respect. As we say in the News business, we’re sure Mr. Quinn will be the gift that just keeps on giving.

This politically incorrect news-dog likes the circus as much as the next canine but when that circus takes place inside the centers of county government in three of the five counties that make up the metropolitan area, maybe it’s time for some housecleaning. While the video footage of a high ranking firefighter cursing and berating a member of the local clergy might play well on Jerry Springer, it represents a complete disregard for the taxpaying public these so called stewards are sworn to protect..

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