Cass County Candidate Forum #3 and other items

The third Cass County Candidate Forum was held last night. This time it was only the six Commission candidates and the two for Sheriff. There were some minor difficulties. First the sound system failed. That happened at the first forum held at the same location. Second the moderator used a timer app on his phone. The “Bell” was too faint for some to hear. Other than that it all went smoothly.

At first I tried to note my impression of each individual. I came up with some labels: The Conservative, The Pro, Slick, Legal Eagle, Snake-oil Man, Bureaucrat, The Politician. I couldn’t come up with a name for the 8th that could be printed.

There wasn’t anything new that I could determine.  Jeff Cox set the tone. His goals were fiscal responsibility, setting spending priorities, building the emergency fund, and forcing transparency in the Commission’s activities by creating a video archive/streaming video of all Commission meetings with using the internet to publish the working packets and documents for everyone to review. In essence, to duplicate public access methods used by Raymore and Belton.

Cox’s opponent and the other candidates essentially repeated those points. Terry Wilson spoke after Jeff Cox and said, “I agree with Jeff.” He didn’t add anything to Jeff’s comments. My thought was if all he was doing was copying Jeff Cox’s ideas, why bother with Terry Wilson—go with the originator of those ideas.

Terry Wilson has been in office as the appointed Presiding Commissioner since May of this year. The transparency initiatives brought up by Jeff Cox aren’t complicated nor all that expensive. If Terry Wilson is in favor of them, why hasn’t he already implemented some of them? The same applies to South Commissioner Luke Scavuzzo who was appointed in January after the resignation of Commissioner Bill Cook.

Talk is cheap. Actions show intentions. Neither Wilson nor Scavuzzo have acted and that shows they’re just giving lip-service to transparency.


The UN has decided they are going to intrude in our Federal election. I’m surprised Obama hasn’t already invited them. He’s their bud.

The Texas Attorney-General, on the other hand, has a contrary view.

Attorney General Abbott Tells International Election Observers to Abide by Texas Election Laws

Texas AG says Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe has no jurisdiction over Texas elections

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today advised the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe — a United Nations partner — that groups and individuals from outside the United States do not have jurisdiction to interfere with Texas elections. The Attorney General’s letter comes after the international group — comprised of 56 members including EU nations and other countries—announced they would be sending election observers to sites throughout the United States, including Texas, on Election Day.

The UN and the EU are in Obama’s hip-pocket. The only election violations will come from the dems. Having the UN and EU rubber-stamp dem election fraud does no one any good.


My, my! The White House was notified within hours of the Benghazi attack according to internal State Department e-mails. Yet, Obama and the White House continued to blame some obscure 10-minute video as the cause for over two weeks.

White House told of militant claim two hours after Libya attack: emails

WASHINGTON | Tue Oct 23, 2012 9:11pm EDT

(Reuters) – Officials at the White House and State Department were advised two hours after attackers assaulted the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11 that an Islamic militant group had claimed credit for the attack, official emails show.

The emails, obtained by Reuters from government sources not connected with U.S. spy agencies or the State Department and who requested anonymity, specifically mention that the Libyan group called Ansar al-Sharia had asserted responsibility for the attacks.

The brief emails also show how U.S. diplomats described the attack, even as it was still under way, to Washington.

You can find the complete story at the website.

Cass County Candidate Forum, September 25, 2012 – Part II

Today will be a continuation of yesterday’s review of the Cass County Candidate Forum. If you remember from my earlier post, with a few exceptions, I was not impressed with the candidates from either party. I reviewed the Commission candidates yesterday. Today I’ll review two others, the candidates for Public Administrator and Sheriff.

The candidates for Public Administrator are Melody Folsom (R) and Michelle Cornforth (D). Melody Folsom is the incumbent. Michelle Cornforth, from her bio presented during the forum is a recent arrival to the county. Her previous experience is as a social worker in Nevada, MO. From her resume, she appears to have sufficient experience for the office of Public Administrator. Melody Folsom has a public track record, Michelle Cornforth does not.

When they answered questions during the forum it was apparent the two had radically different approaches to the job. Melody Folsom viewed her position as a personal ministry to those she served. Michelle Cornforth made similar responses to every question—make sure the paperwork was done, t’s crossed, i’s dotted.

Folsom’s answers reflected her concern for her charges. She was, in essence, in a parental position and she viewed her job as that, to insure each individual received the care and services necessary to meet their needs.

I did not perceive any such approach from Cornforth. While it is important that the necessary paperwork be completed on time and properly, the position of Public Administrator is not bureaucrat hammering square pegs into round holes. I did not see any empathy to the public charges by Cornforth. Her presentation to the public at the forum was cold and aloof. My notes about her was, “Bureaucrat wannabe.”  I have no doubt Michelle Cornforth could insure all the paperwork was completed. It’s the CYA of the bureaucrat. But she would not view her charges as people as does Folsom. For Cornforth, they would be a file-folder with a name.

The other race I’m reviewing is that of Cass County Sheriff. Dwight Diehl (R) is the incumbent with 16 years experience as Sheriff and more years before that in law enforcement. He has memberships in numerous law enforcement organizations including associations at the state and federal level and has experience in the field as a police officer before being Sheriff. He has been innovative with citizen’s academies and has a long-standing personal relationship with the public.

The other candidate for Sheriff is Doug Catron (D). Catron, like Diehl, has years of experience in law enforcement. The most recent as an investigator for the Cass County District Attorney. He, like Diehl before him, attended the Sheriff’s Academy and served as a police officer during his career.

Apart from the similarities noted above, the two candidates have different approaches. Diehl, from his remarks, views the job of Sheriff as a Peace Officer. Catron, from his answers, views the job as political. When Diehl was asked questions concerning crime, he responded as a law enforcement officer. Catron responded as a politician.

For example, one of the first questions was, “What would you do when criminals from the metro area (Jackson County and Kansas City) come to Cass County and commit crimes?”

Catron responded as he did with most of the questions by declaring he would establish alliances with other law enforcement organizations and utilize intelligence from them. Diehl, on the other hand had a short, pithy answer. “I’d put them in jail.”

That, in a nutshell, is the difference between the two candidates. When asked what his priority as Sheriff would be, Catron said fighting drugs, prescription drugs and meth labs—all political hot buttons. Diehl responded that the number of local/state meth labs has been steadily dropping. There has been no drug-related murders in the county this year and few in previous years. He said the current emphasis was the inflow of Mexican drugs.

I was surprised that Catron was not aware of the changing environment of illegal drugs. His ignorance implied he was out-of-touch with current law enforcement trends and issues.

Of the two, I prefer Diehl for Sheriff. He is the chief law enforcement officer in the county and he views the job of Sheriff as such. Catron, on the other hand, is just another politician on the way to another political office. I like having a real law enforcement officer as Sheriff rather than a politician.

Cass County Candidate Forum – September 25, 2012

Cass County Candidates for office met the public last night in a Q&A session conducted by county Chambers of Commerce.  With a few exceptions, the candidates’ responses were best described as…uniformity, conformity and blandness. Most of those who followed their opponent answering a question said, “What he said…I agree with…” There was little presented to make a particular candidate stand out.

Most unsatisfying.

Let’s take the six candidates running for the three Commission seats: Cox vs. Wilson for Presiding Commissioner, Odom vs. Duncan for North Commissioner, Hoke vs. Scavuzzo for South Commissioner. The first question was how would they resolve the recently discovered million dollar plus overspending by the County. The common response was the new accounting software installed at the insistence of the County Auditor would solve all problems. The software had alarms to notify the Commission and County officials when an expenditure exceeded the budget or available funds.

Software alone will not solve the spending problems in the county. It is a tool, like all processes and procedures. Any tool can be misused or ignored. Relying solely on a tool is folly. It is the elected officials who use the tool that will solve problems.

Five of the six candidates must have rehearsed their answers. They all said the same and presented no other solutions.  Jeff Cox was the exception.  His answer to the question was to use the tool, the software package to prioritize spending. Those with the highest priority received funding, those with less or lower priority would have less. The county funds would have to be shifted to rebuild the state-mandated emergency fund that had been raided by the 2010 commissioners.  Cox has a track-record of responsible spending, budgeting and cutting taxes.

None of the other five candidates mentioned rebuilding the emergency fund except in passing and none spoke of cutting taxes to attract business. Some advocated using Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to attract business to the county. TIF is a  temporary solution. Business may be attracted…for the duration of the TIF. Once the TIF has expired, marginal businesses move to the next TIF. Cutting taxes retains the incentive for business—and jobs, to come to the county and to remain.

Since the other commission candidates, Cox excepted, had no real platform nor plan to change the methods of county government, let me make some suggestions.

1. The 2010 commissioner raids on county funds were greatly aided due to a significant lack of transparency in government. The commissioners maintained an aura of secrecy that kept the public in ignorance. Minutes, if they can be found, are uniformly non-informative. Much as the minutes were summarized and contain no details.  It was not until this year that the written minutes used voice recordings as a source. 

If the Commission is to have transparency, those voice recordings must be archived and made available on demand to the public. I would suggest those sound recordings be made available through the county’s website within a week of the Commission meeting. In addition, publish the written minutes via a protected .PDF file on the county website. That would allow the public to compare the official written minutes to the source, the voice recordings. Sometimes the most significant items can be found in the sections that were summarized in the written minutes.

2.  By law, Commission meetings must be scheduled and posted in advance at the Courthouse. Why could those meeting notices not be posted on the county’s website as well?  More people have access to the internet now than have the ability to trek to the courthouse daily to see if there are any meeting notices. The meeting notice on the website could be accompanied by the meeting agenda.

3. Shift Commission meetings to the evening. When I attended the Commission meeting last week it was scheduled at 2PM.  The attending public was mostly retired folks (like me) and the self-employed who could take off for a couple of hours. Few others attended. They couldn’t get off work.  I propose the Commission schedule regular meetings in the evening around 7PM. In fact, all of the Commission meetings should be held in the evening except for emergency meetings.

Raymore city government is a good example for the county to follow. The council agendas are posted in advance. All meetings are announced in advance. The transparency of the council is very high.  There are lessons the county can learn by observing how Raymore conducts business.

I’ve written more about the Commission than I’d intended. The quote of the night came from Sheriff Dwight Diehl. He was asked what he’d do with criminals migrating from the metro area and committing crimes in Cass County.  “Put them in jail!” he said.

It was a very poor question.

I’ll have a few short comments tomorrow on the Sheriff’s and County Administrator’s race.

Followup of Previous Posts

Why does time fly faster with the intensity of events? Yesterday I wrote about the similarities of current events to those preceding World War I. I mentioned the increasing tensions between China (PRC), Japan, the Philippine Islands and the US. This morning I saw two new items that give more credence to another coming conflict in the Pacific.


Chinese General: Prepare for Combat

Top Chinese general in unusual move tells troops to ready for combat with Japan


China’s most powerful military leader, in an unusual public statement, last week ordered military forces to prepare for combat, as Chinese warships deployed to waters near disputed islands and anti-Japan protests throughout the country turned violent.

Protests against the Japanese government’s purchase of three privately held islands in the Senkakus chain led to mass street protests, the burning of Japanese flags, and attacks on Japanese businesses and cars in several cities. Some carried signs that read “Kill all Japanese,” and “Fight to the Death” over disputed islands. One sign urged China to threaten a nuclear strike against Japan.

Below is another news item that hints of Chinese violence being directed towards the US.

Beijing demonstrators damage US ambassador’s car

By DIDI TANG | Associated Press – 12 hrs ago

BEIJING (AP) — A car carrying the U.S. ambassador to China was mildly damaged after becoming the target of boisterous anti-Japan demonstrators who were expressing outrage over a territorial dispute and marking the 81st anniversary of Japan’s invasion of China.

The State Department said in a statement Wednesday that Ambassador Gary Locke was unhurt in Tuesday’s incident, and that diplomats have expressed concerns to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The statement said around 50 protesters surrounded Locke’s car as he tried to enter the embassy and were eventually removed by Chinese security personnel.

Over the years, I’ve worked with a number of Chinese. Most came here to the US to attend our universities. Most return to China. Some don’t. One of the things they taught me is nothing happens spontaneously in China without the government, I mean the Party’s approval—and active assistance. When you read a news item such as the one above, be aware it is not an expression of popular sentiment. It is a planned government act.

America’s weakness—and it is weak after four years of Obama’s administration and the crumbling of our military due to neglect, entices our enemies to take advantage of our weakness, real or not.

Add to all this is China’s deployment of nuclear-tipped, ballistic anti-ship missiles, missiles purposely designed to attacK our carrier fleets, it becomes apparent our military may no longer be a deterrent to war.


This afternoon the Cass County Commission will hold a public meeting to discuss the outside auditor’s report on the County’s management for 2010. There is only one commissioner who is still in office from that period but he declined to run for re-election. The media will have a very strong presence, print and TV, at the meeting from what I’ve been told.

I’ll be there too with my little notebook and a voice recorder. The release of the outside report has been picked up by the local media and while the report was balanced, it was not kind to the Cass County Commission.

There has been more document drops since that auditor’s report. One is particularly interesting. The former Presiding Commission endorsed in writing a company that had existed less than a year, had no track record, no customer base and no product! The letter appeared to be given as a reference for the company to acquire public grants from the Mid-America Regional Council.

As more documents are released to the public, the county government is looking worse and worse. It makes one wonder what other activities will be exposed. Many of the ones now could lead to criminal charges.


Why government should not compete with business

The outside auditor’s management report for Cass County was released earlier this week. An earlier report by the County Auditor on the County Collector’s office had been blocked from being released on the county website. When the outside audit was delivered, the county Powers-That-Be relented and allowed both reports to be posted on the Auditor’s section of the county website.

There has been a firestorm about these reports since their release.  There has been accusations and counter-accusations on local Facebook groups and other internet forums. If you read the management report closely, you’ll see why a commissioner abruptly resigned last year and why another chose to not run for re-election.  The outside auditor is particularly damning on the actions and methods of the county commission and vindicates the county auditor.

But that is not the theme for today’s post. We should use these auditor reports to develop county Policies and Procedures to insure future occurrences do not occur.  In the business world, this is known as “Lessons Learned.” That is why we have auditors and auditor reports.

I would suggest that at the top of those lessons learned is this:

  1. Never compete with business. Especially, never compete with business when business has a proven track record, established customer base and existing infrastructure to support the product. In this case, the Broadband project should have been shown the door at its first appearance.  There is no way the county can compete with AT&T, Embarq, Sprint, CenTel, Comcast or Time-Warner in providing broadband internet access and provide a competing product at a competitive cost.  The rural customers that were to be served by the Broadband project don’t have the customer density to support Broadband at a reasonable cost.  That means municipal customers would subsidize the rural customers. The county’s competing product would have to do so at a price that is equivalent or lower than broadband service by AT&T, Sprint and others.  Any competent business manager or certified project manager would have seen these pitfalls and would not have approved the broadband project.  In business, this comes under Risk Identification, Mitigation and Avoidance—all part of a needed business plan that didn’t exist.
  2. Never subsidize new technologies or pilot plants without a proven vendor track record, customer base and established maintenance and support. In short, never be the first kid on the block with new technology until it has been proven.  In this case, the county subsidized the production of a pilot bio-fuels plant with the University of Central Missouri with no scope of work, project plan nor established schedule of deliverables, i.e., it was money thrown down a hole with no obligation of any return on investment.

The Commissioners violated other those and other common business rules and we now see the result. I don’t know the background of the two appointed democrat commissioners, Luke Scavuzzo and Terry Wilson. I would hope when they were selected to fill the vacant commissioner positions by Governor Jay Nixon, that he picked people with proven and successful business backgrounds for surely as God created little green apples, Cass County needs competent commissioners. We’ve not have any, as far as I can determine, for decades.

Cass County Outside Auditor’s Report for 2010

The anticipated auditor’s report by Trout, Beeman & Co., CPAs has been released.  In the case of some officials in Harrisonville, feared may be the appropriate adjective.  You can read the report on the Cass County Auditor’s webpage. If you have difficulty finding the report, you can find a copy at an alternate site here.

I had anticipated rising early this morning to read the document and to highlight items in the report of particular interest.  Unfortunately, as happens from time-to-time, I had an attack of insomnia and didn’t get to sleep until well after 3:00AM. Instead, I’ll read the report and give a better review in the coming days.

The link above is to a copy of the report. You can read it for yourself.  The bottom line you’ll find, as am I, is that our County government must have been filled with incompetents to have done what the reports reveal.  The introduction of the report contains these two paragraphs.

Our consideration of Internal control was for the limited purpose described in the preceding paragraph and was not designed to identify all deficiencies in internal control that might be significant deficiencies or material weaknesses and, therefore, there can be no assurance that all such deficiencies have been identified. However, as discussed below, we identified certain deficiencies in internal control that we consider to be material weaknesses.

A deficiency in internal control exists when the design or operation of a control does not allow management or employees, in the normal course of performing their assigned functions, to prevent, or detect and correct misstatements on a timely basis. A material weakness is a deficiency, or combination of deficiencies in internal control, such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of the entity’s financial statements will not be prevented, or detected and corrected on a timely basis.

When a CPA says there are “material weaknesses,” managers in the private sector think, “OMG!!! I’m gonna get fired, sued and never work again!”  I once worked as a Data Systems Auditor for a large KC CPA firm. Our audit team used that phrase in a report to a large corporation. After reading the report, the Board of Directors fired the CEO, CIO and CFO. Those two words are significant and that was just the first page of the Trout-Beeman report.

I’m sure the white-washing and finger-pointing will commence immediately. I’ve had hints that it has already started. I wonder what the editorial for the Harrisonville Democrat-Missourian will say in this week’s issue?  If last week is any judge, I’ll bet a buck the white-wash has already been ordered.



Weekend Review for Monday, September 10, 2012

The local news outlets are having a field day. Cass County Pam Shipley Cleared of Nepotism Charges!  They conveniently ignore the the truth. Shipley was NOT cleared.” Cass County Prosecutor  refused to charge fellow democrat Shipley and chose to ignore the evidence of nepotism.

There is a difference  between being “cleared” and the Prosecutor refusing to file charges.


Unions are in the news today. Specifically, teacher’s unions in Chicago.  They turned down a 16% pay raise. Why? Because they demanded a 30% raise!  For you in the private sector, how much was your last raise—if you got one?

Chicago Bled Dry by Striking Teachers’ Unions

By John Fund, September 10, 2012 9:16 A.M

The smartest parents in Chicago right now are those whose kids attend charter schools, private schools, or parochial schools. Those institutions don’t employ Chicago’s unionized public-school teachers, who went out on strike this morning for the first time in 25 years.

The coverage of the strike has obscured some basic facts. The money has continued to pour into Chicago’s failing public schools in recent years. Chicago teachers have the highest average salary of any city at $76,000 a year before benefits. The average family in the city only earns $47,000 a year. Yet the teachers rejected a 16 percent salary increase over four years at a time when most families are not getting any raises or are looking for work.

But beyond the dollars, the fact is that Chicago schools need a fundamental shakeup — which of course the union is resisting. It is calling for changes in the teacher-evaluation system it just negotiated by making student performance less important.

Small wonder. Just 15 percent of fourth graders are proficient in reading and only 56 percent of students who enter their freshman year of high school wind up graduating.

There’s more info if you follow the link above.  Greed, as always, and the lust for power is what is driving this strike.  If Rahm Emanuel had any integrity, he would respond by firing the teachers. I’ll bet he could fill their slots very quickly.

That won’t happen, however. The unions are in Emanuel’s pocket as much as he is in theirs.


What do you do if you don’t like the polls?  If you’re Obama, you send your thugs to the pollster and “make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

Obama Thugs Rough Up Gallup For Polls They Don’t Like

By Dick Morris on September 10, 2012

The Obama Administration’s Justice Department announced, on August 22nd, that it was joining a lawsuit by a former Gallup employee and whistleblower against the Gallup Corporation for allegedly overcharging the government on polling work.

The announcement comes on the heels of a confrontation between Gallup staffers and Obama strategist David Axelrod in which he accused the company of using out of date sampling methods which, he said, generated polling data negative to the president.

The whistleblower’s lawsuit has been kicking around since 2009, but the Justice Department joined the suit only after the run-in between Axelrod and Gallup in April of this year.

In a scene right out of a typical authoritarian regime, Fox News reports that “employees at the venerable Gallup polling firm suggested they felt threatened by Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod when he questioned the methodology of a mid-April poll showing Mitt Romney leading the president – according to internal emails published Thursday.”

That poll that sent Axelrod ballistic showed Romney leading Obama 48-43 percent.

The Daily Caller published e mails that started when Axelrod sent a tweet to Gallup saying the tracking poll was “saddled with some methodological problems” and directing followers to a National Journal story in which a professor suggested outdated sampling.

According to the email chain titled “Axelrod vs. Gallup,” the White House in addition asked that a Gallup staffer “come over and explain our methodology,” which was apparently perceived as a subtle threat.

Fox News reported that “a Gallup official said in an email he thought Axelrod’s pressure ‘sounds a little like a Godfather situation.’”

Gallup refused to change its methodology to suit the White House.

The article continues. Follow the link above.  Obama appears to be following the tactics used by his mentors. When you don’t like the news, attack those that published the news.


Missed the Darwin award by…that much!

Words fail me on this one.  Take it as an object lesson for gang-bangers and others alike.  If you don’t know how to handle a weapon, get some training.  Like the warnings on TV, “Don’t try this at home.”

PORT ST. LUCIE, Florida — A teenager is recovering after
police say he shot himself in the penis and testicle while cleaning a gun he just bought.

It happened Thursday morning at a home on the 200 block of Verada Street in Port St. Lucie.

Police say 18-year-old Michael Smeriglio first lied to police saying someone shot him while he was walking down the street. After being questioned by police he admitted to accidentally doing it himself.

Even will all the advantages of modern medicine, OHSA and liberal nannies, people will still find ways to cleanse the gene pool.