Casa Crucis is only a few miles from the Missouri-Kansas border. It’s not unusual to hear Kansan political ads on the radio. The big battle in Kansas is that between incumbent US Senator Pat Roberts and Tea Partier Milton Wolfe. Both are running to be the ‘Pub Senatorial candidate in the upcoming Primary
The campaign turned nasty from the beginning—from the Robert’s people. Milton Wolfe correctly, and truthfully, pointed out that Roberts has no permanent residence in Kansas. In Roberts’ own words, he leases a recliner in a friend’s home. Roberts has had no residence in Kansas for decades, but he still claims to be a Kansan.
I expected Roberts to refute Wolfe’s claims. He did not. Instead, he went directly to smear mode. He produced supposed Facebook posts from Wolfe that supposedly disrespected clients and making disrespectful comments about some X-Rays.
I have to admit that I’m biased towards Milton Wolfe. I’ve heard him speak and was impressed with his comments and goals. When Roberts released that ad, my immediately thought was how did Roberts get those Facebook comments? Did he hack Wolfe’s account? Did he hire some hackers to do so. Were those comments real? Nothing I’ve been able to find supports Roberts claims.
To the best that I’ve been able to determine, the ad against Milton Wolfe is a complete fabrication. It the comments were accurate, then Roberts broke the law by hacking Wolfe’s Facebook account or having it hacked. I suspect Roberts’ motivation is a poll that shows Wolfe has a strong following in Kansas.
In the end, the question is more whom can you trust? Wolfe who has the facts readily available to support his claims about Roberts non-Kansas residency, or Roberts smear tactics? Personally, I will not support any candidate who chooses to use smear tactics as his primary campaign plan.
Roberts is a long time establishment ‘Pub, a buddy of Mitch McConnell. It’s time for both of them to go.
Local Missouri politics aren’t much, if any, better. Here in Cass County, the battle is between the current conservative ‘Pub candidates against the old county Oligarchy. Jeff Cox, whom I support both in time and money, is running for Presiding Commissioner. He was elected to fill a partial, two-year term to complete the term of the previous Commissioner who was removed from office, not for malfeasance, but because of an out-of-state felony conviction. I’ll not go into the background on that, it’s not pertinent in this election.
In the previous county government, two ‘Pubs quit. One, when some questionable contracts were exposed, quit in mid-term. The other, also reportedly involved in questionable contracts and possible fraud, chose to not run for re-election. That last former commission now plans on being the county puppet-master with a personal string of proxy office holders. He already has one in office, the northern county commissioner.
The county Auditor, Ron Johnson, has a primary opponent, too. That opponent is a former employee who was fired for cause and is now one of the Oligarchy’s puppets. It was Ron Johnson who exposed all the fraud and deceit in the former county administration. The Kansas City Star printed an expose about the machinations of the Cass County Oligarchy.
April 22, 2014, By DONALD BRADLEY, The Kansas City Star
A recent day in an upstairs office in the Cass County courthouse, Presiding Commissioner Jeff Cox used the acronym “BMT.
County Auditor Ron Johnson smiled.
“Before my time,” Johnson explained.
These days, the two talk a lot about things before their time in office and they want to make sure people, particularly voters, know they were nowhere around when two of those things came to be.
Because the county’s broadband fiber network and Tri-Gen, a generator built to provide electrical power to the Justice Center, both were colossal failures that the county will be paying on for years with nothing in return.
Tri-Gen alone is costing the county $175,000 this budget year, not counting legal expenses.
Both projects were approved by officials no longer in office.
“Mistakes were made in recent years that will take years to recover from,” Cox said.
Today, broadband is dead in the ditch and Tri-Gen is shut down and the subject of lawsuits.
Gary Mallory, who was presiding commissioner when both projects began, declined to comment.
Cox and Johnson hope voters this year don’t hold either of them responsible. They wonder, too, if ending the two projects has anything to do with them facing primary opposition in August.
Killing broadband was difficult, Johnson said, but it was a decision that may have kept the county from filing for bankruptcy.
“We had to take the least bad option,” Johnson said.
To be sure, the county did go through a time of turmoil. The very day a newly elected presiding commissioner was sworn into office, the county prosecutor filed suit to remove him because of a felony conviction.
Another commissioner resigned. The other chose not to seek re-election.
All the while, the broadband and Tri-Gen projects — which began with high hopes and multimillion-dollar price tags — were struggling.
Broadband kicked off in 2011 with the goal of providing high-speed Internet access to 12,000 households and hundreds of businesses in rural areas. The $26 million cost would come from government grants and low-interest loans.
But the federal government withheld grants because of a delay in a county audit. Some contractors did not get paid. One filed suit against the county. The project suffered, too, from not having enough inspectors.
Cox studied the viability of the project after taking office last year. He decided to kill it.
It’s unknown how much money the county will eventually pay for the project. That will depend on the outcome of litigation and whether federal money ever comes through.
Tri-Gen, which would use renewable energy from sweet sorghum silage to produce methane gas, came on board in 2008 when county officials agreed to build the generator at a cost of $15 million. The idea was to provide energy to the Justice Center and then sell leftover power on the open grid.
But it turned out, they were prohibited by regulation from selling surplus power — a fact they were unaware of until threatened with litigation. But it didn’t matter much anyway because, according to Cox, the science behind the project wasn’t viable.
Cox said a pilot project at the University of Central Missouri never worked.
“You don’t build a multimillion-dollar generator without making sure the science works first,” Cox said. “It was a mistake. The county had no business getting involved in that.
“That said, the county was sold a bill of goods.”
Last June, the county sued Universal Asset Management, the contractor for Tri-Gen, and the head of the company, Gary Lee. The suit alleges breach of contract, professional negligence, fraud and misrepresentation.
Universal Asset Management was also the company behind the broadband project. The phone number listed on the company’s webpage is no longer in use.
About a year earlier, Lee and UAM had sued Johnson and Cass County alleging breach of contract.
Lee and his attorney could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, the county is stuck with bills for both. This year’s budget shows $175,000 went to debt service for Tri-Gen, an outlay that may continue for decades.
“When I think of all the things we could have used that money for — sheriff deputies, road repairs,” Cox said. “It’s hard not to be a little angry.
“And we’re going to be paying a long time.”
What about that fired employee who is now running against Ron Johnson? He was fired for releasing documents, without authority, to UAM. His mentor in his campaign against Ron Johnson is an employee of UAM, the former county commissioner who was deeply involved in issuing those fraudulent contracts to UAM. Millions of dollars in those contracts are still unaccounted for and the basis for a number of lawsuits.
What is the motivation of this clandestine oligarchy? Perhaps it is an attempt to hide their actions being investigated by federal authorities. Perhaps it is an attempt to gain control of those offices whose current holders exposed their actions. Control of those offices would allow them to hinder further investigation. Or, perhaps, it is just plain, old, lust for power by any means.
Whatever the motivation, their tactics should be familiar to anyone observant to county politics. They use the same tactics as do democrats.
But there are honest, ethical commissioners in the county, Jeff Cox and one other commissioner. Who is Cox’s best ally in regaining fiscal health to the county? It is the southern county commission—a democrat. The other commissioner, a supposed ‘Pub who hasn’t met a TIF he didn’t like, is a member of the Oligarchy. Many of the county executive decisions are made with a two-vote majority (of the three possible votes.) That majority is Jeff Cox, the presiding commissioner, and the democrat southern commissioner.
It’s significant when the democrat southern commissioner is more interested and involved in keeping the county’s finances in the black while the so-called ‘pub, northern commissioner wants to spend, spend, spend.