November 2, 2018

Understanding Jackson County Questions on November 6 Ballot

Many citizens have found the questions on the November 6 ballot about the changes to the Jackson County Charter to be confusing. We reached out to our county legislators and asked for them to help us understand and so far have received only one reply, from Third District Legislator Tony Miller. We are thankful that he pointed us to a page on his website where he writes:

"I have been fielding questions from my constituents about the Charter Amendment Questions that will be on the ballot on November 6, 2018. I encourage people to consider these proposed changes in the context of public policy and not personality.  I will be voting “No” on these questions, as presented, for many reasons.  Although I respect my colleagues who have pushed these proposals, I do not think these amendments, if adopted, are in the public interest for many substantive reasons.  Here are a few for consideration:

-Should elected officials give themselves pay raises and how much will it cost tax payers?

-Should the Legislature be limiting who can run for office, generally, other than fitness for office questions?

-Should the Legislature be term limiting people like the Prosecutor and Sheriff when continuity is important in law enforcement?

-Should the Legislature keep people from other levels of government from running for County offices, but exclude themselves from this prohibition?

-Should the Legislature take powers away from the Executive branch such as taking away the Line Item Veto from the Executive?

-Should the Legislature make it easier to fire the County Counselor?

The most effective way for me to communicate with folks about the proposed amendments is to post the documents themselves as you will find below. Read the ordinance that shows the actual changes to the Charter and then compare what will actually happen to the Charter to how the questions are presented on the ballot.  Well intentioned people might go into the voting booth thinking that they are doing one thing, and end up doing something completely different.  You don’t have to take my word for it though.  Have a look for yourself:

Proposed Charter Amendments - Tony Miller, Jackson County Legislature, 3rd District At-Large

November 1, 2018

Absentee Voting in Jackson County

IMPORTANT - PLEASE READ: (Kansas City voters click here for information -- the following is for Independence/Eastern Jackson County Voters)
As of this writing, the weather forecast for Election Day shows a high temperature of 52° with a chance of rain. The ballot is very long, taking 10 to 20+ minutes to complete. If standing in line outside of a polling place for a long period of time will be a problem for you, or if you won't be in town on Election Day please cast an Absentee Ballot as soon as possible.
Absentee voting is taking place at the Jackson County Election Board at 215 N. Liberty on the Independence Square on Friday and Monday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm.
There's been a tremendous turnout for absentee voting according to workers -- expect to wait in line inside the building (but the line moves quickly). Must have ID.

October 9, 2018

Ribbon Cutting at the Blendwell Community Cafe

Photos from yesterday's Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at Fairmount's Blendwell Community Cafe, a coffee cafe and meeting place located in the newly renovated building that once housed the Standard State Bank. For more information visit

BlendWell Community Cafe Manager Ana Reyes

Community Services League Chief Innovation Officer Mark O'Renick
with Independence City Councilman John Perkins

Good things to eat for the scores of community leaders
and citizens who attended the event

Missouri State Senator John Rizzo with
Independence City Councilman John Perkins

Community Services League President and CEO Doug Cowan
thanks the community leaders who helped make the BlendWell Community Cafe a reality

Independence Mayor Eileen Weir Cuts the Ribbon

Independence Mayor Eileen Weir poses with Sugar Creek Mayor Mike Larson for the Inter-City News

September 14, 2018

New U.S. Citizens Take Oath at Truman Library

Fifty immigrants from more than 20 countries took the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America at the Truman Library today and became U.S. Citizens. The Van Horn Choir performed the song "Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears" at the close of the ceremony.
(Photos by Joe Calton for the Inter-City News)

July 31, 2018

Missouri State Senator, 21st District

From Holmes Osborne:

Missouri is falling behind the rest of the country.  We’ve lost many companies here in the Kansas City area including Harley Davidson and Procter & Gamble.  St. Louis ranks as the second most dangerous city in the United States and Kansas City is high on the list too.  The cost of health care is outrageous and our legislature passed up on Medicaid money from the federal government for political reasons.  Our leaders in Jefferson City are not paying attention to these issues and until recently, were focused upon ousting the former Governor.

What has been done about our roads?  We have the 46th lowest gas taxes in the country and our roads show it.  The bridge repairs around Independence are a start be we have a long way to go.  Did you know that 24 Highway runs from Colorado, through Independence, and all the way to Detroit?  This major thoroughfare through our city needs to be updated.  Voters will have a chance to vote on a 10¢ gas increase in November.

 Holmes Osborne is a candidate for state representative in the 21st District.  The current state representative, Ira Anders, has done a wonderful job but is termed out and cannot run again.  Holmes was born in Independence, raised in Bates City, the father of two young daughters who attend our wonderful public schools.  His mother taught at Palmer Middle School in the 1970s and his father is a retired member of the AFL-CIO.  The election is August 7, 2018.  There is a three-way contest in the Democratic primary with no Republican running.  In addition, if you like unions, vote “No” on Proposition A, the Right-to-Work initiative. 

Candidates please send your submissions to and they will be published in the order in which they are received.

Jackson County Legislature, 3rd District

From Candidate Charlie Franklin:

I have enjoyed living in this community my entire life and being able to raise our four boys here has been a wonderful blessing. Although I have lived mostly in the southwestern part of Independence, I believe all of the areas of the 3rd District are of equal importance. I will do whatever I can to try and achieve equal funding for safe neighborhoods.

For the county as a whole, the Jackson County jail conditions must improve and we must stop the hidden costs of lawsuits draining the County budget. I will work to help formulate a comprehensive jail plan to provide safer conditions, reduce overtime, and reduce lawsuits. To meet the needs of Jackson County, it is important to strengthen the working relationship between the Legislative and Executive Branches of government. To help make that happen, I will strive to find a satisfactory compromise between two often extreme differences in position.

I believe it is important to return to local control of the Jackson County Property Assessment Department. Due to being understaffed, the department must currently rely on expensive outside consultants to complete its responsibilities. I will support fully staffing the department to achieve an independent operation that provides fair assessments on residential and commercial real estate property.

There are clearly opportunities to improve the way our County manages taxpayer funds. I am not a career politician, but I do have years of accounting and business experience that will help me bring a fresh perspective to tackling the critical issues facing Jackson County.

Although it may be difficult for a County Legislator to make a difference for a specific part of our community, I will certainly try and help the Inter-City area. We all need good schools and safe neighborhoods.

You can count on me to do my best to serve you. I ask for your vote on August 7th.

Thank you,

Charlie Franklin

Candidates please send your submissions to and they will be published in the order in which they are received.

March 28, 2018

Sugar Creek Election Editorial

 Submitted by Sugar Creek Resident Bill Haman

Change or the Same

   Sugar Creek voters have a decision to make next week about the future  of  our city.  This is the second municipal election in two years.  There will not be another election for three more years.  Two new candidates were elected last year.  The results of this election will determine the road that Sugar Creek travels for at least 3 more years.  

    Do we want to elect the incumbents that want to take us down the dead-end road we have been on for years?  One of those candidates voted to continue funding “Wayne City Landing Days”  that cost Sugar Creek about $60,000 when it was clear that the event was going to fail.  The two incumbents favor spending as much as $1,500,000 to remodel the existing gym.  Would it not be logical to complete a more modest remodel and use the balance of available funds for infrastructure improvements?  

  Several area gyms have closed in the last few years because not enough memberships could be sold in our locality.  I believe the proposed management plan will fail and drain resources away from vital city services.  Several years ago the voters of Sugar Creek voted against spending a similar amount of money to remodel the old post office.  It seems clear to me that voters do not want to fund this type of
facility.  The gym needs some TLC that can be completed for far less treasure than the present plan.  

   I believe that Sugar Creek’s governing body has been inside the box for too long.  It is time for a change to younger members with new ideas and progressive goals.  The city needs to move forward with new leadership on the board and a plan for the future.  I believe that Chris Steffen in Ward 1 and Michael Schneller in Ward 2 are the ones to bring about this change and are committed to moving Sugar Creek in a new and better direction.  

   I urge you to get out and vote on APRIL 3rd.

March 26, 2018

Independence "Use Tax" Editorial

Submitted by Retired Independence Fire Captain Henry Carner

Confusing, Deceptive and Unnecessary New Tax 

Independence Tax Question 1 on the April 3rd ballot asks us to impose a New “Local Use Tax”. The City is not up-front on the fact that If Question 1 passes, only Independence residents will pay more for all Online purchases. We have not been told nor does the ballot state what exactly will be taxed.   What does “Local Use Tax” mean? See

The ballot language is Confusing and Deceptive.  The City has not defined the exact need for this New Tax.  Further, there is No explanation on the ballot of how this tax will be collected or enforced.  The ballot does not state exactly where the money will go.  If passed, this “Use Tax” can be raised without your vote.  It will never end (no renewal date).

This is an Unnecessary New Tax.  There is no logical explanation for more taxes!  The City has a 291 million dollar budget, 6 special sales taxes (Fire, Police, Streets, Parks, Tourism and Storm Water taxes), a long list of fees for City services, 4 million a year income from fines and court costs, ever increasing real estate and property taxes, added taxes on our utility bills and a sales tax rate as high as 8.85%.  Moreover, the City receives an undisclosed amount of grants from our Federal and State taxes.

We recently passed tax increases for Police and Fire. How can a “Local Use Tax “be needed for these departments now?  The City asks us for more taxes about every other year.  Isn’t it time to encourage the City to live within its budget like we have too?

Tell the City that you don’t want them to tax you in the privacy of your home while shopping online. Vote NO on NEW TAX Question 1.

Henry Carner
Retired Independence Fire Captain

March 20, 2018

City Council Candidates -- In Their Own Words

The Inter-City News reached out to the candidates running for two At-Large seats on the Independence City Council. We are publishing them here in the order in which they were received. 

From Brice Stewart:

I decided to run for city council because with my background in Law-Enforcement as well as working within a government agency for many years; I feel I can bring positive ideas to the city.

I believe I represent the everyday resident of the city. My father is a retired truck driver and my mother retired from the medical field. I grew up on a farm in a very rural area and learned the value of hard work at a very young age. I live in a $70,000 dollar house in the Susquehanna area. You do not get much more “blue collar” than me.

I do not feel the council is representing the needs of the residents. I believe that certain individuals are more concerned about other initiatives than the crime, drug and blight problem.

I would like to see the city more concerned about the previously listed items than rather or not an eighteen year old can purchase cigarettes. This is only one example of government over reach that has occurred in the city and there are others.

My priorities would be jobs, crime and economic development. If we can bring in more jobs through economic development it will help reduce certain crimes.

I have worked for Jackson County, MO since the year 2000 in the Information Technology Department in addition to that I served for many years in Law-Enforcement with three years of that as a Chief of Police.

Beyond that I care deeply for this community and want it to thrive, I feel that more than anything qualifies me to hold a City Council seat.


From Karen Deluccie:

I want the city to take care of basic city services and not unduly interfere in our citizen's lives. For example, I am very focused on "livability" in our town. I want our town to look as good as it possibly can look and to be as safe as it can possibly be. Therefore, I worked with others in shortening the time the city takes in handling building code/trash complaints. I supported increased funding in the code compliance department to increase our ability to be responsive to the citizen's concerns. We moved lots of money into the building codes department both to add staff (which shortens the time the city takes in responding to complaints) and to tear down buildings that need to be torn down. I supported the concept of the city suing landowners who have the financial ability to fix their property or tear down their dangerous property but chose not to do so. (I am tired having a tax lien placed on the property and hoping we will get paid when the property sells at a tax sales.) I supported the use of council goal funds to install sidewalks where none were located and to repair sidewalks that had fallen in disrepair.

 I voted against the "rental ready" program for a few different reasons. I believe that the program treats renters differently than homeowners. Why is it not an unreasonable search of my home to make me allow an agent of the city to come in to inspect my home? If that inspection is not an unreasonable search in violation of the US Constitution, then is the next step a government agent coming into homes that are owned by citizens and not just rented by citizens? Second, I believe that the city should focus on policing of the outside of the rental properties and, once that is successfully accomplished, then we can look at asking for voluntary internal inspections of rental properties.

 I am focused on examining the city expenses and income. I want to be sure that we are making the most efficient use of every dollar that we spend. I read everything that is put in front of me and ask questions if I do not understand something. I will continue to do this focused examination.


From Mike Huff:

I am a proud third generation resident of Independence, MO. I attended Independence's schools K-12, married and raised a family, and worked here most of my life.  After graduating from William Chrisman High School, I went to work at Armco Steel which was on the decline cutting production and I was fortunate to land a job as janitor at Independence Power and Light. I worked long and hard hours for a career with IPL first as janitor, progressing to Journeyman Lineman, then a Lineman Superintendent, and finally the Transmission and Distribution Manager. I retired after being blessed with 34 years of service to IPL and the Independence community we serve.

I am married with two children and one grandson.

I enjoyed serving the residents of my hometown while working with IPL.  I gained valuable experience and knowledge on how this city operates.  I dealt with budget issues, power generation, power distribution, and the billing process. I was the project manager on the new operations building and understand how team work is needed to solve problems to better service the Independence taxpayer ... our true boss.

It is imperative that we have safe schools, safe neighborhoods, and safe streets to have the kind of city that draws businesses to create jobs and families to make Independence home.  I will support our police and give them the tools they need to keep our community safe.

The Northwest part of Independence is always promised development and renewal while a large share of the budget goes to the expanding business districts in the Southeast.  We cannot ignore the need to provide a fair share of the budget to the Western part of town.  Blight is also a problem that should not have boundaries. We must do better at stopping blight and removing eyes sores that hurt our property values and looks bad to visitors.

Rental Ready is an issue I don’t support as it stands now.  I believe in inspection of rental units but not when people are living in a rental.  If the City can invade the privacy of a renter, is a homeowner next? I do believe inspection is appropriate when the rental unit is empty before a new tenant moves in.  I would like to amend the program to protect renter’s right of privacy.

I am concerned that Independence Power and Light is dependent on outside electrical power generation.  We need our plant to be configured to produce our own power at peak demand.  Depending on outside supply makes us vulnerable to any weather related crisis that could cut power off for days.  I want Independence to be prepared for a loss of power from any outside provider.

I am not supporting the Local Use Tax.  I believe we must do better at getting the most for our tax dollars now and not over-burden citizens with more taxes. We must do better brainstorming at creating a unique cottage industry and attracting larger corporations to our area.

Independence is a great place to live, raise a family and have a job.  I have a wealth of hands-on experience and knowledge of our city government.  I have the time and heartfelt desire to give back to my city and look forward to the opportunity to serve for a better future and prosperity for all.

We received no reply from the write-in candidate Matt Medley.

The Inter-City News would like to thank these candidates for reaching out to our readers.

March 18, 2018

Salaries of Mayor, Council Nearly Double in April

   Voting in April of 2016, the Mayor and City Council raised their salaries to nearly double effective April, 2018. Because a sitting City Council can't raise their own pay, the salary increases will take effect this year, just a few weeks after the city will ask voters to approve a new "use tax" for most purchases made online. 

   Election Day for the tax vote is Tuesday, April 3.

   This April, Mayor Weir will begin receiving $40,000 a year and City Councilpersons will get $20,000 each per year. All will be given a $500 per month car allowance. As is the current policy, those salaries will increase by $500 automatically every 4 years. During her first term in office, Mayor Weir earned $29,999 and members of the Council received, on average, $11,500.

   The 2016 vote to raise salaries was close. Incumbent candidate for an At-Large seat in the April election, Karen DeLuccie, voted against the pay raise citing raised service fees, unfunded positions and other city employees she believed deserved raises.  The 2016 City Council passed the pay raise by a vote of 4-3, with Mayor Weir voting in favor. It was made clear at the time that the pay raises could be rescinded in the event that the economic situation in 2018 was not as optimistic as they were expecting it to be.

   At the City Council meeting on March 5 of this year Lucy Young, a former At-Large Councilperson  elected three times between 1998 and 2010, addressed the City Council and spoke at length about the financial problems facing the city, citing the Bass Pro Shop TIFF and questioning the logic and cost of building the new Farmer's Market at its chosen location. She said that pay for elected city representatives was kept where it was to prevent councilpersons from becoming "career politicians" and asked that a motion be made to rescind the upcoming pay raises.

   After Young spoke, Mayor Weir thanked her and asked the members of the Council for comments. The subject was quickly changed and Ms. Young's comments were not addressed in any way No motion was made to rescind the upcoming pay raise.

City to Pay Tennessee Company $50,000 for Logo Design, Branding

Does the Hometown of Harry Truman and Queen City of the Three Trails have a problem with branding and recognition?  Independence Mayor Weir and the City Council think so and have hired the marketing firm ChandlerThinks of Franklin, Tennessee to develop a "streamlined branding strategy and identity" for Independence with a price tag of $50,000. 

Independence will now join the ranks of Danville, Kentucky and Perry, Georgia as cities that use ChandlerThinks to "create a sense of place and assists brands in developing their strongest voice."

It's not just a new logo that ChandlerThinks will be developing. On her Facebook page, Mayor Weir responded to commenters that, "There is much more to it than designing a logo. It is promote our great city and attract people here to visit, work and live," and that improving our branding and image will entice people to come here because, "city visitors and newcomers contribute to our economy to let us do more basic services."

In hiring a marketing firm to develop a new streamlined logo and image, the city stated that there are more than 40 separate logos used by various departments in their marketing efforts. One city department that won't need the help of ChandlerThinks is the Health Department, which will be completely disbanded by July in order to save the city $375,000 a year.  Thirteen employees were terminated early in March, with ten other positions getting the axe in coming weeks. Jackson County and other city departments will take over the vital functions formerly handled by the Health Department.

The Inter-City News invites readers to assist the city and ChandlerThinks by submitting ideas for logo designs and slogans that will be printed in a future issue. A $25 Amazon Gift Card will be awarded to the most amusing submission, with two $10 Amazon Gift Cards to be awarded to the runners up! Send your ideas to .

Election Gambling

   Gambling on election results used to be legal in the state of Missouri and in the early 20th century elections were made even more interesting by the amounts of money being wagered in pool rooms, taverns, and anywhere a bookmaker could be found that would give odds on the candidates. Hotel clerks handled thousands of dollars bet by wealthy residents and travelers, especially during national elections, but municipal races never failed to bring out local gamblers with a "lot of heart."

   Even the candidates got in on the action with a peculiar tradition that played out over and over again each election cycle back in the day, as this 1908 article from the Kansas City Journal shows about the race for Independence City Marshal:

April 12, 1908 
Independence Marshal Given Wheelbarrow Ride
by Defeated Candidate.

     J. J. Hammontree, a defeated candidate for city marshal of Independence, wheeled Robert Combs, the successful candidate, around the square yesterday morning. The new marshal had on his new uniform and a very large star of authority. After the trip around the square, which was enjoyed by a large crowd, the wheelbarrow was placed on auction and purchased by Colonel Moses Hanton for $4.50.

From Vintage Kansas

February 26, 2018