March 25, 2017
By Steve Wagner
Managing Editor / Investigative Reporter
On Wednesday, March 22, 2017, Thomas Strannigan, candidate for mayor of Lake Lotawana, issued his second press release, sending it to TV stations and newspapers in the Kansas City area. The release is making the rounds on closed Facebook pages, still denying his arrest and guilty pleas.
As I stated Tuesday’s article, Wendy Hayworth (a Tribune reporter who was operating the video recorder) and I met with Thomas on Monday, March 20th, at 6:15 p.m. and spent just over 30 minutes speaking with him. This means that his assertion that he has not heard from the Tribune is patently false.
So let me share with the readership and especially the voters in Lake Lotawana not only his arrest and guilty pleas, but also his now admitted termination of employment with the City.
Let us now be crystal clear and list the facts of the drug arrest according to court documents:
[TOS will be used to represent Thomas O. Strannigan III]
[JCDTF represents the Jackson County Drug Task Force]
On May 7th, 1996 TSO violated RSMo 195.214 by selling 4.59 grams of cocaine for $220.00 to an undercover member of the JCDTF at 1000 NE Colbern Rd., Lee’s Summit, MO, within 1000 feet of Underwood Elementary school.
On May 17th, 1996 TSO violated RSMo 195.214 by selling 3.53 grams of cocaine for $250.00 to an undercover member of the JCDTF at 1000 NE Colbern Rd., Lee’s Summit, MO, within 1000 feet of Underwood Elementary school.
On May 28th, 1996 TSO violated RSMo 195.214 by selling 6.75 grams of cocaine for $430.00 to an undercover member of the JCDTF at 28901 E. Colbern Rd., Lake Lotawana, MO, within 1000 feet of the property of Child’s World Pre-School and Day Care Center.
On December 18th, 1996, a warrant for TOS’s arrest was signed with bond set at $15,000.
On January 28th, 1997, the warrant was served in Lake Lotawana.
Also on January 28th, 1997, TSO was released on $15,000 bail posted by Duncan Bail Bonds.
On March 24th, 1997 TSO signed a “Waiver of Counsel” acknowledging he was charged with three counts of sale of a controlled substance near schools. He further acknowledged that the minimum sentence he could receive was 10 years on each count, and the maximum possible sentence on each count was thirty (30) years or life imprisonment. It further says that if TSO pleads guilty or was found guilty the presiding judge “is most likely to impose a sentence of confinement.” Finally, he acknowledged that he did not want to be represented by an attorney.
Also on March 24th, 1997 TSO signed a “Waiver of Preliminary Hearing” acknowledging he had had the chance to consult with his family and others and would waive his right to a preliminary hearing.
On April 3rd, 1997, TOS entered a guilty plea to three counts of distribution of a controlled substance (cocaine) near a school.
The assigned judge, according to court documents, sentenced TOS to three years probation. TOS successfully completed his probation period in 2000.
As to his termination of employment for the City, Thomas Strannigan had come to my home at the Lake shortly after his departure from the City’s employ. He stated at that time he was going to sue the City for “wrongful termination.” He acknowledged that fact on Monday 3/20. I then pointed out that you can’t sue for wrongful termination unless you have actually been fired illegally.
His response was “Oh, yeah. That’s the way I felt about it at the time. Yes.” I told him that I knew the genesis of the incident as I had been in City Hall visiting the City Clerk on a records request when she opened a letter with a ticket in it. Thomas was shocked that I knew that and that it led to the discovery that he had forged his time card while an employee of the City of Lake Lotawana assigned to the sewer plant.
I then pointed out that getting paid for no work was in fact taking public money, stealing and that he needed to come clean on that.
In next Saturday’s Tribune we will finish the factual telling of Mr. Strannigan’s path to run for Mayor of Lake Lotawana. But now, some explanation is in order.
The Tribune attempted to contact Mr. Strannigan about our article on his arrest record. We had a phone number that we called but there was no answer. Linda Ahern, Tribune owner, called the City of Lake Lotawana requesting the contact information for all the candidates, the City employee that handled the request stated that the City did not have that information and suggested that we contact the Election Board. We did, and the Election Board referred us back to the City. On Tuesday, when I called Lake Lotawana City Attorney Ms. Christine Bushyhead, speaking to her for the first time ever, I explained that we didn’t have the information yet, and she provided it within an hour via email. Every person that wrote to the Tribune that I responded to were asked to have Mr. Strannigan contact me as I had been trying to reach him. This included Jim Lemke, Pete Comer, and others.
Thomas references a family member of a city official that owns a business that does background checks, and he is referring to the wife of Mayor Scott Miles. I have never met nor spoken to Mrs. Miles, and, in point of fact, Mrs. Miles negotiated the sale of that business in 2016. Mr. Strannigan didn’t even bother to fact check his accusations.
I was also accused of collusion and what would be conspiracy to commit voter fraud, a felony I believe. When I asked Mr. Strannigan Monday night about his evidence, he admitted having none. He did say that he had “a feeling” and that was “all he needed.”
Also on Monday evening when I met with Thomas, he stated that he had formed “the coalition” that included three alderman candidates and himself for Mayor. Thomas said their plan was to sweep City Hall clean. Thomas accused me of colluding with them.
Thomas couldn’t be further off base. For five years, I used various methods and legal challenges to try and “clean up City Hall” myself. I made recordings, conducted my own investigations, and filed complaints. Until Mayor Chamberlain shut it down, I was the only civilian that was on the Police and Public Safety Committee. I actually have a recording of a former police officer at Lake Lotawana confess that he did not take an incident report from my wife Debra and I because then Mayor Howard Chamberlain had told him to “forget about it.” More on that in upcoming articles.
But to the point, I have great admiration for those citizens that want to get involved in changing their government for the better. I agree that Lake Lotawana needs that. We need to cut the ties to cronyism and install a new age of real transparency. So why am I taking the fight to Thomas?
I’ll tell you. Deceiving others, even when one thinks they have a “just cause” is still deception. In some ways it is worse: it’s a wolf in lamb’s clothing. It preys on the good intentions of people that only want to improve their community.
When I met with Thomas on Monday, March 20th at six PM, a meeting he states didn’t happen, I beseeched Thomas to step down and stop this foolishness. I told him that I thought that he could endanger the other candidates for Alderman, because when the true story of Thomas’ termination by the City came out, he would be a pariah. Those that endorsed him would have been betrayed, and looked foolish. His response: “I can handle it.” You missed the point, Thomas.
The citizens that are supporting the clean government initiative, I applaud you. You just backed the wrong horse. Next year, find an honest, qualified candidate that can legally advance your agenda.