By Vicki Tarpley
Regional marketing professional and resident of LS
A Lee’s Summit citizen has requested the Missouri Attorney General’s office intervene and remove the Charter questions from the April 4 ballot making the argument that Lee’s Summit voters are being defrauded by the changes. The citizen, has requested quo warranto, a legal investigation, into the work of the Charter Commission and possible conflicts of interests involving some Commissioners and various Lee’s Summit municipal charities.
The complaint cites conflicts of interest involving commissioners Brad Cox, Ron Williams and John Beaudoin in which they have personally received benefits from the city while serving on the commission and that the suggested changes not only changes Lee’s Summit’s form of city government but also will allow a few to exert control and continue to benefit.
The complaint also makes claim that Lee’s Summit citizens and municipal voters are “burdened by improper control of multiple independent organizations acting as public service contractors to its municipal government.” These include: Legacy for Parks Foundation, Lee’s Summit Industrial Development Authority, Lee’s Summit Missouri Municipal Building Authority (LSMMBA), Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council, Downtown Lee’s Summit and the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce. These organizations, the citizen claims, along with the city manager, parks administrator and assistant superintendent administrator of parks, some of the principles and some spouses who serves as board members present “patterns of barred pay-to-play of ‘donor’ members” and financial exchange.”
The complaint sent to the Attorney General discusses the following.
Brad Cox and his wife Sandy, received a $751,000 public benefit on their private property The Emaline Ballroom in the form of new overlay, curbing, sidewalk, rain garden. The complaint details this was public monies spent on private property and no excise tax which is customary and usual has been levied. While this project was completed before Cox was appointed to the Charter Commission, the complaint also explains that Cox received free maintenance in lawn care and advertising for his commercial location in Parks magazines. In addition, “both Brad and Sandra Cox received a naming dedication of a park, Langsford Park, from the Parks Dept. A total cost of public funding benefits should be sought and excised as expected on behalf of taxpayers,” wrote the citizen.
Charter Commissioner Ron Williams also received benefits according to the complaint. He has been granted a no bid contract to build the Lee’s Summit monuments. In December 2015, after Cox was appointed to the Charter Commission, the Lee’s Summit, Missouri Municipal Authority and MODoT entered a joint licensing agreement for construction. In August, 2016, The Lee’s Summit Industrial Authority paid the Lee’s Summit, Missouri Municipal Building Authority $40,000 for the construction of a city monument, giving Ron Williams, who was serving on Charter Commission property access and financial benefit without having to go through the city’s procurement process as required by statute.
Lastly, the complaint details the conflicts of interest of Charter Commissioner John Beaudoin. The complaint states that while serving on the Charter Commission, Beaudoin remained a member of the Lee’s Summit, Missouri Municipal Building Authority. Furthermore, Beaudoin, owner of KC Communication and Media Matters, a public relations firm, also represented at least one company having business before city council while he served on the Charter Commission.
Beaudoin, a former city employee, recently filed suit against the city and councilmembers Chris Moreno and Dave Mosby. City Manager and Attorney presumably received notification from Commissioner Beaudoin of impending litigation, yet, they let him remain on Charter Commission. Furthermore, in the pending suit, Beaudoin states he had been receiving payments from Paragon Star “within the timeframe of Paragon Star project approvals through City Council and sub-contracting within a city contract as Commissioner.”
Prior to serving on Charter Commission, Beaudoin had been hired by the city manager for a job that was never posted and had no job description. At the expiration of that contract, the city manager executed another contract for Beaudoin with the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council. The complaint notes that this contract contained cancellation clauses for conflict of interest, prejudice and banned political activities.
In the complaint, it is noted that Missouri statutes hold harmless public officials that commission parties of interest. However, the named commissioners with conflicts—Cox, Williams and Beaudoin—were all appointed by 1st District Councilmembers Diane Forte and Rob Binney. It is also noted that Councilmember Binney did business with Councilmember Forte, paying her out of his PAC funds.
Previously, Councilmember Forte had an ethics complaint filed against for receiving no bid contracts from the Lee’s Summit Parks department. This complaint was filed after the City Manager and City Attorney stated in the June council meeting that no conflict of interest exists with Councilwoman Forte though this conflict was banned within the municipal ordinances and by state statutes.
Unless the Attorney General chooses to take action based on this complaint, the Charter Commission’s changes will be on the April 4th ballot.
Copy of the complaint filed March 2, 2017:
Dear Attorney General,
As a resident of Jackson County, Missouri, and a qualified voter of the City of Lee’s Summit, I do request that the ballot language relating to the Lee’s Summit City Charter appearing on the April 4th, 2017, should be set aside and removed from public ballot. It should not have been perfected because the Missouri Secretary of State, Jackson County Board of Elections, the elected representatives and employees of the Lee’s Summit Municipal Government as the authority or officials in the performance of official duties, “under penalty of perjury” do defraud the Lee Summit voters of their votes.
Consider the following:
Multiple members of the Lee’s Summit Charter Commission (8 of 12) were parties of interest wrongly commissioned to review the Lee’s Summit Charter, and the resultative changes are highly suspect. In fact, the changes sought to the Lee’s Summit municipal charter’s statutory formation in its’ operational processes enforced by voters seems to directly benefit parties of interest and some of the individuals were conducting business together and with the city government’s principle administrator during commission. These actions present false information that will defraud voters. It is highly suspect that during the due course of their commission they received excessive benefits in exchange, making the resultative ballot language a coercion against the Lee’s Summit voters enforcement of home rule.
Further, I assert that the proposed change within the four corners of the Lee’s Summit Charter is improper, lacks standing and merit to seek change of its own form of operational process because regulatory requirements of Chartered municipalities has bases in state constitution, through City classifications by total population of the political subdivision. This was issued and enforcement is in good standing by voters. Since the municipal area of Lee Summit does not meet the regulatory requirements of the Missouri constitution to be issued a new charter suggested in election questions, such changes to the form of government should and does require Missouri state legislative action to ensure enforcement to voters and is out of time, should be struck from the April 4th ballot.
The citizens of Missouri as Lee’s Summit municipal voters, through their government operations are burdened by improper control of multiple independent organizations acting as public service contractors to its municipal government. These include several 501(C3 charities known as, the Legacy for Parks Foundation, Lee’s Summit Industrial Development Authority (LSIDA), Lee’s Summit, Missouri Municipal Building Authority (LSMMBA) and Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council (LSEDC), Downtown Lee’s Summit Mainstreet and its CID Board, and the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce. Common involvement of actions outside mission do present patterns of barred pay to play of “donor” members, financial exchange and/or pass through among organizations being aided by the City Manager, Steve Arbo, Parks Administrator and Asst. Superintendent Administrator to Parks and principles and their spouses within these organizations or as board members, which they have in common.
The formation of these organizations and through such resulted actions in common are creating barriers to open and fair competition, excessive taxation, discrimination of services and personal enrichment that defrauds the voters on the April 4th ballot. These groups are highly suspect of being unregistered lobbying organizations while also receiving tax dollars. Punitive actions should be taken to revoke status and dissolve these organizations unburdening the people otherwise they do hold power to continue misinformation that defrauds voters.
Examples are but not limited to the following:
Charter Commission member Brad Cox is president of the Lee’s Summit, Missouri Municipal Building Authority, (LSMMBA). He and his spouse, Sandra Cox, own Langsford Development, Inc., and The Emaline Ballroom, LLC. They received private property improvements through a public works project called: Braeside Park and Lincolnwood Stormwater Project at a cost of $751,000. It is highly suspect of public construction to benefit private property because no excise tax as is customary and usual has been levied.
This merits investigation into the new parking lot overlay, curbing, sidewalks, gazebo and new decking as well as the continuous free maintenance of the raingarden and grounds by Lee’s Summit Public Works Department employees. He and his wife, Sandra Cox, who serves as treasurer of the municipal charity Legacy for the Parks Foundation, receive free advertising through printed promotions by the Parks department, its mailed magazine, etc., for their commercial location. In addition, both Brad and Sandra Cox received a naming dedication of a park, Langsford Park, from the Parks Dept. A total cost of public funding benefits should be sought and excised as expected on behalf of taxpayers.
Charter Commissioner Ron Williams also received benefits. In December 2015, after the Charter Commission started, the LSMMBA entered a joint licensing agreement for construction between the city, LSMMBA and MODOT. As reported in the publicly posted minutes of August 2016, the Lee’s Summit Industrial Development Authority passed outside mission $40,000 to LSMMBA as reported by the City Manager because of the MODOT licensing agreement for construction of a city monument. It should also be noted that as revealed in the LSIDA meeting minutes by the City Manager that the Law Firm of record is the employer of Councilwoman Trish Carlyle, who did vote for the licensing agreement. The licensing agreement was wrongly entered into by MODOT and gives property access for construction of a Lee’s Summit Monument and does benefit commissioner Ron Williams. Troubling to Lee’s Summit voters is that no public procurement process is being used for the monuments by the city manager as required by state statutes. It was reported by local media that Ron Williams was the contractor for another previously completed city monument built on private property by LSMMBA. Reports show approximately over $150,000 was raised. Costs are presumably much higher but remain hidden from taxpayers. Public Parks employees’ emails show that in 2013/2014, the Legacy for the Parks Foundation (Treasurer Sandy Cox) passed money through to LSMMBA (Brad Cox, Member) for Ron Williams from accounts it held and set up a bank account. This coincides in a timeline of their Braeside Park project on the Cox’s property and was outside mission of Legacy for Parks Foundation and needs to be investigated.
During the due course of commission Commissioner Ron Williams was also consulting with the city Public Works Dept., under the city manager, for the construction of the waste transfer station. This looks to be forming a pattern of undisclosed public contracts since totals by contractor Ron Williams exceed $100,000 and does require public procurement. Since MODOT recognizes as a “qualified contractor” within its licensing agreement, this makes these actions highly suspect as a form of bid rigging to complimentary bid and misinformation that defrauds voters. MODOT should be notified that contractional obligations are not being met and is unknowingly passing benefit to a disqualified individual upon investigation.
Commissioner John Beaudoin is also a member of the LSMMBA and also conducted business holding sub-contracts with the LSEDC and with the owner of Paragon Star Development Project (Paragon Star is represented by former 2016 LSEDC Chairman Bill Brown and 2017 LSEDC Chairman Attorney Christine Bushyhead, both are highly suspect of holding multiple conflicting positions including being on the recently organized TDD and I-470 CID Director positions). Recently, pleadings by John Beaudoin in litigation against the City of Lee’s Summit revealed he was receiving payments from Paragon Star project that coincide within the timeframe of Paragon Star project approvals through City Council and sub-contracting within a city contract as Commissioner. The 2016 LSEDC Chairman and representative of Paragon Star has provided information in such a way to prejudice the people of Lee’s Summit for which the chairman held contract with in favor of Commissioner John Beaudoin. The LSEDC contract was executed by the city manager. It contains cancelation clauses for conflict of interest prejudice and bans political activities, and same by city ordinance and state statutes, yet to date no cancelation of LSEDC contract has been given to protect the people and continues the misinformation to defraud voters. Investigations should be made into the actions by Commissioner Beaudoin leading up to his litigation against the City of Lee’s Summit.
Emails from John Beaudoin July 2015 show his request for pay from the KC Star/Lee’s Summit Journal as a city employee. The KC Star/Lee’s Summit Journal editor agreed by email to pay but would hold his funds till after his contract employment ended with the City. This led into his commission with pay from the Kansas City Star/ Lee’s Summit Journal and unfair advantage in publication including but not limited to errors and omissions as repeating false disclosures for Commissioner Beaudoin. Further, the newspaper publishing coincides in a timeline of content that is highly suspect of falsely bylined and missing bylines to improperly aiding a business and/or banned political activities of Commissioner Beaudoin. These activities show a repeating pattern as he received money from the Friends of Lee’s Summit PAC for Parks sales tax while on commission. He wrote articles for the Parks Dept. magazine presumably for some type of consideration from the city Parks Dept. while on commission.
Parks employee emails indicate that free tickets to Parks Amphitheater Concerts, through City Parks Dept., passed to several commissioners in service. It also bears noting that photos of vacations have publicly posted to Councilwoman Forte’s facebook page of the Councilwoman and spouse, Public Administrator of Parks and spouse and Brad and Sandy Cox.
It is recognized that Missouri statutes holds harmless public officials that commission parties of interest to service on complaint but in this case has merit for consideration in application to the April 4th Ballots misinformation to defraud voters of their votes. The three commissioners doing business while on commission were appointed by the 1st District LS Councilman, Mayor Pro Tem, Rob Binney and 1st District LS Councilwoman Diane Forte. Furthermore, Councilman Binney reported within Missouri Ethics Campaign filings that he did pay money to Councilwoman Diane Forte from his PAC funds. A prior complaint was filed against Councilwoman Forte due to multiple payments from contracts of the City for which she serves. The City Manager and City Attorney stated in the June council meeting that no conflict of interest exists with Councilwoman Forte though a ban was within the municipal ordinances and by state statutes. City Manager and Attorney presumably received notification from Commissioner Beaudoin of impending litigation that made clear conflict existed yet both engaged in activities to wrongly preserve and persist in seeking changes from a commission that was held by parties of interest. Making such resultative outcomes, as Commissioner Beaudoin’s litigation was filed immediately upon the convening of his Commission more than coincidence. But it should be considered exploitation in rulemaking when ballot language requires voter approval and if approved will strengthening improper controls that remain hidden through operational processes. This is coercion against home rule that defrauds voters.
I ask for quo warranto because the language serves as misinformation that should be struck halting any intent to defraud Lee’s Summit voters of their votes and reconvene with uninterested parties as proper actions required by Missouri statutes to resolve, review, investigation public administration that will unencumber Lee’s Summit municipal funds and provide information to voters preserving Lee’s Summit voter’s enforcement of home rule.
Resident of Missouri, Lee Summit Municipal Voter