By Diane Krizek
Last month, State Auditor Nichole Galloway personally accepted 1,813 state performance audit petitions from chief petitioner Tony Jacob. Those petitions were submitted to the Jackson County Election Board Commissioners to verify the signatures as those of registered voters residing in Raytown.
“We are actually quite good at the signature verification process. The Raytown petition took less than 7 hours total with 4-5 people working on it. That was preprocessing the pages and checking all 1,769 signatures,” said Director Tammy Brown of the election board.
The final total number of legible, certified signatures was 1,632 and 1,337 were required for Raytown which is based on 10 percent of the number of votes cast in the last governor’s election. The Election Board determined there were 13,361votes cast in the last election.
“I am grateful for everyone that helped collect signatures, and proud of those who signed. I look forward to having the audit team here and for their report to identify areas of improvement. Raytown needs to think about who they will support in April. The auditors will provide measures for improvement but the city is under no obligation to implement them, that’s why we need to elect people that want to apply them, not the candidates that fought against the help they will provide,” said Jacob.
The City of Raytown received official notice from the State Auditor’s Office of the pending audit in a letter dated Jan. 4. The letter stated the estimated cost of the audit is $75,000 – $100,000 and urged the City to budget for the cost that it must pay pursuant to Missouri statute. City issued a press release Jan. 11 notifying the community.
“Once an Audit Team is assigned by the State Auditor’s office, we will work closely with them, so that our Raytown citizens can feel confident in our City’s leadership team and our plans for the future,” said newly appointed City Administrator Damon Hodges.
Mayor Mike McDonough was given the opportunity to make a statement but declined, deferring to the statement made by the city administrator.
On Jan. 15, elected City Marshall and Police Chief Jim Lynch abruptly announced his retirement from the Raytown Police department and his resignation from public office that expires April 2020 effective Feb 14. The department’s financial mismanagement, hostile work environment, cronyism and lack of transparency led to Jacob’s petition drive for a state performance audit.
The Attorney General’s Office became involved in the City’s business due to Lynch’s refusal to comply with Jacob’s Sunshine Law requests for information, initially ignoring the legal counsel of then City Attorney Joe Willerth of Kapke Willerth. The requested documents were finally released upon the AG’s deadline. An investigation by the AG is still open into alleged tampering of records, Sunshine Law violations and overcharging for public information. Willerth resigned on Dec. 31 from his contractual position as Raytown’s city attorney.