Clay County | KCUR

Clay County

Sherry Duffett, leader of Citizens For A Better Clay County, sits in front of a microphone in the KCUR studio.
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Problems in Clay County government prompted request. 

More than 9,000 Clay County residents are asking Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway to take a hard look on their county's government. This week the county administrator resigned, last year two other county officials were charged with tampering with public records, and there have been a number of questionable purchases made with tax payer dollars. Today we looked at how county government became so bad that residents went to the state for answers.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

Clay County Administrator Dean Brookshier resigned Wednesday.

Brookshier will be paid more than $240,000 in severance pay, unused vacation pay and unused sick time. This is despite Brookshier not giving the county the 90 days of notice required by his employment contract. Under his employment contract, failing to give 90 days of notice meant that he wouldn’t be “entitled to any benefits in addition to those afforded him under the law and County policy.”

In a 2-1 vote in executive session Wednesday, the county commissioners waived this requirement.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

Clay County is pledging $500,000 over two years to build a Law Enforcement Memorial Garden in Kansas City, Missouri, despite concerns over the budget.

The Clay County Commissioners voted 2-1 today in favor of the funding the memorial in a contentious meeting. Critics worried about pledging money before the 2020 budget process and donating to the memorial after reducing funding to the sheriff’s office.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

Wells Fargo is investing $5.7 million in the Kansas City area to provide down payment assistance to eligible residents.

Residents in Cass, Clay and Jackson county will be able to apply for the $15,000 down payment assistance if they meet certain income eligibility requirements.

The program is a partnership with Westside Housing Organization and is part of the NeighborhoodLIFT program. This was created in 2012 to help provide financial assistance to low-income homeowners.

Missouri Auditor's Office

Clay County residents who want a complete state audit of county finances and operations took a step closer to that Friday.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway's office confirmed about 9,100 signatures were delivered by a group called Citizens For A Better Clay County.

If 5,590 are valid, then state law mandates that Galloway conduct the audit.

The audit would be both of finances and operations, according to the auditor's office.

The group has three main concerns, according to Jason Withington, the driving force behind the petitions.

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

Decades after most of the buildings were dismantled, newspaper articles raved about the beautiful vistas from a hilltop in Clay County: “One of the finest views of Missouri River countryside in all directions that may be found,” the Kansas City Journal wrote in 1941.

Kevin Corlew, Lauren Arthur

Democrats have taken a Missouri Senate seat previously held by Republicans in the first electoral test since the resignation of GOP Gov. Eric Greitens last week. 

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It's election day in Missouri, but it's OK if you didn't know that. Compared to previous elections, this one is fairly low-key.

In Kansas City, voters will decide whether to renew a 1 percent sales tax for infrastructure maintenance, in addition to several school board races. And residents of several towns near the metro area will decide new mayors, including in Tracy, population 226, where no one filed to run for the job, so it'll come down to write-in votes. 

Want to know if you need to head to the polls? Here's a list: 

Erica Hunzinger / Harvest Public Media/KCUR 89.3

Big cities in the Midwest are gaining ground on the rural communities that, for many decades, have thrived on the edges of urban development.

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

Some works of art hold mysteries that may never be revealed (the Mona Lisa’s smile will likely remain an enigma forever). But many years after completing public murals in Liberty, Missouri, David McClain is ready to talk about his artwork’s secrets.

Domestic violence happens privately at home, but it tears at the fabric of entire communities. A look at the impact of domestic violence over generations.

Then: the hallowed halls of government are supposed to represent our highest ideals. But what happens when civility breaks down? Why the rules of debate are important.

Guests:

Smithville Fire Protection District

This story was updated Thursday at 4:30 pm with comments from the fire district's lawyer.

In an unusual move, the Missouri State Auditor has subpoenaed the Smithville Fire Protection District for financial records. The auditor requests documents constantly from state and local governments, but very rarely is a subpoena needed.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

By a margin of fewer than 900 votes, residents of Kansas City, Missouri, on Tuesday acted to prohibit city officials from moving forward with any streetcar extension without first gaining citywide voter approval. 

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Below are the unofficial results for the Aug. 8 special election in Kansas City, Missouri, and other municipalities. You can find full results from the Kansas City Election Board, Jackson County Election Board, Clay County Board of Election Commissioners and Platte County Elections Board.

Clay County Museum & Historical Society

The American Civil War ended more than 150 years ago, but those old divisions still affect us today. There’s perhaps no better example of this than Missouri, a border state claimed by both the Union and the Confederacy. The ongoing struggle to deal with this history recently came to light when the Clay County Museum and Historical Society in the town of Liberty, published an old diary.

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It's an especially good time of year for comfort food. It's cold out, and it's the holidays, when traditional, hearty, no-frills dishes show up on our tables. KCUR's Food Critics search out the best comforting dishes (outside of grandma's house) in and around KC.

Plus, one reporter's memories of Winstead's (and why you get one tater tot in your order of fries there), and a visit to Sugar Creek, where a former mayor and his wife throw an annual holiday party — a tradition that came with their hilltop house.

Guests:

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

It might be easy for social services supporters in Jackson County to be asking “What if?” in the wake of Tuesday’s election, when residents resoundingly approved creation of a Children’s Services Fund through a new eighth-cent sales tax.

After all, the projected proceeds could have been nearly three times greater, if not for bureaucratic snafus that hampered an effort to help more at-risk kids in the region. But that was not the case in the wake of a victory amid other taxes that went down to defeat.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Missouri Sen. Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City) provides an insider perspective on the Missouri General Assembly as we discuss the urban versus rural divide, campaign contribution limits, REAL ID, and transportation.

Guests:

  • Ryan Silvey, Representative from Kansas City, Missouri General Assembly 
  • Matt Staub, Blogger
  • Elle Moxley, General Assignment Reporter, KCUR

Caroline Kull / KCUR

Pull in to the tiny Nelle Belle’s diner (pronounced “nell-ee bells”) on U.S. Highway 69 in Claycomo any weekday morning, and you’re likely to find the parking lot packed.

Carol E. Davis, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers / Flickr-CC

A small outbreak of measles stemming from a Clay County family has some area doctors worried that more may catch the illness. After traveling abroad to the Pacific Rim, an infant who wasn't immunized to the disease was diagnosed and spread it to two family members last week.

In the first segment of Tuesday's Up to Date, Steve Kraske sits down with a panel of experts to discuss the recent measles cases and the cultural struggles surrounding immunization in the United States.

Guests:

Clay County voters have rejected a change in their governance structure. It was the third failed attempt to take much of the politics out of county government.

The Clay County Election Commission reports a 16 percent voter turnout, with the measure being defeated by some 6,200 votes. There were 15,200 'no' votes from Clay County residents. Nine thousand voted 'yes.'

Voters earlier approved creating a panel of seven Republicans and seven Democrats to design a constitutional form of governing.

Courts Get First Crack At Clay Co. Charter Change

Sep 10, 2013

A radical change taking party politics out of Clay County government has been sidetracked on its path to voters in November.

Courts have been asked to intervene and declare the measure as unconstitutional.

The bipartisan panel that designed the change voters would decide drew wrath of the elected, 3-member County Commission. 

To Commissioner Luann Ridgeway it would be a costly experiment. That puts her at odds with a charter committee leader Craig Porter, and both are Republicans.

The Kansas City North prosecutor who will have to decide if there are criminal charges in the keeping of a teenage boy handcuffed in a basement, does not expect to see the case for several days.

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It's Election Day, and the polls close at 7 p.m. in Kansas and in Missouri.