Ten Easy Questions

In advance of Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken’s appearance on KRMS’ Morning Magazine show on Monday, a few questions have been prepared by American Spring and submitted to Manny Haley, in hopes that he will ask them on the air. The public certainly deserves a few answers from the official we pay to conduct business in our names. We also want to see Manny raise the bar for our local media.

Ten easy questions.

1. Has Franken had a chance to review the software contract the county entered into with HCPS?

2. If so, how does he explain the expenditure of $53,000 for a still-faulty payroll system?

2a. If not, what HAS he been doing? (See Question # below)

Each of the three software programs contracted by the county were valued at $20,000 per program. We only received one of these three programs, the payroll system, and it is still problematic. This contract has been a center of controversy for Franken and a source of community questions and concerns.

3. Why did we spend $53,000 on a single system valued at $20,000?

4. What efforts are underway to recover the $33,000 over-payment?

The $33,000, if recovered, could go to good use in the county. A small portion of it could, for example, be used to eliminate all debt for the Macks Creek Community Park and allow the park board to move forward with leasing it for a dollar a year. The community and park board has already agreed to raise funds to maintain the park and insure it.

Let them.

In a recent email to a constituent regarding missing audio files for a July meeting of the commission, Presiding Commissioner Franken made the following statement:

“As far as non-agenda meetings are concerned, people who come in to speak informally with the commission do so in confidence to try to get preliminary information on a project or a problem that they are having. I, nor they, believe that those informal meetings should be recorded. In fact, since a certain individual has demanded that all commission meetings be recorded regardless of their content or importance, I have had several businesses that are considering coming to the area or increasing their presence in our area refuse to meet at the courthouse and I have had to go out to meet with them so they were certain that they had control of the environment that the meeting was held in. While meeting with a business at their location is not an issue, it sends a poor message to businesses about Camden County.”

5. Isn’t it the Sunshine Law, rather than a “certain individual”, that demands the content of even “informal” meetings of the commission be made public?

6. What businesses have refused to meet at the courthouse?

7. Did you inform Commissioners Luber and Thomas of any meetings away from the courthouse?

8. What, exactly, do you mean when you say these businesses wanted to be “certain that they had control of the environment”?

9. How is that an advantageous situation for the tax payers of Camden County?

10. How does transparency in government send a ”poor message” about Camden County and which businesses believe that to be true?

Tomorrow morning, Manny has the chance to ask these questions of our Presiding Commissioner. There are many others he could ask. The audio recording of the July 23 meeting of the commission brings many to mind, particularly as related to the direction of Planning and Zoning. The owners of Sugarloaf Winery voiced significant criticisms of county government. These criticisms bring huge concerns from the community and points to a cancer within local government. It appears that we run a government that is for sale to the largest contributors and bidders. For them, we offer huge breaks on the backs of the people. For the real and all-too-rare ‘Mom and Pop’ local business, that same government creates hurdle after hurdle. Overcoming each comes with a huge cost to a real small business. Those costs have continued to cull our landscape of the family businesses that made the Lake of the Ozarks the tourist destination it now is. The greater good of our community has been sold out over the years.

This practice by our local government is a result of those ”informal meetings” Franken would seek to hide. It also is a very real reason for diminishing tax revenues in Camden County. As more tax breaks are given for large corporations, developers, etc, and more restrictions are put in front of local small business, you create a downward economic spiral. Kris Franken, while promoting himself as our county’s financial expert, apparently missed this classic trend of neoliberal economic failure.

We hope is that Manny will ask them. Ten easy questions.

The answers will tell us a lot.

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