Franken’s Fitful Future

When Second District Commissioner Cliff Luber presented the formal, legal request for a modification of the Universal Land Use Code, it was much needed good news regarding the county’s embattled Planning and Zoning department. It was a victory for the taxpayers of Camden County and Cliff Luber, who has made Planning and Zoning concerns one of his top priorities since taking office. The formal request, submitted according to 1402 of the ULUC, represented a long battle by Luber to begin to restore equity, fairness and common sense to the Planning and Zoning department with regard to inappropriately zoned properties in Camden County. It is a significant achievement for Luber and what many regard as one step in the right direction with the ULUC.

This formal proposal, brought by Commissioners Luber and Thomas, was something entirely different for candidate Kris Franken. It was the ‘cherry’ on top of a manure sundae.

Franken and Joe Roeger at this week's leeting of the unelected TAC.  At that meeting, it was announced that MODoT would not support the TIGER 5 grant application.  This was another in a string of recent rebuffs of Franken.

Franken and Joe Roeger at this week’s leeting of the unelected TAC. At that meeting, it was announced that MODoT would not support the TIGER 5 grant application. This was another in a string of recent rebuffs of Franken.

Recently, support has fallen apart like wet toilet paper for Franken and the abuses of Planning and Zoning under Hathaway. Franken has long stood in support of former P & Z administrator Don Hathaway, who submitted his resignation at last week’s meeting of the Planning and Zoning commission. Hathaway was the center of numerous controversies during his time as P and Z administrator. The latest of these involving Franken’s violating the ULUC in an attempt to unilaterally rewrite Article 800.

For candidate Kris Franken, Hathaway’s resignation could not have come at a worse time. Hathaway’s departure shines an unwelcome spotlight on the ‘status quo’ under Kris Franken. It speaks volumes to the way business has been conducted in the Camden County Courthouse under his self-appointed reign.

It comes in a week that finds Franken feeling particularly vulnerable. A typical tactic used in Camden County politics, one well-known to residents of the area, is to put up several candidates for one office. Typically, these multiple candidates all have similar platforms and are sponsored by similar interests. This tactic is used to ensure that the ‘status quo’, represented by Kris Franken, is maintained. This election cycle however, Franken stands uncomfortably alone facing opponent Greg Hasty for the Presiding Commissioner’s office. This awkward political vulnerability, along with his own well-established track record, has Franken teetering as his term winds down.

At Thursday’s meeting of the Camden County Commission, Franken’s frailties displayed themselves. During open session, Franken appeared to be quite miffed at the language of the formal request. He was upset that he wasn’t mentioned along with Commissioners Luber and Thomas in the formal request to revise ULUC language.

Franken protested that he was also in favor of fixing this problem with Planning and Zoning. Unfortunately, in what has become a tiresome trend, his assertions come up woefully short of reality. As Cliff Luber pointed out in his press release announcing the formal request, this issue has been brought up numerous times, with ample evidence to support such a change. Franken, despite claims to the contrary, did nothing to fix this obvious problem with Planning and Zoning. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Franken repeatedly opposed Luber’s efforts to bring attention to this issue and fairness to the taxpayers of Camden County. Frequently, on audio recordings of commission meetings, Franken can be heard to dismiss, dispute and disassociate during numerous complaints regarding Planning and Zoning.

His protests to the contrary fall on deaf ears. Franken, with a history of covering up the transgressions of his supporters, has continued to protect Don Hathaway.

In a recent article from the News Tribune, Franken claimed the results of an investigation into Don Hathaway’s conduct late last year were “inconclusive”. This is in stark contrast to the fact that Hathaway was placed on a two-week unpaid suspension.

Second District Commissioner Cliff Luber believes the results were anything but inconclusive, as reflected by the suspension. Luber would welcome the results of that investigation becoming public, he said during a recent appearance on Guerrilla Radio with American Spring.

It comes as no great surprise that Franken wanted to tag along on Luber’s achievement in rectifying a long standing problem in Planning and Zoning. Unfortunately, Franken, with his recent end-around attempt to rewrite the ULUC, has displayed an utter lack of knowledge of and respect for its articles regarding revisions. After his last minute effort to rewrite Article 800 crashed like the Hindenberg, Franken then sought, and the people paid for, two legal ‘interpretations’ to justify his actions. He also sought to rewrite history, by convincing Don Hathaway to state that he had asked Franken for the rewrite, despite Hathaway’s stating previously that Franken had not acted properly with regards to his attempt to rewrite of Article 800.

Hathaway has now resigned.

The Missouri State Attorney General’s office is conducting an inquiry into possible Sunshine violations in regards to Camden County Planning and Zoning.

During Thursday’s meeting of the Camden County Commission, Franken made sure to say a ridiculous, smarmy ‘thank you’ to Don Hathaway, for his supposed input on Luber and Thomas’ proposal.

In that, Franken the candidate stands alone, like the cheese in that old children’s rhyme.

What an unfortunate place to be.

Stay tuned to http://www.americanspring2011.com for the very latest in news from Camdenton to the Congo. Follow on Twitter @AmericanSpring or on the Facebook page Guerrilla Radio with American Spring. Guerrilla Radio is on Monday through Friday from noon until two in the afternoon. Tuesday’s Prime Time edition of Guerrilla Radio is live at 8. All shows are archived on line for easy access.

P&Z Problems, Questions Mount in Camden County

The following editorial was written by Second District Camden County Commissioner, Cliff Luber.

It’s one thing to require that citizens comply with the Unified Land Use Code (ULUC) regarding Planning & Zoning, but why does P&Z not follow their own rules?

The ULUC Art. 302, subsection (3) states: ” At its regularly scheduled meeting in January of each year, the Planning Commission SHALL by a majority vote of its membership (excluding vacant seats) elect one of its members to serve as Chairman to preside over all meetings and one member as Vice-Chair who will preside in the event the Chairman is un able to.” There should have been a vote to elect a Chairman and Vice-Chair at its meeting last January. In reviewing the minutes, there was no mention of an election. It raises potential legal questions on the current legitimacy of the P&Z Board.

Prior to the February 19th P&Z meeting, the Planning & Zoning Administrator complained to Commissioner Thomas regarding the manner in which Art. 800 was being introduced by Mr. Franken, in particular coming from one commissioner rather than the Planning Commission. The Planning & Zoning Administrator then stated a sudden reversal in the P&Z meeting and claimed to have asked Commissioner Franken to write it, months ago. (See audio from February 19th P&Z Meeting) Since the P&Z Administrator now “claims” he requested Commissioner Franken rewrite Art. 800, and the anticipation of receiving such a re-write, when does P&Z anticipate the forming of a review committee?
Art. 1402 of the ULUC states: Whenever a request to amend the Unified Land Use Code or the Zoning Map is initiated by the County Commission, The Planning Commission, or the Board Of Adjustment, the Planning Administrator, in consultation with legal counsel, shall draft the appropriate language and present it to the Planning Commission so that a date for a public hearing may be established.” It appears evident Mr. Franken does not have the authority to request/submit a change to the ULUC without a request/vote by the County Commission. There was no such meeting or vote.

Section 1402, subsection (2) does allow for a citizen to request a change to the ULUC, providing they fill out the proper Planning & Zoning paperwork, and pay a ridiculous fee of $1,000.00. Given Mr. Franken is an elected official, I do not believe he qualifies as a citizen in respect to requesting a change through that venue.

In Art. 1402, It appears the P&Z Administrator does not possess the authority to request of a Commissioner, or anyone to rewrite any portion of the ULUC. It states the Planning & Zoning Administrator, in consultation with legal counsel, shall draft the appropriate language and present it to the Planning Commission.

The ULUC requirement for a County Commission, Planning Commission, or Board Of Adjustment, to make such a request to the Planning Administrator, is intended to not allow a government of one to submit a unilateral request that could be either beneficial or negatively prejudicial on a citizen(s) or business in this community. These three entities are each a board and there is a reason it specifies such. It’s called checks and balances.

There are many issues regarding Art. 800, and certainly to not discuss them as a Commission of three and only be given five business days to give additions/deletions through an email vs. commissioner meetings, is not acceptable. Any rewrite of this importance requires an extensive dialogue.

The Commission has also recently received more incidents where land was mis-zoned by Camden County and property owners were requesting their land be properly zoned. I brought this to Mr. Franken’s attention as early as March, over a year ago, with several examples. He refused to take any action to assist the citizens of Camden County. (Listen to May,10th audio of the County Commission meeting)

These landowners were forced to pay an $ 800.00 rezoning fee to come into compliance due to Camden County incorrectly designating the proper land use. This is simply unfair to citizens and inhibits business growth. As more mis-zoned properties are coming to light, Mr. Franken and P&Z are having to admit the widespread problem. Planning & Zoning last month finally suggested a future policy change, but to date they have not taken any action.

Last week Commissioner Thomas and myself have taken the initiative to put together a draft to change the ULUC, to include no fees where the county is in error. We will be discussing and voting on it at the Tuesday Commissioner’s meeting. Upon approval and under Art. 1402 of the ULUC, The Commission will then make a request to the P&Z Commission for approval.

Rules should apply the same to everyone, not just some. Another recent discovery of Mr. Franken waiving fees was on February 11, 2013, for a Board of Adjustment hearing, which would cost any other citizen $500.00.He clearly waived the fees. There wasn’t any meeting, or vote, just a government of one deciding.

It is important to be honest and transparent to the citizens. These rules are in place for a reason. The citizens of this county elected me a year and a half ago with the motto “Vote Yourself A Voice” and as the 2nd District Commissioner I will continue to be their advocate in Camden County Govt.

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.

Pants on Fire!

After a recent radio appearance, Camden County Commissioner Kris Franken, when caught in a lie, suggested that American Spring go back and review the podcast of last Monday’s conversation about his recent software scandal.

When Franken was asked what the final, net result was for the county’s spending $53,000 on a software contract with HCPS, he stated:

“A completely rewritten payroll system for the Clerk’s office that handles payroll for three hundred plus employees.”

That was the first statement from Camden County Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken and it was one of the few factual statements he made during a recent appearance on KRMS radio. Naturally, Franken lied about having said this just a few minutes later.

He was asked to confirm if the payroll system was all the county had received from HCPS Software, who was awarded a contract for three software programs in 2011 during a highly controversial bid process.

“Well, I guess if that sounds like it’s a short list for you….then, yeah, I guess that’s it.”

When it was later pointed out that Franken had himself just said that the payroll system was all the county received for $53,000, he replied:

“That’s not what I said. Perhaps you should go back and listen to the podcast”.

We have.

If things are getting hot in the office of the beleaguered Presiding Commissioner, perhaps it is because his pants are on fire. In the seven minutes Franken spent attempting to spin attention away from the facts and his role in the software scandal, he spent the ”lion’s share” of his time telling an invented tale to the citizens of Camden County. When it became clear that his invention of facts and rewriting history were not going to work in the face of questioning, he resorted to a familiar tactic: He took his toys and went home, stating “I’m not going to talk to you any more about this.”

After having been caught in the most blatant of lies, Franken resorted to being dismissive and attempted to marginalize those who would challenge his assertion of fiction rather than fact. This has been a pattern of behavior Franken has engaged in since taking office, but never was it more evident than during his appearance on KRMS last week.

Franken presented a false version of the contract with HCPS and Tim Otten as he stated with authority:

“As per the original contract the payroll system was 80 to 90 percent of the work.”

This empty assertion is contradicted by the facts and the contract itself. The contract, awarded by Franken to the sole bidder and friend of his political campaign, states that each of three accounting systems, purchasing, AR/AP and payroll are valued at $20,000 each. It does not state that the payroll system was valued higher than any of the systems. Later, when challenged with this fact, Franken said he “did not have a copy of the contract” in front of him. Yet earlier, he offered the misrepresentation that the contract stated the payroll system was the ”lion’s share” of the work contracted by the county as a fact.

Clearly, it is not.

He presented himself as a self-appointed expert on the contract during a full throated defense of this waste of tax payer funds.

Clearly, he is not.

When asked to describe what efforts were made by the county prior to signing the contract with HCPS, Franken tried to rewrite history.

“Sure. We had a meeting with all the office holders involved…Auditor, Treasurer, Clerk, reps from our IT department at that time”

This statement stands in stark contrast to the statements of First District Commissioner Beverly Thomas. When she was asked about the software contract, in late 2011, she stated:

“I became aware of it at bid opening for a provider. I am not aware of any presentations that were made to the county.”

After engaging in a character attack against American Spring’s Paul Ellison and stating that he was ”done talking” about the software scandal, Franken clearly gets his facts confused.

“We don’t just have one software program and I’ve made that very clear.”

When it was pointed out that earlier, he specifically said the county DID only receive one program, Franken said:

“I’m done talking with you about this.” and “That’s not what I said.” Followed by the suggestion that we go back and listen to the podcast.

For this, we thank him.

The entire exchange is posted on http://www.americanspring2011.com and is stuffed with thin justifications and big fat spin. He does however, admit to the possibility of overpaying for the software contract. Unfortunately, he does so after having made statements that could protect HCPS against any recovery of overpayments.

What is both disturbing and revealing about Franken’s answers and defenses is that the truth is in such rare supply. No wonder he tried so hard to recant his first statement, that one a fact. It would seem he has an addiction for presenting half-truths, fallacies and fantasies. The facts, when forced to utter them, must taste sour in his mouth.

Facts, Lies and Audiotapes

Recently, Second District Commissioner Cliff Luber purchased a digital recorder. This purchase was to ensure transparency and consistency in maintaining audio recordings of meetings of the Camden County Commission. Previously, embattled Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken had appointed himself as sole officer responsible for recording meetings of the commission. Inconsistencies, including missing and ”corrupt” audio files, prompted Commissioner Luber to purchase a second recorder in order to guarantee meetings of the commission remain open to public scrutiny.

Franken, who has been entangled in several controversies while in office, has made this purchase by Commissioner Luber necessary. Franken’s history of untrustworthiness have drawn new attention to two recent meetings of the commission. The first of these missing audio files regards a meeting taken by the commission with Joe Roeger, treasurer of the Lake of the Ozarks Community Bridge Corporation.

This meeting was not recorded, although the contents are subject to Sunshine Law.

In the May 28 meeting, Roeger and Jim Lerner, representing the Bridge Corporation, discussed obtaining a TIGER 5 grant to restructure the corridor of blacktop roads between Hwy 5 and the Community Toll Bridge. During the discussion of the TIGER 5 grant, Roeger revealed that the LOCBC would be responsible for approximately two million dollars. TIGER 5 grants require private investment to receive additional funding from the Federal grant program. One of the chief criticisms of the TIGER grant program, now in its fifth installment, is that it is a vehicle to funnel tax dollars toward private development in “politically oriented, local boondoggles”.

The meeting minutes from the May 28th meeting of the commission are woefully incomplete and do not provide details of this informational meeting. Franken chose not to record this meeting.

Commissioner Luber, in an editorial sent to lakeexpo.com, discussed this meeting of the Camden County Commission and Franken’s proposal to subsidize the private investment with county funds. In his own words, Commissioner Luber was ”shocked” by an offer from Franken to make county funds available to the LOCBC to reduce that company’s two million dollar investment in the project. Discussions went so far as to discuss how much county money could be used to cut the costs for the LOCBC. Franken indicated that how much county money could be used would depend on sales tax returns.

Without a recording of this meeting of the commission, Franken’s hollow denials offer little comfort to the tax payers of Camden County. His assurances that no offer was officially made dances around the facts regarding the discussion. From Franken’s lakeexpo.com rebuttal: “We held a meeting to gauge what type of local match might be required to score a TIGER grant high enough to move the project forward.” While this certainly appears to be true, he doesn’t mention that the ‘local match’ is the responsibility of the LOCBC, not Camden County.

Additionally, the audio of the May 31 meeting of the commission is unavailable. Franken said the audio file was ”corrupted” and, as a result, it was unable to be made public. Commissioner Luber pointed out that, on that date, items were discussed relating to the county’s litigation with Gary Prewitt in open session prior to adjourning to a closed session. The lack of audio for this meeting is troublesome, as the county is tangled in a lawsuit with the developer.

Franken’s willingness to give friends of his campaign political kickbacks is a matter of public record. Recently, the Presiding Commissioner has come under fire for awarding a contract for software programs to HCPS. Tim Otten, a friend to the campaigns of several local officials, including Franken’s, was paid $53,000 for a faulty payroll system. This contract was terminated by the county earlier this summer, driven by employee concerns about the programs not meeting their needs. On KRMS Morning Magazine, July 15, Franken was caught in a litter of lies and half-truths regarding this arrangement, calling his credibility into question.

Kris Franken ran a campaign in 2010 that highlighted the need for transparency in local government. This promised mirrors one made by Barack Obama during his presidential run in 2008. Like Obama, Franken’s actions clearly indicate that this is classic political double-speak. A lie, for those of us who would call them as we see them. Franken, during his time in office, has portrayed himself as an advocate for open government. This stands in stark contrast to reality.

In late 2011, Franken threatened to sue former Lake Sun employee Deanna Wheeler for recording a meeting of the commission, despite the fact that such meetings are subject to Sunshine Law and recordings are both allowed and legal. The ignorance of the basic laws of county government are a hallmark of Franken’s term and speak directly to his constant fight to keep information from the public. Revelations regarding inaccurate P&Z maps, the attempted cover-up and eventual firing of a former campaign contributor and IT department employee, along with his attempts to derail public access to P&Z board members define Franken’s stint as Presiding Commissioner. Following in the President’s example, Franken says one thing and does another with arrogant prejudice. He has displayed an eagerness to open county coffers to those who are his political friends and allies.

Why is having a second recording device at County Commission meetings important? It will bring truth forward to counter Spin Doctor Franken. It also serves to illuminate the relationship between Joe Roeger, who also serves on the HOA of the Village of Four Seasons, and the office of the Presiding Commissioner. Roeger has been at the fore of recent calls for the implementation of Article 600 and in support of recent attacks against Cliff Luber. Pushing Article 600 has been a pet project for Franken.

Those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear. Kris Franken does not fit into this category, as his record clearly indicates. The recorder purchased by Commissioner Luber will ensure there are no holes in meeting minutes and reduce the likelihood of missing or corrupted audio files. This is true transparency in government, not lip service, empty promises and feeble assurances.

Where in the World Is Joyce Miller?

Featured

Last year, Gatehouse Media implemented a paywall system for many of their small newspapers across Missouri and the country. This led to changes in the website of the Lake Sun, a Gatehouse outlet serving the Lake of the Ozarks’ communities. The Lake Sun has been the area’s undisputed leader in print media for the Lake for years. Before last years changes to their website, the paper enjoyed thriving, lively conversations in the comment sections on articles. Changes to the site have made it difficult to access articles on mobile devices and have restricted comment and conversation to articles selected by the editorial staff. Additionally, Facebook is linked to the comment section, and requires a user profile to post. Facebook, one of the most popular social media brands, has been cooperative with the NSA in data mining US citizens. These factors, along with the paywall which restricts access to online content, have muted conversations on articles from the online community and were the subject of conversation between American Spring and the Lake Sun last year.

Thursday however, the Lake Sun comment board saw a rare amount of traffic after the Lake Sun posted an article titled ‘Lake Ozark could be the setting for a reality show’. This piece referenced a story, first reported on by Manny Haley of KRMS Radio on Tuesday. The Lake Ozark Police Department have received an offer from a California production company to shoot a reality show centered around the LOPD. The city’s attorney and police chief are drafting an agreement that would ”be beneficial to the LOPD and the city of Lake Ozark”. This article from Dan Field sparked a rare firestorm of debate on Facebook. Many comments, critical of the LOPD and their ability to show the community in a good light, were voiced from across the lake area. These comments ranged, in part, from videos of the LOPD in action to recounts of personal experiences with the department. The examples offered from the community shows a side the department and the city would prefer to keep off-camera. These stories were reinforced by Lake Ozark city attorney Roger Gibbons.

“What if the material shows how people come here on vacation and party only to be arrested and placed on probation?” Gibbons, who authored the infamous ‘free speech ordinance’ which the Board of Aldermen passed in an apparent violation of state statute, has reason for hesitation. Video links found during a youtube search of ”lake ozark police” offer a look into what a reality show based around the LOPD might show the public about an area based around tourism. “Frankly, I do not see how the city or its police department benefits”, Gibbons said.

The Lake Sun’s article is underpinned by Lake Ozark’s failure to retain the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout Meet and Greet event. In recent weeks, that event announced a move to Laurie as political failure ensured no action would be taken to lift the city’s open container ordinance. The comments on the Lake Sun’s article reflected a deep frustration within the Lake of the Ozarks community.

As the editor of American Spring and host of Guerrilla Radio, I commented on the article as well, inviting further conversation about this and other issues involving Lake Ozark government. One of my comments, suggested listening to Guerrilla Radio, which was discussing the article on air.

The Lake Sun, within moments of its posting, deleted that comment.

This is the most recent in a string of questionable editorial decisions.

On June 27, American Spring ran ‘Franken’s Software Scandal’. That article clearly outlined a political kickback scandal orchestrated by Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken. The controversy surrounded a contract awarded to HCPS Software for accounting and payroll programs. In late 2011, as reported by the Lake Sun, Franken appeared to violate state statutes to ensure Timothy Otten and HCPS received this contract. Otten was a friend of Franken’s campaign during the election of 2010. Less than two years later, the county had to terminate the contract, as the software programs provided by HCPS were ineffective and failed to meet the specifications of the contract. This scam cost the taxpayers of Camden County $53,000.

On July 5, the Lake Sun ran Franken’s attempts to explain away HCPS’ failure to deliver a working product. Through manipulation and political double-speak, Franken attempted to minimize the situation. Joyce Miller, editor-in-chief of the Lake Sun, gave Franken the stage. Inexplicably, she did not challenge Franken’s white wash of the scheme. This came as a surprise and may indicate an about-face from Miller, whose exceptional reporting in October of 2011 first uncovered this scandal.

Under Miller’s leadership, the Lake Sun has had a contentious history with the embattled Presiding Commissioner. The Lake Sun has been critical of actions taken by Franken during his time in office. They have given insightful, thorough reporting of questionable dealings and decisions made by the politician. These have included Franken’s attempts to cover up wrongdoing by former campaign contributor Tony Beabout and the scandal that ensued regarding Beabout’s termination. The Lake Sun brought us Franken’s threat to sue then-reporter Deanna Wheeler for recording discussions related to audit results, even though all conversations involving a quorum of the Commission is subject to Sunshine Law. The paper has questioned Franken’s attempts to keep records surrounding county tax sales hidden from public scrutiny and recounted the way with which he drug his feet regarding those records. The Lake Sun has helped map out Franken’s term of treacherous behavior with their honest and frank reporting during the past two years. Recently however, this seems to have changed.

Over the past two weeks, a consortium of individuals have been laying the groundwork for an argument in favor of Article 600. The Lake Sun has documented these attempts in detail. The details they have chosen to bring to light offers a look at the usual suspects in Lake of the Ozarks politics and their attempts to justify the need for enforcement of Planning and Zoning through a series of complaints, using ‘nuisance’ claims. The Lake Sun has reported on the campaign of these same individuals to publicly chastise Commissioner Cliff Luber for bringing attention to Planning and Zoning issues and concerns, the termination of the HCPS contract, the TIGER Five grant and other questionable decisions made by our county government. Through their reporting, the Lake Sun has provided a rogue’s gallery for public scrutiny. The paper has shown the efforts of the Camden County Republican Club, the Village of Four Seasons Property Owners Association and the Lake of the Ozarks Community Bridge Corporation to influence policy in Camden County. They have also cited a telling May 10 audio recording of the Camden County Commission in which Franken calls the appointment of a lake area business owner to the Planning and Zoning board as a ”covert attempt to crash the system from the inside”.

The questions the Lake Sun haven’t asked: What system is it that might crash from the appointment of a board member who is well-educated on the effect of P&Z on citizen’s rights? What threat does that represent? To whom? Why is Franken so eager to label those who would speak out in opposition to Article 600 “extremists”? Where is the audio recording for the meeting of the Commission in which they discuss the TIGER Five grant and the use of county funds to subsidize private profits?

What did we wind up with after giving one of Franken’s buddies $53,000?

Where in the world are you, Joyce Miller?

The Lake Sun has prided itself on its local political coverage. As well they should. Historically, they have been an outlet that has been dedicated to uncovering government malfeasance. They have broken stories such as the Macks Creek speed trap and have shown the ability to stand up to politicians who would abuse their office. More than at any other time in our nation’s history, we need you to do your job. The media are the unspoken check and balance in a democracy. Their willingness to report truth in the face of power protects the interest of the people. When they willfully choose to obfuscate truth and promote instead, a public relations spiel, it leaves us vulnerable to those who would act unethically and recklessly while serving in offices we the people, own.

It is not the job of media to manipulate conversation around issues. It is the responsibility of our media to tell the truth. We do not want them to look the other way. We expect more, we deserve more.

We demand more.

We the people can influence the conversation and challenge the narrative. Monday morning, Kris Franken will appear on the Morning Magazine with Manny Haley. Call in. Join the conversation. Demand answers.

*Editor’s Note: American Spring sent an email to Joyce Miller, asking if she intended to do a follow up piece on the software scandal. She did not respond.

Village of Four Seasons Gets Preferential Treatment

Recently the Camden County commission ruled on a delinquent sales tax issue. The Village Of Four Seasons approached the commission over property that is within their village that is behind on real estate tax. This property would have been listed in the tax sale held the first of August. The proposal would be that they would pay the delinquent real estate tax if the commission would agree to alleviate the penalties and interest. The reasoning that the Villages gave, was association dues.
Now these are dues that the property owners who buy the property agree to pay. They claimed the land was not desirable because of the delinquent taxes, as well as the delinquent association dues. Two points I would like to
make. First the Village Board could do something about the delinquent association dues. They could waive the fees for an individual who pays the delinquent taxes, if the individual also agrees to keep the association fees
current. Second, if the original owner does not reimburse the Villages for the delinquent taxes they will own the property and then this property could and
probably will be sold. This property is now considered investment property.

Sounds like a win- win right. Except will the same consideration be given to others who purchase property at the county tax sale. I have a novel idea
if you are planning to purchase property from the tax sale bring up the forgiveness of penalties and interest. If it can be done with the Villages
then why can’t it be done for everyone?

Nancy Steward