While the Kansas City Star assiduously avoids mentioning it, there’s gold in the Jackson County Courthouse. $678 MILLION dollars are being doled out in Jackson County’s 2009 Budget, which is actually a reduction from the prior year. In boom times or tight times, though, one thing remains constant – the Jackson County Legislature is scandalously under-regulated, dominated by criminals and defying local ethics oversight.
That makes the Jackson County Legislature a playground for lobbyists. Two out of three members of the committee that handles the $21 million dollars of COMBAT funds have criminal records for financial crimes – a majority with a rap sheet! And both of those individuals (Henry Rizzo and James Tindall) have voted against local ethics oversight.
If you ask a County Legislator about the Ethics Blackout, he or she will likely lie to your face and claim it’s no big deal, because the Legislature is covered by the Missouri Ethics Commission. It’s apples and oranges, though – the Jackson County Ethics Code includes important provisions ignored by the State Ethics Code. As pointed out earlier during the Jackson County Ethics Blackout, the Missouri Ethics Commission doesn’t even prevent our brawling legislators from showing up to meetings drunk or stoned!
Another, more profitable, difference between the Jackson County Ethics Code and the Missouri Ethics Code is that Missouri has no provision about former legislators coming back to lobby their former colleagues, while the Jackson County Ethics Code includes a prohibition against former elected officials profiting off of old backroom favors for a year.
In short, if they lose their next election, they want to be able to cash in on the cronyism and corruption that they have fought to preserve. They know who to ask and where to apply pressure for COMBAT funds, and they want to be able to sell that knowledge to the highest bidder when they finish their “public service”.
That’s only one of many reasons Jackson Countians must defeat the Jackson County Ethics Blackout, and why the criminal element of Jackson County government is fighting so hard to fight Ethical Home Rule.