Media serves a lot of different purposes in our life. That can vary from the entertaining and mundane to the critically investigative.
We have a job to do here, and occasionally and more frequently in recent weeks, that involves asking tough questions and receiving difficult answers. Worries about government officials appearing on our pages in recent weeks include the ongoing saga for the Village of Ferrelview, Platte County treasurer Rob Willard’s mistake in allowing a scam email to dupe him out of taxpayer money and questions over the makeup of a special road district commission.
I’ve engaged in a lot of meaningful conversation about all of these issues and come to a conclusion: the people concerned with each particular case believe their issue is very important. Not only do they want answers, they want those answers to agree with their viewpoint.
Unfortunately, our work doesn’t always match up with expectations.
When reporting on controversy, we have a duty to represent all viewpoints. You can read the facts and decide for yourself what side you want to be on.
The power of information empowers you, the citizens, to make the change you desire.
In Ferrelview, questions have arisen not only over possible misconduct of police chief Daniel Clayton but possible financial improprieties associated with village revenue from fines and court fees. One group of citizens finally did what needed to be done to pursue the next step and have engaged in collecting signatures on a petition, which aims to have the Missouri State Auditor’s Office take a look at some numbers.
We have combed through documents in an attempt to shed more light on this controversy. We will continue to seek out answers, but ultimately, the state audit could end up being the best bet to finding a resolution.
I’ve also been asked how to remove Willard from office after he wired more than $48,000 of county money in a fraudulent transaction while violating internal policy. I can tell you that punishment remains possible for the treasurer, if I’m reading state statute correctly.
At the very least, the Platte County Prosecutor’s Office could assess — and may already be in the process of assessing — possible criminal charges Willard could face. Any elected official can face impeachment if found in violation of willful corruption or negligence of duties.
I can’t tell you if Willard is guilty of either of those things, but I certainly think it’s worth looking into further.
Heck, there could be statutes in play that I don’t even know about, but I’m still asking questions to try and gather a more complete picture. In the meantime, citizens could speak out a Platte County Commission meeting to question Willard’s position.
No one did so last week.
In the case of the Weston Special Road District, at least one citizen is worried about the eligibility of a commissioner on the board. I didn’t need to make many calls to find out that, yes, it is the responsibility of citizens to call this into question.
Citizens have a lot of difficult responsibility but also awesome power.
If you are so upset with what’s going on, run for office at the city or county level. If that’s not an option, identify people in your community that have the potential to be the kind of leaders you want.
There are way too many uncontested elections in Platte County, but that’s because public office can be difficult. There are questions to answer, especially when things aren’t going as planned.
However, you can’t change what’s going on if you allow the same people to continue making the same decisions.
Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @Citizen_Ross.