FERRELVIEW, Mo. — A representative of the Missouri State Auditor’s Office witnessed the dysfunction at the Village of Ferrelview first hand this week at another board of trustees meeting that got out of hand, despite the presence of deputies from the Platte County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies wanded down citizens at the door and searched bags before people entered a crowded city hall building Tuesday, Aug. 8. Sgt. Frank Thurman of the sheriff’s office opened the meeting, stating that the meeting must remain under control and any troublemakers would be asked to leave or escorted out.
Audience members were granted three minutes each to speak.
With Todd Schuler, Kansas City area state audit manager, in attendance, the board first addressed several routine and bizarre agenda items, including department reports, the failing budget, the renaming of an alleyway that had previously been unnamed and an accusation of falsification of documents by city officials.
When it was his turn to speak, Schuler outlined the audit process, noting that the village would be responsible for the $20,000 to $30,000 price tag for the performance audit. While the city hasn’t yet undergone a financial audit for 2016, Schuler said the state’s audit would focus on the village’s internal processes and its compliance with its own and state ordinances.
In addition, the recently dissolved municipal court would also be audited, as well as the reduced police department of the essentially bankrupt village.
“Certainly it’s possible that we won’t find any problems, but frankly, based on my attendance here tonight I’m pretty confidant we will,” Schuler said to laughter from the audience.
The state audit was authorized due to a petition effort led by Theresa Wilson last year. She gathered 64 signatures from Ferrelview residents, launching an investigation by the Missouri State Auditor’s Office.
Schuler said while the audit will focus on the last fiscal year, investigations could delve further into the past. The audit will also look at the current state of the village government.
Schuler said senior auditor Keisha Williams will conduct the on-site audit, beginning possibly as soon as Monday, Aug. 21.
The audit itself will take two to three months with a final report expected within six months.
Once the report is complete, it will be presented — along with the auditor’s recommendations — to officeholders. However, the auditor’s office cannot force implementation of its recommendations.
“If the financial records are not accurate, they need to be fixed,” Schuler said. “If we identify any violations of criminal laws, any fraudulent transactions, we will share that information with the appropriate authorities.”
Schuler told citizens there was a difference between criminal and civil law and noted that violations of civil law may not constitute a crime.
Schuler encouraged citizens to contact him through auditor.mo.gov with their concerns with the identities of those reporting to remain confidential.
After an audience member told Schuler she wanted him to know the villiage had a “very compliant chief of police,” several audience members applauded Ferrelview Police Department chief Daniel Clayton, now the only officer in the village of about 450 residents just east of KCI Airport. Just before Schuler spoke, Theresa Wilson — now the board chair — accused newly-appointed trustee Phillip Gilliam, trustee Deirdre Carr and Clayton of falsifying Gilliam’s oath of office form.
Gilliam was appointed to the board at the July 11 meeting on a 2-1 vote, which was initially labeled as tie at the meeting when Wilson cast a no vote along with her husband Russell Wilson. Carr and trustee Melvin Rhodes voted yes.
Ferrelview village attorney Scott Campbell later determined that due to a change in state statute, Theresa Wilson should not have cast her vote and so the appointment was approved.
On Wednesday, July 19, Gilliam took an oath of office form to the Barry Road Citizen’s Bank and Trust branch where he said he recited his oath of office in front of notary Kamalijeet Kuar. Carr and Clayton also signed the form.
Theresa Wilson read aloud from a letter drafted by Kuar on Thursday, Aug. 3, stating that she was only authorized to verify his identity and notarize his signature. She also said there were no other signatures on the form when she notarized it.
“(Kuar) said you stood there and read your own oath of office in front of her when she had no authority to swear you in,” Theresa Wilson said.
Gilliam and Carr disagree with Gilliam citing Missouri statute stating notaries could witness oaths of office. They were following the advice of the Missouri Municipal League and their attorney. He also asserts that Carr and Clayton witnessed the oath.
“I recommend you get yourself an attorney and buy yourself a lawsuit and subpoena the tapes that clearly show me at the bank raising my right hand and swearing,” Gilliam said, with Wilson interrupting him.
“And swearing yourself in,” she said.
The meeting carried on for nearly two hours, with residents speaking up on various topics, including the recent circulation of a flyer accusing the Wilsons of obstructing justice in a rape investigation against their son. Deputies were forced to escort former trustee candidate Bart Whorton out of the meeting after his explosive exchange with Rhodes.
The behavior continued a pattern of questionable decorum at trustees meetings for the village during the past year and a half. In that time, Clayton’s policing methods have been questioned with multiple civil suits filed against him before citizens brought up questions of the city’s finances, including the potential of overcollection for ticket revenues and court fees.
Wilson led the petition effort before being elected to the board this past April along with Russell Wilson and Melvin Rhodes — election results that ousted prior board chair Steve Carr from his seat.