The secrets at District 13

Lee's Summit JournalNovember 13, 2013 

Apparently they are splitting atoms over there in Lake Lotawana.

That’s the only explanation I can find to the secretive nature of the Public Water Supply District 13.

PWSD No. 13 provides water to parts of eastern Lee’s Summit that are not covered by Lee’s Summit Water Utilities. The district also provides water to some residents in south Blue Springs and some parts of ... Lake Lotawana.

The election stink happened Nov. 5 when some voters approached us at the newspaper to tell us that even though they pay District 13 for water services, the $3 million District 13 bond issue was not on their ballot to vote on that day.

I’ve heard some flimsy legal explanations to why this might be, but none of them make much sense, honestly.

It stands to reason that if you pay District 13 for water, you should get to vote on multi-million dollar bond issues that affect the district that supplies you water.

Lee’s Summit Councilman Bob Johnson was one of those that didn’t get to vote. He says he knows for a fact he lives within the District 13 boundary. He still doesn’t have a reasonable explanation from the district or the Jackson County Election Board on why he couldn’t vote, though.

So we decided to run down the map of PWSD 13 to see just where these boundaries extended to and around. The district manager, Charles Dellario, said the district’s attorney (Brad Constance of Independence, who also happens to represent the Jackson County Election Board) told him not to release the map until he had finished looking into the matter.

I spoke with Constance, who denied that claim.

Not only were we withheld a map after the election, a District 13 secretary refused to even give me the current names of the elected directors that represent the district.

That must be some damn good water over there in District 13 to have this many secrets.

The secretary was taking directives from someone unknown director to withhold information from me. This director wouldn’t return my phone calls.

This is not a private entity. Those representing PWSD No. 13 cannot decide which public documents they want to release and which ones they do not. And declining to provide such simple information as names of directors to a media outlet is just embarrassing.

To his credit Constance did accommodate “viewing of the map” request on the Monday after the Thursday-Friday “media blackout” campaign.

My hope is that he and others that are familiar with this government agency can give them a crash course on public information and communicating with the media.

People’s right to vote on issues that directly affect them is one of our most basic rights. And these were the questions we asked and information we sought.

We’re not the bad guys.

 

John Beaudoin is the publisher of the Lee’s Summit Journal. To comment, call 816-282-7001 or e-mail jbeaudoin@lsjournal.com.

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