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LETTER: Setting the record straight on Skala

Monday, March 29, 2010 | 5:32 p.m. CDT; updated 3:10 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Columbia Missourian’s story from Sunday, March 28, totally misses three essential points about Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala’s chronic over-spending on taxpayer-funded junkets:

  • It assumes all 14 trips taken in less than three years by Karl Skala were “critically important” to Columbia - just because Skala says so. But just because Skala says a trip is “critically important” does not make it so.
  • It assumes the trips were taken after careful coordination among Council members and city leaders, and that the travel was initiated by some authority other than Skala’s whims - just because Skala says so. But just because Skala says so does not make it so.
  •  The Missourian story lets Skala off the hook on his basic wasteful premise - that if he adds more days to his trips, he is free to spend several times more than city workers on individual meals. That kind of thinking is fiscally irresponsible. And just because Skala says differently does not make it so.

The Missourian’s story revealed Skala spent even more money on more trips than my campaign asserts: a jaw-dropping $17,524.75 in less than three years. That is far more than any other Columbia Council member in memory – a total of 52 days of first-term travel covering 16,000 miles, or a distance about two-thirds of the circumference of Earth.

I start from a different premise: Taxpayers shouldn’t be stuck with the bill for Skala’s out of state junkets during the worst economy since the Great Depression, even as Skala votes against key local job creation projects.

The Missourian also failed to answer key questions about Skala’s claim that “he and fellow council members are now restricting themselves to the total daily food allowance of $42.” These questions include:

  • Why, if the city has had a travel policy in place for more than a decade, is Skala suddenly agreeing to abide by the same policy that covers all rank-and-file city workers?
  • When did the Council discuss adhering to the decade-old travel policy governing city workers and was the discussion held in public since it involves taxpayer money?
  • Who among Council members brought up strict adherence to the existing travel policy cover city workers?
  • What was the roll-call vote by the Council on following the decade-old travel policy covering city workers?
  • How long would Skala have continued buying lavish meals with tax dollars if he hadn’t been caught with his hand on the gourmet menu?

I have never suggested Columbia should not learn from other cities. But there are ways to learn without blowing taxpayer dollars on personal perks and extended junkets. For example, the agendas of the National League of Cities include “webinars,” allowing long-distance sharing of good ideas without spending taxpayer dollars on travel in this tough economy. And unlike Skala, I believe “homegrown solutions” are part of the common-sense values we need on the Columbia City Council.

My common-sense values include decades of experience owning and managing a small business. Skala says he had to go on junkets to learn about “the proper perspective to approach budgetary problems.” Small business owners know it’s pretty simple: you set budget priorities and you stick by those priorities, including reallocating resources to make the most of your dollars.

In the case of the rising Council travel budget, we need a major reallocation. The travel budget has grown more than 20 percent since Karl Skala was elected in 2007, to a total of $40,500. It’s hard to find other segments of Columbia’s economy that have grown in prosperity by some 20 percent since 2007.

I suggest we reallocate $25,000 from the Council’s $40,500 travel budget to pay for the city’s share of downtown safety cameras - matching and leveraging donated funds to give police these important law enforcement tools. That would still leave $15,500 in taxpayer funds for truly important Council travel if needed – and those funds should only be spent if the Council, the Mayor and the City Manager have advance discussions about travel priorities on official business.

That is called setting budget priorities – the same “homegrown solutions” that drew scoffing from Karl Skala, but which Columbia families and businesses must do every day in these tough times.

For myself, I will not take taxpayer-funded trips – not when most Columbia families couldn’t afford to travel like Karl Skala during this week’s spring break. I stand with our families and businesses in calling for the City Council to place the highest priority on fighting crime, enabling job creation and renewing common-sense values in Council decisions.

Gary Kespohl is a candidate for City Council in the Third Ward.

 

 


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Comments

Tim Dance March 29, 2010 | 8:13 p.m.

Uhh the whole point of the article is that he didn't overspend, Mr Kespohl. In fact he came under the city's per diem. From a man that has a problem telling the truth, why should we listen to you now? Tell us if you sent that email to the council. Tell us if you lied.

You move you lips and say that we need to do something about crime, but you rent to felons repeatedly and endanger the law abiding citizens there. Hey, as long as you dine at Jack's Gourmet and play some golf at the country club, why should you care.

Mr. Kespohl, you are a sad man. You are listening to the wrong people. How many boos are you going to have to hear before your realize that you are a sleazy politician. I have never heard of anyone being booed at a LWV forum before. I bet you didn't even write the above letter.

Folks Karl Skala has brought a wealth of information to the city from those conventions. For an unpaid volunteer to travel, stay under per diem and keep the city from hiring expensive consultants, the city is getting a bargain. Reject this sleaze, teach Kespohl a lesson for his mudslinging. Vote Skala

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro March 29, 2010 | 9:36 p.m.

("The Columbia Missourian’s story from Sunday, March 28, totally misses three essential points about Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala’s chronic over-spending on taxpayer-funded junkets," so says GARY KESPOHL, COLUMBIA, MISSOURI)

I for one, would like Mr. Kespohl to clarify his meaning and usage of the word "Junket."
As he is trying to create a negative image of Mr. Skala's national networking, professional improvement and city-approved seminars & conferences, I can only surmise that he implies the following:
("Junket can refer to:
an excursion for the purpose of pleasure at public expense
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junket"...)
Now if such is not the case, then I think it behooves any "homegrown Hickman graduate" worth his weight in Kewpies, to clarify his meaning and intent.
If not sir, then I propose that when we hear your name, Gary, that we all envision a "Kespohl Troll" instead of your time honored doll.
http://www.bing.com/reference/semhtml/Ke...
http://collectdolls.about.com/od/dollpro...

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin March 29, 2010 | 10:36 p.m.

Mr. Kespohl:

What in tarnation is "common sense" or "anti-crime" or "standing with Columbia's families" with the way you run your own residential rental business -- one important means by which voters can judge your veracity and your sincerity?

Here's you Mr. Kespohl, from our interviews, speaking in your own words, about your own tenants:

"Jamica Marie Kelly had a child endangerment charge in January 2003 and was asked to move. She moved in April 2003. David Paul Steinwand was charged with drug possession and attempt to distribute. We were notified by Tim Thomason of these charges and he was evicted."

"Gary Lynn Holcomb was charged with drug possessions and attempt to distribute. We were notified by the city prosecuting attorney by letter and evicted the tenant."

"John William Key's name was not on the sex offense registry when we first rented to him, but a change in Missouri state law added his name to that list."

"Kenneth Charles Brunner was never a signer on our lease. He moved in with his mother during her lease and she paid all rents due. He was evicted when we discovered his mother had moved to New Mexico."

"Prior to occupancy with us, Jennifer Thomas had a bad check charge. During occupancy with us, she had a civil suit and a stalking charge."

"Mark Allen Anderson was listed as a fugitive from justice for leaving the state of Kansas."

And on and on. I ask once again, what in heaven's name is common sense, good business, pro-family, and anti-crime about all this?

READ THE REST:

Crime-Free Housing? A council candidate's criminal tenants

"Tough on crime" City Council candidate Gary Kespohl discusses his tenants and their crimes

Part One
http://www.columbiaheartbeat.com/2010/03...

Part Two
http://www.columbiaheartbeat.com/2010/03...

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin March 29, 2010 | 11:07 p.m.

And on the subject of common sense, it is NOT good common sense for a small property management firm to have this many evictions (below) -- which are expensive, time-consuming budget busters.

Mr. Kespohl, you're either not properly screening your tenants or not spelling out your expectations up front, and making sure they are enforced before things get this bad. Quality tenants rent quality housing, too, so making sure your offerings are up to snuff is also important.

IMHO, there's a lot to clean up in your own house before you set out to govern the rest of us. And that's the key here, isn't it? You can't just write off these problems to "every landlord has them."

For one thing, every landlord doesn't have them -- far from it. But more importantly, you seek to exert power over the rest of us, and you're selling yourself as a paragon of business savvy and crime control.

Given these circumstances, all the talk about being such a successful "common-sense businessman" and the nasty-toned campaign against Mr. Skala sound more like hypocrisy than sincerity.

GARY KESPOHL ET AL V SPENCE TABER
GARY KESPOHL ET AL V MARGARET WILLIAMS
GARY KESPOHL ET AL V RICK PARKS
GARY KESPOHL V JAMES MICHAEL DREISS
GARY KESPOHL ET AL V TAMMY FISHELL
GARY KESPOHL ET AL V DEBORAH OUTLEY
GARY KESPOHL ET AL DBA V DAVID STEINWAND
GARY KESPOHL ET AL V KARLA COLBERT
GARY KESPOHL ET AL V GARY HOLCOMB
GARY KESPOHL V REZA ABADI
GARY KESPOHL ET AL V MICHAEL WILLIAMS
GARY KESPOHL ET AL V JAMICA WASHINGTON
GARY KESPOHL ET AL V TERRY DAVISON
GARY KESPOHL ET AL V DEBRA D TETER
GARY KESPOHL ET AL V TIFFANY COLEMAN-DADE
GARY KESPOHL ET AL V JENNIFER THOMAS
GARY KESPOHL ET AL V JENNIFER THOMAS
GARY KESPOHL ET AL V JOHNNY TAYLOR
GARY KESPOHL ET AL V WILLIAM KEY
KESPOHL-PFEIFFER PROPERTY V RICKEY CARTER ET AL
KESPOHL-PFEIFFER RENTALS LLC V JANET A JENSEN

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance March 30, 2010 | 1:24 a.m.

That lawyer that sent the forwarded Fred Parry email to various businesses and conservatives. How much money are the taxpayers going to pay for his Freedom of Information request that netted 4 receipts and proof that Skala spent less than the city's allowances.

(Report Comment)

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