Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Suburban Journalist Castile Corners Tow and Guccione; Lackey Corners New Wentzvillian

The New Wentzvillian was a bit deflated in Wentzville tonight when it learned that the city's aldermen had moved the red-light (RedFlex) camera contract renewal discussion to another meeting date. However, the aldermanic meeting offered up some exciting journalistic fodder nonetheless.  Before you read on, however, we feel compelled to share with you that the New Wentzvillian will soon do some work turning the journalistic lense back on the journalists of our community.  Keep a look out for the New Wentzvillian's analysis of Suburban Journalist Steve Pokin in the coming days.  (have something to share, shoot an e-mail)

Raymond Castile
Another Suburban Journalist, Raymond Castile, attended Wentzville's aldermanic meeting tonight.  He's a slight, quiet fellow with a friendly look about him. Though, to be sure, the New Wentzvillian's take is that Castile is no journalistic slouch.  Tonight, he seized on an opportunity in a way only a true reporter does.  Mayoral candidates Nick Guccione and Leon Tow quite accidentally ended up chatting for a moment just outside the front doors of Wentzville's city hall. Both men running for mayor, it seemed odd-ish to see the rivals act somewhat comfortable within inches of one another.

Nick Guccione
Castile couldn't pass it up. No matter that the aldermen had just finished with the tedium of tonight's city business and wanted a brief reprieve in the very brisk night outside of the stale aldermanic chambers. It went something like this: "Mr. Guccione, Mr. Tow, with you here together can you answer a question or two?" Both candidates were noticeably uneasy, but they indicated that Castile could proceed.  He continued, to the best of the New Wentzvillian's recollecton, "The $15,000.00 check issue of late involving, Gard, Lambi and WestPlex LOC, can you tell me if you would vote for it now or should you have known more?"  This New Wentzvillian reporter was standing only 16 inches away from the three gentlemen.

Leon Tow
 Leon Tow, quickly began his exit.  "I don't think I am gonna have a comment about that at this time."  It was hard to tell if he was miffed, nervous, or just unexpectedly interrupted.  Guccione seemed more intrigued and sort of gaining his balance.  "How, or should, I reply to this?" He seemed to think. Quickly, Guccione shared that if the $15,000.00 had done what it was intended to do, like he was led to believe in 2007, he would have supported it. Things continued on and Castile no doubt got some inestigative tid-bits, but that really wasn't what was interesting, was it?



Darrel Lackey
 Contrast this with another mayoral candidate tracking down the journalist.  This New Wentzvillian reporter was somewhat confused when a bald, portly fellow of about 66 or so inches meandered toward and called out to me.  It was Darrell Lackey; quite disappointed that the New Wentzvillian ran a story earlier in the week which indicated Lackey couldn't be reached for comment. Naturally, it seemed appropriate to immediately give him the opportunity to fix the situation so that the New Wentzvillian's piece could be modified with a few quick keystrokes once back at the writing desk. 

"If you ever want to talk with me, I always have my cell phone on me, you left a message at my home phone," said Lackey.  "I prefer to talk in person and look someone in the eye, so if you want to set up a meeting and talk about things, you just let me know." The New Wentzvillian wanted to take care of the failed-to-contact issue immediately, but candidate Lackey wouldn't have it.  "I have to get going and I don't care to answer any questions right now."  This was odd because he had just made it clear that he very much wanted an audience with the New Wentzvillian, but, now, had no desire to take care of the issue he had just politely, but forcefully, brought up.

He added something about having a "thick skin," to which this reporter promptly replied, "I know a thing or two about a thick skin."  But it was oddly disconnected; I don't know why I even replied.

This reporting stuff is fun, can you tell?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Wentzville Blogger, Larry Marshall, Blasts Alderman Nick Guccione's Campaign Piece, Mayoral Candidates Weigh In

The New Wentzvillian was primarily established to bring objectivity to the Wentzville blogging landscape.  It would appear that Larry Marshall, of Wentzville Historical District and Wabash Railroad Caboose fame, has a sort of infatuation (or love-to-hate bent) with some of Wentzville's politicians.  The New Wentzvillian has really never seen anything like it. 

(LARRY MARSHALL)

Larry Marshall is an online blogger focusing on the Wentzville political scene.  In his writings, he is prone to statements about Wentzville officials such as:  "usual underhanded crap,"  "I was really pissed that . . .," "madder than rabid dog slobbering all over himself," "I've heard that he believes himself . . ," "like trying to shove butter in a wildcats ass with a hot poker," and, well, you get the trend.  Most of his writings seem derived from questionable unfounded animus toward those that Mr. Marshall knows about as well as most people know their kid's school teacher. 

To his credit, Marshall makes no attempt at faking his being unbiased and objective.  He very much has an agenda in everything that he writes.  Based on The New Wentzvillian's analysis of Larry Marshall's musings, it would appear that he is an operative for either Leon Tow or, maybe, Darrel Lackey (both Wentzville Mayoral Candidates).  Mr. Marshall does not hide this either; going so far as to post, apparently for free, the fundraising invitations for those candidates that he favors.

The New Wentzvillian reached mayoral candidate Tow today who said that "everyone has their opinion and a right to express it."  He went on to say that, because they're only opinions, he is pretty much neutral when it comes to Larry Marshall's on-line writings.  When pressed by the New Wentzvillian as to whether Tow might want to distance himself from Larry Marshalls negative blogging about Wentzville politicians, Tow again said those are just opinions and everyone, including Tow, can start an on-line blog at any time.

The New Wentzvillian also reached out to Darrell Lackey and Bill Schuette.  Lackey hasn't responded as of the time of this story, but Schuette said, interestingly, that he "stays off [Larry Marshall's] website because he thinks it gave [his] computer a virus during the same time that the City of Wentzville allegedly shut down access to Larry Marshall's on-line blog on all government computers" for virus reasons.   Schuette added that he thinks Larry Marshall's on-line blogging would be fine if he "told the truth" and made it more clear that Larry Marshall is the one writing the on-line blog.  He found the "Anonymous" comments on Larry Marshall's blog a bit troubling too.

Then there's mayoral candidate Nick Guccione.  There is no doubt that Guccione should be no fan of Larry Marshall's on-line blogging.  Marshall openly shows his disdain for Guccione by only writing the alderman's name in the Marshall on-line blog with a line through it -- Guccione.  This makes for difficult reading and the New Wentzvillian was unable to find, journalistically, what this type of name treatment is meant to convey.  At first the New Wentzvillian thought that it might limit Google, Bing, and Yahoo type search-driven results, but that doesn't appear to be the case.

Guccione points out that he has a thick skin, but worries somewhat, like Schuette, about the misinformation and anonymity with which Larry Marshall operates.

Marshall's latest blog attacks Guccione's recent campaign mailer and says that it is a "campaign mailer disguised as a questionnaire."  The New Wentzvillian has obtained a version of Guccione's mailer for your review below.  You be the judge (we'll add a poll at the top left of this news service), is this piece "disguised"?

This disguise is reminiscent of the kid who won't wear his costume's mask after about the first five minutes on Halloween night.


Vote On Whether This Mailer Is A "Disguised" Campaign Piece At The Top Left Of This Blog









Friday, February 24, 2012

(VIDEO) Citizen Invokes Michael Vick at Wentzville Aldermanic Pitbull Meeting

Wednesday night's Wentzville aldermanic meeting was filled with a variety of surprises.  The New Wentzvillian apologizes for not having brought this pitbull discussion to its readers' attention sooner. 

A concerned citizen spoke on behalf of pitbulls at Wednesday's meeting and mentioned she was raised in the same state as Michael Vick -- Virginia.  She is a mother who took precious time away from home with her kids to share with the board that pitbulls are not naturally bad dogs.  She was speaking on behalf of a friend/neighbor who had addressed the board earlier about his caring, calm, cuddly pitbull.

These folks were passionate.  It reminded me of a quote from Star Wars that really has no relevance, ''I've never seen such devotion in a droid before."  It is really interesting to see pitbull owners step up and go to bat for their dogs.  They are pushing for a breed-neutral dog behavior policing ordinance that places the responsibility of a dog's actions on the owners of any misbehaving dog.

Here is a link to the video of this mother's compassion for pitbulls along with a long printed partial quote. She touches on the nature of her neighbor's dog along with her previous run-ins with Jack Russel Terriers (among other things):

"This dog literally curls up in [neighbor's name] lap like a baby and, I mean,  there is nothing like this dog. I mean, I took my time tonight, from my children to be here.  I want you guys to understand that, um, we had a Jack Russel that would chew your arm off, um, because of breeding that just these dogs have been interbred . . . this really needs to be considered . . . you should go after the people that raise these dogs and fight them . . . I was actually raised in Virginia, Mike Vick, um, you know there's a little, you know, there's irony there, but, um, you know, those are the people you need to go after and it shouldn't be just a generalization on the breed . . . I just wanted to speak on behalf of Rosco (neighbor's dog's name I believe)"

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Guccione and Kross Question Whether Red-Light Cameras Prevent or Cause More Accidents; City Employee Cites Revenue

At Wentzville's aldermanic meeting tonight, the aldermen tabled the renewal of Wentzville's RedFlex red-light camera contract until the 29th of this February.  The acting city administrator indicated that this date allowed for precious little time before a RedFlex renewal deadline.  Ostensibly, some of the aldermen wanted to get more information from the new police chief about accident numbers at red-light camera intersections in town.  She seemed to be a supporter of the cameras -- loosely citing conservation of officer time/resources and a possible reduction in accidents.

However, this was a point of contention among at least three of the aldermen.  Specifically, Guccione and Kross indicated that they have seen many different studies calling into question the efficacy of red-light cameras.  Kross cited a recent visit to a Municipal League meeting where they discussed the extension of yellow-light times at intersections as more effective tools for reducing accidents.  Guccione added that he's seen where some argue accident numbers go down at red-light camera intersections, while other reports say that the amount of rear-end collisions go up dramatically.  While yet another alderman referenced that some states and municipalities nationwide are banning their use.

At one point when Alderperson Kross asked, "what impact is it to the city if we don't do this?"(regarding the extension of the RedFlex red-light camera contract), a city employee spontaneously replied "REVENUE." click here fo video  It seemed noteworthy that not one alderperson or city employee immediately offered up any mention of safety or traffic law obedience.

Because the issue was tabled, it is hard to know what the collective group is leaning toward with regard to Wentzville's RedFlex contract renewal.  But, in light of the very recent St. Louis Circuit Court ruling which essentially voided that city's red-light camera ordinance and the statements of a few aldermen, it very well could be that Wentzville's eyes in the sky may shutter for a while.

Video -- Kross talks yellow Lights
Video -- Guccione questions accident reduction levels (sorry about the audio levels)

Oh, and Alderman Stokes noted that RedFlex Traffic System is located outside of Wentzville, Missouri along with its jobs and revenues

I must add that it is also a bit disconcerting to hear how often the aldermen refer to the need for staff to get them more information.  Can the elected officials not do a little research, fact and answer finding themselves?

Mayor Lambi Goes On Open Tirade About WestPlex LOC -- Calls For Investigation of Himself and $15000 Check

During Wentzville's aldermanic meeting Wednesday night, Mayor Lambi appeared to call for an investigation of himself regarding a $15,000.00 check written from Wentzville to a group the mayor co-founded by the name of Westplex LOC.

Mayor Lambi took a large portion of his allotted "mayor's report" time to openly question a city employee and Alderman Chris Gard about their roles in the initial discovery and investigation of the $15,000.00 check.  Lambi seemed puzzled that out of the many many checks that make their way through the city's coffers, this $15,000.00 Westplex LOC check had somehow been discovered.

The apparent issue with the $15,000.00 check is that no city records, at first blush, appear to reflect what it is that the money actually paid for in the form of services or products.  However, an organizer of Westplex LOC says that he can provide the documentation of what the $15,000.00 paid for.  Lambi was not employed with Westplex LOC at the time Wentzville wrote the check.

Lambi said that he is the chief law enforcement officer of the City of Wentzville and would give the resources of the city's detectives to the city attorney if the city attorney wanted it.

When leaving the meeting before it was over, mayoral candidate Bill Schuette said, "I've never seen anything like this, that stuff goes back 20 years." Schuette was an alderman before his current run for mayor.

UPDATE 2-23-12 1:00 p.m. Alderman Guccione  The New Wentzvillian spoke with Alderman Nick Guccione who stated it is telling that "Mayor Lambi is open to an investigation . . . willing to clear his name" and, further, that Guccione believes that the press has turned nothing into something in the court of public opinion.  In short, it appears Guccione is sympathetic to Mayor Lambi's position on the $15,000.00 Westplex LOC check.  "Mayor Lambi and I have not always agreed on things, but I respect the man," Guccione said.

Video Link  -- Mayor calls for a proper motion to investigate the underpinnings of $15,000.00 check.

Video Link -- Mayor Lambi calls Alderman Chris Gard "to order" when Gard takes exception to the mayor using the aldermanic meeting to question the alderman about his role in bringing the $15,000.00 Westplex LOC check to light.

This meeting attendee, for one, has to wonder how the mayor likes being guilty until proven innocent.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New Wentzvillian First to Break St. Louis Red-Light Camera Story With Help of WrongOnRed.com

Even KMOV Channel 4 e-mailed The New Wentzvillian seeking information today.

As promised, here is the link to view the courts final ruling:  Red-Light Camera Ruling 22nd Circuit
OR download the PDF itself here:  Red-Light Camera Ruling 22nd Circuit

Will Wentzville have traffic cameras in a year? Go to aldermanic meeting February 22, 2012, Wednesday and have a listen.

It's a bummer that the GOP Presidential debate is on at the same time.

Link to Copy of Red-Light Camera Initial May 2011 Ruling

The February 17th, 2012 ruling will be posted as soon as we have a copy.  This is a link to the judge's initial ruling in May, 2011 -- http://www.scribd.com/doc/56099986/Red-Light-Lawsuit

Today, St. Louis Public radio reports that "A judge has thrown out the city of St. Louis' ordinance that allows the use of red light cameras."

This could mean real trouble down the road for the City of Wentzville's red-light camera ticketing.  Past, Present, and Future.

Also here is the KMOV News Channel 4 Video Link -- VIDEO

Breaking News - Wentzville's Red Light Cameras In Jeopardy?

We are obtaining the actual court opinion.  However, it appears that The 22nd Circuit Court has ruled against the City of St. Louis on both Count 1 (Constitutional Due Process) and Count 7 (Red-Light Camera Ordinance Conflicts with State Statute) of the Plaintiff's petition regarding the illegal nature of St. Louis City red-light camera ordinances.

Matt Hay with WrongOnRed.com says that in the court's "May 24th preliminary [hearing], [the judge] merely said that the City did not have authority, but [the judge's] language seems to indicate that he feels [the St. Louis City Red-Light Camera Ordinance] violates state statute, which is a bit stronger." Hay says the decision will surely be appealed by the City of St. Louis.

If this decision remains the rule of law, Wentzville's red-light camera ticketing would likely come to a halt.  Additionally, there are state legislators pursuing an outright ban on camera traffic enforcement.  Senator Lembke, who serves part of St. Louis City, is a major proponent of the ban.

Some say red-light cameras are about safety while others claim the camera ticketing serves more as an indirect tax on citizens and is simply a money grab by municipalities.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Editorial: Wentzville Political Communicators vs. Non-Communicators

Having worked for the City of Wentzville has its advantages when it comes to analyzing the Wentzville political landscape.  Now that I am no longer on the proverbial Wentzville government "t**t," it's interesting to reflect on how it is that Wentzville manages its affairs via its collective representatives. 

Suffice it to say, that I truly never met an elected Wentzville official that didn't think s/he had the best interest of Wentzville at heart.  Humans just act that way.  You know how they say no criminal in jail thinks s/he's guilty; well, so it goes that most politicians pretty much convince themselves that they are doing the "RIGHT" thing.  Necessarily, I'm sure, this includes me too.

Anyway, Wentzville basically has two types of elected officials -- communicators and non-communicators.  And it's important to understand that "communication" has varying definitions.  There's the strong-silent type, the talks-to-much type, the methodical-writer type, the only-says-what-needs-to-be-said type, the 500 e-mails-a-day-type and so on. 

However, even in light of these differing communication approaches, the basic premise remains; some Wentzville officials treat their positions as a very real and important JOB that must be done while others are not fully immersed -- communicators and non-communicatorsCommunicators hold meetings with constituents when they don't really have to, return phone calls, respond to e-mails, tackle issues (even those that aren't their pets), read letters, strive to sympathize/empathize with all sides of issues, meet in person, reach out for opinions other than their own on a continuous basis and so on.  No doubt, you get the gist.

I spent a great deal of my time on the bench in Wentzville communicating with all of the players on the board of aldermen.  I e-mailed aldermen and the mayor a fair amount of times.  Heck, I attended aldermanic meetings, spoke at those meetings, sent representatives to those meetings, and met with several Wentzville officials person-to-person on different occasions. I know who did research, read letters, sought answers, returned phone calls/emails, and so on.

As a for instance, let's take one issue in specific -- whether Wentzville's city  judge should be appointed or elected.  The position is currently elected every two years and is held by Judge Martin at the moment.  I truly believe that elected judges are the way to go because, among many reasons, it's just goofy to have a judge seemingly beholden to whomever holds the mayor's office (typically the appointer) at the time.  Doesn't make for a very independent judicial branch does it?  However, there were some on the board of aldermen who decided to  push for and thought that it was a good idea to move to an appointed-judge model for Wentzville.

As you might guess, as judge, I was interested in the topic and reached out to EVERY city official.  Here's what I experienced (take it for what it's worth):

  1. Cheryl Kross:          Communicator
  2. Rick Stokes:            Communicator
  3. Nick Guccione:        Communicator
  4. Paul Lambi:              Non-Communicator
  5. Vann Sample:           Non-Communicator
  6. Leon Tow:                Non-Communicator
  7. Chris Gard:              Wasn't There (but I hear decent Communicator)
  8. Chief Noonan:          Communicator (retired)
  9. Diana Wright:           Non-Communicator (removed)
Of course, as an editorial piece, this carries some measure of opinion, but it's pretty accurate.  Ask around.  Do not judge candidates by behaviors at the cusp of election time; rather, measure his/her behavior in the middle of two and four-year terms.

Sunday, February 19, 2012