Arnold Regime Attempts to Clear the Field

22 Jan

The root of the Ken Moss-Susie Boone saga, some suggested, was a desire to replace Moss on the Arnold City Council with someone more, ahem, agreeable to the schemes of the powers that be. Before this all became public, Moss was pressed by Mayor Ron Counts to resign. This railroading was resisted, and Moss remains on the council.

Now, however, the city (specifically clerk Diane Waller, she of the bogus accusation against councilwoman Sandra Kownacki) has apparently struck again to affect the makeup of the council, removing challengers Shaun Missey (Ward 1) and, so I am hearing, Rodney Mullins (Ward 3) for non-payment of personal property taxes. Here is the letter from the city informing Missey of the city’s action:

Here is the statute Waller specifically cites, RSMo 115.342. It states, in part (emphasis mine):

3. Upon receipt of a complaint alleging a delinquency of the candidate in the
filing or payment of any state income taxes, personal property taxes, real
property taxes on the place of residence, as stated on the declaration of
candidacy, …, the department of revenue shall investigate such potential
candidate to verify the claim contained in the complaint. If the department
of revenue finds a positive affirmation to be false, the department shall
contact the secretary of state, or the election official who accepted such
candidate’s declaration of candidacy, and the potential candidate. The department
shall notify the candidate of the outstanding tax owed and give the candidate thirty
days to remit any such outstanding taxes owed which are not the subject of dispute
between the department and the candidate. If the candidate fails to remit such amounts
in full within thirty days, the candidate shall be disqualified from participating
in the current election and barred from refiling for an entire election cycle
even if the individual pays all of the outstanding taxes that were the subject
of the complaint.

This would suggest that it is the state Department of Revenue that pursues such cases, upon receipt of a complaint, and the candidate gets a chance to fix the problem. But here we have Waller playing judge, jury, and executioner. This is interesting, given some recent history.

Current councilman Bill Moritz was elected to terms on the council in April of 2009 and 2011. In both 2008 and 2010, he was delinquent on his personal property taxes for those years. Here is proof from 2008, when Moritz paid his taxes almost four months late:

Former councilman Randy Crisler also ran, and was delinquent, in 2011.

County councilman Bob Boyer pressed the issue of the delinquencies of Crisler and Moritz in 2011. In a borrowed legal opinion, Arnold City Attorney Bob Sweeney rejected Boyer’s concerns, saying “Section 115.342 does not apply to municipal elections.” He also said that “Section 115.352 imposes NO duty on municipal clerks to determine the tax delinquency status of candidates.” [Note: a section by this number is not currently on the books; I think he means 115.342. ] However, we now see the city clerk determining the delinquency status of candidates AND applying this law to a municipal election.

What has changed in the past two years? Can this be interpreted in any other way than a blatant attempt to keep council candidates off the ballot based on their policy preferences? This is precisely how elections are run in places like Venezuela. Of course, people should pay their taxes (in Missey’s case, he has no debt, the question is of proper declaration of vehicles). And the legal opinion Sweeney relies upon seems to be solid (the fact that another attorney, not him, wrote it increases my confidence). But if that opinion was valid in 2011, why is it no longer guiding Arnold’s actions? Can Sweeney cite legislative changes since then that explain the city’s 180 on this? If not, then Waller needs to be fired and the Attorney General needs to step in (once again).

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6 Responses to “Arnold Regime Attempts to Clear the Field”

  1. wrongonred January 23, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

    Yes, the AG needs to step in. Rumor is, they are trying to rely on this statute as the change that makes this election different from those preceding it: http://legiscan.com/MO/text/HB1106/2012, I believe specifically:

    “2. Except in any county with a charter form of government, a candidate for the office of collector shall be at least twenty-one years of age and a resident of the state and the county in which he or she is a candidate for at least one year prior to the date of filing for such office. The candidate shall be a registered voter and current in the payment of all state income taxes and personal and real property taxes.”

    Problem is, it specifically applies to “a candidate for the office of collector”. Apparently, they missed this word in their thorough review of the law, despite nothing in that Bill actually applying to the City of Arnold. You nailed it. This is what happened in Stalin’s USSR and Chavez’s Venezuela where the laws only apply to those not affiliated with the Government. This is really beyond words egregious……

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  2. wrongonred January 24, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

    Very interesting: http://www.scribd.com/doc/122006177/Counts-Auto-Body-Personal-Property-Tax-Status-on-1-20-13-and-1-24-13 Between 01/20 and 01/24, someone back dated the payment to 12/31/12 and waived the late penatly……3 week delay in processing recieipts (unacceptable) or something more nefarious?

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    • Stacey January 24, 2013 at 8:31 pm #

      I was looking at this last night. Counts Auto Body had not paid. I mentioned good thing that Moritz wasn’t running, since his personal property tax isn’t paid, but I am sure that it will be shortly and back dated like the rest. Just for curiousity, Counts is the co-owner with his brother. I looked at his last night and his wasn’t paid either, but of course as of today it has been. I am just ready for these guys to be gone.

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