Police officer warns about financial fraud

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Opinion column

by Murrel Bland

When Jason Vaughn became the detective assigned to financial crimes for the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department, he had a backlog of about nine months of cases. As of late August, that caseload has been reduced to about 1.5 months.

Vaughn spoke to members of the West Patrol Police Advisory Committee at its monthly meeting Thursday, Aug. 25.

Vaughn said there are many scams that rob people of their money. He told the story of a scam artist who tells a person he or she has won money, but needs a bank account number to send the money. Other frauds include the “sweetheart scam” that preys on lonely single persons; the scammer will lure a person into believing he or she needs money.

Vaughn said other scam artists will telephone to threaten cutting off BPU service unless a bill is paid immediately.

Vaughn encouraged persons to report information about any fraudulent financial crime. He can be reached at 913-573-6028.

In other matters, Major Dustin Dungan, the West Patrol commander, said the number of homicides for Kansas City, Kansas, for 2022 is down at 28 compared to 33 for the same period during 2021. He said there has been an officer who has been assigned to the Legends Outlet.

Some 15 to 20 vehicles at the Legends Outlet were burglarized Sunday afternoon, Aug. 28. Police located a suspect vehicle near 98th Street and Parallel Parkway and a chase ended in the 8400 block of Kansas Avenue. Two suspects were apprehended. Citizens helped by providing descriptions of the stolen vehicle.

Major Dungan said the Police Department is about 40 officers short of its authorized strength of 369. There is also a critical shortage of dispatchers, Major Dungan said; there was only one dispatcher during a recent weekend. There should have been four dispatchers during this period. Major Dungan blamed the shortage on the residency requirement.

The Police and Sheriff’s departments will combine for a family day celebration from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, at Piper Creek Elementary School, 13021 Leavenworth Road. Those attending will be able to visit with officers and see vehicle and equipment displays. Field games will be offered. A complimentary lunch will be served.

Murrel Bland is former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press.

Unified Government looks to change

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Opinion column

by Murrel Bland

The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, is marking its 25th anniversary by having consultants explain how it can do a better job of governing about 165,000 persons.

I am not opposed to the Unified Government trying to do a better job. However, it is important to respect history in charting the course for the future.

Ashley Hand, the UG’s director of strategic communications, writing in a recent UG newsletter, said the present top-to-bottom study effort has never been done since the city and county governments were unified. That may be the case. However, it is important to examine what happened during the years before consolidation.

In the late 1970s, a volunteer Chamber of Commerce committee of professionals, including an accountant and senior private sector management personnel, did a very extensive study of city government. The committee’s conclusion was that the city could save a considerable amount of money if it had a central personnel director and a central finance director. Both those positions were instituted; considerable savings were realized

In 1981, a 15-member volunteer committee spent a year studying local government here and elsewhere. (I was a member of that committee.) The conclusion was that the city here could save considerable money with a professional city administrator. That came about after an election in 1982.

Consolidation of city and county government came about in 1997 after a volunteer committee studied the situation extensively. There had been various attempts at consolidation dating back to 1937. However, the community approved it in an election in 1997.

Presently groups of paid consultants, the Meriweather Group, Management Partners and the Robert Bobb Group, are making suggestions about how the Unified Government can do a better job. That could cost the UG as much as $118,000. I had considerable problems getting that cost information and finally did receive it with the help of Ashley Hand. Maybe one of the consultants will make a recommendation on how to improve open records requests.

Previous successful efficiency studies have originated and were driven by very responsible and committed volunteers. That is not the case with the present study. A strong volunteer base would have helped assure the study would have been successful. Besides, it would have saved the UG a considerable amount of money.

Murrel Bland is a former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of Business West.

Senator comments on various issues

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Opinion column

by Murrel Bland

The way Roger Marshall sees it, there are three main issues facing Americans today. They are inflation, inflation and inflation.

That was the message the junior U.S. senator from Great Bend delivered to members of the Congressional Forum who met Friday, July 15, at Davis Hall at Wyandotte County Lake. The forum is a committee of the Kansas City, Kansas, Area Chamber of Commerce.

Sen. Marshall, a Republican, said he fears that the economy will suffer a recession. He blamed the Biden administration for too much unnecessary spending.

High gas prices are a result of limited supply; he said that it takes two years for any new oil drilling effort to become operational. The senator has encouraged the use of biofuels.

Sen. Marshall is a medical doctor who has delivered more than 5,000 babies. Affordable health care has been one of his concerns.

The senator told of the need for immigration reform; he also said it is important to have a secure border.

Sen. Marshall spoke about the need for a qualified workforce and praised the efforts of Kansas City Kansas Community College and Donnelly College for helping meet those needs.

Sen. Marshall said he is opposed to eliminating the filibuster rule in the U.S. Senate that requires 60 votes before a bill can be passed. Democrats have criticized that rule.

Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Business West.