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Archive for November, 2017

Wooo-hoooo!

Tell me, readers, where did I go wrong?

What in the world could have made me think this was going to be a close election!!??

75 percent “yes,” 25 percent “no.” Holy crap!

…It is almost unbelievable how much ground the issue of a new KCI terminal made up within the last year and a half.

On May 3, 2016, Mayor Sly James threw in the towel on a November 2016 KCI election, saying:

“It’s clear that the city is not ready to move on or to move forward with the KCI conversation at this point. In fact, less than 40 percent believe that it is a good idea to move forward…”

At that time, a poll indicated 39 percent of Kansas City voters favored a new, single terminal, while 51 percent were opposed.

It seemed hopeless, dead…And then a year later, along came…along came…Burns & McDonnell.

Strange as it now sounds, it was Burns & McDonnell’s no-bid proposal — an outrageously overpriced gambit as it turned out — that kicked up a fresh breeze. Over the last six months, that breeze steadily accelerated, and by Tuesday it was a veritable typhoon.

“We’ve come a long, long way,” James told a revved-up crowd of more than 300 people in an event space at Briarcliff village last night. “…We got here through a circuitous route, but the scenery was nice along the way.”

Part of the crowd at Briarcliff village last night

Take a look at these numbers…

Kansas City south of the Missouri River:

“Yes” — 32,651 (77 percent)
“No” —   9,526 (23 percent)

Kansas City in Clay County:

“Yes” — 11,537 (70 percent)
“No” —   4,822 (30)

Kansas City in Platte County:

“Yes” — 5,761 (74 percent)
“No” — 2,030 (26 percent)

Grand Total:

“Yes” — 49,949 (75 percent)
“No” —  16,378 (25 percent)

Amazing.

Of course, I had plenty of company in thinking this was going to be a close election and that it could possibly go down to defeat. As the campaign went along, however, it began looking like things were heading up. For one thing, all those people who had been screaming interminably about how “convenient” the current airport is (used to be!) began to melt away, as the reality of dark, dingy and uncomfortable KCI settled in with more and more people.

Then, along came the big bucks — somewhere between $1.5 million and $2 million in contributions — to fuel a full-frontal campaign consisting primarily of mailers, TV ads, yard signs and dozens of “canvassers,” who sought out frequent voters and homed in on those who were undecided but open to voting “yes.” (The solid “no” voters and the sure “yes” voters were not pursued; no need.)

Here are some of the people who deserve credit for this victory:

Sly James

Once again, this mayor showed he can never be underestimated and that when he sets his mind on something, he has the ability win over thousands and thousands of voters. Kansas Citians trust him, by and large, and they have no problem following his lead on hundred-million-dollar — even billion-dollar — initiatives.

City Manager Troy Schulte

He knows the airport issue through and through and is a very effective public speaker, a fairly rare quality among city managers. Another great Schulte skill is listening to contrarians and making them feel heard, but not allowing them to derail the focus. Deftly, he always guides the conversation back to his theme, and the contrarians’ anger seems to subside.

Mark Nevins

Nevins is a partner in The Dover Group, a political consulting firm based in Philadelphia. Sly James relied on the group for strategy and advice in his 2011 mayoral election and his 2015 re-election. He has brought The Dover Group in to work on issue campaigns, too, including the astonishingly successful $800 million general-obligation bond campaign last spring. Nevins ran that campaign, as well as the airport campaign.

Phillip P. Scaglia

Scaglia, a former aide to U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver and former chief of staff to the late U.S. Rep. Karen McCarthy, ran the canvassing, voter-outreach operation. The son of a former Missouri state representative, Scaglia has politics in his blood…Interesting side note: His initials provided the inspiration for the name of his company, Powerful Performance Solutions.

**

The City Council as a whole also deserves kudos. A group of council members who refused to roll over for the mayor’s Burns and Mac gambit insisted that the city solicit proposals from other companies. As a result, the price tag came down significantly with the selection of Edgemoor, based in Bethesda, MD.

The Star’s editorial board — under the leadership of editor page editor Colleen McCain Nelson and the lively and insightful editorials written by Dave Helling — gets much credit for its unflinching advocacy for a new terminal and its relentless push for an open, competitive process.

And finally, hats off to Kansas City voters, who saw the light and realized the current KCI’s best days were long gone and that it was time to check “yes” on the question of a first-class airport for a first-class city.

As Sly James said at the victory party:

“The people of this city get it when they get the facts…Every part of Kansas City pulling together is what accomplished this goal tonight.”

From left, Councilwoman Jolie Justus, Mayor Sly James, and councilmen Jermaine Reed, Dan Fowler, Scott Taylor and Quinton Lucas

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After years of discussion, we’ve now reached the eve of a public vote on whether to build a new, single terminal at KCI.

I intend to vote “yes,” of course and I feel pretty good about the outcome, although I realize victory is by no means assured.

I believe the key to the outcome could be the Northland — that part of the city that lies in Clay and Platte counties.

South of the Missouri River I foresee a big, “yes” vote on Question 1, especially along the heavy-voting Ward Parkway. In my neighborhood, Romanelli West, south of Meyer Circle Fountain, indications of support for Question 1 abound. There are lots of “A Better KCI” yard signs out, and I hear virtually no one speaking against the proposal.

On Tuesday, Oct. 24, the homes association sponsored an airport-election meeting, and more than 50 people attended. City Manager Troy Schulte and Councilman Quinton Lucas spoke and answered questions, and, overall, they got an enthusiastic response. To my surprise, the enthusiasm was only slightly muted by the fact that Geoff Stricker, managing partner of Edgemoor, the Maryland firm that would build the new terminal, failed to appear as scheduled. (The campaign committee informed me the next morning he had been taken ill.)

But back to the Northland…Even though KCI has been a strong economic engine for the Northland, many Northland residents don’t always share their southern counterparts’ views of what constitutes progress. Part of that is due to the fact that many Northland residents simply don’t feel a close connection to City Hall, and part of it is the Northland tends to be more conservative than the area south of the river, which is much more diverse.

Another factor has been political leadership. U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, whose district is mostly rural but takes in the Clay and Platte sections of Kansas City, is decidedly anti-city. Once, in a political debate, I heard him denounce former Mayor Kay Barnes — who was seeking to replace him in the House of Representatives — for advocating development of the Kansas City Power & Light District. Speaking about the millions of dollars in city subsidies for the entertainment district, he said something like, “That might be the way you do things down in the city, but it’s not how we operate up here.”

I realized then that he had absolutely no interest in what happens in Missouri’s largest city, a significant part of which lies in his district.

Graves has generally been cool and non-communicative about the prospect of a new KCI, but he warmed up six months ago, after the engineering firm Burns & McConnell. Interestingly, Burns and Mac has been  a major contributor to Graves’ congressional campaigns.

Graves issued a statement, saying:  “I like this new concept and it’s a step in the right direction. But a lot remains to be seen, especially the final costs and how convenience is going to be preserved. That’s what matters to people in this region and in the Northland.”

After the City Council decided to open the project up to competing proposals, Burns and Mac’s proposal was shown to be outrageously overpriced, and the firm was quickly dropped from consideration by a city selection committee.

Now, Graves has re-buried his head in the sand. When I called his local office today, an aide who took the call said, “Congressman Graves has not made a public comment about Question 1.”

Another Northland representative, City Councilwoman Teresa Loar, has generally opposed a new, single terminal, but she did join nine other City Council members in voting for Edgemoor as contractor. I sent her an email this morning, asking if she intends to vote for Question 1 tomorrow, but as of publication time I hadn’t heard back.

One Northland officeholder who does favor Question 1 is City Councilman Dan Fowler. In an Op-Ed piece in Sunday’s Kansas City Star, Fowler wrote:

“I used to love KCI — and my old bell-bottom jeans — but that was years ago. I’ve since decided it’s time to let go of those once-popular pants, and our outdated KCI as well. Neither meets today’s expectations, and frankly, neither fits comfortably anymore. Some changes are good.”

In addition to Fowler, several Northland business groups are supporting Question 1, including the Northland Chamber of Commerce.

Jim Rice, a chamber board member and a longtime Clay County resident, said he has heard very little talk about the election and has seen very few yard signs. He said the committee running the campaign seems to have focused on identifying “frequent, positive voters and getting a good turnout from those folks,” while avoiding those the campaign has identified as opposed.

Rice said he believed a “yes” vote was more doubtful in the Platte County part of Kansas City than the Clay County segment, mainly because “Platte County is a little more conservative.”

Overall, Rice expects a close vote but predicted that, in the end, Kansas City voters will approve Question 1.

For whatever reason, the official election-night “watch party” will be held in the Northland. I will be there.

I urge you, Kansas City residents, to join me in voting “Yes.” Let’s get on with building a first-class airport! 

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The first bullet missed Thomas Pickert.

Talking on his cell phone, Pickert apparently didn’t know he’d been fired at. Momentary confusion and uncertainty followed.

Then came a second shot. It struck its mark.

Pickert fell down on the sidewalk in front of his home. When his wife got to him moments later, the 39-year-old lawyer was dead, and a white van was leaving the scene, headed west on 66th Terrace. It turned north on either Brookside Road or Wornall.

…Those details, previously unreported, as far as I know, are contained in a search warrant issued on Oct. 25, the day of the murder.

Jungerman

The search warrant — a public record I obtained from the Jackson County Circuit Court yesterday — reveals significant circumstantial evidence pointing toward 79-year-old David Jungerman as the possible shooter.

As straightforward and dry as they customarily are, police and criminal-case records often tell a dramatic story of how a crime occurred and who may have perpetrated it. This is a classic example.

But before the details, a bit of background. Pickert had represented a man who won a $5.75 million civil judgment against Jungerman in July. Pickert represented a homeless man whom Jungerman had shot after discovering him and another man in a building Jungerman owns.

The day before Pickert was murdered, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department had served Jungerman with notice that the court was beginning the process of seizing property he owns in Jackson County, as well as Vernon and Bates counties in southwest Missouri.

Although Jungerman had appealed the judgment, he apparently was not able to post a bond (the amount of which was probably quite large) that would “stay” execution of the judgment.

Kansas City police quickly homed in on Jungerman as someone they wanted to talk to about the murder. One thing that aroused their interest was that after the verdict was announced, “Jungerman had an outburst in the courtroom where he cursed and yelled…at court personnel, including the victim.”

Another incriminating fact: A records check showed Jungerman owned a white van.

At 11:03 p.m. Oct. 25 — 15 hours after the murder — KCPD Det. Bonita Cannon filed a warrant application to search a white 1997 Chevrolet Express — its license number listed in the warrant application — believed to be owned by Jungerman. Detective Cannon wrote that the van was thought to be located on the premises of a home in the 9200 block of East 60th Terrace in Raytown.

At 11:04 p.m. Oct. 25 — a minute after the application was filed with the Jackson County Circuit Court — a judge signed the warrant application.The warrant was executed either that night or the next day. Police apparently seized and searched the vehicle and also questioned Jungerman. They did not arrest him, and they have not identified him as a suspect.

A generic 1997 Chevrolet Express van.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, back to the warrant itself…

Police took statements from two people at or near the murder scene. (The warrant does not identify either by name.)

“Witness #1 stated he observed a white van, with no windows on the driver side other than driver door, east on 67th Street, turn north on Linden (Road)…He stated the vehicle was parked for a few minutes, saw an older, gray haired, white male standing near the back side of the van, before getting into the driver’s seat. The older white male drove west on 66th Terrace and park (stet) ahead of a blue truck, on the north side of the street on 66th Terrace, across from the dispatch address.”

Here’s what the warrant says regarding the second witness, apparently Pickert’s wife, Emily Riegel, a physician with the University of Kansas Health System.

“Witness #2 stated she was inside the residence at the dispatched address when she heard a loud noise. When she looked out the window, she observed the victim standing on the sidewalk in front of the residence, talking on his cell phone. She asked if he knew what the sound was, he replied, “No.” Witness #2 stated she told the victim to come inside of the house, as she moved back into the bedroom. Witness #2 stated she heard a second loud noise. When she looked back out the window, she could no longer see the victim but did observe a white snub nosed van, on the north side of the street on 66th Terrace, facing west bound with no windows on (the) side, leaving the scene westbound on West 66th Terrace. She believed the vehicle then went north on either Wornall Road or Brookside Road.”

Thomas Pickert was fatally shot in this block of 66th Terrace, just east of Brookside Road. (Brookside Road should not be confused with Brookside Boulevard, which runs from 49th Street to a block south of 63rd Street. This shot is looking east.)

**

The warrant does not indicate if either witness got a close enough look at the van driver to identify him. Also, it does not indicate if the first witness got the license plate number or if police got that from state vehicle registration records. What the warrant says on those two points is: “Jungerman fits the description from the witness at the scene and his vehicle fits the description provided by both witnesses.”

Police wanted to process the van, the warrant says, “for bullet fragment, firearms, ammunition, spent shell casings, photographs, DNA, trace evidence to include but not limited to blood, hair fibers, fingerprints and other microscopic evidence.”

Now, fast forward to Thursday, Nov. 1, two days ago. Detective Cannon filed an “officer’s return” document with the Circuit Court reporting the basic results of the vehicle search.

In cursive, she wrote on the one-page return what police recovered from the van and what they did to extract possible evidence. Here’s an image of that page…

The application for the search warrant, the signed warrant and the “officer’s return” are the only public documents that have been filed in the case, as far as I know.

**

Here is some information about Jungerman that helps with context.

:: In court records from numerous civil cases he has been involved in, Jungerman listed his address as 6000 Elm Avenue, Raytown. That, however, is a vacant lot adjacent to Elm Lake, which is more like a large pond. As I noted above, police listed an address for Jungerman on East 60th Terrace. The house is a long stone’s throw from the vacant lot.

Here is a screen shot of the intersection of East 60th Terrace and Elm Avenue.

:: For many years, Jungerman has owned a company that manufactures baby high chairs, which are sold through distributors. The name of the company is Baby Tenda Corp., also known as Babee Tenda. I believe the homeless man who won the big judgment last summer was shot in the building that houses Baby Tenda. Jungerman shot the man, and possibly another man, after finding them on his property in 2012. The man who won the $5.75 million jury award had to have a leg amputated as a result of his injuries.

The building that houses the Baby Tenda company is at 123 S. Belmont Blvd. in northeast Kansas City (below). The business appeared to be operating as recently as a few days ago, when I drove by.

:: Jungerman has been through two divorces in Jackson County in recent years. Court records show he married a woman in October 2012 and that a dissolution was granted in July 2014. The woman’s age is not listed, and they had no children.

He married again three months later, in October 2014. A motion for dissolution was filed in August 2015, and a dissolution was granted in December 2015. The woman’s year of birth was listed as 1957, which would make her almost 20 years younger than Jungerman, who was born in 1938. They had no children.

A 2010 blog post I found in researching Jungerman referenced a daughter, which leads me to believe he has had at least one other marriage in his lifetime.

…The fellow appears to cover a lot of ground and leave a rough wake.

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It’s a new day and I’ve got more new information about David Jungerman, whom Kansas City police suspect — but aren’t saying so publicly — in the Wednesday, Oct. 25, murder of lawyer Thomas Pickert.

At the same time the 79-year-old Jungerman is facing foreclosure on his property to satisfy a multi-million-dollar civil judgment, he is also fighting a criminal charge stemming from allegedly threatening a tenant of his in June 2016.

As nearly I can tell from entries in case.net, which provides public access to Missouri court records, Jungerman is charged with misdemeanor harassment. Misdemeanors carry a penalty of up to a year in jail.

A most interesting development took place in that case on Tuesday of this week, when the Kansas City attorney who had been representing Jungerman, Brian Lee Palmer, was allowed to withdraw.

Even more interesting, Palmer had entered his appearance on behalf of Jungerman only 13 days earlier, on Oct. 18.

One more pertinent fact: On Oct. 25, the day Pickert was shot at close range while sitting on his front porch in Brookside, Palmer filed a motion with the court to take the deposition of a witness.

Here’s that time line:

:: Oct. 18, Palmer enters his appearance in the harassment case
:: Oct. 25, Pickert is shot and killed about 8:07 a.m.
:: Oct. 25, Palmer files a motion to depose a witness in the harassment case
:: Oct. 30, Palmer asks to be released from the case
:: Oct. 31, Palmer is allowed to withdraw

What does that look like to you?

My take is Palmer got involved with Jungerman innocently enough, but after the complexion of things changed dramatically in a matter of days…out the door he went.

Brian Lee Palmer

I was fortunate enough to have a brief chat with Palmer after he picked up the phone this evening in his Crown Center office. After I stated the reason for my call — wanting to know why he up and left as Jungerman’s attorney — he replied:

“Thank you for your call, and I have no comment on anything related to that. And good luck with your article.”

(Very gracious of him, I thought, to wish me luck — don’t get that too often — but it was completely unnecessary.)

…I alluded to the harassment case in yesterday’s post, having received from a friend last week a “probable cause” statement pertaining to an incident that occurred in a village not far from Nevada, MO, in Vernon County, about 100 miles south of Kansas City.

I didn’t have time to follow up on that case yesterday, but I began sorting through it late this afternoon on case.net.

Jungerman, who is listed in whitepages.com as living in Raytown, owns or owned a rental home in Vernon County. On June, 28, 2016, the probable cause statement says, Jungerman kicked in the door of the home and confronted the tenant, demanding to know, “When are you getting out of here you mother fucker?”

The tenant said Jungerman had a handgun in his waistband, and a witness said Jungerman placed his hand on the gun while “yelling and cussing” at the tenant.

A sheriff’s deputy responding to a 9-1-1 call from a witness spoke with Jungerman outside the house. The deputy said he told Jungerman that in order to remove the tenant “he had to go through the legal eviction process.” The deputy also asked Jungerman if he had a firearm, and Jungerman said he had one in the center console of his car.

The deputy then retrieved a .40 caliber Glock, semi-automatic handgun from the console. “There was (stet) a total of 10 hollow point rounds in the Glock,” the deputy wrote in the probably cause statement.

Hollow points. Wikipedia describes a hollow-point bullet as one having “a pit or hollowed-out shape in its tip often intended to cause the bullet to expand upon entering a target.”

…The probable cause statement alleges Jungerman committed two felonies — burglary and armed criminal action — and one misdemeanor — harassment– and case.net indicates it was originally filed as a felony case. Somewhere along the line, however, it appears to have been reduced to a misdemeanor.

The case was originally assigned to a judge in Vernon County but was transferred, for a reason not explained in case.net, to Barton County, immediately south of Vernon County. (The Barton County seat is Lamar, best known, perhaps, as the birthplace of President Harry S. Truman.)

At first, Jungerman didn’t have an attorney and was representing himself. In September 2016, a Joplin attorney, William Fleischaker, entered his appearance on behalf of Jungerman. Fleischaker was the attorney of record until last April, when he withdrew. Six months later, Palmer entered his appearance.

 

**

The last case.net entry was made Tuesday, the day Brian Palmer exited. The judge in the case, David R. Munton, said this:

“If defendant does hire counsel by 11/16/2017, then court will probably continue the trial (which is scheduled to start the last week of November). If not, it will confirm to the court that defendant is not serious about wanting counsel and is trying to manipulate the court to get his court date continued.”

In any event, the judge noted, the case is on hold until at least Nov. 16.

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After a couple of days of intense coverage of the Thomas Pickert murder last week, the story has basically gone quiet. One reason for the news vacuum is simple: KCPD has clammed up. (Another reason, unfortunately, is many reporters are too focused on “what new story have you got for me today?”)

When I called Officer Darin Snapp of the media department this morning, he had a quick and short answer to my question about the Pickert case: “Nothing new on that.”

…But don’t be fooled into thinking the case has gone “cold” after a week. This is all by design.

A lawyer friend of mine who has more than a passing knowledge of the case gave me some insight into the strategy today.

Here’s what’s going on, according to my source:

First, although police have not named a suspect, they have one. And guess who it is? Why, you’re right. It’s 79-year-old David Jungerman, whom police questioned the day after the slaying and whose 1997 Chevy van — with plates registered to him — they went looking for immediately after Pickert, 39, was shot at close range on his front porch in Brookside.

Second, Jungerman may well have contacted a local criminal defense attorney.

I called the attorney, John Picerno, this morning, and he was eager to talk about the case — other than the specific point about whether Jungerman had contacted him.

“I couldn’t comment on that one way or the other,” Picerno said, adding that he was “not involved in the case.”

When I told my source about Picerno’s no comment, my source responded by saying: “Ha! I knew it. I guarantee he will enter his appearance,” if and when Jungerman is charged.

My source’s theory is that police have gone quiet in hopes of lulling Jungerman into a false sense of security while they try to dig up evidence and develop a solid case.

“They don’t want to rattle this guy,” my source said. “They’ve gone radio silent to get him to come out of the woodwork.”

The source said it is not particularly noteworthy that police have not named Jungerman a suspect. The lawyer pointed out this investigation is following the same pattern police utilized in the case of suspected serial killer Fredrick Scott, 23, who is charged with three murders and suspected in three others.

In that case, you’ll recall, police released surveillance video of a man who had been walking in the Indian Creek Trail area where Mike Darby, one of the victims, was murdered. In releasing the video, police advised the media that the person in the video was not considered a suspect but someone who “may have vital information.”

It turned out the person in the video was, indeed, Scott.

**

Jungerman

We all know about the circumstances surrounding the Pickert murder. He was one of the lead lawyers in a civil case in which a homeless man sued Jungerman for shooting him in 2012 while he was on Jungerman’s property. During the summer, a jury awarded the victim $5.75 million, and the day before Pickert was murdered Jackson County Circuit Court officials sent Jungerman’s attorney notice that the court would begin the process of seizing Jungerman’s real estate to satisfy the judgment.

In 1990, in Raytown, Jungerman detained at gunpoint four teenagers he and his daughter came across on property he owns (or owned). When police arrived, however, they turned the tables on Jungerman, charging him with a gun violation. Jungerman was later convicted of a misdemeanor in that case.We also know Jungerman was a gun nut.

Last year, in Vernon County, Missouri, he threatened a tenant while displaying a gun in his belt. A probably cause statement says Jungerman got in the tenant’s face and said, “When are you getting out of here you mother fucker?”

Jungerman is also a braggart. In a video from a deposition taken in the case of the homeless man who got shot, Pickert noted in questioning Jungerman that Jungerman fired five times and struck the man with three bullets.

Jungerman replied: “That’s pretty good from the hip isn’t it? That’s lucky shooting, isn’t it?”

Undoubtedly, Jungerman is hoping luck was with him last Wednesday, the day Pickert was killed, and he’s hoping he won’t end up like Fredrick Scott, sitting in a Jackson County Jail cell awaiting trial on a murder charge.

On the other hand, police are hoping Jungerman, with his loud-mouth, reckless ways, will either have left incriminating evidence or he’ll be bragging to someone about a dastardly deed he might have been involved in a week ago today.

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