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"No one would ever tell Randy, 'That's not what you do,'" Kostar says. "Well, that's what I did."
An uneasy relationship got worse in fall 2007, after a resident was cited for driving under the influence.
After that stop, Stratemeier asked Kostar to arrange a meeting with Poletis and Sgt. Raymond Draper. Stratemeier was responding to concerns voiced by Lenda Harter, who felt that the DUI suspect had been a longtime target of police abuse. Kostar says the mayor was simply trying to ascertain the facts. Poletis argues that Stratemeier sought to suppress the charge in order to curry Harter's favor for a proposed mill levy increase.
Next came allegations that Kostar sexually harassed officers in the police department.
Poletis says he first observed Kostar paying "special attention" to one of his officers in 2007. Later, he says, other officers reported to him that they had been the subject of unwanted attention and, in some instances, touching.
Poletis declined to speak to The Pitch about Kostar. ("I'm not going to try my case in your newspaper," he says.) His version of events comes mainly from a settlement demand sent by his attorney to city officials last spring. Attorney R. Pete Smith's letter describes incidents in which Kostar supposedly moaned with delight at the sight of an officer's buttocks and followed another officer into a restroom.
The officers made written statements, according to Smith. But Kostar says the claims are ridiculous. "The whole thing is simply absurd," he says.
Kostar believes Poletis manufactured the charges because Poletis knew that Kostar, when he was mayor of Westwood back in 1992, signed a proclamation recognizing Gay and Lesbian Pride Week. (Kostar says he is not gay.)
Not long after the allegations surfaced, an anonymous flier began to circulate throughout Lake Lotawana. It contained excerpts of newspaper stories about Kostar's decision to recognize Gay and Lesbian Pride Week as well as his eventual resignation from the mayor's post, in 2006. (Kostar told a Star reporter he had been battling depression and felt that he needed to step aside.)
The board of aldermen hired a lawyer to investigate the claims that Kostar had sexually harassed members of the police department. Ultimately, city officials concluded that Poletis' allegations against Kostar were bogus. In a September 26, 2008, letter to the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, lawyers for the city say two of the officers had assured the city they did not feel that their interactions with Kostar were sexual in nature. (One of the officers declined comment; another did not return The Pitch's phone calls.)
The third officer, the one who supposedly received "special attention," eventually quit the force. The city contends that the officer never felt harassed and his real issue was with Poletis.
The fourth "victim," Sgt. Draper, complained that Kostar touched him as he tried to leave a room. He filed a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights after being demoted for what the city termed "gross insubordination."
Draper, who left Lake Lotawana for another job in law enforcement, maintains that Poletis ran a fine police department. "We both got screwed royally," he tells The Pitch. He declined to elaborate on his accusation against Kostar.
The board fired Poletis in April 2008, citing his inability to work with Kostar and the mayor. Poletis filed a lawsuit against the city and Kostar last September. In court papers, the city refutes the former chief's assertion that he was a consummate professional.
Kostar left Lake Lotawana on September 26, 2008; he says the city couldn't afford him. Last fall, he accepted an offer to work for the city of Lee's Summit on a temporary basis. The offer was withdrawn after the allegations contained in Poletis' suit appeared on the front page of the Lee's Summit Journal. Kostar says the reporter who wrote the story did not give him a chance to comment.