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Some suspicions about specific voters raised by the Royster campaign don't withstand scrutiny — three votes, for instance, appeared to come from 40th District addresses that were actually owned by the Land Trust of Jackson County, a collection of vacant properties that have been taken over by the county and subsequently transferred to the city of Kansas City.
One of those votes in the Rizzo-Royster election came from 122 Oakley Avenue, a house that was condemned in 2009 and left vacant. Kansas City police records show that the voter did indeed live at a different address in the 40th District and voted properly.
Another vote from a Land Trust property came from a couple that had moved from a condemned house at 5010 East Eighth Street to another house within the 40th District.
Kansas City police also investigated claims that a man living in the nearby 41st District somehow managed to vote in the 40th District. Their investigation showed no evidence of improper voting. (The voter had actually moved to the 40th District, even though his registration was still an old address.) It did reveal sloppy record keeping and election management by the Kansas City election board.
Much of that evidence came too late for Royster's campaign. In 2010, Royster and his lawyers sued in Jackson County Circuit Court and later in an appeals court to have the election nullified. Neither court was persuaded by Royster's claims of voting irregularities, at least not enough to overturn an election.
But the bulk of Royster's evidence, such as the Moretinas' votes, didn't become public until after those court decisions. Royster says the KCEB didn't provide him with a list of who voted in the election until shortly before they went to court — not enough time, he says, to build a case.
James B. Nutter Sr., founder of the eponymous mortgage company and a sought-after financier for election campaigns, hasn't often paid attention to 40th District races.
"They've always been behind-the-door when the goodies are passed out," Nutter tells The Pitch. "A lot of times, the politicians that are in that district, they don't have a lot of respect for the voter. They promise them things they have no intention of keeping."
The population in the Northeast is both a transient one and rather diverse demographically, with several racial and ethnic communities living side by side. (Twenty-seven languages are spoken at Northeast High School.) There's also a gap between the Northeast's wealthy and destitute residents.
It wasn't always that way for Kansas City's Historic Northeast neighborhood. Former City Manager Bob Collins and former Police Chief Rick Easley lived there, giving the area a source of clout within City Hall. In the 1990s, the district benefited from representation in the Missouri General Assembly from Henry Rizzo and Sen. Ronnie DePasco, two men with influence in Jefferson City.
"We don't get the attention we used to both on a local level but county and state," says Michael Bushnell, publisher of the Northeast News. "Back in the '90s, Henry Rizzo and Ronnie DePasco were a Jefferson City powerhouse. And I went a lot of times to Jefferson City to speak to a committee about a bill. ... When you've got somebody like DePasco who controlled the traffic of a Senate bill and tag-teamed with Henry, those guys were tied to people across the state.
"Community involvement over the years has been falling from the standpoint of elections and stuff like that," Bushnell continues. "Back when Henry was running and when Henry held that seat, it was usually a 3,500-to-4,500 (vote) race. Now we're roughly down to 50 percent of that."