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What the hell is really going on between Union Station and the Kansas City Museum?



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Glover, who is a KCMAB member because his council district includes Corinthian Hall, was unaware of the mold outbreak. He asked Guastello about the matter after his conversation with The Pitch.

Guastello said October 14 that he would discuss the mold problem and other issues with The Pitch but has since put off numerous interview requests. He eventually responded in writing to only a few of the questions posed in a letter hand-delivered to his office in October.

With regard to Union Station's responsibility for the museum's artifacts, Guastello's written response to The Pitch says the station has built more than 35,000 square feet of storage space to manage and preserve the collection. He does not address specific questions about the mold outbreak.

Glover says the remediation of the mold issue is a feather in Union Station's cap. "That's a lot of artifacts to maintain," he tells The Pitch. "From what you said, that speaks in their favor. They found it out and cleaned it and resolved the problem."

To others, storage problems are nothing new.

"An issue like that did occur even before then, and this is back in the 2004, 2005 time frame," says City Councilman Scott Wagner, a longtime member of the KCMAB. "There were storage issues outside of Union Station, where some of the remote storage locations did not have good temperature control, did not have good humidity issues."

Leitch's firing isn't the only flashpoint drawing scrutiny to Union Station's relationship with the Kansas City Museum. The interminable delay of an audit of that relationship has stoked museum backers' suspicions.

On January 17, 2013, the City Council passed a resolution instructing the city's auditor to look into the museum's management agreement with Union Station. The city asked the auditor to examine how Union Station shares expenses with the Kansas City Museum, how it manages the museum's collection, and how the $1.4 million in annual mill-levy revenues is spent.

After the resolution passed, the City Auditor's Office interviewed people close to the museum. But the auditor's findings haven't been made public, and the presentation of a scope statement, explaining in greater detail what the audit will cover, has been delayed several times by the City Council.

City Auditor Douglas Jones, who has worked for the city since 1994, says he never encountered such a protracted delay in his time with the city. "This one is kind of an outlier," Jones tells The Pitch. "I can't recall that this has happened before."

The audit has been eagerly awaited by museum enthusiasts who suspect that Union Station spends mill-levy funds to pay its own bills.

Will Royster, a former member of the Friends of Kansas City Museum board and KCMAB, was interviewed by audit staff in March. He tells The Pitch: "They asked me a lot of things in general. Did I have any suspicions? Had I felt that anything was not aboveboard? If I felt anything was going on behind the scenes? I said, 'Yes, we've always suspected these kinds of things,' which gave rise to the museum advisory board in the first place and justified making it into a commission."

Royster says he has never received an exact accounting of mill-levy spending.

Wagner echoes that sentiment: "For me, it has always been a challenge to know. I think in the past, although recently it has gotten better, having a clear understanding of how the mill levy was budgeted has always been for me a little elusive."

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