As a crowd of 100 or so waited patiently inside the community center for Grandview Mayor Steve Dennis to arrive and deliver his state of the city address last January, it heard a throaty rumble that grew to a roar.
David Eulitt | The Kansas City Star Brent Steeno (center) is acting mayor after Steve Dennis resignation.
Steeno and John T. Maloney said they were falsely listed as the Board of Aldermens
two other members on Matters
of the Heart incorporation papers Dennis
filed with the state.
A helmeted Dennis
, dressed in leather, rolled into the room astride a Harley-Davidson motorcycle borrowed from the local dealership.
friends and detractors alike, the big entrance was classic Steve Dennis
, a charismatic figure alternately described as energetic and something of a showboat.
This is the way he
is, former mayor Jan Martinette said.
has to be the center of attention.
remains just that, both the center of attention and much speculation, one week after his
surprise and unexplained resignation that came amid reports of a federal investigation.
Fellow members of the Grandview
Board of Aldermen say they have been interviewed by FBI agents in recent months concerning a nonprofit group that Dennis
founded with no connection to city government called Matters
of the Heart Inc.
, 50, confirmed the existence of that investigation in an interview published Thursday in the Jackson County Advocate, Grandviews weekly newspaper, but has said little else.
The precise nature of the inquiry remains unclear and Dennis
has not responded to requests for comment from The Star and other news outlets.
Likewise, the FBI
and the U.S. district attorneys office do not comment on investigations until charges have been filed.
None have been, according to a Justice Department spokesman
But last spring, about the time that the investigation appears to have begun, Dennis
publicly defended his
actions with regard to the nonprofit when some paperwork irregularities were disclosed at a public meeting.
In a letter published in the Advocate, Dennis
addressed the rumors that had begun to circulate.
Now, I have heard a couple of different stories that have been told in the community, he
wrote, that automatically assume that I am either falsely stating my importance in a do-good organization or that I must be pilfering money illegally through the nonprofit for my own benefit.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Promoter for the city
has many fans in this town of 24,000 on Kansas Citys southern border.
Dennis was appointed mayor in 2010 after the death of Bob Beckers that August, then went on to win in his own right in the April 2011 election.
But perhaps more than any mayor in modern times, Dennis
position as Grandviews figurehead to boost the citys image in the region and build pride among its residents.
set out to counter an impression that his
community was crime-ridden and backward when it came to economic development, as symbolized by the declining Truman Corners Shopping Center.
With crime rates falling and redevelopment efforts advancing ever so slowly to rebuild and reposition Truman Corners as Trumans Marketplace, Dennis
spoke often of the new Grandview
, a place that was business-friendly and a good area to raise a family.
still lives in the house his
family moved to when he
Hes been active in local affairs much of his
Before becoming an alderman in 2001, Dennis served on a variety of city and community committees.
A U.S. Navy reservist, Dennis
plays taps at more than 100 military funerals each year and occasionally serves on military color guards, according to his
biography on the citys website.
Between all that and the fact that he
treated the part-time mayors position as if it were a full-time job, easily working 40 hours a week, friends and colleagues long wondered how he
had time to make a living outside public service.
The mayor of Grandview
, after all, isnt paid much.
I asked him when he
won the first election, How can you live on $16,000 a year?
Alderwoman Annette Turnbaugh said.
said, Well definitely be eating into our savings. ”
Dennis, a chief petty officer in the Navy Reserve, would qualify for a monthly salary between $352 and $632, depending on years of service.
As of 2012, according to a tweet, Dennis wife, Kelli, did not have a job outside the home.
current employment status is not known.
Dennis attended Baylor University and graduated from the University of Arkansas with a bachelors degree in art and computer graphics, according to his resume and information supplied to The Star when he ran as a Republican for Congress in 2004 and for a Missouri House seat in 2006.
Both attempts were unsuccessful.
In those same disclosures to the newspaper, Dennis
had worked at one point for a Lenexa ad agency and later as the vice president of marketing at a Missouri bank holding company.
More recently, Dennis
occupation on the city website as executive director of a local community service organization.
The name of that group wasnt specified.
However, records on file with the Missouri secretary of states office show Dennis was one of three directors of a nonprofit group called Matters of the Heart when it was incorporated in December 2011.
made no secret of the group.
of the Heart joined Missouris Adopt-a-Highway
program on Sept. 30, 2011, three months before officially incorporating.
Signs on each side of Interstate 49 say the group has volunteered to pick up trash between 140th and 145th streets, a Missouri Department of Transportation
announced publicly that he
planned to use the group as a conduit to raise funds for a pet project of his
: a veterans memorial he
hoped to have built at Trumans Marketplace.
In an interview with the Advocate last spring, Dennis
had pledges for $3 million, but no checks in hand.
That notice came a month before Dennis rode into the community center on the Harley and announced his plan for the veterans memorial, which he said was to involve Matters of the Heart as the fundraising vehicle.
When the dissolution was disclosed in April by a resident speaking at a meeting of the Board of Aldermen
had been unaware that the nonprofits legal status had lapsed and would seek to renew it.
Records show that Matters
of the Heart remains dissolved.
But two other records in the secretary of states file set off alarms that something else might be amiss at Matters
of the Heart.
They were formal complaints filed by two members of the Board of Aldermen
, Brent Steeno and John T. Maloney, who said they were falsely listed as the boards two other members on the incorporation papers that Dennis
filed with the state.
claimed in a letter to the Advocate that he
included the names on the record by mistake, a failure to cut and paste properly while working on his
was scheduled to deliver this years state of the city address next Thursday.