Thursday, August 30, 2007

Not Thomas Jefferson's Monticello

No matter what the size of the city. Be it Gardner, KS or the Big Apple itself, no one person can ever be aware of everything that is happening.

That is why I am upset with myself for not getting involved earlier with the situation regarding the widening of Monticello Rd in western Shawnee.

How do I explain it? I went there's pretty. Actually, it's like being in a different world. Like being in a truly rural area. I'd bet that is why most if not all of the homeowners there chose to live there. It also has some history to it. A quaint old cemetery, a home once lived in by Wild Bill Hickock, an historic settler's well, and other items.

Anyway, the current plans call for widening this pristine country road into a four lane arterial complete with turn lanes, etc etc. This is going to involve some folks losing parts of their property and in two cases (already enacted) folks actually losing their homes.

Why? That area is basically a "rural" area. Most lots are oversized, and some appear to my untrained eyes to be acreage. I spoke with a couple of the residents. Some of them seem to think that once the road project is complete that there may be attempts to get the area rezoned to commercial property. Eventhough there is nothing right now that could confirm that, it is, in my opinion, a possibity. The folks living in that area do not need a monster 4 lane road complete with turn lanes. A commercial development would. And possibly, a residential sub-division that would have multiple homes on smaller lots. And, if that is the case, who would actually end up paying for this road project? The developers? Nahhhh, this would be going in up front. Seems to me, it would be all of the other Shawnee residents paying for it now.

It would be interesting to find out if any developers, (commercial or residentil sub-division) have made any offers to any of the property owners along Monticello Road.

Is it too late to get the area added to one of those national or state historical lists?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Live From Shawnee...It's Monday Night (again)

What's better than a TV sitcom? Going to a City Council meeting and listening to the Dumbonic Duo (AKA Pfrick & Pfrack) and a whiner who wants his way now without regard for a process that is in place.

Tony Lang got up to give a report about his group "Clean Air for Shawnee Campaign Committee" and its progress regarding a petition to force a ballot initiative for a smoking ban. So far, his group has been working with an informal petition, but he is now stating he is going to make it a formal petition, with all of its ramifications.

He didn't seem to care that the council authorized the mayor to appoint a task force. That the task force has met 3 times already, starting in June (he erroneously claimed the first meeting was July). That on 8/15 there was a public hearing and the task force is scheduled to meet again on 9/11, prepare their recommendations for the council and have that info submitted at the council meeting 9/24.

He wants action now. Basically, in subtle and not so subtle threats he would like to see the process that is in place get thrown out, and a variation of the Overland Park ordinance adopted. Last night preferably. Huh????? If not, his committee was going to go forward with a formal petition which could result in a special election at a substantial cost to Shawnee (estimates are $20,000 to $50,000). Ironically, if he would wait for the task force to complete their activities and the council to perform their function, a special election might not be necessary. And, if at that time he and his committee still didn't like the outcome, they could still go for a ballot petition. The difference is, it would be closer to a regularly scheduled election and eliminate the need and cost of a special election. But remember, he cares about Shawnee. He reminds me of the kid at the school yard, who because he wasn't picked to be the pitcher, wanted to grab his glove, bat and ball and go home, leaving the other boys without the ability to play. Wants his way, and wants it now.

There were some comments from the council indicated that folks may have signed the informal petition without realizing what some of the provisions of the OP ordinance were. Did people really sign the informal petition without taking the time to read it? Thinking it was just to stop smoking?

Now enter the Dumbonic Duo. This was painful. It would take a novella to describe what happened. Suffice it to say that Pfrack now makes a motion to approve the OP ordinance. When challenged about certain items (public burning, etc) he modified his motion to include some changes. Then basically Pfrick moves to second it. Now, realize what these two are doing. They are trying to get an ordinance passed, that has not had all of its provisions formally laid out, as in written out, and without input from the city attorney. Pfrack basically was making pen changes to a copy of the OP ordinance. Huh??? Additionally, if this was to succeed it would also circumvent the process that was put into place by this same council. What is scary is that rumor has it that one of these individuals wants to be mayor. A mayor who would circumvent the process? Another little boy who has to have his way now? Real scary.

Anyway, let's now look at what the other members of the council did. First it appears that they were not happy with the threats. They did not appear to be happy with the possibility of not allowing the task force and subsequently the council itself to complete the process. Pfrack's motion to approve the OP ordinance (with handwritten changes) went down 5-2. It should be noted that most of the 5 indicated that they were not necessarily against a smoking ordinance, but they wanted the process to come to fruition and not have another city's ordinance jammed down their throats. Makes sense to me.

Neal Sawyer brought out an interesting and valid point. He made reference to what happened in Lenexa. The council there brought their ordinance for a vote on Juy 3rd, the night before a holiday. With virtually no input from the citizens. At least Shawnee is making an attempt to gather citizen input. Isn't this the way things are supposed to be?

One thing that bothers me. Lang and the Dumbonic Duo showing concern to have a smoke free workplace for the health of the employees. This has come up before. They keep saying it's for the employees. As I've pointed out in the past, that argument borders on the bogus (but it sounds good). Virtually all non-eating/drinking businesses in Shawnee are smoke free. Either because of the existing ordinance or the policies of the various businesses.Now, when it comes to eating/drinking establishments.......over 55% already are smoke free. Of the remaining 45% what percentage of their employees are smokers themselves? The smoking ban folks have some valid arguments, but to say that they are doing it for the benefit of the employees is pure bovine scatology.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

James Madison Quotes

Following are three quotes attributed to James Madison, our 4th President and considered to be the "Father of the Constitution"............methinks they are pretty interesting:

In Republics, the great danger is, that the majority may not sufficiently respect the rights of the minority.

I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.

If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.

Monday, August 20, 2007

"Imported" and "Hired" Guns

These are not the kind that fire bullets. At least not the kind that are capable of physically hurting folks. These are the "outsiders" that are brought into a local issue to assist one side or the other.

What are we referring to here? We are referring to last Wednesday's public hearing about a smoking ordinance for Shawnee.

Let's define the two terms first:

Imported Guns: These would be folks like the Director of the Johnson County Health Dept AND one of his subordinates. A Kansas State Rep, from Lenexa, and others.

Hired Guns: These would be representatives of various organizations, and in this case that would be the American Cancer Society, Clean Air Kansas, and others

The reason why I bring this up is very simple. When one totals up the speakers, one gets a figure that indicates substantially more folks spoke in favor of a smoking ban.

Now, take the Imported & Hired Guns out of the equation, and the equation does a flip flop.

So, the smoking ban proponents could honestly say that more people spoke in favor of a ban. But, that would mean conveniently leaving out the info that many of them were NOT Shawnee residents or business folks.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

London & NYC Fighting Pollution and Gridlock

Some of you might remember that back in May I brought up an issue at a city council meeting.
Info is here

At that time, I said that if Pfrick and Pfrack were really concerned about the health of people in Shawnee they would do something about vehicle emissions. I mentioned a user fee for for SUVs and trucks. Needless to say, I was ridiculed for that suggestion. I expected that.

Anyway, I don't know if he reads this blog or not (actually I doubt it) but the mayor of London, England is proposing a daily user fee for SUVs etc, which would amount to $50 a day.
Info about that can be found at,0,4583427.story

Also, from the article, the following already exists "....anyone driving into the city's 6.5-square-mile "congestion zone" between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. must pay a daily fee of $16. Car owners living inside the zone get a 90 percent discount."

And, are ya ready? New York City is getting ready to do the same thing. To reduce gridlock/congestion and to reduce pollutants. See info at

My yearly proposal looks like a bargain compared to either NY or London. :-) :-)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Smokescreen or Smokescream

The Smoking Task Force for Shawnee had a public hearing last night at city hall. Here is one man's opinions, mine.

Let's start with the folks that are so concerned about employee's health. First, when it comes to non-eating/drinking businesses, virtually all are smoke free either because of the current ordinance or because the companies themselves have their own policies. Now, let's look at eating/drinking establishments. Currently in Shawnee over 55% of such establishments are smoke free on their own volition. As for the other 45% the question begs to be answered: How many of their emplyees are smokers? Methinks the "concern" for the employees is a questionable one....but it sounds good.

The previously mentioned figures also indicate that non-smokers have plenty of places to go. And, there is always the strong possibility, that if these folks let the "cash registers do the talking" others would go smoke free on their own.

We have in Shawnee neighborhood type bars that are mostly populated by smokers (as customers and employees) Should we drive them out of business? As the co-owner of Foobars said, she didn't remember ever seeing any of the smoking ban folks patronizing her establishment. My opinion: I doubt if they ever would. I doubt if they would ever patronize any of the older neighborhood type bars.

Stephanie Sharp, the 17th District State Rep (from Lenexa) was a trip and a half. This sanctimonious snit had me laughing inside. She stated that on her drives south on I-435 she had a choice of stopping at Barley's (Shawnee) or Tanner's (Lenexa) since she lived equally between them. Guess it'll be Tanner's now that Lenexa is smoke free. Why do I question the veracity of her statement about what she would do? Easy......because she didn't keep the "big promise" to her constituents. She ran for office, they elected her, and now she has resigned. Her successor takes over January 2008. If she couldn't handle the position she shouldn't have run for it to begin with. My opinon...........

The speaker that really caught my attention was the lady who claimed that her son and his wife moved to Denver because Colorado is smoke free. She also claimed that Shawnee is losing young peole because of that. I see, so smoke free communities nearby (Olathe, Lenexa, Overland Park, etc) do not fill her son's requirements? I could swear that I heard her say "money" before she corrected herself to mention "smoke free" as the reason for her son's moving.
If Shawnee is losing folks, I wish somebody could show me the figures. Our population is like a certain TV keeps on growing, and growing and growing.

Leon Vinci, the Johnson County Health Department Director had an interesting comment. He touted the JoCo ordinance that banned smoking in unincorporated JoCo. When pressed as to how many drinking and eating establishments did that affect, he said the total businesses were 14. He was asked again for the number of eating/drinking establishments and said less than 14, but he didn't have tha statistics available. Seems to me the figure was 3 of those and the other 11 businesses were doing something on their own anyway. Didn't the local media, and smoking ban advocates criticize the JoCo Commissioners for wimping out with their ordinance?

When an individual from the floor asked how many establishments the Kansas Restaurant and Hospitality Assoc represented, nobody had the answer....including the rep from Clean Air KC.
Good question though, because the two have "partnered" on a suggestion for a strict ordinance.

Some folks know that I personally quit smoking 18 months ago, after 45 years. What most don't know is that my late mother passed away because of lung cancer, from smoking. And yet, I am against a smoking ban. Yes, because a business owner should be allowed to choose how to run his/her business. Customers by their patronage or lack of will tell a business owner what to do.
Nanny government does not belong in our society.

But then, as the Shawnee Convention and Visitor's Bureau points out on their web site, Village West and the Legends are only eight minutes away. :-) :-)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hot Summer Night

Fortunately the A/C was working last night in the City Council chambers.

Two items drew some extended discussion. One had to do with box culvert/pedestrian bridge replaement on a private street. The champion of unilateral contract changes, Dan Pflumm was upset that St Joseph's was going to pay for the replacement.........eventhough it was something they agreed to years ago. 'Nuff said.

Moving on.................the special use permit for the Peanut to have an outdoor concert came up for a vote. Quite a bit of discussion here. Many conditions were put in for the SUP to be granted. Aparently, after some situations last year, the conditions seemed to be appropriate.

One of the owners of a business that is located in the same shopping center expressed concern that he los business last year and would lose business again this year. Mr Compassion, Dan Pflumm tried to waive that concern off with an"it's only one day's worth" type of comment. Ironically the same business owner had to correct Pflumm on one of his statements which made it obvious that he (Pflumm) did not read the packet for the meeting. Not the first time that this has happened. On previous occasions other council members have had to do the same thing.

Fashion alert: Kevin Straub has now joined Dan Pflumm in the "shorts are appropriate" school of fashion. He showed up last night in shorts and open sandals. I realize that I am no poster boy for GQ, but I am old fashioned and expect council members to dress appropriately for council meetings.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Goin' Roundabout

Gotta admit, sometimes government meetings can be fun.

Last Tuesday's (8/7/07) Finance & Admin Committee had some levity to it.

There was a discussion about the roundabout that will be going in at Johnson Drive and K-7 when that intersection will be reconfigured.

Some of the ideas were quite novel:

A buffalo, sort of a companion piece to the oxen at the other side of town

Plantings in the interior of the roundabout of native prairie grasses (good idea, low maintenance and natural)

Other possible statues in the center (examples were shown of a flock of birds and of a gigantic eagle)

One idea that was requested NOT to be considered was a fountain. Seems kids like to vandalize fountains by pouring soap products in them. They like the bubbling effects. Gee, vandalism in that part of town? Impossible.

One idea that wasn't brought up might be a dedication to the council. Or maybe to my two "favorite" members, Pfrick and Pfrack. We could erect large statues of them in the center of the roundabout. The plantings could be artificial tulips (so they are there all year long). Since these two are in agreement so much of the time, maybe they could be depicted as walking arm in arm or holding hands. Wait a minute, not walking, but tip toeing. Yes, tip toeing through the tulips. Then we could also include a low volume rendition of Tiny Tim's song of that name being broadcast from the roundabout.

Truth be known, I think that a depiction of the original indigenous inhabitants would be appropriate. It was their land first.

Friday, August 10, 2007

More of Too Much Too Soon

For background you can read my original post at

Now, South Carolina wants to have their Presidential primary in January which could make New Hampshire change their primary to earlier in January, and which could have Iowa holding their caucus in December 2007.

This is getting out of hand. The nominating conventions are about a year away, and these folks have been camaigning for almost 6 months already.

Give us a break. This pissing contest as to who can have the first primary and who can have the first caucus is extremely aggravating. This Presidential campaigning almost two years before the election is ridiculous.

The Senators and Congressmen that are involved are AWOL from the jobs that they are getting paid to do. Again, I call for a federal law that any Congressman or Senator who is involved in a Presidential campaign needs to be removed from office and someone willing to work for their constituents take their places. Until such a law is passed I am calling on these folks to resign their positions. C'mon Brownback, Clinton, Obama, McCain etc............if you're not going to serve your constituents give up the job. You are taking paychecks on false pretenses.

Think about it this way. Joe Citizen works for a company. He spends 3 days a week going around to other companies looking for a new job, while drawing his paycheck. How long would his company keep him around and on the payroll?

States need to pass similar laws regarding their governors and other elected officials within their state.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

KC Star---Missing Info

Did anybody read the Saturday 7/28/07 hard copy of the Shawnee/Lenexa edition of the KC Star? If not, the article I am going to be referring to is on line at

The article starts off about a Shawnee citizen who is exercising his rights to obtain a petition to ban smoking in Shawnee. That is that citizen’s right.

What bothers me is the “drift” that the reporter takes. He goes into quite a bit of detail about Shawnee Council Member Dan Pflumm’s attempt to get a smoking ban passed at the April 23rd city council meeting. Mr. Pflumm’s attempt was defeated. What the reporter in the Star article did not explain was how that all came about.

Mr. Pflumm literally pulled the Overland Park ordinance out of his pocket and wanted the council to copy it, as is, right then and there. Note, this item was NOT on the agenda for that night. Therefore, citizens who would want to speak (pro or con) were not given that opportunity. Note, the city attorney had not had the info submitted to him for review. Note, the other council members had NOT been given a chance to review it either. Mr Pflumm was attempting to grandstand and circumvent procedure. That is why the council voted his proposal down

Ironically, the smoking task force, that the council had previously, unanimously authorized was being formed. The purpose of the task force: to obtain input from the citizens of Shawnee and to make recommendations to the council.

Surely, there are some members of the community who probably wish that Mr Pflumm’s proposal had been approved. The question I asked in my original posting still stands. Would these same folks want the city council to circumvent procedure on something they may be against?

I explained it right here on this blog at

And if you as the reader would like corroboration of my comments, they can be found at the City of Shawnee’s web site record of the minutes of that meeting at Did the reporter check the minutes before writing his article?

Another item that appeared in the Star article was a comment by Mr Pflumm that a recent Johnson County survey showed over 70% of the county opposed smoking. Mr Pflumm must be reading a different survey than I did. Did the reporter read the survey before publishing that comment? It is located on the web at

What the survey says is that over 70% of those surveyed requested non-smoking when being seated in restaurants. There was NO question on the survey as to whether or not one was opposed to smoking. To infer that requesting non-smoking seating and being opposed to smoking are one and the same is wrong. Many folks request non-smoking but are NOT opposed to other folks smoking. They just don’t want to sit in the same area as the smokers.

Why do I feel that there was a lack of research on the part of the reporter? Why do I feel that the article was slanted? I do know one thing, that is a fact: the reporter’s editor has come out publicly in support of a smoking ban.

Reporting? Or editorializing disguised as reporting? Read the City Council minutes and the Johnson County survey and then decide for yourself.