Friday, September 28, 2007

Size Does Matter ------- Sometimes

It sure does.

Especially when one discusses fish and the ponds that they swim in.

Take me for an example. Here in Shawnee I'm a little fish in a little pond. If I was back in my hometown (NYC) I'd be an even smaller fish in a real big pond.

Then you get folks who are big fish in big ponds. As a matter of fact, some of those folks would be big fish in oceans.

Now along come the big fish in the small ponds. These are the fish that would be little fish in big ponds. But most of them don't realize that. Now, how do these fish become big fish in little ponds. Usually, by one of three ways:

1. They bust their fins and gills to become big fish.
2. They are the fingerlings of 1 above
3. A combination of 1 & 2

Now, usually those in group 1 above are pretty decent. The same usually goes for those in category 3.

It's the fish in category 2 that are the most problematic. They are the ones that swim around with humongous chips on their fins, thinking that everyone needs to bow down and kiss the water that they swim in. Some of them eventually realize that they need attitude adjustments. The ones that don't realize that just bring ridicule (justified) upon themselves. Eventually they prove to everyone that they are not nice fish, and even their fellow big fish don't want anything to do with them.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Monticello Monday Coming Up

As a reminder, part of the Monticello Road project is scheduled for the Planning Commission meeting for 10/1/07.

I am still trying to figure this one out.

Some things still bother me. First, what a waste of a beautiful neighborhood with a neat historical background.

Second thing that bothers me is money. The info I was given (and I will round these figures off) is that the project will cost approximately $15 million. Now about $5 million dollars of that is supposed to come from the county via CARS.

The rest is to be financed via bonds. Then, if the property is developed the developers will have to pay an excise tax. Heck, make developers pay for it up front. Better yet, leave the area alone.

So there will still be an outlay of taxpayer's money (county money is still from taxpayers, and then debt service on the bonds). When will the development occur? Two years from now, three years, five years? That could be quite awhile before money comes back in via the excise tax.
Unless, there are developers already lined up for action once this thing is finalized.

Something still seems strange to me. Curious if the folks that own the property that is shown to be potential retail/office space will be at the meeting. Am sure that the residents along Monticello Road have some questions that they'd like answered

USD 232 Rumors - Not Nice

This is wild. A Shawnee resident who happens to be in the DeSoto School District sent me a copy of an email that she received from the Director of Community Relations for USD232.

It seems that someone is starting or has started a rumor that the USD 232 Superintendent has a $30,000/year dry cleaning allowance.

Come on folks, if that was true, the superintendent wouldn't have to have her clothes cleaned. At $2,500/month she could refresh her wardrobe every month, and donate the older clothes to charity for the tax break.

Why do folks do these things? Anyway the letter from the District is quoted below.

Hello, parents and patrons.
I cannot believe I have to send this e-mail out today.
However, I have received information from a number of patrons regarding an outrageous lie being spread about the school district and the superintendent. Specifically, the lie states that the district is paying the superintendent $30,000 for dry cleaning… or that the superintendent has a personal district budget of $30,000 for dry cleaning. This is false.
I am embarrassed to address this rumor, but this is what some individuals have decided to do with their time.
Alvie L. Cater, II

director community relations

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Shootout at the Shawnee Corral

The big night finally arrived. The City Council was going to review the information and recommendations from the Smoking Task Force.

The first few items on the agenda went smoothly, but prior to getting to item 10 (believe it was right around item 8) up jumps Kevin Straub and makes a motion (again) to adopt the Overland Park ordinance. Needless to say, when queried by the mayor as to why, Straub gave some convoluted explanation about being shut down in April when attempting to nominate an individual for council president. Huh...?? Where did that come from??

As to be expected his motion was seconded by Dan Pflumm. Are these two joined at the hip? Or is it possible that at varying times one has their labium superioris and labium inferioris firmly attached to the other one's gluteous maximus muscle. No, I'm not being vulgar. Look it up.

Basically, we were now treated to almost 4 hours of debate, discussion etc etc. Much of this could have been left out if Straub had just waited for the draft Shawnee ordinance first. When pressed by Councilmember Dawn Kuhn as to why the OP ordinance should even be considered over the draft Shawnee ordinance, Mr Straub could not answer directly. Was this man attempting to pander for the TV camera crew that was there? Would love to have a full copy of KCTV-5's tape. His comedic performance would be a treat to watch again.

It's amazing though how Mr Pflumm can engage in debate on items before the council without his packet of materials handy. He does this alot. Guess he must speed read it before the meeting and then commit it to memory. Wish I could do that. Or, maybe not, since on many occasions he makes statements or asks questions that other members have to point out are answered in the packet.

Anyway to make a loooooooong story short, the Shawnee draft ordinance was approved with some of the recommended exemptions from the task force. This was after the council refused to approve the OP ordinance for use in Shawnee.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Vigilantes.....Good or Bad?

Good question. Guess it depends on which vigilante group is being looked at.

KCMO Mayor, Mark Funkhouser has been taking a beating for appointing Frances Semler to the KC Parks Board. Seems that some folks don't like the fact that she belongs to the Minute Men. this group is patrolling the US/Mexico border. If they spot an illegal crossing over they radio the info to the Border Patrol.

Apparently though, La Raza and the NAACP don't like that. They are so upset with Ms Semler's appointment that they are threatening to pull their conventions from KCMO. The potential loss to KCMO would be about $15 million. That's alot of money.

My problem is I haven't heard either of these two groups voice any criticism about the Guardian Angels opening two new chapters in the area. One in KCMO and one in KCK. Aren't they a vigilante group too?

Strange, isn't it?

Friday, September 21, 2007

It's Almost Over

Monday night, 9/24/07 the Shawnee City Council will receive the report and recommendations of the Smoking Task Force that was appointed to review the smoking question.

This meeting will give the city council the opportunity to not only review those recommendations but then to discuss them, in open session. Additionally, the public will also have an opportunity to listen, and if desired, to be heard.

The process at work. Whatever the outcome is, it can never be said that the citizens and business owners of Shawnee weren't given the opportunity to voice their opinions and to be heard. Unlike what took place in Lenexa, KS where the council just went ahead to enact an ordinance on the eve of a holiday. Maybe I should ask the members of the Lenexa City Council to explain their definition of a participatory republic.

With the exception of two members of the council who attempted to short circuit the process, on two separate occasions, this has been a positive lesson about the process.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Dumb Rumors

We all need a good laugh once in awhile. Are ya ready?

Somebody is going around and starting a rumor that I am planning on challenging Mickey Sandifer for city council in 2008. That is the dumbest, most irresponsible thing to say.

First, why would I want to run against somebody that I both respect and agree with on many issues? (Ya can't agree on everything, but most is good). Second, and more important, I don't want to be an elected official. I don't have the time to give it the attention it deserves. I would not want to be like some council members that hardly, if ever, come prepared to meetings. (You know, like reading the packet ahead of time). Third, I would not want to have some other "ankle biter" bite my ankles. This, (the blog) is more fun than being an elected official. If you haven't read it (it's on the lower left hand side of the blog) I wrote a statement. It goes like this:

Sometimes I feel it necessary to speak my mind. This is a perfect venue to do it. The political climate is changing and we as citizens must exercise our right to speak out. What our legislative bodies need are more ankle biters and I'm sharpening my teeth.

Anyway I have a pretty good idea who may be behind this stupid rumor. And, as it was said in Forrest Gump: "Stupid is as stupid does".

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Monticello Rd - Planning Commission 10/1/07

It is my understanding that items related to this project will be on the agenda for a public hearing that day (10/1/07).

Would suggest all who may have an interest attend.

Wonder if any potential commercial developers and/or institutions that finance these types of projects will be there?

Thank You

I had received an email from Shawnee City Manager Carol Gonzales offering to provide some background info on the Monticello project.

We met in her office this past Thursday for about an hour. Lots of info that I am still trying to digest.

I would like to publicly thank her for her time.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Councilmen Speak With Forked Tongues

Some folks have asked me why I was so upset with what happened at the 8/27/07 council meeting. See the posting "Live From Shawnee...It's Monday Night (again)" dated 8/28/07.
Well, I do feel that two members of the city council need a refresher course in Civics 101, or at least some needle and thread to sew together the split in their tongues.

At the March 26, 2007 council meeting it was Kevin "Pfrack" Straub who actually made the motion to form the smoking task force. This is from the minutes of that meeting, readily available on-line:

"Councilmember Straub, seconded by Councilmember Scott, moved that Mayor Meyers appoint a task force made up of residents and business owners to study smoking regulations in the City of Shawnee"

Then on 8/27/07 he tries to get the city council to accept the Overland Park Ordinance (with handwritten changes). This move was seconded by Dan "Pfrick" Pflumm. Straub was trying to subvert the very process that he had made the motion to place into being.

Maybe he was trying to play both ends against the middle? He could stand up and pound on his chest and pontificate to one group of citizens that he was instrumental in getting the process going to obtain citizen input. He could then boast to another group that he tried to get the OP ordinance approved and that the rest of the council (other than Pfrick) shot him down. Justifiably, as they wanted the process to play out the way it was intended to.

Some of you might remember that Pflumm basically tried the same thing back in April (to get the city to approve the OP ordinance), with Straub being the second on that one. Now here's the background. The 3/6/07 meeting of the Finance & Administration Committe was the meeting that recommended 4-0 for the council to take the action that it eventually did on 3/26/07. And guess what? Mr Pflumm was one of the "4".

So dear readers, do you see why I say these guys speak with forked tongues? Why I say they tried to subvert the very process that they helped to put into play? Oh, Mr Pflumm will probably say that he didn't vote for the task force. He's correct. But, he didn't vote against it either, since he wasn't at the 3/26/07 council meeting. But, again, he voted to recommend that the council do it. Is he trying to play both ends against the middle also?

Maybe they need a reminder that sometimes citizens will put up with just so much garbage. How about a framed copy of K.S.A. 25-4301 ? Just to keep them humble. For those not familiar with it, it reads:

Chapter 25.--ELECTIONS

25-4301. Officers subject to recall; exceptions. All elected public officials in the state, except judicial officers, are subject to recall by the voters of the state or the political subdivision from which elected.

History: L. 1976, ch. 178, § 1; April 14.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

KCI Komedy

Yepper, we may be losing KCI Airport. At least as we know it.

Seems like the braintrust in KCMO wants to change the layout of the airport.

The fact that the current layout has enabled KCI to be ranked as the number one mid-sized airport means nothing to these brainless twits.

KCI is so user friendly it is a pleasure to use it. Anybody who has flown knows the difference between KCI's user friendly atmosphere and other airports' funnel configurations.

I don't have the info, but I am sure that folks on the Kansas side of the metro make up at least 50% of the passenger traffic at KCI. Yet we have no voice in its operation.

Who Ya Gonna Call? Not the DA.....

Had an interesting experience on Friday. Was looking for some general information regarding an aspect of KORA (Kansas Open Records Act)

Called the Johnson County DA's office. See below (from my cell phone info):

09/07 02:00 PM OLATHE 913-715-3000 DT 10

Basically, I spent almost 10 minutes on hold until the party that originally answered the phone came back to tell me that there were no ADAs around who I could talk with. BTW, her attitude was not what I would term "customer friendly". Seems like the office has adopted the DA's arrogant attitude.

So, I call the State Attorney General's office:

09/07 02:11 PM TOPEKA 785-296-2215 DT 15

I spent most of the 15 minutes speaking with an Asst AG who was very helpful in answering my questions. Additionally, she not only gave me info on a web page that had a copy of an AG written opinion on the subject, she actually offered to walk me through the links. And then gave me info on the state statute.

Three cheers for the AG's office...............three boos for the DA's office

Thursday, September 06, 2007

An Odor in the Air

When I left Monticello Road the other day I detected an odor in the air.

It was a very bothersome odor. Ironically I could not determine what the source was, nor what it actually smelled like. I do know that it had something to do with the proposed changes to Monticello Rd. These changes will apparently cause two families to completely lose their homes and many others to lose parts of their properties.

Admittedly, I am not very knowledgable about zoning laws, eminent domain, capital improvement planning or any of the myriad procedures to develop a city. What I do feel I have though, is a reasonable amount of common sense.

With that in mind, there is an item in the 8/6/07 minutes of the Shawnee Planning Commission that caught my eye:

"The City contracted for a traffic study for the Hodgdon property late in 2006, and the recommendations were presented to the Governing Body in February, 2007. The area included in the study is generally located between I-435 and Ogg Road and between Johnson Drive and Shawnee Mission Parkway. The study makes recommendations for street improvements in the area to handle the commercial and office designations on the Land Use Guide.Modified location of the 71st Street and Monticello Road intersection from approved plans for the project.

Modified location of the Midland Drive and Monticello Road intersection as development occurs south of the current Midland Drive and Monticello Road intersection.


As requested during review of the Shawnee Mission School District Softball Complex, the location of schools and school related properties will be identified in a different shade of blue than the current public/quasi-public designation.

Review of the west side of Pflumm Road in the 6100 and 6200 blocks (north of the AT&T service center) to include the potential for some office/retail development.

Review of a wedge created by the new alignment of Monticello Road between 75th Street and the 7900 block of the existing Monticello Road to include office and retail development"

I was always under the impression that it would be developers that would pay for road improvements that created commercial zones. Maybe I'm wrong.

Anyway, I now have some questions:

1. Why is the city paying for this road expansion and not the developers that would benefit from the office/retail development?

2. Who owns the "wedge" ?

3. Is the owner of the "wedge" going to be doing the developing or has the owner made arrangements to partner with, sell or otherwise transfer the property to another party?

4. Why is this residential area being chopped up for commercial reasons?

5. Will the folks developing the retail/office space reimburse the city for any of the road improvements?

6. What is the cost of this road work? (I have heard anything from $10 million to $20 million)

7. Who benefits from this?

It is my understanding that the property owners affected were wondering why Monticello Rd couldn't be upgraded to only a two lane road. Similar to Mission Rd, complete with the curves to follow the exisiting line of travel.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A Reader Responds....

A reader has emailed me a response to "Not Thomas Jefferson's Monticello", the previous blog entry.

I'll admit.........I had to read it twice to get its full effect. Great response. Loved it.

I read your article about Monticello Road and couldn't believe my eyes. What are you from "New York City" or something?

You said the area is “Pretty“. Didn't you see all those darn trees lining the street? Don't you know those things provide shade and oxygen? I am sure you felt lost because all the houses don’t look alike. And those over sized lots are just pure wasteful. We could probably fit twenty town homes on just one of those lots.

You said you weren’t sure but you thought saw acreage. Don't you realize some of that "acreage" has never even had a bulldozer ran over it yet? Don't you realize that all those trees and grass are a perfect habitat for bugs, horses, and wildlife? And all the diseases they carry.
Just the other day, I saw wildflowers out in a field along Monticello Road. I hope you understand that there is like 10% of our city that doesn't get sprayed with pesticides. Can you believe that? People out here don't even dump poison on their yards? All that unpaved ground could cause the rain water to soak in and provide clean ground water. Don't you care about our planet at all??

The safety of our citizens is of course the most important thing. In the past ten years there have been two accidents on this two mile stretch of road. If we don't do something, some one else might crash here by the year 2012.

The convenience that development will bring. Do you realize that now that my doctors office, grocery store, convenience store and McDonalds are almost a mile away? Thank goodness we are getting another Wal-Mart, the old one was five miles away. Can you imagine, five miles to get to Wal-Mart? It actually takes longer to drive there than it does to walk across the parking lot.

Thank goodness our city council has the wisdom to see the need for a 4 lane road to handle 2,000 cars per day. It's just too bad they weren't around 150 years ago. Those folks that traveled the California Road, that went through Monticello could have used a 64 foot wide strip of asphalt. How did those folks get along without another strip mall?

We need this road to spur development. This is such a blighted area. I don’t know when the last new thing was built in Western Shawnee. We must provide some of them good old boys with tax breaks so we can at least have ONE new thing.

And as for this being a rural area, this is the "CITY of Shawnee". Cities have asphalt like Overland Park. I'm sure you have heard of them. They are our idol.

Who really cares about people losing their homes? We need more asphalt. We need more strip malls. We need more banks. We need more housing. You can hardly find a house for sale in Western Shawnee.

About those folks that are loosing their homesteads. Who cares if their families lived in Monticello before the Pfricks came to America? Who cares if they built their house themselves before Pfrack went bankrupt in Nevada? We need to get rid of all that green. We want Overland Park beige.

I'm not Bill
But I live
on the hill.

P.S. To the families being evicted. Maybe the council would change their mind if you would just paint your house beige