Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Holiday Greetings

Well, it's that time of the year.

To those who will be celebrating it, a very Merry Christmas.
To those who just celebrated it, Happy Hannukah

And to all...............a Happy and Healthy New Year.

And In This Corner.....................

Last night was a real learning experience.

First, there was the special city council meeting. This was to clear up some year end business with regards to licenses and a few other items. Believe it took about 25 minutes to accomplish this. So far so good.

Next, we had the regularly scheduled Public Works and Safety Committee meeting.

The last item on the agenda is where the fireworks started.

Apparently at one time Councilmember Straub had asked staff to review the procedures for grounds maintenance by the Parks Dept.

Well, it looked like staff did one heck of a job. A brief synopsis would show that by adding 3 1/2 additional employees, obtaining some equipment, the city could eliminate the outside contracting that it does now. It appeared to show how the city could save money, and also better cover other areas. These areas are the special events that the Parks Dept employees have to cover and also participation in snow/ice abatement.

It appears that Straub and Pflumm seemed to think the info was incomplete. Basically, they want the city staff to prepare RFPs (requests for proposals) to have private contractors bid on the grounds maintenance performed by the Parks Dept. Like they are going to get private contractors off their butts at 2AM to come in and assist the Public Works Dept in snow/ice abatement. Like these contractors would be there for city events with the same dedication as the employees.

Straub seemed to contradict himself. He said something about the sub-division where he lives hires a contractor. That they don't go for the cheapest, that they go for the best quality. Then he turns around and wants the city to go the cheapest route. There was more to it, but the discussion got so hot and heavy at times that I really thought there would be a physical confrontation. I have witnessed more decorum in a telecast of the WWE.

It got to the point where I was going to ask the City Clerk if she had a copy of the Marquis of Queensbury Rules instead of Roberts Rules of Order.

What was really "cute" was when Pflumm flat out, looked at Straub and again pulled the puppet strings. He flat out told Straub "If you make a motion to yada yada yada I'll second it". Naturally, Straub did as he was instructed. Only thing I didn't hear him say was "Jawohl Herr Pflumm".

When the RFP goes out it will be interesting to see which contractors respond. Very interesting.

Anyway, there are so many things that the Parks Dept employees do that a contractor would never do............oh well............hopefully the council as a whole will see the light.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Stock That Refrigerator At Work

Last Monday (12/10/07) I addressed the city council about financial incentives to businesses and residency within the City of Shawnee. I have waited almost a week to post my thoughts about what transpired because, if posted earlier, my anger towards the arrogance of one councilman would have been obvious

Again, I must reiterate, that personally I support most incentives to bring business to Shawnee.
When companies get financial assistance to either open new or expand existing businesses I feel that they have an unwritten obligation to attempt to also bring new residents into the city.
Ideally, such a concept would be a requirement of any asistance package, but this is NOT feasible. Another alternative would be to offer additional incentives (carrots) if not only new jobs were created, but new rsidents also. In reality, the only thing that can be hoped for at this time would be an annual report from these companies that gave the city very basic info as to how many of their employees reside within the city. New residents also contribute in many ways to the financial viability of the city.

Ironically, it is possible (and I failed to mention it at the time) that those responsible could use that info to attract even more new businesses. What a wonderful sales tool........."Not only is Shawnee attractive to businesses but the employees of those businesses also find it attractive to reside here".

Anyway, here is where the problems began with Herr Arrogance aka Pfrick. Mr Pflumm indicated that he thought it would take too long for a business to prepare that info. Au contraire. A company's human resource department could extract that info in a matter of minutes by a ZIP code search of their employee database. I am NOT talking about detailed employee profiles. Something very simple: i.e. out of 32 employees 8 live within Shawnee ZIP codes. Modern computer technology would allow a firm even with thousands of employees to extract that info in minutes. It is understood that there are a few ZIP codes that are shared with other cities, but hopefully not enough to skewer the info too badly. What we are looking for here is a healthy estimate. Just like the estimates as to what new businesses bring to the economy over a period of years.

The one item that really got things "going" was when I mentioned that new residents would be doing more shopping closer to home (Shawnee). Mr Pflumm then regaled us with his commentary of how one of his male employees, who lives in Overland Park, did his grocery shopping in Shawnee, places the items in the refrigerator at the office and then takes the items home. I tried to point out that that was probably the exception rather than the rule. Just ask most families where they do the bulk of their grocery shopping (among other things). Mr Pflumm tended to disagree with that.

Here's the fun part. At that point I said "Gimme a break" and he replied "No I will not give you a break". Ahhhhh, what fun...............out of respect for the rest of the council I did not pursue that comment. Mr Pflumm took my comment literally. What he failed to realize was that that comment, when stated in a manner of exasperation means something like "Gimme a break, and quit trying to BS us" Oh well, he would have us believe that one man on his staff of 12 is indicative of shopping trends. Curious, never did ask if the gentleman was married or single. That could make a difference.

Anyway, it would still be nice to know if any of these businesses that receive financial incentives also attract new residents to the city. Even if it is just an informational report with no strings attached. Another upside could be for businesses applying for incentives to expand. What a great argument on their side if they could show that they have aided the city in growing its population.

What really bothers me is that apparently Mr Pflumm did not think it was important to find out if companies that are getting financial incentives are also helping the city to grow in other ways.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Santa Has Elves in Shawnee

Just found out, via the grapevine that Santa's elves were spotted in Shawnee.

In council wards I & II they were spotted here

In council wards III & IV they were spotted here

And over at city hall they were spotted here

And somebody said I turned into a real Scrooge

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Resident Gets It Right

In a recent letter to the Shawnee Dispatch, Sheila Kostos hit the nail on the head.

Read the letter here

Anyway, a natural instinct is for most folks, in most cities, not to really be concerned about things "outside" of their neighborhoods. The situation that Ms Kostos is talking about could have an effect on citizens not living in the Monticello area.

See the previous posts about that project and the Southern Star high pressure natural gas pipeline.

Gonna get interesting..................