Monday, April 28, 2008

Pflumm Pfails, Again

This was an unbelievable evening at the City Council. Early in the meeting the election of the Council President took place. The Council President fills in for the mayor when the mayor is absent, and, in a tragic situation would become mayor.

For whatever reason, Dan Pflumm allowed (or encouraged) Kevin Straub to place his name in nomination. Frank Goode seconded the nomination. He was rejected by the council 4-3.

Now, let's look at the background of this situation. On April 1, Pflumm ran against Jeff Meyers for mayor and lost. But, there were also four council members up for reelection. Pflumm actively recruited challengers to run against those four sitting council members. Challenging for public office is good. But is it smart for one council member to actively attempt to unseat four of his colleagues? Then, when all four are returned to office to think that they would want him to be their council president? The only thing that probably saved him from being defeated 5-3 is that one of the four councilmembers so challenged was absent this evening. The other member voting aginst him is not up for reelection until 2010 (just like him, Straub and Goode)

The questions that now beg to be answered are:
1. Can he be effective for his Ward I constituents?
2. If he chooses to run for reelection what chance does he have? In the mayoral election he lost in his own ward by approx. 60% to 40%.

His sanctimonious, arrogant attitude is going to continue to hurt him. But he can't see that.

Dawn Kuhn, of Ward III was nominated and was elected to the position.

Video at 11, or actually by scrolling down:

Friday, April 25, 2008

Fox4's Reporting of Meeting

Fox4 had a reporter and video cameraman at Tuesday's meeting

Read their report , and click on the "Live" box under video (in the center grey square) for the video.

This is the link:

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cell Phone Discussion II

Well, we tried. Tuesday's Public Works and Safety Committee meeting put a stop, for now, on a possible cell phone ban in Shawnee.

My primary concern was texting, particularly among youth. Councilmember Sandifer pointed out that last year's number (19) of accidents attributed to cell phone usage (2%) was low. Mathematically, he is correct. Chairman Sawyer agreed with Mr Sandifer as to how low the number was, but added a caveat "'s low, unless it's your kid. Then it's a big number."
Mr Sawyer's observation was right on.

Side note: Which city council member appeared to be using his cell phone/PDA to email/text or read some during the committee meeting? Guess it had to be pretty important stuff that it couldn't wait the one hour the meeting lasted. Or maybe the unit was on vibrate and he just wanted to see who called?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Cell Phone Discussion

Some of you might remember that a few months back I addressed the council and asked them to consider restrictions on the use of cell phones in Shawnee.

At that time one of the council members asked that staff research it.

Well, staff has finished and the info is being brought to the Public Works and Safety Committee Meeting on Tuesday, 4/22/08 at 7PM.

For those of you who are concerned about this item, may I suggest showing up next Tuesday evening. Especially if you are concerned about our youths who have a tendency to use text messaging features while driving.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Is Commercial Development Really Helpful?

Much has been discussed recently about property taxes, commercial development and other related items.

That is why I find a recent article in the KC Star to be very interesting. The article can be viewed at

The item I found interesting was that Lenexa homes are valued at approximately 13% more than homes in Shawnee. Now, in the article that is appraised value, but the assessed valuations would have to follow the same pattern. On top of that, homeowners in Lenexa are also paying a higher mill levy than homeowners in Shawnee.

There are other interesting things to consider. Lenexa’s population is considerably less than Shawnee’s. And, it has a larger municipal work force.

Now here is the irony to all of this. Just drive anywhere in Lenexa and it appears that they have quite a bit more commercial development than Shawnee. So, why are its citizens paying more in property taxes with all of that commercial development? Could it be that tax abatements are actually hurting the city? Could it be that all of that commercial development in Lenexa is not carrying its share of city’s expenses so it is falling back on the home owners? Most of those businesses do not generate income (read that as sales tax) as retail expansion would.

And yet, there are certain infrastructure costs which have to be covered and which will increase as more commercial buildings are added. A Shawnee resident, Paul Cunard, wrote a very interesting letter to the Shawnee dispatch about this subject. It can be read at

Is it possible that commercial expansion could actually hurt rather than help the city?
Or, does the emphasis need to change as to exactly what kind of commercial development would be best?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

What Happened Last Week?

As we all know, the incumbents in the Shawnee municipal election were returned to office.

Now, folks are going to offer a variety of reasons for this. So, I will offer my opinions.

The challengers all seemed to target the same issues. So, let's look at the three issues that appeared to be their primary focus:

A. The previous 17% property tax increase: While 17% is an extremely large number, when it is looked at in real dollars, is it really that significant? If I, as a high school drop out could see that the actual dollars were low, then apparently the more educated majority of Shawnee's citizens could also see that. The 17% amounted to approximately $8-$10 per month for the average homeowner in Shawnee. The average homeowner is paying approximately $60-$70 month for city services. Apparently, the majority of voters did not feel this was a major issue. Maybe, just maybe, they thought it was a fairly good deal.

B. Commercial development: Shawnee has been increasing the percentage of its tax base dedicated to commercial properties. Was this an issue? None of the challengers came up with any new ideas to increase or accelerate the trend that has been taking place. Even the KC Star made mention of that.

C. Smoking ban: Again, it would appear that a majority of Shawnee voters seemed to approve of the ban that went into effect. Some die hard opponents of smoking seemed to want to include those establishments that received exemptions under the new ordinance. Heck, virtually all "family friendly" establishments are currently covered. The "watering holes" are the ones that can apply for exemptions. Oh, and those that are concerned about the employees, it is just possible that most, if not all of the employees in the "watering holes" are smokers themselves. Was this an issue?

As in most elections, those that didn't prevail will sit around and try to determine what happened. Some will attempt to blame others. Some will attempt to analyze what they could have done differently. Did they zero in on the appropriate issues? Did they come up with new and innovative ideas? Did they come up with specific plans?
Why was the voter turn out low? Voter apathy? Voter satisfaction with the current situation? Low turn outs tend to favor incumbents. What was or wasn't done to excite the voters?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Looks Like the Incumbents Won

Looks like the 5 incumbents that ran for office were reelected.

Jeff Meyers, mayor, and council reps Cheryl Scott, Neil Sawyer, Dawn Kuhn, and Mickey Sandifer will all return for another four years.