Monday, June 29, 2009

Yes Virginia........Lawyers Do Disagree

Well............looks like the Supreme Court ruled on the firefighter's case.

Guess what? A split decision..............5-4

Guess what else? 26, yepper 26, Friend of the Court briefs filed..............supporting different sides of the issue.

See info at

I Made A Boo Boo on Shawnee Trivia III

Whooops..........looks like I had the answers reversed.

Shawnee's first city manager was Dennis Kallsen and the city clerk at the time was William Wurtz Jr.

My apologies................

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Questions, Questions.......Who Answers Them??

Another interesting event at last week's council session.

Apparently Kevin Straub had submitted a list of questions regarding the existing trash ordinance to the city manager. Supposedly these questions came from some of his constituents in Ward III.

Straub then got a response from the city attorney saying that some (or all, not sure) of the answers would be attorney/client privilege.

There's some banter back and forth (couldn't hear it all) and Straub said something about if there were 10 attornies in a room that a person could get 10 different legal opinions. At this juncture in time his "wardmate", Dawn Kuhn sarcastically inquired as to how many years of legal training he (Straub) had.

Well, I believe that on this point Straub was correct, and you don't need any legal training. Our judicial system is based on an adversarial system, where attornies will argue a case from different perspectives. Additionally, just look at how many cases go to appeal, are reversed, then reversed again, then reversed again (ad infinitum).

As a matter of fact, the classic case of differing legal viewpoints is with our own US Supreme Court. How many times has the SCOTUS issued an opinion with all nine justices concurring? So rare as to be the exception rather than the rule. As a matter of fact they sometimes even have disagreements within their opinions. You could have a 6-3 ruling and find out that of the 6 majority, their outcome was the same but in the written opinions 4 thought because of one reason and 2 for another. The same for the 3 "minority" opinions. So, just an FYI.......yes Ms Kuhn, you can have 10 lawyers in a room and have 10 different opinions. And yes, a non-lawyer is entitled to question them.........any of them. FYI, much of American jurisprudence is based on English Common Law (translation: common sense).

Now, the big question: Since Straub couldn't get the answers my curiosity is piqued. What would happen if one of those constituents were to come to council and ask those same questions? Would that Shawnee citizen be denied the answers?

Interesting................damn, it's a bummer when I find myself agreeing with Straub.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Movin' On....Textin', Talkin' & Drivin'...Not Dead

Well, some interesting things since my post of Tuesday 6/23/09.

Both the KC Star and the Shawnee Dispatch ran articles about the presentation.

These can be found at:

One thing they both said was that Councilmember Sandifer indicated that the inattentive driving ordinance could be used without a separate ordinance. Not necessarily true. When this matter came before the Public Works and Safety Committe in April 2008, and the same thing came up, Asst City Attorney Ellis Rainey is quoted in the minutes as follows:

"He thinks the one Police Captain Moser was looking for was the careless driving citation. He stated the inattentative driving citation referred to earlier, requires a collission with another vehicle due to driving error or neglignet inattention. Careless driving is the catch all, at least when he was a prosecutor that is what they used to write. He stated if someone is being a normal careless person in driving a car, that is what they used to be charged with and as far as he knows, he thinks that is still common"

Next, both articles indicated that the matter was not going any further. A request by one of the council members who wanted more info was submitted to staff and the item will be researched and that info presented to the Finance and Administrative Committee in October 2009.

Now, so there is no misunderstanding, this is what happens. Staff will research what has transpired in cities that have already passed their own ordinances. This could include, but not be limited to accident data, traffic citation data, and even income from citations issued.

This would not be a determination of an ordinance. The committee would then have various choices, to include sending it to the full council for more review and discussion, additional staff research etc etc. If it does go to the full council, then the council can decide if they want more info, if they want to drop it, if they want to monitor it, or if they want additional info regarding an ordinance. But, in no way would the agenda item in October be an ordinance item. Strictly a discussion and info exchange.

So, until October rolls around we'll just have to gather our own research and be prepared.

See ya folks at the October F & A Committee meeting.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Textin', Talkin' and Drivin'

Well, I did it again. Took my arguments to the Shawnee City Council last night.

Would love to see Shawnee take the lead on this in the metro area. What do I want? Cell phone use while driving is only permitted with a hands free device. Texting while driving needs to be outlawed.

After talking with various members of law enforcement the above would apply to all ages. It would be too difficult to make visual age observations.

Mickey Sandifer, Ward 4 Council Rep, brought up GPS units. He questioned whether or not they would be as troublesome as cell phones and texting. They probably would. Ironically, in today's business section of the KC Star the following item from Steve Rosen was published:

"Legislation aimed at manual operation of GPS devices while driving has been introduced in New Jersey. The bill specifies that only a voice activated GPS may be programmed while driving. Violators would face a $100 fine, the same as anyone caught in New Jersey text messaging or using a hand held cell phone while driving."

Anyway, hopefully maybe one member of the council will try and make this an agenda item for one of the council committees. That would then allow staff to do some follow up research on cities that have enacted their own ordinances. It would be interesting to see how that has affected driving habits, its effect on accidents, and even its effect on the treasuries of those municipalities. Heck, I believe Chicago's fine is $250. Whatever it is, it has to be a major boost to their treasury.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Yep, Even Congressmen Do It

Anybody who has been reading this blog lately knows that there has been an issue about elected officials voicing opinions without having all the info.

As previously stated, I see nothing wrong with that. People (especially elected officials) are going to have opinions and need to tell their constituents where they stand at any particular point in time.

Well it appears that one of my blog readers has been solicited by two, yep two, republican congressmen to sign a petition against national health care. Sounds to me like they are voicing their opinions, without having all the info. And that is normal.

I'm always leery when an elected official says that they don't have an opinion on a subject because they don't have all the info.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ya Gotta Love It - Part 2

Looks like the "flack" has been reversing.

Have received numerous comments from folks that back me up on supporting Straub's right to express his opinion. Hey, that is our right.

Also, many of them support his position on the right of folks to choose who they want to be their trash hauler. Basic American freedom of choice.

This is going to get interesting.

Actually, it will really be interesting come September when city staff presents their info to the council. Wonder how many folks will attend that council meeting?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Answer to Shawnee Trivia V

We have a winning answer. The answer is Marvin Rainey, our current city attorney

The winning submission is by Tony Soetaert

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Shawnee Trivia V

Who was Johnson County Commissioner of Elections (1958-1962) and then mayor of Overland Park 1963-1967?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Locks of Love Follow Up

Last night was the big night. Shawnee City Council Rep Michelle Distler went to Zenergy where Heather Kendall cut 14 inches of Michelle's hair. The hair is first gathered into a ponytail and then cut, so it is a "solid" piece as opposed to sweeping up the hair that drops. Apparently this shop had three donations to Locks of Love last week.
Great job.
Here are 3 pics from this salon session. Click on the images to see full size:

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Ya Gotta Love It

This could turn out to be a long read. Prepare yourself.

I've been catching quite a bit of flack for saying that Kevin Straub had a right to voice his opinion regarding the trash hauling situation.

So, where do I start? First, until the US Constitution is rewritten I will, where necessary, voice my opinion. Additionally, even if I disagree with a person, I will defend their right to voice theirs.

It is ironic though, that the people who are telling me I should not have even voiced my opinion are using that same right to make those statements. Ironic? Hypocritical? I didn't serve four years in army green (one of those years in a combat zone) to give up that right.

Some folks have said that elected officials shouldn't be voicing opinions without having all the info. Horse nonsense. Elected officials have an obligation to let the people they represent know where they stand at any given point in a discussion. That way, citizens can express their views to those officials knowing what they are up against. I've said it before and I'll say it again........we see this all the time in the US Congress. Congressmen will say that based on current info their position on a presidential initiative is such and such. Sometimes they maintain that position, sometimes they change it. But they are not leaving the electorate in the dark.

A couple of years ago I was involved in the debate concerning the smoking issue in Shawnee. One individual emailed me and said, among other things: "I remember another issue that you also advocated the need to be informed on before the actual ordinance would be passed, smoking"

Well, the person that wrote that was not quite accurate. What I was complaining about was that some council members wanted to pass an ordinance without following procedure. But, at no time did I say that they should not voice their opinion. At least their position was known and one could debate them knowing where they stood. To me, that was better than the comments by another council member at the time. I queried another council member about their position. Admittedly I cannot now quote verbatim what they said, but I do remember my gut reaction after hearing their "position". My gut feeling was that I wished that I had some blueberries and whipped cream to go along with that waffle.

When an elected official says that they have no opinion and are waiting for all the facts, I will question the veracity of that statement. They are human (I think) and human nature is usually to have an opinion. They usually don't want to voice their opinion for fear of criticism or fear that someone might engage them in debate to change that opinion. Or, they are more concerned about maintaining their office, and getting reelected, rather than being open with the populace.

So, for those of you who have been critical of my saying that Straub had a right to voice his opinion, congratulations. You are now exercising your right to express your opinion. I will support that action, eventhough I disagree with the thoughts.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Parade Pitter Patter

Went to the Old Shawnee Days parade yesterday.

Looks like the organizers did another nice job. Now they will probably take a short break and then start prepping for next year's event.

Besides the OSD folks that make this a memorable event we need to remember the support given by various city agencies............Parks & Rec, Public Works, PD & FD. Kudos to all.

There is one wish (or dream) I have. That is that at one of these parades arrangements will be made to have the Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard from Ft Riley participate. Our ties as a community to the formation of the old frontier military posts are well documented. It would be nice. See info at

It was really nice to see a wide group of people and organizations represented. Civic, fraternal, business, military, religious etc. Got a chuckle out of watching those dogs from the training school.

A couple of days ago I posted an item here regarding Councilmember Kevin Straub and his actions regarding the current issue of trash hauling, contracts etc. Basically I was supportive of Mr Straub's right to voice his opinion. We all have that right. Additionally, before the sky falls, I basically concurred in his opinion.

Here's the rub. Mr Straub marched with a vehicle from one of the trash haulers which had a sign proclaiming his stand on that issue. Did he have the right to do that? You bet. Was that statement during this parade out of place? In my opinion, yes, it was out of place. There's a time and place for everything, and, again, in my opinion, the parade was not the right place to make that statement. As a matter of fact, I'd go so far as to say it showed a complete lack of class.

Kevin, you were on the right track with this issue, and then you go ahead and pull a stupid stunt like this. Being a buffoon detracts from what you were trying to accomplish.

National Guard Band (click on the image to see full size):

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Did We Send A Boy to Do A Man's Job?

Wellllllllll, I didn't vote for him.

See the post at

Such is life. many pieces of literature I will get in the mail when he runs for reelection?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Letters About Trash Talk

In today's (6/3/09) Shawnee Dispatch there are three letters on this subject

The letter that really caught my eye was submitted by Dawn Kuhn, 3rd Ward council rep, and that letter can be viewed at

When I started reading her letter much of what she said was making sense. No decisions had been made yet, staff was still studying, task force had submitted its recommendations etc etc etc.

Then, this comment made my eyebrows go up:

A number of people I have spoken to have been told the Council is ready to sneak through a single-hauler ordinance before anyone knows about it. Worse, some elected officials are perpetrating this blatant untruth.

I'd like to see verification of that. Most of the comments that I've read seem to indicate that folks want a choice, but not anything about it being a done deal.

But, what really got my BP up was this comment:

It is the height of irresponsibility for a Council member to take a stand on issues without having complete information. Shawnee residents should be able to count on their elected officials to protect their interests, improve the city and make informed decisions. We should also expect that our representatives not emit ill-informed opinions attempting to mislead the public. Shawnee should demand more from our representatives.

Back up for a minute. I'd disagree most adamantly on this one. It is the height of irresponsibility for a council member not to take a stand, with or without complete information. What is wrong with an elected official saying that based on current info available that their position is such and such? Additional info can always either enforce that position (stand) or it could make them change it. I expect any elected representative to be able to say at any given point in time what their stand is, based on the information currently available. (By the way, isn't that what happens during election campaigns? Candidates state what their stand is on certain issues, and then, after being elected, change them.)

Additionally, on this subject there is a basic economic concept being discussed: free choice with competition or single sourced monopoly. In differing circumstances there can be pros and cons for both. But, any elected rep has a duty, a responsibility to inform the public what their basic stand is. Then, let research and evaluation either confirm that position or afford them an opportunity to change their mind.

Also, who is to be the arbiter and decider of what is an "ill-informed opinion" ?

Well, here is my opinion on that paragraph: It smacks of sanctimonious, holier than thou dribble. Now, if that is an ill-informed opinion, then so be it......but it is my opinion, and nobody is going to subvert my right to voice it. They can disagree with it..........that then becomes their opinion.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Trash Talk

Bet that got your attention. :-) :-)

OK..........recently the City of Shawnee had a task force look at trash recycling. The info about that, and their final report is located here:

Apparently, some folks in town are under the impression that decisions have already been made. Not true. City staff is now doing their research based on the info contained in the task force's report. There will still be more public meetings along with public input. The city issued a press release concerning that, and it can be accessed here:

Some folks around town apparently feel like they have been "left out of the loop". For those folks all I can say is ya need to attend council and committee meetings. Read the various info items posted on the city's web site or even subscribe to the city's email list

And last but not least, get out on election days and vote. Especially for local elections. The elected folks at the city, county and state level have more of an effect on our daily lives and yet those elections draw the least number of voters.

Now, with regards to the trash recycling. One of the current city council reps, Kevin Straub has taken a unique approach. He has set up a "petition site" where folks can "sign" his on line petition if they agree with his views on this subject. That is located at

Any long term readers of this blog know that I am not a fan of Mr Straub's. But in this case I must compliment him on setting up a site where folks can voice their opinions. That is what a democracy is about. Just like this blog. Ya gotta open your mouth. One thing, even though it is an "on line petition", it does not meet the requirements for a legal petition. Again though, it does afford folks an opportunity to have their say. And yes, somebody can set up another one taking an opposing view. Or they can set up a blog. Or an on line forum which allows for interactive debate. The choices are out there. Use them, regardless of what your stance is. Attend meetings, public hearings.....don't just say "how did that happen?"

For the record: I personally feel that any company that can provide appropriate trash hauling and recycling services to the community should have the ability to compete for the consumer's dollar. It concerns me that some folks want to see a single source provider.

Whatever your feelings are, exercise your right to express them..........get involved.........don't sit on the sidelines.