Monday, August 31, 2009

Donohoe can Deliver the Dough

An interesting thing happened at last week's city council meeting just prior to the vote to reinstate the residential franchise fees.

State Representative Owen Donohoe from the western part of Shawnee got up to address the council. He claimed to have located well over $1 million in funds that belonged to the city. He stated that he had given the info to a member of the council, approximately one week before the meeting.

If I heard correctly, we were given info that if the city issued a "kill order" for a street project we could get the money. Believe the project is the Monticello Rd project which isn't going anywhere now for a few more years. Eventhough we've already spent over $3 million on it.

Anyway, former city council pesident Tracy Thomas had quite a conversation with Donohoe. She has posted that info on her blog

I encourage folks to read her comments. Then start asking questions.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Yellow Brick Road Runs Through Shawnee

If the Yellow Brick road came through Shawnee, would this be the cast?

Dorothy and associates.
Toto is still Toto.

Aren't the munchkins cute?


And the voice behind the curtain

Friday, August 28, 2009

Reader Unhappy With Tracy Thomas Comments

I received an email from Ashley Barton who is unhappy with Tracy Thomas' comments. Here is the email:

When I read Tracy Thomas response on your blog, one line stood out but not because it was directed at Dawn Kuhn.

"Dawn Kuhn is a know-it-all who disrespects the public."

I think Dawn's name could easily be replaced with Tracy Thomas and the sentence is just as accurate. I agree with your earlier assessment that Tracy's comments were irrelevant and in my opinion, childish. This is the kind of tactics kids resort to in the face of defeat, name calling and personal attacks. Grow up and act your age.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tracy Thomas Responds

Tracy Thomas has emailed me and asked that she be allowed to comment on my post below, since I singled her out for some of her comments at the council meeting.

The following is the email commentary from her:

Yes, it was pertinent, because of her unprecedented unprofessionalism.
In Shawnee's 153 years, we've never had a woman in the Council chambers dressed this way. Never.
If Dawn "Cleavage" Kuhn wants to come flounce into the council chambers dressed like a hooker, break a promise to the voters 20 years ago and now take $200 a piece from every homeowner in Shawnee, I say, YES, that certainly is pertinent. Where is she going to stuff all that ill-gotten money--in her bosom?
If Dawn 'Cleavage' Kuhn wants to lecture the public ad nauseum during the 2 hour Pity Party she and the council staged, to wear down the public that was there to be HEARD, YES, that is certainly pertinent.
Kuhn wants to be the next Mayor of Shawnee. She is not a college graduate, She resented that being mentioned, but it is a fact: only 3 of the Council are college graduates. No other city in Johnson County has that uneducated a council. I mention it because it goes to explain why they are so anxious to kiss up to the 273 employees who don't want to have their salaries or benefits cut. It's a fraternity, and the Council is being hazed with misinformation and scare tactics.
Dawn Kuhn started the evening aggressively by calling the arguments of ALL of the opponents of this unethical franchise fee "dishonest". So she deserved to be called out.
Frankly, I was shocked at her showing 2 inches of cleavage at a public meeting, especially since she claims to "run Bank Midwest on K-7 Highway". I understand she dresses inappropriately at MOST council meetings and events. I'll be documenting that in the future.
Dawn Kuhn is a know-it-all who disrespects the public.
Finally, Dawn Kuhn set up the City Manager and the Finance Director for major embarrassment-- that you AND the Star failed to report.
When State Rep. Owen Donohoe from western Shawnee testified, he stated we don't actually have an $850,000 shortfall--because $1.692 MILLION is secretly stashed in Topeka in an untapped fund.
City Manager Carol Gonzales, who muzzles the Finance Director during meetings, said she didn't know what it was for, "but someone does".
That was bad enough. Then Brian Kidney said I think it's for XYZ street, but then said, and I could not believe my ears: "Sorry, I forgot what town I am in!"
Then he said, "Now that I think about it, it's not XYZ, maybe it's reserved for Monticello Road, I can't remember. I think it's encumbered for that street, but maybe not. And we haven't submitted the Kill Order yet." (Monticello was moved to 2013 at the very earliest on the CIP.)
What--you are the Finance Director and you parked $1.6 million in Lot C at the airport and lost your ticket???? You should be fired for that lapse.
Then Gonzales says to Donohoe, "You kind of surprised us. If you'd told us earlier to look for that money and what it's for, we could have had the facts."
Donohoe said, "I GAVE the folder to a Council Member. I don't know why they didn't tell you about it."
For the record, Donohoe banks on K-7 at Bank Midwest, and Dawn Kuhn is his Council representative. And Donohue told me he did NOT give it to Straub. Or to Pflumm.
So, if Dawn had done her JOB, we would ALL have had the answer: that
$1.692 million is sitting in a jar in Topeka, for a project we're not going to do now, and so--voila--we FOUND THE MONEY! We do not NEED to now break the promise and tax our residential gas and electric bills that will be going up 40% in the next year anyway.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Franchise Fee Got Approved

Well, last night's long council meeting came with no real surprises concerning the franchise fee.

It got approved thanks to council members Scott, Sawyer, Kuhn and Sandifer who voted for it along with Mayor Meyers who needed to break the tie vote because Pflumm, Goode, Straub and Distler voted no.

There was one slight surprise and that was when Cheryl Scott made the motion to approve the proposed ordinances. Originally the fee was proposed to be 5% starting April 1, 2010. Scott's motion was for it to be 2% starting April 1, 2010 and then an additional 3% on January 1, 2011. So, for 8 months it will be 2% and then 5% after that. What was the reason for the change? Who decided to propose the change? Did someone anticipate a large crowd and was that an attempt to mollify the crowd?

Needless to say various suggestions from the public fell on deaf ears (well, at least 5 sets of them). Among the suggestions was to put it on a ballot. Another suggestion (from guess who?) was that if it was approved, to add a built in sunset provision and allow the fee to expire after one year. That would require council action to reinstate it at that time, and allow for more public input.

As utility rates rise, so will the franchise fee. This author feels, and he mentioned it last night, that down the road folks will hold the utility companies totally responsible for whatever total increases there are. They will "space out" the franchise fee. I got the impression that Kuhn was thinking along those lines. She indicated that when people move from one area to another they look more at mill levies and not franchise fees. when it comes to franchise fees people "........don't take it into effect".

Sidebar: Met and spoke with former council member Tracy Thomas before the meeting. Thought it would be helpful that she was against the franchise fee. That is, until she got up and spoke. Yes, she was against the franchise fee but that was no reason for her personal comments directed towards two of the council reps. She made reference to a legal problem that one of Sandifer's adult children had. That had no bearing (IMHO) on the item before the council. But, what really blew my mind was when she publicly chastised Kuhn for the amount of cleavage that she (Kuhn) was exposing. Was that necessary? Was that germaine to the topic?

Personally, I was not happy with either Kuhn or Sandifer for supporting the franchise fee, and some of Sandifer's comments, were, to me, fear mongering in an attempt to garner support. But that did not warrant Thomas' comments.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Franchise Fee-On the Agenda for Tomorrow 8/24/09

A reminder. The 5% utility franchise fee is on the city council agenda for tomorrow night. The meeting starts at 7:30PM at city hall, 11110 Johnson Drive (Johnson Dr & Nieman Rd)

Regardless of whether you are for or against this item, it is important to be there. Most of what affects our daily lives happens at city hall, not in Topeka, not in DC.

If you want to speak on this topic, you will have the opportunity. The mayor will ask if anyone from the public wants to speak. Raise your hand, he will recognize you and you can proceed to the podium to voice your comments. You don't need a long prepared speech, or even any notes. You don't need pictures, charts etc. Your opinions and thoughts are what is important.

If you want, copies of the agenda and the packet (supporting documents) are available here:

The packet (supporting documents) will show you the exact wording of the proposed ordinances. You can view this info on line and even download it to print. A limited number of printed copies are usually available a couple of days before and on the night of council meetings at city hall.

Hope to see ya there.

Protesting at Congressman Moore's Office-part 1

From Saturday, 8/22/09

Obama is way over the line. The estimated count was 300 on the one side of the street against the government health plan and 100 across the street in support of it.
Obama is sending this country down the road to socialism. We must work, within the law, to stop this.

There were no untoward incidents while I was there. The Overland Park police department had officers there, and they did a nice job in making sure that vehicle and pedestrian traffic moved in an appropriate manner.

If you have trouble viewing the video here, then please go to this link

Friday, August 21, 2009

Cheyenne Wyoming and Texting While Driving

Looks like Cheyenne, WY may join the growing list of cities that ban texting while driving. Actually, their proposed ordinance also bans talking unless with a hands free device.

Info at these two links:

The second link goes into more detail and has indications that the matter will pass, and could go into effect in September.

Cheyenne, the capitol of Wyoming has a population a little less than Shawnee.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Should be an Interesting Night

This coming Monday, 8/24/09 the Shawnee City Council will consider reinstating franchise fees for they city's residential gas and electric utility users.

The council meeting starts at 7:30PM. Regardless of your position on this subject it is important, at least to many folks. Show up, listen, and maybe even voice your opinion. Let the council know where you stand. You don't need to have a speech, you don't need charts, you just have to get up, when recognized by the mayor, and say whether you support or oppose this item. Or again, just be there.

I have been to a variety of meetings here. Some of them with contentious issues, and yet have never seen the meetings denigrate to the shouting, screaming matches like the recent townhall meetings for the federal health care issue. Here in Shawnee we know how to express ourselves without getting into the gutter. Exercise your legal rights. Come on out and participate in a process that many have made sure you still have. Remember, there are many that don't have this right in other parts of the world.

Also, at this time I think it appropriate to say thank you to the 5 council members who voted to postpone this item from the 10th to the 24th so that possibly more folks in the city could get involved. It is an important matter. That would be councilmembers Straub, Distler, Pflumm, Sawyer and Goode.

I think the 3 councilmembers who voted against the postponement (Scott, Kuhn & Sandifer)really were mistaken in that action. When in doubt always allow for maximum citizen involvement.

The below quoted item appeared in an article in the Shawnee Dispatch on 8/12/09. The full article can be read here: Ms Kuhn was one of the ones that did not want to postpone the item

Kuhn said the only result she saw from tabling the issue was “more negative energy be spent on something that really shouldn’t be causing the turmoil in the city that it is. By waiting two weeks, the facts before the Council will not change, and public opinion – trust me, we have heard both sides of the issue en masse.”

Turmoil? Negative energy? How about the possibility that it could help to create a cohesive effect? Possibly some positive energy? Did we really hear from both sides en masse? Maybe, just maybe, regardless of the final outcome, maybe more folks will feel that they had a chance to be heard as opposed to having something (either action) jammed down their throats. Maybe a majority are in favor. Maybe a majority are against. Either way they need to be given the opportunity to speak out.

Again, kudos to the five who voted to postpone and a thump on the old noggin to the three who opposed the delay.

Looking forward to seeing you there Monday night.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Another Correction

Received a phone call from Dawn Kuhn. she says she did not make a comment about the utility reps being able to be available.

Anyway, I'll withdraw my comments regarding that.

Will definitely grab a copy of the CD of the meeting so I can find out exactly what it was that I heard.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Correction to below post, from earlier today.

It was the 7/27 (not 8/10) meeting when Mr Sandifer said the franchise fee would be $3 per utility ($6 total) for a 1500 sq ft house.

More Thoughts on the Franchise Fee and the 8/10 Meeting

As previously stated, the franchise fee item did get delayed until the 8/24 council meeting.

Good, because the way it was put on the agenda did not necessarily allow for possible maximum input from the citizens.

Some council members felt that there was an inflammatory email going around. Maybe it was........maybe it wasn't. Perception...........key word.

Was it inflammatory, or misinformation that there were 2 sets of numbers going around about the effect of the proposed franchise fee? In a media interview the city manager said it would cost the average home owner $12 /month. At the 8/10 meeting council rep Sandifer said a 1500 sq ft house would run about $3 extra for each utility. Is that misinformation? Is that conflicting information?

What about Mr Sandifer's concern about emergency response if the franchise fee was not passed? Golly gee willikers, I don't remember seeing anything about a reduction in emergency services in the budget presentation. Taking it a step further........ even though the fire department responds, so do ambulances.......and the ambulances are JoCo MedAct and the franchise fee would not have an effect on those ambulances. Was this a scare tactic? Was this misinformation?

When the discussion was going on prior to the vote to postpone the action on the franchise fee one of the council reps (Dawn Kuhn) made a comment that totally blew me away. She was concerned that if it was delayed that there was a possibly the utility company representatives might have difficulty in attending on a different night. Whoa now. Which is more important? Allowing for maximum community involvement and input or the schedules of the utility companies? Hint: Utility companies usually have entire departments dedicated to governmental/regulatory affairs. It is firmly believed that they can handle an adjustment in the meeting schedule.


Rumors, rumors, rumors? Maybe not.......maybe fact? I have been told by various folks that there are certain individuals that are extremely upset with some of my recent critical comments about council rep Dawn Kuhn. That supposedly I have gone from a community watch dog to a vindictive individual. Hmmmmm...........and it's possible that the folks that are saying this are the same ones that thought it was great when I was critical about other council members. Like certain members that Ms Kuhn is not very fond of. Seems slightly hypocritical to me.

Now supposedly these comments have appeared on one of those social network web sites. So, not only do we have the possibility of hypocrites, but gutless ones at that, that won't confront me directly. They just hide behind cyber barriers. Now my curiosity is really piqued. Are some of these folks that are supposedly making these comments members of one or more of the local KC area media outlets? Could that eventually manifest itself as biased media coverage?

For the record: This author is an EOAB. Equal opportunity ankle biter, exercising his right to voice his opinion. So, whether it is Pfrick and Pfrack or Diva Dawn, or anyone else on the council, I'm gonna call it the way I see it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Leonard Pitts - Syndicated Columnist

Leonard Pitts, who writes for the Miami Herald and is syndicated had an item in the KC Star this week.

His views on texting and the item here:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Only Six Dollars Each

After reading the entry about creativity, a local resident sent me a whole list of slogan ideas. He said he'd sell them for $6 each.........naturally, it's too late to change again, but, these do give some idea of what can be proposed by just plain folks.

Happiness spoken here!

Shawnee means business

Not just another Kansas town

Take The Shawnee Advantage

A town for all seasons; a community for all reasons

The best-kept secret in Kansas

America's leading Community

The Shawnee City Council: In a class by itself

The town that works as hard as you do

Isn't it time you Shawneed?

Don't you need a place to really live?

You're in for a pleasant surprise

Let us sell you on Shawnee

Explore the Values

Meet your new neighbors

Join the Midwest at its Best

Best of all, Shawnee

There's even more: Opportunity

What an opportunity!

Shawnee, the best news for you!

Still, by popular demand

It's true! It's Shawnee!

Something to cheer about!

Check our super features!

Backed by America!

Shawnee: the sky's the limit

Chock full of life

A rich harvest of all that’s best

It's all here!

Everything you need and want

Shawnee: Everything's included!

Everything in one complete package

Then, before I could post them, he sent a few more:

We'll change your mind about living!

Why postpone your future in Shawnee?

Who could say no to success?

Don't you wish you were here?

Franchise Fee Action Delayed Two Weeks

Last night, just prior to the franchise fee item coming up, Council rep Straub raised a point of order. He made a motion that the item be removed from the agenda and rescheduled for two weeks (8/24/09). His reasoning was based on what he felt was a lack of notice to the public on this important item.

The item was apparently scheduled for one of the August meetings, and apparently it wasn't until last Tuesday that it was determined that the info was ready to go for last night. That was too late for any advance notice even by just a press release, to appear in Wednesday's Shawnee Dispatch. Technically, an item like this does not need any special notice. The fact that it was listed on the agenda, on Friday, met legal requirements of notice to the public. The Dispatch did run an item on their web site Friday..........but as a weekly (Wed publication) how many would have seen that?

Council reps Sandifer and Kuhn both voiced strong opposition to delaying the discussion and action of this item. They claimed that they had received high volumes of email from the public. They also claimed that there were emails going out with misinformation about the proposal. Kuhn's utterance of the two magical words, "trust me", made me think otherwise. I get nervous when elected officials use those two words. It was almost as if these two did not want further involvement and/or questioning by the public.

Five council reps voted to postpone the item (Pflumm, Sawyer, Goode, Straub & Distler). So now it will come back on 8/24/09.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Another Great Cartoon

Fantastic.......Pat Oliphant is considered by some to be the premier political cartoonist in the USA.

Check this one out

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Creativity Could Help

Was chatting with some folks a few days ago and the topic of the city's new branding came up. Yes, "Good Starts Here" along with its logo of a stylized tree. The chuckling started when it was pointed out that the tree was common to so many cities that it was not unique. Add to that a walk down the baby food aisle of a supermarket will take you to a shelf where you can buy Nestle's® Good Start® Baby Food. Believe that the city paid around $15K for the company that produced that.

Now starts the conversation about creativity. We can't go back and change what has happened, but, we can look forward. What if, in the future we need something else in the marketing arena? Why bring in consultants? Why not approach the local colleges and their business/marketing departments. Work out an arrangement where a group of students are selected to work on the project, as interns, and to also get class credit. A cup of coffee says some of them could come up with some really original ideas. This concept could be expanded to other areas, rather than hiring consulting firms. Naturally, there will be areas where certain technical/licensed individuals would be needed. At the budget hearings one item that came up was the possibility of delaying the city's new website. Why not interns for the IT department? And, again......when things improve and additional staff can be hired, give them preference.

Why not check with local VoTech schools and or JuCos (JuCos have Vo/Tech programs)? Allow some of their students to intern in the city as mechanics or in other areas that they are studying. Then, when we go to fill those positions, they could be given preference for the positions. Yet, while interning, they could also get class credit. The position of Assistant to the City Manager remains open. Why not let an intern from a government studies program fill it, while earning class credit?

In time, as the economy improves the open positions can be filled, and again, the interns can be given preference.

There are other areas where we can probably be creative. We have actually seen some of that already. Our fire department got very creative in regards to the solar assisted fire truck. And, the department did the research and the work. A tour of our new police headquarters will show how input and creativity from those involved helped to create a highly functional facility.

Council rep Distler made a statement at the last council meeting that sometimes folks are too involved in the picture that they can't see the frame. True story.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Budgets, Franchise Fees & Whatever

Just another reminder. That 5% franchise fees for gas & electric utilities is on the city council's agenda for Monday, 8/10/09 at 7:30PM. Funny, thought it was supposed to be 8/24 but apparently it got moved up two weeks. Don't really remember seeing that in the local press.

Anyway, this is another one of those council sessions that folks need to get involved in, regardless of their opinions.

Looking back on the last council session, there were a few other items that were interesting to say the least. Council members Straub, Pflumm and Goode had a proposal that would have reduced the budget by $1.4 million. There were some problems with that. One example was that Straub said it did not involve reductions in force, yet the mayor said the proposed reduction in pet licensing expenditures would have eliminated a position. What appears to have happened is that some of the proposed reductions may have just been arbitrary, and some may not have been. This is where it gets interesting. Straub claims that the city manager did not provide him with all of his requested info to be able to review various line items. The city manager claims that he was provided with everything that was available that he asked for.

Now we have a classic "he said, she said". Actually, "what we have here is a failure to communicate"...........and maybe, just maybe, a little antagonism from both sides.

Monday night should prove interesting. Will there be a rehash of the budget itself? What sort of debate will arise over the proposed 5% franchise fees? Will we be treated to another self aggrandizing speech by council rep Kuhn?

The best info source for what happens at these meetings is what people see and hear for themselves. That is why more folks need to show up, at least to listen, and if the need arises, to voice their opinions. Oh, if anybody is interested, I have a few comments about the 5% franchise fee.............they will be mentioned Monday night.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Franchise Fee

The City Council has it on their agenda for Monday 8/10/09 to vote on a 5% franchise fee for gas and electric utilities. How will this affect you?

It is item 5 on the agenda:


Is it good? Is it bad?

The council meeting starts at 7:30PM.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Cartoon Gets It Right

The link below will take you to a cartoon that actually appeared in the hard copy edition of today's KC Star.

For some reason, I couldn't find it on their web site, but did find it at

It definitely says it very well.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Cleveland Ohio Gets it Right

In April of this year the City of Cleveland passed a city law prohibiting texting while driving.

It became effective July 19, 2009.

See info at
from the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Correction to 7/29/09 Blog Post

One paragraph was out of sequence. Mea culpa.

The last paragraph said that a certain item was going to be on the 8/10/09 council agenda.

The way it was worded it appeared to reference the school crossing guard/AAA crossing guard thing.

It actually referred to the suggestion for an outside performance audit. It is my understanding that that item may now be delayed until the 8/24/09 council meeting. Is One Scary Website

From the Glenn Beck show...........................

Very scary, and unnerving............................

If you don't see the video displayed above, go here