Friday, October 30, 2009

Trashy Trash Talk II

On Tuesday, 11/3/09 at 7PM one of the items on the agenda of the Finance & Administration Committee will be to discuss the recycling/trash ordinance.

This is not a decision session....rather a discussion session.

Those who have opinions on this item might want to attend.

Suggestion: Read the packet item as posted on the city's website so you have some additional background as to what is being discussed.

That is available at$FILE/7XATL5.pdf

Have a comment about this? Post it at

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Brouhaha Brewing with the City Manager

Looks like we have a major brouhaha going with the city manager.

Let's recap for a second. In June I again brought forth the idea of banning cell phones/texting while driving at a city council meeting. A few days after the meeting I spoke with the mayor and he agreed that getting the info from other cities as to how it works for them could be useful. He advised me to contact my council rep and have the rep request the item for a committee meeting.

Michelle Distler did this on 6/24/09 with an email to the city manager:

I received a call from Ray in regards to the Cell Phone Ban. He mentioned he had spoken to Jeff and that Jeff was interested in seeing what other cities have done and how it is working for them. Jeff advised Ray to speak to me and have me ask to have this item put on a committee. I told Ray it probably would not be until after budget and he was fine with that. So I am making a request for this item to be put on a committee meeting. Thank you. Michelle

Since over the summer the budget did have priority the item came up at the F & A committee meeting on 10/6/09. As pointed out in the blog entry below of Sat, 10/10/09, the primary question was never answered nor even addressed. During the meeting Ms Distler asked if I could supply a list of some of the cities and she would pass that on so we could get the info as originally requested. On 10/9/09 Ms distler sent the city manager an email which included a list of cities that I had sent to her.

Due to the fact the original request was not fulfilled, we would like to see this come back to committee advising as the email below requested that we see what other cities have done and how it is working for them. By presenting that no other Johnson County cities are looking into this does not address the request that was made. Ray has supplied cities that have enacted a ban and their population size.
Thank you.
(list of cities was included

On 10/17/09 (8 days after the last email, I inquired of Ms Distler if the city manager had responded.

On 10/19/09 the city manager finally responded:

Here's my dilemma - we have already given two presentations on this topic. I apologize if the second one wasn't exactly what was requested. I asked our folks to give an update and I must not have sent the specific email to them as they prepared. My fault. It is my sense that there is not majority support to move forward on anything at this time related to this issue. We have limited staff and limited money - 22 vacancies - 7.5% of our work force. I have projects that staff was directed to look into as part of our budget approval that we have slated out on Committee meetings clear til April 2010 (much more than 4 months) - because we don't have the depth of staff to get to them any sooner. I have a part time intern who is preparing our whole solid waste/recycling plan. This morning I am attending a meeting on State legislative issues because I have no one else to send, and we won't have time to even prepare a legislative program (at least not a good one - I'd like to do something), let alone monitor the session the way we should. These are just a few examples to make my point which is that I really struggle with asking anyone on my staff to take 10 to 12 hours of their time to research an issue at the request of one citizen (one very important citizen of course!) on an issue that there is not a majority support to move forward on at all. Does that make sense? If someone sees it differently, let me know, but I am struggling to find a way to justify it..... Carol

Most of the above correspondence between the council rep and the city manager had the mayor, the assistant city manager and me as cc.

On 10/20/09 I reponded to the city manager's email:

Mornin' folks,

If someone sees it differently let you know? OK.

I am confused, concerned, aggravated, and various other states of being.

To say "I apologize if the second one wasn't exactly what was requested. I asked our folks to give an update and I must not have sent the specific email to them as they prepared. My fault." is an understatement. It came nowhere close to answering the question.
Now, let's look at this: "on an issue that there is not a majority support to move forward on at all" We are not talking, at this time about moving forward on anything. We were talking about obtaining information as to how other cities were handling it. Again, this is information gathering. I remember recently when the President of the Council (Dawn Kuhn) publicly excoriated a fellow council member (Kevin Straub) for that member's stand on the trash issue without having all of the information.

I would like to know specifically which members of the council are against obtaining the information as to how other cities are handling this. Are we afraid of what the information would show? That it could be enfoced? That other problems/violations have been reduced? And yes, as a side benefit, people are paying for being stupid and putting other folks' lives and property in jeopardy. Remember, this IS a public safety issue. And, quite literally, a life and death one.

Now let's look at this: "I really struggle with asking anyone on my staff to take 10 to 12 hours of their time to research an issue" Well, since you assumed responsibility for failing to pass on the question properly, maybe then you could do the research.

Last but not least. Two things stand out as very annoying. Why did it take 10 days (and one reminder) before a council member received a response from the city manager? In the business world that would be totally unacceptable. Especially since the city manger in this government model reports to the members of the council. A response in today's era would be 24-48 hours. Even if it wasn't a total answer, an interim or acknowledgment reply would be the norm. I was curious as to what would happen if a department head failed to respond to the city manager in 10 days. Again, even if it is only an interim or acknowledgment reply. Also, what job in the business world can a person do wrong and then say they are not going to do it over?
Personally I think the original question still needs to be answered. Believe that Chicago, the cities in New Mexico and Brooklyn, OH can probably give a good history.

As of today I have not received a reply to my email.

I was going to take a poll at the 10/26/09 council meeting to see exactly which council members are against getting the info (not enacting an ordinance, just getting the info). Unfortunately that meeting has been cancelled since there were not enough items for the agenda.


It still bothers me that it took the city manager 10 days to reply to a member of the council. And then only after a reminder. Maybe there is some truth to another council member's public statements about selective members of the council getting speedy replies. This was brought out by another member of the community at the franchise fee meeting.

Also, anyone who works in the private sector who did not provide a report that was asked for by their superiors would be resoundingly reprimanded, especially if they refused to do it over. Do some folks not realize that in a council/manager form of government the council is in charge, not the manager? Have we a case of role reversal here?

Oh, I do not, as stated by the city manager consider myself a very important citizen. All citizens of Shawnee are important.

BTW, it took me less than 45 minutes to compile a list of cities that have ordinances. A short email (or phone call) by the city manager or staff to their counterparts would get the info. Is the 10-12 hours mentioned by the city manager realistic?

If anyone has any comments they'd like to make about this blog entry feel free to post them at

Saturday, October 17, 2009

To TIF or not to TIF

Earlier this week the Shawnee city council met with the USD 232 board.

Apparently one of the items they were going to discuss was the TIF district that the school board previously opted out of.......which basically killed the TIF district for I-435 and Shawnee Mission Parkway.

Things change..........let's look north to Wyandotte County. There is a very strong possibility now that the Wizards soccer team and Cerner Corporation are going to be locating in Village West.

Wow, what a coup for KCK/Wyandotte County. Shawnee could concevably benefit from that.

The key would be, IMHO, the type of development that would take place in the proposed TIF district. The article in the Shawnee Dispatch, indicates that some members of the School District were concerned about residential development in that area. Valid point. The lawyer for the development group indicated that any residential development would probably be lofts and townhomes. MY opinion....."probably be" is not good enough. "Must be" would be better. The area would be mixed use (see the Dispatch article). I believe the concern of the school board members about residential development is valid. Those concerns need to be addressed. We don't need developers going after Cerner's proposed work force. We need strong, viable, commercial entities up there

We need to be going after the life style/entertainment commercial properties. Like hotels, restaurants, retail and yes, some sort of destination venue. Maybe even a nightclub or two. Anybody for a Coyote Ugly Saloon? They got turned down up north (eventhough there is a Hooters up there). With everything that is happening in Village West we could definitely get some action down here. I may not be expressing this correctly.

If there were firm commitments from the developers, up front, as to what would be in the development then a TIF district might not be a bad idea.

Let's see how this plays out.

Comments about this blog entry? Post them on our forum at

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tuesday's Committee Meeting 10/6/09

This past Tuesday (10/6/09) the Finance and Admin Committee of the city council held its monthly meeting.

The first item on the agenda was to be a review of info regarding the use of cell phones to include texting.

A problem occurred when the primary question as originally asked by a member of the city council was never answered.

Let's back up for a second. Back in June I addressed the council and again brought up the cell phone use/texting question. A few days after the meeting a phone conversation took place with the mayor and myself. It was mentioned that there were some cities that had passed local ordinances regarding this item. How was this affecting them? How were the local ordinances being enforced? Accident stats, etc. He expressed an interest in at least finding out what was happening in those cities. And yes, I brought up (eventhough it's a no-no) curiosity as to what effect the fines were having on those populations. The mayor then suggested I direct my questions to my council rep for review. I did this.

On 6/24//09 Council rep Distler sent an email to the city manager. Part of the email said:

"I received a call from Ray in regards to the Cell Phone Ban. He mentioned he had spoken to Jeff and that Jeff was interested in seeing what other cities have done and how it is working for them. Jeff advised Ray to speak to me and have me ask to have this item put on a committee."

Ms Distler had cc'd me and the mayor on that email. The city manager also cc'd me and the mayor when she advised it would be scheduled for October.

Now we come to this past Tuesday's meeting. No info was presented on the effects of bans in those cities that had them. The only thing about any other cities, was that no other city in JoCo was considering this item.

Why was no info supplied as to the original request? I can think of two possibilities:

1. There was miscommunication between the city manager and staff as to what info was to be reviewed.

2. Staff was directed by the city manager to limit the scope of the info provided. Possibly because the city manager does not favor a ban.

I sincerely hope that the problem was item 1 above. As such, Ms Distler has resubmitted the request to include the names of some cities that have these types of bans. If it was item 2, then we have a problem. Why? Because in a manger/council form of government it is the council that makes policy, not the city manager. The city manager is supposed to provide the info to the council............all info..........the good, the bad and the ugly.

Have any comments about this item. Post them here:

Additional info from the meeting:

An article from the KC Star was shown about a gentleman who was killed at the Harley-Davidson plant this summer by a woman who was talking on her cell phone, failed to stop after hitting him, and then ran over and crushed his head.

Also, this PSA from the UK was shown. If you have a weak stomach do not watch it. Not necessarily recommended for very young children.

If you have trouble viewing the above, you can click here to go to it

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Old Shawnee Town Makes the KC Star

Old Shawnee Town got a write up in the KC Star on 9/29/09.

The article can be viewed at

I started a thread on the forum and if anybody wants to comment, feel free to do so:

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Talkin', Textin', and Drivin'

Well, the item is up on the agenda for the Finance & Admin Committee of the City Council for Tuesday 10/6/09, 7:00PM at city hall

I'll be there. Will you?

Any comments about this? Visit the forum and post your comments at this thread:

Or, just visit the forum: