Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Last night the council passed a new ordinance with regards to litter.

Most of it made sense. Neal Sawyer brought up one valid point.............with a $500 maximum penalty there is no minimum penalty. The senior city prosecutor indicated that in some cases a person could get a $5 fine.

Sawyer thought the minimum fine should be a more substantial amount, like maybe $100, to get the point across. Methinks he is right.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Touchy, Touchy, Touchy

Last week I went on line to the Shawnee Dispatch to download the questionnaires that the individuals running for council answered, prior to the election. Figured that since we had 3 new members this time, that later, after about 6 months, it would be neat to look at their campaiogn comments and then compare those to what had actually happened.

Well, one item popped up regarding Jeff Vaught. As a matter of fact, I had seen it before the election, meant to ask about it, and actually forgot. Could not believe that such an innocuous item could raise such a fury. Follow the exchange of emails.

My first email to him:

From: Ray Erlichman
Sent: Sunday, June 20, 2010 11:30 AM
To: Jeff Vaught
Subject: Candidate questionnaire

Hi Jeff,

Was just doing a review of the candidate questionnaires from the Dispatch for an item I am looking at researching down the road, and then something else on your responses caught my eye.

I meant to ask you about it prior to the election and then spaced it out..............sooooooooooo...............I'll ask now: On the education section you stated "no comment". You were the only candidate who wouldn't state what their education level was. So, I'll ask it here.......what would be the answer to that question, and why didn't you wish to state it in the questionnaire?

Thank you


My second email to him:

From: Ray Erlichman
Sent: Wednesday, June 23, 2010 3:16 PM
To: Jeff VaughtSubject:
FW: Candidate questionnaire

Afternoon Jeff,

Below please find a copy of my email from 6/20/10. I'd like to think that you haven't as yet responded because of an oversight as opposed to a deliberate attempt to avoid a citizen inquiry.

Anyway, I did find it curious that you responded "no comment" to the question on education. Heck, not verybody has a PhD. I'm a high school drop out. But, your avoidance of a very basic question posed to candidates is intresting.

Looking forward to your reply, because, "good starts with timely responses to citizen inquiries"


His reply:

From: Jeff Vaught
Sent: Wednesday, June 23, 2010 5:57 PM
To: 'Ray Erlichman'Subject:
RE: Candidate questionnaire

Dear Mr. Erlichman,

On April 6th of 2010, I was successful is winning the general election for Shawnee City Council, Ward 3 with the following official results:

Jeff Vaught: 470

Dennis Kissinger: 409

Both of my opponents, Mr. Kissinger and Mr. Straub, touted their education. As we both know, the candidate you supported was eliminated in the primary election and, while I have the utmost respect for Mr. Kissinger’s accomplishments, I went on to defeat him in the general election. I find it ironic that not one of my constituents has ever questioned my education level yet you, a resident of ward 4, seem awfully concerned about it. Why?


Jeff Vaught

Shawnee City Council – Ward 3

My reply to his email.

From: Ray Erlichman
Sent: Wed, 6/23/10 9:26PM
To: jvaught
Subject: RE: Candidate Questionnaire


Why? Simple................because you made it an item of curiosity by stating "no comment" My first email is a little more specific.

What ward I live in is immaterial. As an elected member of the city council, any citizen of Shawnee can ask you that question. Ward 3 residents vote for or against you. But when you are on the council you represent all citizens of the city. Very similar to the Congress of the United States. If I have a question for a Rep or Senator, regardless of where they are from, I can and will ask it. Just like any citizen of Shawnee has the right to voice their opinion to any member of the council, regardless of their ward. This would include, but not necessarily be limited to any opinions as to what actions they would like the council member to either approve or disapprove.

So, the choice is yours. You can either answer the question or you can refuse to answer it. We don't have to go back and forth with it. Just let me know which one.

Thank you


Guess that is a touchy subject. No reply as of last night. Guess he also doesn't realize that eventhough the voters of the 3d Ward elected him, that when he sits on the council he represents everybody and anybody can question him. Why is that such a touchy question?

As a side note: Why don't residents of Ward 3 question some things? See the post below about apathy. When it comes to local elections, Ward 3 is the most apathetic. Does that have anything to do with it?

Now he really has my cuiosity up. Touchy, touchy, touchy

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Apathy In Shawnee

Believe there have been various posts about this in the past on this blog.

I decided to share some statistical information with those who do read it. It is amazing though how the elected body that has the greatest effect on our daily lives draws the absolute smallest response on election day. At a presidential election the turnout is pretty good...........but the president, congress etc does not have the effect on us daily that the city does. It's the city that sets property taxes, local sales taxes, provides public safety services, public infrastructure services etc etc................don't think I've ever seen a congressman, senator or president shoveling/plowing snow or laying asphalt, responding to a domestic violence situation, putting out a fire, or rushing a heart attack victim to the hospital.

Here are the figures:

April 2010 Council Election

Ward Registered Voted Percent

1 -----10,104---- 1,393 ----13.78%
2 ------8,668 ------808 -----9.32%
3----- 11,930 ------893 -----7.49%
4 ------9,160 ------807------8.81%

April 2008 Council & Mayor Election

1------ 9,792----- 1,786 -----18.24%
2------ 8,412 -----1,389----- 16.51%
3 -----11,030----- 1,260---- 11.42%
4------ 8,666----- 1,373----- 15.84%

November 2008 Presidential/Congressional Election

1------ 10,370----- 8,334---- 80.37%
2------- 8,939----- 6,689---- 74.83%
3------ 11,966----- 9,892---- 82.67%
4------- 9,516----- 7,351----- 77.25%

These figures are pretty interesting and in a way show how little the community really cares about how their city is run.

What is really a shame is that the county has made it so easy to vote. A voter does not have to show up on election day. They can vote early at designated locations, or they can even get a ballot by mail and not have to physically go to a polling location.

For info on advance voting please go here: http://www.jocoelection.org/voters/AdvanceVoting.htm

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Another response, re: TIF

Now, this sounds good, especially the last part:

Mike, you are correct in every assumption. Without a tiff, this property will be sold for either a high density housing development or perhaps we’d rather see large (2-5 acre) plots with upper level homes. Either way, the highest and best use of the ground would be a high end development which welcomes consumers to Shawnee. It is truly large enough to attract a theme park or some other single user, such as Disney proposed some years ago for a music themed entertainment. More likely, the TIFF would allow a developer to give a beautiful, well planned mix of retail/entertainment, office, high end living spaces all similar to development around the race track at the Legends.

__________ _________________________­
Robert E. Hodgdon – Treasurer/Board Member
Hodgdon Powder Company, Inc.

A Response to what is a TIF?

Received the below response. Mike brings up some interesting, positive points.


this corner, when developed, will be our "gateway" development to more development westbound on shawnee mission parkway, all the way out to shawnee mission pkwy. and kansas hiway 7.

if you have ever been on the property ( i have ) you would notice that like the deffenbaugh rock mining + landfill operation, it is a huge pile of rock under that soil.
to make it "development ready", it will take millions of dollars of rock detonation, earth moving, and utility installation.

in short, it is a "big deal." despite the fact that the families involved have a net worth exceeding you + i, it is still a huge endeavor, and one that cannot be undertaken without a city / landowner / developer partnership. the other alternative is to leave it alone, zoned agricultural, which produces the lowest revenue stream possible, or the owners bequeath it to a charitable-trust estate arrangement, and tax revenue could go to zero.

from a personal standpoint, i would love to see a drury inn, mixed retail / condo development / restaurant / bar area, similar to a development that i am familiar with in west des moines, iowa, that has spurred further development along a similar corridor, and is now one the current "hot properties" in polk county, ia.

i understand your concern on t.i.f., and to be sure, all t.i.f.'s are not created equal. in this case, i believe that the "give to get" scenario of this property is in the best long term interest of shawnee and the school districts.

another key consideration is that when cerner corp. builds the development out by the nascar track, the need for affordable, condo-type housing in west shawnee plays right into this future potential area. some clerical worker and her husband working at cerner can afford a nice, new, $100,000.00 - $150,000.00 2 br. condo, in an area with restaurants / bars / retail, but cannot afford to buy my home at a $250,000.00 clip.

ray, i hope that you take my commentary at face value, as i have no financial dog in this hunt, just want to see first class future development out here in my neighborhood.

permission to post to your web site is granted.

michael t. egan.

What's in a TIF?

Last week, the city council approved a TIF (tax increment financing district) for an area (approximately 240 acres) in the vicinity of I-435, Johnson Drive and Shawnee Mission Parkway.

Basically, this was approved once before but the DeSoto USD 232 put a stop to it.

Now it has come up for reconsideation, and the city has reapproved it. It would appear that neither of the two school districts or any other taxing authority involved will object.

So, here is the $64, 000 question (remember that TV show?): What do the families that own this property intend to do with it?

At this stage, they do not have to say. Once plans are developed then their intentions will be known, as each project will need separate approval.

First and foremost, are they going to develop it themselves, or are they planning on selling it? A chunk of land that has been recently designated as TIF has got to be more valuable to a potential developer and could possibly show a nice profit for its current owners on resale. Heck, these three prominent Shawnee families didn't get that way by staying home and watching TV.

But, that is almost immaterial as they may choose to not sell the property but to develop it themselves. Either way, that again brings up the question: What will be done with it?

1. Will it be developed as housing subdivisions? Does Shawnee need more housing? Will Shawnee need more housing down the road?

2. Will it be some sort of mixed use like Zona Rosa on the Missouri side? Or what is being considered for the Metcalf corridor to replace Metcalf South?

3. Will it be office park? Warehousing? Light manufacturing?

4. Will it be destination shopping and entertainment (like Village West)?

5. Will it be mostly hospitality oriented (restaurant and hotels) to get some of the overflow from the events at Village West?

6. Will it be a combination of any or all of the above?

Time will tell.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Shawnee PD Adapting to Situation

Kudos to our Shawnee PD

There is apparently a relationship between vehicle crashes and other crimes. Our PD has analyzed this and is taking a proactive stance to work towards reducing both.

Please see the information in the Kansas City Star at:

Monday, June 07, 2010

Salute the Flag, Not Your Drink

I have sent the item below to the Shawnee Dispatch as a letter. Hopefully they'll publish it and more people will be aware of this:

This past Saturday was the annual Old Shawnee Days parade. As usual, a nice turn out and some really great participation by folks marching in the parade.

But something is bothering me. At the beginning of the parade, when the American Legion Color Guard stepped off, the lack of respect by those watching was abhorrent. Mike Thompson, announcing the event, asked all to rise. Standing across from the grandstand I did notice just about everybody stand. What I also noticed was that most were continuing their conversations and drinking their drinks. Less than a dozen folks in my field of vision actually paid proper respect by saluting the flag. Is it so difficult to shut up, stop drinking, and place your hand over your heart for approximately 60 seconds? Must be. And, while you are at it, teach and show your children respect for the flag?

Don't know what the reaction was along the rest of the parade route. Would venture a guess it was the same.