Monday, July 26, 2010

Budget and Egg Timers

Well, very few members of the community attended the budget meeting.

And yes, yours truly got up to speak on 3 items. The city’s contributions to Wonderscope, the payment for the school crossing guard program and council travel expenditures.

Here’s the funny part. When I was finished, rather than commenting on any of the pertinent information that was brought up, Jeff Vaught, the self appointed time keeper for the council was critical of the fact that I spoke for eleven minutes. He said citizens are only supposed to speak for three and he wants to see that enforced. The mayor did say (and I do thank you Mr. Mayor) that I did announce that I had three items to address.

Anyway here’s the kicker. In his rush to criticize the time spent (as opposed to addressing the issues) Mr. Vaught showed a lack of knowledge of city policy. The policy is 5 minutes, not three.

Maybe I should have sat down after each item, and then got back up.

Oh, where did I come up with the five minutes not three? From the city’s own website at

This is where it says: Please keep your comments brief. Comments should be tailored so as not to exceed five (5) minutes.

The brochure for this does not actually specify any particular time limit. It can be viewed at:$FILE/PublicComment_09.pdf

Definitely would like to see if Mr. Vaught starts timing other folks………especially those that get up and speak in favor of items he supports.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

City Budget Hearing

Tomorrow, Monday, 7/26/10 the city council will hold a public hearing on the 2011 budget.

A public hearing is exactly what it means. A time for the public to comment on the item.

This is when Shawnee citizens have the opportunity to let the council know which parts of the budget they agree with, and which parts they may disagree with.

The council meeting starts at 7:30PM at city hall, 11110 Johnson Drive.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Vegas, Oh Vegas........

My letter below appeared in today's edition of the Shawnee Dispatch

In a letter to the editor (July 14) Mr. Vincent attempts to justify the trip to the Las Vegas shopping center convention by Council member Dawn Kuhn.

Was he aware that four people — Jim Martin, Shawnee Economic Development Council executive director, Doug Wesselschmidt, Shawnee Development Services director, Carol Gonzales, Shawnee City manager, and Kuhn — officially represented the city?

Additionally, three local businessmen/developers “….were there representing their companies’ interest and also helping Shawnee where appropriate.” (per Mr. Martin).

Granted, Ms. Gonzales returned early because of the unfortunate and unforeseen situation that occurred within our fire department.

So now my questions are: Did we really need such a large contingent? Could we have done just as well with just Messrs. Martin and Wesselschmidt? And then maybe, only if necessary, either Ms. Gonzales or Ms. Kuhn, but not both? The other three were there on their own.

Also, a review of documents obtained under an open records request indicates that Ms. Kuhn’s return flight was scheduled for two days after the convention ended. A little vacation added on to a business trip?

Maybe we can combine two advertising slogans: Good starts with what happens in Vegas staying in Vegas.


Mr Vincent's letter of 7/14/10 can be seen here

He in turn had referenced Mr Straub's letter, which can be read here

Monday, July 19, 2010

How Apathetic Will You Be?

Yepper, will Shawnee residents once again show that they don't care about their vote? How many will not vote in the August 3d primary?

The shameful thing is that the JoCo election office has made it sooooooo easy to vote.

In person: 4 locations from 7/20 - 7/31

Advance voting by mail: Just fax in the application and they'll mail a ballot to you

On election day itself.

Just go to for complete info

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tiahrt vs Moran

A few days ago I received my advance mail ballot. One of the many options available for voting in the Aug 3 primary election.

The Republican party has 4 individuals running to win the nomination to run for US Senator:

Todd Tiahrt
Tom Little
Robert (Bob) Londerholm
Jerry Moran

Now, it does appear that Messrs Tiahrt & Moran are the two frontrunners. What I find amazing is that these two gentlemen are attacking each other with such venom that one wonders are they both republicans?

It would be nice if, instead of their heavy attacks on each other they spent their time, energy, and money, on emphasizing their positives (or perceived positives), by stating factually how they voted on certain key issues etc etc.

Ironically, after the primary, the loser will probably issue a statement that to preserve party unity he will now support the other individual.

What a bunch of nonsense................

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Vaught Responds to my CID Posts

Jeff Vaught, Shawnee Council Member from Ward 3 had some email comments about my posts regarding the CID for 10 Quivira Plaza. It's only fair that I post his comments here, along with my response.

From: Jeff Vaught
To: Ray Erlichman
Sent: Tue 7/6/2010 4:55PM
Subject: RE: Sunday morning update - Sticking it to one part of the community


I have a difficult time responding to your comments because you seem to be all over the board in your political philosophy. One of my main campaign points was increasing development and improving the development climate in Shawnee. For too long the attitude has been that Shawnee is not pro development so we tend to lose projects to other cities. This is mostly a holdover from the past when Shawnee aspired to be a “residential community” with little to no emphasis on commercial development. Nice concept, bad idea. Without commercial development and redevelopment, our residential mill levee’s will continue to rise until we are no longer able to compete with other cities for even housing. Residential development puts an extreme demand on city services, from public safety to public works. Shawnee desperately needs an increase in both sales tax revenues and commercial property tax revenues.

That being said, I am not automatically onboard with every incentive that is proposed. If you look back and read the minutes from that meeting, I voiced my concern for the 10 Quivira Plaza CID and said I was struggling with it. My goal as a Councilman is not to blow a developer out of the water at his first appearance in front of the council, but to see if we can come to a win-win agreement that we can get public buy-in on. If you truly want to be a voice for the public and not a bomb thrower, I suggest you listen a little closer and maybe even ask a few questions before you make automatic assumptions. I think it’s great that you care as much as you do, but feeding bad information to the public can be just as destructive as bad Government.


Jeff Vaught
Shawnee City Council – Ward III

My reply:

From: Ray Erlichman
To: jvaught
Subject: RE: Sunday morning update - Sticking it to one part of the community
Sent: Tue 7/6/2010 6:37PM


In my opinion there should not have been a struggle on your part.

The fact that a certain segment of the community would be paying a higher sales tax for the benefit of a shopping center is wrong.

The fact is that if the collections of that sales tax exceeds the expenditures the city then gets to keep the difference to use as it sees fit. Contributed by one segment of the community.

The concept of the CIDs was to draw additional funds from tourist and/or transit dollars...........not from local community shopping venues.

If you are struggling with whether or not the citizens shopping in a local shopping center, where the primary merchant is a necessity merchant (groceries) should pay a higher sales tax, then sir, it is my belief that you are not concerned with the community. And again, it is one of the more moderate income areas of the city. There should be no struggle here.

A TIF was just approved for the I-435 corridor. That is where the commercial development needs to come in.


Sunday, July 04, 2010

Sticking It To One Part of the Community

Reference is made to the post immediately below regarding the possibility of the CID being reconsidered for 10 Quivira Plaza.

One item that was brought up at the last public hearing about this was only given a cursory explanation.

Let's look at this item, again. In the article written by Mr Gough he states:

"After CID revenues pay all eligible project costs or CID bonds, the municipality can spend any remaining funds as though they were local sales tax receipts." (K.S.A. 2009 Supp. 12-6a34)

Now, I'm no lawyer but the above seems pretty simple. If the CID is approved, then it would seem that if there is any money left over the city can do whatever they want with it. Let's bring that down to earth.............if approved, the folks who go shopping in that center, besides paying a higher tax for things such as food, could be contributing more to the city itself. Is this why the council members of Ward 3 appeared to be favoring the CID at that time?

As mentioned above, this aspect was only glossed over at the last public hearing.

On the other hand, if a CID is formed where the majority of the business is transient and/or tourist, then the effect on members of the community could be minimal. This is described by Mr. Gough and mentioned in the post below. And again, that would be in line with the 3 current CID projects already on the books.

If the city wants to work with a developer for a CID then do it like the others.............where the money comes from transient and/or tourist dollrs.

Remember: Good starts with not sticking it to the members of the community.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Is That CID Rearing Its Ugly Head Again?

Is there a movement afoot to revisit the CID (Community Improvement District) for the 10 Quivira Plaza shopping Center (Shawnee Mission Parkway & Quivira)?

The original plan, which fortunately went nowhere, would have placed an additional 1% sales tax on the stores only in that shopping center. That additional tax money would go to the developer/owner for upgrades to the shopping center.

Today, the state sales tax was increased by 1%, which means that folks in Shawnee will now pay 8.775% on all retail purchases, including food. If the CID plan goes into effect, then folks who shop at that shopping center will pay 9.775%. Outrageous, especially when the major retailer in that center is a grocery store. Doubly outrageous when that shopping center is in one of the more modest income neighborhoods of the city.

Currently, there are 3 CIDs in the State of Kansas. One is in Maple Hill, sits on I-70 and is a truck stop. Another one is in Hays, sits on I-70 and is for a motel and restaurant. The third one is in Junction City, sits on I-70 and is like a mini regional shopping center with major retailers (like Sears).

The examples above fall in line with this statement: "If the project relies upon local business and if the CID sales tax would be unpopular in the community, a CID could negatively impact the project's business. On the other hand, retail businesses that derive a large portion of business from tourism and other transient clientele may not experience the same negative consequences from an additional sales tax."

The above statement was written by Matthew S. Gough, an attorney, who specializes in real estate financing transactions to include economic development financial incentives. The entire article that he wrote was published in both the Feb 2010 issue of The Journal of the Kansas Bar Association and The May 2010 issue of the Kansas government Journal.

If a CID, with its corresponding sales tax increase was to be placed on that shopping center it would be outrageous. How any member of the city council could even entertain that thought is, IMHO, beyond comprehension.

The citizens who would be most affected live in Wards 1, 2 & 4. I urge all, who agree that this is wrong, to contact your elected city council members and stay on them until this matter is put to rest. Side note: Ironically, when the original public hearing was held on this, the two council members who were most in favor of it were the two from Ward 3.

Flag or Advertising Banner

Monday night County Commission Chairperson Annabeth Surbaugh and Shawnee Mayor Jeff Meyers exchanged flags.

Ms Surbaugh in her remarks when discussing Shawnee's history even mentioned its first name, Gum Springs.

Anyway, when the flags were unfurled I was a little surprised. Instead of the flag that is part of the display behind the mayor at council meetings and on the pole outside of city hall, this humongous branding banner is what was shown. You know, the one that says "Good Starts Here". I might be wrong, but I always thought the city's flag was the one with the seal on it (the one with the sun's rays, the wagon, the oxen, the wheat shaft etc).

Being modern is good, ignoring heritage is terrible.

A reminder, "good starts with remembering your roots"