Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Shawnee PD Pays Tribute to Noah Davis

The Shawnee PD has shown an extremely high level of compassion and humanity in its recent honors in memory of Noah Davis.

Rather than repeat the story here, please allow me to direct your attention to just two of the many local media items about this.

An article in the Shawnee Dispatch at

An article and video at WDAF-TV Fox 4 at
Thank you Chief Larimore for showing that Shawnee cares, and understands.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sandifer is Confusing - Even to Himself

If council member (Ward IV) Mickey Sandifer ever did or said anything that made sense, or didn't contradict himself, I'd say hallelujah.

OK, at the 8/13/12 council meeting when the topic of a company asking to do an analysis for a CID for the Shawnee Pakway Plaza (Bonner Springs Partners II) came up, Sandifer said he was against CIDs.

Huh, he was one of the folks that voted for the CID at Ten Quivira Plaza.  So, he votes for one, then says he is against them? 

So, I check a few things.  Now this is great.  In his most recent run for reelection (this April) he received in March a contribution from Tri Land (the company that runs Ten Quivira) for $500.  But, he did not receive any contributions from Bonner Springs Partners II (like Kuhn and Neighbor did).  Did he feel left out?  Were his feelings hurt?  Was he jealous?

Go figure.......................

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Important Info From Another Blog

As mentioned in a previous post, there is another local blog in town "Shawnee, Kansas FWIW"

It can be viewed at http://blog.shawneefwiw.com/

There are two very recent posts there that can shed some light on open government, or lack thereof, in the City of Shawnee.  One of these posts specifically covers the issue of detail minutes at city council meetings and the other post covers the issue of the trials and tribulations the author experienced in obtaining accurate and complete documents from city hall.

The post titles and dates of posting are as follows:

"Review of Minutes" Staff Report posted on 8/24/12

Then scroll down, skip a few others (unless you want to read them, as they are also interesting) and go to:

Crimson Ridge Rezoning Documents Requests April-June posted on 8/12/12

We have also created a permanent link to that blog in our list of links in the left margin

Friday, August 24, 2012

Answers to Questions

Apparently our mayor would rather attempt to take me down a notch as opposed to insuring that council responds in a truthful and forthcoming manner.  (See the post immediately preceding this one)

As such I have sent the following email to our mayor, Jeff Meyers:


May I direct your attention to my blog post last night concerning Council member Jim Neighbor.

Now you can say whatever you want to the Shawnee Dispatch about how I react when questions are not answered.

But, you cannot deny that we have a problem when council members cannot answer simple questions with direct simple answers. Mr. Neighbor is just the latest one to dance around a question as opposed to a direct answer.

I remember a couple of years ago when I was trying to pinpoint how some dinner funds were spent in Washington, DC by members of the council that you seemed to be in favor of getting direct, specific answers. Maybe that was because they were members of the council that you were not fond of?

When members of the council Tijuana Two Step around questions, and fail to provide direct answers I will continue to challenge them. Maybe you need to assert your influence and advise them that they have an obligation to be forthcoming when dealing with the public.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Is Council Member Neighbor Taking Lessons from Dawn Kuhn?

Background: In an article in the Shawnee Dispatch 8/8/12 Mayor Jeff Meyers had this to say about yours truly: Ray Erlichman, a resident who blogs about city affairs, “is another one who is going to try to make your life miserable if he doesn’t get the answer he wants,” Meyers said. He referred to Erlichman as “the season ticket holder who replaced Charlotte (Hargis),” a deceased former council member and leading critic of the governing body. Viewable at http://www.shawneedispatch.com/news/2012/aug/08/open-government-has-become-contentious-city-issue/

Moving forward - strange 1: At the city council meeting of 8/13/12 a development company wanted an analysis done to see if a CID was a viable way to proceed on a shopping center redevelopment. To do this, by ordinance, the developer needs to pay the city $20,000 for the study. No problem here. But the name on the check rang a bell, Bonner Springs Partners. So, I asked if any of the incumbents who ran for office this past April had received any contributions from them. It took a few seconds but Dawn Kuhn said she had but she couldn't remember if it was one of the principals individually or the company. I had to inform her it was the company, $500 maximum allowable. She indicated that she got so many contributions. OK, here's the "strange 1".......on the 3/26, 2/21, and 1/10 filings Kuhn ahd only received a total of 12 contributions...........and only two of them were for $500, the developer and Deffenbaugh. And, on the 3/26 filing which had the developer, Kuhn herself signed the report and appears to have also filled out the forms. But shee needed her memory jogged.

Moving forward - strange 2: I knew there was another one but couldn't remember, and no other council member came forward. So, when I got home I looked it back up. Lo and behold it was Jim Neighbor. Yet he didn't voluntarily admit to receiving the contribution.

So, I emailed Neighbor on 8/15/12:


Curious, when I asked the question Monday night as to who of the

incumbents who ran for reelection had received donations from that

group Dawn Kuhn admitted it but I really don't remember you responding.

Would you care to answer as to why you didn't say anything Monday night?

Thank you


Neighbor replied on 8/16/12

OK. I'm going to try this on a different screen.  My treasurer keeps track of all the financials, is recovering from back surgery, and I'll contact her next week, for details and forward them to you.

Regards, Jim Neighbor

So, I had to reply this way, also on the 16th.

Thank you for the response.

Attached please find a copy of the 3/26/12 financial for you to review.

It is interesting to note that this filing was signed by you and not your treasurer.

Also, as an FYI, on the 2/20 and 3/26 filings you received a total of 12 contributions……………and only two of them are for $500 (one from Bonner Springs Partners and one from Deffenbaugh).

One would think that an individual would remember the two “big” ones they got.

That is why I was curious as to why you didn’t mention it the other night when I asked.

Looking forward to your response

Thank you


Note, it also appears that not only did he sign that financial, but it looks like he too filled it out himself.

So, yes Mr. Mayor, if I don't get a reasonable answer I will come back with a follow up question (Neighbor has not responded back yet). Why do these elected officials have to do their little Tijuana Two Step around simple questions and not give direct, honest answers? I believe former council member David Morris alluded to what he called government speak in giving answers to the public which can do nothing but cause problems.

When elected officials dance around simple questions one has to wonder....why?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Another Former Council Member Voices His Opinion

The below appears in today's Shawnee Dispatch, and on line at:

To the editor,

As a former Shawnee City Council member I would like to add some personal observations to the Dispatch article on open government.

I requested information from the city manager. Many times I received only partial information and at other times no information. Basically, I was being stonewalled.

It got to the point where I had to submit requests under the Kansas Open Records Act. Still, responses were not timely or forthcoming at all, and sometimes there would be fees. Council members should not have to endure that. City documents should be readily available for their review.

When I brought this up at various meetings, one of the other council members would say something to the effect of, “Well, I always get the information I request.”

Yes Ms. Kuhn, we can understand that, and why.

There is a definite good ol’ boy network on the council, coupled with a city manager run amok with power and forgetting her place as an employee of the council. I remember seeing this quote by another former council member, David Morris, discussing his resignation: “In the political arena, if you get put in the doghouse, answers don’t come particularly quickly, and sometimes phone calls don’t get returned particularly quickly.”

I was in the Shawnee City Council doghouse and did not get answers to questions or emails returned.

Kevin Straub

Friday, August 17, 2012

Detailed Minutes - Will They Come Back?

A very important item with regards to governmental transparency is up for discussion at the Council Committee meeting on Tuesday 8/21/12 at 7:00PM.

That item is to consider restoring detailed minutes of  city council, committee, and some other meetings.

Of the currently sitting council members the following voted for what we have now which denies the citizens a complete record of what has transpired:  Kuhn, Vaught, Sandifer, Neighbor and Sawyer.  These five basically voted against government transparency.

Only council members Pflumm and Distler voted to keep the detailed minutes, thus insuring more open government.

Be there Tuesday, and let's work to get those detailed minutes restored.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Who Did Tell Her???

With the DA’s office investigating the possibility of a KOMA violation leading to the appointment of Alan Willoughby (the mayor’s uncle by marriage) to the council, I feel some “gaps” in the info.

Dawn Kuhn challenged Michelle Distler for not supporting Mr. Willoughby.  Kuhn indicated that Distler was changing her attitude, in that Distler did not support Neighbor two years ago who had received lots of votes, but now wanted to support Dr. Mike Kemmling who also had received lots of votes.  That was when Distler remarked that she did not support Neighbor because of being told that his selection was predetermined and that she had been told the same thing about Willoughby.

Ms. Distler didn’t mention at the council meeting who told her, nor did she “out” that person when interviewed by the media.  But, did she inform the DA investigator of who that person was?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Former Councilmember Morris' Letter to the Editor

Former Shawnee city councilmember David Morris has written a letter to the Shawnee Dispatch that some might find interesting.

It can be read at this link http://www.shawneedispatch.com/news/2012/aug/14/letter-involved-citizens-vilified/

Or, to save you time you can read it below:

To the editor,

In the article “Open government has become contentious city issue,” city officials talked about how they encourage citizen involvement yet seem to verbally vilify the citizens who do get involved in the process.

As a community activist and former councilman, I have the unique ability to understand both sides. Sometimes the job of governing can be rewarding and positive. Other times it can be frustrating, exhausting and downright nasty. That’s all part of the job description.

Over the years I’ve seen a trend toward city leaders who make excuses why they can’t, like to play the role of victim and then blame others. Maybe a better approach than belittling and vilifying citizens that do get involved would be to take a more positive leadership approach and stop acting like whining victims. When leadership takes the approach as in this article, the public only hears “government speak” for “we’re always right and don’t care what you think.” Situations like this can be defused long before they get to this level of contention if one drops the “government speak” and is genuine and honest.

Last but not least, it was in very bad taste and disrespectful that an official would bring the deceased Charlotte Hargis into this public contention. The attempt to vilify the dead is inappropriate and beneath what citizens expect from their city leaders.

David Morris

The article Mr. Morris refers to is here:

Friday, August 10, 2012

Former Councilmember Straub Adds Comments

Former Shawnee City Councilmember Kevin Straub has added his comments to the article in the Shawnee Dispatch.

His comments are very telling and very interesting.  Maybe the DA's office should look into these comments too?

See the article and then scroll down to read Straub's comments:


Thursday, August 09, 2012

Short Lesson in Constitutional Guarantees

In a previous post I mentioned that I felt Mayor Jeff Meyers violated his oath of office to support the Constitutions of the US and Kansas by not permitting public comment at the council meeting that appointed his uncle (by marriage) to the city council.

Two items worth reading:

First Amendment to the US Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Section 3 of the Bill of Rights of the Kansas Constitution:

Right of peaceable assembly; petition. The people have the right to assemble, in a peaceable manner, to consult for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, for the redress of grievances.
'Nuff said..............................

Tuesday's (8/7/12) Primary Election

Well Tuesday was an interesting day. 

Let's look at some of the races.

John Rubin defeated Neal Sawyer.  Acutally Sawyer got a spanking, 67% to 33%, and in reality lost two elections on Tuesday.  Tom Martin defeated Sawyer for precinct committeeman in their precinct.  One has to wonder if maybe Sawyer's abstaining from voting at the July 9th council meeting may have had something to do with that?  Maybe there were 650 folks in Ward II that were upset with him?  Happy to see Rubin come out on top.

Another person I was happy to see come out on top was Mary Pilcher-Cook.  She gave Tom Wertz a spanking, 64% to 36%.  Maybe folks took exception to some of Wertz's mailers?

Charles Macheers was another victorious candidate.  He defeated Stephanie Meyer 63% to 37%.  Nice job Charles.  Happy to see you were victorious.

Brett Hildabrand won out over Jason Leib 58% to 42%.  Happy to see that one, especially in view of some of Leib's comments about Hildabrand that were just below the belt.

Now, proving that below the belt mailers are wrong was Greg Smith's victory over Joe Beveridge.  Was definitely happy to see Smith take this one.  Congrats Greg.

Looking forward to the general election in November and those winners mentioned above being victorious at that time also.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Mayor Meyers Ignores His Oath of Office

Well, I guess Mayor Jeff Meyers does not care about his oath of office to support both the US and Kansas Constitutions.

The below comments are taken from an article in the Shawnee Dispatch, and are regarding open government and the meeting that saw the mayor's uncle (by marriage) appointed to fill a council vacancy.

The article can be read at http://www.shawneedispatch.com/news/2012/aug/08/open-government-has-become-contentious-city-issue/

Ray Erlichman, a resident who blogs about city affairs, “is another one who is going to try to make your life miserable if he doesn’t get the answer he wants,” Meyers said. He referred to Erlichman as “the season ticket holder who replaced Charlotte (Hargis),” a deceased former council member and leading critic of the governing body.

Following Willoughby’s appointment, Erlichman was critical of Meyers for not allowing public discussion during the July 9 meeting.

Meyers said he had heard that the pastor of a church attended by Distler and applicant Michael Kemmling had made an appeal from the pulpit for members to turn out in support of Kemmling. “So I decided before we started the process that, this time, I’m not going to get into the circus of people electioneering at the meeting,” Meyers said.

Kemmling said, “It’s odd that if (Meyers) suspects opinions are going to be contrary to his, he doesn’t want to hear them.”

Did Meyers ever think that maybe some of those folks that wanted to speak were some of the 650 who had voted for Kemmling?  You know, the ones that made it possible for him (Kemmling) to come within 11, that's right, 11 votes of defeating Neal Sawyer.  Did he ever think that maybe there were folks who wanted to speak that did not go to that church? 

Note to Jeff Meyers:  I'd rather be the season ticket holder to replace Charlotte Hargis than a mayor that does not uphold his oath of office and who has abrogated his responsibilities.

Sidebar:  The mayor has a short memory.  Doesn't he remember when council member Vaught electioneered from the dais? A no-no for elected officials. Of course not, because that was for the mayor's benefit.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

KMBZ Comments on KOMA Investigation

Link to their web site story

There is also a short audio clip you can click on and listen to.KMBZ Link

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Low Blow Mailer

A recent mailer sent out supporting Joe Beveridge over Greg Smith for State Senate has to be one of the lowest bottom feeder types of literature I have seen.  In brief, Greg is criticized for taking a salary for his work as President of the foundation that was set up in memory of his daughter.  And that foundation has done many things with an eye to protecting women from violence.  The amount that Greg gets, based on the time he puts in, wouldn't even qualify for minimum wage.  And he has a reply for that.

My question is:  do the elected officials who endorse Beveridge condone this kind of sleaze?  Folks like Mike Boehm, Ed Eilert and Carl Gerlach.  The complete list can be found at http://www.beveridgeforsenate.com  I bet I know one that condones this sleaze, Stephanie Sharp.  Heck her company, Sharp Connections a PR and consultancy company received $15,173.08 from the Beveridge campaign (as of 7/30 that was of a total expenditure listing of $16,760.86)

Anyway, the mailer is shown below followed by some screen captures from Facebook supporting Greg Smith and showing disgust with the mailer.

Note:  Please click on any of the images to enlarge so you can read them.  Thank you.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Hit and Run - No Fun

If you haven't heard about this hit and run please read the article in the Shawnee Dispatch,


Somebody out there must know something.  Please contact the Shawnee PD

Thank you.