Thursday, September 27, 2012

KC Cash Mob Coming to Shawnee

The KC Cash Mob is coming to Dodge City Beef in Shawnee on Saturday, Sep 29, 2012 at 11:00AM.  This is at the corner of Nieman Rd & Johnson Dr in the historic Shawnee State Bank building.  The INDIOS CARBONSITOS food truck will be parked out front selling their cooked meat.

The concept of cash mobs was started to help promote local businesses.  Over 1000 people voted on Facebook for this week's selections and Dodge City Beef won.

Each "Mobber" is asked to bring $20 to spend at the chosen business and also encouraged to join in the "after mob" for celebratory Mob-tails and Mob-tini's after the successful mob.

I love it when local businesses get recognition. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Good Article About Tony Lauer in the Dispatch

Good article at

A couple of interesting items, one of which was his discovery of the over payments to JoCo Wastewater.  The city manager claims to have found out about that at the end of July, but council didn't even know about it until Tony wrote about it on his blog in September.  When was the city manager going to inform the council?  This kind of follows some of my comments on how some members of council have abrogated their responsibilities and we have role reversal as to who works for who.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Why Can't Council Reps Answer Simple Questions?

Recently, a former city council member, David Morris derided elected officials when they revert to "government speak".  I have run into this when trying to get some council reps to answer some very basic, simple questions.  Instead of providing simple, direct answers, they do everything to avoid a direct answer.


Jim Neighbor, Ward I:  Still hasn't answered the question as to why he did not acknowledge in a council meeting that he had received a $500 donation from a company that is interested in a CID in Shawnee.

Dawn Kuhn, Ward III:  Remember this one?  She gets her salary check as Dawn White (her maiden name) but her city expense checks as Dawn Kuhn.  Now, many women get paid under their maiden name.  But, how many get two different checks from the same employer, using both marriage and maiden names?  When asked why, she danced around it and still hasn't answered that question.

Jeff Vaught, Ward III:  Ahhh yes............the council member who expects people to answer his questions, but doesn't answer theirs.  When he originally ran for office he refused to comment to the Shawnee Dispatch what his education level was.  That was one of about 5 or 6 basic questions they asked.  You know, a resumé question.  But he probably doesn't know anything about resumés, since you don't need one when you work for daddy.  When I asked him, he, like Kuhn above, Tijuana Two Stepped around it.  But, in this case I think I figured it out.  Is it possible that he didn't want to admit that he and I share something in common?  What is that you ask?  Well, I freely admit that I'm a high school drop out.  Is that what he is also?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Shedding Light on "Sunshine Review"

It’s really nice when the City of Shawnee receives a high rating in an area that has an effect on how people perceive our city.

Such could be the case with the recent release that “Sunshine Review” gave Shawnee an A+ rating in transparency of government.

At this past Monday’s city council meeting, I felt it necessary to menttion a few things about that rating. Basically what it was based on, so that there would be no confusion.

Today, I’d like to go into more detail. Keep in mind that on Monday the issue about returning to detail minutes of meetings was on the agenda. An item that many thought would provide more transparency to city proceedings. There were some who thought that the system that has been around for about 1 ½ years now of “less than action minutes” was sufficient. Even though those minutes basically did not do anything about explaining to folks what happened at the meetings.

OK, let’s start with the item posted Monday morning on the city’s website:

“Sunshine Review applauds Shawnee, Kansas for improving their transparency score from a ‘B‘ to an ‘A+.’ By enhancing their website and increasing access to information, Shawnee is proactively championing government openness and transparency.

Taxpayers in Shawnee should be proud that their government learned from Sunshine Review’s transparency checklist and made rapid improvements to allow more light into their government. We urge all of Kansas’ city and county governments to put the necessary resources into increasing their transparency like Shawnee has done.

Sunshine Review is a nonprofit organization dedicated to state and local government transparency. Sunshine Review collaborates with individuals and organizations throughout America in the cause of an informed citizenry and a transparent government. Since its inception in 2008, Sunshine Review has analyzed the websites of all 50 states and more than 6,000 state and local entities. In 2012, Sunshine Review at rated more than 1,500 websites."

What all of that means, is that in that organization’s opinion Shawnee scored high because of its website. Breaking that down, it means that Shawnee provides links on its web site to various items of information (i.e.meeting minutes, checkbook info, access info for government officials, etc.). But, what it does not do is rate the quality/transparency of those items. So, it is saying that there is transparency because there is a link to the minutes, but how good (transparent) are those minutes? That they do not rate.

Now here is something that I found interesting. If you go to the Sunshine Review page about Shawnee at,_Kansas you will see this comment: “This site was evaluated on Sept. 7, 2012.” That is really interesting, as that was the Friday before the Monday (Sept. 10, 2012) that the question of the way the minutes were being done was scheduled. Wasn’t that neat that the city got that rating at that most propitious time?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tragedy in Libya

Please take a minute to remember the loss of four Americans murdered in Libya.

Something is wrong when people are killed for perceived insults to religious thoughts.

City Might Need to Listen to Citizens More Often

There are still some comments being made about the potential cost of returning to detailed minutes of city council proceedings.

There appears to be a strong possibility that the city's estimates for the costs might actually be on the high side.

All one has to do is go to the blog and read the post "Bittersweet victory: Detailed minutes restored" posted 9/12/12.

Tony Lauer's research into costs for this procedure are coming in substantially lower than the city's.  Every day it becomes more evident that his research is complete and accurate.  Witness his discovery of the substantial overcharges to the city for sewer fees.

Maybe certain individuals who have this "we know better than the people" attitude need to rethink that attitude.  Maybe they need to stop acting like the "Father Knows Best" benevolent parent and start listening to their "children".  It would be a travesty for the city not to follow some of Mr. Lauer's guidelines/research with regards to the cost of transcription services.

Why were the city's estimates for transcription services so high?  Was it a move by certain individuals to inflate the potential costs so as to attempt to sabotage the return of the detailed minutes?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Minutes Are Back, The Minutes Are Back

Last night, the Shawnee City Council voted to bring back detailed minutes of council meetings.

This is a victory for transparency and democracy.  The city will also keep the audio feed of the meetings and the ability for people to listen to the audio after the meeting.

Now individuals will once again be able to search the minutes to basically find out what happened, when and who said what.  The current "action" minutes (mistakenly called summary minutes) were virtually useless for anyone wanting to find out what had transpired at any meeting.

The mayor indicated that in the past he had found the detailed minutes to be helpful in researching various items, and yours truly brought out statements made in November of 2010 by Jeff Vaught on how useful he had found the detailed minutes to be.  That was ironic, since on Feb 14, 2011 Vaught then became one of the council members who had voted to eliminate the detailed minutes.

Anyway, Ward I Council Member Dan Pflumm made the motion and Ward IV Council Member Michelle Distler seconded it and when the vote came to bring the detailed minutes back, it passed 6 to 1.  Jim Neighbor, Ward 1 Council Member apparently has problems with open government. (More on that in a separate post).  Ward III Council Member Dawn Kuhn was absent.  She was a strong proponent of not bringing back the detailed minutes.  She has in the past followed the guidelines of the League of Kansas Municipalites, which are not citizen friendly.  Based on previous council meetings, the one thing we were probably spared was probably 30-60 minutes of her ramblings.

I will contact the city manager to find out when the mechanism will be in place for the date the detailed minutes will resume.

Sidebar:  Ironically, earlier yesterday it was announced and reiterated by the mayor that Shawnee had received an A+ rating in transparency from the Sunshine Review.  It must be remembered that their ratings are based on city websites linking to specific areas (agendas, minutes, government officials etc).  The ratings don not reflect whether certain info (i.e minutes) are themselves transparent.  Action minutes are definitely not transparent.

Take A Minute To Remember

Today marks the 11th Anniversary of the tragedy of 9/11/2001.

Just take a minute to remember..............that's not hard to do.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Citizen feedback to article about DA's evaluation

Regarding the post below about the DA's evaluation that too often public items are kept private, there has been some citizen response.

Visit the article  at and then scroll down to read the comments.

Keep in mind that Shawnee was not the only city mentioned in the article.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Why does the JoCO DA say public business is too often private?

A recent article in the KC Star entitled  "Johnson County district attorney says public business is too often private" is one indication of why folks need to get more involved in local government.

One item coming up locally is the Shawnee City Council meeting which is considering the reinstatement of full version minutes of its proceedings.  That is important at it will add to transparency and better information to the citizens as to what their local elected representatives are doing.  This meeting is scheduled for Monday, 9/10/12 at city hall at 7:30PM.  Show up and see, listen, and even contribute your comments and thoughts.

The above mentioned KC Star article can be viewed at

There are some references in the article to recent happenings in Shawnee.

One needs to be aware that the comment that the League of Kansas Municipalities is a taxpayer funded organization means that cities become members, using taxpayer dollars to join, but it is governing bodies that choose to join, not taxpayers themselves.