Saturday, April 27, 2013

Time Will Tell

An interesting, possibly positive thing happened at the 4/22/13 city council meeting.

The necessary machinery was put into effect to start the first building (150,000 sq ft) in the Westlink Business Center Industrial Park.

The information that was presented by Andrew Nave, Executive Director of the Shawnee Economic Development Council was that the building would eventually be home to approximately 320 new jobs for Shawnee.  He also went on to show us what number of those would be new residents (80), new students in the schools, and all of the other pertinent demographics to include various dollar figures.

Personally I think the building will bring new jobs to Shawnee.  And, I believe it will bring some new residents, students for the schools and additional money.

What I don't believe is, IMHO, the over inflated numbers.  We have all seen these types of buildings in other industrial parks. 

Many of them become very large warehouse/distribution centers, which, because of automation, may have 2-3 dozen employees.

Other buildings like this wind up being subdivided into 8-12 smaller units.  These then become small businesses, (usually of a mini warehouse/distribution type) which may employ 3-9 people each

So, do I think this is a positive step?  Yes.  Do I think the numbers presented to the council were pie in the sky?  Yes. 

But then, time will tell.................

Sidebar:  We still haven't heard anything about creating a destination venue to draw from all the athletic tournaments, NASCAR races, concerts etc.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

New Position At City Hall

At last week's committee meeting the city manager gave an over view of the 2014 city budget.

One item, as reported in the Shawnee Dispatch is somewhat interesting: 

"In addition, staff is recommending the addition of two new city employees, a public information officer and an emergency manager, as high-priority budget issues.
According to Gonzales, Shawnee’s first public information officer is needed to get out more and accurate information to satisfy public demand and to counter bad information sometimes disseminated by bloggers and traditional media sources.

The city’s image has suffered as a result of not having anyone dedicated to the city’s public information effort full-time, Gonzales added. In addition to promoting good news stories about the city and countering inaccurate information, she said, the public information officer would be responsible for maximizing use of social media and other communications avenues."

"Bad information disseminated by bloggers and traditional media sources."  Hmmm, I thought nobody cared about what local bloggers say    Traditional media sources.....does that mean that the city is upset that they have been unable to control the local traditional media?  That they are no longer the rah rah cheerleaders for the city and now show all sides of a story?

Bad information?  Notice the choice of words......."bad information".  Well, if folks don't want "bad information"  to be disseminated, then don't do bad things.  What bad things?  Oh, things like appointing a relative of the mayor to a council position in a manner that the JoCo DA calls it a violation of the spirit of the Kansas Open Meetings Act?  Or sending eight people to a conference in Boston? 

A public information officer...............hmmmm.....will that person be objective?  Or will their function be to provide only the good, forgetting the bad and the ugly?  Will they ignore citizen inquiries, like some council members do and fail to respond to valid questions? (More on that coming soon).

How many JoCo cities have a public information officer?

An afterthought:  Waiting to hear the comments from certain councilmembers justifying the PIO position......especially those who were against spending the money to restore full minutes of council meetings.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Sign Up - Stay Informed

Many times I have ranted about the lack of citizen involvement with city government.  The fact is, it is very poor in Shawnee.

One thing citizens can do is sign up for the city's email notification system.  You can receive advance notice of meetings (council, committees, boards and commissions) along with copies of the agendas.  You can also choose to receive notice of bids, job openings and some other items.

Get on the email notification might just help to keep you up to date on what is happening.

Go here to sign up

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Another Race Weekend, Another Lost Opportunity

Ahh yes.  This weekend there will be another race at the Kansas Speedway, and, as in the past, Shawnee will miss out on some tangential income.

Granted, our two hotels at Midland & I-435 will see an increase as well as the eateries in that area.  But what are we really missing?  Where is that third one?

There are a variety of events held at the Village West complex.  Various races at the Kansas Speedway, Concerts, Minor League Baseball etc. Add to that the various athletic tournaments that come into the area. We get very little bleed off from these.  Why?  Because we do not have a substantial amount of destination venues in Shawnee.  In reality, we don't have any destination venues.

There are some members of the council who keep saying they are in favor of economic development.  Well, where is it?  Yes, I know, there are plans to develop an area by K7 and the river into an industrial park (warehouses and manufacturing spaces).  Someday, down the road. But where are the plans for revenue generators?  Hotels, restaurants, entertainment facilities.  True destination venues.  Warehouses and manufacturing facilities do not get us bleed off from the events at Village West.

Another weekend, and more lost opportunities to bring income into Shawnee.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

City Budget Process

Over the years I have heard many folks wonder why certain things were or were not done in the city.

Things ranging from street maintenance to public safety staffing.  From parks maintenance to sewer maintenance.  What I usually hear is why was this done?  Or, why didn't we do that?

Most of the answers are based on financial considerations.  Just like folks sit down and review their family's finances, the city does the same.  When people ask most of their questions is after the fact.
Whooops, wrong time for the public to get involved.

The time to get involved is up front, yet the citizen participation at council meetings is severely lacking in Shawnee.

The city has published its schedule of meetings that will involve the budget process.  That can be viewed at

Get up at these meetings...............inquire of your council members ahead of time about budget items that concern you (as opposed to after the fact).  Let them know what you agree with..............and what you may disagree with.  Find out why things are or are not done.  Be informed.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Local Entertainment - Shawnee City Council

The Shawnee Dispatch has a neat article about last Tuesday's city council meeting.

Going to a council meeting can be a great form of entertainment.

When the vote was taken for Pflumm for Vice-Chair I could have sworn that it sounded like 5-3 in favor, but apparently the mayor could not determine that, so he went for a roll call.  True, Jim Neighbor was the first to vote, and after a long pause, and a stare down from the mayor, he voted no.  That then brought up the 4-4 vote,

Kuhn's comment to the mayor that she would like to be considered for the Vice-Chair position was actually an "off mike" comment, as she leaned across and addressed the mayor directly.  It took an obnoxious out of order citizen to yell out from the floor "What did she say?" to get the mayor to say what it was.  Kuhn does that a lot, talks sideways to the mayor, when she needs to be speaking directly into the microphone.  Anyway, it was kind of funny that nobody seconded the nomination for her to be Vice-Chair.  Bet her ego took a wrap on that one.

I found that very entertaining in view of her comments that the council president was elected not as a popularity contest or longevity, but for someone who could fill in for the mayor.  So, Jim Neighbor can fill in for the mayor?  Couldn't prove it to me.  He is probably one of the least active members of the council at the meetings.  He says very little so it is hard to tell what his position is until a vote comes along.  But, one does not know why he votes that way either.  But I guess Kuhn must know what talents he possesses to fill in for the mayor.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Local Business Robbed and Vandalized

Prepress Graphics and Professionals was broken into this past Tuesday evening or early Wednesday morning.

Thieves not only stole various items, they then vandalized and destroyed equipment on the premises.  The business is owned by Dan Distler, father of Ward IV council member Michelle Distler.

More information about what happened is available at the Shawnee Dispatch's web site

If anyone has information about this crime they are asked to please call the Shawnee PD at 913-631-2155

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Ward II Residents Are The Winners

In yesterday's council election the residents of Ward II made themselves the winners.  They chose Mike Kemmling as their new council member over Alan Willoughby (the mayor's uncle by marriage).

Willoughby's appointment last summer to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of David Morris caused a major uproar.  The uproar culminated in the JoCo DA issuing a statement that the appointment was the result of a backroom deal with the mayor as the ringleader.

Kemmling who also applied for the open position at that time had previously run against Neal Sawyer and lost by only 11 votes (661 to 650).  Disregarding the strong showing Kemmling had displayed the position went to Willoughby.

So, yesterday, the residents of Ward II showed that they were fed up with cronyism and nepotism.  They, the residents of Ward II, became the real winners.

Congratulations to the residents of Ward II and to Mike Kemmling.