Thursday, April 21, 2016

Blast From the Past - 7/30/14

Some folks might find this interesting, for various reasons. There are two points I wish to make today, and they are related.

First, back on July 30, 2014 I posted and item "Did Vaught aMake Up Numbers?"  click here  What that post had to do with, was that at a council meeting when discussing the proposed sales tax for street improvements Jeff "The Arrogant One" Vaught stated that 40% of the city's sales tax revenue came from non-residents. If true that would be great. So, I sent him an email asking him to provide verification of that statement. Naturally, his royal arrogance felt he did not have to reply. So, I submitted a Kansas Open Records Request to the city for any documents that would confirm that. The city came back and said they did not have any records that could either confirm or deny that information. Interesting, eh?

Unfortunately, Vaught's statement made it to the local media and it was taken as gospel truth.

Here is part two. Knowing that the city did not have documents that would confirm or deny Vaught's statement why didn't the city manager correct Vaught at the meeting? Now, over the years I have heard her correct other council members when they made factually incorrect statements. What was different this time? Was it a purposeful omission on her part because of a desire to get the tax approved and a little truth stretching wouldn't hurt? Where did Vaught get that figure from? Was he fed it from a source that also cannot provide verification?

Just something to think about.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Still Not Resolved - Filling a City Council Vacancy

At the 4/5/16 Council Committee the discussion about how to fill a council vacancy in the future was again tabled.  There is some merit to that because right now most cities need some clarification on certain items in the new state election law, by either or both, the secretary of state and/or the county election commissioner.

The current method, which many would like to see continued, is for the council to appoint an individual to fill a vacancy.  The one positive to this, is that it is "free"..  The major problem though is what can sometimes be perceived as collusion on the part of some council members as to who the appointee should be.  All that one has to do is go back a very short time ago with the appointment of Alan Willoughby (former Mayor Jeff Meyers' uncle by marriage) and review the letter of rebuke that the JoCo DA sent to the city council.  In that letter he admonished the council very strongly for what appeared to him to be a disregard of the spirit of the Kansas Open Meetings Act.

Current Councilmember Stephanie Meyer, who is also the council president, has voiced concerns about this process, and was leaning towards an election process.  She has even stated that when she was appointed to fill a position that came open she had felt that there was a strong sentiment out among the public that her appointment was tainted.  And those same concerns reared their ugly head when Brandon Kenig was appointed to fill the open position that was created when Mayor Distler was elected to her current position.

Other folks, myself included, have indicated that they would prefer an election in the open ward to fill the position.  The advantage to this is that the people of the ward would have the say as to who would represent them.  The argument against this is strictly financial, as it would cost approximately $37K to run a special election.  Is that really too much to spend to maintain a truly democratic process?

Now there is a third process which staff has indicated in their presentation and which will probably be heard when the item finally gets to be aired out.  This third proposal is a hybrid, it is very simple, maintains a democratic environment, and it does not create any additional expenditures.  Under the hybrid proposal the council would appoint a person to fill the position, but only until the next regular election.  Currently a person is appointed to fill the position until the expiration of the original office holder's term.  With this hybrid the position would then be filled by election to finish the remainder of the term.  By having it placed on the ballot at a regular election the city would not incur the costs of a special election.  This would, IMHO, be a win-win situation.  I would strongly urge the citizens of Shawnee to support the hybrid plan when the item comes before the council.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Professionalism Prevents Tragedy

There was an incident on Saturday 4/16/16 which could have ended in tragedy.  There was a domestic violence situation which turned into a standoff between a suspect and the police.

Fortunately, we do not see many of these in Shawnee, as they are more common in other areas of the metro.

Fortunately, we do have a well trained police department and their response to this incident appears to have resulted in a resolution that avoided tragedy.  The suspect in custody and nobody in either the hospital or the morgue.  Good job.

For more info please go to the article at the Shawnee Dispatch

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Legal Fees are Starting

Here we go.  The legal fees for the city to defend itself in the Qrivit action are starting to come in.  this is regarding the Vantage at Shawnee project.

So, from Mar 3, 2016 to Apr 5, 2016 the legal fees are $3,316.50.  These are just to get the ball rolling in the city's defense of the lawsuit.  I'll take a guess and say that by the time it is over it will cost the city between $75,000 - $100,000.

And that does not include the time that city staff will have to spend researching and obtaining documents as the lawyers tell them what is needed.

Curious, do ya think the 22 folks that were responsible for this situation should chip in and help pay for this?  Especially the loud mouthed fool that threatened the mayor with bodily harm!!!!

Stay tuned.  We will be filing KORA requests periodically to get updates on the amount of money spent for the legal fees.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

John Rubin Endorses Eric Jenkins for State Rep

Previously I posted comments by State Rep John Rubin explaining why he was not running for reelection.  Here are his comments as to why he is endorsing Eric Jenkins for the position.

And now it is my pleasure and privilege to introduce to those of you who do not know him, and to enthusiastically endorse for the 18th District seat, Shawnee City Councilman Eric Jenkins.  I am convinced he will be a truly accomplished and worthy successor who will work hard and continue the fight for the economically and socially conservative values and principles that have informed and inspired my work in the Legislature.

Eric is a 30-year veteran of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Additionally, he is a retired Colonel, US Army Reserves with over 34 years of Active and Reserve service.

During his tenure with FEMA, Eric served in all operational programs of the Agency. He made contributions as a manager and worker in the key areas of preparedness, mitigation and response.

In mitigation, Eric managed the National Flood Insurance Program and FEMA mitigation grant programs. In addition to flood plain management, he managed FEMA Region VII’s National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program and National Dam Safety Program.

In Preparedness, Eric successfully managed the Radiological Emergency Preparedness Program, Hazardous Materials Program, Fire Grant Program, FEMA State grants, and training and exercise programs. Mr. Jenkins chaired the Regional Radiological Assistance Committee.

While assigned to Disaster Response & Recovery Division, Eric served in several capacities. He was Chief of Operations, responsible for the FEMA Region’s response plans, training and regional ops center. He served as Federal Coordinating Officer for two Presidential-declared disasters and served as Deputy or Operations Officer on countless others. In this capacity, Eric delivered the Individual and Public Assistance Programs, Public Affairs, Legislative Affairs, Community Relations and other disaster response activities and programs. Leadership in the Federal response required frequent and close coordination with multiple Federal and State agencies and non-governmental agencies. During his time as Operations Officer and Executive Officer of the Division, Eric chaired the Regional Interagency Steering Committee.

In addition to his Regional Office responsibilities, Eric was an adjunct faculty to the Emergency Management Institute, instructed the Agency’s Customer Service Program and sat on the National Federal Radiological Preparedness Coordinating Committee in Washington, DC. 

Eric has had a very complementary military career. He has branch qualification in Infantry, Intelligence, Special Forces and Military Police and is a certified instructor. He commanded a Special Forces A-Team, a Military Police Battalion, served in a number of Intelligence, operations and training positions at all levels of staff and taught Command & General Staff College curricula. He is a graduate of the prestigious US Army War College. Colonel Jenkins’ FEMA background was extremely useful to 5th United States Army while he served as an Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer to the State of Missouri. In addition, Eric assisted in training the staff and wrote deployment exercises for 5th Army’s newly created civil-military response Task Force Warrior. After completing 30 years of service, COL Jenkins was brought back as a retiree recall for service in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was assigned to Multi-National Force-Iraq Headquarters and the Joint Center for Operations Analysis (JCOA) at US Joint Forces Command. Later assigned by JCOA to the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, COL Jenkins led multiple Lessons Learned teams to various stateside locations, as well as in Germany, Iraq and Afghanistan. After four additional years of active duty, Eric Jenkins again retired in November 2009 to pursue his long-held dream of establishing his own emergency management consulting business. 

Locally, Eric has served for 21 years on the Shawnee Planning Commission and in 2011, served on the Johnson County Charter Commission.  He lost a close race for Shawnee Mayor two city election cycles ago, and last year won a Ward 2 seat on the Shawnee City Council, where he has been a diligent conservative watchdog on budgetary and spending issues in particular.
In his personal life, Eric is married with five children. He has served his community of Shawnee, Kansas since 1988 with four years on the Northwest Advisory Board to the Board of Education and since 1992 on the Planning Commission. He holds a B.A. from Missouri State University and a M.A. from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.
As you can see, Eric has a most impressive resume of dedicated public service over many years, and is extremely well qualified to represent the citizens of eastern Shawnee in the Kansas House of Representatives.  I have no doubt that he will continue the fight for the fiscally and socially conservative principles and values we both cherish.  I commend him to you all, and urge you to vote for him to succeed me as your 18th District Representative in the Kansas House.


Sunday, April 03, 2016

State Rep John Rubin Announces He Is Not Running for Reelection

In a recent release State Rep John Rubin has announced that he is not running for reelection.

Portions of that release are shown below.
As many of you may have heard by now, after thoughtful consideration, my wife Birdie and I arrived at the difficult decision some months ago that I would not run again this year for a fourth term as your 18th District Representative in the Kansas House of Representatives.
The purpose of this message is two-fold:  First, to tell all of you, particularly my Shawnee constituents and those of you who have honored me with your support, of the reasons for my decision, and to thank you for the privilege of serving you in the Kansas Legislature for the past six years.  And second, to announce my wholehearted support and strong endorsement of Eric Jenkins, Shawnee Ward 2 City Councilman, who has filed for my seat, to replace me as your Representative in the Kansas Legislature.
Let me begin with a few personal remarks about the reasons why I have chosen not to be a candidate for the 18th District seat again this year.  Clichés about why people retire from public service are nonetheless true just because they are clichés.  Birdie and I have indeed rued our inability to spend more time with our daughters and their families who reside out of state, and now eagerly anticipate the prospect of visiting them more often.  In addition, I am truly considering other career opportunities both inside and outside of government.
But most of all, I am leaving the Kansas Legislature with a strong sense of accomplishment, of achieving so much of the public policy changes, of advancement of the conservative principles and values that prompted me to run for office in the first place.  Allow me to summarize some of them.
I have represented the 18th District (eastern Shawnee, KS) in the Kansas House of Representatives for the past six years, having been first elected in 2010, and re-elected in 2012 and 2014.  I have chaired the House Standing Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice for four years, and I have also chaired the Interim Joint Corrections and Juvenile Justice Oversight Committee for the past year.  In addition, this term I have served on the House Judiciary and Veterans and Homeland Security Committees, and in the past on the Pensions and Benefits and Federal and State Affairs Committees as well.  For the past four years, I have also served on the Kansas Sentencing Commission and the Kansas Judicial Council’s Criminal Law Committee.  And I co-chaired the Kansas Juvenile Justice Workgroup during the 2015 interim, and was central in the report of the Workgroup recommending comprehensive reforms of Kansas’ juvenile justice system.
May I say that I have been the prolific author, lead sponsor and/or carrier of a myriad of the most important legislative accomplishments in the State of Kansas over the past six years.  A short list of the most important and influential bills, resolutions and policy initiatives which I have championed and shepherded through the Legislature that have had the most significant and far-reaching effects to better the lives of all Kansans includes the following:
Promotion of open government accountability and transparency to the public:
Principled advocacy of a culture of life and protection of our unborn children:  
Enforcement of the rule of law and preservation of fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution:
Fighting to protect the health and well-being of all Kansans, particularly our disabled children: 
Promotion of Kansas businesses, free enterprise and entrepreneurship to grow the economy and create jobs: 
Recognizing my extensive record of legislative accomplishment and achievement in all of the above matters, and many others, The Kansas City Star named me a 2014 legislative “winner;” The Star and the Wichita Eagle have recently dubbed me “highly respected” in the Legislature; and the state’s political newspaper of record, The Topeka Capitol-Journal, in its lead editorial on March 22, 2016, said: “Rubin, an attorney and arbitrator, is immensely qualified to chair [the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice] committee and has done an admirable job as chairman.”
Follow this blog to see why John endorses Eric Jenkins as his replacement.