Monday, January 29, 2018

My Letter Today to the Shawnee Dispatch

Will it get published?  Who knows what that rag will do?

There have been some recent letters concerning partisanship in the recent city elections.

That all started with two letters published the Wednesday before the city elections. Ironically, in the :old days" when the dispatch was a real newspaper and not a bird cage liner, those two leters would not have been published when they were. Why? Because any rebuttal to them would have shown up the day after the election (Dispatch comes out on Wednesday). In the "old days" they would have had to have been published a week earlier than they were, to allow for a rebuttal.

Just goes to show how inept JoCo's favorite bird cage liner has become. Or maybe partisanship on its part?

BTW one of the original letters was written by a former Democratic candidate (failed) for the Kansas legislature.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

CORRECTION - Council Member Meyer is on a National Committee

Reference my post below about the NLC conference coming up.  One of my readers just corrected me and informed me that Council Member Stephanie Meyer also sits on one of the committees for the NLC.

As such, it does make sense for her to go.  Mea apologies for the error

What does that mean:  Jim Neighbor and Lindsey Constance stay home and don't waste city (taxpayer) money.

Council Members & Staff to National League of Cities - Too Many Going

The National League of Cities (NLC) has two conferences a year.  One in March in DC and one in the fall in a rotating city.

For years we used to send 6 or more individuals (combination of elected and staff) to these conferences.  And, for years I ranted and raved about it.  Always thought that the maximum should be four people (Mayor, City Manager and two council members).  At one point, a former council member even suggested that with a reduced number going, that those who attended could submit a report/review of the conference for those not attending and for the public.  that was voted on and approved.  Only happened once, and by just one attendee.

Now we have the 2018 DC conference coming up.  We have six individuals, according to info from the City Clerk who are scheduled to go.  Outrageous............two need to stay home, IMHO.  The average cost is in the neighborhood of $2000 per person and a long time ago I overheard one of the council members (who is still on the council) suggest to another that they sign up for it since it's like a "paid vacation".

Who is going?  (With side comments from me. Those in blue probably should be going ):

Stephanie Meyer

Mickey Sandifer - Sits on one of the NLC's committees this go around, so guess he has to go.  Never misses one of these.  Also, to make sure he gets "full benefit" arrives the day before the conference starts, and stays through the last event and comes back the day after.  Two extra nights, two extra per diems (verified by various copies of expense reports)

Matt Zimmerman - As Council President he can substitute for the mayor, IMHO

Jim Neighbor

Lindsey Constance

Nolan Sunderman - As Assistant City Manager since we have an interim in that position he can fill that spot IMHO
So, IMHO two of the remaining three (red) need to stay home and the four going need to file reports of what took place and make them available to the remaining members of the governing body and the public.
BTW, anyone who wants can do a KORA request and find out how few go from the surrounding cities in JoCo.
I plan on obtaining copies of the expense reports (if more than 4 go) for this trip under KORA and publishing the info on this blog.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Council Member Responds

If you scroll down to my post of 1/14/18 you will see that I commented on the fact that one of the three new council members did not respond (negative or positive) to an email of mine.

I am happy to report that that council member has responded.  That is courtesy.  Maybe we do not have a new arrogant member on the council.  Hopefully not.

In all fairness I felt an update was appropriate.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Shawnee Searches For A New City Manager

Shawnee is in the process of looking for a new city manager.  This can be a real learning experience, for many reasons.

Our former city manager held that position for about thirteen years and prior to that her predecessor held it for about 28 years.  She had served as his deputy and then upon his retirement moved into the top spot.

This time Shawnee is doing things a little differently, and justifiably so.  One thing I have heard many times over at the Mayor's Third Thursdays is that folks like the fact that Shawnee is a city with a small town feel but with many of the advantages of a big city.  Guess that comes from being a major suburb in a large metro area.

Because of Shawnee's growth, and many changes and advancements over the years it is imperative that the city casts a wide net to find the best qualified person for that position.  The process has started with the city asking for proposals from executive search companies.  Many "small" cities used to select their leadership based on either the next one in line or a favorite of the good old boy network.

Shawnee has, IMHO grown past that.  If anybody falls into those two categories and is desirous of serving in that position they need to apply, just like anybody else.  Anybody who attempts to hijack the process by pushing for a "good old boy" needs to be resoundingly cut down.

Let the process play out.  The city and its citizens deserve that.  It will be very interesting to see the qualifications of those who do apply.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Does the Council Have a New "Arrogant One"? LOL

Are we starting the year off with a new "Arrogant One" on the city council?

This is really funny.

About a week before the new council came on board I emailed the three newbies and asked if they wanted to be put on the email list for notification of new postings to this blog.  Now, in fact nobody has to be on the mailing list.  This blog is not a "closed group".  Anybody can access it.  And they usually do.  Sometimes, they have relatives access it for them, LOL.  And then report back.

What happened?  Two of the newbies replied that yes, they wanted to be on the notification list.  The third one?  Well, that individual apparently thought it appropriate not to even respond,  No yes, no no.  Just a rude, arrogant failure to respond.

Even though councilmembers are elected by ward, when they sit on that dais they represent the entire city.  Ergo, everybody is their constituent.  My gut instinct tells me that this will not be the last display of arrogance by this newbie.

This is going to be fun. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Some Unsolicited Advice For Our New Councilmembers

Well, they haven't been on the job a week yet, and already they're getting advice from me, albeit unsolicited.

First, at the swearing-in each of you took the oath of office and even signed a hard copy.  It is an oath required by K.S.A. 54-106, and it says:

"I do solemnly swear [or affirm, as the case may be] that I will support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of the state of Kansas, and faithfully discharge the duties of ______. So help me God."
 Now, with regards to the US Constitution, most are familiar with that part of the First Amendment pertaining to free speech.  But  possibly they may not be as familiar with another part of it, the part that goes:
"the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances"

Now let's talk about Section 3 of the Bill of Rights of the Kansas Constitution (which by the way comes before the main body of the constitution):

§ 3. 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.

What does all that mean?  It means you need to listen to the people.  In the past, some, not all, members of the council thought they were above listening to the people.  Not good. 

And the final bit of advice is to go on line to the city's web site.  Click on the monthly reports link and then pick any monthly report.  Look at the organization chart.  Never forget who is listed at the top of the chart.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Are We Due for a New Knock Down Drag Out KOMA Investigation?

OK, I wasn't at the city council meeting 1/8/18 but am aware of some of the things that transpired.

Question: How does a brand new council member, Matt Zimmerman, with less than two hours of experience as a council member get elected as President of the Council? This is an important question that needs to be answered since that position has two responsibilities. One, it is as presiding officer for Council Committee meetings, but more importantly, that is the person who becomes mayor if for any reason the mayor is unable to complete their term.

There was a rumor going around that prior to last night's meeting one of the sitting council members (we'll call him "A") had entertained the three newbies over a meal and pushed to have his name placed into nomination for that position and for the newbies, and one other existing council member (call him "B") to vote for him.

Then today according to another council member (let's see, that would be "C", a ward mate of one of the newbies), informed me that council member "B" notified the mayor of "the plan" and according to "C" the mayor did the right thing and notified the city attorney. It appears that the city attorney may have told these people that they could be in deep trouble if after they were sworn in they went through with their plan. So, what happened? Somehow the plan didn't go through as had been supposedly previously discussed. What is the final outcome? A different one of the five becomes Council President. Was this also discussed or was this a "spontaneous change" in preference?

After the meeting, council member "C" contacted me and suggested I go ahead and file a KOMA complaint.

I am not a lawyer, but something stinks here, and it is not as far away as the landfill. The previous KOMA investigation started with a citizen complaint (not me). I will exercise my rights as a citizen and request that the JoCo DA look into this matter. Let's not pussyfoot around because it would make Shawnee look bad. If these shenanigans are proven, and nothing is done, that would be worse. If there is no basis for concern, let the appropriate authority make that decision. An official determination needs to be made, IMHO.

Would love to have the DA discuss this with the three newbies and Messrs. A & B.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Attacking Police K9s

A few weeks ago a police K9 on the Missouri side of the state line was stabbed by a criminal.  The local news outlets indicated that the maximum penalty for stabbing a police K9 is 15 days.  Fifteen days for stabbing an animal that works closely with LEOs to protect the people.

I thought the penalty upon conviction was ridiculously low, and was curious as to what the penalty would be here in Kansas.  So, I contacted the JoCo DA's office and this is the info I got back:

Kansas law can be found at K.S.A. 21-6416 .  It is a non-person felony.  Penalties require at least 30 days in jail and up to 1 year in jail.

So, here in Kansas a criminal who stabs a police K9 could get up to one year in jail and it would be classified as a felony.  IMHO, that is not enough.  Attacking, stabbing, shooting a police K9 is, IMHO the same as performing those heinous acts upon a sworn law enforcement officer.

OK, it's crusade time.  Which one of the four state reps, and one state senator who have portions of Shawnee in their districts is going to take the lead on doing something to change the law and increase the penalty?

State Reps:
Linda Gallagher
Tom Cox
Shelee Brim
Cindy Neighbor

State Senator:
Mary Pilcher-Cook

Please contact them and voice your opinions on this matter.

Thank you

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Changing Faces

This coming Monday at the City Council meeting three new council members will be sworn in and one sitting council member will be taking the oath for his second term.

Matt Zimmerman (Ward I), Justin Adrian (Ward III) and Lindsey Constance (Ward IV) will be the new faces of the council and Dr. Mike Kemmling (Ward II) will be sworn back in for his second term.  Jim Neighbor (Ward I) Eric Jenkins (Ward II) Stephanie Meyer (Ward III) and Mickey Sandifer (Ward IV) will be returning to finish the second two years of their current term. 

When a legislative body changes personnel it is always interesting to see what happens as the newbies get their feet wet and learn their jobs.  There is a learning curve and I will have to watch and see what happens during that period of time.  They should have their feet wet within the first 72 hours or so.  Only kidding.  Wanted to see if my readers were paying attention.  :-)  :-)

One bit of advice for the newbies, and it really is not from me, but has been told to me over the years by many others who were in their position (new on some sort of legislative body).  Actually doing the job is almost 180ยบ opposite of what they thought it would be like. 

This should be fun.  The elections are over, the campaigning has ended.  Let's see how it plays out.

Sidebar:  At the meeting Meyer and Neighbor will be sitting in different seats as the senior council member for their ward.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Going Going Gone

Five more days and Jeff "The Arrogant One" Vaught will be gone from the city council.


On 12/20/17 I posted an item about the Westbrooke Green project.  During my comments I exceeded the time limit allowed for citizen input.  Procedure is that a council member may make a motion to extend the speaking time and if seconded it is voted on and if approved the speaker gets some more time.  This has happened to me (and others) in the past.  Usually it is close to a pro forma action.  On this particular night two of the councilmembers voted no........Vaught and Neighbor.  On 12/20 I said I would post some commentary in the future about that.  The future is here and now.

Over the years Vaught has pontificated that he was in favor of transparency in government, in meetings etc.  Ironically, any long time reader of this blog knows that his actions contradicted his verbalizations.  Hypocrite extraordinaire.  Fortunately the city will no longer have to put up with his arrogance, his bullying (of fellow council members and the public) and his long winded diatribes (akin to putting the listening public through the pain of over verbosity similar to former council member Dawn "Motormouth" Kuhn).

As for Neighbor's "no" vote on this matter, what can I say?  Now that his puppet master is no longer involved with the city he is probably at a loss at to what to do.