Thursday, August 29, 2019

Who Is Don Cawby?

Until a few weeks ago he was the city manager in Osawatomie Kansas.  It's been all over Miami County that he is moving north to become finance director here in Shawnee.

Wonder when the official announcement will be made?  Oh well.  Mr. Cawby has a pretty impressive resumé, which can be viewed on Linked In

He will be replacing Maureen Rogers who retired after 7 years with Shawnee.  That does bring up some questions.  While Ms. Rogers was with Shawnee the city received various awards and accolades for its financial reports, departmental audits etc.  Her retirement seemed to come rather suddenly without much notice.  Usually a department director gives a substantial amount of notice.  Also, it does not appear that the usual retirement party was held at city hall.  What happened here?  Was Ms. Rogers forced into an early retirement?  It all seems strange, again, in view of the various positive reports and items of recognition the department received while she was here.  Maybe someday we'll find out.


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Potential Property Tax Problems With Big Box Retailers

Below is an email I sent to the governing body of Shawnee today.  The actions (or inactions) of the city manager are IMHO, inexcusable.

Good afternoon,

Some of you may recall that I addressed the council in July about this problem.  At the time it was learned that Wal Mart had won an appeal of their property tax based on what they contended was an erroneous method of calculating their taxes by JoCo

It was indicated that if their appeal is upheld it could have severe consequences on taxes received by the city and county by not just Wal Mart but other retailers that were taxed the same way (Lowes, Home Depot, Walgreens etc.)  This could also involve the refunding of substantial sums of money to these businesses.  For those that are not aware of what this entailed, apparently JoCo had been basing property taxes on sales as opposed to actual property valuations.

The more I have thought about this issue, the more upset I have become with staff, particularly the city manager.  When queried, he responded that the situation was being watched closely.

 The situation has been ongoing apparently for quite some time.  So, that now begs answers to the following questions:

1.  Why weren’t the citizens of Shawnee told of this situation prior to the vote on the community center?  Was it because that would have been just one more reason for the voters not to approve it?

2.  Why wasn’t the information presented in the open council budget sessions so that the public could know about it.  Presentations about this item were made to the council in OP.  Presentation about this item was made to the BOCC in open session.

 This low key approach and not keeping the citizens informed of this item, is IMHO an act of misfeasance on the part of the city manager.  Now, before anybody on the council starts to declare that “we have the greatest staff in the metro”, realize that by doing so you would be condoning the withholding of this information from the public.  This is outrageous.

I proposed in July some actions that it was felt were necessary to keep the citizens of Shawnee properly informed on this matter.  I will reiterate those proposals at this time:

1.  The city council must, in open session, direct the city manager to provide in January after the beginning of the new council session and at the beginning of the budget process an outline of the current status of the item as what the courts have decided up to that time.

2.  Utilizing the same time line as above the city manager needs to prepare various “what if” scenarios.  Even though specific dollar amounts are not currently available, there should be enough raw data available to project various possibilities.  It is done for other items all the time.  Heck, the budget is one big “what if” scenario.

3.  The council needs to admonish the city manager that keeping this info from the citizens is not good government, nor is it transparent government.


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Dawn Rattan - $1000 Campaign Contribution - For Make Up

I've seen some strange listings on campaign finance reports, but this one takes the cake.  Or is that pancake makeup?

We are talking about Dawn Rattan, candidate for the Ward 3 full term council seat.  In her financial report filed 7/29/19 she listed an in kind contribution from Smash Glam at 3941 Troost Ave KCMO for $1000 for "makeup for pictures".  That must have been some makeup job.

Anyway, let's talk about the legalities of in kind contributions.  According to Kansas state law the maximum amount of an in kind contribution for a candidate in a Shawnee city council race is $500 per reporting period (primary/general)  Same as an actual cash contribution.  Also, if a party gives both an in kind and an actual cash contribution during a reporting period the total cannot exceed the $500 maximum (example $200 in kind and $300 cash).  Additionally, according to State law a candidate cannot take an overage contribution in one period and split it over multiple reporting periods.  That means that the $1000 in kind from Smash glam cannot be split $500/primary and $500/general.  Now, the state Government Ethics Commission reviews these filings.  Wonder what they are going to do?  Will she have to refund $500 to the contributor?  Will she have to wash off the make up?  Which begs the question:  How long does a $1000 make up job stay on one's face?  How much did her appearance need changing?

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Sign Sign Everywhere a Sign - Stephanie Meyer Pick Up Your Signs

Well, the primaries are over.

With regards to the mayoral candidates:

Mayor Michelle Signs - Signs have been removed
Dawn Tubbesing - Signs have been removed
Ajay Sood - Signs have been removed

Stephanie Meyer - Still has a bunch sitting in various rights of way.  Hmmmm, why haven't they been picked up?  Is Miss "I'm Entitled to Everything" waiting for city employees to pull them for code violations, bring them to a central location and then she (or someone) can pick them up all at once?  Misuse of city personnel.

Hope the city manager doesn't let this happen

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Non-Discrimination Ordinance Discussion

The Council Committee will discuss the possibility of a Non-Discrimination Ordinance (sometimes referred to as Sexual Orientation Sexual Identity) at it next meeting Tuesday August 13, 2019 at 7:00PM.  The meeting is held in the council chambers at city hall at 11110 Johnson Drive, Shawnee Kansas 66203    Map info here

City staff will be presenting various options for the committee to review.  To read exactly what is being presented please click here

There is quite a bit of conversation going on not only here in Johnson County but all across the country.  Some cities have enacted NDOs, others have opted not to saying it is the responsibility of state and federal governments. Some of the enacted ordinances have been challenged in the courts and are still going through the process, quite possibly all the way to SCOTUS.

This is one of those topics that regardless of the outcome there will be folks who ask how did this happen (or not happen).  Simple, folks did not attend the various meetings of the various governing bodies.

My personal opinion:  This is something that is covered by current state and federal statutes.  And if those statutes do need tweaking, it is the responsibility of the state and federal governments to do the tweaking.  We do not need a mishmash checkerboard layout of differing city laws.  Also, enough cases are in the court systems that it becomes, IMHO a situation where the final outcome of those cases becomes known before Shawnee proceeds any further.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Primary Election Unofficial Results - 8/6/19

For those that haven't heard, here are the results for the Shawnee primary election yesterday.  Commentary to follow in the next day or two.

Michelle Distler – 3,847 or 57.22%
Stephanie Meyer – 1,736 or 25.82%
Dawn Tubbesing – 1,010 or 15.02%
Ajay Sood – 130 or 1.93%

One overvote and 71 undervotes for a total vote of 6,795.

Ward 3:
Kurt Knappen – 911 or 47.37%
Dawn Rattan – 690 or 35.88%
Nick Reed – 322 or 16.74%

39 undervotes for a total vote of 1,962

Ward 3 – Special Election:
Kevin Straub – 879 or 46.36%

Lisa Larson-Bunnell – 825 or 43.51%
Greg Sitzmann – 192 or 10.13%

66 undervotes for a total vote of 1,962

Ward 4:
Jill Chalfie – 848 or 50.45%

Kris Durbin – 527 or 31.35%
Matt Shaw – 306 or 18.20%

59 undervotes for a total vote of 1,740

The top two in each race will now go on to the general election November 5, 2019

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Stephanie Meyer-Talking Out of Both Sides of Her Mouth-Again

Stephanie Meyer, candidate for mayor in Shawnee is again talking out of both sides of her mouth.  She's a cute piece of work, that definitely does not deserve to be mayor of Shawnee.

Don't believe me?  Try these statements concerning the consideration of an NDO (non-discrimination ordinance) for Shawnee.  OK, I will not comment at this point on the pros or cons of such a thing.  Just want to point out how Meyer plays both sides.

From the questionnaire she answered for the Citizens for a Better Shawnee:

Q4 Are there areas you feel the city government should not be involved with?
I believe that government should play as limited a role as possible in our residents' lives, while providing for their safety, welfare, and the overall stability of our community. Regarding city government, this includes many social issues that are most appropriately dealt with at the state or federal levels.

From a recent article in the Shawnee Mission Post:

As policy makers, it is our job to be sure that our actions and decisions follow legal precedent, statute, and authority. Often times, in local government, that means waiting on clarification from a higher jurisdiction. What cannot be lost in that process, however, is the more important question of "Is this the right thing to do?"

Many months in the making, I’m happy to announce that at our August 13 Council Committee meeting, we will take up the discussion of a non-discrimination ordinance. We cannot continue to wait for others to act.

I have a question for her:  Don/t your jaws hurt when you talk out of both sides of your mouth?

Friday, August 02, 2019

Citizens For A Better Shawnee

The former "Vote NO" committee has transitioned to the "Citizens For A Better Shawnee".
They are on the web at

Who are they?  From their web site on the about page:

"Citizens for a Better Shawnee is a non-partisan, citizen-run committee founded by the members of the "Vote No - There's a Better Way" Committee that opposed the 2019 Mail Ballot question that would have raised the property tax rate to fund a proposed community center in Shawnee. 

Our efforts were successful, as the measure failed by a decisive margin, with 72% voting against it in a high-turnout election.

Members of that committee, in response to many requests to remain engaged in city government, including city elections, decided to form "Citizens for a Better Shawnee" with the purpose of focusing on fiscal responsibility, common-sense policy, and good government in Shawnee, Kansas."
If you click on their endorsements tab you will see their endorsements for the upcoming primary election and info on the questionnaires they sent out to the candidates.  Interesting to note is which candidates failed to return the questionnaire.

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Primary Election - Tuesday 8/6/19 - My Choices

OK.............this is going to be a short post.

These are my choices for the four Shawnee primary election contests next Tuesday, 8/6/19

Mayor:  Michelle Distler

Council Ward 3 Full Term:  Kurt Knappen

Council Ward 3 Unexpired Term:  Kevin Straub

Council Ward 4:  Kris Durbin