Thursday, January 30, 2020

Who Is The "Mystery" Councilwoman?

In a recent article in the Shawnee Mission Post it has been mentioned that Austin Homes and its owner Greg Prieb have filed a lawsuit against Shawnee.  The suit alleges that the city wrongfully turned down their application for their Woodsonia project.

The action is filed in JoCo District Court under case number 20CV00246 and that is public information.

In support of their allegations they mention many items.  Naturally it will be up to the court to decide if the allegations have merit.  Among these allegations are the following:

"(b)  The prejudgment of the matter by another councilmember, who wrongfully and inappropriately (i)offered to assist the owners of neighboring properties in preparing the protest petition before the Application had been heard by the Planning Commission; (ii) attend the Planning Commission to publicly show her support of those in opposition; (iii) made statements in social media about her position on the development before it reached the City Council for hearing, and (iv) read from a script at the December 9, 2019 City Council meeting, prepared before the evidence and testimony had been received."

At the time all this was happening there were three female members of the council:  Stephanie Meyer, Lisa Larson-Bunnell and Lindsey Constance.  So, which one of these three ladies is the "her" mentioned in the lawsuit?  Prior to the 1/27/20 council meeting a member of the public asked Larson-Bunnell if it was her.  Apparently she said no, because that member of the public so stated it from the podium.  That leaves just Meyer and Constance.  Here is my take.  Constance is a rep from Ward IV and I seriously doubt that she would get that involved in a Ward III project.  Meyer was a Ward III rep but if one looks at her list of campaign contributors in her failed mayoral election there is some major representation by folks/companies in the construction/development arena.  And, she has by virtue of her employment over the years been closely associated with folks in that industry.  Would she really take that public of a stand against one of them?  And the election was already over.   Larson-Bunnell is a lawyer  and capable of preparing a protest petition.  But she has denied that it was her.  Anybody want to read the 12/9/19 minutes of the council to see which member said they were going to read comments that they had prepared before the meeting?

Anyway, two things will come to the surface:  1) pre-trial depositions will reveal the "mystery" councilwoman and 2) the court will decide if there was any wrongdoing, not me.

Wonder what it will cost the city to defend this one?

Sidebar:  The attorney representing the petitioner, Austin Homes, is the same attorney who handed the city a big loss in its recent eminent domain action on Johnson Drive

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Council Presidency Still Not Decided - New Procedures to be Discussed

At this past council meeting on 1/27/20 the issue of a new council president and a vice-chair of the council committee had still not been decided.

Leah Wankum of the Shawnee Mission Post has a nice article about what happened and it can be read by clicking here.

I would like to point out a few things that took place.  When the item came up Councilmember Eric Jenkins brought forth info about how the current procedures did not cover what had happened previously.  At the previous meeting, the votes for both procedures were tied and in both cases the mayor did not vote to break the tie.  As such, no council president, no committee vice-chair.  Jenkins thought it was time to fix the system before proceeding further.  Makes sense. 

During that discussion Councilmember Lindsey Constance snuck in a motion to elect Matt Zimmerman as Council President and Dr. Mike Kemmling as Committee Vice-chair.  Seconded by Zimmerman.  Now the discussion continued with more councilmembers seeming to want to fix the system.  But, the only way to proceed was if Constance withdrew her motion.  She refused.  Uh oh.  Trouble in River City, because the seconding of the motion was withdrawn.  This should have been an eye opener for Constance.  It wasn't.

Moving down the road a motion was made by Jenkins to bring the matter to the committee for a revision of Policy Statement 7 and Charter Ordinance 45.  Again, it makes sense, let's clean up procedures.  While the clean up is taking place Dr. Kemmling as the senior council member by length of service would act as interim President and Chair of the Council Committee.

Follow this:  When the vote was taken to move it to committee new councilmember Tammy Thomas who had spoken eloquently on the situation voted yes, followed by Zimmerman, Jenkins and Kemmling.  Hmmmmm, 4 votes to take it to committee for a review and revision of procedures.  Now it comes to Lisa Larson-Bunnell who voted no (apparently she was upset that she hadn't won the election for council president and didn't care to fix the system).  Knappen was absent. Then Constance voted no.  In a way that was a dumb move, considering the person she nominated voted to fix the system.  Duhhhhhh!!!!! Then the other new councilmember Jill Chalfie (who had remained silent) looked at Constance with a deer in the headlights look and also voted no. 

So, the item will move to the council committee to work on revisions to the governing documents so as to make the system more defined.  It's a shame that Larson-Bunnell, Constance and Chalfie could not see the advantages to fixing a system that needed fixing.

Let's see what happens at next week's committee meeting, Tuesday 2/4/20 at city hall at 7PM

Friday, January 17, 2020

A Council Meeting With Gross Procedural Errors 1/13/20

This past Monday's meeting (1/13/20) of the city council was an abomination. Soooo many things were off base that I had to wait a few days before blogging about it. Had to calm down, gather my thoughts so that I could post coherently.

First, there was a tie in the vote for President of the Council. The choice should have been a no brainer. Keep in mind that one of the functions is to be able to assume the mayor's position should the mayor become unable to perform. So, let's look at the two individuals who were up for the election to this position.

Lisa Larson-Bunnell: Just finished one year on the council after having been appointed to replace now convicted felon Justin Adrian. Recently she did win an election to be the councilmember for the remaining two years of that term.

Eric Jenkins: Is an elected four year member of the council and just reelected for another four years. He also served for twenty-one years on the Shawnee Planning Commission. He has  been a member of the Shawnee Downtown Partnership Committee and the Shawnee Economic Development Council. Additionally he served as the SMNW Advisor to the SM School Board. As a senior manager with FEMA he performed in various capacities to include that of Federal Coordinating Officer. That is the FEMA individual who is responsible for approving/authorizing activities to rebuild communities devastated by disasters.

The mayor exercised her option not to break the tie. This IMHO was a bad move. The choice should have been obvious. Duhhhhhh!

So what happened next? The city manager whispered something into the mayor's ear and the next thing we hear is that the item is being tabled until a future meeting. The same thing happened with the election for the Vice-Chairman of the Council Committee (Kemmling vs Constance).

What? A unilateral decision to table an agenda item? Despite the city attorney's subsequent comments about the mayor ruling on points of order, he skirted the issue of the tabling of the item. Check Robert's Rules of Order. A motion would have needed to be made, seconded, and then affirmed by a majority vote to table the item. Bad advice to the mayor if that is what the city manager whispered. There was still time to revisit the issue and either continue the voting process or table the item properly. That would have been something that the city attorney needed to jump in and advise.  Very unhappy that the city attorney did not step in on this one.

Now this brings up another contentious item. The fact that the city manager and the city attorney sit on the dais with the governing body. This has been brought up before. Shawnee is the only city in JoCo where this happens. These two staff members need to either be seated with the rest of the staff in the gallery or at another table in the well. This would also eliminate whispered comments by either person to the mayor or any member of the governing body. Any comments they make need to be on open mic and thus recorded in the minutes. These are open meetings. Going forward any whispered comments will be reported as violations of KOMA. Not a threat......a promise. Get them off the dais to take away that temptation.

Sidebar: Not too long ago I mentioned that Councilmember Lindsey Constance, based on some of her comments, would probably be taking over for Mickey Sandifer as making the dumbest comments on the council. She proved me right this past Monday. Even after the explanations of how the mayor does not have to vote to break a tie she inquired if there was any way to make the mayor vote to break a tie. Duhhhhhh! Hey "teach" (said with a strong NYC accent) ya needs ta read Charter Ordinance 45 and Policy Statement 7. Let me know when ya finished yer homework assignment cuz I got a 20 question test fer youse. Ya wanna be a state senator and ya don't even know the basics of these two documents for the city. IMHO she probably only wanted to be committee vice-chair so as to beef up her political resumé. Useless...............

Sidebar 2: Without a council president, if something happened to the mayor, the next person in line would be the senior council member by tenure and that would be Dr. Kemmling. Even if we had a vice-chairman of the council committee that person is not in the line of succession.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Larson-Bunnell and the Westbrooke Green Deception

On December 15, 2019 I blogged about the 6 council members who condoned the deception and lies by the developer for the Westbrooke Green project.  You can scroll down to read it or click here to go directly to it.

Of the six council members who voted for it, I was most surprised by Lisa Larson-Bunnell.  Since she is a lawyer I just could not understand how she could condone the deception by the developer.  so, I wrote her an email.  Here is what I said on 1/8/20:



Happy New Year………………………..

Ever since the vote for this project on 12/9 I have debated whether or not to send you this email.

Finally decided to do so.  Of the six councilmembers who voted for this project I was most surprised by you.

Why?  Because you are an attorney.

The developer has lied and deceived the governing body, city staff and the people of the city.  Heck, once the agenda packet indicated that I had downloaded items from their web site, they finally took it down.  For two years their web site was showing a project that they knew would never be completed as shown. Their billboards on the property showed a project that was not going to come to fruition They knew that they could not move Pizza Street (and likewise Mi Pueblito), even though that was in the “plans”.  They knew they would not get fine dining.  PJ’s comment at the community meeting that upscale restaurants need drive ups for the delivery services was horse manure.

I could go on and on with the various lies and deceit but will stop there.  Now, to explain how that relates to your profession.  Basically, if this had been a court of law they committed perjury.  Would you not challenge somebody who lied on the witness stand?  Would you not challenge somebody who lied at a deposition?  Yet you, by your vote in favor of this project accepted the developer’s lies and deceit.  And to add insult to injury they are getting an outrageous incentive package, to include the fact that we are giving up our 1% sales tax.  How does this bring funds to the city? 

Anyway, I have rattled on long enough.  Suffice it to say that I am thoroughly disgusted that you voted for this project which was an affirmation, IMHO of the lies that the developer tossed out.  I pull no punches.  I am not politically correct.  Rest assured, that should you decide to run for a full term for your council position in two years that I will do everything that is allowed by law to work against your reelection.


And, the deception continues.  Here is a picture of one of the two billboard signs, taken 3 days ago.  They are both the same.  Note, the image is from the plans of December 2017 which have not been valid for a long, long, time.  Click on the image to see a larger version.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Meyer & Sandifer Waste $4,700 of Your Money

Back on 11/13/19 I posted an item about the November National League of Cities Meeting that would be held in San Antonio at the end of that month.  You can read it by clicking here

Thanks to a KORA request I have received copies of the expense reports for the four individuals that attended that meeting.  The part that is upsetting is that both Stephanie Meyer (failed candidate for mayor) and Mickey Sandifer (who did not file for reelection) both knew that they would not be returning as members of the governing body approximately two months after the conference.  These two really stuck it to the city.  Hope folks remember this in case Meyer ever decides to run for another public office in the area.  Sandifer is probably out of any future political endeavors.

Anyway, here is the breakdown of who spent what.  It is interesting to note that as in the past Sandifer usually has the highest expense report.  Also, remember that there are 2 NLC conferences during the year and he almost always attended both.  And there are other conferences by various organizations.

Mickey Sandifer.......................................$2,518.62
Lisa Larson-Bunnell....................................2,418.80
Stephanie Meyer........................................2,178.81
Nolan Sunderman........................................2,055.80

Keep in mind that Council Member Larson-Bunnell will be around for another two years and Nolan Sunderman as city manager for at least another year (until contract renewal time).  They may have gotten something out of this conference.  But what did Meyer and Sandifer get out of it that would be beneficial to the city?  A paid "vacation"??????  Did they bring guests with them???  (Sandifer has been known to bring a grandchild with him in the past).  Maybe go sightseeing instead of attending seminars???  San Antonio has lots of interesting sites, including the Alamo, that are open during the day.

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Justin Adrian Sentenced in Court Today

Justin Adrian, former HS teacher and Shawnee City Council Member was sentenced today in JoCo District Court. 

Today, Johnson County District Court Judge Sara Welch sentenced Justin Adrian to a 32 month underlying sentence. Adrian will be required to serve 60 days of shock time and then will be placed on probation for 36 months. He will have to register as a sex offender for 15 years.

On October 17, 2019 Adrian pleaded guilty to Aggravated Battery and Sexual Battery

To view the official press release click here

Friday, January 03, 2020

Mary Pilcher-Cook's Resignation and Mike Thompson's Entry

I come back to Shawnee and all kinds of things are going on.  First, after many years of dedicated service to the people of Shawnee Mary Pilcher-Cook (R) has decided it was time to step down.  Her voice will be missed in the state senate.

Mike Thompson (R) has entered the race to fill out the remainder of her term and has indicated that he would be running later in the year for the full term.  State Rep Tom Cox (R) has indicated that he would not be pursuing the remainder of Mary's term, but would still be entering the contest for the full term.

As time goes on I will get into this situation in more depth.  Suffice it to say that IMHO Mike Thompson would be an excellent choice to represent the people of Shawnee in the Kansas State Senate.  A true social and fiscal conservative he would be a strong voice for us in the state senate.

On the other side of the aisle Lindsey Constance (D) has declared that she would be entering the race for that senate seat.  What a joke.  Right now I'll mention two of the many things that IMHO would disqualify her from representing us in the state senate.  First, she was a proponent of the proposed community center and when confronted would never admit that the cost was really $54 million not $38 million.  She wanted to ignore the interest payments on the bonds.  Dummy.  Next, she condoned the deception of the developer by approving the new Westbrooke Green project plan on 12/9/19.  Someone who condones deception, lies, bait and switch does not deserve to be rewarded with advancement to higher elected office. 

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Happy New Year (And Surviving Holiday Travel)

First, let me wish everyone a happy and healthy new year.  Lots of things will be going on, and we plan on being involved.

Now that my travels for the holiday season are over, let me regale you with my version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

First it is important to know that I visited Sault Ste-Marie, MI for the holidays.  All the way up on the upper peninsula of Michigan approximately 1-1/2 miles from Sault Ste-Marie, Ontario, Canada.

Further clarification also needs to be made about air travel to that mecca of the far north.  Flights to "The Soo" are limited. Daily there is  one flight each way between Minneapolis/St Paul and one flight each way between Detroit.

So, on 12/23 I left KCI and arrived in Detroit (DTW) with 30 minutes to catch the connecting flight.  Virtually an impossibility when going from concourse A to concourse C (long walk, under the runways).  Because at my age I am not as spry as I once was and have difficulty walking extended distances, I booked a wheel chair.  We got to the gate just as the plane was pulling away.  There goes the only connection from Detroit to "The Soo" for that day. 

The only other connection to the Soo is out of Minneapolis substantially later that day.  But, ya gotta get to Minneapolis.  Well, the folks at Delta rebooked me to MSP and from there to CIU (Chippewa County International-"The Soo").  Well, turns out the flight into DTW that was supposed to go to MSP was a little over 2 hours late arriving.  We were supposed to wait for an approximate 30 minute turn around and then on to The Soo.  Well, that turned into an approximate 1-1/2 hour turn around.  By the time I landed at MSP I had one hour to get to the gate for the flight to CIU.  The airport at MSP is much bigger than DTW and I was having to go to gate A4 from G14.  Suffice it to say, with the wheelchair I made it with about 15 minutes to spare.  That flight took off on time, original ETA 11:30PM.  We had a good tail wind, no bad weather then, and actually got in about 25 minutes early.  Because of miscommunication between my two sons, the one that wound up picking me up was about 15 minutes later than the original ETA, meaning I sat in this itty bitty airport for about 45 minutes.  No, there is no public transportation there.

How about the return on 12/30?  Now we have weather problems.  Plane out of The Soo needed to be deiced multiple times.  Short story: four hours late for take off.  Needless to say, the flight from MSP to KC was long gone.  Got rebooked and had one hour to make the gate change.  This time, at MSP, was a little closer, from B concourse (which in reality is actually further away than A) to D concourse.  Made it with 30 minutes to spare (thank you wheelchair).

Sidebar:  The weather in The Soo was so bad the day I left that my one grandson who had what would have been a 4 hour drive home made it in over 8 hours.