Sunday, May 31, 2020

Did Shawnee City Workers Lose Out on a COLA Increase?

A recent poster on the social media site Next Door had an item that City of Shawnee workers were recently denied a COLA (cost of living allowance) increase.  Some refer to it as a market adjustment.

If true, this is outrageous.  Most times a COLA increase (as opposed to a merit or step increase) is usually in the neighborhood of 1% to 3%.  A truly pithy amount compared to the 25% increase recently voted by certain members of the governing body for the city manager.

Would any of the five persons who voted for the unwarranted increase for the city manager care to email me about the COLA for the city employees?  If so, your email will be published here.

Those five are:

Matt Zimmerman -  Ward 1
Lisa Larson-Bunnell - Ward 3
Lindsey Constance - Ward 4
Jill Chalfie - Ward 4
Michelle Distler - Mayor

Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day 2020

On Memorial Day I am always reminded of a quote by the man that I consider to be the greatest field commander in US history, Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.

His quote: "It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived."

Yes, let us thank God that so many men, and women, have given their all to safeguard our liberties. Please, do not take the liberties, freedoms, and God given rights that they died for, for granted.

Be thankful, and remember them, today and always.

From the Memorial Day Concert, Washington DC 2019

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Does City Manager Know What is Happening In His City?

One of the biggest events in the City of Shawnee has been the Tour de Shawnee bike ride.  This event has a history of over 30 years and is run to benefit the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund).

It is usually held on a Sunday near the end of August.  Having volunteered to help out in the past for about 6-7 years I decided to check on line to see if it was on for this year, or if it has been postponed, rescheduled or cancelled.

Wow, was I shocked at what I found on the city web site.  When you go to this web page they are still talking about the 2019 event.  If you click and go here you will get a registration form for the 2019 event.

What happened to the 2020 event?  Now, there will be some folks who will say that with Covid 19 and the stay at home thingies the site was not updated.  Horse nonsense.  Why wasn't the site updated after last year's date (which did get rained out)?  Why wasn't info about the 2020 event posted September, October, November, December, January, February etc?

I sincerely hope that the city manager (Nolan Sunderman) does not pass the blame downstream to the Parks Department.  Remember Harry Truman's desk sign, "The Buck Stops Here".

He was probably too busy planning on how he would eventually attempt to justify his 25% salary increase.

Sidebar:  A BK double whopper with cheese and bacon says that the two links above will probably disappear or get changed after this post appears.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Constance Replies About Park Board Nominee

Shawnee City Council Member Lindsey Constance responded to my blog post from yesterday.  You can scroll down to read it, or access it by clicking here.

Since she was kind enough to respond, I will post her email here, followed by my reply:

Constance email of 5/21/20: 

Hi Ray,

Regarding your question about my recommendation to appoint Mr. Waltman to the Parks Board, Elizabeth (our volunteer coordinator) doesn’t require the Parks Board applicants to re-do their applications, instead they may remain on file for future consideration.

Mr. Waltman’s application was from 2018, so I did reach out to him and had a conversation over the phone last week before making my selection. He is not planning to push forward the community center, as that didn’t pass the public vote. Mr. Waltman’s reference to that in his application was 2 years old prior to the election last spring.

Let me know if you have further questions. Thanks and enjoy your week.


My reply to that email:


This is a perfect example as to why applications need to be updated.  The community center project was a very contentious issue.

A purported conversation between you and him that he would not pursue the item can best be described as hearsay.  You are not him.

My suggestion would be for Mr. Waltman to send a signed letter as an addendum to the application reiterating your purported conversation.  The letter needs to be added to the agenda packet.  If he is unwilling to do so then I would suggest that his nomination be withdrawn.

Stay well


Final thoughts:

Just because she says that he told her he would not pursue, I would love to see that in writing. From him, not her. Lindsey Constance has a habit of not necessarily being forthcoming.  Just look at how she didn't divulge important info about the comparisons when it came to her vote to give the city manager a raise. 

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Constance Does Not Listen to the People of Shawnee

At next Monday's council meeting Lindsey Constance's nominee to serve on the Parks 7 Rec advisory board is an indication of how she doesn't listen or care what the people of Shawnee think.

She has nominated and individual, who, according to his application was happy that he supported the community center project and is looking forward to supporting it again.

Huh???  Constance also supported it.  But, 72% of those casting ballots in the largest election of its kind told her and those pushing it to "faggedah bout it".  Constance, the mental midget who could not understand why the project would cost $54 million  not $38 million.  She did not want to concede the fact that the city (meaning taxpayers) would have to fork over $16 million in interest.  Now she wants to put another person on that board who is deaf to the desires and wishes of the people.

Maybe if I had lent her my hearing aids she could have heard  better what the folks had said.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

City Manager's Raise - Part 2

Let's dig a little deeper into Nolan Sunderman's, what is IMHO, recent exorbitant salary raise.  Wow, 25% at one shot.....almost $40K.

According to the demographics for the city, which are available by clicking here, the per capita income in Shawnee is.............$36,856.  Interesting.

The city council has to vote on the city manager's salary increase.  In this case, the council was split 4-4 and the mayor voted to break the tie.  It would be unfair to blame the entire council for this action.  But, the individuals who did vote for the salary increase can be held accountable should they run for reelection and/or another office.

Who were the ones that voted for this insult to the people of Shawnee:

Matt Zimmerman (Ward 1)
Lisa Larson-Bunnell (Ward 3)
Lindsey Constance (Ward 4) and announced for the upcoming state senate race
Jill Chalfie (Ward 4)
Michelle Distler (Mayor)

Long term readers of this blog may recall that over the years I have been a strong supporter of the mayor. Even though we had disagreed on some items I have never felt in the past that she had done anything to "stick it to" the people of Shawnee.  Good, bad or indifferent, I always thought that she had the best interests of Shawnee at heart.  This is no longer the case.  To give this inexperienced puppy this kind of raise and by some, to compare his background with those of surrounding cities' city managers is a travesty.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Constance & Chalfie Grossly Mislead Their Constituents

Shawnee City Council members Lindsey Constance & Jill Chalfie, both from Ward 4, have grossly mislead their constituents.  Let's look at their recent yes vote to give City Manager Nolan Sunderman a 25% salary raise (approx. $40K), which when coupled with his deferred compensation and car allowance will push him over $200K a year.

On their facebook pages they posted comments concerning their votes.  Note the similarity in the wording.

Constance:  -  The second main item on the agenda was voting on the City Manager's contract. Prior to last night's vote, the City Manager's salary was $50,000 lower than the lowest of comparable cities. I have been pleased with Shawnee's continued history of efficiency in management, especially compared with other neighboring cities. For example, Shawnee's staff to resident ratio is 1:205 compared with Lenexa at 1:127. The efficiency and focus on finding ways to save the city money, whether it be the streetlight LED conversion and purchase, or the Facility Conservation Improvement Plan, have continued to create savings opportunities.

Having quality and fairly compensated staff is important to keep our city running smoothly, so we can provide important services to our residents. I voted in support of the contract and it passed 5-4.

Chalfie: - Secondly, we approved a pay increase for our City Manager in order to bring this salary closer in line with the same job in neighboring cities (taking into account years of service). One of the biggest factors leading me to support this market increase was the efficiency in what Shawnee provides to residents with the number of full-time city staff that our City Manager oversees. As a comparison, Lenexa has one staff for every 128 people and Shawnee has 1 staff for every 205 people. This level of efficiency can only be managed by a strong leader. During this time of uncertainty, I believe it is more important than ever to value the position at the top of our organization as this person makes many day to day decisions that can affect how we come through this as a city.

Why do I say that they grossly mislead their constituents?  Here goes.  They both use the ratios of staff to residents, showing that Shawnee has fewer staff per resident population.  So now let's dissect their comments.

Yes, Shawnee has less staff per resident population.  But, Lenexa also has staff for areas that Shawnee contracts out, like facilities maintenance, janitorial services, even mowing.  Why don't they mention that?  What about the daytime population in Lenexa?  Lenexa has substantially more large businesses, industrial parks, office parks, etc.  Their commercial tax base is almost double that of Shawnee's.  Why don't they mention that?  That is one of the reasons why they have more police, firefighters/stations and other city facilities.  And guess what else they also have?  A higher mill levy.  Their citizens and businesses are paying for those needed services.

These ratios that Constance & Chalfie mention have been around since Gonzales was city manager and she too hid the true facts.  What Constance & Chalfie  are doing is trying to compare apples to oranges.

They also want to compare Mr. Sunderman's compensation to that of individuals in neighboring cities.  The Shawnee Mission Post just wrote about the vote and showed those figures for the neighboring cities.  You can read the article and see the numbers by clicking here

Now, let's look at those neighboring individuals:

Overland Park - Bill Ebel - City manager in OP since 2011 and prior to that was a department director.  In reality he has been in government service since 1975 when he entered the USMA at West Point and graduated in '79.  Translation:  he has been in government service for longer than Sunderman has been on this earth.

Olathe - J. Michael Wilkes - Has been City Manager since 1999 and started in government service in 1984.  Whoops, that means he has been in government service since Sunderman was a year old and still getting his nappies changed.

Lenexa - Two people were mentioned.  Current City Manager Beccy Yucham who has 20 years with the city and prior to that was Ass't. Gen. Counsel for the League of Kansas Municipalities. The previous City Manager Eric Wade, who retired after 15 years with Lenexa and before that he was with Jo Co government, Merriam, Blue Springs and KC MO.  Another individual who has more government service than Sunderman has time on this earth

To compare Sunderman to these folks is outrageous.  He's still a puppy in training and not ready to be compared to the big dogs.

Additionally, a 25% increase (approx. $40K) is, as I stated yesterday, IMHO,  an insult to those on the front line of city work.  As a percentage of the city budget the dollar number is a dot, but it sends a bad message to the residents of our city who are suffering from the current pandemic situation.  That includes the owners of the many small businesses who employ lots of folks that might not be going back to work. Add to that the city, which relies heavily on sales tax revenue will see a decline in that revenue.  The five people who voted for that raise created an odor that is worse than the Deffenbaugh landfill, and again I will call them out:  Matt Zimmerman (W1), Lisa Larson-Bunnell (W3), Lindsey Constance (W4), Jill Chalfie (W4), and the tie breaking vote by Michelle Distler (Mayor).

Suggestion for Constance and Chalfie.  Don't mislead your constituents.  And for Chalfie specifically, being a lap dog for a state senator wannabe is going to cause you problems.  You will be challenged when you mislead folks. Constance did that during the Community Center referendum (so did Zimmerman and Larson-Bunnell), and now on this issue.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Is Transparency Dead in Shawnee?

I'll keep this simple.  Please see the two images below.  Click on them to view a larger version which will be easier to read.

Look at motion 6.  There are many people who are not familiar with the make up of the council.  The vote total is correct.  The motion passed 5-4.  But again, some folks are not familiar with how the council works.  what the summary should have said was "Motion carried 5-4 with the mayor breaking a 4-4 tie".  Let's make it simple and easy for folks to understand.

Sunderman Gets 25% Increase

Yepper, you read that headline correctly.  Last night, after an executive session the council came in to vote on giving Nolan Sunderman, our not so illustrious city manager (IMHO) a 25% salary increase.

The council was actually split 4-4, with Zimmerman, Constance, Larson-Bunnell and Chalfie in favor of it and Jenkins, Kemmling, Thomas and Knappen opposed.  So, how did it get approved?  Easy, our mayor, Michelle Distler voted to break the tie and give Sunderman that raise which should take him a step or two north of $180K per year.

What a travesty.  What about the folks on the city payroll who really do the hard day to day work?  You know, the folks that toil in all kinds of weather to keep your streets functional, your parks usable, your neighborhoods safe from crime, risking their own well being on fire calls, providing emergency medical treatment to you or a loved one?  I could go on and on about that.  Will the not so fabulous four and the mayor vote to give ALL employees an across the board 25% raise?  What kind of message did they send to city employees with that vote?

Let's look at the four council members who voted to give the city manager that outrageous increase:

Matt Zimmerman -Ward 1-Was also strongly in favor of taxing the citizens for the community center.  Does he really care about the people in Shawnee?
Lisa Larson-Bunnell -Ward 3-Another council member who pushed for the community center and the disgusting burden it would have placed on the folks that make Shawnee home.
Lindsey Constance -Ward 4- And yet another council member who tried to push for the community center. Ya had to be at some of the community meetings to hear the misinformation she was putting out there.  And she wants to represent Shawnee in the state senate!! 
Jill Chalfie -Ward 4- Watch her at council meetings as she looks up at Constance with puppy dog eyes as if to ask "What do I do?"

And then the person that broke the tie, Mayor Distler.  Like Brutus to Caesar, she plunged a knife into the backs of the people of Shawnee. 

Side note:  Zimmerman, Larson-Bunnell, and Constance are up for reelection in 2021. Remember that if they choose to run again.  And Constance is up for the State Senate seat this year.

A big thank you to Jenkins, Thomas, Kemmling and Knappen for trying to do the right thing.  Sorry that you folks got shot down by uncaring fools.