Thursday, September 13, 2007

Observations

I have been reading over the different postings of the last two weeks. Many interesting comments, some insightful and some are down right nasty. The most important observation I can make is that the number of participants is growing. Keep in mind that there are many who read but do not comment on the many posts on this blog. I can assure you those numbers are growing. So, if you are sharing your thoughts, the audience is greater than just those who are corresponding via the blog. A few personal observations: To the person who believes that I am posting comments anonymously. Not so! That is my picture on the upper left corner of this page. I am not ashamed to plainly state what I have to say publicly. If that were not the case, I would have left any identification of my own responsibility for the Raytown Report. The Raytown Report’s purpose is very simple. To give those who wish, a forum in which to speak out. I personally know many of those who have shared their thoughts on this page. I can tell you they are speaking from the heart. It is true that not all Raytowners believe this forum is a good idea. I personally know many of them also. Those folks should remember that what is written on these pages come from their neighbors and fellow Raytowners. They have as much a right to share their opinion as the next person. To stifle or ignore those with whom we do not agree is the worst kind of bigotry. Such narrow-minded attitudes only serve to create cynicism that eventually stunts the growth of a community. Reaching for Tomorrow has drawn much attention on these pages. RRFT was started by the Curt Wenson / Sue Frank political machine as a way to raise taxes. There were many good-intentioned people who participated in it. There were also many who felt they were not welcome within the structure of that organization. Many of those people have spoken out on this site. As an organization RRFT is not really in existence anymore. It has morphed into a political organization loosely known as Continue Raytown’s Progress. They have been adept at playing on the hopes and dreams of many voters. They are currently at a high water mark in their existence. The club can honestly claim to have supported all but two of the elected positions in Raytown city government. Time will tell how long their run of domination at City Hall will last. Finally, I would like to leave my readers with the following observation. Last April, the Mayor, and many of those elected to the Board of Aldermen made pledges to do something about the need for more street lights in Raytown. On November 1st the Mayor and the Board will vote on a new budget for the upcoming year. This will be their budget. They will not be tied by the work of the past Board of Aldermen. They will have six months experience as elected officials under their belt. It will be interesting to see if they carry through on pledges to increase the number of streetlights in Raytown.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Greg I find your blog a great opportunity to fill the void created by the non-media of this community.

This is Lee Gray and I appreciate the fact that I can point out things to the other readers and learn from them.

Letters to the editor in other places are controlled and contrived to thwart real public discussion.

Good job...good project. Lee

Andy Whiteman said...

Continuing from the last group of posts:

I don't always agree with Greg. In fact, he and I have big differences of opinion on animals. One thing I can say for him is when an issue comes up, he investigates with very pointed questions. I feel that he is looking after the city's best interests on the Board of Alderpeople. I am not in Greg's ward, but I feel he is voting as his people would want since he didn't listen to me about animals.

I, too, question if some of the top jobs are really needed. The Mayor should be handling the City Administrator's job. I thought the job of the Mayor was to manage the city. Does the Mayor really need a high paid assistant to take out of town trips?

Are the other top jobs needed or could they by handled by the Board?

Why do these exhorbitant salaries have to be in line with outer cities? If there was a 25% or 30% pay cut and these "top" people left, I am sure someone under them would step up with the attitude that they are getting a good promotion!

If Ms. Newton if only getting $40,000, that is not a liveable salary in this area. I know other city workers receive much less but they should be paid more.

I know this sounds strange, bit I am in favor of cutting the high paid administators and paying the workers more! The salary disbursement needs to be changed to favor the workers. Yes, I happen to be Union (formarlly CWA, APWU, NALC, and NAPS). If the city workers organized an Union, things might change!

There was a previous comment about hiring more Police. I don't know if this is necessary unless someone can document an uncovered time. Any time I have called the Police for service, I have received a quick response. This applies even to non-emergencies. I don't think that having a large number of patrol vehicles visible will necessarily deter crime. In fact, I see a patrol car more frequently in Raytown than when I lived in Kansas City or Albuquerque. My experience in KCMO is over 10 years old, but for an emergency I waited 60 rings (6 minutes) for 911 to answer and then 30 minutes for 2 officers to respond. Raytown has a top notch Police force. I would like to see the officers receive a raise in pay.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

Andy you're lovable but so misinformed.
The census in 2000 showed the average family of four in Raytown had an income of $34,000. That is a liveable wage, or was until the past couple of years where gasoline went through the roof along with all the other things (milk, etc.) thanks to the failed federal economic pathways and that stupid war in Iraq.
Ms. Newton would be overpaid at $10 an hour.

Andy Whiteman said...

11:29 PM Anonymous,
I am not misinformed. I know what it takes to live. The average wage in Raytown may have been $34K, and I can tell you that $34K is not liveable. I made much more than that and still had to work at least one day a month overtime to pay the utility bills. The weather is so unbearable that heating and cooling is not affordable.

You must have a grudge against Ms. Newton.

I have a grudge against any administrator who is making $90K-$100K for warming a chair and taking trips on the taxpayer's money. It is not personal but I just think the job, which could be done by others, is paying too much. This city is TOP HEAVY! I had a 3rd level at Mountain Bell who said that when there are cuts, the come from the top down. In my opinion, that is they way it should be in Raytown.

Wondering said...

Can anyone explain to me why the Chamber of Commerce has chosen a non-resident to be its Parade Marshall this year?

What is worse, they have chosen an individual (Al Maddox) who is so politically divisive that his role serves no purpose other than to remind people of their differences. Not to mention how many others it will only piss off!

What on earth is the Chamber thinking of when it does these things?

Anonymous said...

The point I think everyone is trying to make about Ms. Newton is that she is NOT QUALIFIED to do the job as city clerk. She was hired by two of the biggest loosers that ever occupied city hall, Joanne Graham and Sue Frank. Ms.Graham propped her up and did most of her work for her when she was city attorney. I can't imagine how this girl does anything without someone telling her what to do. The sad part about it is that ALL of city hall is aware of her shortcommings and she is allowed to stay. This is one of the reasons that the public is critical of city government. We see all this waste going on unchecked.

True Blue said...

Andy, I agree with you that the people at the top of city government are making way too much, while the people that actually deliver the services need to be paid more. I'm really tired of hearing that we have to compete (the big salaries) with surrounding cities. I always though you had to pay what our city could afford. Maybe Raytown's income is not as much as say, Lees Summit. GIVE OUR POLICEMEN THEIR RAISE and forget those administrators at the top.

Anonymous said...

I was always taught you get paid for how good you do the job. If I was taught correct by my parents then all of city hall is way over paid including the mayor and city council. I should correct myself there are some that actually work and work hard I just can't think of who it woulld be and I really haven't seen any proof of that.

Anonymous said...

If you are pissed off about who the chamber has selected to head up the parade then here is my suggestion boycott the parade. Why would anyone want to go to DIRTY downtown Raytown? I went to go and purchase my car tags the other day and that shopping center is a mess, trash by the curbs not to mention the trash hanging around the center. There is a wonderful coffee shop there I will continue to support and I applaud the woman who runs it at lest she keeps her place looking good. This would be a good project for the cheerleaders,Atkins,Witty and Ertle they could pick up trash at the center and after that hit the Wal Mart lot after all you are their biggest fan.

Anonymous said...

I would challenge anyone on here to illustrate just how that 34,000.00/per year is a living wage. That equates to around 16.00/hour. That, my friend is just barely getting by, or maybe paycheck to paycheck in today's economy. You cannot raise a family on that, pay a house payment, have a new car, pay insurance, utilities, health care, etc on that and be able to set aside extra for savings with todays prices. If someone is wanting quality help for a position, they had better get up to speed and pay a competitive LIVING WAGE to that employee. That is terrible! You could eliminate some of the top heavy positions and increase wages in other positions, and possibly retain quality personel in those positions. The city has that problem, and so does the school district. That is why there is such a high turnover rate for employees. That is a fact. If anyone has purchased any big ticket items lately like a brand new car, or a house (not neccessarily new), and I am not talking 35 or 40 years ago either, should know what I am talking about. The current cost of living. I really can't blame these employees for looking for other jobs elsewhere for more money. If you want quality you are going to pay for it.

You would swear by the reaction of some of the posters on this blog that the city clerk has committed some terrible crime to someone??? Just exactly what happened that you are so mad with Mrs Newton? Noone is perfect, and I am sure that you are not either. I really hate to see someone being persecuted for just doing their job. A really good outlet for all of the negativity perhaps would be better directed towards the city administrator, community development director, and the finance director. Better yet, eliminate those three positions alltogether.

Again, way back when... we did not have a city administrator like previously stated because it was the Mayor's job. the other positions were part time like stated before. We had a population that was upwards around 45,000 people at one time, now it is only around 30,000 people. Granted the tax base has shrunk because of the decline in population. What we need are businesses and resturaunts, good publicity about the city, good roads, infrastructure, good public servants, good schools, etc... we have a great start with police, fire and ems, and the schools, but the rest needs work. If this city is to thrive, you have to have things to draw the people with the money to the city. If there is nothing here, why bother with it at all? I know that I get very tired of having to try to find places close to home here to go out to eat, to take care of normal errands, clothing, supplies etc. becuase it is always a challenge anymore. The businesses are in Lees Summit, Independence, Blue Springs, and Overland Park. Everyone talks about saving gasoline, how can you if there aren't any places close to home and everything is 30 minutes away from home? I myself try to patronize businesses if they are located close to home in Raytown, and if they are not here, again, 20 or 30 minutes away from here. I am really at a point where I am wanting to move away from Raytown because of the trend that is and has been happening here even though it is home to me. It is like a slow, agonizing death to a loved one. This town looks like Ruskin and South Kansas City in places.... there are empty stores, loan places, pawn shops, now all we need are some tattoo parlors and a few XXX dance clubs...

One other thing that might help, as someone else noted in another post is if any new businesses did come here that they need to stay open past 5pm... that has always been a problem in Raytown, and some of that may have been attributed to the Baptists that used to run this town, or maybe they still do. Pull in the rug early.

If you walk around or drive slowly through the neighborhoods you see more vacant houses, some with deffenbaugh dumpsters in their dribeways filled with trash and debris, delapidated houses that the people who live there cant afford to keep up because of fixed incomes, burglar bars on doors and windows, alarm company signs in front yards, houses with 6 to 8 dogs and the stench that hovers from the lack of picking up after them, sidewalks that once were level that are buckled like a seismic disturbance shifted it around, trash piled in piles in front of houses or duplexes. This is not the Raytown that I remember as a youth.

Andy Whiteman said...

This block should be REQUIRED READING for the Booard of Alderpeople and Mayor so they know how the PEOPLE feel! The Anonymous writers, as do the signed writers, make many good points!

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous who said the schools are off to a good start. Look and think again. I go to school to pick up my son every day. Why do the school administrators let the kids dress in such a manner? I mean pants hanging down below their ass and those long shirts that look like night gowns? I can tell you why, they are afarid of them. Let's get some guts and clean up the dress code and stand behind it. Oh they say they have a code it is written in a handbook but I have yet to see it enforced because if they did half of the schol would be going home to change clothes. Let's hear from the school board president, personally I think she has gone into hiding. In the past we had perfessional people on the board now we get the leftovers.and we are going to hell in a hand basket. Just sign me had my fill of all talk and no action.

Anonymous said...

I see we have another new business in town. A beer joint!!! Great family dining don't you think? All they serve is drinks, munchies and second hand smoke. Bet they didn't get any hassle from codes. This is the type of business that city hall welcomes with open arms.

Anonymous said...

The reason that city hall welcomes beer joints is that Alderman Schlapia and her fellow alderman will have another place to hang out and drink on council meeting nights.

Anonymous said...

Well, what ever happened to parents taking some responsibility and exercising some parental control over their own children? You buy their clothes, you have a say in the matter, you know what the dress code is per the school district policy. Stop it at home. What a novel idea! After all, you are the adult, the kids are not. That is the way it is in my house, and we have no problems. You want the school district to babysit your kids all day long and yet you won't get off your butt and make your own kids toe the line. Give me a break! Another part of the problem is that for some parents, the common sense truck stopped far short of their house, and their kids unfortunately have inherited the lack of common sense and decency as well.

Andy Whiteman said...

We had a dress code when I went to school. They need that here too. If anyone thinks the schools are good, check out the state testing. I read it in the paper several weeks ago and it wasn't very good.

Actually I rather see a new coffee shop compared to a bar. I did say that the city needs to welcome ALL businesses. At least a bar generates tax $$$$$. That is what we want, isn't it? What I don't understand is the city grants permits to a new bar and then an alderperson questioned when approving the color of Raytown Plaza, "What control do we have over the types of businesses that rent space?" I wonder why is this being asked? Is there an ordinance as to what type of business is acceptable? We need businesses. What criteria must a new business meet?

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

Great, another sports bar and grill so everyone can get stupid and obnoxious, lots of second hand smoke, and bar food... how about a good family oriented resturant, not Applebees or Buffalo Wild Wings.

Andy Whiteman said...

I agree with the 10:12 PM Anonymous. The parents need to take control but I think some parents are unable to parent.

My parents were in control when I was the child, but the school still had a dress code. I couldn't understand why because the way I was brought up already complied with the dress code. I assumed the code was intended for the slobs.

Andy Whiteman

Andy Whiteman said...

To 10:25 PM Anonymous,

Just drive down Raytown Blvd. There are Chinese, Mexican and seafood restaurants plus a coffee shop that are not the fast food type. They are not the type and quality that would make Raytown a destination point.

When we lived in KC Sonic Burger and Shanghi Express were destination points for us. Raytown lost us when the Sonic Burger opened on Bannister and a fast food Chinese with better food opened on Wornall.

Someone from the Chamber or the City needs to make a presentation to a 4 star or 5 star restaurant of the benefits of why they should move to Raytown or open a branch here.

Andy Whiteman

True Blue said...

Andy, I agree with you that we all would like to see more QUALITY places to eat in Raytown. I have been told that most of these top quality places do marketing surveys and have found that the income to support their restuarants is no longer here. The story that many of us have been preaching for some time that the younger generation and their incomes are leaving Raytown at an alarming rate. It's a sad story, but our current administration appears to be doing nothing to change it.

Anonymous said...

As far as the younger generation moving out of Raytown, I've heard the opposite.

According to City Hall officials, the median age in Raytown is lowering. Senior citizens are selling their homes and downsizing. Younger people are buying these homes for starter or second homes and relocating to Raytown. Supposedly the median age for Raytown is supposed to drop by 10 years by 2010.

Anonymous said...

Some young families are starting out here because real estate is cheaper. But the kicker is as soon as they can afford a house in Lee's Summit they are gone. We can't compete with the surrounding communities. We get a Walmart and they get the whole shopping center, Kohl's Target, Longhorn Steakhouse, Lowes, I could go on and on but you get the picture. And on top of this their neighborhoods are CLEANER.

Anonymous said...

Maybe that 4 or 5 star restuarant could go in that 5 star hotel that Larry Edwards envisions on Aquila property.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately some of those younger families are part of the problem, like I say some, not all of them. Some rent here in Raytown and just exist in the rental property, they don't pick up their trash that was torn into by loose animals and the trash blows everywhere, park their hooptie cars in the middle of their front yards when they run out of room in their driveway, park other cars on both sides of the street to constrict residential traffic flow because three of their cars wont run and are located in the driveway with flat tires and crunched fenders, have parties every Friday and Saturday night that keep the other residents awake because of the fights and loud music, let the grass grow a foot tall, old newspapers everywhere, 5 dogs in the backyard not well cared for like their kids. Then they move out and to another rental either here or in another city, or if they are lucky, they might purchase their first home, and the same pattern happens all over again. Lowlifes! that is part of the problem, and the landlords are the other part of the problem, and the city is yet another part of the problem. There probably wouldnt be so many rental properties if people could sell their houses here, but cant because they will lose money on it or noone will buy here. The city could help with cleanup of the streets and the right of ways on a regular basis, of course that is creating more work. Of course landlords could do a better job of screening their potential renters and do better background checks on them hopefully to prevent any renters from trashing out the place and it sitting vacant for months at a time with big dumpsters in the driveways and tall grass. Like I said before, not all young families are like this, but there are a lot more that fit the above description coming to Raytown.

JWDT said...

Maybe the reason the Median or Average Age in Raytown is dropping is not because of younger residents, but the older residents are dying off?

I have noticed that as they pass on, their children do not move back (unlike other areas of KC for instance Brookside, Waldo or Red Bridge) but instead decide to either sell the house for their inheritance (can't blame them) or rent it out for a monthly inheritance (can't blame them again but I do not like this option).
Question is, how do you get people to want to move to Raytown...maybe a more of an aggresive Marketing campaign?
Justin Tomac

Anonymous007 said...

We need something here to make it a destination. A marketplace i.e. specialty independent shops, international markets, et al, are some ideas I have heard thrown by some locals.
Find a microtrend and encourage like businesses to set up here.
I don't think only restaurants are the answer, although it would be nice to have more of a variety here.
Put your thinking caps on - with all the creative minds here there could be some great ideas thrown around about how to build Raytown rather than just discuss how it is falling apart.

Andy Whiteman said...

Maybe we are putting the horse before the cart as far as people moving into Raytown. I know one lady who rented and worked in Overland Park. She is gone now and I don't know where. Maybe closer to work.

If there were good jobs in Raytown people would have a reason to move here. I moved here because of a job in Lees Summit and it was a close drive as well as the amenities (auto repair, vet, Post Office within walking distance).

I agree with Anomymous007 restaurants alone aren't the answer. A marketplace i.e. specialty independent shops, international markets, movies, and theatre would draw people. Restaurants would help make the shopping a destination point. But we must be a destination point for some reason so people will say, "Lets go to Raytown for dinner and a movie, dinner and shopping" or whatever. By the way the DMV license office also made Raytown a destination point for us when we lived in KC because the only option was Downtown!

We need good jobs and don't mean the $36K per year jobs. We need jobs that pay well. The problem is that the good gobs have gone to India or other countries because of cheap labor. I think many cities other than Raytown are facing that issue.

Anonymous said...

I think if you look at the other areas of the metroplex and use it as an example maybe. If you had your open air basic strip mall(which we used to have with Raytown Plaza, Woodson Village, Blue Ridge Mall, 350 Hiway and Gregory) located in a well maintained and clean part of town and attract other retailers like Target, Best Buy, Kohls, Barnes and Noble, JoAnn's, JC Penney, and some eateries like Chipoltle, Panera, Fazolis, and Backyard Burgers would be a great start for a draw. But we do need something else to draw customers to the area, something big. Wal Mart is definately not the answer and I was really disapointed when that news broke. I really thought Raytown was on the right track finally , of course some were speculating other anchor stores early on as I was also. We used to have pretty much everything we ever needed right here in Raytown. Very seldom would you have to venture out of the city for shopping or dining unless it was a day trip or an adventure. Perhaps they should look at a possible theme or image thing like "Come to Raytown for the day, a one stop adventure on your way home, convienent shopping, dining, and entertainment needs just minutes away for your conveinence". See, you don't need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to come up with a catchy slogan, all they need is the development.

Anonymous said...

So many suggestions are made for corporate companies building in Raytown.

A local business person told me research shows that almost .50 of every dollar spent at a locally owned store stays in the city, vs. less than .20 if it is a corporate store.

I can remember when there were specialty clothing, toy, book stores, etc. WalMart has wiped most of them out but there is a resurgence. The current generation of teens do not remember and think it is cool to go to a specialty store.

Someone mentioned microtrends. I heard a segment about that on the radio the other day and did a search. I found this on msnbc.com:

"Over the past two generations, the number of left-handed Americans has nearly doubled. Between 2004 and 2005, the purchase of fashion yarn increased 56 percent. The fastest growing group of knitters are teens and twentysomethings. The fastest growing group of videogamers? Moms over the age of 45. People making more than $75,000 a year are much more likely to be among the 30 million Americans with tattoos than members of lower-income groups. No longer the mark of sailors and ex-cons, one in three Americans between the ages of 25-29 now sports body ink."

There we go, someone needs to open a store with specialty items for left handed people, knitting supplies, video games and a high end tattoo parlor. (I know - many of you think tattoo parlors are trashy.)

I don't know the actual procedure that City Hall uses to encourage businesses to open up in Raytown. They may do no more than let you know what permits are required if you call them. This needs to change. The city needs to be proactive in enticing new businesses to come here, make it simple to open their doors and then promote them once they do.

I've heard that there is action to start a "buy local" program in Raytown. I think it is a good idea. We need to encourage residents to buy local and let them know which businesses are locally owned.

Andy Whiteman said...

Anonymous 12:09 PM has a good idea! Businesses should post signs, "Locally owned." or "Owner is a Raytown Resident," etc. for everyone to know.

There is a possibility that what we think are corporately owned may actually be a franchise with a local owner. We will never know unless there are signs or advertisements. This brings up who owns Westlake, Sonic Burger, Wendy's, etc?

Walmart may be a destination but it does not creat a destination area. People will come a distance for Walmart but that is probably the only place they are shopping. Hopefully they will stop for gas, or a bite to eat on the way.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

The restaurant business is hurting here in Raytown because most larger businesses whose employees provided lunch time revenue have closed or moved. The businesses further west on 63rd st closed and used to bring in lunchers - Aquila is leaving.
Bringing big businesses, not necessarily retail, to Raytown will help the local economy.

Anonymous said...

In regards the "buy local" idea...I did that many years ago at the Post. But, personalities and pety politics being what they are in Raytown, it was poorly supported and lasted only a couple of years.

Now, I think, it would be difficult to identify Raytown "local" businesses -- especially in the retail and restaurant areas. As others have pointed out, Wal-Mart pretty much killed the "mom and pop" local businesses and "chains" dominate the restaurants and groceries.

When I moved to Raytown (20 yrs ago), the Chamber had 650 members. What's it down to now...even after changing its name to "Crossroads" and including outside banks, etc.

A sense of community is needed. And the public, which is largely "commuter" dwellers will have to realize if they want the convenience of local business...they'll have to support it.

Best wishes/Lee Gray

Pat Casady said...

Ok guys, I don't want to sound negative about new businesses coming to town
but it's going to be hard to talk any business to come here because of Wal-Mart.
But that's not the whole problem.
City codes people have to work with prospective new businesses. The city elected officials have to get the big sales tax income addictions out of their thoughts and recognize there are actually other types of businesses out there that need their help.

When a new small business does get through all the hoops they have to get around they have to be supported by the town.
Please don't think I'm complaining but I have yet to do much for our school district. I only see them when they are in a hurry or hurting for something.
A while back I was doing starters and alternators for Lee's Summit school dist. but I got a call from the garage, they said that their city told them use the local rebuilder. I understood. As I said I'm not complaining I gotten along for twenty seven years without doing much for them but, my point is maybe other local businesses might not be as lucky as I am. They will need local support.
Here's another thought. Everybody is talking about who is living here and who is moving in and out of here. I truly don't have an answer but I will say this, If and when Wal-Mart builds their big store on 350 hwy. our city officials better focus on the downtown because if it isn't handled right it will be a ghost town with a few exceptions
and nobody will want to move here. They don't want to be around Wal-Mart and they won't want to be near a dead downtown. You can look and the housing project at 59th and Raytown tfyw. to see this.

Independent stores are a good idea, the plaza owner will have to have them, but finding something or someone that sells something that Wal-Mart doesn't and wants to come here and fight the codes people is a nearly impossible task.

Again this is why we need to organize a group of business and property owners to try and come up with some ideas that might help.........all of us.