Saturday, May 10, 2008

Raytown News

How Much Did You Say? At last week’s meeting of the Board of Aldermen, City Finance Director Jeremy Wilmoth let one of City Hall’s better kept secrets out. The discussion was over a resolution transferring $113,069.00 from un-appropriated surplus to various accounts. The un-appropriated surplus is from funds set aside for spending in the 2006 - 2007 budget year that were not spent. Basically, that particular pile of money is left over from the previous year’s budget. It contains money that had been set aside for projects that were either dropped or not completed during the previous budget year. The resolution settles the accounts for the previous budget year. The figute is not an estimate. It has been varified by the the city's annual audit. After the resolution had passed Alderman Greg Walters asked Wilmoth how much money was left in the un-appropriated surplus fund. His answer – two million dollars.

Overheard after the meeting, one city department head telling another, "I wish he (Wilmoth) had not told them (the BOA) that figure."

$50,000.00 Contract for Infill Design

By a nine to one vote the Board of Aldermen signed off on a resolution approving a $50,000 contract with Bucher, Willis and Ratliff Corporation for design guidelines to guide residential infill projects.

In plain language that means creating rules for the construction of homes in established residential neighborhoods by dividing large acreage lots into smaller lots with new homes.

Setting standards in a community is a good idea.

But paying someone $50 thousand dollars to tell you that houses should have the same setback from the street, that sewer and other utilities should be present, and that the new homes should blend with existing homes is a little over the top.

Mayors to Meet Over Light Rail

Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser, Raytown Mayor David Bower, Riverside Mayor Kathleen Rose and Kansas City Councilman Russ Johnson will meet at Raytown City Hall to discuss a light rail proposal for Kansas City. The public is invited to the event -- but they will not be allowed to speak.

So, if you have little to do next Friday, head on up to city hall. No agenda has been announced so I guess you can sit and watch them talk to each other.

Riddle for the Readers . . .

What do the following towns have in common?

Gladstone, Lee's Summit, Peculiar, Harrisonville, Kansas City, Raytown.

If you know the answer, go ahead and post it this week. Otherwise, I will have the answer next in next week's column.

The Gingham Dress

One of my regular contributors to the Raytown Report sent the following. It's a good story and well worth repeating -- Greg Walters. THE GINGHAM DRESS . . . A TRUE STORY by Malcolm Forbes A lady in a faded gingham dress and her husband, dressed in a homespun threadbare suit, stepped off the train in Boston , and walked timidly without an appointment into the Harvard University President's outer office. The secretary could tell in a moment that such backwoods, country hicks had no business at Harvard & probably didn't even deserve to be in Cambridge . "We'd like to see the president," the man said softly. "He'll be busy all day," the secretary snapped. "We'll wait," the lady replied. For hours the secretary ignored them, hoping that the couple would finally become discouraged and go away. They didn't, and the secretary grew frustrated and finally decided to disturb the president, even though it was a chore she always regretted. "Maybe if you see them for a few minutes, they'll leave," she said to him! He sighed in exasperation and nodded. Someone of his importance obviously didn't have the time to spend with them, and he detested gingham dresses and homespun suits cluttering up his outer office. The president, stern faced and with dignity, strutted toward the couple. The lady told him, "We had a son who attended Harvard for one year. He loved Harvard. He was happy here. But about a year ago, he was accidentally killed. My husband and I would like to erect a memorial to him, somewhere on campus." The president wasn't touched. He was shocked. "Madam," he said, gruffly, "we can't put up a statue for every person who attended Harvard and died. If we did, this place would look like a cemetery." "Oh, no," the lady explained quickly. "We don't want to erect a statue. We thought we would like to give a building to Harvard." The president rolled his eyes. He glanced at the gingham dress and homespun suit, then exclaimed, "A building! Do you have any earthly idea how much a building costs? We have over seven and a half million dollars in the physical buildings here at Harvard." For a moment the lady was silent. The president was pleased. Maybe he could get rid of them now. The lady turned to her husband and said quietly, "Is that all it cost to start a university? Why don't we just start our own?" Her husband nodded. The president's face wilted in confusion and bewilderment. Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford got up and walked away, traveling to Palo Alto, California where they established the university that bears their name, Stanford University , a memorial to a son that Harvard no longer cared about. You can easily judge the character of others by how they treat those who they think can do nothing for them.

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

So, Greg who was the department making the comment?

Lee Gray

Anonymous said...

oops, department HEAD...

By the way: Shouldn't the developers pay to do what is costing the city $50,000?

Lee

Andy Whiteman said...

I have poor hearing. Who was the NO vote of the $50,000? I didn't hear a NO vote. I agree with Lee, that the developers should pay for it. The other option is to charge it back to developers as part of the permit fee.

What do the cities have in common?
They ALL are southeast of Kansas City and are bedroom communities for commuters. The distant cities could be part of the metro in the future just like Cheyenne to Colorado Springs has filled in as a big metro area. Maybe the area is being considered for a regional transportation district.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

This same kind of infill design project has already been done while the city was working to keep Raytown Reaching For tomorrow going. I don't remember what the cost was then but if this is just to dupilcate what we already have it is just a major waste of money. With our building codes we already have, the Creating Quality Places and other things that are already in place, there is no need for this.

The city already has photographically identified all of the properties in this city that have large lots or any vacant land. This was done between 2000 and 2004 with arial photography. The city wants people to build another house or houses on these over sizes lots and vacant land. At one point there was some talk about eminent domain to be able to build on these peices of land. This report was very specific and Creating Quality Places report it is very scary what this city is trying to do. I understand the need to continue to grow but to even think of taking away someones land to do that. How long is ging to be before we are going to be under a dictatorship? Sometimes I think we already are!

I own several acres and when I hard about this the first time 4-5 years ago I asked for a copy of the Infill Housing Report and The Creating Quality Places Report and I still have them.

I think that this is a way for some of the staff to keep their jobs. They do these things and nothing comes of them so they wait a while and bring them back again when there new poeple on the board and new mayors who don't know anything. Then it sound like something new to them but in this case there are at least 5 members of this board who were on the board then why is it they are approving this money now for something that has already been done? Do they think those of us who it will effect will forget something like that? I don't think so!!!

This mayor and board just keeps doing stupid things. It could almost make us laugh if it were not going to cost us money and believe me it will one way or another.

Doesn't this city have better things like streets to spend our money. Didn't I hear that we could not get our streets fixed because of a $600,00 shortage early this year? If we have all of this extra why is it that our streets can't be fixed? It is embarrassing to have a friend drive through Raytown because of our streets.

I'll stop now but to say the least I am disappointed, Frustated and angery with this new Mayor and lack leadership and thi new BOA is a Joke only I'm not laughing.

Mark Siettmann said...

Greg,

Just a friendly reminder to check www.snopes.com before reprinting stories like the Stanford tale. It is a well established hoax, not even true in the least.

http://www.snopes.com/glurge/stanford.asp

Not to worry, you are not the only one taken in by a good yarn. we truly do want to believe the worst of others, this time the Harvard president. It is, in my opinion, a sad comment on our nation's collective negativity.

Greg Walters said...

To Mark, Andy and Lee,

Whether the story is a true one or not was not really the point. I (and I doubt you either) would know any of the principles in the yarn if they were to bite us on the leg.

The story reminded of me of similar situations where those in positions of power did nothing to help those in need.

Andy, your guess is a good one but not the correct answer.

By the way, last week you wrote regarding recycling. You are correct that eventually the entire metropolitan area will follow the lead of other areas like Seattle, New York, etc.

The downside in Raytown is the two-year waiting period required by the State of Missouri before ANY curbside program can be started.

If we were smart in Raytown, we would start the two year clock and wait a year before discussing the matter -- who knows what changes may happen in that time that would affect our final decision.

Finally, to Lee Gray. The comment about the 2 million dollar surplus was real -- I personally heard it. Who said it is not as important as the fact that it was said.

I believe most of the BOA are aware that there is a returning surplus each year. But I do not think that most knew the amount.

During the old Wenson/Estes days it was next to impossible to get them to admit such surpluses existed, let alone how much was acturally there.

In that regard, Mr. Wilmoth's honesty and frankness is a very welcome change.

Andy Whiteman said...

As for the surplus, I am glad that we have an honest finance director with principles. That speaks towards QUALITY management. I sure would like to know if there is a $2M surplus, why the city couldn't afford to overlay the streets last year? It will cost much more to repair them after they crumble. I can show you areas on Willow and Harris that are really BAD. I tripped and fell on Cedar about 2 years ago. Ruined a pair of pants and bled a lot. I simply went to the doctor. Maybe if I had made a big deal out of it, something would have been done about the streets.

Come to think of it, wouldn't $2M also buy some street lights. I agree in saving for an emergency, but to me the condition of the streets is an emergency!

I have seen Greg's story several times and knew it wasn't true but I think it makes a good point.

Anon 1:19PM, I am wondering if this study has been done before, why it is necessary to was another $50K to duplicate it? I wonder who would dare to build anything with all the trouble that new businesses are having? We really need to see some new faces with good ideas run for BOA at the next election. Now maybe people can understand why I call this city the Fascist Fief of Raytown. We have the rights of serfs on a feudal fief if the city thinks it can require infill and backfill.

Andy Whiteman

Pat Casady said...

About eight or nine years ago this town hired a company named
Gould, Evans and Goodman. This group was paid, I believe around
twenty five thousand dollars of taxpayer money to tell this cities
government how the town could be. Making suggestions that painted a pretty picture and even took suggestions from the citizens. All were written down.....none came to be.
If you would add up all the wasted taxpayer dollars this town has spent on developers, consultants, motivators, buildings, City Administrators
and jerks with their hands out we could probably have new streets, a
recycling program and even more.

Greg, I have a riddle for you.
Why does Raytown need to spend fifty thousand TAXPAYER dollars
on yet another company that will do someone at City Halls job?
I thought that was what a Community Development Director and
Public Works Director's job was. Not to mention the codes people.
If the above aren't doing their jobs and outsiders like Bucher, Willis & Ratlift need to be hired there is something seriously wrong at City Hall.

I don't mean to belittle the cities employees but why is the city hiring other people to do their jobs?

Anybody want to start a consulting/development/administrative company?
You'd only need one small town as a client. It's located somewhere between Kansas City and Lee's Summit.
Easy touch? Maybe.

Anonymous said...

The Founding Grant

The Stanfords returned to America in May and, before proceeding to Palo Alto, visited Cornell, Yale, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They talked with President Eliot of Harvard about three ideas: a university at Palo Alto, a large institution in San Francisco combining a lecture hall and a museum, and a technical school. Asked which of these seemed most desirable, Eliot answered, a university.

Mrs. Stanford inquired how much the endowment should be, in addition to land and buildings, and he replied, not less than $5 million. A silence followed. Finally, Mr. Stanford said with a smile, "Well, Jane, we could manage that, couldn't we?" and a grave Mrs. Stanford nodded her assent.

Anonymous said...

Heck, for a decent dinner out at a good restraunt I will tell them what needs to be done in this city and I am sure that it would fall upon deaf ears again, but at least I would have a full belly!

Anonymous said...

Hey Pat I do not think we have a public works director or if we do he is leaving for another city. I will tell you what Gladstone and Raytown don't have in common. The ability to attract and keep quality employees. Raytown is always losing good employees and I am not talking about department heads I am talking about the regular people.

Andy Whiteman said...

The powers that be have known for a long time about the high turn over of workers simply because other cities and businesses pay more.

I have advocated for a long time that the working city employees be paid a LIVING WAGE. What these people are paid is pittiful. I saw a public notice in the Post for a Codes Inforcement Officer paying a little over $14/hr. That is not enough to live on unless there is something under the table. There was another ad for a parks worker @ $8/hr. It is amazing that the city has any workers considering what they are paid!

Anyone working for the city is really dedicated and should be appreciated. What they are paid wouldn't make my house payment and utilities.

I suggest everytime a citizen notices a city employee doing a good job or something beyond what you think is the call of duty, please send an email or letter to that employee's supervisor and to Mayor Bower. Putting it into the from of a document will carry more weight than a phone call since it is on their hard drive or in their file. Any employee should receive recognition for a job well done.

I am glad that the BOA decided to show their appreciation of their employees by paying for the rise in health insurance costs. I could suggest something that would benefit the employess and MIGHT cut the cost a little but they don't listen to me. Maybe if I charged $50K for a study they would want to listen. (If only to have an excuse to waste $50K.)

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

Andy when you're at City Hall ask for the "public document" detailing every employee's job description, pay, benefits and all the rest of that.
Then tell me about the poorly paid people on the govt. teet.

Mark Siettmann said...

Greg, I'm not sure how using a false story proves any point well, but more power to you if you want to try.

As to the surplus...have some questions for anyone who knows.

Is there any mandated percentage for unappropriated surplus in our ordinances?

I know there is a recommended unappropriated surplus (by percentage of budget) most government bodies want to maintain...what is that percentage? (It may have been in the presentation given a few weeks back..I don't have a copy with me.)

Greg mentions the unappropriated surplus is from last year's budget. Isn't it really from all previous budgets? Doesn't it just roll over?

Would it be at all wise to, as Andy suggests, spend that money? Or is it best to keep such a surplus for emergencies?

Pat Casady said...

To Anonymous 2:51pm.
According to the Post, Maheesh Sarma is the Public Works Director.
I know he is also doing the City Administrators job too.
However according to the article he was an assistant city engineer
in Lenexa and a city engineer and public works director in Raymore.
He has a degree in engineering and a master's degree in civil
engineering.
I think he is well qualified to make rules in the " Infill designing" of new
homes in Raytown. No offence to Mr. Sarma but I think a high school
grad could set the rules for this and remember our mayor is also an architect
The standard codes for electricity, sewers, and such are set. The only
thing that needs to be put in writing are the setbacks and how the new
homes should blend in.
Spending fifty thousand taxpayer dollars for this is asinine.
No huge surprise, but asinine just the same.

The thing is, why do we have qualified managers and city employees,
pay them with taxpayer money if they aren't used to their full capacity?
Fifty thousand taxpayer dollars could have been used to better benefit
the taxpayers needs rather than wasted on something that should take
only the simplest common sense decisions.
I know that's asking a lot of our BOA. Sorry.

Andy Whiteman said...

Mark, a slight correction. I didn't mean simply "spend the surplus." My intention was the streets have been allowed to go to pot so badly and represent a safety hazard that if allowed to continue it will be really expensive to repair them. To me, this is an emergency that the surplus funds could be used for. Or should we wait until the streets become as bad as the sewers so that a bond issue is needed to repair them?

Also the lack of streetlights is a safety/crime hazard and it might be prudent to spend the money on them.

I consider myself to be conservitive and in my personal finances, I maintain a surplus to cover unexpected and emergency expences. To me, $2M seems like a lot of money and hopefully it is well invested to draw the highest posible interest. That amount makes me wonder if the city is expecting something that hasn't been disclosed such as a pending lawsuit?

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

Pat's right, there is no common sense used by the BOA anymore. We DON'T need any more studies to tell us what anyone with good common sense can do. I'm SICK AND TIRED of the wasteful spending at city hall. It's no wonder they can't afford to pay some city employees a decent wage. They throw it all to "their buddies" the consultants. I just dare them to ask for a tax increase for ANYTHING. They're going to get a big shock. We have plenty of ammunition to use against them.

Anonymous said...

Lee Gray here:

Sorry this is off topic...but I just read the darnest thing!

Annually I judge the best editorials and best editorial pages for the National Newspaper Association's contest. (And a third category.)

An editorial from a State if Washington newspaper wrote that faced with cutting $4 million from the budget to have a modest four percent unreserved fund, the superintendent and his chief assistant found a way to do that and still employ all teachers and keep class sizes the same.

The solution?

Cutting half a million "alone" from the superintendent's budget and more from other administrative costs!

Now that's leadership! Leading by example. No tax increase...no whining...

Just a thought for everyone: Where there's a will, there's a way.

Lee

Greg Walters said...

Mark,

I think the story of the Gingham Dress is as you wrote the "collective negativity in this country" in this respect. Individuals in places of power who can help others but do not do so.

Anyway, in answer to your many questions about the 2 million dollars of money returned from last year's budget.

The city has a reserve fund that is 17% of the city's budget. It is there for emergency purposes, like repairing damage from the tornadic winds the city experienced a couple of weeks ago.

The 17% reserve is a figure set by the Board of Aldermen when the budget is written. They have the ability to move that number up or down. At one time, the reserve was nearly 25%. According to Jeremy Wilmoth, the city's Director of Finance, sound fiscal policy would set the reserve anywhere between 17% to 25%.

The two million is money that was not spent from the previous year's budget. It is not part of the 17% reserve.

The Board may spend it as it chooses.

Personally, I believe we need to shore up our infratructure in Raytown. I would prefer that a good chunk of that money be spent on street overlay.

This past winter has been very hard on our streets and they are badly in need of repair.

Well over $100,000 dollars has been spent in the past couple of years on studies of how to improve Raytown.

Spending a like amount on the streets that our people use each day would not be out of line.

If you think about it, getting back to the basics of what municipal government should be about would be a good move for Raytown.

Pat Casady said...

Greg,
My point exactly.
Raytown has a habit of spending taxpayer dollars on studies, surveys and consultants. However the end results are always the same. They tell us what
we already know.
One thing that every taxpayer in town knows is the fact that once a year our city leaders will waste taxpayer money on one of the above.
I have always been under the impression that taxes collected were to hire the right, qualified, people for the job of running the town and for returning it to the taxpayer in the way of safe streets, parks and neighborhoods.

Not for monuments and the whims of elected officials.
Tax money is entrusted to our elected officials and school board officials to be spent correctly and not wasted. Taxpayers should demand and get a good return on their hard earned, taxed, dollars.
Taxpayers don't get to choose where their tax dollars are being spent. We have to rely on what our elected officials tell us they will do for the city the
one and only time they talk to the people..........re-election time.

Spending taxpayer dollars on consultants, shady developers, surveys, buildings,
monuments and studies costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of their dollars should
never happen here. This latest fifty thousand is just the latest in the long line of unnecessary spending and a huge waste of taxpayer money.
If Raytown doesn't have the right people for the jobs, get rid of them and hire the right people. Vote out the wrong people and vote in the right people.
It's that simple. If Raytown has people with engineering degrees and codes people hired, why can't they set the simple rules for the "Infill designs?"
Just because there is a surplus of TWO MILLION DOLLARS (taxpayer dollars) doesn't mean the city should waste it.

Andy Whiteman said...

I wonder why the "Quality" (?) school board doesn't cut the administrative budget? The last tax vote would have been unnecessary. Mayby those individuals need to go to the School of Common Sense.

I still think, as I have in the past, that the City should cut management salaries and increase the pay of people who WORK to at least a living wage.

The studies are revealing facts that anyone with GOOD common sense could find. I think a study is a CYA type of thing so that the expense can be justified by the study. I ask, if one of the studies had said Raytown needed road repair, would that be done instead of the wasteful monuments? Yes, the Gateway Project looks nice, but it is cosmetic only and a totally unnecessary wast of taxpayers money.

I was the Treasurer of a club board. At one meeting I pointed out that our old soda-water fire extinguishers were likely to no longer function and would be hazardous for an electric fire. I had a supplier who could deliver the day after the order, but the board in its infinate wisdom wanted a study and 3 bids. The study consisted of my calling the Fire Chief who said, "Get the extinguishers now or I will close the building as a fire hazard." We need more studies of this type.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

What the...
A 2 million dollar surplus?
Seems to be a bit of improper budgeting practices going on if you can't target a budget any better than that. The past Finance Director would never had disclosed that information to the BOA.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused. has the BOA agreed to spend this $50,000 for the infill study or is still open for public comment???

How long does it take to get BOA minutes on the new wed page?

When are agenda put on the web for review by the public??

Thanks for the help

Anonymous said...

Mark,
You ever heard of Aesoph's Fables? Nursery Rhymes? Most politician promises? These are all examples of false stories or made up stories that may or may not prove a point, but add clarity to a situation.

Andy Whiteman said...

Anon 1:53PM, A $2M surplus sounds like a lot of money to you or me, but it is for the purpose of emergency expenses. What if there is a massive sewer failure? What if the 63rd Street Bridge collapses? What is there is rioting and the police are needed overtime? What if numerous people fall on hard times and don't pay their property taxes? or what if excise or sales tax collections drop? Many things are a possibility (hopefully they won't happen) that could require a contigency fund. That is the way I manage my own finances but not to the extent of $2M. The general goal is to have 6 months income in reserve for illness or job loss.

Anon 5:11PM, The new agenda usually comes out LATE Thursday or sometime Friday. As for the minutes, I don't know how they do it. You might call the city clerk or maybe Greg will answer it. When I was Secretary-Treasurer of a Fire District, I posted the minutes the next day. I have the feeling that maybe the minutes have to be approved by the board before they are posted. That is something they vote on at every meeting and sometimes they amend the minutes.

Red Dogg says it is past her bed time.

Andy Whiteman

Pat Casady said...

I heard some bad news this morning about the Raytown Plaza.
It seems that it has gone back to the finance company. That's
right, the owner developer has defaulted and is gone.
The sad thing is the kids have started breaking out the windows in
back again.
This news gave me sickening feeling. It seems our town takes one step forward and then is pushed back four.
I can't help but think the Wal-Mart deal had something to do with
this. Maybe that was the reason the Plaza people couldn't get
any bites on renters. Maybe it was the old church. I don't know
maybe the guy just gave up but there has to be a reason after
spending so much money on it.

Anonymous said...

I suspect your right Pat, and Wal-Mart probably caused the earth quake in China and the cyclone in Myanmar. I also heard they were the ones that developed the bird flu, just so they could come up with a $4 perscription to help cure it. Your jadedness and hatred towards Wal*Mart tends to kill most of your arguments for me. It seems they could find a cure for cancer, and you'd be mad cause they would put hospitals and doctors out of work.

Andy Whiteman said...

What business would lease space knowing their competition is WalMart? I wonder how much city codes as previously mentioned by Pat has to do with the demise of Raytown Plaza? I think the biggest issue is Raytown Plaza is not a destination point and it is not a highly trafficed area such as 350 HWY.

Using Raytown Plaza as a park and ride for commuters and Chiefs games could be either good or bad. It could become a destination point for the users of the bus. Also, the parking lot could become too full for customers to park. I do think it is a good itea to have a commuter park and ride and a bus to the games.

When the developer announced rides to the Chiefs games, I asked her if they would have rides to the Royals games? She didn't seem to like the question. I think people would be interested in a bus ride to games other than the Chiefs just to avoid driving in heavy traffic and the cost of parking.

At least the front looks attractive. Maybe anpther developer will buy it on the foreclosure market.

Andy Whiteman

What's wrong with WalMart? said...

Wal-Mart is the nation's (and the world's) biggest retailer. Only a company of their size can buy direct from manufacturers, cutting out the distributor. They buy so cheaply they can resell to other stores at cheaper than wholesale. Thus they can ruin the competition through PREDATORY PRICING.

Big businesses put their money in big banks, taking it far out of town. Money spent in a chain store leaves town on the next electronic transfer, while money spent in a local store circulates in the community seven more times before leaving.

Wal-Mart's "Faded Glory" t-shirts were made by workers earning 23 cents an hour. The White House, under pressure from workers' movements around the world, has instituted a Task Force on sweatshops, pushing for independent monitoring and a living wage. Wal-Mart has refused to join in. They have also opposed health care reform and minimum wage increase.

When you make decisions as a consumer, you may be cutting your own throat as a worker.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't have said it better about how cut throat Wal Mart is! Most consumers are in a hurry, and are under paid, and looking for the cheapest deal. Most often, they end up purchasing something that was made in some sweatshop in some third world country, sometimes for a measly few cents per piece, and beaten if they do not make their quota. Each time someone buys something that is not made in the USA they help to further screw up the economy not just for the displaced workers here, but for all consumers as well. When it is all said and done there may be no choice as to where one will be able to shop or what selection of products that may be available to purchase. So, keep doing what you are all doing and we will see what happens or be proactive and seek out and purchase products made here instead and make a difference.

Anonymous said...

Walmart is bad for our community, just wait and see. You have to be a fool to want one to locate here. Won't shop there.

Anonymous said...

Pat, that is interesting about the developer of the Raytown Plaza.

No doubt Bob Phillips will have much to say about it in the Raytown Post. After all, Bob often wrote about his good friend and what a fine job he was doing.

Does anyone know why Raytown's man of the year, Foul Mouth Al, was not invited to throw out the pitch for the Raytown Chamber of Commerce Royals night?

Seems a man with his nickname, FOUL Mouth, would be a natural for the event.

Anonymous said...

"At last week’s meeting of the Board of Aldermen, City Finance Director Jeremy Wilmoth let one of City Hall’s better kept secrets out".

How can it be a secret when the audits posted on your own city government website CLEARLY shows it?

Perhaps our elected officials should do a little more READING and a little less complaining - or do you want to blame staff for not printing the audits on big chief tablets????

http://www.raytown.mo.us/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={D01339BB-BB3C-4A91-9886-5C29E98A21A5}

Anonymous said...

Who is complaining?!?

Sounds like someone has touched a nerve.

Anonymous said...

Lee Gray here.

I worked at the newspaper in Tahlequah, Okla. that printed Sam Walton's fist, one-store fliers for a new concept...Wal-Mart.

I met Sam several times and he never said more than half a dozen words.

I had Wal-Mart ads when I owned a local newspaper. It was typical Wal-Mart...one year of ads...three years of making REAP donations...and then nothing.

Also when I billed Wal-Mart for the ads, they were not paid for six months. My automatic billing system added 1 1/2% interest to the bill. Every call to headquarters was answered with: "We didn't get the tearsheets (of the ad). Send again." At the end of six months the check would arrive minus the monthly interest charges.

You could cash it...or you could eat it.

My daughter lives in a college town where Wal-Mart is basically the only option for certain things. My older sister lives in another community where the same is pretty much true.

My sister told me: "Well when there's only Wal-Mart with groceries, you'll shop there."

"No, I won't," I told her. "I'll starve." Until everyone is willing to thwart the strangle hold, nothing is going to change.

And, I understand why the poor can't shop anywhere else...but it just makes them poorer.

Lee

PS. To the anonymous writer giving Pat a hard time: Maybe the China earthquake really was caused by Wal-Mart. It's called KARMA.

Pat Casady said...

To Anonymous 10:30,
I did not say Wal-Mart was the reason. I said I can't help but think it was the reason and that maybe this is why they couldn't get any bites on renters.
I said the same thing about the old church too.
I'm sure you anonymous 10:30, could find something bad in everything I have ever written, and that's OK.
But I have a question for you.
If you owned a business that sold the same products that Wal-Mart
sells, and they sell everything, would you locate your business between the super center on 40hwy. and the possible super center on 350hwy.?
Your business would be less than four miles from each of these stores if, you were located in the Raytown Park Plaza. I think not.
My statements had nothing to do with my personal feelings for Wal-Mart.
It's just plain common sense that with two super centers located only
eight miles apart, and the Raytown Plaza in the middle, just about any retail business prospects for the downtown area will be few.

However, if you think I'm wrong about this, why don't you open a nice new shoe, clothing, sporting goods, or grocery store across the street from the proposed new Wal-Mart on 350hwy, the developer can't seem to fill that
property either. Or, why not in the Raytown Plaza and prove me wrong.

Anonymous said...

As a small business owner in Raytown I must agree with Pat about the Raytown Plaza and the Old Baptist Church and I would like to add a couple of other things 1) people do not want to travel down there because of all of the traffic lights 2) People of afraid of what the closing of the 63rd St bridge will do to them and 3) Cheat Rent for 1 year does not help anything if you cannot get the people inside your business to spend their money.

In a good economy small businesses cannot compete with the Walmarts, Targets, and other big box stores, in the economy we have today it is totally impossible. For a small business to succeed today, they have to have a niche market and Raytown just does not support most of the small niche markets. The concepts of most niche markets are just over the heads of most of the people of Raytown, so you have to been able to draw people in from outside the Raytown area, which is the problem with the location of the Raytown Plaza. Plus, most of the small businesses are not supported by the City and all of the goofy sign codes just about make it impossible to let people know what these small businesses are all about - which is a completely different issue for another day.

With gas almost $4 a gallon, people are looking to shop close to home and are having to watch every dollar they spend.

If we want to see growth in Raytown, everyone needs to realize that what we have been doing is NOT WORKING. EVERYONE, the Elected Officials, the City, the Chamber, the Business Owners, the other various groups, the CITIZENS, and this blog need to start looking outside of the box and UNITE and the folks what think they know it all just need to let their EGOS go and realize they are causing more harm to this city than good. BUT we all know that is not going to happen! so we just continue on this downward spiral.

Anonymous said...

Well, Pat your business is between them, are you going to move? So I guess they don't sell everything. If I had a business that I felt was stronger than theirs I would absolutley open there. Heck everyone that writes to this blog would be lined up, as they all refuse to shop Wal*Mart.

Andy Whiteman said...

If someone took 6 months to pay for a service or product, I would close their account. I did that once after a customer was late several times paying for their gasoline. I would rather not have the business than have a slow payer and take the chance of not being paid.

I buy certain items that are only at Walmart and no where else locally. I can order one item online at a lower price. Maybe Walmart has a niche market?

With high gas prices plus the fact that my insurance gives me a rate for under 7500 miles per year, I plan my shopping so every trip covers dinner plus one or more stores. I am sure others do that and people will not make a trip to Raytown unless it is on the way somewhere. I think 350 HWY is better for development. Downtown is more suitable for offices not stores. The stores that are downtown now close with the chickens so there is no evening business except Benetti's. I think offices may draw a few daytime stores and restaurants open for breakfast-lunch-early dinner. Maybe we should forget Raytown Plaza and focus on 350 HWY.

The economy is lousy. With the subprime mortgage problems, people don't have money to spend. Has anyone looked at the help wanted ads in the Red Star? Not very many. About 1/2 page today. Sunday there were more pages of death notices than help wanted. These figures are estimates since I no longer take the time to measure a newspaper as they do at the Post Office to determine the correct postage. My point is people without jobs don't spend money if they are smart.

I had one friend who was an investor and studied economics. Back in the 70s he said that KMart had stores too close together and was competing against itself. I wonder, with 2 Walmarts so close together, which will close since they are competing against themselves?

Andy Whiteman

mark siettmann said...

I am no fan of Walmart, a fact my wife has heard over and over. But while I do believe they can have a negative economic impact on an area, I don't believe you can blame all local problems on them.

I would personally reserve judgment on the Raytown Plaza situation until I know more about why it is struggling. But I know this: there are plenty of business models that could fit into a Plaza type shopping center that will thrive even with a box store near by.

Just look around. Lee's Summit has a Walmart, folks (and a Target), but it also has several thriving shopping plazas; On Chipman, on Douglas and on 291. Walmart does not kill ALL business.

The difficulty here is not Walmart. In fact, once Walmart is close to being done I bet you will see positive, not negative, movement downtown and on 350. The difficulty for Raytown is the old adage "retail follows rooftops".

Raytown does not have a lot of rooftops to begin with and what it does have is not fully occuppied. What is occupied is occupied by families, often renters, with an increasingly lower average income. Simply, Raytown's collective buying power sucks right now. That must change.

Where Walmart should help is that it will bring non-Raytown money to the 350 corridor. That increases the buying power entering the area. That should generate more interest fron "strip mall" type businesses who want to capture that traffic.

Economics is not a difficult thing, once you remove the emotion. Even then, new businesses fail with even the best conditions. Does Raytown make that even harder? Perhaps. If so, that will have to change as well.

I have no doubt Raytown will eventually figure out the combination that clicks to bring business back here. I would warn it is a decades long process, not a months long one. It sounds like there are more than a few in here who could be part of finding that solution.

Andy Whiteman said...

Mark is correct, Walmart cannot be blamed for everything. Some businesses will fail no matter what.

I remember when I lived in Albuquerque, a Home Depot was built withing walking distance of a True Value Hardware/lumber yard. TVH lost one employee to Home Depot because of higher pay. I moved away and when I was back there a few years later, learned that the store had to close because of Home Depot.

When I lived in Carlsbad, CA; there was a really large Bauer Hardware/Lumber yard downtown. I moved away and when I was back there and Bauer had closed. I inquired at a smaller hardware store and learned that Home Depot about 10 miles away forced them out of business.

Maybe we should blame ALL big box stores.

I think it is obvious that the issue with Raytown Plaza is location. It is not on the way to anywhere as 350 HWY is. As Mark said, Raytown does not have the customer base with money to spend, so why would anyone make a special trip to Raytown Plaza? I remember when we lived in KC, my wife wanted Singer sewing machine bobbins. I called around and found them but I won't make a trip to a store that closes at 5PM so told them to mail them to her. One big problem with downtown is most merchants close with the chickens. Raytown needs businesses that want business and stay OPEN in the evenings. But we are back to the issue that that downtown is not a trafficed area, and requires a detour to get there. It is basically ideal for locals but businesses cannot exist on only local business.

The economy is lousy now. Are businesses really going to spend money to relocate to a non-trafficed area or open a new business in a non-trafficed area?

I think downtown is ideal for offices, telemarketers, and any business not requiring walk in business.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

This obviously isn't true, but if it did happen is technically correct:

PHONE REPAIR

A Kansas farm wife called the local phone company to report her telephone
failed to ring when her friends called - and on the few occasions when it
did ring, her dog would always moan right before.

The telephone repairman proceeded to the scene curious to see this psychic
dog or senile lady. He climbed a telephone pole, hooked in his test set, and
dialed the subscriber's house. The phone didn't ring right away, but then
the dog moaned and the telephone began to ring.

Climbing down from the pole, the telephone repairman found:

1. The dog was tied to the telephone system's ground wire with a steel chain
and collar.

2. The wire connection to the ground rod was loose.

3. The dog was receiving 90 volts of signaling current when the number was
called.

4. After a couple of jolts, the dog would start moaning and then urinate.

5. The wet ground would complete the circuit thus causing the phone to
ring... Which all demonstrates that some problems CAN be fixed by pissing
and moaning.


Thought you'd like to know.

Anonymous said...

Cute story. Do Andy and Mark have the lead parts in it?

Pat Casady said...

To Anonymous 10:07
You are correct, my business is between them but I am in an interesting business niche of my own. I am lucky enough to have great Raytown customers for my starters and alternators but the bulk of my business
is industrial fork lift truck electric motors. No Wal-Mart hasn't gotten into my market.
However having said all that, I would gladly move my business to another spot if I could stay in Raytown. My business being in Raytown is a lifelong
dream come true. I started liking this town when I was in high school, too many years ago to mention. Even though I could never find a house that my family liked when we were in the market to buy, I still tried every time
we moved.
My business should not be in downtown Raytown. That's a fact. It should be in some industrial area but the fact is Raytown let me be here when
I bought the building thirteen years ago, being fully aware of what my business was and did.