Monday, November 17, 2008
From This Side of the Table . . .
One of the more important functions of an elected official is to act as a liaison to those he represents. The ability to cut through red tape and, simply put, “get things done”, is of prime importance. I take my job seriously on the City Council and find a lot of satisfaction in cutting the “red tape” for constituent requests. Most requests are reasonable and, with the cooperation of the city hall personnel, solutions are often found quickly. Last week I received a request for repair of sidewalks near the Bowen Apartments serving the Downtown Raytown area. Residents of Bowen, most of whom are senior citizens, use the sidewalks to access the Public Library, Fox’s Drugs, United Missouri Bank and Coddington’s Thriftway. Many of them need assistance in walking, be it a cane or a walker. The large cracks and broken pavement literally force them to use the street in order to avoid the crumbling sidewalks. A quick check at City Hall showed that not only is the city aware of the problem, it has been scheduled for repair this winter. Other requests, maintenance of streetlights that blink on and off during the night, cleaning out of a clogged storm drainage pipe, the repair of chuckholes are common “requests for service” by local homeowners and businesses. Weeds, junk and debris on private property are also regular complaints. Zoning disputes that threaten entire neighborhoods have occurred as well. Typically these situations happen when irresponsible property owners attempt to change the use of their property that does not fit in with the surrounding neighborhood. The public hearings where the final decision is made can be tedious. However, I have found that active participation, as an advocate of the neighborhood with surrounding homeowners, is an effective way to keep the discussion focused. Plans to overbuild in two neighborhoods, one at 63rd and Elm Streets and one at 68th and Lane Streets were effectively blocked by neighbors who were fearful of their property values being affected by ill-conceived plans by developers. A quick look at this year’s budget shows that the mindset of City Hall is slowly changing to a more service oriented type of government. In fiscal 2008/2009 nearly 1 million dollars will be spent on street improvements. The city has also budgeted money for new streetlights. Former Mayor Sue Frank blocked the installation of new streetlights in residential areas (during her adminstration). The change in policy shows how far we have come from those days. Those changes did not happen by accident. The change in policy on public street lighting is the direct result of Ward 1 constituent requests for additional street lighting at Colman Park. Their call for service and activism brought a brokered deal in which the Parks Department and the City split the cost of the lights for the Park. The point in all of this is that your comments on this blog, at City Council meetings and in the local press are making the difference. Keep up the good work – you are being heard loud and clear. Raytown Post Sold Last week an anonymous blogger posted a note saying the Raytown Post was being closed down. Another post, signed by “Ben”, and identifying himself as the Editor of the Raytown Post replied that the Post was still publishing and would continue to publish in Raytown. In this morning’s edition (Monday, November 17, 2008) of the Kansas City Star there is a story in which it is announced that the owner of three newspapers (John Ivey) has sold the Jackson County Advocate, the Raytown Post and the Lee’s Summit Tribune to an un-named buyer. Terms of the sale and future plans for the three newspapers were not discussed in the article. On another note . . . Lately there have been some posts from an anonymous contributor who typically “thanks” me for a previous comment on the page. This form of blog hi-jacking is not uncommon, particularly on blogs where contributors are allowed to remain anonymous. Most of the readers of this page are savvy enough to recognize the tactic. For the record, I wanted to make it perfectly clear that any comment I post on these pages has been personally signed, and, will continue to be personally signed in the future.