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.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Greg,

Do you suppose that the changes in city hall could be because 5 of the current BOA members will be running again in the spring????

Greg Walters said...

Could have an impact. It is also a strong argument for going back to two year terms.

Nothing like an election to keep people accountable!

Brandon said...

even you?

Anonymous said...

The Star might want to dig a little deeper. If Ben Felder, for example, ends up as owner of the Post (as rumored locally and via his comments last week that he is "publishing"), the sale of the papers is probably a puppet-master relationship with Mr. Ivey still in contol. He does still have his printing plant, doesn't he?

*
Posted by: JoJo

Henry said...

this is such an entertaining page. full of concipiracy theories and what not.

why don't you put aside your over active imagination for once and just hope for the best.

you probably aren't even a subscriber to the Post because your hatred and ignorance prevents you from committing more than your mouth.

Anonymous said...

no henry whoever you are i'm not a subscriber because i can't see wasting $24 for nothing. don't you employees there get free subscriptions?

Greg Walters said...

Brandon,

Who knows? It has been a very strange political year. At one time I remember that the race for the Presidency was supposed to be between Hillary and Rudy.

Mark Funkhouser, the KC Star's darling is now its cross-hairs for elimination.

Anything can happen in an economy that is tanking and people are frustrated.

By the way, Brandon. Do you have another name or do you use only the one?

henry said...

sorry, not an employee.

by the way, good job supporting Raytown and the small business economy. I am sure you are the truest of Raytown supporters.

my assumption is the that the most activity that you have ever had in Raytown is this blog (which is obviously so profitable).

there are plenty of Post supporters that are excited to see local ownership and a fresh breath.

Anonymous said...

Henry you're so articulate. Sure your real name isn't Larry? You should change your name to Ed because you're real special little buckeroo.

Pat Casady said...

I hope that some of our elected officials do read this blog because
I have a question for them.
Remember how this town was giving Rick's Automotive so much trouble about
his employees parking across the street from his business on Westridge at
350hwy? He even got, if I'm not mistaking a few city tickets for this. Never
mind he was renting the property to park on.
First they told him he couldn't park on grass so he put gravel down. Then they
told him he couldn't park on gravel so he installed asphalt. Then they told
he still couldn't park there because that little piece of ground was in Raytown.
So he moved it back into Kansas City which was two hundred feet further
to the east. Then he was told he couldn't drive across that two hundred foot
of property within Raytown city limits. This has gone on for years.
Now if you drive by this piece of land you will see a huge pile of dirt and
rock brought to you by the Wal-Mart developers with the OK from Raytown City Hall.
I'm sure that having a forty foot tall pile of dirt and rock, that in the spring will no doubt
turn into a mountain of weeds that can't be mowed, is much better to look at
than four or five cars parked on an asphalt parking lot.
My question is where are the codes guys? This can't be within the rules of
codes in Raytown. I remember a much smaller pile of dirt down the street that
runs along side of the old wooden bridge that just had to be moved because
this town didn't tolerate such a thing.

Anonymous said...

Different rules for different fools as they say. We've all said it for along time, there is no consistency in codes enforcement. Mayor Bower and his administration can't even solve this problem. Many have offered him suggestions on how to correct the codes department, but I've been told that he has done nothing, and it showing.

Anonymous said...

Lee Gray here...

Greg...

"In fiscal 2008/2009 nearly 1 million dollars will be spent on street improvements," you say.

May we please see the specifics: the locations, scheduled dates, dollar figures for each project.

Is any of that "Wal-Mart's" use of our transportation tax for its parking lot or bus stop (paid for by the tax we voted for streets)?

Thank you.

Lee

Greg Walters said...

The Kansas City Star reported today that the Raytown Post has new owners.

Jason Whitaker and Ben Felder have formed Nine Point Nine Media, LLC.

Whitaker is a web developer. Felder, a lifelong resident of Raytown, has been with the Post since last Spring as a staff writer.

According to the story they plan to bring back the Post's broadsheet format (it is currently a tabloid), increase the number of pages and develop a website as well.

The Star buried the story on page B3 of its paper but in my view it is important news for Raytown.

This may be the 21st Century when the internet is supposed to be "the" source for all news, but nothing can influence and help build identity in a community as much as a print newspaper.

I wish the two entrepreneurs much success in their effort.

Anonymous said...

About the Post selling to these two young men. First of all what do they know about running a newspaper? My guess is probably not much. In these hard economic times, when the big boys are struggling I suspect that they will need lots of expert help. They'd probably be money ahead to hire someone like Lee Gray to help them through these tough times. He seemed to be very successful while he owned the paper.

Anonymous said...

Greg,

What has happened to the animal control people I have more dogs in my yard lately than I have had since before Beau Grossman left? I have also seen more animals running loose through out the city again. Are we once again not enforcing the animal control ordinances? I'm tired of having these dog on my deck and having to clean up after them.

Andy Whiteman said...

Anon 9:30AM, I suggest you call Animal Control, I believe 737-6014 and they will dispatch an officer when one is available. Of course if there is an emergecy or other calls, you wait your turn. I have found that usually by the time they arrive, the dog is long gone. It takes a complaint, just like if something is stolen, you call the Police. They have no clue there is a violation.
***************
I feel the Post is well worth the price. I whish the new owners the best.

The problem with internet newspapers is this is a free service at a loss to the paper. Many free net papers are now charging. I used to get daily haedlines from the Albuquerque Journal, but no more. An online subscription is pretty expensive. I prefer a print version that I can hold in my hand if I am going to pay.

Abdy Whiteman

Andy Whiteman said...

Anon 9:30AM, I suggest you call Animal Control, I believe 737-6014 and they will dispatch an officer when one is available. Of course if there is an emergecy or other calls, you wait your turn. I have found that usually by the time they arrive, the dog is long gone. It takes a complaint, just like if something is stolen, you call the Police. They have no clue there is a violation.
***************
I feel the Post is well worth the price. I whish the new owners the best.

The problem with internet newspapers is this is a free service at a loss to the paper. Many free net papers are now charging. I used to get daily headlines from the Albuquerque Journal, but no more. An online subscription is pretty expensive. I prefer a print version that I can hold in my hand if I am going to pay.

Abdy Whiteman

Pat Casady said...

This town never ceases to amaze me.
Just when you think things might be turning around a bit with a new
administration, reality hits you in the face.
You want to trust that people will be treated fairly and equally but
then it happens. Like the dirt pile on Westridge. If any one of us would
try this kind of thing on our property the city would be on us like stink
on stuff.
Then, I hear the city wants to pay an outside source, thirteen thousand
dollars to work out the smoking, recycling and other items before them.
Forget trying to find new elected officials we don't need them.
Get rid of all of them and just hire someone to run the city.
We obviously don't have many elected officials that can
make a decision on their own. They even want to hire that out.
More studies and surveys and more wasting of taxpayers money.
If our hired and elected officials can't or won't do their jobs they
should resign so someone can replace them that can
make a decision and think for themselves.
I really thought things were changing for the better but I was wrong.
It's the same old sad story with a few new faces.

Anonymous said...

Mayor Bower is a total waste of our taxpayer dollars. What a poor excuse for a mayor. No wonder he likes to pal around with Funkhouser, they are two of a kind. He should be ashamed to pick up his paycheck each month.

Greg Walters said...

Lee,

In answer to your questions -- the money budgeted for spending in 2008/2009 on street maintenance is actually a combination of money budgted in 2007/2008 and 2008/2009.

The good side is that they are actually going to spend the money. They could have just as easily rolled it into the general fund.

I do not have exact figures but know they are close. The maintenance includes street striping as well.

The city's "hit" from Walmart (I am told) will start in the last two months of fiscal 08/09.

It would be more accurate to say that the Walmart payout would impact the city BIG TIME in fiscal 2009/2010. But as stated above, it does start in the last two months of fiscal 2008/2009.

That is when you will hear a loud sucking sound coming from Walmart -- it is the sound of 16% of the city's sales tax dollars being used up by the Walmart project.

I agree that less is being spent on city maintenance than should be -- but at least more is being spent than before. From my optimistic point of view it is a turning away from the needlessly stringent times under Sue Frank.

As always, it was good to hear from you. Keep in touch.

Pat Casady said...

Greg and Lee,
This is how it was explained to me.
In the past the city would get a tax increase and didn't wait until
the tax was collected. The city would borrow or bond against it.
If the expected income from the tax wasn't collected the city would
then owe the interest and bonds.
The first part of the new 1/2 cent tax is being used to pay off this old debt
and any tax money that is collected there after will go to the street repairs
and so on.
As far as I can remember that's the way it was explained to me.
Do I believe this? After some of the things that have gone down in
the last few days I wouldn't bet my life on it. I'm sorry to say I don't trust
City Hall anymore. I have chosen the I'll believe it when I see it altitude.

Anonymous said...

Lee Gray here...

Thanks Greg and Pat...and thanks to the poster who appreciated the fact I could make a profit and living in a very difficult business.

Ben must have gone to school with my son, Cougar, as they're the same age. I'll look forward sometime to meeting him and his partner.

One thing though...how can you let The Star scoop you on buying your own newspaper? (smile)

Speaking of the media...

I'm still waiting for a KCTV 5 response to my question about why they don't name Jackson County judges meting out sentences. They make a story over the length of the sentence and the family of the victim being unhappy...but don't tell who the judge was and why he handed out the sentence that "created" the "news value" of the report.

We do, after all, retain judges at election time. I want to know who these judges are and why they're handing out lighter sentences. Or you know where my vote goes!!!!!!!!!

Greg hope you'll let us know details on the million dollars for streets as soon as it's available.

Since I was in the Army, I believe nothing that I hear and only half of what I see. So details please.

Otherwise I'm pretty much with Pat...regards not believing anything that comes out of City Hall.

Peace. Lee Gray

Andy Whiteman said...

Isn't a study required for any decision? You or I would make a decision, but an elected offficial is afraid of liability.

Don't buisness people have to make decisions? That is one main reason I would like to see buisness people elected. We do have several business people on the board which makes me think it is a CYA. taxpayer be damned type of thing. Thank God, they aren't on the Disfuctional school board.

Maybe we need a study to determine if a study is really needed!

Andy Whiteman

Pat Casady said...

Andy,
The good news is that it doesn't take a taxpayer funded study or
survey to know a huge change is needed at City Hall.
The bad news is......it probably won't happen.
We have been trying hard to find people to run against the incumbents
but no luck so far.
If anybody is interested in joining a group for a better Raytown please
contact me. Wishing for change won't bring it about. We need to be active
in this or nothing will happen.

Andy Whiteman said...

Pat,

I have agreed with you on thge issue of new board members for quite awhile. But where will we find qualified, reliable, intellegent people to fill the offices?

The pay is so low that whoever is elected is actually performing community service. I can imagine very few business people willing to work what is actually a double shift with little pay.

I am unable to run because I the small salary would cause me to lose by disability income and benefits and also I will not be around long enough to serve a whole 4 year term. I don't plan on staying in this State of Misery much longer.

Andhy Whiteman

Andy Whiteman said...

Pat,

I have agreed with you on thge issue of new board members for quite awhile. But where will we find qualified, reliable, intellegent people to fill the offices?

The pay is so low that whoever is elected is actually performing community service. I can imagine very few business people willing to work what is actually a double shift with little pay.

I am unable to run because I the small salary would cause me to lose by disability income and benefits and also I will not be around long enough to serve a whole 4 year term. I don't plan on staying in this State of Misery much longer.

Andhy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

Pat,

How do we contact you? Email address, telephone?