Sunday, February 1, 2009
Raytown Success Stories
A NOTE TO MY READERS: A complete listing of the April 7th Election Ballot has been certified by the Jackson County Election Board. For a listing of all the candidates for Municipal and School District seats, and the ballot language on the proposed half cent sales tax increase, scroll down to my January 18th posting, Municipal and School Board Races Take Shape. Only the most starry eyed optimist can look at the condition of the American economy and say that things are getting better. But there are indications that some common sense is beginning to take hold locally – some could even be called success stories. So here is my read on some small but not insignificant changes in the direction of how things are being done on the local, state and federal levels. Raytown Success Stories . . . LIGHT UP THE NIGHT: During the Sue Frank Administration, there was the equivalent to a Raytown “executive order/policy” to not install any new street lights in Raytown. That ended three years ago when the neighborhoods around Colman Park successfully petitioned for additional street lights at the park in an effort to cut back on curfew violations, vandalism and, for lack of a better term, “bad behavior” in the Park. I helped broker the deal between the Park Department and the City of Raytown to share in the costs of the new lights. The Raytown Board of Aldermen has followed that lead. Since then, 114 new street lights have been budgeted (some have even been installed!) in residential neighborhoods. It may not be the biggest policy change in our city – but like the Titanic turning a corner, it is definitely a change of direction. CASH FOR TRASH: A little over half a year ago the Raytown Board of Aldermen adopted as policy a recommendation by the Raytown Recycling Committee to move the city’s recycling center to a new location. But that was not all that was accomplished with the move. I was Chairman of the Committee – and what that group collectively accomplished is a text book example of how government can work. One of our goals was to turn the Recycling Center into a revenue producing function of the city. Even though the Center is only open twice a month it is on track to produce over $4,000 in receipts for recyclables. In short, what used to go to the landfill is now making money for the city. The beautiful part of this success story is that it would not be able to be told without the countless number of people who regularly drop their recyclables off at the Center. State News of Note . . . Normally I do not comment on matters of the State of Missouri in this space, but a news item of some significance out of Jefferson City caught my eye this week. The Legislature of the Missouri House has voted to forego any pay increases for themselves and other State offices this year. As one state legislator was quoted in the KC Star, “this is the worst time to even consider such a question.” . . . and National News as well . . . Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill has proposed that pay for employees of firms receiving bailout money be capped at $400,000. The plan makes some sense. Her proposal calls for the cap to be removed once the bailout money is paid back to the government. You could consider it the same as a “clawback” on property tax abatements – sort of a “pay for performance” proposal. But I would take the proposal one step further. Limit the executive pay those in the federal government to $400,000 as well. Once the economy has righted itself the limit could be lifted. After all, it was the policies at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae that started this mess in the subprime real estate markets. It was their manipulation and the creation of easy credit and terms that have left many people upside down in their house payments. As they used to say many years ago, “what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander”. Some Things Never Change . . . I see the Kansas City Star has endorsed another property tax increase for the Blue Springs School District. Gotta’ hand it to what remains of the editorial staff of Kansas City’s major newspaper – if nothing else they are consistent. The Star has been hit hard by the recession – even the size has of their editorial staff has shrunk significantly due to layoffs that have ended careers before their time. Perhaps they should re-read the story out of Jefferson City. Now is not the time to increase the cost and size of government.