There has been a string of comments this past week from readers about the state of our City, residential requirements for city department heads, possible candidates for next year’s elections, access to senior staff by elected officials, and, most interesting of all, comments about each other.
For what it is worth, here is my two cents worth . . .
RESIDENTIAL REQUIREMENTS FOR CITY DEPARTMENT HEADS: About twelve years ago the City of Raytown, by ordinance, required department heads to live within the city limits. The ordinance was changed and the requirement removed. With one exception. The office of City Administrator was still required to live within City Limits.
As a result of the change, two realities have come to pass.
1. One, our city does not have ANY appointed department heads that call Raytown home.
2. Two, there has been a revolving door in many of the senior staff at Raytown City Hall.
The situation and the instability it creates in leadership, will not change until the Board of Aldermen step up and renew the residency requirement for city department heads in Raytown.
Case in point is the current situation with City Administrator Mahesh Sharma. About three years ago Mr. Sharma was hired as the City Administrator. When Mr. Sharma was hired as the City Administrator he asked for and received a waiver on the residency requirement (for personal reasons) for a three year period. The decision was supported by the majority of the Board of Aldermen, but not unanimous.
When that three year period ends, Mr. Sharma should make his home in Raytown. The terms of that agreement have been met by the City. It will be time for Mr. Sharma to fulfill his end of the bargain.
Will the Board of Aldermen fulfill the promise of the agreement made three years ago? Hard to say. But this much is known, there is a marked reluctance by Board members to discuss the subject publicly.
Raytown is one of the few cities in the metropolitan area that does not require its city department heads to reside within the city in which they work. It is high time the Board of Aldermen joined surrounding communities in this common sense decision. When a professional takes the step to become part of a community they strengthen that community by a show of commitment. It instills pride amongst the population and gives the department head firsthand knowledge of a community that can only be gained by living there.
SPECULATION ON CANDIDATES FOR NEXT YEAR’S ELECTIONS: One writer suggested that former Aldermen Briggs, Walters and Knabe come back and run for office. The post also suggested that Mary Jane VanBuskirk should run as well.
I doubt it will happen. Mr. Knabe resigned his seat in mid-term. In conversations I had with him it was quite clear that he would not run for elective office again. Jerry Briggs just won a seat on the local Water Board. I doubt he would give it up to run for the Board of Aldermen. Mrs. Van Buskirk is already in a race for the Jackson County Republican Committee for Brooking Township. Her husband, Bill VanBuskirk, is already on the City Council. She told me that Bill is doing fine as an Alderman and that she has no interest in running.
As for myself, I’m already in a political race for the Jackson County Legislature. Running for city office is the furthest thought from my mind.
Perhaps it is time that some new candidates came forward. From what I have heard there is a fairly active group of people involved with Downtown Raytown Redevelopment. Maybe a few of those folks will take up the challenge of public service next spring.
There is no doubt the city could use their help. Let’s face it, the bunch in charge from the Mayor on down could not even come to grips with passing a compromise on a smoking ordinance.
ACCESS TO SENIOR STAFF MEMBERS: I have heard this complaint from a number of members of the Board of Aldermen that they are restrained by the Mayor’s office from communicating with senior staff members. I know from personal experience with Mayor Bower that he takes a dim view of city staff members being shown first hand specific problems that need addressing in the city.
Case in point is one of the last meetings I had with him concerning city business. He was upset because I had met with the City Attorney and City Administrator after a Board meeting to discuss
recycling issues. Even more vexing for him was that fact that I had taken Mr. Mahesh on a “show and tell” visit to a particularly complicated zoning issue in my ward (which, with Mr. Sharma’s help, was eventually resolved).
The Mayor is wrong to dissuade elected officials from working directly with appointed city officials. Changing that attitude would go a long way in making Raytown a more functional city.
VOICE OF THE PUBLIC: The blog section of the Raytown Report is for the public to speak their mind. And, frequently they do. At times there are disagreements. But it seems to me that the ones making the most negative comments on this site are those attacking other bloggers for just speaking out. It is ironic that those complaining about what others have written often sign off anonymously.
Some of our elected officials have publicly criticized this web page for what others have posed in the comments section. Their complaints are puzzling. If those elected leaders would simply listen to what they people want, which often times is not that much, and act accordingly in fulfilling those wishes, they would probably not have as many complaints.
I recently received a telephone call from an old friend who was upset because one of his neighbors had allowed his yard to become a waist high weed patch. I suggested the call city hall and file the complaint. When they made the call they found out that the weeds were scheduled to be cut that day.
The point is that not all complaints to city hall are ignored. But when people are told that the city will not use "gestapo tactics" to enforce property maintenance codes in response to legitimate complaints . . . well, let's just say that it only feeds the frustration that is so often expressed on the blog portion of the Raytown Report.
Raytown Summerfest and BBQ Cookoff
This weekend (June 11th and 12th) the Raytown Area Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual Raytown Summerfest. So, take some time off of from your end of the week duties and come by, renew acquaintances and make some new friends.
For more information use this link Raytown Summerfest
TO YOUR HEALTH!
Some may sing in the rain. I run in the rain. Not usually by choice though and with far less coordination and skill than Gene Kelly can sing or dance, but I do it out of necessity. And, it’s been kind of refreshing.
For the last few weeks, the weather in the Midwest has been more Sleepless in Seattle than Little House on the Prairie. And darn near every day after work I have come home to drizzle, sprinkles or downright cats and dogs. I love my exercise DVDs, but a Fit Bottomed Girl can only take so much indoor time. And my pup is going a littler stir crazy, too. After almost a week straight of soppy weather, the furry beast needed a good run as much as I did. Not to mention that she’d chewed the antenna off of my cordless phone and kept eyeing my black flats as her next victims.
After a particularly long and exasperating day at work, I decided to hell with it. I’m going running. I need to run.A quick check of the weather showed that no thunderstorms were in the vicinity, just a nice steady rain. So after a quick change into my scrubbier workout clothes (no need to look cute in the rain, after all), I grabbed the leash, the dog and my iPod Shuffle, and we were off. Right out of the gates, we got a few weird looks from people. I even had a lady in her car stop and offer us a ride home. “Um, no thanks. We’re just out running…in the rain.” Confused, she pulled away.
But honestly, the experience was kind of liberating. I felt like a bad ass for not letting a little water get in the way of my workout, and the rain was so cool and such a nice change from my sweat-drenched summer runs. I couldn’t tell what was sweat and what was rain on my face. I even had to pick up my pace because the dog, a little freaked out, kept sprinting, trying to get us to shelter, I imagine. Eventually though, she enjoyed it, too, even snapping at the raindrops occasionally to get a drink. (Dogs are great, eh?)
By the end of the run, I was sopping and probably smelled as bad as my dog, but I felt refreshed and a little renewed in the spirit department. Corny as it sounds, I felt more in touch with myself and Mother Nature. Not to mention that it felt freeing to be out when everyone else was dry and warm in their cars or battened-down houses. The streets were pretty much empty except for us, and, much to my pleasure, the squirrels were hunkered down, too, thereby preventing my pup from pulling my arm out of its socket in attempts to catch a furry snack.
In fact, I liked running in the rain so much that I decided to do it twice more the next week when a giant rain-filled system took up temporary residence over the Midwest again. Nowadays, when the rain clouds are acomin‘, I’m not heading to the gym. I’m hitting the streets with my four-legged friend. Eat your heart out, Gene Kelly.
To visit Jenn's website use this link . . . Fit Bottomed Girls
Last Week’s Poll Results
Do you plan to attend the Raytown Summfest / BBQ Cookoff?
Yes . . . . . . . 46%
No . . . . . . . . 41%
Not Sure . . . .12%