Sunday, June 6, 2010

In This Week's Raytown Report

NEWS AND VIEWS by Greg Walters
TO YOUR HEALTH! by Jenn Walters
by Greg Walters

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

by Jenn Walters
Runnin’ in the Rain

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%


Andy Whiteman said...

I contact department heads directly if I have a problem or if I want to voice a compliment regarding an employee. Maybe it is OK because I am not and elected official. I am a taxpayer who pays their salaries. Elected officials are also tax payers. Is there some discrimination against elected officials? They have the same rights as I.

Has anyone asked Mahesh when he is moving to Raytown? It doesn't seem like 3 years have passed this fast. I would think that a person would prefer not to have a long commute to work. One reason I moved to Raytown was a short commute to work. Now that my job is in India, that is a non issue.

Andy Whiteman

Greg Walters said...

Up and running again!

Blogger, the service that publishes the Raytown Report, had some technical difficulties with its sites in the midwest Sunday evening through late Monday afternoon.

The problem seems to have fixed.

I am sorry about the delay in publishing.

Pat Casady said...

It has been a long time since the last administration
and several City Administrators ran this town. But, it
would appear nothing has changed in the way this city
and it's elected officials think of the people.
The last administration had a City Administrator that actually
told our elected officials not to talk to us business owners.
So they voted not to listen to our concerns.
Maybe everybody in that building at 10000 E. 59th. St.
has forgotten who they work for and who elected them.
It wasn't the mayor. It was the people.
When was the last time your ward representative came around
just to talk to you? When was the last time they asked you what
you thought of the job they were doing?
Again, they will only come around when they want "your" support.
Not to see how they can support you! (their actual job.)
It seems we have a majority of elected people that are content to
be told what to do, when to do it, and then, be told what a good
job they are doing by each other rather than listening to the people.

Greg, maybe the pole you put on the post should be, "Is the job your ward aldermen doing, satisfactory, poor or bad?"

Andy Whiteman said...

Since I have lived in Raytown, I can remember City Administrators that RAN from this city after running the city very poorly.

As for aldermen coming around to talk to me, it is pretty difficult to do because I sleep days. I have encountered aldermen from other wards who approached me in stores. An alderman from a different ward actually came to my home. I have also been approached at BOA meetings. Pat has a good point especially since he has a business and his hours are known. Part of the problem may be that Pat can't vote; but out of concern for the city, every elected official should WANT to hear his opinion.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

I can pretty much accept how the mayor is running our town. They all have their quirks and different governing styles. Nesbitt was different that Ross. And both of them were different from Frank. Bower seems to be a lot like Frank. A lot of people tell me he is not at city hall that much.

That bothers me.

If he wants to me mayor, fine. But he should show up for the job.

Andy Whiteman said...

7:53PM, The Mayor has a full time career. He is not a career politician (at least as far as I know.)

If we want a full time Mayor, by all means elect a full time Mayor and pay him full time pay. What is the job of the Mayor? I think represent the city to businesses and groups. If the Mayor sat a City Hall all day, I am sure there would be a complaint about that.

Why not eliminate the City Administrator and combine the job with the Mayor's job? Save some tax $$$$.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that people are calling for change in Raytown, yet are asking for old regimes to run again. Personally, I was excited when young, new candidates voted (Par Due and Lightfoot). However, after reading their resumes and meeting them, I didn't necessarily think they were the right personalities or politically savvy enough to get things accomplished. Their actions or lack-thereof is evidence of this.

I guess my question is, are there any young, intelligent individuals in this town with the tenacity to challenge the status quo. If so, why not recruit them to run?

Anonymous said...

What I don't understand is why does he want to be Mayor but does not put the time in. Nobody expects Bower to spend all of his time at city hall. I hear that he is seldom there.

I agree with you about Pardue and Lightfut. At least Lightfoot tried his hand at a run a local business on 350 Highway.

Pardue has never stepped out from under the shadow of Creamer. Which is sad. What a terrible role model to follow!

Pat Casady said...

I'm not defending Mayor Bower but,
Raytown's mayor's office is not a full time
position. That is why we have a City Administrator.
It is a full time job. He runs the day to day goings on
of this town. He is at the top of the list of the City
Of Raytown Staff. Above all other departments.
In other words they answer to him and I suppose he answers
to the elected officials and then to the mayor.
They all "should" work for the people of Raytown.
The mayor is required to live in Raytown but,
the City Administrator is not.

Anonymous said...

I remember a political mailer I received when the Mayor ran for office. It said you cannont govern by cell phone. How very true. I don't think anyone expects Bower to be at city hall 24 -7 but city hall people tell me his not there very much.

Some new blood is definitely needed at city hall.

Anonymous said...

I know this is a sore subject for alot of people, but I truly believe we dug ourselves a deep hole when we didn't pass the charter several years ago. People who are complaining about codes, lack of police enforcement of the law etc. should remenber that had we passed the charter we could do alot more to correct these problems. We need to get rid of the part time mayor position and have a full time city administrator to run the city. We could save money and have a properly run city. All you who voted no sit back and keep your mouth shut now because you are the one who put this city in this mess.

Anonymous said...

Could soneone tell me where Chief Lynch has been hiding? I haven't seen him out and about for quite sonetime and when I do he is never in uniform. Chief are you ashamed to be seen wearing the police uniform? I would think you would be proud to wear it. Another question when is he going to do something about the increase crime in the city? Is he going to bury his head in the sand like out mayor does? Someone who draws a salary like the chief does ought to be busting his butt to make our city safe. How about it chief..

Andy Whiteman said...

12:31AM, A really good idea, but who are you going to recruit for the job(s)? First off they pay next to nothing. Why would anyone want the elected job(s)? Anyone running for elected position is really performing community service in their spare time.

For an alderman's job, it is NOT just 2 meetings a month. There are committees, research, and public contact.

Paying a mayor only $1300/month and expecting anyone to put in the proper amount of time is crazy.

I appreciate the effort put forth by the dedicated elected officials who are serving we the people of the city of Raytown. We may be dissatisfied with the actions of some, but at least they put forth the effort to do that they think is best.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

To Anon 7:46am:
The main reason the charter failed was because Mayor Sue Frank was against it. She did everything she could to defeat the charter. She even went so far as to go go the Public Library and remove copies of the proposed charter. The charter committee placed over 100 copies for the people of Raytown to read. Mayer Frank went into the library and removed them, saying that they were printed wrong. Well, they weren't. The only thing wrong with them was that they gave information to the people voting. God forbid the people be allowed to make an informed decision!

The current mayor won't allow a charter. He'd be too afraid that we could get recalled. The same with the do-nothing aldermen.

There was a lot of work put into writing a comprehensive charter that covered most topics and would benefit the people of Raytown.

Mayor Frank was against progress, unless it was her idea (which she never had any.)

You're right, we need a charter, and I'm hoping after we get rid of the current mayor, we can get another charter committe together and resubmit the charter to the Raytown residents.

Andy Whiteman said...

8:06 AM, I can't answer that one, but why don't you call dispatch or his office number and ASK? Since I prefer the KISS system, that is what I would do if I really wanted to know.

I used to work in law enforcement and this type of information is usually not disclosed. If that is the case, you could make a request for the Chief to call you but you will have to use your real name.

I know it seems strange, but elected, officials do get vacations. I can't say if this is the case or not, but you know how to find out.

Helmet Head

Anonymous said...

Irregardless of how anyone votes, if you voted at all, that gives you the right to put in your two cents. You have no right to tell anyone to shut up, especially if they vote. The charter got voted down. End of story. Get new leadership at city hall. Do away with the city administrator's job and make the mayor earn his pay. If you can't do the job, don't run for office. It is that simple.

Pat Casady said...

There are actually two reasons the charter failed. Maybe more.
First City Hall did not want it. It would mean they
would have to answer to the people. So they planted
three or four people on the committee that sabotaged
the whole thing. City Hall tried to get as many elected to
the committee as they could but only these three or four
made it in.
Second we can't forget Mr.Curt Wenson and his politically
perfect job of forming the group, Raytown Reaching
For Tomorrow and befriending the chamber.
These groups of people had many friends they could persuade how to vote. All Mr.Wenson had
to do is buy these groups a donut and cup of coffee
or promise them something.
Then he would suggest to them how to vote for or against
anything or anyone he wanted.
He taught the people he wanted in as elected officials
that a donut or a bag of popcorn could really work to get
them what they wanted.
However, this wouldn't have worked if everyone that could vote
would have voted.
I have been a odds with City Hall over many things over the years
but, I have to hand it to Mr.Wenson this was a great move on his part.
It got him almost anything he wanted from higher pay to votes.
The price Raytown paid, well.......look at the shape Raytown is in now.
I know all of this is in the past but, sometimes we need to learn from the past to make sure things like this don't happen in the future.

Anonymous said...

The mayor does not have the knowledge to run the city nor the people skills to do it. End of story

Andy Whiteman said...

FYI: Travis Taggart from APX Security is going door to door attempting to "give away" alarm systems so they may put a tag in the yard. My yard is valuable because I am on a corner.

He stayed there was drug activity at the end of my block. He also stated that teens were cutting phone lines and busting down doors.

This individual was using the names of neighbors and asked me for names of other neighbors which I refused to provide.

Since he ignored my sign and I was barely awake, I demanded to see his city permit and he produced a letter from Teresa Henry. I left a message on Teresa's voice mail that this permit should be revoked. I also called the PD to question the validity of the statements. The response was, "He doesn't know that. He doesn't have access to police records."

It appears these people are trying to scare people into getting alarms.

Andy Whiteman

Andy Whiteman said...

FYI: Teresa Newton, City Clerk, called me this afternoon and stated that APX meets ordinance requirements for a solicitor's permit and has 23 people on our streets. They have a Raytown business license. She has warned them about obeying "Do not disturb signs" and not using scare tactics.

Andy Whiteman

Andy Whiteman said...

This APX guy besides being a nusiance is somewhat unethical. He knew my name and was mentioning 2 neighbors by name as if the recommended them. I called one of the neighbors to verify if he made the same false statements about crime in the neighborhood to her. She stated that he used my name as a reference stating that I had referred him. Acctually he had asked me for names of other neighbors which I REFUSED to provide. This individual appears to be finding names and using them as a referrence to get a conversation started. BEWARE!

From what I heard to the news last night one lady stated there is going to be a large turnout at the BOA to protest out of control children in one neighborhood.

Andy Whiteman