Sunday, May 12, 2013

Time for Mayor Bower to Come Clean With His Conflict of Interest*


*Conflict of Interest: A situation that has the potential to undermine the impartiality of a person because of the possibility of a clash between the person’s self-interest and professional interest or public interest.


The public discussion continues on the Walmart Grocery Store application for Downtown Raytown.

And, it has taken an interesting turn. Mayor David Bower's past association with Walmart representatives has surfaced as part of the debate.

Does the Mayor have a Conflict of Interest? Should he recuse himself from further discussion?

To learn more about those allegations use this link DOWNTOWN RAYTOWN  

The Tuesday, May 21st meeting is the second Public Forum on the Walmart application to change design standards in Downtown Raytown to suit their proposal.

The meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. at Raytown City Hall.

The meeting is a Public Forum. The public is invited to speak on the record and voice their opinion as to how their representatives on the Board should vote.

To leave a comment use this link POST A COMMENT

Letter from Steve Mullaly to the Chamber of Commerce

Steve Mullaly is the owner of Rolland Studios located near Downtown Raytown at 9813 East 66th Street. He is a former President of the Raytown Chamber of Commerce. The following letter was sent by Mr. Mullaly to members of the Chamber of Commerce.

To the Board of Directors of the Raytown Chamber of Commerce:

The most recent worst kept secret is that a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market will be built on the former First Baptist Church property in downtown Raytown.  An Attempt to confirm this with President Vicki Turnbow was unsuccessful because nothing was yet “official”.  The lack of transparency regarding the project is deplorable and the local business community should not tolerate it.  It seems to me that the addition of another Wal-Mart branded store will be counterproductive for local businesses, their employees, and ultimately the citizens of Raytown. 
As Yoga Bera famously said, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”  We already have a Super Wal-Mart here in Raytown of course.  It was built several years ago under a veil of secrecy that to me, as Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce at the time, never made any sense.  Why did proponents of the project refuse to acknowledge that a Wal-Mart was being built?  The answer, of course, both then and now had to do with the many controversies regarding this big box retailer, which I will discuss in a moment.
However, going back to six years ago, let’s first recall how the people of this city, along with the Chamber, were sold the idea to begin with.  We were told, in effect, that this new undertaking was so important that Raytown would die without it.  It sounded to me like an exaggerated claim back then, but now with some history behind us, what are the facts?  What is undeniable is that the Wal-Mart on Highway 50 was built at a heavy cost to the city and the school district.  But how much revenue does the city collect in taxes from this store, and what are the pay-outs on the debt from the Tiff project?  How long does the city have to make these payments?  The problem is, it’s hard to say with any degree of accuracy because, despite all of the promises, so much of the project is still not discussed in public.  It has been published that The City has paid out over 1.8 million dollars from reserve funds to make up shortfall of revenue from the Wal-Mart TIF since its creation. Most of that payment was due to the fact that Wal-Mart did not open on schedule. Payments to bond holders were due and had to be paid. The City of Raytown has guaranteed the bonds, so it fell upon the City to use taxpayer dollars to make payment on the Wal-Mart TIF bonds.  If this is true would you not ask for the 1.8 million back before allowing another Wal –mart owned store?

Then there is the strong police presence at the store.  Many people reading this have probably witnessed arrests there, and it would be hard to miss the frequent sight of police cruisers racing to Wal-Mart with sirens blaring.  Just think of how much this costs Raytown, in both dollars and cents and in police services that could be utilized elsewhere in the city.  Yet last year, funding for the police department was slashed.  Something is seriously wrong with this picture.

So who is to blame?  The Kansas City Star said ” Wal-Mart often gets what it wants because elected officials give in to them.”   So does that mean the Board of Alderman are to blame?  Not necessarily, their job is to make the best decision on the information given to them.   I believe this is where the chamber should play an important role to help inform the Alderman.

Before opening up yet another Wal-Mart owned store in our city, let’s consider the impact that Wal-Mart stores haves had on the local economies of other communities throughout the U.S.  Researchers at UC Berkeley concluded in 2011 that “jobs created by Wal-Mart in metropolitan areas pay less and are less likely to offer benefits than those they replace…Wal-Mart workers earn an estimated 12.4% less than retail workers as a whole, and 14.5% less than workers in large retail.”  Yet we are supposed to believe that this new store will help our community to thrive – on such paltry wages?

Then there is the negative impact on the overall jobs’ picture that seems inevitable whenever Wal-Mart comes to town.  There are typically numerous store closures by smaller retailers that simply can’t compete, leading to job loss.  One recent study found that a Wal-Mart store opening reduces county-level retail employment by about 150 workers, and each Wal-Mart worker replaces approximately 1.4 retailer workers at other merchants. 

The lack of transparency regarding this project is deplorable, and the local Chamber should not tolerate it.  To the contrary, the Chamber needs to help the City all, demanding that any developer who wants to build in Raytown needs to be up front with what they want to build.

Moreover, upon careful consideration and study, it seems to me that the only conclusion that can be drawn is that the addition of yet another Wal-Mart owned store in our area will be counterproductive for local businesses, their employees and ultimately the citizens of Raytown.  We should have learned a lesson dealing with Wal-Mart on the 350 Hiway project.  Tiff or no Tiff project this is not good for Raytown. I urge the Chamber to adopt a strongly worded resolution opposing this highly dubious project. 

Steve Mullaly

Political Movement Born Out of Walmart Frustration? BY GREG WALTERS

It started as a petition drive at Doughboy’s Donut Shop. Small merchants frustrated with what they perceived as unfair advantage being given the retail giant Walmart in the marketplace.

Over 1,000 signatures later, the petition drive appears to be blossoming into a political movement by like-minded people. The signs of political unrest have manifested itself in many ways: 
SIGNS OF POLITICAL VIABILITY: Three newcomers were elected to the Raytown City Council. Two of whom defeated seasoned politicians many city hall observers believed were bullet proof. The victories were lopsided landslides. Those three candidates all ran campaigns that did not endorse the plans for a 40,000 square foot single user building in Downtown Raytown.

PUBLIC HEARINGS held over a proposed Walmart Grocery Store in Downtown Raytown has drawn record breaking crowds to both the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Raytown Board of Aldermen. By far, the vast majority of those attending have been in opposition to changing zoning for the benefit of Walmart. The last meeting was so crowded that citizens left because there was no room to sit or stand at the meeting.

THE PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION VOTED TO DENY THE APPLICATION When you consider that Mayor David Bower has re-appointed most of the members of the Commission, the action speaks very clearly. The majority of Commission members sided with the public in their decision to deny the application.

It has become clear that Citizens and Local Business Owners envision a retail paradise of pedestrian friendly stores, connected to a proposed light rail service on the old Santa Fe rail line.

A 40,000 square foot big box Store – with over 60,000 square feet of paved parking lot gobbling up valuable retail space – is seen as a step backwards by the public.

Former Mayor Sue Frank, a local business owner and Raytown resident, has been active in opposition to the proposed Walmart in Downtown Raytown.   

“I am not sure where this is going”, said Mrs. Frank. “There is a lot of frustration and disappointment in the disconnect between the people of Raytown and its elected representatives.”

“I have heard people expressing an interest in running for City Hall office in the next round of elections,” continued Frank. “It is a pretty impressive ‘short list’ of people active in the community who have never run for public office before.”

Long time political observers note there are signs of a new political base forming for candidates and supporters to rally around.

Former State Representative Jim Barnes agrees with Frank’s assessment.

“I remember the last time there was so much dissension and disunity,” said former State Representative Jim Barnes. “The public was so upset with the status quo that every incumbent running, including the Municipal Judge were defeated at the polls. At the following election the Chief of Police was defeated, as were the few remaining members of the old Board of Aldermen.”

What would it take to cause the same reaction in today’s political climate?

“Not much,” said Barnes. “All it takes is a general distrust of City Hall and a series of events that re-enforces that image.”

Barnes points to the failure of the city to negotiate a solution with the YMCA as just such aa failure.

“Add an unpopular decision that appears to ignore the wishes of the people, and you have the makings of a perfect storm,” said Barnes.

He views the Walmart debate as a game changer in Raytown City politics.

“In many ways,” continued Barnes, “the Board has its fate in its hands. They can decide to listen to the people or ignore them. It is up to them.”

Urban Legends / Raytown Style

An urban legend is defined as “an untrue story or so-called fact presented as accurate, which, upon close investigation are exaggerated half-truths.”

Raytown has a version making the rounds in the wake of the controversial Walmart proposed for Downtown Raytown.

URBAN LEGEND No. 1: The city is making money on the sale of the property now known as the Green Space.
Nothing could be further from the truth.

The city bought the property from the First Baptist Church of $500,000.00. The property is currently being held with a $5,000 deposit for Walmart.

The city originally paid $500,000 for the property when it purchased it from the First Baptist Church of Raytown. The city paid interest on the property for a couple of years before concluding the sale. Then, the city, through a grant paid for by taxpayer dollars, paid another half million dollars to have the building demolished and carted away.

URBAN LEGEND No. 2: The city made $150,000.00 on the sale.
The reality is that the city actually went in the red to the tune of $350,000.00.
We have done the math to illustrate:

$1,000,000.00 - $650,000.00 = ($350,000.00)

A word of advice to our readers; if one of the “we want Walmart” crowd offers to help sell your house . . . run, don’t walk . . . away from them as fast as your legs will carry you.

URBAN LEGEND No. 3: Former Mayor Sue Frank presided over the City Council when the deal on the 350 Highway Walmart was completed..
Not true. The final vote on Walmart was not approved until Mayor David Bower was elected.
The Walmart package on 350 Highway had stalled out while Frank was Mayor for a number of reasons. Chief of among them was that the city went through two city administrators during the process.  

When Bower was elected, the Board of Aldermen voted to direct City Staff to work exclusively on the Walmart package for 350 Highway.

The final vote for approval, which re-started the project, was under Mayor David Bower. The vote was nine to one. Alderman Greg Walters was the lone vote against the package because of the 23 years of debt the city would have to pay off before any gain would be realized.

Final word – the construction on the Walmart on 350 Highway did not even begin until Mrs. Frank had been out of office for over two years!

Bits and Pieces
  • Did anyone else notice what was NOT on the agenda of the last meeting of the Raytown Board of Aldermen? If  you guessed the item appointing former Ward 3 Alderman Christine White, you are correct! No official from the Mayor’s office on why Mrs. White’s appointment to the Board of Zoning Adjustment was remove from the agenda. We will leave it to the reader to speculate.
  • We also noticed something else that was out of place at the last meeting. Traditionally, the Mayor Protem is seated to the Mayor’s right. It was noted that Ward 2 Alderman Bill Van Buskirk, who was unanimously appointed by the Board of Aldermen at the previous meeting, was still sitting at his old spot on the dias. Wonder why? So do we.
  • A phrase can mean many things. How someone reacts to words can say even more. At the last meeting Mayor Bower expressed umbrage when Ward 1 Alderman Josh Greene used the term “commercial cronyism”. Bower demanded to know what he meant by that. Greene calmly replied with word to the effect that  it is when favoritism is extended to one commercial entity over another. Well said, Mr. Greene! 

The Paul Livius Report
Raytown Board of Aldermen Meeting – May 7, 2013
This was a very long meeting, so we are breaking up the minutes into two parts.  Since the majority of the meeting was about the proposed Walmart Neighborhood Store, we will provide those minutes first.  Later in the week, we will have the rest of the minutes for the meeting, as well as the work session held prior to the BOA meeting.

The Board heard the first reading of an ordinance to grant a change in zoning on land located at 6200 Blue Ridge Boulevard.  John Benson told the Board that Raytown entered into a real estate purchase contract in September, 2012.  There will be no tax incentives or reductions.  The City approved the purchase agreement and now should approve the zoning change to allow the grocery store.  Walmart will comply with most of the code requirements.  Some can’t be met and Raytown needs to make code changes.  A Walmart representative said the store will sell groceries, have a bakery, pharmacy, and meat market.  It will not be a super center.  Citizen comments made at the zoning committee caused Walmart to make some changes.  They will no longer ask for on-street parking.

Many residents were given the opportunity to address the Board during the public hearing.

David McCauley said he owns a business in Raytown Plaza.  Everyone wants Downtown Raytown to develop into a walkable area.  We want shops and restaurants.  Most of downtown Raytown is vacant, empty, or on the way down.  No new building has occurred in downtown Raytown in 30 years.  Raytown doesn’t have the demographics to support a downtown make-over.  Walmart will increase traffic to the downtown area.  He said he is not concerned about Walmart coming to downtown.  Hy-Vee and Cosentino’s aren’t at the meeting, so they must not be concerned.  The only people concerned are the ones who want to run this town.  He thinks that attitude is getting old. 
Norma Storms said she first got interested in the proceedings by watching the Board on television.  She also saw a flyer at Fox’s Drugstore that said Walmart won’t conform to current plans.  She thinks there are enough smart people to work out any differences.  The flyer said when Walmart pulls out they will leave a big, empty building.  She said businesses come and go and should not be a factor in making any decisions.
Jeanette Gingery asked if the extra exhibits passed out at the meeting would be available to the public.  She was told they would be available on the City’s website the next day. She asked that the next public meeting be advertised on the Public Access channel.  If not, she would like to know why.
Ed Clark said the zoning application states that 57% of the zoning laws will have to be changed.  He said when Google Fiber wanted to do business in Raytown, they sent a Google employee to represent the company and answer questions.  He wanted to know why Walmart sent lawyers.
Darlene Ryan said Walmart is like a cancer.  It kills everything around it.
Shelly Shuman asked the Board to not discount the comments made by the public.  If Google Fiber is attracted here and is willing to work within the laws and codes of our city, other companies will also.  She asked the Board to not give into Walmart.
Steve Gunther said according to the National Retailers Association, a neighborhood store is less than 20,000 square feet.  Anything over that requires too much parking space.
Marion Breitenbach said Walmart is a big company.  Their representatives are looking to get the best deal they can from Raytown.  The Board’s job is to get the best deal for Raytown.  If Walmart closes, Raytown has a white-elephant that has to be filled.  He asked the Board to look at the Sam’s Club at 40 Highway and Noland Road.  He has been told Walmart is over $3 million in property tax arrears.  He said the Walmart representatives are salesmen and are just trying to seal the deal.
Mark Moore told the Board if this deal goes through, Walmart owns the land.  If they decide to close the store, they still own the land.  They can do anything they want with the property.  Raytown should lease the land to Walmart. 
Wayne Gadt said the Board should ask themselves three questions.  Is this project filling a need that is now unmet in Raytown?  He said he can go a mile in any direction and find a grocery store.  Is there anything unique about this development?  He said the answer is no because it is just a grocery store and it is just Walmart.  Will this project take business away from other grocery stores in the area?  He also asked if the green space is rezoned for Walmart, what does that do to the zoning for other businesses.
Ann Delaney said she is proud to be a resident of Raytown.  She said there has been lots of talk about bringing traffic in downtown.  There has been no talk about how to get them downtown.  What roads will be used to get them there?  What about the school zone?  She is a former resident of New York City and she knows first-hand how loud garbage trucks are when empting the trash at 4AM.  This big store is going to affect the people who live next door.  She said Walmart should have turned the old Walmart store into a neighborhood grocery.  She said Walmart claims they will only have a grocery store, but she sees plans for a pharmacy.  There is already a pharmacy on the corner and has been for over 70 years.
Ellen Klope said she works at the library.  Walmart will sell liquor.  She doesn’t think liquor should be sold so close to the library or school.  Because of the increased traffic, it won’t be safe for the senior citizen to walk to Walmart.
Diane Krizek said Walmart has a history of going into a community and getting the tax assessment lowered so they can pay less tax.
Gary Peterson said according to the New York Times, Walmart paid $86 million to settle labor charges in 2010.  They paid over $600 million in 2008.  Many Walmart employees are eligible for food stamps and Harvesters because of the low wages.
Sue Frank said on April 25, the applicants stated that if the Zoning Board did not approve the zoning change, they would withdraw the application.  She asked why everyone was there.  She told the Board this is just the first in a long line of broken promises to come from Walmart.  Be prepared for requests for abatements for gas stations and requests for waivers.  The Board should revisit the problems with the last Walmart deal.  The Board failed to openly post the properly for sale and neglected to properly post the public hearings on re-zoning. The Board issued confusing meeting dates and had a lack of clear communications that will cause future problems.  There has been no economic impact study, no traffic study, no water retention plan and no nuisance, trash and noise impact study.  These should be done before any re-zoning.
Rebecca Dickerson said we already have a lot of grocery stores.  She reminded the Board that the residents of Lee’s Summit won’t come to Raytown to shop at a Walmart grocery store.
Terry Tuggle asked if there are any other viable offers for the property.  If not, he said, this is the time to re-coup the city’s investment.
Elisa Breitenbach said she has over 1,000 signatures on a petition against Walmart.
Greg Walters said a 40k square foot building with a 60k square foot parking lot does not meet the definition of a multi-user pedestrian-friendly development in downtown Raytown. He said he was opposed to the plan. However he also noted that the Board may approve the plan despite his wishes. If that is the case he asked that the Board of Alderrmen restrict hours of operation to regular business hours for neighborhood stores. In Raytown that would be 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Google Coming to Raytown

The Kansas City Star ran a story last week in which it was announced that the high speed internet service provider, Google, had reached an agreement with the City of Raytown over a franchise agreement. Within a couple of days, another story appeared in which the City of Grandview, Missouri, had a similar story in the Star.

Make no mistake about it, Google is coming. And it appears that Raytown is first in line to come to terms with the internet giant.

Or is it?
A quick check of the Google website to get some of the particulars on the story came up empty. In fact, Raytown was not even mentioned.

So we did some more digging. Grandview is mentioned. Apparently they passed legislation ratifying the agreement between the City of Grandview and Google, a step that Raytown has not yet taken. Though we have been assured it is on the horizon by City officials.

None the less, it is clear that Google is coming to Eastern Jackson County. From the report given to the Board of Aldermen the same package offered to neighborhoods in Kansas City, Westwood and Olathe.

Competition is good for any marketplace. The internet is no exception. For Raytowners, with three large providers, it is certain to give more power to the buyer.
Community Leader Speaks Out on the Future of Downtown Raytown
The following letter was written by Patrick Searcy, local Raytown business leader and  President of Power On Technology. In his letter, originally sent to the Raytown Board of Aldermen, Mr. Searcy laid out a clear vision of the best path for development of Downtown Raytown.
There has been tons of material written on this subject. None hit to the core of what needs to be understood on the issue. Please take a moment and read what Mr. Searcy has to say.

Letter From Patrick J. Searcy to the Raytown Board of Aldermen
Although I am no longer a resident of Raytown, a sizeable portion of my assets currently remain in and are invested in Raytown.  With emotions running high with the current debate about the “Green Space”, I wanted to be sure to make a few points.  
We are not in the grocery business and Wal-Mart is not a competitor. My competitors are located in Johnson County Kansas, North Kansas City, and Lee’s Summit. We all compete for and employ technical and professional people from around the entire Kansas City metropolitan area. Please create an environment that helps me to attract and retain good employees.
  • Do we want one large store or twenty to thirty small shops in downtown Raytown? It’s simple; you have the choice of one big 42,000 square foot building with a huge parking lot or the potential for 20 to 30 small shops, restaurants, and bars facing the road with sidewalks, trees, and benches. It really doesn’t matter if it’s a grocer or a furniture store; one large building is one large building. Give my employees a reason to stay in, and enjoy Raytown. Raytown has had an Economic Development position for a few short years and just recently has had a responsible owner take over the Raytown Plaza; certainly there will be other opportunities for this space.
  • The city will not gain any new sales tax revenue. Although there could be a gain if it were a Trader Joes or Whole Food Market - I find it hard to believe someone would drive to Raytown from another city to shop specifically at a Neighborhood Market.
  • I’ve heard, “It works in Brookside”.  Take a look at the two maps. Brookside’s Neighborhood Market is on the extreme Northeastern edge of the entire area which is two blocks from Brookside Blvd and an entire block from 63rd street (the two main streets). The proposed site in Raytown is right smack in the middle of everything and will be adjacent to the main thoroughfare.  Hardly a comparison.
  • I’ve heard, “They are paying more than the asking price and are not asking for special tax treatment or TIF’s”. Throwing money around is more commonly known as greasing the wheels to get things done your way. Unfortunately it happens far too often at the state and federal levels – don’t let it happen here. It’s obvious the developer has deep pockets and is currently trying to buy their way in.
  • I’ve heard, “The city should not be in the real estate business”. The city of Raytown got into the real estate business on July 17th, 1950 - the moment Raytown staked out some real estate and incorporated to prevent Kansas City from annexing it. Cities control the Board of Zoning Adjustment and the Planning and Zoning Commissions. Cities regulate zoning so that pig farms aren’t put in neighborhoods and property values are protected. Looking out for the welfare of property values through good planning is the roll of any competent city. Many cities even have land banks to deal with abandoned properties.
With Mayor Bower’s letter to Mr. Guenther that he would not re-nominate him to the Board of Zoning Adjustment; it’s not hard to notice the political games that are being played. I urge you to direct your City Administrator and Economic Development personnel to either reduce the size of the building or find a developer with a downtown vision that fits within downtown main street guidelines.
Patrick J Searcy
5893 Raytown Rd S-101 
Kansas City, MO 64133

City Official Contact List
On Tuesday, May 21st, the Raytown Board of Aldermen will vote on whether to accept or deny the Walmart application for design changes in Downtown Raytown. Their vote will decide the future development of the Downtown. The following list is was taken from the City's website.
Mayor David Bower. . . . 737-6000          

Alderman Joe Creamer (Ward 1)  . . . . 517-4773 
Alderman Josh Greene (Ward 1)  . . . . 260-6325

Alderman Jason Greene (Ward 2) . . . . 255-8407 
Alderman Jim Aziere (Ward 2) . . . . 358-8375     

Alderman Charlotte Melson (Ward 3) . . . . 356-6244
Alderman Janet Emerson (Ward 3) . . . . 737-5050

Alderman Bill VanBuskirk (Ward 4) . . . . 737-2799           
Alderman Pat Ertz (Ward 4) . . . . 356-8233         

Alderman Steve Mock (Ward 5) . . . . 225-3217   
Alderman Michael Lightfoot (Ward 5) . . . . 686-8213        

Can a Healthy Life Style and Cigarrettes Mix? BY ERIN

So, in a bit of celebrity news, I recently learned that Gwyneth Paltrow allows herself one cigarette each week. Gwyneth Paltrow, of detox diets. Gwyneth Paltrow, who got serious about cleaning up her health after losing her dad to cancer. Gwyneth Paltrow of Tracy Anderson-following, picture-of-health fame. She says her cigarette is… Continue reading

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Elisa Breitenbach said...

The Raytown Times will not read anything like the Raytown Report. That is why you will find copies of the Raytown Report at DOUGHBOYS and NO Raytown Times. The people of Raytown want and need the truth.

Anonymous said...

Good comment. Sounds like a fair and reasonable compromise to me. Raytowners would get both a Neighborhood Market in Downtown Raytown with sidewalks, ample parking AND the city could still develop the Green Space in a style that makes sense.

Oh, I forgot. We are talking about Walmart. They do not compromise. The Mayor and his friends know that.

You will never hear a good word from him, Ertz, VanBuskirk or Melson on this common sense solution because they know very well that Walmart will not compromise.

They want the land. Otherwise, no deal.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the movement to support local, however the Facebook page is appalling. I will never support a group that uses social media and the attention they've gained for crude photos and such immature jokes. The credibility has been seriously damaged by such childish antics. Anyone who serious is against Wal-mart should do so in the proper public forums, not online like high school kids. Please, have some respect and clean it up.

Anonymous said...

Walmart or no Walmart, there will never be 20-30 shops opened in downtown Raytown. It is a dump and will always be a dump. The Neighborhood Market is the only viable offer the city has received to do anything with the space. I don't visit the downtown area now and I will have no reason to visit it without the market. Defeating Walmart will accomplish nothing for downtown Raytown.

Andy Whiteman said...

Meat market at Walmart? Really? I haven't seen a meat market at a Walmart since the Walmart on Hillcrest closed. All I see at Walmarts now is prepackaged meat and fish.

Is the Lord Mayor going to replace those on P&Z who voted against Walmart or is it too late to achieve his goal by appointments to the board?

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

As a former raytown employee this is a shout out to all current employees. The people who make the decisions within the city do not care one once about you. If you have a chance to move on, TAKE IT! With the current management I can not see your employment ending well. GET OUT, you owe them nothing, your benifits will continue to get worse as the city loses more and more money on their stupid give aways to big business. Will the CA, or any other department head standup for the little guy, you all know the answer. NOT NO BUT HELL NO!

Judy Wright said...

Open letter to Mayor Bower and the Raytown Board of Alderman

I am a 25 year resident of Raytown, my children having all graduated from Raytown South. I have become deeply rooted to this place, on this Earth, and have great interest in its’ future development. To that end, I have attended both sessions of the zoning board meetings as well as last Tuesday’s Board of Alderman meeting. I sat through these lengthy sessions both to inform myself, and to show support for my fellow citizens of Raytown as they participated in the Public Hearing forum, expressing their concerns for the re-zoning applica-tion for our downtown “green space”. I was both stunned and offended by cer-tain disparaging remarks made by the Mayor and three of the Alderman. I wish to comment on those remarks.
MAYOR BOWER: After having listened to our heartfelt and passionate pleas to adhere to our legally adopted zoning district, thereby preserving our Raytown identity and fu-ture, you characterized it as “ Wal Mart Hysteria” and stated that you were “tired of these scare tactics.” Additionally, you stated, if it actually were about design standards, you did not see what the problem could be, as Wal Mart has, line by line, met the standards. This is a patently false statement, as Wal Mart persists in its’ demands to abolish the setback standard of 5 feet. This alone guts the vision of a “walk able downtown” (No small town downtown for us, only a parking lot for Wal Mart.) I believe there are also 21 other standards Wal Mart has failed to meet. If Wal Mart were, in realtiy, meeting all of the guide lines, there would be no need for a re-zoning application.
ALDERMAN ERTZ: I believe that somewhere in your rambling comments, you indicated that failure to approve this application would set a “precedent of under protection” for fu-ture applicants. It would seem the reverse to be true. If we give this applicant the permission to construct and operate outside our design standards, what “protection” will Raytown have in the future? How could we realistically require any future applicant to adhere to standards not enforced at this time, for this applicant. This appears to be favoritism rather than free enterprise. What a precedent this new “zoning district” will set! Again, a parking lot.

ALDERMAN CREAMER: You stated that Wal Mart has come to be “vilified” because of their success. You felt this unjust because economic success is what America is about. You stated, “that success” is what we need in Raytown. I would ask you to look at just one of the methods for their success. Wal Mart employees, taken as a group, are the largest recipients of Medicaid assistance and food stamps in the US. Wal Mart employees are subsidized by the American tax payer.

Look it up on line, I did: Is this really the way to revitalize our city?

Judy Wright (part 2) said...

ALDERMAN VAN BUSKIRK: Thank you for taking time out from the issue of the application to give the people of Raytown a paternalistic civics lecture. Now we understand how a representative form of government functions. We had thought the Public Hearing forum was for the purpose of informing the Board of Alderman, and the Mayor, what the citizens want for their city, what they want for THEIR city. You, however, termed this public process merely a “poll” that you have no obligation to consider when making your decision… stated, “otherwise you wouldn’t need me.” Apparently, you don’t need the citizens of Raytown or the Public Hearing forum. Perhaps you have forgotten that elections are also part of the representative form of government. So, dismiss me if you feel you can, dismiss my voice. But I will still be here…as will all the good people of Raytown. Take away our future…. we will not go down easily.

MAYOR BOWER, ALDERMEN: i ask you to stop employing scare tactics of you own by presenting this applicant as the only possibility for our future. Please consider the energy, excitement and vision of the young people who have come before you. Please consider also, the experience, commitment, and wisdom of the elders. What of the faith Google has shown in our future. What of the Rock Island, the Katy Trail, our new bike paths, our new bridges. You have the power to be a deciding factor in our future. Wow! You can go down in history as the Mayor, the Board of Alderman, who saved Raytown!

See you on the evening news.

Anonymous said...

What amazes me is the complete disregard many on the BOA are showing the public. It as if they hold the public in contempt for even daring to challenge their so-called vision for Raytown.

I honestly believe that the there is no demand that Walmart would make to which Ertz, Creamer and Van Buskirk would say "no" to.

If there is, they sure have not demonstrated.

In fact, their attitude seems to mirror that of Mayor David Bower. Let the public be damned should be etched on the entry way over the city council chambers.

I hope some of the others can break their ties to this bunch. Because they are political dead weight that will only drag down those who stand with them.

Anonymous said...

I hope everyone is marking their calendars. May 21st is the night the Board will decide on Walmart. If you have not called your alderman and let them know what you think how do you expect them to represent you?

Anonymous said...

Paul and Greg,

Thank you for keeping us informed to the shenanigans going on up at City Hall. I really appreciate learning what community leaders like Mr. Mullaly and Mr. Searcy have to say about Raytown's future.

Andy Whiteman said...

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame one me. Will the BOA shame themselved next Tuesday tonight? If they do the voters can change 1/2 the board and mayor in 2 years.

Anonymous said...

I also was at the 3 previous meetings about walmart and I am very disappointed in the mayor and the BOA. They seem to feel that the people don't have a right to tell the BOA what they want to see here in Raytown. It seems to me that that is what they were elected to do "ie" listen to what their constituents have to say and then see that it happens, instead of deciding for themselves what they want and totally disregarding the views of the people. Don't we have enough of that kind of thinking in Washington DC?

Anonymous said...

In reading comments by Paul Livius I read THREE MISTAKES in his reporting. He may want to take a class from Alderman Melson on how to take accurate notes.

Anonymous said...

I think Paul does a marvelus job of reporting what happens at city council meetings. It's a lot easier to read what is going on than watching hours of council meetings on the tv.

Pat Casady said...

In my opinion Mr. Steve Mullaly has the best point
to date on the Wal-Mart grocery store proposal.
Our elected officials don't seem to remember what
happened to Raytown when the first Wal-Mart opened
on Back then we lost Sam's Bargain Store
and many others. When the new Wal-Mart opened on
350hwy. we lost over thirty more small businesses
in Raytown. This is a disaster for a small town.
When the 350hwy. store opened Raytown, not only
lost tax income from that store because of the stupid
deal our elected officials made with Wal-Mart but lost
much more in small business sales tax from businesses
leaving Raytown for a more small business friendly town.
Many of which moved to Lee's Summit.
As for Mr.Mullaly suggesting our Chamber should not
tolerate the lack or transparency... I'm sorry to say
Mr.Mullaly that most of us downtown business owners
believe that as far as the Chamber goes....the city can do
no wrong. It is how I feel and I have been in the downtown
area for over thirteen years.
Wal-Mart has done nothing but cost Raytown
(meaning, Raytown taxpayers) money. It has cost us the loss
of numerous small businesses and their tax income. At the same
costing the store owners a small fortune to go out of business
or move.
Will our leaders remember or care? No they won't. I've seen
how Raytown politics work. It is no longer about doing what is right.
It is no longer about doing what the people want.
Now, it's about how our so called leaders want to put the people
down and win over the opposition...The people. Once you go
against the city you step on the opposition side. You become their
enemy. Even if you are right they will fight you.

Andy Whiteman said...

8:16 PM, Paul is human. Humans make mistakes. The accoustics at meetings are very poor especially with background noise and people not speaking loud enough to be heard.

Andy Whiteman

Andy Whiteman said...

Pat, Well said! I wish you would stick around after work next Tuesday and state your main points at the BOA meeting both to refresh some memories and for education of elected officials who may not have been around long ago.

Andy Whiteman

Andy Whiteman said...

Has anyone or group thought of picketing Walmart? Some negative publicity towards Walmart will get both Walmart's as well as City Hall's attention.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous May 14, 2013 at 8:16 PM:

You say Paul made three mistakes. Yet you don't tell us what those mistakes are. Do you work for City Hall and just trying to discredit the guy? You need to prove what you say.

Anonymous said...

Sams Bargin Town was nothing than a glorified Wild Woodys.

Anonymous said...

Sams was a cool store. As a kid i remember you could by comic books for 10 cents each.

It is interesting to read how people try to trash the past in their goal to remake Raytown's glory days.

Elisa Breitenbach said...

I worked at Sams it was my first job and I loved it too!

Pat Casady said...

It doesn't make any difference if it was
Sam's Bargain Store or Doc's Ice Cream store.
The fact is every time a Wal-Mart opens a store
in or close to Raytown we lose more small businesses.
It's that simple! It is a well known fact that
this happens in every town Wal-Mart opens a new
store. What I don't understand is why people
even want this, small business killing, small town
tax sucking company within their city limits!
To the leaders of this town, Wal-Mart is laughing
at you. You have been their cause for jokes
nation wide for years, your just to busy having your
head in a dark place to notice.
Wake the Hell up and do what the people want you to do.
If there are any business lawyers reading this
and think the people have a case of any kind to go
after City Hall for questionable dealings, please
say so. It's sad to think in a small town like this
we could have leaders that are less than honest
to the people. Closed door meetings, misleading and lying
to the people can not be accepted.
I proudly sign my name to this!
Too bad the rest of you won't.

Anonymous said...

The anti Wal Mart group is getting desperated, really desperate!!!

Anonymous said...

I, too, thought Sam's was a cool place. I remember the popcorn one could get on the way out. I remember the store at Christmas time. You could get just about anything you wanted there. It just had a familiar feeling about it. I wonder if kids today will remember Walmart in a nostalgic way when they grow up?

Anonymous said...

The Mayor's cronies are whistling int he dark!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm so disappointed that Pat Ertz and Bill VanBuskirk are FOR the new Walmart. Why are they selling out to the large SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS and abandoning the small businessman? These guys have become very poor examples of elected officials. I'm sure if VanBuskirk's position had of been known before the last election he would not have been re-elected. We just have to wait a couple of years before we can send Mr. Ertz back to private life. Yes, they also voted for the $30,000 raise for the city administrator.

Anonymous said...

Myth Busting Public Comments

1.) Wal-Mart is over $3 million in property tax arrears on the old Sam’s Club at 40 Highway and Noland Road.

False: Wal-Wart has been making the property tax payments on this property, which can be checked online through Jackson County Website.

2.) Liquor will be sold to close to the library or school.

Mood Point: Currently the downtown area has one bar at Raytown Plaza and in the shops on 63rd Street between Raytown Road and Blue Ridge Blvd the following bars or places serve liquor: Pool Hall, Slick Willies and The FOP.

As for actual sale you just have to go to the smoke shop on the Northeast corner of 63rd and Blue Ridge Blvd and can make your choice from a nice selection.

3.) Concern was presented that like New York City the residents in the area will have to deal with loud garbage trucks empting the trash at 4AM.

Mood Point: The city already has ordinance on when the trash service can operate, which is not before 7:00 AM. This was confirmed by a local trash hauler.

NOTE: It would be nice if local garbage hauler Flynn’s would abide by this which is also on their bill, but in fact as anyone who has their service or lives on a street where someone is serviced knows they come as early as 6 AM on a regular base and as the summer heats up the time gets earlier and earlier.

4.) There is already a pharmacy on the corner and has been for over 70 years.

Mood Point: While this statement is currently true, if you take the time to visit this pharmacy you will learn the food service was ended a couple of years ago and the owner is in the process of exploring retirement.

NOTE: In any case he should be wished the best and thanked for the years of service he and his father provided to the city.

This is not an endorsement for Wal-Mart, but clearly points the need to have a local paper that keeps the citizens better informed on the facts as to what is going on in our town.

Elisa Breitenbach said...

Anonymous "Desperate" people hide behind the backs of others, they lie and call people names. This town is small, everyone is connected or related in some way or another. Most people do not want another Walmart. We have a Mayor who lied for his Walmart friends. We have the Raytown Times who lied and played cover up games for his City Hall friends. We had people on the BOA lie to us about the Walmart Deal also. This has become very, very personal. They are in office to Represent the people of Raytown and not to go around pointing fingers at people and calling people names. These are just the facts. It's nice People like Pat Casady has had a change of heart about Walmart. He and I are truly not "Desperate" people. It's ok each of us have an opinion. Having opinions don't make people "Desperate".

Anonymous said...

Hey myth buster. Better check your facts. The prohibition against trash service not picking up trash until after 7:00 a.m. is for residential areas only. A new Walmart in downtown raytwon would be zoned commercial. The noise they make will cross the borders between residential and commercial.

Check your facts before you spout your misinformation.

Salamander said...

The strident position Mayor David Bower has taken on a Walmart Downtown Grocery Store issue is most disconcerting.

This is especially true in the face of the fact that virtually every resident or business in town is solidly against a grocery store in the location Walmart has chosen: A humongously huge grocery store in the middle of what has long been designated and planned as the center of the Green Space.

It does not make any sense - politically or otherwise. Mayor Bower's position raises even more concern whenone considers during his years as a resident he served on the Planning and Zoning Commission who major focus has been development of a plan completely at odds with what Walmart has in store for the Downtown.

One can only speculate what changed the mayor's stance. However, a report in the May 17th edition of the Kansas City Star about disappointing Walmart quarterly earnings does raise some concerns.

Following is a direct quote from the KC Star report. Speaking of Walmart's drop in earnings the paper wrote: "In the current quarter, Walmart said it expected expenses related to the Foreign Corruption Practices Act -- which forbids American companies from bribing foreign officials - to be in the range of $65 millions dollars!!!

Perhaps someone can provide answers to the following questions:

Isn't bribing people against the law?

Does anyone whose elevator goes to the top floor actually believe that Walmart bribes individuals or leaders of foreign countries,that their illegal practice stops in its tracks when it comes to gettin in their way in the United States?

With the above in mind your correspondent closes with this idiom from the Bible.

"Whose bread you eat, His song you sing."

Mutiny Works said...

Does anybody know when the Ida's Bridal fell apart? I think its important to the conflict of interest case. They say RFP went out Mar2010.I found this link to Ida's plan dated May 2010. Googled and found this sep 2010 City admin saying they're working on it.
Point is JCM Realty came a callin Oct 2011? That's only about a yr later or less depending on when they canned the Ida project. why did they? A few months later Walmart shows up and no RFP? Maybe Bower played a hand in nixing Ida for Walmart.

Anonymous said...

This myth busters again and either way the city is allowing the local hauler the right to wake up the sleeping folks in our city. If if you all don't think that maybe calls need to be made to wake up others when trash hauler's in out and shouldn't be! on

Anonymous said...

from 2010 indicates it is annual disclosure. I added numbers and spacing for readability


WHEREAS, the proper operation of municipal government requires that public officials and employees be

1) independent, impartial and responsible to the people;

2) that government decisions and policy be made in the proper channels of the governmental structure;

3) that public office not be used for personal gain;

4) and that the public have confidence in the integrity of its
government; and

WHEREAS, in recognition of these goals, there is hereby established a procedure for
disclosure by certain officials and employees of

5) private financial or other interests in matters
affecting the City;


Andy Whiteman said...

In view of the latest news and post about foreign bribery, I wonder about domestic bribery by this company. I again ask how much is under the table and to whom?

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

Why there? Why not at 63rd and Raytown Trafficway, you know, where there used to be a grocery store? I've lived here for more than 40 years. We don't need another Walmart. I'm having a hard time understanding the idea that another Walmart is a good idea. I guess if I were the mayor, then I would be smart enough to know. Perhaps, being of such intelligence and high morals, I would also be able to explain to the citizens of Raytown exactly why we need ANOTHER Walmart. From my house (just lucky, I guess) I can get to either of two different Walmart locations in less than 10 minutes, but somehow we need a third one. Never mind that the building will end up being empty, the esteemed Mayor will be long gone, and the taxpayers will be cleaning up the mess. Wake up people, I hope to see you at the Alderman's meeting. Before I close: as a product of the Raytown school system I'd like to mention a couple of things to "Mythbuster:" you should learn the difference between two, to, and too. The word is moot.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone explain to me why Walmart will not consider using the old Sav A Lot Store. There is more than 40,000 sq. ft. available at that location. It has higher traffic counts, tons of parking, not in a residential area, and plenty of room for large trucks. Seems we could have the best of both worlds Walmart would work with the city instead of making ultimatums.

Anonymous said...

In Raytown it is mood point as the city officials only vote based on their mood not moot!

Anonymous said...

Maybe Myth Busters issue is they too got a Raytown education as Raytown School District is just like too many other school districts in our country today that focus on sport and funding sports before funding the classrooms.

I know I am still upset with the amount of money the school district spent on those fields that never get used as we the taxpayers were promised they would.

Doesn’t put me in the best mood with those former teachers who were on the school board at the time and voted to waste our tax dollars on sports!

I know I still get the oddest lucks taking pictures of the trophies our school one to job interviews, but what else should I take when that is where our schools focus all their funding.

Anonymous said...

Closed Session:
610.021(1) Legal actions, causes of action or litigation involving a public governmental body and any confidential or privileged communications between a public governmental body or its representatives and its attorneys;

On Agenda: Jan 3, June 19, July 17, Aug 21

Also 610.021 (2) (Real Estate Contract) Dec 18, and Feb 19, 2013...

Note of interest:
Property Appraisal received early May, 2012.

June 19 Is the only date with a specific closed session agenda. The BOA Meeting Agenda indicates possible delayed start due to the closed session.

Wood bet my silver buttons!
The 6/19 meeting is when the money talk happened.

Is there a requirement about minutes in closed session?

Anonymous said...

Closed Session:
610.021(1) Legal actions, causes of action or litigation involving a public governmental body and any confidential or privileged communications between a public governmental body or its representatives and its attorneys;

On Agenda: Jan 3, June 19, July 17, Aug 21

Also 610.021 (2) (Real Estate Contract) Dec 18, and Feb 19, 2013...

Note of interest:
Property Appraisal received early May, 2012.

June 19 Is the only date with a specific closed session agenda. The BOA Meeting Agenda indicates possible delayed start due to the closed session.

Wood bet my silver buttons!
The 6/19 meeting is when the money talk happened.

Is there a requirement about minutes in closed session?