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Ambulance/Fire Department Merger BY GREG WALTERS
A merger between the Ambulance and Fire Department that was predicted to save the city $300,000 annually is now in the dustbin of failed proposals.
In retrospect, it never had a chance.
Initially, the Fire Department received a letter from Mayor David Bower to the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) asking the IAFF to conduct a feasibility study from the City concerning a merger of the two services.
A meeting was held at the Mayor’s office between City and Fire officials. City officials included in the meeting were City Administrator Mahesh Sharma, Mayor David Bower, and Ward 3 Alderman Charlotte Melson. Fire officials included Fire Board members Bob Palmer and Barb Schlapia, Fire Marshal Matt Mace and Battalion Chief Mike Hunley
Goals and guidelines were set as to what was needed in the proposal. Matt Mace and Mike Hunley were assigned the task of putting the package together.
One month later, Hunley and Mace presented their 87 page report to the Raytown Fire Board. The proposal was passed on to Raytown City Hall.
As Chairman of the review committee, Alderman Melson called a meeting of her committee to review the document.
However, prior to the meeting, Mayor Bower took the unusual step of contacting Fire Board members to tell them that even though the Committee meeting was a public event, he would prefer Fire Department officials not attend.
Despite the Mayor’s request, Fire Chief Rick Mawhirter, Matt Mace, Mike Hunley, Bob Palmer and Barb Schlapia attended the meeting.
Fire Board member Barb Schlapia, who also serves as liaison to the City of Raytown, was specifically singled out as not welcome.
So, on July 21st, Alderman Charlotte Melson convened the first (and only meeting) between the two governing bodies.
At the outset of the meeting, Melson announced that any questions to the Fire Board would be written down and passed back to the Fire Department for clarifications and answers after the meeting.
One hour into the meeting, when it became very obvious that city personnel were ill-equipped to provide answers, Fire Marshal Matt Mace asked that he and other members of the Fire Department be allowed to answer the questions. After similar requests from member of her own committee, Melson finally relented and allowed limited cross talk between members of the Committee and Fire Officials.
On October 5th, members of the Fire Board received an email from Melson to hold another meeting. Fire Board members agreed tentatively to an October 28th meeting date.
Then at the October 15th meeting of the Raytown Board of Aldermen, Melson surprised everyone by abruptly announcing that her Committee had rejected the Fire District’s proposal.
Committee members have since said there was no formal vote on the decision. In fact, a number of them did not find out about Melson’s announcement until the night of the Board meeting.
Members of the Fire Board were not informed of the decision until after the fact via a Facebook post.
To view responses from the Fire Board to Melson’s announcement and subsequent letters from the Mayor to the Fire Board visit last week’s post.
AN ANALYSIS . . .
The City of Raytown has every right to reject a proposal from the Raytown Fire Board. But the clumsy and indelicate way in which Mayor David Bower and Alderman Melson handled the event is shameful.
The Mayor’s attempt to stifle public debate about the proposal appears to be a continuation of a policy of secrets held back from the public. Alderman Melson’s high handed way of running a meeting and blindsiding even members of her own committee with an announcement that is, to say the least, less than accurate, is just plain wrong.
Fire officials are rightfully angry for the way they were treated. It is understandable that they would be reluctant to pursue future discussion with the city. The saddest part of this story is that Raytown could have received improved service along with a sizable savings. Money that could have gone into increased security in our neighborhoods in the way of street lights or used to make improvements on residential streets.
City officials have stated that it is not in the city’s “best interest” to pursue a merger. That is a decision which should have been decided by the Board of Aldermen. After the dust has settled it appears the real decision was made by Mayor David Bower and Alderman Charlotte Melson.
Board members are remiss to not ask some very tough questions as to their roll in governing. As the events above show, their participation was minimal at best. More transparency and participation by Board members would go a long way to clean up Raytown’s battered image. Board members should step up and do so.
Raytown Farmer’s Market One Step Closer to Reality
The Raytown Main Street Association has been asked by the Board of Access Farmer’s Market to take on the role of developing a Farmer’s Market in Downtown Raytown.
Steve Guenther, President of Raytown Main Street Association, said he was recently contacted by representatives of the of Board of Access Farmer’s Market.
“We will be spearheading and directing the effort,” said Guenther.
Ward 3 Alderman Janet Emerson, who has been a driving force on the Raytown Board of Aldermen for the creation of a Farmer’s Market, views the effort as a step forward.
“This gives local control to the City Market . . . it looks like things are beginning to come together”, said Emerson.
The location of the proposed market will be just west of The Green Space in Downtown Raytown. The surface is paved with plenty of space for customer parking. The market is scheduled to open in the first week of May, 2014.
DATE OF PUBLIC MEETING ANNOUNCED
A public meeting has been scheduled for input from anyone interested to share their thoughts on the proposed Farmer’s Market. All interested individuals are encouraged to attend and say their piece regarding the proposed market. Time and date of the meeting is:
Farmer’s Market Public Meeting
Raytown City Hall
(10000 East 59th Street)
Monday, November 18, 2013
The public is encouraged to attend and share their thoughts
about the proposed City Market.
FIT BOTTOMED EATS
Bread Therapy: How
to Make Focaccia BY KAREN
Americans love to see how much they can cram into one day. We rush around at the speed of light, multitasking like madmen. Instant gratification is the name of the game, but not when it comes to bread baking — that is a beast we have yet to conquer. Of course, we’ve tried to move things along with “quick-rise” yeast, but even that will only take you so far. Yeast breads cannot be rushed — unlike everything else in this world — one simply must slow down and wait.
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