Sunday, January 3, 2016


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Buggy Whips
The 1991 movie named “Other People’s Money” starring Gregory Peck and Danny DeVito is a movie about a corporate raider who has become rich buying up companies and selling off their assets. With the help of a computerized stock analyzing program, Garfield has identified New England Wire and Cable as his next target. The struggling company is run by the benevolent and folksy Andrew "Jorgy" Jorgenson (Gregory Peck) and is the primary employer in its small Rhode Island town.

In the movie DeVito delivers a speech to stockholders. Whether from the author of the book or the product of a talented screenwriter, the speech is a work of art. The following is a condensed version of what was said. The movie is somewhat dated. But the speech is timeless.

This company is dead.

I didn't kill it. Don't blame me.

It was dead when I got here. It's too late for prayers. For even if the prayers were answered and a miracle occurred . . . and the yen did this and the dollar did that . . . and the infrastructure did the other thing, we would still be dead.

You know why?

Fiber optics. New technologies. Obsolescence.

We're dead, all right. We're just not broke.

And do you know the surest way to go broke?

Keep getting an increasing share of a shrinking market. Down the tubes. Slow but sure. 

You know, at one time there must have been dozens of companies making buggy whips. And I'll bet the last company around was the one that made the best damned buggy whip you ever saw.

Now, how would you have liked to have been a stockholder in that company?

You invested in a business, and this business is dead. Let's have the intelligence--let's have the decency--to sign the death certificate, collect the insurance, and invest in something with a future.

I thought of this movie and the speech when I learned the Raytown Park Board met last week between the Christmas and New Year Holidays. At that meeting, the majority of the members at the meeting (two members were absent) voted to keep Super Splash open one more year.

According to sources at the meeting, the plan is to do a minimum of upkeep so the public can see how badly they need another sales tax increase.

I call the vote a “majority” because there was not a roll call of the vote. Or, more simply stated, there was not a vote taken.

All those in favor were instructed to say yes. All those opposed were instructed to say no. There was one “no” vote cast by the Park Board’s newest member Chris Rathbone.
However there is not a record of how many yes votes there were because it is not clear how many park board members did not say yes or no.

If this is the Park Board’s idea of accountability they need some lessons on how decisions are supposed to be made by a public entity. They are not to be shouted through by a vote of yea’s and nay’s. Issues of this importance should be approved on a roll call vote. This ensures the public, who will ultimately pay the bill for the final decision, is aware of who is responsible for that decision.

Members of the Park Board have a right to their opinion. But they should stand on their own to give that opinion.

The simple fact is Super Splash is failing because there are not enough people in Raytown who use that type of facility for recreation. During the 1980’s the pool made sense. It ran at a profit because there were plenty of families with young children who used the facility. Times have changed. People have aged. The youngsters are gone. Rebuilding the facility makes as much sense as rebuilding the buggy whip factory for a clientele that is no longer there.

Park Board
Gone Rogue?
rogue (adjective)
 Acting independently and using unorthodox methods that are likely to cause trouble.
Last Monday night’s non-vote by the Raytown Park Board is disturbing. Not so much in the decision that was reached (keeping Super Splash open another year) -- but in the manner in which it was decided.

First, the meeting was held at a very peculiar time. Let me be clear. The Park Board regularly meets on the first Monday of each month. December 28th was there regular meeting time, but it also was held at a time sandwiched between the Christmas and New Year’s Holiday.

Not really a time most would expect them to make as controversial decision as keeping the failing water park open another year. The logic used, to show the public how badly they need a sales tax increase is beyond reason.

Don’t they get it? The water park crowd is going to other venues. They go there for reasons other than failing water pumps (which the public does not see or is even aware of as failing) but because the people who use water parks no longer live here.

Look at the newer venues. Lee’s Summit and East Independence are growing communities bursting at the seams with children, pre-teens and teenagers who make up the majority of those that make a water park successful with their attendance.

They go to those venues because they are nearby and convenient.

Super Splash is neither.
The Park Board should take a look at the $50,000.00 survey they commissioned for another answer. The third most common reason people listed for not using the park system is because nearly 25% of those responding chose “lack of security” for not using the park. In other words, they do not feel safe in Raytown parks.

If the last five years are any indication, Raytown’s water park will need $160,000 of your tax dollars to stay out of the red this summer.

As a political body the Park Board has shown its contempt for following rules beyond roll call votes. A sales tax slated to be divided between storm water problems and park needs has gone 100% to Parks since it was approved by the voters in 2010.

Now they have taken to shouting through decisions in public meetings held when few, if any will attend.

Raytown has had more than its fair share of misconduct this past year. A sales tax, promised in the ballot language, to be used for storm water problems has been completely ignored. Last August the Board of Aldermen became aware of the mis-appropriation of tax dollars. As a group, they did little about it. Finally Mayor Michael McDonough appointed a Special Committee to meet and work out a solution.

It is disconcerting that the mis-appropriation of funds was allowed to go on for over five years before Ward 1 Alderman Karen Black blew the whistle on the practice. The Board is made up mostly new members. They rely upon city staff to keep them informed to make certain the rules and laws of government are followed. But for five years there was not any accountability by city staff.

The Mayor appointed a special committee to determine how the remaining years of the park tax should be allocated. It was a step in the right direction.

The City Administrator is in charge of running the city on a day to day basis but the responsibility does not end there. He is also charged with writing and making recommendations for the city budget.

Perhaps the Mayor should appoint a committee  to determine who at City Hall dropped the ball on reminding the Board of Aldermen of the promises made in the 2010 election.

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Anonymous said...

After seeing how some Parks Board members acted to the City Council when questioning why money wasn't going toward the Storm Water, I don't think they should serve anymore. Looks like more accountability is needed in that department.

Vicky said...

You're exactly right. Park Board members should be elected so they are accountable to the people, not some politician.

Anonymous said...

My family and I really enjoy Super Splash, but it is a money suck for the city. There are also a few other anomolies...we're yet to attend the park without seeing a kid cry out for the lifeguard because they jumped in and had no idea how to swim. It also has a smoking section, probably the only city owned property that allows smoking. While we appreciate the pool, it seems to be mostly used by East KC kids/families.

Btw...if anyone wants it to really close, go speak your 3 minutes worth at the Aldermen meeting tomorrow night.

Anonymous said...

Too bad that Charter didnt pass, we the VOTERS would have had more power to make some changes to help address our changing community. We have the morons of former Mayor Bower, the Raytown Times and their ilk who lied about it to thank for that.

GADSDEN said...

Well we did it, my wife and I registered at the new Wellness Center and it is great, beats the old Y (actually to me the YMCA is a dirty word) good equipment the pool will be open in a few short weeks and it is a nice friendly location. The cost like they said is only 45.00 for us since we are seniors.

As for the super splash, I hope that it is closed and sold but no more money sunk into it. It is a money pit and the funds could be used for street repair and many other things that this city needs before we become a place you do not want to go to.

Anonymous said...

Everybody on this planet thinks they’re so intelligent...but two crows, that’s who the smartest people are on this planet. You know, two crows, fighting over a bag behind a truckstop…how cute that is. Try to tear a piece of paper with one hand. Two beaks. They’re laughin’ at ya and they take the goodies. Innovation and Imagination. That’s what we need.

Anonymous said...

Why would anyone want to tear a piece of paper with one hand? Maybe that is the difference between crows and people. An individual can tear a piece of paper by himself but a crow needs someone to stand with him to do it.

Anonymous said...

The Park Board's decision on keeping the pool open is nonsense. I think it was Einstein who said,

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

~ Albert Einstein

Anonymous said...

I think there is a lot of looking backward demonstrated in these comments. It is pretty much accepted that David Bower and his crew did the city a lot of harm. It is also true there are remnants of the folks who enabled Bower and company to do what they did with over-use of TIF and tax giveaways. Randy Battagler, please take a bow.

Those days are behind us. The new aldermen and mayor have a chance to move the city forward. I hope they do so by cleaning up our town. Honest enforcement of our city codes. Improvements like rebuilding Blue Ridge Boulevard and fixing the 83rd Street Bridge would go a long way in rebuilding trust between city hall and the people of Raytown.

Vicky said...

Anon 8:01

You said what a lot of us think. You said it better than I ever could. Thanks

Anonymous said...

A lot of what the current mayor is doing at city hall are things the past mayor was passionate about such as Community for all ages. Glad to see the current mayor carrying on with some of Mayor Bowers ideas.

Anonymous said...

I think Bower will be remembered for the huge amount of debt he created when Walmart was given all the tax breaks and tifs. We will be paying for those mistakes for a very long time. He was also so secretive in how he conducted business. Meetings were conducted like he was shepherding a lot school children in class. If anyone disagreed with him he reacted with the actions of a bully in the school yard. Remember when he refused to allow Alderman Emerson speak about the Raytown Farmers Market? That was because it was "not city business". But if it was something he wanted to discuss, the rules be damned. It was full speed ahead. No. Bower was a terrible Mayor who damaged this town.

Anonymous said...

8:01 AM, these days aren't all behind us. Whatever happens is still misconstrued, misquoted and misspelled for readers to be misled. Case in point from this week's paper: "Veering from the main subject, Alderman Janice Emerson said she want to see Super Splash closed and invest the money in storm water projects." I was at the meeting. That is not what she said. What was said and not reported, Jim Aziere and Steve Guenther suggesting a re-vote that would cost taxpayers thousands more. Will this move the city forward?

Anonymous said...

The only thing that's ever really damaged this town is the apathy and ignorance of many who live here. The strength and viability of any community marginally rests with legislative items , but rather is heavily reliant on the stature of its citizenry. We have a lot of complainers and critics, but very few who arw willing to create a new vision.

Anonymous said...

Yes 8:01 was right
There is a lot of backward looking comments on this blog.

Anonymous said...

And if his buddy Ertz would have gotten in he would have been a Bower clone doing whatever Bower said to do