Friday, August 31, 2007

Gordon's Feed & Pet

Gordon's Feed & Pet at 3335 W. Sunshine needs your business. No, he didn't pay me to write this, in fact, he knows nothing about it and doesn't even know who I am. I have gone to his store a couple of times now to buy bird seed for my Mother's bird feeders because he really looks like he needs the business.

He has a nice store, heavily stocked. Some really neat bird feeders with a variety of squirrel proof feeders.

I look when I pass by and he hardly ever has a car at the store.

Next time you are going to buy pet food (any kind) or bird seed, livestock feed, whatever, give his store a try. He also has a variety of cages and carriers. I really haven't had the time to shop around the entire store to see what all he carries but I know he has a bit of everything.

His store is in the lot where the old Wal-Mart store used to be, at the corner of Sunshine and West Bypass.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

TIF districts good, school vouchers bad

We can always count on certain local media and press to challenge the issue of school vouchers because they claim that if the State of Missouri authorizes or approves the usage of school vouchers they are in essence "abandoning" the public school system.

Yes, how many stories have been penned by journalists or editorializing newspaper representatives who want to make certain teacher's unions recognize their righteous support of public schools?

That's why it seems disingenuous when the same paper issues favorable reports on TIF revenue being used on pet city projects.

In a special report about the incentives included in the city's deal with McGowan Walsh on the Heers agreement, the News-Leader reports that the developer can request Heers be designated as part of a tax-increment financing (TIF) district and, apparently, it raises no cockles:

"- A tax-increment financing district. Property tax revenue collected on new development in a TIF district can be used to pay for projects that will benefit the public. Without a TIF, that additional revenue would go to the city, county, Springfield school district and city-county library system." (emphasis mine)

The duplicity leaves one questioning whether it's okay for funds to be pilfered from the Springfield school district to offset costs incurred by the developer in the restoration and remodeling of the Heers building (since I'm not aware of the News-Leader taking issue with TIF in the past) but please, it's out of the question to pilfer revenue from the Springfield school district if it means the revenue will be used for the actual purpose of educating children (part of its original intended use).

I guess it depends on who supports the pilfering. If the politicians in the City of Springfield wish to use revenue which would otherwise go to the Springfield school district for the purpose of revitalizing the downtown district, for restoration of the "crown jewel of Springfield," Springfield Public Schools be damned. If the purpose is for tax paying citizens interested in school choice who would like a voucher system put in place to offset the cost of educating children via other options, well, that, apparently isn't good use of the ciphoned revenue....

And why wouldn't the teacher's unions be as up in arms about TIF districts "abandoning" the public schools as they are about those nasty parents who would prefer to educate their children in another manner? Why the difference? Why no outcry when funds are siphoned from public schools and libraries for redevelopment and revitalization of TIF districts all across the state but such railing and rallying of newspaper editorialists when that siphoning includes a bit of competition being thrown the way of the teacher's unions?

Is it really the revenue loss that teacher's unions and their supporters are upset about or is it competition that has them up in arms?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Heers Department Store Speaks?

It seems like an appropriate day to mention Heer's Department Store.

Turn your speakers up and visit Matthew Siegmann, Local Historian's MySpace site.

The deal's done, the jigs up, put on your dancin' shoes. ;)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Council Bill 2007-251

The Community Free Press - Midweek website lists Council Bill 2007-251 under agenda items. They are correct that it's an interesting issue.

There are some home owners at Broadway and Talmage who'd like to put a tea house in a restored home there. I haven't seen the pictures or been by there but I'd like to because I understand, from all accounts, they did a beautiful job of restoration.

At the first reading, August 13, I thought Councilwoman Mary Collette made a good point in that the City had been encouraging "urbanization" and zoning some commercial into residential areas.

There were some neighbors there who seemed opposed to the tea house for mostly emotional reasons.

I find it interesting that "both Planning and Zoning Commission and staff recommend denial," and look forward to finding out why they are opposing it.

UPDATE: Tea house ~ Opening soon! Passed 5-4

With a seemingly "straight face"

The News-Leader's Our Voice column says:

"In the end, this deal on Heer's nets the city $3 million..."

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Heers Building ~ Council Bill 2007-267

I note that Vince of KSGF weighed in on the Heers deal here and Jason at Life Of Jason weighed in on the Heers deal here.

I agree on some points each of them made and disagree on others. The primary distinction I would make would be that the time for the City Council to have taken action against the 2.5% kick back from the Convention & Visitor's Bureau (CVB) hotel/motel tax was when Mary Lilly-Smith sweet talked the City Council into leaving it in the list of incentives for negotiation when they approved the term sheet back on July 2, 2007.

Smith explained on July 2 that when the City brings back the redevelopment agreement in the form of an ordinance, that we now know as Council Bill 2007-267, that Council will be voting on the incentives that the city negotiated with McGowan/Walsh as a package. If they didn't realize it would be "all or nothing" then, they should have.

At that meeting, Lilly-Smith said:

"You'll have an opportunity when we bring a redevelopment agreement back to you around August 1 that will say, 'here are the incentives that the City agrees to provide,' and you will take action on that ordinance and then between that time and December 31 we have to put in place those incentives."

Certainly, the City Council could have displayed a bit more backbone on July 2, but we saw what happened when Councilman Burlison complained about the loss of general revenue for the interest payment on the loan on the Heers building. When he expressed:

"a sense of, well, almost a sense of outrage,"

over the city letting

"a quarter million dollars slip though our fingers."

City Manager, Bob Cumley stated that Burlison's concern was well founded, but Mayor Tom Carlson went on a tirade over Burlison's use of the term "outrage." How dare Burlison tell it like it is?

Jason, at Life of Jason blog, quotes Councilman Ralph Manley from the Springfield News-Leader,

"I don’t want to give away the store to get it done.”

But back at the June 18 City Council meeting Manley said:

"Two hundred sixty thousand dollars at this moment will be peanuts...While it may be dealing in several figures here, those figures are peanuts when we talk about the objective this total thing is going to meet."


Granted Manley was talking about the loss in interest payments at the time, but speaking of the "objective this total thing is going to meet," he knew on July 2 what the terms of negotiation for the agreement were. He and the other Council members listened to the representative from the CVB, they listened to other local hotel owners who didn't want to see revenue be taken from the CVB, he and every other Council member had a problem with the city possibly giving up 2.5% of the hotel/motel tax then, why did they allow Smith to push it through with that left in the list of possible incentives? Why didn't they call to amend the term sheet before approving it on July 2?

But...I don't blame the City Council, at least not today's City Council. I blame Mary Lilly-Smith and the City Manager and the City Council that existed when the Heers building deal(s) first began to be negotiated.

I blame a City Manager who, at the July 30 Council meeting, said about the ongoing former "arena site" negotiations:

"This is one of the areas, as Mr. Manley said, that we can have a closed session on because it involves negotiations, which we don't do in public, otherwise we wouldn't have negotiations with anybody if we had to do that. So we will have a closed session on that. Once we get the term sheet...we'll have to lay it out, what's the best deal, here's the reason and that will be public...."

You see, Cumley is basically telling the Council and the citizens of Springfield, Missouri, "trust us," trust us to negotiate a good deal with one of the prospective developers of the former "arena site." Trust us to negotiate in private, bring you a term sheet to approve and get the best deal for Springfield. "Just trust us."

And that's the problem.

The City of Springfield, a past City Council and the Economic Development Director, Mary Lilly-Smith, negotiated away any leverage they had in the Heers building agreement. They HAD no leverage in the McGowan/Walsh deal because they negotiated away every bit of leverage they had, now they are concerned about negotiating privately on the development of the property adjacent to the expo center because they don't want to lose leverage in ongoing negotiations by discussing details in public? Give me a break.

As far as the Heers building deal? Council has no choice but to pass it. If they don't pass it another quarter of a million dollars will be frittered away in interest on the note, the note they successfully negotiated their way into assuming from Vaughn Prost.

Remember how proud we were when, at the passage of the budget for the City on June 4, Councilwoman Cindy Rushefsky made a motion to amend it to place a quarter of a million dollars out of the "rainy day fund" into the police and fire pension fund? We stand to lose twice that amount in interest on the Heers building note if the Council doesn't pass the emergency ordinance accepting the Heers deal, and it could likely be more than that because the city has likely already negotiated away every other developer who might have, at one time, had an interest in the Heers Tower.

I think one of my commenters, "John Lilly" had it right when he wrote:

"The city wanted a hotel, but the developer has the upper hand. He put in a poison pill (he gets 50% of the guest tax that goes to the CVB). The city punted and left it up to the CVB board to say yes or turn it down. They would be idiots to accept it, thus creating a prescident. So the developer gets his condos with 80 parking spaces in the garage and the ability to build a sky bridge. "

I couldn't have said it better myself, John Lilly. I'm sorry I don't have a box of chocolates to offer you.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Council Bill 2007-216

If you click on the link under the Council Agenda for Council Bill 2007-216 you will find a fascinating story which I have wished I had more opportunity to write about.

Both Planning and Zoning Commission and city staff are recommending denial of the final plat of Bill R. Foster Subdivision, up for consideration by Council on Aug. 27.

This is a sleeper that I found intriguing at a previous Council meeting. If you are a detail person, interested in law I'd recommend you read the record of proceedings included at the link on the online agenda.

It's too complicated for me to want to even get involved in trying to explain it all, but the attorney for the developer made an interesting and valid case, in my opinion.

UPDATE: Tabled indefinitely

Council Bill 2007-275

Deputy City Manager Evelyn Honea made good on her word from Monday, August 20, when she said that there would be an ordinance:

"...extending the existing administrative delay with respect to the construction, placement, location and relocation of on-site storage trailers, storage containers, and temporary storage units as established in Resolution No. 9401 and extended in Resolution No. 9447 and further extended in Resolution No. 9479 for an additional one hundred eighty (180) days..."

Outspoken business owners are rewarded with further delay after turning out in large numbers at the Aug. 13 City Council meeting and the Aug. 20 special Community Involvement Committee meeting in opposition to Council Bill 2007-254, the container ordinance.

Springfieldians are also fortunate to have a radio talk show host (see VDJ of KSGF) who will discuss such city business and provide a platform for citizens who feel they have been unable to have their voices properly considered even at a, so called, "Community Involvement Committee" meeting.

Sources tell JackeHammer that at meetings with less public presence some members of the committee and city staff made them feel even less than welcome to share their opinions than they were on Aug. 20. This is not hard to imagine considering some of the condescending, rude comments made by a certain Committee member and Council member at the August 20 special meeting.

UPDATE: Passed unanimously

E-M-E-R-G-E-N-C-Y Bill

City Council Will Vote to Unload Money Pit August 27, 2007

It's doubtful this is news to anyone but it MUST be included in City Council Items of Interest for the August 27 Agenda.

Section 7 of explanation to Council Bill 2007-267 pretty much sums it up:

That the City Council finds and declares that this ordinance constitutes an emergency because it pertains to the ongoing removal of blight, thereby affecting the immediate preservation of the public health, safety, and welfare. Therefore this ordinance shall be in full force and effect from and after passage.

Of course they left out the part where the city needs to unload the Heers building A.S.A.P. or face paying more in interest on the loan they took over when the Vaughn Prost deal went south.

Rhythm of Tender

I didn't know how tender

the word

like a silent bubble shining in sun

blown from the hand of a child

I didn't know how tender

the touch

like a sable brush laden with lacquer

stroking heirloom wood

I didn't know how tender

the finger

tapping like a dancer in black shoes

keeping rhythm with word, with touch

rhythm of thought

rhythm of God

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Just a "rounder upper"

The Libertarian Guy gave me a little undue credit regarding the Container Ordinance that was brought before City Council at it's August 13 meeting, in his posting, A night in the sausage factory:

Point is, this is an issue in search of hand-wringing and worrisome pacing. What few complaints and problems have occured (one per year over the last five years, with a suspicious recent uptick after the issue got aired out by this cat and by this troublemaking puddin'-stirrer, God love 'er).

You can read my response there.

I would refer you to the pod cast of the Vincent David Jericho Show this morning, KSGF > Podcasts > Vince David Jericho This Morning and the Lib guy's post for more information on that ordinance and the Special Committee meeting held last night at City Council Chambers. Of course, I'll be roundin' it all up later, but these two and Vince's callers and guests left little unsaid on the issue this morning!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Smear campaign on Jericho continues

I didn't plan to post anything about this ugly letter to the editor about Vincent David Jericho of KSGF at JackeHammer but when "BigDaddy" wrote:

"The News-Leader has printed stories in the past that were not critical of Vince (Sarah Overstreet's story for example) but he has never said a good thing about the News-Leader, even when the published editorials have agreed with his position."

I just can't let it stand.

First of all, I have heard Vincent David Jericho mention columns he has agreed with in the News-Leader, this includes at least one column written by Tony Messenger. I can't recall the specific article Messenger wrote which Vince mentioned agreeing with but I do remember it happening.

What really galled me though, was "BigDaddy's" reference to the article Sarah Overstreet wrote on July 18, 2007, Fairness Doctrine would halt debate, not help it, anyway, I assume this is the article to which he was referring. Unfortunately, when I looked for the podcast which would have been around the time Sarah Overstreet's column ran in the News-Leader, it didn't make the cut to "Best of" shows, so the pod cast is no longer available.

Vincent David Jericho bragged on Sarah Overstreet and commented glowingly on her Fairness Doctrine article.

I don't know if "BigDaddy" is just ignorant or flat out lying but his comment was just flat wrong and needs correcting. So, here I be, correcting it. I can't stand misinformation or lies and would encourage anyone who finds misinformation in this blog to call it to my attention quickly.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Say it ain't so!

I just got the sad news that a new voice in the local blogosphere is gone, or in the process of being gone.

It's been very rare in this community for me to find a fellow blogger with whom I, at least sense I share a kindred spirit, The Voice Of Truth was such a blogger. What an honor to have gotten to spend some time in getting to know him, even with our petty (on my part) ups and downs.

He has a standing invitation to email me any time, I hope he will. I already feel such a great loss.

Voice of Truth, whoever you are, you'll be missed.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Bias this!

I have removed this blog entry because Voice of Truth was right, I was unfair in my representation of his comments.

Correction concerning Council Bill 2007-241

I wrote about Council Bill 2007-241 here, here and here.

Please excuse my "greenness," but I was mistaken about what I thought was a connection between City Charter Sec. 2.8. Prohibition of Interference and the bill. The Bill referred to Sec. 2-8 of the Municipal Code, which was, indeed, on the topic of Disclosure of certain transactions.

This link, will take you to the index of the Municipal Code. You will find under PART II CODE, a hot link of Chapter 2 ADMINISTRATION,* it will take you to another index. There, locate Sec. 2-8 and click on that link. That link will take you to Sec. 2-8 Disclosure of certain transactions.

If I understood her correctly, City Clerk, Brenda Cirtin, said that Bill 2007-241 is intended to keep employees of the City of Springfield from having to file lengthy disclosure forms every two years when/if their only transaction with the city that amounts to more than $500.00 is met through the paycheck they are paid by the city as their employer.

My apologies for my misunderstanding and connecting the bill to the City Charter rather than the Municipal Code.

Earlier today I received a question about it in the comment section of one of my past entries on the subject. An anonymous commenter wanted to know what the status of the bill was after the last council meeting. The bill was requested to be removed from the consent agenda by Councilman Burlison. It was moved to second reading bills. When it came up, Mr. Burlison questioned the bill as to why the language was necessary regarding the Attorney General needing to interpret it. Ms. Cirtin responded to Mr. Burlison's question, a vote was taken and the bill passed unanimously.

If you are interested in more detail on this bill there is a website for City of Springfield, MO - TV23 where citizens may go on-line and view the council meetings.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Springfield citizens get active on container ordinance

The Libertarian Guy wrote an entry on Why civic involvement works after attending the city council meeting last night, August 13, 2007.

As he wrote, there was an overflow crowd at the city council meeting. Many of the attendees were local business owners drawn out because of concerns about the container ordinance, up for first reading and public discussion.

The ordinance was tabled for more discussion and study. A special meeting was scheduled to continue discussion of the issue Monday, Aug. 20 at 7:00 p.m. at City Council Chambers. I hope the attendance will be as great then as it was last night.

I guess it's unreasonable to think that citizens of Springfield could turn out in such numbers at every council meeting? Yeah, probably so. That's unfortunate because it could only be good for our community if city administration knew that the citizen's they are there to serve care about and are watching what happens with every issue raised at council.

Here's a couple of excerpts from the Libertarian Guy's blog:

"...The much-maligned, unnecessarily complex city container ordinance got the proverbial shot-down-in-flames slash tabling for further review, no doubt due in part to the petition circulated last week among local businesses who would be most adversely affected by this ponderous ordinance...."

"...the lions' share of credit goes to the vigilant citizens, business owners, and a certain radio host for putting the issue upfront and in the light of scrutiny."

I'd add that no matter how some people feel about Vincent David Jericho, of local radio station KSGF, at least he's getting attention that wasn't otherwise being brought to bear on the administration of the city of Springfield.

The assumption of assuming things

Just because I'm a human being and this troubles me I'm going to write about it. It's really against my better judgement to write about it because I really don't want to start getting nit picky with other bloggers. I know that sometimes it may seem like I do but I really don't. All I want is an opportunity to voice my opinion, be heard, be understood. I don't really think that is unreasonable but I have better plans for this blog than to spend it on issues like this and yet, here I am, spending it on issues like this anyway.

And maybe it is more important than I am giving it credit. It has to do with communication, I value communication, I think it is a worthy thing for two people with opposing viewpoints to listen to each other, to really hear each other and consider each other's opinions.

Oftentimes, I feel people give lip service to that idea. They say they appreciate other viewpoints, they claim to love tolerance but when it really comes right down to it, it becomes obvious that some people talk the talk but don't walk the walk, and when they are finished talking the talk but failing to walk the walk they'll do everything in the world to make it seem as though the one they didn't want to hear was to blame for the communication failure.

I was recently involved in a discussion where it seemed that every single time I responded to the person they were assuming that I was assuming things about them. The first time this person assumed I was assuming something I decided, thoughtfully, that the person was right and so I apologized. After I apologized, however, I realized that the person had assumed motivations for my assumption that were not true and so I corrected that assumption. I was then accused of "baiting" by this person. Later, I was told I had made an "odd" statement and was made to feel unwelcome at their blog. Again, things were assumed about me which were simply not true but the person, rather than asking me questions just seemed to want to be accusatory, always jumping to their own conclusions that I was assuming things about them instead of simply asking for clarification, instead of giving me the benefit of the doubt, instead of showing me a small amount of respect.

I don't mean to try and make myself seem like a victim, if I am a victim I am a victim of my own stupidity for continuing to think that I should offer to involve myself in philosophical discussions with people I don't know and who don't know me. Call me naive.

The fact of the matter is, all of us make some assumptions about each other. I could assume that someone is accusing me of "attacking" them and I'd likely be right, it would be a safe assumption, even though all I did was report what happened in the course of a discussion. How is merely reporting something that happened an "attack," I wonder?

Assuming that someone is assuming things is another assumption in itself.

Why do any of us pretend that we can rise above being human?

After someone has told me that they didn't invite me to their blog why would I believe an after the fact, syrupy sweet invitation to come back anytime was sincere? Let's just get real. Some people just rub each other the wrong way. I seem to rub a lot of people the wrong way. I often reflect on why that is. I often find myself in the position of thinking, "hey, I'll give it another shot," and I'm almost always disappointed.

Am I that intolerable or are so many other people that intolerant? I guess it would depend on who you are, how you'd answer that question.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The tolerance of the "moderate" left?

Mary Helen of Corner of the Sky blog wrote a blog entry about Why I (she) Am (is) Pro-Choice. That's fine with me, but I didn't realize I needed an invitation to visit or comment at her blog. After being accused of assuming that she believes "fetuses" are human beings after asking a series of questions based on a comment in her blog entry, I apparently wasn't careful enough in the framing of my own belief which, I suppose, didn't meet her semantic standards, I offered:

"I hate to argue about abortion and don't plan to start.

I'll jest bow out and leave yer librul self alone, now, thank yew verrah mutch. :)"

I was told:

"Certainly I didn't invite you to this blog at all, let alone to argue about anything. Hope you have a wonderful evening."

Thank you, Mary Helen. I do plan to have a wonderful evening (what's left of it) and will definitely plan on waiting for an official invitation before I visit or comment at your blog again.

This exchange, ironically, came on the heels of a discussion about "tolerance" at The Voice Of Truth, see: The Intolerance Of The Far Left ;)

Giving credit where credit is due, Council Bill 2007-255


PURPOSE: The Annual Salary Ordinance contained a provision which stated that anyone receiving benefits from the Police Fire Pension Fund who obtained other employment with the City of Springfield would forfeit their right to draw benefits from the Police Fire Pension Fund. The purpose of the rule was to discourage "double-dipping" by former police and fire employees who would retire and then secure employment in other areas of the City.

The effect of the rule, however, has been to create hardships on certain departments in hiring experienced employees for other City departments. For example, while a police officer may have retired from active duty with the police force, that officer cannot be hired by the municipal court to act as a bailiff, nor can the officer be hired as an airport police officer or work for emergency 911 communications. Staff has determined that allowing experienced retired police or fire fighters from being able to secure other employment merely results in losing valuable personnel who can offer their experience and training to other departments. The Police Fire Pension Board agrees that a change in this rule is in order.

Since the above rule was shared in an annual salary ordinance, the numbering of this ordinance reflects the prior codification system under a different publisher. Therefore, in order to properly amend this bill, council is amending an annual salary ordinance, but the effect will be to delete a provision that remained in effect under an annual salary ordinance. This ordinance will not appear on any on-line codes as all salary ordinances are annual ordinances and are not codified by the publisher. The deletion of this provision will allow retired police and fire employees to obtain other positions within the city. These employees could be employed full time, receive their police and fire benefits and would also be earning service credit toward Lagers retirement benefits. The net effect will be positive, however, in that the City will be able to employee (their typo not mine) experienced safety personnel who are familiar with city rules and regulations as well as various city policies and practices.

I don't think it was really necessary to explain why this is a good thing for the City of Springfield. I wonder where the mentality came from which begrudged retired police and fire fighters acquiring jobs in other city departments to continue their service to their community in the first place?

If they earn service credit toward Lagers retirement benefits in addition to their police and fire pension benefits then they earned it. Geesh. At least it is being corrected now.

Cindy Rushefsky's name is listed as the sponsor of this bill. I suspect (but have not confirmed) she had some involvement in this coming to council. It's got her common sense fingerprint all over it. :)

UPDATE: I questioned where the mentality came from which begrudged retired police and firefighters aquiring jobs in other city departments? Apparently, the mentality wasn't unfamiliar to Mayor Carlson.

UPDATE 2: I have no reason to believe that Councilwoman Cindy Rushefsky had any hand in bringing this bill before Council beyond her name being attached to it by City administration.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Springfield, safer for car thieves in first half of 2007

The News-Leader reports:

"The felony crime report for Springfield in the first six months of 2007 includes:

486 vehicle thefts in 2007 as compared to 354 vehicle thefts in 2006 for a 37.3 percent increase."

The Community Free Press - Midweek reports:

"Fatal crashes in Springfield are down 67 percent for the first half of 2007, as opposed to the same time period in 2006."

We can all rest easy tonight knowing that less car thieves were killed in fatal car crashes in the first half of 2007 than were killed in fatal car crashes in the same time period of 2006. I know I'm relieved. :)

If those cars hadn't been stolen who knows how many owners might have been killed driving them!?

Two items of interest intertwine

Alternative title: "Take this out of context, then put that into the context of this out of context section of the city charter, and there you have it....

No, wait! Then take this out of context, put it into the new out of context section of the city charter that replaces the repealed other out of context section of the city charter and THEN you have it!"

I never dreamed, when I wrote earlier in the week about a memo sent by Deputy City Manager Evelyn Honea to "Management Team and Management Team Secretaries, which read in part:

"Any information or material being sent to the Mayor and members of City Council MUST be approved by the City Manager or Assistant City Manager BEFORE it is sent to Councilmembers," (read it in its entirety here)

that the memo would somehow intertwine with another item of interest I had written about here and here.

I was told by the Public Information Director to:

"...provide the following context to this (memo), which was to reaffirm the provision of the City Charter noted below." The provision of the Charter she was referring to was Section 2.8 of the Charter...:

Section 2.8. Prohibition of interference

Neither the council nor any of its members shall direct or request the appointment of any person to, or his removal from, office by the city manager or by any of his subordinates, or in any way interfere with the appointment or removal of officers and employees in the administrative service of the city. Except for the purpose of inquiry, unless specifically otherwise provided in this Charter, the council and its members shall deal with the administrative officers and services solely through the city manager, and neither the council nor any member thereof shall give orders to the subordinates of the city manager, either publicly or privately. Any councilmember violating the provisions of this Section shall forfeit his office. Whether such violation has occurred shall be determined by the members of the council, and their decision shall be final. Approved by vote of the people April 1, 1986.

It turns out (hat tip: Community Free Press - Midweek) that the law department has proposed that Section 2.8 of the City Charter be repealed and replaced with a new Section 2.8. The new Section 2.8 has nothing to do with "prohibition of interference," instead it has to do with "disclosure of certain transactions." The proposed bill is none other than Council Bill 2007-241. Go figger.

When the Public Information Director returns from vacation will she still advise me to:

"provide the following context to this (memo), which was to reaffirm the provision of the City Charter noted below (Section 2.8.)?"

Oh well, one will be about as relevant to that memo as the other, I suppose.

Friday, August 10, 2007

City Council Agenda Item of Interest: Council Bill 2007-241

I have a lot of questions about this bill. I first wrote about it here.

It was a consent agenda, first reading bill on the July 30, 2007 City Council Agenda and, after going through some changes in the last couple of weeks, is now positioned to sail through passage on the consent agenda at the August 13, 2007 City Council meeting.

When it was first read, City Attorney, Dan Wichmer, and City Manager, Bob Cumley, wrote that the Attorney General would have to interpret the phrase... :

"Candidates for City Council, the Mayor and Members of the City Council, the City Manager, the Purchasing Agent, the City Attorney and ALL officials and employees who are authorized by the governing body to promulgate rules and regulations within the force of law OR to vote on the adoption of rules and regulation with the force of law." (emphasis mine)

...before they could determine the intended scope (who was covered) under this phrase to disclose... :

"...any business transaction with a political subdivision if the transaction is more than $500 per year for such person and with any member of their immediate family. The chief administrative law officer and the purchasing officer must disclose the names and addresses of anybody else with whom they are employed and the names of the businesses they own."

...but apparently (?) they didn't seek the Attorney General's interpretation, instead they offered their own interpretation for endorsement by the Council. I'm assuming they did NOT contact his office because they offer their own interpretation rather than his.


Why didn't they contact the Attorney General's office for clarification?


Why offer to clarify it before seeking the Attorney General's interpretation?


Why did they list what the City Manager and the City Purchasing Agent would be required to disclose separate from the other entities, including the City Attorney, covered under the law? (Later, the bill states that the others are covered under the ordinance as well, but are the others required only to disclose the information listed as subject to disclosure by the City Manager and Purchasing Agent or will the others be subject to disclosing information that goes beyond what is listed as subject to disclosure by the City Manager and Purchasing Agent? Are they trying to limit what the City Manager and Purchasing Agent are required to disclose? Or, are the others exempt from disclosing the items described as being required for disclosure by the City Manager and Purchasing Agent?)

If anyone can shed any further light on this confusing ordinance and its applicable meaning, your comments are welcome here.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The City Council needs to appoint an investigator, per City Charter Section 2.15

I've been sleuthing around the Springfield City Charter, you know, since some people like to pull it out like it's a gun to silence questions? Anyway, I'll bet you didn't know about Section 2.15. Investigator:

The council may appoint an investigator who shall serve for such term as the council may prescribe. He shall be a certified public accountant or a person specially trained and experienced in governmental or business investigation or administration. His duty shall be to keep the council informed as to the work performed, methods, and financial affairs of the city. He shall not be responsible for the keeping of accounts. He shall make such investigations of the work of all departments of the city and such reports to the council as it shall require. He shall make such other investigations as the council may direct. He shall have access to all books and records of all departments of the city. If the council desires, he shall certify to the correctness of any or all financial reports before the same shall be regarded as official.

What say you, Council? I like the idea of having an investigator who can march into any office in the city, ask any question, examine any book and tell it like it is to the council.

Deputy City Manager Honea doesn't like the idea of anyone talking to Council without first running it by her or City Manager Cumley. There's a way to deal with that. Appoint an independent investigator, the investigator will have the power to find out anything you'd like to find out.

This isn't to say that I think it was necessary to stifle and chill communications between the council and employees of the city, but an investigator would take away even a shadow of a doubt as to the right of the council to be privy to any and ALL matters of the city and to be privy to that information BEFORE it goes through the filter of the City Manager, the Deputy City Manager or the Assistant City Manager. I would hope that council would choose their investigator wisely.

I'm not going to stop reading the Charter until I read the whole dang thing. I'll let you know if I come across any other interesting little factoids.

The City Manager answers to the the Council, not vice versa. Sometimes I wonder if both the Council and the City Manager need to be reminded of that.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Speaking of context...

Alternate title:

"Take this out of context, then put that into the context of this out of context section of the city charter, and there you have it."

The other day I was listening to Vincent David Jericho's radio show on KSGF. I do that often. If that's enough to turn the reader off at the outset then excuse me if I fail to lose any sleep over someone else's personal problem (phhbbtthh). That's not what this post is about.

Vince mentioned a memo that was floating around City Hall. It didn't sound right to me and so I wrote it down so I could inquire about it later. Here is what I wrote down as quoted by Vincent David Jericho:

"Any information or material being sent to the Mayor and members of the City Council must be approved by the City Manager or the Assistant City Manager before it's sent to Council members."

I think I just figured something out. You see, when I asked for a copy of the memo, the city's Public Information Director told me she hoped I would

"provide the following context to this, which was to reaffirm the provision of the City Charter noted below.... :"
city council memo process

Section 2.8. Prohibition of interference

Neither the council nor any of its members shall direct or request the appointment of any person to, or his removal from, office by the city manager or by any of his subordinates, or in any way interfere with the appointment or removal of officers and employees in the administrative service of the city. Except for the purpose of inquiry, unless specifically otherwise provided in this Charter, the council and its members shall deal with the administrative officers and services solely through the city manager, and neither the council nor any member thereof shall give orders to the subordinates of the city manager, either publicly or privately. Any councilmember violating the provisions of this Section shall forfeit his office. Whether such violation has occurred shall be determined by the members of the council, and their decision shall be final. Approved by vote of the people April 1, 1986.

I have emphasized that particular verbage of Section 2.8 of the Charter to highlight the fact that the City has taken it out of its intended context to provide context to a wholly unrelated matter.

I cannot see that the sharing of information and materials between officers and employees in the administrative service of the city has anything to do with the intent of Section 2.8 of the Charter which is on the topic, when kept in context, of council members interfering with the appointment or removal of officers and employees in the administrative service of the city.

That's what this entry was about, just so you know. :)

Now, here is the entire memo, just as an FYI:

TO: Management Team
Management Team Secretaries

FROM: Evelyn Honea, Assistant City Manager

RE: Process for Sending Material/Information to Mayor and City Council

DATE: June 25, 2007


Any information or material being sent to the Mayor and members of City Council MUST be approved by the City Manager or Assistant City Manager BEFORE it is sent to Councilmembers.

To avoid confusion, please use the procedure outlined below:

1. Any memo or other information should be e-mailed to Evelyn Honea or Bob Cumley for approval. Please provide a hard copy if it is not possible to e-mail the material.

2. You will be notified of Bob/Evelyn's approval or asked to make changes. If asked to make changes, please resubmit the corrected material for approval.

3. Upon approval, please provide 13 copies to the City Manager's Office for distribution to Council. A member of the City Manager's staff will deliver the material to the Council mailboxes. (The 13 copies include: 9 for Mayor and Council, 1 for the media folder, 1 for the City Clerk, 1 for the City Manager, and 1 for the Assistant City Manager.)

4. Mail is only delivered to the Mayor and City Council on Wednesday afternoons at 4:00 p.m., prior to City Council meeting every other Monday night, and at Tuesday luncheons. Please keep this schedule in mind when communicating with Councilmembers.

Thank you for your cooperation and assistance with this process.


cc: Bob Cumley, City Manager
Brenda Cirtin, City Clerk
Anita Murphy Cotter, Assistant City Clerk

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Put through the wringer

I'm sorta ticked off.

I had someone at the City tell me a very specific thing and now that person seems to be suggesting that it was just an example, though at first they told me SPECIFICALLY to take it in the context of THIS "provision of the charter."

I don't want to go into details but I'll tell you, this was a VERY frustrating experience.

Why the heck did this person tell me,

"I hope you will provide the following context to this, which was to reaffirm"

a SPECIFIC provision of the City Charter and go to the trouble of noting that specific provision of the City Charter only to, later, MUCH later, tell me...

"I was simply pointing out that our policy regarding _____ is based on the City Charter, not anyone's personal preference."

Am I wrong to be a bit suspicious of such an exchange?

Am I wrong to feel annoyed after spending more than a day trying to figure out what that specific provision had to do with a very specific memorandum?


This person was either lying or wasting my time, either way it ain't good.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Recommended Reading 9

Good day sunshine: Auditors to review closed meetings. Author, city government reporter Joe Blumberg:

"In February, a Platte County judge voided a Platte City annexation attempt on the grounds that Platte City closed a meeting to discuss legal issues but in fact made policy decisions about the annexation proposal. The judge wasn't swayed by the fact that the council voted in open session.

"It is not the purpose of Missouri's Sunshine Law that the cloak of attorney-client privilege be used to obfuscate, circumvent nor limit the public's right to information that should be discussed by the public governmental body in open session," the judge ruled."

Friday, August 03, 2007

Recommended Reading 8

First Amendment ‘for Sale’ - HUMAN EVENTS


"Does protecting the right to put a “For Sale” sign in your own car “cheapen the grandeur of the First Amendment?” Seven dissenting federal judges think so.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals split 8 to 7 in a case about a city ordinance that makes it unlawful to place a “For Sale” sign in a car if the car is parked on a city street...."

"...It is certainly less speculative that banning private “For Sale” signs in cars on streets, where such signs may be more visible, helps local car dealerships and newspaper classified sales. As with much regulation of speech, there is usually a political or financial motive that certainly is just as, if not more, credible than the justifications offered by the government...." (emphasis mine)

"...The Pagan case does not stray from precedent. It is, however, noteworthy because it tells the government that it must do more than merely claim it has a substantial interest in regulating conduct when the regulation abridges a First Amendment right. Unfortunately, that has not always been the case in First Amendment decisions.

Judicial activism is a problem because judges act assuming they have more power than legislatures, which supposedly reflect the popular will. The sound doctrine of stare decisis, which is standing by precedent, can also be a problem if judges find the judiciary more authoritative than the Constitution itself. Perhaps some judges protect the “grandeur” of the judiciary more than the First Amendment."

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Desdinova Mae's Candy Store!?

I noticed the other day that Brian Lewis of Zerelda Lee's Candy Store has posted a note that he'll be out of the office for a few days. He has also posted a note that he is on hiatus and:

"...will not be updating the blog again regularly until the middle of August."

The only reason I mention it is that his hiatus began shortly after Desdinova - Super Villain of the Ozarks noted here that he might have an interest in writing a regular column at a newspaper.

Here at JackeHammer, I ran a short campaign for Desdinova, appealing to the Editorial Page Editor to give Desdinova his own column at the News-Leader. It is even possible that I might have received a nod of recognition that this appeal had been lodged by that Editorial Page Editor (I'll never tell).

At any rate, the timing of Lewis' hiatus seems a tad suspicious to me.

I don't even want to go down the road of acknowledging the serious arsenal that Desdinova - Super Villain of the Ozarks claims to command in this posting! :o

Very curious!

I know that Desdinova...:

"...would like to change radio by ridding the world of talk radio and country music."

...claiming that after success in this endeavor he will:


He has also offered his services here, announcing that if Tom Carlson were to resign as Mayor of Springfield he will:

"take over."

I will also note that in this blog entry, Desdinova claims that the News-Leader is out to get him. Is it possible that they truly HAVE been out to get him and could they have a secret plan to have him take over Zerelda Lee's Candy Store!?

I hope that if Desdinova takes over the Candy Store and the Mayor's office and that if he is indeed, successful at taking over the world that he'll remember who it was who made it all possible and will allow me to live and come home from Bois D Arc.

I miss my husband and my dog.

This has been Jacke M., reporting from Bois D' Arc.