Saturday, August 30, 2008

Just for Sunny Gun

On the eve of Sunday

The Sunday Puzzle:

"The best puzzles contain individual clues that make you grin at their deviousness or a theme that confounds at first and is delightfully satisfying when it finally pulls into focus."

Have you ever wondered how crosswords are built behind the scenes?

Meet Bumfry artist Garson Hampfield.

Garson Hampfield, Crossword Inker is a short film created by animator Michael A. Charles

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sexism or bias against parents with special needs children?

Oh, I don't know about this.

When Councilman Doug Burlison was running for Council in 2007, I asked him if he was concerned about working a job, serving on Council and still having enough time to spend with his children. He has more children than "the average bear."

Granted, the small difference, here, is that Roberts asked if Palin would have time enough to spend with a Down's Syndrome child, but isn't it well known that special needs children can, very well, have more diverse and time consuming needs than children without special needs? That's why they are called "special needs children" in the first place, isn't it?

If it had been a female Council candidate I was questioning rather than a male Council candidate, the same question I asked might have seemed sexist, unprofessional or unethical to some but I felt it was a legitimate question, though I wasn't able to include his answer, due to word constraints, at CFP.

His answer, just summarized, was something to the effect that by serving on Council he was taking care of his children. He was investing in their future.

That seemed reasonable to me.

The Missouri or Nonpartisan Court Plan

In New judge selection plan proposed, Dirk VanderHart of the "Springfield News-Leader" explained the Missouri Plan:

"Already in use in circuit courts around St. Louis and Kansas City --as well as the Missouri Supreme Court and Court of Appeals -- the Missouri Plan does not require judges to run in partisan elections.

Instead, a "nonpartisan judicial commission" of five members screens applicants for an open judgeship, then forwards three finalists to the governor.

The governor has 60 days to select one of the finalists. If no selection is made, the judicial commission makes the choice.

The public becomes involved in the process during retention elections, in which a majority vote can force the judge off the bench, and the process starts again."

"Question 1" will be presented on the Greene County ballot in November. The group promoting it, Vote Yes for Question 1, gives some history of the Missouri Plan, which they call "the Nonpartisan Court Plan:"

"We have a special judicial system already built into our state constitution that started with efforts made back in 1940, when Missourians voted to keep politics and special interests out of the courtrooms of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals and the trial courts in Jackson County and the city of St. Louis. Three other Missouri counties adopted the Nonpartisan Court Plan in early 1970s, and now Greene County has the chance to do so as well." Read more....

...And, Vanderhart noted, the proposed plan has support in Greene County, among them, the League of Women Voters, the Greene County Commission and the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Missouri Plan has been studied by the Show-Me Institute. I made this topic a "Recommended reading" in mid July when I posted a link to Show-Me Institute's article, "Is the 'Missouri Plan' Good for Missouri?" Quoting myself:

Find out the results of a study of judicial selection systems, undertaken by Joshua Hall who is an assistant professor of economics at Beloit College and Russell S. Sobel, professor of economics and Distinguished Chair in the Department of Economics at West Virginia.

You can also access the full study and a four page policy briefing here.

From the briefing:

"Our analysis finds no other method of selection resulting in average scores or rankings that are statistically higher than Missouri’s current system."

On June 21, 2007, Governor Blunt spoke to the Kansas City Lawyers Chapter about the Missouri judicial selection process.

About two months later, the Show-Me Institute published an article about the Missouri Plan. The article, written by policy analyst David Stokes, was titled, The Missouri Plan, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Lawyers, and in it, Stokes claims a few changes to the plan could make it better.

The plan, as previously noted, is already used in Missouri's Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals as well as the circuit courts of Jackson County and Saint Louis City and has been expanded to include circuit judges in Saint Louis, Clay, and Platte Counties.

Stokes, in the 2007 article wrote, "The system has worked very well for Missourians, taking some of the politics out of judgeships and efficiently filling vacancies."

He then recommended it could work better with a few changes.

Stokes wrote that a Supreme Court opening had, "raised to new prominence the simmering dispute over the true non-partisanship of the Missouri Plan:"

"Allies of Governor Matt Blunt feel that the current appellate judicial commission has not fairly recognized the fact that he, not the commission, is the elected leader of Missouri. The current make-up of both the commission and its recently selected panel, which many conservatives feel is tilted toward the left, seem to substantiate this charge. This has led to calls from some legislators to do away with the Missouri Plan."

(...and remember, Vanderhart noted that the group "Better Courts for Missouri" had noted that, "17 of the last 18 nominees to the Supreme Court had been Democrats.")

Stokes indicated he thought changes needed to be made but the plan shouldn't be completely done away with in his 2007 article. To read about the changes the Show-Me Institute policy analyst thought could improve the Missouri Plan in more detail, click here.

In summary, his suggested changes were:

> "Making the appointed positions’ term coincide with the governor’s own term would serve to respect the wishes of voters and whatever candidate they choose to elect."

> "Add(ing) one appointed position to each commission, making the number of appointments equal to the number of judges and attorneys on the commission."

...and finally,

> "The Legislature should take steps to make it clear to all that the various judicial commissions’ actions are covered by the state’s sunshine law."

I think it is also important to include this tidbit from Stokes article:

"....The retention vote is a good practice, but electoral history has shown it is almost impossible to get enough people to focus on the issue. Last year in Saint Louis County, a judge was handily retained by voters when an overwhelming number of lawyers, in a bar association survey, had advised against retaining her — a recommendation echoed by area newspapers. Perhaps we could improve the retention vote system by taking a page from Illinois and mandating a 60-percent vote in favor of retention in order for a judge to remain in office. I believe that is an idea worth debating."

An effort to make changes to the Missouri Plan failed earlier this year. Stokes ideas were not a part of the proposed changes, rather, HJR 49 would have increased the number of candidates the Appellate Judicial Commission would recommend to the governor from three to five and the governor would have been able to veto the list, at which point the commission would have had to submit a new list for the Governor to consider.

Vince had a fairly heated discussion about "question 1" on the Vincent David Jericho Show this morning and I hope, at some point, to be able to provide a link to the podcast here. At the moment, it is not available from their Web site.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Shapes Mentoring Seeks 30 Mentors in 30 Days!

Will you help a child in need?

I got a call this morning from Keith Morris. Keith is the office manager for
Shapes Mentoring. He wanted to let me know that Shapes will be trying to recruit 30 mentors in 30 days during the month of September...but, you don't have to wait until September if you would like to mentor the child of an incarcerated parent! These children need us. If you would like to know more about the Shapes mentoring program and think you would be interested in mentoring one of these precious children, visit the Web site linked above. There is a wonderful promotional video at their Web site that I recommend, and call Keith at 864-6139 today!

I am also adding Shapes blog site to my list of blog links and their Web site to my list of links.

Thanks, Vince, for the referral! An awesome organization!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What Hillary Left out at the Convention Last Night:


She was a proud mother, first and foremost, and a proud American, a proud Democrat and was, she said, a proud number of other identities.

Did anyone else notice, though they cut away numerous times to a beamingly, proud husband, Hillary did not identify herself as a proud wife?

I thought it a glaring omission, myself.

New Community Free Press is Available!

Yep, the new issue (August 27-September 7) of Community Free Press is available for reading at the Web site or pick up at a location near you. For a list of vendors you can also visit the Web site.

Featured articles include "Ozarks Death Row Inmates," in which, CFP contributor Jennifer Hollis reported on how increasing euthanasia numbers are bringing animal issues to the forefront, and Brian Brown reported on the history of the Battle of Springfield, which, Brown noted, took place in January 1863, in and around the downtown Springfield area. Brown's front page article is titled, "Markers Tell of Forgotten Local Battle."

The Council Notes column includes previously unreported information concerning Assistant City Manager Collin Quigley's research on metal detectors, prepared at the request of Mayor Carlson and a quote from Councilman Doug Burlison regarding why he voted in opposition to the recent Council approved administrative delay on the controversial container ordinance the city and local container suppliers and users have been considering for some time.

Bob Mace touched close to my home in his regular column, "The Edge," when he wrote about an experience he had when he dropped the baton in a relay race years ago. My husband had a similar experience and had discussed it with me after watching both the men and women USA Olympic teams drop their batons in the Olympics.

Mace assumed bragging rights of his physical prowess, as he wrote about a friend of his who has told the story of him dropping the baton to, what seemed like, in the reading, anyone and everyone who would listen for years. "A Dish Served Cold," was a fun read, but then Mace's columns are always fun reading, even when discussing controversial or serious issues.

In "Letters to the Editor," Tim Kitta of Springfield asked questions of the new city manager and, in the "Local Voices" segment, Brown asked 6 different, unrelated people the question: " Would you be in favor of City Council approving a City Utilities natural gas rate increase of 7 percent spread over two years?"

Read their answers along with Mert Seaton's regular sports column, in which he covered the Olympics with a bit of opinion. "Celebration is all part of the sport. It is the right athletes and fans have," Seaton reminded party poopers who, apparently, don't like athlete *braggarts.*

There's much, much more here.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Council meetings start at 5:30 p.m.

For those who might be interested, tonight at 5:30, in the 4th floor conference room at the Busch Municipal Building, Assistant Fire Chief and Pension Board Trustee David Hall is going to provide a presentation on pension issues in a joint meeting between the Police & Fire Pension Board and the City Council.

Then, at 7:00, in the old courthouse, the regularly scheduled City Council meeting will commence.

At the regular meeting, Council will likely approve bill 2008-242, which will authorize the City Manager to enter into an agreement with Missouri State University, on behalf of the city, so the city can sell 5 properties to MSU for $450,000.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

No perfect Scotts

but there ARE perfect brothers

My brother's name is Scott but he's brilliant.

This other Scott wrote his letter and submitted it before city attorney Wichmer had explained:

"Currently, the ability of public bodies to offer incentive pay is largely restricted under state law. Therefore, the city currently does not have a salary structure that can accommodate individual performance pay. Public bodies across Missouri are examining ways to implement performance pay for public workers within the limits set forth in the Missouri Constitution." - city attorney Wichmer (see previous post for link)

Myself, I wonder how smart it is to get huffy over one person getting their facts a bit off base while getting their own facts a bit off base. :0

Danged if there ain't no perfect people in the Ozarks, whether they be Council members, journalists,* or Scotts.

I like my Scott. I think I'll keep him.


*Mert Seaton excluded, of course. I have decided he is well worth a peanut.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Recommended Reading 29: City Manager Search Process

Springfield City Attorney Dan Wichmer weighed in with legal fine points on the city manager search process in the Springfield News-Leader today.

It is recommended reading 29

City Manager Search and Selection Process; Part 3

Not opinion

Springfield City Charter

Article 3

Section 3.2. Compensation

The city manager shall receive such compensation as may be fixed by ordinance.

At this time there is not an ordinance on the August 25, 2008 City Council Agenda fixing the compensation of the new city manager.

The next regularly scheduled Council meeting, (after the August 25 meeting) not including luncheons or special meetings which have not yet been announced, is September 15, 2008.

September 15, 2008 is also the date that has been announced as the official starting date of city manager Greg Burris.

may -

shall, must —used in law where the sense, purpose, or policy requires this interpretation

Friday, August 22, 2008

City Manager Search and Selection Process; Part 2


I posted City Manager Points of Reference on August 9, following is my personal analysis of the meaning of those references:

Springfield City Charter

Article III. The City Manager

Section 3.1. Qualifications; Term of office

"The city manager shall be chosen by the council on the basis of executive and administrative qualifications with special reference to his experience in, and his knowledge of municipal administrations...."*

The City Charter, indicates the council shall choose the city manager "on the basis of executive and administrative qualifications," which Greg Burris has, but also indicates the Council shall do so with special attention "to his experience in, and his knowledge of municipal administrations."

Shall: b —used in laws, regulations, or directives to express what is mandatory

It's my opinion, and I'm not a lawyer, that if the Charter had not meant the council shall choose a city manager who actually had experience in and knowledge of municipal administrations that the charter wouldn't have advised the council to choose the city manager with special attention given "to his experience in...municipal administrations" and there would have been a period between "qualifications" and "with," and it might have read something like this, for example, my additions in red:

The city manager shall be chosen by the council on the basis of executive and administrative qualifications.

(The city council should, could, can, or might make) special reference to his experience in, and his knowledge of municipal administrations.

Because there is no separation, again, in my lay opinion, the sentence appears, in legal terms, to state:

The city manager shall be chosen by the council on the basis of executive and administrative qualifications (and shall make) special reference to his experience in, and his knowledge of municipal administrations.

Further indication that the intended, mandatory qualification was the city manager position be filled by an applicant who actually had experience in municipal administrations, is the fact that the city, in their job description, which was posted by the search firm Arcus Public, identified what that experience in municipal administration was to be when applied to the "ideal candidate:"

Arcus Public

City Manager - Springfield, MO

"Interested candidates should possess a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration, Business Administration or related discipline from an accredited college or university. Possession of an MBA or Master’s Degree in Public Administration, or related field is preferred. Ten years of municipal experience, with prior service as a City Manager, Assistant/Deputy City Manager or the equivalent in a comparable or larger community. Certification as an ICMA Credentialed Manager within 12 months of appointment is preferred." (page 5)*

Note: "Interested candidates..."

1. "SHOULD possess a Bachelor's degree in Public Administration, Business Administration or related discipline from an accredited college or university."

2. "Possession of an MBA or Master's Degree in Public Administration, or related field IS PREFERRED."

3. "Ten years of municipal experience, with prior service as a City Manager, Assistant/Deputy City Manager or equivalent in a comparable or larger community."

4. "Certification as an ICMA Credentialed Manager within 12 months of appointment IS PREFERRED."

There is no SHOULD, there is no indication that the Council would PREFER the candidate to have actual city manager, assistant or deputy city manager or equivalent experience in a comparable or larger community in the job description. The job description therefore, indicates that there was an acceptance on the part of the city and/or the Council that the "ideal candidate" would have municipal administrations experience and that they thought the "ideal candidate" would have "Ten years of municipal experience, with prior service as a City Manager, Assistant/Deputy City Manager or equivalent in a comparable or larger community," this was relayed in the job description by the simple omission of the terms "should" or "preferred."

Therefore, I believe it is a legitimate complaint that since Greg Burris has not had prior service as a City Manager, Assistant/Deputy City Manager or equivalent in a comparable or larger community, and that according to the spirit of the City Charter, special reference to his experience in municipal administrations was to be paid by the Council, and their job description further defined what that experience was to be, the Council did not follow the mandate of the City Charter which they are bound to observe.

In fairness, I believe the Council considers Greg Burris' experience at MSU to be "comparable" experience "in a comparable or larger community," however, it is not experience in a municipal administration.

So, in my opinion, for what it's worth:

Legitimate Complaint 2: The City Council did not follow the mandate of the City Charter that, "The city manager shall be chosen by the council...with special reference to his experience in...municipal administrations," even though it appears they accepted that mandate by further defining it in the city manager job description.

*emphasis mine

Thursday, August 21, 2008

City Manager Search and Selection Process; Part 1


I have chosen to weigh in on the city manager search and selection process because, it is my opinion that, in some regards, people are not considering the City Manager search and hiring process based on the right foundation. To draw opinions of value, those opinions should spring from a foundation of fact and relevant, legal, city policy guidelines.

There have been some legitimate complaints about the process. One argument against the process that I think is a legitimate complaint is that the public wasn't allowed adequate time to get to know the candidates.

Early in the process, the co-chair of the City Manager Search Committee, Mayor Pro Tem Gary Deaver, told the Council and the public that they were not going to get into a hurry to hire the new City Manager. He indicated that interim City Manager Evelyn Honea was well qualified and they could take as much time as they wanted to look at candidates for the position.

It's my recollection, as a blogger/reporter who has attended City Council meetings and luncheons and many other city meetings since early April of 2007, and was present during much of the relevant discussions, that the Search Committee was formed, in the first place, because our volunteer, unpaid, City Council, many of whom work jobs to support their families and make a living, did not have time to initially search for the candidates and so the Council voted to consider search firms to winnow down the field in an open, public meeting. The search firm settled upon was Arcus Public and their hiring was also approved in an open, public meeting of the City Council.

It is also on record that Arcus Public initially contacted over 250 candidates, narrowed that number to 20 candidates and then to 8 candidates who were then brought to Springfield and interviewed extensively by the City Council, and possibly the Search Committee, I'm not sure on that point, but they were again reduced in number, after much interviewing, to the three finalists, MSU's Greg Burris, Hot Springs, Arkansas' Kent Myers and Edmond, Oklahoma's Larry Stevens.

One Council member is on record expressing concerns that the public wasn't allowed enough of an opportunity to meet and get to know the candidates. In fact, in this Springfield News-Leader article, Denny Whayne was quoted expressing just that thought, "I don't think they (the public) did (have enough time to get to know the candidates)," Whayne said. "An ice cream social and a breakfast meet-and-greet. I don't know how you'd have time to get to know anybody.""

In the same News-Leader article, Mayor Carlson, while discussing employee comment cards about the finalists, was quoted as saying, "I can tell you that initial impressions can be misleading," and, "I don't think it would be wise to hire somebody based only on a 5- to 10-minute visit."

So, due to the small amount of time the employees got to actually spend with the finalists, it seems, to me, Carlson was discounting the value of the employees comments regarding the candidates, and don't get me wrong, I agree with Carlson that first impressions can be misleading and I agree it wouldn't be wise to hire someone based on a five or ten minute visit, therefore, I also agree with Whayne. If I agree that city employees' comments were not particularly weighty because city employees didn't have enough interaction with the candidates to really be taken seriously, likewise, I must agree that the publics' comments regarding the actual selection of the new city manager were not particularly weighty because the public didn't have enough interaction with the candidates to have their comments taken seriously, either.

Therefore, in my opinion, not enough time was given to city employees or the public with the candidates for them to form a valid or valuable preference regarding the candidates, so, if that is the case, their "initial impressions" couldn't have been given much value or weight by the Council, whose job it is to represent the citizens, so, in the end, the Council didn't, in this case, represent the people, they represented themselves, individually.

In fairness, I do believe the City Manager Search Committee seriously considered public input regarding the qualities the public would like to see in a city manager, but I do not believe adequate time was given to city employees or the public in the actual selection process of the new city manager and considering Deaver had stated they (Search Committee/Council) weren't going to get into a hurry to hire a new City Manager and that interim City Manager Evelyn Honea was qualified to serve until they reached a decision, it seems, to me, they could have taken as much time as they wanted to allow the public and city employees to interact with the candidates so that their comments and advise regarding the actual selection would have been of more value in the final decision making process of the City Council.

It is also fair to note that, in my opinion, the process was not rushed prior to the Councils' choice of the three finalists but, after the three finalists were chosen, the pace did seem to pick up and there seemed to be a sense of acceleration in the process to get the decision over with and behind the Council.

I do not believe it is fair to the Council to assume they erred by not choosing a recommendation made by the City Manager Search Committee, if there was a distinct preference. Some have indicated there was a distinct order of preference, others have denied that. I'm not going to get into an argument with anyone about whether there was an order of preference offered by the Search Committee because I don't think it is particularly relevant. It was not up to the Search Committee to select Springfield's next city manager. That job, according to the Springfield City Charter is the job of the City Council. So, even if the City Manager Search Committee adamantly recommended a single candidate as their number one choice, it did not and would not, absolve the Council from their duty under the City Charter to select the new city manager. I would have found much more reason to complain, personally, if the City Council had relinquished their responsibility to select the city manager to a committee rather than do their duty.

Section 2.7. Appointment and removal of city manager, as approved BY VOTE OF THE PEOPLE April 1, 1986.

"The council shall appoint an officer who shall have the title of city manager who shall have the powers and perform the duties provided in this Charter. No councilmember shall receive such appointment during the term for which he or she shall have been elected or within one year after the expiration of his or her term. The of the City Manager shall be for an indefinite term, he may be suspended by a resolution which shall set forth the reasons for his suspension and proposed removal. A copy of such resolution shall be served immediately upon the city manager. The city manager shall have fifteen (15) days in which to reply thereto in writing, and, upon his request, he shall be afforded a public hearing, which shall occur not earlier than ten (10) days nor later than fifteen (15) days after such hearing is requested. After the public hearing, if one be requested, and after full consideration, the council by majority vote of its members may adopt a final resolution of removal."*

It was always the intention that the City Manager Search Committee would oversee the search for candidates. It was never the intention of the City Council that the Search Committee would select the City Manager for the Council. In fact, the City Manager is under the purview of the Council and is, according to the City Charter, to be selected by the Council and if, for some reason, the City Manager fails to perform his job satisfactorily, it is the City Council who must vote to approve a resolution to have him or her removed. No one else has the ability to approve a resolution to remove the City Manager but the Council.

So, in my opinion, for what it's worth:

Legitimate complaint 1: The public was not allowed adequate time to get to know the candidates and were, therefore, shut out of the actual selection process because they could not make a recommendation based on anything other than a first impression of the candidates.

Illegitimate complaint 1: The Council erred and was somehow bound to accept and hire a recommendation by the City Manager Search Committee. The Search Committee was to assist the Council in the preliminary process, then hand over the decision to the City Council.

*emphasis mine

Monday, August 18, 2008

REMINDER OF PUBLIC HEARING regarding City Utilities proposed operating plan (budget) and their proposed natural gas rate increases

Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 19, 2008, at 5:30 p.m., is the scheduled public hearing of the City Utilities proposed budget. This is the time scheduled for the public to come and address the CU board and the City Council.

There will also be a joint study session of the City Utilities board and the City Council.

The hearing and study session will be held in the CU training center classroom at 301 E. Central.

View CU's preliminary 2009 Operating Plan and Natural Gas Rate Proposal overviews at the City Utilities Web site.

- 2009 Operating Plan

- Natural Gas Proposal

The next opportunity for the public to speak to Council in a public setting will be at the first reading of the bill recommending approval of the City Utility budget, when it comes before Council. That date is September 15, 2008. Two weeks later, Council will vote to either approve or not approve the CU budget.

Following is the rest of the schedule as it appeared in the News-Leader:

- Aug. 19-27 -- Reviews/study sessions as needed with CU board and City Council.

- 3 p.m. Aug. 28 -- Board votes on proposed budget, CU board room, 301 E. Central

- Aug. 29 -- Budget filed with city clerk

- 7 p.m. Sept. 15 -- First reading and public hearing of proposed budget, Springfield City Council, Old City Hall, 830 Boonville.

- 7 p.m. Sept. 29 -- City Council votes on proposed CU budget, Old City Hall, 830 Boonville

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Sunday (or any day) Puzzle

My aunt sent me this puzzle today, just in time for Sunday.

So far I have found 25 bible books. See how you can do and, if you go to church, share it with your friends. If you don't go, start. ;)

Of course, it isn't grammatically correct but, hey, it's a puzzle. Lighten up. What do you think you are? A copy editor? (Heh. Sorry, Stu, couldn't resist that)

~30 Bible Books~

There are 30 books of the Bible in this paragraph. Can you find them? This is a most remarkable puzzle. It was found by a gentleman in an airplane seat pocket, on a flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu, keeping him occupied for hours. He enjoyed it so much; he passed it on to some friends. One friend from Illinois worked on his while fishing from his john boat. Another friend studied it while playing his banjo. Elaine Taylor, a columnist friend, was so intrigued by it she mentioned it in her weekly newspaper column. Another friend judges the job of solving this puzzle so involving, she brews a cup of tea to help her nerves. There will be some names that are really easy to spot. That's a fact. Some people, however, will soon find themselves in a jam, especially since the book names are not necessarily capitalized. Truthfully, from answers we get, we are forced to admit it usually takes a minister or a scholar to see some of them at the worst. Research has shown that something in our genes is responsible for the difficulty we have in seeing the books in this paragraph. During a recent fund raising event which featured this puzzle, the Alpha Delta Phi lemonade booth set a new record. The local paper, The Chronicle, surveyed over 200 patrons who reported that this puzzle was one of the most difficult they had ever seen. As Daniel Humana humbly puts it, 'The books are all right here in plain view hidden from sight.' Those able to find all of them hear great lamentations from those who have to be shown. One revelation that may help is that books like Timothy and Samuel may occur without their numbers. Also, keep in mind, that punctuation and spaces in the middle are normal. A chipper attitude will help you compete really well against those who claim to know the answers. Remember, there is no need for a mad exodus; there really are 30 books of the Bible lurking somewhere in this paragraph waiting to be found. God Bless.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Two City Leaders Squared Off this Morning

Councilman Doug Burlison Defended City Council's Choice of New City Manager Greg Burris; Vincent David Jericho Defended the Legitimate Arguments of the City Council's Critics; Real Discussion Ensued

Hey, I'm a fan of both of these guys and I recognize good, healthy discussion when I hear it. Good, healthy discussion is what I heard on the Vincent David Jericho Program, on KSGF this morning. The podcast is listed as a "must listen," and for good reason.

I've suffered a few snide remarks from different quarters just like Jericho has because I expose information that sometimes, I think, the executive branch of the City of Springfield might not like exposed or discussed. It takes a strong stomach to take that sort of comment and remain focused on the main thing, the important thing. That important, main thing is what we got this morning on the Jericho program. We got what started out as a contentious argument but in the end became a real discussion.

We got two men defending their positions and, while they continued to disagree, the listeners of the Vincent David Jericho Program were treated to both sides of the argument and got insight into a government process that they might not have gotten otherwise. That, my friends, whether you agree with Jericho or you agree with Burlison, is valuable to the community.

So, my thanks to Vince for offering the platform and my thanks to Councilman Burlison for knocking on his door and giving voice to his reasons for voting for Burris. Listeners can make their own decisions about whether they liked, agreed with, or felt Burlison's argument was valid, I'm just impressed he stood up and made it.

The critics of the Council's choice for City Manager deserve to have legitimate complaints and questions addressed, and they should not be put down as if the word "critic" was a derogatory term.

When did being a critic, or a government "watch dog" group, or a questioning journalist become something of which to be ashamed? Too often people who have legitimate complaints in this community are written off instead of responded to and are treated as though they are an enemy of progress and an enemy of what is good for the community in which they all live and are invested.

To quote Mayor Tom Carlson:

"Any day of the week, I'll bet on people that have got real money at risk, time, money and effort to spend as opposed to the people from the peanut gallery" ~ Mayor Tom Carlson, October 16, 2007

Where I differ from Carlson is the distinction between "people that have got real money at risk," and "the people from the peanut gallery."

There should be no distinction.

Every single citizen of this city has real money at risk here, every single one of us. We all pay taxes into the city coffers and that tax money pays for core city services, economic development and the salaries of city employees and whether it comes from our money in the form of property taxes, sales taxes, federal taxes or state taxes it comes from the taxpayers, and the taxpayers ARE the people with the real money at risk.

Listen to the podcast, truly a "must listen." Get involved in your city and hold your elected officials accountable, however you feel directed. Sometimes that means holding them accountable for the good they do for your city, sometimes that means holding them accountable for the bad decisions they make and we all have an opinion about whether choices were, or are, good or bad. Without the sort of contentious dialog we heard this morning on the radio, forming those opinions about whether choices made on your behalf, by your elected officials were good choices or bad choices would be more difficult.

Mayor Carlson recently complained, ""It's not like it used to be, there's not the depth, there's not the scope, there's not the understanding on the part of the media, on the topics that they're covering." That understanding on the part of the media comes with discussion and that is what Vincent David Jericho offers to this community. Often, he can only offer one side of any given issue because there is no one from the city who will give their side of the issue. Today that was not the case. Councilman Doug Burlison knocked on the door and talked to the people who have real money at risk in this city, the taxpayers.

Thank you, Vince. Thank you Doug.

Note to Mayor Carlson: If you want understanding on the part of the media and therefore the citizens of Springfield, it takes hard work, it takes discussion, it takes real dialog, it takes Council members like Doug Burlison and, yes, it can sometimes get heated and be a bit unpleasant along the way.

If you are looking for sanitized, one-sided public information releases, you have an entire public information office working for you, isn't that enough?

The taxpayers want more than sanitized, one-sided public information releases and in the end, isn't that what is required for depth, scope and understanding? They get that other side from the media, the radio, the print media, other sources besides the city and City Utilities printing presses.

This morning the taxpayers got a chance for more depth, scope and understanding but it took some effort and discomfort on the part of a City Councilman who was willing to walk into an unfriendly atmosphere. The Council might not get paid for that but if the Council and Mayor want more understanding that is what it will take.

Great radio. A real public service!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

New Rasmussen Report indicates voters see a clear difference between Democrats and Republicans on off-shore drilling question

According to a Rasmussen Report (telephone survey) 61 percent of Americans believe Congress should reconvene immediately and vote to lift the ban on off shore drilling; 67 percent of Americans identify the Republican party leadership as supporting the lifting of that ban; and 77 percent say the issue will assist them in their decision as to who they'll vote for in Congress in the upcoming election.

48 percent of Democrats think that even though they perceive it is their own party leadership fighting against lifting the ban, they should reconvene immediately and do so.

Read more....

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

There will be suspicion surrounding the hiring of new City Manager Greg Burris

That's just a fact

Yesterday, the City Council held a press conference announcing their choice for the new City Manager.

I made a note of it here. I also provided information regarding what the City Charter said about the qualifications of the City Manager and what the City's job description identified as the "ideal candidate," here.

From the Charter:

"The city manager shall be chosen by the council on the basis of executive and administrative qualifications with special reference to his experience in, and his knowledge of municipal administrations...."

The job description posted by Arcus Public on behalf of the City said (among other things) the ideal candidate would have:

"Ten years of municipal experience, with prior service as a City Manager, Assistant/Deputy City Manager or the equivalent in a comparable or larger community."

There are going to be complaints and suspicion around this decision in some areas of the community. That's just a fact. Does mentioning those facts mean one doesn't or can't hope for the best?

I hope not.

I'd continue to encourage everyone to give new City Manager Greg Burris a chance before judging him.

If you want to read about and hear discussion about the questions surrounding the decision to hire Greg Burris as the new City Manager, I would refer you to Jericho's Journal: Right...Again! and this mornings pod casts at KSGF.

Blindly Watching

A blind man

White cane tucked under his chair

A bit unkempt

I wish now I had asked his name


Of watching his motions

So unaware was he that others

Were watching his motions

Was he unaware others were not in motion

As he


He scratched

Chewed his nails

He spun a pop cap in his fingers


He dropped It

But found It again Quickly

I studied him

I thought of him and me

In a room where we didn't really belong

I wondered how much he understood

I often wonder how much I understand

If anything

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

CFP provides information on the naming of new City Manager Greg Burris

The new issue of the Community Free Press is online.

Read all about the new city manager, named today and view pictures from the City's News Conference!

The video of the news conference is available at CityConnect.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Recommended Reading 28: CU Budget Process; Proposed Rate Hikes

City Utilities wants rate hikes

Dates in CU's budget process

- 3 p.m. Tuesday
-- Presentation of 2009 proposed budget to CU board, Citizens Advisory Council, City Council. CU headquarters, 301 E. Central

- 5:30 p.m. Aug. 19 -- Public hearing and CU board/ City Council joint study session, CU training center classroom, 301 E. Central

- Aug. 19-27 -- Reviews/study sessions as needed with CU board and City Council.

- 3 p.m. Aug. 28 -- Board votes on proposed budget, CU board room, 301 E. Central

- Aug. 29 -- Budget filed with city clerk

- 7 p.m. Sept. 15 -- First reading and public hearing of proposed budget, Springfield City Council, Old City Hall, 830 Boonville.

- 7 p.m. Sept. 29 -- City Council votes on proposed CU budget, Old City Hall, 830 Boonville

Saturday, August 09, 2008

City Manager Points of Reference

Springfield City Charter


Section 3.1. Qualifications; Term of office

The city manager shall be chosen by the council on the basis of executive and administrative qualifications with special reference to his experience in, and his knowledge of municipal administrations. He may or may not be a resident of the city or the state at the time of his selection, but shall reside within the city during his tenure of office. He shall be appointed for an indefinite term, subject to removal as herin provided, and shall devote his entire time to the duties of his office. The manager shall designate in writing, filed with the city clerk, one of the department directors or one of the administrative assistants to perform the duties of the city manager in the event of his absence or disability; if he should fail to do so, the council shall make such desgnation.

Arcus Public:
City Manager - Springfield, MO:

"Interested candidates should possess a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration, Business Administration or related discipline from an accredited college or university. Possession of an MBA or Master’s Degree in Public Administration, or related field is preferred. Ten years of municipal experience, with prior service as a City Manager, Assistant/Deputy City Manager or the equivalent in a comparable or larger community. Certification as an ICMA Credentialed Manager within 12 months of appointment is preferred.

"The ideal candidate will have superior leadership skills and documented success creating and implementing a city-wide strategic plan. He/she will be innovative and creative and be a champion of new initiatives while serving the City of Springfield. He/she should possess a record of accomplishment and success with redevelopment projects and a clear understanding of issues surrounding union and pension plans. The candidate’s background and experience should include exposure to a conservative environment with strong community involvement. This individual should be politically savvy and have the capacity to understand municipal issues on a technical level and convey them to laypersons in a concise, articulate manner. The City Manager should have demonstrated experience managing operations by directing and coordinating activities consistent with established goals, objectives and policies. He/she should also share a genuine interest in the growth of the community." (page 5)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

City Council's Internal Auditor Named

The City of Springfield issued a news release naming the new internal auditor, as recommended by the Missouri State Auditor's Office in the course of their audit of the city, released last year.

Her name is April Lathrom.

From the news release:

"...Lathrom joins the City from the Missouri State Auditor’s Office. She was a member of the auditing team that conducted the state audits of the City of Springfield and City Utilities that were released in December. She has been with the Auditor’s Office since 1995 and is now a Senior Auditor III. She most recently worked in the Springfield office of the Auditor’s office....

"Lathrom graduated from Missouri State University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in business administration. She is a member of the Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants and a member of the Institute of Internal Auditors."

Young Political Contenders: Inexperienced or Unjaded?

Idealistic or Naive?

I was inspired listening to the Vincent David Jericho Program on KSGF this morning. He was asking about whether there was an "age bias" against younger candidates who ran in the primary election Tuesday. A discussion with callers ensued. I found it refreshing to hear some older, elderly callers call in to discuss it. You can listen here (beginning about 9.28 in).

A couple of definitions of youthful from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary are:

"having the vitality or freshness of youth: vigorous"

"having accomplished or undergone little erosion"

One of the definitions of idealism found at the same source is:

"literary or artistic theory or practice that affirms the preeminent value of imagination as compared with faithful copying of nature"

In a few more months my body will hit the half century mark. With age seems to come a bit less energy and a few more aches and pains but, in conversations with some of my peers, I find that I haven't lost a lot of the naivety that is associated with youth. I haven't lost some of the idealism I had when I was still in high school. I haven't lost the dream, if you will, that if you work hard, if you are honest, if you strive to live a life of integrity, if you pour 100 percent of your energy into something and give it the best you can, you can make a difference in whatever field you choose to work.

I don't think I want to lose some of that naivete, sure there are bad connotations associated with being naive, "deficient in worldly wisdom or informed judgment," but less than one might think, it depends on your perspective. Other definitions are:

"marked by unaffected simplicity*"

"not previously subjected to experimentation or a particular experimental situation"


"the state of being simple, uncomplicated, or uncompounded"

"freedom from pretense or guile"

"directness of expression"

Wait a minute. I just realized that though I, and many of the callers to Jericho's program had no problem with youth, as I go through these definitions associated with youth: vitality and freshness; little erosion; imagination; simplicity; uncomplicated; freedom from pretense or guile; directness, I see why youthfulness doesn't fit into the political establishment. It's becoming simple and uncomplicated to me!

Perhaps political office is a bit like sex, some people value the clean slate of virginity while others covet the experience of a partner who has had lots of previous partners. However, experience isn't necessarily an indication of a good lover any more than years of holding political office is an indication a politician is a good representative of the people.

As a matter of fact, a large quantity of sexual experience brings with it more opportunity for sexually transmitted disease. Likewise, long inductees into the political realm may have become infected with the disease of losing the idealism of youth and the naivete, imagination, idealism, uncomplicated simplicity that goes with inexperience in the political realm. Many establishment, experienced, older incumbents feel they've had to face the reality that little change can occur in the current local, state and national political atmosphere and once infected with that mentality, certain cases may be incurable.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Room for Discussion about the "Anti-American" American question

There's plenty of discussion about anti-Americanism in the blogosphere, but all the discussions seem to have one thing in common.

There's little room for discussion and the only criteria for cries of anti-Americanism from either camp seems to be the initial, "if you don't agree with my philosophy about how to reach agreed upon goals, then you are anti-American."

If I'm a right winger, the lefties are anti-American.

If I'm a left winger, the righties are anti-American.

Truth be known, either camp, if accused of being anti-American would take grave offense at the charge. You see, my view of the best way to accomplish the "best" for America is probably different than the next guy's view. We all have opinions about what is best, what national policies are good, bad, or which we are indifferent about, and there's usually some good, somewhere, in everyone's philosophy.

America IS a melting pot and was at its inception (and no, this isn't about immigration, I happen to support LEGAL immigration.)

But, I just wanted to say to anyone reading this blog on this fine Saturday morning that I respect your opinions. I might vehemently disagree with your approach and might hope that any given election will put in place candidates and office holders who more closely agree with my views of what makes America the best country on the planet, but I like that people who disagree with me are out there.

You know the old adage, life would be pretty boring if everyone was just like me? Of course, since *I* am so fascinating, beautiful and multi-talented I don't think that applies to me, personally, but as for the rest of you.........