Making chicken salad

July 17, 2013 

Some times, the sausage making that is local government just isn’t a pretty sight.

And in the case of the Lee’s Summit City Council last week, it was more like chicken salad.

Does anyone remember the drill in grade school where the teacher would ask how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

The trick was, you innately leave out the most basic steps and jump right into putting the PB&J on a piece of bread.

I swear if you got these eight council members together and asked them how to make chicken salad, we would have to enact the 11 p.m. rule because we would never get out of council chambers.

What happened at the July 11 council meeting wasn’t the most shining moment of city governance.

The vote was important, yes. But it was as messy as a grade school kid trying to make chicken salad, not just describe its assembly.

We had what were, ostensibly, legitimate questions about chickens mating, we broke down the sights and smells of chickens, we labored over the size, shape and dimensions of a chicken coop and even had animal control warning of “chickens at large” around Lee’s Summit (in reality, they go on 12-15 chicken calls a year; that sounds like about one a month to me and not even something that should be on this council’s radar).

Yet, we linger. We talk it out and over and to just absolute death.

All that was missing was a discussion of color. Hey, an orange chicken cage would really look nice in this back yard in a suburban neighborhood.

All the while, one question is lingering: why are these decisions taking us so long?

Councilman Brian Whitley says this topic was brought to his attention in 2010. That was the year he was elected.

Three years later, we are putting a stamp of approval on these so-called “urban chickens” and a homeowner’s right to carry up to six of them in close proximity to their property.

What passed, by a narrow 5-3 vote, was a measure that allows chickens within 40 feet of another structure and 10 feet of the property line.

Thank God that is over and agreed upon.

Whitley’s observation shouldn’t be set aside or forgotten. It took us three years to vote this up or down.

Discussions on orange buildings and chickens are not our best display of what kind of city we are and who is leading us.

Let’s learn a lesson from this one.

And please…pass some chicken salad. We may need to start bringing dinner with us to city council.

John Beaudoin is the publisher of the Lee’s Summit Journal. To comment, call 816-282-7001 or e-mail

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