It seems we have a minor attendance problem at the Lee’s Summit City Council.
Normally, this may not be on anyone’s radar, but seeing as it is hard enough to get through the muck and mire of council and City Hall sometimes for those wishing to do business in town, it would be nice to have all hands on deck when we make these decisions.
Let’s look at last week’s meeting, for example.
With a mere five of our eight city councilmen present, we were to discuss an important change to city code regarding the distance between pubs and residencies.
While the discussion was somewhat lively – if not off-topic much of the time – it’s hard to fathom only five-eighths of this elected council being present for it and updates on another vital project, 291 and 50 highways.
Yet, there we were with barely a quorum to do business.
At one point, Councilman Bob Johnson was talking to a constituent in the hallway, leaving us without enough elected firepower to make any decisions.
It’s a good thing Johnson returned, however, because a simple discussion about whether or not to change a unified ordinance in a downtown district – where entertainment and arts of all kinds is encouraged and welcome – spiraled into something quite different.
Council member Kathy Hofmann questioned how many “bars” we wanted to “allow” in the downtown business district. While that certainly can and should be a topic when planning our downtown, that had nothing to do with this ordinance change.
Johnson and Councilman Rob Binney not only had to redirect that discussion, they had to talk council member Derek Holland off the ledge from tabling the whole thing until we had more than five council members in attendance.
There were so many things wrong with this 20-minute stretch of city government I felt like my head was going to explode.
Hofmann was misdirecting the entire conversation and absent council members are hampering young and energetic business and building owners from moving forward on a project on Third Street.
Have we seen enough yet?
I realize Lee’s Summit is a family community – I proudly raise a soon-to-be 3-year-old daughter in this downtown area – but calling out downtown as some sort of wild nightlife area is way out of line. Police presence in downtown isn’t going to skyrocket because of a new bar opening up in an upstairs space. If anything it will bring some different clientele to our downtown.
But whatever the topic, we need all hands on deck to make these decisions.
Risking city and local business decisions because we barely have enough to vote is just embarrassing. Why would we want to do that kind of damage on TV and in the public eye?
Someone on that council needs to take control and start throwing the hammer down.
We have an election coming up in eight months and if we have any illusions about attracting the best and brightest to run for the open seats, we need to start leading by example.
The last couple of months have been far from that model of policy governance and excellence.
Maybe it’s time for this council to revisit their goals that they set for themselves.
John Beaudoin is the publisher of the Lee’s Summit Journal. To comment, call 816-282-7001 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.