Over, under whelmed

August 14, 2013 

These are a few words that may describe our city council lately.

Yes, they want to be “bold.” Yes, they want to “ramp up initiatives.” But man, I’m not sure if those goals presented last week at our Lee’s Summit City Council work session could have been less inspiring.

And just to be clear, those are the words straight from some of our councilmen.

“Is anyone as under whelmed at this as I am?” Council member Ed Cockrell offered immediately following Deputy City Manager Brian Scott’s brief presentation.

Cockrell called out the less-than-meaty nature of the council’s goals. And he couldn’t have been more correct.

In its current form, our council should have set out to be bold in a 32-ounce-bacon-wrapped-T-bone-with-a-massive-side-of-mashed-potatoes kind of way.

What we were all treated to last week was a grilled portabella mushroom. And not even one big enough to make me full.

So, let’s be clear, that this doesn’t fall on Scott or City Manager Steve Arbo. They are presenting what the council ordered at its retreat.

So what’s ahead? Arbo asked that question, somewhat rhetorically, at this work session.

If this council needs help, guidance in fact, on setting future goals, then let’s make that a part of the conversation.

As Councilman Allan Gray pointed out, what we’re discussing here really is strategic planning.

Where we’ve struggled at the council level, clearly, though is the ability to make swift, long-lasting decisions. I mean in a timely fashion. Not lingering months and years over issues that could be done with some planning and cooperation.

Now, I think we’re getting there. And some of the rest of this work session pointed toward this – especially when all eight are present to get this important city work done.

The discussion on the proposed changes to the city charter proved to be hearty with many different ideas, some of them, yes, “bold,” while also showing a willingness of our entire council to bounce ideas around, listen to each other and find what is right for this community. All things that serve us well in a work session such as this.

Of course, when it comes time to make these decisions, we hope that they all come equally prepared.

I would like to see the city make an immediate change to the city charter so that we do not have single-issue recall efforts, such as the recent one against Councilman Rob Binney.

Binney’s recall group fell short on signatures, and their threshold was woefully small anyway.

I like raising the number of signatures needed and using a mayoral election count to increase that number needed, ideas born from Councilman Holland and echoed by others. We cannot make it impossible to toss out an ineffective or corrupt public official. But the last two recall efforts weren’t targeting that kind of behavior.

We have certainly not seen the last of these single-issue recalls. If we’re asking more of our councilmen, we also need to ask more of our voters and citizens.

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

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