Council needs a holiday hug

Lee's Summit JournalDecember 20, 2013 

NOTE: This column is being written hours before the Dec. 19 Lee’s Summit City Council meeting.

Any bad behavior, sniping or cheap shots will be addressed next week. Thank you.

OK, back to your regularly scheduled opinion piece…

Our council held a special session Dec. 12 to discuss a special use permit for auto sales on Third Street.

Regardless of the muck and mire we could dig into about this applicant, many of our elected officials instead decided to take the time to pick some scabs and address some old wounds.

And, entertainingly enough, they did it on the rare occasion Sen. Will Kraus was in the audience. Not that it matters. I am sure it was amusing for Kraus to see some petty behavior outside of Jefferson City.

So instead of addressing the issue in front of them, Councilman Derek Holland unwittingly opened the door to innumerable council comments about preparedness, order, legislative processes, the role of the Mayor Pro Tem and even allowed some council members to take a few shots.

Holland’s "process problem" isn’t lost on anyone that watches council on a regular basis.

But following his observation, Councilman Ed Cockrell took umbrage.

But not before Councilman Bob Johnson said he believes part of the issue is with the amount of time and advice staff is giving applicants.

Cockrell rebuffed Holland’s "messy and difficult situations" claims with a series of examples of recent actions by the council.

In the process of that rebuff, Cockrell directed at fellow councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Allan Gray his thoughts on Gray’s role, specifically that he doesn’t have as much power in the current form of government, with our current charter, as he may think he does. Not only that, but Cockrell said what imagined development plan for Third Street doesn’t exist and that the "no" votes against the car dealer came with no good reasoning.

Cockrell also said any messiness could be a result of a lack of preparation by certain council members.

Gray responded that he doesn’t need to defend his votes or his record.

Of course, the lights continued to flash and Mayor Randy Rhoads was forced to continue to let everyone have their say.

Council member Hofmann also let Gray no, in no uncertain terms, what she thinks of his position as Pro Tem, again invoking the charter and the "power" he may or may not have.

And Gray countered, saying Hofmann was grossly in error if she thinks the position holds any power.

Hofmann has felt marginalized for a long time on city council and she’s finally letting that out, calling out Gray for not bringing forward her issues to the committee level. Gray says he has.

We come full circle to Holland, who admitted that, perhaps, he’s not as organized as he should be on some issues.

Now that I type it out, does it all sound ridiculous? We did this, in front of people, during a special session to discuss a permit.

The conversation should have stopped with Holland and Cockrell.

But we just keep piling on and piling on and we air out our junk in front of Kraus, the Truman Heartland Community Foundation and God knows whoever else is watching at home.

I’d suggest it is time for another council retreat but those are clearly not doing any bit of good.

 

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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