Bawdy budget banter

Lee's Summit JournalFebruary 19, 2014 

It must be the talk of the city budget that just makes everyone grumpy.

At last week’s budget meeting – one that was on the schedule in plenty of time but took on a sense of urgent nature once some thought their funding may be in danger – the meeting took many uncomfortable turns.

Do you remember sitting in fifth grade when that one student was going to battle the teacher at every turn? You knew the fight was coming, so you just kept your head down, hoped to God they didn’t bring you into the fray and then talked about the fracas all the way home on the bus.

Yep, the meeting was just like that. Grade school antics and all.

Councilman Bob Johnson and Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council President Jim Devine got into a predictable spat. Again.

What wasn’t predictable, and even more discomforting, was the exchange between Councilman Dave Mosby and Devine.

Devine gave up his spot at the microphone once he and Johnson disagreed on something that was said or not said years ago. While that may matter to those two, it really doesn’t to the rest of us.

LSEDC Chair Brad Cox took the post and quite deftly answered questions, discussed topics ranging from incentives to recruitment and navigated the unsteady budget waters that were caused when his group, the Lee’s Summit Chamber and Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street were summoned to the budget meeting just hours prior to its start.

Devine had made his way back up to where Cox was speaking, said something to him and sent Mosby into a tailspin, with the first-term councilman snapping at him like the aforementioned fifth grade teacher.

Devine took his seat, and he continued to speak to another member of his executive board, Christine Bushyhead, which elicited another terse response from Mosby, who again asked Devine if he had something to share with the committee.

Devine said no. Mosby, who had interrupted Cox to ask this question, sat back, and the rest of us hung our heads.

The awkward moment, of course, is caught on TV for all of eternity. It doesn’t really matter if it was viewed by a few or a few thousand, the entire exchange and attitude of many involved that night is simply unacceptable.

If we are better than this, we sure as heck are not showing it.

Whatever issues continue to drive wedge between our EDC – Devine specifically – and Johnson and Mosby need to be settled away from the dais and the microphones. This has been going on to for too long and with too many exchanges like this. It’s enough already.

And while we are at it, conducting a budget meeting under a threat of slashing public service agreement budgets is no way to operate, either.

If that room felt tense before, during and after those exchanges, there is a good reason for that.

Johnson, the chairman, has asked for leadership at the council level and he should have demanded it of everyone there at the budget meeting that night.

 

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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