Devine intervention

May 9, 2014 

OK, so, maybe I’ve been waiting for years to use Jim Devine’s name in a pun-appropriate headline.

I suppose his retirement has given me that opportunity.

The president of the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council recently retired after 15 years leading that organization.

Back then, Lee’s Summit had a very different look and feel – from our downtown, city boundaries, highways and business environment.

Running EcoDevo, as those in the biz call it, during the 2000s and beyond had to have its share of joy and pain, challenges and champions.

And while the career and legacy of a man that started doing this long before Lee’s Summit – and will likely be involved in some way long after his retirement here – will take time to come into focus, this newspaper guy can honestly say one thing: I understand more about the world of that business now than I did five years ago.

It wasn’t that Devine singled me out for information; it’s that he engaged me in conversation from the very beginning. And once I figured out how valuable that could be, I engaged him in the same.

Devine was always willing to talk micro and macro issues: development in Lee’s Summit, where we’ve been and where we are heading, regional issues, political tie-ins to the process, all of it.

If there was a piece of Devine that more people should have taken advantage of, it was just that: his ability to discuss, discern and differentiate a mass of EcoDevo information.

That was a lesson I learned early on … that if I ask him to take the time to talk, he will make the time to converse about a topic he truly had a passion for.

Through some personal and professional challenges, Devine was a steady voice, some tough love even, when this young journalist needed it.

His departure, along with some retirements at City Hall and in other areas, underscores a bigger issue in Lee’s Summit that we will all have to tackle in the coming months and years: the aging and departure of some of our best city leaders, in many arenas, and how we work to replace those long-term leaders with the up-and-coming talent we will need to carry us through a very different time.

And Jim, thank you for talking, listening and taking an interest.

We can only hope your predecessor is an avid consumer of the printed word as well.

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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