Come and see the show!

June 18, 2014 

Emerson, Lake & Palmer had a premonition in 1973.

That’s the year Karn Evil 9 was released, clearly an omen to the future goings on of the Lee’s Summit City Council some 40 years later.

“Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends,

We’re so glad you could attend, come inside, come inside.”

Much like that fun-filled song full of vivid imagery, our Lee’s Summit City Council continues to dole out nonstop entertainment.

The latest – which I will argue is actually a positive step (more on that later) – comes from two committee meetings that are sending polar opposite messages to the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council.

On June 4, the Community and Economic Development Committee voted 3-0 to attach superfluous “performance standards” to the LSEDC’s public service agreement with the city. Attachment of such “metrics” would be the string to pull, pick apart or otherwise break down current funding for that organization, which has already been cut back tens of thousands of dollars.

At that meeting, Chairman Dave Mosby and members Allan Gray and Derek Holland voted yes.

Just 13 days later, we got a different message from two of those three.

The Finance and Budget Committee met June 17 to approve the PSA’s for the groups that request such a partnership with the city, including Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street, The Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce, tourism, marketing/branding and the LSEDC.

Kicking off with the EDC, committee vice-chair Diane Forte recommended removing the standards until a time that the new LSEDC president could have a voice in the matter. Forte pointed out that with new council in place, and based on discussions at the recent retreat between council and the EDC, that now was not the time to make such an attachment.

Amazingly, Holland and Gray agreed, leaving chairman Bob Johnson alone in dissent.

Of course, two different committees voting two different ways to send a message about the agreement with the EDC wasn’t sitting well with staff, particularly City Manager Steve Arbo and attorney Trevor Stiles.

City staff had to check the tape from the June 4 meeting to, indeed, confirm that CEDC (with Gray and Holland) had, yes, just voted a few weeks ago to put standards on the contract.

Stiles and Arbo both waved the red flag about the precarious position the two messages send to council.

In the end, though, the vote went through, 3-1, to table attachment of such standards.

While this is certainly part of some show that should be undesirable to all of us, it signals some shift in thought over the last 13 days. And a positive one at that.

The council needs to iron out its committee structure and they need to do it soon. These mixed messages are not good for business.

However this issue made it to finance and budget, let’s all be glad it did. The CEDC vote was counterproductive and not in the spirit of cooperation with an organization that is about to welcome new leadership.

As goofy as it all came about, this new vote to table it shows, I hope, that some on council are listening.

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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