Des Moines passes, but others won’t

Lee's Summit JournalJuly 16, 2014 

Call me crazy, but I think if Steve Arbo could have gotten in his car last week and immediately driven to Des Moines to take the city manager job there, he would have.

Under the guise of careful stewardship, Arbo took a verbal walloping from some members of the Lee’s Summit City Council July 10, mostly notably Derek Holland in reference to the Summit Place TIF agreement.

Holland has made it no mystery he doesn’t like the project, Sam’s Club, and the amount of the TIF given to the Summit Place project.

Others, like council members Dave Mosby and Bob Johnson, have also voiced their displeasure.

Of course, we walked down this road in previous meetings.

What some of these guys don’t “like” about it have been vetted, voiced and vehemently vocalized on many occasions.

That doesn’t stop them from doing it again, of course. And they did.

We got another round of warnings and finger shaking about setting precedence and some sort of implied downfall of our society if we approve this financing for such a business.

Councilman Johnson, correctly, pointed out that some discussions on the table at this particular meeting opened the door to questioning Arbo on his decision. He was responding to pointed criticism from Councilman Diane Forte that she directed at Holland regarding his condemnation of how Arbo handled this situation.

Holland opined that Arbo “failed miserably” in negotiating this contract. He also noted that our city council members were elected to be a “buffer” between the citizens and City Hall.

That’s a notion I can’t quite wrap my head around just yet. Going all the way back to my “I’m Just a Bill on Capitol Hill” days, I was taught elected officials represented the people, not necessarily acting as the cushion between them and our government (which, of course, they are also a part of).

Either way, Arbo is not beyond criticism at the dais. We all have different ways of defining it. Telling someone of Arbo’s expertise that he failed miserably seems unreasonable to me.

Of course, this council put itself in this position, so really, the fingers need to be pointing back at them.

They could have voted before the April election on this. They didn’t.

Now, though, we know that Arbo is not leaving for Des Moines. But that doesn’t mean another city won’t come calling.

Looking at his track record in Lee’s Summit, it’s easy to see why he would be an attractive candidate again down the road.



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

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