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  • skcablog 1:03 am on June 15, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Blue River Road, City Council, GO Bonds   

    Blue River Road Repairs Put Off Again (and Again) 

    When the City was campaigning to pass the GO Bonds back in 2017, the former city manager attended a Southern Communities Coalition meeting to spread the propaganda, so naturally I attended to see what he had to say. One of the questions asked was about Blue River Road. The group was told that it couldn’t be included in the first year of the bonds because there were too many pressing issues, but promised it would be included in the second year. It wasn’t.

    Recently, four years later, the city council decided which issues would be included in the budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. Here begins the big lie.

    The new city manager attended the April meeting of the Southern Communities Coalition and was also asked about the fate of the road. He responded that he had it on his agenda but “your city council representatives took it off”. Granted there was an article in the local free newspaper, The Martin City Telegraph, where John Sharp did his best to make everyone think Mayor Pro Temp (also sixth district representative) Kevin McManus fought for the road. While McManus may have initially spoken to the need for Blue River to receive funds, he did in the end give in.

    So here we are in the fourth year of GO Bond-funded projects, two years after when we were promised Blue River Road would be taken care of. However, the City has voted on the issues to be addressed and Blue River Road is not one of them.

    Councilwoman Bough was at the last (May) Southern Communities Meeting and was also asked about the road. Her unbelievable response was that currently it would take $24 million and there was only $23 million available so it was cut from the budget. Also, even though the Corps of Engineers has completed their coring (they drilled down 8 or 9 years ago); there is now, according to Councilwoman Bough, a question of what kind of rock is present. Apparently, there is some indecision on someone’s part whether it’s shale or something else even though there are numerous “outside geologic sources” which describe the makeup of the area and apparently the Corps’ findings aren’t to be accepted.

    Why can’t our elected officials actually tell us the truth about what’s going on? Is it because they’re afraid of backlash? Do they not know how important Blue River Road is to those of us living in South Kansas City, or is it that they just don’t care? At least McManus made a show of supporting us. That’s more than I can say for Bough.

     
  • skcablog 10:47 pm on April 26, 2021 Permalink | Reply  

    The Dereliction of Blue River Road 

    Probably not too many people caught the Southern Communities Coalition meeting last Wednesday night, which is too bad. The city manager was one of the guest speakers and revealed the level of the city council’s concern for Blue River Road.

    The subject of Blue River Road has come up numerous times at community meetings over the past 15 years. Part of it has been closed for that entire time, and another part has been closed for something a bit less than that. South of Red Bridge Road, overdue for repaving, it is like driving a mine field. The city can’t even fill the myriad of pot holes correctly nor patch the long crack down the middle.

    Blue River Road was once a beautiful, winding path through a large county park, and was a vital means of transportation for many who didn’t want to deal with highway traffic, congestion, or traffic lights. At one time it was an excellent way to unwind while driving home from work. It also provided an enjoyable outing for many bicyclists, especially on weekends.

    The city manager was presented with these issues along with ways the City has wasted money while allocating a pittance to Blue River Road. He responded by saying it was on his work agenda, but unnamed city council persons told him to take it off. WHAT!!!!?

    Maybe that shouldn’t be surprising though. South KC’s council representatives are rarely seen east of Holmes Road, and seem concerned only with the Red Bridge Shopping Center and Martin City. Back in the ’60s the City fought hard to annex the Hickman Mills area. Now one has to wonder why.

    For some time, those in Hickman Mills believed in their hearts that no one at city hall cared about their issues. Now the city manager has confirmed it.

     
  • skcablog 12:05 am on April 16, 2021 Permalink | Reply  

    It’s Begun 

    The Hickman Mills school board reorganized last night. With Freedom, Inc. now having a majority on the board, Byron Townsend, who had resigned a few years ago because he wasn’t happy about the people elected by the board to be president and vice-president and who has a 70% attendance rate was elected president.  DaRon McGee, who had to resign from the state legislature because of harassment allegations and who has a 59% attendance rate was elected vice-president.

    Because those two and Carol Graves, who was recently re-elected to the board, have missed so many meetings or partial meetings, an attendance policy was voted on prior to the re-organization (meaning the prior board voted on the policy) which passed with a simple majority.  After the new board members were sworn in and the board reorganized with a new president and vice-president, Mr. McGee said he wanted the policy to be voted on again by the new board.  Naturally it failed.

    One has to wonder why the new leadership of the school board doesn’t want to have an attendance policy. Are they even aware the way they govern over the next year will be critical to full state accreditation? Or do they just not care?

     
    • Mike 1:53 pm on April 16, 2021 Permalink | Reply

      It’s amazing to me that voters obviously didn’t know about the absenteeism. They voted for McGee despite his history of sexual harassment, and now he too isn’t showing up for work. No doubt they will be re-elected because they will be the only candidates who send out mailers. This sorry state of affairs will not change until we have a movement to change it.

      Like

  • skcablog 1:00 am on April 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    The Children Lost 

    Recently I was getting ready to pitch my political mailings for last week’s election and noticed one that said the April 6 election was “the biggest election in Kansas City this year”. Of course, it was talking about the E-tax which just goes to show how much importance this city places on education. Actually, that was demonstrated some years ago when a former city council decided the April election no longer needed to be dedicated to school issues. It seemed more expedient for them if they were able to place issues on the ballot when they knew a low turnout would be almost guaranteed, in return almost guaranteeing them passage of their issue. Also, guaranteed was that many of those voting were only there to vote on the city’s issue and knew nothing about the school issues to be passed.

    So the E-tax passed and everyone is happy except those of us who actually care about our school districts and, in turn, our local communities. Freedom, Inc. ran full out to get their candidates elected in Kansas City, Center, and Hickman Mills. Of course John Sharp was right in there pushing the same candidates, except he focused on Grandview instead of Kansas City, using his Southland Progress PAC. It’s somewhat interesting that the treasurer of that PAC is currently on the Hickman Mills school board and was himself supported by the PAC last year when he was re-elected (after having previously resigned).

    There was even a new PAC formed, Eastside Forward PAC, which is supposedly connected to state representative and Freedom, Inc. board member, Barbara Washington.

    Between the three PACs, 4 mailings (two from Freedom, Inc.) were sent to Hickman Mills voters supporting Freedom, Inc. friendly candidates. They now have a majority on the board of education. That includes a Freedom, Inc. board member and a Freedom, Inc. committee member.

    Why are they pushing so hard? In Hickman Mills, the rumor is they want to replace the superintendent who has been there less than a year. The next question is who would they replace him with? Only they can answer that question, but it seems strange that DaRon McGee, current board member and also Freedom, Inc. board member, has been having private conversations with the KCPS superintendent. He made the statement last year after getting elected that he would have the votes after this year’s election to “get things done” and so he does.

    It doesn’t seem to matter that that kind of instability is not good for the school district. It doesn’t seem to matter that one of the items needed to garner full accreditation is stability in governance.

    Carol Graves, one of their candidates, was president of the school board when the district’s budget tanked. Schools had to be closed and teachers and other staff had to be let go in order to cut the budget. This is who they wanted everyone to believe will be good for the district, along with her running mate.

    Apparently, they convinced enough people, but I can’t give them all the credit. Much needs to be given to our city “leaders” who didn’t seem to care about the importance of having an “education” election date where only people who cared and knew the stakes voted for those who would be responsible for kids’ educations and for the future of local communities. Many of those voting last Tuesday were voting for or against the E-tax and knew nothing about the candidates listed on the ballot they received. It was only natural to vote for the two people at the top. It’s just sad that indiscriminate voting like that can lead to such grim and dire consequences.

     
  • skcablog 3:52 am on April 5, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    April 6th School Board Election 

    On the whole this country doesn’t give education as much respect as some other countries. That is especially evident here in KC. Once upon a time, the April ballot was for the election of school board members and other school related issues such as bonds and levies. The electorate of each school district voted for the people they felt were most qualified to be elected to their local school board and thus be responsible for the education of the children.

    Then, the city of Kansas City cynically decided the April ballot would be a good time to put issues before the people, knowing there would be a fairly low turnout and thus almost ensuring the passage of the City’s issue. The result is that now many of the people who vote are voting on the City’s issue and know nothing about those running for school board. Consequently, often times, the most qualified people aren’t elected.

    Rather, it’s career “politicians” who don’t really care about policy school issues but see a means to achieve their own ends. Why do they get elected? Because as “politicians” they know that putting their names first on the ballot makes them more likely to garner the most votes.

    Most people don’t understand how directly connected they are to their school district even if they don’t have kids in school. As goes their school district, so goes their property values and ultimately the community (neighborhoods) they live in. School board governance also factors into whether or not a district is accredited.

    Hickman Mills is a prime example of that. Everyone thinks the district can’t get fully accredited because their kids do so poorly on state testing. In actuality, there are three issues the district needs to work on and governance is one; and the responsibility for choosing the candidate to effect good governance falls to the voters.

    So who’s running?

    First on the ballot is Carol Graves. She’s running for re-election, even though she had said she wouldn’t run again. She has previously been board president and under her watch the school district’s fund balances dropped so low they had to close two schools in order to cut the budget. Now she says the district has no financial issues, even though it is sitting on two schools which have to be maintained even though they’re empty. (Actually three because one school was closed previously when the school district reorganized due to a declining student population). There is also a bloated administration even as student population has been declining. Her choice was to close schools rather than cut administrators in order to “fix” the budget.

    Her attendance at board meetings has been less than stellar, either staying a short while or not attending at all. Even as late as March 18 one half hour into a meeting she said she would need to “pop out” which she did along with DaRon McGee, another board member.

    Next on the ballot is Ann Coleman. She ran in a previous election but did not win. Most people in the community don’t know her or anything about her.

    Here I must digress briefly.

    Much has been made about Freedom’s role in the Kansas City Public Schools, but there has been no publicity regarding the contest in Hickman Mills where there are 5 candidates running for 2 seats; so let’s take a look at that.

    Freedom, Inc. sent two mailers supporting, among other issues, 2 candidates for the Hickman Mills school board, Carol Graves and Ann Coleman. Southland Progress, essentially John Sharp’s PAC (political action committee) sent a mailer endorsing the same two candidates. Another mailer was sent out apparently from those candidates’ campaign committees; however, it also includes Freedom, Inc.’s logo and Southland Progress’ logo along with pictures of 2 Freedom, Inc. members and John Sharp. That’s a total of 4 mailers which are in some way connected to Freedom, Inc. and John Sharp.

    One has to wonder why these two candidates are being pushed they way they are. One answer may be in something DaRon McGee, currently serving on the school board as well as the Board of Directors for Freedom, Inc., said after he was elected last year: “I won’t be able to get much done this year because I don’t have the votes, but after the next election (tomorrow, April 6), I will.” What is it DaRon (and Freedom) wants to “get done”? Could it have anything to do with Mr. McGee’s meetings with Dr. Bedell, the superintendent for the Kansas City Public Schools?

    The third person on the ballot is Clifford Ragan who was on the board previously and ran for re-election last year but did not win. He has also been involved in district schools and was a PTA president.

    The fourth candidate listed is John Carmichael who has officially taken himself out of the race for health reasons.

    Fifth on the ballot is Ron Pearson. An Army veteran, his children attended district schools and his grandchildren are currently in district schools.

    Last, but certainly not least, is Ebony Osby. Ms. Osby is a former Hickman Mills School District employee and currently has children in the schools.

    Mr. Pearson and Ms. Osby have both been endorsed by renowned, and long time Hickman Mills resident, Alvin Books and are running on the slogan of “Parents not Politicians”. That sounds good to me: no hidden agendas.

    But are there hidden agendas afoot?

    While one can make what they may of rumors, the current rumor is that there is a plan in the making to hire a new superintendent for the school district, even though the current superintendent was hired less than a year ago. Currently Hickman Mills has had 2 interim and 4 full superintends since Dr. Williams left in 2012 after 12 years at the helm. It has become a revolving door just as Kansas City Public Schools were when the district was at its worst. That is one reason the State, in their assessment of the district, keeps marking it down for governance and why the district will never be fully accredited until something changes with those who govern – which includes all 7 board members. It is imperative that the electorate make an informed decision about who they elect if Hickman Mills is to become the great school district it once was. Only then will businesses want to relocate to the area once more making this a thriving community.

     
  • skcablog 3:21 am on March 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: E-Tax, Earnings Tax   

    Is It Time To Say No To The Earnings Tax? 

    On April 6th, the City of Kansas City will be asking us to renew the controversial E-tax. That’s the tax that, in Missouri, only St. Louis and Kansas City have imposed. Two groups in Hickman Mills have had presentations regarding this vote. The first was the South Kansas City Alliance. True to their political nature, the President, John Sharp, allowed only one side to be presented – the pro side. Could this be because almost all politicians are supporting it? The other organization, Southern Communities Coalition, presented both sides, allowing people to make up their own minds.

    For those who have not had the benefit of the other side, we would like to provide you links to some of the studies that have been made regarding the effect of the E-tax on Kansas City and some of the options available:

    https://showmeinstitute.org/publication/taxes/how-an-earnings-tax-harms-cities-like-saint-louis-and-kansas-city

    https://showmeinstitute.org/publication/taxes/how-to-replace-the-earnings-tax-in-kansas-city

    https://showmeinstitute.org/publication/taxes/new-evidence-of-the-effects-of-city-earnings-taxes-on-growth

    https://showmeinstitute.org/publication/taxes/updated-estimates-of-the-effects-of-earnings-taxes-on-city-growth

    Also, we received a statement from First District Councilwoman Heather Hall about why she is NOT supporting the E-tax:

    I am not in support of the Earnings Tax as a source of General Fund revenue for the City of Kansas City. It began as a source of funds to support trash needs for the citizens. It has morphed into a fund that does not do its original intent and is constantly a bargaining tool to scare people into support.

    I have said that I will not endorse the campaign to renew the tax. I have also said I will not strongly campaign against it until I have a plan to replace it with a better, more consistent source of revenue for the City.

    As I research other successful cities across the country, most do not fund their budget in this manner.

    Hopefully, this will provide you some meaningful information you might not otherwise receive.

     
  • skcablog 3:19 pm on October 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply  

    Center Planning Online Meeting 

    Center Planning and Development Council
    Tuesday, October 27, 2020
    7:00 pm
    Via Zoom Meeting Online or by phone–Link and details are below

    For the first time, Center Planning & Development Council will attempt a Zoom meeting at our regular time. This will be an experiment to see if it will be successful. The meeting will be held at our regular time, Tuesday, October 27th at 7pm, but it will be online via Zoom. Here is the registration link:
    When: Oct 27, 2020 07:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)
    Register in advance for this meeting by clicking on this link:
    https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcqce6uqj0rGdXjV_AghdMDFo90YBdCKZcW
    After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. If you have any issues or questions, please contact: Sherri Elliott <sherriot25@gmail.com>

    Tuesday, October 27th, 7pm via Zoom
    AGENDA

    1) Crime report from South Patrol. Aaron Whitehead will give us an in-depth report of crime in our area, as well as answer your questions and concerns.

    2) Litter in Our City. Kevin McManus, our 6th District Councilperson will address this issue. There have been complaints from many citizens on NextDoor and others that citizens are getting lax in keeping the city clean. Tires and trash are found everywhere. What can the City do to resolve this problem? What can we do as citizens? We look forward to better understanding the city’s current cleanup model and offering possible solutions to proactively keep Kansas City clean.

    3) KC Spirit Playbook. Morgan Pemberton, Planner at the City Development Department will tell us about the new initiative for a comprehensive plan for the entire city. This will be similar to the Focus plan that many of you have worked on. Morgan will discuss the plan and identify ways we can be involved.

     
  • skcablog 3:11 am on August 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bond Issue, , , Laura Loyacono, Mark Sharp, Missouri Legislature, Primary Election   

    Thoughts on The 36th District Race and The Latest School Bond Issue 

    Two ballot issues should be of especial concern to residents of south Kansas City, one being peculiar to the southeastern half.

    The first is the issue of who will be their representative in the State House. One choice is one with a questionable past involving use of Facebook time regarding issues of a sexual nature and internet searches for tactical rifles during the time he was supposed to be teaching high school students; issues which led to his resigning his teaching position. Mark Sharp happens to be the son of longtime Democratic puppeteer John Sharp, who is eager to have his disgraced son in Jeff City so that he, himself, can have his finger in yet another pie.

    The other choice offered is Laura Loyacono, a newcomer to Kansas City politics, but knowledgeable about how Jeff City works. Her past includes a record of supporting public education and stable housing for seniors and working families. She also helped establish the Jackson County Children’s Services Fund.

    While Sharp’s most recent flyer states that “This senseless killing must stop” and joined Mayor Lucas in requesting the governor to convene a special session: he says nothing about what he will propose at that session. Even implying that he will do something about guns is a bit hypocritical when he, himself, was searching online for not simply a hunting rifle, but a tactical rifle.

    For those concerned about COVID-19, you should also be aware that he campaigns without wearing a mask.

    Loyacono promises to fight for quality affordable healthcare, common sense gun laws, and expanded access to education and job training. She has a Master’s degree in public administration and no ties to the local political club.

    It’s time for south Kansas City to step up and say no to the establishment and yes to a real and fresh voice to represent us in Jeff City.

    The other issue, which is important to those living in Hickman Mills, is the bond issue. While this bond itself will not increase your taxes, it will increase the debt service the district will have to pay back which could have dire consequences.

    In 2014, the District had a financial reserve of 24%. By the end of 2018 the District was so low on funds, it had to borrow money to make payroll and then ended up closing two schools and laying off teachers. Altogether, it doesn’t seem like this Board is a group that knows how to handle money.

    Before voting to put this issue before the people, the Board hired a consultant, Hollis+Miller, an architectural firm. While they have worked with many school districts and did architectural work for Hickman Mills in the past, one has to wonder about conflict of interest. The Board has a history of accepting the recommendation of consultants simply because they’re the consultant. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to them that there needs to be an evaluation process.

    Aside from that, let’s compare some of the issues supposedly covered by the last bond with those to be covered by the proposed bond:

    2016 Bond2020 Proposed Bond
    Roof ImprovementsRoof Improvements
    HVAC ImprovementsHVAC Improvements
    Restroom RenovationsRestroom Renovations

    There was/is no delineation as to where any of these have or will occur, so we don’t know if these are new projects or old ones that just didn’t quite get taken care of. There are also listed for the current bond “exterior improvements” and “interior improvements”. That could be anything. Does the public not deserve to know exactly what will be done with their money? How will we be able to judge if our tax dollars are being used properly?

    While fund balances have now been built back up, given recent history they could very well go back down again. This seems a poor time to go further into debt. This bond issue will not raise your taxes, but should the District budget get close to the red again and the Board votes to close more schools, your property values will certainly go down.

     
  • skcablog 5:00 am on July 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply  

    Not Strong & Not Effective Voice for South KC! 

    John Sharp, running his son’s campaign, recycles his old and phony campaign slogan (“A Strong Voice for Us”). That is what Mark Sharp’s campaign is about: John Sharp. John Sharp was not strong and effective for his neighbors; John sold them out every chance he could get to the corporate interests. Mark Sharp is not a strong person. This is apparent with his resignation of his teaching position in Texas for inappropriate sexual messages displayed in his classroom while students were present. Mark Sharp will not be effective because he will do and say what his father John Sharp wants. Mark Sharp is nothing more than a puppet for John Sharp. Mark Sharp did not even have the ability to create and promote a new vision for the people he wants to represent. Previous blog posts detailed the issues with Mark Sharp’s record and John Sharp’s self serving agenda. Move forward South Kansas City next Tuesday without the failed Sharp brand!

     
  • skcablog 7:00 am on July 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply  

    Kansas City’s Most Self-Serving Career Politician: John Sharp 

    Southeast Kansas City is plagued with high crime, poverty, and struggling neighborhoods. One person controls much of what happens there, to the detriment of the people living in the area: Former and shadow city councilman John Sharp.

    John Sharp started as a Republican State Representative in the 1970s. Next, Sharp became a city councilman in the 1980s. After being term limited out and with a council backroom deal with his replacement city councilwoman, he became the director of MAST ambulance service. But, with no management experience, the ambulance service was soon in financial difficulties and the city was forced to place the independent ambulance service under the supervision of the fire department. Sharp then became a Hickman Mills school board member in the 1990s, a step many take when they want to get their name before the public so they can run for a higher office. When his term was up in 2007, Sharp returned to city council for another 8 years. And, when he was again term limited out and once again with a backroom deal with his replacement city councilman, Sharp became a Public Improvement Advisory Committee representative.

    John Sharp also created a political organization, the South Kansas City Alliance, he says to compete with Northland Neighborhoods but in reality it is a way to get city hall to fund his political group. The political action committee Southland Progressives was created by Sharp to fund candidates for school board and other local offices. Sharp’s main concern is to make sure PIAC money and all development subsidies flow to the corporations to the detriment of Hickman Mills School District students, whom he once purported to serve. Sharp has done nothing to revitalize Blue Ridge Boulevard or the area’s struggling shopping centers.

    Now, with this background, here is the point: John Sharp promoted the former state representative DaRon McGee, who resigned from the Missouri House for alleged sexual harassment of an intern. McGee was also a former aide of Sharp’s when Sharp was on the city council and had to resign that position for similar reasons. Today, John is trying to solidify the position of his son Mark as state representative. Mark Sharp resigned his teaching position in Texas for inappropriate sexual messages displayed in his classroom while students were present. While implying this occurred while in his 20s, he actually resigned at age 31, so the long side of 20s when he certainly should have known better.

    John Sharp’s agenda is very clear when you look at the complete record: John Sharp’s career is the agenda, not the community of southeast Kansas City. It is time to for southeast Kansas City to move forward without the failed Sharp brand.

     
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