Archive for Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Proposed Perceptive Software post-mortem prompts lively exchange

June 12, 2012

Ray Erlichman, a resident who attends and blogs about Shawnee City Council meetings, proposed during the governing body’s June 11 meeting that it endorse creation of a volunteer “lessons learned task force” to determine why Lenexa was able to lure the Shawnee headquarters of Perceptive Software.

One lesson Erlichman might have learned: Don’t suggest the task force be led by the man who challenged the mayor during a recent, hotly contested campaign.

Erlichman suggested the task force be led by Eric Jenkins, who, in addition to falling to Mayor Jeff Meyers in April, served on the Shawnee Planning Commission for 21 years and participated in lessons-learned evaluations during careers with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the military.

Erlichman said he was not suggesting the task force be formed “so we can hang somebody by the neck or kick somebody in the head.” He said the goal would be to find out what Shawnee officials did right and wrong “so if we have a situation like this going forward, we have something to look back on.”

Ward 1 Councilman Dan Pflumm said he thought the task force was “a great idea.” But Mayor Meyers and Ward 3 Councilman Jeff Vaught said the city already had a group qualified to evaluate the situation: the Shawnee Economic Development Council.

“You can’t find a person with more passion and knowledge about economic development than (Shawnee EDC director) Andrew Nave,” Vaught said. “… Our team is on it; they’re on it 100 percent.”

Vaught added that beyond himself and Meyers, both of whom spoke out in the media following June 1 reports that Perceptive Software was moving, everyone else — including Jenkins — had remained silent on the issue.

And then things got ugly.

“I’m a little upset about being called out at a City Council meeting,” Jenkins said after approaching the podium.

Jenkins added that Erlichman had made it clear he was not proposing a “gotcha” task force, aimed only at faulting current city officials for the loss of roughly 700 jobs.

“I have the credentials” to lead the task force, Jenkins added, directing his comments toward Vaught. “And that kind of disrespect is unacceptable, sir. ... You made a fool of yourself and the City Council.”

At that point, Vaught asked Jenkins, “How much experience do you have in economic development?” And when Jenkins didn’t give a direct answer, Vaught repeatedly said, “Answer the question. Answer the question.”

Eventually, Jenkins answered “30 years,” referencing his work with FEMA.

“Really?” Vaught responded. “I’ve seen your resume. That’s not economic development.”

The heated exchange continued as Vaught asked Jenkins why anyone should not expect the proposed task force to play gotcha. During the recent mayoral campaign, he said, “everything was gotcha. You set the gotcha tone.”

Eventually, Meyers gaveled the pair down, and Ward 4 council member Michelle Distler asked if the city was, indeed, planning to evaluate the loss of Perceptive Software.

Meyers said that a city evaluation would proceed after July 11, when Lenexa is expected to divulge all the incentives it used to attract the company to its Lenexa City Center development.

Distler suggested that the City Council might want to review the city’s evaluation and then determine whether further evaluation is needed.

That ended formal discussion of the issue without a motion. But after the meeting, Erlichman said the governing body missed the point.

“The concept I was proposing was very simple,” Erlichman said. “It would be an independent task force. We have fine people with the EDC. But sometimes, you can’t go with self-evaluation; it tends to be defensive. You sometimes need an outside view.”

In other action:

• The City Council voted 6-0, with Dawn Kuhn absent, to study the possibility of restoring detailed meeting minutes. The city suspended the detailed minutes as a cost-saving measure early last year, directing those who wanted verbatim details of meetings to review posted audio recordings of the meetings.

But after resident Tony Lauer spoke during the June 11 meeting, Councilman Vaught made the motion to review the issue in committee.

Lauer, who is researching an issue in his Crimson Ridge neighborhood, where Vaught also lives, said “the purpose of this message is not to discuss that issue but to implore your reconsideration of an extremely valuable community and educational resource: the readable and searchable meeting minutes.”

• The council approved refinancing of $11.2 million in general obligation bonds originally issued in 2003 and 2004. The refinancing, at the low bid of 1.18 percent, will result in a savings of $654,000 over the remaining seven-year life of the bonds, finance director Maureen Rogers said.


Chuck Heinz 10 years, 2 months ago

Jenkins tried to pull a "bait and switch" on Shawnee residents when he seemingly over-exaggerated his years of experience, when running for Mayor. He counted his years with FEMA & military years twice. Weekend warriors aren't really full-time military. I say let him sit on the sidelines & don't give him any power within the city organization.


anne 10 years, 2 months ago

It is obvious that Frannie T is completely ignorant of the demands on the modern day Reserve and Guard members. As a former Army Reserve member I am insulted by your reference to "weekend warriors". Eric Jenkins did not double count his time. Both jobs were demanding and 10 years were active duty military including 3 deployments into Iraq and 1 to Afghanistan. I suggest you would have a greater appreciation for our military if you had ever had the courage and committment to put everything on the line for our great country. Your remarks are shameful.


LPinKS 10 years, 2 months ago

I don't believe that denigrating anyone's military service is appropriate or helpful. The reason I voted against Mr. Jenkins is that he blatantly injected partisan politics in a non-partisan election. His election web page " newsroom" had this at the top: "Eric Jenkins is running for mayor as a Republican.His opponent is not."

Of course not...this is a NON-PARTISAN election, with voters choosing the candidates on their merits, experience, ability to lead. Shawnee voters chose Mr.Myers.

Another reason for his defeat, in my opinion... Mr. Jenkins was endorsed and supported by what many consider the extreme right-wing of the Republican party.

The above-mentioned Mr. Erlichman seems to pride himself in criticizing the council and city matter what. Is there anything the council and staff can do that satisifies Mr. Erlichman? Besides completely resigning, and allowing Mr. Erlichman to choose the government? His act is getting stale and predictable.


shawneeray 10 years, 1 month ago

One good thing is that this is the USA and we are all entitled to our opinions.

Is it possible, that maybe the council needs to be criticized about certain issues? Let's see, I was not in favor of the 5% franchise fee, but apparently LPinKS thinks that was ok. What about the sales tax for he CID at 10? Gee, was it wrong to criticize the council for that?

Oh, how about the removal of transparency by eliminating the full minutes of council proceedings? Guess LPinKS thinks that was ok.................and yet, even Jeff Vaught who was in favor of the elimination of those minutes now is saying maybe he was wrong. Keep in mind that only two council members that were against the elimination were Distler & Pflumm. Maybe they are being proven correct after all.

And I guess I was wrong for criticizing the city manager about the budget line items. When she told the council hat they would not be discussing them at the open budget meeting, but if they wanted to discuss them they could call and make an appointment to speak with her. And then when one of the council members did try to discuss them he was met with some curt replies.

Oh yes, and my rants about the number of people that would take the trips to DC had nothing to do with the fact that the last two trips were cut down to 4, the number that had been suggested.

Oh well, I guess we can't all have a follow the leader, kumbiyah mentality.


anne 10 years, 1 month ago

In response to LPinKS, I don't agree that Mr. Jenkins was defeated because he was endorsed by Kansans For Life and the Kansas Rifle Association. Those are not considered "extreme right-wing" by most Shawnee residents. In fact, the incumbent Mayor and his family were extremely irate that he lost the KFL endorsement, although it was because of his own actions which were not in support of the organization. Actions mean more than words.

Most of us also want to know what party a candidate belongs to in this age of partisan politics. It tells us the basis of a candidate's economic and constitutional belief system.

My opinion is that Mr. Jenkins was defeated by the failure of approximately 85% of Shawnee voters to make it to the polls on April 3. It is truly remarkable that he was supported by 44% of the voters as an unknown against the incumbent Mayor. If the voters were supporting the candidates on their "merits, experience and ability to lead", there is no question Mr. Jenkins would have been elected.

Thank God for Mr. Erlichman who speaks up about what is going on in Shawnee. He is an active, involved citizen and represents the best of our right to freedom of speech by speaking up about the good and the bad in our city government. He seeks solutions and volunteers his time to help our community and I, for one, say THANK YOU SHAWNEERAY!


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