| March 27, 2003
Rob Roberts of the Sun Newspaper wrote a wonderful article on the funding issues in the Ward 6, Overland Park, KS, City Council race, including several comments by the two candidates, Dan Carbery and Ron Williams.
It's the first article I have seen on the campaign where the candidates' comments actually show a clearcut, obvious difference between them. People really have a choice and this article illuminates the choice. Some of the quotes are so good I think they deserve awards, so here they are:
Most Cogent Comment
The winner is Dan Carbery talking about Ron Williams receiving 90% of his campaign funding from development related interests:
"This is not giving to church," he said. "A corporation is not going to give you a penny if they don't think they will get something in return. I think it creates a conflict of interest."
Most Confused Comment
The award goes to Ron Williams:
"He's [Carbery] received contributions from people who probably will appear before the Overland Park City Council asking to have a piece of property not rezoned,"
95% of Carbery's contributions come from people who actually live in Ward 6.
Hey, Ron, hellooo! These people are called constituents. You are supposed to represent their interests.
90% of Williams' contributions come from outside Ward 6. 90% comes from developer special interests, such as Spanos Corporation of Las Vegas, which has purchased huge tracts of land in south Johnson County. Half of Williams' contributers live outside of Overland Park. When did Overland Park annex Las Vegas?
These are called special interests, Ron. Do you see the difference?
- Voters elect you, you work to improve their quality of life
- Developers fund your campaign, you work to enrich them
These concepts are not the same. Try to be clear on this, Ron, no matter what your buddies say.
Most Inaccurate Comment
The winner is Ron Williams in talking about Jim Riggs, a key player in the effort to elect Dan Carbery:
"But there was a subsequent conversation where he [Jim Riggs] asked me to promise him that I would vote the way he and his coalitions wanted me to vote, regardless of the issue, Williams said. And I, being a person of integrity, told them flat-out no."
What Jim actually said prior to the Primary was that he could support Williams if Williams would listen with an open mind and give a fair hearing to residents and neighbors.
So, the second half of Williams' comment - "And I, being a person of integrity," was a nominee for most amusing comment, but it lost.
Most Amusing Comment
The winner is Ron Williams talking about "Bob Phillips' Johnson County South Coalition" [as he called it]
"My understanding is that that is a very narrow-minded, single-issue, isolationist organization that doesn't want to see the city continue to grow to the south."
This has been good for lots of laughs, for which the many "narrow-minded, single issue, isolationist" members of Johnson County South Coalition thank you, Ron. But, Ron, Ron, we and all our friends and neighbors are the ones devoted to helping neighborhoods work together and not be isolated, who recognize the need for managed growth taking into account environmental, quality of life, economic issues - who are not narrowly focused on maximizing corporate profits for our campaign contributors. That's why the candidate we support, Dan Carbery, has the endorsements of the Boards of many neighborhoods. And you have none that I know of, Ron.
Oh, and by the way, Ron, you have a flier out saying 8 homeowners associations, "some outside Overland Park", have endorsed Carbery. Eight Boards in Ward 6 are recommending to their 3,000+ Ward 6 registered voters that they vote for your opponent. 1 Board across the street from Ward 6 also endorses Carbery. Oddly, your flier neglected to mention that 90% of your funds are coming from outside Ward 6 and half your contributors are outside of Overland Park.
Speaking of endorsements -
Most Telling Comment
The winner is Ron Williams:
"Willams said he was being endorsed by all members of the current City Council except Kandt, Jay Lehnertz and Marcia Gilliland."
Not surprisingly, most of the Council members who endorsed Ron are Council Members I would characterize as rarely meeting a development project they did not like, no matter how harmful or ill conceived the project was. These are the Council members who:
- Approved the automall on 135th, that never got built because tenants could not be found. The developers nevertheless illegally destroyed the wetlands and tore down the trees, leaving a barren wasteland for neighbors to look at;
- Approved the autobody paint shop right next to Regency by the Lake neighborhood, which the developer dropped after neighbors picketed and threatened a lawsuit;
- Placed a Super Wal-Mart in amongst neighborhoods at 159th and Metcalf, with the result that a developer has already convinced several of the homeowners in Steck Plantation neighborhood across the road from the Wal-Mart to sell their homes. So he can bulldoze the entire neighborhood and put up more commercial (in all fairness, Hix voted against the Wal-Mart and Gilliland voted for it);
- Approved the K-Mart at 135th, that then went belly up and never got built (oops, they themselves did not actually approve that one. That would have given citizens a chance for input. No, the Council's appointees simply approved it with no citizen input).
- Approved the Target at 151st, which now has the City in a lawsuit and the developer destroying wetlands the City was forced by the Corps of Engineers to set aside. These Councilmembers are, of course, now sitting on their hands doing nothing to help the neighborhoods on this issue, protection of waterways and citizen concerns not being a high priority with this Council. (As above, citizens were denied the right they should have been afforded to come before the City Council itself, hence the lawsuit);
Yes indeed, Ron, based on your funding sources and your endorsements you will fit right into this faction of the Council if you are elected.
The winner is Ron Williams on a neighborhood spending $58,000 on a lawsuit to protect itself from the City Council's actions:
"Williams said that money would have been better spent on winning concessions, such as additional landscaping and screening, from Target."
This is the "berms and bushes" approach to analyzing projects: forget the traffic problems, the environmental consequences, and citizen concerns. Do a little landscaping and expect the neighbors to accept that with gratitude.
Ron, these funds are people's hard earned money being spent in difficult economic times to repair the damage from a lousy Overland Park City Council decision. If this is your attitude toward citizen concerns, and it manifestly is your attitude, and the attitude of your buddies on the current City Council, then none of you should be on that City Council representing citizen interests.
And the best comment award goes to Dan Carbery:
"There have been people trying to cast the illusion that I am anti-development, but that's simply ignorance. I'm a civil engineer. The roads you drive on, the bridges you cross, the buildings you work in, the water you drink -- civil engineers are responsible for all of that."
Hope all of you enjoy this article as much as I did.
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