Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Kansas City Deserves Better From Its Council and For Its Volunteers

The Finance and Audit Committee is meeting this morning to hold its second hearing about the Anti-Volunteer Ordinance that the nine council members introduced a couple weeks ago. It meets at 8:15 in the morning, assuring that it will only hear testimony from insiders and the self-employed. The good people who work all week and volunteer in various capacities in their off-hours are effectively shut out from the process.

That exclusion is made even more complete by the legislative sleight-of-hand I understand is being cooked up for today in the back offices of the City Council. While the self-employed and privileged are invited down to testify this morning, they will be handed a NEW, REDRAFTED ORDINANCE when they get there. Good luck in preparing your thoughts and analysis ahead of time! Good luck doing any research to respond to the potential new flaws in the redraft of an already flawed ordinance!

(It should also be noted that the Fiscal Note for this ordinance is horribly flawed. It admits that the ordinance will cost $100,000 for criminal checks, but includes no provision at all for paying current staff or contractors for providing all the orientation and training surrounding "Anti-Discrimination/Harassment, Policy Against Violence in the Workplace, Drug & Alcohol Misuse Testing Policy, Policy Against Nepotism and instruction on conflicts of interest, confidentiality and proper use of City equipment and electronic communication devices". Somehow, that just happens for free.)

On the one hand, I'm pleased that the Council has seen the light and agreed with me that the ordinance they came up with was horribly flawed. It's refreshing to see that they realize that they made a mistake, and are endeavoring to fix it. In all seriousness, they had enough people cosponsoring the original, deeply flawed ordinance that they could have simply passed the flawed original if they truly didn't care.

But, in this case, redrafting the ordinance is simply insufficient. Is a good deed, half done, necessarily a good deed?

The Council is keeping its new ordinance under wraps until the hearing. Those of us who submitted thoughtful commentary on the original version are excluded from even knowing what will be in today's version. Given the muddled history and contradictory statements made by the cosponsors on what, exactly, this ordinance is attempting to accomplish, Kansas Citians have no reason to believe that this ordinance is much better than the version the council is now backing away from.

In this day of email and websites, there is no reason in the world for the Council to spring a new ordinance on an uninformed public at the same time it accepts testimony from that public. Volunteerism in Kansas City is an important issue, and an ordinance restricting volunteerism warrants complete and thoughtful attention.

This morning, we will get to see what the Finance and Audit Committee is up to. If they submit a new ordinance and seek further comment, then they will demonstrate that the good of the city is at the top of their agenda. If they dodge meaningful public comment and ramrod through an unexamined ordinance, they will be responding to an urge somehow deeper than presenting the best possible ordinance to the entire council.

We get a clear result this morning.

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7 Comments:

Anonymous porchpundit said...

Yes, Dan I agree. If you find a rat in the attic, there is no reason to ban pets from the house.

It would be cheaper, easier and more efficient in the long-run to just take direct legal action against Funkhouser, and the other one, for willfully violating nepotism statute.

Under that controlling legal authority, the shoeless wonder may not serve as an agent of her husband's elected position without regard to her compensation or where she works (either home or City Hall).

There is much more than a compelling argument that the mayor is operating in violation of the law and that he was warned before taking office that he would be violating the law if he put his wife to work in his administration.

The council and/or city manager should address the Gloria Problem in a direct manner. City officials should file a criminal complaint with the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office. Let a judge decide whether the mayor is a criminal and let's move on with city business.

I doubt Funkhouser would do very well before a judge. The mayor has already shown contempt for the strong/manager style of city charter, and shown contempt for the council asserting its jurisdiction over the budget and selection of the city manager, so I fully expect that the mayor would act in Contempt of Court.

I believe that the Orange Revolution could very well end with the issuance of an Orange Jumpsuit in a tall size.

9/03/2008 8:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.” —Theodore Roosevelt

9/03/2008 8:45 AM  
Anonymous Brent said...

This council scares the crap out of me. I don't know enough about the whole Gloria situation to know whether or not she needs to be removed from her role (My sense is that she does). But even if she is the complete trainwreck everyone makes her out to be in the worst possible way, the idea of the council proposing such a broadsweeping ordinance that will cost the ciy hundreds of thousands of dollars, not to mention the time in training people and the lost productivity produced by volunteers throughout the city as a response is a more than a bit overkill.

This ordinance will destroy a lot of other departments...one of which would be the city animal shelter.

Deal with the problem. Let's not create a whole rash of new problems in an over-reaction to the original problem. The fact that 3/4 of the council is cool with such an over-reaction scares me. The next election can't come soon enough.

9/03/2008 9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you contacted Beth with your concerns?

9/03/2008 10:52 AM  
Anonymous the nitwit said...

"Kansas City Deserves Better From Its Council and For Its Volunteers"

Yes, but we also deserve better from our mayor and his wife.

9/03/2008 11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A criminal probe is really the only answer.

9/03/2008 11:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You said probe...

9/03/2008 11:38 AM  

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