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05/22/13 Updated 05/24/13 PRC Member Comments to Council Below in Green
Who Do You Trust?
This is going to be one of the easiest JUGs I’ve ever posted. Probably one of the nastiest, too. I have five sets of comments from four different sources. So let’s get on with it . . . who do you trust? (Yes, yes, spell check says “whom”, but it’s my site, and I like “who” better.)
Mayor Who Doesn’t Honor His Word?
When I tried, during the Public Comment period, to read a public comment submitted by a taxpayer whom the Mayor and the City Administrator don’t like, Mayor Shaw said I should “save it for later.”
When I tried to read the comment during the public portion of the discussion relating to the PRC – the topic of the comment – Mayor Shaw said, “I’m not calling on you.”
Really? Not calling on a colleague who is trying to represent a taxpayer’s voice? When did I stop being a Council Member? And you’re really having fun with that gavel, aren’t you, Mayor Shaw?
When I tried to read the comment into my Council Comment, Mayor Shaw said I should stop, that the topic was closed. Then he said, “Put in on your UnderGround.”
you Mayor Shaw, for acknowledging my web site. Your wish is
my command – sort of. The
public comment Mayor Shaw would not permit is as follows:
Good Evening Mr. Chairman
I am Richard Thom, of 211 Varner Street.
I have a question on the real purpose of the agenda item 12.0 (A); that is the Councils review of the role for the Parks and Recreation Commission.
You are being asked to decide on three options. All of them could conceivably move Jordan closer to a City Manager version of local government.
If that happens, I believe public comment could conceivably & finally be squeezed out by the Council’s unbelievers. In addition there would then be little or no need for the work the Council does.
And, with little need for a City Council, the Council’s work I fear would be relegated and replaced with no-bid city contractors.
When you look at the City Administrators’ job description, there is no way any human could possibly perform effectively all of those tasks listed for that positions job description. So what does he do?
Farm it out . . . And what’s the going rate for a no-bid contractor. Well, think of the Administrator’s last meeting at the Fire Hall; the going rate these days seems to be around $37,000 for one of these local government style contractors.
Is the real purpose of this agenda item for the Council to pull out their swords and knight the City Administrator as King Edward of Jordan, bestowing on him a new title as City Manager?
I’m sorry, but I cannot agree with any of the proposed plans that eliminate the Park and Recreation Committee, and which effectively and conceivably usher in a new City Manager style of local government for Jordan.
After the meeting, Mayor Shaw told the JI that if I say he (Mayor Shaw) is unfair, then he’s unfair. Wrong again Mr. Mayor. You’re not unfair. In my opinion, you can’t be trusted to follow through on what you say. 1341 people in Jordan voted for a Mayor who won’t honor his word.
Oh, and by the way, Mr. Mayor, it’s “water over the dam”, or “water under the bridge.” Mixed metaphors are unbecoming of someone who professes to be a teacher.
For those who want to confirm
what I’ve written, see the following link to a story on the JI web site:
City Administrator Who Wants to Be King?
Want to make sure comment on a volatile issue is kept to a minimum? Schedule its agenda item at the same meeting as a workshop with visitors from the county or SCALE – both of which are pretty much the same thing. The Mayor will do his darnedest to stifle conversation from Councilors or residents, so that your guests - who don’t pay taxes in Jordan - won’t be kept waiting.
Want to make sure nobody looks too close at how things get done (or get left undone) in Jordan? Tell commissioners they’re fired. Then distort their actions to paint them as “dysfunctional”, even though they are doing what they are chartered to do. Never mind that they’ve been doing the job as a group for a dozen, or more years, across the administrations of three mayors.
And for heaven’s sake, make sure you don’t communicate your concern early on. Far better to spring it ace on a group of volunteers who actually live in town.
By the way, if we are going to criticize commission members about having "pet projects", maybe we should do the same for staff and electeds. F'rinstance, I know one elected who would really like to see the City issue water bills monthly. Would all those chrome-wheeled pick up trucks count as pet projects?
Council Member Who Puts Personal Vendettas Before the Good of the City?
Last night Council Member Thill told me “5000 people in Jordan don’t care about you.” He may be right. He has not shown me the results of his survey, but he is known to be a stickler for having accurate figures, and using words like “modus operandi”.
So I asked him if he thought 5000 cared about him. His reply? “Probably.” I told him I didn’t think his ego was that big. His reply? (He always has a reply.) “My ego’s not as big as yours.”
Compared to the Planning Commission and the EDA, the PRC is frugal with taxpayer money. They’ve never asked for a parking study, or a Downtown Marketing study, or a façade program.
They’ve struggled to find compromises that protect the rights of individuals like the homeowners on Maple Lane, while supporting the homeowners in Cedar Ridge.
They don’t get invited to workshops like the Legos V workshop held after Monday’s Council meeting.
And as we heard from the Chairman of the PRC last night, while the PRC was trying to accumulate funds for future park projects, the City was undermining that effort by transferring funds to road and bridge building projects.
Isn’t it astonishing that the Planning Commission experienced a mass exodus of disillusioned (dysfunctional?) members, and now the PRC is being told to take a hike?
Consultants Who Don’t?
Don’t what, you ask?
Don’t give people time to plan for meetings. Don’t look at anything that doesn’t fit their preordained outcome. Don’t pay attention to local scheduling conflicts.
The following is an e-mail I received from a Jordan taxpayer.
This is a copy of the email I sent to the 2 individuals that were listed on the informational letter concerning the Jordan Downtown Revitalization plan. I was not able to make it to the meeting, but I was amazed at a couple of things.
First, the timing--same time frame and date as Ladies Night Out, planned by the chamber and hosted by many of the businesses that should have been at the revitalization meeting. Second, the day previous to the meeting, 2 people came into the salon (Studio J Salon and Spa, where I work and used to own, but still own the building). They came at 2 different times and came for different reasons. First was Emily who was bringing flyers over to hang up and invite people to the meeting. (I think the day of is a bit late...) and the second was Sarah from Vierbachter(sp?) I told her I was hoping to get to the meeting, but I had sent an email to 2 individuals concerning the survey and my thoughts.
I told both of these individuals about the email, and I said that it wasn't the most positive email, but I hoped that it helped them in their quest. Sarah also came to ask business owners and building owners to a "forum" they were holding 8am the next morning. This is a bit late in the game to invite people in to talk at the last minute. This should have been asked at least a week in advance so that we the people can make arrangements for "minor" things like daycare and work schedules... I thought that that was quite rude.
Later I was told, at the meeting it was announced that no one had any negative comments about downtown Jordan. Puleez!!! If my comments were misconstrued as positive, these people must be . . . well . . . I would positively phrase (my comments) as "constructive criticism".
I did email this to ******* ********, who recommended that I forward it to you. If you want to post it on your site, go ahead. I have nothing to hide.
Thanks for letting me "bend your ear"!!”
Text of the note to City Staff follows:
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Sunday, May 5, 2013 6:57:57 PM
Subject: Jordan Downtown Revitalization plan
I am a property owner who received a letter from the city of Jordan with a survey on revitalizing our downtown area. Quite frankly, I am perplexed as to why on earth the city is doing this survey since they haven't listened to residents concerns for so many years that I figured they already had a plan in place. The fact that they want to "revitalize" the downtown area now after several members of the city council and our city administrator have taken so much time and effort to destroy the downtown area of Jordan, I would find it almost amusing if I wasn't a tax paying property owner. In the past 5 years our city has worked to stream traffic more efficiently through downtown, allowed an incinerator in the middle of downtown, actively worked to move or open businesses that SHOULD be downtown to our highway commercial area, and then they scratch their collective heads and wonder WHY is our downtown dying.
Well, several issues were voted for by a majority of our city council members, and pushed forward by our city administrator whose obvious partiality to certain people and businesses created this mess and now we have dying downtown and a town that is has been torn apart.
The first real distress was the new stoplights by the Catholic Church. We needed left turn signals, not just a turn lane. Now it sure is easy for people to just drive right on through Jordan, and extremely hard to make a left turn onto or off of Broadway Street. So why bother to stop and shop in Jordan...Then the next nail in the coffin (no pun intended) was the city allowing Mark Ballard and Charlie Sunder to open a crematorium in downtown Jordan, across the street from homes and a home daycare center. None of the neighbors wanted it, and they even sued the city because it wasn't zoned for it, but the city decided to allow this business to expand by changing the zoning. If that wasn't bad enough, the city actively worked with Scott County to build our new clinic, pharmacy, library and senior highrise in the highway commercial area. (Talk about businesses and things that would have revived our downtown. Hmm, but just too much money to be spent buying old buildings.) Just the logistics of trying to bike or walk to these businesses and homes is dangerous at best during certain hours of the day, and by moving the library, you moved the heart of the community. Just another nail in the coffin... Now come the parking restrictions and the very possible future of gravel trucks rumbling through town day and night...yet another nail...
In your survey you ask about walking and biking around downtown. We have lots of trails to nowhere around town. I love to walk and bike, but walking and biking to downtown is not easy, you have 3 state highways to deal with. I live on the north side of Hwy 169, and biking or walking from my home to the downtown district is sadly a very dangerous exercise. For almost 30 years there has been talk of making a safe passage across the highway. (Talk, of course, is cheap) Even walking from the lower town area to the highway commercial area is very dangerous with hwy 282 to cross. If I had young children I would not allow them to walk or bike to the new library. Our mayor, Mike Shaw, sees the highway commercial area as part of the downtown district, but when you have at least 4 to 5 blocks of homes and a creek in between these two areas, you cannot call them a continuous area.
I have a vested interest in this issue as my husband and I own a commercial building in downtown Jordan. We have worked hard to take care of this building and I feel that my husband and I have been good landlords and good stewards of our property as we hope to sell this building in the next couple of years. As I drive through downtown Jordan I see so many buildings that are in various states of decay among a few nicer buildings, but many buildings are for sale and/or stand empty and the city personal keep talking about a NEW city hall building, NEW police department building. All of these undoubtedly will be in the NEW downtown as well. So much money has been spent on surveys, studies, etc and what do we have to show for it? High taxes, high water bills, and absolutely no incentive to keep businesses in downtown Jordan. What a pity. I could go on and on..
The sad fact is: you can breath air into a corpse, but that doesn't bring it back to life.
Thank you for your time,
Tim Bischke Comment to the City Council
step in the wrong direction … dissolving the PRC.
I’ve been on the PRC for
over 6 years now and don’t see any need for these changes especially the
options outlined by the administrator. From who or where did this supposed need
arise? Did it come from Jordan residents
because they are unhappy with the way the PRC functions? Or did it come from staff or council
Our role is supposedly to
advise only on the 35,000’ overview, not on significant details. This refers to
the view you have from a jet at cruising altitude; no details are distinguishable
only broad generalities. This hasn’t been the case for the 6 years I’ve served;
details were always discussed. Without considering and discussing the details,
the BIG PICTURE (as it is called) is meaningless; details actually create the
big picture; we can usually agree on the BIG PICTURE (such as parks are nice,
we need them) but the devil is always in the details. Take away the details and you’re left with an empty
Regardless of what level of detail the PRC concerns itself there is another important issue that needs to be considered with these potential changes--that is Public Input. At most of our meetings we have held open comment periods for citizens to express their desires and perspectives on park or trail related issues. Recently, we had discussions regarding the east side bluff trail at which many affected citizens attended and shared their perspectives.
How will public input be handled with no PRC or a detail-less PRC? Is this citizen input going to be a job that the city council takes on? Do you really have more time for public input at your meetings? Or will it be handled like the Safety Committee—with virtually only staff input? Or perhaps there will be NO citizen input—all the details will be decided by others? This is a change Jordan residents haven’t requested and do NOT need.
If option one is chosen,
it’s very unlikely anyone will want to serve when they are constantly being
monitored for correct behavior. Nobody wants Big Brother deciding what can be
said or discussed. If the PRC is suspended who will take on the functions it
has historically carried out … especially receiving public input?
In the past year 2
commissioners have resigned, 2 others have chosen not to continue when their
terms expired. There’s a reason for this.
We have regularly had vacancies which have been hard to fill. Nobody is beating down the door to
serve as a low paid volunteer. There is another option, not listed by the
administrator. Leave the PRC as
is; do nothing; keep things as they are; perhaps improve lines of
Addendum: At the Monday meeting the city council decided that the commissioners need to be re-programmed into an acceptable mindset (per the administrator). Meetings will be monitored to insure proper thinking. Do they actually think anyone is going to comply with this? Or maybe this condescension is grade school for adults? Is anyone going to want to serve on a future PRC? Maybe this is their plan to do away with the PRC once & for all?
Donna Breeggemann Comment to the City Council
I would like to respond to the background comments made in agenda item 12.0 (A)
I believe that the PRC has in good faith tried to continually execute the powers and duties as specified in Section 31.23 of the Jordan City Code. Under Part B of that code is to “advise the Council on park maintenance, development plans, park comprehensive plan, and future park expansions”. The PRC has only requested the schedule of activities and future projects from the Public Works Director in order to make efficient and timely requests and suggestions to maintain and improve our parks and trails. The PRC has been trying to be proactive by trying to promote communication between commissions, council, and staff. An example of what we are trying to accomplish would be this: From our walk-ability studies we found areas for trail system improvements then if we know when certain streets are scheduled for work (like seal-coating, re-construction, new curb & gutter), we can make intelligent and well-timed requests for those improvements which may consist of items like a ADA curb cut/ramp, signage, or painting. Another example would be that if Public Works is planning on extensive park cleanings at a certain time then we could make sure that unwanted vines are also removed from fences and trees before they are damaged. And other such things we find when we do walk-through’s 1-2 times per year.
The issue raised in paragraph 5 was incorrectly stated. At the end of the PRC meeting, and just like the Council meeting does, each commission member is asked if there are any additional issues they would like to bring up. I had been asked by a few community members why they were frequently seeing Jordan Police officers as far as Hwy 169 & Hwy 41. I just asked if it would be possible for Chief Malz to pass along a quick response that I or any other PRC members could pass along when asked. A report was not requested!
A comment made at a prior council meeting which then was printed in the newspaper implied that the PRC didn’t know anything about plans for a field expansion at Holzer Park about 5 years ago. That is untrue. The PRC was in the preliminary stages and working with Public Works Director Bendzick for the exact location and the Jordan Youth Baseball organization for funding sources. Director Bendzick had found the necessary space for a youth sized field in front of the water treatment plant next to the road. The PRC was forced to table the project when Carol with Bolton Menk nor City Staff could not or would not answer the question if the future line needed from the plant towards Cty Rd 9 would need to be trenched in or if possible to be directionally bored. That line would go through the planned field and at the time the line expansion was in the near future. Multiple times we asked for the answer and none received. This is just one example of a project where the PRC was basically handcuffed by lack of communication.
The PRC has been severely limited for in-house funding sources for potential projects since the Park Drive project and the Mini-Met Bridge project in which the council approved the use of dollars from the Park Dedication fund. Even though the council is the final decision maker, communication with the PRC regarding these transactions would have been appreciated. The PRC had plans to build that fund so that a larger athletic facility would have funding. This goes along with the rest of Part B of the PRC Powers and Duties. Now that some of those dollars have been returned to the PD fund, appropriate projects using the Master Park & Trail Plan of 2010 and community interests can be developed again and brought to the council for consideration.
As applicants for a board or to elected office, we all have reasons that compelled us to be here. I started with wanting to make the city’s landscape escrow requirements match nursery standards and make the requirements homeowner friendly. Your reason may be as broad as not increasing city taxes, to bring more jobs to Jordan or to increase community involvement but it’s still a “pet project” or your personal goal. Without goals at all levels, what can be attained?
The PRC had no intention to make city staff defensive but was hoping to be a positive influence for increased communication between the various boards, council, staff, and citizens and work for the good of our entire community!
wasn’t that fun? I’ll try to add a
few more of the comments I got in the next couple of days. No promises. And if anyone from the Council or staff wants to comment,
I’ll publish that too.
Week . . .
Popping a few zits on the City’s Annual Report and Management Letter. This one will be real fun too.
For a preview, stop in at
Carasim Coffee Shop this Thursday, between 5 and 8 PM. This is not a "sanctioned" City event, and I reckon staff and the rest of the Council don't want you to attend. Do you want a peek at the public documents you usually don't get to see?
“When a man assumes a public trust he should consider himself a public property.”
The next City Council Meeting is Monday, June 3rd, 6:30 PM, at Jordan City Hall.
Videos are now on the Video page.
I welcome public comment on this topic. Anyone willing to give his or her name, and willing to limit his or her response to about 150 words is welcome to respond here. Thom.Boncher@JordanUnderGround.com No anonymous responses will be posted. No obscene language will be permitted. Threats, personal attacks, and spam will not be posted. My house, my rules. But if you have something to say, and if you are willing to put your name on it, I won’t refuse to let you be heard.
For Your Edification and Amusement . . .
I’ve recruited an actress to do her impression of the City Council, and politicians in general. The link is here.
I especially like her comment at the end of the clip.