City Commission

A New Way Of Doing Business


By Jon A. Brake

Have you ever wondered how this City Commission has worked their agenda into City policy? They have a very
good system, and it works.

First of all by changing the number of a quorum from three to four the Commissioners are able to get around the
Kansas Open Meetings Act. Phone calls and late night visits are now part of the governing system.

The most bold and far reaching change is in the creation of Steering Committees. In the past when the City hired
a consultant it was to get the best ideas from the professionals. Not anymore.

The City will hire the consultant but then the Commissioners will appoint a "Steering Committee" to work with
that consultant. A Commissioner is named to the Committee and takes over the project.

Here is a quote for the Housing Report: "The Housing Steering Committee felt the 1.7 percent annual growth
represented the most conservative option, while the 2.8 percent option, although not considered too liberal, was
felt to be obtainable. For housing planning purposes, the Steering Committee directed the Consultant to utilize
the 1.7 percent annual growth option."

If the City is paying more that $200,000 to receive the best option from a consultant, why is a City Commissioner
and a committee giving directions? Mayor Karen McCulloh had appointed herself to the Housing Committee.

She is also on the Special Rental Housing Inspection Committee. At last weeks meeting she dominated the
meeting: "We want this and we want that." Others on the committee provided information but it was the Mayor
that decided which direction the committee would go.

More than forty Landlords attended the meeting. Close to the end of the meeting someone asked: "Are we going
to be give time to speak?" The Mayor responded with "You can not speak at this meeting, you will be given time
at the Commission meeting."

By the time any project (child care, busing, roundabouts, living wage) makes it to the Commission it is a done
deal. Citizens must be given the opportunity to be heard.

Our problem is that we have three or four Commissioners with an agenda and now they have a way to get
everything they want.

The Commission has taken over the whole process. It is their agenda and their ideas that are been considered
not the consultants and definitely not the citizens of Manhattan.