February 14, 2016

Council discusses hiring new administrator

Danedri Thompson

Hiring a new city administrator will be challenging. That’s the word from  Gardner City Council member Steve Hale and Mayor Dave Drovetta.

The council selected members Kristina Harrison and Brian Broxterman to assist Drovetta in hiring a consulting firm to search for a new administrator during a meeting March 21.

Drovetta said the city administrator position is one of two city jobs that requires residency.

“That makes recruitment somewhat challenging,” Drovetta said.

Three consulting firms have offered to assist the city in its search, and Harrison, Broxterman and Drovetta will decide which company to use and at what cost.

“I don’t think it will be an easy process,” Hale said.

He cited a variety of challenges he believes the council will face in finding an administrator to replace Stewart Fairburn.

“We don’t have the best reputation in the development community,” Hale said.

Additionally, some of the current candidates for council have taken anti-development stances, which could create concern for potential administrator hires, he explained.

“We have a newspaper that tells us we’re not going to have sidewalks and trees,” he said. “That could be a concern.”

Drovetta said he doubted a city administrator candidate would accept the job without knowing who was going to be on the council. Three members of the five-member city council will be replaced during an April 5 election. There are eight candidates vying for three at-large seats, and none of the incumbents are seeking re-election.

“Like I said, it’s going to be challenging,” Drovetta responded.

Drovetta said the committee of three would solely select a recruitment firm. A new council would interview candidates for the city administrator position.

Fairburn served as the city’s administrator for a little more than 10 years. He accepted a position in Chickasha, Okla. His last day with the city was March 7. He starts his new job on April 1.

In other business, council members:

• approved the purchase of three new police cars, Ford Crown Victorias, from Shawnee Mission Ford. The city will pay no more than $65,860 for the new vehicles. The cost includes $4,500 for graphics and deductions for the trade-in of old cars.
The new cars will replace a 2006 Ford Crown Victoria with 88,152 miles; a 2008 Ford Crown Victoria with 90,335; and a 2008 Ford Crown Victoria with 82,095 miles.
The purchases were approved in the 2011 budget.

•  approved a conditional use permit for MARCK Industries, located at 800 N. Center Street. The company has operated a warehouse for recyclables including mixed plastics and mixed cardboard since 2007 and has been operating without a permit since that time.
Company officials requested a permit to expand operations in 2009, however the project was put on hold. City officials, however, determined that the company would need a conditional use permit. Although regular warehouses do not require permits, city code requires that a storage of products that are highly combustible requires a permit.

• approved an amendments to the city code that updated submission checklists for developers. The checklist updates include revised plat checklists and other application checklists.


  1. Well, I guess Melissa doesn’t want to move back to Gardner and Drovetta continues to blame other entities for his own failures and mismanagement……….ya just gotta love it………….

  2. Larry Fotovich says:

    Steve Hale’s comment is telling. We always suspected the last city administrator worked on behalf of big developers, and his remarks confirm this. We should pick a city administrator who represents those who live here instead.

    As a reminder of how embedded large corporations are in our government, here’s the text message that Edgerton’s former city administrator mistakenly sent to BNSF’s Director of Strategic Development. I don’t want our next city administrator asking developers how they should run Gardner.

    Date: January 22, 2010 7:15:47 PM CST
    To: info@edgertonks.org
    Subject: [Edgerton Insights] News Release – KC Business Journal Article Correction


    I was going to post the following on the City’s blog, but first wanted to get your approval. Believe me when I say I did not mean to create the confusion. I have emailed Rob Roberts and left a message on his office phone, but I don’t have his cell phone number so I don’t know when he’ll get the message. Please let me know what I can do.



  3. Ryan Beasley says:

    Your email doesn’t say anything about Dave asking developers “how to run the city.”

    Larry do you believe that you can get businesses to build in Gardner without any abatements?

    Also with 85% of the city’s revenue coming from the residents of Gardner how do you expect to balance the budget, upkeep the city, and plan for growth without adding businesses to help spread the tax burden?

  4. Big Dave makes a big deal about how the new city administrator will not be determined until the new Council is in place. Please note that it will be Drovetta and his two hand picked people, Harrison and Broxterman, who will be in charge of placing the possible candidates before the Council – you will never see a candidate that doesn’t fit in with their cronyism, status quo government. Like I have said before, a TOTAL HOUSE CLEANING IS NEEDED!!!!!!! One election will not eliminate the stench at City Hall – sad to say.

  5. The only spreading of the tax burden has been from the special interests to the average citizen and the big boys will always want it that way if you let them take advantage of you via worthless politicians. Citizens need to think long and hard as to how the abatement system has affected them so far and whether they want ANY entity to transfer their tax burden to a responsible citizen who has always paid their way and not asked for the handouts. Privatization of gains and socialization of costs and losses will never be a winner for the average citizen in my opinion and I wouldn’t think any hardworking, sensible citizen with any moral values would want to go along with that system that certainly has left the people spinning with suffering.

  6. Ryan Beasley says:

    For Judith’s clarification. From the story above:

    “Drovetta said the committee of three would solely select a RECRUITMENT FIRM. A new council would interview candidates for the city administrator position.”

  7. And Drovetta, Broxterman and Harrison will be telling that recruitment firm what they are looking for and I know in my mind they are the ones who will be making the cuts to get down to the final 5 or whatever. They will pick pro-development clones who won’t even have the people on the radar and the people will only be pesky distractions for them to deal with. That is how Rizzo got to be City Mgr. of Bell, Ca. – he was cheap when he came and he was willing to come to line his pockets along with the big boys but it did catch up with him. You reap what you sow.

    Moral decay has brought us to this sour taste we have in our mouths and stench we smell every day.

    City of Gardner – City of Promise – Promise You Will Not Want to Come Here or To Stay – I know in my mind who has brought that situation to our doorsteps.

  8. When Larry says “we always suspected” does he mean John, Mary, Dan, Larry and all their funders from 199th St?

  9. Samuel K says:

    Gotta love your town. Makes Peyton Place or the Stepford Wives look cozy.

  10. Ecosto proves once again his reading comprehensive skills are nil but he loves to spread the crap…….welcome to the Beasley/Drovetta world……..Drovetta even admits himself he will have a hard time finding a city administrator who will live here…….maybe he will call ole Rizzo in California and see if he wants to come to Kansas like the Allen Group did for the smell of money………..Drovetta and his co-horts brought about this mess too by wanting to make the blackmail deals in the back room that only benefit the takers but certainly not the citizens. When you lose all of your moral values then consequences will have to be dealt with.

  11. You are so right, Samuel…………..it gets more lowlife by the day……….such as allowing a warehouse with products that are highly combustible to do business since 2007 WITHOUT a permit……….

  12. Well, Judith, you can spew all you want but if this the voters in this town elects another Take Back Gardner bozo after what the last crew did they deserve everything they get and more.

  13. @Ecosto - Amy Cunningham says:

    Ecosto, my parents live on 199th Street. They were both born and raised in Gardner. They have never listed another zip code as their home. Are they not a part of this town?

    Skip and Mary also live on 199th, they, too were both born and raised here. They built their home on the family farm located on 199th and Cedar Niles. Are they not a part of Gardner? Lori and Pat Springston, Skip’s sister and her husband, also call the family farm their home – and they have lived in this community all their lives.

    Community pilar Roy Bruce – former owner of the funeral home and Bruce’s Furniture and Shirley Brown Van Arsdale’s father, lived on 199th. Now Shirley’s son, who was born and raised in Gardner lives there with his family.

    Ron Freund and his wife live on 199th Street, both born and raised in Gardner. They raised their son here, who now lives in town with his wife.

    Betty Turner, who was raised in Gardner and who raised her family (children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren) here lives in 199th and Moonlight. Her grandson, David Feisenmeyer and his wife, Kim, live on 199th on part of what was the Turner Farm. They were all raised in Gardner.

    There is A LOT of history living on 199th and MUCH of it has very old-school ties to Gardner. Please don’t be disrespectful of the many families who make up this community and may not have City of Gardner addresses but still call this zip code home and are greatly affected by the goings on in this town. Just because someone lives in the rural areas that doesn’t mean that they aren’t interested in elections that will have a great impact on them, on their property or on their lively-hood.

  14. They might be interested in what goes on, but unless they live in town they don’t get a vote. Now they can and did get people elected who are more interested in supporting their views than the wishes of 72% of the voters who said annex the intermodal. Of course the voters took care of that as well but not before the damage was done.

  15. Ecosto - Amy Cunningham says:

    Yes, the voters said, “If you can’t beat ’em, tax ’em”. Read: If they’re coming, we should make as much money as we can off of them.

    I guess those people will have to continue to vote with their wallets.

  16. Right so instead we go against the wishes of the voters and let Edgerton have it where the school district gets even less money.

    Just so the voters don’t foregt what Fotovich told John, Mary and Dan — “Just vote no. You don’t owe anyone an explanation.” That’s the Take Back Gardner way of transparency.

  17. No bigger lie was told than when Drovetta said: “If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Tax ‘Em”. First of all you could have beat them and secondly Drovetta had no intention of taxing them but to give them a sweet deal of the thieves only paying 15% of their taxes while piling cost upon cost that will never end on the average citizens along with jeopardizing their health and quality of living. Moral decay and the love of money and plain ole greed will never be a winner for the people but worthless politicians like Drovetta and his kind will always be trying to sell it to you – that is my opinion. And good ole Drovetta and 2 of his co-horts certainly would not give the people the opportunity of voting on that stinking 85% tax incentive because they knew their chances were low of selling another propaganda campaign to the people. 72% of the people voting may have voted to annex that land due the propaganda put out there but 72% of the registered voters certainly didn’t vote to annex that land or to buy into the lies. If you build you house on sand, it will not stand and Drovetta’s house is crumbling right beneath him and it should. Just too bad the people have to suffer so because of all this wrongdoing but the people are to blame,too, due to their apathy and buying into the lies.

  18. As I recall StevEcosto... says:

    The 72% vote you are referring to was whether to give the RIGHT to annex to the city council. I would like to see the wording that says 72% said they wanted to annex the site or even that they wanted the project in the first place.

    I know you know what it really says, but keep twisting the words to confuse people and maybe it will stick sometime.

  19. Well, if they didn’t want it annexed they sure were a little ticked off at the three amigos for voting to give it away. It appears that most thinking people realized it was being built regardless of whether anyone wanted it there or not. The railroad wanted it there and thats all that mattered.

    However, I will concede that there are still some still holding on to the ignorant belief that somehow you could make the railroad go away.

  20. @Ecostco says:

    Olathe made it go away, so why couldn’t Gardner?

  21. Ryan @ Fotovich says:

    How many times have we rehashing this intermodal conversation? Good grief.

    I’m still interested to know how Fotovich is going to balance the budget. You can only cut city staff and city services so much before you break the city’s back. I know Peters was all for cutting here and there, but that can only get you so far.

    Again my question. How do we balance the budget, upkeep the city and plan for the future without bringing in businesses to help ease the tax burden on the citizens of Gardner.

    And how do you bring in businesses without offering some incentive to build in Gardner over Olathe or Edgerton?

    We’re talking about building two new schools that are going to cost us millions. What is your plan?

  22. Steve, thanks for reminding us all again about how the annexation vote was about the RIGHT to annex, not a vote to annex, and at the time I knew this was once again Drovetta propaganda to get waht he wanted and he wanted that project all the way down to his big feet as he stated at the Intermodal Review Committee meetings – too bad the people don’t listen and watch closely as to what Drovetta says and actually does and what his voting record is. Drovetta does what he wants along with his cronies and the special interests he governs for and the rest of the citizens are never at the table – that is my opinion. The people are mererly the ATM machine.

    But again, I am so grateful that Gardner’s name is not on that intermodal horror story project and I never wanted the city of Gardner and its citizens to be owned lock, stock and barrel by BNSF and a bunch of developers who are only here for their interests and never in a hundred years will you convince me they wanted to come here for the benefit of the citizens – nothing about their project will benefit the people. And they proved it by going on down the road when they didn’t get the deal they wanted. I need thieves like that owning my community like a hole in the head. Due to the same greediness shown by Edgerton worthless politicians I may have to live next to the debacle but I won’t have to be seeing the lowlifes at our City Hall week after week, year after year, with their hand out and want the citizens to bankroll them while I have to live with their mess – that is my opinion. It will kill me enough to have to bankroll them at the county and state and federal levels due to dirty, rotten politics.

    So many cities across America, which included their city leaders and the citizens, stood tall and stated to railroads: No Thank You. We are not interested in an intermodal facility and we will not financially support you. Those cities represent to me what I want from my local government – elected officials listening to their people and working for them rather than the thieves. That did not happen here. The people are responsible for picking those leaders they have in their city – citizens should really think about that fact and then do your civic duty and vote. If we continue to have voter apathy with a 10 to 25% voting record as an example, I truly believe things will continue to go downhill and you could very well end up with a town like Bell, Ca. Apathy provides fertile ground for criminals.

  23. The Right To Annex says:

    Can anybody give me a valid reason why somebody would vote to give the Council the right to annex land they didn’t want annexed? I can’t think of a single one.

    I have another question. Who wrote the verbiage for the ballot question?

  24. Just remember that the residents of Edgerton did not get to vote on this intermodal. (Maybe “the big boys” were worried and that is why we did not get to vote???)

  25. Judith - Cities that said no? says:


    List the cities that have said NO to the railroad. And don’t include Olathe. BNSF never asked Olathe. The site east of town was not strongly considered with the tracks on a curve and the rock quaries limiting development.

    The Supreme Court has supported the railroads in court cases where cities have tried to stop them.

  26. Cannot stop the railroads, BUT CAN STOP 3rd party warehouses which will bring all the truck traffic and pollution.

  27. I want to remind Ecosto that the city of Gardner appointed Ron Freund (a very good person) to the Gardner Planning Commission for years and he wasn’t a city resident. Also, right now you have a city mgr. and chief financial officer with the city of Gardner who are not city residents. You have had Mertz in your city business for years and getting some of the dictator’s sweet deals and he isn’t a city resident.

  28. I would like to remind Ecosto that Ron Fruend (a very good person) who lives on 199th St. and not a city resident was appointed to the Gardner City Planning Commission for years. Also keep in mind right now you have a city mgr. and a chief financial officer who do not live within Gardner. Then you have Mertz who has been messing in city business for years and has received the dictator’s sweet deals and he isn’t a city resident.

  29. Wreck on I-35 near Edgerton 202. Traffic stopped for well over 40 minutes; both I-35 north lanes and south lanes stopped. 3 trucks surrounded me on south lanes. Literally 25 semi’s bumper to bumper stopped on the north lanes. Emergency vehicles had to access the median.

    Further, traffic as is now, 1 hour on 435 West to travel 1-1/2 miles to get onto I-35 South. Prayed that the overpass bridge would hold up under all the weight of the traffic.

    AND, adding all the truck traffic from this proposed intermodal is your dream??? What on earth are you all smoking, shooting up, and/or drinking???

  30. My research has found numerous cities across the U.S. who have bumped the railroads on down the road by merely saying No Thank You and we will not support your project. I talked to one editor in the state of Illinois who gave me city after city that turned Union Paciific down and they kept on going until they found a town that would take them on. I have come across numerous newspaper articles of where the people were marching in the streets against these intermodals and railroad appraisers across the U.S. have openly spoke to me about how these railroads go from town to town to find a home for their miserable intermodal projects. But if you think I am going to go back to 2006 and 2007 thru all of my research material on my computer and in hard copy and spend all of that time now to satisfy you, then you are crazy – you don’t deserve all of that time again to prove a point.

    The railroad and their thieving developers can go whereever they want but they only settle where the rotten politicians give them the financial deal that they want and which will line their pockets. All of the cities who ran them off have stood tall, which included their elected officials and the people, together and said No, Thank You – just like Olathe did. If these jaybirds can’t get the bankrolling then they don’t stay.

    Ecosto and many others have bought into the propaganda that was sold about how they have or had no choice – yes, you do have a choice but you have to have some strong moral values as a foundation to protect your citizens.

  31. Amy Cunningham says:

    I would like to point out that the people I mentioned above were simply examples of the many long-time residents I know that live on 199th Street and who have a stake in the way the city conducts business.

    In NO WAY was I trying to imply that I know of their support for or against the Intermodal.

  32. How is it that Gardner Residents got to vote on the intermodal BUT Edgerton Residents did not get to vote on the intermodal???

  33. Amen Judith. I would have so much more respect for our city leaders past and present if they would just stand up and tell the truth that the Intermodal wasn’t forced on them, that ultimately it was chosen. They got greedy – so just come out and own it already. It’s a continued slap in the face to those residents that will be negatively affected the most by this project that they haven’t done that.

  34. Hugo Chavez says:

    Judith is right! Oh, and by the way, capitalism killed life on Mars.


  35. You folks can keep making up stories as much as you like just so long as you keep it front and center that Fotovich was part of the problem that the voters fixed last year.

  36. Judith... Name the Cities says:


    I also did a lot of research pre-Intermodal and I could not find ONE city that had won in court their attempts to stop the railroad.

    Quit beating around the bush and tell us ONE city that has stopped the railroad.

    Gardner or Edgerton DID NOT have a choice on the location of the Intermodal. Both the County and State were willing to step up and provide the mechanisms to allow the development even if both Edgerton and Gardner had said no as they have proven in reality. Olathe probably would have been more than willing to come around the South Gardner borders and annex the property also.

  37. You are so wrong and do not know the facts. You don’t have to take them to court – you just tell them no thank you and we will give you no incentives or any type of financial support. They don’t stay where they don’t or won’t get the handouts. No court is going to tell you that you HAVE to financially support a project or developer or business that is going to destroy your community. Allen Group and BNSF proved that point when they didn’t get the deal they wanted from Gardner – they went on down the road to the next city who will have their citizens take care of these jerks.

    Here is an article from the KC Star dated late 2005 where Olathe said No, Thank You and there have been towns across America who have said the same for the best interests of their citizens. Olathe said it didn’t make sense to have a rail hub on their southern border and I can’t agree more that it didn’t and still doesn’t make sense to have one of the world’s largest railyards in my community.


    Gardner, Olathe differ on proposed rail hub
    Kansas City Star, The (MO) – Sunday, October 23, 2005
    Author: BRAD COOPER

    Olathe does not want the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway to build an intermodal shipment center on its southern doorstep.

    In recent months, the Texas-based railroad has been scouting sites south and east of New Century AirCenter between 159th and 175th streets.

    Officials in nearby Gardner see great potential in a BNSF hub nearby, saying it could expand the local tax base and spur development in southwest Johnson County.

    But Olathe officials are not excited. Among other things, they are worried that a rail yard would generate truck traffic and increase congestion for Olathe motorists.

    “I think it’s too close to our city,” Olathe Mayor Mike Copeland said. “There are better places further south.”

    Copeland said the city already must deal with 60 to 80 trains that pass through a day. He noted that Olathe is spending millions to build above-grade crossings so motorists can get around the trains.

    Olathe doesn’t need any more train nuisances, he said.

    “We understand they have a very vital role in our economy, but at the same time, having a rail yard at the steps of our southern boundary doesn’t make sense for us,” Copeland said.

    City officials said the rail hub could generate about 3,000 truck trips a day, which would affect motorists who drive in southern Olathe, especially those using a new interchange planned for Interstate 35 and Lone Elm Road.

    BNSF has solicited Olathe’s opinion, at one point flying several city administrators to Texas to examine an intermodal hub near its home base of Fort Worth.

    “We are taking into account an awful lot of issues and opinions and information,” said BNSF spokesman Steve Forsberg. “We just haven’t made a decision on anything at this point.”

    Greg Kindle, president of the Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corp., said an intermodal hub could affect the Gardner area similarly to how Kansas Speedway has sparked development in Wyandotte County.

    “This is sort of the NASCAR of industrial projects,” Kindle said. “I think it’s prudent for Gardner to look at what impact this project could have on the community long term. Based on what we know today – without having all the economic data – it has the ability to lower our tax burden.”

    Kindle said Olathe should do what it thinks is best for its future.

    “Gardner has to look out for its best interest,” he said. “We look at this as a property tax generator, particularly with the spinoff of distribution warehouse projects.”

    Gardner Mayor Carol Lehman said the city has not yet endorsed the project because officials want to see studies examining economic impact and traffic.

    “Those are two extremely important pieces of information that we have asked ( BNSF ) to come back to us with,” Lehman said. “I think the economic impact could be fabulous. But saying we think is not saying that it will.”

    Lehman said she didn’t think Olathe’s opposition would kill the chance of luring a transportation hub to southwest Johnson County. She and Kindle said the railroad was considering a second site just west of Gardner.

    BNSF employs 2,300 people in metropolitan Kansas City and 1,200 in Topeka. It operates one intermodal facility in Kansas City, Kan., and another in North Kansas City. Such intermodal transportation hubs can combine rail, truck and airport access points.

    BNSF has been expanding lately, having benefited from growing domestic traffic and increased international cargo arriving at California ports.

    To reach Brad Cooper, call (816) 234-7724 or send e-mail to bcooper@kcstar.com.

    First glance

    BNSF Railway has been scouting properties in southwest Johnson County near Gardner for an intermodal shipment center.

    Olathe opposes a rail hub near its southern boundary.

  38. So basically the article says the project is “too close to our city” not in the the city. If it wasn’t in their city how could they say no to it?

  39. Here is another article from 2005 telling you how smart Olathe was and how dumb Gardner was or how they didn’t care about their citizens. Like this article says, Gardner should be thinking about setting up toll booths and charging $20 for every truck that even thinks about coming thru our town from that intermodal and I sure as heck wouldn’t be letting them use our 191st St. to get to the Gardner Interchange. I would be having meters all around the city monitoring the air quality when and before that intermodal comes and if they were polluting the air to the degree of affecting the health of Gardner citizens, then the EPA and the State Health Dept. should be contacted immediately with a filed complaint. You are going to have problems from that intermodal and truck and warehouse city that you haven’t even thought of due to worthless politicians. Entities will only take advantage of you IF YOU ALLOW IT.


    Railroad hub bad news for Olathe
    Kansas City Star, The (MO) – Wednesday, November 2, 2005
    Author: STEVE EDDY

    It’s not often a small town like Gardner would be in favor of something that would have a negative effect on Olathe, its northern neighbor.

    In the past, both cities have worked well together and complimented each other, but that could come to an abrupt halt if Gardner continues its positive responses to a trial balloon from the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad.

    BNSF has been looking for a place to build a new hub for intermodal train traffic. This is the type of hub that mostly handles large containers that are transferred to trucks so they can be transported to companies through the area.

    And the trial balloon BNSF flew last week proposed sites south and east of New Century AirCenter between 159th and 175 Streets – on Olathe’s southern doorstep.

    According to the railroad, the proposed site would generate about 3,000 truck trips a day, and the site would certainly add to the 60 to 80 trains currently traveling through Olathe and clogging our streets.

    Gardner officials say the hub has great potential. They claim it would increase their local tax base and spur development in and around their city – and probably at little cost to Gardner.

    Greg Kindle, president of the Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corp., said the hub would have an effect on Gardner similar to the way the Kansas Speedway affected Wyandotte County.

    Olathe – which is spending millions of tax dollars to elevate railroad crossings to ease congestion – would receive little added revenue from the proposed hub, and would get stuck with most of the hassles.

    As Olathe Mayor Mike Copeland correctly said, Olathe doesn’t need any more train nuisances. Even after spending millions for the elevated train crossings, Olathe will still have numerous crossings where train delays continue. Adding more trains only makes the problem worse.

    Plus, adding 3,000 daily truck trips to a facility on Olathe’s southern doorstep means more traffic going through Olathe to reach businesses throughout the area.

    Already, Interstate 35 is packed – even during the middle of the day. Another favorite route of trucks, Kansas 7 through western Olathe, is already filled with scores of trucks carrying everything from gravel to produce. Adding truck traffic to either route further increases the congestion.

    The truck traffic could particularly affect drivers in southern Olathe, especially those who would be using a new interchange planned for I-35 and Lone Elm Road.

    Trucks also cause more wear and tear on highways than cars. More trucks means increased highway maintenance – and more tax dollars to pay for it.

    The initial proposal from BNSF means Olathe gets stuck with most of the hassles and probably an increase in tax dollars spent to accommodate a rail hub with little benefit to Olathe.

    Copeland stated: “I think it’s too close to our city” and “There are better places further south.”

    Copeland was polite in his opinion. What he should have said was, “Are you nuts? Absolutely not!”

    Johnson County is growing faster than dandelions in the spring, and much of that future growth is going to be south of Olathe. Olathe has been encouraging that growth because it is a benefit to everyone – including Gardner. But unless you’re talking about a weapons of mass destruction plant or gigantic hog farm with noxious odors, I can’t think of any industry that could be worse for Olathe than a rail hub for intermodal traffic just outside the city limits.

    It’s time for Olathe officials to stop playing nice. It’s time for Olathe to stand up and declare war by loudly stating we are not going to pay the price for Gardner’s potential windfall – and we will fight like Gen. George Patton’s Fifth Army.

    Of course, we could also tell BNSF that we’ll put toll booths at the city limits and charge $20 per truck going to and from the proposed hub. That would generate enough to pay for a new parking garage in downtown Olathe. Of course, no one could get to it because of all the increased train and truck traffic.

  40. Terminator says:

    Judith, did you exhaust them with facts? I only hear crickets.

  41. What facts? those are KC Star stories about Olathe that “didn’t like it”. There is nothing about them stopping the project or any city stopping any project.

  42. Ecosto: Just put STUPID on your forehead……….not needed for me since I already know that FACT but it would sure help other people who may not have read your drivel and would save them time trying to reason with you…………

  43. Judith - Cities that said no? says:

    It’s hard to believe that Judith would believe a politician,,, even one from Olathe.

    Let’s look at the facts of reality. Olathe spent millions on a new Lone Elm Interchange and annexed and zoned thousands of acres for industrial development and warehouses. They already have over one million feet in warehouses that located to be closer to the Intermodal. Mr. Copeland can state HIS opinion but decisions are made by the council, not a lone mayor.

    In regard to BNSF asking cities for approval, if they did when would any say yes? The railroads face oposition on almost every project they do. Their attitude is move ahead without asking.

    I spent quite a bit of time seeking cities that had been successful in stopping the railroads so as to get a plan that could be copied to stop this project. In addition I asked others against the railroad to provide cities that had been successful. Neither I nor any of the anti intermodal crowd could find a city that had been successful.

    Not to say that Judit is again misrepresenting fact but great efforts were expended to find another successful city so that we could follow their success and to date I have not seen a successful plan. I am willing to admit my error if presented with evidence.

  44. Judith - Cities that said no? says:

    If there had been a City that was successful the AntiIntermodal crowd would have campaigned on “XXXXXXXXXXXXXX beat the railroad… we can too”. There would have been newspaper articles and bus loads of anti intermodal people visiting those cities for tips.

    I missed all this.

  45. Keep doing your research and I am sure you will find answers to your questions.

  46. Hale needs relax-let it go. For the most part anyone applying for this job dosn’t know a thing about the politics or shortcomings of the current council makeup ( no pun intended to current members) They don’t see us as pro or con to any development. They want a better job, period!! They don’t know who is running or the stances they take. Get out in the real world Mr. Hale. Gardner is nothing more than a pimple in the grand scheme of things. Don’t think that you or this city is that important to anyone applying for city manager.

  47. Hey, Dave and Steve, Rizzo would come here cheap. He would be pro-development, in fact, I would say he would be anything you wanted him to be and I know he would love to live in Gardner, Ks. He might not be able to help you out for awhile, however, since he is facing 50 felony charges.


    Prosecutors file additional charges against ex-Bell officials

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    By Corina Knoll

    Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

    March 24, 2011, 9:44 a.m.
    Los Angeles County prosecutors filed more charges Thursday against former Bell city administrator Robert Rizzo and his ex-assistant, Angela Spaccia, who are already facing numerous charges of public corruption and misappropriation of funds.

    The complaint adds one count of misappropriation of funds against the two for what prosecutors say was Spaccia’s excessive compensation and benefits. Spaccia also faces three additional counts of conflict of interest for allegedly writing her own employment contracts, which officials say helped her earn more than $375,000 annually -– more than most city managers in the state.

    Prosecutors dropped one count of misappropriation of funds against Rizzo.

    Rizzo still faces more than 50 felony charges including conflict of interest and falsification of public records. He and seven other current and former Bell officials were arrested last September during a sweeping corruption probe that has left the city in financial disarray.

    Prosecutors say Rizzo lacked the authority to dole out more than $5 million in loans from the city treasury to dozens of employees, and that he and Spaccia wrote their own employee contracts without City Council approval. Rizzo topped off an $80,000 loan to himself several times while Spaccia accepted three loans totaling more than $300,000, which she put toward purchasing property, prosecutors say.

    Rizzo, Spaccia, former Councilman Luis Artiga and recently ousted Mayor Oscar Hernandez all pleaded not guilty Thursday at an arraignment. Officials say Artiga received two $20,000 loans, one of which he used to adopt a daughter from Tijuana. Hernandez said he used his $20,000 loan to buy equipment for his market.

    Along with recently recalled council members Teresa Jacobo and George Mirabal and former councilmen Victor Bello and George Cole, Artiga and Hernandez are also charged in a separate case in which prosecutors charge they were paid for serving on several boards and commissions that never or rarely met.

    Rizzo is the sole defendant in a third case in which he is accused of conflict of interest in connections with a racehorse venture he owned with Dennis Tarango, who served as Bell’s privately contracted planning director.

  48. The problem with Gardner is all the small minds with big egos. Give a small man a little power, and –poof! his head explodes. Ever heard Drovetta condescend to share his knowledge with others? As to Hale — whatever.

  49. Remember how upset I got at the Electric Board pulling that manipulation of paying higher franchise fees to the city so they would have the money for an increase of city employees salaries????? Read on and learn how Bell Community Redevelopment Agency was criticized in a state audit last year for improperly using money for low-income housing to help subsidize oversized slaries of top city officials and operating without meaningful oversight. Rizzo knew how to use code violations too and those business owners suffered big time. Where did the $425,000 go???? Apathy of the people brought about all of this corruption.


    The city of Bell bought a piece of land for more than double its assessed value as part of a highly unusual redevelopment deal that required the seller to donate $425,000 back to the city — a sum that now cannot be accounted for, according to records and interviews.

    The property houses a carwash. But in 2006, when the suspect transaction took place, then-City Administrator Robert Rizzo and former General Services Director Eric Eggena wanted the land as part of a revitalization effort in the city’s small business district.

    The high sales price, $1.35 million — more than double the appraised value of $612,000 — put the land well beyond the reach of the carwash’s operators, who under their lease had the first right to purchase the property.

    As part of the deal, the seller was required to make a $425,000 “charitable contribution” to the city, ostensibly to support “the Boys & Girls Club or to build a park,” according to the son of the seller and records reviewed by The Times. But five years after the transaction, city officials do not know what happened to that money, and neither does Bruce Elwood, whose father sold the land to Bell just before he died.

    Despite the purchase, no redevelopment project occurred on the site, where the carwash still operates today, paying rent to the city.

    The deal provides a window into the workings of the Bell Community Redevelopment Agency. The agency was criticized in a state audit last year for improperly using money for low-income housing to help subsidize oversized salaries of top city officials and operating without meaningful oversight.

    Rizzo and seven other ousted officials have been charged by Los Angeles County prosecutors with corruption, mostly related to efforts to conceal their unusually high salaries. All have pleaded not guilty. Eggena was not charged, but prosecutors last month served search warrants at two homes where he has stayed.

    Some business owners have alleged that Eggena and other city officials misused code enforcement to further the financial interests of Bell officials and the city — and the carwash case offers new evidence of possibly improper activities. In the years before the sale, the city had accused the carwash of numerous building-code violations and closed the business for nearly a year, according to city records and interviews, which show that the city allowed the business to reopen only after the operators threatened to hire an attorney.

    Experts who reviewed the land-purchase deal for The Times said it made little sense and was problematic in several key areas: The city paid much more than the site was worth. On top of that, there was no documentation to support the value of the “contribution” the city required as part of the deal.

    “This is a real estate deal that ran amok,” said Larry Kosmont, a Los Angeles real estate consultant and former city manager and director of community development for Burbank, Santa Monica and Bell Gardens. “Essentially they cooked the books on this.”

    Loyola Law professor Theodore Seto said the inflated price deprived the carwash owners of the right under their lease to receive the same deal as the city, which paid $925,000 for the property when the $425,000 donation is taken into account.

    “It is clearly an attempt to misuse the power of the city,” Seto said.

    Albert Neesan and his son Eldon have operated Jack’s Car Wash on bustling Atlantic Avenue since 1986. They leased the property from Jack Elwood. The site is on a prime stretch that Rizzo was intent on developing. Next door, the redevelopment agency brought in a Kentucky Fried Chicken. A Pizza Hut and a Starbucks opened nearby.

    The Neesans’ problems with the city began in the summer of 2002, after a customer’s car crashed into the waiting room of the carwash. City inspectors told the family to submit plans to fix the damage and other problems, including exposed electrical wiring, records show.

    A month later, the family’s attorney wrote Bell’s director of building and planning, Dennis Tarango, complaining that the Neesans had submitted their paperwork but had not heard from the city. The letter noted that the family was losing customers because the waiting room had been closed by the city.

    “The delays are hurting their business,” the lawyer wrote. “Time is of the essence!”

    In an interview, Tarango said there had been no delays and that he had made himself available to help fix what he described as life-threatening code violations.

    As the Neesans waited for an answer, the city explored purchasing the property. In a memo from the city attorney, Rizzo was told that the family had a long-term lease on the property and a “right of first refusal,” which meant they were entitled to purchase the land at the same price and on the same conditions as a prospective buyer.

    Records show that on March 30, 2004, Tarango and inspectors showed up at the carwash with an ultimatum: Tear down the waiting room or face imminent closure. The next morning, a code inspector shut down the business.

    A month later, Tarango informed Neesan of additional code violations dating back to 1998 and said that inspectors had discovered health code problems.

    Around the same time, Eldon Neesan said, Tarango made an offer on behalf of the city to buy the business for $125,000. The family rejected the offer, calling it “ridiculous” in a letter to the city, records show. Tarango said he never made an offer and was not aware at the time that the city was exploring whether to buy the property.

    Around April 2004, the family hired civil engineer and architect John Ott, who concluded that the alleged violations were frivolous or could be easily resolved. “The more I got involved, I was horrified,” Ott said in an interview. He said the city was trying to drive the Neesans out of business.

    After Ott threatened to bring in an attorney, the family received a permit and reopened its business, he said. But the city pressed forward with plans to buy the property.

    In May 2006, Eggena and former Bell Mayor Pete Werrlein went to Palm Desert to visit a gravely ill Jack Elwood, recalled the property owner’s son, who was also at the meeting. The men gathered around Jack Elwood’s bed while Eggena discussed terms, Bruce Elwood said.

    Eggena explained that Elwood would receive a letter from the city crediting him with a tax-deductible donation, Bruce Elwood said. Eggena did not respond to requests for comment.

    Records show that the $425,000 was held by an escrow agency and returned to the city. Jack Elwood died and the deed was signed over by his son, property records show. Bruce Elwood said he repeatedly requested that Eggena provide documentation and never claimed the donation for tax purposes.

    “I was always suspicious of the city from the standpoint of ‘What did you do with that money?’ ” Bruce Elwood said.

  50. Charlie K says:

    I find the comments here extremely amusing. Most importantly I would like to point out that Mr. Fotovich did not answer the question he was asked and provided no plan on how to lure new businesses to Gardner and how to balance our budget. Very interesting considering he is running for City Council and yet has no thoughts on the subject. Not the kind of person I would on the City Council. Apparently he is just too busy to answer a sensible question. He only has time to post a meanigless text message which he apparently claims is indicative of some scandel.

    And while he scampers away at the prospect of having to actually provide answers to pressing city problems the TBG mouthpiece, or should I say bullhorn, Judith screams about scandel and good old Bell California. If Bell is in such trouble perhaps you could move there and help them out with your boundless wisdom. Oh wait, that’s right…much like Mr. Fotovich you have no idea how to solve problems, just the capacity to point them out, blow them out of proportion, and then rant about them.

    Since you can’t seem to give us one name of a city that has forced the intermodal completely away Judith I’m going to assume you don’t have one. Those articles you have pretty much say ‘We don’t want the intermodal in Gardner because we don’t make squat off it and we still have to deal with all the traffic’. Does that sound familiar to anyone? Because to me it sounds like the current arrangement with the intermodal resting next door in Edgerton. Thanks again TBG.

    But missing the larger point of this article it’s difficult to hire anyone to a city that hates development and growth. A few years down the line Gardner is going to be swallowed up by Olathe and Edgerton who have all the businesses and Gardner remains a nice little neighboorhood in the middle of all that with a broke City government.

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