September 1, 2014

Mayoral candidates face off at forum

Danedri Thompson
dthompson@gardnernews.com
A mayor’s responsibility is to provide leadership to the governing body, according to candidates for the job in Gardner, Dave Drovetta and Chris Morrow.
The pair answered questions during a forum sponsored by the Gardner Area Chamber of Commerce last week.
Morrow, who took the first question following candidate introductions, said the mayor should run meetings in a crisp and professional manner.
“To build consensus and move the city forward smartly,” he said.
Drovetta said in addition to day-to-day responsibilities, the mayor is also responsible for getting people to invest in Gardner.
“Part of that is going out and representing our community to Johnson County, the metro area and areas beyond,” Drovetta said.
The forum was a second opportunity for the public to watch the candidates in action. A political party hosted a similar forum at the end of February and at both events, the candidates answered questions about how to improve the public’s perception of Gardner.
“We have had challenges in the last six years,” Drovetta told the audience of approximately 50 people. “We have worked hard to change that perception.”
One thing, he said the city has done is asked the city administrator, Cheryl Harrison-Lee to talk to business leaders to see what they need.
Morrow said the city needs to move quickly and smartly when working with developers and others investing in the city. For example, he said the city had agreed on a contract with BNSF and the Allen Group to build the intermodal, however, it remained unsigned for several months.
“When decisive action needs to be taken, it needs to be taken and followed through to its conclusion,” he said.
Both candidates expressed their support for making an at-grade railroad crossing at Poplar Street a quiet zone. Both also said the school district is the city’s most important asset.
They differed slightly on offering incentives. Drovetta said many incentives, including TIFs and abatements are controlled by state statute. However, the city could consider creative incentives, like waiving or reducing park impact fees, to attract development.
Morrow said the city should be careful about providing incentives, because often they’re not needed at all. Instead, he said the process to build a business in Gardner should be simple and quick.
Gardner voters will be select a mayor on election day, April 2. Advance voting by mail begins March 13. Advance voting in person begins March 26. March 12 was the last day to register to vote.

Comments

  1. Judith Rogers says:

    Citizens will have to pick their poison on these mayor candidates as well as the city council and school board candidates. Pretty sad situation in many respects in my opinion.

    Look at that recent city manager contract approved on March 4, 2013 and determine what you think of that contract brought to you by Mary Bush, city of Gardner’s Human Resource Mgr., City Attorney Hubbard, Mayor Drovetta and Ms. Harrison-Lee herself and then the contract rubber stamped by your City Council. I would say there are many problems the people face with these jaybirds representing you and yet what do the new city candidates bring to you?? Very little in my opinion. Getting pretty sick when a city manager of a dinky little town of 20,000 will be making more than the Governor of the state of Kansas and with a benefit package that most common citizens could only dream of. And then if you ever want to get rid of this city manager, it is going to cost you plenty and that cost will increase yearly as her salary increases. Wonder why your city taxes are so high, you have to look no further than this contract and also be cognizant of all of the wheeling and dealing that goes on with the thieves in the back rooms brought to you by these so-called public servants. All kinds of thieves and many wolves wearing sheep’s clothing.

    If you want the same ole status quo school board governing, then you more than likely will be picking Fabing, Nelson and Riggs since they seem to be handpicked by your present Board and dear ole Gilhaus who both, like the city of Gardner, talk the talk but certainly don’t practice transparency through the Open Records Act or decent transparency and communication with their citizens – that is my opinion.

    I sent this e-mail to the city of Gardner this week and would love to see other citizens providing some oversight but my expectations are low considering how little of it I see.

    ****************************************************************************************

    I have been reviewing the expenditures listed under the March 4, 2013 meeting agenda. I have some questions (and may have more) with respect to credit card listings shown on the top of Page 1 on the Accounts Payable Update List. I need to know what individual was using a city credit card for the following listed meetings. I also need to know the reason for each of these meetings, names of all of the entities present at each meeting and detailed information as to what was discussed.

    Jan. 4, 2013 Capital Grille Meeting with Shook Hardy

    Jan. 6, 2013 Austins Bar & Grill Meeting with Council Members (Possible violation of the Open Meetings Act)

    Jan. 18, 2013 Austins Bar & Grill Meeting with Steve Hale

    Jan. 20, 2013 Red Robin Meeting with Chris Morrow

    Jan. 20, 2013 Panera Bread Meeting with Mayor Drovetta

    I find it quite interesting this person met with both Morrow and Drovetta on the same day, Jan. 20, but at different locations in the same area but not surprising to me.

    Judith Rogers
    Gardner, Ks.

    **********************************************************************

    As I have said before, pick your POISON………………..

  2. Judith Rogers says:

    Citizens have got to get thru their heads that the politicians and bureaucrats have a front room or Open Meeting voice and a back room voice. Go to http://tv.msnbc.com/shows/the-ed-show/ and take the time to watch the show about Romney’s 47% comments. I have come across similiar situations time and time again and they always upset me so and as I get older they actually make me physically sick.

    I remember clearly when the Coleman warehouse opened and shortly thereafter the politicians were going to appear for their political walk thru with the accompanying drivel about jobs, economic development, blah, blah that I can see thru so clearly now in my later years and since it has got so bad. I was told by several workers at that warehouse when that tour was going to occur that they were told not to make eye contact with the people involved in the tour, not to talk to them, to keep working, only management could talk to those involved in the tour and to look neat and tidy that day. I couldn’t help but think of Romney going thru that China sweatshop factory he was contemplating buying and which he talks about in that 47% comments campaign finance meeting shown in the Ed Show article referred to above. Many, many politicians and the enablers of slimy government always want to make these hire and fire jobs look like manna to the working man when those people doing those jobs usually have no other choice but to take those low-paying, hire and fire jobs with little or no benefits. Those creating those types of jobs are sitting in penthouses, luxury homes and/or sipping cocktails and as an example, you could see that if you look to see where those involved in Gardner benefit districts live and operate. When the thieves show up at your Council meetings with their hand out and wanting their usual tax incentives, tax credits, benefit districts, tax abatements, TIFs, Star Bonds, utility costs lower than what citizens pay, etc., etc. and don’t live here in the messes they create, then you might want to think about how the knife is being placed in your back and most of the time by people who are supposed to be protecting your best interests but aren’t – they too are working for themselves in a dinkly little town of 20,000 people with a salary higher than what the Kansas Govenor makes,.

    I expect Walter Hermreck and a few other citizens from this area got their eyes and ears full today as they went to our state capitol to testify at a Senate hearing. The slime and crime and corruption are there people, for all to see, however, you have got to realize that our government is not fairyland or made out of cotton candy……..not sweet with a story book ending by any means. More like it is filled with lobbyists and entities using YOUR TAX MONEY to take care of themselves and the goons they work for.

    All is not as it appears and the voice you are hearing may only be the front room voice – you should be looking very closely at candidate words, actions, inactions and voting records and you won;’t get that from the candidates – you have to be doing your job as a responsible citizen and do it all the time, not just at election time or when you find it convenient or when some are out there with their lies and hate mongering and you jump on that corrupt bandwagon.

    Listen, look and beware – isn’t that what you tell your kids every day? So should you and many times it won’t be pretty.

    These comments are my opinions.

  3. Judith Rogers says:

    Here is the city’s reply to my questions to them from the above e-mail sent on March 11, 2013:

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Doreen K. Pesek
    To: Judith Rogers
    Sent: Friday, March 15, 2013 2:46 PM
    Subject: RE: KORA Request – Expenditures

    Ms. Rogers,

    Please see the following responses in blue:

    Jan. 4, 2013 Capital Grille Meeting with Shook Hardy

    This meeting was with Shook Hardy & Bacon was to discuss potential partnership opportunities for the City of Gardner.

    Jan. 6, 2013 Austins Bar & Grill Meeting with Council Member

    This was a Council Briefing meeting at which time City Administrator Harrison-Lee discussed the upcoming Council meeting agenda.

    Jan. 18, 2013 Austins Bar & Grill Meeting with Steve Hale

    This meeting was with a resident and the topic was visioning

    Jan. 20, 2013 Red Robin Meeting with Chris Morrow

    This was a Council Briefing meeting at which time City Administrator Harrison-Lee discussed the upcoming Council meeting agenda.

    Jan. 20, 2013 Panera Bread Meeting with Mayor Drovetta

    This was a Council Briefing meeting at which time City Administrator Harrison-Lee discussed the upcoming Council meeting agenda.

    ************************************************************************

    Here is my e-mail sent today to the city of Gardner asking further questions to get to the point of true transparency:

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Judith Rogers
    To: Doreen K. Pesek
    Cc: Heath Freeman ; Randy Gregorcyk ; Larry Fotovich ; Chris Morrow ; Kristy Harrison ; Cheryl Harrison-Lee ; Howe, Steve, DAT ; Denton, Bryan, DAT
    Sent: Saturday, March 16, 2013 11:04 AM
    Subject: Re: KORA Request – Expenditures

    My original Open Records Request asked as to what individual was using a city credit card for the following listed meetings and that question has not been answered. I also requested to be advised of all of the entities present at each of these meetings and that also has not been answered.

    I also need to know what potential opportunities with Shook, Hardy & Bacon were discussed on Jan. 4, 2013 and again what ctiy personnel used the city credit card that date?

    I need all Council member names who attended the meeting of Jan. 6, 2013 and what city personnel utililized the city credit card. Specifically why was this so-called “briefing” meeting needed and why was a closed meeting held?

    Again, I need specifics as to what was discussed at ALL of these outside meetings.

    Why were these meetings not held at Gardner City Hall?

    Judith Rogers
    Gardner, Ks.

  4. Judith Rogers says:

    Recently I asked the city of Gardner about the costs of retirement benefits since the KPERs percentage is legislated each year by the state of Kansas and I was not sure of the current legislation. Below is the e-mail I received on this issue and also what citizens contribute to the ICMA retirement program for employees. I believe citizens are also going to be asked to pay even more into KPERs due to their huge deficit – I asked the city about where we stood on this issue but they did NOT answer that question so I will go back to them again.

    It seems just one retirment program is not enough for our city employees – they have two programs workng for them and paid for by the citizens. With this information I find the City Mgr. will receive $9,846 for her KPERs retirement and another 5% or $6,200 for her ICMA account which totals $16,046 with that percentage increasing by 1% in 2014, 2% in 2015 and 3% in 2016 – this on top of her salary of $124,000 and she gets 6 WEEKS vacation, $500 a month for car expenses with additional yearly increases of $150, evidently the use of the city credit card for her lunches, etc., her contract runs for 3 YEARS, we will have to pay her 9 months salary if we let her go before that contract ends or $92,997 based on her PRESENT SALARY, she is eligible for a 5% bonus or another $6,200 and pay raises if all goes well as follows: increase of 7% on March 4, 2014, 6% on March 4, 2015 and 6% on March 4, 2016, citizens will pay for budgeted and subsistence expenses for professional and official travel with no limits shown. City also agrees to pay budgeted travel and subsistence expenses in accordance with adopted City policies for short courses institutes and
    seminars that are necessary for her professional development and for the good of the City and again no limits shown, citizens will also pay FULLY the costs for her disability, life and health insurance.

    Your Mayor, Human Resources Mgr. Mary Bush, City Attorney Hubbard, City Mgr. Harrison-Lee and your present Council members brought this city manager contract to the citizens so they may pay the costs.

    ******************************************************************************************

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Doreen K. Pesek
    To: pandazinger@kc.rr.com
    Sent: Friday, March 15, 2013 2:38 PM
    Subject: RE: KORA Request – KPERS data

    Ms. Rogers,

    The 2013 employers rate for KPERS employees as mandated by State statute is .0794. This is the current obligation the City of Gardner pays in for all KPERS employees.

    Employees who contribute 1% into the ICMA retirement program also receive a 1% City contribution.

    As stated in the City Administrator’s contact dated 3-4-13, the ICMA percentage is 5%.

    Respectfully,

    Doreen K. Pesek

    City Clerk

    City of Gardner, Kansas

    120 E. Main Street

    Gardner, KS 66030

    (913) 856-0945 office

    (913) 856-0997 fax

    http://www.gardnerkansas.gov

    dpesek@gardnerkansas.gov

    *********************************************************************************************

    I can only hope that citizens fully recognize the TOTAL COSTS they are paying for each and every city employee along with school district, county and state employees and politicians. I can only hope that citizens fully recognize what every tax incentive, tax abatement, tax refund, tax credit, TIF, Star Bond, CID, Transportation Dist., etc., etc. cost them in loss of TAX REVENUE and increased taxes, especially sales taxes placed on them. I would say citizens better be thinking long and hard as to who they place their TRUST in to represent them and determine who the winners and losers are.

  5. Judith Rogers says:

    Recently I asked the city of Gardner about the costs of retirement benefits since the KPERs percentage is legislated each year by the state of Kansas and I was not sure of the current legislation. Below is the e-mail I received on this issue and also what citizens contribute to the ICMA retirement program for employees. I believe citizens are also going to be asked to pay even more into KPERs due to their huge deficit – I asked the city about where we stood on this issue but they did NOT answer that question so I will go back to them again.

    It seems just one retirment program is not enough for our city employees – they have two programs workng for them and paid for by the citizens. With this information I find the City Mgr. will receive $9,846 for her KPERs retirement and another 5% or $6,200 for her ICMA account which totals $16,046 with that percentage increasing by 1% in 2014, 2% in 2015 and 3% in 2016 – this on top of her salary of $124,000 and she gets 6 WEEKS vacation, $500 a month for car expenses with additional yearly increases of $150, evidently the use of the city credit card for her lunches, etc., her contract runs for 3 YEARS, we will have to pay her 9 months salary if we let her go before that contract ends or $92,997 based on her PRESENT SALARY, she is eligible for a 5% bonus or another $6,200 and pay raises if all goes well as follows: increase of 7% on March 4, 2014, 6% on March 4, 2015 and 6% on March 4, 2016, citizens will pay for budgeted and subsistence expenses for professional and official travel with no limits shown. City also agrees to pay budgeted travel and subsistence expenses in accordance with adopted City policies for short courses institutes and
    seminars that are necessary for her professional development and for the good of the City and again no limits shown, citizens will also pay FULLY the costs for her disability, life and health insurance.

    Your Mayor, Human Resources Mgr. Mary Bush, City Attorney Hubbard, City Mgr. Harrison-Lee and your present Council members brought this city manager contract to the citizens so they may pay the costs.

    ******************************************************************************************

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Doreen K. Pesek
    To: pandazinger@kc.rr.com
    Sent: Friday, March 15, 2013 2:38 PM
    Subject: RE: KORA Request – KPERS data

    Ms. Rogers,

    The 2013 employers rate for KPERS employees as mandated by State statute is .0794. This is the current obligation the City of Gardner pays in for all KPERS employees.

    Employees who contribute 1% into the ICMA retirement program also receive a 1% City contribution.

    As stated in the City Administrator’s contact dated 3-4-13, the ICMA percentage is 5%.

    Respectfully,

    Doreen K. Pesek

    City Clerk

    City of Gardner, Kansas

    120 E. Main Street

    Gardner, KS 66030

    (913) 856-0945 office

    (913) 856-0997 fax

    *********************************************************************************************

    I can only hope that citizens fully recognize the TOTAL COSTS they are paying for each and every city employee along with school district, county and state employees and politicians. I can only hope that citizens fully recognize what every tax incentive, tax abatement, tax refund, tax credit, TIF, Star Bond, CID, Transportation Dist., etc., etc. cost them in loss of TAX REVENUE, including property taxes and sales tax but not limited to those two sources of tax revenue, and increased taxes, especially sales taxes placed on them. I would say citizens better be thinking long and hard as to who they place their TRUST in to represent them and determine who the winners and losers are.

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