It is Presidents Days here in the U.S., which means we are taking this day to honor all of the city council presidents/chairs/mayors who make their meetings run like a finely-tuned clock. But more importantly, let’s have a look back at where we chronicled with the January month in review.
Take a moment to find a city council meeting review you haven’t read or a podcast episode you haven’t listened to, then spend your holiday catching up!
It’s a tumultuous time, so it is important to get involved locally. We at the Chronicles are doing our part with the “Best Thing, Worst Thing” project! For an explanation, check out the page here. If you like storytelling and municipal lore, I think you will enjoy hearing residents wrestle with the good and challenging parts of their city at the same time.
So get comfortable, imagine you’ve been teleported to the Midwest, and head over to the City Council Chronicles podcast to download the latest episode. Or you can play it below.
Episode 4: Raymore, Missouri
Photo source: City of Raymore
Raymore is 25 miles south of Kansas City in Cass County, Missouri. The population is 20,000. It is largely a bedroom community for people working in the big city or in nearby Kansas. For a long time, Raymore was stagnant–hovering around 500 residents. But starting in the ’70s, the city grew up fast. It is largely white with a higher-than-average median income, and along the main highway are numerous retail and big box stores. Raymore also has had some interesting political twists and turns. In this episode, we hear from a librarian, a marketing analyst, a doctor, and a husband-and-wife pair that runs a newspaper.
“Size doesn’t matter” was the motto of this week’s Raymore city council meeting. Looking around the chamber, you’d think an F5 had blown away half the council: four people were AWOL, including the mayor.
President Pro Tem Derek Moorhead, himself anything but small, soldiered ahead for the 20,000 souls in Ray-town (not its real nickname). “I have a wonderful proclamation for a wonderful cause: the Missouri Retired Teachers Association,” he boomed, towering over the white-haired woman who came to accept the award.
Can I keep it, she asked after he was done reading.
“That’s yours, absolutely!” President Moorhead exclaimed.
Not only was the council a few hands short, the city manager was without his deputy. “She is, as you all know, in Las Vegas with the economic development team and the mayor,” he sighed. “She sent me a picture this afternoon.”
How do you like them apples! She and the mayor are taking selfies with Celine Dion, while everyone else is stuck here talking about…mudjacking?
“We’ve spent just a little over $40,000 for the mudjacker this year,” a staff member told the council. “So right now we have achieved break even.” Three council members applauded vigorously–less for the jacking of mud and more for the saving of dough.
Cost comparison? Repairs w/ City’s new mud jacker = $1K so far. Contractors would’ve charged $40K for the same work. pic.twitter.com/mzaR0iwmPk
More good news: “Next Monday, May 30, there is no council meeting because it is Memorial Day,” the city manager huzzahed. “I believe it will be the first Monday in five months that you all will have off.” (Well, technically the first Monday those five council members who AREN’T playing craps in Sin City have off.)
Then, a huge piece of news. Groundbreaking. Earth shattering.
“An ordinance,” the clerk read, “authorizing the mayor to enter into an agreement with Kansas City Audiovisual for the purchase and installation of a council chambers video system.”
HALLELUJAH, I screamed through my monitor. In case you haven’t noticed, the cameras the city council is apparently borrowing from the middle school AV department aren’t “showing me” much in the Show-Me State. Everyone voted aye.
Before long, this cozy council meeting was all wrapped up. President Moorhead had a few heartfelt words in parting. “Having a father as a teacher, I have to say that I don’t even know why we call them ‘retired’ teachers…they’re just teachers with no class in session,” he rhapsodized like a modern-day Langston Hughes.
“I remember [former] Mayor [Pete] Kerckhoff always used to mention the weather and the farmers market. I believe the farmers market officially opens on June 7–”
“June 14!” someone called out.
“June 14,” the president pro tem recovered. “I can’t predict the weather, though. Good luck on that. Hope it doesn’t rain.”
With a shrug, the council eagerly adjourned to enjoy a nice quiet holiday–except for the mayor, who will be doing body shots in the presidential suite of the Bellagio.
Final thoughts: For being the only council so far to upgrade their video quality, I give this meeting the Full Siskel and Ebert: 2 out of 2 thumbs-up!