Legislative Redistricting – This is a critical issue for JoCo. Senator Corson is one of the members of the Senate redistricting committee (as Representative Stephanie Clayton is of the House) so NEJC is well represented. The opportunity we have here is, because of JoCo’s population growth of 12.1%, we should get 3 additional House seats and at least 1 additional Senate seat, and this will give us a voice more commensurate with our size. The challenge will be getting a fair (non-gerrymandered) map. Politicians are drawing the maps, instead of an independent non-partisan committee, so be prepared for “mischief making” as Senator Corson called it. 😂 (But not really funny. 😒)
Infrastructure – JoCo and statewide. Three buckets:
- State level – The Eisenhower Transportation Plan passed in 2020. It is a 10year plan, and is being funded so far. We’ve seen projects all across the state to improve infrastructure from this plan.
- Federal (American Recovery Plan) funds – The challenge is we’re still waiting on final guidance on how funds can be spent. Senator Corson is hopeful that some of those funds can be spent on infrastructure.
- Federal Infrastructure Investment in Jobs Act being considered now in DC. Hopefully it will be signed into law soon to benefit Kansas.
Legislation of concern:
- SB 87 Deals with the distribution of the County general sales and use tax ($2.1M in 2020 for PV alone). This was narrowly defeated in the 2021 session. It would allow counties to not use the apportionment formula that has been in place since 1978, and would allow counties to instead unilaterally replace it with a new county wide tax that would not be shared with cities. Senator Corson opposes this bill if it comes back up.
- HB 2445 A broader version of health clubs legislation – This proposed legislation posited that if governmental entities complete with for-profit health clubs by having their own fitness centers, etc. in community centers, then those property-owning health clubs shouldn’t have to pay property tax to the city. This is a completely incorrect approach, per Senator Corson, that usurps local control, and it opens a whole can of worms for other industries that would then come forward for the same property tax relief. Counties and cities can decide how to allocate those taxes. Country clubs and health clubs have existed for decades, and so have city community centers. They have co-existed peacefully serving differing clientele until now. HERE is PV’s testimony against this bill during the 2021 session in conjunction with Merriam, Mission, and Westwood Hills.
Climate Action KC
- Flooding, Extreme Heat, and Drought are projected as our three biggest natural hazards exacerbated by climate change, and we’re going to be seeing more of those.
Celebrating PV Wins so far (incomplete list):
- Established Environmental Committee, 1989
- Tree Board: tree planting programs (Arbor Day Foundation tree give away)
- New city public works building – aiming for LEED platinum certified
- Exterior Housing Grant: 20% up to $2,500 for homes > $275,000
- Sustainability Grant: 20% match up to $2,500 with no cap on home value
- Dynamhex software investment to review specific emissions footprint
- % Wind power from Evergy
- Thermal powered City Hall
- Sustainable updates to City Hall
- Solar-powered park facilities
- LED streetlights
- New impervious coverage limits, 2019
- City fleet: switching to Hybrid and/or EV
- EV stations: four locations
- Full-time Arborist on City staff
- Tree Protection Ordinance
- Composting preferred pricing from local vendors
- JoCo Contain the Rain participation: rain barrels and native plant reimbursement
- Neighborhood native plant sales
- Expanding acceptable native plantings provided they are properly tended
- Two community gardens
- Bike-friendly streets
What ELSE can PV do?:
- Endorse the Climate Action Plan
- Leverage Your Green Team: City staff, Environmental Committee, tree committee possibly other community members to deliver on new or existing initiatives
- Consider hiring a consultant or sustainability coordinator to focus full time on these initiatives.
- Expand current Sustainability Grant amount and eligibility to include more of the community
- Native tree placement project: SW corners of homes, reduce head islands in parking lots
- Add tree maintenance team member to support arborist
- Review tree ordinance fine amounts
- Consider consultant assessment of 2021 energy conservation code impacts on cost and taxes.
- Review land use and development patterns for “greening” opportunities
Dr. Heather Noble, 20-year practicing psychologist and PV resident, joined Council to talk about the conversion therapy agenda item and her support of banning it. In her practice she has seen the devastating effects on teens. There are increases in suicidal thoughts, suicidal attempts and depression in young adulthood. The practice has been widely discredited.
Ad Hoc Housing Committee
Councilmember Ian Graves reported that this new temporary committee met for the first time last week outdoors at the Harmon Park pavilion with many skaters in the background at the new Skate Park. 😊 We began by talking about the current status of housing in PV and personal interactions. Jamie Robichaud, Deputy City Administrator, is going to put together a survey for committee members to prioritize a list of recommendations. We’ll be working over the next several months, meeting twice per month, to bring recommendations back to Council in the spring of 2022. Members include three councilmembers (including myself); Jon Birkel, PV Planning Commission; Mary Rimann, business owner; Todd Harris, community member and Diversity Committee liaison; and April Engstrom, multi-family housing developer.
Councilmember Terrence Gallagher, Vice Chair of Arts Council, gave the report this month (I wasn’t able to make the September meeting due to Shawnee Mission East volleyball). The State of the Arts will be virtual again this year. But the 8 winning artworks will be displayed in the gallery. We have over 130 submissions so far. We are also talking about some private virtual tours of the Getty museum. We could possibly tie this in with our Diversity committee, specifically with the Monuments Men story and how artworks were stolen from Jewish families by the Nazi regime. Watch for more info. Lastly, we’re still working on the Meadowbrook Park Clubhouse gallery activation and the Meadowbrook Shopping Center rotating sculpture program.
Teen Council Committee
Councilmember Piper Reimer said the deadline has been extended for Teen Council applications. Past participants have highly praised the program. We’re looking for some great candidates. The application process is pretty painless. 😁
- COVID update
- Vax – JoCo = 61.6% for 12+ yo (of those vaccinated IN Kansas)
- Vax – PVKS = 65.5% for 12+ yo (of those vaccinated IN Kansas)
- CDC says we’re at 74.4% for JoCo, since they capture citizens regardless of home state.
- JoCo is STILL a high transmission area classified by CDC
- The Skate Park’s grand reopening was a smashing success! Over 100 skaters and more in attendance. It seems to already has the reputation amongst the skate community of being the BEST skate park in the KC region.
- The JoCo Charter Commission’s first public meeting was shut down because the crowd that was there to offer public comment wouldn’t abide the KU Edwards Campus masking and social distancing rules. This meeting will be rescheduled as the commission looks for other venues that will allow slightly different rules…
- Note the Diaper Need Awareness Week proclamation in the back of the packet.
- “purchasing enough diapers to keep a baby or toddler clean, dry, and healthy can consume 14 percent of a low- wage family’s post-tax income, making it difficult to obtain a sufficient supply”
Chief Byron Roberson
Chief of Police, Byron Roberson, talked about the Heroes Pull benefitting Special Olympics that PVPD participated in. Sarah Schreck and Corporal Jon Mixdorf took first place in an event pulling a SWAT truck.
There will be a Blood Drive Sept. 30th from 10am – 4pm at Sylvester Powell Community Center. Give a pint and tell them it’s for PV.
PVPD’s first newly formed Citizen’s Advisory Board to investigate complaints of racial profiling in PV had their first meeting September 20th. The Board is comprised of personnel from the civil service board, residents, and a representative of the Diversity Committee.
PVPD staff toured the JCAHC Museum to see spaces for an upcoming exhibit and training about redlining in the metro. The exhibit will start in late January, and will run for a full year. JCPRD is working on educational and outreach curriculum now.
At the outset, the Mayor vocalized some of the details included in the packet, including the support of the JCDHE for the PV mask mandate. Also, KC Mayor Quinton Lucas is recommending KCMO Council extend their mask mandate through Oct. 7th to coincide with JaCo expiration date. KCK/UGWyCo also extended theirs recently to November 18th.
Mayor continued by saying that while we haven’t had a lot of calls to enforce, we’re not sure the business owners have the staff or comfort level to enforce themselves or even call PVPD to enforce for them.
The first motion, made by Jori Nelson, was to extend the mask mandate until the end of November or until such a date as CDC no longer considers us a high transmission area. There was no second. This motion did not move forward.
Ian Graves moved that we extend the expiration date to October 31st and then review every 2 meetings from there (as we did tonight). Ian stated that he uses the ICU data as his measure for how well we’re doing as a community and still feels like a mandate is necessary. This motion was seconded by Chad Herring. Chad believes the KCMO/JaCo will end up extending their mandates through November at least, but that’s anecdotal.
Mayor also shared his disappointment in the County Commission that they have abdicated their duty and left this issue up to cities without health departments to make these decisions.
Piper Reimer thanked our businesses in PV, and said that each time she’s been out and about in PV establishments, shoppers and workers alike seem to be wearing the masks without complaint that she could see.
Dan Runion shared that he’s received communications in support and opposition to the mask mandate, and asked if we had sales tax data yet that indicates there’s any effect in our revenues yet. Nicole Lee, Finance Director, said those are typically at least 2 months behind the month of revenue, so at this time it would be impossible to tell. So far, our 2021 sales tax revenue has been tracking better than projected, but there’s no way yet to know if the mandate has affected that.
Terrence Gallagher also had split communications from residents, but his observations out in the city have been different than others. He’s been shocked by the number of individuals who are not wearing masks. As a strong mask (and vaccine) supporter himself, he’s noted this, and would like some feedback from other council members on why we think this is even effective if only affecting PV. (Although I’m now realizing it’s not just PV; it’s KCMO, Jackson County, and Wyandotte County too.)
I spoke at this stage to concur with Terrence’s observations at the restaurants and coffee shops I’ve been at. Folks are NOT wearing their masks at all times except when they’re “actively eating or drink” per the mandate. So, I recommended a review of the signage to better describe the expectations and educate the community.
More discussion was had…
Wes Jordan, City Administrator, indicated that after tonight’s comments, he and staff will review the signage provided and language recommended to help with abidance.
City Council voted 11-1 to extend the Prairie Village Mask Mandate to October 31st.
Once again, this was not an easy decision for me or for my fellow councilmembers. None of us like wearing masks either, but not enough people are doing their part on their own, so this is what it has come to. 😞
Hybrid Council Meetings
Council voted unanimously to begin meeting in a hybrid format beginning in October.
Notes for residents/visitors wanting to participate in our hybrid meetings moving forward:
- In the gallery, there will be a maximum of 15 people, not including City Staff and the Governing Body. This will allow for social distancing for members of the public.
- Currently, masks will be mandatory for anyone in City facilities.
- Members of the public attending in-person will be allowed to speak first during public participation followed by anyone attending virtually.
Mission Road at 68th Street Flood Control Project Budget
Cliff Speegle, Public Works Storm Water Project Manager, was available to answer questions on this, but as it was discussed in detail at the September 7th Council Committee of the Whole meeting, Council went straight to a vote and voted unanimously to approve this design amendment.
Conversion Therapy* Ban
Taryn Jones and Brian Shapley with Equality Kansas’ metro KC Chapter joined us to present on this topic. Neither Kansas nor Missouri have banned “conversion therapy” yet, so several cities around us have instituted city bans: North Kansas City, Kansas City, Lawrence, and Roeland Park.
There seemed like global agreement on Council that this is a horrifying practice. Dan Runion asked how much the work on an ordinance would cost, and while no budget beyond “minimal time” was given, Chad Herring basically said that there is a cost to running a City, doing business, proposing ordinances, etc., and our LGBTQIA youth are worth it.
Council Committee of the Whole voted 10-2 to move this to staff to work on.
*Any form of talk therapy or similar activity that seeks to remove a person’s feelings of same-sex attraction or change their gender identity.
City-Owned Electric Vehicle Charging Station
Council voted unanimously to install two electric vehicle charging stations (4 stalls total) at the Harmon Park Skate Park parking lot (that’s a lot of “park”s in that sentence. Sorry! 😜).
So that’s it for last week. Some things I’ve been up to:
- Watched many SME volleyball matches. The girls are getting better each time.
- Attended (via Zoom) committee and board meetings for the Kansas Board of Technical Professions.
- Was interviewed by a very professional SME Harbinger student reporter on Bird Scooters (can’t wait to read that article)
- Attended (via Zoom) the League of Women Voters‘ September meeting: National Popular Vote: How Should We Elect Our Presidents?. We also learned a bit about the factors that should go into fair districting.
- Hosted book club. We discussed We Begin at the End (⭐⭐⭐_ _ ), and we selected The House in the Cerulean Sea for the next meeting.
- Kicked of the the PV Ad Hoc Housing Committee led by fellow councilmember Ian Graves
- Had coffee with another fellow councilmember, Terrence Gallagher
- Took some Senior Girl Scouts out to Camp Tongawood in Tonganoxie to kick-off their Silver Award project, and they (we) started by cleaning and painting the whole interior of the latrine they’re giving a “glow-up” so it’s not quite so scary for the young Girls Scout Daisies and Brownies.
- Toured the new Bonner Springs Government Services Center and Police Department.
- Attended Library Lets Loose as a JoCo Library Foundation board member to support the JoCo Library. My husband and I were joined by Mayor Mikkelson and his wife, Margo, as well as Becky Fast, JoCo Commissioner, Courtney Eiterich, Lenexa City Councilmember, and more! We ❤ our libraries!
- Writing many, many, many postcards in support of SMSD BoE incumbent candidates Mary Sinclair & Heather Ousley! Feel free to ask my why I believe these women deserve our support on November 2nd. 😁
If you’re still concerned about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine, please read this article that includes how the vaccine was rolled out (seemingly) so quickly and this article on myths vs. facts, both from Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Please be well and have a great weekend.