Parsons City Commission Code of Conduct – proposed

 It appears that Parsons City Manager Fred Gress and Commissioner Greg York are pushing a code of conduct for our City Commissioners. This code seems to be aimed at new commissioner Frankie Barnett, since he is to our city what “Columbo” was to detective shows.

 True or not, the appearance (to the public) is that Gress basically wants control over who Frank can speak with, and what the topics/questions are.  Since the other commissioners almost always vote in favor of whatever the City Manager proposes, and Mr. Barnett is often the only dissenting vote, it only stands to reason that certain portions of this proposal are intended to affect Barnett and his remarks regarding the issues at hand.

Love or hate Frankie, I believe there are NO inappropriate questions, as long as they pertain to city works and finances. We elected Frank to shine some light into the process so that we see where our tax dollars are going.

Here’s a sample that reads much differently than Fred and his allies propose. This sample certainly does not need a manager or mayor to filter questions to city staff.

I’m assuming you haven’t seen a copy of this proposal, so I have attached this below. There are other copies already around town, so some of you may have seen this.

I believe section 6 of the proposed rules is completely unacceptable. It basically says asking questions is inappropriate, unless Fred Gress says it’s appropriate.

From section 12, who will it be that makes the judgement call on what comments are “belligerent, personal, impertinent, slanderous, threatening, abusive or disparaging? Will Mr. Gress or Mr. York be making these decisions?

It is a well-known fact here in Parsons that Mr. Barnett has been attending public meetings and has often irritated Mr. Gress and other commissioners by simply asking that they enforce City regulations with a fair and even hand for all, while pointing out cases where inconsistencies exist. He has admittedly been an outspoken critic of the current City Manager and the city’s management in general. This past history practically insures that Frank Barnett has prejudice against him when someone claims he is making disparaging remarks.

We elected Frank to ask questions and get information. Especially when taxpayers feel inappropriate actions or spending is being done.  In essence, he was elected to be an outspoken critic. Not liking Frankie’s “tone and tenor” at a meeting is an emotional reaction, and not a good reason to create this over-reaching code of conduct.

If Frank speaks the truth, as he sees it, he will be in danger of being labeled belligerent and then being admonished publicly. Is that what this document is leading to, a public spanking for constantly asking tough questions?

Who would be a fair and impartial judge of what a disparaging (section 12) or “personal remark” is? Are we leaving it up to Gress and York to decide what’s appropriate and what’s not?……well THAT’S NOT APPROPRIATE!

Much of the document below is “standard boiler-plate” stuff and just common sense. I have no objections to those ordinary and customary requirements of code, they are quite acceptable and possibly should be accepted.

My questions are these: why wasn’t some of this boilerplate already in place years ago? If this was un-needed before, what has suddenly changed that we need to adopt these rules and give the City Manager these new controls and powers? 

Some of this common sense stuff was needed in the past, especially for conflicts of interest when giving JOBS Inc. $24,000 that was ultimately wasted. The City Manager and a former City Commissioner (the Commissioner has since been voted out) who belong to that private group had a glaring conflict of interest then (see section 2). What has changed?

The bottom line is this; The document and the timing of it’s proposal just don’t pass the “smell test”. Does anyone else get that feeling? If so, or not….feel free to comment!

Sorry so small – please ZOOM IN.


Filed under Human Rights, Kansas, Labette County, Opinion, Politics, Southeast Kansas

25 responses to “Parsons City Commission Code of Conduct – proposed

  1. Lisa (Woman Wielding Words)

    My brain is a little fried after driving through the flats of Kansas all day to focus on the details of the proposal, but isn’t Freedom of Speech one of those things people argue about all the time? If an elected official can’t have free reign, we are doomed. DOOMED! (Thanks for sharing).

    • Expressing unpopular/minority opinions without fear of reprisal is the crux of a free society. Especially when someone is elected to do just that.
      IF they manage to silence Frankie Barnett, two more just like him will surely take his place!

  2. Moe

    That’s kind of breathtaking kansas. What it shares with my post of course is “anti-democratic”.

    And your question “If this was un-needed before, what has suddenly changed that we need to adopt these rules and give the City Manager these new controls and powers? ” could be reprased “If it was okay before (7 times for George Bush), what has suddenly changed that we need to oppose raising the debt ceiling?”

    I think our country is going insane!

  3. The commisioners have gotten some feedback (a reality check), and have tabled this idea….for now.
    I have a feeling that what’s behind a lot of this is one of the “Seven deadly sins”…..PRIDE!
    Pride coupled with big personalities and no lack of self-esteem.
    Commsioners, please drop your pride, stop the bickering, and work for the people.
    ‘Nuff said. Thank you.

  4. David L. Miller

    What is needed is a strict conflict of interest policy . It is rumored that two commissioners are doing business with the city and circumventing the bidding process .

  5. aconcernedcitizen

    It is not a rumor, it is Greg York as the Owner of Higher Calling Technologies and the contracts with all city departments to maintain their computer systems. To cover his tail he has recently removed himself from voting to approve the payments which basically means the other commissioners feel pressured to vote his way since he is sitting right there.

    • Are these contracts subject to any bidding process?

      If it is subject to open bidding, and a commissioner (or other city employee and management) can provide a better service at a good price, I would have no problem with this.
      If in fact, such a thing does happen, I would think that the work would be subject to extra scrutiny and therefore hopefully a good value.

      If these are “no bid” contracts and projects, I had better hear why we are doing this for anyone. Is this the only person locally, or are there others locally and equal?

      If a commish openly bids and then excuses himself from voting due to his conflict of interest, well. I’m leaning towards thinking a commish could do work as long as he bids good and doesn’t vote.
      That’s kind of general and still leaves room for abuse, but its better that what we’ve had, huh?
      And….if a commish and his firm are truly just that much better, I’d rather not accept 2nd best just because of a code.
      There should still be freedom for people to do city work, even though they have been elected. and as long as it’s done openly and in competition (when possible).

  6. Section 6 and 9 seem the most questionable from a very quick read.

  7. Well there goes Freedom of Speech down the drain 😦 scary!!!

  8. David L. Miller

    Being an 1890’s Populist and a 1960’s liberal I believe that a public office is a public trust and no officeholder should personally profit off of thier service and should never do business with the enity that they serve on .
    It is my understanding that any service or good which is less than $10,000. need not be put out for competive bid and yet Commissioner York’s firm recieved over $18,000. last year in non bid municipal work . How is this possible unless some actions are being used to violate the spirt of the law ?
    It also rummored that Mayor Shaw is selling life insurance policies to the city on Commissioners without a bid solicitation .

    • I really can't speak about any of this because I have no facts about it. I do believe that any work for that amount should be bid. As far as life insurance, I really haven't heard anything about the city taking out policies. Seems kind of silly, because these are not invaluable CEO's or anything. The life insurance bit would be legal gambling on the city's part. If they insure commissioners, but none die while covered (employed), then it's just another waste of money. Always seemed kind of a morbid habit, taking out policies on employees, with the employer as the payee.

    • I don’t believe that Mr. Shaw Is selling insurance,
      Maybe you have confused this with the fact that the Commissioners get a free policy while they serve. Each commissioner can choose their own beneficiary.

  9. David L. Miller

    I received my information from Commissioner Barnett.

    • David, I do believe you got the whole life insurance bit wrong.

      Also, I don’t know about York’s dealings with the city and county. I do know that if I ran a similar business, those would be two places I would want to have contracts with!

  10. Mr. Miller, you should clear just what information you are talking about. I need clarification? Then I will atest to what I agree I have told you. I have not told you anything I can’t back up with facts. In fact, Tom Shaw revealed in a Commission meeting that he didn’t even know he had life insurance as a Commissioner.

  11. JACK

    Seriously, this is a bunch of idiots listening to other idiots, i don’t even know where to start, so lets start with a Cod of Conduct. One is needed, i have serverd on several board where we find a need for something that has never been there before, it is just good management in the event of something happening. Maybe someone saw that if a commish started abusing their rights more than they are now then it would be a problem and this code of conduct is a preventive maintenance ttype of thing. I would not expect anyone that reads this mediocrity to understand.
    MEDIOCRITY, is average so we shuold strive to be average, i have always strived to be the best i could be, not average, swell that is all i have to say on this average loser web blog. Back to Parson scity commision.

    Tom Shaw is not licensed to sell insurance, look it up it is public information you idiot. Make some more accusations like he is DB Cooper or something like that while you are at it.

    Greg York did that amopunt of work throughout the year idiot, his company does not know year from year what the city is going to need in his services, he was doing this before he was commissioner and he is still doing it. So what other company in town does this type of work, probrably one of the computer guru’s that put their well informed comments on here are surely sharp enough to do the networking that his company does, i mean your are smart enough to type lies on this average web blog=LOSERS. Sure Barnett had the guts to run which is more than we can say about all you others, but he needs to focus on helping the city and not tearing it down. maybe he will learn or he will resign before hsi time is up because he will soon realize he never should of ran if his intentions were not pure. It is easy to sit and complain, what do any of yuo writing this trash do to help the city except point fingers and cry poor me, when was the last time you volunteered for anything. oh there are a couple of you but then you shuold be smart enough to not comment on this page.

    Keep it up, and you will reap the rewards of aiding in destroying the fair city of Parsons, then you will be happy. I am 4th generation in this town, and my father and his father and his would be so ashamed of some of you for trying to destroy this town for the sake of what.

    I pray in Jesus name to our holy father that they can see the light to guide us on the right path and Parsons will overcome the idiots that reside here. Yeah a PRAYER, for Barnett and for YORK, neither had a good reason to vote no.

    • Jack, or whoever you are, you should not come here and call people names (loser, idiot), and contribute no new information. THEN YOU END BY INVOKING THE NAME OF JESUS? I don’t believe you have His approval for your hateful attitiude and comments. My advice is, don’t come here and name call. If you do not like this blog, don’t come here!

      I agreed (above) that a sensible Code IS NEEDED.

      Myself, as the author of the commentary, have done none of the name calling or being disrespectful, that you seem to enjoy. I suggest you need to get ahold of your emotions and discuss things like an adult.

      Again, you make fun of me and my blog. If you don’t like the mediocrity meme, go to a blog with an “excellence” meme.
      You see, striving for mediocrity is a joke, Mr. Jack. Sorry that went over your head.

      I respect all of our elected officials, and Mr. Gress.
      You, sir, however, have made disrespectful and belligerent comments. PLEASE STOP.

      All I did was present the facts, with some commentary. Period.
      You are welcome to set the facts straight, but not in the manner you have done so. Did the “boards” you sat on allow such name calling?
      Well, I don’t. Be respectful of my spot here or be gone.
      It is my “microphone” and I have no obligation to share it with someone who disrespects me and/or other commentators here.

      Lastly, nobody here wants to “destroy Parsons”, that’s just hyperbole and intended to be divisive.
      ‘NUFF SAID.

  12. Tom Shaw

    For the record… I’ve never even thought of going into the insurance business. And if I’d gone into city government hoping to make money for myself I would be one severely disappointed boy after the last10 years!
    Rage against the machine!
    Tom Shaw

    • Thanks Tom. I suspected as much.
      I would like to be there at the meetings, but I sleep evenings and work nights and mornings.

      No rest for us wicked idiot liars who want to destroy Parsons.

  13. David L. Miller

    I guess what I thought I heard was not what was said . I apologize for this misunderstanding and for posting it without further clarification . This apology is not only to Commissioner Barnett and Mayor Shaw but to all who read the post . But I still believe all services that a commissioner has a conflict of interest in should be done by a competitive sealed bid as it eliminates any and all appearences of corruption . And Jack I may be an idiot but I must know more than you at least I know what “spellcheck ” is .

    • Thanks for checking back. Everyone may make mistakes when things are misunderstood.

      Thanks to all who commented.

      Let me emphasize this, nobody here is trying to vilify anyone.
      Most of all, nobody wants to “destroy Parsons”. Quite the contrary.
      We just want good, honest, open dealings in our city government, and a government that works the most good for the largest number of people.

      Anybody that read the posts about “Redtail Ridge” knows that there have been, and probably will continue to be conflicts of interest. Now that the $24,000 is gone from that ill-conceived fiasco, my hope is that those types of dealings will no longer be done. A commish and a City Manager should NEVER vote to give away money to a private group that they are a part of, no matter how worthwhile they feel their group and it’s project(s) are.

  14. David L. Miller

    All I ask of any public officer is that they put the interests of the public above any private interest that they may have . I certainly don’t expect them to agree with me all the time . (I’m human and I goof to.)

  15. I have no interest except for the tax payer and reality.


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