Tag Archives: City Manager

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.  http://www.battlecreekmi.gov/City_Government/Mayor_and_Commission/Code_of_Ethics.htm

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.


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

Who JOBS, Inc. Is? – a letter from Bob Wood


Bob, thanks for all the information! – sekanblogger

Current makeup of board and their particular expertise

President – Pat LaForge – President of Laforge and Budd Construction – Valuable contributor to the group because of knowledge of construction and it’s costs, as well as being a large employer in the area. LaForge and Budd has partnered with JOBS and the City in the past in the construction of “spec” industrial buildings to have in inventory for the attraction of new industry. LaForge and Budd was also a major contributor of funds in the initial fundraising effort. Pat also serves as a director on the Parsons Community Foundation.

Vice President – Bob Wood – President of Wood-Dulohery Insurance, Inc, and Wood-Dulohery Real Estate (formerly Seaton-Wood) – Involved in Economic Development efforts in Parsons for over 20 years. Currently serving as Vice Chair of the Great Plains Development Authority, and a founding member of the effort for the transfer of the KAAP property, Served as Co-Chairman of the Redevelopment Task Force formed in the aftermath of the Tornado, and led redevelopment efforts for the downtown renovation, Served as co-chairman of the bond issue campaign for renovation of Parsons Middle School, led task force on two occasions to oppose closure of PSHTC, past President and long term director of Parsons Chamber of Commerce, and founding board member of Downtown Parsons, Inc. Has direct involvement with outside prospects as they tour the community for site selection, as well as explaining housing options for owners and employees that would relocate to Parsons.

Treasurer – Ray Jacquinot, Vice President of Commercial Bank – One of the more recent additions to the board, taking over for Phil Eaton, who had served since the beginning. The local banks need to have a strong presence in this group, as they have come to the table with many “joint venture” funding vehicles for projects in the past. One of the local banks will act as “lead lender”, but all of the institutions involved share in the risk of a loan. Loans have been made to construct buildings, buy property, or simply operational funding to assist companies create more jobs. Commercial Bank was a major contributor in the original JOBS fund drive.

Secretary – Bob Bartelli. Bob is the only founding member of the JOBS board that still serves on the board. He, along with Dick Dearth, Jerry Carson, Chuck Brown, Gary Seaton and a few others that I’m sure I’m forgetting, were the leaders that came up with the idea of JOBS and had the drive to organize and solicit the funding needed to make it work. Gary Seaton was an original board member of JOBS and the firm was a major contributor of funding for JOBS, Inc. It’s hard to go ask your friends to donate $5,000, $10,000, even $20,000 to a cause like this, but they did it and raised almost $700,000. Bob has the experience of all decisions made in the past about JOBS activities, as well as knowledge of the city’s economic development strategies as they relate to a local business that needs help expanding, or just maintaining, as well as new prospective companies that may want to locate here. It is important to have this tie in, because there are some things that the city just can’t do, and that is where an entity like JOBS becomes valuable in the process.

Director – Montie Taylor – President of Great Southern Bank, Parsons – Montie has been a long term member of this board, and his bank has been involved in many positive ventures, as noted above, to help provide jobs. Montie serves as a Trustee of LCC, and as a director of the GPDA. There aren’t many volunteer organizations in Parsons that he hasn’t been involved with in some capacity. The First National Bank was a major contributor to the initial JOBS effort.

Director – Ann Charles – Deputy Director of GPDA- Past editor and publisher of Parsons Sun –Ann has been heavily involved in all things around Parsons for some time. During her time at the paper, she became very involved in the political systems, both on a statewide and national basis. She can pick up the phone and have a conversation with the Governor, or any of our Senators or Reps in DC. She was very involved in the last comprehensive highway plan that led to the construction of HWY 400. Transportation is very important in economic development decisions, and having the right contacts in Topeka and Washington help. It is also very important that the efforts of the GPDA align with the activities of the city’s eco devo department, and the efforts of JOBS, to make sure that everyone is moving in the same direction, and not duplicating efforts. The Parsons Sun was a major contributor to the initial effort.

Director – Rich Proehl – See above about financial and political. Rich covers both. Vice President of Labette Bank, and current State Representative. Labette has been involved in the joint ventures mentioned above and was a contributor in the initial effort.

Director – George Knox – President LCC – The president of the college has always had a seat on the board. Any issues regarding workforce training can involve the college, and assistance has been given to prospects in the past. The college is also a large employer in our community.

Director – John Kelly – Plant Manager – DuCommun Aero Structures – John is a recent addition to the board, and was asked to join to bring manufacturing expertise to the board. Knowledge of issues ranging from workforce quality and training, transportation and shipping, utility costs and availability, etc. create the need for this voice at the table.

Director – William Mahoney – Labette Health Administrator (resigned while I was working on this) – The hospital has a huge impact on economic development, both as an industry in itself, and as a contributor to the “quality of life” issues that make Parsons a desirable community to locate your company in. Recently, Dr Welch acquired a company in Texas and relocated their jobs to Parsons, which is a perfect example of the medical community tie to Eco Devo. The improvements being made at the hospital, along with ongoing successful programs, are a large economic contributor to the community. The hospital is also a large provider of jobs to the community.

Ex-Officio Members of the board; City Manager – currently Fred Gress, City Economic Development Director – Carolyn Kennett, President of Chamber of Commerce

Read more, plus commentary here-> Continue reading

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Filed under History, Kansas, Labette County, NEWS, Opinion, Politics, Southeast Kansas