I’ve cooled down somewhat in the past 18 hours since the Raymore City Council meeting last night, but my opinions have not changed. The majority of the City Council should be ashamed of themselves for playing political games at the expense of the elderly and disabled in our community. Councilwoman Abdelgawad and Councilman Kellogg were the only voices of reason throughout the 45-minute argument over a line item in the budget that would provide money for an additional week of the OATS bus in Raymore. For the amount of animosity and angst that this has caused you would think that it was a huge chunk of the city budget that was being decided. Nope. It’s a whopping $2,800. Well that’s a lot of money every month you might say. Nope again. That’s for a year of sponsoring the bus for one day a month. A YEAR!!!!
As many may recall, this has been a topic of debate among the Council for over a month. Jeff Adams has made two personal appearances to request the funds be put in the budget. Last night Adams gave Wescoat and Moorhead a tongue lashing in front of a full house. In particular he told Moorhead that he should be ashamed of his behavior (for more details about the meeting check out this week’s issue of The Raymore Journal). Having been present for nearly all of the Council meetings since May, I have been observing each one of the Councilmembers and listening to what they say. I consider myself a fairly good judge of character. In my opinion, Mr. Adams was spot on as too were Abdelgawad and Kellogg with their comments particularly towards Wescoat.
Here’s the thing. I’ve listened to one excuse after another from Wescoat as to why the OATS bus should not be sponsored by the City. First it was because it might be funded through MARC, then it was because the same names kept coming up for the OATS bus service, then it was ‘is there really even a need’, then it was ‘we don’t have enough data,’ and finally and my personal favorite was ‘this cause didn’t have a champion.’
Moorhead on the other hand didn’t make excuses; he just made waffles. Last night he told everyone that his position has been consistent since August 16 – we don’t know what the need is (so we shouldn’t fund it is the rest of that thought from how he voted). But here is the nice thing about being in the news business – we love to quote people. Two weeks ago Moorhead’s position was that the OATS bus was a private business and should not be funded by city money. He also said that back in August he supported transportation for people with need, not specifically the OATS bus, but he did not receive any support from other Councilmemebers. This was after Abdelgawad proposed to change the title of the line item to say “transportation for the elderly and disabled for necessity shopping,” which he still voted against. So supposedly he was in support of that kind of budget amendment in August but not last night. What kind of sense does that make?
It was clear Abdelgawad was getting extremely frustrated with the laundry list of excuses and she did a great job of giving logical answers for them. She tried to compromise on several instances, but Wescoat, Moorhead, Hubach, Stevens, and Holman would not budge.
So you know what our brilliant council agreed to do instead? They passed a budget amendment to ad $3,000 to the “administration department’s professional services” budget in order to conduct a survey to see if there is indeed a need for transportation for the elderly and disabled in Raymore. At this point I nearly had to leave the Council chambers because I wanted to scream, “Are you kidding me?”
At least Abdelgawad and Kellogg had the sense to see the absurdity of spending $3,000 to see if we need to spend $2,800. Kellogg called it bureaucracy. I saw it as more of a spit in the eye kind of move. “We won’t spend the $2,800 on your project but I’ll get you to spend $3,000 on mine” kind of thing.
The kicker of the night was Moorhead’s answer to Adams’ ‘shame on you’ speech. Moorehead said that he never made any “disparaging remarks” against any private entity. I’m sorry, but direct quotes come back to haunt you again, Mr. Moorhead. From the Oct 13 meeting, “Regardless of this person being a former council member or not, their personal advertising venture should not be paid for by city money.” That was directed at Adams and no one else. He implied that Adams was, to use Wescoat’s favorite term, championing this cause to use the OATS bus to grow his business. If I were a business owner I would be highly offended at someone attacking my ethics and character as businessman.
In the end Wescoat and Moorhead won and the elderly and disabled citizens of Raymore lose. They are delegated to a waiting list as the Council takes its sweet time conducting the survey, assimilating the information, and finally deciding on a course of action. Well that shouldn’t take very long since we all know how quickly government bureaucracy works, right?