Saturday, August 29, 2015

Thank you, Sly James! Your ill-reasoned plan to pay $15/hour minimum wage across MO will boost JoCo and save the KS economy!

Hosannas and praise to Sly James, Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri.  You are doing MORE with your left-handed bungling than even Kansas Governor Sam Brownback thinks he is, to support the stalled economy in Johnson County, Kansas!!!

Sly James commenced his second term in August, kissing up to a local push from an organizing group of people all wearing red T-shirts to raise the minimum wage, just in KCMO, to $15 an hour.
Sly loves anything in a red shirt.  Just like he donned a red KCMO Firefighters button down shirt the night that JJ's Restaurant exploded and killed a worker--the night the KCMO firefighters drove away without turning off the gas leak, themselves, claiming (with a perhaps falsified FAX), that was somehow justified or prudent, because of some goofball policy that the "gas company had it covered" need for the Fire Department to actually do their tax-supported job.

So Mr. Big Red Jacket, we all know you love being on the news.  And so you supported the $15 an hour organizers, as well.  You made the news.

But that puzzled me.  Because Mayor James has a day job, as a lawyer.  It is illegal in Missouri for a city to pass a law controlling the minimum wage.  It must be a statewide thang.  So shouldn't he know better?

But oh well.  Details are not Sly's thang.  Like how to build a hotel downtown, without violating securities law, because your secret research report told you and the council that it won't pay for itself.
As of August 29,2015, the City of KCMO is claiming they don't have to release the secret research report, "because it was embedded and bundled inside a request for a sealed bid".  So even tho the taxpayers PAID for the report, they can't see it.  Details.  "It's a secret!"   (More on that soon.)

Another pesky detail this week:  Sly James now is scheming to borrow money from the Zoo Bond Fund to pay for a completely different project.  Might that be the same downtown hotel?  But wait.  The ballot issue promised the taxpayers when they voted for the penguins that the money would only go to the Zoo?  Details.

So when I read that Sly was grandstanding for the $15 an hour minimum wage, I just smiled.  Four years is a LONG time for him to campaign to replace Congressman Emanuel Cleaver in Congress.
He's gonna need alot of free headlines.  Like Donald Trump's race, it's far too early for details.

But now the news is reporting that Sly apparently read the state law, and perhaps had a "duh moment".  So now he is joining hands with union workers in St. Louis, and the new battle cry is "Raise the minimum wage across all of Missouri--to $15 an hour."  Coming soon to a red T-shirt near you.

To my mind, Sly James' campaign is the best news that Johnson County has had in a long time. Because every business that CAN migrate across our itty bitty and oh so close State Line Road--into Kansas for regular minimum wages--will do so.

The truth is this.  The economy has not recovered from 2008.  Businesses large and small are doing everything in their power just to survive.  And they are holding off on actual hiring.  Because we don't trust Congress not to jack up the tax code and the labor laws even worse.  And let's not even go there regarding Obamacare.  It's too big to repeal, too hard to repair and too soon to tell.

The second Big Truth is: newbie workers are not worth $15 an hour.  Period.  It doesn't matter if you exclude kids, late teens.  A greeter at Walmart is not worth $15 an hour.  They don't earn their keep. It's nice that they hire retirees.  But really, what do they do but check for shoplifters and point toward the return desk?  I want falling prices, not rising ones!  A rising tide floats all boats.  Imagine having to raise everyone's salary because the new hires start at $15 and hurt morale.  What would really happen?  Work the people you have to death, that's what.  NO new hires.

A new kid out of college, just learning their trade as a copywriter?  Not worth $15 an hour.  A new kid who just graduated from SM Northwest, learning how to load up trees at my favorite nursery, Family Tree Nursery in Shawnee?  Not worth $15 an hour.  (Ask for Woody.)  A newly hired empty nester Mom, seeking her first job in 18 years, anywhere, since the kids went away to college?  Not worth $15 an hour.  She might be, soon.  But not on Day 1.  So the franchisees and the entrepreneurs and the big box stores in Johnson County are not going to lose money, they just won't hire anyone starting out at $15 an hour.  Including the marcher carrying his sign UPSIDE DOWN!

So please, Sly James.  LET THE MIGRATION BEGIN.  You keep wearing your red T-shirts and your red KCFD button down shirt.  And send ALL your businesses over to Johnson County--it's in the Red State.


Tracy Thomas, publisher of
New publisher of

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Metcalf South was always gonna become a SuperWalmart. It WILL be. Only now, without your tax subsidies...

Today's heroes, in Round 1, are the quiet folk who toil for free on the OP Planning Commission, and the Planning Commission staff.  They had the courage to stand up to Stan Kroenke, the billionaire hubby of a Walmart heiress--and owner of five national sports franchises.  And say NO to his pathetic and dated little plan for the third biggest intersection in Overland Park, Metcalf South at 95th and Metcalf.

And of course the biggest loser is Kroenke's smiling, overconfident batboy, "Oily" Owen Buckley, the president of one of the worst landlords in JoCo, Lane4.  (more on that in a future post.)  He failed.  Big time.  The smirk has been wiped off his face.  And he slunk back to meet the great and powerful Kroenke, trying to keep his contract intact.

I told you so, Owen.  To your face.  At the end of your February "drink the purple Koolaid" community meeting at Matt Ross Center.  It was about as 'unstructured' as a Hillary Clinton Listening Tour.  You were all Little Opie, from the Andy Griffith Show.  "Gosh folks, we have no idea what this is gonna be.  Not a clue.  We are here for YOU to tell US!"

I had led off the feedback.  I had jumped up at the VERY beginning, before you could get everyone singing from your hymnal, "How Great Thou Art, Stan Kroenke, How Great Thou Art."

I was there as a volunteer for taxpayers, and as a volunteer with dozens of others, to offer better ideas.  We kept saying, "Don't close my movie theatre, the Glenwood Arts.  Incorporate them into your plan."  But of course we saw that your little meeting was all for show.   You only pretended to ask for input. As if some retired folks and starter families would have any ideas about multi-million dollar real estate development.  Which they didn't.  Or they might not still be living there next to your ugly fence.  They might have moved to the Blue Valley district where houses are appreciating dramatically.

It wasn't taped by TV, but as I recall, I said something like, "Are you kidding me?  Why would you ask us?  Why would you think untrained neighbors, with no wealth, and absolutely no training in land planning or development, have the answers for YOU?  Let's not kid ourselves.  This is gonna be a Walmart.  Period.  Your client builds Walmarts.  Period.  This is a tax grab.  You're the Music Man here to sell us some trombones, but this is all about you pretending that "but for" the city of Overland Park and the state of Kansas giving you tax breaks, you can't even afford to do anything with this property you just bought."  

"You're here pretending you have no plan.  But I call hooey.  You have a plan, you just won't tell us. You don't spend this many millions of your rich client's money without having a plan.  You, Mr. Buckley, are not the owner. Mr. Kroenke owns at least 90%.  You just work for him.  And he is a billionaire.  He owns 1% of ALL Walmart stock in the universe.  Plus five sports franchises.  And his game is, he always wants to be subsidized by the poor taxpayers and neighbors."  

"Stan Kroenke wants his hands in the taxpayers' pocket. That is his game.  Out of $108 million in current tax abatement deals Kroenke has done, $59 million was just to build Walmarts!<> He wants--and fully EXPECTS  a TDD/Tax Development District, just like you' at Lane 4 have done at Cherokee/95th &Antioch and elsewhere.  Raise the sales tax another 1%, but give that to YOU, to pay for the construction.   Waaaaaa. Poor baby.  And then your rich boss, Mr. Kroenke also wants and EXPECTS STAR bonds from the state of Kansas. "

Owen, you had ringed the room with your staff.  There were more Brooks Brothers suits leaning on the walls than they have in inventory at Brooks Brothers on the Plaza.  I never saw so many $80 haircuts in one room.  This was your little "we care" Kumbaya show.  And when the comments got too hot for you, you shut off the microphone.  It was time for Divide and Conquer.  Your Stepford staff swarmed in and broke us into "small groups of 10", just like kindergarten.  Rearranged the chairs.  And they pretended to take notes.

And then, honest to God, you served cookies and Koolaid.


Mayor Carl Gerlach sat right behind me. He looked ashen.  Tall.  But ashen.


The week after your Listening Tour, your team, aka the 'Blonde Sopranos',  booted the Glenwood Arts out of their space, telling Brian Mossman and his partners that you expected to start demolition a month later.  Gosh, how could you do that?  Without a plan approved by the OP Planning Commission and a permit?


Then you concocted the worst least inspiring ookie cutter real estate plan since Levittown after World War II. With a Walmart on the south side of 95th, where Macy's at Metcalf South stood.  And just as I predicted, in order to grab tax subsidies to pay for your construction, your crack team of architects drew a stupid little fountain about the size of an above ground pool in KCK, and called it a "unique attraction".  That was so you could go lobby some Kansas legislators for STAR Bond subsidies. Your architect even sketched 15 tiny little people walking around on the parking lot with those fakey trees.  I knew then, it was a fantasy.  Folks in JoCo don't stroll.

Let me tell you, Stan and Owen, we are onto that STAR Bond scam.
Cabela's built an antler museum inside their sporting goods store in KCK.  All of us Kansas taxpayers OWN it.  Inside of private property.  But I can't get anyone to admit who dusts the antlers.  I doubt that it is Sam Brownback.

Then there was Mission--that flood zone that was bulldozed about 10 years ago.  And still hasn't been built.  That was supposed to be an aquarium.  And then a Walmart.  It's still just an eyesore.

So now what?  Owen, you slunk away.  Praised us all for the great input.  And issued a statement that you were out on this deal.  Of course, that is all strategy as well.  Shakespearean drama.  This is just the end of Act One. Send the citizens out to the lobby for intermission, all worried!  What?  Another Mission empty hole?

The fact is: you have your retail zoning for the south half of 95th.  You don't need new zoning to build your Walmart there, just as you always intended.  Just some building plans.  And the Planning Commission will approve those.  Maybe fight you about which side of the Walmart will house the noisy air hoses in the automotive department.  (That happened in OP at 79th St. Walmart.  They secretly flipped the plans and built it before the inspectors caught it, (or were paid off).  And golly gosh.  So sorry.  Oh well.  Plant a few more bushes.  The 'mistake' got approved.  Because Walmarts generate sales tax.

Lane4 and Mr. Kroenke, you aren't stupid.  Just greedy.  Now you will have to just build it WITHOUT tax subsidies.

And for leverage, (a Trump word), you will now "punish" Gerlach and the OP Council, by announcing you will be closing the neighborhood Walmart by TJ Maxx at 91st and Metcalf, AND the SuperWalmart out south at the Blue Potato Chip at 121st.  Two anchor stores.

So on the northern half, here's my prediction.  No senior housing, luxury or not.  No little fountain.  You can either build more retail there yourself, that won't compete with Walmart, or sell it off to another developer.  My guess?  You have the prospective buyers lined up already.  I bet you even had them at hello in February.  In their Brooks Brothers suits.  Again, it's already retail, no new zoning needed.  As for the price, well you know what Walmart always says: 'Beware of falling prices!'  Stan Kroenke, even tho you own five sports teams, you gambled and you lost.  Next...

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

How Facebook nearly made me falter on my search for JOY today…how about you?

I live in a great place, the most successful suburb in the Midwest, Johnson County, Kansas.  And yet, despite all my blessings, including the respite from too much rain, I keep noticing how little it takes to knock me off my game of living a life filled with joy.  Last weekend, with some uncertainties on the calendar, I set my deliberate intention to experience some pretty consistent happiness for three days in a row.  

My ‘mental FitBit’ average is about two days max.  I don’t wear a bracelet—I just pinch myself—and ask, “Am I happy?”  It’s very low tech.

Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity and Sleep Wristband
(haha, I'll figure out this margin thang eventually.)

This time I made it to four days—including a great outing across the state line to First Friday, not getting shot in Westport, discovering a great new Italian diner, getting my favorite table at Urban Table, buying a ProBook on for $214 and a glorious surprise visit from a friend. penquins

Perhaps four days was pushing it.  I finally launched this blog.  I found myself thinking the world’s most dangerous thought of expectation, “Surely THEN my life will work!”  Ha—do I never learn?  Father Alfred d’Souza said it best:

For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin—real life.  But there was always some obstacle in the way, some ‘thing’ to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid.  Then life would begin.  At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.

Ten hours after I launched, the reality set in, “I just birthed this thing.  This helpless, unclothed, barely formatted and not SEO optimized baby.  Now there’s just a whole lotta work to be done until it grows bigger and graduates—eg is bought up by Huffington Post, the Koch Brothers or Donald Trump and elChapo.  

I don’t know enough.  And the mean boys are already massing against me on Tony’s site, www., hating on me anonymously.”  (For the record, that pic was from a costume party.  I'm not that colorful when you spot me at The Aldi or The Costco.)

It is true: anonymous bad karmic acts and comments by others can take a psychic toll, even if one is like me.  I am not burdened by the usual High Affiliative Need-- to be liked.  Being the daughter of two critical parents was a blessing.  I ignore a lot of rejection.  I’m driven by the need to make a difference. Yet, the Butterfly Effect of global reaction remains a powerful vibratory force: actions on one side of the world make butterfly wings tremble on the opposite side of this planet.

Image result for image, blue morpho butterfly

Today I noticed something else: the power of Facebook to shake the leaves on my tree.  So there I was, reading a friend’s Facebook—announcing impending travel plans which  greatly saddened me. I fell out of joy.   For several hours, until I phoned my friend, I believed what I read.  Because Facebook said so! 

Now I am a Facebook virgin.  For five glorious years following a crippling telescoping Louisville ladder collapse, my lawyers had forbidden me to use social media.  Because jurors lie.  Despite every judge’s instructions, jurors Google or Facebook you.  During lunch or in the potty!  They don’t need to discuss with other jurors—Facebook just enabled them to form unshakeable biased opinions about the social causes you do not agree on.  That alone can often sink a verdict right there. 



Facebook is insidious and dangerous.  Using your permissions, it ferrets out travel plans and posts them-- not “thinking” to delete them when they change.  Not only can that make your home vulnerable to burglars, it can affect relationships, hurt feelings--or get you in serious trouble at work Facebook also lies—almost daily, to gin up your addiction to checking it.  It emails you: “Your friend XYZ just updated their status.”  Not true!  Made ya look; made ya look!   

If Facebook can create this much souris in Johnson County, Kansas, with their intrusive spying and sharing and annoying false notifications, just how disruptive are they being to the US economy?? 

Bear with me, JoCoPost readers.  I am on this roller coaster of life.  Just like you.  We won’t always agree, but my intention is to generate discussion, invite more input, and together maybe we can right some wrongs, fix some broken systems—including local government.  Celebrate good people doing neat things.  And be better informed and connected like we used to be when we had a newspaper and local media that supported our need to really KNOW what is shaking our trees.

Tracy Thomas, Publisher

Friday, August 7, 2015

Quick! Changing one vote saves you $67 a year. Tell doublecrosser Steve Klika to vote against JoCo property tax increase Thurs Aug 13!!

Commissioner Steve Klika lied to voters (yep, I went there--because I verified it 9 places, including a quote from the doublecrossing commissioner a BOCC meeting, it's on video.)  Klika was desperate to replace departing Dave Lindstrom.  He needed a job--and he got it: his $65,000 one day a week Thursday job in Johnson County government.  (He is a perpetually unemployed head-hunter who was also rumored to have traded his swing vote on the $32 million King Louie fiasco trying to get Ed Eilert to get him the job running the ATA.)

Three years ago, Klika promised everywhere he campaigned in southern Overland Park not to raise our taxes or vote for any new taxes UNTIL WE ADDRESSED THE NEED FOR A NEW COURTHOUSE.  Of course, the new budget does nothing about that.  This tax increase just feeds the kitty, the library and some parks way out south and west by Sunflower.

Commissioner Klika comes up for re-election in 2016.  (Unless Ks. Speaker of the House from there, Ray Merrick, scares him out of that race.)  But this Thursday, August 13, Klika will be the swing vote to raise your property taxes $67 a year--every year (based on the average $261,000 home).

The other swing vote up for re-election in 2016 is Commissioner Jim Allen, former long-time mayor of Shawnee.  Chairman Ed Eilert and Ron Shaffer from PV are the other two committed YES votes; they were just re-elected last November.  But Allen is less vulnerable than the unemployable Klika.

District 3 of the Johnson County Commissioner   
office: 913/715-0433
Represents southern OP (see map on to be Dave Lindstrom's seat.
cell: 913/706-5547  (trust me, the only phone he answers)

District 2 represents Shawnee and Lenexa
His State Farm Ins. office is 913/631-4600.

Of course, the County already has $114 million in reserves.  And they've raised our property appraisals 32% since 2004 (thanks to their obedient henchman, Mr. Always- Thumbs-Up, Appraiser Paul Welcome.)   Not our actual resale values, just their appraisals--which equate to higher taxes collected.  But there is currently a one vote margin for tax increases in this non-election year, as just demonstrated by the 4/3 vote to buy moldy King Louie, appraised BY the county for $430,000 but now refinanced for renovation for $32 million.  (The expected no votes, who opposed the huge waste on King Louie, the good guys, would be John Toplikar, Jason Osterhaus and hopefully, Michael Ashcraft.)

You may have already heard radio spots alerting you to this JoCo property tax issue. Those spots aired on both KMBZ stations the past month, 980-AM and 98.1FM, and were placed by the Singularis Group, a political ad agency at 67th & Antioch, (aka Ikea-ville!) on behalf of the Ks. Policy Institute, a Wichita-based think tank headed by Dave Trabert.   Heretofore, they've only worked on state and national issues.  So this JoCo campaign is a first. Good for them.  Finally, someone else putting their money where their mouth is.

Singularis Group ran the last minute campaign that saved Kansas Governor Sam Brownback from being defeated by the goofy lap-dancing Lawrence lawyer and secret Hillary-supporting Democrat, Paul Davis.  

I am not affiliated with them at all, never met them, in fact.  Their radio spots deal with the tax facts.  Whereas the mission of JoCoPost is to name names and walk you through the "what the heck??" with action steps that can save you money and grief.

And here is the press release, from Ks Policy Institute

Here is the story by Steve Vockrodt

Tell your friends.  And let's find someone else, with integrity, who wants a high dollar Thursday day job, and get Klika out of office.  Most of those homes are south of 135th St.

Beware, JoCo homeowners: Windows 10 is the lap dance of laptops.

Beware, JoCo homeowners: Windows 10 is the lap dance of laptops.

Dear JoCo homeowner or business owner: Warning!  I backed out of the so-called “free” upgrade to Windows 10.  Should you?

So there I was, getting ready to post to this new blog, and it sure sounded good—after all, I am a happy Windows 7 gal.  I have two PCs that use Windows 7.  Unless we are talking clothing, a 10 sure sounds more attractive than a 7.  Let’s not go there.  Surely Microsoft has my best interests at heart.  They’re not greedy like Apple.  To get my attention, Microsoft completely skipped over the 9.  All Version 7’s and Version 8’s including 8.1  would get a “free upgrade to Windows 10”!  (That skipping the 9 was a genius marketing move, by the way.  That’s called a disruptor in brain theory.  Counting up sequentially, 7,8,9,10 is so rote.  The long plod of techno history.  One version at a time, like the Bataan Death March until the robots wipe us out.  But Eureka, by skipping the 9—now your Broca’s Area—the Great Decider or Procrastinator living in  your pre-frontal cortex-- is wide awake, begging you to tell it more…)

What Microsoft soft-peddled was, version 10 of Windows MAY ONLY FREE FOR THE FIRST YEAR!  It’s like pre-marital sex.  Windows 10 is the lap dance of laptops.  Because after the free year, then when you are all entangled and committed, and can’t really go back to your old life without a lawyer’s help, then they may hit you up for an estimated $129 a year.  Forever.  Opinions differ on this, including Forbes.  But certainly, added features will be monetized.  

Luckily, whilst I was bragging to web designer and SEO optimizer Rick Peterson at Brand Central who was finishing up the design of this blog, JoCoPost, he alerted me to the questions I should have asked from the gitgo.  Is free really free?  Is it just a tease?  A free temporary upgrade?  And more importantly, is what you are using currently working?  I concluded, my Mom’s Iowegian advice  was right: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.   

So I backed out of the Windows 10 upgrade, right when they got to the vows of Till Death Do Us Part.  In fact, I just now went to and bought yet another registered Windows 7 HP laptop, for $214.  So much for Kansas not having the tax-free weekend while Missouri is gobbling up sales.

And I won't even mention Windows 10's spyware.  Bring back Edward Snowden, please.

Windows 10 does have some advantages.  It takes the very unhappy Windows 8 people back to the features they loved and lost, when they left Windows 7.  So it's kinda like getting divorced and then dating your high school sweetheart. 

Now you 8's are really in a quandary.  Unless you have a touch screen, Windows 8 is sucky.  So go back or go forward.  Just be informed.  Liberty personal injury attorney Julie Cooper says, "I'm divorcing the 8 I hate, so I have to upgrade to 10.  I also hope to use Cortana for dictating the 200 emails I get daily."

I’ve heard of Cortana.  But like 66% of Americans, I much prefer Google’s search engine.  And Google Chrome.  Is it so important for me to hear a woman’s voice that I would divorce myself from saying, ”OK Google”??  With Windows 10, I'd be constantly badgered into marrying into Bing, which is Cortana’s tribe.  So what sounded so great initially is really a big decision.  Would I move from Johnson County back to KCMO, just because I found an attractive house with a granite kitchen?  BING-O: Heck no.   

Now I can’t just blame the Kansas City Star for not analyzing this news.  Nobody reads it, especially here in Johnson County, where they no longer cover the local news or publish a zone section.  I only read it free, online—and only after someone calls me to check a story of interest.  And they’ve let go all of their best reporters, from 2000 employees now to around 500, including the reporters with tech beats who might have done this story.  Nor can I blame the local TV stations—after all, their average story length is now about 45 seconds, max 70 seconds.  And as my favorite video editor at Channel 9,, John Crumley, says, “If the story isn’t weather related, or there’s a crime or a fire, it probably won’t make the air.”   So, unless Jon Stewart had told me, before he retired from the Daily Show (moment of silence here), then how was I to know?  It wasn’t in Vanity Fair.  I checked.

But wait, there's more.  Let’s put a pencil to the cost of this, just for OUR county.  Someone do the math and comment here, please.  Do your part to support the citizens and businesses in Johnson County.   How many homeowners are there in Johnson County?  Assume 90% of them own at least one PC, hence Windows.  Ditto for the businesses here.  Assume five PC’s per business there.  Now multiply every PC by $129 a year.  (That’s about double the increase the BOCC/Johnson County Commission is going to increase your property taxes each year—another needless cost, but that’s another blog post.)

So please share this post with your neighbors, colleagues and family.  Including those out of town, or still in KCMO (my favorite place to visit).  And sign up to receive these blog posts.  Let’s all stick together.  Till the robots wipe us out.  Or the second big comet hits the Earth.  Now THAT will make Channel 9’s newscast.