Monday, February 29, 2016

The Pete Rose of Shawnee: Councilman Mickey Sandifer: Dumb or Devious? Secretly a tool of the Polsinelli law firm? At taxpayer expense?? The $75,000 question...

Mickey Sandifer is the Pete Rose of Shawnee zoning.  He cheated the taxpayers by throwing the game.  Now at first blush, you might think Mickey Sandifer, Shawnee Ward 4, is the dumbest City Councilman in Johnson County.

Shawnee Councilman Sandifer, who allegedly threw the fight to benefit Polsinelli's client, Vantage Apartments
  After all, he just dragged Shawnee into a lawsuit over the Vantage Apartments, by willfully and blatantly and voluntarily violating the 8 Golden Factors in their rezoning effort-- to build on land the developers own.

But is Sandifer dumb?  Or worse yet, devious?  Paid on the side to throw the fight?  Did he blatantly give his reason for voting no--in order to trigger the lawsuit by the metro's biggest development whore attorneys, Polsinelli?  Knowing that, immediately following the vote, when he did not have to say ANYTHING, instead he deliberately revealed the only illegal answer for his vote?  Knowing, and coached by the development attorneys that this would not only cause the city to be sued, but also allow the zoning to go through?
The neighbors are just realizing Mickey Sandifer screwed them.
Thus allowing Sandifer to POSE as a man who supported the neighbors, but really to get the entire divided council off the hook by forcing the COURT to reverse the zoning disapproval.

That's my bet.

There are only 8 legitimate reasons to say no to zoning.  They are called the Golden Factors. Established following the Kansas Supreme Court case Golden v. Overland Park in 1978.  And by law, there is one glaring reason that city councils can NOT use in making zoning and rezoning decisions.  Namely, that the neighbors don't want it.    

Because: neighbors never want the land next to them to be anything but exactly the way it is, vacant ground.  Or, more of what the neighbors have.  In this case, more single family homes.  But property owners have rights to use their land.  And there are 8 ways to justify it, via planning and staff reports.

Without the Golden Factors, there would be no development.  There would be no schools or nursing homes or fire stations or apartments or retail.

The brilliance of the Kansas Supreme Court's ruling was: it specifies eight legitimate reasons.  And it contains the Secret Bullet: if any council member is dumb enough to step on the buzzer, and utter the words, "I just did it because the neighbors told me to say no", then the zoning goes through.

AND if, like Mickey Sandifer, they happen to be so stupid or naive or arrogant or narcissistic {or option five: all of the above} as to say it, during the meeting, to the smiling Cheshire cat face of a Polsinelli attorney, then the project gets their zoning approved anyway, but there's also a fine.  In this case, $75,000 is cited in the lawsuit against the taxpayers of Shawnee.  (Note, Councilman Sandifer is paid a salary of around $8000 a year.  In my opinion, he should voluntarily cover the fine.)

Now, I am not a fan of Polsinelli's development law firm, especially John Peterson (he of Meadowbrook and the Tutera properties in Prairie Village).  And now he has his legacy, his son the puppet, young Curt Peterson, handling the EASY cases.  

How easy was it for Curt to get the zoning?  Well, pretty easy!!!  Maybe that explains why Curt Peterson REPORTEDLY WINKED AT SANDIFER!

Before the meeting, possibly in a private phone call, untraceable like an email would be:
All the lawyer had to do was potentially speak to Mr. Low Self Esteem, shoot-from-the- lip Mickey Sandifer, and whisper:  "You be the hero, Mickey.  Just vote no, but right afterward, talk into the mike and say these words:  "I voted no because the neighbors didn't want this zoning."

And of course, Mickey Sandifer played right into Polsinelli/Peterson strategy.  That's how they earn $500 an hour.  Playing weaklings like violins.    I haven't reviewed Sandifer's campaign contribution reports.  I can only imagine he will have as much money as he ever needs to run for re-election.

Here is Sandifer's poison pill money quote:
"I'm put on the council to vote in favor of the residents that I represent.  The residents in the area didn't want it, so I voted the way I voted because I felt that's how I could best represent the people."

And with that, the neighbors were screwed, but left with the false impression that Sandifer was "on their side".  No.  He wasn't.  He threw the fight and screwed you forever.

Elected office is not a plebiscite.  (Mickey would never know that big word.  He quit high school 38 or so  years ago, SM North, quit macrame class and jewelry making class six weeks before graduation.  Jesus.  Couldn't tie a few knots in order to graduate, and go to work for Daddy, driving Daddy's Explorer around the family trash business site,  the rest of his life.  He just got his GED only after I suggested he do it so he could "make a difference in this town".  After which he ran against me, by lying that I wanted to widen 75th St, which of course I did not. )

A Lesson in What it Means to be an Elected Official, 
You Take an Oath to Follow the Laws of Ks:
So elected office means you go to the meetings and read the reports and know the damn LAW.  That is your oath.  And along the way, you are coached, in executive sessions, by your city attorney, on exactly how to NOT break the law.  You are not a kneejerk do-what-a-dozen-neighbors-tell you, because they do not always know the law.  They just want what they want.

If America's cities were plebiscites, we could just install little voting apps on everyone's home computer or cellphone...and every Monday, homeowner could vote on every issue, even if they were uninformed.  Even if that vote would cost your fellow taxpayers $75,000 in fines.

Now Mickey Sandifer tried, once again, to be the Big Man.  (He tried it earlier, during the Deffenbaugh zoning when as a Planning Commissioner he went around in Daddy's truck and meddled as an unrequested 'negotiator' with those neighbors.)

This time, Sandifer just screwed all the taxpayers, including the neighbors he claimed to support, out of $75,000 AND the zoning.

And of all places.  Because that Golden case, in Overland Park, was triggered by a case before Shawnee's former City Attorney, the great and very wise Marvin Rainey.  (Father of Shawnee's current city attorney, Marvin's son, Ellis Rainey.)  Marvin used to be the mayor of OP.  AND JoCo's first Election Commissioner.  So when I was on the Council, trust me, we were coached all about the Golden Factors.

Shame on Mickey Sandifer.  Always a  know it all, always a wanna be.

I hope our local paper, the Shawnee Dispatch figures this out and reports on it.  Soon.  They should have spotted it when I did: the moment Sandifer VOLUNTEERED his illegal reason.  Instead, they waited until Curt Peterson filed the inevitable lawsuit last week.


  1. Mr. Sandifer's comments were used by the petitioner as an example of being arbitrary and capricious. I don't think he is a tool of the Polsinelli Law Firm. I just think he is not too bright.

  2. One wonders what Ellis Rainey, the City Attorney, thought! When I served for fiv years on the council, and we had any zoning issues before us, trust me: Marvin Rainey, Ellis's father, schooled us GOOD on the Golden Factors! So did Jim Allen, our mayor. (Now our County Commissioner for Shawnee/Lenexa.) So did Gary Montague, our great City Manager of 29 years before Carol Gonzales. We on the Council were never told how to vote. But we WERE advised of the law and the rules.

    We knew better than to lip off carelessly. We knew that to say those words, "I did it because the neighbors wanted me to oppose it", meant instant lawsuit and forfeiture.

    So either the city staff and the new mayor all did a lousy job of educating the Council before a VERY critical vote. Or Mickey Sandifer did it on purpose.

    Think of it, Ray: There were not enough Yes votes to meet the required Super Majority. So the only way to get this through was for someone, eg Mickey, to play wolf in sheep's clothing. Vote NO, but then immediately trigger the poison pill.


    Arbitrary and capricious is a legal term. Noted. And thanks for your attention to this case, in your great blog,

    Polsinelli had to reference that in their petition. But one wonders if they also mailed a Hallmark thank you card and a fruit basket to Sandifer's home the day after he delivered exactly what they needed.


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