October 27, 2013

The Phase One street railway system has stirred up much interest among Topekans, prompted city officials to invite me to give presentations, to join them in giving presentations before numerous committees and boards of city government. But attention span seems short and things fizzle out. Click groups huddle and talk but go nowhere. I have donated hundreds of research hours to learn of what other cities are doing to bring street railway systems back to their cities and to uncover the reasons why they are doing it, along with the fantastic results they are getting in about 45 other U.S. Cities. I have spent hundreds of hours as webmaster, building the largest web site on the globe on the subject of street railway systems and applied a large percentage of the site specifically to the city of Topeka.

I have given presentations also before the Citizens Advisory Council (of which I am a current committee member), passed out pamphlets there as well as NIA groups.

It is apparent now that we do not have the leadership in our city government to get anything done – even in the face of a tidal wave of economic destruction looming overhead resulting in the loss of many major employers here.

Yet the Phase One proposal as outlined in the Steel Rails Advocate offers a boom-town effect upon Topeka and even the state of Kansas at a time we most need it. Yet our city is “asleep at the wheel”.

See “Petition” to view an outline what the proposal will do for all citizens who live here and what it is expected to do for generations to come. This petition letter also proposes the steps to take for the citizens to bring this plan about.

I am convinced that the “Weak Mayor / city council system that we have as a form of government in Topeka is the worst form of government for a suppressed city as we are and in need of a fast, drastic change. We need to revert back to a “Strong Mayor / no city council” system where the mayor hires and fires all personnel under him and lateral to him including the city manager. The citizens vote for their mayor AND can fire him. With this system, the mayor knows who he’s working for--the citizens rather than nine council members who solely run the city and say “yea” or “nay” by their votes. The “Strong Mayor system has a legislative group under him but have no control over him. The city government, under a “Strong Mayor” system is OF the people, BY the people and FOR the people and is working fine ad many U.S. Cities today. In some cities, in other words, it’s still America. But note here.

A disadvantages of the city council system is the city council members have too much power. In our example, nine people basically run Topeka, The people are shut out. The mayor is sort of like a “town pet” and serves as a passive PR representative. Another disadvantage is the job description of the city council member. The represent their own district and compete for available monies for their district. The most competitive and persuading presentations get the lions share of the city budget allocated for improvements, while other districts may become second-rate priorities. Each council member has a tendency to have tunnel vision and monies gained for their district surely look good when time comes to update their resume’ or beef up their track history fo reelection. This partially explains why so many politicians have their special interest projects where monies are allocated towards rather than address the needs of the city as a whole.

Then there is the blockade between the mayor and the people. That’s the city council. It is a bad idea and as far as I am concerned, anti-American. Just look at the results.

This proposal for economic development was introduced five years ago. Nothing has happened except this newspaper as far as I know, and I am in a position to know.

Let’s consider voting our well qualified mayor to be our STRONG MAYOR and do away with all opposition, the city council. They would serve Topeka much better as a legislative body. They all are good people, with very bad job descriptions, and they do an admirable job of fulfilling those descriptions. In voting FOR a strong mayor system with no city council, we are giving the current council members a better job description and moving them out of our way. I believe this is the only way we can have our River Front railway system in the near future.

I also believe this railway system already has the funds available, if financed over the next ten years, within our current tax revenues if only allocated differently with different set of priorities and an official declaration of economic emergency that justifies it. That would take a strong mayor who is answerable to the people--not a city council.

Send in your thoughts and any ideas you have that may be a modified hybrid of the “Strong Mayor” system and let’s get this organized enough to force it to an election. We are the people. Maybe most of us don’t realize it, but we are the ones who have ALL the power, and ALL the power is ALL we need.

Please review the petition letter.

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"Johnny Thomas" Davis, founder, editor

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