LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Weitkemper backs positions with data, facts

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 | 12:00 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — When I look at each Fourth Ward representative's Facebook pages — Bill Weitkemper, Ian Thomas and Daryl Dudley — there's one outstanding candidate: Bill Weitkemper.

Bill has posted concise position statements on virtually every issue in Columbia today. He proves his comprehensive knowledge of city government with extensive use of facts, figures, budgets, background information, laws and ordinances, committee functions, etc. This display of knowledge and experience is amazing and completely unmatched by any other candidate or even sitting council representative.

Bill's opponents have demonstrated very little specific knowledge of city government. Their campaigns are virtually devoid of position statements or data on city budgets or functions. That should raise a big red flag to anyone who cares about effective representation and efficient governance.

Bill's Friday, March 22,  Facebook post recapping Thursday's CoMo Disabilities Advocacy Network Candidate Forum is a perfect example of city representation done right, He spent time listening to the stakeholders and directly acknowledged their needs and concerns. He summarizes relevant law — Americans with Disabilities Act — and cites specific city ordinances, including their history. Then, he makes very specific recommendations on efficient, effective improvements. This is the hallmark of a great representative!

Bill offers uniquely extensive experience in city government. He stands mountains above the others in his willingness and ability to listen, share information, details and exactly how he intends to leverage these qualities to be the best, most effective Fourth Ward representative.

Please vote for Bill Weitkemper on April 2. Thank you.

Derrick Fogle is a Columbia resident.

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Derrick Fogle March 28, 2013 | 10:42 p.m.

Correction regarding Ian Thomas: In a now-paywalled post regarding election financing, I accused Ian of being involved in the decision to award over $3 Million to Vangel. Ian was not, in fact, involved, and was 100% against it. I'm very sorry to have made this false statement, and wanted to set the record straight.

I remain uniquely impressed with the unmatched display of detail and analysis offered by Bill Weitkemper in this campaign, and continue to urge 4th Ward residents to vote for him as the the best choice for representative.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking March 29, 2013 | 4:13 a.m.

In another post by Bill recently, he mentioned wanting to consolidate several Public Works departments into one and save money by removing several mid and upper-level management. While I'd imagine (I don't know the details so can't do much more than that) this might increase efficiency and save money, I also can imagine there might be a grudge involved with one or more of these managers. Hopefully he's considered the ramifications of the consolidation objectively, without vengefulness. City politics doesn't need that.

And yes, Derrick, Ian was never in a decision making capacity with GetAbout. That was mostly Ted Curtis' organization and decisions. I've pointed out to several people that were interested in Columbia's use of the alt transportation funds that a lot of what we did wasn't the way to do it.


(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 29, 2013 | 7:04 a.m.


Good points. When I read Bill's post (to which you refer) I liked his general line of thinking and was thinking of saying so, but felt and still feel that I don't know enough about the situations to comment on them.

I think it was Jack this week who said I was expressing a narrow, engineer's view about something. That's true, and regardless of how Jack may have meant the observation I am in no way offended by it.

I think you'll agree that scientists and engineers in general do try to focus on specific situations and problems and attempt - to the extent it is possible to MAKE a good separation - to refrain from plunging into personality issues.

Old Technical Troubleshooter's Saying (whether the troubleshooter has a college degree or not): When you dissect a "technical problem," you often find it's really a people problem, and often the technical part of a problem is the easiest part to correct.

(Report Comment)
Bill Weitkemper March 29, 2013 | 10:29 a.m.

I can assure you that I have no “grudge” with any mid or upper level manager in the Water Utility, the Sewer Utility or the Storm Water Utility. The Water Utility is presently in the Water and Light Department. The Sewer Utility and the Storm Water Utility are both in the Public Works Department. Combining these three utilities would allow for a much more efficient use of resources. Because of their similar physical location, underground, and similar product, water, and similar conduit, pipes, each utility utilizes similar equipment, materials, tools, vehicles and personnel to maintain their respective systems. The skill and training required to safely operate a backhoe, shore a trench or perform work in a confined space is not specific to clean water, waste water or storm water. Combining the three utilities would allow for streamlining management and better coordination of infrastructure improvements.

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks March 30, 2013 | 4:10 p.m.

Bill. Welcome to the United States. Let me fill you in as you apparently been gone a long time. The goal of govt whether it be local or national is not be be efficient or to downsize. It only has one purpose and that is to spend money and grow as much as possible until it is at the point where people require them for every aspect of their lives.

I too know a few current employees in a few of those departments you mention and they have the same thoughts as you. They talk about waste and fraud in Columbia and how managers are selected and how those who kiss the most ass are the ones in charge while those with the most skill and likability are too nice for those jobs.
I agree. Why are there so many departments with all there own equipment? Why have one group of guys Sewer sit around all day when there is nothing to do when the water department is working. How many times in a week or day is every piece of digging equipment in use? Maybe run a qualified operator rotation. Those guys would go with equipment and not with departments. An outsider with business/military command experience could probably identify at least 15 positions to eliminate in the first month on the job. But we would not want to save tax payer money would we?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 31, 2013 | 6:50 a.m.

@ Corey:

I agree with your characterization of government's actual role - versus what government thinks it is, and is trying to tell us it is.

A serious problem is lack of competition. When businesses compete with each other in the private sector there is definitely an incentive to become cost efficient and offer better quality services, because if your competitor(s) do those things and you don't do them, it may not be long before you find the competition EATS YOUR LUNCH, so to speak.

Only an idiot would posit that there are no private sector businesses that are sloppily managed, but competition in goods and services makes for a powerful incentive to improve.

In my opinion, a government's customers will invariably receive the quality of service they deserve, because that's apparently what the majority of them are willing to PUT UP WITH. If the majority decides they are no longer willing to put up with that, the situation could improve.

My previous observation should be applied to our hallowed, ivy-covered public universities and colleges (no names mentioned). Would it be too harsh to suggest that college students be educated in an atmosphere at least remotely resembling the situations they will face when they graduate?

(Report Comment)
Bill Weitkemper March 31, 2013 | 8:30 a.m.

Cory, you don’t have to be an outsider to identify waste. When I was hired to manage the city’s sewer maintenance division in 1976 there was 221 miles of public sewer and 13 budgeted positions in the sewer maintenance division. Over the next 32 years the miles of public sewer increased by 300% to 664 miles. The number of budgeted positions in the sewer maintenance division decreased from 13 to 12. During the 37 years I managed the city’s sewer maintenance division the number of basement back-ups and sewer overflows decreased by 95%, from 152 in 1976 to 7 in 2012. I managed to do more with less. Government must constantly be looking for a better way of doing everything. “Continuous Improvement” must be the motto. The “status quo” of -we have always done it that way, or -we have never done it that way, is not a reason for not trying something different. Government must treat everyone fairly, help people by removing barriers and spend the public’s money wisely.

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks March 31, 2013 | 9:33 a.m.

Ellis: I agree with your last comment. Just yesterday I was telling something that they should get rid of the Dept of Education and that would allow states/cities to set schools up specifically for those identified as not attending colleges. They should be more geared to trade/tech jobs. Why waste money on teachers and students times to have them take classes that make them well rounded when they don't really contribute to job placement. Never once has the fact that I took Badminton or Racketball (mandatory credits) get me a job. I understand it the govts way of making sure students work out but even scholarship athletes had to take them.
Bill: Your right you don't have to be an outsider but it helps a lot in most cases. I used military and picked a specific slot due to what I know and experienced. in 2004 the norm in Iraq was for each unit to receive 5000 a month in cash to hire locals to do yard work and base beautification and to purchase goods like washing machines and sand and products on the local economy. They do not necessarily go out and get the Soldier with the most business experience but they get the one with certain rank. Our guy was a good Soldier but did not give a lick about spending the tax payers money. Base provided free laundry yet he bought 6 washers and dryers for 1000 each. The same machines the Iraqi's buy. YOu know they do not pay that much for them due to their 1400 dinar ($32)a month income. $2500 for a truck load of sand that could be picked up from the back section of the base for the cost of 10 gallons of JP8 and a loader.
Yeah I got off base but your right they must always be trying to improve. And I am sure they do focus on that in terms of the quality of work or the speed in which it is done but sometimes It think they are hesitant to look at employee numbers in fear of not wanting to fire/lay off one of their own. IF that being the case the best bet would be to not fire anyone but to allow the numbers to shrink a little each year as people retire. They could also have the retirees on contract that for 2-3 years after retirement they could be brought back for specific large projects or in times when multiple projects pop up at the same time due to backups. infrastructure problems.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle March 31, 2013 | 10:29 p.m.

For the record, I rate city services as EXCELLENT. Overall, virtually every interaction I've ever had with the city, every building permit, program buy-in, volunteer experience, power problem report, sewer issue, road project, etc. has been fabulous. Really great people, really great service. I feel very fortunate to get what I get for the fees and taxes that go to the city.

Bill has been part of that.

(Report Comment)
frank christian April 1, 2013 | 7:48 a.m.

Ever tried to call the Water & Light Dept., on your telephone?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith April 1, 2013 | 8:29 a.m.

I don't propose to get into a contest as to whose city services are excellent and whose are not-so-excellent - maybe even within the SAME city - but should we ask what a person's frame of reference is?

Compared to what? That's my usual response.

How many cities have you lived in? Where were they located? What are their populations? Were any of them located outside Missouri? Were any of them located outside this country? In Buenos Aires, which many people consider to be one of the Western Hemisphere's most cosmopolitan and attractive cities, citizens are overjoyed when their refuse actually gets picked up on a regular basis; it's been that way, off and on, for years, and it can get pretty "ripe'"

Another consideration might be what one pays for the services one actually receives. If I pay little for city services, how good should I expect those services to be? If I pay more, perhaps I should expect, and demand, better service.

Situations CAN be both absolute and relative.

(Report Comment)

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