The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.
See if you can guess what the following have in common: the Warrensburg branding initiative, airfield zoning, bump-outs, last year's failed jail proposal, and the failed zoning issue of 1997. That's right, they all involve consultants.
Back in 1997, the consultant drew a zoning plan more appropriate for Johnson County - Kansas, that is; it made the issue rather easy to defeat at the polls. The jail issue was originally conceived as a 100-bed facility, until a consultant came in and convinced folks that a larger facility was needed. A number of downtown businesses don't belong to Warrensburg Main Street because one of the earliest consultants was snooty toward them. And so on.
It seems to me that consultants' main role is to generate business for themselves. Some convince locals to do things against their better judgement since they "now better because they're consultants." Others try to scare locals into taking actions that probably are unnecessary, such as the big scare about losing Whiteman AFB. Sometimes the result is merely a waste of time and money; sometimes the result is virtually laughable, such as the recent "branding" slogans for Kansas City and the state of Kansas.
There are some legitimate roles that good consultants can play. They can help local people overcome the bias against locally-generated ideas or help generate compromise among competing ideas. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen as often as it should. Remember that consultants come in with grand ideas, and then leave us to live with the results.
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