Archive for Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tonganoxie mayor apologizes for van work

November 26, 2008


Tuesday morning, Tonganoxie Mayor Mike Vestal wrote an e-mail to the city council apologizing for having public works employees fix his van last week.

Tuesday evening, he again would have to explain why a public works employee was finishing the job during city work hours at the mayor’s home using city equipment.

Vestal claims he had no idea a city employee was in his driveway Tuesday working on the van. He thought the work would be done after hours.

“I can’t believe they did it,” Vestal said about the work done on his vehicle.

The problem with the mayor’s vehicle started when one of the hydraulic cylinders that lifts him into his van started leaking and he was told by the manufacturer it might be best to have it rebuilt locally.

For Vestal, a quadriplegic who has used a wheelchair for nearly 40 years, the van is his only transportation.

That’s when Vestal called Butch Rodgers, the city superintendent, and asked about local companies that could fix the cylinder. Vestal said Rodgers agreed to look at the van during his lunch break, and when he was having trouble with it, Rodgers took the van to the city shop.

“I was just desperate and when people are desperate they do things without thinking,” the mayor said.

The vehicle stayed in the shop overnight, and Friday morning Tonganoxie City Council member Paula Crook, acting on a tip, went to the shop, where she saw employees working on the van.

“We were entrusted by the citizens to do the right thing and you can’t take your personal vehicle down there and ask for the city crew to work on it,” Crook said. “And the city crew should have known it was a no-no.”

She called Mike Yanez, city administrator.

“It was an error in judgment and we took care of it immediately,” Yanez said. “There weren’t any repercussions other than just a counseling that we don’t work on personal equipment for any elected, appointed or hired city official.”

His meeting with the public works employees must not have sunk in because mid-afternoon Tuesday, a city employee driving a city vehicle left the mayor’s home after working on the van.

Vestal was remorseful the van was taken to the public works building, but he said he was unaware of the work being done on city time on Tuesday.

“I am not going to take the heat for this one this time,” he said. “I did not know they were out here.”

In September 2007, Vestal publicly apologized at a city council meeting after he had forwarded an e-mail containing a picture of a topless woman and a joke about Martin Luther King Jr. Day.


Chris Ogle 9 years, 4 months ago

If that were the only issue Lawrence was facing, then we would be in much better shape. Heck, in Lawrence, our fine city would simply buy a new van. Of course we would we need a second van for backup.

Flabbergasted 9 years, 4 months ago

Did anyone ask who paid for the parts to repair the lift? Did anyone ask if the mayor must have this lift to attend city functions? When Tonganoxi elected a handicapped mayor, they elected his limitations as well. Transportation is a priority. Is he asking the city to purchase a new van? If not, labor to make a few minor repairs just doesn't look like abuse to me.

BorderRat 9 years, 4 months ago

I'll bet many Mayors get take home cars paid for by the city. Lot less expensive to do a little work on a vehicle than to buy one. Typical politics even in small town USA.

ladyb 9 years, 4 months ago

You know whatever happened to help thy neighbor? I was brought up in this small town of Tonganoxie and you treat people the way you want to be treated. I don't think that the act of fixing the van is an issue. I would hope that being a small town that the citizens can still help out those in need. For example I have seen many selfless acts from the employees who work for the city helping elders with flat tires, or problems that arise and they can help, with NO COST to the city, and no finger pointing was ever done. In my view since the new council has been selected we have one who somehow always gets the complaints, is that just me or does anyone else feel that way. I think that there is more important news than this.

Trouble 9 years, 4 months ago

Mayor Vestal is a embarrassment to the city and has been for some time. He knew when he ran and took the office of the mayor that the city did not pay wages or give special favors to the Mayor or City Council. Guess he thought what the citizen don't know won't hurt policy? I know people think, well he is a quadriplegic and he is. So its OK for him to make fun of breast cancer and Martin Luther King day because he is quadriplegic and it OK to break his own city policy because he is quadriplegic. His brain still works. He just needs to use it. He is no different then the rest of us. If our car breaks down that our only transportation. Most of these people who run for office think they are GOD. FIX YOUR OWN VAN MAYOR VESTAL and don't think the people of Tonganoxie should. Maybe you should start telling the truth and then people are more willing to forgive.

Trouble 9 years, 4 months ago

Ladyb- I also live in the town of Tonganoxie and I do believe that the other spineless council members do recieve complaints but there special interest gets in the way of doing anything about it. I do believe your right when you say help thy neighbor. The city crew could have done the van work after city hours, on there own time. Im sure the city had alot of work that could have been done while they were over there being a good neighbor!

fedupintongie 9 years, 4 months ago

Come on Tonganoxie, you better get a grip on this rouge councilwoman...she has an inflated since of empowerment and has become the self-appointed Nancy Drew of Tonganoxie and does her sleuthing and spying under the umbrella of councilwoman. I think this could be called stalking! It seems she is abusing the office she holds and is becoming a major liabilty to the city...If she is picking on just certain employees or an employee, someone had better do some of their own sleuthing around and find out what personal vendetta she has and why...there has to be more to this whole mess than what she wants anyone to know. Also, way to go Mr. Mayor! That'll teach them crazy city employees who sneak around, fixing all your stuff and helping you out...if it should ever happen again, which I doubt it will, why don't you just stick a sharp stick in the their eyes, for doing all that unappreciated work...!

ladyb 9 years, 4 months ago

Trouble- How do we know the work done on the mayors van was not done on a break or on lunch I do believe even city workers get two breaks in an eight hour day. But I guess they don't have any rights when it comes down to it, everything these workers do is under the watchful eye. They have one council member who has an ax to grind and the shop guys are getting the brunt of it. The council is to help the city with the checks and balances but please give it a break. How much time has to be wasted on all of these anonymous tips. As for the email earlier this year, if I would have received that from someone I would have deleted it and nothing would have been said about it, but because he is an official it makes the news.

Trouble 9 years, 4 months ago

Come on this councilwomen is the best thing that could of happen to the city. She doing her job! Why come down on her. As far as the City Mayor goes he needs to do his job. Maybe the mayor not as honorable as you think. Maybe if the readers would Google Michael Vestal go to page 5 and look at LJworld/Discussion on chat with Tonganoxie Mayor Mike Vestal and see what egirl8250 has to say about the Tonganoxie Mayor, I wonder if he knows a girl named Dawn Marie Flewelling? If he did what she said shame on him and if it not true shame on her.

fedupintongie 9 years, 4 months ago

Trouble, If she is the best thing that has happened to Tonganoxie, then I suggest we all run, don't walk, out of town. If you or she wants to open a can of worms, and have the mayor and employees investigated, then the "you know what" is going to fly...everyone will be fair game and a good detective, or half way good one, will be able to find out things about alot of people that they don't think anyone knows about and this city will become a laughing stock , and this community doesn't deserve this...there are alot of wonderful people in our town that could be hurt by flying accusations, that could be false, but once it's out there, people remember....

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