Archive for October, 2012

During the rush to purchase the King Louie Building and fund the transformation in to The National Museum of Suburbia, we heard several Commissioners express their support based on the revenue generating opportunities this building possessed.  Very recently I personally heard one Commissioner publicly support his decision and vote to purchase this building as it would “actually make money for the County”.  Intrigued that this stood in substantial opposition to published facts, I presented a lawful KORA (Kansas Open Records Act) request to see this new magical document (Operating Budget through 2020) and yep, it’s the same as the one I already had.


Two thirds of the building’s operational expense is tax funded.  Also of note and not to demise the true sincere hard work and fund raising the volunteers and contributors make, donations remain somewhat meager compared to their committment of raising $9,000,000 immediately.  In anyones’ measure, this is not a cash cow but a cache hole.

Stay tuned folks, we’re getting down to the really good stuff now.

Ken Dunwoody       kdunwoody2@aol.com


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Our ‘pig in a poke’ King Louie purchase has several tentacles, more like an octopus.  Reviewing the definition of “tentacle” reveals an appendage used for feeding of a spineless organism.  Yep, that about describes our County Commissioners.

We have already shown the guise justification in purchasing the building is nothing short of eliminating the very thing they wish to make a museum of, suburbia.  The planning document 2011InterpretiveMasterPlan details precisely how the suburbs of Johnson County are no longer needed or deserved when compared to the need of consolidating populations back to the inner cities.  The Obama administration United Nations has determined that “sprawl” is not sustainable and that wealth must be redistributed.  This posting takes a look at who funded the commissars’ new plan.


The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is an independent agency of the United States federal government established in 1996. It is the main source of federal support for libraries and museums within the United States, having the mission to “create strong libraries and museums that connect people with information and ideas.” IMLS “works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development.” In fiscal year 2007, IMLS had a budget of $247 million.


We know their precious document used to purchase an asbestos laden building and committing as much as $40,000,000 in the near future was written by an United Nations Obama agency.  Now what are the odds?  http://www.imls.gov/ 

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Johnson County Commissioners discussed the purchase of the King Louie Building from Western Developement Company (owned by Mr. and Mrs. John Mitchell) on November 10 and 17, 2011 for the purposes of relocating the current County Museum and creating a National Museum of Suburbia. A vote of 6-1 (Mr. Ashcraft dissenting) this $2,000,000 Real Estate Purchase Contract was approved with signatures highlighted below (Note: signed same day).

Also during November 10 and 17, 2011 a great deal of discussion centered on the estimated cost of $1,600,000 to “button up” the building to make it secure and weather tight.  Again on a 6-1 vote (Mr. Ashcraft dissenting) this action was approved Button Up excerpt below-

Although known to exist in large quantities, there was no attempt by the County to measure levels of asbestos and lead paint until the day after the Real Estate Purchase Contract was signed and $1,600,000 committed for immediate repairs.

The entire 72 page 208-APEXFormerKingLouieWestEnvironmentalInspectionReport may be viewed here noting it was not issued until December 8, 2011 approximately three weeks after the Real Estate Purchase Contract was signed.

Activities detailed in the $1,600,000 “Button Up” will require the removal of the asbestos and lead paint contained in the building.  Why was the measure of these two hazardous waste materials not identified, or even attempted to be identified until following the signed Contract?  Why was this not discussed publically?  Are The Commissioners gambling on a Federal Tax Funded grant?  How long will that take?  Even the Real Estate Purchase Contract required it’s approval prior to December 30, 2011.

Had Mr. and Mrs. John Mitchell misled or defrauded Johnson County?  They knew about the asbestos and lead paint since July 15, 2010 more than a year earlier.

State of Kansas Health Department and asbestos engineering specialists recommend this inspection should have occurred PRIOR to purchasing the property.

Albeit not issued until December 8, 2011 was the Environmental Inspection Report thorough in where to test as recommended by The State of Kansas?  (From page 4)

Page 3 of the Real Estate Purchase Contract allowed The County to cancel the contract.  Why didn’t they?

That leaves us with at least these possibilities:

  1. The Mitchells may have intentionally mislead The County.
  2. Collectively the Commissioners are incompetent.
  3. Poor County leadership.
  4. Poor performance by Staff. (Doubtful)
  5. Political reward to Commerce Bank to prevent loan default by Mitchells. (More to follow)
  6. Political reward to City of Overland Park to prevent condemnation scheduled for January 2012. (More to follow)
  7. Political reward to prevent loss of $60,000 commission to Kessinger-Hunter (real estate broker) if #5 or #6 above occurred. (More to follow)
  8. Political reward to prevent loss of $2,000,000 to Mitchells if #5 or #6 above occurred.
  9. Act of nature and unavoidable.

More to follow.


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The 82 page 2011InterpretiveMasterPlan available here.


This document reeks of Agenda 21, ICLEI and Sustainability.

Above example from page 30

About the author-  “Guy was one of the first people to be certified by the US Green Building Council as part of the new LEED Green Associate program. “LEED Green Associate” and the LEED Green Associate logo are trademarks owned by the U.S. Green Building Council and are awarded to individuals under license by the Green Building Certification Institute.”  http://museuminsights.com/About_Us.html


After receiving a copy of this document, a reporter from The Wall Street Journal traveled to interview the principal parties involved and wrote an accurate article basically ridiculing not only the Board of County Commissioners but also those Kansas folks that elected them.  https://nolathe.net/2012/10/10/faux-board-of-johnson-county-commissioners-kansas/    Johnson County Commission Chairman Eilert denied the purpose of purchasing the building, no one supports the museum and The Wall Street Journal reporter was confused.

So why the rush to buy the building in November 2011?



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Suburban Kansas Dream: Museum of Suburbia

Plan for Exhibits on Bowling, Lawn Furniture Inspires Neighborhood Spat; Faux Fence  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443493304578038920747409686.html?KEYWORDS=kansas+museum

By JIM CARLTON   October 10, 2012  Wall Street Journal  (NY, NY)

OVERLAND PARK, Kan.—More than half of America lives in the suburbs. The others, too, will be able to savor suburbia by coming to this Kansas City, Mo., suburb if local planners have their way.

Museum officials in Johnson County, Kan., propose spending $34 million to create the National Museum of Suburbia, a faux suburb where visitors could wander through a model ranch-style home, wonder at an exhibit of lawn furniture and topple pins on a re-created bowling lane.

Among envisioned exhibits, to be built inside a cavernous former bowling alley and skating rink: a backyard fence with peepholes that let museum visitors spy on fake suburban neighbors played by actors in period suburban clothing.


The planned National Museum on Suburbia will feature artifacts of suburban life, including this 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air.

“There’s a museum for barbed wire and a museum of light bulbs,” says Larry Meeker, president of the Johnson County Museum Foundation Board, which is pushing the suburb museum, so why not a national museum for suburbia?

“We thought, ‘Why hasn’t someone else thought of that?’ ” he says.

Some locals think they know why not. “I just don’t think it’s a big turn-on to see something you can see every day,” says Steve Rose, a Johnson County publisher of community newspapers and magazines who opposes the museum. “It’s not like you’re visiting ancient Rome.”

Indeed, there is plenty of real suburb in these parts already. Johnson County began turning farmland into subdivisions after World War II, and Overland Park gained national attention in 2009 as home to a suburban housewife on the Showtime series “United States of Tara.”

The suburbia museum’s backers cite a 2010 feasibility study that projects it could draw 60,000 annual visitors paying up to $6 each. The study didn’t assess where visitors would come from, but museum believers say they expect tourists and residents from the nearby metropolis.

[image] Jim Carlton/The Wall Street JournalEmily Finley and her children enjoy the fishing hole exhibit at a section on suburbia in the Johnson County Museum.


“We want to be one of the local places that Kansas Citians tell visitors: ‘This is a place you’ve got to see,’ ” says Mindi Love, executive director of the Johnson County Museum.

All there is to see just now of the National Museum of Suburbia is a 70,000-square-foot abandoned hulk of a building that once housed King Louie West, a 53-year-old bowling alley that later added a skating rink. Graffiti mars some windows and weeds grow up through the parking lot on the six-acre complex, which closed in 2009.

The Johnson County commissioners paid $2 million for the property in November 2011. After evicting a family of raccoons, they are committing another $1.6 million to clear asbestos and make it fit for humans. County engineers expect that work to begin by year’s end.

County Commission Chairman Ed Eilert says the county bought the property for half of what it was marketed for two years earlier. It plans to relocate its current county museum there and potentially other county offices, and maybe even use the parking lot as a transit yard.

Then the suburbia museum planners must raise another $30 million. The museum’s foundation board began a $19,000 study last month to determine how to raise funds. They expect to need to raise $10 million in private donations while persuading the county to pony up much of the rest.

Backers concede it may be 2018 before the suburbia museum opens its doors, but they do have a vision. The museum board’s wish list includes displays of accouterments of suburban life, including school lunchboxes, electric toasters and camping gear. One proposed exhibit: “A Field Guide to Sprawl.”


Ms. Love, director of the Johnson County Museum, says she envisions restored bowling lanes and replicas of a drive-in movie theater. “We may bring in the smell of popcorn, the sound of kids playing on the [drive-in] playground and you can sit in the back of a car and watch television episodes on the movie screen about suburbia, all the way up to ‘Modern Family.’ ”

At the faux backyard fence, visitors would be able to look through knotholes at skits by live actors. “Suburbia is much more complicated than houses on a road,” Ms. Love says. “We want to tell the story of suburbia, the good and the bad.”

The idea gained hold after a county museum in nearby Shawnee, Kan., suffered flood damage in 2009. Curators began looking for a new home for its suburban artifacts, including an exhibit of Tupperware TUP +1.22%and the “All-Electric House,” a model home from the 1950s outside the museum. The museum and the county arts council held a forum to consider the idea of a suburbia museum.

There have been other testimonials to suburbia. In 2009, Rich and Amy Wagner created an online history of their hometown of Levittown, Pa., which became a template for suburbia when it opened in 1952. Bill Owens’ “Suburbia,” a collection of photographs chronicling life in California, is regularly on exhibit nationwide.

At Long Island’s Hofstra University, the National Center for Suburban Studies is dedicated to “promoting objective, academically rigorous study of suburbia’s problems and promise.”



The museum will feature artifacts of suburban life, including this toaster.

Johnson County’s 2010 feasibility study, costing $170,000, projected the suburbia museum could also serve as a place for scholarly study on the subject.

There are naysayers. A suburbia museum “is the wrong museum at the wrong time for the wrong priorities,” says County Commissioner Michael Ashcraft, who cast the lone dissenting vote over the purchase on the five-member panel. He says the spending doesn’t make sense amid cutbacks to libraries and social services.

“I also don’t see people of a young generation darkening the doors of a museum like this,” says Dave Webb, a local auctioneer and former state senator. “You can just put it all online.”

Even some backers aren’t so sure: County Commission Chairman Mr. Eilert, while a proponent of the suburbia museum “as an asset for the county,” says he thinks it’s “problematic” whether the museum can raise enough private donations.

Mr. Meeker, the museum-board president, believes the idea is compelling enough to eventually convince skeptics. “Suburbia is a phenomenon that is unfolding in our own time,” he says. “I’m virtually 100% certain there will be a museum of suburbia.”

Write to Jim Carlton at jim.carlton@wsj.com

A version of this article appeared October 10, 2012, on page A1 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Suburban Kansas Dream: Museum of Suburbia.

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