Sedalia should strive to better use its assets

Travis McMullen - Contributing Columnist

There are kind of a lot of city committees these days and many of them seem to operate in relative obscurity at least when compared to the Sedalia Rental Inspection Committee, which has been tasked with dealing with a particularly contentious and public problem. People are fired up on both sides of the issue and that’s just what I like to see.

For the majority of Sedalia landlords it feels like a solution in search of a problem. They provide reasonable properties with a reasonable level of maintenance. They are fair to their tenants, and even occasionally have to deal with the financial fallout from an ex-tenant who decided to trash their property for one reason or another.

And the fire gets higher when it comes to tenants who have to deal with sub-par housing and rental support. For the landlord, this topic is merely a business problem. But for the neglected tenant in their neglected rental home it’s a major problem, something that is seriously affecting their quality of life. Some have managed to escape their situations, but others are forced to stay because of a lack of resources. Even a poorly maintained property is usually better than living on the streets, but that doesn’t mean people should be forced to live in sub-par housing.

Throw in some people who will defend just about anything or anyone for the sake of their likely nebulous concept of freedom, and some others who assume that every eyesore property they’ve ever laid eyes on must be a rental property and you have a recipe for a topic that has filled a lot of comment sections on the internet.

But even though the flame wars have burned brightly I’ve got to admit that the Sedalia Rental Inspection Committee seems to be doing a pretty good job. They are fair, and considerate of many different angles. You probably read Democrat reporter Nicole Cooke’s recent story about their latest discussions about exactly who would be conducting said rental inspections if they were to happen.

Their recommendation is that the city offers inspector certification classes. That makes the most sense, really: the city has certain standards in place, and will be the entity making the ultimate decisions about any further standards so it seems that they should be able to create a certification program to pump out inspectors who are intimately familiar with those standards.

Not so long ago the Sedalia Fire Department offered a firefighter class, and their willingness to establish a local training program has resulted in an invigorated department full of men and women from Sedalia who fight for Sedalia. That is a model that we need to expand to all areas of public service here in the State Fair City. If we need a certain kind of person with a particular set of skills then we should provide the facilities right here in Sedalia to train people to do the things we need them to do.

Sedalia can’t continue to be a community where we depend so much on the skilled leftover labor from Kansas City and its suburbs. That’s what the fire department had to deal with: people either on their way to or from a larger city using Sedalia as a stepping stone, or somewhere to go while the heat died down. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure they were skilled firefighters who did a good job but I want Sedalia squads to be stocked with people who love Sedalia.

I want us to be the city that attracts people seeking specialized job training, so that they can stimulate the economy while they’re here. We can keep the passionate Sedalians for the work that we need done here, and we can export the others so they can tell everyone about the high-quality education they got in the Queen City of the Prairies.

Let’s build our own permanent police academy! Maybe that’s too specific: The Sedalia School of Public Service could provide community-focused education for everyone from rental inspectors to law enforcement officers to aspiring mayors! The cross-pollination of public service education would create well-rounded city workers who can set up an Excel spreadsheet for payroll just as fast as they could grab an axe and hack down through door to save a trapped Sedalian.

What do you think, should Sedalia strive to better utilize the assets of the people who already happen to live here?

Travis McMullen

Contributing Columnist

— Travis McMullen is a longtime Sedalia resident who shares his views on the city through his weekly Democrat column. Reach McMullen at

— Travis McMullen is a longtime Sedalia resident who shares his views on the city through his weekly Democrat column. Reach McMullen at

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