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Best Kansas City Parks and Recreation Commissioner 

Bob Lewellen

It's possible to become disoriented in the middle of Kansas City Parks and Recreation board meetings, held almost every Tuesday at department headquarters at 4600 East 63rd Street. The weekly civic circus usually features board President Sandra Doolin Aust's unnervingly cheerful smile as she chants the refrain that everyone's been doing "a whale of a job." There's lots of picture-taking when the board is presented with oversized checks or wood-grain plaques. There's so much saccharine poured over the meeting's discussions that the nonglossy truth stands out. So it's startling when Commissioner Bob Lewellen, in his signature deadpan-hilarious tone, injects a dose of reality into the syrupy meetings. "Where is that?" Lewellen asked Commissioner Tim Kristl during an agenda point about a rarely mentioned park. "Is that down there below that fountain that doesn't work?" Lewellen's weekly commentary ("Is that the project we screwed up?") usually prompts the other four board members and Parks Director Mark McHenry to study their shoes and laugh uneasily. Once, after one of his comments made Commissioner Cici Rojas shade her face with one hand and mutter, "Oh, Bob," he replied, "What? I don't want to be too complacent." Complacent? He makes the meetings so entertaining that if they called them The Bob Lewellen Show, the city could charge for tickets.

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