David Burk, Wichita developer, overreaches

Today’s Wichita Eagle contains a story about a well-known Wichita real estate developer that, while shocking, shouldn’t really be all that unexpected.

The opening sentence of the article (Developer appealed taxes on city-owned property) tells us most of what we need to know: “Downtown Wichita’s leading developer, David Burk, represented himself as an agent of the city — without the city’s knowledge or consent — to cut his taxes on publicly owned property he leases in the Old Town Cinema Plaza, according to court records and the city attorney.”

Some might say it’s not surprising that Burk represented himself in the way the Eagle article reports. When a person’s been on the receiving end of so much city hall largess, it’s an occupational hazard.

Wichita city council to decide between rule of law, or rule by situation

Tuesday’s Wichita City Council meeting will provide an opportunity for the mayor, council members, and city hall staff to let Wichitans know if our city is governed by the rule of law and proper respect for it, or if these values will be discarded for the convenience of one person and his business partners.

For Wichita city hall, ‘stakeholder’ has a narrow meaning

Recently the City of Wichita held a stakeholder meeting regarding Community Improvement Districts and the city’s policies regarding them.

While the term “stakeholder” is vague and means different things to different people, you might think that such a gathering might include representatives from the community at large. In an effort to achieve diversity, you know.

Instead, the meeting was stacked almost exclusively with those who have an interest in extracting as much economic subsidy as possible from the city.

Wichita performs a reference check, sort of

Citizens of Wichita are rightly concerned about whether our elected officials and bureaucrats are looking out for their interests, or only for the interests and welfare of a small group of city hall insiders.

In Wichita, the need for campaign finance reform

Actions of the Wichita City Council have shown that campaign finance reform is needed. Citizen groups are investigating how to accomplish this needed reform, since the council has not shown interest in reforming itself.

In Wichita, private tax policy on the rise

In a free society with a limited government, taxation should be restricted to being a way for government to raise funds to pay for services that all people benefit from. But in the city of Wichita, private tax policy is overtaking our city.

Wichita City Council bows to special interests

Yesterday’s meeting of the Wichita City Council revealed a council — except for one member — totally captured by special interests, to the point where the council, aided by city staff, used a narrow legal interpretation in order to circumvent a statutorily required public hearing process.

In Wichita, historic preservation tax credits an inefficient form of developer welfare

As part of the subsidy plan for Douglas Place, a downtown Wichita hotel being proposed, developers plan to make extensive use of historic preservation tax credits to fund their project. This form of developer welfare, besides being inefficient, is largely hidden from public view.

Wichita’s Waterwalk failure breeds skepticism

A recent Wichita Eagle editorial starts with this: “Seven years into a project that was supposed to give Wichita a grand gathering place full of shops, restaurants and night spots as well as offices and condos, some City Council members and citizens remain skeptical at best about WaterWalk’s ability to deliver on its big promises. … True, the skepticism to date is richly deserved.”

The editorial goes on to report that public investment in this project has risen to $41 million. I don’t know if this figure includes long-term land leases for $1 per year.

In any case, there’s little to show for this investment. Even the proposal for the redevelopment of downtown Wichita from the planning firm Goody Clancy realizes that WaterWalk is a failure.

TIF and other subsidies harm Wichita

Everyone who cares about Wichita — the entire city, not just special interests — ought to be opposed to the continued use of tax increment financing (TIF) districts and other forms of subsidy that direct benefits to a small group at the expense of everyone else.