For Wichita’s David Burk, subsidy machine is working again

…00 square feet of retail space in a downtown parking garage. The garage is being built, partly, to serve a hotel Burk and partners are developing. Here are the details of the deal Burk and his partners are getting from the taxpayers of Wichita: The city plans to lease this space to Burk and $1.00 per year. Not $1.00 per square foot, but $1.00 for the entire space — all 8,500 square feet. That’s the plan for the first five years. For…

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

…welfare, even one form that will require the city to pass a special charter ordinance. The lead developer, David Burk, is well known in Wichita and has produced a number of successful projects. (We must qualify this as “seemingly successful,” as it seems as all of Burk’s projects require some sort of taxpayer involvement and subsidy. So we don’t really know if these projects would be successful if they had to stand on thei…

Despite allegations, Wichita’s Dave Burk remains favored

…the cutting edge of harvesting corporate welfare — despite his past behavior. Last year this person, Dave Burk of Marketplace Properties, acted in a way the Wichita Eagle described as deceptive in order to reduce his property taxes. Yet, Burk remains a favored developer at city hall, and he’s soon going to ask taxpayers to pay higher taxes for his benefit. These are the same taxes he himself doesn’t like to pay. The following a…

David Burk, Wichita developer, overreaches

…-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 th…

Wichita City Council campaign contributions and Douglas Place/Ambassador Hotel

…is split between two groups of people: executives associated with Key Construction and their spouses, and David Burk and his wife. Those associated with Key Construction contributed $16,500, and the Burks contributed $8,000. At a recent city council meeting, Mayor Brewer, along with council members Janet Miller and Lavonta Williams expressed varying degrees of outrage that people would link their acceptance of campaign contributions with their…

Wichita City Council bows to special interests

…tutorily required public hearing process. The issue was a downtown hotel to be developed by a team lead by David Burk of Marketplace Properties. The subsidies Burk wants, specifically tax increment financing (TIF), require a public hearing to be held. The city scheduled the hearing for September 13th. That schedule, however, didn’t suit Burk. In order to provide him a certain comfort level, the council agreed to issue a letter of intent sta…

Downtown Wichita economic development numbers questioned

…00 square feet of retail space in a downtown parking garage. The garage is being built, partly, to serve a hotel Burk and partners are developing. Here are the details of the deal Burk and his partners are getting from the taxpayers of Wichita: The city plans to lease this space to Burk and $1.00 per year. Not $1.00 per square foot, but $1.00 for the entire space — all 8,500 square feet. That’s the plan for the first five years. For…

At Wichita city council, citizens are frustrated

…t even have to endure a slight insult from our mayor. The matter in question involved real estate developer Dave Burk and the city’s economic development office. Regarding this matter, I wrote Mr. Burk by email early Monday morning with a question. He didn’t reply. I should have followed-up with a telephone call, but I didn’t have time. Monday afternoon I called the city’s economic development office with a few questions….

Wichita’s evaluation of development team should be reconsidered

…he way, the mayor’s relationship with Wells means he should not participate in voting on this matter. Dave Burk, Dave Wells: These two were original partners in WaterWalk, which has received over $40 million in subsidy, with little to show for results. Dave Burk: He’s received many millions from many levels of government, but still thinks he doesn’t get enough. This is what we can conclude by his appeal of property taxes in a TI…

Wichita performs a reference check, sort of

…pany. By the way, the mayor’s relationship with Wells means he should not have voted on this matter. Dave Burk, Dave Wells: These two were original partners in WaterWalk, which has received over $40 million in subsidy, with little to show for results. Dave Burk: He’s received many millions from many levels of government, but still thinks he doesn’t get enough. This is what we can conclude by his appeal of property taxes in a TI…

In Wichita, a quest 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. Consider recent actions by the council and its members: The council voted to give a movie theater operator a no-interest and low-interest loan, after having already received the benefit of tax increment financing. A minister dab…

TIF and other subsidies harm Wichita

…l campaign finance reports, spouses often contribute as well. So it’s not uncommon to see the David and DJ Burk family contribute $2,000 to a candidate for their primary and general election campaigns. That’s a significant sum for a city council district election campaign cycle. Click here for a compilation of campaign contributions made by those associated with the Douglas Place project, a recent collaboration between Burk, Key Const…

Kansas historic tax credits should end

…ally used. These complicated financial arrangements serve to hide what’s really happening. Developers like Burk say that these financing schemes don’t cost government or the taxpayer anything. But they go to great lengths to secure them. In the case of Burk, he makes sure to make plenty of campaign contributions. But tax credits are pretty easy to understand. They excuse someone from paying taxes. If they’re refundable tax credi…

Wichita turns taxation over to private interests

…Jeff Longwell alone received $4,000 of that sum, and he also accepted another $2,000 from managing member David Burk and his wife. All told, Burk and his wife contributed at least $7,500 to city council candidates who will be voting whether to give Burk money. Burk and others routinely make the maximum contribution to all — or nearly all — candidates, even those with widely varying political stances. How can someone explain Burk̵…

In Wichita, private tax policy on the rise

…Jeff Longwell alone received $4,000 of that sum, and he also accepted another $2,000 from managing member David Burk and his wife. All told, Burk and his wife contributed at least $7,500 to city council candidates who will be voting whether to give Burk money. Burk and others routinely make the maximum contribution to all — or nearly all — candidates, even those with widely varying political stances. How can someone explain Burk̵…

The Wichita Eagle on naysayers: a disservice to Wichita

…who might voice dissent? Further, that committee decided to approve the project despite the involvement of David Burk of Marketplace Properties. Holman’s own newspaper reported this last year: “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…

Wichita waltzing waters dedication a chance to reflect

…Wichita. Some received a no-interest and low-interest loan from the city to prop up a failing TIF district, and Burk appealed property valuations in a way that caused a tax increment financing district to fall behind. The Wichita Eagle reported: “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…

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

…taxpayer subsidy. Some are presently applying for more. One name that is surprising to see on this list is Dave Burk. Earlier this year the Wichita Eagle reported this: “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.” After this, I don…

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

…tter than the average project. Still, Kansas taxpayers will give up $3.8 million in tax revenue in order to give Burk and his team about $3.3 million cash. Federal taxpayers will give up $3.5 million in order to give Burk $3 million. And it is a gift. It’s not an exemption from paying property or sales taxes, or letting a hotel keep 75 percent of the guest tax it generates, or tax increment financing for a garage, or the state charging cust…

In Wichita, Jeff Longwell has the solution to cronyism

At a recent Wichita City Council meeting, Council Member Jeff Longwell (district 5, west and northwest Wichita) was critical of topics broached by two speakers, admonishing them to “take a different approach.” The speakers had mentioned votes made and actions taken by the council and the appearance of influence or linkage to campaign contributions. Longwell’s concern is understandable. As perhaps the most accomplished practiti…

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Sunday October 17, 2010

…developer giveaways that end up costing city taxpayers. One name that is surprising to see on this list is Dave Burk. Earlier this year the Wichita Eagle reported this: “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.” It’s telling t…

Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer to critics: stop grandstanding

…ention of a statutorily required public hearing. In order to grant subsidies to a development team lead by David Burk of Marketplace Properties, the city is required to hold a public hearing, which it scheduled for September 13th. That schedule wasn’t fast enough for Burk, so at its August 9th meeting the council approved a letter of intent which formalizes the city’s desire to do the things that were to be the subject of the public h…

Wichita’s Waterwalk failure breeds skepticism

…lk project be excluded from any consideration for further taxpayer subsidy. The WaterWalk development team: Dave Burk, Marketplace Properties, LLC; Jack P. DeBoer, Consolidated Holdings, Inc.; Gregory H. Kossover, Consolidated Holdings, Inc.; David E. Wells, Key Construction, Inc.; and Tom Johnson, CRE, WaterWalk LLC need to recognize their failure and the tremendous amount they have cost the Wichita taxpayer. Some of these people — Burk a…

The speck and the logs

When Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer recently shopped for a car, it made the front page of the newspaper, and for a reason that doesn’t seem very newsworthy. Buried in the story, however, is a short passage that holds actual news. Carrie Rengers reports in the Wichita Eagle: [Brewer] says he knows a lot of dealers in Wichita … but he says he has to be careful about trying to get a good deal while shopping in the city. “I don’t want…

In Wichita, pushing back against political cronyism

A message from Bob Weeks, campaign chair of Tax Fairness for All Wichitans, upon the campaign’s victory of 62 percent to 38 percent in an election regarding a tax rebate to the Ambassador Hotel: First, I’d like to thank my campaign leadership team and all the volunteers. Many started working in October by carrying the petition and gathering signatures, sometimes in cold and windy winter weather. My job as campaign chair was made much…

O’Donnell critics should look inward first

Wichita City Council Member Michael O’Donnell (district 4, south and southwest Wichita) made a mistake when he recently offered his opinion to the Sedgwick County Commission. The mistake was noted and corrected before the commissioners voted, so it had no influence on how the commissioners voted. Yet, all members of the Wichita City Council have “expressed varying degrees of anger” over O’Donnell’s statement, accord…

Ambassador Hotel Industrial Revenue Bonds

The City of Wichita should not approve a measure that is not needed, that does not conform to the city’s policy (based on relevant information not disclosed to citizens), and which is steeped in cronyism. This week the Wichita City Council will consider authorizing industrial revenue bonds (IRB) for the Ambassador Hotel project in downtown Wichita. In most cases, the major benefit of IRBs is exemption from paying property taxes. Since the…

Curious Wichita ethics enigmas

As he has done previously, Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer decided not to vote on a matter involving Spirit Aerosystems at the November 5, 2013 meeting of the Wichita City Council. The mayor didn’t give a reason for recusing himself, but it’s probably because he was formerly an employee at Spirit. So it’s good that he did this. But if we’re going to observe ethics protocols like this — and we should — let’s…

Concern over state office building decision politics

Speculation that politics might influence a decision over the location of State of Kansas offices is amusing, given that one of the players has a history of awarding campaign contributors and friends. Will he now advocate for keeping politics out of governmental decision-making? When the State of Kansas said it is going to move offices from its downtown location, a local politician expressed concern to the Wichita Eagle: “It raises a red…

Discussion on Ambassador Hotel tax issue to be this Friday

This Friday (February 3, 2012) the Wichita Pachyderm Club, as part of its regular Friday luncheon series of educational meetings, will conduct a public forum on the February 28th Wichita city election. The subject of the election is a Wichita city charter ordinance that rebates 75 percent of the Ambassador Hotel’s guest tax collection back to the hotel. John Todd, Vice-President of the Pachyderm Club and in charge of programs, issued invit…

Dump truck carrying coins

Is graft a problem in Wichita?

In his paper History and Constitutionality of Pay-to-Play Campaign Finance Restrictions in America Greg Schmid explains the problems that result from the “soft corruption” that pay-to-play laws combat. Is this a problem in Wichita? Is it possible that “Graft takes the collective wealth of working taxpayers and transfers that wealth to the benefit of corrupt government officials and their private sector accomplices” in W…

Wichita City Council sets hotel tax election date

In response to a successful petition effort aimed at overturning a Wichita charter ordinance, the Wichita City Council last week considered an agenda item that gave the council two choices: Rescind the ordinance, or set a date for an election. The charter ordinance concerns rebating a portion of the Ambassador Hotel’s guest tax collections back to the hotel for its own use. The most important issue to the council seemed to be holding the e…

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday August 22, 2011

How not to grow an economy. Wall Street Journal Review & Outlook How Not to Grow an Economy: A week in the life of the Obama recovery. from today: “Financial markets are in turmoil, investors are fleeing to safe havens, and the chances of another recession are rising. This would seem to be a moment when government should be especially careful to do no harm, to talk and walk softly, and to reassure business that Washington wants more p…

Kansas historic preservation tax credits should be eliminated

It’s time to recognize historic buildings for what they are: a premium feature or amenity whose extra cost should be born solely by those who chose to own them or rent them. Supporters of historic buildings tell us that renovating them is more expensive than building new. Likewise, building a home with granite kitchen counter tops and marble floors in the bathrooms is more expensive than a plainer home. These premium features are chosen v…

Wichita city manager’s warning is too late

On Tuesday June 16, 2008, the Wichita City Council agreed to lend the Old Town Warren Theatre’s owners $6 million so they could keep the theater open. (City agrees to loan Warren $6 million June 18, Wichita Eagle). Wichita Interim City Manager Ed Flentje issued this warning to the council: “There are in this community much larger businesses with much larger employment who may see this opening as something that will open a door for th…

For Wichita’s Project Downtown, goal keeps slipping

In selling a plan for the revitalization of downtown Wichita, promoters started with a promise of much private investment for just a little public investment. But as the plan proceeded, the goal kept slipping, and the first project to be approved under the final plan will probably not come close to meeting even the modest goals set by the Wichita City Council. At the time agitation for a downtown plan started in 2008, research indicated that the…

Our Downtown Wichita launched

As part of an effort to provide information about the Douglas Place project, a proposed renovation of a downtown Wichita office building into a hotel, Americans for Prosperity, Kansas has created a website. The site is named Our Downtown Wichita, and it’s located at dtwichita.com. Many people, myself included, feel that this project — with its multiple layers of taxpayer subsidy — represents crony capitalism at its pinnacle. I…

In Wichita, how tax increment financing can channel tax money

The flow of tax dollars Wichita city leaders have planned for Douglas Place, a proposed hotel in Wichita, creates a mechanism where taxpayer funds are routed to a politically-connected construction firm. And unlike the real world, where developers have an incentive to build economically, the city has created incentives for Douglas Place developers to spend lavishly in a parking garage, at no cost to themselves. The original plan for Douglas Plac…

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday September 6, 2011

Live music example of overcriminilization, regulation in Wichita. The Wichita Eagle reports on examples of problems establishments have faced for not complying with Wichita’s requirement for a live music license, which costs $400 per year. In the story No entertainment license in Wichita? Live music is illegal, it is reported that city officials are working with art gallery and coffeehouse owners to revise the ordinance. I agree with Adam…

Wichita TIF: Taxpayer-funded benefits to political players

It is now confirmed: In Wichita, tax increment financing (TIF) leads to taxpayer-funded waste that benefits those with political connections at city hall. The latest evidence we have is the construction of a downtown parking garage that benefits Douglas Place, especially the Ambassador Hotel, a renovation of a historic building now underway. The flow of tax dollars Wichita city leaders had planned for Douglas Place called for taxpayer funds to b…