Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday February 21, 2011

Kansas legislature website. Over the weekend a new version of the website for the Kansas Legislature appeared. It has a new design over what’s been available for the last six weeks or so. It will take a while to shake out the new site, but here are a few observations: Finally, pdf documents are displayed in a standard — that is to say plain — method that should be usable on devices of all types. … Attempting a search produces a “page not found” error. … There is no mobile version that works on devices like an Iphone, which is a popular thing to have these days. … There is a link named “A/V Live” which is not active at this time, but points to the goal of having committee testimony broadcast on the website. Here’s a better idea: almost all conferees that testify before committees have written testimony that is provided to committee members. Make that testimony available to the people of Kansas. This could be done fairly easily — and inexpensively — and is more useful. … The Wichita Eagle has some reporting today about the troubles with the new site. But the biggest question is: why is this work being done during the legislative session? Why not do it from June through December when the legislature is not in session and demand for the site is less? Why wasn’t the old site left running while the new site was built?

Legislators on Governor’s plan. At a meeting with Wichita-area legislators on Saturday, some spoke on Governor Brownback’s economic development plan. As with much of the news media, legislators seem mostly oriented on the reorganization of some agencies rather than the call for an end — or at least reduction — of targeted incentives and subsidies. Some legislators emphasized that we are competing with other states for jobs. It will be difficult for elected officials to give up the arms race of offering subsidy to companies to come to Kansas, or as we see in the Hawker Beechcraft deal, simply agree to remain in Kansas, even with a smaller number of jobs. … The governor’s plan still contains a slush fund for attracting jobs to Kansas, which should keep the big-government fans happy for a while.

Could Wisconsin demonstrations come to Kansas? At the meeting with legislators, I asked if the demonstrations taking place in Wisconsin could be seen in Kansas. There, state employees are protesting the governor’s proposal to ask them to pay more for health insurance and pensions. Also proposed are measures that would reduce the power of the state workers union. Representative Jim Ward said: “I don’t think it would happen in Kansas.” While people in Kansas are passionate, we have a tradition of civility, he added. … The Kansas public employee retirement system is among the most underfunded and will probably require someone to pay more. The process of selecting who has to pay — employees or taxpayers — is likely to be contentious.

Wichita trash. It seems likely that Wichitans will see another trash plan proposed, according to Wichita Eagle reporting. The urge by government bureaucrats like city manager Robert Layton to create a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist is compelling, it seems. While some Wichitans are paying much more than others for trash service, the publicity generated by the Eagle reporting has informed everyone as to how much trash service should cost. … Most candidates for city council seem to be against city involvement in trash service.

Wichita mayoral forum didn’t go well. According to reporting from KWCH, a forum for candidates for Wichita mayor didn’t go well: “Wichita residents came to a political forum to listen to political issues, but left shaking their heads.” Continuing in the story: “Some say they weren’t impressed with incumbent Carl Brewer either. ‘The Mayor was just relying on his name and everyone else just had wild views,’ said one listener. ‘The Mayor basically knew he wasn’t going anywhere,’ said another listener. Onlookers say a meeting that was supposed to educate them on important issues, just left them with a bad feeling about the political future of Wichita. ‘They just proved why I shouldn’t vote for them in my opinion,’ said Graham.”

Wichita City Council this week. The Wichita City Council will not meet this week, as it’s a Tuesday after a holiday. Most private sector workers might have trouble remembering there is a holiday today, but not so for the city council.

Sedgwick County commission this week. At Wednesday’s meeting, the Sedgwick County Commission has several important items on its agenda. The commission will be asked to adopt Project Downtown: The Master Plan for Wichita, November 2010 as an amendment to the Wichita-Sedgwick County Comprehensive Plan. This is the plan for the revitalization of downtown Wichita prepared by planning firm Goody Clancy. This item is not a public hearing, and it is not known how much time commission chair Dave Unruh, who assumed that position in January, will allow for citizens to address the commission. Previous chairs Karl Peterjohn and Kelly Parks — as well as current Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer — always asked if citizens wanted to speak on an item and were generous with time allotted. … Also Jeremy Hill of Wichita State University Center for Economic Development and Business Research will make a presentation. CEDBR has been criticized for for a report it produced on the economic impact of the Affordable Airfares program. That report was produced before Hill started his tenure at CEDBR. … The appraiser will report on real estate valuation trends in Sedgwick County.


7 thoughts on “Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday February 21, 2011”

  1. Hi Y’all

    After reading the views of the candidates, and seeing our current mayor’s actions, I’m sorry we don’t have an “none of the above” lever. If None of the above wins, we have a new primary and anyone EXCEPT those that already ran, gets a chance.

    Later

    Mike??

  2. Regarding the situation in Wisconsin being repeated in Wichita and Kansas: The new UTW newsletter goes into detail about the proposed changes for the next teacher’s contract which may include a 4 day student week, longer school hours and a 1% paycut. I do not know if this 1% will also include all USD 259 employees but I know that the grumblings are just starting! As one school principle told school staff at a recent meeting “feel fortunate that you just have a job”. Well said!

  3. I do not know if Darrell Leffew was in attendence at this KWCH forum, but I assure you he is not one of the “kooks”. Why is it when someone has an alternative view or idea from what the status quo accepts as “mainstream” or “progressive” that he or she is labeled a kook? What has been tried in the past in Wichita is clearly not working as Mr. Weeks has pointed out on numerous occasions. Darrell Leffew is the best choice above all candidates, including our economically clueless incumbent mayor.

  4. Guess you’d have had to been there. The council candidates were very good, as were many of the school board candidates. The mayor and mayoral candidates, not so much. Tough crowd for what most had to say. They weren’t even enthused with the mayor with his corporate welfare = jobs shtick. The mayor’s “workout buddy” filed the report, but I think she was fair as one might expect, not failing to mention the mayor’s lackluster performance.

  5. Unfortunately, I had to rely on reading the Candidate’s blurbs in last week’s (forget which day) Eagle Beacon. I only hope that they were spoke more eloquently in person than would be indicated by the written answers.

  6. “The Wichita City Council will not meet this week, as it’s a Tuesday after a holiday. Most private sector workers might have trouble remembering there is a holiday today, but not so for the city council.”

    Geez Bob, pretty trite comment, don’t you think?

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