Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday June 6, 2011

Wichita school superintendent to speak. This Friday’s meeting (June 10) of the Wichita Pachyderm Club features John Allison, Superintendent of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, on “An update from USD 259.” The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club. … Upcoming speakers: On June 17, The Honorable Lawton R. Nuss, Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice on “The State of the Kansas Courts.” On June 24, Jim Mason, Naturalist at the Great Plains Nature Center will have a presentation and book signing. Mason is author of Wichita’s Riverside Parks, published in April 2011. On July 1, Jay M. Price, Director of the Public History Program at Wichita State University, speaking on “Classes of Values in Kansas History.” On July 8, Dave Trabert, President, Kansas Policy Institute, on “Stabilizing the Kansas Budget.”

TIF in California and Kansas. In California’s Secret Government: Redevelopment agencies blight the Golden State Steven Greenhut discusses Redevelopment Agencies (RDAs) in California, which is the way that state implements tax increment financing (TIF). In California RDAs are separate agencies with their own boards. Fortunately, Kansas TIF law doesn’t create these separate agencies. But we have TIF and its wild claims. Greenhut cites the claims of RDA boosters in California: “… agencies explicitly advance various goals beyond blight removal, claiming to boost economic development, provide affordable housing, reenergize downtowns, and create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the process.” But: “Do these lofty growth claims hold water? Redevelopment officials arrive at them by taking credit for every new job and every new economic activity in a redevelopment area. But that isn’t a plausible boast. Crunching the numbers, [Michael] Dardia found that after correcting for local real-estate trends, ‘redevelopment projects do not increase property values by enough to account for the tax increment revenues they receive. Overall, the agencies stimulated enough growth to cover just above half of those tax revenues. The rest resulted from local trends.'” In the follow-up article Proving the Redevelopment Rule: Evidence from Southern California that RDAs don’t work Greenhut discusses eminent domain, or the threat of it. While Kansas has an eminent domain law that seemingly provides protection to property owners who don’t want to sell, the threat of its use is still available. Greenhut cites an attorney who fights these battles, noting “most cities don’t need to use eminent domain, any more than most muggers need to use the handgun pointed at their victims’ heads. Brandishing it usually is enough to convince an owner to give in.” The Wichita City Council, when considering TIF districts and other special tax districts, has been asked to explicitly disavow the use of eminent domain so that this threat is no longer available. But the mayor and council members will not extend that protection to citizens.

More ‘Economics in One Lesson.’ Next Monday (June 13) Americans For Prosperity Foundation is sponsoring a continuation of the DVD presentation of videos based on Henry Hazlitt’s classic work Economics in One Lesson. The event is Monday (June 13) at 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm at the Lionel D. Alford Library located at 3447 S. Meridian in Wichita. The library is just north of the I-235 exit on Meridian. The event’s sponsor is Americans for Prosperity, Kansas. For more information on this event contact John Todd at john@johntodd.net or 316-312-7335, or Susan Estes, AFP Field Director at sestes@afphq.org or 316-681-4415.

‘Running on Empty’ tour in Kansas. This week Americans for Prosperity Foundation is bringing the Running on Empty tour to Topeka (Thursday June 9th) and Kansas City (Friday June 10th). AFP writes: “Since President Obama took office, gas prices have nearly doubled. The administration refuses to develop American energy sources … American energy sources that could help gas prices, electricity prices, and food prices come down. Americans are running on empty and the administration needs to hear how regulations and restriction to domestic resources are affecting working families who rely on affordable energy to commute to work, go to school activities and shop for family groceries. Join us on the Running on Empty Tour to learn what executive actions the Administration can take to bring down fuel costs and bring stability to the market and send them your gas bill!” For more information on these two area events, click on National Running on Empty Tour to Stop in Topeka & Kansas City.

MRCTV announced. Media Research Center, a conservative media watchdog organization and think tank, has announced MRCTV, a video site. In its announcement, MRC wrote: “Many Conservatives have long felt that YouTube has two sets of rules, one for conservative videos and one for everyone else. Videos that are critical of liberals or present a conservative point of view are often mysteriously removed from YouTube. This is frustrating for everyone, but especially for conservative websites that rely on videos to get their message across. ”

Kansas census data added. The Institute for Policy & Social Research at KU has added 2010 U.S. Census data. Besides this, the institute holds much other data and resources. Click on Kansas Data.

Markets: exploitation or empowerment? Do markets lead to a centralization of political and economic power, or do markets decentralize and disseminate wealth? In an eight-minute video from LearnLiberty.org, a project of Institute for Humane Studies, Antony Davies presents evidence and concludes that markets and free trade empower individuals rather than exploit them.


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