ACLU leader to speak in Wichita. On Friday (February 11) the speaker at the meeting of the Wichita Pachyderm Club will be Doug Bonney, who is Chief Council and Legal Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri. His topic will be “150 Years of Kansas Liberty.” This speaking invitation has caused a bit of controversy, with some Pachyderm Club members — and non-members — criticizing the selection of a speaker whose group is associated with liberal political causes. But the invitation is in line with the club’s mission of political education, as stated on the national Pachyderm website: “To promote practical political education and the dissemination of information on our political system.” Previous speakers who don’t fit the club’s Republican Party affinity have included Democrats WSU political science professor Dr. Mel Kahn and Kansas school board member Dr. Walt Chappell, and Jack Cole of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, whose mission is to end the war on drugs. All these speakers provided valuable information and education. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.
Information added to KansasOpenGov.org. KansasOpenGov.org, a government transparency initiative provided by the Kansas Policy Institute, has added new sections of data to its offerings. Added this week are checkbook and payroll registers for school districts in Topeka, Wichita, Great Bend, Colby, and Pittsburg. An interesting observation: Wichita has two union stewards on the payroll. The Wichita school district says the cost of compensation, benefits, etc. are reimbursed by the union, but while serving as union employees, they continue to build up seniority and earn credit towards their taxpayer-funded pensions. More information from KPI is at More districts added — taxpayers have new tools.
“The Citizen” launches. This week a new print newspaper launched covering Kansas City and the states of Kansas and Missouri. It’s available in an online version, too. Named the citizen, it describes itself as “We’re a new monthly newspaper for the Kansas City metro area. Our first issue is available right now. Are we biased? Yes — just like every other newspaper and magazine. Are we different? Yes — because we’re not afraid to admit that things like a love of freedom and a belief in personal responsibility matter, and they inform what we choose to cover. We’re free to readers and ad-supported.”
Limits on state agency advertising proposed. Kansas state treasurer Ron Estes has proposed a ban on appearances by elected officials in public service announcements using state resources 60 days before an election. This was an issue before last year’s election in November, mostly for the treasurer and secretary of state contests. Said Estes: “These public service announcements are intended to educate the citizens of Kansas on the programs available by the state to help serve their best interests. They are not intended to serve as a free campaign commercial for an incumbent before an election.” More information is here. After this issue is handled, I propose a next step: reigning in the agency websites, which functioned as campaign billboards for most elected state agency heads.
Wichita lame ducks to take junket. As The Wichita Eagle’s Rhonda Holman explains, Wichita city council members with less than a month left to serve should not be traveling to conferences whose nominal mission is to help them be better council members. But Paul Gray, Sue Schlapp and Roger Smith will do just that, based on action taken in yesterday’s council meeting. As Holman writes: “All governing boards should curb junkets for members approaching the exits. Taxpayers should not have to subsidize the air travel, hotel rooms and networking and schmoozing of elected officials whose service is all but over.”