Sedgwick County Manager Bill Buchanan should be dismissed

Last year a political science professor, a keen observer of Kansas politics, told me that city or county managers shouldn’t be in office more than four or five years. After that, he said, they gain too much power. They know too much: all the secrets, where the bodies are buried. Think of J. Edgar Hoover and his reign.

If managers are to serve their councils or commissions — instead of the other way around — sometimes a change needs to be made, just for the sake of change.

This alone is enough reason for change in the Sedgwick County manager’s office after 18 years of manager Bill Buchanan.

There are reasons specific to Mr. Buchanan, too, that argue for his dismissal.

Two Sedgwick County commissioners have told me of frustrations with getting information from the county manager’s office or other county offices and departments. If legislators — that’s the role of the county commissioners — don’t have access to information, they can’t make good laws. They can’t do their job.

Another reason to remove Buchanan is his opposition to the property tax reform measure Proposition K. Opposing reform allows him to make empty boasts as he did in his 2006 Wichita Eagle op-ed in support of a property tax increase: “Sedgwick County has worked through difficult times in the past eight years without raising the mill levy.” Rapidly rising assessments allow rising spending without tax increases. He knows that.

Finally, there’s Buchanan’s relationship with the business community, which, according to his many prominent supporters, is the reason why the county needs him.

There is a vigorous campaign led by the Wichita Chamber of Commerce‘s Bryan Derreberry in support of Buchanan. A commenter on a Wichita Eagle story referred to the “pro-business Buchanan.” Unfortunately, “pro-business” doesn’t mean “pro-capitalism.” In Wichita and Sedgwick County, many businessmen choose to operate not by competing in free markets, but by gaining favor at Wichita City Hall or the Sedgwick County Courthouse. This favor comes in the form of TIF districts, industrial revenue bonds, STAR bonds, forgivable loans, subsidy, outright grants, historic and other tax credits, and other incentives and programs. While much of this originates in Wichita City Hall, the county approves of most of it, and in some cases, gives its explicit or implicit consent or manages the program.

Derreberry and his chamber are for all of these programs that enrich business at the expense of consumers, taxpayers, and free market competition. That’s why the chamber opposed Commissioner Karl Peterjohn last year in his bid for election. Its political action committee spent a huge sum — nearly half of its entire political budget — in favor of Peterjohn’s opponent.

By all accounts and by his own words, Mr. Buchanan favors all this government interventionism.

For these reasons, the Sedgwick County Commission should dismiss their county manager.


16 thoughts on “Sedgwick County Manager Bill Buchanan should be dismissed”

  1. Mr. Weeks…this is an excellent assessment of the situation. If Buchanan is dismissed I certainly hope there is a laundry list provided as the ‘powers that be’ will most certainly not respect the decision.

  2. A Hispanic caseworker (whistle blower) was fired by Mr. Buchanan from the Comcare team dealing with immigrant families when the case worker reported sexual advances by a Comcare supervisor towards some of his case families. In addition, Mr. Buchanan has had several women complain about his sexual advances.

  3. County Commissioners have a golden opportunity to dismiss Mr. Buchanan ,and if they are unable to take this action, all of the Commissioners who support his ousting will not be re-elected because Mr. Buchanan will leak derogatory information to the media about the non-supporters; support their opponents behind the scene; and “box-them-in” with suggestions for future issues that will damage their re-election efforts.

  4. It’s funny, actually sad, how little you know about how county government works yet espouse such rhetoric only to promote your libertarian agenda. What “keen” observer would this be? What credentials does this observer have?

    Buchanan has done a fine job for this county. Don’t see you going after Kelly Parks for trying to organize a labor union of county employees or did you turn away a selective blind eye? What about his latest attempt to run a management company for the Coliseum without properly vetting it.

    It’s equally amusing when proponents of Prop K start talking. Anyone who KNOWS real estate and/or the process of how valuations and assessments work isn’t very supportive of Prop K. Valuations based upon “average” fundamentally says that they are not equitable. Someone is paying more, someone less than their fair share. That’s what an average is. Right thoughts, wrong solution.

    As to the business community, you keep implying that someone the business community is a bunch of crooks. They pay income taxes, personal property taxes, property taxes, wages, income withholdings, Social Security, health insurance and many other expenses. I don’t think that the “business” community is less capitialistic than any other segment of the community. They are in it to make a profit just like the rest of us. Keep that mantra up, and folks will think you’re more socialistic than you let on.

  5. I doubt the two Commissioners you site are having a hard time getting information from Bill Buchanan. He’s as good and professional as they come. They’re probably just not getting what they WANT to hear. That’s their problem, not Buchanan’s.

  6. Since when are business people our enemies? Don’t we all work for someone? Don’t those business owners have a right to represent what they believe is best for our local government without being demonized?

  7. Since when do political science professors really know anything about professional government management? Don’t you remember Prof Ed Flentje serving as interim City Manager? That was a debacle — a complete failure. And Prof Joe Pisciotte as a City Council person? Same mess. Bob, not sure political science professors are your best sources here.

  8. If there is just cause to dismiss Buchanan, then that should be discussed. None of what you have suggested, Bob, is just cause and I am not in favor of Buchanan’s dismissal.

  9. Ruben July 22, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    A Hispanic caseworker (whistle blower) was fired by Mr. Buchanan from the Comcare team dealing with immigrant families when the case worker reported sexual advances by a Comcare supervisor towards some of his case families. In addition, Mr. Buchanan has had several women complain about his sexual advances.

    If this assertions are true this is cause for Buchanan to be fired.

    This post isn’t anti-business it shows the inequity in the system. Businesses are given incentives to come and park their business through lower or non-existent taxes while the Kansas taxpayers foot a higher portion of the tax bill.

    I am not against lower taxes for companies or other incentives to get them to come to Kansas but there comes a time when enough is enough. How long do we continue to give AirTrans money to keep them here? How about the sums of money Kansas gave Boeing, only to have them lay off 10% of their workforce.

    As for Buchanan being against Prop K. He isn’t listening to most folks….I don’t need a millage increase because my house is reappraised every year causing my property taxes to increase. We moved into our home last August, making no improvements and we got our tax bill and guess what? Our taxes had gone up. If the millage rate changes….taxes will be even higher! We might as well move Kansas to the East Coast…or Left Coast because we will be just like them.

    I am from the East Coast…as is my husband…why do you think we live in Kansas…. our house in Georgia was valued at around $40,000 our property taxes were more than $750 per year…comparatively speaking we get much more house for our taxes here in Kansas.

    If the millage rate increases under Buchanan and others, our spending will increase. When they money sudden;y isn’t enough….Buchanan and others will want to raise millage rates…and it becomes a viscious cycle.

    I get little county support in my neck of the woods. A local farmer scrapes the road. As a matter of fact we have to maintain ditches, etc…that are supposed to county maintained. Why? I don’t know. For us that requires spending money to rent equipment to dig the ditches, etc….
    As for the schools…my kids are in their late 20s…

    I get little for my county taxes so no to millage rate increases!

  10. I’am sure glade that I don’t live in Sedgwick country, becasuse of this. why don’t the people of Sedgwick Co. raise up and demand that they get rid of him. keep the heat on till they do.
    Bye Carol B.

  11. Commissioner Peterjohn should have supported the other two commissioners in the ousting of Mr. Buchanan. The business community promised Peterjohn their support in his re-election if he supported Buchanan….it will not happen! Now, the Chamber group will “crank up” their Political Action committee and financially support opponents against Welshimer and Parks. Once they get rid of them, their attention will turn against Peterjohn.

  12. “The strong man taketh it by force” I am soooo tired of being hit with increased taxes and rate increases. It seems like all the powers that be are in a race to see who can get the first bite of our paychecks. We have taxation without proper representation. There are too many secret deals in Sedgwick County. If I am going to be made financially responsible for every deal made, I should have a vote, at least. Who do these people think they are? Maybe some of the corruption will be exposed and shown for what it is as a result of continued taxation and nickle and dime theft. Sedgwick County government has become a mini Washington D.C..

  13. Many of the “good ole boys” club business people using public funds, i.e. Star Bonds, forgivable loans, etc. aren’t entrepreneurs, they are “publicpreneurs”.

    Mr Weeks. Have you read the book, Free Lunch ?

  14. I can’t recall the name at this time. However, I believe the downtown library has 5 copies of it. I purchased my copy at a local bookseller.

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