For Wichita, no election news is good politics

After last week’s election results in Wichita in which voters canceled an ordinance passed by the city council, I noticed there was no mention of the election results on the city’s website. So I dashed off a note to several responsible authorities, writing this:

“I notice that the city’s website carries no news on the results of the February 28th election. Is this oversight unintentional? Or does the city intend to continue spending its taxpayer-funded news producing efforts on stories with headlines like ‘Valentine’s at Mid-Continent Airport,’ ‘Rain Garden Workshops in February,’ and ‘Firefighter Receives Puppy Rescued at Fire Scene’?”

It’s not as though city staff doesn’t have time to produce a story on the election. The city’s public affairs department employs 15 people with an annual budget of some $1.3 million. While some of these employees are neighborhood assistants, there are still plenty of people who could spend an hour or two writing a story announcing the results of the February 28th election.

Except: That doesn’t fit in with the city’s political strategy. That strategy appears to be to ignore the results of the election, or to characterize the election as a narrowly-focused referendum on one obscure economic development tool.

At one time, however, the attitude of city hall was that the election was over the entire future of downtown Wichita. Mayor Carl Brewer said the election would cause “turmoil inside the community, unrest.” Council member Pete Meitzner (district 2, east Wichita) said we needed to have an early election date so “avoid community discourse and debate.” He later backpedaled from these remarks.

But now that city hall and its allies lost the election, the issue is now cast as having been very narrow, after all. Citizens aren’t against economic development incentives, they say. They’re just against hotel guest tax rebates.

This narrow interpretation illustrates — again — that we have a city council, city hall bureaucracy, and allied economic development machinery that is totally captured by special interests. Furthermore, the revealed purpose of the city’s public affairs department, including its television channel, is now seen as the promotion of Wichita city government, not Wichita and its citizens. These are two very different things.


6 thoughts on “For Wichita, no election news is good politics”

  1. If the council doesn’t understand what this election said then they are dumber than I thought.

  2. The Wichita Eagle editorial board also did not say much except from some cautionary comments about the future of the ill-fated downtown projects. Mayor Brewer and his acolytes are in charge of the worse economy in the history of Wichita.

  3. Hi, the city council doesn’t want to understand what the election said. They won’t understand when and if they aren’t elected again.

    Later

    Mike?

  4. My how things change… I thought that the Public Affairs department was 3 or maybe 5 people. What on Earth do 15 people do?

    There may be a logical answer to this, but I cannot imagine what would justify 15 full-time employees in that department.

    You could publish a daily newspaper with less staff than that! And at $1.3 million, are the taxpayers really getting a good return on that investment?

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