A message from Bob Weeks, campaign chair of Tax Fairness for All Wichitans, upon the campaign’s victory of 62 percent to 38 percent in an election regarding a tax rebate to the Ambassador Hotel:
First, I’d like to thank my campaign leadership team and all the volunteers. Many started working in October by carrying the petition and gathering signatures, sometimes in cold and windy winter weather. My job as campaign chair was made much easier through the efforts of dedicated people like Susan Estes, John Todd, Derrick Sontag, and the many others who helped.
Usually, winning an election is a happy time. In most elections the winning side is happy because they elected a candidate to office who they feel has the better ideas.
I’m glad we won. But my happiness is tempered by the realization that we simply prevented something bad from happening in Wichita.
I’m proud that the electorate responded positively to our accurate and truthful campaign. When citizens have the facts, they make the right decision.
Going forward, I’d like to remind Wichitans that the Ambassador Hotel is receiving assistance from eight taxpayer-funded government programs with costs of $15.4 million up-front and several hundred thousand annually. None of these were affected by the election. Wichita city hall and its allies are ready, willing, and able to use these incentive programs in the future for other hotels and businesses.
So to the extent that these economic development programs actually help Wichita, they are still available, and will likely be used.
But we feel these programs are not wise. Often, we’ve found that they’re not needed. And when used, they direct public investment to where politicians and bureaucrats want it, not where people want it.
The best way to create jobs is to get government out of the way. Instead of entrepreneurs spending resources applying for grants, finding government programs and taking handouts, we would be much better off if they could directly invest those resources in job creation. That is what the voters said tonight.
We need to reform our economic development efforts. Our present methods, which are just about the same as most other cities, are not working. We need to realize that there are several long-serving politicians and bureaucrats that have presided over this failure.
These people have presided over the system of political cronyism that passes for economic development in Wichita. Politicians like Mayor Carl Brewer and most members of the Wichita City Council pocket thousands in campaign contributions from opportunists like David Burk and David Wells, who are partners in the Ambassador Hotel project. These people make contributions to those they know are in a position to vote to give them money.
This is such a foul system that we need pay-to-play laws to reform it. I’m suggesting that Kansas pass such a law, and name it “Davids’ Law.”
I hope that Wichita City Hall, the economic development machinery in our city, and the Wichita Eagle editorial board will be more receptive to the message of economic freedom, free markets, and limited government that was expressed in the results of this election.