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Because Government Should Have Accountability
Paul M. Weyrich, Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation (Click here to read the article.)
In an article from The Wichita Eagle published on May 3, 2005 titled "Ice rink figures don't add up, records show" we find this quote: "Ice Sports Wichita has been on a downward slide longer than the city staff admits in a report the City Council is scheduled to act on today, records show." These records were obtained through a request filed under the Kansas Open Records act. My understanding of this news story is that City of Wichita staff has been misleading everyone -- including the mayor and city council -- about the true state of the ice rink's financial affairs. If not for the reporters who obtained the records, this deception might be continuing.
The commentary by Paul M. Weyrich referenced above contains examples of where the Federal Freedom of information Act has been used to uncover governmental misdeeds. The article also mentions a bill titled the OPEN Government Act, designed to "ensure that government acts promptly and efficiently in responding to FOIA requests."
Mr. Van Williams, Wichita Eagle city hall reporter for the past three years, will become Wichita's public information coordinator.
I believe there needs to be a tension between the press and the government officials it covers. The press needs to hold officials accountable. It needs to dig deep to uncover facts officials don't voluntarily concede. It needs to ask them tough questions. It needs to make them angry from time to time.
Would the City of Wichita hire someone who had been doing that?
I was startled to hear this information, that the new contract has no dollar cap, as this has not been, in my memory, reported. It has been reported that AirTran sought a no-cap contract, but that Wichita would not agree to that. But it turns out that the city has agreed to what, in effect, is a no-cap contract. Yes, I believe Mr. Bell when he says that Wichita can cancel the contract, with notice, if the city believes it will spend more than the $2.5 million it has committed to. I would submit, however, that if the City spends the $2.5 million and realizes it needs to spend more to keep AirTran in town, the City Council would vote to do so. Therefore, the no-cap contract is in effect.
Do you think there exists a single person who knows how to make a lead pencil? In this article, Mr. Read shows us how there is no one who knows even a small fraction of what is necessary to produce even this simple, everyday item.
How, then, does a lead pencil come to be manufactured? Through the uncoordinated actions of many people, each exchanging their own small amount of knowledge for something else they want.
In this short article we learn the simple mechanism that makes our economy work so well. Interference with that mechanism is not only harmful, it is immoral.
TOPEKA -- Alan Cobb, director of the Kansas chapter of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, today released the following statement in response to the briefs filed in the State vs. Montoy case currently before the Kansas Supreme Court:
"As questions and concerns swirl about whether or not the Kansas Supreme Court can order a statewide tax increase, we applaud Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline for putting this issue to rest.
In a brief filed yesterday with the court and in response to questions from reporters, AG Kline said clearly that the Kansas Supreme Court does not have the authority to impose taxes or raises the current level of taxation.
From the summary of the brief filed by the Attorney General:
"The Kansas Constitution Prohibits the Supreme Court from Raising Taxes and Prohibits any Expenditure from the State General Fund from Occurring Unless Authorized by Laws Passed by the Legislature." (emphasis added)
The bottom line is that the Legislature has the responsibility to tax and to fund schools appropriately. They've met that burden.
The Kansas Legislature and the Attorney General understand that our state's taxpayers suffer the 15th worst state and local tax burden in the nation as a percentage of income. That's an even heavier tax burden than citizens in the notoriously high-tax states of California and Massachusetts must carry! Also, our ranking this year is twice as bad as it was 20 years ago, when we ranked a much better 31st.
Knightfall: Knight Ridder and How the Erosion of Newspaper Journalism Is Putting Democracy At Risk
Amacom Books, 2005
The theme of this book, written by a former editor of The Wichita Eagle is that over the past few decades, the business of making newspapers has changed from a business unlike any other to a business just like all others, and we are not well served by this change.
Last time I wrote a letter to the Wichita Eagle for publication, I said that I learned my lesson, which was that I needed to be brief. I didn't learn this lesson well.
By Karl Peterjohn, Kansas Taxpayers Network
Kansas is in a decline. This state is shrinking relative to its peers in the other 49 states. However, some might say, and with some degree of accuracy, that this trend is nothing new. It is clear that the size and impact of this decline is likely to shape this state throughout the first part of the 21st century.
April 21 the U.S. Census Department issued projections for population growth showing that Kansas population will grow at less than 1/3 of the rate of the rest of the country over the next 25 years. This followed Census data showing that over 3/4 of the Kansas counties have lost population since the 2000 census.
In an editorial in The Wichita Eagle published on April 19, 2005, Randy Scholfield writes: "Wichita should stick to its subsidies. They're fostering competition, not stifling it, and paying off big-time for the community by lowering airfares and boosting economic development."
By Alan Cobb, Americans For Prosperity Kansas State Director
Many would describe that much of rural Kansas is in decline. Nearly 60 percent of the counties in Kansas have lost population just since 1990. Over half of Kansasâ€™ counties have fewer residents today than 1900.
Just this week the Associated Press reported that stated Kansas is in real danger of losing a Congressional seat during the next reapportionment because of anemic population growth. Kansas population growth from 2000 to 2004 was only 1.7 percent while the nation as a whole grew 4.3 percent. Kansasâ€™ annual growth of less than one-half of one percent should startle anyone concerned about the future of our fine State.
There are three numbers that everyone at the statehouse knows who follows Kansas government: 63, 21, and one. You must have 63 votes to pass a bill out of the Kansas House of Representatives, 21 votes to pass a bill out of the Kansas Senate, and the governor's signature to turn a bill into law.
At the time when we have voted on a major issue that was framed in terms of morality, when we have prominent preachers attempting to impose their version of morality on us through the power of government, when we have a mayor who opposes certain businesses for moral reasons, and we have government at all levels spending more and more, we should remember that government is not the basis of morality. In fact, the growth of government has displaced morality. James A. Dorn of The Cato Institute explains why in this article: The Rise of Government and the Decline of Morality.
Following are remarks I am delivering to several groups, including the Wichita City Council, in April 2005.
WELCOME NEW COUNCIL MEMBERS
I AM OLD AND SICK AND GETTING GRAY
I DON'T KNOW WHERE I WILL GET THE MONEY THAT THE CITY WANTS ME TO PAY
There might not be funds for public school classrooms but for 15 Kansas school districts there is money for financing lawsuits. Since the 1998-99 school year, $2,095,020 has been spent in public funds to pay for the school finance litigation and lawsuit.
Mr. Clements's article makes a striking conclusion as to why airfares in Wichita were so high. I would be curious as to whether any of our government leaders have read the study. We should also ask why our government leaders are not performing research like this when they propose to spend large sums of taxpayer money.
Government spending replaces the judgment of the market with the judgment of politicians. The judgment of the market refers to the billions of decisions that we collectively make each day, decisions that we freely make, that we believe will advance our self-interest. That is to say, the market is characterized by mutual agreement and voluntary consent.
From the introduction to an analysis by the Tax Foundation:
The state of Colorado is under assault. Opponents of Colorado's Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) are waging a well coordinated but misleading attack on Colorado's reputation. This attack takes the form of a number of rankings and statistics that purport to show that the Taxpayer Bill of Rights has decimated Colorado. These rankings and statistics are based on the assumption that if Colorado ranks poorly on things like the adequacy of prenatal care and education spending, then Colorado is failing to adequately care for and educate its citizens, and that the Taxpayer Bill of Rights must be to blame. A closer look at the attacks shows that they fail to prove that the amount a state spends on health care and education determines quality, and they also fail to tell the whole truth about the rankings and statistics of the state of Colorado.
The full article is here: An Analysis of Misleading Attacks on Colorado's Taxpayer Bill of Rights