Carl Brewer

Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer

Wichita to Ghana, again

Wichita to Ghana, again

News of a Sedgwick County Commissioner's trip to Africa has raised some controversy, and something like this has been tried before. The Wichita Eagle reported this regarding Sedgwick County Commissioner Lacy Cruse's visit to the West Africa country Ghana: "She said she focused her efforts on economic opportunities related to aviation and education. She said she talked to Ghana’s minister of aviation about potentially establishing an aviation school and setting up an aviation maintenance shop at the Tamale International Airport in Ghana. She didn’t make any formal deals on behalf of the county or any local companies. She said forming…
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Longwell: ‘There is no corruption’

Longwell: ‘There is no corruption’

Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell says there is no corruption involving him, but this is only because of loose and sloppy Kansas and Wichita laws. In an advertisement in the November 3, 2019 Wichita Eagle, Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell defended himself against charges of corruption. Referring to a recent investigation by the Sedgwick County District Attorney, the ad states: In 2018 and 2017, Bennett found I was 100% compliant. In 2016 he found only one instance where I was $21.33 over the annual $500 threshold allowed for "goods and services" received from local companies. Here's what the District Attorney found in…
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The Making of the Wichita Mayor 2019

The Making of the Wichita Mayor 2019

The Making of the Wichita Mayor 2019 By Karl Peterjohn There are eight major lessons for Wichita voters when they cast their ballots on or before November 5, 2019, concerning the revelations of favoritism involving the mayor, apparently a majority of the city council, and a number of Wichita businesses and businessmen concerning a proposed massive city water plant contract that is close to half a billion dollars. The Wichita Eagle’s detailed reporting on this proposed contract, Mayor Longwell’s role deserves scrutiny at several different levels. Let me begin with full disclosure. Both Mayor Longwell and I are registered Republicans,…
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City code on ethical conduct in Wichita

Wichita has a city code governing ethical conduct by council members, but it seems to have no teeth. Here's an excerpt from the Wichita city code as passed in 2008 (full section below): "[Council members] shall refrain from making decisions involving business associates, customers, clients, friends and competitors." When asked about a specific application of this city law relating to former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, the Wichita city attorney supplied this interpretation: Related to the Mayor's participation in the item, yes, City Code advises Council members to "refrain from making decisions involving business associates, customers, clients, friends and competitors. ...…
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King of Freight move a step sideways

King of Freight move a step sideways

A Wichita firm plans to move its offices to what was billed as the city's premier entertainment district. King of Freight, a Wichita freight brokerage firm, is planning to move its operations to the vacant Gander Mountain building in WaterWalk. This requires a modification to the lease of the land. It's important to recognize that King of Freight is not the tenant in the lease. The landlord is the City of Wichita. The tenant is WaterWalk LLC, a Kansas limited liability company, whose president is Jack P. DeBoer. The lease covers only the land, not the building. The city does…
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On big contracts, Wichita has had problems

On big contracts, Wichita has had problems

As Wichita prepares to award a large construction contract, let's hope the city acts in an ethical manner this time. As the Wichita City Council prepares to make a decision regarding a contract for the new baseball stadium, the council's past reputation in these matters can't be overlooked. The controversy over the stadium contract has been covered by the Wichita Eagle: "The Wichita City Council hasn’t officially approved a design-build team for the city’s new $75 million Minor League ballpark, but there’s already been a protest over the recommended group. ... At issue in a protest by a competing team…
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Education gap on Wichita City Council

Education gap on Wichita City Council

Currently there is discussion in Wichita on whether higher education is valued by residents. Following, from April 2011, a look at the educational achievement of the Wichita City Council. The members of the council cited below were Lavonta Williams, Sue Schlapp, Jim Skelton, Paul Gray, Jeff Longwell, and Janet Miller. Carl Brewer was mayor. Before Jim Skelton left the council in January, none of the four men serving on the Wichita City Council had completed a college degree. The three women serving on the council set a better example, with all three holding college degrees. Of the candidates running in…
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Wichita being sued, alleging improper handling of bond repayment savings

Wichita being sued, alleging improper handling of bond repayment savings

A lawsuit claims that when the City of Wichita refinanced its special assessment bonds, it should have passed on the savings to the affected taxpayers, and it did not do that. A lawsuit filed in Sedgwick County District Court charges that the City of Wichita improperly handled the savings realized when it refinanced special assessment bonds at a lower interest rate. The case is 2018-CV-001567-CF, filed on July 13, 2018, and available here. The suit names David L. Snodgrass and Leslie J. Snodgrass as plaintiffs, and a long list of defendants, namely: The City of Wichita, Kansas Wichita City Manager…
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A Wichita social media town hall

A Wichita social media town hall

A City of Wichita town hall meeting ends in less than nine minutes, with a question pending and unanswered. As part of its engagement with citizens, the City of Wichita holds social media town hall meetings. On June 20, 2107, there was a Facebook town hall on the topic of economic development featuring Assistant City Manager Scot Rigby. His charge is "developing and implementing a coordinated and comprehensive development services program and for developing, implementing and overseeing economic development, redevelopment and real estate programs and projects." He's worked for the city for two years. [2. City of Wichita. Assistant City…
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Bizarre and troubling Wichita city council meetings

Bizarre and troubling Wichita city council meetings

Inside jokes or a public shaming: Either way, it isn't good. Those who watch meetings of the Wichita City Council may have become accustomed to Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell and his unusual sense of humor. But an episode from the September 6, 2016 meeting of the council goes beyond bad and unfunny humor, presenting an unfavorable image of our city to anyone watching the meeting. The target of the mayor's humor -- or derision -- is Wichita city manager Robert Layton. A video excerpt of the meeting is available here, or at the end of this article. The mayor's treatment…
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A look at a David Dennis campaign finance report

A look at a David Dennis campaign finance report

It's interesting to look at campaign finance reports. Following, a few highlights on a report from the David Dennis campaign. He's a candidate for Sedgwick County Commission in the August Republican Party primary election. The report was filed July 25, 2016, covering the period from January 1, 2016 through July 21, 2016. These reports are available online at the Sedgwick County Election Office website. Keith Stevens, $200 A longtime Democrat community activist, always on the side of higher taxes and more government spending. Suzanne F. Ahlstrand, $250 Gary & Cathy Schmitt, $100 Jon E. Rosell, $100 Charlie Chandler, Maria Chandler,…
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Wichita city council campaign finance reform

Wichita city council campaign finance reform

Some citizen activists and Wichita city council members believe that a single $500 campaign contribution from a corporation has a corrupting influence. But stacking dozens of the same $500 contributions from executives and spouses of the same corporation? Not a problem. On December 1, 2015 the Wichita City Council considered an ordinance regarding campaign finance for city elections. A Wichita Eagle article on the topic started with: "A proposed change in city ordinance would allow corporations, labor unions and political action committees to have a greater influence on Wichita politics. For years, city elections have remained insulated from the power…
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Despite growth of sharing economy, Wichita relies on centralization

Despite growth of sharing economy, Wichita relies on centralization

The sharing economy provides for the decentralization and privatization of regulation, but the City of Wichita clings to the old ways. In May the Wichita Eagle printed a letter from a Wichitan describing his recent cab ride from the airport: "I got in the cab to go home, and that turned out to be the most offensive encounter of my trip. The driver was dressed perfectly for slopping hogs. The cab plainly stank. There were spills, trash, crumbs, scuzzy windows, sticky door panels. Ugh." Not having been in a taxicab in Wichita for some years, I was surprised to learn…
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In Wichita, open records relief may be on the way

In Wichita, open records relief may be on the way

A new law in Kansas may provide opportunities for better enforcement of the Kansas Open Records Act. This year the Kansas Legislature passed HB 2256, captioned as "An act concerning public bodies or agencies; relating to the state of Kansas and local units of government; providing certain powers to the attorney general for investigation of violations of the open records act and the open meetings act; attorney general’s open government fund ..." The good part of this law is that it provides additional enforcement options when citizens feel that government agencies are not complying with the Kansas Open Records Law.…
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In Wichita, bad governmental behavior excused

In Wichita, bad governmental behavior excused

A Wichita newspaper op-ed is either ignorant of, or decides to forgive and excuse, bad behavior in Wichita government, particularly by then-mayoral candidate Jeff Longwell. In a column just before the April 2015 Wichita election, Bill Wilson, managing editor of the Wichita Business Journal, reported on fallacies during the mayoral campaign, fallacies he called "glaring." [6. Wichita Business Journal, 2015. 'Bill Wilson: Campaign 2015 -- To Tell The Truth'. Accessed May 14 2015. http://www.bizjournals.com/wichita/print-edition/2015/04/03/bill-wilson-campaign-2015-to-tell-the-truth.html.] But only a juvenile interpretation of the facts surrounding the events could find them fallacious. This is especially troubling since Wilson covered city hall as a…
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WichitaLiberty.TV: Kansas revenue and spending, initiative and referendum, and rebuliding liberty

WichitaLiberty.TV: Kansas revenue and spending, initiative and referendum, and rebuliding liberty

In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: The Kansas Legislature appears ready to raise taxes instead of reforming spending. Wichita voters have used initiative and referendum, but voters can’t use it at the state level. A look at a new book “By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission.” View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Episode 83, broadcast May 3, 2015.
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Wichita economic development policies questioned

Wichita economic development policies questioned

One of the themes of the recent Wichita mayoral campaign was the need to restore trust in city hall. Following, from April 2013, an example of how city hall has created the trust deficit. Although this story was covered nowhere but here, it it exemplary of how Wichita city hall operates. Since then the city's economic development director has retired, but we have the same city manager and nearly all the same council members, with one having moved up to mayor. For an update on this story, see Wichita: No such document. At Tuesday's meeting of the Wichita City Council,…
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Wichita has examples of initiative and referendum

Wichita has examples of initiative and referendum

Citizens in Wichita have been busy exercising their rights of initiative and referendum at the municipal level. The Kansas Legislature should grant the same rights to citizens at the state level. What recourse do citizens have when elected officials are not responsive? Initiative and referendum are two possibilities. Citizens in Wichita have exercised these rights, but Kansans are not able to do this at the state level. Initiative is when citizens propose a new law, and then gather signatures on petitions. If a successful petition is filed, the matter is (generally) placed on a ballot for the electorate to decide…
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Downtown Wichita deal shows some of the problems with the Wichita economy

In this script from a recent episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: A look at the Wichita city council’s action regarding a downtown Wichita development project and how it is harmful to Wichita taxpayers and the economy. This is from episode 77, originally broadcast March 8, 2015. View the episode here. This week a downtown Wichita project received many economic benefits such as free sales taxes and a bypass of Wichita’s code of conduct for city council members. The issue had to do with tax increment financing, or TIF. This is a method of economic development whereby property taxes are routed back to…
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