Tag: Cronyism

Swamp refilling itself
Economics

Swamp refilling itself

Although there has been progress, cronyism and the swamp may be renewed in Washington. Right under the nose of a president who promised to drain the swamp, one of the government’s shadiest handouts to large banks and big companies looks like it will be renewed for another 25 years. It will not get adequate oversight and congressional review. All it will take is the approval of two out of three U.S. Export-Import Bank directors, who are political appointees. That entity is called the Private Export Funding Corporation, or PEFCO. Veronique de Rugy is a Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. She goes on to explain that PEFCO acquires Export-Import Bank loans from private lenders. (The Ex-Im Bank is its own universe of cronyism.) It gets complicated, but t...
The Making of the Wichita Mayor 2019
Wichita city government

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, and also GOP precinct committeemen in our respective west Wichita precincts. The mayor is now one of the most prominent Republican mayors in the entire cou...
Contribute to a campaign, get (nearly) free rent
Wichita city government

Contribute to a campaign, get (nearly) free rent

Citizens may not have noticed that a campaign contributor to Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell received a large benefit from the city this week. This Tuesday the Wichita City Council voted to amend an existing lease. In a nutshell, the city council voted to lease to a tenant 8,600 square feet of retail space for $1.00 per year. Not $1.00 per square foot per year, but $1.00 per year for all 8,600 square feet. That's for the first four years of the lease. Computed as rent per square foot, which is the common way to quote rent for commercial space, the rent is $0.00. Essentially free, that is. According to the lease, the rent will increase in future years, first to $1.16 per square foot, then to $2.33. The real estate is at 360 East William in downtown Wichita. It's on the north side of Willia...
For Wichita, another agenda surprise
Wichita city government

For Wichita, another agenda surprise

Wichita city hall again places a controversial matter on the consent agenda, where it might pass without notice. Should the City of Wichita lease part of a new park to a private entity for its exclusive use? That's what the Wichita City Council will consider this week. But there are issues apart from the lease itself. The subject of the item this week is Naftzger Park in downtown Wichita. The new building on the east side of the park has ground floor retail space, including a restaurant. To have an outdoor patio area in which alcohol is served, the restaurant's patio must be fenced in. Furthermore, the proposed patio sits on park land, which requires execution of a lease. The problem is that plans for the fenced patio were not known by the mayor, the city council, or the public until la...
Taxpayers will miss Richard Ranzau
Sedgwick county government

Taxpayers will miss Richard Ranzau

When a county commissioner's questions produce a reversal of the county manager's spending plans, you know we have good representation. That's what happened in 2013 when the county manager wanted to spend $47,000 to clear some trees. Commissioner Richard Ranzau thought the expense should be the responsibility of the neighborhood that would benefit from what he thought was a thinly-veiled request to shove off spending to the county. What did the county manager say after Ranzau's questions? “We got out in front of ourselves without doing much critical thinking, and I take full responsibility for that,” Sedgwick County Manager Bill Buchanan said. Good job, Richard Ranzau. You will be missed as a member of the Board of Sedgwick County Commissioners.
From Pachyderm: Robert L. Bradley, Jr.
Capitalism

From Pachyderm: Robert L. Bradley, Jr.

From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Robert L. Bradley, Jr. He is CEO and Founder of Institute for Energy Research, visiting fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs in London, and an adjunct scholar at both the Cato Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. His topic at the Pachyderm Club was "The Contra-Capitalist Corporation (In Search of Heroic Capitalism)." This audio recording was made on November 2, 2018. The accompanying visual presentation may be viewed here. Shownotes Institute for Energy Research and on Facebook Books by Robert Bradley: Enron Ascending: The Forgotten Years, 1984-1996, Capitalism at Work, Edison to Enron: Energy Markets and Political Strategies, Energy: The Master Resource.
More TIF spending in Wichita
Wichita city government

More TIF spending in Wichita

The Wichita City Council will consider approval of a redevelopment plan in a tax increment financing (TIF) district. This week the Wichita City Council will hold a public hearing considering approval of more tax increment financing (TIF) spending in downtown Wichita. The spending is for the second phase of redevelopment of the Union Station property on East Douglas. According to city documents, the total cost of this phase is $31,000,000, with TIF paying for $2,954,734. [1. Wichita city council agenda packet for September 11, 2018.] This is a pay-as-you-go form of TIF, which means the city does not borrow funds as it would in a traditional TIF district. Instead, the eligible portion of the developer's property taxes will be rerouted back to the development as they are paid. The TIF dist...
Taxers prefer Hugh Nicks for Sedgwick County Commission
Sedgwick county government

Taxers prefer Hugh Nicks for Sedgwick County Commission

Those who supported higher sales taxes in Wichita also support one Sedgwick County Commission District 4 Republican candidate exclusively. In 2014 the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, now known as the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce, managed a campaign to persuade voters to institute a sales tax in the City of Wichita. The sales tax was to be one cent per dollar for five years, estimated to raise about $400 million in total. Of that, $250 million was to pay for enhancing the ASR water supply project, $80 million for job creation, and lesser amounts for bus transit and street repair. The sales tax failed to pass, with 62 percent of voters saying no. Since then, the wisdom of voters in rejecting the tax has become evident. For example, the city has developed a plan to provide the sa...
For Hugh Nicks, a return to the backroom deal?
Sedgwick county government

For Hugh Nicks, a return to the backroom deal?

Remarks from a candidate for Sedgwick County Commission call for presenting a unified front to the public. Speaking to the Wichita Pachyderm Club, Sedgwick County Commission candidate Hugh Nicks called for leadership to end what he called "divisive behavior:" "We can’t have -- we can’t have the kind of divisive behavior that we have going on right now -- we just -- it’s just not -- it’s just not acceptable." His opponent in the August Republican Party primary election is Richard Ranzau, who currently holds the office. The "divisive behavior" that Nicks objects to takes several forms, but it's clear he thinks that the Sedgwick County Commission should present a united front: The commission should have a plan that's agreed to, and if commissioners don't follow the plan, there should be ...
In Wichita, spending semi-secret
Wichita city government

In Wichita, spending semi-secret

The Wichita City Council authorized the spending of a lot of money without discussion. At its March 27, 2018 meeting, the Wichita City Council passed a resolution authorizing the spending of funds for the River Vista development on the west bank of the Arkansas River in downtown. The agenda packet for the meeting gave the details: "The overall project budget is $7,862,999 with STAR Bonds financing $4,750,000 of the costs and the City financing $1,050,000. The balance of the project costs will be assessed against the Improvement District." (STAR bonds are a mechanism whereby future sales tax revenue is routed to the project developer, rather than paying for the cost of state and Sedgwick County government. The "Improvement District" is the development itself, and the "City" is, of cours...
Naftzger Park private use plans unsettled
Wichita city government

Naftzger Park private use plans unsettled

An important detail regarding Naftzger Park in downtown Wichita is unsettled, and Wichitans have reason to be wary. In the developer agreement regarding Naftzger Park passed on December 19, 2017, there was this: “The City and the Board will cooperate with Developers, upon Developers’ request, to create an Annual Master Calendar of private and public events for the Park, with the expectation that the Developers will have the use of the Park for certain private events.” [1. DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT between the CITY OF WICHITA, KANSAS, BOARD OF PARK COMMISSIONERS OF THE CITY OF WICHITA, KANSAS, SENECA PROPERTY, LLC, and SUNFLOWER WICHITA, LLC Dated as of January 19, 2018. Section 3.12. In the agenda packet for the December 19, 2017 Wichita city council meeting.] (In this agreement, "Board" refe...
Sedgwick County’s David Dennis on economic development
Sedgwick county government

Sedgwick County’s David Dennis on economic development

Following the Wichita Mayor, the Chair of the Sedgwick County Commission speaks on economic development. Last week Sedgwick County Commissioner David Dennis penned a column for the Wichita Eagle praising the county's efforts in economic development. [1. David Dennis. Sedgwick County part of drive to strengthen area workforce. Wichita Eagle, March 5, 2018. Available at http://www.kansas.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/article203559734.html.] Dennis is also chair of the commission this year. In his column, the commissioner wrote: "Economic development is a key topic for the Board of County Commissioners and for me in particular. Right now we have a lot of momentum to make our community a more attractive place for people and businesses." This emphasis on the word "momentum" seems to be a fad...
Naftzger Park concerts and parties?
Wichita city government

Naftzger Park concerts and parties?

In Wichita, a space for outdoor concerts may be created across the street from where amplified concerts are banned. One of the City of Wichita's stated purposes for the redesign of Naftzger Park in downtown Wichita is to, "create a continuous flex space for multi-use; i.e. Tai Chai, as well as other passive use activities including but not limited to weddings, concerts, performances, films, special celebrations and parties as well as quiet contemplation." [1. Request for Qualifications No. -- FP740043. Available at https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B97azj3TSm9MQ1ZVcXVsNVQ2dkE/view.] There may be a problem, however. Directly across the street from Naftzger Park lies Gallery Alley. This is a new development whereby an alley was converted to a space for events, like concerts. Not long after ...
Wichita WaterWalk contract not followed, again
Wichita city government

Wichita WaterWalk contract not followed, again

Wichita city hall failed to uphold the terms of a development agreement from five years ago, not monitoring contracts that protect the public interest. Two weeks ago a Wichita Eagle article reported on a 2002 public-private partnership that called for the private-sector company to submit an annual report to the city. But the company did not submit the reports, and the city didn't ask for them. The city did after the Eagle inquired. [1. Lefler, Dion. WaterWalk profit-sharing: 15 years, zero dollars for Wichita. Wichita Eagle, July 8, 2017. Available at http://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article160147944.html.] Much of the Eagle article described why current city officials were not aware of the 2002 agreement: "Due largely to turnover on the city staff and term limits on the Ci...
Wichita WaterWalk agreement not followed
Wichita city government

Wichita WaterWalk agreement not followed

Does the City of Wichita enforce its public-private partnership agreements? In some cases the city doesn't even ask for the information that is needed for enforcement. A Wichita Eagle article reports on a 2002 public-private partnership that called for the private-sector company to submit an annual report to the city. But the company did not submit the reports, and the city didn't ask for them. The city did after the Eagle inquired. [1. Lefler, Dion. WaterWalk profit-sharing: 15 years, zero dollars for Wichita. Wichita Eagle, July 8, 2017. Available at http://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article160147944.html.] The deal involves the city leasing land to a private developer for a project now known as WaterWalk. Part of the deal called for the city to possibly receive annual pay...
WichitaLiberty.TV: Dr. James Otteson on capitalism
WichitaLibertyTV

WichitaLiberty.TV: Dr. James Otteson on capitalism

In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Dr. James Otteson is executive director of the BB&T Center for the Study of Capitalism, the Thomas W. Smith Presidential Chair in Business Ethics, and Professor of Economics at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He was in Wichita to speak at the Bastiat Society and stopped by the WichitaLiberty.TV studios to discuss capitalism. Thank you to Raul Brito and the Bastiat Society for making him available. View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Episode 140, broadcast February 26, 2017. Shownotes James Otteson personal website James Otteson author page at Amazon BB&T Center for the Study of Capitalism at Wake Forest University Bastiat Society, Wichita Chapter
Year in Review: 2016
Politics

Year in Review: 2016

Here are highlights from Voice for Liberty for 2016. Was it a good year for the principles of individual liberty, limited government, economic freedom, and free markets in Wichita and Kansas? Also be sure to view the programs on WichitaLiberty.TV for guests like journalist, novelist, and blogger Bud Norman; Radio talk show host Joseph Ashby; David Bobb, President of Bill of Rights Institute; Heritage Foundation trade expert Bryan Riley; Radio talk show host Andy Hooser; Keen Umbehr; John Chisholm on entrepreneurship; James Rosebush, author of "True Reagan," Jonathan Williams of American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC); Gidget Southway, or Danedri Herbert; Lawrence W. Reed, president of the Foundation for Economic Education; and Congressman Mike Pompeo. January Kansas legislative res...
State pension cronyism
Politics

State pension cronyism

A new report details the way state pension funds harm workers and taxpayers through cronyism. Updated to accurately reflect the time period of the targeted investments. American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has released a report detailing the various ways state employee pension funds are harmed by cronyism. The report may be read at Keeping the Promise: Getting Politics Out of Pensions. The problem, ALEC reports, is: "Unfortunately, many lawmakers and pension plan officials have other priorities besides doing what is best for workers. They see the billions of pension fund dollars they manage as an opportunity to advance their own agendas. Rather than investing to earn the best return for workers, they use pension funds in a misguided attempt to boost their local economies, provid...
Wichita to grant property and sales tax relief
Wichita city government

Wichita to grant property and sales tax relief

Several large employers in Wichita ask to avoid paying millions in taxes, which increases the cost of government for everyone else, including young companies struggling to break through. This week the Wichita City Council will hold public hearings concerning the issuance of Industrial Revenue Bonds to Spirit AeroSystems, Inc and other companies.[1. City of Wichita. City Council agenda packet for December 6, 2016.] In the IRB program, government is not lending money, and Wichita taxpayers are not at risk if the bonds are not repaid. In fact, in the case of Spirit, the applicant company plans to purchase the bonds itself, according to city documents. Instead, the purpose of the IRB process is to allow Spirit to escape paying property taxes and, often, sales taxes. These bonds will allow Sp...
In Wichita, developer welfare under a cloud
Wichita city government

In Wichita, developer welfare under a cloud

A downtown Wichita project receives a small benefit from the city, with no mention of the really big money. Today the Wichita City Council approved a subsidy for a project in downtown Wichita. The city will lend the developer of a project at 303 S. Broadway $620,000 to improve the building's facade. The property must repay this amount through an assessment on its property tax. The benefit to the property is that the city is able to borrow money at a lower interest rate, and this reduces the cost of borrowing for the project. The agenda packet for this item states: "The Office of Urban Development has reviewed the economic (“gap”) analysis of the project and determined a financial need for incentives based on the current market." This stems from the city's policy on facade improvement pr...
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