Jim Skelton

Sedgwick County Commissioner and former Wichita City Council Member Jim Skelton

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…
Read More
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…
Read More
A Wichita Shocker, redux

A Wichita Shocker, redux

Based on events in Wichita, the Wall Street Journal wrote "What Americans seem to want most from government these days is equal treatment. They increasingly realize that powerful government nearly always helps the powerful ..." But Wichita's elites don't seem to understand this. Three years ago from today the Wall Street Journal noted something it thought remarkable: a "voter revolt" in Wichita. Citizens overturned a decision by the Wichita City Council regarding an economic development incentive awarded to a downtown hotel. It was the ninth layer of subsidy for the hotel, and because of our laws, it was the only…
Read More
Wichita drops taxpayer protection clause

Wichita drops taxpayer protection clause

To protect itself against self-defeating appeals of property valuation in tax increment financing districts, the City of Wichita once included a protective clause in developer agreements. But this consideration is not present in two proposed agreements. When the Wichita Eagle reported that a downtown developer represented himself as an agent of the city in order to cut his taxes on publicly owned property he leases in the Old Town Cinema Plaza, city officials were not pleased. The property in question is located in a tax increment financing district. Incremental tax revenue from the property is earmarked for paying off bonds…
Read More
Sedgwick County elections: Commissioners

Sedgwick County elections: Commissioners

In Sedgwick County, two fiscally conservative commission candidates prevailed. This year three of the five positions on the Sedgwick County Board of Commissioners are up for election. Unlike the Wichita city Council, Sedgwick County commissioners run as members of a party, and compete in both primary and general elections. There can be independent and third-party candidates too. This year for one of the Sedgwick County commission districts the incumbent Republican ran unopposed. But in two other districts, there were spirited contests. In district four, which covers north-central and northwest Wichita, Maize, Valley Center, and Park City, incumbent Richard Ranzau was…
Read More

Wichita’s evaluation of development team should be reconsidered

In an effort to avoid mistakes made in the past and inspire confidence in the process, parties wishing to receive economic development subsidies for projects in downtown Wichita are evaluated on a variety of measures. The evaluation matrix released for a project to be considered next week by the Wichita City Council, however, ought to be recalculated. City documents describe one of two competing projects as this: "River Vista is proposed by River Vista LLC, a development group comprised of George Laham, Dave Burk, Dave Wells and Bill Warren." It's this ownership team that ought to cause the city concern.…
Read More

Sedgwick County Commission: Let’s not vote today

At the October 31 meeting of the Sedgwick County Commission, Karl Peterjohn introduced a measure that would let the Kansas Legislature know that the commission supports improving the tax climate in Kansas, and specifically would limit property tax growth. But electoral politics forced a delay in a vote. In response to Peterjohn's proposal, the coalition of one Democrat and two liberal Republicans that form the working majority on the commission maneuvered to delay voting on the measure until after the November 6 election. With the item appearing on tomorrow's agenda, it's very likely that the majority coalition -- Commission Chair…
Read More

Sedgwick County tower sale was not in citizens’ best interest

The sale of a radio tower owned by Sedgwick County reveals another case of local government not looking out for the interests of citizens and taxpayers, with the realization that the stain of cronyism is alive and well. As a result of system upgrades, the county no longer needs a radio tower located near 77th Street North and Interstate 135. Pixius Communications, LLC made an offer to purchase the tower and the five acre tower site for $280,000. The county proceeded making arrangements for the sale, preparing a sales agreement contract between Sedgwick County and Pixius with a sales price…
Read More

Special interests will capture south-central Kansas planning

Special interest groups are likely to co-opt the government planning process started in south-central Kansas as these groups see ways to benefit from the plan. The public choice school of economics and political science has taught us how special interest groups seek favors from government at enormous costs to society, and we will see this at play over the next few years. Sedgwick County has voted to participate in a HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant. While some justified their votes in favor of the plan because "it's only a plan," once the planning process begins, special interests plot to…
Read More

Open records again an issue in Kansas

Responses to records requests made by Kansas Policy Institute are bringing attention to shortcomings in the Kansas Open Records Act. Those who have made records requests in Kansas are probably not surprised that KPI has had difficulty in having its records requests respected and filled. In 2007 Better Government Association and National Freedom of Information Coalition gave Kansas a letter grade of "F" for its open records law. Last year State Integrity Investigation looked at the states, and Kansas did not rank well there, either. See Kansas rates low in access to records. This week KPI president Dave Trabert appeared…
Read More

Wichita voters reject cronyism — again

Tuesday's primary election in Kansas was notable for the large number of victories by conservative challengers over Republican senate incumbents. Also important is that voters in Wichita and the surrounding area rejected, for the second time this year, the culture of political cronyism that passes for economic development in Wichita. On Tuesday incumbent Sedgwick County Commissioner Karl Peterjohn defeated a challenge by Wichita City Council Member Jeff Longwell. The contrast was clear: Peterjohn with his long-time, outspoken advocacy for limited government and free market principles, although perhaps tempered a bit based on some votes he's made. Longwell, however, advocates for…
Read More

Skelton, Sedgwick County Commissioner, censured by party

Yesterday evening the Sedgwick County Republican Party censured a Sedgwick County Commissioner for supporting a Democrat in an upcoming election. Treatha Brown-Foster, who is chair of Kansas Black Republican Council, offered a resolution critical of Jim Skelton. The resolution read: "Whereas, Jim Skelton, an elected Republican official in Sedgwick County, who has benefited from the support of the Sedgwick County Republican Party, has publicly supported a Democratic candidate over a Republican candidate for election to the Sedgwick County Commission. Be it resolved that Jim Skelton be censured for this action." The resolution was met with applause. The motion was seconded…
Read More

Sedgwick County will hold Southfork TIF hearing

Since the Wichita City Council passed a resolution authorizing the formation of the Southfork tax increment financing district, the affected county (Sedgwick) and school district (Wichita) have an opportunity to veto the district's formation. They don't have to take action to approve the district -- only silent assent is required. But they can take action, as Sedgwick County did in January, to cancel the formation of the district. At Tuesday's commission staff meeting, commission chair Tim Norton along with commissioners Dave Unruh and Jim Skelton didn't believe a public hearing was necessary the matter should not be placed on the…
Read More

In Kansas, planning will be captured by special interests

The government planning process started in south-central Kansas will likely be captured by special interest groups that see ways to benefit from the plan. The public choice school of economics and political science has taught us how special interest groups seek favors from government at enormous costs to society, and we will see this at play again over the next few years. This week the Sedgwick County Commission voted to participate in a HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant. While some justified their votes in favor of the plan because "it's only a plan," once the planning process begins, special…
Read More

Federal, United Nations planning imported to Wichita

Yesterday the Sedgwick County Commission voted to participate in a HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant. Republican commissioners Dave Unruh and Jim Skelton joined with Democrat Tim Norton to pass the measure. Below, Paul Soutar of Kansas Watchdog explains why this planning process is a bad idea. Local Planning Initiative Has Federal Strings, UN Roots by Paul Soutar, Kansas Watchdog The Sedgwick County Commission will decide Wednesday whether to give a consortium of South Central Kansas governments and organizations broad control over community planning funded by a federal grant and based on a United Nations agenda. The Regional Economic Area…
Read More

A Wichita shocker

"Local politicians like to get in bed with local business, and taxpayers are usually the losers. So three cheers for a voter revolt in Wichita, Kansas last week that shows such sweetheart deals can be defeated." So starts today's Wall Street Journal Review & Outlook editorial (subscription required), taking notice of the special election last week in Wichita. The editorial page of the Wall Street Journal is one of the most prominent voices for free markets and limited government in America. Over and over Journal editors expose crony capitalism and corporate welfare schemes, and they waste few words in condemning…
Read More

Sedgwick County commissioners vote Democratic

This morning the Sedgwick County Commission voted to select member Tim Norton of Haysville as chairman for the upcoming year. Norton, a Democrat, received the votes of two of the board's four Republican members: Those of outgoing Chairman Dave Unruh and Jim Skelton. Commissioner Karl Peterjohn nominated Richard Ranzau for the position, but he received only two votes. It may be remarkable that a board with a four to one majority in one party elected a member of the minority party to serve as chair, or it may simply be a reflection of the actual ideological makeup of the board.…
Read More

Wichita’s political class

From June. The discussion at yesterday's Wichita City Council meeting provided an opportunity for citizens to discover the difference in the thinking of the political class and those who value limited government and capitalism. At issue was Mid-Continent Instruments, Inc., which asked the city for a forgivable loan of $10,000. It received the same last week from Sedgwick County. According to city documents, the State of Kansas through its Department of Commerce is also contributing $503,055 in forgivable loans, sales tax exemptions, training grants, and tax credits. At the city council meeting Clinton Coen, a young man who ran for…
Read More

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Wednesday December 7, 2011

Wichita petitions. At yesterday's meeting of the Wichita City Council, the invocation featured a Bible verse that contained the phrase "Petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be offered for those in authority." I don't think the speaker was aware of the irony, since petitions were delivered to city hall just the day before. These petitions seek to overturn an action of the city council, and city leaders are not pleased that citizens took to the streets to gather signatures in opposition to the council's action. Petitions being contested. Speaking of petitions, the developers of the Ambassador Hotel are calling those who…
Read More

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday December 2, 2011

Wichita trip to Ghana. KAKE Television reports that Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer believes the recent trip to Africa by him and others may result in sales of beef and airplanes. I wonder, though: don't marketers of beef and airplanes know about Africa already? And who has the greater motive to sell, not to mention knowledge about the products that might meet African customers' needs: sales reps for these companies, or politicians? ... The most telling indication that this trip is more junket than anything else is that Brewer and Vice Mayor Lavonta Williams (district 1, northeast and east Wichita) paid…
Read More