Lavonta Williams

Wichita City Council Member Lavonta Williams

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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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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In Wichita, not your tax dollars

In Wichita, not your tax dollars

At a Wichita City Council meeting, citizens are told, "These tax dollars are not your tax dollars." At the meeting of the Wichita City Council this week, Wichita City Council Member Lavonta Williams (district 1, northeast Wichita) lectured the audience, saying: "These tax dollars are not your tax dollars." The matter under consideration was a redevelopment plan for Naftzger Park in downtown Wichita. Approval was necessary if tax increment financing (TIF) funds could be spent on the park. [1. Weeks, Bob. Naftzger Park tax increment financing (TIF). Available at https://wichitaliberty.org/wichita-government/naftzger-park-tax-increment-financing-tif/.] TIF is a mechanism whereby future tax revenues are redirected…
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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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Campaign contribution changes in Wichita

Campaign contribution changes in Wichita

A change to Wichita city election law is likely to have little practical effect. Currently Wichita city code prohibits certain entities from making campaign contributions to candidates for city council and mayor: "Contributions by political committees as defined by K.S.A. 25-4143, as amended, corporations, partnerships, trusts, labor unions, business groups or other such organizations are expressly prohibited." The intent of this law is to limit the influence of businesses and unions on city elections. This week the Wichita City Council will consider striking this portion of city code. The contribution limit of $500 to a candidate for the primary election,…
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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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Lavonta Williams on the Wichita City Council

Here's a timeline of events from the tenure of Lavonta Williams on the Wichita City Council. These are events related to cronyism and disrepect for the people of Wichita -- except for her campaign contributors. For them, she voted for no-bid contracts and other taxpayer-funded largess. The behavior of Williams is one of the reasons that Wichita needs pay-to-play laws that prevent council members from voting to enrich their significant campaign contributors.
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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…
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WichitaLiberty.TV: The need for reform at Wichita City Hall

WichitaLiberty.TV: The need for reform at Wichita City Hall

In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: An episode this week at the Wichita city council meeting highlights the need for campaign finance reform in Wichita. We’ll examine a few incidents and see if there’s a way we can reform Wichita city government so that it is capitalism friendly instead of crony friendly. View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Episode 69, broadcast December 21, 2014.
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Campaign contribution stacking in Wichita

Campaign contribution stacking in Wichita

Those seeking favors from Wichita City Hall use campaign contribution stacking to bypass contribution limits. This has paid off handsomely for them, and has harmed everyone else. Not long ago a person who is politically active wrote a letter that was published in the Wichita Eagle. It criticized the role of campaign contributions in federal elections, noting “Corporations don’t spend money on politics because they are patriotic; rather, the companies expect a financial return.” Later the letter held this: “Locally, I understand that elections for the Wichita City Council underwent ideal, nonpartisan campaign-finance reform years ago, and that these limits…
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In Wichita, the need for campaign finance reform

In Wichita, the need for campaign finance reform

Actions of the Wichita City Council have shown that campaign finance reform is needed. Citizen groups are investigating how to accomplish this needed reform, since the council has not shown interest in reforming itself. Consider recent actions by the council and its members: The council voted to give a movie theater operator a no-interest and low-interest loan, after having already received the benefit of tax increment financing. A minister dabbling in real estate development made a large contribution to his council representative just before he asked the city council for tax increment financing. The council voted to give a construction…
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For Wichita’s Williams, $1.33 per month is too much

Wichita city council member Lavonta Williams (district 1, northeast Wichita) is a supporter of the proposed one cent per dollar Wichita sales tax. She has also spoken of her concern for Wichita's low-income families, as she did in November 2013 when the Wichita City Council voted to increase water rates. City documents indicated that the average residential bill would rise by $1.33 per month for those who use modest amounts of water. According to the meeting minutes, Williams said this: Council Member Williams stated she realizes that some may think that $1.33 is not that big of an increase, but…
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For Wichita sales tax, concern over conflicts of interest

For Wichita sales tax, concern over conflicts of interest

Supporters of a proposed sales tax in Wichita promise there will be no conflicts of interest when making spending decisions. That would be a welcome departure from present city practice. In November Wichita voters will decide on a new one cent per dollar sales tax, part to be used for economic development, specifically job creation. "Yes Wichita" is a group that supports the sales tax. Language on its website reads: "Conflict-of-interest policies will prohibit anyone from participating in decisions in which there is any self-interest." The page is addressing the economic development portion of the proposed sales tax. It's part…
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Claims of future transparency of Wichita tax money spending

Claims of future transparency of Wichita tax money spending

Claims by boosters of a proposed Wichita sales tax that the city will be transparent in how money is spent must be examined in light of the city's attitude towards citizens' right to know. When a city council member apologizes to bureaucrats because they have to defend why their agencies won't disclose how taxpayer money is spent, we have a problem. When the mayor and most other council members agree, the problem is compounded. Carl Brewer won't be mayor past April, but the city council member that apologized to bureaucrats -- Pete Meitzner (district 2, east Wichita) -- may continue…
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‘Transforming Wichita’ a reminder of the value of government promises

‘Transforming Wichita’ a reminder of the value of government promises

When Wichita voters weigh the plausibility of the city's plans for spending proposed new sales tax revenue, they should remember this is not the first time the city has promised results and accountability. Do you remember Transforming Wichita? According to the city, "Transforming Wichita is the journey by which we are fundamentally changing the way we measure, report and perform the work of delivering services to the citizens of Wichita." In more detail, the city website proclaimed: "TW is the journey by which we will be fundamentally changing the way we deliver services to the citizens of Wichita. Our vision…
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WichitaLiberty.TV: Waste, economic development, and water issues.

WichitaLiberty.TV: Waste, economic development, and water issues.

In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Wichitans ought to ask city hall to stop blatant waste before it asks for more taxes. Then, a few questions about economic development incentives. Finally, how should we pay for a new water source, and is city hall open to outside ideas? View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Episode 53, broadcast July 27, 2014.
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