Michael O’Donnell

Wichita City Council Member Michael O’Donnell

End this now. Nominate Sarah Lopez.

End this now. Nominate Sarah Lopez.

Sedgwick County Republicans have a chance to do the decent thing and avoid the spectacle of a rump county commissioner. Rump: a small or inferior remnant or offshoot especially: a group (such as a parliament) carrying on in the name of the original body after the departure or expulsion of a large number of its members (from Oxford languages) Now that the vote canvass is complete in Sedgwick County, Sarah Lopez has won the seat for Sedgwick County Commissioner, District 2. The vote count is 17,041 for Lopez and 16,777 for the incumbent Michael O'Donnell, a margin of 264 votes.…
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Retiring Sedgwick County Commissioner Dave Unruh praised

Retiring Sedgwick County Commissioner Dave Unruh praised

The praise for retired Sedgwick County Commissioner Dave Unruh can't be based on our region's accomplishments under his guidance. That is, if people are informed and truthful. In January a group of Wichita business leaders submitted an op-ed to the Wichita Eagle to mark the retirement of Sedgwick County Commissioner Dave Unruh. I quote portions here, with emphasis added: He easily won re-election because his constituents and the rest of us knew he was dedicated to strengthening our community, region and the state. ... In economic development Commissioner Unruh was chairman in 2006 when the board voted to build a…
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Sedgwick County tops $434K in extra personnel costs

Sedgwick County tops $434K in extra personnel costs

Sedgwick County has spent $434,663 in costs relating to the separations of two members of top management. Through December 21, 2018, Sedgwick County had spent $434,663 on matters relating to former County Counselor Eric Yost and former County Manager Michael Scholes. The bulk of the costs were severance payments to both. There was also $89,375 for a study of matters related to county management. Additionally, there were attorney fees for Yost, Scholes, and all county commissioners except Michael O'Donnell. Click here to view the report prepared by county financial staff.
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Déjà vu scandals in Sedgwick County government

Déjà vu scandals in Sedgwick County government

The Sedgwick County Commission scandals are an outrage for me. I must speak out against the appalling revelations that provide explicit evidence of illegal misconduct in our county government, writes Karl Peterjohn. Déjà vu scandals in Sedgwick County government By Karl Peterjohn During the Watergate scandal the press repeatedly stated that the campaign break-in was not the primary crime, but the cover up involving the White House was. These scandals eventually led to criminal convictions, and ultimately, to the resignation of the president. Sedgwick County government now appears to have multi-part scandals. It is not clear whether these scandals will…
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WichitaLiberty.TV: Richard Ranzau and Renee Duxler

WichitaLiberty.TV: Richard Ranzau and Renee Duxler

In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Sedgwick County Commissioner Richard Ranzau explains the current problems with corruption in the county. Then, Renee Duxler tells us why she’s running for Sedgwick County Commission. View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Episode 215, broadcast October 28, 2018. Shownotes Campaign website for Richard Ranzau: www.voteranzau.org Campaign website for Renee Duxler: www.reneeduxler.com
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The overcriminalization in the charges against Michael O’Donnell

The overcriminalization in the charges against Michael O’Donnell

The indictment against Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O'Donnell smells of overcriminalization. Former Wichita City Council Member, former Kansas Senator, and present Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O'Donnell has been charged with a series of serious crimes -- serious, at least, in the potential penalties he faces. First, I know Michael O'Donnell, and although I have been critical of some of his votes in the Kansas Senate and many while a member of the Sedgwick County Commission, I still consider him a friend, and I hope he considers me the same. I have worked on some of his campaigns, sometimes as a…
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For Sedgwick County Commission, too much debate

For Sedgwick County Commission, too much debate

By moving to end motions and debate, the Sedgwick County Commission isn't effectively serving citizens and taxpayers. Yesterday's meeting of the Sedgwick County Commission offered an opportunity to learn how we can improve local government. The issue the commission was considering, significant in its own right, is not important to the following discussion. It's the process that needs improvement. There was a proposed ordinance. Commissioner Jim Howell offered two amendments -- really substitute motions -- that altered the proposed ordinance. Each failed by votes of three to two. Howell had two more motions to offer. But Commissioner David Dennis moved…
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David Dennis, gleeful regulatory revisionist

David Dennis, gleeful regulatory revisionist

David Dennis, candidate for Sedgwick County Commission, rewrites his history of service on the Kansas State Board of Education. In 2012 the Lawrence Journal-World reported this regarding a meeting of the Kansas State Board of Education: "Board chairman David Dennis of Wichita said the state needs more information on home schools to ensure that children are being taught. ... Dennis suggested perhaps the board should propose legislation to increase the state reporting requirements for home schoolers."[1. Rothschild, Scott. State board discusses home-schooling requirements. Lawrence Journal-World, August 14, 2012. Available at www2.ljworld.com/news/2012/aug/14/state-board-discusses-home-schooling-requirements/.] Other newspapers published similar reports. Now, Dennis is a…
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Wichita economic development items this week

Wichita economic development items this week

Two economic development items on tap in Wichita this week illustrate failures or shortcomings of the regime. Update: Both items passed by seven to zero votes at the March 1, 2016 council meeting. This week the Wichita City Council will consider two economic development items. The first item concerns a company named Epic Sports. In 2012 this company received property tax abatements from the City of Wichita in exchange for a 100 percent property tax exemption. The measure passed by a vote of six to one, with former council member Michael O'Donnell voting no. Now Epic Sports has found greener…
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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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No-bid contracts still passed by Wichita city council

No-bid contracts still passed by Wichita city council

Despite a policy change, the Wichita city council still votes for no-bid contracts paid for with taxpayer funds. In the current campaign for Wichita mayor, one candidates says he never has voted for no-bid contracts: "[Longwell] also takes issue with the claim he has ever voted for any no-bid contract, something he says his voting record will back up. 'That's the beauty of having a voting record,' he says." Mayoral candidate Williams decries ‘crony capitalism’ of critics, Wichita Business Journal, March 12, 2015 We don't have to look very hard to find an example that contradicts Longwell's claim of never…
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How TIF routes taxpayer-funded benefits to Wichita’s political players

From January 2012, how tax increment financing routes benefits to politically-connected firms. It is now confirmed: In Wichita, tax increment financing (TIF) leads to taxpayer-funded waste that benefits those with political connections at city hall. The latest evidence we have is the construction of a downtown parking garage that benefits Douglas Place, especially the Ambassador Hotel, a renovation of a historic building now underway. The flow of tax dollars Wichita city leaders had planned for Douglas Place called for taxpayer funds to be routed to a politically-connected construction firm. And unlike the real world, where developers have an incentive to…
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In Wichita, running government like a business

In Wichita, running government like a business

In Wichita and Sedgwick County, can we run government like a business? Should we even try? Do our leaders think there is a difference? As Wichita considers the future of its economy, a larger role for government is contemplated. The views of the people leading the effort to expand government management of the local economy are important to explore. Consider Gary Schmitt, who is an executive at Intrust Bank. Following is an excerpt from the minutes of the May 22, 2013 meeting of the Board of Sedgwick County Commissioners. The topic was a forgivable loan to Starwood Hotels and Resorts…
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In Wichita, the public deserves and should demand answers

Following, from Kansas Senator Michael O'Donnell, a discussion of issues surrounding the proposed Wichita one cent per dollar sales tax. O'Donnell served on the Wichita City Council for nearly two years before resigning to serve in the senate. We are less than one week from an incredibly important election cycle where those of us in Wichita will vote for our future in a 4, 5 or 6 year timeframe; Governor for 4, Sales tax for 5 and Senator for 6. Before we go to the polls, the Wichita City Council needs to level with the public and answer critical questions,…
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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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Before asking for more taxes, Wichita city hall needs to earn trust

Before asking for more taxes, Wichita city hall needs to earn trust

Before Wichita city hall asks its subjects for more tax revenue, it needs to regain the trust of Wichitans. Following, from February, an illustration of the problems city hall has created for itself. And, how it would be helpful if the editorial board of the state's largest newspaper acted as though it cared about ethics, cronyism, government transparency, and corruption. When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators. -- P.J. O'Rourke Your principle has placed these words above the entrance of the legislative chamber: “whosoever acquires any influence here can…
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Wichita, again, fails at government transparency

Wichita, again, fails at government transparency

At a time when Wichita city hall needs to cultivate the trust of citizens, another incident illustrates the entrenched attitude of the city towards its citizens. Despite the proclamations of the mayor and manager, the city needs a change of attitude towards government transparency and citizens' right to know. At its May 20, 2014 meeting the Wichita City Council considered approval of a sublease by Shannon No. 2, LLC. The subject property had received subsidy from the city under an economic development program, which is why council approval of the sublease was required. I'll cover the economics of the lease…
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Questions for the next Wichita city attorney: Number 2

Wichita's city attorney is retiring, and the city will select a replacement. There are a few questions that we ought to ask of candidates. Will the next city attorney continue to obstruct government transparency or be an advocate for citizens' right to know? Since 2009 I have advocated for greater transparency regarding spending data for three quasi-governmental agencies. Others have since joined the quest. The agencies are Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau, Wichita Downtown Development Corporation, and Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition. (See Open Government in Kansas for more information.) Each agency contends it is not a "public agency"…
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In Wichita, no differentiation between business and government

In Wichita, no differentiation between business and government

Leaders in Wichita often liken government decision making to running a business, but there are important differences. As Wichita considers the future of its economy, a larger role for government is contemplated. The views of the people leading the effort to expand government management of the local economy are important to explore. Consider Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition Chairman Gary Schmitt, who is also an executive at Intrust Bank. Following is an excerpt from the minutes of the May 22, 2013 meeting of the Board of Sedgwick County Commissioners. The topic was a forgivable loan to Starwood Hotels and Resorts…
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Wichita considers policy to rein in council’s bad behavior

When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators. -- P.J. O'Rourke Your principle has placed these words above the entrance of the legislative chamber: “whosoever acquires any influence here can obtain his share of legal plunder.” And what has been the result? All classes have flung themselves upon the doors of the chamber crying: “A share of the plunder for me, for me!” -- Frederic Bastiat Update: The council deferred this item to a later date. Tomorrow the Wichita City Council considers a policy designed to squelch the council's ability…
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