Tag: Paul Gray

Education gap on Wichita City Council
Education

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 next week's election for four council seats and the office of mayor, less than half hold college degrees. Is it necessary to complete college in order to serve in an office like mayor or ...
Wichita being sued, alleging improper handling of bond repayment savings
Wichita city government

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 Robert Layton Wichita Finance Director Shawn Henning and Former Wichita Finance Director Kelly Carpenter Wichita City Clerk Karen Sublett Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell and former Wichita Mayor ...
Wichita city government

Downtown Wichita economic development numbers questioned

When the Wichita City Council recently received the 2012 Project Downtown Annual Report, a city council member took the opportunity to question and clarify some of the facts and figures presented in the report. In his questions, Wichita City Council Member Paul Gray (district 4, south and southwest Wichita) asked whether the amount of public investment presented did, in fact, include all public investment. In his answer, Scott Knebel, who is Downtown Revitalization Manager, said no, not all forms of public investment were included in the figures presented in the report. He told the council that an analysis is being prepared, perhaps to be available in May. Gray urged Knebel to be more forthcoming when reporting on the level of public investment in order to gain a better level ...
Open records

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 before the Sedgwick County Commission to express his concerns regarding the failure of Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition to fulfill a records request made...
Quick takes

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Sunday April 10, 2011

Local elections, qualifications of Wichita's elected officials. On today's edition of the KAKE Television public affairs program This Week in Kansas, Wichita State University's Ken Ciboski, Chapman Rackaway of Fort Hays State University and myself join host Tim Brown to discuss local elections in Kansas. Mention was made of a recent article I wrote that was critical of the educational attainment of some Wichita City Council members. See Education gap on Wichita City Council. Steineger, Kansas senator, to address Pachyderms. This Friday (April 15) Kansas Senator Chris Steineger will speak to the members and guests of the Wichita Pachyderm Club on the topic "Using Business Principles to Restructure State and Local Government For Long-Term Efficiency." Steineger, of Kansas City, has se...
Quick takes

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday April 5, 2011

Law, liberty, and the market symposium this week. This Friday (April 8) a symposium titled "Freedom, Liberty, and the Human Spirit" is offered in Wichita. The event is from 8:30 am to noon, in Alumni Auditorium in the Davis Administration Building on the campus of Friends University. The presenter is John R. Hays, Jr of Austin, Texas. The three sessions are titled Freedom's not just another word for nothing left to lose; Who's directing the show, and how can it possibly work without a director; and Markets, liberty, and economic progress. The event is free and open to the public, and attendees should reserve a seat by calling 316-295-5526. The sponsor for the symposium is the Fred C. and Mary R. Koch Foundation. Junket for Wichita lame ducks: the costs. Kim Hynes of KWCH Television repo...
Quick takes

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Sunday March 13, 2011

Wichita city council this week. There is no meeting of the Wichita City Council this week, as most members will be attending a meeting of the National League of Cities in Washington, DC. These conferences are designed to help council members be more effective. But for three of the council members that will be attending, their future service on the council is measured in days, not years. These three lame duck members -- Sue Schlapp, Paul Gray, and Roger Smith -- will be leaving the council in April when their terms end. Their participation in this conference, at taxpayer expense, is nothing more than a junket -- for lame ducks. How attitudes can differ. At a recent forum of city council candidates, one candidate mentioned the five or six police officers conducting security screening of ...
Quick takes

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday February 18, 2011

Wichita-area legislators to meet public. Tomorrow members of the South-Central Kansas Legislative Delegation will meet with the public. Tomorrow's meeting is in the Sunflower Room of the Sedgwick County Extension Education Center, 21st and Tyler Rd, at 9:00 am. Generally these meetings last for two hours. The first of these meetings, two weeks ago, was focused more on hearing the concerns of citizens rather than allowing legislators to speak a lot. ... Two other meetings have been scheduled. One is on March 19th -- right before the legislature adjourns for its break -- at Derby City Hall, 611 Mulberry Road. Then on April 23 -- right before the "wrap-up session" -- at the Wichita State University Hughes Metropolitan Complex, 5015 E. 29th Street (at Oliver). This Week in Kansas. On This ...
Quick takes

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Wednesday February 9, 2011

ACLU leader to speak in Wichita. On Friday (February 11) the speaker at the meeting of the Wichita Pachyderm Club will be Doug Bonney, who is Chief Council and Legal Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri. His topic will be "150 Years of Kansas Liberty." This speaking invitation has caused a bit of controversy, with some Pachyderm Club members -- and non-members -- criticizing the selection of a speaker whose group is associated with liberal political causes. But the invitation is in line with the club's mission of political education, as stated on the national Pachyderm website: "To promote practical political education and the dissemination of information on our political system." Previous speakers who don't fit the club's Republican Party affinity...
Quick takes

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday January 18, 2011

Education reformer to speak in Kansas. Next week the Kansas Policy Institute hosts education reform expert Dr. Matthew Ladner at several events in Kansas. In Wichita, he will speak at a free breakfast event on Tuesday January 25th. Information on that event and those in Topeka and Overland Park can be found at Kansas Policy Institute Upcoming Events. Ladner, of the Goldwater Institute, will speak on the topic "Good to Great -- Lessons for Kansas from Florida's education revolution." Florida has been at the forefront of education reform in recent years, according to a study by EducationNext. Kansas, on the other hand, ranks very low in studies that look at education reform among the states. An invitation to the Wichita event is here. RSVPs are requested by January 20th. Wichita council c...
Free markets

Economic freedom at decline, across the U.S. and in Wichita

Earlier this year Robert Lawson appeared in Wichita to speak about economic freedom throughout the world. While the United States presently ranks well, that is changing. Writing this month in The Freeman, Lawson and his colleagues warn of dangerous trends -- particularly the Obama Administration's response to the recession -- that pose a threat to the economic freedom that powers growth and prosperity. While the article is focused primarily at the national economy, there are lessons to be learned locally, too. In particular, increasing intervention into the state and local economy leads to compounding the loss of economic freedom. As an example, the Wichita City Council has just approved a plan for the revitalization of downtown Wichita that calls for public investment to be made do...
Quick takes

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday December 6, 2010

Cato scholar to speak on economic freedom. Friday's meeting (December 10) of the Wichita Pachyderm Club features noted Cato Institute scholar, Principal Attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation, and author Timothy Sandefur. He will discuss his recent book The Right to Earn a Living: Economic Freedom and the Law. A description of the book at Amazon.com reads: "America's founders thought the right to earn a living was so basic and obvious that it didn't need to be mentioned in the Bill of Rights. Yet today that right is burdened by a wide array of government rules and regulations that play favorites, rewrite contracts, encourage frivolous lawsuits, seize private property, and manipulate economic choices to achieve outcomes that bureaucrats favor. The Right to Earn a Living charts the history...
Wichita city government

Wichita trash cooperative: gateway to mandatory recycling?

Opposition to a proposed trash pickup cooperative in Wichita focuses mostly on two issues: the free market, and specific problems with the program. Conservative city council members -- Paul Gray and Sue Schlapp in this case -- advocate for a free market in trash collection. I appreciate that. But it is confusing to hear them advocate for a free market in trash collection when at the same time they vote for big-spending economic development programs that don't work. Brent Wistrom's Wichita Eagle article Questions pile up as Wichita eyes trash plan does a fine job of laying out the unanswered questions and issues left to be resolved -- if they can be solved. These issues are important. But here's the biggest reason to oppose this plan: it's a gateway to mandatory recycling in Wichi...
Quick takes

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday November 12, 2010

Dilts drops campaign for city council. Jason Dilts has announced that he is ending his campaign for a position on the Wichita City Council. He had been running for the district 4 position currently held by Paul Gray, who is precluded from running again by the city's term limit law. While Dilts' politics are liberal and might have been expected to depart from those of the incumbent, Gray voted for nearly every spending measure that came before the council. ... Dilts' departure leaves this district without any publicly declared candidates. The filing deadline for city and school board elections is January 24, 2011. The primary election is March 1, and the general election is on April 5. These elections are non-partisan, meaning that candidates run without party identification, although every...
Quick takes

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Wednesday November 3, 2010

Republican Party on probation. Noted conservative figure Richard A. Viguerie of ConservativeHQ.com expressed a common idea: "Voters have given Republicans one more chance to get it right. They are on probation, and if they mess up again, they won't get another chance. The last time the Republicans were in charge, they became the party of big spending, Big Government, and Big Business. They abandoned the philosophy of Ronald Reagan and cozied up to lobbyists and special interests. And they paid a price at the polls." Limited government and economic freedom not desired. In today's Wichita Eagle editorial assessing the election results, Rhonda Holman just can't grasp the importance of limited government and economic freedom to prosperity. Instead, she prefers what some call "nuanced" poli...
Wichita city government

Community Improvement Districts discussed in Wichita

At yesterday's meeting of the Wichita City Council, council members approved the start of the process to create two Community Improvement Districts in Wichita. Yesterday's action sets August 10 as the date for a public hearing. CIDs are a creation of the Kansas Legislature from last year. They allow merchants in a geographic district to collect additional sales tax of up to two cents per dollar. The extra sales tax is used for the exclusive benefit of the CID. More background may be read in the article Wichita community improvement districts should have warning signs. In my remarks to the council, I asked the city to consider consumer protection and education regarding CIDs. I noted that just by crossing a street and shopping within the boundaries of a CID, consumers will have to pay...
Wichita city government

Wichita Bowllagio hearing produces only delay

Yesterday's meeting of the Wichita City Council featured a lengthy public hearing for a proposed west-side entertainment development known as Bowllagio. Bowllagio is planned to have a bowling and entertainment center, a boutique hotel, and a restaurant owned by a celebrity television chef. The developers of this project propose to make use of $13 million in STAR bond financing. STAR bonds are issued for the immediate benefit of the developers, with the sales tax collected in the district used to pay off the bonds. The project also proposes to be a Community Improvement District, which allows an additional two cents per dollar to be collected in sales tax, again for the benefit of the district. The Kansas STAR bond process calls for several steps: First, a local governing body, like t...
Wichita city government

Wichita city council signals possible change in economic development incentive policy

At today's meeting of the Wichita City Council, discussion by council members and their vote may signal a change in the city's stance toward economic development incentives. At issue was a request for extension of economic development incentives for a Wichita company. Five years ago the city council approved an economic development package for the company that included a tax abatement. As is the city's policy, the council revisits the issue in five years to see if the company has meet its goal commitments. In the case of this company, one commitment -- the building of a new facility -- was met. The other commitment -- creation of a certain number of jobs -- was met early on during the period of the tax abatement, but employment has been declining in recent years, and employment is curr...
Wichita city government

Waterwalk hotel issue receives public input

Tuesday's meeting of the Wichita city council featured a lengthy discussion of a proposal that in the past, might have been passed without much public discussion. Instead, some useful information emerged, and the meeting opened the possibility of more citizen input not only on this item, but also on future city initiatives. The issue is a proposal for a hotel in the city's WaterWalk district. My preview of the matter, which includes the city-supplied agenda report, is at Waterwalk hotel deal breaks new ground for Wichita subsidies. As an example of information that was revealed at this meeting, there was concern expressed by council member Sue Schlapp that the proposed hotel might be granted a period in which it would be the only hotel in WaterWalk. Bell replied that we don't have the an...
Wichita city government

Wichita city council discusses economic development incentives

Last week a Wichita company that's expanding made an application for industrial revenue bonds and accompanying property tax abatements. The company's application wasn't timely, and for that reason is not likely to receive the requested help. The discussion surrounding the item provides insight into city council members' ideas about the role of the city in economic development. Industrial revenue bonds, or IRBs, are not a loan from the city, and the city does not make any guarantee that the bonds will be repaid. The primary benefit to the recipient of IRBs is that the property purchased with the bonds will generally be exempt, in whole or in part, from property taxes for some period. Also, the company may not have to pay sales tax on the property purchased with the bonds. The agenda repor...
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