Tim Norton

Wichita economic development initiatives to be announced

Tomorrow the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce will announce, according to the Wichita Eagle, new economic development initiatives. Said to be the product of months of discussion, past history suggests that the efforts will not be fruitful for the Wichita area. The inclinations of the parties involved in this effort are for more government intervention and less reliance on economic freedom and free markets. Do economic development incentives work? Judging the effectiveness of economic development incentives requires looking for the unseen effects as well as what is easily seen. It's easy to see groundbreaking and ribbon cutting ceremonies. It's more…
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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…
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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…
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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…
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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…
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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…
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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.…
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Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday July 1, 2011

This Week in Kansas. On this week's edition of the KAKE Television public affairs program This Week in Kansas, Ken Ciboski (Associate Professor of Political Science at Wichita State University), John D'Angelo (Arts & Cultural Services Manager for the City of Wichita), and myself join host Tim Brown for a discussion of arts and government funding in Kansas. This Week in Kansas airs in Wichita and western Kansas at 9:00 am Sundays on KAKE channel 10. Kansas taxes. A short report produced by Americans for Prosperity, Kansas shows some of the reasons why economic growth in Kansas has been sluggish:…
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In Wichita, start of a solution to federal spending

At the Sedgwick County Commission, newly-elected commissioner Richard Ranzau voted three times against the county applying for grants of federal funds, showing a possible way that federal spending might be brought under control. During the meeting, Ranzau asked staff questions about where the funding for the grant programs was coming from, which, of course, is the federal government, sometimes routed through the Kansas Department of Commerce. Sometimes local spending is required by these grants. In opposing the programs, Ranzau said that federal government spending is too high. Also, our level of debt is too high, and that the cost of…
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Peterjohn presses taxpayer protection platform through Sedgwick County Commission

At today's meeting of the Sedgwick County Commission, commissioners revised the county's 2010 legislative platform, adding important and groundbreaking taxpayer protection to the platform. The split vote lets voters know without a doubt where commissioners stand on taxpayer protection issues. The legislative platform is Sedgwick County's "wish list" for the legislature. The items in the platform are not laws, but instead indicate the desires of the county commission. Commissioner Karl Peterjohn proposed new language to add to the legislative platform: "All local sales tax increases must be approved by voters under Kansas law. All property tax increases that raise the…
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Wichita sales tax likely to be proposed

Two recent events have led me to suspect that as part of the plan for the revitalization of downtown Wichita, we're going to see a sales tax proposed. The first is Phillip Brownlee's editorial in last Friday's Wichita Eagle, which carried the title Taxes are lower than many think. While this editorial focused on property taxes, it's easy to see this as an argument that Wichitans can bear the burden of more taxation. Softening up the electorate, so to speak. Then, there's this email sent to the Wichita city council and Sedgwick county commission members: I recently received the attached…
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Lack of information clouds Sedgwick County industrial park plans

At yesterday's meeting of the Board of Sedgwick County Commissioners, questions about a proposed industrial park development reveal that there's still a long way to go before all issues are uncovered, much less understood. At the meeting, Chris Chronis, Chief Financial Officer for Sedgwick County, presented information and responded to questions. While Mr. Chronis was thorough in some areas, even some basic information and understanding is missing. For example, questioning by Board Chairman Kelly Parks revealed that it is unknown at this time who owns the mineral rights to the property. Commissioner Karl Peterjohn asked Chronis about the relationship between…
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Wichita downtown arena open records failure

Yesterday, the company that manages the Intrust Bank Arena (the downtown Wichita arena) announced a lease with the arena's flagship tenant, the Wichita Thunder hockey team. But we don't know the details of the lease. Unbelievably, some Sedgwick County Commissioners and managers are okay with that. The Wichita Eagle article Details of Intrust Bank Arena contract with Thunder are a secret reports the details. I believe that the Eagle will be successful in pursuing a copy of the lease agreement from SMG (the company managing the arena for Sedgwick County) under the Kansas Open Records Act. Here's why: The KORA…
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Sedgwick County Commission fails citizens

At yesterday's meeting of the Sedgwick County Commission, Commissioners Tom Winters, Tim Norton, and Dave Unruh failed to take an opportunity to stand up for good government. By ratifying the City of Wichita's defective public hearing, notice is given that it's open season on citizens. Their concerns are shoved aside. Commissioners say they were constrained by a very narrow range of action permitted by law. The reasons they voted against this TIF district in August are still there, though present in smaller measure. The problem is that these politicians want something so badly that they're willing to overlook major problems…
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