Wichita Eagle

John Todd: Wichita officials may have won a battle, but the Century II war isn’t over

John Todd: Wichita officials may have won a battle, but the Century II war isn’t over

On Century II, Wichita City Hall won the first round, but the public issue remains, writes John Todd. A special to the Wichita Eagle by John Todd. The Wichita City Council’s lawsuit against the Save Century II committee and the 17,265 Wichitans who had signed our petition won a first-round legal victory in state district court Aug. 28. The effort to have a binding vote by Wichita voters at an upcoming election was rejected by the court. This is a setback for Wichitans seeking to resolve this issue at the ballot box in November. This courtroom defeat demonstrates that the…
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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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Longwell: ‘There is no corruption’

Longwell: ‘There is no corruption’

Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell says there is no corruption involving him, but this is only because of loose and sloppy Kansas and Wichita laws. In an advertisement in the November 3, 2019 Wichita Eagle, Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell defended himself against charges of corruption. Referring to a recent investigation by the Sedgwick County District Attorney, the ad states: In 2018 and 2017, Bennett found I was 100% compliant. In 2016 he found only one instance where I was $21.33 over the annual $500 threshold allowed for "goods and services" received from local companies. Here's what the District Attorney found in…
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The Making of the Wichita Mayor 2019

The Making of the Wichita Mayor 2019

The Making of the Wichita Mayor 2019 By Karl Peterjohn There are eight major lessons for Wichita voters when they cast their ballots on or before November 5, 2019, concerning the revelations of favoritism involving the mayor, apparently a majority of the city council, and a number of Wichita businesses and businessmen concerning a proposed massive city water plant contract that is close to half a billion dollars. The Wichita Eagle’s detailed reporting on this proposed contract, Mayor Longwell’s role deserves scrutiny at several different levels. Let me begin with full disclosure. Both Mayor Longwell and I are registered Republicans,…
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The power and influence of the Wichita mayor

The power and influence of the Wichita mayor

When pursuing a large Wichita city contract, did the winning company lobby all council members, or primarily Mayor Jeff Longwell? The role of Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell in the awarding of the contract for the new Wichita water plant has been in the news. A recent Wichita Eagle article showed how the mayor steered the award to a company other than the company recommended by the city's selection committee. [1. Swaim, Chance. Wichita’s mayor steered multi-million-dollar water plant contract to friends. Wichita Eagle, September 29, 2019. Available at https://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article234701932.html.] Central to the story is the relationship between the mayor and…
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Wichita mayoral debate

Wichita mayoral debate

Details of the Wichita baseball stadium land deal were an issue at the first Wichita mayoral debate. The Wichita first mayoral debate of the general election season between Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell and Brandon Whipple was characterized by the Wichita Eagle headline, "Wichita mayor candidates accuse each other of lying in first debate." But I noticed a story told by the mayor that sounds like a good deal, but deserves scrutiny. It has to do with the four acres of land sold for $1 per acre to the owners of the new Wichita baseball team. The controversy is that the…
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In Wichita, revision of water history

In Wichita, revision of water history

In 2014 Wichita voters rejected a sales tax which would have provided $250 million to spend on a water project. What were the city's concerns? A recent Wichita Eagle article has ignited some revising of history regarding Wichita's water infrastructure. [1. Swaim, Chance. Wichita’s water plant: ‘Every hour that thing is running, it could fail.’ Wichita Eagle, July 21, 2019. Available at https://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article232826482.html.] The article is grim, starting with, "Next time water comes out of your tap, don’t take it for granted. Wichita’s only water treatment plant could fail at any moment." The article reports on the poor condition of…
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Naftzger Park, according to Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell

Naftzger Park, according to Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell

He had an opportunity to learn the true history of Naftzger Park in downtown Wichita. But Mayor Jeff Longwell didn't learn, or maybe he doesn't care. In March, Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell answered a question about Naftzger Park, telling viewers of the KPTS Television program Call the Mayor that: "Actually what we found out is when our city fathers put in that park years ago they put the park in on private development land and so the development's actually not on Naftzger Park. Naftzger Park used to be planted on private development land and so they had to change the…
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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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In Wichita, a gentle clawback

In Wichita, a gentle clawback

Despite the mayor's bluster, Wichita mostly lets a company off the hook. As reported in Wichita City Council to consider a clawback, a company failed to meet the targets of an economic development incentive, and according to that agreement, owes the city $253,000 in clawbacks. The city council, however, decided to require the company to pay only $100,000 of that. The city reasoned that because the company is planning an expansion, that would offset the other $153,000 of the clawback. Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell described this is holding the company accountable. The Wichita Eagle quoted him as saying, "This is…
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Kansas tax credit scholarship program

Kansas tax credit scholarship program

An op-ed in the Wichita Eagle regarding school choice prompts uninformed and misinformed comments. An op-ed written by James Franko appearing in the Wichita Eagle explains the importance of the Kansas Tax Credit for Low Income Students Scholarship Program. This is a program that awards scholarships to students to attend schools of choice. It is a small program. For the school year ending in 2018, 292 students received scholarships totaling $675,892.63. This represents one of every 9,606 dollars spent on Kansas schools. For each group of 1,632 Kansas students, one received a tax credit scholarship. Yet, this program is seen…
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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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It’s not the bonds, it’s the taxes

It’s not the bonds, it’s the taxes

A Wichita Eagle headline reads "Wichita aircraft supplier plans 45 new jobs with $7.5 million bond request," but important information is buried and incomplete. According to the agenda packet for the December 4, 2018 meeting of the Wichita City Council, a local aircraft supplier is "requesting issuance of bonds" worth $7.5 million. [1. City of Wichita, agenda for December 4, 2018. V-2: Public Hearing and Issuance of Industrial Revenue Bonds, Etezazi Industries, Inc. Available at http://www.wichita.gov/Council/Agendas/12-04-2018%20Agenda.pdf.] Even if you read the entire Wichita Eagle article[3. Siebenmark, Jerry. Wichita aircraft supplier plans 45 new jobs with $7.5 million bond request. Wichita…
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