Wichita Mayor

Wichita needs transparency from its agencies

Wichita needs transparency from its agencies

When the Wichita city council delegates spending to outside agencies such as Visit Wichita, it should insist on the same transparency requirements the city itself faces. The Kansas Open Records Act is designed to give citizens access to data concerning their government. In the words of the Kansas Attorney General, "An open and transparent government is essential to the democratic process." The preamble to the Kansas act states, "It is declared to be the public policy of the state that public records shall be open for inspection by any person unless otherwise provided by this act, and this act shall…
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Should Wichita have a deputy to the mayor?

Should Wichita have a deputy to the mayor?

A proposal to hire a deputy or chief of staff to the Wichita mayor is a good idea which will increase transparency and accountability of elected officials. Tomorrow the Wichita City Council will consider a proposal to create the position of Deputy to the Mayor. I've excerpted the relevant portion of the agenda packet in pdf form, available here. I include partions below. How could a deputy or chief of staff help improve the city? As an example, at the April 14 council meeting, approval of a loan for a portion of the new water treatment was on the agenda.…
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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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Questions for Mayor Jeff Longwell

Questions for Mayor Jeff Longwell

Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell urges Wichitans to reach out to him with questions through email and social media. I've posed a few questions to Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell on Facebook, usually tagging both his personal profile and campaign page. But he hasn't answered any, despite urging citizens to contact him. Here are some recent questions: October 17 A question for Mayor Jeff Longwell and Mayor Jeff Longwell for Reelection: Mr. Mayor, the city may be looking at several large investments soon, like a convention center or performing arts center. How can you assure us that your influence over these items…
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Checking a Jeff Longwell for Mayor political ad

Checking a Jeff Longwell for Mayor political ad

An ad from the Jeff Longwell for Mayor Committee contains a false claim. An advertisement advocating the re-election of Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell contains a claim about economic development that is false. The ad appears in the October 20, 2019 print edition of the Wichita Eagle. Under the heading "Let's Set the Record Straight," we find this item: "Multiple large scale business development projects like the Cargill Downtown Headquarters which created 850+ jobs." It's the use of the word "create" that is false. It's wrong because Cargill's headquarters was located in downtown Wichita at the time it announced it would…
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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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In Wichita, more tax increment financing

In Wichita, more tax increment financing

The Wichita city council will consider expanding an existing TIF, or tax increment financing district. Tomorrow the Wichita City Council will consider expanding the boundaries of an existing tax increment financing district in downtown Wichita. [1. City of Wichita City Council Agenda for October 8, 2019. Agenda Item No. V-1, Public Hearings Considering an Expansion of the Union Station Tax Increment Financing District and Considering a Development Agreement for the Union Station Project Area 3 Plan (District I)] According to city documents for this agenda item, Expanding the District would allow the Developer to capture the additional increment generated by…
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Contribute to a campaign, get (nearly) free rent

Contribute to a campaign, get (nearly) free rent

Citizens may not have noticed that a campaign contributor to Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell received a large benefit from the city this week. This Tuesday the Wichita City Council voted to amend an existing lease. In a nutshell, the city council voted to lease to a tenant 8,600 square feet of retail space for $1.00 per year. Not $1.00 per square foot per year, but $1.00 per year for all 8,600 square feet. That's for the first four years of the lease. Computed as rent per square foot, which is the common way to quote rent for commercial space, the…
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City code on ethical conduct in Wichita

Wichita has a city code governing ethical conduct by council members, but it seems to have no teeth. Here's an excerpt from the Wichita city code as passed in 2008 (full section below): "[Council members] shall refrain from making decisions involving business associates, customers, clients, friends and competitors." When asked about a specific application of this city law relating to former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, the Wichita city attorney supplied this interpretation: Related to the Mayor's participation in the item, yes, City Code advises Council members to "refrain from making decisions involving business associates, customers, clients, friends and competitors. ...…
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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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From Pachyderm: Wichita mayoral candidates

From Pachyderm: Wichita mayoral candidates

From the Wichita Pachyderm Club this week: Wichita mayoral candidates Jeff Longwell and Brandon Whipple. This audio presentation or podcast was recorded on September 27, 2019. Todd Johnson is the moderator. Shownotes Jeff Longwell campaign web site: www.jefflongwellformayor.com Brandon Whipple campaign web site: www.votewhipple.com
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