Derek K. Yonai, JD, Ph.D., Director of the Koch Center for Leadership & Ethics at Emporia State University, spoke to the Wichita Pachyderm Club January 11, 2019, on the topic of Teaching the Morality of Free Enterprise. View below, or click here to view at YouTube.
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Martin Hawver, dean of the Kansas Statehouse press corps. This was recorded January 4, 2019.
Martin Hawver is the editor and publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report, the respected, non-partisan news service that reports on Kansas government and politics.
He also is the dean of the Kansas Statehouse press corps, having covered the beat (36 years) longer than any current Statehouse reporter — first for 17 years as a Statehouse reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal and since 1993 for Hawver’s Capitol Report. He is the primary reporter/writer for the news service. He also writes a column syndicated to Kansas newspapers, is interviewed about Kansas government and politics on TV and radio shows, and is a speaker for seminars and conventions.
Hawver has covered 36 Kansas legislative sessions and 14 national Republican and Democratic political conventions, plus countless statewide and local political conventions.
Hawver writes a weekly column called “At The Rail” that is syndicated to Kansas newspapers. He also turns out to be an entertaining, informative, and pretty well-known public speaker, and if your Kansas-based group is interested in political humor, government humor, or even just understanding the landscape in the ever-more-confusing world of politics, you might want to consider having Martin Hawver speak. (Source: Hawver’s Capitol Report)
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Robert L. Bradley, Jr. He is CEO and Founder of Institute for Energy Research, visiting fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs in London, and an adjunct scholar at both the Cato Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. His topic at the Pachyderm Club was “The Contra-Capitalist Corporation (In Search of Heroic Capitalism).” This audio recording was made on November 2, 2018. The accompanying visual presentation may be viewed here.
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Republican candidates for the Kansas House of Representatives. Appearing, in initial speaking order, were:
- Steven Kelly, 72nd District (map of district)
- Cheryl Helmer, 79th District (map)
- J.C. Moore, 93rd District (map)
- Susan Humphries, 99th District (map)
This was recorded on October 19, 2018.
Following, from Karl Peterjohn, an account of why the Wichita Pachyderm Club is a valuable civic institution. The candidate mentioned in the article is Renee Duxler, running for Sedgwick County Commission District 1 (map is here). On her Facebook page she wrote “Proving once again that Democrats and Republicans can share ideas and thoughtful discussion within the same spaces … this gal ‘infiltrated’ the Wichita Pachyderm Club for a great presentation by Kyle Bauer, of KFRM radio, on the history and future of agriculture here in Kansas. They were very gracious and welcoming, and I enjoyed the experience immensely. Let’s keep the conversations going Sedgwick County!” Of note: Her opponent, Wichita City Council Member Pete Meitzner (district 2, east Wichita), said he was “troubled” that the Pachyderm Club had a member who supported Duxler instead of him.
Political civility in our age of thuggery
By Karl Peterjohn
I want to protect the identity of the Democrat candidate who made the decision to attend the October 12 Pachyderm Club meeting in downtown Wichita. I am concerned that retribution from the leftist loons and Alinskyite thugs that inhabit the extremist, but increasingly mainstream wing of the Democrat Party could be substantial. This is not a partisan statement. A couple of days ago I saw an online report where a Pennsylvania Democrat was forced to resign his party position because of his pro-American beliefs.
While I was presiding as the substitute president, I had the task of introducing elected officials and during elections, candidates running for office. This is routine with anywhere from a half dozen to a dozen candidates in attendance as we were about four weeks away from an election.
I was informed that a Democrat candidate was attending this GOP meeting and I was asked to include her in the candidate introductions. In our current age where GOP members of Congress have been shot and assaulted by socialist and leftists (Steve Scalise and Rand Paul), where GOP offices from Manhattan to Wyoming have been vandalized this month, where GOP candidates in Minnesota have been physically attacked while campaigning, it would have been easy to decline this request. I considered doing this.
However, there should be civility in our public affairs, despite odious comments to the contrary from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, about civility being only for progressives, liberals, and leftists. Dare I say it, we increasingly live in a country and period of time where good political manners, are the exception and not the rule. Now the Pachyderm rules are clear, with all GOP candidates being endorsed for the general election ballot, but no position taken in contested primaries. The rule on public introductions is not clear, was left to the presiding officer, no matter how temporary he happens to be, at the podium.
When I got down to the Democrat candidate’s name I went ahead and introduced her to the Pachyderm Club members and guests. I did point out her party affiliation, and contrasted the Pachyderm’s polite treatment of this Democrat candidate with the vile statement from the Obama administration attorney general Eric Holder that violence, in the form of his admonition, “… kick them,” in attacking Republicans is increasingly the political standard today.
The Wichita Pachyderm Club has occasionally had democrats as speakers. I pointed this out. A prominent Wichita Democrat, Professor Mel Kahn, has spoken to Pachyderm and the informational speakers, whether they are talking about Plato, Alexander Hamilton, or at this meeting, agriculture in Kansas, do not have a partisan political subject. This speaker, KFRM radio’s Kyle Bauer, could have just as easily provided his excellent agriculture presentation to Democrats, Libertarians, or any other group of Kansans interested in this important part of our state’s economy (This is a free plug for Mr. Bauer who provided an exceptional agriculture presentation).
I believe that the Pachyderm Club provided an example of civility in the public policy arena. This is Kansas nice. Sadly, this is increasingly the exception in today’s toxic political climate where conservatives and Republican elected officials are harassed in public, harangued at restaurants, in office hallways, town hall meetings disrupted, and general nastiness under Representative Maxine Waters admonitions promoting thuggery are increasingly commonplace. I must admit, that in the past the Pachyderm Club has taken steps to make sure that disruptions, and disruptive behavior, did not occur from non-members who opposed a speaker at one of our meetings. How sad.
The Constitution of our country is the outline of how we govern ourselves. The states, and the localities and governmental bodies created by the states (like counties, cities, and school districts), are the public institutions we use to resolve public policy differences in our democratic republic. Our Constitution has been a model for the rest of the world since it was enacted in 1789. Other nations resolve their public policy differences by other ways, using other means. These often conflict with the liberty our Constitution and its amendments, tries to establish.
It has been said, that politics is a form of war by other means. We had one civil war, with over 600,000 killed and hundreds of thousands permanently injured, and that is a part of our nation’s history when our differences could not be resolved politically. Violence and thuggery should not be part of our future, but it is a present problem, and a growing threat to our republic.
I am glad that civility was alive and well at the Pachyderm Club on October 12. I hope that this becomes a model for other public meetings by other groups in the future. I am afraid that this political civility was an exception, but it does deserve public notice since the local news media was not in attendance.
A look at some of the large economic development programs in Wichita and Kansas.
Here’s video of a presentation I gave at the Wichita Pachyderm Club this week on economic development incentives. The video was produced by Paul Soutar of Graphic Lens. View below, or click here to view at YouTube.
Following, articles that address some of the topics I presented:
- Industrial revenue bonds in Kansas: Industrial Revenue Bonds are a mechanism that Kansas cities and counties use to allow companies to avoid paying property and sales taxes.
- Wichita TIF projects: some background: Tax increment financing disrupts the usual flow of tax dollars, routing funds away from cash-strapped cities, counties, and schools back to the TIF-financed development. TIF creates distortions in the way cities develop, and researchers find that the use of TIF means lower economic growth.
- Community improvement districts in Kansas: In Kansas Community Improvement Districts, merchants charge additional sales tax for the benefit of the property owners, instead of the general public.
- STAR bonds in Kansas: The Kansas STAR bonds program provides a mechanism for spending by autopilot, without specific appropriation by the legislature.
- PEAK, or Promoting Employment Across Kansas: PEAK, a Kansas economic development incentive program, redirects employee income taxes back to the employing company.
- Historic preservation tax credits, or developer welfare: A Wichita developer seeks to have taxpayers fund a large portion of his development costs, using a wasteful government program of dubious value.
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Republican Candidates for Sedgwick County Commission. Appearing, in order of their initial appearance, were:
- Richard Ranzau, District 4.
- Pete Meitzner, District 1.
- Jim Howell, District 5.
This was recorded September 7, 2018.
- Election Day is Tuesday November 6, 2018. The last day to register to vote is October 16.
- In district 1, the candidates are Republican Pete Meitzner (campaign website peforsedgwickcounty.com) and Democrat Renee Duxler (www.reneeduxler.com). A map of the district is here.
- In district 4, the candidates are the Republican incumbent Richard Ranzau (www.voteranzau.org) and Democrat Lacey Cruse (www.laceycruse.com). A map of the district is here.
- In district 5, the candidates are the Republican incumbent Jim Howell (comhowell.com) and independent Jim Skelton (www.votejimskelton.com). A map of the district is here.
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Kansas House of Representatives Candidates. These are Republican candidates appearing on the November 6, 2018 general election ballot. This was recorded on August 24, 2018.
Candidates were, in order of initial appearance:
- Blake Carpenter, 81st District
- Emil Bergquist, 91st District
- Leo Delperdang, 94th District
- Ron Howard, 98th District
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Candidates for Kansas House of Representatives districts 74, 75, and 80. This was recorded on August 3, 2018.
- Kansas House District 74: Stephen Owens and incumbent Don Schroeder (Did not attend)
- Kansas House District 75: Will Carpenter and incumbent Mary Martha Good (Did not attend)
- Kansas House District 80: Incumbent Anita Judd-Jenkins (Did not attend) and Bill Rhiley
Here are maps of the districts:
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Kansas Secretary of State Candidates. While the Secretary of State might be considered merely a bureaucratic record-keeping position, current Secretary Kris Kobach has elevated its prominence. It has also been a breeding ground for gubernatorial candidates, including Kobach, Ron Thornburgh, and Bill Graves. This was recorded July 27, 2018.
Candidates appearing in this forum are:
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Candidates for State Board of Education, District 7. Republican candidates appearing are Robert M. D’Andrea and Ben Jones. This was recorded on July 20, 2018.
Kenneth Willard is the current member for district 7. He is not seeking election. The winner of the August primary election will meet the Democratic party candidate in the November general election.
The Kansas State Board of Education has ten districts, each being composed of four Kansas Senate districts. District 7 covers portions of central and east-central Kansas, including these cities: Alma, Emporia, Matfield Green, Marion, McPherson, Ellsworth, Lyons, Hutchinson, Kingman, Newton, and portions of North Sedgwick County, but not including Wichita.
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Kansas District Court Judicial Candidates. This was recorded July 13, 2018.
Kansas courts are divided into Judicial Districts. The 18th Judicial District has the same boundaries as Sedgwick County. Judges in the 18th Judicial District run for office and serve in Divisions. There are 28 Divisions. While these Divisions may appear to be geographical districts like those for county commissioner or state legislature, each Division covers the entire Judicial District. Therefore, all Sedgwick County voters may vote for judges in all divisions.
Candidates run as members of a party in the August primary, and winners advance to the November general election. Terms are four years. Of the Divisions that have elections this year, two have contested primaries, with all candidates filing as Republicans except for one Democrat in Division 7. In all other Divisions, only one candidate of any party has filed.
Here are the candidates in order of their opening statements.
Division 17 candidates:
- Scott Anderson
- Linda Kirby
- David Lowdon
- Richard Paugh
Division 7 candidates:
- John Van Achen
- Rodger Woods
Remarks from a candidate for Sedgwick County Commission call for presenting a unified front to the public.
Speaking to the Wichita Pachyderm Club, Sedgwick County Commission candidate Hugh Nicks called for leadership to end what he called “divisive behavior:” “We can’t have — we can’t have the kind of divisive behavior that we have going on right now — we just — it’s just not — it’s just not acceptable.”
His opponent in the August Republican Party primary election is Richard Ranzau, who currently holds the office.
The “divisive behavior” that Nicks objects to takes several forms, but it’s clear he thinks that the Sedgwick County Commission should present a united front: The commission should have a plan that’s agreed to, and if commissioners don’t follow the plan, there should be consequences. At least that’s the moral of a story he told members of guests of the Wichita Pachyderm Club.
That attitude is problematic. Especially so because the Sedgwick County Commission is different from a legislature. At the commission, there is no opportunity for interested parties — lobbyists and regular people — to testify before a committee as legislation is being developed. At the commission, there is no committee mark-up process in which the text of a bill is crafted and finalized. There is no committee vote that decides whether to recommend the bill to the entire legislative body.
So there really isn’t much debate or disagreement in public at the Sedgwick County Commission meetings. And when there is, it may be squelched. Last year a commissioner attempted to offer two amendments to a proposal. He was trying to generate a consensus. But the majority of commissioners wouldn’t have it, and the vote happened without considering the amendments. (See For Sedgwick County Commission, too much debate.)
It’s important that there be discussion in public, even if “divisive.” The prelude to the Kansas Open Meetings Act gives a reason why: “In recognition of the fact that a representative government is dependent upon an informed electorate, it is declared to be the policy of this state that meetings for the conduct of governmental affairs and the transaction of governmental business be open to the public.” 1
When things are not done in view of the public, we call them backroom deals, with all the well-deserved negative connotations. Here’s an example, from 2012: Sedgwick County staff and several commissioners worked out a deal to sell an unused radio tower for $280,000. Commissioners Ranzau and Peterjohn thought there should be an auction. There was an auction, and the county received net proceeds of $553,872. 2
There is already too much suspicion that backroom deals are common at the county and City of Wichita. The more important and “divisive” a matter is, the more discussion it deserves in public.
But that isn’t the attitude of candidate Nicks when he said, “It’d be like a business: I mean, if in our business when we had closed door meetings when, when we argue about how we move forward, in our, in our business, we didn’t go out in front of our employees afterwards and act the same way that we did back behind closed doors. It just doesn’t work. And if we went and acted that way in front of our customers, if we did, we wouldn’t have any customers.”
Business and government are different things. A business is accountable only to its owners and shareholders, and also to the public by acting lawfully. Other than this, a business can do what it wants. It may make decisions using any means its owners tolerate. 3
Government, however, is different. It should be accountable to the people. Sometimes — frequently — that requires “divisive” discussion and debate. And the more important the matter, the more discussion and debate — transparency — is needed.
It’s a lot easier on commissioners if the attitude is “go along to get along.” That attitude has led to a faltering Wichita economy as majorities of members of the Wichita City Council and Sedgwick County Commission have avoided debate and gone along with the advice of staff and economic development regimes. I think this is the strategy of Hugh Nicks, should he be elected to the commission.
It might be tempting to dismiss these remarks as having been made by an uninformed candidate. But Nicks says he has been running since October 2017 so that he can learn about the issues. 4
Following are excerpts of remarks of Hugh Nicks and Richard Ranzau at the Wichita Pachyderm Club, June 8, 2018.
In the area — in the area of leadership, uh, it always starts at the top. Yeah, it doesn’t matter what organization it is, it always starts at the top. I’ll give you just a couple of examples. Uh, when I first started out as a young guy, and I was coaching, I worked for a guy Lafayette Norwood. Maybe some of you know that name. Uh, he was the first black basketball coach — the city league’s first black coach in the city of Wichita, actually. And I worked for the man for two years and learned some hard lessons from him because he wanted to fire me a couple times.
Yeah, he wanted to fire me because one day I decided I’d run some drills that he would not have agreed upon and when we got back in the locker room and got all the kids checked out, he came and said, “I believe I’m gonna fire you.” I said, “I need that job.” It pays 6,200 dollars a year. I already said that. He said, “Well I saw what you were doing down at the other end of the court. It’s not what we agreed on. And uh, so, when we have a plan, we leave this, this office, then you’re gonna do what you’re supposed to do, and you’re not gonna counter anything that I say out on that floor because we’re a team and we’re gonna move forward.”
Uh, so that — that was one of my first lessons that I learned with regard to leadership. But I, I think it starts at the top, so here’s what I see at the county: Um, you know, we can’t have — we can’t have the kind of divisive behavior that we have going on right now — we just — it’s just not — it’s just not acceptable.
Now, it’s alright to disagree in my view. I mean, I’m probably one of the — one of the guys that disagree with and vehemently if I have a strong opinion. But it’s not done in public. You just — you just — you just can’t do that. So, if you want to have an argument with me and go back behind closed doors and have it all day long, that’s alright with me. But when we come out and we’re in front of a staff, then were gonna act differently, and we’re certainly gonna act differently in front of our constituents — in front of, in front of the, the people that we represent. It’d be like a business: I mean, if in our business when we had closed door meetings when, when we argue about how we move forward, in our, in our business, we didn’t go out in front of our employees afterwards and act the same way that we did back behind closed doors. It just doesn’t work. And if we went and acted that way in front of our customers, if we did, we wouldn’t have any customers.
So I’m a proponent, and trying to answer that question from back there in, in terms of leadership style, that we need a different leadership style in the county. Now Richard’s probably gonna take exception with that because he fights for what he believes in and I understand that. But it’s a matter of the way we go about it in my view, uh, and everything starts at the top. I mean, it starts at the top and works its way down, uh, that’s — that’s how I view that.
- Kansas Statutes Annotated 75-4317. Available at https://www.ksrevisor.org/statutes/chapters/ch75/075_043_0017.html. ↩
- As a result of system upgrades, the county no longer needs a radio tower located near 77th Street North and Interstate 135. Pixius Communications, LLC made an offer to purchase the tower and the five acre tower site for $280,000. The county proceeded making arrangements for the sale, preparing a sales agreement contract between Sedgwick County and Pixius with a sales price of $280,000, along with several other legal documents necessary to support the sale. … But commissioners Richard Ranzau and Karl Peterjohn felt that the best way to sell the tower was through an auction. … The result of the auction? A Florida company offered $610,000. After a sales commission ($55,000) and half of closing costs ($1,128), the county will net $553,872. That’s almost twice the price the county manager and two commissioners were willing to sell the tower for. See Weeks, Bob. Sedgwick County tower sale was not in citizens’ best interest. Available at https://wichitaliberty.org/sedgwick-county-government/sedgwick-county-tower-sale-was-not-in-citizens-best-interest/. ↩
- It’s true that some government officials say we must run government like a business. They usually mean that until they are held to the standards of accountability the private sector faces. Then, things are different. Accountability is avoided. (The non-discussion of expenses of the Intrust Bank Arena is an example of evading business-type accountability by members of the Sedgwick County Commission. See Intrust Bank Arena loss for 2017 is $4,222,182.) ↩
- “You may wonder why I’m announcing so early, since the Republican Primary for the County Commission seat isn’t until August 2018. The reason is simple. I like to do my homework. I want to learn about the way Sedgwick County governs, and the rationale behind the decisions that have been made. I want to learn about the issues that are most important to the people in the 4th District. I think serving as County Commissioner is too important to take an on-the-job-training approach, and I don’t want to be on a learning curve at the taxpayers’ expense.” Nicks4commissioner.com. News. October 19, 2017. Available at http://www.nicks4commissioner.com/news.html. . ↩
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Kansas House of Representatives Candidates for districts 97 and 100. This was recorded June 29, 2018.
Candidates invited this week included:
Kansas House District 97
Nick J. Hoheisel and Michael E. Walker. Hoheisel did not attend.
District 97 is currently represented by Les Osterman, who is not running. It is far southwest Wichita plus surrounding areas. A map is here:
Kansas House District 100
James Francis Breitenbach and Dan Hawkins
District 100 is currently represented by Dan Hawkins. It covers west Wichita and part of Maize. A map is here:
Campaign websites for:
- Nick J. Hoheisel: None found
- Michael E. Walker: None found
- James Francis Breitenbach: None found
- Dan Hawkins: www.danhawkinskansas.com
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Kansas House of Representatives Candidates for districts 87 and 93. This was recorded June 22, 2018.
Candidates invited this week included:
Kansas House District 87
Renee Erickson and Jeff Kennedy
District 87 is currently represented by Roger Elliott, who is not running. It is far east Wichita plus portions of Minneha township. A map is here:
Kansas House District 93
J.C. Moore and John Whitmer. Moore did not attend.
District 93 is currently represented by John Whitmer. It covers a small part of southwest Wichita and areas west and south. Cities: Cheney, Clearwater, Goddard (part), Haysville (part), Mulvane (part), Viola and Wichita (part). Townships: Afton, Attica (part), Erie, Illinois (part), Morton, Ninnescah, Ohio, Salem, Viola and Waco(part). A map is here:
Campaign websites for:
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Kansas Governor Dr. Jeff Colyer, who is also Candidate for Kansas Governor. This is part of a series in which all major Republican candidates will speak. Recorded May 18, 2018.
From the Wichita Pachyderm Club: Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State and Candidate for Kansas Governor. This is part of a series in which all major Republican candidates will speak. Recorded May 11, 2018.