Bob Weeks

5666 Posts

The Real Scandal at City Hall

In 2003, local Wichita news media devoted extensive news coverage to two officials in the City of Wichita's finance department. They were accused of improperly spending between $52,000 and $73,800 on travel. While I don't condone this waste and I'm glad that our local news media uncovered it, the amount involved is relatively small. Furthermore, the people who wasted this money are no longer in a position to repeat. The real scandal, however, is the ongoing lack of care exercised when spending our money. Time and time again we read in the newspaper how the mayor or city council members…
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Why I don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh

There have been periods when I listened to Rush Limbaugh, but it has been many years since I listened regularly. Now I hear his show only when I happen to be driving while it is on the air. When I do hear it, I realize that I don't miss it. I think the people who criticize Mr. Limbaugh as being merely an entertainer are correct. He provides entertainment to people who enjoy his style of humor and satire. I decided that I didn't like it anymore, and I stopped listening. As serious political commentary, though, his show falls short in…
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Remarks to City Council, May 11, 2004, Regarding AirTran Airways Subsidy

I delivered these remarks to the Wichita City Council as they were preparing to vote on extending AirTran Airway's subsidy for another two years. The extension passed with only one dissenting vote. Mr. Mayor, Members of the Council: I speak today in opposition to the continuation of the subsidy the City is paying to AirTran Airways. There are several reasons why I believe this subsidy should not be continued. The primary reason is that the subsidy, since it is paid to one company and one company only, is not fair to the other companies. Yes, it is true that fares…
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Political decision-making increases conflict

A recent column by economist Walter E. Williams (Why we're a divided nation) strongly makes the case for more decision-making by free markets rather than by the government through the political process. When decisions are made through free markets, Dr. Williams says, both parties win, because in a free market, parties voluntarily enter into only those transactions that benefit them. When decisions are made for us by the government, however, it is almost always the case that one party's gain is someone else's loss. Therefore, there is conflict. The more decisions made through politics, the more potential for conflict. Coalitions…
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Columnist Confuses Government and Individual, Again

In the November 7, 2004 Wichita Eagle, columnist Mark McCormick again confuses the proper role of government and individual. He starts by talking about the spirit of the people in Wichita, how they will help you push your car, how they will hold open the door for you, etc. He refers to this as "neighborliness." He labels Karl Peterjohn, Executive Director of the Kansas Taxpayers Network, as not belonging to this group, because of his opposition to tax increases. Because Peterjohn opposed the arena and a school bond issue a few years ago, McCormick thinks he also opposed the wheel…
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Columnist Confuses Government and Individual

Writing in the November 3, 2004 Wichita Eagle, columnist Mark McCormick labels the vote in favor of a taxpayer-funded, government-owned arena a "rebirth of city's pioneering spirit." In this column, Mr. McCormick mentions our famous entrepreneurs and aerospace industry pioneers. Although he explicitly denies comparing the building of a downtown arena to the genius of Beech and Cessna, this article claims that the downtown arena will somehow lead to a rebirth of Wichita. What I think Mr. McCormick has overlooked is that the people who in the past made Wichita great were people working as individuals, not as governments. Now,…
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Downtown Wichita arena as a public good

The streets and highways, and certainly the public parks, are examples of public goods. Public goods are characterized by two things: nonexcludability, meaning that non-payers can't be excluded from enjoying and using the good, and nonrivalrous consumption, meaning that consumption of the good by one person doesn't reduce the availability of the good to others. Neither applies to an arena. Roads and highways, to a large extent, are paid for by those who use them. As far as I know, I paid for the entire cost of street in front of my house through special tax assessments. It is reasonable…
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Arenas’ Financial Statements Not Complete

The WSU Center for Economic Development and Business Research study (reported by Fred Mann in the September 5 Wichita Eagle), showing a small loss for the proposed downtown arena, does not account for the cost of building the arena. Neither do the Qwest Center in Omaha nor the Alltel Arena in Arkansas when they report their profits. How do I know? I wrote to each of these facilities and asked. None include any expense for depreciation, debt service, lease payments, or anything that recognizes the tremendous amount of capital consumed by building these arenas. Yet, these facilities report a profit,…
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WSU Study on Downtown Wichita Arena Not Complete

Government Accounting Standards Board Statement 34 requires governments to account for the cost of their assets, usually by stating depreciation expense each year. Through a series of email exchanges with Mr. Ed Wolverton, President of the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation, I have learned that the WSU Center for Economic Development and Business Research was not aware of this requirement when they prepared their forecast. Mr. Wolverton admitted this after checking with the study authors. Mr. Chris Chronis, Chief Financial Officer of Sedgwick County, in an email conversation told me that the county will take depreciation expense for the downtown arena,…
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The leadership of our local government officials regarding the downtown Wichita arena

It is clear that our local government leaders want a downtown arena in Wichita. Just read their remarks in the Wichita Eaglenewspaper. Since the Sedgwick County Commission has promised that they will proceed with renovation of the Kansas Coliseum if the downtown arena vote fails, it is in their interest to make the Coliseum renovation option look as bad as possible. In my opinion, they've done a pretty good job of this. If you do the math on what it costs to borrow $55 million, paying it back at $6.1 million a year for 20 years, the interest rate is…
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