Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday June 13, 2011


Wichita City Council. This week the Wichita City Council considers these items: The council will deliberate a contract in the amount of $50,000 with the Kansas World Trade Center for economic development services. KWTC’s mission is to “promote and facilitate international trade through education, communication and research.” … The council will be asked to approve cultural funding allocations approved by the Cultural Funding Committee. The source of these funds is the city’s dedicated property tax for the arts, which is estimated to bring in $3,165,897 next year. The best thing the council could do for citizens is to forgo this funding, reduce taxes, and let citizens choose how to allocate their funds based on their own preferences. Instead, we have a committee deciding which arts Wichitans should be taxed to pay for. … The council will be asked to approve spending $194,849 on a contract with a firm to produce the Wichita bicycle master plan. … Another contract to be considered spends $87,253 to produce a transit community outreach and input study. … As always, the agenda packet is available at Wichita city council agendas.

Arts jobs lost already? The Wichita Eagle’s Rhonda Holman is already bemoaning the lost arts jobs, writing this about Kansas Governor Sam Brownback: “He alone bears the responsibility for five lost jobs today as the Kansas Arts Commission’s funding runs out.” A few of the comments left to the article got the economics right, reminding Holman that these jobs at the Kansas Arts Commission are government jobs, not arts jobs. This is a distinction that is often overlooked by our state’s largest newspaper.

American politics, viewed from down under. James Paterson, an Australian, writes about the inability of left-wing media to understand a conservative grassroots political movement: “Ever since the rise of the Tea Party in the United States and the community revolt against the Gillard Government’s carbon tax, progressive journalists and commentators have struggled to grapple with the idea of a grassroots political movement that isn’t left wing. More used to anti-war moratoriums and union-led protests for equal pay or refugee rights, many left-leaning journalists appear to be on a mission to uncover the ‘real’ cause of public dissent from their favoured big-government agenda, particularly regarding climate change.” Paterson notes how the media has latched on to Charles and David Koch as the driving force behind this political movement. But, he writes: “But political movements can’t just be conjured up at the behest of billionaire businessmen, media moguls or talk-show hosts. And they certainly can’t be directed exclusively by them to serve their commercial interests. If that were the case, what took them so long? Why did the Koch brothers — who were involved in libertarian activism as early as the 1970s — not ‘create’ the Tea Party to tackle US President Jimmy Carter, or Bill Clinton, decades ago?” A good question, I might add. Concluding: “As much as it might disappoint some commentators, most conservative philanthropists are simply passionate about the philosophy of individual liberty and personal freedom, just as others are committed to human rights or finding a cure for cancer. Surprisingly, even ordinary people can subscribe to these beliefs, and they don’t need to be told by a reclusive billionaire or wacky media personality how to think.”

California parent trigger attacked. California has a new and innovative school reform law called the “parent trigger.” If a majority of the parents for a school sign a petition calling for the trigger to be invoked, the school must undergo one of several reform measures, such as, as described in Locking the Parent Trigger: “close the school and let the students enroll in a higher-performing campus nearby; convert the school to an independent charter; fire half the teaching staff and replace the administration; extend school hours and revise the curriculum under a federally recommended turnaround plan; or adopt an ‘alternative governance’ model, which could include anything from establishing a school-site council to handing over the school to the local district superintendent.” The City Journal article tells of an effort by the state’s anti-choice education establishment to interfere with and overturn the law.

Medical board’s powers. Many are not aware of the role of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB, which was established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This board is charged with holding down the costs of medical care under ObamaCare. In his column Government by the ‘experts’ George Will describes some of this board’s extreme powers, such as the board’s proposals becoming law unless Congress takes action to oppose, and that action requires three-fifths majority vote. He quotes U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia: “I anticipate that Congress will find delegation of its lawmaking powers much more attractive in the future. … I foresee all manner of ‘expert’ bodies, insulated from the political process, to which Congress will delegate various portions of its lawmaking responsibility. How tempting to create an expert Medical Commission … to dispose of such thorny, ‘no-win’ political issues as the withholding of life-support systems in federally funded hospitals.” … This topic of Congress brushing aside its responsibility to make tough decisions came up in my recent interview with U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo of Wichita, in which I reported: “Pompeo said that over the last 25 or 30 years Congress has been unwilling to create ‘substantive markers’ in legislation. Instead, it creates vague laws and funds administrative agencies to implement them. These agencies are less accountable than elected officials, and Congress has handed over much authority to them.”

Chief Justice to speak in Wichita. This Friday (June 17th) the Wichita Pachyderm Club features Honorable Lawton R. Nuss, Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice, speaking on the topic “The State of the Kansas Courts.” The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club. … Upcoming speakers: On June 24, Jim Mason, Naturalist at the Great Plains Nature Center will have a presentation and book signing. Mason is author of Wichita’s Riverside Parks, published in April 2011. On July 1 there will be no meeting due to the Independence Day holiday. On July 8, Dave Trabert, President, Kansas Policy Institute, on “Stabilizing the Kansas Budget.”

More ‘Economics in One Lesson.’ Tonight (June 13) Americans For Prosperity Foundation is sponsoring a continuation of the DVD presentation of videos based on Henry Hazlitt’s classic work Economics in One Lesson. The event is Monday (June 13) at 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm at the Lionel D. Alford Library located at 3447 S. Meridian in Wichita. The library is just north of the I-235 exit on Meridian. The event’s sponsor is Americans for Prosperity, Kansas. For more information on this event contact John Todd at john@johntodd.net or 316-312-7335, or Susan Estes, AFP Field Director at sestes@afphq.org or 316-681-4415.

Climate change resource launched. The Heartland Institute has launched an online resource dedicated to providing information about climate change and related topics. Titled ClimateWiki, Heartland writes that the website “covers an immensely complicated subject with hard scientific facts, not the scare-mongering and politicization found at Wikipedia, other ‘alarmist’ climate research sites and the mainstream media.” … Heartland will host the International Conference on Climate Change later this month.


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