Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday October 18, 2010

Last day to register to vote. Today is the last day to register to vote in the November general election in Kansas. Contact your county election office for details.

Democratic foreign campaign money. “Democratic leaders in the House and Senate criticizing GOP groups for allegedly funneling foreign money into campaign ads have seen their party raise more than $1 million from political action committees affiliated with foreign companies. … Republicans with groups under fire from the White House say the hefty campaign contributions illustrate Democratic hypocrisy.” More at The Hill: Dems have raised more than $1 million this cycle from foreign-affiliated PACs. Related: Axelrod, Gibbs keep up Dems’ offensive on Chamber donations.

Rasmussen polls from last week. 55% Favor Repeal of Health Care Law: “The majority of U.S. voters continue to favor repeal of the new national health care law but are slightly less emphatic about the impact the law will have on the country. Confidence in home ownership falls: “Now more than ever, homeowners expect to see the value of their home go down over the next year. A new Rasmussen Reports survey finds that 32% expect the value of their home to decrease over the next year, the highest finding since Rasmussen Reports began asking the question regularly in December 2008.” Generic Congressional ballot: “With just three weeks to go until Election Day, Republicans hold an eight-point lead on the Generic Congressional Ballot. Polling for the week ending Sunday, October 10, shows that 47% of Likely Voters would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate, while 39% prefer the Democrat.”

Waiting for Superman to open in Wichita. Opens October 22 at the Warren Theater on East 13th in Wichita. Check the website for show times. Of the film, the Wall Street Journal wrote: ” The new film “Waiting for ‘Superman'” is getting good reviews for its portrayal of children seeking alternatives to dreadful public schools, and to judge by the film’s opponents it is having an impact. Witness the scene on a recent Friday night in front of a Loews multiplex in New York City, where some 50 protestors blasted the film as propaganda for charter schools.” In Kansas, the Wichita Eagle printed an op-ed penned by the education bureaucracy status quoSharon Hartin Iorio, dean of the Wichita State University College of Education in this case — to inoculate Wichitans against the effects of what I am told is a powerful film. Let’s hope this film gets Kansans to thinking about public schools in our state, as Kansas is way behind the curve on innovation, compared to other states.

Democratic political activists wanted. Craigslist ad: “The Kansas Coordinated Campaign (Democrat) seeks passionate and hard-working persons to do paid door-to-door voter contact in Sedgwick. This is not a fundraising position, and is exclusively focused on ensuring that Democratic voices are heard this November.” Pay is $9/hour. An earlier ad from September: “Looking for several energetic people to work with a small campaign and make sure that Kansas voices are heard in the government! Looks great on resumes, etc. Must be able to work 8-12 hours a week (weekends and/or evenings). Registered Democrats only, no felony convictions.” That job advertised pay of $10/hour.

Energy to be topic at Wichita Pachyderm. This Friday’s meeting of the Wichita Pachyderm club will feature John A. McKinsey speaking on the topic “Cap and Trade: What is the economic and regulatory impact of Congressional legislation?” The public is welcome at Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Trackers at work. The Kansas City Star explains the role of trackers in political campaigns: “Martin’s job is to follow and film political opponents — and try to catch them in a misstep. Trackers like Martin, who works for the Kansas Democratic Party, have become a fixture of modern political campaigns. They now are so common that many political consultants say campaigns are behind the times if they don’t employ one.” In the Kansas fourth Congressional district campaign, Democrat Raj Goyle employes a tracker to follow Republican Mike Pompeo. At the several events where I’ve seen him, he hasn’t asked a question. Here’s some video, apparently shot by the tracker himself, in which Republican National Chairman Michael Steele has a little good-natured fun at the tracker’s expense at a Pompeo campaign event. When asked by me, the Pompeo campaign would not reveal if they use a tracker.

Kansas owes — a lot. From Kansas Budget Watch, a project of the Institute for Truth in Accounting: “One of the reasons Kansas is in this precarious position is state officials used antiquated budgeting and accounting rules to determine payroll costs. Truthful accounting would include in the payroll costs the portion of pension benefits employees earn every year they work. Accurate accounting provides that these real and certain expenses be reported on the state’s budget, balance sheet and income statement when earned, not when paid. Because the pension benefits are not immediately payable in cash, Kansas’ politicians have ignored most of these costs when calculating ‘balanced’ budgets. More than $8.5 billion of these and other costs have been pushed into the future, and thus onto your children’s and grandchildren’s backs.” See Financial State of Kansas for more. Whenever the shortfall of funding KPERS, the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System, is mentioned, public sector employees attack the messenger rather than facing the reality of the situation. Their strategy, as it is for a majority of legislators, is to pass along this funding shortfall to a future generation. This is dishonest, and a reason why the public employee pension system needs reform — now.

Sales tax changes could scuttle grocery store CID. A proposal by Kansas Senator Dick Kelsey to eliminate the sales tax on groceries in Kansas could have an impact on a Wichita grocery store’s plans. The store, a Save-A-Lot proposed to be built in Planeview, would use the state’s Community Improvement District law to allow it to collect an extra two cents per dollar sales tax. Question: If the state stopped taxing groceries, could the store still collect the two cents per dollar CID tax? I’m guessing the answer is no. The store’s developer made the point that many of the stores customers use the food stamp program, so they don’t pay tax anyway. And non-grocery items like household supplies would still be taxed (probably), so there’s some sales tax and CID tax there. Here’s an example of how relying on government and politicians adds extra uncertainty and risk to entrepreneurial activity, as if market risk wasn’t enough already. Although I would say that those like Rob Snyder, the developer of the proposed store, who seek government subsidy to back their ventures can hardly be classified as entrepreneurs — at least not the type we need more of.

TIF for rich, bit not for poor? A letter writer in yesterday’s Wichita Eagle writes: “Tax-increment financing districts have been used to provide millions of dollars to developers in their attempts to revitalize downtown Wichita. Blocking $400,000 for Planeview implies that buildings downtown are of far greater importance than the concern for human beings living in one of the poorest communities in Sedgwick County.” This is an issue the city has to grapple with, although it was the county commission that rejected the formation of the TIF district. The writer continues with a moral plea: “What has happened to our morality and our concern for and recognition of the needs of those who are less fortunate?” Morality is one of the reasons why I and my friend John Todd have opposed all TIF districts, regardless of location and purpose. That, and the fact that they don’t work — if growth in the entire community is the goal, instead of enriching specific people.

Organist Massimo Nosetti. Tuesday Italian organist Massimo Nosetti will perform a recital as part of the Rie Bloomfield Organ Series. The recital starts at 7:30 pm in Wiedemann Recital Hall (map), on the campus of Wichita State University. Cost is $10.

Wichita Eagle Opinion Line. “Am I the only one offended by Russ Meyer’s comment that ‘Anybody who is dumb enough to run against Carl (Brewer) is not qualified to be the mayor of Wichita’? When did Meyer become God?”

3 Comments

  • Dumb&Dumber -

    Russ Meyer, former Cessna CEO, who outsourced jobs to Mexico when he was at Cessna believes that anyone challenging Mayor Brewer must be a dumb person. Can we actually find a person dumber than Brewer to be our City Mayor?

  • Russ Meyer is a real piece of work. The guy lives in Arizona but keeps a place here so that he can return and meddle in other people’s business. He comes to Wichita to receive awards after spending other people’s money and returns to Arizona to his hacienda cared for by undocumented aliens.

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