Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Sunday October 31, 2010

Wichita city council this week. The agenda for November 2 includes two instances of corporate welfare in the name of economic development (Approval of Forgivable Loan Agreement, Nex-Tech Processing and Approval of Economic Development Incentives, TECT Power, Inc.), an ordinance that cancels the Save-A-Lot TIF district, and revisions to Wichita’s Community Improvement District policy. I’m told that the last item may be deferred at the request of some developers, which — if I were a cynic — might cause me to wonder who is really running things at city hall. When the city had a meeting to discuss the CID policy, the meeting was stacked almost exclusively with those who have an interest in extracting as much economic subsidy as possible from the city.

Mayor Brewer speaking on Save-A-Lot. On the October 24 edition of the KNSS Radio program Issues 2010, Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer spoke about the Save-A-Lot TIF district and what happened at the Sedgwick County Commission. Brewer said “The city said, okay, you can charge an additional two cents, if that’s what you want to do … But what ended up happening is the county voted against it and said no, we don’t want to let them charge themselves another two cents, and so it was voted down.” The “two cents” the mayor is referring to comes from the Community Improvement District that the city passed to benefit the Save-A-Lot store’s developers. Where the mayor is mistaken is in the role of the Sedgwick County Commission and the action that body took. The Kansas law regarding CIDs — the mayor’s “two cents” — gives no role to counties. Instead, the county commission voted to cancel the TIF district that the city created at the same time it created the CID. Now I can understand how people make misstatements when speaking on live television or radio. But the mayor seemed quite sure of himself. Host Steve McIntosh didn’t pick up on this error. KNSS shows have had other quality control problems recently, as when a host and guest discussed Wichita city council member Paul Gray and his prospects for reelection. Gray can’t run again due to term limits.

Shop this way. Before addressing the proposed Planeview Save-A-Lot store, the mayor said that regarding the existing Save-A-Lot store at 13th and Grove, the city had to educate people in the surrounding area that they couldn’t buy just a loaf of bread or one item at at time, they had to buy an entire week’s groceries.

Rasmussen tells us. “With less than a week to go before midterm elections, 32% of Likely U.S. Voters now say the country is heading in the right direction.” See Right Direction or Wrong Track. “Just 12% of Likely U.S. Voters now think Congress is doing a good or excellent job. Sixty-one percent (61%) rate their performance as poor. More at Congressional Performance. “With midterm congressional elections just a week away, the number of voters who view Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Very Unfavorably have reached their highest levels yet.” See Congressional Favorability Ratings.

Kansas high schools turn out graduates, but many are unprepared. At the end of a Lawrence Journal-World article on Kansas community colleges, “Responding to a question Thursday, [Jacqueline Vietti, president of Butler County Community College in El Dorado] noted that K-12 schools perhaps needed to place less emphasis on tests and more on the learning process and pointed to what she saw as ‘a disconnect between ACT scores and the preparedness of students’ coming to Butler County…. In a later interview, she acknowledged that 65 percent of recent high school graduates coming to her school require developmental work in math, English or reading.” This tracks with my reporting from earlier this year, which found that “only 26 percent of Kansas students that take the ACT test are ready for college-level coursework in all four areas that ACT considers.”

Government or private sector. In today’s Wichita Eagle opinion line: “Why would anyone want to take the power away from the government, which is an elected body, elected by the people, and turn the power over to the private sector, which is elected by no one and in which very few have a say?” I might point out to this person that private sector firms must meet the test and demands of consumer preferences each and every day. Politicians, on the other hand, face the voters only every few years when their terms are up. Furthermore, in the private sector, I can choose to buy my produce at Dillons, canned goods at Wal-Mart, snacks at Target, meats at the carneceria, etc. In government, we usually have to choose between Candidate A and B, each in their entirety. We can’t select the things we like about each candidate as we can in the private sector and free markets.

MSNBC’s Olbermann unhinged. “On Wednesday’s Countdown show, during a 21-minute ‘Special Comment,’ MSNBC host Keith Olbermann warned American voters against electing Tea Party Republicans to power, whom he suggested are ‘unqualified, unstable individuals’ who will take America ‘backward to Jim Crow, or backward to the breadlines of the ‘30s, or backward to hanging union organizers.’ He then made a play off MSNBC’s ‘Lean Forward’ slogan to disparage the Tea Party movement as he declared: ‘Vote backward, vote Tea Party.'” More, including video, at Newsbusters.

Wichita Eagle to be protested. A little birdie told me: “I have heard that a group calling themselves Women Against Violence plans to picket the Wichita Eagle building on Monday from 11:30 am until 1:30 pm and again at 4:30 pm until 6:30 pm showing their opposition to the Eagle’s endorsement of a political candidate who allegedly assaulted his wife.”

3 Comments

  • ictitator -

    You have to read Bob’s stuff to find out the real Wichita news. If the rest of the Wichita media does not cover this “wife beater endorsement,” protest in front of the eagle Nov. 1, what does it say about the “news” media in this town?

    Great job Bob on Sunday’s TV show too. You are doing more by yourself than some organizations’ “newsrooms,” in this town.

  • Republican Mom -

    Anyone who is against violence and abuse is welcome to join our protest!

    This morning there were people there from many different backgrounds!

    If you don’t have a sign, come on over anyway. We have a few extra multipurpose signs against abuse in general.

    And please phone the TV stations with local news to ask why they aren’t covering it.

    No candidate names are allowed on any signs and no political campaign buttons.

    KWCH this morning claimed they were not going to send a TV crew because “it might influence the elections.” That’s a rather poor excuse when no candidate names are mentioned on any signs.

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