Search Results for: Bill Warren

Wichita contracts, their meaning (or not)

Is the City of Wichita concerned that its contracts contain language that seems to be violated even before the contract is signed? This week the Wichita City Council approved a development agreement for the apartments to be built on the west bank of the Arkansas River. The development agreement the council contemplated included this language in Section 11.06, titled "Conflicts of Interest." No member of the City’s governing body or of any branch of the City’s government that has any power of review or approval of any of the Developer’s undertakings shall participate in any decisions relating thereto which affect such person’s personal interest or the interests of any corporation or partnership in which such person is directly or indirectly interested. At Tuesday's meeting I read this section of the…
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For Wichita sales tax, concern over conflicts of interest

Supporters of a proposed sales tax in Wichita promise there will be no conflicts of interest when making spending decisions. That would be a welcome departure from present city practice. In November Wichita voters will decide on a new one cent per dollar sales tax, part to be used for economic development, specifically job creation. "Yes Wichita" is a group that supports the sales tax. Language on its website reads: "Conflict-of-interest policies will prohibit anyone from participating in decisions in which there is any self-interest." The page is addressing the economic development portion of the proposed sales tax. It's part of an effort to persuade Wichita voters that millions in incentives will be granted based on merit instead of cronyism or the self-interest of politicians, bureaucrats, and committee members. The…
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Wichita city manager’s warning is too late

On Tuesday June 16, 2008, the Wichita City Council agreed to lend the Old Town Warren Theatre's owners $6 million so they could keep the theater open. (City agrees to loan Warren $6 million June 18, Wichita Eagle). Wichita Interim City Manager Ed Flentje issued this warning to the council: "There are in this community much larger businesses with much larger employment who may see this opening as something that will open a door for those businesses to come and say, 'You've done it before, you can do it for us.'" Dr. Flentje, I hate to break the news to you, but the door is already wide open. Not so much for loans directly from the city to business entities, but for all sorts of TIF districts and tax abatements.…
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The odd ethics of Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer

The Wichita city council should repeal a law that the council doesn't follow. As he has done previously, Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer decided not to vote on a matter involving Spirit Aerosystems at the November 4, 2014 meeting of the Wichita City Council. The mayor didn't give a specific reason for recusing himself, but it's probably because he was formerly an employee at Spirit. So it's good that he did this. But if we're going to observe ethics protocols like this -- and we should -- let's go all the way. The mayor should have announced at the start of this agenda item that he had to recuse himself, and then he should have left the bench and probably also the council chambers. Instead, Brewer presided over the presentation and…
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Campaign contributions show need for reform in Wichita

Candidates for Wichita City Council have filed campaign finance reports, and the filings illustrate the need for campaign finance reform in Wichita and Kansas. Two incumbents, both who have indicated their intent to run in the spring elections, received campaign contributions in 2012 from two sources: A group of principals and executives of Key Construction, and another group associated with theater owner Bill Warren. The incumbent candidates receiving these contributions are Wichita City Council Member James Clendenin (district 3, southeast and south Wichita) and Wichita City Council Member Lavonta Williams (district 1, northeast Wichita). Except for $1.57 in unitemized contributions to Clendenin, these two groups accounted for all contributions received by these two incumbents. Those associated with Key Construction gave a total of $7,000. Williams received $4,000, and $3,000 went…
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Wichita’s bailout culture

On Tuesday the Wichita City Council will consider a bailout of a real estate development. If the council takes this action, it is one more step in a series of bailouts granted by the city, and it sets up expectations that the city will continue bailouts, creating a severe climate of moral hazard. The property in question, owned by South Beech Development, LLC, received a loan from the city in 1995 under the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, a project of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD. According to city documents, the project has not generated sufficient cash flow to pay back this loan. The loan balance of $195,000 and $368,437 in accrued interest are unpaid. The recommendation by city staff includes forgiveness of the $368,437 in…
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The speck and the logs

When Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer recently shopped for a car, it made the front page of the newspaper, and for a reason that doesn't seem very newsworthy. Buried in the story, however, is a short passage that holds actual news. Carrie Rengers reports in the Wichita Eagle: [Brewer] says he knows a lot of dealers in Wichita ... but he says he has to be careful about trying to get a good deal while shopping in the city. "I don’t want to be accused of getting any type of special deals or anything else," he says. "You have that handful of people that’s always searching for some type of conspiracy." It's good to know that this mayor is concerned about ethical behavior when shopping for a car. But I'm surprised,…
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Concern over state office building decision politics

Speculation that politics might influence a decision over the location of State of Kansas offices is amusing, given that one of the players has a history of awarding campaign contributors and friends. Will he now advocate for keeping politics out of governmental decision-making? When the State of Kansas said it is going to move offices from its downtown location, a local politician expressed concern to the Wichita Eagle: "It raises a red flag," says Rep. Jim Ward (D-Wichita). "I have a concern there is a history of the governor rewarding financial contributors with state contracts. I know he has contributors in Wichita that own (buildings) that fall into that category. ... I don’t want that to be the reason we’re moving." In another Eagle article, Ward said his second priority…
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Curious Wichita ethics enigmas

As he has done previously, Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer decided not to vote on a matter involving Spirit Aerosystems at the November 5, 2013 meeting of the Wichita City Council. The mayor didn't give a reason for recusing himself, but it's probably because he was formerly an employee at Spirit. So it's good that he did this. But if we're going to observe ethics protocols like this -- and we should -- let's do them correctly. The mayor should have announced at the start of this item that he had to recuse himself, and then he should have left the bench and probably also the council chambers. Instead, Brewer presided over the presentation and discussion of the item, and then stated he wouldn't be voting. It's a small matter, but…
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Wichita Old Town Warren Theater Public Hearing Remarks

From John Todd. Testimony I presented before the Wichita City Council on July 1, 2008 in opposition to the proposed Old Town Warren Theater LLC loan. The question before the council today relates to the proper role of government. I believe the role of government is that of acting as a non-partial judge from the sidelines, protecting the rights and property of all citizens, through the rule of law, and not acting as a participant in any activity, particularly economic, that places it in a partnership role with one group of citizens to the exclusion of all others. When government becomes an active participant in economic activity or acts as an agent for one party to the exclusion of other citizens, it abdicates its proper role of providing the legal…
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