Here’s what the Wichita Chamber of Commerce could do


Today’s Wichita Eagle has a story wondering if economic conditions have affected local chambers of commerce. (Has economy affected area chambers?)

In particular, Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce CEO Bryan Derreberry mentioned measures aimed at retaining members.

The context of this, besides the current economic conditions, is the shift of the local chamber of commerce away from promoting free markets, limited government, and capitalism. But today, as Stephen Moore wrote two years ago in the Wall Street Journal, “chambers of commerce deploy their financial resources and lobbying clout to expand the taxing, spending and regulatory authorities of government.”

In other words, local chambers now support big-government crony capitalism. See The Decline of Local Chambers of Commerce.

Recently I asked Derreberry a question based on Moore’s assertion. In an noncommittal response, he disputed that this transformation has taken place in the Wichita Chamber. (See Wichita Chamber of Commerce makes case for interventionism.)

An illustration of this shift is last year’s election for the third district Sedgwick County Commission seat. One candidate, Karl Peterjohn, had a long and proven record of supporting free markets, limited government, and capitalism. His opponent had no such record, and in fact, had recently presided over a large tax increase in the small town she served as mayor.

So what did the Wichita Chamber do? Support the proven fiscal conservative?

No. Its political action committee spent some $19,000 — 44% of all it spent on campaigns — on Peterjohn’s opponent.

What should the Chamber do? Abandon its present course of supporting government interventionism. Instead, support policies that will generate prosperity for everyone, which are free markets, limited government, and capitalism.


9 responses to “Here’s what the Wichita Chamber of Commerce could do”

  1. Pat

    Truths and not-so truths. As a former member of the Chamber, it is self-evident that the Wichita Chamber blindly backs the City of Wichita. Why? Because a large part of Chamber’s and GWEDC’s funding comes from the city and county. Simply put, they don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them. That’s why I dropped my Chamber membership. Also, it’s pretty naive for anyone to think that Bryan will share this with you or anyone else.

    Now as far as Peterjohn goes, the Chamber’s opposition had less to do with Marcey Gregory and more to do with Karl’s position and track record as ED with Kansas Taxpayer’s Network. And, you mis-represent his opponent, Marcey Gregory and the tax increase in Goddard. Had Karl shown himself to be more moderate, than he would have garnered their support.

    Interesting that Karl supports county government buying land from Bel Aire to bail them out of their fianancial mess and to support a government owned industrial park. Pretty contradictory for someone whose philosophy is supposedly for free markets, limited government, and capitalism.

  2. Cybex

    Our local Chamber always supports the moderate Republican or Democrat over the more fiscally conservative candidate, but more importantly, past Wichita Chamber board presidents such as Sheryl Wolhford and Jeff Turner were personally involved in the campaign of the more liberal candidates.

  3. June

    Mr. Peterjohn opposed what he perceived to be excessive school funding with little educational improvement. Unless, the Wichita Chamber was a “single issue” organization they should have had many other issues to agree with Peterjohn.

    Former Mayor Mayans worked with the Chamber. Initiated the Visioneering Project before Derrebery was hired. Was able to get the Legislature to fund Airtran with state dollars and set up the committee to develop a plan for the Arena project and a way to fund it and the Chamber did not support him.

    The Chamber does have an agenda!

  4. Pat

    Don’t give Mayans credit for Visioneering. That’s BS. He didn’t initiate anything with Visioneering. And, he did not find funding for Air Tran. In fact, Mayans just about ran Air Tran out of town just like he did Bass Pro. The only thing King Carlos can take credit for is taking credit for everything.

    Karl has not been only opposed to school financing either. I’ve observed him numerous times before both the city council and the county commission. Don’t try to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

  5. Cybex

    June, “Never argue with an idiot; they will drag you down to their level and beat you with their experience”.

    I, actually, researched some of this stuff and found that when Mayans was in the Legislature he introduced legislation and fought hard to get the state to support Airtran and as Mayor, he invited Gov. Sebelius to the Chamber and conducted a meeting with the “movers and checkers” to get this going. He also offered testimony, along with Tom Docking, in front of the legislature committee. I also found a press clip of a meeting in the Mayor’s office with Chamber, County, and WSU (Pres. Beggs) where a vision for the future of Wichita was discussed. Mayans was also co-chaired of the Visioneering Wichita. All that is true and easy to verify for those interested in facts.
    Let’s be nice and tolerant of the views of others and stop the name calling (sow ear’s, King Carlos, etc.)

  6. Pat (the “idiot” lol)

    Fair Fares started in 2001 and the subisidy of Air Tran began in 2002 by the local governmental bodies prior to Mayans being elected Mayor. The state subsidy was passed in 2006. Carlos often took credit even though he didn’t deserve it. That was about the one good thing that he could always accomplish. Making sure the PR machine gave him credit. If he were so good for the city, why did he lose in a landslide? For those of us who actively participated in Visioneering, MAYOR Carlos was nowhere to be found. Was he out pimping Visioneering? Heck, no.

    Some of you may want to give Carlos credit, but for those who were actively engaged with Carlos on a frequent basis, they know the truth.

  7. Cybex

    Pat, you need to deal with your anger and quick. It is true that Mayor Knight started Airtran local subsidies, but Rep. Mayans’ idea was to fund it by the “state” not the “city” and this came before Mayor Knight came up with the idea of funding it with the local subsidies. Now, if you want to rewrite history and disregard the public record that is up to you. Mayans was the vice-chairman of Visioneering along with Harvey Sorensen. They met often at the Chamber in the morning. Those are facts!

    I don’t know why he lost the re-election. Many good people lose elections or not get elected at all, but that does not make them bad or evil.

    I am not trying to give him or anyone else credit. My purpose was to set the record straight, but it appears that there are still some in the community that even after working to defeat him are still mad. Your side won! Enjoy life!

  8. John

    How you folks went from talking about the politics of the Wichita Chamber to demonizing people is beyond me.

    I own several businesses, but I no longer belong to the Chamber because it is a “good old boy’s club” and I didn’t see the value of my investment in the membership.

    On Mr. Peterjohn: He is intelligent and passionate about government that is accountable and efficient. He does his homework and is persistent.

    On Mr. Mayans: I offered him a job running one of my businesses and he declined. His resume shows that he has two degrees; was at Harvard; came to America without his parents at a young age and spent six years in foster care. Worked for major corporations in the US; Is a Vietnam Veteran; has tremendous foreign experience; owned his own business and his resume has two pages of awards as a Kansas Legislator. Probably, one of the most accomplished Mayors in Wichita’s history. What is not to like about this guy? Wichita was lucky to have him for 4 years!

  9. […] is a vigorous campaign led by the Wichita Chamber of Commerce’s Bryan Derreberry in support of Buchanan. A commenter on a Wichita Eagle story referred to […]

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