James Clendenin

Wichita City Council Member James Clendenin

In Wichita, a quest for campaign finance reform

Actions of the Wichita City Council have shown that campaign finance reform is needed. Citizen groups are investigating how to accomplish this needed reform, since the council has not shown interest in reforming itself. Consider recent actions by the council and its members: The council voted to give a movie theater operator a no-interest and low-interest loan, after having already received the benefit of tax increment financing. A minister dabbling in real estate development made a large contribution to his council representative just before he asked the city council for tax increment financing. The council voted to give a construction…
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Open records again an issue in Kansas

Responses to records requests made by Kansas Policy Institute are bringing attention to shortcomings in the Kansas Open Records Act. Those who have made records requests in Kansas are probably not surprised that KPI has had difficulty in having its records requests respected and filled. In 2007 Better Government Association and National Freedom of Information Coalition gave Kansas a letter grade of "F" for its open records law. Last year State Integrity Investigation looked at the states, and Kansas did not rank well there, either. See Kansas rates low in access to records. This week KPI president Dave Trabert appeared…
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Kansas counties decline sustainable communities planning

Two of the five Kansas counties that were asked to participate in a sustainable communities planning grant have decided not to join the effort. Of the five counties (Sedgwick, Butler, Reno, Harvey and Sumner), Butler and Sumner county commissioners voted against participation. The REAP sustainable communities planning process is designed to, in the words of REAP, "create a long-term regional plan for ensuring the health and productivity of our local economy. The grant will support community engagement to identify common values and goals, followed by local and regional efforts to enhance economic development, connect people with jobs, reduce housing and…
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Wichita voters reject cronyism — again

Tuesday's primary election in Kansas was notable for the large number of victories by conservative challengers over Republican senate incumbents. Also important is that voters in Wichita and the surrounding area rejected, for the second time this year, the culture of political cronyism that passes for economic development in Wichita. On Tuesday incumbent Sedgwick County Commissioner Karl Peterjohn defeated a challenge by Wichita City Council Member Jeff Longwell. The contrast was clear: Peterjohn with his long-time, outspoken advocacy for limited government and free market principles, although perhaps tempered a bit based on some votes he's made. Longwell, however, advocates for…
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In Wichita, a problem with government ethics

Wichita and Kansas lag behind states like Illinois and New Jersey in laws regarding ethical behavior by elected officials. Last week Wichita saw a lesson in how Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer and a majority of the Wichita City Council failed a test in government ethics. Besides Brewer, long-serving council members Jeff Longwell (district 5, west and northwest Wichita) and Lavonta Williams (district 1, northeast Wichita), as well as Vice Mayor Janet Miller (district 6, north central Wichita) have also displayed a callous disregard for ethical behavior by government officials. Today I appeared on the KAKE Television public affairs program This…
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Wichita fails ethics test

Yesterday Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer and a majority of the Wichita City Council failed a test, showing that Wichita elected officials, except for one, aren't interested in ethical behavior. The problem is worse than portrayed in a Wichita Eagle editorial, which commented on the appearance of the mayor's and council's action. In Wichita, we don't have the mere appearance of a problem, we have an actual and real problem. The problem, in a nutshell, is that the mayor and all members of the city council except for Michael O'Donnell (district 4, south and southwest Wichita) don't see that's a problem…
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For Wichita government, an ethics tipping point

Tomorrow Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer and the Wichita City Council will make a decision that will let the city learn the ethics and character of its elected officials. The issue is whether the mayor and five of six council members will decide to preside in a quasi-judicial matter over a case involving a major campaign contributor and personal friend. Now we know that the mayor has also intervened on behalf of Key Construction, recommending exclusively that the firm be hired for a construction project. My reporting in Wichita City Council can’t judge airport contract details the campaign contributions made by…
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Wichita City Council can’t judge airport contract

On Tuesday the Wichita City Council will conduct a hearing for review of the award of a contract for the construction of the new Wichita Airport terminal. But because of relationships between nearly all council members -- especially Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer -- and one of the parties to the dispute, the city council should not participate in this decision. The contract, worth about $100 million, was awarded to Dondlinger and Sons and its partner. Dondlinger has built many large projects, including INTRUST Bank Arena. But the city then ruled that Dondliger's bid is "unresponsive." The reason is that Dondlinger…
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Wichita decides to join sustainable communities planning

At yesterday's Wichita City Council meeting, the council took up the issue as to whether the city would participate in the REAP sustainable communities planning process. All council members except Wichita City Council Member Michael O'Donnell (district 4, south and southwest Wichita) voted in favor of participation. Critics of government planing processes such as this are worried that the planning process would subject us to additional control by the federal government. These are the so-called strings that are thought to accompany federal grants. (For those who are interested in what strings look like, here's an example of one that is…
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A Wichita shocker

"Local politicians like to get in bed with local business, and taxpayers are usually the losers. So three cheers for a voter revolt in Wichita, Kansas last week that shows such sweetheart deals can be defeated." So starts today's Wall Street Journal Review & Outlook editorial (subscription required), taking notice of the special election last week in Wichita. The editorial page of the Wall Street Journal is one of the most prominent voices for free markets and limited government in America. Over and over Journal editors expose crony capitalism and corporate welfare schemes, and they waste few words in condemning…
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