Robert Layton

Wichita City Manager Robert Layton

Naftzger Park on the web: Do we care?

Naftzger Park on the web: Do we care?

A badly outdated portion of Wichita's website makes me wonder: Does anyone care? In the Naftzger Park Facebook group that I co-administer, someone recently posted this: Hi! I'm [not] new to Wichita and a friend told me about a quaint and lovely Victorian style park set in the downtown area. I love little parks like these as they're such an endearing surprise in the midst of old industrial buildings and warehouses. After seeing the pictures on your website, I can tell my friend understated the beauty of the park. I can't wait to visit! One problem though, I can't find…
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In Wichita, revision of water history

In Wichita, revision of water history

In 2014 Wichita voters rejected a sales tax which would have provided $250 million to spend on a water project. What were the city's concerns? A recent Wichita Eagle article has ignited some revising of history regarding Wichita's water infrastructure. [1. Swaim, Chance. Wichita’s water plant: ‘Every hour that thing is running, it could fail.’ Wichita Eagle, July 21, 2019. Available at https://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article232826482.html.] The article is grim, starting with, "Next time water comes out of your tap, don’t take it for granted. Wichita’s only water treatment plant could fail at any moment." The article reports on the poor condition of…
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On big contracts, Wichita has had problems

On big contracts, Wichita has had problems

As Wichita prepares to award a large construction contract, let's hope the city acts in an ethical manner this time. As the Wichita City Council prepares to make a decision regarding a contract for the new baseball stadium, the council's past reputation in these matters can't be overlooked. The controversy over the stadium contract has been covered by the Wichita Eagle: "The Wichita City Council hasn’t officially approved a design-build team for the city’s new $75 million Minor League ballpark, but there’s already been a protest over the recommended group. ... At issue in a protest by a competing team…
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Wichita being sued, alleging improper handling of bond repayment savings

Wichita being sued, alleging improper handling of bond repayment savings

A lawsuit claims that when the City of Wichita refinanced its special assessment bonds, it should have passed on the savings to the affected taxpayers, and it did not do that. A lawsuit filed in Sedgwick County District Court charges that the City of Wichita improperly handled the savings realized when it refinanced special assessment bonds at a lower interest rate. The case is 2018-CV-001567-CF, filed on July 13, 2018, and available here. The suit names David L. Snodgrass and Leslie J. Snodgrass as plaintiffs, and a long list of defendants, namely: The City of Wichita, Kansas Wichita City Manager…
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Lawrence has it. Wichita doesn’t.

Lawrence has it. Wichita doesn’t.

Despite promises, Wichita fails to inform citizens on important activities of its government. For several years, the Kansas city of Lawrence has published an economic development report letting citizens know about the activities of the city in this area. The most recent edition may be viewed here. The Lawrence report contains enough detail and length that an executive summary is provided. This report is the type of information that cities should be providing, but the City of Wichita does not do this. It's not like the City of Wichita does not realize the desirability of providing citizens with information. In…
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Wichita to look outside for management of engagement

Wichita to look outside for management of engagement

Wichita decides to have someone else conduct public engagement. At the November 7, 2017 meeting of the Wichita City Council, the council will be asked to approve a request for proposal (RFP) document relating to Century II. The RFP is a document that spells out what the city wants done relating to public engagement regarding the future of Century II. Specifically, interested parties are invited to "design and implement a transparent public engagement process that involves a broad cross-section of Wichita residents in a discussion of interests related to the future of Century II as a performing arts center." A…
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A Wichita social media town hall

A Wichita social media town hall

A City of Wichita town hall meeting ends in less than nine minutes, with a question pending and unanswered. As part of its engagement with citizens, the City of Wichita holds social media town hall meetings. On June 20, 2107, there was a Facebook town hall on the topic of economic development featuring Assistant City Manager Scot Rigby. His charge is "developing and implementing a coordinated and comprehensive development services program and for developing, implementing and overseeing economic development, redevelopment and real estate programs and projects." He's worked for the city for two years. [2. City of Wichita. Assistant City…
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Wichita WaterWalk contract not followed, again

Wichita WaterWalk contract not followed, again

Wichita city hall failed to uphold the terms of a development agreement from five years ago, not monitoring contracts that protect the public interest. Two weeks ago a Wichita Eagle article reported on a 2002 public-private partnership that called for the private-sector company to submit an annual report to the city. But the company did not submit the reports, and the city didn't ask for them. The city did after the Eagle inquired. [1. Lefler, Dion. WaterWalk profit-sharing: 15 years, zero dollars for Wichita. Wichita Eagle, July 8, 2017. Available at http://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article160147944.html.] Much of the Eagle article described why current…
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Wichita check register

Wichita check register

A records request to the City of Wichita results in data as well as insight into the city’s attitude towards empowering citizens with data. As part of an ongoing transparency project, I asked the City of Wichita for check register data. I’ve made the data available in a visualization using Tableau Public. Click here to access the visualization. Analyzing this data requires a bit of local knowledge. For example, there is a vendor named “Visit Wichita” that started to receive monthly payments in March 2015. What about payments for January and February? Those were made to a vendor named “Go…
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Year in Review: 2016

Year in Review: 2016

Here are highlights from Voice for Liberty for 2016. Was it a good year for the principles of individual liberty, limited government, economic freedom, and free markets in Wichita and Kansas? Also be sure to view the programs on WichitaLiberty.TV for guests like journalist, novelist, and blogger Bud Norman; Radio talk show host Joseph Ashby; David Bobb, President of Bill of Rights Institute; Heritage Foundation trade expert Bryan Riley; Radio talk show host Andy Hooser; Keen Umbehr; John Chisholm on entrepreneurship; James Rosebush, author of "True Reagan," Jonathan Williams of American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC); Gidget Southway, or Danedri Herbert;…
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