Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey

Special interests will capture south-central Kansas planning

Special interest groups are likely to co-opt the government planning process started in south-central Kansas as these groups see ways to benefit from the plan. The public choice school of economics and political science has taught us how special interest groups seek favors from government at enormous costs to society, and we will see this at play over the next few years. Sedgwick County has voted to participate in a HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant. While some justified their votes in favor of the plan because "it's only a plan," once the planning process begins, special interests plot to…
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In Kansas, planning will be captured by special interests

The government planning process started in south-central Kansas will likely be captured by special interest groups that see ways to benefit from the plan. The public choice school of economics and political science has taught us how special interest groups seek favors from government at enormous costs to society, and we will see this at play again over the next few years. This week the Sedgwick County Commission voted to participate in a HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant. While some justified their votes in favor of the plan because "it's only a plan," once the planning process begins, special…
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Pay-to-play laws are needed in Wichita and Kansas

In the wake of scandals, some states and cities have passed "pay-to-play" laws. These laws often prohibit political campaign contributions by those who seek government contracts, or the laws may impose special disclosure requirements. Many people make campaign contributions to candidates whose ideals and goals they share. This is an important part of our political process. But when reading campaign finance reports for members of the Wichita City Council, one sees the same names appearing over and over, often making the maximum allowed contribution to candidates. Their spouses also contribute. And when one looks at the candidates these people contribute…
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Wichita BOE’s Nolan expresses concern

At Monday's meeting of the board of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, board members expressed frustration over the mishandling of a construction contract. It's not clear where fault lies, or whether the board has any interest in finding where that fault should be laid. At the meeting, board member Lanora Nolan expressed dismay that none of the public speakers mentioned the kids. The school district has a larger responsibility than just the education of children, however. It needs to be responsible to taxpayers -- the "adult issues" Nolan bemoans. She also said the delay of the fields is…
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Wichita school board members should not be re-elected

Next Tuesday, four members of the board of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, seek to be elected again to their current posts. These members -- Lanora Nolan, Lynn Rogers, Connie Dietz and Betty Arnold -- are part of a board and school district that is increasingly out-of-step with education reforms that are working in other parts of the country. Their policies and actions are harmful to both Wichita schoolchildren and Wichita taxpayers. At the time when most of the country is starting to realize that quality teachers, not the number of teachers, is what makes the biggest difference…
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For Wichita school contracts, it helps to pay

USD 259, the Wichita public school district, has recently decided on some architects to award contracts to for work funded by the 2008 bond issue. Citizens might have wondered why so many architectural and construction firms had such a high degree of interest in public schools. But these firms know that if you want to get contracts, it's not required, but it sure helps to make some campaign contributions. The following chart shows that while the correlation isn't perfect, it helps to make a large contribution if you want to get a large contract. The outlier data point is Schaefer…
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Wichita school bond finance report omits a big contribution

Yesterday, Citizens Alliance for Responsible Education (CARE) filed their campaign finance report. This group was in favor of the bond issue to benefit USD 259, the Wichita public school district. There are some interesting details in this report, but there's one glaring omission: there's no mention of the campaign contribution made by the taxpayers of USD 259. The administration of USD 259 says they spent nothing on a campaign to pass the bond issue. They say what they did was merely an educational and informational campaign. But what USD 259 did had all the characteristics of a political campaign except…
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Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture Wins. Who Lost?

In what must be the most unsurprising news reported in Wichita this year, Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture was awarded the contract for plan management services for the USD 259 (Wichita public school district) bond issue. Their fee is one percent of the total of the bond issue, or about $3.7 million. If this contract is anything like the one from 2000, they can also bill expenses. This is the same role this firm played in the 2000 bond issue, as reported in Wichita School District’s Favorite Architect Stands to Win Big. It's little too late to ask this question,…
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Jeff Fluhr’s Decision

At the December 2, 2008 meeting of the Wichita City Council, Jeff Fluhr, the new president of the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation, spoke on behalf of the expansion of the Center City South Redevelopment District, commonly known as the downtown Wichita arena TIF district. Attending the meeting with him were several members of that organization's board of directors, headed by Joe Johnson of Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture. This board, emblematic of the "good ol' boy" network, is stocked with those who seek to profit in the halls of government power rather than in the marketplace where consumers rule. It's…
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Wichita school district’s favorite architect stands to win big

Shortly after USD 259 (the Wichita school district) passed a bond issue in 2000, a contract was formed between the district and its favorite architectural firm, Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture. The contract, portions of which you can read here, pays this firm one percent of the bond amount for "Project Management Services." Plus expenses, I should add. In addition, Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture earned huge fees for being the architect on many school buildings. Their contract with USD 259 for their role as the architect of Earhart school gives their fee as about $420,000. The construction cost of…
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