Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau

Questions for the next Wichita city attorney: Number 2

Wichita's city attorney is retiring, and the city will select a replacement. There are a few questions that we ought to ask of candidates. Will the next city attorney continue to obstruct government transparency or be an advocate for citizens' right to know? Since 2009 I have advocated for greater transparency regarding spending data for three quasi-governmental agencies. Others have since joined the quest. The agencies are Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau, Wichita Downtown Development Corporation, and Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition. (See Open Government in Kansas for more information.) Each agency contends it is not a "public agency"…
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During Sunshine Week, here are a few things Wichita could do

During Sunshine Week, here are a few things Wichita could do

The City of Wichita says it values open and transparent government, but the city could improve several areas of providing information and records to citizens. The City of Wichita is proud to be an open and transparent governmental agency, its officials say. Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer often speaks in favor of government transparency. For example, in his State of the City address for 2011, he listed as an important goal for the city this: "And we must provide transparency in all that we do." When the city received an award for transparency in 2013, a city news release quoted Wichita…
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WichitaLiberty.TV: Wichita’s city tourism fee, Special taxes for special people

WichitaLiberty.TV: Wichita’s city tourism fee, Special taxes for special people

In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: The Wichita City Council will hold a meeting regarding an industry that wants to tax itself, but really is taxing its customers. Also, the city may be skirting the law in holding the meeting. Then: The Kansas Legislature is considering special tax treatment for a certain class of business firms. What is the harm in doing this? Episode 35, broadcast March 16, 2014. View below, or click here to view at YouTube.
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Wichita seeks to add more tax to hotel bills

Wichita seeks to add more tax to hotel bills

The city of Wichita wants hotel guests to make a "marketing investment" in Wichita by paying a "City Tourism Fee." This Tuesday the Wichita City Council will hold a public hearing regarding the formation of a Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID). The main characteristic of the proposed TBID is that it will add 2.75 percent tax to most hotel rooms sold in the City of Wichita. The funds would go to Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau to be used to enhance that agency's marketing efforts. The tax is estimated to raise $2.5 million per year. What is the motivation…
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Regulation failure leads to tragedy in Wichita

Regulation failure leads to tragedy in Wichita

When the Wichita City Council passed new taxicab regulations in 2012, the focus was on dirty cabs and slovenly drivers who were not acting as goodwill ambassadors for the city. Mayor Carl Brewer said he was "tired" of hearing complaints about drivers. So the council passed new regulations regarding taxicabs, including the requirement that drivers attend customer service training provided by Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau. Other regulations determine taxicab office staffing levels and level of supervision. But something very important slipped through the cracks. The Wichita Eagle has reported the city didn't competently enforce regulations designed to protect…
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Kansas Open Records Act and the ‘public agency’ definition

Kansas Open Records Act and the ‘public agency’ definition

Update: The bill has been referred to another committee, and the February 19 hearing is canceled. Despite the City of Wichita's support for government transparency, citizens have to ask the legislature to add new law forcing the city and its agencies to comply with the Kansas Open Records Act. Open records laws allow citizens to ask government agencies for records. While these laws are valuable, we find that in practice governmental agencies find many ways to avoid filling records requests. Because the City of Wichita does not live up to the standards of open government -- even through it proclaims…
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Transparency groups want to know where Wichita tax money is going to promote Wichita

By Craig Andres, KSN News. View video below, or click here. For more on this issue, see Open government in Kansas. WICHITA, Kansas -- Public or private? GoWichita, Wichita Downtown Development Corporation and the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition get more than three million dollars a year. Some of that is taxpayer money. "Why are their records not public?" asks Randy Brown with the Sunshine Coalition. "It's ridiculous because we ought to know. These are largely tax supported entities. It's our money that's being used. There's no reason in the world these things shouldn't be open." The Sunshine Coalition is…
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WichitaLiberty.TV January 19, 2014

In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: How much would you pay to visit the Wichita Art Museum? You might be surprised to learn how much each visit really costs. Then: A transparency agenda for Wichita city government and the Kansas Legislature. Finally, a look at public schools wasting money. Episode 28, broadcast January 19, 2014. View below, or click here to view at YouTube.
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Visit Wichita, and pay a tourism fee

The Wichita City Council will consider adding a 2.75 percent tax to hotel bills, calling it a "City Tourism Fee." Welcome to Wichita! This week the Wichita City Council will consider advancing the formation of a Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID). The main characteristic of the proposed TBID is that it will add 2.75 percent fee to most hotel rooms sold in the City of Wichita. The funds would go to Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau to be used to enhance Go Wichita‚Äôs market efforts. The cost of the effort is estimated at $2.5 million per year. The item…
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A transparency agenda for Wichita

Kansas has a weak open records law, and Wichita doesn't want to follow the law, as weak as it is. But with a simple change of attitude towards open government and citizens' right to know, Wichita could live up to the goals its leaders have set. The City of Wichita is proud to be an open and transparent governmental agency, its officials say. Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer often speaks in favor of government transparency. For example, in his State of the City address for 2011, he listed as an important goal for the city this: "And we must provide transparency…
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