Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau

Wichita can advocate for government transparency, or not

Government should be responsive to citizens when they make legitimate requests for records. Wichita should not hide behind non-profit entities and tortured interpretations of the law in order to keep records secret. When the Wichita City Council considers renewing its contract with Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau, the council has another opportunity to decide whether it is truly in favor of open government and citizen access to records. Go Wichita, along with the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation and Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition, contends that it is not a "public agency" as defined in Kansas law, and therefore does…
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For Wichita, more districts, more taxes, more bureaucracy

Tomorrow the Wichita City Council will consider formation of a Tourism Business Improvement District. Actually, the council will formation of a planning committee to determine boundaries, parameters, budgets, and how to fund the budget. The impetus behind the TBID, according to city documents, is "Go Wichita has proposed that a TBID be created to enhance its marketing efforts." Go Wichita is the Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau. The source of its funds, again from city documents: "A fee is assessed to each of these properties based on room night sales. This fee is usually determined as a percentage of the…
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In Wichita, failure to value open records and open government

On the KAKE Television public affairs program "This Week in Kansas" the failure of the Wichita City Council, especially council member Wichita City Council Member Pete Meitzner (district 2, east Wichita), to recognize the value of open records and open government is discussed. For more background, see Wichita, again, fails at open government.
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Wichita, again, fails at open government

The Wichita City Council, when presented with an opportunity to increase the ability of citizens to observe the workings of the government they pay for, decided against the cause of open government, preferring to keep the spending of taxpayer money a secret. The occasion was consideration of renewing its contract with Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau. I asked, as I have in the past for this agency and also for Wichita Downtown Development Corporation and Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition, that they consider themselves to be what they are: public agencies as defined in the Kansas Open Records Act.…
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Wichita could do better regarding open government, if it wants

Tomorrow the Wichita City Council will consider renewing its contract with Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau. The renewal will provide another opportunity for the council to decide whether it is truly in favor of open government and citizen access to records. Go Wichita, along with the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation and Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition, contends that it is not a "public agency" as defined in Kansas law, and therefore does not have to fulfill records requests. Mayor Carl Brewer and all council members except Wichita City Council Member Michael O'Donnell (district 4, south and southwest Wichita) are…
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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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Fact checking a Wichita Ambassador Hotel “Vote Yes” mailer

On February 10th many voters may have received a large mail piece from Moving Wichita Forward, a group formed to urge Wichitans to "Vote Yes" in the February 28 special election in Wichita. The subject of the election is a Wichita city charter ordinance that rebates 75 percent of the Ambassador Hotel's guest tax collections back to the hotel's owner. A yes vote means you agree with this allocation of the taxes the hotel collects. A no vote means you disagree, and would rather see the hotel's guest tax collections handled in the usual manner -- funding Wichita's convention and…
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In Wichita, disdain for open records and government transparency

Despite receiving nearly all its funding from taxpayers, Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau refuses to admit it is a "public agency" as defined in the Kansas Open Records Act. The city backs this agency and its interpretation of this law, which is in favor of government secrecy and in opposition to the letter and spirit of the Open Records Act. In the following excerpt from the KAKE Television public affairs program This Week in Kansas, this issue was discussed. Randy Brown, who is chair of the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government and former opinion page editor of the…
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Open records, rights of Kansans disrespected at Wichita City Council

Yesterday the Wichita City Council decided to issue another contract to Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau. I appeared to recommend that the council not issue this contract until an issue regarding the Kansas Open Records Act is resolved. Explanation of why Go Wichita should be considered a "public agency" and comply with records requests is found in Wichita open records issue buried. A few notes from the meeting (video may be viewed here or at the end of this article): Discussion of this matter at the meeting reveals that city staff believes that the annual reports filed by Go…
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Wichita open records issue buried

Update: This agenda item has been moved from the consent agenda to a regular agenda. This week the Wichita City Council will decide whether to issue another contract to Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau. The city should not issue this contract until an issue regarding the Kansas Open Records Act is resolved. I have asked for records from Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau. It refused to comply. Its reason was that it believes it is not a "public agency" as defined in the KORA. When citizens have problems with agencies refusing to comply with the law, one avenue…
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