Wichita Downtown Development Corporation

DeBoer plan for Wichita downtown redevelopment largely realized

The following is a lightly edited version of an insightful comment left on this site by an unknown writer, the "Wichitator." Since many readers don't read comments, I've promoted this to a post. Hundreds of millions have already been spent for downtown redevelopment and what do we have to show for it? In contrast, look at the benign neglect the city has had on the thriving east and west sides of town where projects on Maize and Webb roads have prospered despite heavy property taxes. Over 20 years ago the current downtown developer of the languishing East Bank (WaterWalk) project,…
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Downtown Wichita presentations: what’s the point?

As part of its effort to revitalize downtown Wichita, the city wants to hire a planning firm. Four firms have been selected as finalists. Tuesday and Wednesday, (September 22 and 23), the firms will make public presentations as part of the selection process. I had thought that it would be great if the public would be involved in this selection process. To that end I asked -- first informally, then under the provisions of the Kansas Open Records Act -- for copies of the proposals submitted by the finalist firms. My requests were denied. (See Downtown Wichita proposals not available…
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Downtown Wichita proposals not available to citizens

As part of Wichita's downtown revitalization effort, city leaders decided to hire a planning firm. Four firms have been selected as finalists, and a committee is in the process of evaluating their proposals. Whether or not you think this planning process is wise -- and I happen to think it is not -- it seems to be the will of the city and the special interest groups that will benefit from this type of central planning. So, it seems, we might as well make the best of it. This would include selecting a planning firm that seems most likely to…
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Wichita Eagle editorial page calls for more government at all levels

Today's Wichita Eagle editorial and opinion page is chock full of plans for more government programs, regulations, taxes, and intervention. Rhonda Holman's editorial calls for more government involvement in setting energy policy so that Kansas can share in the "green-energy boom." Readers of this blog know that government involvement in energy policy will only lead to disaster. It will lead to more taxes and more government programs, so maybe that's why Holman is in favor of programs like this. Jeff Fluhr of the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation -- itself a taxpayer-funded organization -- calls for planning to ensure the success…
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Wichita’s naysayers shortchanged again

At the December 2, 2008 meeting of the Wichita city council, three citizens spoke to the council on the same issue. The treatment these people received in the official minutes of the proceedings varied quite a bit. At the meeting, Jeff Fluhr of the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation spoke in favor of action the city was contemplating. John Todd and I spoke against the action. The difference in the treatment given to each party in the minutes of the meeting is evidence of bias in the city's attitude towards its citizens. Yes, the mayor and others thank us for our…
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Jeff Fluhr decided

A few weeks ago in the post Jeff Fluhr’s Decision I wrote that the the new president of the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation had a choice to make: "Mr. Fluhr needs to decide if he's on the side of open and transparent government, or whether he's in favor of crony capitalism and the good ol' boy network." When Mr. Fluhr testified at yesterday's Sedgwick County Commission meeting, I learned the answer. It's crony capitalism, all the way. Background: As defined by Wikipedia, "Crony capitalism is a pejorative term describing an allegedly capitalist economy in which success in business depends on…
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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 TIF District Reveals Lack of Confidence

Yesterday, the Wichita Eagle's Bill Wilson misses the point in his reporting and blogging on business issues. In his blog post Seed money for downtown’s future, he wrote this: "The Wichita City Council’s decision to approve tax increment financing for the arena neighborhood’s redevelopment was a welcome vote of confidence in the neighborhood’s future." In his news story Arena TIF seen as 'a vote of confidence', we read the remarks of Jeff Fluhr, the new president of the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation: "It's most definitely a vote of confidence in the future of the neighborhood." Tell me, if real estate…
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Gambling study flawed. Ask casino workers.

Did you know that a study used to promote the economic development benefits of gambling in Wichita has casino workers paying for a large part of the social costs of gambling? There is a document titled "Economic & Social Impact Anlaysis [sic] For A Proposed Casino & Hotel" created by GVA Marquette Advisors for the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation and the Greater Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau, dated April 2004. One presentation concludes that the average cost per pathological gambler is $13,586 per year. Quoting from the study in the section titled Social Impact VII-9: Most studies conclude that nationally…
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Government funds promoting downtown Wichita arena

... it is our opinion that public funds may not be used to promote or advocate the position of a governing body on a matter which is before the electorate. However, this does not mean that public funds may not be expended to educate and inform the electorate. That's the opinion of the Kansas Attorney General Robert Stephan from 1993. In this opinion, the Attorney General cited this court opinion: It would be establishing a dangerous and untenable precedent to permit the government or any agency thereof, to use public funds to disseminate propaganda in favor of or against any…
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