Chat with Lawrence Mayor Sue Hack
April 11, 2007
This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.
Incoming Lawrence Mayor Sue Hack will take your questions after officially beginning her second mayoral term.
Hi. This is Cody Howard, 6News Director. I will be moderating today's chat with Lawrence Mayor Sue Hack. Our thanks to her for joining us today.
Thank you for having me, Cody. I am glad to be here...
We've had several questions about the city's proposed domestic partnership registry. With the attorney general's opinion giving the city the approval to proceed, several people are interested in your opinion on that idea going forward.
In that the Attorney General has indicated that the City of Lawrence is within its home rule authority to proceed with domestic partner registration as long as it is only for residents of Lawrence, I think it will be important to have this on a Commission agenda in the near future. Our legal staff is reviewing the opinion, but I would not think they would find reason to disagree. As for my personal feelings, I would be in favor of providing this registry opportunity in Lawrence. I don't know how my fellow commissioners feel, but we will definately put it on an agenda.
What will the city do to ensure that a Wal-Mart at 6th and Wakarusa does not create traffic jams when Free State High is in session? Who will pay for any street improvements that need to be made?
In that this issue is scheduled for trial beginning on Monday, I can't comment on the particulars of the case. What I can say is that in the plan that was turned down in October, The developer would be paying for signalization.
I applaud your comments at the City Commission meeting last night regarding the shame we've brought to this community by all the mistrust and negative blogging. You really hit the nail on the head. What plans do you have to bring consensus and unity....or will this ever be possible when bloggers can hide behind anonymous posts?
You have asked two good questions. First of all, I think we have a great resource in this community to help bring differing sides to the table to see if we can build bridges rather that build obstacles. Bert Nash Community Health Center has, in the past, been a catalyst for trying to find areas of common ground. I would love for them to be involved again. As for the anonymous posts...we would all be better off without them.
Hi I'm very concerned about the sales tax increase proposal. After I read all the LJWorld articles about what this money will go for, I just don't understand. I live in North Lawrence which needs the the issues outlined in the 2006 drainage study dealt with at some level. Nothing was mentioned about that in these sales tax articles. Why would I want to vote for a sales tax increase for a rec center, a library, some work on the Kasold street, yet nothing for our drainage issue. Shouldn't flooding take a higher priority to libraries and rec centers?
One of the items that I would like sales tax dollars to go to would be infrastructure improvements. That would include the implementation of some of the needs addressed in the drainage study for North Lawrence. I certainly consider those to be infrastructure improvements.
Because rapid residential growth often fails to pay for itself as in Lawrence, many local officials feel forced to accept any commercial development in whatever form it comes typically, cookie cutter shopping centers and big-box stores. These patterns lead to the same problems increasing traffic, marginal services, lack of open space and rising taxes that many new local residents tried to leave behind.
How do you intend to avoid the above?
Some are threatening to not shop Lawrence because of your tax hike proposal. Thoughts please.
First of all, I don't agree with your assumptions regarding retail. I have not heard any individuals indicate that they are refusing to shop in Lawrence due to a proposal to at least open a conversation about sales tax.
What requests will you be asking of the Kansas Congressional Delegation with your trip to Washington, D.C. this year? Will most of this be concerning the 'T's replacement buses, or help with other infrastructure needs?
You are right in that we will be asking for help with our needs for infrastructure and the transit system. In addition, we will be talking about additional funding for our municipal airport and we will again, ask for additional funding for Haskell. It is also a chance for us to let our Congressional Delegation know what we are doing here in Lawrence.
What are the plans at the airport?
We have made a number of great improvements to our airport, but if we were to increase the depth of our runways, we would be able to open the airport for larger aircraft which can be a boon to our community.
And what about Haskell funding plans?
Haskell has not had an increase in its federal dollars, in fact there have been reductions. In that Haskell employees are federal employees, they can not lobby for money themselves. It is up to us as city leaders to make sure that we do all that we can for this important insitution.
When will we see something done about the vacant Farmland property? Its a real eyesore for those coming to Lawrence on K-10. How long do we have to wait?
Great question. The City is moving ahead on an attempt to purchase the property, but there is a tremendous amount of clean up work to do...not only are there enviromental issues, but non environmental issues as well. You are right that it is a real eyesore at this point, and we are working as fast and as hard as we can to change that.
The homeless situation in Lawrence has gone largely unchanged over the last few years. What plans do you have as either a city commissioner or mayer do you have in order to address this issue?
We have a group of individuals that serve on the Coalition of Homeless Concerns and they are planning to meet with the Commission soon to discuss their plans for addressing some of the issues. It is an extremely complex issue and there are mental health issues, housing issues and employment issues to be dealt with. Commissioner Amyx will be working with this coalition to plan some strategies.
(Congrats on your presumed election as the next Mayor)
The relatively new public bus system is bleeding money, and is not likely to ever become self-supporting or even close.
Any thoughts about reducing it significantly, say to just "shooting the square" and extensions out the major roads (west 6th, east 23rd/Clinton, north/south Iowa, N. Lawrence)?
I love your reference to "shoot the square"...you must have grown up here!! As for the T, we are constantly looking at and reviewing the different routes to make sure they are as efficient and effective as they can be. From what I understand, there are no public transit systems that are profitable, and while ours continues to make amazing progress in terms of ridership, we do have work to do and Cliff Galante and his department work very hard on this. If we are able to merge with the KU on Wheels system, our ridership will increase.
What opportunities do you see for citizens to become more involved in local government?
Great question...First of all, I would encourage all citizens to pay attention to our City Commission, County Commission and School Board. Secondly, we have opportunities to serve on boards and commissions and task forces constantly. These are great ways to become involved. On our weekly agenda we always post what vacancies on boards and commissions exist and we look for interested citizens to fill them. A letter to me at City Hall will be a great way to indicate which of these would interest people. Work on campaigns and run for office would be two more idea.
How much in proposed budget cuts or efficiencies in city operations are proposed in the upcoming budget
We don't have that information yet. Last night we scheduled our budget study sessions which will include meetings with department heads, public comment sessions, and our City Manager's proposed budget. What I can say is that we will not have very many pleasant choices to make this time around.
That concludes our chat today with Lawrence Mayor Sue Hack. Thanks for taking time out of your shedule to join us today.
Thank you, Cody. I appreciate the opportunity and hope that people continue to stay engaged in what we are doing.