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.

Sue Hack:

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.

Sue Hack:

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?

Sue Hack:

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?

Sue Hack:

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?

Sue Hack:

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.

Thank You,

Sue Hack:

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?

Sue Hack:

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?

Sue Hack:

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?

Sue Hack:

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?

Sue Hack:

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?

Sue Hack:

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)?


Sue Hack:

I love your reference to "shoot the square" 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?

Sue Hack:

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

Sue Hack:

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.

Sue Hack:

Thank you, Cody. I appreciate the opportunity and hope that people continue to stay engaged in what we are doing.


Ragingbear 10 years, 11 months ago

Oh. Commissioner Amyx. The same one that wants to just give all the homeless a bus ticket to "Anywhere but here".

Great. Prepare to see things get really bad instead of actually being fixed.

monkeyhawk 10 years, 11 months ago

hmmmmm...could a blogging ban be in the works?

So, the city is still in the game for the purchase of Farmland. Where will that money come from when the mayor thinks we might need a special tax to merely fix the streets?

Steve Jacob 10 years, 11 months ago

"What requests will you be asking of the Kansas Congressional Delegation with your trip to Washington, D.C. this year?"

I hope they go when the delegation is a in DC this year.

And a no sales tax will ever be approved when the library is involved. I am surprised no one has tried to get the 1 cent sales tax that passed in the mid 90's stopped (it has no end). I honestly like bond issues better because you can't spend a penny over the amount.

KsTwister 10 years, 11 months ago

No I wouldn't go. But I did want to know just how important that trip was going to be as city money will pay for it. (FYI - they've budgeted two trips for the year).

Bradley Kemp 10 years, 11 months ago

Well, I'm just an anonymous blogger, but I'm all for the proposed sales tax increase. I wish the state would exempt food and medications from the sales tax, but otherwise I think we should raise taxes generally.

I like living in a civil and civilized society, and I don't mind paying for it.

Patrick Wilbur 10 years, 11 months ago

Souki - please explain how higher taxes equal a more civil society.

Bradley Kemp 10 years, 11 months ago

Oh, well, it's just that I think having things like a national defense, roads, utilities, safety nets for the poor, public amenities like parks and playgrounds, schools, and so on tend to provide for a more ordered life and community.

KsTwister 10 years, 11 months ago

Jack: All my life it seems North Lawrence gets thrown a biscuit. The sad thing is that as a Gateway into Lawrence they could become as magnificent as any other. Planners always seem to ignore potential, they would rather build it.

WWoftheW 10 years, 11 months ago

Sue said " Bert Nash Community Health Center has, in the past, been a catalyst for trying to find areas of common ground." What, if we don't agree with her then we need our heads examined? So much for cooperation and working together.That didn't last long. I have heard several say, including myself, that we'll shop in Topeka and Kansas. She obviously only listens to the ones that say what she wants to hear. As for citizens being more involved, again, only the ones that will rubber stamp development. Try and get on a commission if you are not a rubber stamper.

Patrick Wilbur 10 years, 11 months ago

We could (and should) have this and more with the current tax burden. Increasing the power of government beyond its necessary purpose (essential shared services) leads to inefficient delivery. I see no reason to pour more money down the drain. I think we could agree that $30 million for a library project is not rational.

I do agree that the state should exempt food/medications from a sales tax. The fact that it does not shows blatant hypocrisy.

Bradley Kemp 10 years, 11 months ago

I have no quarrel with people who use the current library and find it fine. I can't think why it would be useful to try to paint such people as radical anythings, much less anarchists, and I wouldn't do so.

Godot 10 years, 11 months ago

How would we know where the money for Farmland is coming from if we do not even know how much it is going to cost? And what is the price tag for the industrial park in North Lawrence? Surely they know, they've been talking about it for months.

When they go away on their little "vision" retreats, do they take minutes? And when they all go together to Washington, D.C., do they not talk together and make plans? Where do open meetings fit in with these outings?

Jamesaust 10 years, 11 months ago

Personally, I think Merrill has a hole in his head. That said, his concerns are fairly widespread among (a minority of) people in Lawrence.

As such, I was disappointed at the missed opportunity for Hack to engage on this point. You can't build a consensus by refusing to talk to others about their concerns, even if it is to explain why their concern is misplaced (G. Bush: take note.).

monkeyhawk 10 years, 11 months ago

"In the last 20 years Lawrence has become very expensive and it seems those on the various commissions don't seem to understand that. It is one thing to be priced out of an area by general economic issues but quite an other when it is the government doing it."

Very profound.

Could this be the new version of eminent domain?

Richard Heckler 10 years, 11 months ago

JackRipper is on to something in the Aspen on the Plains reference.

I do believe that 4 of the commissioners are on board for the 1% across the board tax hike in spite of what was said. Therefore it will be presented to the voters. The only way to shut it down is a heavy turnout at the polls. Students should definitely come out against this fiasco.

When I discovered that 10 million of the library price was for parking it brought me back to the 17 million dollar estimate that was initially introduced. If we had a 1% hike on a $17 million library improvement package ALONE it would be over in 18 months.

I do not like the idea that all new downtown promotion is focused on the north end only. The 900 and 1000 blocks are being treated as ghetto thus not helping those merchants maximize their potential. The Granada is becoming a victim of demolition by neglect. The 600,700& 800 blocks seem to be holding their own.

This sorta reminds me of Iraq and Afghanistan. The admin would not listen to reason when told the USA could not support two battles simultaneously. Lawrence cannot support two downtowns simultaneously. This is a very small city. If we could there would not be talk of a tax increase as new residential also eats away at the tax dollar bank.

cowboy 10 years, 11 months ago

Well we would like your input and involvement , just not those crazy bloggers , but i can have a little chat to try and sell my programs. Notice when she was asked for a single cost saving idea she had no response , but has had the time to figure out how to apply a 1% tax on everything.

Can you spell amateur hour !

Godot 10 years, 11 months ago

JackRipper, consecutive Lawrence commissions have adopted the position that, if business can't, or won't, provide something that some special interest group thinks Lawrence should have, then government should either subsidize the business to encourage it to make an otherwise unprofitable investment, or the government should just take on the venture itself.

Examples: Riverfront Mall, Tanger Mall, Eagle Bend, the T, the Parks & Rec classes, the not-yet-dead plan to redevelop downtown with the Tajmahal library as an anchor, the Tech park, the transformation of the contaminated Farmland site into an industrial park, the planned industrial park along highway 24, the sprinkler systems for just a few downtown buildings, to name a few.

The city could have hummed along quite nicely without any of the above. If there had been sufficient demand, a business would have stepped in and provided the services to the ones who chose to avail themselves. But, no, in Lawrence, when a few want something, or even think they need something, and they want it for cheap, everyone has to help pay.

The Lawrence citizenry possesses an overwhelming sense of entitlement.

Bassetlover 10 years, 11 months ago

My sense is that the anonymous blogging is an issue only when posts are mean-spirited, hateful and uncivil. These bloggers should be willing to take the time to appear before the commission to voice their concerns. Be a part of the solution.....not the problem. It's fine to disagree. Just do so without spewing so much nastiness. And be willing to person....those people who we elected to make a difference in this community.

Centrist 10 years, 11 months ago

When did "dissent" become "nasty blogging" ???

KsTwister 10 years, 11 months ago

I thought blogging helps to light the issues, especially when the phone calls and emails to the commission gets a biscuit response. You know what. I know it does, people tell me and sometimes I tell them "how to read between the lines or interpret ". Whatever works.Remember the LJW occassionally makes that hard to do.

Michael Capra 10 years, 11 months ago

doom and gloom is that all you have lets work tords better

perkins 10 years, 11 months ago

Mayor Hack, a teacher, should know as well as anyone that that "administrative waste" exists. Just as taxpayers should demand that school board members spend a higher % of our money in the classroom, we should demand that city commissioners spend a higher % of our money fixing potholes, putting police on Mass street at closing time, etc. No more la-ti-da studies by consultants.

As several bloggers have hinted, reading this site could be an inexpensive way for the mayor to pick up some valuable ideas. Such as rates. Period.

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