Chat about the Lawrence City Commission race with candidate Jake Davis
February 23, 2007
This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.
Jake Davis, who performs acoustic guitar under the stage name Basin, said he'll lobby for a change in the city's smoking ban. Specifcially, he said he would like the city to allow smoking in bars after 10 p.m. Davis, 28, 941 Ind., also said he has been disappointed that city commissioners have spent time debating issues that are far outside of their reach - such as a resolution related to the Iraq War. He said he would rather see the commission spend more time on road maintenance and other essential city services.
Hi! I'm Joel Mathis, managing editor for convergence. Jake Davis is here and ready to go.
Hello everyone, I'm excited to answer some of your questions.
What is your opinion on Amyx's new proposal on firearms near bars?
I was surprised that this isn't the way gun violations have been handled so far. It seems to me that you have to enforce penalties for criminal activity. I'm glad to see another tool that doesn't automatically penalize all downtown bars, but focuses on the actual problem.
You have been quoted as having problems with the smoking ban. How do you see the smoking ban as different than other health codes that restaurants and bars must face? (for example: keeping things relatively clean, having maximum capacities in case of fire, etc.)
The difference is that health codes are more or less the same for the entire region and encompass an aspect of the business that the consumer generally cannot be completely aware of. You aren't able to inspect the kitchen at every restaurant you go to, but you know whether or not there is smoke. It just seems that there was a better way to go about enacting the smoking ban, not just pandering to special interest groups and making a defacto decision, but putting it to the people. I would be fine with the ban if it were in line with policies of other communities in the region and didn't leave our businesses at a disadvantage.
Will you vote YES or NO on Walmart?
The problem with the Wal-Mart proposal is that the commission saw the zoning one way and Wal-Mart saw it another. The commission saw it the way it was intended and should be enforced. I don't see a second Wal-Mart as a problem for anyone but Target, the first one already took away the business from anyone it would affect. It does need, however, to be placed within the proper zoning and not be a burden on existing infrastructure.
What is your view of the proposed domestic partnership registry?
If there is a way that we can increase the percentage of the Lawrence population that is covered by health insurance, I'm all for it. Especially when it is paid for by the outside money of the companies they work for. Better access to healthcare for some will benefit the community as a whole.
Hey Jake! What do think about roundabouts and do you have any ideas of places that need them? Thanks.
Roundabouts like the one at 19th and Barker work well. I don't think they are the answer to every traffic problem as they seem to be promoted. And I have no love for those little roundabouts or 'traffic circles'. Being so in debt, as we are as a city, we need to put off building roundabouts and keep the concentration on bringing the existing infrastructure up to standard.
Mr. Davis, I like what you have had to say so far, but you appear underqualified (no offense). Explain how you intend to navigate through the bureaucratic jargon that is City Hall without any significant experience in city planning or city government. Thank you.
I understand what you're saying, but the fact is I do have some background in engineering and came to KU on an academic full-ride. That said, right now our Mayor is a barber. It might take me a month or so to get fully up to speed, but I don't believe there is anything I will have a problem with. I've already spent a lot of time on my own learning about different perspectives on planning and have seen nothing at the commission meetings I couldn't handle.
A lot of the candidates say they want to create jobs, do you actually have a plan to do that?
Yes, thanks for asking that. An actual idea, instead of vague political speech, is what I'm running on. Lawrence is unique in the region, we aren't Olathe and we aren't in southwest Kansas, but that seems to be the economic development plan we like to use. Cheap labor is not our major asset, an extremely educated population and a vibrant quality of life is what we must use to get good jobs in town. To take advantage of this we need to become a leader in a major growth sector, green business. We have to enact policies that reflect this idea. Policies like an energy efficiency building code for new construction beyond what is required by the state or federal governments. We need to be the first city in the nation to require alternative energy (i.e. solar shingles) on new development. We need to create a partnership between the city and Westar to install a GreenFuel (google it) facility to both reduce carbon emissions at the Lawrence Energy Center and provide a renewable source of biodiesel and ethanol and provide jobs for University biologists and engineers. We also have to remember that quality of life is important to high paying businesses as much as good infrastructure. All these things will not only be great for our environment, but position Lawrence as THE place to build for green businesses in the region. Also these ideas are ones that won't require new taxes and won't require a change in the lifestyle we enjoy. I feel this is very important for Lawrence and that we need to act soon to make sure another city doesn't beat us to the punch.
Recently I counted over $1 million in Lawrence studies done in the last few months without even doing a thorough search. Do you believe that people on the commission should be qualified to make decisions without studies but local task forces with input from businesses and citizens? How confident are you in helping Lawrence make those decisions?
Commissioners should be qualified to make these decisions either way. The reason for outside studies is to get information and expertise that isn't available on a local task force and doesn't have a vested interest in the outcome that might taint the study. No one can be an expert in everything, but we do need to bring more of the research in-house. I won't lie and say I wouldn't bring in consultants sometimes, but I would work to try and find the information and ideas on my own and from the people first.
Jake, what are your views about transit in Lawrence? Do you support the "T"? On the "T" website there are reports from a study about possible coordination of services with KU on Wheels -- what do you think about this idea?
I've used the T a few times, it wasn't the most convenient thing but with a city our size it would be impossible to make everyone happy and give them the most direct routes and times. I think a blending with KU on Wheels would be great; it would add new service options and eliminate redundant service. I believe that increase in efficiency could possibly lead to a self sufficient public transit system
Do you have any ideas about how Lawrence can develop a regional entertainment venue such as city organized music festivals similar to what Lee's Summit does with its Parks & Rec departments. Seems we have a perfect venue and little if any organized activity.
I'm can't say that I'm familiar with what Lee's Summit is doing, but I think a renowned music festival like South by Southwest in Austin, or CMJ in New York, is another step toward creating a stronger downtown and giving Lawrence another platform towards publicizing itself as one of the greatest cities in the region. Not to mention the enormous amount of tourist revenue it would generate. One roadblock is the restrictions on opening new venues in the downtown area, such as the requirements that they serve more food than liquor. If we remove these and encourage more live music choices we can bring an event like a city wide music festival here.
Where do you stand on the SLT?
Well what I've always felt, and what the Placemakers reinforced, is that putting a high speed route around the town will only be a temporary traffic fix and will encourage sprawl and lead to more traffic problems in the future. If you think resident dollars are being spent out of town now, wait until they don't have to go through Lawrence at all. It may not be a completely fair example, but how many towns dissolved once the interstate system was built bypassing them. What I believe, however, is a non-issue since the debate has been going on for 25 years and the state will ultimately decide where the road is placed.
It says in your bio that you're against Lawrence passing a resolution related to the Iraq War, because it is a waste of time. Many voters feel a resolution of this type is important in voicing our community's opinions on a state and national level. Do you really believe that placing a community's stance on a national issue into the public forum is a waste of time?
If it was something I thought we could actually change, then no. It is not a waste. In this case it was. I think that sometimes we need to look around and see what's wrong at home and set an example in that setting first. We CAN be a leader in the environment; we are unlikely to sway W.
Thanks for all your questions! I hope you have a better idea of what I'm about. If you want more information go to www.myspace.com/electjake or come out and see me at the Basin/Aubrey/Anvil Chorus show at Fatso's on Saturday.