Lawrence City Commission candidate Sven Alstrom live chat

March 7, 2011

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Sven Alstrom

Lawrence City Commission candidate Sven Alstrom will chat live with users Monday, March 7 at 1 p.m. You can submit your question in advance below.


Hello. I'm Chad Lawhorn, City Hall reporter for the Journal-World. This is our first in a series of online chats with candidates for the Lawrence City Commission. Sven Alstrom is today's chat participant. We have several questions that have been submitted by online readers, but we're still accepting more.

Thanks for joining us today, Sven. Let's get started.

Sven Alstrom:

Good Afternoon Chad, This is Sven Alstrom and I am running for City Commissioner in the current election with a voting date of April 5th, 2011.


Are you for or against Tax Increment Financing (TIF)?

Sven Alstrom:

TIF funds are very controversial, not only as they may apply to Lawrence. I feel that they may have merit in locations for example like the Kansas City Power & Light District where investment was drawn into the area to support the SPRINT CENTER with large scale redevelopment.

However, in the scale of Lawrence, not a metropolitan area - I am against TIF
Districts and in fact ANY tax district which places an additional 1% sales tax upon the consumer/ in our case often a tourist and is a disincentive for developing competitive retail.


As a city commissioner how will you help resolve the homeless shelter problem?

Sven Alstrom:

The theme of my campaign is "Making A Difference". I hope that the other commissioners and I would be able to join together with the local business community and non-profits and find a solution to the current situation. We need a Community Shelter with an accessible and convenient location. The current economic situation does not have a predictable end in sight - so this is a serious problem. Homeless children are of particular concern and may point to a split system, one being a general shelter with job training and another location for mothers (usually) with their children.

We ALL need to work on this together and it must happen relatively soon. We are all in Douglas County "co-responsible" for the current situation.


Do you own any property in Lawrence? Why is your home listed under your mother's name?

Sven Alstrom:

You are a frequent poster and mudslinger on the LJW forum.
It is not required that a candidate for public office own property. Those times ended in the colonial era of our country. The home that I live in is held in a trust account with my mother, the wife of a former Title Company owner - simply to avoid and make a transfer without Probate Court involvement easier upon my inheritance. This is VERY frequently done.

your constant harassment on this on the forum has been often repeated and is inappropriate. that this continues today in this post says something about the LJW as well as yourself.

The home has a mortgage with a local lender and the tax payments are included in the mortgage. As i have said before 'she does not literally own the home' nor do I until the mortgage is paid.

Your question is really of a harassment nature and I asked Chad to remove it but have now answered.


What do you think of the proposed changes in the library project, including an extra level in the parking lot and a bus station?

Sven Alstrom:

I attended a recent meeting with the Old West Lawrence Neighborhood Association and I agree with many of their concerns regarding additions to the project.

I very much supported the original bond issue but feel that it is unfair to the electorate to significantly change the project without a separate voter approval.
Therefore, I do not support changing this to a library/transit hub project without another election. I also do not support another level of parking and greater financial expenditure without voter approval.


I would like to ask the same question of all candidates--It seems that many companies require some sort of tax abatement in order to locate in an area. How do you calculate whether such an abatement has an overall benefit to the community or is too costly?

Sven Alstrom:

This is an excellent question - I have some notes on this elswhere but here goes.... there are several critieria which previous City Commissions have used to evaluate the cost/benefit of tax abatements. These include the number of jobs brought to the community, I believe that it must be over 30 but do not have the documents in front of me. Also, there is a living wage requirement that i do support. Finally there is I believe a minimum financial investment of I think $ 7 million.

I support tax abatements when appropriate and when we evaluate the cost - benefit comparisons mentioned. An additional factor that I would also consider is of course whether these proposed abatements would affect other competing local business in an adverse manner.

This is part of what I meant by economic gardening. We have to first look at what business we have currently here. Which ones could expand etc. When we look at what we have 'planted in our garden' we should then look at what new crops or other business we would like to add to our garden plot here in Lawrence & Douglas County. We have a great place. We have great people.
Tax abatements and incentives should be offered not out of expediency but out of a desire to attract investment that is to our longterm advantage and that provides economically sustainable employment and of course long term revenue.


While googling the various candidates, I found there were literally thousands of identical spam posts on countless irrelevant, non-local websites promoting Mr. Alstrom's campaign. The promotional text was taken directly from his website.

I'm talking sites about t-shirts, massages, Bulgarian ski properties, a "gateway to the paranormal world", even numerous sites in foreign languages. Some of these sites had more than 2 dozen of these identical spam posts on just a couple of pages.

On many sites I found that, by holding my cursor over the email account of each alleged poster, it revealed a link back to Mr. Alstrom's campaign website.

In addition, from the search results, I also found that the same couple of dozen+ gmail accounts used to spam sites with Mr. Alstrom's campaign message also promoted adult websites. Yikes!

So I'd like to ask what...if anything...Mr. Alstrom knows about this spam campaign regarding his candidacy and what involvement he has/had with it. Or, if he had none, what actions has he/will he take to deal with whoever is responsible.

After all, spamming countless forums in his name and advertising adult websites doesn't look good for him as a candidate, particularly since it's already been reported that he has been banned from theJ-W forum.

Thank you,
Kendall Simmons

Sven Alstrom:

I really don't know about this. I found a similar weird reference when I used google on my own name. I have no idea.


Can you outline some of your ideas to make Lawrence more sustainable as a community during a time of shrinking budgets and less plentiful cheap energy?

Sven Alstrom:

I think in this question - sustainable would first mean economically sustainable. Therefore we must of course keep our City budget in line with revenue projections. The nearby Kansas City metro area is still experiencing many residential foreclosures and the regional economy is still not as healthy as we feel it should be.

At a local level I do support a better City of Lawrence & KU bus system. hopefully we can perhaps get hold of some hybrid vehicles and expand the routes across Lawrence.

I would like to see us have a definite policy on supporting green and renewable energy such as photovoltaic roofs in town, greenroofs in town, and develop solar access easements so that property owners are not shadowed and removed from solar access by future development.

Other cities have required solar layout of residential subdivisions with these solar access easements embedded in the approval process. I gave the Commissioners a copy of one of these solar access proposals when i first moved here at a public meeting back in 2003. Boulder, Colorado and San Diego have had requirements on solar subdivision planning since the 1970's.


How do we attract new businesses/jobs into the community?

Sven Alstrom:

As I have repeated often - Lawrence is frequently referred to as the "Oasis in Kansas". My campaign manager is John Wysocki of Lawrence Artwalk and of our local arts council. The Lawrence Arts Center and many of our local organizations are unique to Kansas.

Our location between the State government in Topeka and the metropolitan area immediately east should give us great access to Kansas and to Kansas City both.

KU is of course the jewel in our crown - but the other one is quality of life and with that DOWNTOWN LAWRENCE. We have many great assets including our great parks developed over decades by the City Parks & Rec. Dept. They have done a great job - and our upcoming new library remodel will also help.

We are the "Oasis of the Arts" in Kansas and I firmly believe that not only in
visual art but also music, theater, and literature.

We do need to develop more affordable housing for families. I agree with KU's Kirk McClure on much of his review of overbuilt retail & office and housing. However, I feel that close in affordable housing and close in commercial infill could still garner new business and new residential areas in Lawrence.

Transportation costs appear to be headed up as we are in the midst of peak oil.
We all need to concentrate on how to bring new business to Lawrence while also helping each other to grow our existing business connnectivity if you will.


are there any projects scheduled or in the near future for the City of Lawrence that you will have a conflict of interest with?

Sven Alstrom:

Not that I know of. Again I strongly support the Library project.


What are your thoughts on the idea of "community schools" vs. "neighborhood schools" and what do you think the impact will be on the older sections of town if schools are closed/consolidated in the next few years?

Sven Alstrom:

I recently attended an East Lawrence Neighborhood Meeting at the New York School. Also I recently attended the Old West Lawrence Neighborhood Assn
meeting which changed the meeting agenda impromptu to talk about Pinckney.

Again, in the face of peak oil and increased transportation costs I highly question the advisability of elementary school consolidation as a general policy. I do not support elementary school consolidation at this time.

Lawrence is famous for its neighborhoods and this is true of those East of Iowa as well as West of Iowa.

Walkability is a trademark of Lawrence and we should be MORE pedestrian friendly not less. Children should be able to remain amongst their neighbors where they can better interface in their after school hours with 'school-time' friends. Neighborhood schools foster a much better environment of social interaction and of making safer neighborhoods.


Well, it has been an hour. Thanks for your time, Sven. And thanks for all the questions, commenters. Are there any closing comments you would like to make, Sven?

Sven Alstrom:

Thanks Chad and LJW as well. I would like to announce that I have a new Treasurer for my campaign - Mike Rundle. He has become involved and is a great asset to our effort. I am very proud to say that my first three donors were in fact small architectural project clients all from Lawrence. Many of my supporters and contributors are among the very best people in Lawrence and I am proud to represent them. I want to be a commissioner for all of Lawrence and in my questionnaire answers have indicated that I do support when we can afford it a new recreation center for west lawrence and although somewhat controversial I do support eventual branch library locations as well. We are now firmly in the digital age of an information based society. This should give us a key to where to look for answers to our economic concerns which are very primary at this time. I am also a proud graduate of KU and a proud product of public education in my case Washington High School in Wyandotte County.

Northeast Kansas and Lawrence have really vast potential. Let's make it happen by 'Making A Difference' - I ask you to join me in making positive and healthy growth happen for our the community.


The_Original_Bob 7 years ago

"I really don't know about this. I found a similar weird reference when I used google on my own name. I have no idea."

Ahem Cough Ahem.

BruceWayne 7 years ago

this was a straight up lie. we have been asking him about this for days. Svote NO for the Svombie!

BruceWayne 7 years ago

i think everyone should post the questions they submitted that Svombie did not get to.

Sven- what is/was your connection to

overthemoon 7 years ago

Time to give it a rest. It's clear that you don't like Sven, but your constant haranguing is showing the very lack of civility for which you berate your target. Its revealing a lot more about Bruce Wayne than it is Sven Alstrom.

Sheryl Wiggins 7 years ago

While I don't particularly like Mr. Alstrom, I do think the same constant haranguing from the usual suspects is just getting old. I think Mr. Alstrom handled himself rather well considering........

BruceWayne 7 years ago

you are correct, and I will back off.

not_dolph 7 years ago

That's a little overthemoon if you ask me. A lot of people do not like sven. While I hope he does not win, it does not change the fact that he is an Internet bully, lies, decieves, and has shown by his actions, both online and at community forums that he makes poor decisions. It's definitely appropriate for people to know the type of person they are voting for. If he did not desire to be such a public figure, I could see more merit to your point. In fact, I've seen far worse in the way of haranguing when it comes to other elected officials - and political party positions, on these forums. That said, watch the chat columns following the stories on the other candidates for the commish - you certainly will not see this type of banter.

somedude20 7 years ago

how did they keep this one. I remarked that Sven looked like a chubby Garrison Keillor and my post was removed. guess whit likes you more (or jonathan)

Nevermind, still winning

monkeyhawk 7 years ago

"Do you own any property in Lawrence? Why is your home listed under your mother's name?

Sven Alstrom: You are a frequent poster and mudslinger on the LJW forum. Your question is really of a harassment nature and I asked Chad to remove it but have now answered."
Because Chad refused to remove it?

No self control -- once again you could have taken the high road, but no, you had to attack the questioner. glock is undoubtedly a taxpayer and a registered voter. You had a chance to win him over, but I guess those little demons crept on in again. Deep down you know that you really deserve all the karma coming your way.

My question was: "why trust you with city finances when you have shown yourself to be so inept with your own?" BTW - your incredulous lack of judgment in appointing fellow deadbeat Rundle to handle your funds is comical. At least there probably won't be much in the till to mismanage....

Your candidacy has thus far been a real hoot.

KU_Dude 7 years ago

Hasn't Sven's new treasurer declared bankruptcy like Sven has?

BruceWayne 7 years ago

oh they have much more than that in common.

monkeyhawk 7 years ago

"Sigmund (anonymous) says…

Oh Bozo, don't get your panties all in a wad. If I were a real a$$hole I would suggest someone form a flash mob descend upon El Merc, buy a box of Fruit Loops (tm), Juicy Fruit (tm), or free trade, fair range locally grown organic Fruit Flavored Gummy Bears and as they finish writing a check mutter "Dead Beat Loser" as they leave headed to the bank to put a stop payment on it, which I am not suggesting anyone do. Feel better?"


What a walk down memory lane... it really made me miss some of my old homeys.

Matthew Del Vecchio 7 years ago

Yah that spamming idea was a bad one Sven but had it not happened I wouldn't have stumbled into this guys letter to you. It's brilliantly funny. I don't think he will vote for you FYI :)

Link to the funny:

Flap Doodle 7 years ago

Trying to tell the oreadcoffee story would wander into areas of discussion forbidden on LJW.

Flap Doodle 7 years ago

The svombie put in a lot of time and energy offending people on this forum in the past few years. That shouldn't be swept under the rug now.

Keith 7 years ago

Regarding the spam posts, I would suspect He Who Shall Not Be Named.

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years ago

Oh wow, he really told me. Sven, as usual, misses the point. He has repeatedly lied about the property. I do not care that he doesn't own property. Some people might, but I don't. What I do care about is a candidate that seems pathologically predisposed to lying in public and unable to control his public behavior.

svenway_park 7 years ago

"The home that I live in is held in a trust account with my mother, the wife of a former Title Company owner - simply to avoid and make a transfer without Probate Court involvement easier upon my inheritance. "

Actually Glock, he is still lying to you. The reason for this circuitous method of ownership probably has little to do with easing the paperwork of his has much more to do that as a bankrupt, he could not obtain a home loan on his own.

His mother could have chosen to gift him significant cash over a few years in advance of death (with no tax implications) to help out, or she could have given him a larger part of his inheritance early (gift tax implications), or she could have bought the house outright using the trust and let him live there rent free.

She obviously knew she had a son with some bad personal habits and a spending problem so she thought that an outright gift or entire purchase was perhaps a bad idea. She went with the testamentary trust method of owning the house, which is perfectly fine, but you notice that she either 1) did not pay for the entire amount of the house from the trust, or 2) wanted to preserve her estate planning options, by having son Sven make payments back to the trust, which may hold a traditional home loan (for the full or partial value of the house) in the name of the trust.

The real issue here is his hiding the bankruptcy, (and was it one, or two?), the other issues (other than business issues) which contributed to the bankruptcy, and his lack of candor about these collective matters.

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years ago

The interesting thing bout Sven is that he is a bad liar. He picks strange subjects about which to lie and then digs himself deeper and deeper. If he had simply answered the question honestly - likely as you outlined it - there wouldn't be an issue. Sure, some people might find his total lack of quantitative investment in the community objectionable, but it isn't a disqualifying problem. The bigger issue is that lying, obfuscation and childish behavior is his default reaction to questions he finds problematic. His response to my question in a public, sponsored chat was incredibly unprofessional even if one perceives my question objectionable and or my posts as simple mudslinging

lllwll 7 years ago

When Sven announced his desire to run for the position on the city commission JW allowed Sven to join in again on these post; under certain conditions. JW had barred him because he violated the use agreement

Sven posted several times then decided it was not the best decision.

Why does the JW block the comments from the voters about a person that is running for public office?

Who the hell is this guy?

not_dolph 7 years ago

"I am very proud to say that my first three donors were in fact small architectural project clients all from Lawrence."

  • I, for one, cannot wait to read the ethics commission filings to see who these "first three donors" are.

"Many of my supporters and contributors are among the very best people in Lawrence and I am proud to represent them."

  • So does that mean you will not represent me if you are elected, Sven? You only represent your cronies? Hmmm...

Moderateguy 7 years ago

Wow. I'm so glad that I won't be here to see this train wreck. I won't be a bit surprised if he is elected. I feel like I'm in that Bugs Bunny cartoon where he is in the shack that fell off the cliff. At the last second, he steps off onto the ground and the shack disintegrates behind him. If you elect this incompetent fool to run your city, you get what you deserve. Good luck Lawrence...

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

Lawrence City Commission candidate Sven Alstrom has a respectable view on Lawrence tax incentives and economic growth.

Lawrence City Commission candidate Sven Alstrom has the priorities straight.

Lawrence City Commission candidate Sven Alstrom campaign reveals a person who cares about this community in a variety of ways.

Lawrence City Commission candidate Sven Alstrom likely will not be spending near as much money as most other candidates however is no indication Lawrence City Commission candidate Sven Alstrom will not make fiscal responsible decisions. In fact quite the opposite I suspect.

25 years of history has documented the biggest spenders have not been the greatest stewards of our tax dollars. In spite of campaign promises...

ilovelucy 7 years ago

Oh doesn't surprise me that you are in his corner. He's not too bright.

Flap Doodle 7 years ago

Planet-killer merrill, does the svombie share your opinion that brownouts are good ways to enforce energy conservation? Planet-killer merrill, does the svombie share your opinion that pot holes make excellent traffic-calming devices? Planer-killer merrill, does the svombie share your bitter clinging to your hatred of the Reagan/Bush administration?

monkeyhawk 7 years ago

"Lawrence City Commission candidate Sven Alstrom likely will not be spending near as much money as most other candidates however is no indication Lawrence City Commission candidate Sven Alstrom will not make fiscal responsible decisions."

I suspect that the first portion of your sentence is correct - who in their right mind would donate to this person besides the bozos who already have? The last part - I shutter to think of this fiscallY irresponsible human messing with any of my money, let alone the entire city budget. And, for someone like you who is constantly complaining about all those massive taxes you pay, you sure are being mightily cavalier about this deadbeat. Did he call in a marker?

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

Lawrence City Commission candidate Sven Alstrom is showing to be a quite intelligent human being.

There is no incompetence showing anywhere.

Flap Doodle 7 years ago

If you look in the Universal Encyclopedia for "Double Down on Stupid" you will see merrill's 8:09 post.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

This election is a lot about how taxpayers are left out of very large tax dollar spending decisions at all levels of local government.

For instance the $100 million dollar sewage plant should be approved by the voters because local special interests are driving the issue for their own personal profiteering.

Do taxpayers want to spend $100,000,000(million) that will only bring on more new tax dollar expenses? No I say this is reckless spending

There is one consequence that usually goes unmentioned by the local media,city hall and elected officials - local profiteers are draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

Again this election is a lot about how taxpayers are left out of very large tax dollar spending decisions at all levels of local government.

NOT necessary city growth is the result of of subsidies paid for by the local taxpayer. These range from the obvious to the obscure and include big projects-like the billions we spend on new roads for new neighborhoods and the tax-breaks that give new business a leg up that is killing downtown.

We've subsidized local profiteers at such a basic level for so long, that many people believe the status quo is actually fair and neutral. This is false-what we think of as a level playing field is tilted steeply in favor of local profiteers driving new development that is killing downtown.

How we subsidize the Lawrence Board of Realtors who speak for the large developers who BTW are frequently asking for OUR tax dollars to finance: : building new and wider roads building schools on the fringe extending sewer and water lines to not necessary development extending emergency services to the fringe * direct pay-outs to developers - for example developers of the new building at 9th and New Hampshire are demanding taxpayers furnish their tenants with parking spaces built with our tax dollars. Why are we taxpayers being forced to pick up that tab?

Flap Doodle 7 years ago

If you google "building schools on the fringe" + merrill, you get 633 hits. Give it a rest, bub.

Flap Doodle 7 years ago

Dumb and irresponsible!!! (that's our Planet-Killer)

Flap Doodle 7 years ago

There is no win if you vote for the svombie.

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years ago

A spammer endorsing the Svpamer.

Flap Doodle 7 years ago

I'd list some more of the sites that received the sven-spam, but that'd get pinked so fast it would make my head spin.

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years ago

Sven does love the Bieber fan sites though.

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