Lawrence City Commission candidate Bob Schumm live chat

March 16, 2011

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

Bob Schumm

Lawrence City Commission candidate Bob Schumm will hold a live chat with users Wednesday, March 16 at 1 p.m. You can submit your question in advance below.


Hi. I'm Chad Lawhorn, the City Hall reporter for the Journal-World. I'll be the moderator for today's chat with Lawrence City Commission candidate Bob Schumm. We have several questions already submitted, but we're still accepting more from our online audience. Let's get started. Thanks for being here, Bob.

Bob Schumm:

Good morning. I'm happy to be here and I'm looking forward to answering your questions.


It has been said you might be running to bring a special tax district into the downtown merchant area, what is your opinion on the special tax district tax? Are you for it or against it?

Bob Schumm:

I do not intend to ask for any kind of special tax district downtown. In fact, I have taken a strong position against special tax districts because I believe that they are sneaky taxes. Many consumers are unaware of the special tax districts because the only notification they receive is on their receipt at the time of purchase and most people don't look that closely at their receipt.


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

Bob Schumm:

I have publicly spoken in favor of relocating the shelter, contributed money to the building fund, and worked with the organization to help find a permanent site for the shelter. If elected, I will take a stronger leadership role in order to resolve the issue.


When you campaigned in 2000 for County Commission, you referred to the potential American Eagle distribution jobs as "low wage, dead-end jobs." How do you discern between good and bad jobs that create economic growth in the community?

Bob Schumm:

A good job is one that can sustain a family and also provides benefits. In addition, a good job will create value for the community because individual workers will have the ability to provide for their family's needs, will be less dependent on social services, and will make purchases locally benefitting local businesses.


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

Bob Schumm:

The north end of downtown is lacking parking spaces for swimmers, library guests, senior center visitors, and Mass St. shoppers and diners. I think it makes good sense to try and provide as many additional spaces as possible with this opportunity. However, I am reluctant to add spaces if the cost were to exceed the original bond issue. Finally, I don't think the foot print is large enough for both the expanded library, additional parking, and a bus station, but I am willing to study it.


What is your position on island annexation by the city of rural properties? If elected, will you give equal consideration to rural residents (who are not your constituents) when annexation issues come before the city commission?

Bob Schumm:

In general, I am opposed to island zoning because extension of utilities and city services are very costly when you annex in this manner. Contiguous zoning is good planning. As a commissioner, regarding all city business, I will be happy to listen to each and every individual who has an issue.


You were the foremost proponent of the Eastern Parkway. This ended up being a very contentious issue in 1990, 1991, and 1992. If elected will you try to resurrect the Eastern Parkway thru east Lawrence.

Bob Schumm:

It made good sense at the time and I believe that it still makes good sense because it reduces traffic on neighborhoods streets. If there is enough interest at present, I would be willing to study it again with input from all the stakeholders.


How about revisiting the Lawrence fireworks ban since it seems it is never enforced. Any consideration in doing away with the ban?

Bob Schumm:

I would be open to discussion on the issue as there does appear to be a lot of firework activity on the Fourth of July.


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

Bob Schumm:

If elected, my number one priority will be to create new jobs in Lawrence. I have several ideas including continuing to clean up the Farmland property in order to create new potential sites for businesses, continuing to promote the bioscience and technology incubator, and assist local startups by exploring the possibility of a general business incubator.


Last week, Hugh Carter said that he thought the issue of the living wage should be revisited. What is your position on the subject?

Bob Schumm:

I am a strong supporter of the living wage because it's necessary to sustain a family which adds value to the community. If elected, I would commit to supporting the living wage as a requirement to receive a taxpayer subsidy in the form of a tax abatement or issuance of an industrial revenue bond.


In the article Sunday regarding economic development, you stated that CIDs grant an unfair advantage to certain retailers. However, as a downtown merchants the public funed a portion of your sprinkler system, maintains parking, provides landscaping and offers security in the right-of-ways. Is this an unfair advantage to downtown merchants?

Bob Schumm:

My concern with CID taxes are that the taxes can be used by private businesses to fund private activities such as general maintenance, employee training, and other ongoing expenses. Instead of these costs being born by the private business, the business instead receives a subsidy from individual taxpayers who may or may not know they are paying a higher sales tax.

The city has designated downtown as an area in which they want to see additional growth and development. Therefore, the decision was made by officials to use some of the parking meter revenue fund for ongoing maintenance such as landscaping and litter control.


Should Treanor Architects be granted the tax rebates they are requesting to move their headquarters downtown?

Bob Schumm:

I support their request because this is an opportunity to take a vacant, dilapidated building and turn it into a state of the art, design and development studio. Because of the nature of the request (Neighborhood Revitalization Act), the city will not be losing any existing revenue and will in fact be gaining additional tax dollars.


A version of this question has been asked by several members of our audience. I'll try to merge them together into one: Amercian Eagle Outfitters' warehouse now employs several hundred people and occupies several hundred thousand square feet of space in Ottawa. Given these facts, do you believe that your opposition to the American Eagle project was a mistake? Would you be more open to a similar project today?

Bob Schumm:

In my opinion, this tax subsidy was a very bad deal for the taxpayers at the time. The City Commission approved America Eagle's request for what I thought was an overly generous tax subsidy (80% for $45 million) which exceed the norm by 30%. In addition, America Eagle had selected a site for a warehouse that was to be located on prime farmland (type 1 and type 2 soils) and the proposed pay schedule was very low. If a similar request were to be submitted today, I would again weigh the costs and benefits to the community, however given the above facts and set of circumstances my position would likely be the same .


Well, it has been an hour and we've gotten through a lot of questions. Thanks to everybody who submitted a question. And thanks, Bob, for your time today. Any closing comments?

Bob Schumm:

Thank you for all your thoughtful questions, I have enjoyed this discussion. I believe that I have the necessary experience and knowledge to address the multiple issues facing the City of Lawrence at this time. I would ask for your vote on Tuesday, April 5th.


stuartlongman 7 years, 2 months ago

Someone should tell Schumm and inform the voters that:

East Hills Business Park was an island annexation 24 year ago and remained so for many years.

The city and county extended utilities and provided infrastructure and services for industrial zoning.

Jobs were first available in this island annexed industrial park over 20 years ago with approximately 2000 jobs there today. Some by having buildings, infrastructure and sites on so called prime farm land.

East Hills has been a major asset to Lawrence and Douglas County that starting and remained for many years as an island annexation.

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