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Archive for Wednesday, September 13, 2006

City Commission plans D.C. lobbying trip

September 13, 2006

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City commissioners will go on the offensive next month in their efforts to garner federal funding for a variety of projects.

All five commissioners are tentatively scheduled to travel Oct. 15-17 to Washington, D.C., to lobby federal legislators and their staffs.

"We always have lots of needs in the community, and this is a way to communicate them to people who can be in a position to help," Mayor Mike Amyx said.

Lobbying federal lawmakers for funding is nothing new for city leaders, but the fact that all five commissioners are planning to make the trip is unusual. Traditionally, the city has sent two to three commissioners to Washington as part of a national convention of city leaders.

But several commissioners said that trip wasn't always very productive because congressmen and senators were bombarded by representatives from dozens of other cities at the same time.

"I think there will be more meat to this visit," City Commissioner Sue Hack said.

Commissioners on Tuesday gave tentative approval to a list of topics that they want staff to gather "talking points" on to present to legislators. They include:

¢ funds for transportation, public transit, airport projects and the Community Development Block Grant program.

¢ an appeal of the Census Bureau's population estimates for the city.

¢ efforts to garner a National Heritage Area designation for Douglas County.

One issue not specifically on the list is funding for the South Lawrence Trafficway. City commissioners have been split on where the final leg of that road should be built.

City commissioners on a 3-2 vote earlier this year agreed to send a letter to the Federal Highway Administration asking it to approve a route south of the Wakarusa River for the eastern leg of the road, rather than the approved route through the Baker Wetlands.

Commissioners on Tuesday said they weren't sure whether they would discuss that particular road project as part of their transportation discussions.

"We all need to be talking about the same project, it would seem," Amyx said.

City commissioners are expected to be joined on the trip by representatives from Douglas County and Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.

Interim City Manager David Corliss said exact totals on how much the trip would cost weren't yet known. He said the city would pay for airfare, lodging, meals and cab fare for commissioners, just as it does for any conference that commissioners or staff members attend.

Commissioner Boog Highberger said he thought the trip would be worthwhile.

"I really want to drive home the point that the buck really does stop here at the city and county level," Highberger said. "Federal and state governments make funding cuts for a number of programs, but that doesn't mean the needs go away."

Bonds, notes issued to pay for city projects

City commissioners unanimously agreed to issue new debt to pay for previously approved city projects.

Commissioners issued $17.13 million worth of general obligation bonds and $16.345 million worth of temporary notes at their meeting Tuesday night.

Commissioners accepted a low bid from George K. Baum & Co. on the general obligation debt. Baum offered an interest rate of 3.86 percent. Commissioners accepted a bid from Parker/Hunter for the temporary notes. That company offered a rate of 3.66 percent.

The general obligation bonds generally are paid off over a 10- to 15-year period. The temporary notes are done for a much shorter time period and later are converted to general obligation bonds after a project has been completed and its exact costs are known.

City staff to continue work on energy audit

Commissioners directed staff members to keep working on ways to make the city more energy efficient.

Commissioners received a staff report on several initiatives that staff are undertaking. They include a planned energy audit that will look at how major energy consumers - such as the city's sewer and water plants - can conserve more electricity.

Interim City Manager David Corliss said he's also exploring a program through the Environmental Protection Agency that rates and scores cities on a variety of environmental management issues. The program looks at issues ranging from the types of vehicles that are purchased to the energy efficiency of public buildings.

"We think we have an opportunity to show some leadership in this area," Corliss said.

No announcement on Farmland property

City and county commissioners met in executive session to discuss the Farmland Industries property but did not make any announcements about their intentions regarding the vacant fertilizer plant just east of Lawrence.

The 467-acre piece of property is up for sale as part of Farmland's bankruptcy case. The city and the county have expressed some interest in purchasing the property, which must undergo some environmental cleanup, to use as an industrial park. Members of the private sector, however, also are exploring possible purchase of the site.

Comments

old_man 8 years, 3 months ago

It takes all 5 of them to go to Washington? Hope they utilize my tax dollars and not use this as a sight seeing visit. Stay on top of this Lawrence Journal World and let us know how much this cost us. If they come back with nothing then we will know better than to let them go again.

BrianR 8 years, 3 months ago

Whine when the Commission doesn't do something.

Whine when the Commission does something.

No wonder our brightest and best don't enter public service.

rayikeo 8 years, 3 months ago

How about publishing thier itinerary for the trip so all of Lawrence can see how much of this trip is for sight seeing. Maybe they will be looking for another sister city connection for Maui or Sidney.

KsTwister 8 years, 3 months ago

With disaster areas of the country needing roads rebuilt more that Lawrence needing more roundabouts I am afraid letters to that effect may have preceded them. The Federal Department of Transportation is already being adjusted for that demand,save your(our) money-stay home.

Godot 8 years, 3 months ago

"we used to have bob dole to do this for us"

Yeah, I can just see Brownback cozying up to do favors for this commission! LOL!

staff04 8 years, 3 months ago

No need to travel to DC for this. All of the legislators they will meet with have offices in Kansas that work just as well as their DC offices.

Rationalanimal 8 years, 3 months ago

Can anyone imagine if every mayor or commissioner from every town in the US went to DC to lobby for their individual interests. This a joke, or a ploy for an all expense paid trip to DC.

Even more troubling is that this is evidence of the narciccism or delusion running rampant through the City Commission. Reality check: Lawrence is a city of 80,000 in Kansas. No one in DC is going to give 2 seconds of thought or time to these clowns.

Another troubling aspect is the timing and purpose of said lobbying trip-after $35 Million in bonds are issued. This indicates the fab-5 spend money to the tune of $35 Million, have no idea how to pay for it or raise revenue to pay for the bonds, and like a little girl fantasizing about her prince charming think their going to get the federal govt to fork over $100's of millions of dollars to bail them out.

I would say we can't get any lower than the incompetence this demonstrates, but the one area history supports being optimistic in the current fab-5, is stupidity. This is not fine political governing as many of Lawrence's residents would like to deceive themselves into thinking.

Rationalanimal 8 years, 3 months ago

Being an optimist: On the brightside, maybe some wacko organization will give these dead beats jobs and they won't come back at all. Oh please, for the love of sanity and logic, someone in DC give these idiots a permanent job.

staff04 8 years, 3 months ago

Rationalanimal- "Can anyone imagine if every mayor or commissioner from every town in the US went to DC to lobby for their individual interests."

You would be surprised to know that most cities and larger towns do.

"Reality check: Lawrence is a city of 80,000 in Kansas. No one in DC is going to give 2 seconds of thought or time to these clowns."

While it doesn't need to be done in DC as I noted above, the officials DO listen and are often able to assist with local problems from the federal pedestal...

Confrontation 8 years, 3 months ago

Maybe someone from the LJWorld should follow them around and document how much time is spent actually doing work. Considering they don't do any work here, then I doubt they'll get anything done there.

Rationalanimal 8 years, 3 months ago

staff04:

"You would be surprised to know that MOST cities and larger towns do."

What's constitutes a "larger" town? Maybe in Kansas 80,000 is an L.A., but for the rest of the earth, 80,000 is an ant hill. Come back to reality.

"While it doesn't need to be done in DC as I noted above, the officials DO listen and are often able to assist with local problems from the federal pedestal..."

That's one heck of a chocolate covered horse pill for the citizens of Lawrence to swallow. Your telling us all that 100, or even 10, senators are going to invite the fab-5 in to their offices for strumpets and tea. There is simply no incentive to give these bafoons 2 seconds of their already maxed time.

The bottom line is this is an all expensed vacation to DC under the disguise title of a lobbyist trip.

I renew my plea. For the love of sanity and logic, would someone in DC please gives these 5 idiots a permanent job.

staff04 8 years, 3 months ago

I'll work on getting them the jobs.

Reality: I know that the town that I grew up in in Kansas has about 13,000 residents. Their mayor travels to Washington annually.

I'm just saying that you present it like this is some kind of anomaly of abuse. I'm telling you that it isn't. I regularly meet with mayors and councilmen in my office.

And no, they aren't going to meet with the entire Senate. They WILL, however, meet with their representatives who will then work with their colleagues to help provide appropriations for projects. The Lawrence group will certainly meet with Ryun/Moore/Brownback/Roberts at the very least. They will also probably meet with the staffs of other members.

They also frequently come to Congress to express the policy goals and interests of the city. Wouldn't you prefer that the people in DC who make the laws that affect the people in Lawrence actually have some idea of what the agenda for the city is? Or should they just work blind?

Again, I don't think it needs to be done in DC, as I have clearly stated, but when members of Congress see people who are willing to come all the way to DC to express their interests, it certainly carries some value.

Godot 8 years, 3 months ago

The reason all five have to go is that Boog, Schauner and Rundle don't trust Hack and Amyx to represent the PLC's interests, and Hack and Amyx do not trust the PLC to represent Lawrence's interests.

What I expect is that the PLC will be checking in with the big wigs of Move.On, Code Pink, Smart Growth, Green Peace, NORML, and the DaDa convention; Hack will make sure her face gets in front of the people who shape future Democrat campaigns; and, well, maybe Amyx will actually meet with someone who can see that Lawrence gets some dough.

lunacydetector 8 years, 3 months ago

the PLC city commissioners are ticked off that the US Census says lawrence has stagnated or actually decreased in population. they won't get as much money from the Feds. this makes them look very bad. The decrease in population is the PLC legacy and the majority of PLC supporters on this forum want lawrence to decrease in population - notice how they always say, 'if you don't like it, move!'? people and businesses are heeding the call.

the 3 amigoettes see that the chickens have come home to roost because they won't be getting funds for their pet projects. this will only reinforce the US Census numbers that lawrence has decreased in population - the first time since lawrence was founded. what a legacy.

exodus NEVER pays growth ALWAYS pays

just another example of lawrence, kansas being business UNfriendly

classclown 8 years, 3 months ago

How about we move the town while they're gone and leave no forwarding address?

KS 8 years, 3 months ago

Glad to know that all five are going. That way the dynamic dual can keep the three amigos in line. Who knows what those three would lobby for?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 3 months ago

"Who knows what those three would lobby for?"

It most certainly couldn't include the following, could it?

¢ funds for transportation, public transit, airport projects and the Community Development Block Grant program.

¢ an appeal of the Census Bureau's population estimates for the city.

¢ efforts to garner a National Heritage Area designation for Douglas County.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 3 months ago

Hey, I hear the three amigos got out of bed today. The nerve.

KS 8 years, 3 months ago

Get real, transportation? We don't have enough people riding the "MT" as it is now. We could use minivans and provide the same service at a fraction of the cost. What other transportation needs does this community need, other than finishing the SLT? Our current Governor has already saved us a billion dollars to finance that!

Airport projects? Do you think for a moment that Lawrence International Airport is going to compete with KCI? Do we need some more landing lights? Maybe more hangars for private aircraft? Maybe a longer runway for 747's?

What the H...l is the National Heritage Area designation? I guess that will bring a zillion jobs to Lawrence!

Do you have to fly to Washington, DC to appeal a Census Bureau estimate? I am sure those folks would prefer to see it in writing. UPS can deliver that for a far sight less money that this trip.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 3 months ago

"How about we move the town while they're gone and leave no forwarding address?"

We're right behind you. Really.

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