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Archive for Saturday, December 1, 2007

AG: City leaders broke law

Morrison proposes open meetings training for settlement

December 1, 2007

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Kansas AG rules against City Commission

Lawrence City Commissioners violated the state's open meetings act - but can avoid prosecution if they agree to admit their errors and pay for two hours of professional training on the open meetings law. Enlarge video

Related document

Open meetings settlement agreement ( .PDF )

City commissioners broke the state's open meetings law by holding a closed-door meeting to discuss granting more than $1 million in incentives to a local company, the Kansas attorney general has found.

But Attorney General Paul Morrison is willing to forgo prosecution if city commissioners agree to admit their wrongdoing and personally pay for two hours of professional training on the open meetings law.

Commissioners will consider accepting the settlement at their Tuesday evening meeting, but all indications on Friday were that commissioners were ready to close the controversial chapter.

"I take responsibility for all my actions," said City Commissioner Mike Amyx. "And I feel responsible to other commission members because of the longevity I've had on this commission."

But the proposed settlement may not bring an end to all questions surrounding the meeting, which took place on Sept. 20 when commissioners discussed an economic development incentives package for Deciphera Pharmaceuticals.

That's because City Commissioner Boog Highberger said he thought Mayor Sue Hack still had more explaining to do about her role in the controversy. Hack was the subject of a separate investigation by the attorney general. That investigation alleged that Hack violated conflict of interest laws by not properly disclosing that she has a financial interest of more than $5,000 in the company.

"I admire Mayor Hack's dedication to public service," Highberger said. "I believe she had no intent to do anything improper. But a serious appearance of impropriety was created here, and I don't think the mayor has done enough to correct that."

The attorney general found that Hack didn't properly complete the necessary forms disclosing her financial interest in Deciphera. But Morrison declined to prosecute the "technical" violation. He also declined to prosecute Hack for participating in the Sept. 20 executive session, although the investigators said it "created the appearance of impropriety."

Hack potentially could have been forced to resign her office if she had been convicted on the conflict of interest matter.

Highberger declined to say what he thought Hack should do to correct the matter.

Hack underwent a minor medical procedure Friday and was unavailable for comment.

Education sought

A spokeswoman with the attorney general's office said it was not uncommon for public bodies to be offered a settlement agreement instead of being prosecuted for open meetings violations.

"Our goal is to educate people so they comply with the law in the future," said Ashley Anstaett, a spokeswoman with Morrison's office.

If prosecuted, individual commissioners would face a civil penalty of up to $500 per violation.

Prosecution is still possible if commissioners don't fully agree to the settlement. Some terms of the settlement include commissioners receiving at least two hours of training on the open meetings act from an attorney. The settlement specifically says the training must be paid for by individual commissioners, and not from public monies.

Commissioners plan to have that training done in a public study session.

No contest

Commissioners and City Manager David Corliss said they respected the attorney general's findings. But commissioners did say they were not trying to ignore the open meetings law when they held the closed-door session.

Instead, they said the violation stemmed from a misinterpretation of the law. To go behind closed doors, commissioners used an exception in the state's open meetings law that allows attorney-client conversations to remain private. But the attorney general's office contends the city improperly employed that exception. That is because Lavern Squier, president and CEO of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, was allowed to attend the executive session. The city contended that was proper because the chamber has a contract to provide economic development marketing services to the city.

But the attorney general's office said "there is no evidence to support" the notion that Squier was a client of the city's attorneys, which voided the claim that the city was meeting to keep the attorney-client conversation private.

Corliss, who served as one of the city's attorneys on the matter, said he accepts the attorney general's interpretation of the law.

"We were in error, and it is an error that won't happen again," Corliss said.

The attorney general did not criticize the city for the content of the executive session, only Squier's attendance. Grassroots Action, a citizens group that filed a complaint about the meeting, alleged the city was discussing policy matters that should have been discussed in open meeting.

In particular, the group was concerned about a never-before-used property tax refund provision that was being offered to the company. The tax refund is similar to a tax abatement, which is required to go through a public review processes. Commissioners never discussed the tax refund program in a public meeting.

Comments

svengalli 5 years, 10 months ago

for COOL:A dingbat, is a type of architecturally undistinguished apartment building that flourished in the Sun Belt region of the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. Dingbats are boxy, two- or three-story apartment houses with overhangs sheltering street-front parking. The elevation view of a dingbat is "half parking structure, half dumb box."Particularly popular in southern California, but also found in Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Nevada and Vancouver they are known for their downmarket status and inexpensive rents. They are currently experiencing a minor sentimental renaissance thanks to the mid-century modern design return to vogue. In spite of their serviceability as functional, affordable housing, and the niche appeal of their trappings and trim, dingbats are widely reviled as socially alienating visual blights; California historian Leonard Pitt said of them, "The dingbat typifies Los Angeles apartment architecture at its worst."The origin of the term dingbat is much debated; the only thing known for sure is that the appellation arrived after the buildings themselves. The first textual reference was made by Reyner Banham in Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies (1971); he credits the coining to architect Francis Ventre and describes them.":[Dingbats] are normally a two-story walk-up apartment-block developed back over the full depth of the site, built of wood and stuccoed over. These are the materials that Rudolf Schindler and others used to build the first modern architecture in Los Angeles, and the dingbat, left to its own devices, often exhibits the basic characteristics of a primitive modern architecture. Round the back, away from the public gaze, they display simple rectangular forms and flush smooth surfaces, skinny steel columns and simple boxed balconies, and extensive overhangs to shelter four or five cars:"The word is sometimes said to reference dingbat in the sense of a "general term of disparagement," referring to either the flawed buildings themselves or the builders or even the residents.

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matahari 6 years, 4 months ago

maybe next time they could just all call a 'tea party' and meet at Hack's house, as a casual affair? what's the difference?

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Pilgrim 6 years, 4 months ago

justthefacts (Anonymous) says:

As for a civil suit filed by citizens agains the commission, please see my response on that from yesterday's post on this matter. The short answer is that citizens may file suits against anyone anytime. The likelyhood of winning will depend upon whether there is any legal merit and evidence presented in the case. Oh, and if you file a suit and lose, you may not like the attorney fee sanctions you get (you can be ordered to pay the legal fees for the other parties).

Since the AG has already wrung out all the remedies available (save for a fine) under the KOMA, it is unlikely a judge could or would impose more sanctions under the KOMA. It would be unnecessary and redundant.


And once again it is left for justthefacts to bring factual, logical, reasonable points to the discussion while the rest work all the harder at tying their panties into a knot.

Again, thank you, justthefacts.

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RomanNose 6 years, 4 months ago

How much trouble would a person get into for stealing a TV?

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TJ_in_Lawrence 6 years, 4 months ago

Boog HIghberger isn't any better than the others. That dirty cheat, participated too and then tries to point the finger at the others. Pathetic!!

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blackwalnut 6 years, 4 months ago

The only way to make this right with the city of Lawrence is for Mayor Hack to step down, reveal her true financial interest in the company including when she invested and how much she paid, and the deal with Deciphera to be rescinded.

If Deciphera wants to do business with the financial help of the city, let them start over and keep the process clean.

Mayor Hack and her friend spoiled it.

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camper 6 years, 4 months ago

"Squier was responsible for writing a memo to commissioners summarizing the background of the deal. That memo did not mention the tax rebate or the cash incentives for job creation. But again, Squier said he wasn't asked by the city to provide detailed information. Instead, he said Corliss asked him to keep the background memo under a page in length"

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Kontum1972 6 years, 4 months ago

the chamber of commerce is a joke...a real joke...i was a member for a couple years and they did not do a damn thing for me and my business and being of ethnic origin and not a WASP I was ignored so I never returned..and their christmas party what a hoax..... I got the big snub there too!

CoC..is just a fancy club,,,nothing more!

what is wrong with all of these people who run our city government..isnt there some kind of loyality oath they swear too when they assume the position? it is real easy to say ..well we didnt realize it would be wrong....and there is Corliss with his stinking law degree..isnt he suppose to stop this kind of crap and raise the red flag on this type of policy or actions?

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beobachter 6 years, 4 months ago

No one doubt's law was broken. Question is how they can avoid being held responsible? a hack is a hack. 3 stooges are 3 stooges.

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beobachter 6 years, 4 months ago

The Chamber of Commerce is needed to pay off City Council. After all CC controls all Council decisions. They bought and paid for council. The hack and 3 stooges can't make a decision without Lavern's OK/.

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solsken66 6 years, 4 months ago

How does an appraiser keep increasing the value of residential properities eventhough sale price of properties are decreasing? The answer is there is no correlation between the two entities. The county appraiser is a government employee beholden to others. The school district, county, and city government depends on higher appraisals on property so that they will receive more money for their coffers. Property owners be damned.

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solsken66 6 years, 4 months ago

They all need to take a class in Ethics.

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camper 6 years, 4 months ago

Does anyone know why we need a chamber of commerce? I have heard of the organization, but never really knew what they did. I think we could probably get rid of it and the globe will still keep spinning. I don't think anyone would notice the difference.

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plumberscrack 6 years, 4 months ago

Mayor Sue Hack AND city manager Dave Corliss should be called on the carpet for this fiasco.

The "Buck stops here" with the Mayor and city manager!

Both should step down immediately!

The rest of the commission should be ashamed of their lack attention and public scrutiny over the Deciphera deal. If ANY of the remaining commissioners have an ounce of integrity, they will start the Deciphera deal over, allowing for PUBLIC comments, instead of just the Chamber of Commerce CEO. If not, recall them all or vote them out at the earliest elections possible!!

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hawkperchedatriverfront 6 years, 4 months ago

Well finally a heading from the J/W that agrees with the topic. Wonder who figured out it is time to make the headline agree with what is written?

With regard to the commission. It really makes no difference what goes on from now forward. All members have lost their credibility. As for cool and his/her concern about the hotel proposal, cool is not even hot to being accurate about many of the facts, let alone list these persons around the project that are against it. I find it hard to believe the dwellers in Stadium apartments, the two fraternities, the Hawkspointe tenants, the old Oread Apt tenants and the duplex or for that matter that the woman who owns Water Garden at 9th and Indiana would object. And old Mr. Sandelius doesn't care as long as the hotel has a bar. The water towers don't object.

Going down Mississippi street, you think Marian Washington would object after the blight she has caused to former/deceased track coach Easton's house?

Cool, needs to take hot shower and warm up to the facts, just the facts please.

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texburgh 6 years, 4 months ago

This is what Lawrence gets when they vote in commissioners who are subsidiaries of the developers. Fritzel gets whatever he wants; no questions asked. We taxpayers get to pay for road work leading to his new hotel while our neighborhood streets fall apart. He gets the profits, we get the bills. The chamber of commerce gets to seat people at executive sessions of the city commission but regular old tax-payer types get locked out while our tax dollars are given away. And even if the chamber exec had not been in the room, haven't I read in the paper that Sue "what Deciphera stock?" Hack works for the Chamber? The rest of us don't have a chance. By the way, despite the LJW's constant attacks on smart growth commissioners like Rundell and Schauner, it was never found that they gave away our tax money in secret sessions or voted on deals where there was a conflict of interest. You get what you pay for and the developers paid plenty in the last election.

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solsken66 6 years, 4 months ago

Will Sue Hack step down on her own accord?

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Godot 6 years, 4 months ago

Does this plea deal specify that the admission of wrongdoing not be followed by ".....but...."?

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Kontum1972 6 years, 4 months ago

Quote: Harry Truman-----> THE BUCK STOPS HERE!

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Kontum1972 6 years, 4 months ago

dave corliss, his comment really sucks....this guy claims to have a Law Degree and i think it is from KU, so was he out of class that day or that week? His comment is null, we pay this clown 6 figures so he should be really on top of what he does. I think the whole commission should resign and they should do some time with a heavy fine, and they should never be able to run for office in kansas anymore. If I would of done this they would not think twice of throwing the book at me and I am just an average joe. They are all a bunch of self- serving greedy schmucks and they do not give hoot about Lawrence or the rest of us hard working citizens..they are only concerned about how FAT they can make their wallets, and they place themselves above the Law...I think we should run them out of town, and confiscate their property and assets. How can we ever trust these people again? How are "they" going to walk down the streets of Lawrence and not have someone tell them exactly what they think of them? I am not a big fan right now. They should be ashamed of their actions.

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justthefacts 6 years, 4 months ago

Example of suits that would lose: Your honor, my neighbor is ugly. Your honor, I think roses should have no thorns. Your honor, there has been far too much rain lately. Your honor, I need a better car.

Funny? Not really. People sue to get something they want. But there are not laws giving evgeryone their hearts desire. Courts will only allow a suit to go to a trial if there is some law or legal duty that is involved. You must want something to happen that a judge is authorized (by law) to order. Courts are not magic places there to grant all wishes.

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justthefacts 6 years, 4 months ago

As for a civil suit filed by citizens agains the commission, please see my response on that from yesterday's post on this matter. The short answer is that citizens may file suits against anyone anytime. The likelyhood of winning will depend upon whether there is any legal merit and evidence presented in the case. Oh, and if you file a suit and lose, you may not like the attorney fee sanctions you get (you can be ordered to pay the legal fees for the other parties).

Since the AG has already wrung out all the remedies available (save for a fine) under the KOMA, it is unlikely a judge could or would impose more sanctions under the KOMA. It would be unnecessary and redundant. The KOMA issue is now dead, unless the citizens believe they can find other violations of that Act. In which case they can bring their own action and try to prove to a judge that they have the evidence to prove other violations. But the court will expect the citizen suit to bring forward new evidence, not re-hash what is in the current agreement.

As for other types of suits, if all you have to show is that the deal made with Deciphera is unpopular or a bad idea (in your opinion) that will get quickly booted out of court by a judge. A law suit must be based upon some legal grounds. And disagreeing with a policy decision isn't enough.

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Godot 6 years, 4 months ago

"Godot your comment about it being the court's role to decide what to do about a case merely shows your lack of familiarity with the judicial system." Brilliant deduction!

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justthefacts 6 years, 4 months ago

Godot (Anonymous) says: I did not realize that the AG had the authority to determine guilt and then negotiate a plea bargain. I thought that was the responsiblity of the court.

Godot your comment about it being the court's role to decide what to do about a case merely shows your lack of familiarity with the judicial system. Many cases are decided without going to court, civilly and criminally. The courts (judges) encourage that to happen because otherwise we'd need thousands of more judges and have to spend millions more in tax dollars to get all cases heard by a judge (and/or jury). Plea agreeements, setllement agreements, consent agreements and diversion agreements are all phrases describing out-of-court arragments whereby the necessity to go before a court is avoided. Many potential litigants reach agreement rather then take it before a judge.

In this instance the AG got all the penalaties available under the KOMA (and then some; the KOMA itself says nothing about more education) save one - the fines. Fines are generally not awarded by courts and when they are it is usually in situations where the offendeing public body members fought the charges tooth and nail and cost the tax payers even more $$. By entering into an agreement rather then going to court, the AG and the city commissioners avoided this taking months longer and costing a lot more tax money.

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camper 6 years, 4 months ago

I read an interesting wilkipedia description. Go to the site and type "Political Corruption". There is no doubt, corruption is a threat to Democracy....and there is a cost to society.

I was particulary interested in the chapter, Conditions Favorable for Corruption. It pretty much describes many of the same concerns I have read throughout this entire debate. I reference the following points from the Wilkipedia account. They are not necessarily my opinion or in any way related to the Lawrence controversy:

-Lack of governmental transparency (1st on the list) -Red Tape (often used to defend corruption) -Lack of protection for whistleblowers -Weak accounting practices -Tax havens -Large unsupervised public investments -Sale of state owned property -poorly paid governmental officials -Cronyism -Graft -Insider Trading -Bribery -Patronage -Kickbacks -Lack of non-govermental organizations (meant to monitor govt) -Weak judicial independence

On one hand, I don't believe the commision had bad intent, but on the other hand, I can understand the public outcry. This outcry is a necessary control measure to help prevent the above mentioned. If one is concerned, I hardly believe you are deluded or have an active imagination "who sees black helicopters".

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cool 6 years, 4 months ago

what the CC is doing for the TIF financing of the Fritzel Hotel/Condo with two floors of 14 condos on top ?

realpolitik

noun politics based on practical rather than moral or ideological considerations

WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.

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cool 6 years, 4 months ago

Fritzel hotel can be reduced in size, but Chestnut says that it is fine even though not approved by HRC. all of the CC say that it is the ONLY feasible alternative and are prepared to overturn HRC and grant a height variance from 35 feet to 95 feet ?

thelonious (Anonymous) says: My final reply to Commissioner Chestnut yesterday:

Commissioner Chestnut:

Once again, I appreciate your reply. A few rebuttals:

1) This is simply not a greenfield vs. infill issue. To suggest such is disingenuous. I don't believe they are going to build this at West 6th Street & K-10, or 35th & Iowa, if they can't build it at 12th & Indiana.

2) I am also amazed that you can say that in your mind, the developer is taking all of the risk, when they are asking for public money for the project. The only way your statement is correct is if the developer privately finances the entire project. Even if there is enough TIF & TDD $$$ to pay the bonds, the developer still is receiving a de facto transfer of public money (to pay off the bonds) that they would otherwise not receive. This makes the city a partner in the project, and subject to some theoretical risk.

3) A question - regardless of the promise of the developer to pay back any shortfall in TIF or TDD $$$, possibly backed by a letter of credit, what happens when, at the time of payback, the developer says they don't have the money? Or has gone bankrupt? Or the letter of credit has been revoked because the developer violated the terms of the LOC? All of these are theoretical possibilities, underscoring the fact that you may be able to minimize the risk to the city, but as long as the city is a partner via TIFF and TDD financing, you will always have some theoretical business risk attached to your involvement.

Thw two main things I would like to see are:

1) Developer & CC - respect the HRC, LPA, etc., and make this plan work at five stories - I bet if there is a will, there is a way. The problem now is that there is no will (on the part of the developer, and possibly the CC).

2) Scratch the TIF & TDD financing - if this plan doesn't work privately, then it's a no-go. Private business reducing business risk by an infusion of public monies, when they are going to reap the bulk of the rewards, is simply wrong, and also indefensible when the city budget is so tight (I know that the city theoretically gains tax revenue, etc., but ALL of the profits will go to the developer - perhaps you can get a profit sharing agreement in return for your TIF & TDD financing?).

Thank you.

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cool 6 years, 4 months ago

HACK is practicing 'realpolitik', what she thinks she can get by with !

cool (Anonymous) says: Realpolitik is distinct from ideological politics in that it is not dictated by a fixed set of rules, but instead tends to be goal-oriented, limited only by practical exigencies.

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cool 6 years, 4 months ago

they are getting ready to do it again !

when HOTEL was presented to HRC no mention of TIF fiancing was made.

its_getting_warmer (Anonymous) says: An interesting read on "Best Practices" in use of TIFs. Written by a research unit of University of Texas-El Paso: http://digitalcommons.utep.edu/cgi/viewc:

A couple of salient points extracted from the report:

Cities often stretch the definition of blight to ridiculous extremes, allowing use of TIF in areas that don't need publicly subsidized assistance. Most incentive programs, including TIF, are welfare for big developers who use the incentives as a windfall to help them carry out projects they would have undertaken anyway.

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cool 6 years, 4 months ago

regarding giving TIF financing to a for profit FRITZEL hotel with two floors of 14 condo units on top ?

its_getting_warmer (Anonymous) says: And the gall of using taxpayer money to finance a privately owned parking garage, that members of the public can not even drive in (valet parking).

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cool 6 years, 4 months ago

TAX FAVORS !

regarding TIF financing for a proposed HOTEL that doesn't meet historic approvals.

its_getting_warmer (Anonymous) says: The City Commission has been very poorly served by staff on this whole TIF issue.

As the City Manager told the Commission this week: The City has NO policies regarding the granting of TIF financing.

At the same time, this hotel business has been in the work for months:.with communications between the developer and City Staff. I am sure they said the same thing to Fritzell: The City has NO policies regarding the granting of TIF financing.

So instead, the City Manager has allowed for this project to continue, for expectations to rise, and has a loaded gun pointed to the head of the commission.

And the granting of TIF here will literally open the doors wide for all manner of TIF requests. And how can you turn them down? These are similar to abatements, with the exception that the stream of revenues is actually paying for a capital asset that will be owned by the developer!!

This area is not the cities most blighted, nor is 80 room hotel near the top of economic need for the city. How could you turn down a car dealership? A downtown condo? Any private/public mixed use? Or even a McDonalds that wants their own private underground parking lot.

The Commission may not understand this for a year or two:.but they will figure this out.

Corliss should be embarrassed.

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Godot 6 years, 4 months ago

"And to second another personal opinion, what Merrill said: If Dicephera's money-making potential, and Oread Inn's money-making potential, are both so smoking hot, then why don't their proponents simply walk into a bank and apply for a business loan that covers all development/purchase/construction costs?"

I think the answer to that is, the spigot for commercial lending was turned off in August. Until the hundreds of billions of dollars of bad loans (not just mortgage subprime, but commercial loans, as well) are written off and accounted for, lending is likely to remain extremely tight. So, for big projects like this, the taxpayers become the lender of last resort.

The commissioners should be asking the question, "In this time of turmoil and uncertainty in the financial industry, why should we risk putting the Lawrence taxpayers on the hook to finance the infrastructure for this purely private venture, particularly when there are so many existing infrastructure needs that are going unmet?"

Maybe the developers should make a quick trip to Dubai to seek funding.

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daddax98 6 years, 4 months ago

swan_diver exactly what damages would you sue for. what could the commision do to make the voters whole

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Godot 6 years, 4 months ago

And where did DCDI get the money to pay $80,000 per year in property taxes for a building with no tenants?

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Defixione 6 years, 4 months ago

I just want to get away with not paying my property taxes. Suppose the AG would just slap my wrist?

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

How is it that a multi-million dollar structure can be owned by DCDI and/or the Chamber of Commerce?

If the chamber owns the building how in the world does a local Chamber of Commerce finance such a project?

How can any organization afford to build a new multi million dollar structure with no tenant signed on ever?

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

"swan_diver (Anonymous) says: Again - why can't a civil suit be filed against the Lawrence City Commission by any interested citizen - or a class action suit filed on behalf of all voters and qualified voters - in lieu of the Kansas Attorney General's slap on the wrist?"

Excellent question. The answer is likely yes to both.

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Joe Hyde 6 years, 4 months ago

Perhaps a fair resolution of this issue would be for the City Commissioners to unanimously, in open meeting, reverse themselves and officially withdraw the Dicephera tax rebate that they improperly offered. They could cite a technicality called "at the city of Lawrence's convenience". Such a reversal would be similar to what federal agencies will do sometimes when they terminate a contract based on the government's changing needs.

Doing this takes away the tax rebate from Dicephera, which needs to be done. Doing this demonstrates that the Commissioners acknowledge what they did was wrong. Doing this allows the issue to have a fresh start, a second chance -- this time in an open meeting with public discussion of the tax rebate's long-term benefits to the city.

And to second another personal opinion, what Merrill said: If Dicephera's money-making potential, and Oread Inn's money-making potential, are both so smoking hot, then why don't their proponents simply walk into a bank and apply for a business loan that covers all development/purchase/construction costs?

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swan_diver 6 years, 4 months ago

Again -- why can't a civil suit be filed against the Lawrence City Commission by any interested citizen -- or a class action suit filed on behalf of all voters and qualified voters -- in lieu of the Kansas Attorney General's slap on the wrist?

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

How about this local mobile tax rebate which is not policy yet can follow Dicephera anywhere in the state of Kansas??

I say pull this project off the table. No tax dollars, rebates or abatements for this project.

Close the local Bio Science Authority account which looks as though it was created for this Dicephera conflict of interest deal to enrich the bank accounts of a very few locals. This 1.5 million could do a lot towards older infrastructure such as sidewalks and at least provide surface material for the eastside hike and bike trail.

Again like the Oread Inn take this project to the bank for complete financing without tax incentives. DON"T sell off that building which likely received tax dollar assistance for any reduced value.

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Steve Jacob 6 years, 4 months ago

I have no idea what anyone though the penalty was going to be. Look at the web site that list the past investigations of others in the state. The 2 hour class is the most severe punishment they gave out.

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smitty 6 years, 4 months ago

You write like boog took the high road. Not.

Commissioner(Attorney)Highberger, you have the right to remain silent. But then you knew that. The open meetings law befuddled attorney & City Manager Corliss and Highberger it seems.

Take notice that attorney Boog Highberger took the 5th or applied his Miranda rights in his silence, at least till today's quote. He's off the hook unless someone files a complaint with the bar or follows through with a recall.

Amyx is playing the smart political cards by owning and apoligising for what his experience tells him will blow over soon. I've lost quit a bit of respect for Amyx over this too.

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bill_priff 6 years, 4 months ago


"Highberger declined to say what he thought Hack should do to correct the matter."


I know what Sue can do to correct the matter. She can tell us whether or not she participated in the executive session. She can't hide behind attorney client privilege any more.

Boog knows whether or not Sue participated in the meeting. He was there. Maybe he is giving her a chance to show some "leadership" and admit this on her own. Were any of the commissioners asked about whether or not Sue participated in the executive session?


"The attorney general did not criticize the city for the content of the executive session, only Squier's attendance."


There was no need for the AG to even address the content of the meeting. They violated the KOMA because their stated reason for going into executive session was attorney client privilege and there can be no attorney client privilege when an individual who is not a client of the attorney is present. Every first year law student knows this.

I would like to know what they discussed in the meeting. Now that the AG has determined that there could be no attorney client privilege, Cordless and the commissioners should have no problem telling us all about what was discussed in the executive session.

I would love to see the report of the meeting that Dave prepared for the investigation. Chad, is there any way you could get a copy of that and post it here on the LJW site?

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Godot 6 years, 4 months ago

I did not realize that the AG had the authority to determine guilt and then negotiate a plea bargain. I thought that was the responsiblity of the court.

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blindrabbit 6 years, 4 months ago

Lead story comment by Commissioner Highberger that Mayor Sue has more explaining to do is more than obvious. This is not likely to happen, as she has no-doubt retained legal counsel once the story was revealed, I'm sure counsel told her to stay mum on the whole issue. My guess is that it was a testy time aroung the Hack household awaiting the AG's "letting her off the hook" resolution. It is interesting that this advice was not available from the legal expertise in Com. Highberger, City Manager Corless and City Legal Staff.

Does the fact that the AG found that the Commission "Broke the Law" with regard to the open meeting issue give credance to allowing a recall election to go forward. In the past, we were told that there were no grounds for a recall because no "valid reason" was available.

Regardless, I think Spywell is on the right track for hiring a professional City Manager or better yet an elected Strong Mayor. This would be tough though, given the entrenched system we have now with a dis-interested electorate. To accomplish this,the City Commission would have to vote to change the form of Government we cuirrently have in-place. They (Commission) is not likely to go this way; they would be cutting of their own noses.

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Chris Merrill 6 years, 4 months ago

Heckler (merrill) Once again you are fighting the Grassroots Action fight. The AG found NO WRONGDOING concerning the Deciphera deal or discussions. The ONLY violation of the KOMA was that Squire was there. You Stop-Gressive Latte Liberal Lawrons just HATE the idea of jobs coming to this community. You can't STAND the idea of positive economic growth and what REALLY burns you is that the credit goes to this commission and not a commission of your goons, i.e. the Rundle Bundle.

The AG has found NO REASON to dismiss any of the Deciphera dealings. In fact, the settlement calls for just 2 hours of training. If you go to traffic school you would be required to have 8 hours of training. Morrison's settlement basically equates this "breaking of the law" to 1/4 of a speeding ticket.

Remember, Heckler and you Grassroots Goobers, before you whine again about NOTHING, think WWPMD. What Would Paul Morrison Do? After all, I am 100% positive that every member of the Destructive Grassroots Action goons voted PM in. Heck, I'm an evil right wing republican and I voted him in...and I'm glad I did.

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blindrabbit 6 years, 4 months ago

Isn't it ironic that the lead story in the JW today concerns the AG's finding of a violation of State Open Meeting stautes because in was attended by a "outside" participant the Chamber President (6th Commissioner, by his own account), and the photograph that appears on page 4D "People and Places". It looks like a rouges gallery of smiley faces; we know at least 5 of the 9 included are at least culpable in the lead story issue.

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

When a person is elected or appointed to office each time they are advised or at least receive a packet of information in which an explanation of Kansas Open Meetings Act is included. Not only do elected officials need to be careful so do all appointed positions. This applies to email discussions as well.

"It is very hard to accept that someone who has as much experience in public office as Mayor Hack - six years on the City Commission and two terms as mayor - would "misunderstand" the conflict-of-interest rules. It is still harder to accept that, even if the relevant disclosure laws were not there, the mayor would fail to realize this was a touchy situation. She should not need the AG to tell her participation in the commission's closed-door, executive session where Deciphera was discussed, simply doesn't look right."

The above portion of a letter to the editor applies to all commissioners. It would help if those commissioners who appear to have violated conflict of interest laws would just step down instead of pretending the violation is not really a violation. It is difficult for me to believe none of the commissioners and the Chamber person knew they were in violation of the law. 7of 8 city/county commissioners and the chamber person have way to much experience under their belts : I'm not sure about Dever.

The tax rebate which is not city policy, violation of KOMA and appearance of conflict of interest violations should be enough to put the dicephera matter,not the company, out of business however it is likely personal investments of local movers and shakers that's preventing doing what's right.

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spywell 6 years, 4 months ago

I have a better idea, why don't we hire a city manager,lol. One that will know how to instruct the commission on procedures, since commissioners are elected and there is no real experience prior for procedures. We could hire a Lawyer for the city commission for legal advice.Lol. Since there are no real lawyers on the commission, lol.

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