Letters to the Editor

Business queries

December 19, 2007


To the editor:

The discussion about Deciphera will continue way into 2008, but the question I have, as do others, is: Did the Chamber of Commerce and this DCDI (still unidentified as to how it is not for profit and who the players are) offer the spec building to anyone in the United States for a half-million dollars less than valuation with a 100 percent rebate on property taxes?

I find it hard to believe that not one manufacturing company would jump at the chance for a building under those terms. Maybe Lawrence is truly running off business. It appears that way.

It seems to me that the Chamber of Commerce is extremely remiss in carrying out their duties to attract commerce. This Deciphera is operating now from a building and paying rent. Why didn't that landlord buy the spec building and then work a deal to sell it to Deciphera if the company grew? Too many unanswered questions.

In 2008, the city commissioners need to get to work; quit delaying decisions at meetings. When they have issues before them, they need to vote, yes or no. Quit this nonsense of sending issues back and forth to planning, neighborhood groups or study sessions. Move forward. And will those involved in DCDI and Deciphera please step forward and tell us what your real motives are? Tell us who is profiting from these ventures. Certainly not the taxpayers of Douglas County and the city of Lawrence.

David Holroyd,



Richard Heckler 10 years, 6 months ago

Secret deals and conflicts of interest screw things up:

GrassRootAction welcome last week's unanimous admission by Lawrence City Commissioners that they violated Open Meeting laws when they restricted their discussion of Deciphera's tax break to a closed-door executive session, as we had argued in an Open Meetings complaint which we filed on Nov. 1, 2007. But we feel that other information, including facts disclosed in reply to our earlier complaint, makes clear that further investigation is called for. Specifically, we note the following facts (among others):

  1. At the Douglas County Commission meeting on Oct. 24, 2007, when the County Commission considered, and approved, Deciphera's incentive package, Commissioner Bob Johnson presided over and participated actively in the discussion of Deciphera's proposal. Though Johnson abstained from the vote, he defended Deciphera's incentive package during the meeting (as revealed by the minutes) and said that, if allowed, he would vote for this incentive package (as reported by the Lawrence Journal-World).

Since Johnson acknowledges an $8,200 financial stake in Deciphera, we regard his participation in the County Commission's deliberations on this matter as an apparent violation of K.S.A. 75-4304, which forbids official participation by local governmental officers or employees in the making of a contract with any business in which the officer or employee has a substantial interest.

  1. Bob Johnson also apparently attended a meeting with Lawrence Mayor Sue Hack, City Manager Dave Corliss, and Chamber of Commerce president Lavern Squier, among others which discussed Deciphera's tax break on the afternoon of the very same day that the City Commission held its illegal closed meeting (9/20/07). According to a recently released email by a participant, the two meetings that day (the City Commission's executive session, followed by the "afternoon group") produced an effective "consensus" in favor of granting Deciphera public incentives including a tax break. Again, given Bob Johnson's financial interest in Deciphera, his participation in this meeting (with City and Chamber officials) appears to have been unlawful.

  2. Sue Hack's role in forging the "consensus" at the two meetings on 9/20/07 also appears to have violated Conflict of Interest laws. When she filed the legally required form disclosing her significant financial interest in Deciphera in November 2007 which she had earlier failed to do, in violation of state law this financial interest was revealed to exceed $5,000. So Hack's participation in these and other meetings on Deciphera (if any) also appears to have been illegal.

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