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City Hall

Schauner sees his role as a questioner

February 15, 2007

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When David Schauner, the general counsel for the Kansas National Education Association, rises to argue a case before the state's Supreme Court, he does so without notes.

No, Schauner doesn't need any help talking. He proves that, he admits, nearly every Tuesday night in his role as a city commissioner.

"I feel like my role on the commission is to ask questions," Schauner said. "I know I do ask a lot of questions. I think there is always more to the story than what you hear at first blush. I think there's always a back story.

"I'm confident some of my fellow commissioners are saying to themselves, 'can't you just shut up and move on.' But I guess that's not me."

Schauner is one of nine candidates seeking a seat on the Lawrence City Commission. It's a familiar position for him. He's served on the commission since April 2003, but this is his third campaign. In the 2003 and 2005 elections, Schauner finished third in the polling, meaning he earned a two-year rather than a four-year term.

Although he insists he doesn't particularly like campaigning, Schauner said the third-place finishes haven't bothered him because he thinks it is just a sign that his campaigns have done it the hard way, by focusing on attracting support from neighborhoods and individuals rather than courting business organizations or other special-interest groups.

"This community, like most, are made up of neighborhoods and individuals," Schauner said. "Those are the folks I've tried to advocate for."

Speaking up

Schauner relates to those folks because neighborhood issues were what got him involved in city politics in 2003. At the time, he had been in Lawrence for only three years - he lived in Topeka for 27 years - but ended up going down to a Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission meeting to listen to plans for a proposed Wal-Mart at Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive, which is near his west Lawrence neighborhood.

"I didn't go down there intending to say anything," Schauner remembers. "But I couldn't just sit there."

City Commissioner David Schauner explains his reasons for seeking reelection

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A few days after speaking against the project, Schauner received a phone call from Melinda Henderson, an organizer of a new group called the Progressive Lawrence Campaign. She ultimately talked Schauner into seeking a seat on the commission. Schauner in 2003 and 2005 ran under the PLC banner, which advocated for better planning of growth and urged policies that would require developers to pay for more growth-related costs.

Schauner, 61, said his two terms have been more rewarding than he thought they would be. He said the job of a city commissioner plays in well with what he does as the general counsel for the KNEA, a position he's had since 1979. As the association's top attorney, he represents teachers across the state who have been fired or face disciplinary actions.

"What I do every day in my job is gather facts and analyze those facts in the context of the law and try to solve problems," Schauner said. "I see myself as a problem solver for my clients. I think that is a skill that is directly transferable to city government."

The issues

Schauner - who grew up in Wichita as the son of a union electrician - said he moved to Lawrence after he became concerned about how Topeka was allowing large numbers of new retail development on its western edge at the expense of all other retail in the community, he said.

As a result, retail issues in Lawrence are a major concern to him. He said he's not convinced the city needs as much new retail development as some people think.







Candidate profile

Name: David SchaunerAge: 61Address: 5002 Jeffries CourtProfession: General counsel for the Kansas National Education Association.Education: Undergraduate degree in history from Wichita State University, 1968; law degree from Washburn University, 1976.Family: Single, no childrenPast political experience: Elected to a two-year term on the Lawrence City Commission in 2003; re-elected to a two-year term in 2005.

"I think too many people believe that if we expand our retail base that we're expanding our economic development base, and I don't think that is true," Schauner said. "If I had five more places to buy things, I'm not necessarily going to buy more than I used to. I just will reallocate where I buy things."

Schauner said he thought the question of whether Lawrence was overbuilding its retail market may be a "fundamental difference in the community."

"I'm not against retail," Schauner said. "I just don't want us to kill our current retailer on the alter of the newest, brightest, shiniest suburban retail."

On other issues, Schauner said:

¢ The community needs to recognize that its current strategies for attracting new and high-paying jobs to the community aren't working.

"I understand that the economic development market is very competitive," Schauner said. "What I suggest is that we stand back and figure out what we're not doing right because, obviously, we haven't done something right."

¢ He would be willing to spend $20 million to $30 million on a library as long as the public supported it in a public election.

"Whether we need to spend that type of money is a question only the voters can answer," Schauner said. "I want voters to have a full picture of what it means, and then if 51 percent of them say build it, then we should build it."

The primary will be Feb. 27, when voters will narrow the field from nine candidates to six candidates. Voters will elect candidates to fill three at-large seats on the five-member City Commission when they go to the polls in the general election April 3.

Other candidates in the race are James Bush, a Lawrence minister; Carey Maynard-Moody, a retired school social worker; Rob Chestnut, chief financial officer for Allen Press; Mike Dever, owner of a Lawrence-based environmental consulting firm; Sam Fields, a Lawrence bail bondsman; Commissioner Boog Highberger, an attorney for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment; Michael Limburg, a Lawrence forklift operator; and Jake Davis, a musician and data entry operator.

Comments

whiteoleander 7 years, 10 months ago

yes he is a question man " Which way did he go george which way did he go?"

cowboy 7 years, 10 months ago

blah blah blah , Mr. No ideas just questions , you have been in two years and this is all you have to say !

Bye Schnauer

Sigmund 7 years, 10 months ago

Confirms what I've suspected, lots of question and no answers.

cowboy 7 years, 10 months ago

Oooohhhooo yes I'm the great pretender , oooh ooh ooh oooh

Richard Heckler 7 years, 10 months ago

It's good to have someone on the commission who likes to think and ask a lot of questions. Too many decisions are made without the public actually knowing how did a member come to their conclusion. Some items after 20-40 minutes of public comment commissioners bring it back to them and without much DETAILED discussion an issue is put to a vote.

Why not have each commissioner explain clearly how they reached their decisions before putting a matter to a vote and state at that time how they intend to vote. Who have they spoken with prior to commission meeting time? This has been missing from CC meetings for 20 years.

Statements such a "I think this will work" " It will be good for Lawrence" or "It's been on the table for awhile so we must vote on it" do not offer enough substance especially if the matter is going to have a negative impact on my personal property tax.

Yes I do like inquring minds on the city commission. Schauner asked a lot questions regarding how to finance a new library such as "Can the city borrow money from itself and pay back with some interest?" A $20 million library sounds better than a $30 million considering that $10 million of that $30 million is for parking.

commuter 7 years, 10 months ago

Merrill:

I do too like people who asks questions but saying no almost all the time is a waste of time. He says yes when it comes to paying for studies but :out of town" consultants. If he doesn't like the result, he just says no.

From my dealings with him, he is very condensending. To him, his way is the only way. Before anyone starts saying it is because he is an attorney, wrong. I just believe it is him only.

From my point of view, the three PLC backed commisisoners have had their time, move on. It is time when Lawrence should really take a hard look at ways to bring employement here. If Lawrence doesn't, the surrounding areas will.

Shauner said "I'm not against retail," Schauner said. "I just don't want us to kill our current retailer on the alter of the newest, brightest, shiniest suburban retail."

From what I read from this statement is he will protect downtown at ALL costs. I try to shop in Lawrence but I do not shop a lot downtown. Maybe I should go down a get my haircut from Amyx Barber shop but I have my wife do it to save money. When I came to Lawrence as college student, I really liked downtown. Now with kids, I try to really time my downtown trips as much as possible. I used to go to Play it Again Sports but now they are gone.

Maybe it is time now to stop asking questions and start making decisions.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 10 months ago

The city commission was designed to be little more than a rubberstamp, with commissioners who came almost exclusively from the mover-and-shaker crowd the commission is designed to serve.

So is it a big surprise that the relatively powerless PLC city commissioners haven't fixed problems accumulated over decades of rule by cronyism? Should we really expect that a return to rule by cronyism will somehow make things all better? Unfortunately, too many on these boards believe that repeating the same stupid sh*t over and over will get them different results. I can only hope they aren't fully representative of the city's voting population.

HoosierPride 7 years, 10 months ago

So what this guy can ask a lot of questions. Where are his own ideas? Why do people work so hard to protect a downtown that has little to get excited about unless you want to go to a good bar? Schauner will not be getting my vote since he's already had four years of asking questions and getting nothing accomplished.

scott3460 7 years, 10 months ago

The anti-intellectualism of so many folks on this board is scary. Lawrence is lucky to have a person of this intellect and character on the Commission. Once upon a time I actually worked with Mr. Schauner & can attest to the fact that he is a hard working, intelligent and committed individual and his ability and willingness to question is yet another strength he brings to this task. He has proven willing and able to argue for and accomplish the things in which he believes. For those who do not like him, why not try something other than name calling. How about you stand up and state the policy decisions he's made that you disagree with and why your position/proposal is better. Anonomously claiming someone is arrogant, a dud, the great pretender, Darth Vader, etc... may make you feel better, but for many of us it just confirms that Mr. Schauner may, in fact, be your better.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 10 months ago

"The anti-intellectualism of so many folks on this board is scary."

That pretty well nails most of the posters here.

"How about you stand up and state the policy decisions he's made that you disagree with and why your position/proposal is better. "

I think you already answered your own question.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 10 months ago

"If he got answers would he quit asking questions?"

What's the point of this question?

KsTwister 7 years, 10 months ago

" The community needs to recognize that its current strategies for attracting new and high-paying jobs to the community aren't working." Four years on the commission is a long time to ponder a problem with no results! Amyx said last week the city needs to tighten its belt due to lower property tax increases and still the library is top priority.ENOUGH. These guys cannot budget and use property taxes to catch up. Time for a change.

Godot 7 years, 10 months ago

Bozo wrote yesterday that the PLC have stalled the library project effectively; yet they were in charge when the commission directed the library board to choose a site downtown so that the library would serve to stimulate redevelopment.

If they were not in favor of such a project, why did they encourage it?

Was this whole process just another page in the anti-Walmart/developer play book? Did the PLC commissioners direct the library board to solicit proposals to redevelop downtown just to keep people busy, to use up time, resources and money, while having absolutely no intention of following through? Was it all just an exercise?

kef104 7 years, 10 months ago

Okay, bozo, here goes,

I voted for him once, but will not repeat the mistake. His approach is more similar to a lobbyiest than anything else. He has an agenda and pursues it despite facts or legality. Kind of describes his everday job as well.

He is willing to spend our tax money fighting Walmart despite planning commission recomendations and Walmarts attempt to do exactly what the city commission asked of them. Spending our tax money means little to him, only his agenda matters. Also, his refusal to support Krause's made no sense at all, especially since the city created the zoning for Krause's to utilize.

In the end Robert will have Krause's open, but it cost him an extra 6 months of lost time.

Also I want to state, I am not a Walmart fan and live within blocks of their proposed site. My position is simply that legally, the zoning was in place for them to build there and no matter how much tax money we as a city throw to stop it, we, as tax payers, will lose. Personally I would rather save that money, add the wasted money spent on consultants, and start a fund for a library that we can build once we have the money in place. (I like to pay cash)

Also, he is wrong thinking we do not need more retail. While he is correct that there is only so much money to be spent, the real question is where is it being spent. My family, despite trying to support local businesses, spends much money in the KC metro area. Various surverys and consultants have for years shown that Lawrence loses more retail dollars than it brings in so I would guess that my personal experience is not unique.

So, to surmise, his desire to be single minded and waste our tax money is sufficient for me to want him replaced.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 10 months ago

And this was my reply yesterday, Godot, to which you failed to respond.----

It's quite interesting that Godot would have rather that the city commission had handed over full and final decision to the library board, with no final review by the city commission, or a plebiscite of the city's voters.

Oh, those dirty, underhanded PLCer's for not rushing into a decision all by themselves just so Godot would be prevented from making yet another pointless point.

Godot 7 years, 10 months ago

Bozo, as usual, deliberately mischaracterizes my comments.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 10 months ago

"He has an agenda and pursues it despite facts or legality."

If he is so clearly "agenda-driven," could you tell me what that agenda is?

"He is willing to spend our tax money fighting Walmart despite planning commission recomendations and Walmarts attempt to do exactly what the city commission asked of them. "

What created this mess in the first-place was that previous commissions were so willing to ignore planning and zoning documents and regulations. That is what the fight is about, not Wal-Mart, and I think it's a fight worth fighting.

"Also, his refusal to support Krause's made no sense at all, especially since the city created the zoning for Krause's to utilize."

I never heard what the exact vote was on the approval-- did Schauner vote against it? Regardless, even though I think granting the special-use permit was acceptable, it does create some potential problems for bad precedents that will haunt the city, so if he did vote against it, I can understand why.

"Also, he is wrong thinking we do not need more retail.......Various surverys and consultants have for years shown that Lawrence loses more retail dollars than it brings in so I would guess that my personal experience is not unique."

We're a bedroom community. A huge percentage of our population is in KC or Topeka everyday, and they are going to shop at the much larger stores there whose trade volume allows them to have greater selection and better prices. No amount of added retail sq. footage in Lawrence is going to change that.

"So, to surmise, his desire to be single minded and waste our tax money is sufficient for me to want him replaced."

Actually, he's been one of the more fiscally aware commissioners over the last four years, and the simple fact is, I don't see a candidate available I could support as his replacement (considering that I will vote for both Highberger and Maynard-Moody as his fellow commissioners.)

Rationalanimal 7 years, 10 months ago

"The community needs to recognize that its current strategies for attracting new and high-paying jobs to the community aren't working."

Since Mr. Schauner enjoys questions, here's one: if there's a problem with City policy, and that policy is defective, and you've been the policy maker for the last 4 years, does that make you part of the problem, or a part of the solution.

The problem is the PLC mindset of macro-controlled growth. E.g., the Commission's idea of requiring new businesses to conduct a case study to determine the proposed business' (highly hypothetical) effect on existing business as a condition precedent to obtaining a business license is not exactly a "welcome" mat to prospective businesses. What business will prior to opening their doors spend hundreds of thousands on a case study that the Commission will likely subjectively interpret the way they want anyway? That's all before you've invested a single penny that promises to yield any return on investment. And then you face the choice of suing the City for abuse of discretion (entailing hundreds of thousands more and years of misery), or eating the hundreds of thousands spent on a case study and moving on to another community. Businesses will by-pass such a legal colonoscopy and just go to pro-business communities from the get go.

Also e.g., this sue Walmart or give me death doesn't exactly send the right message to any prospective business either. Even when the City is about to lose and create a pretend settlement to buy more time, they renege later. Despite the publicized corporate scandals, business does come down to whether you can takes someone's word. You can't trust their word. They reneged on a settlement, period.

Also e.g., the Commission refuses to pay deference to their own $250,000 case study concluding big box stores benefit the community. If they won't listen to their own case study, what will they listen to. As a business person, you've got to make decisions and assess risks based on facts and consistency. If the fab-5 ignore the conclusions of the their own study, I simply cannot be assured of any ability to remotely predict their future actions. That seriously weighs into my risk assessment of doing business in Lawrence.

Last, why bother with Lawrence when there is a general socialist mindset that a profitable business is not helpful to the community and instead takes advantage of the employees who work there. Olathe, OP, Lenexa, Shawnee, Gardner, are all just down the road and have very pro-business attitudes. From a business standpoint, Lawrence is not the end all be all magic kingdom. Although, those taking advantage of the pot ordinance may think otherwise.

There are plenty of communities around Lawrence who view growth as positive and implement pro-business polices. Mr. Schauner, the PLC, and their policies are the problem, not the solution. 4 years of thwarting growth and business development demonstrates that.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 10 months ago

hawkperchedatriverfront--

Good questions-- Does SBC/ATT still own the C of C building?

But here's a different twist on that question. Why not sell the city lot on the SE corner of 7th and Vermont to the Fritzels/Eldridge, and use the proceeds on a parking garage/library expansion on the city lot between the library and the senior center?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 10 months ago

"Also e.g., this sue Walmart or give me death doesn't exactly send the right message to any prospective business either"

Wal-Mart is suing the city-- not the other way around. There is an important distinction, you know, although I know it's one you'd like to ignore.

Rationalanimal 7 years, 10 months ago

bozo, thank you for the distinction, by you no doubt agree with everything else said. Let me amend the PLC mindset to "damned the consequences, give me arbitrary and capricious or give me death." The underlying point remains the same. The City goes out of its way to create all kinds of hoops for companies to jump through, and then sit back and scratch their heads wondering why businesses go opt for communities down the road. The point, and Mr. Schauner ought to really ponder this, is, businesses aren't in business to jump through regulatory hoops, their in business to make money. Last, the City is not an innocent party to this litigation. They started it by pulling the zoning rug out from underneath Walmart, and by reneging on the settlement deal. Both instances was the City's way of saying bring it on. So, while your distinction is noted, the City is a willing participant, which is best expressed in your own words, "this is a fight worth fighting."

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 10 months ago

"They started it by pulling the zoning rug out from underneath Walmart, and by reneging on the settlement deal."

Hardly, this whole thing started because Compton, et al, and Wal-Mart did an endrun around existing zoning and planning documents, with the aid of a sympathetic Chambocrat-led city commission, in order to get it approved. And it would appear to me that it was Wal-Mart making a half-a**ed attempt at following through with the settlement deal that scuttled it.

Now it may be that the courts will eventually rule that the city already screwed the pooch in ignoring it's own planning and zoning regulations, but that's all the more reason not to return to the same cozy cronyism on the city commission that created this problem to begin with.

Rationalanimal 7 years, 10 months ago

"...it would appear to me"

I agree wholeheartedly.

And yes, the City is going to get the hammer fall on this one, b/c the incoming City Commission attempted to change the rules mid-ball game by re-defining the zoning code. Such action, buttressed with breaking your word and reneging on a negotiated settlement smack of bad faith. But, lest we lose sight of the original issue, this all goes to a totality of circumstances in Lawrence that sends a "trespassers will be shot and disembowled" message to prospective business. Mr. Schauner may want to stop asking questions and pay more attention to the deafening silence of businesses not being built in Lawrence.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 10 months ago

"And yes, the City is going to get the hammer fall on this one, b/c the incoming City Commission attempted to change the rules mid-ball game by re-defining the zoning code."

The "redefining" came from the previous commission, at the behest of Wal-Mart and Compton, et al, who are hardly innocent bystanders. The current commission has merely been trying to fix the mess they and the previous commission created. Even it they lose the case, the battle needs to be fought in order to prevent future such abuses.

Business needs clear rules under which to operate, and Lawrence has never had those-- although this commission has put a lot of effort into rectifying that. But those rules should be designed to protect the interests of all the residents of Lawrence, not just to promote narrow business interests.

Lifelong_Lawrencian 7 years, 10 months ago

"I think too many people believe that if we expand our retail base that we're expanding our economic development base, and I don't think that is true," Schauner said. "If I had five more places to buy things, I'm not necessarily going to buy more than I used to. I just will reallocate where I buy things."

Like Topeka and Kansas City? People who live in Northwest Lawrence must travel the length of town to purchase many things. This adds wear and tear to our streets. If Shauner truely believes this then he must advocate bigger box stores. As the town grows the existing Walmart would be forced to enlarge. Dillons and Hyvee could merge to for one centrally located megastore. The is the opposite of what the latest consultants recommended when they said we should have more small retail spread throughout the city.

KsTwister 7 years, 10 months ago

Better late than never doesn't work for voters.

kef104 7 years, 10 months ago

Plumerscrack,

If Krause's were illegal and trying to "get away" with something, why were they not charged with a crime and sent to jail? Perhaps it is because when they first investigated their venture they were told by the city that their proposal could fit as is under the definition of catering since it was never going to be a big business. Ie, they were told that it might be debatable, but that they should be fine. Well, times change, city commisions change, and clearer rules become implemented. It was clear from the begining that Robert and Mollie never tried to get away with anything, hence the original rezoning proposal was designed expressidly for them. And then of course 3 of our city commissioners decided to ignore months of work, planning commission advice, and their newly created zoing to make all start over again. How wonderfully efficient.

So, despite your attempt to paint them as caught criminals, you are completly incorrect. Please get more facts before screaming foul. By the way, you should also drive by their house before claiming parking was an issue. And while we are at it, the neighborhood is hardly strictly residential. It is commericial use on 3 sides of them and residential on one. Like I said, you should drive by and view it for yourself.

cowboy 7 years, 10 months ago

Schnauer is an arrogant tool , I have met many like him , throw rocks but will not risk bringing a coherent agenda of his own. he has been a very public blocker of business growth in Lawrence and must be gone. Intelligence does not translate to postive results. While it may impress some his tenure has been divisive and he has personally contributed to the current stagnant Lawrence economy and public perception of "NO"

TruthSeeker 7 years, 10 months ago

James Bush, Mike Dever and Chesnut. I heard them all tonight at the debate at LHS. These idiots did not say one thing at all about how they would make Lawrence better. The only thing they said was rhetoric and side stepped issues. These are all YES MEN to the developers. They don't need to have any position or ideas because they will do or vote on what they're told to by the Schwadas, Compton, and other developers who want only to make money no matter how it screws up this town.

It was really funny seeing how Schauner made Dever almost cry like a baby tonight when he confronted him on how the Realtors are trying to buy this election.

Schauner did not question anything tonight. He came through with real ideas and did it with poise, clarity and style. YOU THE MAN!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sigmund 7 years, 10 months ago

Come to think of it, there were a few things he had no problem deciding, like wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants to help him decide. On the other hand, I have no problem deciding to not vote for him in the coming election.

scott3460 7 years, 10 months ago

Wow, a semi intelligent give and take broke out there for a while, but then we get this: "Schnauer is an arrogant tool , I have met many like him..."

Well, Cowboy, there are many who think someone who stands in the way of business intererests controlling all and getting their way in every instance is a good thing. And yes intelligence does not always translate to positive results, but in most instances it does, and in most instances a lack of intelligence produces negative results. To wit, the Bush Administration. Yes, I'll take the smart one every time.

Godot 7 years, 10 months ago

I read the full responses by the candidates to the Chamber questionnaire. The prospects for having a decent city commission for the next two years are slim to none. Davis and Dever are the only ones I would consider voting for.

Godot 7 years, 10 months ago

And maybe James Bush.

The problem with all the candidates, except Dever, is they are putting their focus on downtown.

Why doesn't someone support South Iowa, or Hillcrest, or 23rd, or Louisiana, or 23rd & Harper, or 6th & Wakarusa, or Clinton and Kasold? Those areas have more pertinent and vibrant businesses than downtown does.

Well, that is the answer. Those areas are successful, and downtown is struggling. There is a reason for that. And taxpayers should not pay the bill to fix the problem.

cowboy 7 years, 10 months ago

Scott , are you saying you voted for bush ? I knew he was a tool also !

Godot 7 years, 10 months ago

What I like about Davis is his fresh view. He is not trying to force Lawrence into an old mold, he sees the talent that we have in Lawrence, the arts and entertainment, and wants to build on it; he recognizes downtown for what it is, and has ideas on how to enhance the existing businesses and make downtown better as an entertainment district.

Lawrence does not have to rely totally on finding businesses that like Lawrence, Lawrence also needs to recognize, and nurture, the talent that is already here.

I have never met him, but, when I do, I expect I will like him.

KsTwister 7 years, 10 months ago

After receiving a letter from Shauner saying he was willing to sue WalMart no matter what it cost was enough proof to me he has to go. It's not his checkbook he is using.

Godot 7 years, 10 months ago

I am theorizing that something terrible happened to Schauner at a Walmart during his young adult years.

EIther that, or his years of defending union emploiyees has impaired his judgement.

GreatHornedOwl 7 years, 10 months ago

Watch your back, hawk. You may think you are above it all, but you have one stalking you in your perch.

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