Letters to the Editor

Seek transparency

November 19, 2007


To the editor:

Thank you David Burress for five practical suggestions on governing (Public Forum, Nov. 12).

Additionally, as a voter/citizen/taxpayer, the following are also important when items of growth appear on the agendas of our decision-making bodies, and that is exactly how the chamber, each Chamber of Commerce board member, and each city, county or planning commissioner is invested with:

¢ the real estate/development community

¢ developers/builders

¢ the new industrial park projects

¢ existing industrial parks

¢ housing projects

¢ retail projects

And that this information is disclosed for each agenda item - under oath, please.

How are the chamber, chamber board members, county, city or planning commissioners or city staff invested in Deciphera?

All of the above should be a matter of public record for reasons of transparency. After all, the decisions do have an impact on voters/citizens/taxpayers. For all sitting board members, elected officials and Chamber of Commerce officials who disagree, I suggest resignation.

Richard Heckler,



igby 10 years, 7 months ago

I'm shocked no one seems think its wrong for these people to be running our government and investing in this company at the same time.

monkeyhawk 10 years, 7 months ago

I find it very interesting that the merrills had absolutely no concerns while MILLIONS of dollars in the general fund dissolved during the reign of the PLC. Where is the outrage over that?? There was no accountability demanded from the bankrupt ex-mayor and no transparency requests while they were abusing our tax dollars. Why was that ok, merrill?

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2004/may/14/ This round of budget talks comes a year after commissioners approved the second biggest property tax rate increase of the past decade -- 2.49 mills, to 28.065 mills. Those taxes helped support an overall budget of $110 million for 2004.

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2006/apr... The city's primary "savings account" to use for a rainy day will dwindle significantly by 2008 if commissioners continue to spend at their current rate, the city's top financial executive said Thursday.

Ed Mullins, the city's director of finance, told commissioners at a study session that the balance in the city's general fund would shrink from about $14 million to about $2 million by 2008 unless commissioners are willing to consider a spending slowdown or tax increase, or some other revenue growth occurs.

"In three to four years, it largely will be gone," Mullins told commissioners.

Rumblings from the business community were that the PLC candidates - who campaigned on a platform of Smart Growth, the need for new development to pay for more of its costs, and protecting neighborhoods from negative development consequences - would run roughshod over development interests and seriously hamper the community's growth.

The three years of a PLC majority, though, haven't been enjoyed by all. Mike Keeney, vice president of the engineering firm The Peridian Group, said his company had transferred 40 of its 60 employees out of Lawrence to a Kansas City metro office. He said developers simply were less interested in doing business in Lawrence these days.

"A big reason, Keeney said, is because the PLC has made every policy decision a political decision. The result is city staff members are scared to make decisions. And when they do, they often are overruled by commissioners, which creates a situation where developers are always trying to figure out what rules they must follow.

"There is no predictability," Keeney said. "It is close your eyes and walk around in the dark. That is what doing business in Lawrence is like."

Godot 10 years, 7 months ago

Excellent post, Monkeyhawk. While I agree that we need more transparency and accountability in decisions made by the Commission, it is laughable to expect that no one on the commission should have any relationship or connection with any business venture.

The problem is not that the commissioners are financially involved in this community. The problem is that either new, privately funded ventures are blocked for political reasons by the commissioners or various board members, or projects that many see as favorable are requesting/demanding public funding.

Get government out of the business of economic development.

bearded_gnome 10 years, 7 months ago

when does the lte writer's term end on the traffic safety commission? we've got to get him off of there. heckler/merrill has praised those who blow up our troops in iraq, calling them "heroes." he is not interested in traffic safety, he wishes to just stop people from driving at all. he is opposed to the SLT32b. he believes that broken streets serve a useful purpose as passive traffic calming devices. need I say more?

and his letter, probably in support of the real face of boozoonthewrong bus is laughable. commissioners will and ought to have investments. nothing wrong with that. they should simply avoid conflicts of interest.

again we see played out the strange eutopian view of the plc/gra.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 7 months ago

This letter said nothing about whether or not commissioners are allowed to be investors but a whole lot about conflicts of interest.

How many meetings did Commissioner Hack sit before she decided or was forced to reveal her conflict of interest? How many elected and chamber officials new of the Mayors conflict yet remained quiet?

Is there any conflicts of interest involved from members of the Chamber,City or planning commissioners regarding Wal-Mart,Baur Farms,Diamond Head,the north Lawrence project or the Schwada Industrial park in the I-70/LeCompton area? Rumor has it that the Schawada people are busy trying to secure every water meter available for their own projects.

What about the Chamber of Commerce conflicts of interest in this Dicephera controversy?

Why do taxpayers shell out $190,000 annually to the Chamber of Commerce when in fact the Chamber may well be looking after their own conflicts of interest?

Where are the conflicts of interest? Why is the older infrastructure west and east of downtown perpetually ignored? Why did the library project go from a $17.5 million project to a $30-$50 million project?

Why aren't the slumlords forced to take care of their sidewalks,porches, roof tops etc ...conflicts of interest perhaps?

West Lawrence recently completed a new hike and bike trail while the eastside hike and bike trail remains in limbo??

monkeyhawk 10 years, 7 months ago

I guess you couldn't squeeze all that into your LTE.

We get it ... we all know where you're coming from. You need not elaborate on your already tired humdrum. We are actually with you on this one. But, why don't you answer my question about your lack of concern for the depleted rainy day fund? Or how do you feel about the sale of prime commercial acreage for pennies? Why weren't you screeching about that sweet deal Packer got?

This will all shake out, with or without you. I'm not so sure you are going to like what you see.

BigPrune 10 years, 7 months ago

Is there any relation between David Burress and William S. Burress, the beatnik writer, and didn't the city name a park after him?

Richard Heckler 10 years, 7 months ago

"the collective merrills never have questioned the Chamber of Commerce and DCDI and their position as the group charged with industrial development. If questions had been asked over some 15 years ago and certainly 10 years ago, we wouldn't be where we are, which is nowhere."

Yes we have and for some time now which is one big reason we did not encourage electing Bob Johnson. Too many do not think it is necessary to keep an eye on the Chamber of Commerce...we'll see about that.

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