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City commission candidates: Downtown is important to city

April 1, 2009

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Everybody loves downtown.

At a forum Wednesday morning sponsored by Downtown Lawrence Inc., all eight candidates for the Lawrence City Commission gushed about the importance of keeping downtown healthy.

In particular, all the candidates said they supported the continued use of property tax money to at least partially fund the operations of the nonprofit Downtown Lawrence Inc. organization.

But there were nuances in each of the candidates’ messages. Here’s a look:

• James Bush said he supported continued funding for DLI — which in 2009 is budgeted to receive $42,500 — but also said the amount might have to be adjusted, based on the economic situation.

Bush also seemed to question whether other candidates in the field were in a position to back up promises of financially supporting downtown for the long term.

“I want you to really hear what all of us are saying and why we’re saying it,” said Bush, who has at times questioned some candidates’ commitment to grow the community’s job and tax base. “Is there a sensible solution behind the plans?”

• Dennis Constance said he supported the funding but didn’t want Downtown Lawrence Inc. to use the money to become economic development recruiters for downtown.

• Lance Johnson said he also wanted to maintain the level of funding. But as he’s indicated with most budget-related questions, he said he would have to examine the merits of DLI funding against other budget issues the city will face.

• Aron Cromwell said he supports the funding. He said downtown should be central to Lawrence’s job growth in the future by playing an “absolutely critical” role in Lawrence’s efforts to grow its tourism industry.

• Incumbent Mike Amyx said his voting record shows that he has been a consistent supporter of funding downtown efforts, although he said economic conditions did require the city to reduce the amount of funding to DLI in 2009.

He said the organization could perhaps garner more city funding by showing growth in its membership and pointing to larger sales tax collections from downtown.

• Price Banks told the crowd that the downtown organization deserved the funding it receives because a large amount of the property taxes the city receives comes from downtown property owners.

• Gwen Klingenberg said she supported providing funding to DLI, but wanted the organization to work on playing a “larger role at City Hall and to be heard more often.”

• Tom Johnson, as part of DLI’s written questionnaire to candidates, was the only candidate who did not say protecting Downtown Lawrence was his highest priority. He ranked it as an eight on a scale of 1 to 10, with protecting core services and infrastructure ranking higher.

But Tom Johnson did say he supported funding for the organization, and wanted to work on ways to make it a larger player in the city’s economic development scene and to be more of an equal partner with the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce in those efforts.

Comments

ConstantlyAmazed 5 years ago

You've got it all wrong ocean. That's what makes Lawrence...Lawrence. That our State Senator Marci Franscico can stand up and say I support my friend Mike Amyx. Lawrence needs that, so why do you criticize it?

What Lawrence, and Downtown Lawrence, needs is jobs. New jobs, old jobs, tall jobs, small jobs.

Of all the candidates I've seen, one seems to me to be heads above the rest. Lance Johnson is for Lawrence Jobs.

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couranna1 5 years ago

they are a problem Walk by 9th and Mass sometime and say it isn't. I will not go by there any longer as I get tired of the "cute ways they ask for help" And it will get worse after the salvation army turns its back on the city May 1


HermioneElliott (Anonymous) says…

cavtrooper Why don't you tell us what kind of people would be fit to be downtown? No one is pandering to the homeless, helping others is called being decent and thoughtful.


I don't have to determine that. Do you give every person who asks you for money some? If you do I would like to meet you as I could always use some extra cash but as I suspect you don't then you also make those judgements. politically correct as you try to be wake up its 2009 now

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ocean 5 years ago

Amyx needs to be turned out at this crucial time.

the airport industrial park development is wrong and yet another subsidy that 'evasive MIKE' will approve given the chance.

Chestnut & Dever need to be pounded back into their box - and Amyx is the crucial vote - exactly why marci's yard sign for him is so disturbing....evasive marci meet rubber stamp Mike!

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Practicality 5 years ago

I disagree with the notion about the homeless not being an issue downtown. I have routinely avoided going downtown numerous times after tiring of being accosted from homeless people soliticting donations. I have also had out-of-state guests not want to return downtown after spending one day there, for the same reason. Instead we went to KC where they spent loads of money in KC businesses. Too bad. I am afraid Lawrence's businesses are missing out on plenty of revenue due to this problem.

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ocean 5 years ago

to quote the author William Greider in his recent book 'Come Home America' -

Greider,"The political behaviour I do not forgive is failing to give people fair warning. Those who govern ought to tell people what's coming so they at least have a chance to get out of the way."

Greider, "Modern politicians routinely evade that obligation on matters large & small.......marci on 'helping' the Oread Neighborhood revitalization by supporting a disastrous monstrosity - Amyx by rubber stamping the school district & planning directors complete trampling of the city development code on required parking and Special Use Permit requirements that are in writing in the code.

this kind of evasion of responsibility is exactly why no one should vote for Amyx - especially marci a so called long time preservationist.

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ocean 5 years ago

thanks merrill,

Amyx especially needs to be ousted.

he & marci could have an 'evasiveness' contest on some issues.

marci continues to try to 'evade' her support for the disastrous Oread Hotel.

Amyx continues to evade on several fronts.

Cromwell is just fine fresh blood. Klingenberg is totally honest and tells the voters the truth defintely unlike the HYPER evasive AMYX. Constance again has more integrity than all of the current incumbants combined.

Lance Johnson clearly said that he is against affordable housing and that the 'free market' should determine housing prices in a trickle down effect also voiced by Price Banks...that somehow the low income people just have to suck it up and find a place to live.

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Richard Heckler 5 years ago

"Dennis Constance doesn't want DLI to be used for economic recruiting. What should DLI be used for?"

That's not true. He may be against funding the Chamber with $190,000 tax dollars. He's right on the money.

Economic Development could be brought to City hall for about half that amount of money and transparency for a change.

Vote Constance,Cromwell and Klingenberg for economic growth instead of economic displacement.

*Economic Growth Problems in Lawrence http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2007/sep/why_do_you_think_lawrence_growth_lagging/

It's a good idea to replace incumbents.....

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ocean 5 years ago

hey fairplay - Tom Johnson was at the last forum and very good.

especially when he supported the creation of affordable housing.

Amyx and Lance Johnson were essentially against developers being required to provide any mixed income projects.

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ocean 5 years ago

hey mamacita!

evidently marci doesn't really mind that AMYX supported the TIF funding for the private hotel?

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ocean 5 years ago

marci has a yard sign up for Amyx?

i guess his votes for the SLT, the Oread Hotel, and for the school district steamroller over the City Code for parking and required traffic studies don't really matter to her - even as a so called preservationist that supported the monstrosity by Fritzel-Sutherland at the end of Oread Avenue.

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WWoftheW 5 years ago

Tom Johnson has attend most forums. He only missed the first VEC forum and the NLIA. He attended the VEC meet and greet. Even the article said what Tom said yesturday.

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Dacia McCabe Maher 5 years ago

Jan,

While I am open to new and creative ideas for our community, I am having a problem with your suggestion. Please help me understand your position.

1) What qualifies someone as a "true" homeless person? 2) What factors determine whether or not a person is deserving of help? 3) Please list any and all qualifications that allow you (or anyone else) to make these determinations (judgements) about other human beings.

Please help me understand. I am baffled.

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Jan Brocker 5 years ago

There is no sense in giving the DLI more money. Actually any money we throw their way could be saved for other projects like supporting homeless families who are down on their luck or have been evicted but want to get back on their feet. Other homeless people have chosen to not do anything and pretty much panhandle and get mad when you don't give them money or a cigarette. These people cause a huge problem for downtown. My point is that as long we have people like this hanging around downtown a lot of people will NOT come downtown while otherwise they would (I've heard it over and over). There is another article in the LJW about Lancaster. They don't have the aproach like our homeless shelter has; letting anyone stay there without any rules and without having to do anything in return. Please go to: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2009/apr/02/homeless-receive-one-way-tickets-out-town/ http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2009/apr... I think this is a program the city should look into for Lawrence. To pay for the bus tickets we can use the tax money allocated for the homeless shelter until we are down to the "true" homeless people that deserve the help! Just my 2 cents.

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fairplay 5 years ago

Is Tom Johnson intentionally missing these forums? He hasn't made it to a single one. What's the story?

Dennis Constance doesn't want DLI to be used for economic recruiting. What should DLI be used for? Downtown concerts? They are not concert promoters, they are an organization of businesses and individuals concerned with the viability of Downtown Lawrence. Why can't this guy seem to get it?

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BigPrune 5 years ago

It's always about saving the downtown as the rest of Lawrence dies.

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Danimal 5 years ago

Clearing the homeless out of downtown really shouldn't be a huge priority because downtown is actually pretty safe, especially when you consider how many people go down there and get wasted on a nightly basis.

I think supporting downtown is important, but that we can't sacrifice the rest of Lawrence's infrastructure to pander to downtown. I don't think that there's a problem with decreasing funding to DLI because guess what? In the midst of the most rapid economic downturn in a half century everyone's budgets are contracting and DLI should be no different.

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ocean 5 years ago

Incumbent Mike Amyx said his voting record shows that he has been a consistent supporter of funding downtown efforts, although he said economic conditions did require the city to reduce the amount of funding to DLI in 2009. He said the organization could perhaps garner more city funding by showing growth in its membership and pointing to larger sales tax collections from downtown

except for when Mike Amyx voted to level most of downtown for the Cornfield Mall --- beware he will rubber stamp ANYTHING!

vote for Constance,Tod Johnson, Price Banks, Gwen, or Aron Cromwell.

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HermioneElliott 5 years ago

cavtrooper Why don't you tell us what kind of people would be fit to be downtown? No one is pandering to the homeless, helping others is called being decent and thoughtful.

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cavtrooper 5 years ago

If Downtown is that important, why does the city pander to the "homeless" that make any visit to downtown a real "nice" time? Or are they supposed to be part of the local "flavor"?

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