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Archive for Wednesday, April 8, 2009

For second election in a row, east Lawrence turnout dwarfed by west

April 8, 2009

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Precinct-by-precinct results

Lawrence City Commission

Lawrence School Board

Kennedy School and Langston Hughes School are in the same city, but when it comes to voting, they are worlds apart.

At Kennedy — on the far east side of Lawrence — 7.5 percent of eligible voters surrounding the school turned out to vote in Tuesday’s city and school district races.

At Langston Hughes — on the far west side of Lawrence — 21.9 percent of voters came to the polls.

And in this case, you can’t lean on the old crutch of college students don’t come out to vote in local elections.

“There are not a lot of college students out in those neighborhoods,” said Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew, who lives in the area surrounding Kennedy.

Instead, Tuesday’s elections lent more evidence to a theory that the west side has become more politically active than the east side — at least when it comes to local politics.

The Journal-World analyzed voter turnout numbers for every precinct in the city based on whether they were located east or west of Iowa Street. Here’s what the numbers show:

• The average voter turnout east of Iowa Street was 11.9 percent. West of Iowa it was 18.7 percent.

• A total of 3,810 people east of Iowa voted in the election. West of Iowa, 5,564 people voted.

• The lower voter totals east of Iowa occurred despite the fact that there are more than 3,000 additional registered voters in eastern Lawrence than there are in western Lawrence.

Shew said he didn’t have a good explanation for the discrepancy. But both he and the president of the local League of Women Voters said they would like to have a community discussion, or perhaps a panel, to explore how voter turnout can be increased in all parts of the city.

“There is a whole slew of generalizations that we could make, but what I think the league could do is work with the city and county to come up with some solid reasons about why this is happening,” said Carrie Lindsey, president of the League of Women Voters of Lawrence and Douglas County. “Because the truth of it is, overall voter turnout is appalling.”

Voter turnout for the entire city was 13.9 percent.

The east versus west discrepancy in turnout was evident in the 2007 city and school board elections, too.

“I’m not a political scientist, but it may be that the west side has seen most of the growth lately,” Lindsey said. “They may understand better what is at stake because a lot of these issues have been in their backyards.”

Tuesday’s elections, though, produced an even lower overall turnout than the 2007 elections, which checked in with about a 19 percent turnout.

This year’s elections were the first under a new state law that increased the number of people needed to trigger a primary. As a result, for the first time in recent memory, neither the City Commission nor school board race included a primary.

“I think there is an argument to be made that not having a primary caused this election to get out of the gates really slowly,” Shew said.

The City Commission has the ability to exempt itself from the new state law, which would require 11 people to run for office before a primary is needed. The old system triggered a primary anytime seven or more people ran for office.

Mike Amyx — the top vote-winner in the City Commission race — said he wants the city to consider going back to the old system, although a primary does cost local governments about $40,000.

“This election was a little bit slower,” Amyx said. “A lot of people concentrated their efforts in the last month. Yard signs went out later.”

Lindsey, though, said it likely will take more than changing the primary rules to get voter turnout to a level the community wants.

“I think it will take efforts to increase the sense of civic responsibility people feel, but also it will take efforts to increase the sense of trust they have in government,” Lindsey said. “You have to make people understand that government is not a bad thing. If you think government is bad, who is going to go out and vote for a bad thing?”

Comments

sandrat 5 years, 6 months ago

Can someone explain to me why the city elections don't correspond with state/national elections? Wouldn't that save some money? Wouldn't that encourage people to go to the polls? While I'm voting for senators, representatives and -- oh, I don't know... maybe the PRESIDENT, why can't I also vote for the local stuff. Wouldn't that make it easier?

Give me a break. The whole country is burned out on elections after the last presidential cycle, and they expect people to be paying attention.

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maxcrabb 5 years, 6 months ago

I imagine it might have to do with the timing for a new school board voting on standards and such for the next school year. So it runs on the school "year" rather than the calendar year.

This is just my theory, though. Didn't really bother me anyway. Still voted.

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Michael Capra 5 years, 6 months ago

thank god for no more merrill posting

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sandrat 5 years, 6 months ago

That makes some sense, I guess... but there has to be an alternative.

I don't have TV and don't get the paper, but thanks to the LJWorld online, I knew about the election and voted. However, I thought I was voting in a primary. I had no idea it was "the finals". Only 350 people voted in North Lawrence -- my district. Very disappointing indeed.

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budwhysir 5 years, 6 months ago

Maybe east side knows how things will turn out and dont want to waste time. Or maybe they are hanging out at thier house cause they can smoke in bars anymore. Or possibly they worked at the east hills business park and cant help repay all the tax rebates the closing companies received for setting up a temporary shop. Or maybe thier car was broke down from all the pot holes in town, or maybe they didnt have a canoe to get thru the newly expanded wet lands. Maybe just Maybe, the bus was late and they couldnt get a ride.

Just some facts from the past that explain why many more people are movin to the east side of town. Less regulations and not so many people watchin yer business.

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kseagle 5 years, 6 months ago

More like the east side would rather whine and complain about their situation than take true action or effort to make changes in their lives. Oh wait, they thought Obama would do that for them.

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gccs14r 5 years, 6 months ago

Maybe it's because eastsiders have straight jobs and have trouble getting to the polls. If we had elections on Sunday like a lot of other countries, more people would be able to vote.

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kseagle 5 years, 6 months ago

gccs14r - Kansas has employment laws that allow you time off to vote. Once again, yet another excuse.

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leslie 5 years, 6 months ago

"DWARFED" by 6.8 percentage points? Clever use of hyperbole to aggravate class tensions. Thank goodness those dirty eastside residents are too stupid for math! Then they'd know this isn't a story at all!

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budwhysir 5 years, 6 months ago

maybe the eastsiders like to see how mad the west siders get when they realize things arent always greener on the other side of the fence. It amazes me that westsiders have time to blame others for the problems created.

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budwhysir 5 years, 6 months ago

I remember back when I was younger and had my Friday night parties. It was amazing how many west siders would venture over for the fun. No fun like that found on the west side. Only thing I ever found on the west side was a bunch of people looking for a ride to the east side

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Cartemus 5 years, 6 months ago

budwhysir (Anonymous) says…

Only thing I ever found on the west side was a bunch of people looking for a ride to the east side


wut

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Nikki May 5 years, 6 months ago

I want to know about this time off to vote thing. I'm an east sider that didn't vote, although I intended to. I do get a lunch break, but I work on the opposite side of town, and would have to come all the way back over here and wouldn't have been able to vote and get back (and that's not including eating). I go to work by 7, so the polls aren't open yet. Then, right after work, I coach my kid's softball team, so I missed it after work. Honestly though, I didn't know what I would have been voting for, since the only person I got info on was Cromwell.

I don't know how I'd remedy this, I was just too busy to vote in an election I really new nothing about. I do like to vote in the city elections, but this time around I really didn't know any of the candidates, so I just didn't go that extra mile.

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Cartemus 5 years, 6 months ago

leslie (Leslie vonHolten) says…

“dwarfed” by 6.8 percentage points? Clever use of hyperbole to aggravate class tensions. Thank goodness those dirty eastside residents are too stupid for math! Then they'd know this isn't a story at all!


The west side's turnout was 57% higher than the east side's. Your post was either an epic fail at math or sarcasm. For your sake, I hope it's the latter.

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kseagle 5 years, 6 months ago

Employees are allowed up to two hours paid time off to vote if the polls aren’t open outside an employee’s work shift. If the polls are open before or after an employee’s work shift for fewer than two consecutive hours, then the employee is only entitled to an amount of time off that, when added to the time that the polls are open before or after work, totals two consecutive hours. The employer can specify the time off that it will give an employee. However, such time can’t include any regular meal breaks. (Kan. Stat. Ann. Section 25-418)

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kseagle 5 years, 6 months ago

K.S.A. 25-418. Leave allowance for employees to vote; obstruction of voting privilege, penalty

Any person entitled to vote at an election conducted by a county election officer in this state shall, on the day of such election, be entitled to absent himself from any service or employment in which he is then engaged or employed for a period of not to exceed two (2) consecutive hours between the time of opening and closing of polls: Provided, That if the polls are open before commencing work or after terminating work but the period of time the polls are so open is less than two (2) consecutive hours, he shall only be entitled to absent himself from such service or employment for such a period of time which, when added to the period of time the polls are so open, will not exceed two hours; and such voter shall not because of so absenting himself be liable to any penalty, nor shall deductions be made, on account of such absence, from his usual salary or wages.

The employer may specify the particular time during the day which said employee may absent himself as aforesaid except such specified time shall not include any time during the regular lunch period.

Obstruction of voting privilege is (a) intentionally obstructing an employee in his or her exercise of voting privilege or (b) imposing a penalty upon an employee exercising his or her voting privilege under this section.

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gccs14r 5 years, 6 months ago

The law is one thing, the reality something else. Exercise your rights and find yourself terminated in this oh-so-wonderful employment-at-will state.

What would go a long way toward fixing our broken city government would be splitting the city into districts and having one representative from each, plus an at-large elected mayor. That would help keep the sprawlmongers at bay.

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bearded_gnome 5 years, 6 months ago

maybe lower participation from east and north because ... none of the major candidates represent east lawrence or north lawrence!!!

this article highlights why we do need an at large mayor, and an alderman type system so we'd have the city commissioner from east lawrence, the commissioner from north lawrence, the commissioner from oread/university, etc.

that way, candidates from neighborhoods represent neighborhoods after campaigning in them.

the county commissioners have districts they represent. having a commissioner for each area of town would make sure each part of town was represented on the commission, with its needs strengths and weaknesses.

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jgm 5 years, 6 months ago

The issues decided by the city commission affect everyone who lives here. The voter participation rates on both sides of town make me truly sad. Advance voting was available, both in person and by mail. It only takes about 15 seconds to Google the election office website and find out how to do it. One thing the county needs (not sure if they have it but it isn't mentioned on the website) is a secure drop slot for advance mail ballots so they can be dropped off the night before or early morning of election day. The l j world often publishes candidate's positions the day before the election when it may be too late to be 100% the mail will get the ballot there on time.

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BigPrune 5 years, 6 months ago

Even though the voter turnout is atrocious, I think the west siders realize how screwed up Lawrence became when the east siders voted in the progressives and drove this city into the brink of bankruptcy. Even though the so-called business friendly candidates won the majority, they haven't been able to turn around this town fast enough because they don't comprehend how much the progressives screwed it up, and it almost seems to be too late to save our sinking ship.

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lounger 5 years, 6 months ago

We Govern ourselves on the East side. Organize neighborhoods help each other. I suppose the west side needs a little coming together support and feels the need for guidance. They need more love perhaps....

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gladiatr 5 years, 6 months ago

Dunno. My wife and I live on the east side. We both voted.

Not to say that I don't think sex crimes in Lawrence are a big deal and that the topic isn't deserving of a front page story, but the local election didn't exactly get any Top of the Fold coverage on election day.

I won't bet my life or money on it, but I'm pretty sure Tuesday's morning's front ljworld.com headlines had more to do with basketball than anything else.

Anyway, whatever. Pat yourself on the back: You live west of Kasold. Congratulations. While the percentage of the turn-out might be higher in Your Part of Town, I hardly view the Total turn-out to be such that anyone has much of a mandate this term.

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budwhysir 5 years, 6 months ago

bearded said it best, maybe these people running have never ventured over to the better part of town. They dont seem to know much about us over here in the other part of the country. Lets face it, all around the world people would like to live like we do on the east side. But, its just not possible, we dont take well to outsiders.

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KLATTU 5 years, 6 months ago

The excuses are pathetic. It took me less than 3 minutes to vote. I don't make it a point to put local voting days on my calender, but there was plenty of local press, such as the LJ site we are at now.
Newsflash! When you see those signs spring up for a day all over that say "Vote" or "Vote Here" it's voting day.

Living in East Lawrence I'm ashamed at the east side turnout. Voters are citizens. Non-voters are complainers.

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KLATTU 5 years, 6 months ago

Or take 5 minutes today to see when the next round will be, figure out when advance voting is available, and put that on the calendar.

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Chris Ogle 5 years, 6 months ago

Given the overall pecentage of Lawrence voters, none of us has any bragging rights.

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Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

Where are the eastside voters that don't vote and why don't they NOT vote?

Is it that eastside voters don't mind westside voters making the decisions?

If historical patterns prevail the people they elect raise taxes and user fees(taxes) to cover the cost of running the city because the expanded tax base of the last 21 years is not paying back the taxpayers. Obviously this style of management leaves something to be desired. If campaign rhetoric is any indicator this will not change as the super majority remains the same. Only faces have changed not management philosophy.

Eastside infrastructure looks as though the westsiders are running the show with the help of eastside tax dollars.

As we know not voting improves nothing and this low voter turnout is not a mandate to continue business as usual. A 60% percent voter turnout might indicate a mandate one way or the other. This extreme low voter turnout says to me there are a ton of disgruntled voters on all sides of town.... disgruntled with the way government is managed!

Did east side voters feel uninformed as to whom to cast their votes?

Were they not happy with candidate choice?

As we know not voting improves nothing.

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jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

One could vote at the courthouse for weeks before the election, on Saturdays as well as during the week.

There's absolutely no excuse for not voting based on inability to do so because of timing.

And, if you don't exercise your right to vote and affect the election, how can you complain about city politics with a clear conscience?

Finally, there are clear differences between candidates - there were several who were focused on small local businesses and maintaining some of Lawrence's character, and several who want any business at any price and to continue the expansion of Lawrence.

These are clearly different philosophies, and the future of Lawrence will be different depending on who gets elected.

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jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

And, from the numbers quoted above, the westside turned out at about 3x the eastside - about 21% vs. about 7%.

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DeMontfort 5 years, 6 months ago

Big Prune...I'm a newer resident so could you please elaborate about the progressive screwups? When did this happen and what, exactly, did they do to screw things up? Thank you.

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KS 5 years, 6 months ago

West side voters pay more taxes and are apt to vote accordingly. East side pays less taxes and will only vote when there is an opportunity to "stick it to the man". :) Have a nice day everyone.

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gl0ck0wn3r 5 years, 6 months ago

"Richard 'Give me all your money' Heckler (Anonymous) says…If historical patterns prevail the people they elect raise taxes and user fees(taxes) to cover the cost of running the city because the expanded tax base of the last 21 years is not paying back the taxpayers."

Hilarious! This is from the guy who advocated for increased taxes to pay for the T-arded and was directly responsible for expensive "traffic calming" devices and traffic circles? This from the guy who campaigned for a person who couldn't even balance her own checkbook?

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Kaw Pickinton 5 years, 6 months ago

Nothing but felons in East Lawrence, they can't vote.

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Boston_Corbett 5 years, 6 months ago

I agree that the excuses here are pathetic.

@ Sandrat. I weep for your heavy burden. Virtually all local elections nationally occur in a cycle separate from state and national races. We are not unique. You vote in a general election only ONCE a year. Pretty taxing, huh.

@ others. voting absentee is easy to do, but I think you still file a written request, so it is two steps. But you may be able to request a ballot by phone and do it all in one step nowadays... i am not sure.

@ others. Kansas is way ahead of many states in its level of advance voting. Drop by the courthouse during any workday during a couple of week period. And EVEN THE SATURDAY MORNING before the election. Best thing since sliced bread.

No excuses allowed. Not work. Not softball coaching. Not illness. Not lack of transportation. Not kids. Not lack of information about the candidates. No excuses. None. Nunca. Nada. Nyet

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Mike Myers 5 years, 6 months ago

“dwarfed” by 6.8 percentage points? Clever use of hyperbole to aggravate class tensions. Thank goodness those dirty eastside residents are too stupid for math! Then they'd know this isn't a story at all!

Leslie, My thoughts exactly. The story should really be about voter apathy across the board. Pathetc.

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ModerateOne 5 years, 6 months ago

DeMontfort (Anonymous) says…

Big Prune…I'm a newer resident so could you please elaborate about the progressive screwups? When did this happen and what, exactly, did they do to screw things up? Thank you.


Here's a few things that come to mind off the top of my head:

  1. Creating a false belief among the general public that a tax abatement is in fact a tax payment to a company. Nothing could be further from the truth. A tax abatement allows a company to move here or expand (in fact giving the community millions more property tax dollars, not to mention jobs and employee income taxes) in exchange for a temporarily reduced tax rate that the company must pay and that (even after the temporary reductions) dwarfs residential property tax rates.

  2. Chasing jobs away because of an elitist attitude that Lawrence is too good for blue collar jobs and then acting surprised when our community's many blue collar workers are unemployed.

  3. Convincing too many people that a group of elected politicians should have more decision making power about what jobs are created than the people who actually create jobs.

  4. Making the regulatory process so expensive to open property that offers people a new place to work in Lawrence that only 3 or 4 people in Lawrence can afford to open it, and then acting surprised when there are no tax dollars because the the super-wealthy folks are smart enough to save money by taking the jobs elsewhere or not creating jobs in the first place.

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Stu Clark 5 years, 6 months ago

Aren't there more families with young kids on the west side? I would think that this could make the difference in interest in the school issues. Such a low turnout is unfortunate, but hey, it does make my vote count for more.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

"1. Creating a false belief among the general public that a tax abatement"

Seems to me that you are the one creating false beliefs. Tax abatements can be a useful tool, or they can be nothing more than corporate welfare. You clearly prefer the latter.

"2. Chasing jobs away because of an elitist attitude that Lawrence is too good for blue collar jobs"

Pure straw man argument. No such elitist attitude exists, and no businesses have been "chased away." Expecting that companies receiving tax abatements pay blue-collar workers a living wage rather than exploiting them and the rest of the community is not "elitist." Having a city commission whose primary agenda is doling out corporate welfare and getting nothing in return is the height of "elitism."

"3. Convincing too many people that a group of elected politicians should have more decision making power about what jobs are created than the people who actually create jobs."

Another straw man argument. This community has every right to decide how it grows, and simply because some business believes that their business plans should trump that right doesn't make it so.

"4. Making the regulatory process so expensive to open property that offers people a new place to work in Lawrence that only 3 or 4 people in Lawrence can afford to open it, "

The "progressives" didn't create the current regulatory process, which, at any rate, is much more of a rubberstamp to development than an impediment.

It's not surprising at all that an honest request for information gets nothing more than the usual unsupported, and unsupportable, catch phrases. Tell me, MM, how could 4 years of very moderate changes in the way of conducting the city's business completely change the decades of uninterrupted Chambocrat government that preceded it? And why have the last two years of a supermajority by the latest Chambocrats failed to fix all the damage that was done? What secret tricks will they employ in the next two years that they haven't employed over the last 40 years or so?

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Wanda Breeden 5 years, 6 months ago

I have lived in Lawrence my entire life and the East Lawrence vs. West Lawrence battle really bothers me. I truly believe that there are wonderful people living in all parts of Lawrence, and hate to see people creating stereotypes based on an arbitrary line.

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ModerateOne 5 years, 6 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says…

“1. Creating a false belief among the general public that a tax abatement”

Agreed, but we should err on the side of putting good people to work and increasing the tax base. And that means "liberal" use of tax abatements.

“2. Chasing jobs away because of an elitist attitude that Lawrence is too good for blue collar jobs”

See American Eagle -- good blue collar jobs and millions in property tax now in Ottawa.

“3. Convincing too many people that a group of elected politicians should have more decision making power about what jobs are created than the people who actually create jobs.”

This is the fallacy. Elected officials cannot really decide how a community grows because elected officials do not create wealth and do not create jobs except through taxation.

“4. Making the regulatory process so expensive to open property that offers people a new place to work in Lawrence that only 3 or 4 people in Lawrence can afford to open it, ”

Progressives have stopped job growth opportunities repeatedly in the last 10 years.

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sarahsmilehawk 5 years, 6 months ago

I went to Kennedy back when it was working class. Today it's hopeless.

I knew there was an election, but I didn't know anything about the candidates or the issues at hand. I know that information was out there if I wanted to find it, but I was busy. I didn't see much coverage in the paper or on Twitter or Facebook or any of the thousand and one ways that a candidate or news organization could reach me. None of the candidates bothered mailing me campaign materials.

It didn't seem worth it to drive across town from my comfortable campus housing to the hell my mom still lives in. Too much trouble, too much gas and too much guilt.

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Catalano 5 years, 6 months ago

ModerateOne (Anonymous) says…

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says…

“1. Creating a false belief among the general public that a tax abatement”

Agreed, but we should err on the side of putting good people to work and increasing the tax base. And that means “liberal” use of tax abatements.

Catalano says: Name one tax abatement that has been turned down, and don't use American Eagle because they got everything they asked for.

“2. Chasing jobs away because of an elitist attitude that Lawrence is too good for blue collar jobs”

See American Eagle — good blue collar jobs and millions in property tax now in Ottawa.

Catalano says: Oops...wrong again. Ottawa took property OFF the tax rolls for AE.

“3. Convincing too many people that a group of elected politicians should have more decision making power about what jobs are created than the people who actually create jobs.”

This is the fallacy. Elected officials cannot really decide how a community grows because elected officials do not create wealth and do not create jobs except through taxation.

Catalano says: Elected officials are the ones with the political will to follow zoning laws, (which I believe was the initial problem with WalMart...at least I provide an example). And they also have the political will to toss our comprehensive plan to the wind when it suits those in whose pockets they live.

“4. Making the regulatory process so expensive to open property that offers people a new place to work in Lawrence that only 3 or 4 people in Lawrence can afford to open it, ”

Progressives have stopped job growth opportunities repeatedly in the last 10 years.

Catalano says: Specifics, please. BS rhetoric doesn't count.

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youarewhatyoueat 5 years, 6 months ago

Machaivelli is right, Lawrence's charm is being stripped slowly but surely...Lawrence is becoming the new Olathe and it's a damn shame.

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johnjhawk 5 years, 6 months ago

Bozo on the Bus and Catalano

When the city offers a tax abatement to an eligible company it is usually only matching the market tax rate that the company could receive from almost any other community. We will never attract many new companies to locate here when tax abated companies are forced to pay higher than market rates for labor. It is not right for a city to require a private company that is interested in relocating to pay a higher rate for labor than the City and State government pays. That is the definition of hypocrisy. We currently do that in Lawrence. You can find jobs listed at both KU and the city that are below the "living wage". I am not sure but I don't think we have had one single company move to Lawrence and go through the abatement process since the LV amendment has been added. We have only hurt those we were trying to help.

For a company to even be "legally" (By State Law) offered a tax abatement, the company must show that it will provide the city with at least $1.25 benefit for each dollar it seeks in tax abatement. These tax abated companies are not a drain on tax payers or the State wouldn't allow cities to offer them. Having these jobs in Lawrence not only benefit Lawrence but they benefit Kansas.

I know that not every company should be offered an abatement, and I also know that some companies fail to meet all the requirements they forecast. It doesn't mean that these business owners were all trying to take advantage of the city; sometimes a business just doesn't do as well as they planned. I believe over half of all new companies fail within the first three years.

You equated tax abatements to Corporate Welfare and I used to think that was offensive to business. Now I kind of conceed that it can be considered in that manner. Welfare by definition is "temporary government assistance to those in need". I believe that investing large sums of capital on a new venture in a competitive world market is a difficult endeavor. These entrepreneurs and the people that work with them can use all the help they can get in this time of need. Offering "corporate welfare" to a company and then forcing them to pay higher than market rates for labor is like forcing an indivdual on welfare to pay more for a loaf of bread.

I know I responded rather late but I hope you read this and respond in a constructive manner. I enjoy hearing different points of view and encourage you to point out errors in my logic. I believe Lawrencians need to understand the abatement process and the difficulty in attracting new business and jobs to any community.

P.S. I do believe Lawrence has an elitist attitude towards jobs. If I've heard it once, I've heard a hundred times that we need to attact high paying high tech jobs to Lawrence. Those jobs would be great but there are people in our community that just want a job.

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jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

sarah,

There were a series of articles in the online Journal-World about the elections, including a very succinct description of the candidates' responses to a variety of questionnaires. This provided a clear overview of what the candidates believed and stood for, in one simple article.

john,

If the intent of bringing new companies to town is to "balance" the tax base, then tax abatements make no sense.

Also, the temporary feature is correct, but is often 10 years, which is a very long time and lots of taxes not collected.

And, if the companies do not live up to their end of the agreement, then the abatements should be terminated, or at least renegotiated.

Of course, you realize that companies locate where they can get the best deals and then when the abatements run out, they simply locate elsewhere again.

It's not a good short or long term policy, in my view, to offer abatements. If the workforce, other amenities, and consumer base aren't enough to encouarage a company to locate here, so be it.

And, finally, the Oread Hotel TIF was set in place in order to ensure high ENOUGH profits for the investors. Even without the TIF, the project would have been profitable.

Hmmm.

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johnjhawk 5 years, 6 months ago

Jafs,

Thank you for the response.

I don't believe the main reason to bring new companies to town is to balance the tax base. I believe it is to offer new employment opportunities to our community. A chance for Lawrencians to work here instead of traveling to Topeka or KC. Balancing the tax base is a nice benefit of adding these companies and it certainly can help reduce the tax burden on home owners.

Your next point about leaving a lot of taxes uncollected is a interesting. Is the glass half full or half empty. If we don't attract new companies to Lawrence we get no new tax revenues or jobs.

I don't have any problem with your third point but I think we as a community should at least look for a way to work with these companies instead of looking for a down cycle in their business to call them a bunch of freeloaders trying to take advantage of our city.

I am sure there might be some companies that might run after abatements from one community to the next and if a company has a history of doing so, we should not offer them an abatement. It is very costly for a company to move, build new buildings and train employees. I don't believe many well run companies would take that course of action. Lawrence has had many companies stay here for decades.

I appreciate your opinion of tax abatements but if a community feels it really needs to attract jobs, I feel we need to use all the tools at our disposal. I have a small business in Lawrence and it actually hurts my business when a new company comes to town. We are all competing in the same labor pool and if I lose a few good employees to a new firm or have to raise my payroll to keep employees it hurts. But I believe it is better for the community to have a healthy job market. The local consumer base is of very little value to a firm seeking an abatement. Most abatement eligible companies are Manufacturing or Wholesale companies that are selling there products throughout the region or entire country.

I never mentioned TIF in my post. I am not an expert on the subject, but from what I understand, they should rarely be used.

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