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Archive for Monday, April 13, 2009

City splits

The new Lawrence City Commission will face important decisions for the future of our city.

April 13, 2009

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As usually is the case a week after election day, Tuesday’s Lawrence City Commission agenda will be a light one.

Once they get past the consent agenda, the commissioners largely will be focused on the ceremonial transition that will mark the exit of two commissioners and the seating of two new ones.

Mike Amyx, the top vote-getter last Tuesday, will return to his seat for another four-year term, but two other veteran commissioners, Sue Hack and Boog Highberger, will step down. They both deserve the community’s gratitude for their years of service on the commission.

The two new commissioners who will be sworn in Tuesday, Aron Cromwell for a four-year term and Lance Johnson for two years, also deserve thanks for their willingness to step up to help lead the city during some challenging times. They will join continuing commissioners Mike Dever and Rob Chestnut, who is expected to be chosen as Lawrence’s next mayor.

There has been the usual amount of analysis after last Tuesday’s election, looking at the dismal voter turnout, the rise of voting in western parts of the city and a decline in the east and what “category” those who were elected fit into. Offering online analysis as election results came in last Tuesday, former Commissioner John Nalbandian talked about the possible absence of “what we would in the past have considered a ‘neighborhood candidate’” on the commission. He speculated that if voters bypassed two candidates he placed in that category (neither were elected), Lawrence would have a more “business oriented” city commission. He conceded, however, that he wasn’t sure how Cromwell, who was elected, “fits into the traditional way we break down candidate positions.”

How refreshing to have one or more candidates who don’t fit into the roles we so often assign: east Lawrence vs. west Lawrence or neighborhood vs. business. Wouldn’t it be great if we could look at our city commissioners as people who were willing to step out of those roles and simply do what’s best for Lawrence? We’ll soon know if this is the case with the new City Commission.

Despite the lack of interest local voters showed in Tuesday’s election, these commissioners will face issues that may be pivotal to the future of Lawrence. We thank them for their commitment to that task and wish them all the best.

Comments

BigPrune 5 years, 8 months ago

The key for all the commissioners, old and new alike, is to make Lawrence a more business friendly community. So far, the previous election supposed pro-business elected commissioners have been a dismal failure in changing the attitude at City Hall towards helping recruit new businesses. As it stands today, Lawrence is one of the most restrictive communities in the United States for new businesses. With the current national economy failing, now is not the time for the City of Lawrence to be restrictive towards businesses at all. The local stagnation and economic downturn Lawrence has experienced these past years (2000 through today) will only continue without a positive attitude from City Hall in recruiting businesses or being receptive to new businesses and local businesses that want to expand in our community.

Why does our city have such a horrible reputation? Because they require a dog and pony show.

Now's the time to turn lemons into lemonade.

dubstep 5 years, 8 months ago

I must say, despite our residents' complaints about our city government, and the ideological differences that they may have with each other, at least they are respectful of each other and do keep in mind that Lawrence's residents won't stand for a lot of the more extreme "pro-business" governments, and if you want to understand what I mean, just look at Topeka's city government, which is so factionalized and prone to conflict and pettiness, and Kansas City's regular uproar over Funkhauser, etc. I truly believe that each one of them takes the position seriously, and the $9000 per year salary for a 20-30 hour per week job shows they clearly aren't in it to get rich.

Despite times I disagree with their decisions, I believe they genuinely do what they feel is best for the community. Despite the low voter turnout, there are a few dozen people pay close attention to our city commission, and they make sure to keep a close eye on our commissioners. Congrats to the winners, especially Mike Amyx, who I don't always agree with, but I voted for him because he's a stand-up guy who has spent a large part of his adult life in public service.

Also, if you know about the new buy-local policy, you should thank a Tuesday regular, Hubbard, who raised questions about the bids and asked if any local vendors were close. Thanks to his comments (in removing an item from the CONSENT agenda) we are now supporting a Lawrence car dealer (nearly 200K). We all know they could use the help right now.

I'm looking forward to see how the future plays out for our city.

grimpeur 5 years, 8 months ago

Prune sez: "As it stands today, Lawrence is one of the most restrictive communities in the United States for new businesses."

Examples, please. Compare the restrictive aspects of Lawrence to those of other cities of similar size and demographic. Be specific. What particular "restriction" have you encountered in your dealings with the city?

Phil Minkin 5 years, 8 months ago

Ocean, It is a problem, but short of "vote or go to jail" what is your solution? Few, if any, elected officials get a majority of elegilble(all citizens over 18) voters. Some say it's because of ignorance and apathy, but personally I don't know and I don't care. The Supreme Court has said that campaign spending=speech, so you can't restrict it.

gl0ck0wn3r 5 years, 8 months ago

People still listen to Nalbandian? Wow.

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 8 months ago

logrithmic,

Explain to us again what right or responsibility city government has over "maintaining green space (and) funding health departments"?

Let's get government out of the lawn mowing and doctoring businesses.

jayhawklawrence 5 years, 8 months ago

It appears to me to be a thankless job.

I have disagreed with Boog concerning the South Lawrence Trafficway which I think is necessary to future economic development.

I have criticized Sue Hack for her business connections that were not as transparent as I would have liked.

That being said, I thought they were intelligent and dedicated to their jobs.

I am sorry if they felt unappreciated in any way.

I did vote for both of them at one time or another even though I disagreed with them on some issues.

I think they will be missed and I wish them well. I am grateful for their investment in our community.

I am sorry that it was probably difficult at times, but I will always be grateful to them. I believe they did the best they could in a difficult job.

Thank you.

Chris Ogle 5 years, 8 months ago

Kinda hard for those elected to represent us, when most of "us" don't even vote......

When will it change???? When it gets bad enough for those who bitch, to go out and vote.

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