Archive for Sunday, August 30, 2009

Faulty analysis

August 30, 2009


To the editor:

Two recent Journal-World articles have compared Lawrence unfavorably to other Big 12 towns (Aug. 22, page 1B). A problem in both is a rather facile analysis that fails to consider a range of factors affecting urban development in such settings.

It’s no secret that the relatively low wages in Lawrence are linked to its large student population and lack of employment options outside the public sector. Housing prices, on the other hand, are relatively high because of a comparatively low number of owner-occupied residences in the city. Simple contrasts to places such as Boulder are misleading because of nearly 10,000 Sun Microsystems and IBM jobs there, along with other such employers, and its proximity to Denver. Yes, Boulder itself is about the same size as Lawrence, but its metro area is nearly three times larger.

Without considering conditions such as these in making comparisons between “college” towns, it’s easy to get a misleading picture. It’s also probably unfair to use such comparisons to pillory unnamed local “leaders” and KU for “complacency” and “elitism.” In the absence of specific recommendations, or even many pertinent facts, such charges inevitably ring hollow. Perhaps the best way to engender “vision” and “courage” in civic leadership is to offer some concrete ideas, starting with an analysis of the city’s problems that goes beyond superficial comparisons.


jumpin_catfish 8 years, 6 months ago

John is making a good point but John where's your concrete ideas to engender vision and courage?

Paul R Getto 8 years, 6 months ago

"where's your concrete ideas to engender vision and courage?" ==== J-Fish: If it were me, I'd start with an honest assessment of what KU is worth to the city. Without KU Lawrence would be??????? Eudora? After that discussion, I'd look for ways to have Lawence City Govt. and KU cooperate more and, when possible, share services. The final step would be to ask the Legislature if they intend to fund universities adequately, which is the source of much of the trouble.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 6 months ago

While there is sooooooo much focus on basketball and football championships in Lawrence it seems Boulder has not had such titles in years yet offers so much without those sports titles. Nothing wrong with championships however those apparently are not necessary.

But does CU have any home games played in Denver?

KU has too many home games played away which impacts our tax revenue cookie jars that we could use today and in the future.

Lawrence does not have the Rocky Mountains nor does it have the ocean coast line.

Boulder does have a greener tint than does Lawrence.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 6 months ago

"Top 12 Best Veg-Friendly Places to Live" - Veg News, August 2006

"Best City for Green Meetings" - (Boulder ranked #9), Meetings and Conventions, August 2006

"Dream Towns" - (Boulder ranked Best All Around), Outside Magazine, Aug. 2006

"Top 20 Greenest Spots in the Country" - Vegetarian Times, July/Aug. 2006

"Top Places to Retire" - Where to Retire Magazine, July/Aug. 2006

"Best Cities For Singles" - (Denver-Boulder ranked #1), Forbes magazine, July 2006

"Top 10 Favorite Outdoor Dining Spots in the Country" - Bon Appetit magazine, July 2006

"Top 10 Brainiest Small Cities" - (Boulder ranked #3),, June 2006

"Best Places to Retire in Style" - (Boulder ranked #1), Fortune magazine, June 2006

"Top 25 Arts Destinations" (Boulder ranked 10 for small cities) - American Style magazine, June 2006

"Best Cities for Relocating Families" (Boulder ranked #4 for mid-sized metro areas) - Worldwide ERC and Primary Relocation, May 2006

"Top 10 Greenest Cities" -, April 2006

"50 Best places to live" (Boulder ranked #3) - Men's Journal, April 2006

"Most Vegetarian-Friendly Cities in the U.S." (Boulder ranked #7)-, April 2006

"Best City for Cycling" - Bicycling magazine, March 2006

"Best City for Teleworking" (Boulder best in small metro area list) - Sperling's Best Places research firm, March 2006

"America's Top 100 Places to Live in 2006" (Boulder ranked #3) -, March 2006

"America's Best Vegetarian-Friendly Small Cities" (Boulder ranked #7)-, March 2006

"Place you dream of living" - Backpacker magazine, February 2006

"Top 10 Places to Retire" - Bottom Line Retirement, January 2006


"Best Place to Live" - (Boulder ranked #1), Successful Meetings, 2005

"The 100 Best Art Towns in America" - (Boulder ranked #6), by John Villani

"50 Best places to live - best overall city" - Men's Journal, March 2005

“Colorado’s Best Workplaces for Commuters” -United States EPA, April, 2005

"Going to Boulder" - The New York Times, May 2005

"Top 25 Art Cities" - (Boulder ranked #18), American Style magazine, June 2005

"Top 20 greenest spots in the country" - Vegetarian Times, July/August 2005

"7th Best Running City" - Runner's World magazine, August 2005

"Top 10 cities for masters athletes" (Boulder ranked #7) - Geezer Jock magazine, September 2005

"50 fabulous gay-friendly places to live" - book by Gregory A. Kompes, November 2005

Richard Heckler 8 years, 6 months ago


“36 Hours in Boulder, CO” - New York Times, Jan. 30, 2004

“Top 20 Boom Towns” (Boulder ranked #1) - Business 2.0, March 2004

"Yummy" - American Way, March 2004

“Top 10 cities for Animal Wellness in North American” - Animal Wellness Magazine, March 2004

“Colorado’s Best Workplaces for Commuters” -United States EPA, April, 2004

“Five Impressive Cities; Making a Difference in the Environment” -Delicious Living magazine, April 2004

"Bicycle friendly community" (gold level) - League of American Bicyclists, April 2004

“Nation’s reigning bike friendly community” - The League of American Bicyclists, June 2004

“Best place in the country for singles (Denver-Boulder)” -, June 2004

“The Best Small Cities” - Men’s Journal, June 2004

“Best place to move” (Boulder/Longmont) - Worldwide ERC and Primacy Relocation, Sept. 2004

Richard Heckler 8 years, 6 months ago


“Best Overall Place to Live” - Men’s Journal, May 2003

"5 Favorite Run America Club (RAC) Trails” - May/June 2003

“Best cities for singles” (with Denver) - Forbes, June 2003

“Best College Sports Towns” - Sports Illustrated on Campus, Sept. 2003

“Outside University: The top 40” - Outside Magazine, Sept. 2003


"Best Places to Retire" - Money Magazine, 2002

“America’s 50 Healthiest Places to Live” - USA Today, 2002

"The Boulder Sampler: Better than Whitman's" - Buzz in the Burbs, February 2002

"Boulder: A Path Runs Through It" - Knight Ridder News Service, March 2002

"Cooking School of the Rockies" - NBC's Today Show, March 2002

"Pearl Street Mall is a Colorado Gem" - The Dallas Morning News, April 2002

"Being Boulder" - Flying Adventures Magazine, Summer 2002

"Boulder, CO: Paradise Found" -, August 2002

"Boulder Rocks" - Arizona Daily Star, September 2002

“#1 Thinnest City” - Self Magazine, Oct. 2002


"The Thinnest City in America" - Self Magazine, 2001

“America’s Best Running City” - Runner’s World, January 2001

“Where are you on the talent map?” - Fast Company magazine, January 2001

"Bowled over by Boulder: It's Hard to Beat the Town's High Alpine Adventure" - Continental, September 2001

"10 Healthiest Places for Women to Live" (Boulder ranked #8) - Self Magazine, October 2001


"Best Farmer's Markets" - Sunset Magazine, 2000

“America’s 10 Fittest Cities” - Health magazine, March 2000

“Republic of Boulder cherishes independent identity” - Rocky Mountain News, May 2000

“A Dozen Distinctive Destinations” - National Trust for Historic Preservation, May 2000

“15 Best Places for Businesses and Career Advancement” (Boulder ranked #4) - Forbes magazine, May 2000

“3-Day Weekend: Boulder at its best” - Sunset Magazine, May 2000

“Top Green and Clean City, Best Places to Retire” (Boulder ranked #1) - Modern Maturity, May/June 2000

“Boulder/Longmont Area Leads the Nation in High Tech Jobs” - Software & Information Industry Association, June 2000

"Fittest Cities in America" (Boulder ranked #2) - Shape Magazine, September 2000

“Get a Life” - Business 2.0, October 2000

“Boulder” - Successful Meetings magazine, 2000

Richard Heckler 8 years, 6 months ago


"Great Places to Live" - Snowboard Life Magazine, 1999

"The West's Best City" - Sunset Magazine, 1999

"America's Best Places to Live and Work" - USA Today, 1999

"Best Sports Town in America" (Boulder ranked #1) - Outside Magazine, 1999

"Top U.S. Arts Destinations" - Travel Weekly, 1999

“17th for Family Fun” - Outdoor Explorer Magazine, April 1999

“Ideal Location for Runners” - Runner’s World, May 1999

“Top 10 Cities for Teens” - Seventeen Magazine, September 1999

“10 Great Places to Soak Up Campus Culture” - October 1999

“Small City Runner Up: The Best Places to Live 2000” - Money Magazine, November 1999

“Best Transportation” - Sunset Magazine, November 1999

“The Best Cities in America for Starting and Growing a Business” - Inc. Magazine, December 1999


“20 Hottest Markets to Sell Your Products This Year” - Sales & Marketing Management, January 1998

Jimo 8 years, 6 months ago

"Housing prices, on the other hand, are relatively high because of a comparatively low number of owner-occupied residences in the city."

How's that? This is an old canard that refuses to die. In what sort of imaginary world do high prices not lure in suppliers (here, developers and builders) searching for profit, supplying more thereby driving down prices? While there are non-market factors - first and foremost city zoning policies - that cause land prices to be high in Lawrence the "occupancy status" of buyers is not one of them. (One might have suggested just as erroneously the "non-white" skin of buyers if Lawrence had a larger minority population or "non-citizen" status if it had a large population of foreigners. The house's price doesn't "care" who the buyer is.)

I think the LJW should offer a prize for the most economically ignorant statements published each month.

Oh, and dismissing comparisons to places like Boulder as faulty because Boulder is more developed or larger than Lawrence ignores the question of how Boulder grew and Lawrence failed to grow - or for that matter, as did many of these other college towns that had no more limitations on them than has Lawrence. It is no secret how pathetic the economic development process has been and continues to be in Lawrence. Finally, Boulder is barely closer to Denver than Lawrence is to KC and it takes longer to drive the congested distance in Colorado.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 6 months ago

The linkbot has woken. Fear his mad copy/paste skillZ!

jonas_opines 8 years, 6 months ago

"While there is sooooooo much focus on basketball and football championships in Lawrence it seems Boulder has not had such titles in years yet offers so much without those sports titles."

Way to lead off with this insanely inane comment. It fully justified me scrolling past that extremely large list of whatever.

weeslicket 8 years, 6 months ago

i think this was a good letter. certainly much better than most. as evidence, the commentary on this lte has been (mostly) on topic.

(e.g., i would like to hear a little more from jimo, and a little less from merrill-- unless he writes in his own voice)

Richard Heckler 8 years, 6 months ago

Face it the ski resorts,decent year round temps,Rocky mountains and trout fishing attract high paying jobs whereas over built retail,over built residential thus high taxes and user fees do not. Over development is not paying back the taxpayer

A newer well kept library might also be an attraction for high dollar employers.

New over priced cardboard housing aka new slums will not be an attraction.

Kansas legislature is not known for supporting public or higher education.

Boulder is known for preserving green space whereas Lawrence is not. Green thinking towns thus "healthier" apparently are more desirable even to big money employers. Lawrence "thinkers" resist green policies.

Lawrence "thinkers" also resist economic impact studies/tools which provide excellent information towards economic growth not to mention keeping taxes and user fees in check.

Face it over loaded markets = mismanagement by city government = development that cannot pay back. The city has been warned of this for more than 10 years. This is not an attraction to smart business people.

weeslicket 8 years, 6 months ago

thank you for writing in your own voice.

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