Archive for Thursday, April 7, 2011

Town Talk: Free love in Lawrence; East versus West in city politics; former MagnaGro building nearly cleaned out

April 7, 2011


News and notes from around town:

• Some of you may be noticing small signs at Lawrence intersections advertising “” For those of you starting to have ‘60s flashbacks (at least those who remember the ‘60s), here’s a little more information. The signs are for a Lawrence church, EastLake Community Church, which regularly meets at South Junior High. The Web address takes you to a site inviting you to Easter events the church is having on April 24 at the school. City commissioners last week gave approval for 100 of the signs to be placed in city rights-of-ways at major intersections throughout the city. The city routinely allows special events to place signs in rights-of-ways, although this one may be one of the larger sign drops and also one of the more mysterious.

• When it comes to East versus West in local politics, the West is still winning, and by about the same score. I spent a little time yesterday looking at voter turnout numbers for Tuesday’s election. As I’ve done in the past, I compared how the east side of the city turned out with the west side. Here are the results:

The average voter turnout for precincts with polling places west of Iowa Street was 17.3 percent. That was down from 18.7 percent in the 2009 city/school election.

But it was still quite a bit better than eastside turnout. The average voter turnout for precincts with polling places east of Iowa was 11.8 percent. That also was nearly unchanged from 11.9 percent in 2009. So, the gap between the two was 5.4 percent. In 2009 it was 6.8 percent. In fairness, the eastside does include the Burge Union precinct — which probably couldn’t get voters for a city election even if it handed out free beer. It’s turnout was 0.3 percent. If you take that precinct out of the mix, the eastside average rises to 12.2 percent. That’s still pretty low, especially for the side of town that is supposed to include all the activists.

• Some people have asked me whether local elections would look any different if eastside voters showed up in greater numbers. In other words, do eastside voters support different types of candidates from westside voters? Here are a couple of things I’ve drawn from the numbers about that.

  1. Take Lawrence City Commission candidate Sven Alstrom, for example. I think most election observers would agree that Alstrom was further to the left (in City Commission ideology, anyway) than many of the other candidates. For example, he was the only candidate who said he thought the chamber of commerce should have some of its city funding taken away. In every precinct west of Iowa, Alstrom finished fifth — or last — in the voting. But in precincts east of Iowa, Alstrom’s average finish was 3.8. In fact, Alstrom finished second in four eastside precincts.
  2. Also look at Hugh Carter, the City Commission candidate who finished third in the race and received the last seat, so to speak, on the new commission. Carter’s average finish in precincts on the westside was 2.8 out of the field of five. On the eastside, Carter’s average finish was 4.0. In fact, he finished last in 11 of the 26 eastside precincts.

Who knows how different City Commission elections would look if eastside voters showed up in the same numbers as westside voters? Eastside residents seem intent on making sure we don’t find out.

• The MagnaGro chapter in Lawrence is quickly winding down. MagnaGro International, in case you’ve forgotten, is the eastern Lawrence company where two workers died last year in an industrial accident. The city had shut off the water and sewer service to the site because of illegal dumping that was occurring at the site, but the company — with the city’s knowledge — kept operating its fertilizer production plant at 600 E. 22nd St. Eventually, the city shut the building down all together, after it became clear that MagnaGro was violating city code by operating without water and sewer service. Well, now the city is soon ready to hook the building back up to city sewer and water service. As we previously reported, a company is moving MagnaGro’s equipment out of the building, perhaps to a site in Western Kansas. Assistant City Manager Diane Stoddard told me that she expects the move to be completed by next week. At that point, the city will consider the building safe to be rented out for other uses. Stoddard said the move has gone smoothly. The city insisted upon an environmental management company being on site during the move to ensure that everything related to the move was done within environmental regulations.


sad_lawrencian 7 years, 2 months ago

"The signs are for a Lawrence commissioners last week gave approval for...signs to be major intersections throughout the city."

The city of Lawrence allowing religious propaganda to be placed on public rights-of-way all over town: does this not violate the Constitutional separation of church and state?

John Hamm 7 years, 2 months ago

actually it violates a city ordinance - try it with a yard sale sign if an officer's a little grumpy.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 7 years, 2 months ago

Unless you have city commission approval. No, you can't just slap a yard sale sign up. But you can do anything with approval.

Brock Masters 7 years, 2 months ago

Can you point me to the section of the Constitution that says church and state shall be separate?

Hudson Luce 7 years, 2 months ago

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

unelectable 7 years, 2 months ago

No. it upholds the first amendment right to freedom of speech.

besides... how is any 'merican meant to know which church to go to if not for marketing. that's how i choose all my choices.
by the best marketing.
that is why i have 5 insurance accounts for my one car.
one for the lizard.
one for the twilight zone guy with the thoughtful questions. one for mayhem. (he's so scary) one for the appears-when-the-jingle-is-sung-poorly agent... with a hot dog.... and a comfy chair.
and one for the president from the first season of 24.

Marketing is how i know what I should know.

the only thing that helps better with church is ROCK AND ROLL!!!! and moving lights with a fog machine.

Brock Masters 7 years, 2 months ago

I like the mayhem guy the best, but the twilight zone guy is pretty good too.

MISTERTibbs 7 years, 2 months ago

That poor singing jingle guy is a KU grad.

Gene Wallace 7 years, 2 months ago

What about the '60s girl with the price gun?

somedude20 7 years, 2 months ago

I am still seeing a bunch of signs from the 4/5 election. If the supporters can put em up, those same people need to take em down. Funny how before the election people gripe about others that take the signs but now that it is over, those signs are not even worth picking up!!!! I feel hungry for a Zagnut

irvan moore 7 years, 2 months ago

it seems strange that those with the most to lose in an election make the least effort.

curlystyle 7 years, 2 months ago

WHAT HAPPEND TO SEPERATION OF CHURCH AND STATE ! ! ! What if Muslims or Buddhist wanted to put something up throughout the city? I'm pretty sure there would be complaints for businesses wanting those signs of their property...

Brock Masters 7 years, 2 months ago

Buddhism is not a religion so it would be okay.

somebodynew 7 years, 2 months ago

Hey Chad,

If you have the inkling, why not a story on how voting might change if commissioners ran by District instead of City at Large. I really think Lawrence is a big enough place now that people would get benefit from it. Imagine, someone who would actually try to make sure their section of the city didn't get swallowed up by the number of people on the "other" side of town????

Gene Wallace 7 years, 2 months ago

I like the "Hugh Kids Sale" signs. I sent photos of those to Ellen and Leno. CCG!

Rae Hudspeth 7 years, 2 months ago

@ pendragons I see a name in my work all the time; Hugh Cox, and the 14 yr old in me can't help but giggle.

jcpainting 7 years, 2 months ago

they wont let businesses to put up yard signs in lawrence, or even a yard sale sign but they will allow religous ads? what is wrong here? bible belt at its best

1julie1 7 years, 2 months ago

Is the city charging for the right to place signs in the city right-of-ways? If not, why not? Isn't it the same thing as selling/renting advertising space?

simpleton 7 years, 2 months ago

Show up at their service with some anal beads and lube. Maybe they'll give a little thought next time they "market" their jesus eggs.

squarepusher 7 years, 2 months ago

I just drove past them. Never gave them a second thought. Who cares, really?

cato_the_elder 7 years, 2 months ago

To Chad Lawhorn -

Robin Williams said it best:

"If you can remember the late '60s, you weren't there."

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