Archive for Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Town Talk: A look at city commission candidates’ business interests

February 23, 2011


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Bob Schumm substantial interest filing ( .PDF )

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Sven Alstrom Substantial Interest filing ( .PDF )

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Hugh Carter Substantial Interest filing ( .PDF )

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Mike Dever substantial interest filing ( .PDF )

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Mike Machell substantial interest filing ( .PDF )

News and notes from around town:

• On Tuesday we got a look at how fund-raising efforts are going for Lawrence City Commission candidates. Today, here’s a look at another key set of filings for candidates — their statements of substantial interests. The state requires candidates to disclose many of their financial holdings and relationships so voters have the information they need to make their own judgments. To the side of this article, you’ll be able to download the complete filings for each candidate.

I’ve looked through them and there don’t seem to be any real surprises. Candidate Bob Schumm probably has the most business dealings of anyone in the field. In addition to being a longtime restaurant owner, he also has several pieces of downtown real estate that he leases to tenants — 717, 719 and 721 Mass. and the vacant lot at 815 Vt. where there is a cooperative vegetable garden. The complete list of tenants he rents to is included in the filing. He also owns Fun Time Video, a video arcade company.

City Commissioner Mike Dever and candidate Sven Alstrom also are the other business owners in the race. Dever is a part-owner of Lawrence-based GuideWire Consulting, an environmental consulting firm. Alstrom owns and operates Ecological Architecture.

Candidates Hugh Carter and Mike Machell both reported their salaries from their employers — Carter with Wells Fargo Financial Advisors, and Machell with Prescription Solutions — as their main business activities.

The statements also list places of employment for the spouse of each candidate. Dever’s wife recently became a real estate agent for Lawrence-based Stephens Real Estate. Schumm’s wife is a professor at Baker University. Machell’s wife is an accountant at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Alstrom and Carter are single.

The filings also list significant 401(k) accounts, 529 plans, stock holdings and those type of financial investments. The candidates have varying levels of those. Also listed are board of director or officer positions held by the candidates. Several of the candidates hold positions on non-profit boards. None listed serving as officers for any outside corporations, although Schumm listed that he served on an advisory board for Lawrence’s CornerBank.

• I’m going to make this an abbreviated version of Town Talk today because the City Commission election a high priority — and is time-consuming — right now. I have three more city commission candidate profiles to write this week. Our first two profiles appeared earlier this week. The final three are scheduled to appear this weekend. On those pieces, I wanted to acknowledge that the profiles aren’t heavily issue oriented. Instead, they’re meant to give readers a little bit better understanding of the person. But our coverage will be shifting gears soon to become more issue-oriented. In March we will pick several issues and get each candidate to share his views on each. I have several ideas about specific issues, but I’m interested in hearing what’s on your mind. If you have an issue that you want candidates to address, list it in the comments below. I’ll read through them and see which ones I can work into future articles.


ralphralph 7 years, 4 months ago

My topic: The Double-secret-sales-tax-that's-not-really-a-sales-tax-at-all-but-a-hidden-kickback-to-the-developer.

What was the purpose of this Secret Tax? To attract chain drug stores and chain fast food joints to busy intersections so they can compete, with benefit of an unfair advantage, against the existing businesses that they merely duplicate and in no real way supplement or compliment?

It looks like a pure "pick the winner" kickback program to me. It's anti-consumer, anti-fair-competition, and just plain wrong.

Will the candidate swear off the double-secret sales tax and work to repeal the law allowing it?

scary_manilow 7 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

deec 7 years, 4 months ago

Developer subisides, such as dedicated parking in city lots/garages, and whethercityn lots will be sold to developers for fair market value.

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 4 months ago

Wow. I had more assets that Sven when I graduated college. Is this the sort of person that should be involved in Lawrence politics? He doesn't even own his own house. I have a couple of questions, one for the LJW and one for the audience.

1) Has the LJW done criminal background checks on the candidates?

2) This will, no doubt, get this post flagged... but I hope the moderator will read the post before it is deleted. I ask this question only because marital status has been explicit or implicit in every candidate's information except one: Sven. Before I ask, I have a long history on here - despite my perceived conservatism - of being libertarian on social issues. However, I think articles are going to mention candidates marital statuses and divorces that the LJW should be equally clear on this issue: Is Sven gay? Like I said, I don't care and it will amuse me if this post is deleted because it only confirms that the LJW believes that being gay - or even the question - is pejorative. I simply wonder because marital information is conspicuously absent from all Sven information on here.

Lastly, Chad, you should ask the candidates how they feel about local sales and property taxes relative to the T and the library. Do they believe the T is worth revisiting because of the economy. Further, what is their position on the SLT?

Scott Criqui 7 years, 4 months ago

Chad - Thanks for asking the community for our input on important issues to us.

I feel that issues are sometimes fleeting and ever changing. For me, what is more important is how a candidate makes difficult decisions (what is their process) and who influences their decisions the most. Other important things that I consider is how a candidate views leadership, what motivates candidates. What do they look for in role models?

For issue sake, I'd like to hear more specifics on each candidates plan for economic development and their understand of quality of life.

I'd also be interested in hearing candidates thoughts on Lawrence as a retirement hub.

The candidates speak well on what is right with Lawrence, but I'd like to hear (beyond job growth and affordable housing) what other things Lawrence could improve on.

How are they going to engage unusual voice in decision making?

It would also be interesting to hear the candidates top 3 priorities once in office - do the have an agenda, a plan, a vision?

I think that is all. :)

Thanks again. I always look forward to your articles! Keep up the good work.

Frank A Janzen 7 years, 3 months ago

Gay??? Not married?? Get off it!! I am a 65-year-old male and I have never married. I have had various girl friends over the years, but they never worked out. A female therapist many years ago noted that my mother died when I was a teenager, and other older single men she had counseled in her practice had also lost their mothers as teenagers or young adults. She thinks this is why some men never marry. When my mother died, I noted the tragedy that my father and I went through, and I think I sensed that I didn't want to subject myself to that problem, so I have never married. Of course there is also the perennial issue of "commitment" to any relationship, which causes some men to never marry. Gay??? GET OFF IT!!! Single men are not that rare within the heterosexual community.

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 3 months ago

It was a simple question based on the context of other profiles. Clearly you suffer from the notion that gay = pejorative.

kernal 7 years, 3 months ago

Whether a candidate is gay or not has nothing to do with that candidate's qualifications, or ability, to perform the duties required of a city commissioner in the best interests of a community as a whole. If a voter bases his or her vote on the sexual persuasion, looks or ethnicity of a candidate, then that person should probably just stay home from the voting polls.

I do not know if Mr. Alstrom is gay or not and I really don't care. I will vote for the persons I think will do the best job for Lawrence and that may, or may not, include Mr. Alstrom.

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 3 months ago

You miss the point. The other candidates have had their marital life examined (implicitly or explicitly), so why not Sven? You are right: if someone bases their vote on marital status or sexual orientation, they've got a problem. I simply think the LJW should be fair in an environment in which it shouldn't matter. Discuss the marital status of all the candidates or none of them.

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