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Archive for Monday, January 3, 2011

Town Talk: New detective to investigate crimes against women; special taxing district near 23rd and Ousdahl; Carnegie open house

January 3, 2011

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News and notes from around town:

• The Lawrence Police Department likely will soon get a new detective position that is responsible for investigating crimes against women. The city has received word that it has won a nearly $54,000 federal grant to fund one new detective position that would investigate incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, rape, stalking and other similar crimes. City commissioners now must decide whether to accept the grant, and provide approximately $18,000 in local matching funds.

Interim Police Chief Tarik Khatib is recommending the city move forward. He said that 2009 statistics show his department responded to 71 rape cases, 598 domestic battery, 24 sexual battery and 11 stalking cases. He said the “vast majority” of victims in the cases were women. Currently, the department does not have a detective who is in charge of investigating crimes against women. Khatib said absent special circumstances most domestic violence cases are handled by the police officer who responds to the call. A detective usually is not assigned to the case. Khatib said having a detective be part of the process will increase “efficiency, victim advocacy and offender accountability.”

City Manager David Corliss also is recommending approval of the new position, but he warns that it may create funding issues in 2012 and beyond. The federal grant is only guaranteed for one year. If the city doesn’t provide additional funding for the department in 2012, Corliss said the total number of police officer positions likely would be reduced by one — through attrition — to account for the new detective position.

Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

• The mystery of whether the Hobby Lobby store at 23rd and Ousdahl will get a major face-lift will be explored by city commissioners on Tuesday. To make it even more interesting, commissioners also will take up the issue of whether a special sales tax should be charged at the business.

As we previously reported, a Mission-based development group in August asked city commissioners to create a special taxing district near 23rd and Ousdahl. The new Community Improvement District would allow for a special 1 percent sales tax to be charged at four businesses. The proceeds of the extra tax would be used to fund about $1.5 million worth of projects that include public infrastructure improvements but also include private building upgrades. Of the four businesses, three are on the north side of 23rd Street — a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop, a Yokohama sushi restaurant and the former Kwik Shop that will be redeveloped for other retail uses. Developers have submitted detailed plans for improvements to be made to those sites. But no plans have been submitted for improvements to be made at the Hobby Lobby site, despite the fact the tax also would be charged there.

Commissioners in August balked at the idea of creating the new taxing district, largely because details weren’t available about the Hobby Lobby site. Instead, they told developers to return when more details were available. Developers this week will be back at City Hall, but they still don’t have firm plans for how the special sales tax money would be used at the Hobby Lobby site.

In a letter to commissioners, developer Jim Harpool said he expects any Hobby Lobby project would include stormwater improvements, landscaping, architectural enhancements to the existing building and other site improvements. But he said Hobby Lobby officials aren’t yet ready to commit to any specific plans.

As a result, Harpool is floating a new plan for the special taxing district. He still wants to include the Hobby Lobby site, but he’s willing to allow any special taxes collected by Hobby Lobby to be placed in an escrow account. Money from that escrow account could not be spent until the city has approved specific plans for the Hobby Lobby site.

That potentially puts city commissioners in the position of allowing a business to charge it customers a special sales tax without fully knowing what the sales tax will pay for. City staff members are recommending — if commissioners are interested in proceeding — that the development group restart the application process because the new proposal is different from the original proposal.

• A chance to see the newly renovated Carnegie Library building is coming up. The city will host an open house from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday to show off the building at 200 W. Ninth St. The space’s main floor space is being rented out by the city’s parks and recreation department for wedding receptions and other similar events. The Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau and the group that oversees the Freedoms Frontier National Heritage Area are moving their offices into the lower level space of the building next week.

Comments

Joe Hyde 3 years, 3 months ago

Those are truly frightening, appalling numbers of rape cases, domestic battery, sexual battery and stalking cases. I hope the City Commission approves making the fund-share with the feds for a detective devoted to investigating these crimes.

Even if the extra detective to be hired works such cases for just one year, still I feel it's a necessary thing for Lawrence to do. The extra attention devoted to this family of crimes could result in the capture and successful prosecution of one or possibly more serial rapists along with chronic domestic battery offenders. This opportunity alone would make it money well spent.

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femmefatale 3 years, 3 months ago

I've heard that HL was owned by the Phelps family, can anyone confirm or deny this information?

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bearded_gnome 3 years, 3 months ago

well, I agree with you Smitty, at least the first part of your 2:11.

Interim Police Chief Tarik Khatib is recommending the city move forward. He said that 2009 statistics show his department responded to 71 rape cases, 598 domestic battery, 24 sexual battery and 11 stalking cases. He said the “vast majority” of victims in the cases were women. Currently, the department does not have a detective who is in charge of investigating crimes against women. Khatib said absent special circumstances most domestic violence cases are handled by the police officer who responds to the call. A detective usually is not assigned to the case. Khatib said having a detective be part of the process will increase “efficiency, victim advocacy and offender accountability.”

---problem with this statement is: last time I checked the FBI's uniform crime reporting stats estimated massive underreporting of these crimes by male victims!
and thus the title, application, use of almost certainly a female detective, will simply perpetuate the stereotypes, make it remain more difficult for male victims to come forward.
city commission should vote no on this one. plus fundingfor one year only then we lose a general detective through attrition?
why not just not take the money, put two detectives each half time on this detail: one male and one female. would send a powerful message, go a long way to reverse the actual problem.

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gccs14r 3 years, 3 months ago

The Hobby Lobby special could violate the establishment clause of the 1st Amendment, depending on what Hobby Lobby management ordinarily does with its profits. If the company tithes 10%, for instance, and the dollar amount of the 10% goes up because the special tax makes the company more profitable, that could be construed as a government entity providing monetary support to a specific religion.

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JackMcKee 3 years, 3 months ago

I'm setting up a toll booth in front of my house.

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Betty Bartholomew 3 years, 3 months ago

While I don't like the special tax districts at all, maybe they'll finally get those craters around JJ's and Yokohama fixed.

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jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

These CID's are a bad idea in general, unless you have a blighted area which desperately needs improvement, which is not at all the case with 23rd and Ousdahl.

If businesses need money for landscaping, architectural improvements, and the like, let them raise their prices if they can, and don't let them use "tax" money, which is far less transparent, especially if not disclosed by some sort of large sign up front.

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smitty 3 years, 3 months ago

Crimes against women needs it's own detective? After all these years, it is time to eliminate the special enforcements by genders, races, and apply the laws equally. We are moving backwards. Or are we just now able to do what hasn't been done for over 27? years with a sexist & racist management of the LPD?

Khalib is not the one to be our next chief if he continues to follow Olin's practices.

I'd rather put that implied tax increase to a Citizens Review Board that has investigative and subpoena powers. At least, we can kill two birds with one stone with the CRB funding.......the illegal actions of our LE as well as the political maneuvering of the city commissioners and manager in LPD supervision.

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dogsandcats 3 years, 3 months ago

I always roll my eyes at their Scripture Mints by the checkout, but they have a better selection for most things than Michaels.

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RoeDapple 3 years, 3 months ago

Keep raising those taxes! I can buy just about anything I need with the same keyboard I use to make this post!

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macon47 3 years, 3 months ago

hobbly lobby sells very few things anyone actually needs,

but you will see the folks stand in line to spend thier money on cheap imported doo dahs and gee gaws.

while everyone beats up on wallyworld how come hobby lobby, michaels, pier one tuesday mornings never get bad mouthed??

same crap, higher prices and their parking lots are always full like walmart

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Paula Kissinger 3 years, 3 months ago

Hobby Lobby is a Christian company so it is closed on Sundays. Their company...their choice.

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thebcman 3 years, 3 months ago

Hobby Lobby could drop its archaic "closed on sunday so our employees can go to church" rule, and use those profits to fund improvements.

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Adrienne Sanders 3 years, 3 months ago

Another reason to not shop at Hobby Lobby!

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alm77 3 years, 3 months ago

Our family already purposefully avoids the other "special tax district". We will just add these businesses to our list of places to avoid. If a business wants to attract customers, they will make improvements out of existing profits, not run people off with a price increase.

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