Archive for Monday, March 21, 2011

Lawrence City Commission candidates sharpen their messages at forum

March 21, 2011


Three questions for Lawrence City Commission candidates

Hugh Carter answers three questions about his campaign for the Lawrence City Commission.

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With the election about two weeks away, candidates for the Lawrence City Commission at a Monday evening forum became a bit more like boxers trying to pick up the pace.

The jabs became a little more frequent and strategically placed as the five candidates participated in a forum hosted by the North Lawrence Improvement Association. Here’s a glimpse at some of the action:

• Candidate Bob Schumm used his closing statement at the forum — attended by about 30 people — to suggest that several of the candidates represented the status quo and were not forward-thinking enough.

“The difference is clear,” said Schumm, who is a downtown restaurant owner who served on the commission in the late ’70s and early ’90s. “Do you want more of the same or do you want change?”

Schumm said that he would be different than some of the other candidates on his staunch support for the living wage, his opposition to “sneaky” special taxing districts, and that he would insist on more leadership from City Hall on the homeless shelter issue.

• Mike Machell, a human resources director and chair of the city’s library board, sought to differentiate himself from Schumm on several occasions. Schumm said he was very interested in an idea to increase the size of the city’s inspection staff to deal with neighborhood blight issues. Machell said he thought the additional dollars for new positions could be better spent and the city could work more closely with property owners to resolve issues.

Machell also differed with Schumm on the issue of island annexations. The city recently approved a pair of island annexations near the Lecompton interchange on the Kansas Turnpike in hopes the area will develop industrially. Schumm told the crowd he generally was opposed to island annexations. Machell said such opposition was short-sighted because it didn’t take into account that most industrial development is going to occur on the edge of a community. He said island annexation served the city well when it created the East Hills Business Park decades ago.

“I think we would be cutting ourselves off at the knees if we didn’t consider island annexations,” Machell said.

• Sven Alstrom, a Lawrence architect, invoked the idea of special interests playing too large of a role in the race.. He suggested the three candidates recently endorsed by the Lawrence Board of Realtors — Machell, Mike Dever and Hugh Carter — were too beholden to the Lawrence real estate industry to effectively serve. He said he believes Lawrence government already suffers from too much favoritism.

“I’m asking you to support the candidates not supported by those special interests,” Alstrom said.

• Carter, a Lawrence financial adviser, sought to assure the crowd that he was an independent candidate.

“I have no ax to grind and I have no constituency,” Carter said. “I just want to do what is best for Lawrence.”

But Carter did say he disagrees with Alstrom, who insists Lawrence isn’t business-unfriendly. Carter said that he’s certain there are outside business interests that view the community as being unfriendly, and he said that’s a problem whether the perception is accurate or not.

• Dever, an owner of a Lawrence environmental consulting firm and the lone incumbent in the race, said he was pleased with the record of the past commission. He said the city has produced balanced budgets during bad times, and hasn’t resorted to raising property tax rates.

“I feel like we have spent a lot of time cutting the budget without hurting city services,” Dever said.

The five candidates are vying for three seats on the commission. The election is April 5.


guess_again 7 years, 1 month ago

"Carter, a Lawrence financial adviser, sought to assure the crowd that he was an independent candidate." __

Yea, so when we drive by those vacant lots (and enterprises owned by bigtime developers) with the "Carter/Dever/Machell" signs all visible, I am supposed to believe that Carter is "independent?"

IIsn't this the home-builders/developers trifecta?

“I have no ax to grind and I have no constituency,” Carter said. “I just want to do what is best for Lawrence.”

Uh, huh.

igby 7 years, 1 month ago

Rock the Vote! Just vote for one not 3! . Rock the vote!

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

I disagree with Machell in that he is ready to spend way too many tax dollars on local corporate welfare which I oppose.

Carter comes off as way too much Laissez faire like Lance Johnson and Sue Hack were..... for better or worse.

So as I have said before: Bob Schumm Sven Alstrom = just might bring some in depth discussions to city commission meetings. That which has been missing for several years. I like his position on separating the children in the Homeless Shelter from the rest.

I have to agree with this concern:

"Yea, so when we drive by those vacant lots (and enterprises owned by bigtime developers) with the "Carter/Dever/Machell" signs all visible, I am supposed to believe that Carter is "independent?"

Isn't this the home-builders/developers trifecta?"

This group spends wayyyyy too much money which spells big time local special interest money. They do not shell out these bucks for nothing. YUCK!

irvan moore 7 years, 1 month ago

schumm who served in the 70s and 80s represents the future not the past?

MISTERTibbs 7 years, 1 month ago

"Schumm said that he would be different than some of the other candidates on his staunch support for the living wage"

Is this a do as I say not as I do position? Are you paying your cooks and servers a living wage Mr. Schumm?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

The living wage is only a requirement of those who receive tax abatements.

Are you suggesting that the living wage become a city-wide law applying to all employers and employees?

Kash_Encarri 7 years, 1 month ago

I wouldn't see anything wrong with that myself. If you want new business to invest in the city and make them pay a living wage why wouldn't you require all businesses to do so?

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

Because the living wage requirement is tied to the tax abatements - ie. the city is giving the business something, and requiring something of them in return.

Simply requiring businesses to pay their employees significantly more is a one-way street.

Watch a lot of businesses go out of business if you do that.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

You're right-- there's a considerable expectation on the part of the eating-out public and restaurant owners that the price of meals and profits, respectively, should be heavily subsidized by those who prepare and serve them.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 1 month ago

Don't forget that Sven has been banned from this board a dozen times for rude and abusive behavior. There is no win if you vote for Sven. Even a planet-killer should know that.

BruceWayne 7 years, 1 month ago

"This group spends wayyyyy too much money which spells big time local special interest money. They do not shell out these bucks for nothing. YUCK!"

So you would rather have Sven looking after our money? The number one reason I will not vote for Sven is the fact he is a terrible human being. A close number two is the fact he is clueless how to budget his own finances. Sven is still trying to come out of his own bankruptcy. Sven filed a frivolous lawsuit against usd 497. This lawsuit cost the school district and taxpayers hundreds and thousands of dollars. Sven has more of "an ax to grind" than any other candidate. Sven has zero projects on his schedule and blames the city for not offering him work on various projects. Sven would be a terrible choice for city commission. Everyone be sure to vote on April 5th.

Bob Forer 7 years, 1 month ago

Say no to the yes boys. Vote for the S boys---Schumm and Sven.

Kash_Encarri 7 years, 1 month ago

The S boys would be worse than the Progressive Lawrence boys. They could have a great slogan though - Here we go again with Schumm and Sven.

netnetnet 7 years, 1 month ago

It would be great to hear a candidate actually state a position on what they would or wouldn't do. The majority of the candidate responses say nothing.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

At this point, I'd rather have the city commission be a comedy with Sven, than a tragedy with Dever/Machell/Carter.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 1 month ago

Remember how Sven celebrated the vandalism at the Oread site? Is that the sort of person you want in a position of authority? Sven, tell us all about your cyber-squatting website, oreadcoffee.

sunflowergirl 7 years, 1 month ago

What's the biggest difference between Schumm and Machell? Schumm owns a local business in Lawrence. Machell works for a pharmaceutical company in Overland Park. You tell me which person would be best for Lawrence?!

monkeyhawk 7 years, 1 month ago

"You tell me which person would be best for Lawrence?!"

The person with no all-for-downtown agenda.

BruceWayne 7 years, 1 month ago

What's the difference between Sven and the other four candidates? The other four have NOT been banned from this site for multiple violations of the TOS. A comedy with Sven? I see nothing funny about the current financial state of Lawrence. Sven was able to raise $645.00 for his campaign, he is not the answer. If the LJW would post the comments that resulted in his "lifetime ban", you would see that Snap is correct. Sven DID celebrate the repeated vandalism at the Oread site.

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 1 month ago

Why won't Sven come clean about his campaign's spam attack?

Flap Doodle 7 years, 1 month ago

As I said before, Sven put a lot of time and energy into offending people on this forum. That chicken is coming home to roost now.

Take_a_letter_Maria 7 years ago

Yes. Bob was on the commission that gave us all Mike Wildgen.

BruceWayne 7 years ago

and then Widgen took it up the tailpipe so they could get their puppet Core-Less running the show. BIGGEST problem with this city is our city manager. What a maroon.

netnetnet 7 years ago

oneeye...what correlation are you trying to make?

igby 7 years ago

Since the pos hotel got built, that is now fallen into a dank obscurity! The intersection at 12th and oread was re-alined and built up and raised up in eleavation about 22 inches to keep the water from oread ave from flooding the basement of the hotel. 3 storm drains were installed which serve no usesfull function. Storm drains areb are there doing nothing. All the water that once traveled down oread then down 12th now runs backwards from 12th down oread and drops off at 13th and 14th to LA st. Street water runoff then rises on La where it jumps the 2 inch curb and floods all the properties in the 1200 blk of Ohio.

igby 7 years ago

The alley in the 1200 blk of . Ohio is where all the runoff goes where it has flooded several houses damaging the alley structural base. The alley was closed last year by Corliss's office after a wall colapsed and the alley washed out.

netnetnet 7 years ago

So...from reading these posts it seems clear that Sven is not the top choice. But, why Carter? Why Machel? Why Schumm?

Bob_Keeshan 7 years ago

Posts like those by snap_pop are the number one reason to vote for Sven.

Flap Doodle 7 years ago

Worth repeating: "Sigmund (anonymous) says…

Apparently my original post was removed accidentally, either that or I unintentionally violated the Terms of Service by outing a regular poster. In a effort meet all possible LJW condition and terms, here is a censored version.

Top 10 Reasons To Vote For Sven Erik Alstrom: 10. Three words; "Lawsuits, Lawsuits, Lawsuits." 9. The Sven Erik Alstron Memorial Haskel Baker Wetlands Economic Garden and Dog Park. 8. Shout Drainage! 7. Weekly LJW contest, "What name will Sven use at this weeks Commission meeting?" 6. Aspen needs a good laugh. 5. The Merrill Traffic Calming Renewable Solar Powered Lawnmower Czar. 4. Sven's a people person, darn it! 3. Why throw a monkey wrench into the works when you can throw in the monkey instead? 2. Finally Lawrence will have a commissioner without a degree from a School of Architecture. 1. Mayor Spiderman!"

crackers 7 years ago

Please, do not vote for Steve, Joel, Doug or Duane.

boxers_or_briefs 7 years ago

oops....wrong person. Thomas or Tim?

netnetnet 7 years ago

So, from looking at the 'substantial intererst' reports - would I be correct in assuming that two of the candidates have not been able to 'save' any money?

Kontum1972 7 years ago

they need to stay home more with their wives..b4 jodi shows up..while they are out

optimist 7 years ago

Candidate Schumm being a downtown business owner is opposed to “sneaky” special taxing districts. The moneys from these special taxing districts pay to maintain the streets, sidewalks, street lighting, snow removal, beautification (flowers, trees and holiday lights) and a variety of other general maintenance items in these areas. In the downtown we refer to this “sneaky” special tax as parking fees. If you’ve ever wondered what these parking fees pay for now you know.

Downtown you put a quarter in the meter and get 30 minutes of parking. You go into a downtown store and spend $25. Your “sneaky” special (parking) tax: 1%. If you spend less than $25 then your “tax” is higher than 1%. I suspect at the end of the day it all pretty much evens out.

This demonstrates how downtown businesses benefit similarly from a fee collected by the city and is specifically set aside for area maintenance, construction and beautification of the respective business district. I’m not sure why this particular candidate whose business interests will most directly benefit from the rescinding of such special taxing districts would be focusing on this issue. It seems a little self serving.

I realize he is all about the downtown and that is understandable as his business interests reside there but there are other small businesses in this city that aren’t downtown and many of us rely on them equally as much. I am concerned that in an effort to protect the downtown we put these other businesses at a competitive disadvantage and that doesn’t seem fair at all.

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