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Opinion

Opinion

Editorial: Tasty or hasty?

November 13, 2012

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This evening’s Lawrence City Commission meeting is likely to provide the extra push that eventually will result in building the Rock Chalk Recreation Center.

Seldom, if ever, has a project of this size and cost moved so quickly through city offices. And seldom, if ever, has such a use of taxpayer dollars been approved so quickly without being approved by a vote of the city’s taxpayers.

The fact is, this, in a way, is a “perfect storm” situation in that the combination of those directly involved in the project, the timing of the effort and the potential benefits of the scheme all merge to create a situation that causes many individuals to refrain from asking a lot of questions.

There are several highly respected individuals involved and, consequently, residents are hesitant to ask questions or voice their concerns. It would be almost treasonous to question or oppose the wishes or motives of those involved.

The Kansas University Endowment Association enjoys an excellent record, but has it established a new policy that allows a generous individual who makes a substantial gift for a new KU building to also determine whom he or she wants to be the contractor and builder for the structure without a competitive bidding process?

It is questionable whether the majority of KU alumni and friends actually think the fact that KU is one of the last remaining BCS schools with a running track around its football field and lacks better softball and soccer fields is an “embarrassment to KU alumni and student-athletes, past and present,” as KU Athletic Director Sheahon Zenger wrote in a recent letter to the city.

There are other questions, but, again, raising objections or calling for more transparency on how this deal was put together is not the popular thing to do. The cost, the location, the impact on downtown Lawrence (which has been so protected in recent years), whether the contractors will own and lease the facilities to KU Athletics, and whether the terms and conditions of these leases have been negotiated are just a few questions that remain unanswered. Has the KU Endowment Association entered into a new policy for the construction of badly needed facilities and buildings?

The overall project looks great and sounds great, but, just like the making of sausage, it’s the ingredients and how the ingredients are put together that makes the project tasty, attractive and a winner in the eyes of the consumer — or something far less appealing.

Comments

minimadoff 1 year, 5 months ago

Its a Ponzi. A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that pays returns to investors from their own money or money paid by subsequent investors. The Ponzi entices new investors by offering higher returns than other investments, in the form of short-term returns that are abnormally high. Perpetuation of high returns require an ever-increasing flow of money from new investors to keep it going.

In this case the investors are the taxpayers of Lawrence.

Thomas a.k.a. mini-Madoff will crush the hopes and dreams of everyday citizens to fund to his lavish lifestyle.

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Steven Gaudreau 1 year, 5 months ago

The city is blinded by the idea of getting a $33,000,000 property for $25,000,000. It's a scam. Fritzel is gonna build this with crap materials and as cheap as possible. This thing will be built for $18,000,000. It's a rip off. Open up the deal for others to bid and lets see what the real cost is for this project. It's not open for bids for a reason guys.

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nativeson 1 year, 5 months ago

I agree with the assessment that the 1994 sales tax should be revisited. That was almost 20 years ago with a number of issues that needed to be addressed at the time. The most recent sales tax for transit and infrastructure does have a 10 year sunset provision.

I also believe that the community has support and opposition to the proposed Rec Center. In the end, the commissioners must determine if they really believe that the probability of the net cost to operate the project can be funded by resources already earmarked. My concern is that we will be looking to take away from other services in the future due to an unforseen net cost.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 5 months ago

Let we understand this. In 1994 some percentage of the 60K population voted for a sales tax with a fair amount of specificity provided by the then “lawgivers”. Nobody noticed that there was no sundown clause. Now the current “lawgivers” argue that the current 85K population (wonder how many actually were here and voted in 1994) are bound by the 20 year old vote even though there is an undercurrent seeking a new one.

Are our lawgivers convinced the voters actually support this initiative or are they afraid of the opposite and are intent on approving it with a hand wave to public opinion? I thought I lived in a progressive participatory city? (Are we not a blue dot in a red sea?) How can we argue about cuts in social services at the state level when our apparent highest priority is an additional recreation facility?

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nativeson 1 year, 5 months ago

All the stakeholders in this project are above board, but they are representing their perspective organizations. The City must do the same. If the long-term financial commitments are not fairly distributed between the parties, then the City Commission must be willing to walk away at least for the time being to get a more balanced arrangement. This project has taken on a life of its own. It needs leadership to make it fair for the taxpayer.

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