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Archive for Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Town Talk: Kia dealership expanding on 23rd Street; Police Department to get armored vehicle; developers asking TIF money to cover $695,000 in land costs at Ninth and N.H.

October 2, 2012

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News and notes from around town:

• The folks at Shawnee Mission Kia of Lawrence definitely are highlighting the Lawrence part of their name these days.

The company has begun work on a major expansion of its Lawrence showroom at 1225 E. 23rd St. Chin Rajapaksha, general manager and partner at the Kia dealership, told me the project will add 9,000 square feet of new space to the showroom.

“We’re making a huge commitment to Lawrence,” Rajapaksha said. “We’re definitely going to make a name for ourselves in Lawrence.”

The size of the expansion gives you a bit of an idea of how large the Kia brand can become in Lawrence. Currently, the dealership has offices for five sales people. The new building will grow that number to 13.

“Basically, we’re setting this up to be a 300-cars-per-month store,” Rajapaksha said. “Currently, we’re at about 100 cars per month.”

The new showroom also will have a children’s area. Cool, maybe they’ll take mine on trade. (Hey, cut me a break,. I’ve been on vacation with them for four days.) Also included in the project is an Internet cafe for guests, a new service drive, and, of course, more indoor space to display cars.

Construction work is underway on the project, and Rajapaksha hopes to be moved into the new space by the beginning of the year. Currently, the dealership has temporarily moved its offices into the building immediately west of the construction site.

• I don’t believe it will be a Kia, but the Lawrence Police Department soon will be getting an armored vehicle. (Fifteen police officers charging out of an armored Kia, though, would give me reason to pause, if I were a criminal.)

The city has won a $152,500 Homeland Security grant from the federal government to purchase the vehicle. The grant covers the full cost of the vehicle, which means the city won’t have to take any money from its budget to cover the cost. (They will have to fuel it though, and I don’t know what type of gas mileage an armored vehicle gets. Probably about 10 miles per gallon better than the old F-150.)

The Lawrence Police Department is scheduled to purchase this type of armored vehicle with a $152,500 Homeland Security grant.

The Lawrence Police Department is scheduled to purchase this type of armored vehicle with a $152,500 Homeland Security grant.

Police Chief Tarik Khatib previously has made the case for why the department needs an armored vehicle. In a new memo to city commissioners, Khatib reiterates that for a university community — which hosts many large events — to be without such a vehicle is a concern.

“A purposefully built vehicle which protects its occupants is a necessary component of any professionally equipped law enforcement agency; especially one that is responsible for safety and response in a large university city,” Khatib wrote.

The armored vehicle is being billed as a “rescue vehicle” by the Police Department, which indicates it could be used in certain type of hostage scenarios, events that turn violent, or mayhem that you hope doesn’t happen.

“Such a vehicle would increase the department’s capability and officer safety in response to critical incidents involving active shooters, barricaded and armed individuals, and perimeter control out in the open,” Khatib wrote.

In the past, when Khatib has made a case for the armored vehicle, a few folks have expressed concern that the vehicle would be a sign of a “militarization” of our police force. Well, for what it is worth, the new vehicle doesn’t look anything like a tank. (It kind of looks like the old F-150 on steroids.) The vehicle doesn’t have any type of permanent mounted weapon system, although it does look like it has several side openings and a roof hatch that will allow officers to fire weapons from inside the vehicle.

The department should receive the vehicle by early 2013. With this latest grant, the city now has received $465,000 in Homeland Security grants since 2004. Other items purchased with the grants include specialized crime scene and surveillance vehicles, forensic equipment, and ballistic vests, shields and respirators.

• I don’t think I’ll need an armored vehicle to get a parking spot for tonight’s City Commission meeting. But I suppose you never know. Commissioners will be discussing a package of financial incentives for the multistory building projects at Ninth and New Hampshire streets.

As we reported last week, a couple of tweaks have been made to the proposed uses in the hotel building slated for the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire. Mainly, the development group — which is led by Lawrence businessmen Doug Compton and Mike Treanor — are looking to replace the rooftop restaurant with three luxury condos and more hotel rooms. None of the changes impact the height or size of the building.

But since the time we reported on that letter, the development group also has sent another letter seeking a tweak in the financial incentives package of the project as well. The development group wants to clarify that the $695,000 that it is under contract to pay to purchase the land at the southeast corner is eligible for reimbursement through the tax increment financing district.

The group points out that state law allow the property and sales taxes captured through TIF districts to be used for the purchase of private development property. But city commissioners have never specifically discussed using TIF money for that type of purpose, so City Hall staff members are asking for direction.

To clarify, developers aren’t asking for the overall maximum of TIF expenses — which is capped at $3.5 million for the hotel project — to be raised. Rather, they want to ensure they can submit the $695,000 in land cost to be reimbursed as part of that total.

Commissioners are expected to review a whole host of documents related to the TIF district, a special tax plan called a transportation development district, industrial revenue bonds and other miscellaneous items related to the development. Commissioners are not expected to take any formal action on the items tonight. That will come in future weeks.

In the meantime, that gives me more time to bulk up my old F-150 into an armored vehicle. No, I don’t need it for any type of uses like the Police Department would. I need it to protect from my wife all my fabulous deals that I get at local auctions. If you don’t believe me, ask me sometime about my recent $1 purchase of a used, portable, chemical toilet. (I know, can you believe it, it's portable.) Body armor would have come handy on that day.

Comments

laurennoel 1 year, 6 months ago

Please explain to me the purpose of an armored vehicle in Lawrence, Kansas. I know there are like a million and one shootings every year and the riots are insane... but really?

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Dan Blomgren 1 year, 6 months ago

The armored vehicle is being billed as a “rescue vehicle” by the Police Department, which indicates it could be used in certain type of hostage scenarios, events that turn violent, or mayhem that you hope doesn’t happen.

Hostage scenarios in Lawrence? Have we ever had one (a hostage scenario that is)? Events that turn violent? Such as perhaps the occasional bar fight at 2:00 am on Mass. By the time the 'rescue vehicle' gets deployed the fight will have broken up and the bloody nose will have stopped bleeding. And mayem? What kind of mayhem is happening in Lawrence that 'may' turn violent requiring an armored "rescue vehicle"? Are the sorority girls packing 'heat' these days?

Give me a break. Another example of our federal government spending borrowed money from China on things we just don't need.

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jafs 1 year, 6 months ago

I'm with beatnik.

On another story, apparently the city declined to provide TIF funds for the land purchase.

Color me shocked, but pleased.

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irvan moore 1 year, 6 months ago

thanks commissioners for saying no to the tif, i'm happy to have guessed wrong on this one

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oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 6 months ago

As for TIFS.. I know of a situation around campus where real money was to be used to build new and Lyn Zollner got into the estate business at city hall recommending other sites! Planning and McCullough need to be flushed out with HRC. going first. The mayor , schumm and the other four do not have the guts.

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blue73harley 1 year, 6 months ago

Between Redbud Lane and Topeka thugs, the armored truck might come in handy.

Now if the cops could just stop some of the burglaries...

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swampyankee 1 year, 6 months ago

My homeland would be safer if LPD enforced speed limits in North Lawrence.

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oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 6 months ago

A fleet of Paddy Wagons would be more accomodating in a college town.

That armored vehicle looks pretty military to me, having been in the military. Call it want you want, but it's a status symbol for LPD.

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 6 months ago

"The city has won a $152,500 Homeland Security grant from the federal government to purchase the vehicle. The grant covers the full cost of the vehicle, which means the city won’t have to take any money from its budget to cover the cost. (They will have to fuel it though, and I don’t know what type of gas mileage an armored vehicle gets. Probably about 10 miles per gallon better than the old F-150.)

Police Chief Tarik Khatib previously has made the case for why the department needs an armored vehicle. In a new memo to city commissioners, Khatib reiterates that for a university community — which hosts many large events — to be without such a vehicle is a concern. "

Somehow when Bush/Cheney established the Department of Homeland Security it established itself as a symbol of mammoth size big government with a blank check. It seems there is no budget just spending. Issuing checks to local law enforcement for armored vehicles is anything but fiscal restraint. =============================================================== Just how was a need established? A need in Lawrence,Kansas? =============================================================== Since BUSHCO allowed 9/11/01 to take place reckless spending has been the result. Trillions upon trillions beyond belief. Why did the BUSHCO national security team decide not to pay attention?

Can you imagine the years of strategy and rehearsals behind 9/01/11 yet BUSHCO decided the known terrorists were not important in spite of the fact he was made aware of their presence?

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 6 months ago

Local Lawrence Taxpayers can no longer afford First Management, the Chamber of Commerce or the City Commission.

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 6 months ago

Ahhh yes corporate socialism. And what we’ve gotten is corporate socialism for the politically connected rich — not all the rich, the politically connected rich — and market capitalism for everybody else.

Economic figures show that in 2005, the wealthiest 0.1 percent of the country’s population had nearly as much income as all 150 million Americans who make up the lower economic half of the country. Of each dollar people earned in 2005, the top ten percent got 48.5 cents, the highest percentage since 1929, just before the Great Depression.

David Cay Johnston has been closely tracking the nation’s income gap in the pages of the New York Times.

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/1/18/free_lunch_how_the_wealthiest_americans

BILL MOYERS: But some of your critics have said you've gone beyond investigative reporting in this book to become a crusader against the rich. do you object to people getting rich?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Oh, no. I-- good grief. I have no objection to that whatsoever. But get rich by working hard, working smarter, coming up with a better mousetrap. Don't get rich by getting the government to pass a law that sticks the government's hand into my pocket, takes money out of it, and gives it to you. That's not right. That's not a fair playing field. And Adam Smith, you know, warned again and again that it is the nature and tendency of business people to want to put their thumb on the scale, and even better, to get the government to put the thumb on the scale for their benefit. And that's what we've seen going on now in our society for some time.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, the theme of the book as I read it is that not that the rich are getting richer but that they've got the government rigging the rules to help them do it.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: That's exactly right. And they're doing it in a way that I think is very crucial for people to understand. They're doing it by taking from those with less to give to those with more. So the other moral authority I cite in the book is the Bible, both the Old Testament and the new. And all the way through those two books you can read condemnation after condemnation of taking from the poor to benefit the rich. You will come to ruin, it says in the Old Testament, if you give to the rich and yet that's what we're doing. We gave $100 million dollars to Warren Buffett's company last year, a gift from the taxpayers. We make gifts all over the place to rich people. And yet the way the news media write about it, people are often very unaware of this because we use complicated terms and meaningless language to the average reader so they don't understand what's happened.

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/01182008/transcript.html

https://www.commondreams.org/david-cay-johnston

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jafs 1 year, 6 months ago

Any and all discussions, clarifications, etc. should happen before contracts are signed, projects are approved and incentives granted.

Also, the article calls this a "tweak", which suggests that they are asking for something that wasn't agreed upon.

Although it may be acceptable under the law to grant this sort of request, I can't think of any other use of the TIF like this - usually they apply to infrastructure improvements, parking, etc.

Do these developers really just not want to pay for any of their business expenses, and how far along that road will the city let them go?

Costs to purchase land, improve infrastructure related to one's development, parking garages, etc. are all basic business expenses that, in my view, the developers should pay for. If they can't do that, and make a profit, then the venture isn't feasible.

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smitty 1 year, 6 months ago

The armored vehicle is being billed as a “rescue vehicle” by the Police Department, which indicates it could be used in certain type of hostage scenarios, events that turn violent, or mayhem that you hope doesn't happen. [Olin?]

“Such a vehicle would increase the department’s capability and officer safety in response to critical incidents involving active shooters, barricaded and armed individuals, and perimeter control out in the open,” Khatib wrote.

But, but, but, the LPD removed Olin from a (wife as hostage) gun situation in just minutes without any further gun shots or safety risks for the LPD officers. But LPD will need a new garage to park it in that will cost 10's of million $$$$$. Lawrence's version of the cart before the horse as if we had a horse. roflmao

1

cheeseburger 1 year, 6 months ago

I am getting sick and tired of this 'business-as-usual' approach by the city whereby they allow numerous significant amendments after a project is approved, or allow developers to claim ignorance of the rules and then beg for forgiveness after the fact.

That's not the way things should proceed, and if Corliss and the current city staff can't put a stop to it, perhaps he and the staff should be replaced. The policy-making commission should draft appropriate and fair rules, and Corliss should enforce it. If he has become too close to the developers for him to remember who he works for, give him the boot.

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g_rock 1 year, 6 months ago

Maybe the could lease that armored car out to Topeka on the weekends?

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Steven Gaudreau 1 year, 6 months ago

I agree Pat. What a joke. Are the police gonna use the armoured vehicle for bar checks.

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patkindle 1 year, 6 months ago

that is much of our problem today everyone is againest govt waste except of course if it is ending up locally then it is ok

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irvan moore 1 year, 6 months ago

the deal at 9th and new hampshire keeps getting worse and worse for the taxpayers, this commission has never said no to him yet, what do you think the odds are this time

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consumer1 1 year, 6 months ago

Quick someone notify the little red hen. She needs to know.

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loudmouthrealist 1 year, 6 months ago

My relative who works for LPD in the purchasing department has actually told me that 2 additional vehicles are being purchased by LPD. One is the same type of law enforcement vehicle used in Dominion, TX. (see first photo).

After getting pressure by the LPD Traffic unit, the Chief also authorized an additional vehicle to deal with the increasingly radical driving style of mainly older drivers. 6 to 9 man police units will be on our streets within the next 3 month. (see second photo).

These are the units that are used in Dominion, TX.

These are the units that are used in Dominion, TX. by loudmouthrealist

These are the new traffic enforcement units that will administer punishment on the spot for traffic violations.

These are the new traffic enforcement units that will administer punishment on the spot for traffic violations. by loudmouthrealist

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OonlyBonly 1 year, 6 months ago

$152,500 dollars! What a waste.

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patkindle 1 year, 6 months ago

i assume we are to be proud we skinned the feds out of the money to buy an amorded car to haul more tax money to the comstock lode .............

thats what it is all about, rob from the rich

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