Archive for Monday, January 14, 2013

Leader of local food bank files for seat on Lawrence City Commission

January 14, 2013


The director of a local food bank has filed for a seat on the Lawrence City Commission and plans to be a City Hall advocate for people in need.

Jeremy Farmer, executive director of Lawrence-based Just Food, filed paperwork Monday to run for one of three seats up for election on the five-member city commission.

“We have a lot of folks walk through our doors here,” Farmer said of the food bank. “I have spent a lot of time talking with them, and it really helps you understand that what happens at the local level matters.”

Farmer said he’ll push for the community to do more with technical education and for “innovative” solutions in the area of economic development.

“Half of our volunteers at the food bank are clients of ours, and they work their butts off,” Farmer said. “They’re not just people who are trying to drain the system. If we can get them some training to go along with their strong work ethic, they’ll have the chance to work in Lawrence, and that is what this community needs.”

Farmer, 29, was born and raised in Lawrence. Since July 2011, he’s been the executive director of Just Food, which provides food to people in need and also serves as a food bank for other food pantries in the area.

Farmer said his work with the non-profit agency has provided him good experience in trying to bring different groups to the table to work together.

“I’m passionate about building consensus among groups,” Farmer said. “I want to bring everyone to the table and talk about the issues so we can figure out the best way forward.”

He said if community leaders can do more consensus building it will help with the overall environment in Lawrence.

“I really want people to see Lawrence as this huge family that is inclusive and welcoming,” Farmer said. “I don’t want them feeling they are walking into a fight.”

With Farmer’s filing, there are now five candidates in the race: Rob Chestnut, a former Lawrence mayor and a chief financial officer for a Topeka publishing company; Scott Criqui, a member of the city’s Human Relations Commission and an executive with a Lawrence-based home health care company; Terry Riordan, a Lawrence physician and a former Lawrence-Douglas County Planning commissioner; and Michael Rost, an attorney for a Topeka insurance company.

Three seats are up for election. City Commissioner Mike Amyx has not yet filed for re-election, but he has indicated he will seek another term. Commissioner Aron Cromwell also has a term that is expiring, but he has not yet indicated that he plans to seek re-election.

City Commissioner Hugh Carter already has announced he won’t seek re-election, but instead will focus on his new job with the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.

Candidates have until noon Jan. 22 to file. If seven or more candidates file, there will be a primary election on Feb. 26 to narrow the field to six candidates. The general election will be on April 2.


Amy Heeter 5 years, 3 months ago

Why not, just food is jacked up. Harvesters had disolved partnership because of the united way.

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago

I sent you a private message. I'd be happy to answer any questions you have about this.

vermont 5 years, 3 months ago

Could not think of a better person for this...

Takes the competition up a notch.

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago

thank you, vermont. i am humbled by your words.

Bob Forer 5 years, 3 months ago

Good deal. At least there is one candidate who is not a shill for the millionaire developers.

alex_delaney 5 years, 3 months ago

A group of citizens interested in relieving the residents of Lawrence's tax burden by growing our lacking commercial sector.

We'd love to hear what you think anytime bozo, but we'd prefer if it were positive and not anonymous.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

"but we'd prefer if it were positive "

Positively boosterific, that is.

Catalano 5 years, 3 months ago

Alex..."commercial" does not provide "primary jobs". Just FYI, might want to get your terminology and talking points straight.

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago

I can assure you that the people that walk through the doors each day at 11th and Haskell will influence nearly every decision that I make.

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 3 months ago

I've known Jeremy since he was 13 years old. He comes from extraordinarily humble beginnings, is unbelievably kind hearted and highly passionate about what he does. He is the farthest thing this town has seen from a stereotypical "politician" in a long time, and that's why he has my vote.

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago

I am extremely humbled by your words. Thank you.

Jonathan Fox 5 years, 3 months ago

Do all the other candidates get a full article about them on here? Or is the LJW endorsing this candidate?

Nathan Atchison 5 years, 3 months ago

maybe they would if they ran an amazing non profit like farmer.

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago

I am not the hero of our organization. I will pass along your words to the many volunteers who tirelessly work to fight hunger in our community. They are very worthy of all of our praise.

bearded_gnome 5 years, 3 months ago

interesting, and worth considering.

I have been impressed with his obvious sincerity and desire to help.
as I wrote under Rost's article, this candidate's youth might also be a plus because he does not have a lot of favors to repay in his political history.

bearded_gnome 5 years, 3 months ago

Mr. Farmer thanks for entering this race! being a candidate isn't easy and has a lot of risk. I appreciate your care for our community.

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago

Thank you for your words, Gnome. I clicked on your profile and we have quite a bit in common. My Great Grandfather, CD Hargadine was a frequent reader of Louis L'Amour books. It seems that although you didn't have him listed as an author, that you liked his work. Is that assumption correct? I also like Gospel music as well. Very good for the soul. I have very fond memories of my grandparents taking me to southern gospel concerns such as the Palmetto State Quarter and the Stamps Quartet in Topeka.

On the campaign from, I don't have any favors to repay. I don't play games like that. If someone wants to deal under the table and in a manner that is not forthright and transparent, it won't turn out good for them. My integrity is not for sale.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 3 months ago

I was very happy to see your name and you have my vote. I have read most of Louis L"Amour. Did you know that he wrote a sci-fi novel, "Ghost Mesa?" He is one of the favorite authors of Stephen King which surprised me.

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago


Thank you for your words. You're too kind. I didn't know he wrote a sci-fi novel. I will have to check that out. I'll admit that since Grandpa passed away, I have been more apt to read the things he read. Good find!

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago

Thank you for your kind words. I am honored that you would use those words to describe me. I certainly try my best to live those out each and every day.

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago

I am extremely grateful for the support that so many of you have lent here. There are many ways that you will be able to connect with me during this campaign:

  1. Facebook: visit - like the page, leave a comment. We will be posting daily updates from various vantage points of the campaign.

  2. Website: - there's an interesting story behind this. I'd encourage you to check it out.

  3. Twitter: - we will be updating this as often as facebook if you're the twitter type.

  4. Youtube: - we will be posting videos here as I talk about various things that I will be committed to during this campaign and if I should be fortunate enough to get elected.

  5. Email : info (at) - if all social media isn't for you, please send me an email.

  6. Snail mail: Box 1986, Lawrence, KS 66044

I cannot wait to continue this dialogue with you as we go throughout this process. I will meet with anyone on your time schedule, because you are vitally important to this community.

Committed to serving you, Jeremy

bearded_gnome 5 years, 3 months ago

Mr. Farmer, thanks for your response! impressed I am. it appears accessible you are, by your post above. our city has need of fresh vision.

I do read westrns, though my favorite western writer is more obscure. and almost daily I enjoy such music as you listed.

On the campaign from, I don't have any favors to repay. I don't play games like that. If someone wants to deal under the table and in a manner that is not forthright and transparent, it won't turn out good for them. My integrity is not for sale.

---stick to this, even when it may seem difficult or uncertain..

and thank you for coming up here and posting.

motomom 5 years, 3 months ago

how refreshing and wonderful! sure do appreciate your care and love of the community, jeremy. ya got my vote, too, friend. :O)

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago

Thank you, cheeseburger for your kind words. As stated above, I strive to live those each da

Catalano 5 years, 3 months ago

Based on your previous comments on this board, I'm not surprised.

Deb Stavin 5 years, 3 months ago

Jeremy Farmer is a rare bird. He has a big heart and a big brain to match. Jeremy, you have my vote.

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago

I am humbled by your comments, dstavin! Thank you.

colicole81 5 years, 3 months ago

I am absolutely thrilled to hear that Jeremy is running! Finally someone who is more interested in doing what's right and less interested in making the wealthy happy! I've known Jeremy for close to twenty years. He is honest, clear, compassionate, hardworking, motivational and dedicated to making a difference! There is absolutely no better person for the job. I am proud to sign my name as one one of your many supporters! Good luck! - Nichole Weatherwax-Feurt

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago

Nichole, you're too kind. Thank you for your sincere words.

gatekeeper 5 years, 3 months ago

You've got my vote! Signed up on your website - feel free to put signs in my yard (corner lot) and if I have time closer to election, would be willing to go door to door in my neighborhood to help. Very happy to finally see someone in the race that would represent ALL in Lawrence, not just those living west of Iowa.

Best of luck to you and thank you and all at Just Food for your hard work to help those in need in Lawrence!

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago

Thank you, gatekeeper. I will be contacting you shortly. It will certainly be a great election and we'll see how this goes! I'm not the hero with Just Food -- so many others tirelessly work. I just get to pass along all of the stories that happen here to our great community.

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago


Thank you so much for your voice of support. I have many people in the business community that I am friends with, and will work together with all citizens of Lawrence to give those in our community and those who want to live in our community an opportunity.

jack22 5 years, 3 months ago

Jeremy I'm glad to see that you're getting involved in local politics in this way. We are in desperate need of someone like you who will bring new and independent thinking to our city commission. We need someone who can put an end to the cronyism that has crept into our local system of representative government. If you get elected I wonder how that might work. I guess while you're in the room and there is an ongoing vote to unanimously support tax give aways and other "incentives" for one of our top three local developers the other commissioners will just have to sit on their hands and hide their rubber stamps while they act like they're listening to all sides of the debate before making their decisions. Good luck, you've got my vote, too.

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago


Thanks for your kind words. I will say that I am not a rubber stamp for or against any kind of development. We must take into consideration the effects of various developments and what it will do to a many of our community who need opportunities. Tax giveaways and incentives aren't inherently bad. The issue is when they are at the expense of something else. If we make it so that someone can't afford to eat because of an incentive that we pass, we obviously are making a horrible mistake. However, if we are able to pass an incentive to get someone who can't afford to eat a job in our community, then we are doing that person and their family a whole lot of good.

Some of our clients at Just Food commute to jobs making $8.25 an hour in Desoto and Topeka. I talked to one just today who sat down with me and, as a former roofer, talked about how difficult it was to get a job. He said his side jobs are in Topeka. How sad that we can't take care of our own by providing them with an opportunity to work in the same community that he lives.

There are positives and negatives to both, and it is vitally important that we don't stand rigidly for or against something because we think we know what the facts are. We must transparent, show leadership, be good stewards of our communities resources (and its people), have a vision for where we want to go, and always let the principles of equality and justice guide us.

jack22 5 years, 3 months ago

Jeremy I agree, not all tax give aways and other economic incentives are bad. I was referring to what I see as the abuse and waste of such incentives. I am all for using incentives to bring jobs and responsible growth to our city. We built and paid for the parking garage on New Hampshire Street, for example, as an incentive to bring more two story retail buildings and jobs to that area. I totally agreed with the idea of building this garage to bring jobs and greater tax revenue to the city. However, instead of the area being developed in a similar style as you'd find on Mass. St., as planned, a developer was allowed to built a huge high rise apartment that ate up all the new parking we just added. Because all the parking was now taken, instead of building a smaller two story retail building on the opposite corner, the developer insisted he would need even more incentives to build there. It was estimated that a smaller building was economically feasible and the developer could be expected to make a handsome profit of maybe 80 or 100 thousand a year with a smaller building, but the developer wasn't going to be happy unless he was making a million dollars or more a year on the project. So now instead of having the two story retail buildings we initially built the garage to support we're on the hook to provide another special tax district, build more parking, and spend even more of our cities limited resources to help this one developer build another high rise building that will double or triple his own earning while he's paying no new property taxes for 20 years.

seriouscat 5 years, 3 months ago

FINALLY some smile inducing fantastic news! Can't wait to see you elected Mr Farmer. God bless!

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago

Thank you, seriouscat. I don't know that I'll get elected, but I'll sure give it a good go. We have a lot of great people involved, and I can't wait to see what happens!

Georgine McHenry 5 years, 3 months ago

Mr. Farmer...I do not know you at all but from what I see seem like a down to earth, good ol' boy that just has high standards and a real grasp on just what "commuinity" means. City Hall needs someone like you to point their noses in the right directions. I suspect, should you get elected that you will face battles because you will probably go against the grain of their current non thinking ways. I wish you all the best. Bigger, better more is not always the way to go. Working with what you have and maximizing it's potential is smart. Good luck to you sir.

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago


I'm sorry if you think I'm being insincere. My parents taught me that when someone says something nice about you, you tell them thank you. I have, and always will value kindness and respect.

bearded_gnome 5 years, 3 months ago

observant's logic RE Jeremy and UW is like looking looking into the wrong end of the telescope and then complaining that the people don't look like they're the right size!

UW is sorta like the ugly giant that strongarms other charities, then Observant complains that they knuckle under.

bearded_gnome 5 years, 3 months ago

Jeremy, I'm glad you're willing to address issueshere. I also agree that often incentives are quite useful and important, if properly thought out.

I want to bring up a more dull issue: that bill from city utility billing. our city keeps jacking it up, raising the cost of water, storm water, trash, and nw maybe mandating additional payment for recycling too. all the while, some money has apparently in the past flowed out of there into the general fund like runof.

some of us have very limited incomesand wish that the city would be more frugal, as we see the city wasting money. and worse, we see the city not spending money on necessities like proper maintenance of water lines and sewers that are far too old/beyond their replacement dates while it's going on to spend and spend on the attractive things like a new rec center/KU village.

you have any comments?

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago

I'll certainly address what questions you have in here. I will say before I answer that I will need to do some research to figure out exactly what we're being charged for, and the necessities of each. One of the things you'll find about me is that I won't make any promises that I can't, or don't have the ability to keep. As I stated before, my integrity is so important to me.

I will say first that I support a recycling program. It is, as I understand it, an additional $3.30 per month. The long term sustainability of our community is vitally based on our ability to continue to keep Lawrence what it has been for such a long time. I am all about fiscal responsibility, but not at the expense of making our community a dump. Many that I have talked to would recycle if given the opportunity. I don't mean to take anything away from the small businesses who currently do recycling. I think it can be more effective if done City-wide. There are many feasibility studies that suggest City-wide recycling programs will ultimately lower the cost of trash collection and improve the economy of a community. We must stop knee-jerk policy making decisions and begin to do things that build on each other for future generations. If we have to pay $3.30 more a month now, is a $40 annual investment worth a future Lawrence resident in 20 years saving $100 a year in trash collection? I think it's a question worth talking about. But we need a PLAN.

Infrastructure needs are important. We seem to be always behind the curve. I would like to see the City come up with a plan for water and sewer lines like we have with our streets. Perhaps one exists that I'm not aware of. With our streets, we know how much money it will cost to repair streets, and have a plan in place that we then can execute. The process is transparent, and the costs are known up front. This moves us from being behind the curve to being ahead of it. By budgeting with what we know we must spend, we then can begin to more aggressively save to invest in projects like Rock Chalk Park. We need another water line to North Lawrence. My grandparents are longtime residents there, and there's currently one water line. This needs to change. We have a great community in North Lawrence that are often relegated to second class citizenry. We want to give opportunities for infrastructure to ALL in Lawrence, not those just south of the river.

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago

I will say that I do support Rock Chalk Park. I know that many are against it, and have spoken out publicly as such. Because I work in East Lawrence, and many residents of those neighborhoods come in and speak of not being able to utilize their own rec center. This troubles me. It's not just about whether or not we can afford to build it, but whether or not we can afford not to. We certainly could focus on a small park near Free State High School, but is what is gained by partnering with KU and our ability to build a 33 million dollar facility at most for 25 million worth it? Furthermore, because KU is such an integral part of the community, the City would certainly subsidize some of the infrastructure costs, which, if we built the park at the Free State area location, would push the cost to taxpayers up to 40 million dollars. Of course, the most ideal thing would be to have a developer come in and pay for the whole thing...but there are some things that require the help of others. I will err on the side of helping to do the right thing responsibly. Throwing money at something without a plan is irresponsible.

The priorities of all of these things are what I will listen to people in the community about. I keep harping on this, but we need a plan. We need to know what we have the ability to do and not do. We are flying by the seat of our pants, and I think this is a huge reason why we have some of the discontent that we do with our local government. One of my mentors told me that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

If we ever want to be effective in getting things done, we have to be willing to compromise. I am not someone who will rigidly stand on one side, and beg people to come to me. We'll meet halfway, at something that we can both live with (hopefully), and go from there. This one-sidedness has got to stop. It's divided our community and has many distrusting local government. If we are going to be effective as a community in, as I said in Chad's article, inviting people to be a part of a Lawrence family and not a family fight, it is a huge priority of mine to build consensus among groups.

What are your thoughts?

Bob Forer 5 years, 3 months ago

Jeremy, do you support the current proposal where Fritzel is guaranteed the job with no competitive bidding to speak of. if so, why doesn't the lack of true competitive bidding make you suspicious?

Second. I understand your concern that folks in East Lawrence have a hard time obtaining access to the East Lawrence Rec center. But can you show me specifically how the Rock Chalk Park will change this. My guess is that the limited access is due to league play. But how will the additional court space change this? League participation costs money, which is out of the reach of the limited pocketbooks of most low income kids. Moreover, even if they can afford the fees involved with league play, the time involved in league play still leaves low income kids with a lot of idle time on theirs hands, and with no court space available for pickup games. Please show me specifically how the Rock Chalk plan will allow more free play basketball court time to the low income kids of East Lawrence. Where are there specific assurances that the city will not continue to schedule league play and practice at the East Lawrence facilities.

My point is that the Rock Chalk Park will certainly benefit the middle class kids. But how does it benefit the poor kids.

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago


You ask many important questions. And I want to thank you for asking those questions as opposed to to just assuming that because I support the sports park that I am automatically in a developers pocket. My integrity has not been, and will never be for sale. I cannot emphasize that enough.

Because KU Endowment and Fritzel and Bliss are private entities, there are, to me, a few choices that we have regarding their involvement:

  1. We can choose to demand to be transparent in their dealings and if they choose not to, then not work with them...KU builds the facility on their own and we miss out on an opportunity.

  2. We can choose to invite them to be transparent in their dealings and if they choose not to, make the development process difficult for them and our partnership to suffer for it.

  3. We can accept the fact that we don't have a plan in place that regulates our involvement with private entities, and learn for next time. We MUST have a plan.

I admire that people want to help the City accomplish its goal of building a recreation center. I am troubled by the fact that the bidding process will be the way that it is currently, but I'm not sure the risk of that outweighs the potential benefit that this partnership will bring and its ability to help us put a facility that could be beneficial long term to the City of Lawrence. I think our decision making has been far too short-sighted. Our opinions are based on what this will do for us NOW, rather than thinking perhaps what this might do long term.

The bottom line is the process must be more transparent. It's transparent when you have bridges built and are working to build consensus. From many I've talked to, Fritzel is not a bad guy. And near as I can tell, the City's intentions aren't bad. I see this as an opportunity to invite people to the conversation to ensure that the public trust regarding this project is higher than it is now. I think of it this way. I work best when I know the boundaries. I don't find them restrictive, I find them empowering. We must lay out boundaries by having a plan to empower developers to continue to want to spend money in Lawrence....THAT is something we cannot lose sight of. If we lose jobs, and I have to look clients in the eye who missed out on an opportunity to work because someone took their jobs to another community...that hurts those that we serve...which hurts me.

Let's face it. If we can have transparency and openness, the likelihood of others having issues and fears is significantly mitigated.

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago

If I understand what the rec center will do to free up existing free play times, it will. I have talked with length to Jana Dawson from the LPR Advisory Board. I think we need to ensure that we have more opportunities for open play in gyms with underprivileged kids, in order to give them an opportunity be off the streets. And we need to do something about the fees. I'm not sure what can be done about that, but rest assured it will definitely be something that I will be looking into.

A rising tide floats all boats. Our community will get better by helping to improve the lives of its most underprivileged citizens. We must advocate for jobs and getting people on their feet. Our community becomes better when we do. Just my two cents.

Bob Forer 5 years, 3 months ago

"We must lay out boundaries by having a plan to empower developers to continue to want to spend money in Lawrence."

I couldn't agree more. I am not against reasonable and well planned incentives to encourage for-profit entities to invest capital in Lawrence on for-profit ventures. And it seems that there are no clear standards in place for the city commission to follow when passing judgment on requests for tax abatements, etc.

But this is not a for-profit venture, where the project stands or falls on its ability ot make a profit. On the contrary, this is a public project, paid entirely by taxpayers, for the use and benefit of the citizens of Lawrence. If the taxpayers want it, it will be built. It might not be built by Fritzel, and may not be in conjunction with KU. But so what? Don't you think the project should be modeled with only one thought in mind: what facility or facilities are best for the people of Lawrence.

Again, this is not a project that will go elsewhere if we don't go with the Fritzel plan. Why are we in such a rush. Instead of building one large facility at one of the four corners of the current city limits, why not several smaller facilities more accessible to individual neighborhoods?. That question has never been raised. There has been no real needs assessment. Instead, the project has only considered the needs of KU athletics and the desires of developers to make a profit. I am not stating that those needs are necessarily incompatible, but simply, that the needs and desires of the citizens of Lawrence have never been fully assessed.

Bob Forer 5 years, 3 months ago

Jeremy, you also wrote: "From many I've talked to, Fritzel is not a bad guy."

Frankly, Jeremy, your comment is naive and somewhat childish. What difference does it make if Mr. Fritzel is a nice guy or a not-so nice guy. We not planning a social tea party. it's a business transaction, and only three issues are relevant: (1) Is he competent (2) .Will he give us the best bang for our buck (3) Is the plan in the best interest of the citizens of Lawrence.

I have no question as to his competence. The other two questions have not been addressed, nor will they ever be addressed, if we proceed as planned.

Is he kind to animals? Does he have a nice smile and a firm handshake? Is he good to his family? Does he go to church? Is he a republican or a democrat? Does he tell off color jokes? Does he politely laugh at bad jokes.? Does he contribute to charities? Is he courteous and fair to his employees? Who cares? those questions are irrelevant. We're not voting on Mr. Congeniality. .

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago

I don't know how to convince you that a comment I intended to make about Fritzel being some selfish developer that is only in it for his own gain was called out to be childish, but for that I apologize for my obviously poor choice in words.

  1. He is competent. I think most would agree with this.
  2. Will he give us the most bang for our buck? If estimates come back at (let's say) 10 million and he wants to charge 25 million, you better believe that most everyone (including myself) will have a problem with this.
  3. I believe I answered this above with knowing what the needs are, but we need a plan going forward. If this won't completely address the amount of gyms that we need, we need to know what we will do if we continue to grow to meet that need over the next 10 years. If we build a big facility now so that we can't build another one in 10 years and we need 18 more gyms, we've failed. We have to have a plan, and I think this should be a priority.

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago

I'm glad you agree with the principle of empowering developers. Developers aren't inherently bad. Development isn't inherently bad. I agree with you that well planned incentives need to be made. Even though I work for a social service agency, I will say that the City giving me money (which Just Food receives no public or private funds) is great. People need to get food on their table. But most of the time, it's money to be a safety net. A safety net allows people to fall on it and stay there. I'm more of the approach that our clients want a ladder out of where they are to a better place. Jobs get that done.

I think we should be mindful of opportunities when they come along. I am terrible with metaphors but will do my best to explain what is in my mind and hope that you will understand the intent.

If I had an opportunity to invest $100 to gain $10,000 with a 99% guarantee, that would be a smart investment.

However, if I had an opportunity to invest $10,000 to gain $10 million worth of ROI with a 50% the possibility of what could happen worth taking the risk? I would tend to think so. But I realize not everyone shares my same sentiment.

Either decision that we make is risky. I go back to the fact that I wish in 1994 the voters had seen on the ballot that this could be used for recreation purposes (and if we would have planned accordingly) and said something like "for the potential use of a future recreation facility that will meet the needs that Lawrence has for its growing population. We plan a little better and these large issues become much smaller.

I have spent extensive time talking to people about what our community needs. This project has been interesting from the standpoint of seeing why we need it, or if the focus was on the potential economic development implications of this. It went back and forth until it was finally settled on as a community recreation center with the icing on the cake being potential people here in our community to spend money in Lawrence. What facilities are best for Lawrence? Most studies I have suggested say that this is. Do you have any other studies you've seen to the contrary? I'd love to see them to better understand.

Neighborhood facilities are an interesting concept. I think of the ancient Greek plateias being prevalent and wonder what community facilities would look like. My inclination is that it would be more expensive to build five smaller facilities and the operations costs would be significantly higher, but perhaps I'm not seeing something here. And then we lose the possible eco devo implications.

KU Athletics has needs, certainly. From what I've read, the needs of Lawrence citizens have been addressed, because we know we need more gym space. There's tension there, but I don't feel like the needs of Lawrencians have been completely ignored.

Bob Forer 5 years, 3 months ago

One more question, Jeremy. In a recent poll conducted on this webite, 252 different people (80% of total people responding) feel that there should be a city wide vote before moving ahead on the proposed Rock Chalk Park. Granted, this is not a scientific poll. Nonetheless, the highly skewed numbers in favor of a public vote indicates that there is perhaps strong and widespread sentiment for a public vote. The library project of 17 million dollars was put to a public vote. The Rock Chalk project is estimated to cost around 25 million dollars, which is around fifty per cent more than the Library. Given the precedent of the LIbrary, why are you supporting the project without first submitting the issue to the citizens and taxpayers who will end up paying for it. Supporters of the project tout the plan as a great offer that the city can't refuse and further have opined that they believe the majority of citizens support the project. If it is such a great deal for the taxpayers and has majority support, what is so wrong about confirming that hypothesis through a ballot referendum? No need for a special election. It can simply be added to the upcoming ballot for city commission offices, and thus the cost will be minimal. Don't you think a public vote will be more democratic than letting the current city commissioners decide the matter. After all, when we voted for those commissioners initially, the Rock Chalk project had not yet materialized, so the electorate had no way of knowing where a particular candidate stood on a then non-existent issue.

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago

I will attempt to answer your and bozos question in one fell swoop.

First, the LJWorld polls are certainly not scientific. But they give a good idea for a certain demographic of people who are desiring for their voice to be heard.

My support of the project has more to do with the fact that many I've talked to don't not support the project itself, but the process by which the project has become a reality. These are two different things. As I knock on doors and interact with voters during this campaign, I will be asking many questions about the rec center. I'm not sure that people are afraid to put it to a vote, but perhaps of what it will set as far as a precedent goes. If we have a vote that was put to a 1994 tax increase, and approved by votes for "recreation purposes," shouldn't that be enough? Of course, it would have helped had we had a strategic plan in place for what we were going to build and based upon projections for what our needs were, we could explain to the voters at that time, that at some point this money could be used to build a large recreation center.

I am also nervous about putting it to a vote at the same time that a bond issue is put to a vote. I would hate for one to be sacrificed at the expense of the other.

Is it the process or the project that you both have issues with? Perhaps that answer is both and that's understandable.

What are your thoughts on the potential risks of saying no to a project like this? It seems as though both of you are against such a project...I'm thinking longer term here. We need KU and KU needs us. How can we say no to a project without burning bridges? If we make decisions that benefit ourselves now at the sacrifice of someone else later, we aren't doing future Lawrence residents any favors. Thoughts?

Bob Forer 5 years, 3 months ago

Like many people, I think the process has been a disaster from day one. I think many folks, including myself, are reasonably inclined towards entertaining increased recreational facilities in Lawrence. If that is the case, then the initial point of departure should be a needs assessment followed by plans formulated by the city and for the people of Lawrence. That never happened in this case. Instead, two different developers approached the city with offers "too good to refuse."

Large projects of this nature should originate with the city. Once the needs are fully assessed, and initial ideas ironed out, then, and only then, should plans be floated to to the pubic, along with developer input. That is not what happened here. Instead, the project is premised solely on the desires of two separate developers to make a profit.

I have nothing wrong with developers making a profit. But the project should begin with a simple question that has never been asked: what type of recreational facility or facilities, and at what locations, would best serve the people of Lawrence.

You wrote: "I am also nervous about putting it to a vote at the same time that a bond issue is put to a vote. I would hate for one to be sacrificed at the expense of the other."

In others words, you are saying that the taxpayers might not support both a school bond issue and an expensive recreational facility. Bingo, you hit nail directly on the head. Taxes in Lawrence continue to go up, not down. If the citizens funding large projects don't want to spend the money on two separate high dollar facilities, shouldn't that sentiment control. What right do you or anyone else have to tell us what pubic amenities we should or shouldn't have. As Abraham Lincoln stated in the Gettysburg Address, ideally, government is "of the people, by the people, and for the people." Such lofty ideals are the bedrock of American democracy. Anything less is unacceptable.

As far as risks, I don't see any. Any suggestion that this is such a great deal and that we need to grab it while we can is nothing more than cheap and crude salesmanship,, no different than those late night TV infomericals that admonishes the viewer to "hurry, buy now, supplies are limited." What is so great and unique about the project that will be lost if we don't buy in right away?

An argument has been floated that this is such a good deal because Fritzel is financing it. On the contrary, the city has the wherewithal to obtain financing through the issuance of municipal bonds. And the rate of interest paid on municipal bonds is always lower than private financing, because interest earned on municipal bonds are exempt from both federal and state tax.

(continued below)

Bob Forer 5 years, 3 months ago


I don't understand your argument that if we don't capitulate to the project, we will be "burning bridges" What do you mean.? It seems like you're suggesting that we might incur the type of wrath typically meted out by the school yard bully, whom, if one doesn't agree to his rules, will take his ball, go home, and never return to the school yard. If that is a risk, then we shouldn't be dealing with such childish entities in the first place.

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago

We certainly don't need to be bullied, and bend over backwards with someone just because they tell us to. I'm certainly not advocating for that. I'm simply suggesting that when we have an opportunity to work together, things are often better and stronger. I have context with Just Food about this, and the collaborations forged are unprecedented and exciting. We need to continue to build in roads and bridges so that we don't feel bullied. It seems to me that KU and the City are both stronger because of a partnership

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago

Regarding the need. A presentation made by LPRD outlines the needs for new facilities in Lawrence. I see this identification of the need as a basis to do something about it. That can be found here:

I think the City jumped on the opportunity because someone wanted to assist in building these facilities. Granted, if we would have had a better plan (what I said about planned tax incentives and knowing what our community priorities are), this wouldn't have been as big of a deal as it has become.

I understand how taxes have gone up and not down. I look at the long term implications of such things. If we have more money coming in to help assistance programs such as Just Food (I will again reiterate that Just Food receives NO City money), then it is a win win for everyone. The higher taxes are certainly the trend we want to continue on, but at the same time, it seems to me that the risks associated with inaction are far worse than any action we could take.

Bonds would be a tedious process from what I can understand. And the voters have had a propensity to not fund things like this in the past. This is NEEDED, according to the study referenced above, and if we know it's needed, then it should be our priority to figure out how to make it happen.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

"I will say that I do support Rock Chalk Park."

My objections to this project lie much more with the process involved than with the merits (or lack thereof) of the project to the residents of Lawrence.

Would you support a vote on this project? It's considerably larger than the library project, which was put to a vote.

After 20 years on the books, and tens of millions of tax dollars collected and spent, do you think voters should have a say in whether this sales tax stays on the books for another 20 years, which is essentially what a vote on this project would entail?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

"The priorities of all of these things are what I will listen to people in the community about. I keep harping on this, but we need a plan. "

There were lots of people saying the same thing about the high-rise developments at 9th and NH. We didn't have a plan then, and we still have none. Just a rubberstamp for development.

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago

We must figure out what our community needs, what our community wants, and then do our best to implement those goals. We have to be flexible enough to change during changing times, but amending Horizon 2020 each time we want to do something different is not effective, in my opinion. I will say that I am glad something is going on that property (my grandparents own two houses in the 800 block of Connecticut) as I can remember for so long that it has been vacant, and I would love to see some revenue being generated because of it. And, the fact that I'd love to see a fresh market go in there with locally grown produce is also a reason why I'm excited about that project.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

So, if we aren't going to follow plans like H2020, why do we have them at all?

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago

I completely agree. We need a plan that is more flexible, and we need a vision for where we need to go. The vision needs to be strategic by figuring out a needs analysis for what we need. What we need will determine where we need to go.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

The problem with a "flexible" plan is that it ends up being just as much arbitrary as it is flexible. Every proposal that comes up will be pitched as necessary on some level or another.

The developments at 9th and NH are prime examples. The "need" of the developers to make a profit was the only one that received any recognition. The need of the neighbors and neighborhood to the east to maintain the character of the neighborhood they had invested in received little or no consideration (other than lip service and a faux compromise.)

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago


I don't think its arbitrary if we understand the general direction that we want to go. My concern with such a comprehensive plan is that we don't give ourselves the flexibility to make changes. We become micro-managed, and that is not the effective way to govern. So, we have to make amends to have what guides us be relevant.

I'm speaking of a document that points us in the right direction, without tying our hands. It outlines the greatest needs of our community, not what it will take to meet those needs. It is a guide with a plan, not a plan with a guide.

I must say that I spent a lot of time researching 9th and New Hampshire. My grandparents own two houses in the 800 block of Connecticut. I walked up and down those blocks of streets, and even in the 900 block of Rhode Island. What I will tell you is that more people supported it than didn't....

Just my two cents.

msezdsit 5 years, 3 months ago

“We have a lot of folks walk through our doors here,”

Yep, but the me me me and me only party thinks all those people are lazy and just stealing their money.

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago


I would love to have you come down and meet the clients that we serve. Although that is the perception, you'll find as many folks who come here work hard, and need advocates who will stand up for them to have an opportunity. Let me know when you want to come down -- or just pop by!

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago

That is a great question, wilbur. I am looking at studies from other communities that suggest that these charges will save money in the long run. One financial guru that is well known says "live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else." As I stated above, (or meant to), we need some help for folks who can't afford this. Everyone should be able to participate. It may be an investment up front, but I am hopeful it will save some money in the long run. If I have to spent $40 to save $100, that is a worth while investment as far as our clients are concerned at Just Food.

Bob Forer 5 years, 3 months ago

Well, Jeremy returned to this message board to respond to msezdsi, but ignored my comments which he had specifically solicited. I am not surprised. I am sure he was advised to stay away.

Seems like a very nice, pleasant, and well-intended young man. But I think it is obvious that he has already been co-opted by the Chamber, business, and developer crowd. They are very good at doing that. And of course, I am sure he feels his job would be in jeopardy if he spoke outside the "official box."

Merely another shill for the ruling class dressed in "liberal clothes." Nothing new here. Lawrence has always has our share of those types.

Didn't take very long to lose my vote, but then again, I am a little particular.

It's sad when Mike Amyx is the only candidate who appears willing to buck the millionaire developers.

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago


I apologize for not getting to your message. It was an easy one to reply to the one that I did. I had a reply type up last night that was long and comprehensive, but unfortunately I clicked on something I shouldn't have and lost the whole thing. I will be replying to your posts above...but let me make a few things very clear for you.

  1. I have been advised by people on both sides to stay away from the blogs. Anytime you give people anonymous authority to comment without putting their name to it, it gives risk. And the fact that I don't know everything and am still learning about many issues puts me at a disadvantage because it's bad PR for me to look stupid on these forums.

  2. I want to build consensus and bridges with people. Most everyone else avoids forums because they don't want to get bashed. I understand that sometimes people will disagree with where I stand, but compromise is very important. And if we're ever going to get anywhere, we will need to compromise and move forward together.

Sorry that I lost your vote. I should have come on and communicated, but today was a pretty busy day and I just didn't get it done. I apologize.

Last, I'll say that I make my own decisions. I take into consideration all things that I'm told, but at the end of the day, my integrity is very important to me. If I say I want to listen and don't...then I'm not different than anyone else. I am not willing to make that decision because it contradicts what I am about.

Responses coming above. Let's see if I can not click on the wrong links. I would say to you to check out my website at or on facebook at I've been posting some blogs and video blogs for people to get a better understanding of who I am and why I'm running.

cheers, jeremy

Bob Forer 5 years, 3 months ago

I understand your time constraints. No problem there. Yes, the other question you answered was much more simple. Thanks for explaining that to me. I try to keep an open mind, so if you would like to address the concerns I set forth in my last post, I am all eyes.

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago

I responded late last night. I can see my responses...I hope you can too.

Jeremy Farmer 5 years, 3 months ago


Why don't you want to pay for recycling? Is recycling not important to you? Or do you just not want government telling you what you can and can't do? I can understand the sides of each....but to really address your concerns and find common ground and a way forward, I can't do that with you being adamant about something without explaining why.

And I did grow up here. But I moved away, and have only been back a year and a half...

Katara 5 years, 3 months ago

Maybe he doesn't want to pay because there are quite a few options here that are free.

  • 2 recycling centers in town (which also pay for at scrap metal & aluminum).
  • Walmart has a recycling center for drop off and employs folks from CLO.
  • Most of the elementary schools have recycling bins and receive money for the recyclables.
  • Hy-Vee has recycling dumpsters at both of its locations.

Why should I be forced to pay for a service that I don't need? I am fine with taking my recyclables elsewhere and not having curbside service. If I desired such a thing, there already exist several local businesses that I could choose to contract with.

Additionally, if you look at one of the companies that the city is considering to contract with, you'll notice there are tons of complaints about their service and their employment practices.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 3 months ago

Wilbur, it is possible for someone to have grown up and lived here their entire lives and yet have zero knowledge of the complexities of local government. Each section of the city has its own identity, its own problems and own lifestyle that it wants to improve on.

I would like to see more opportunities for the really poor kids of Lawrence to have places to get together and play sports, places where they can run around and just be kids.

I have gone to the food pantry at the end of the month and let me tell you when you get that bag of groceries it is a great load off your shoulders. I have been hungry and it is a bad feeling.

Jeremy, I think you should makes comments on here because as we all go though life we encounter good and bad comments about what we said, how we looked, etc. It is just part of life. I am very impressed by the fact that you have replied in detail and covered everything. Some are not going to be satisfied even if you wrote a dissertation with footnotes and a bibliography.

I think the give and take is a good idea. Keep in mind the debates between Lincoln and Douglas. I bet they got heated at times. The papers were very harsh in assessing Lincoln, yet somehow he managed not to faint when someone called him a name.

You rock, Jeremy!

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