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Archive for Thursday, June 6, 2013

Editorial: Arrogant attitude

June 6, 2013

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Although final cost figures were released only hours before their Tuesday meeting, Lawrence city commissioners decided they had all the information they needed to make a final commitment to $12.2 million in infrastructure costs at Rock Chalk Park.

The defensive and arrogant comments coming from elected officials at Tuesday’s Lawrence City Commission meeting are another noteworthy and inexcusable milestone in the ever-more-divisive Rock Chalk Park project.

From the beginning, the handling of this project has been conducted without the transparency that should be given any multimillion-dollar expenditure of tax dollars.

The most recent among several egregious steps along the way — so far — took place when the final approval was given with practically no advance notice to the public. Again, only Commissioner Mike Amyx voted against the approval.

The published agenda for Tuesday’s meeting did not say that commissioners would be voting to authorize signing the contract, and the staff memo concerning the published agenda item (“project update”) indicated there would be further agreements requiring future action. If that were not sufficient chicanery, the cost estimates for the project’s infrastructure were released only at 2 p.m., a few hours before the meeting. As might have been forecast, they showed higher-than-expected costs of $12.2 million, compared to the city’s estimate of $9.3 million. Landscaping, pavement, and legal and management fees supposedly drove the increase. Bill Self’s Assists Foundation plunked down $2 million toward the project, apparently holding the city’s share at $22.5 million.

Higher costs are one thing. The comments by Mayor Mike Dever are another. He defended the timing of the city’s decision and its release of the pricing information, saying city officials reviewed the costs for several days. “As for the public,” he added, “that is a question that is up to each individual to decide whether there was adequate time.” If the mayor were writing a personal check for the project, he’d be entitled to such an arrogant attitude, but it’s the taxpayers who are paying the tab, and it smells as if those taxpayers may pay millions more than they would have if the city’s normal bidding process had been followed.

Tuesday night’s outcome probably would have been the same even if specific notice of the intended action had properly been put on the agenda, but at least Lawrence taxpayers wouldn’t feel as if they got flimflammed once again on this city project.

Said former Mayor Bob Schumm: “I’m not ashamed of what we accomplished. I’m very proud of what we accomplished.”

Maybe so. But nobody should take any pride in the way it was accomplished. Perhaps the city commissioners should eat some humble pie and remember that they were not divinely installed into office; they were elected and owe it to the voters and taxpayers to keep the public’s interests foremost in their minds. Everyone would be proud of that.

Comments

Richard Heckler 10 months, 1 week ago

Should the taxpayers of Lawrence subsidize the KU Athletic Association? No! http://www.lawrencesmartgrowth.blogspot.com

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Richard Heckler 10 months, 2 weeks ago

What an appropriate comment.... a no brainer.

Yes arrogance,egotism ,reckless spending and senseless voting all combined under one umbrella aka a project that may never pay back the taxpayers. This put the taxpayers so far in the red the local tourism industry has become a money hole instead of a money maker.

Let's not forget the millions upon millions upon millions going to other developers in their various projects that are making the local tourism industry a bottomless tax dollar money hole.

"Free Lunch: How the Local Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Local Government Expense (And Stick You with the Bill)."

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

David Cay Johnston http://www.democracynow.org/2008/1/18/free_lunch_how_the_wealthiest_americans

Sierra Club http://www.sierraclub.org/sprawl/report00/intro.asp

Jim Hightower http://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2012-04-27/hightower-report-workers-wages-lost-to-the-boss/

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pizzapete 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Our money would have been better spent upgrading and improving the recreation centers we already have. I find it a little ridiculous that the people who were complaining they had to wait five or ten minutes at times to access a pick up game of basketball are now going to have to waste fifteen minutes of their time driving to this new place way out on the edge of the prairie. Hopefully all the out of town sport enthusiasts we're wanting to bring here don't laugh when they learn how remote the location is and far from any other attractions that might encourage them to come back for another visit. Whereas a visit to the KU campus sounds like fun, a trip to a warehouse with basketball courts on the edge of town is going to be a hard sell.

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oneeye_wilbur 10 months, 2 weeks ago

The staff editorial has left out the most important factor in this: KUEA. The puppet master!

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Bruce Bertsch 10 months, 2 weeks ago

So lets review...The entire project is going to cost less than the original projections and this is a bad thing? What has Dolph been smoking? The process was too quick with no public input? I guess some have been hiding under a rock. It's approved, so lets get it built. The time for bitching and moaning is over.

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Hooligan_016 10 months, 2 weeks ago

I'm still somewhat befuddled where this project came from. All I recall are initial rumors of Bill Self's foundation thinking about a complex on the west side, to the foundation and university scrapping the whole thing, to the City now involved with a partnership with the university.

The timeline on this from it's inception to "final agreement" has been insanely quick.

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ontheright 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Sign it and then read it to see what's in it!

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streetman 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Replace a few words in this editorial, and it describes the Obamacare passage process.

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cheeseburger 10 months, 2 weeks ago

I couldn't agree more with the editorial. The arrogance of Fritzel, Corliss, and the commissioners, save Amyx, is unacceptable.

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grammaddy 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Vote the flimflammers OUT asap!

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lawrenceksfan 10 months, 2 weeks ago

This is outrageous. This, (local politics in bed with shady developers), has gone too far. These four commissioners should be ashamed of themselves. I hope someone with more money and legal experience than I, sues the city commission (the city) for their cronyism. Or more specifically, lack of proper time for the public to review the bids. We are the ones paying for this and we were not even allowed to review the bid. The city needs to be sued and this NEEDS to be put to a public vote. Outrageous!

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happyp 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Our city commissioners do not feel any obligation to the regular taxpayer, only Thomas Fritzel, and that is very sad. I would hope at election time, none, with the exception of Amyx, will be re-elected.

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Eride 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Do city commissioners owe any legal duties?

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Lawrence Morgan 10 months, 2 weeks ago

What possibilities are there for a procedure by which public officials (City Commissioners) may be removed from office by popular vote or another means?

Or is there no means to do so?

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oneeye_wilbur 10 months, 2 weeks ago

So how is it that thebJournal World praises Amyx but the JW has never interviewed all commissoioners, past and present why they don't share Amyx's concerns?

Is Amyx not got credibility with the other commissioners to sway a couple to side with him?

There is something very strange about all five of them on this matter.

Likewise with the operation of the city business.

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