Archive for Thursday, March 21, 2013

Editorial: Local politics

The days when well-motivated candidates sought local elective offices without a specific agenda and with the best interests of the community in mind seem to be over.

March 21, 2013


Over the years, Lawrence has been blessed to have hundreds of able, talented, civic-minded men and women serve as city commissioners, county commissioners and school board members.

They didn’t serve on these boards to enrich themselves but rather to “give back” to the community. These were individuals who had enjoyed and benefited from their years in Lawrence and thought the best way to show or express their appreciation would be to offer their services and talents to the city — with no strings attached.

Granted, times change and, as the saying goes, “We are not the children of our grandparents.” Today is a different generation with different values, different motives and different standards. Also different politics.

City, county and school board elections in Lawrence a generation or two ago might best have been described as “amateur politics,” while today’s model is more properly classified as “professional politics.”

Thirty or 40 years ago, candidates made the decision to seek office because they thought they could add something of benefit to the city, county or school board through their active participation and their skills, knowledge and experience in the community. They didn’t seek office to represent the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, Kansas University, a dissenting group, a political party, a neighborhood, “downtown” interests, a specific type of teaching or curriculum or a “growth” or “no-growth” philosophy. They wanted to do what was in the best interests of the entire community.

They were proud of Lawrence and proud of Kansas and wanted to help sustain the growth, excellence and livability of both the city and the state.

Times change, and local elections have become far more partisan and issue-based. Now, political action committees sometimes get involved with local political races, attracting increased campaign contributions from individuals or groups who want to champion a specific agenda and, in so doing, suggest that others seeking the same office do not share the same concerns.

Whether it’s good or bad, Lawrence has entered into a far more partisan, hard-ball political climate that divides the community and invites costly campaigns for office. Unfortunately, the days of good men and women running for office merely because they want to do something good for the city — and without any behind-the-scenes commitments — seem to be fading.

Sometimes, there’s a lot to be said for the “good old days.”


Alyosha 5 years, 1 month ago

Yup, toe is apparently one of the Reds. I wonder if he's got his Little Red Book?

KU_cynic 5 years, 1 month ago

The city commission has become a means for developers to obtain public money for private investments. Is it any wonder that this had led to candidates prostituting themselves toward these same interests?

WilburM 5 years, 1 month ago

Please tell me what Mike Amyx's agenda is? Strike me that he has advocated for a sane approach to Lawrence goverance for 25 years. Seriously, what is his special-interest agenda?

jesse499 5 years, 1 month ago

The problem is Mike Amyx is the only one the rest are in someones pocket in one way are another.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 1 month ago

You bet, a half time barbers wages is the quickest way to own most of Redbud lane and the other half block of rentals in this city.

jesse499 5 years, 1 month ago

So you really think he worked half time all his life and also if you work at it you can start out small and build as you go you don't just go out and buy things all at once like you imply.

headdoctor 5 years, 1 month ago

Wow, you would think by reading this that Dolph, The Journal World, or this writer has been asleep all these years or that The Journal World just came into being a month or two back. There have always been some candidates running for office with the right intent. There also have been the well funded, special interest candidates. This election is no different than what has gone on in Lawrence for many years. For the size of this town it has a pretty impressive election machine. The only real difference between then and now is the influence of the special interest groups were kept more under wraps than they are now. Also information is much more available to those who will bother themselves to actually look into the candidates information.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 1 month ago

Some candidates have an agenda of doing what's good for the community. Unfortunately, it's candidates whose agenda is the promotion of narrow special interests who have generally prevailed over the last several decades.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 1 month ago

I just reread your post four times and I'm pretty sure you asked about agendas, not actual accomplishments.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 1 month ago

The government that governs least, governs best.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 1 month ago

So, you're an anarchist? Or maybe you just want full-out chaos? (you can't get less than zero, which by your definition, is the bestest government possible.)

jhawkinsf 5 years, 1 month ago

You should know, Bozo, that politically, I reside in that muddled middle, where no label applies.

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

Suggesting that government which governs least governs best is hardly a "middle of the road" position.

And, yes, I get the reference to Jefferson.

A moderate, middle of the road position on government might be to "right size" it, which wouldn't mean the least amount of it, or the most, for that matter.

And bozo's right - if the least is the best, then zero government would be the best. You can't actually believe that.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 1 month ago

What do you think Jefferson thought? (many quotes attributed to certain people cannot be definitively said to have been spoken by that person. I think this is one of them.) That said, clearly Jefferson didn't believe in no government. After all, he served in government at the highest level. You should know, Bozo should know, what I know and what I suspect Jefferson knew, and that is that the comment was not intended to taken literally.

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

I don't know.

But, he was clearly very intelligent and educated, and, as you said, was in government at a high level.

If you don't mean it, then maybe you could find a way of saying what you actually mean instead - saves us all some time.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 1 month ago

Irony, sarcasm, innuendo and more are all accepted writing tools. Just as I knew Bozo's accusing me of being an anarchist wasn't real, so too should you have known my "quote" of Jefferson wasn't intended to be taken literally.

kansanbygrace 5 years, 1 month ago

Is that why you paraphrased, not quoted, Thomas Paine?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 1 month ago

Every candidate and commissioner has an agenda. Always have, always will. So, it's not whether there is an agenda. It's what that agenda is.

But the agenda of the typical commissioner over the last few decades has been the promotion of the narrow interests of the growth/sprawl industries. But they can't be honest about that, so in elections they instead throw out mindless platitudes that have nothing to do with how they'll actually vote once on the commission.

Bob Forer 5 years, 1 month ago

Whoever wrote this editorial doesn't have a clue. Forty years ago the city commission was even more dominated by chamber of commerce types than it is now, to such an extent, that in the seventies a group of left leaning folks put up a slate of their own candidates. I think it was called "The Citizen's Coalition," and included, among others, Muriel Paul. This occurred years before the Progressive Coalition put of a slate of candidates that included Boog Highberger, et al.

Of course, Lawrence was still a backwater and very conservative in the seventies, and none of the liberals were elected.

It's been politics as usual for years and years. The writer of this editorial is exceedingly naive if he or she thinks that special interest control of the U.S. political system, at all three levels--local, state and national--is a relatively new phenomenon

Centerville 5 years ago

Thanks for the mention of Martin Roberts. There was a candidate who really did care and listen. And act.

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