Letters to the Editor

Letter: PAC influence

March 23, 2013


To the editor:

Lawrence recently witnessed the birth of a new political action committee, funded largely by the construction and development industry. 

Major PAC donors include the million-dollar architect of Rock Chalk Park fame and the company that is digging a sand quarry near Eudora’s drinking water source. The emergence of this PAC begs a troubling question: Can seats on the City Commission be bought? Let’s hope not. 

I am afraid that this PAC doesn’t have the interests of taxpayers, working families or neighborhoods at heart. I think this PAC is more interested in pursuing taxpayer-incentivized sprawl, to make a profit. 

It’s very disheartening to see such undue influence arise in the last weeks of the campaign. Are Lawrence voters smart enough to follow the money, and recognize that the integrity of our election may be at stake? Will any of these candidates have the courage to publicly reject this PAC money and all it represents? Time will tell, I guess. 

If money alone rules on Election Day, regular folks may find it increasingly difficult to get their voices heard at City Hall. 

Please vote, and vote wisely, on April 2. 


David Holroyd 2 years ago

Ms Routh, thanks to you and yours we are stuck with another fee...yes for recycling....

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years ago

Oh, the humanity!!-- now you'll have to pay to recycle a portion of your refuse instead of paying tipping fees on it at the landfill.

deltaman 2 years ago

PAC's cannot contribute any more to a candidate than anyone else, so to say they have been bought is disingenuous. And Oneeye, I doubt we agree on much, but I certainly agree with you on the recycling debate. The City shouldn't be in the trash business.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years ago

"The City shouldn't be in the trash business."

They aren't in the trash "business." They're providing essential services, and have been doing it quite well for a very long time.

ThePilgrim 2 years ago

The city has to be in the trash business because for profit trash services won't pick up the crud that is left for the trash guys - especially in May when students move out - couches, washers, etcs.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years ago

"I don't give a diddly darn if anyone agrees with me,"

There's a statement of the obvious.

deltaman 2 years ago

Yes all three are essential services, but there are private firms that offer trash collection services, and does it more efficiently than the City.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years ago

"and does it more efficiently than the City."

So you assert.

Katara 2 years ago

Ms. Routh, were you aware that Leslie Soden has accepted campaign contributions from folks that you believe don't have the best interests of Lawrence in their hearts?

Why aren't you taking her to task for doing so?

Aron Cromwell voted for Rock Chalk Park and he donated $100 to Ms. Soden according to her report. She also received money from Judy Paley who is married to downtown landlord, George Paley.

If you want us to follow the money, and I have no objection in doing so, perhaps you should pay attention to whose your contributions are being mixed in

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years ago

I understand the complaint about Cromwell, who's taken a number of disappointing positions, but how is the mere ownership of downtown properties a black mark?

Phil Minkin 2 years ago

Why do you think Judy Paley or or Cromwell don't have the "best interests" of Lawrence at heart, but $5000 from Penny, who has a lot to gain from big growth and influence with the commission does?

Phil Minkin 2 years ago

Why do you think Judy Paley or or Cromwell don't have the "best interests" of Lawrence at heart, but $5000 from Penny, who has a lot to gain from big growth and influence with the commission does?

ThePilgrim 2 years ago

I don't think that the current City Council has the interests of taxpayers, working families or neighborhoods "at heart" either. Certainly not taxpayers.

Bob Forer 2 years ago

So Laura, based on your letter, I hope you have come to your senses and are withdrawing your endorsement of Jeremy Farmer.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years ago

I think if Jeremy is who he says he is, he'll tell us what his position is towards those who are clearly looking to buy the election-- with him as their stalking horse.

ignati5 2 years ago

Most of the ones you name finished their terms and chose not to try to serve "forever," Farmer,Chestnut, Amyx, francisco are hardly "has beens" although they, like half the other commissioners listed, will eventually pass on and be forgotten by all but local politics junkies like Wilbur and me. Are Lincoln and FDR "has beens" because they are no longer living?

Richard Heckler 2 years ago

This PAC can spend as much as they like. And they will drown the city in lies and misinformation.

They do not contribute directly to a candidate nor do they necessarily consult a candidate. This PAC is a LOOPHOLE to bypass the regulations of the campaign finance laws.

jhawkinsf 2 years ago

That LOOPHOLE is called freedom of speech. (I didn't previously know that the word LOOPHOLE was spelled with all CAPS. Learn something new every day).

Catalano 2 years ago

If this PAC is a LOOPHOLE, was the PLC PAC a LOOPHOLE?

Richard Heckler 2 years ago

The construction industry is busy doing everything possible to circumvent the city growth guidelines known as Horizon 2020. Laissez faire attitudes in local government defy Horizon 2020 as only a guideline. As a result our city planning document should be an ordinance with teeth in it to protect the taxpayers.

March 25,2013 item TA-12-00206 will come before the planning commission: Consider Text Amendments to the City of Lawrence Land Development Code, Chapter 20, various articles, to change the requirement that development projects be required to comply with Horizon 2020. Initiated by City Commission

The construction industry prefers the laissez faire approach meaning zero guidelines. But there is one consequence that usually goes unmentioned - laissez faire attitudes at city hall/city commission and the construction industry is draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes. Has anyone noticed?

The Laissez Faire growth approach is the result of over three decades of subsidies paid for by the local taxpayer. These range from the obvious such as a wide variety of tax abatements to the obscure such as the "secret sales tax" that which is scattered about this fine city.

Our city planning document should include a provision mandating the citizens right to vote on all new development and big spending projects. The cost of a vote would be millions upon millions of tax dollars saved vs. a few thousand dollars for the opportunity to help manage our tax dollar liabilities. Laissez Faire is too damn expensive.

Be Smart Don't Support the Corrupt Spending of this Lawrence United PAC.

ThePilgrim 2 years ago

"Laissez faire attitudes in local government defy Horizon 2020 as only a guideline." Lawrence is the exact opposite of Laissez faire attitudes. Cronyism rules the day.

And our taxes are not being raised by construction but by an overzealous city council seeking utopia.

I do agree with you about the ridiculousness of the "secret sales tax" zones, however.

Catalano 2 years ago

"Laissez faire attitudes in local government defy Horizon 2020 as only a guideline. As a result our city planning document should be an ordinance with teeth in it to protect the taxpayers."

There's no enabling legislation to codify the Comprehensive Plan.

From KSA 12-747(c): "....(c)...Such plan or part thereof shall constitute the basis or guide for public action to insure a coordinated and harmonious development or redevelopment which will best promote the health, safety, morals, order, convenience, prosperity and general welfare as well as wise and efficient expenditure of public funds."

Matthew Herbert 2 years ago

Your response here is contradictory: if laissez faire attitudes were truly being utilized by city hall, government would not be subsidizing any of these projects. Government involvement flies directly in the face of the concept of laissez faire.

Phil Minkin 2 years ago

For a great letter that had nothing to do with recycling, there are a lot of personal agendas being put forth.

Richard Heckler 2 years ago

Thanks to the concerned citizen for writing the letter....... damn good job!

Richard Heckler 2 years ago

More " laissez faire" is what I presume Lawrence United stands for....... no matter the rhetoric.

ignati5 2 years ago

No, it doesnt stand for "laissez faire" at all ; that would imply a level playing field. A better mot juste might be "fait accompli": you promote a majority of commissioners beholden to the Chamber, you get what you paid for. Tant pis aux citoyens!

jafs 2 years ago

You underestimate the manipulative effects of advertising.

jhawkinsf 2 years ago

Yet you see through the charade. I see through it. Others in this forum see through it as well. What makes us so damn special and others so gullible?

jafs 2 years ago

Do you?

Do you buy mostly store brand products, or name brand ones?

I have two stories - both from well educated intelligent people. One thought that Listerine was more effective than the store brand at 1/3 the cost, despite the fact that the ingredients were identical. The other was very upset that his experience with Saturn didn't live up to the ads.

Companies just wouldn't spend huge amounts of money on advertising unless it worked.

jhawkinsf 2 years ago

Some circular reasoning going on.

jafs 2 years ago


Companies spend lots of money on advertising - for them to stay in business and make a profit, they have to make enough on sales to cover all of their costs, including advertising, and then some.

If the advertising isn't effective, they'll lose money and go out of business.

By the way, this ties in with our other conversation - the money for those actors comes from...advertising. Companies are willing to pay lots of money to advertise in popular shows, because they'll reach a lot of people that way.

That's because they know it's effective.

jhawkinsf 2 years ago

You'd be surprised at how little television I watch. Popular shows that are on for a decade or more come and go without me ever seeing an episode. I listen to public radio mostly, again, without the benefit of ads. I read a lot, mostly novels and history. I've seen FOX News and MSNBC and think both are garbage. So how do I decide who to vote for, if not for PACs? How do I buy goods, if not for advertising? Why am I not paralyzed by indecision? How is it possible that of the five or six ads that pop up in this thread alone are for products I've never used and am unlikely to ever use?

Sure, advertising can work. So can PACs. But ultimately, each individual makes their own decisions. Ultimately, I decide to ride my bicycle to the Merc. rather than drive my car through the drive-in window at McDonalds. Or vote for the Libertarian candidate for President, despite the barrage of ads by both Obama and Romney. I read today that Farmer is getting the bulk of money from the new PAC here in Lawrence. He may get my vote, he may not. His support for a downtown homeless drop-in will weight more in my decision making than how many yard signs he can purchase with the money he gets from the PAC.

Are you counting yard signs and then voting based on who has the most? If you're not doing that, and I'm certainly not, then why should we assume others are?

jafs 2 years ago

So, you buy mostly store brand products then?

I'm glad that you aren't swayed as much by advertising as many people are - I'm not either. But that doesn't mean that the vast majority of folks in this country are immune. If they were, then companies wouldn't spend all that money on it.

My two examples are perfect ones - these were intelligent and well educated people. At least one of them had a PhD. And, one of them believed that one product was superior to an identical other product. The other was very upset that his experience didn't live up to the advertising - I've known for years that advertising isn't reality. Why didn't he know that?

The folks that work in advertising are very smart, and very savvy, psychologically speaking, and they make lots of money. They know how to influence and manipulate people - it's their job.

jhawkinsf 2 years ago

Are you counting yard signs, Jafs, and then voting based on who has the most? If the answer is yes, then your concern about the influence of political PACs is valid. If your answer is no, then their spending should not bother you. Unless you believe that other voters are so easily manipulated that they are swayed, but for some odd reason you and I are not. So again, what makes us so damn special?

jafs 2 years ago

Of course not.

But the fact that I'm not that easily swayed by advertising doesn't mean my concern isn't valid. As long as many others are so influenced, it's a perfectly valid and reasonable concern.

I notice you haven't answered my question about store products vs. name brand a couple of times now - should I assume that's because you buy mostly name brand products?

Why do you think that many people are influenced by advertising, but not all people? I'd guess it's a combination of factors, including upbringing, education, analytic ability, etc.

jhawkinsf 2 years ago

I assumed I answered your question when I said I rode my bike to the Merc instead of driving my car through McDonald's drive through window. I assumed I answered your question when I said I voted for neither Obama nor Romney, instead voting for the Libertarian Party candidate. I assumed I answered your question when I said I rarely watched mainstream T.V., opting instead to listen to NPR or read a good book.

These are the things I chose. You make your own choices. And I assume everyone else does as well. To assume otherwise, is to agree with think_about_it, in which case you're an elitist.

jafs 2 years ago

You didn't answer the question at all, and still haven't.

You can assume whatever you like - I prefer to think about things critically. That leads to the obvious conclusion that advertising is extremely effective, and profitable, which means that many people are influenced by it.

Your world view seems to be increasingly narrowly focused around your own experience - do you think everybody is the same and has the same experiences?

jhawkinsf 2 years ago

Certainly I don't believe that everyone has the same experiences as me. But I'm at a loss as to how to respond when confronted by statements that are asserted as fact, yet run contrary to my own experience. It's as if someone is saying that the experiences I've had are experiences that cannot be had.

jafs 1 year, 12 months ago

Since I've never said anything like that, your comment seems odd.

I said that "many" people, and/or "most" people are affected by advertising, not "all" people.

Your assumption that because you aren't, other people aren't isn't logical or realistic - think about it. A business has certain expenses, and certain income. When deciding whether or not to advertise, and how much to spend on it, a business person must make a calculation as to whether or not it makes sense (or they should, if they're a good business person). The only reason to advertise is if the extra income derived from it exceeds the cost of the advertising - just breaking even isn't reason enough.

Then, look at how much large companies spend on advertising, and imagine how much extra income they need to get in order to justify it. That extra income comes from...the influence of advertising on many people.

Jason Johnson 2 years ago

Next election cycle I am going to put myself on the ballot with the sole platform that I am going to vote "no" against anything that smells of profiting private companies that don't do anything for the greater good for the community.

For that matter, I'm going to go through existing code and try to get crap removed.

Fireworks will be allowed again (unless we're under a no-burn order due to drought) under my rule. :)

Jason Johnson 2 years ago

er I meant to say, "...against anything that uses tax dollars and smells of profiting private companies that don't do anything for the greater good..."

jayhawklawrence 2 years ago

Personally, I always liked the idea of an accountant looking at our books and Chestnut is an accountant.

I like the idea of a person with Jeremy Farmer's background and his stated goals for transparency and communication as well as a demonstrated life in public service. So what is he in trouble for, being too transparent?

So these 3 guys are bad news because they united together and somebody with a concrete company donated $5,000?

Some of the comments on here are not helpful in evaluating the candidates. The anti-PAC crusade is a little over the top for me.

This kind of negative feedback may be good politics but it is turning me off. I want to hear more about the qualifications of the candidates and what they have done in their lives. I want to know if they have actual talent to make our city better or if their only talent is spending other people's money. There are a lot of very expensive projects looming in our horizon and I don't want amateur hour at city hall when big decisions have to be made.

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