Archive for Friday, November 27, 2015

Letter: Development denial

November 27, 2015


To the editor:

Every major U.S. right-wing ideology depends on science denial.

Some are motivated by religious extremism, e.g.:

• creationist denial of evolution, or

• antiabortionist denial that promoting contraception is the only proven means for reducing abortion.

Some are motivated by xenophobia, e.g.:

• racist denial that police tend to discriminate against black people, or

• nativist denial that illegal immigrants in America produce more than they consume.

However most are substantially motivated by profit.

• The gun industry supports pseudoscience denying that household guns endanger your babies.

• The fossil fuel industry spends hundreds of millions denying climate change.

• The lead and asbestos and tobacco industries at various times spent billions denying health risks.

• The genetic engineering/chemical complex denies that glyphosate kills people.

• Nuclear power companies deny that their profits depend entirely on the Price-Anderson subsidy.

• Health insurance companies deny that single-payer is far more efficient.

• The anti-terrorism industry denies that terrorism is a statistically insignificant threat to American mortality rates.

Meanwhile in Lawrence, our very own real-estate/construction/development complex denies the observable fact that unbridled retail sprawl is a negative-sum game. It has:

• stunted downtown retailing,

• driven older malls into the ground,

• increased tax costs for infrastructure,

• reduced average real sales per square foot of retail space, and

• on net, brought no detectible new sales tax revenues into the community.

Yet each developer claims his next mall will bring in new millions from somewhere. And City Hall rolls over and plays dead. And seems poised to reprise, south of the K-10 bypass.


Richard Heckler 2 years, 5 months ago

Retailer Menard Inc. has agreed to pay $30,000 in fines and court costs for violating state environmental laws in connection with a 2007 case in which a pallet of herbicide was dumped on a parking island of a Menard store in Onalaska.

The judgment against Menard, which has a history of environmental violations in Wisconsin, shows the company allowed a pallet of containers with liquid herbicide to freeze and crack in January 2007.

A Menard employee then disposed of the weedkiller on the parking lot island.

The chemicals are considered hazardous waste under Wisconsin law, and according to court documents, attorneys for the Wisconsin Department of Justice concluded that Menard failed to safely handle the waste.

In a statement, spokesman Jeff Abbott said a "young part-time team member poured some weedkiller from damaged bottles into the center islands at our Onalaska parking lot, thinking it would just kill the weeds.

"The team member didn't intend to do anything wrong, but nevertheless we received a substantial fine."

Menard hired a consultant and concluded that no environmental damage was found, Abbott said.

Department of Natural Resources spokesman Ed Culhane said records in the case show Menard didn't hire a consultant until two years after the spill - January 2009.

"In two years, it's hard to say what happened," Culhane said.

Abbott said the company will "continue to work very hard to comply with the very complex environmental laws of the state at all levels."

The judgment was filed on Thursday in La Crosse County Circuit Court. Court documents were released on Tuesday by Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.

Menard has been at the center of high-profile pollution cases in Wisconsin in the past.

• In a criminal case in August 2005, an Eau Claire County judge ordered Menard to pay $2 million in fines and other charges after the company pleaded guilty to discharging pollutants that spilled into an adjacent watershed. The case represented the largest environmental fine against a company in the state.

• In another criminal case in 1997, the company and founder John R. Menard Jr. pleaded no contest and paid more than $1.5 million in penalties on charges of violating state hazardous waste laws.

The case included allegations that John Menard, a billionaire and one of Wisconsin's richest people, used his own pickup truck to haul bags of chromium-contaminated incinerator ash produced by the company and dump it into his trash at home.

At the time, it was the largest criminal environmental fine ever imposed in the state.

Exposure to chromium can irritate skin and cause lung cancer, federal health officials have said.

David Holroyd 2 years, 5 months ago

So is Donald Trump's wife suing John Menard?

Richard Heckler 2 years, 5 months ago

That could depend on what John Menard may have exacted on Donald's wife......

No matter that would be a question for the Donald family.

For certain Lawrence cannot afford any new polluter one which has demonstrated a 24/7 watch will be necessary.

Bob Smith 2 years, 5 months ago

Denial is the new heresy. The cult of disappointed progressives is becoming more and more orthodox.

Justin Hoffman 2 years, 5 months ago

This is one of the more comical rants I've seen on here in awhile. Trying to link right-wing agenda and Lawrence developers...I just about spit out my reheated (innocent) turkey in laughter.

Bob Summers 2 years, 5 months ago

The Liberal verbal beatings will continue until morale improves.

Justin Hoffman 2 years, 5 months ago

Are the naturally pessimistic, down-in-the dumps liberals even capable of high morale?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 2 years, 5 months ago

Hey, Justin, there is a new opportunity for Monsanto to start a chemical plant right next door to you. Of course, you worship all this greed and aren't afraid of some chemicals leaking into your ground water. I'll tell them you are interested and will support them. They might even give you a minimum wage job sweeping up those chemicals, but you have to provide your own protective gear of course.

Barb Gordon 2 years, 5 months ago

You'd probably understand it a little better if you actually lived in Lawrence. Or even near Lawrence. Or in the state of Kansas at all.

Brett McCabe 2 years, 5 months ago

The new city commissioners all campaigned on how tough they would be, so I'd like to see their negotiating acumen when dealing with this horrible idea of a retail strip center.

The trafficway will create, well, traffic. Lawrence will have something of value, and we should get great value for it. Let's see if our new, tough commissioners can leverage this space into higher-wage jobs, eco-friendly development and localized support for the community and KU.

If this group can't show discipline and vision in this matter, then I think we will know that the Great Lawrence Hissy Fit of the last election didn't really result in achieving much at all.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 years, 5 months ago

Wow, your realization of the obvious is gonna get you on the "sht" list with the Koch Industries Regime!! They gonna be coming for you!!

Great recognition of a lot of salient facts of reality in today's fascist dominated world.

Joe Herynk 2 years, 5 months ago

Given the fact that Lawrence is arguably the most left-wing city in the state, how is it possible that we are also home to the lowest wages and highest cost of living? Could it be due to the fact that we have not allowed capitalism to operate in our fair city?

Our so called progressiveness has stifled competition and has throttle capitalism in order to protect the privileged few.

Any individual or company that puts up their own capital (without public assistance) should be allowed to compete in the market place. If their business is successful they should reap the rewards. However, if their business fails there should be no bail out using public funds.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 2 years, 5 months ago

So you agree that all these businesses who are not paying income taxes to the state of Kansas should be required to do that, and all the companies who are getting subsidies should stop getting them and all the companies who are allowed to charge an extra "sales tax" should be stopped now?

Joe Herynk 2 years, 5 months ago

Don't understand your questions. You and I have not written the laws that are currently in effect. Even though we both may agree to the points you have raised, we must operate under the laws that are currently on the books. It is up to each of us to change laws, rules and regulations that we disagree with though casting our vote in each and every election.

Kendall Simmons 2 years, 5 months ago

Huh??? How could you not understand her questions??? Jeez. What part of "should" do you not understand?

Brett McCabe 2 years, 5 months ago

Joe, it's supply and demand. People want to live in Lawrence, which drives up housing costs. People want to live in Lawrence, which drives down wages.

Lawrence's bigger problem has been that we've allowed the East Lawrence Xenophobes control the city for far too long. For me and other progressives in the city, we own the responsibility for letting those with the most limited vision control what's happening.

Progressive policies, when actually implemented, have been proven to work. The issue hasn't been progressive policies, it's been the lack of progressive policies including implementing either a higher min. wage and/or a city-funded employees union to move wages up.

You are right to point out the failures of this city's leadership to move the city forward. You are wrong to tie that to so-called progressive policies.

Kendall Simmons 2 years, 5 months ago

Good grief. Do we now have to add the terms "xenophobes" and "progressives" to the ever-growing list of terms of "microaggression"???

Don't people have a right to have a say about what goes on in their neighborhood? More important...don't they have a right to DISAGREE?

Barb Gordon 2 years, 5 months ago

"Given the fact that Lawrence is arguably the most left-wing city in the state, how is it possible that we are also home to the lowest wages and highest cost of living?"

Could it be that we're full of students (higher housing demand, low average earnings) and right next door to a big city where many of those students go work after they graduate?

Joe Herynk 2 years, 5 months ago


We can agree that supply and demand are at work in Lawrence. However, I do not agree that the answer lies in distorting supply and demand rather than allowing capitalism to work. By implementing such things as minimum wage and or city- funded employees union, capital is being transferred by political agenda rather than being allowing the market place to determine winners and losers.

Our neighbors to the east (Legends) has prospered during the past decade while Lawrence has experienced stagnant growth. Has this difference in growth occurred due to a different economic climate? In my opinion, the difference can be attributed to their superior leadership which has allowed capitalism to flourish.

Politics (left or right) can not micromanage society to prosperity. Capitalism is not perfect. However, it is the fairest system that we know of to allocate resources.

Melinda Henderson 2 years, 5 months ago

Curious...does allowing capitalism to flourish include tax incentives?

Joe Herynk 2 years, 5 months ago

Are you referring to tax incentives that are used to promote employment or to subsidize luxury apartments or offices for the wealthy?

Melinda Henderson 2 years, 5 months ago

Joe...all I'm hearing is crickets. It was a legitimate question.

Brett McCabe 2 years, 5 months ago


Great example to prove my point. Worst possible example to prove yours:

You, and many others, equate capitalism with absolute free-reign of business interests - which don't exist anywhere in the world - and never have. All commerce is guided to a greater or lesser degree. Lawrence has allowed a few goofs in East Lawrence to inhibit healthy growth in the city. This can be changed - but we liberals are going to have to change it ourselves.

Greg DiVilbiss 2 years, 5 months ago

Though in principle I agree with you. It should be kept in mind that the Legends as I remember used Star Bonds as an incentive in the area.

Joe Herynk 2 years, 5 months ago


It is wrong to equate capitalism with absolute free-reign of business interest. Capitalism gets a bad rap because special interest (lobbyist filling the pockets of politicians) distorts the market by favoring the few with the most dollars. This in turn raises taxes on the poor and middle class. Government(s) should concentrate on creating laws that allow all individuals and/or businesses to participate in the markets on an equal basis. Nearly all laws and rules are written to give an advantage to a given group of businesses and/or individuals. This is not capitalism.

Politicians have sold their souls to the highest bidder (rich privileged few) while crushing the middle class.

The Lawrence Oread Hotel subsidies and special tax district are not a product of capitalism but rather an example of elected officials distorting supply and demand favoring the rich. Does any progressive or conservative believe that this distortion of supply and demand has benefited our city?

Richard Aronoff 2 years, 5 months ago

Anyone know how many jobs Heckler, Hoyt-Reed and company have created lately? Anyone know if either of them have ever had to sign the FRONT of a paycheck?

Justin Hoffman 2 years, 5 months ago

But people who sign paychecks are evil right? I mean, if they're signing a paycheck it means perhaps they worked really hard and are not looking to the government for handouts. They may own a business or be in a management position, making them bad, bad people! (roll my eyes) Or heaven forbid....they work for a corporation! AHHHHHHHH!! LOL!

Barb Gordon 2 years, 5 months ago

I'll wager I've signed the front of more paychecks than you have, Justin. I've signed them in Lawrence, a city where you don't live. Did you not find a suitable bridge to toll in your own neck of the woods?

Greg DiVilbiss 2 years, 5 months ago

If I recall correctly Richard Heckler is a small business person and Dorothy Hoyt-Reed was a school teacher....but I could be wrong.

Marc Wilborn 2 years, 5 months ago

Substitute left-wing and economic and for right wing and science.

Carol Bowen 2 years, 5 months ago

It's such a hassle to think about driving to yet another shopping center. From a developer's point of view, sure, it's a good location for a regional retail center. There's a good set of stores. The PR is impressive. The developer is not asking for incentives. (However, there has been no discussion on the cost of extending services.) And, here's a question. The land is zoned for a truck stop. Would the trucks not park at Walmart if there were a truck stop?

We do have two corner malls that are easy to access. Would the developer consider splitting the group into two centers? Zoning and city services are already in place. Intersections could be improved. Redeveloping these locations might be worth some incentives. Disregarding his partisan rhetoric, Mr. Burress is right. There is no economic growth with additional chain stores. The advantage would be infill development in aged retail areas.

Some businesses have built in Lawrence without rezoning or incentives. That is free enterprise. There is land available, appropriately zoned and ready. The city's involvement is minimal. Within Lawrence's plan, developers can exercise the free enterprise philosophy. The alternative is to have empty buildings and strung out development along our major streets.

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