Archive for Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Lawrence City Commission candidates share views on downtown issues, including police presence

Lawrence City Commission candidates, from left, Matthew Herbert, Jennifer Ananda, Mike Anderson and Lisa Larsen participate in a forum Oct. 4, 2017 at Abe & Jake's Landing.

Lawrence City Commission candidates, from left, Matthew Herbert, Jennifer Ananda, Mike Anderson and Lisa Larsen participate in a forum Oct. 4, 2017 at Abe & Jake's Landing.

October 4, 2017

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At a forum Wednesday evening, Lawrence City Commission candidates discussed several issues affecting downtown Lawrence, including whether police presence should increase following a recent shooting that left three people dead.

Downtown Lawrence Inc. hosted the forum at Abe & Jake's Landing, and DLI Director Sally Zogry moderated. She asked the four candidates who attended the forum — Jennifer Ananda, Mike Anderson and incumbents Matthew Herbert and Lisa Larsen — how important a strong police presence is.

Larsen said having more foot patrols and direct contact with business owners and those on the street is one of the best ways to deter crime.

“That’s going to be my approach, that we have more of an actual physical presence on the street — not in cars — but actually walking the beat,” Larsen said.

Zogry said the downtown police presence has dwindled in recent years, and that the former police chief told DLI that was due to budget and staff restrictions.

Ananda and Anderson both generally agreed that a stronger police presence downtown is the right direction. Ananda said if the argument against increasing downtown night patrols is financial, the lives lost in the recent shooting put that argument on its head.

“We can’t put a cost on that, and we shouldn’t,” Ananda said. “But if it has to be an economic argument, we can make that economic argument at this point.”

Herbert disagreed. He said although the shooting was horrific, the city needs to legislate from a logical place instead of a place of fear or because of an outlier.

“If we as a City Commission are legislating from a worst-case scenario, I think we’re making a huge mistake,” Herbert said. “The presence of police downtown is very unlikely to have deterred the events that happened.”

Herbert said visitors to downtown in the evening will find a vibrant area, and that what is needed is police presence during the day. He said he thinks the bigger day-to-day impact on downtown is panhandling that takes place in front of businesses, which he said could deter shoppers.

Zogry said candidates Dustin Stumblingbear and Bassem Chahine were unable to attend due to other obligations. In a statement, Chahine said he was not able to attend because his father is currently hospitalized.

Zogry said there has been a loss of retail business downtown over the last 20 years in favor of restaurants. She asked the candidates about their ideas for encouraging retail businesses and whether they would support a tax incentive for retail properties.

Larsen said the city’s economic incentives policy does allow small businesses to seek incentives, and that one of the considerations is whether a project enhances downtown. She said the city’s role is ensuring downtown infrastructure and beautification projects continue.

Herbert said the city’s role is to make sure that downtown shoppers are comfortable — referring again to panhandling in front of businesses — and that downtown is seen as family destination. He said the downtown parking garages also support this and suggested the city should add signs to make visitors more aware of them.

Ananda said the lack of a diverse retail selection for everyone, including families, is an issue. She said she’d support looking into “creative solutions” of how the city could better support small businesses.

Anderson agreed with Herbert that panhandling is a problem and said it keeps tourists and families away. He also said the city needs more people working on economic development and that more information could help.

“I would love to see us do more visitation and surveys, so that we’re asking businesses how can the city help, what can we do, what are you struggling with?” Anderson said.

Other topics included downtown parking and the potential for a downtown conference center, which the candidates generally were open to discussing and moving through the regular review process.

Comments

Francis Hunt 2 months, 1 week ago

In the video of the press conference on Monday the Captain said there were officers on patrol in the 1000 block of Massachusetts at the time of the shooting. Sadly there is only so much you can do when a scum bag decides to open fire on a crowd of people.

It's kind of interesting this forum was sponsored by Downtown Lawrence Inc. Isn't Mike Logan (owner of Granada) the vp or asst director of DLI? Weren't four of the five victims attending a concert at his establishment before the shooting? Wasn't the rapper that night one of the same rappers who previously performed at the Last Call, which had similar problems? Nervy for DLI to throw the former police chief under the bus. Maybe they should look a little higher on the ladder; maybe when the former chief asked for additional officers the city manager and commissioners should have approved the request in full. But then again they tend to listen to the local police haters who said Lawrence has too many police. But wait, those of course are the same people who are now calling for an increased patrol presence.

Rick Masters 2 months, 1 week ago

Last Call? Little Yachty would have been about 12 at the oldest when that place was still open.

"But then again they tend to listen to the local police haters who said Lawrence has too many police. But wait, those of course are the same people who are now calling for an increased patrol presence."

Look everybody, a Mobius strip!

Tom Atchity 2 months, 1 week ago

Woof. Lil Yachty ALSO played at Allen Fieldhouse during Late Night the previous night. What a silly comment.

Francis Hunt 2 months, 1 week ago

I was talking about some of the other rappers at the Granada that night I may be incorrect. But great point Tom. Why is lil yachty, an entertainer whose songs are full of the "N" word, the "F" word, the "B" word, the "P" word and so many other fine lyrics performing at Late Night? And don't forget "ho". Maybe Bill or someone from the University can explain that. Seriously, how many of his songs have the "N" word in them repeated throughout? I'm guessing he didn't sing those particular songs at Late Night but what a great entertainer for a family event and for kids to go home and google!

Bob Summers 2 months, 1 week ago

Lawrence prides itself on being a culturally diverse town.

Why all the hate?

Richard Heckler 2 months, 1 week ago

"Larsen said having more foot patrols and direct contact with business owners and those on the street is one of the best ways to deter crime.

“That’s going to be my approach, that we have more of an actual physical presence on the street — not in cars — but actually walking the beat,” Larsen said."

I like this concept. Perhaps officers could be posted close by to night spots if not inside to observe and listen for heated discussions then proceed in that direction and keep an eye on participants. Officers in the crowd looking and listening specifically for potential violence.

Unfortunately rappers somehow attract a few people that like to get violent. Why? We don't know.

Some night spots in the KCMO area have installed devices that customers must walk through before entering. Perhaps the Granada and others could declare their properties off limits to guns.

Perhaps city hall should review actions that took place to help shut down Last Call? Then bring on those actions immediately upon realizing problems are in the air? Brawls and guns should always be candidates.

Tony Peterson 2 months, 1 week ago

Downtown has become primarily an entertainment district and a destination for people who don't live in the area. I live one block away from downtown and rarely ever venture that direction because there's nothing left for the locals who have lived here for decades.

The area is over-saturated with restaurants and bars and not as cool as it likes to think it is.

Michael Kort 2 months, 1 week ago

So they want to get more retail downtown ?

Sorry if this sounds unkind but how about getting Penny's, Sears or Pier One to move down there ?.......isn't retail suffering everywhere ? due to Amazon and Ebay and isn't the market speaking out loudly about what downtown will support as businesses ? ? ?

ELECTION TIME .! ! !

So they want to put police foot patrols downtown ?

So how will these officers on foot get from from 11th and Mass to a shooting at 7th and Mass ?

I guess that they could hitch hike ?, pull their guns and commandeer a private vehicle ?, fly and if the active shooter should try for a get away by car or get arrested and need to go to jail how would they chase them down or get them to the jail along with their arrest papers ?

Go ahead and add foot patrols downtown but you will still need rolling officers to contain the mess that downtown collects at night .

What about 23rd St shooters ?

While we are at it, over extra policing costs downtown and at local bars here in Lawrence, why not send a special tax to the bars and other venues who attract local or out of town criminal gun killing crowds to pay for their policing ( prosecuting, jailing, etc. ) and their impact on the community at large .

Let them pay to clean up the mess that they collectively make .......like the public cost of a single gunshot murder investigation ( where none of the witnesses saw anything ?.....Right ! ), which is $ astronomical !

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