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City approves budget with slight property tax increase, great hopes of improving economy in 2014

In the long-run Lawrence's economic fundamentals will no doubt improve, but . . .

I don't see much improvement for home prices in the next year, as there's too much supply, no indications of population increase to drive demand, and a lot of competition from the over-supplied rental market; at least renters will have more disposable income to spend as rents are likely to be suppressed for many years. Mortgage rates are also going back up, hurting housing affordability.

Also, KU spending and salaries will increase only moderately, and enrollments of students are flat. The rest of the government employee sector (school district, city, county) may grow some, but that's just take from Peter to pay Paul growth that can't be sustained without private sector income growth.

Utility bills (electricity, water and sewer, trash collection, etc.) are going up. So are health care costs. Disposable incomes that fuel discretionary spending and sales tax revenues can't be expected to increase much.

In short, I don't see how the city of Lawrence can bet on the come with regard to growth in the tax base.

July 10, 2013 at 7:01 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

New development slated for Bob Billings and SLT may land a grocery store

The city will need to extend utilities and infrastructure, they'll probably ask for TIF or TDD tax subsidies, etc. In other words, there's a lot of public interest and public money at stake.

July 8, 2013 at 3:44 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

New development slated for Bob Billings and SLT may land a grocery store

Um, what experience do Santee and the Raineys have with commercial real estate development, and how have they financed the land purchases ( presume they own or have options on the land)? This sounds like a bit of a gamble -- but with whose money?

July 8, 2013 at 1:35 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Master plan will shape future of KU's campus

How about a remote park-and-walk/bike trail linking the current west campus with the undeveloped land that stretches to Kasold? I live in west Lawrence but am hesitant to bike on or along 15th Stree/Bob Billings to campus. A bike/fitness trail through the undeveloped land would be pretty cool.

July 8, 2013 at 12:20 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Simons' Saturday Column: Is the Kansas Board of Regents shooting high enough?

Dolph, please just come out and say it: BGL just isn't that great.

June 22, 2013 at 8:23 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

KU interviewing candidates for top diversity job

In a time of budget austerity it would be great to consolidate the responsibilities of this position with some of the other vice-assistant-associate-lieutenant-chancellor/provost/poobah positions and achieve some administrative cost savings. Too politically incorrect, I imagine.

At least it might be wise for KU to wait and see what the Supreme Court has to say in the Fisher v. University of Texas case on race-based admissions. If race-based admissions policies are upheld then it would be business as usual for KU. If the Supremes go the other way then it might be wise to hire someone -- maybe on a temporary basis -- with the extraordinary administrative and legal competence likely to be necessary if race-based administrative policies require whole-scale re-examination.

June 21, 2013 at 9:12 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Opinion: KU doctoral grad sees lack of faculty support

I agree that there are some fulfilling and rewarding careers for PhDs outside of tenure-track academia. However, a non-tenure-track placement outcome appears to offer a pretty poor return on investment for many, as Dr. Johnson illustrates. It would seem that the best mentoring that faculty could offer -- especially in the humanities -- should come at the beginning in the form of truth-telling about the time-to-degree, the likely placement outcomes, and a prospective student's likely return on investment. It's a shame that every KU PhD program isn't required to fully disclose such information in a consistent and prominent fashion.

And, doctorates in education are not a model to follow. Most demand for that degree comes from would-be-principals and administrators and such who see an Ed-PhD as a necessary box-to-be-checked in the highly bureaucratized government school employment system. I'd much rather have a school principal or superintendent with a solid degree in the arts, sciences, or humanities (be it BA, MA, or PhD) -- backed by solid experience as an impactful teacher -- than one with an almost guaranteed-to-be worthless PhD in education.

May 29, 2013 at 3:51 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Opinion: KU doctoral grad sees lack of faculty support

I agree that the tone of this piece suggests some evasion of personal responsibility by the author. The negative tone contrasts with the acknowledgments and preface of his dissertation (available online through KU). In particular he thanks his adviser "who guided me through, held weekly meetings to make sure I was 'on track, and read my drafts meticulously." The fact that a committee member stepped aside due to time commitments suggests that he/she (it isn't hard to infer who this is, actually) did not want to back the student, although there apparently was no shortage of other committee members and other facilitators at KU (according to the dissertation's acknowledgment page). Last time I checked, it's still a free country and no KU scholar is obligated to push a potentially marginal and difficult to place PhD student.

That said, keep in mind the following cold hard facts that no "mentoring" at the end of 8-9 years of PhD study at KU could hope to overcome:

1. As discerned from its "PhD alumni" website the Slavic Department has awarded 21 PhDs over the past 20 years -- about one per year. It appears that only about 40% of those obtained a tenure-track academic appointment, and only a handful appear to have earned tenure and been promoted to associate professor. Somehow I suspect that this statistic is average or better than for many humanities departments at KU and at similar universities.

2. The Great Recession has been a terrible time for scholars in many disciplines -- but especially the humanities -- to be getting PhDs and looking for a first academic appointment.

3. Age-ism and weight-ism remain stubborn bastions of prejudice even in academia. And, a 5' 9" 210-lb man has a BMI that would qualify him as obese.

Finally, when Steve Warren was an unsuccessful candidate for KU provost he suggested that KU should recruit fewer yet higher quality PhD students, culling resources from those departments with bad track records and investing more in those with good track records. That was a good idea at the time, and it's still a good idea.

May 29, 2013 at 2:45 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Police department's case for a new facility not likely to show on next year's budget, officials say

School bond issue,curbside recycling, rec center, TIF tax breaks for new hotels, Farmland property, new sewage treatment center, need for new police facility . . . .

Why do I feel as if the tax payers of Lawrence are being treated like parents of a spoiled teenager who cannot prioritize her wants and needs and instead just expects "daddy" to pay for everything?

May 26, 2013 at 9:34 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

KU makes sudden change in Statehouse presence

This story seems incomplete. The first paragraph says, "...Kansas University officials have changed their strategy in the Statehouse—and the lobbyist leading it."

What is the change in strategy? Please tell us. And, okay, Kathy Damron is not leading the Statehouse lobbying anymore. But who is? Riley Scott (Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle's son-in-law) or Mandy Miller or someone else? How about some specifics?

I'm sorry, but this looks like Damron has been politely fired and given a temporary title to save face. Or am I missing something?

And, while it's nice to get Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Tim Caboni on record, what about Chancellor Gray-Little? After all, isn't it her job to conduct outreach "with key stakeholders and community leaders across Kansas on behalf of the university"?

Keep digging, Mr. Rothschild.

May 20, 2013 at 5:29 p.m. ( | suggest removal )