robchestnut (Rob Chestnut)

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KU chancellor's husband worked closely with people implicated in UNC's massive academic fraud case

The UNC story has new relevance now since the NCAA released their report on Thursday. This investigation is not close to being over, and I know that UNC alums are very unhappy with their administration and staff as they should be for these paper classes continuing 18 years.

Remember, the Wainstein report was paid for by UNC. So, it is not independent. We have experienced this phenomenon locally with a recent audit of Rock Chalk Park expenditures. The audit will provide only that information that the scope is defined to achieve.

My concern is not with what our Chancellor knew about regarding these events, but I ask why she was unaware of it given her direct accountability for the program during part of her tenure at UNC. If the NCAA finds a lack of institutional control at UNC, she shares some of the responsibility for this shortfall in leadership.

June 7, 2015 at 8:37 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Kansas House passes budget requiring higher taxes to balance

Across-the-board cuts simply do not address the issue. Essentially, the House is saying they are unable to figure out how to manage the needs of the state with lower revenues. So, you pass the decisions down to non-elected administrators that have no priorities provided to them by the very people who are elected to make those decisions. This will lead to a lot of bad decisions on resource allocation.

It is disappointing to see a legislature unwilling to face the fact that the tax bill is a failure. Not only will it result in bad spending choices, but it continues to create a more regressive system for Kansans.

June 4, 2015 at 7:31 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Appeals board questions Douglas County codes enforcement policy

The core issue this story highlights is not specifically about Kris Kobach or building codes. It is about the lack of process that has surrounded these proceeding. Governing bodies should not have "unwritten rules" as a method of enforcement of any codes. This practice delegates policy decisions to non-elected officials that should be considered by those elected by their constituents. If the county wants a better process for the public related to building codes, they need to have public discussion that leads to a better policy that they vote on and put into place.

If the quote by Mr. Sherman is accurate regarding our County Adminstrator's belief that "it is totally his discretion in how he interprets what the law is" we have a fundamental problem with our County government. The statement lends itself to conclude that our County Commissioners are delegating significant policy decision-making authority that should be held exclusively by the elected body.

May 31, 2015 at 10:41 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Letter: Public access

The University of Kansas is partially funded by taxpayers, and all of its assets are tax exempt. So, the University of Kansas is subsidized by the taxpayers in the community. I think the community has every right to have access to these facilities when they are available.

I played football for LHS in 1978 when the state championship game was hosted at Memorial Stadium at KU. So, I don't think this suggestion is a stretch. Rock Chalk Park is connected to Allen Field House as it is part of a series of venues that host events for the University of Kansas Athletic department.

At some point along the way, the KUAC forgot that they taxpayers in Lawrence do have a stake in their facilities.

May 21, 2015 at 5:04 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Editorial: Tax package

The exemption on pass-through income was a mistake when it was made law, and it is a mistake now. At the time the new tax law was being considered, the administration estimated it would impact 191,000 filers in Kansas. That number is now over 300,000. Obviously, businesses are restructuring themselves to exploit this exemption.

I would speculate that the vast majority of the total benefit of this exemption has been realized by a very small percentage of the filers. The emphasis on increasing consumption taxes continues down a path of a more regressive system.

No tangible evidence suggests that the exemption has created any significant benefit to economic development in Kansas. It is time to begin unwinding the experiment.

May 14, 2015 at 7:35 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Letter: Audit whitewash

The scope of the audit was limited to findings related to compliance with the Development Agreement. Therefore, the audit could not make any formal findings outside of the primary objective.

That being said, the audit did make a number of recommendations to consider going forward in similar agreements that relate to transparency and the ability to measure results. These should be considered with any future public/private partnerships.

March 9, 2015 at 8:34 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Letter: Urgent need

Michael - I would check with Public Works regarding their plans. There is a pavement index that is calculated on every street in Lawrence. It takes into consideration condition, traffic count and other elements that go into making these decisions. While I do not always agree with their priorities, I know that there was thought put into the allocation of resources.

February 25, 2015 at 11:50 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

City Commission set to decide whether it wants audit of Rock Chalk Park work

It is unclear to me why the commission demands a turnaround time of less than 30 days. In particular, it does not even appear that the scope has been clearly defined by the city staff. Finally, the nature of the audit will be quite narrow.

I am not sure that the above criteria will produce any results that are meaningful. I do not understand why we would not audit the facility costs themselves. Regardless of whether or not they were competitively bid, it would still seem reasonable to look at all the costs that are being funded by the bonds supported by the taxpayers.

My hope is that the commission will realize that this audit should be undertaken with care, and that the timing and scope should be defined after a recommendation from the City Auditor as to its elements. Let's get it right, learn from the results and move on.

January 6, 2015 at 7:44 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Governor seeks study of big changes to KPERS

This is an unfortunate turn of events. Progress was being made on reducing the unfunded liability early in Governor Brownback's first term, and now it appears that the administration is going down the same path that previous administrations travelled in kicking the can down the road for the next administration.

I also do not understand any benefit to making this a private venture. Actuarial numbers will be the same whether it is administered by a private or public entity. This action will set back the ability to put the fund into a much more solvent position.

December 20, 2014 at 6:17 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

The future of a new Lawrence police headquarters? Five questions

A sales tax or a property tax? The community seems pretty divided over which type of tax would be best to pay for a headquarters. In interviews with voters on Tuesday, some said they were voting for the sales tax in large part because they feared city officials would raise property taxes if the vote failed. But other voters said they would have been more likely to vote for the project if it were paid for through property taxes.

I think we are asking the wrong questions. Why any tax increase at all? There are several funds now in place funded by current revenue streams that are possibilities to finance necessary improvements to police facilities. This should be done sooner rather than later. It may not equal $28 million, but it could go a long ways toward addressing critical issues.

The question should be "What can we defer from upcoming capital expenditures to pay for these improvements?" This does not appear to be in the dialog, and I believe it should be our first consideration. For instance, there is still time left of the infrastructure sales tax passed back in 2010. Are all of the funds committed in the future? Use the resources now available to the City prior to asking for a new revenue stream.

All these questions should be fully vetted in the public forum. If the final conclusion is that a new source of revenue is required to provide these improvements, I believe it will be fully supported by the community.

Voters had a number of reasons for either supporting or rejecting this proposal. Now it is time to address the issue at hand, since I believe the vast majority of citizens know that something needs to be done about police facilities. I am hopeful we can focus as a community on this topic and move beyond what has proven to be a very divisive ballot initiative.

November 6, 2014 at 7:45 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

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