robchestnut (Rob Chestnut)

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Comment history

Editorial: Experience counts

I would really like to think that politicians learn from their mistakes as is put forth in this editorial. However, I have not seen any evidence that this is true. What I do see is much of the same. If incumbents are using their experience to correct their mistakes, they sure are not campaigning on this platform.

Secondly, why should we value experience with institutions that have failed so badly? I think voters should make decisions on what they can glean from the candidates on ideas, and forget experience. The inertia of the status quo in government will being enough to stop radical change in our institutions in one election cycle.

November 2, 2014 at 8:38 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Kansas tax collections fall $23M short in October

“A 2.6 percent revenue variance for the fiscal year 2015 budget is certainly manageable through good fiscal governance,” Sullivan said. “Moving forward, the Kansas economy shows signs of growth, and we will continue to protect core services and invest in education while finding efficiencies in state government without cutting services.”

I think this statement is very misleading by Secretary Jordan. A consistent miss on revenue means that the situation will not be manageable. The forecasts provided by the administration relies on stronger growth in subsequent years to avoid cutting core services and education. Showing "signs of growth" is not enough to make their budget work. It requires strong growth that shows no evidence of happening in any reasonable time period.

November 1, 2014 at 8:56 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Q&A on Lawrence police headquarters, sales tax

A "NO" vote will not necessarily place the entire burden on property owners. It will refer the issue back to the City Commission to decide how to move forward. I believe it is unreasonable to assume that the commission would move forward with the same plan (and costs associated with that plan) after being voted down at the polls. It might open up a dialog about options that are less costly which could address many of the current facility issues.

October 27, 2014 at 10:21 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Letter: Retail climate

I am unsure what point Mr. Bolick is trying to make in this letter. Is he saying that we should not have any zoning requirements for retailers? In recent years the City Commission has made several decisions that denied applications for retail development. One was the Lowe's project proposed on a piece of ground that had been zoned for residential purposes for a number of years. The plan entertained a lumber yard that would have faced the front of Free State High School. This particular plan seemed to be a huge change in zoning that would have been unfair to property owners who relied on City planning to create certain expectations about future development adjacent to their property. I believe it was properly denied.

I agree with his comment that it appears that we will have retail growth over the next few years primarily driven by the SLT completion. This road will make regional access much better. Long-term planning has created an expectation that significant retail development will be a part of the new bypass, and I look forward to its development as anticipated in long-term plans.

October 20, 2014 at 7:48 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Letter: Kansas control

Outside money supporting both parties is being spent on campaigns across the country. Kansas has now become a focal point due to the possible outcomes in the Senate, and the tight race for Governor. However, in this age of technology voters can access more information about candidates and their positions than ever before. In the end, the ability to be informed and tune out all of the finger-pointing is at our disposal.

October 10, 2014 at 7:47 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Letter: ‘No’ to sales tax

You are correct about sales tax. The increase applies to all purchases subject to sales tax including food, clothing and other essentials. The City does not have any flexibility or ability to exempt certain items.

October 3, 2014 at 9:10 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Editorial: Spending restraint

Taxpayers should focus closely on the Parks and Recreation budget. The net cost for operating Rock Chalk Park is dependent on generating significant revenue from tournaments and other programs. Now we have taken another $80k from the fund for the ice rink. If the revenue projections fall short at Rock Chalk Park, budgets for other parts of the department will suffer.

I agree that a vibrant downtown is important. However, we are seeing a significant upward trend in property taxes to fund both the City of Lawrence and Douglas County. Any incremental sales tax revenue being generated from recreational investments will not come close to paying for the costs.

September 4, 2014 at 4:48 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Brownback: State school aid has increased since 2011

It is clear that state funding has not kept up with rising costs, and this fact is setting Kansas behind in education. However, I think it is unfair to blame this administration exclusively for the unfunded KPERS situation. Many administrations have passed on addressing an unfunded balance that has been growing for decades.

It is difficult to address issues like minimum retirement age, double dipping and other benefits that have been available to teachers in the current scheme. But, it is also unfair to the taxpayers of Kansas to perpetuate a benefit structure that is not being supported by current funding and leaves future administrations with a bill that will come do in the future.

The future is now as so many people in the system are now approaching retirement age.

August 7, 2014 at 7:32 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

KPERS hits 60 percent funded benchmark

While the Brownback administration has a lot to answer for in its tax and education policies, KPERS underfunding is an issue that goes back several decades. I hope this trajectory continues and the State of Kansas honors it's commitments to current participants.

July 20, 2014 at 1:37 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

City advisory board recommends $1 million loan guarantee for high-speed broadband project

If the City and County are interested in this concept, why would they not seek other proposals for the service? Typically, financial commitments require a bid process.

I would also be concerned about Mr. Montgomery's comments about he project:

"Montgomery said the loan guarantee from the city is critical because it shows other private investors that local officials have confidence in the project."

Private investors develop confidence in a project based on their perceptions of the market and the return possibilities. The fact that local government is willing to back some of the financing is a small consideration for a $25 million plus build out.

"Montgomery said he believes demand will be strong in downtown and the East Lawrence area. If the pilot project is successful, he said he is optimistic there will be enough private financing available to extend the super-fast internet service to all of Lawrence."

What if demand falls well below expectations? This loan guarantee will be part of a small pilot project for a few neighborhoods, and I doubt that this is a sustainable model. So, ultimately it will likely default or be sold to another entity that can further leverage the investment.

"Montgomery is estimating a citywide expansion will cost $30 million."

How good are the cost estimates? What is a realistic number of customers at a price point that is higher than other vendors? Can the revenue really sustain an investment of $30 million?

It is incumbent upon the elected officials to study the ultimate plan and determine if it is reasonable. What is the point of helping the pilot project if the larger plans do not make sense?

Clearly, high speed internet has an economic development impact. They need to be quantified and compared to the risk that is being taken. Is the community willing to take over the network if the project ultimately fails as a private investment?

May 23, 2014 at 7:50 a.m. ( | suggest removal )