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Posts tagged with Local

DouGLASS County Land Deal

Douglas County Commissioners have made a tentative offer to purchase land from PDO Investors, an LLC led by Steve Glass. The county has offered $1,196,000; a whopping $35,176 per acre.

Glass will prove himself to be a businessman extraordinaire should this transaction be completed.

First, this land neighbors the parcel that Glass sold to Lawrence Public Schools two years ago. That 76 acres sold for $1.73 million ($22,763 per acre). During a down economy and a depressed real estate market where many are selling at a loss, Glass seems to have managed to increase the value of his unimproved land by 54%.

Second, Glass appears to be the only property owner who has cut a deal where the County is making an offer above and beyond the County's appraisal value. According to the letter of intent, "Douglas County will offer to purchase the two adjacent properties located in the Franklin Business Park at the 2011 county-appraised values..."

Jerry Taylor will be offered $572,720.

Printing Solutions will be offered $250,000.

Glass and PDO are being offered $1,196,00 for property that had an 2011 county-appraisal of $7,160.

Should the County decide to continue with this plan the commissioners would better serve their constituents by making Glass the same deal as the other property owners - offer the 2011 county-appraisal.

An offer by the county that is 54% higher than recent sales, an offer that shows special consideration that other owners did not receive - frankly - is not as transparent as glass. Or, is it?


Editing Note: The above images may be used as hyperlinks to the actual documents. The tax year will need to be chosen in order to view the document.



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An Ironic Board of Education Visualization

An ironic visualization was observed on the LJWorld online front page. It unwittingly declared the history and operational policy of USD 497.

First, postpone repairs on elementary schools.

Second, move forward repairs on secondary education facilities.

Third, close elementary schools



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If schools are crowded, why close any, parents ask

Reprinted from the Lawrence Journal-World
By Brad Addington, Journal-World Writer

Some wonder if the district wouldn't be taking two steps forward and three steps back by opening two new elementary schools and closing three existing ones.

If the Lawrence school district is building two new elementary schools in response to growth, why would the district want to close three existing schools?

That's a question that has stumped Tracy Powell and some other district patrons.

"It just seems silly to me that if the grade schools are so overcrowded ... that they're considering not using three of them next year," said Powell, who has a daughter at South Junior High School.

Grant School, East Heights School and Cordley School would not continue as elementary schools under a boundary proposal the Lawrence school board discussed Monday.

Under that option, Grant could become a community center. Cordley would house the Lawrence Alternative High School, and East Heights would become a preschool center.

Powell said the proposal might create the perception that the district is purposely trying to overcrowd the grade schools. That way, she said, the current question of whether to move sixth-graders to middle schools would be more easily decided.

Board member Mary Loveland, who served on the district's Boundary Committee, said losing the elementary schools would not necessarily cause overcrowding or force a decision on sixth-graders.

Loveland said Centennial, Woodlawn, Kennedy and New York schools could accommodate the students from the three schools in question. And because the student populations in those areas have remained relatively stable, crowding probably wouldn't occur, Loveland said.

"The point that has to be made is that 46 percent of our students live west of Iowa (Street), and we only have five school buildings west of Iowa," Loveland said. "One of the problems is that the schools aren't where kids are."

She said any decision to move the sixth-graders would not be dictated by the school closings.

"That's a program issue," Loveland said. "Would we better serve our sixth-graders if they were combined with seventh- and eighth-graders? That's a question that hasn't been answered yet."



By the way - Dateline: December 3, 1993

Considering that this article, with a few name changes, mirrors the Lawrence Public Schools' situation today - Someone is failing to learn from their mistakes. The question is: Who is failing to learn? The school board or the voters?

If you have not done so, use the embedded links in the above story to view current parallel stories.



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School Board Candidates - Where They Stand

Ten members of our community have volunteered to make themselves subject to public persecution and are now candidates to be elected to one of the four Lawrence Public Schools' Board of Education seats that are open this year. In order for you to make an informed choice, it is important to know where the candidates stand. Specifically, if standing in their own home, where is that house located?

For what it is worth, or not, here is a map that shows where the current class of BOE candidates live, reside, sit, sleep, and stand. DIST (that's me in the third person) intended for the displayed image to be linked to an interactive map. Unfortunately, the award winning LJWorld.com does not allow iframes (whatever that is!). Therefore, the first image is just an image and shows where each candidate lives. The image may be clicked and a new window will take you to the original interactive map from which it was lifted (the iframe that should have been embedded).

The following image combines the above candidate map with the District Boundary Map.

So why bother with this? Each candidate will bring with him or herself some personal interests. Those interests may reflect the values of schools with which they are more closely associated. Although there is no known conflicts of interest - that is, no personal financial gains - there will be interests brought by the candidates. It would be wise for every voter to determine what their vision of the district is and vote accordingly.

According to the The Office of the County Clerk - Voting and Elections Division, advance voting began March 16th and ends at noon April 4th. The general election is April 5th. Therefore, echoing the famous quote, "Vote early and vote often."

Just for fun... What famous person did say, "Vote early and vote often?"

Richard M. Nixon

Richard J. Daley

Al Capone



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School Board President Rich Minder - Recuse ME!

Recuse: to remove (oneself) from participation to avoid a conflict of interest (Merriam-Webster)

Rich Minder, current USD497 Board of Education President, is also one of the original six investors in Delaware Street Commons, a Co-Housing Community. It was reported by the Lawrence Journal-World that Minder was delinquent on his property tax payments (taxes which support the school district) in the September 2, 2010 article, "Taxes owed at Delaware Commons".

It appears that taxes are still in arrears according to Douglas County, Kansas online services. A separate special tax, a loan repayment to the City of Lawrence, by Delaware Commons also appears to be delinquent. Minder has a direct stake in providing for the well-being of Delaware Commons.

Minder has also expressed displeasure of those who choose to live in a rural environment. In a 2003 email to the school board, board member-elect Rich Minder wrote, "We would not choose to live an environmentally, economically and culturally unsustainable lifestyle such as those typically found in the environs of such places as the ironically named Langston Hughes elementary." An email written by board member Minder in March 2010 reveals his expectation requiring "a major shift in lifestyle away from the automobile and will be linked to the afforementioned [sic] urban advantages, resulting in higher density, walkable built environment." He goes on to say, "that those who have chosen a rural non-farm lifestyle that requires a great deal of transporation [sic] expense would recognize the special responsibility they have to supporting collective efforts at building more sustainable patterns of settlement." Minder has an agenda which precludes rural Douglas County residents. An agenda that benefits the embodiment of his beliefs - Delaware Commons.

Yes, others, most assuredly all, have an interest - personal or ideological - in the preservation or demise of a particular school. Board of Education member Vanessa Sanburn would, presumably, have a personal interest in the retention of Woodlawn Elementary School. Board Member Bob Byers might have a personal interest in keeping Wakarusa Valley Elementary open since he is the Board liaison to the school. Mary Loveland, spouse of Dr. Charles Loveland, Pediatrician, may prefer to see Cordley Elementary close since it is not ADA compliant and requires several million dollars in repair. Of course, Board members will vote on issues based upon personal interests, ideology, and beliefs.

However, only one Board member appears to be able to benefit from the harm of others in the community.

Rich Minder, for the sake of propriety, appearance, and good ethical judgment should recuse himself from discussions and votes pertaining to school closings.



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Library Expansion Approval - A Rented Vote?

The Lawrence Journal-World reported Lawrence voters approve $18 million library expansion. The final results showed voters approving the measure with a 55% affirmative vote.

Prior to the election, another blogger speculated that an election of this type was skewed by renters because the result might be Free Lunches for Renters. The blog and comments made rational observations of how renters might affect the outcome of an election that did not seem to impose a direct tax upon the renter.

Now the election is over; the results have been tabulated. Let's take an anecdotal look at the outcome of the election. More specifically, lets look at precinct results; and, (here is the anecdotal part) rental property within the City of Lawrence. Up front, this is admittedly non-scientific - it is simply a visual.

The first map shows each precinct in Lawrence and the election results of the precincts.

This screen shot was taken from an online website, MyApartmentMap, that brokers rental properties. The website seems to have a fairly complete listing of rentals in the area; however, it may or may not, be representative of actual rental properties in the city. So, until a better source is available, let's use this one. It provides a starting point, at least.

Finally, the second map has been superimposed over the first map.

This is simply a picture of rental properties and voting summaries. As they say at the library, "It could be worth checking out."

That is all. Carry on.



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Liberal Gene Discovered

Being Liberal, politically speaking, may be in the Liberal's DNA. Cambridge Journals' The Journal of Politics released a study conducted by scientists from Harvard and the University of California San Diego which claims to have discovered the "Liberal gene."

The gene, known as the DRD4 gene which works with the Dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) has also been connected to eating disorders, sex addiction, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.

Professor James Fowler in The Telegraph, UK stated:

It is the crucial interaction of two factors - the genetic predisposition and the environmental condition of having many friends in adolescence - that is associated with being more liberal.

These findings suggest that political affiliation is not based solely on the kind of social environment people experience.

That is all. Carry on!



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NO to Library Expansion; YES to Alvamar Satellite

The Lawrence Public Library has plans for an $18 million expansion that will be voted on this Tuesday, November 2, 2010. A library expansion is long overdue. However, the trustees have chosen the wrong time and the wrong proposal to put forward.

Taxpayers, faced with lower income and increasing taxes, cannot afford to have the city spend money that taxpayers do not have. The estimated cost of $13,000,000 - or $650 per square foot - is between two and four times the national average for construction of a public library. Reed Construction Data has analyzed projects from across the country and provides a summary of average library construction costs.

Library officials are also asking for an additional $5,000,000 for a 5-Story, 145,000 Square Foot Parking Garage which could park over 400 cars. Oops, my bad - that is just what taxpayers should get for $5 million. Instead they are only building a two-story garage that will allow for 230 parking spaces. Once again, the cost is estimated way above the national average of $15,552 per space, which comes to $3.6 million.

That is correct, the proposed parking garage should cost $3.6 million, coincidentally the same amount that it cost to construct Eagle Bend Golf Course, which was completed in 1998.

Now, isn't this a nifty little segueway?

Ironically, Alvamar, Inc. has just announced plans to sell the Alvamar Country Club and Golf Courses. According to a Lawrence Journal-World story, "The offering includes both 18-hole golf courses; the private clubhouse, dining room and related operations; the public clubhouse, pro shop and snack bar; an indoor/outdoor private practice facility; cart storage; a maintenance building; and access to a private pool on the campus of Bishop Seabury Academy."

I propose that the City of Lawrence purchase the Alvamar Country Club as a joint (that means combined, not honk for hemp) venture between the Lawrence Public Library and Lawrence Parks and Recreation. This proposal would triple the City's golfing value by adding two outstanding courses for considerably less money per course than what it originally cost to open Eagle Bend. Parks and Recreation could use part of the land as a home for the proposed BMX Bike Track.

The current Country Club could be converted into an upscale satellite library. This library would sport one of the finest coffee shops and grills in the nation. There would be room for computers, a children's area, and possibly even room for some books. The satellite library would have plenty of parking and easy access. In fact, with access to the Seabury Acedemy swimming pool, it will have everything the downtown library has. All for only $6.5 million.

If you love children and literacy, but just cannot support a major tax increase that will fund a developer's over-priced proposal - vote NO on Tuesday. If you believe that there are less expensive solutions to improve our local library - vote NO on Tuesday. If you want to offer up a silly idea that is one-third the cost of the Library trustee's proposal, and would benefit more of the community, then write-in "Buy Alvamar." Just ask your election officials where you can "write-in" a candidate so as to not deface and void your election ballot.

Seriously, just get out and vote!



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The United States Constitution - Article I, Sections 1 - 3

This is the second, in a series, of a study and dialogue about the Constitution of the United States. Each installment will seek to explore one segment (Preamble, Article, or Amendment) of the Constitution. Please read the first installment, The United States Constitution, Preamble.

Background


The United States Constitution, adopted on September 17, 1787, is the oldest written constitution in use by any nation of the world. The Constitution provides the framework for the federal government as well as that government's relationship to its states and citizens, and to other Nations.

The Constitution has a preamble which establishes purpose. There are seven articles that establish the new government and its boundaries or limitations. The first four articles contain 21 dependent sections. In addition, the Constitution has been amended 27 times over the course of history.

Article I - The Legislative Branch establishes the first of the three branches of government: The Legislative Branch. This article is divided into ten interdependent sections.

  • Section 1 - The Legislature
  • Section 2 - The House
  • Section 3 - The Senate
  • Section 4 - Elections, Meetings
  • Section 5 - Membership, Rules, Journals, Adjournment
  • Section 6 - Compensation
  • Section 7 - Revenue Bills, Legislative Process, Presidential Veto
  • Section 8 - Powers of Congress
  • Section 9 - Limits on Congress
  • Section 10 - Powers prohibited of States

Due to the length and content of Article I, it will be divided into several blogs. This one will discuss the first three sections. This blog uses the text as found at U.S. Constitution Online. Please note that this is the original text and some of it is superseded by Constitutional Amendments; those areas are clearly noted.

As stated in the first of this series, I admit "that I am not a scholar of the Constitution. However, I believe that the framers of the Constitution - who were the best, the brightest, the most intelligent of the period - were an elite group that wrote the document for the self-governance and understanding of the common man. As one of those common men, I think the Constitution is worth studying and worth learning. Moreover, I would enjoy having you come along with this common man on a not so common journey."

Article I

Section 1 - The Legislature

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

The newly constituted Legislature was to be bicameral, and appeared to be modeled after Britain's upper and lower chambers. The British Parliament's format consisted of the upper house, or House of Lords (ruling class) and the lower house, or The House of Commons (the ruled). The unique difference, and an important difference, for the United State's congress was whom the two chambers would represent. Section three shows that the upper chamber would represent individual states; while section two provides for the representation of individuals. It is clear from this assignment that the framers intended that individual states be the ruling class of the federal government; and, that the Senators provide representation at the federal level for their state. Moreover, the lower house was established to protect the collective of individuals that made up the United States.

Section 2 - The House

The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.
No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

There was an expectation that those sent would be qualified for election within their own state's legislature. The lower house was to get the best representatives of the people; not, the left overs. The federal requirements of Representatives are spelled out: 1) At least 25 years old, 2) A US Citizen for at least seven years, and, 3) An inhabitant of his represented state.

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.1

This, now defunct passage, may be one of the most controversial of the U.S. Constitution. It is known as the Three-fifths compromise. The passage specifically applied to a census that would determine the number of representatives that a state would be allotted. In general, states supporting slavery were in favor of counting slaves towards the enumeration that determined a state's total representatives while delegates opposed to slavery did not want to count slaves in determining representation. Essentially this became the great divide between northern and southern states. The architects believed that failure to compromise on this issue would doom the Constitutional Convention to failure. In short, there would be no United States; rather, thirteen separate countries might have formed. The counting of slaves as only three-fifths of a person, although viewed by some as a proclamation of the framer's belief that slaves were less then human; it was, in fact, a mechanism that prevented southern slave states from controlling congress and ensuring the continuation of slavery. Although it took nearly a hundred years for the compromise to have its intended effect of ending slavery, that indeed did occur.

The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five and Georgia three.

This section sanctioned a federally mandated census to be taken every ten years. It provides for the apportioning of Representatives based upon the census. Finally, it records the political compromise allowing a temporary agreed-upon number of representatives for each state.

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

Governors of individual states have federal Constitutional authority to require a special election to fill any U.S. House of Representative's vacancy. Once again, we see that the lower house must be occupied by representatives of the people.

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

Two specific powers are granted to the lower chamber. First, they are to choose the Speaker of the House and other officers. Second, they are given the Power of Impeachment; or, the right to indict an official in order to cause a trial by the Senate.

Section 3 - The Senate

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof,2 for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

Stability of the upper chamber was ensured by only allowing for one-third of the body's term to expire every two years. Thus, there is always one-third of the Senate with at least two years experience and one-third with four years of tenure. The equality of each state was protected due to each state being allotted and equal count of Senators. The framers believed that Senators were to be representatives of each state's government; Senators were to be chosen by the Legislature of the state.

Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.3

The first election of Senators had the unique distinction of having to establish the rotation for the two-year election cycle. Classes of United States Senators were chosen by lot within several weeks of the first assembly. The Senate is still divided into classes that determine re-election cycles.

No person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

Increased experience level is required to qualify as a United States Senator. In addition to the requirements of a Representative, a Senator must be at least 30 years old and a citizen for 9 years.

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.

The Vice President is given his only real duty, save becoming President if the President is incapable of serving. Constitutionally, the Vice President is the President of the Senate and casts tie-breaking votes; however, the Vice President seldom serves physically in his role as President of the Senate and even less in the role of tie-breaker.

As with the lower chamber, the Senate chooses its own officers. This includes a President pro tempore, which acts in the place of the Vice President as President of the Senate. This is done since the Vice President is too busy not doing his other duties that were never assigned to him.

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

The rules of an Impeachment trial, responsible officers, and consequences are outlined in the final paragraphs of Article 1, Section 3. In addition to political consequences, there is an expectation that criminal charges be pursued for those found guilty in an Impeachment trial.

The framers, using less than 700 words, provided for the election, structure, qualifications, and duties of both chambers of the legislature. Truly amazing.


1This sentence was modified by the 14th Amendment, section 2. 2These words were superseded by the 17th Amendment, section 1. 3These words were superseded by the 17th Amendment, section 2.


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Censoring or Politically Correct?

The definition of politically correct: conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated.

The definition of censoring: to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable ; also : to suppress or delete as objectionable.

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Neither Censorship or Political Correctness seem to comply with the Constitution.

That is all. Carry on.



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