Saturday, April 28, 2007

Carlos Mayans: No regrets and exploring new paths

When former Mayor Carlos Mayans goes to Sam's Club to pick up a couple racks of ribs, people still put out their hands and open their arms like they did a few months ago. The sprinkler guy comes up to his door with wet hands, eager to shake hands. Letters have filled his mailbox and his supporters, friends and family are as close as ever.

"How can you be saddened by that?" Mayans asked in a wide-ranging conversation with The Hall Monitor on Friday.

People ask if he'll run for another public office. He tells them the rumors about a run for a state senate seat are just that -- rumors. But, he said, "I'm not saying I will never run again."

He's been meeting with a lot of people about opportunities in business and other organizations, but he's not interested in publicizing that, except to say he's not getting back into the insurance business. For now, he's trying to find something challenging that he can have fun with, he said. He's reading Foreign Policy, the Washington D.C.-based global politics magazine, as well as books about American cities and China's complicated rise. He's even explored work with the human rights group Amnesty International. "My biggest challenge is trying to rest," said Mayans, who, as mayor, was known to keep himself so busy he'd just drink a Slim-Fast shake for lunch.

Mayans said he has no regrets about the April election, where he was easily ousted by Carl Brewer. "It wasn't one thing," he said. "Not the money, not the media, not the organization. It just didn't feel right the whole time. But I've got a lot to be thankful for."

"How many people can say they're in the annals of history?" said Mayans, who also spent a decade in the Kansas House of Representatives. "There's not a lot of people that get to do that."

Friday, April 27, 2007

Finalists annouced for top education spot

The Kansas Department of Education announced today two finalists to be the top education guru in the state.
The finalists are Alexa Posny, director of the office of special education in Washington, D.C and Marilou Joyner, executive director of the CEO Blackwell Education Support Team, an educational consultanting firm. She is also a former executive director of the Kansas City Missouri School District Higher Education Partnership and a former assistant education commissioner in Missouri.

Those in Kansas education circles will remember Posny as the former deputy commissioner of education here in Kansas.

The two finalists were narrowed down from five. The names of the other three were not released.

Here's the skinny on the two finalists:

Alexa Posny

  • Posny was a finalist during the previous search for commissioner. The board chose Bob Corkins.
  • During her leadership, Kansas was viewed as a "national leader in the inclusion of students with disabilities in the statewide accountability system" according to the U.S. Department of Education website.
  • Posny started her career as a teacher for students with disabilities. She has been a director of special education in school districts in Kansas, Wisconsin, and Illinois.
Marilou Joyner

The two candidates will be interviewed again May 7, 2007, at the Kansas State Department of Education. Interviews will begin at 1:00 p.m.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Sciortino sells his expertise

Former Sedgwick County Commissioner Ben Sciortino is now working from the other side of the commission bench. The man who lost his seat in November to Commissioner Gwen Welshimer is now starting up his own lobbying business: Sciortino & Associates.

So far, the only associate is his wife Mary, who will act as his secretary. Sciortino will lobby and advocate for businesses trying to cut through the city and county's bureaucratic red tape.

"After eight years in the county, I have a very good idea of how things work," Sciortino said. "I have maintained excellent relationships with the electeds on both sides of the street. If a company needs help with a zone change or help lobbying a particular item, that's what I'll do."

Sciortino will attend every Wichita City Council and Sedgwick County Commission meeting and will keep tabs on current and upcoming projects, he said. Most of his services will be geared toward businesses, not individual citizens.

"Probably more companies than everyday citizens because I probably won’t come real cheap," Sciortino said with a chuckle.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Have Wichita and Sedgwick County found peace?

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the day Wichita and Sedgwick County made peace.

On April 17, 1987, city and county officials gathered in the middle of Central Avenue dressed as American Indians, laid down the hatchets they were carrying and signed a peace treaty to symbolize a new era of govenrment cooperation. The event was the brainchild of former Commissioner Dave Bayouth who said the newfound peace would help bring jobs to the area, the Wichita Eagle-Beacon reported at the time.

"The event, billed as the 'Central Street Summit', began with the 10 officials moving up to a table draped with Indian blankets. There, they put down their hatchets - a symbol that city-county strife is now buried in the past. Truman Ware, the chairman of the board of the Mid-America All-Indian Center, presided over the passing of the peace pipe, reminding officials of its significance," the paper reported on April 18, 1987.

Click the "read more" link to see The Eagle's full front page story from that day.



It was a grand show for the city and the county.

In front of about 2,000 city and county employees and guests - including the governor - the five City Council members and the five county commissioners stepped up to a table in the middle of Central Avenue on Friday, laid down the hatchets they were carrying, passed an Indian peace pipe and signed a treaty with pens passed out by the acting county administrator.

The ceremony, the brainchild of County Commissioner Dave Bayouth, was to symbolize what government officials say will be a new era of cooperation between the city and the county and commitment to work together to bring jobs to the Wichita-Sedgwick County area.

Employees from both sides of the street agreed it was great to spend some time outdoors on a beautiful spring day, but as for long-term cooperation, well . . . time will tell.

It's nice; it lets the public know that we're willing to stand across the table from one another and smile at each other," said County Commission Chairman Tom Scott.

It does show people we're willing to sit down and talk about our differences," he added.

Councilman Sheldon Kamensaid the celebration showed the community and state legislators that we're willing to work together."

The event, billed as the Central Street Summit," began with the 10 officials moving up to a table draped with Indian blankets. There, they put down their hatchets - a symbol that city-county strife is now buried in the past. Truman Ware, the chairman of the board of the Mid-America All-Indian Center, presided over the passing of the peace pipe, reminding officials of its significance.

Wichita was always a place of peace for all the Indians of the plains," he said.

Mel Kahn, professor of political science at Wichita State University, who served as master of ceremonies, gave a brief speech complete with biblical references. He said the city and county were fingers of the same hand and had to work together for the greater good of the community.

After Kahn spoke, Gov. Mike Hayden sounded the gong of economic development with comments of the mutual interests of the state and local governments. Our plans for economic development will fit with your plans for economic development . . . we want to work with you hand in hand," Hayden said.

After the ceremony there was a free lunch for all city and county employees and the guests. Food and soft drinks were donated by Skaggs Alpha Beta, Burger King, Wendy's of Wichita, Long John Silvers, New York Hotdog Company, 7-Up Bottling Company, Rainbo Bakery, Pizza Hut, Ohse Meat Products and the Canteen Corporation; other services were donated by Browning Ferris Industries and Superior Sound.

All content © 1987 WICHITA EAGLE-BEACON
and may not be republished without permission.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

How political will filling Council District 1 vacancy get?

This morning, the race for District 1 officially begins, reviving a political season that ended just two weeks ago with a citywide election. Several people have already made their interest in the seat known, including at least two from the District 1 Advisory Board.

But the process is open to a lot of politics. Council members learned Friday that they can select whoever they want to sit on the screening board that reviews candidates and forwards names to the Council for a final vote. So it may not just be the DAB Carl Brewer selected and the Council confirmed vetting candidates -- especially if several DAB members are in the running. And the Council doesn't have to select from the people the screening committee forwards to them either. They can nominate whoever they want and the first candidate to get four votes wins.

That seems to bypass the petition requirement, but, in a meeting Friday, City Attorney Gary Rebenstorf said the Council can nominate whoever they want so long as they live in District 1 (as outlined in the map above).
District 5 Council member Jeff Longwell suggested the council allow candidates to come to a Council meeting and give a short speech. Longwell said that worked well when he was on the Maize School Board. Other Council members agreed, indicating they'll probably set a date to hear from candidates.

"It gives us an opportunity to understand where they're coming from a little bit," Longwell said.

A candidate could be voted on as soon as May 15.

Monday, April 16, 2007

$10 million behind, Brownback leads the local money race

Sen. Sam Brownback trails Republican presidential hopefuls Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain by more than $10 million in campaign fundraising, according to recent finance reports. But the Kansas Republican easily leads all presidential candidates in the Sunflower State and the Wichita area. That's according to analysis by The New York Times that came out over the weekend. Perhaps not surprising, Brownback's home state gave the largest share of the $1.3 million he has raised in contributions of $200 or more. In all, more than $123,000 -- or 9 percent -- of his money came from Kansas --$44,182 from western and central areas, including Wichita (Zip codes 67000 to 67999) and $79,307 came from the northeast part of the state. (See Federal Election Commission reports here.)

Top donors in Wichita include Adam Beren, who frequently funds campaigns, Larry Flemming of the LDF Companies, James S. Kastens, and Gerald and Priscilla O'Shaughnessy. All gave $2,100 or more. The second best Kansas showing was from Giuliani, who took in $32,100 statewide.

Despite recent momentum from Democrats in this mostly red state and their dominance on the national fundraising scene, Brownback out-raised all the top Democratic candidates combined. Former vice presidential candidate John Edwards led the way in Kansas with $23,155; Sen. Barack Obama drew $15,716, including two $250 donations from Urban League of Kansas President Brian Black, and Sen. Hillary Clinton collected $14,720.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

What's the Council up to next Tuesday? Dirt roads n' beer

It looks like the big issue at the Council meeting will be Sunday sales -- that's right, your representatives may let liquor stores sell you a bottle of wine, a fifth of whiskey or a six-pack of brew on Sundays. Sharon Fearey has made it clear she supports it, but she won't be there Tuesday. And the rest of the Council has been as clear as a pint of Guinness stout on this issue. They say they have no hardline opinions and want to hear what everyone has to say -- although the absence of strong opinion says members are probably leaning toward voting in favor of it. Otherwise it probably would have been yanked off the agenda Friday. Which ever way it goes, a group of 6,701 registered Wichita voters could force the issue to a ballot with a valid petition. (For more, see The Eagle's story and voter poll.)

After the Sunday suds are voted up or down, the council will reopen its discussion on paving dirt roads. That's an issue that Council member Jim Skelton says the city needs to look at. He and the city's street engineers say many of the dirt roads remaining in the city may stay dirt forever if the city doesn't reduce what it costs homeowners to pave streets. There's no vote -- it's just something Skelton wants addressed publicly. It should be an interesting first full meeting under Mayor Carl Brewer and newly-elected District 5 Council member Jeff Longwell. And there's more than just booze and dirt roads...

  • The Council will hear from John Kemp about his opposition to the Boeing landfill near MacArthur and K-15, which the company wants to either give to the city or close.

  • Members will vote whether to sign off on a grant agreement that could give the Kansas Food Bank $297,000.

  • They'll vote whether to adopt a new neighborhood revitalization plan that could allow some tax rebates for some income-qualified people to use to fix up their homes. (Read more about it in this PDF.)

  • And they'll review an annual report that shows compliance with their tax breaks, like industrial revenue bonds.

  • See the entire agenda and related reports here.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Is the Solar Field religious?

Two artists' proposal for a Solar Field in Sedgwick County Park has riled some Wichitans who say the solar calendar, sundial and American Indian labyrinth might be more than just a scientific exhibit.

After a story appeared in Tuesday's Eagle, three Sedgwick County Commissioners received e-mails and phone calls from constituents questioning whether artist Steve Murillo's outdoor art installation might be religious or cultish.

Murillo's proposal includes arranging about 120 stones in three separate circles. One circle would act as a sundial, one as a solar calendar and one as an American Indian medicine wheel or labyrinth. He was scheduled to appear at Wednesday's commission meeting to ask permission to use 1 acre of land in the park for the exhibit.

Commissioners deferred their decision, saying they needed to develop a long-term plan for the park. The decision was made either late Tuesday afternoon or early Wednesday morning, despite the fact they had first heard of Murillo's proposal nearly eight months ago.

The Rev. Peggy Elliott was at the meeting prepared to speak against the installation, but left when the issue was deferred.

"What these exhibits tend to attract are kids into the Gothic, people who are on the edge of living and because of that they tend not to attract enough of the city who feels comfortable enough to go there," she said. "Gangs, sometimes, will tend to be attracted there because it has a very mystical connotation. It’s not a positive thing."

Commissioner Kelly Parks said he received a few phone calls and e-mails from people asking what "metaphysical" means and another woman who said she thought it was a cult.

"The other (caller) said she thought it would open the door for many other religions, and I said, 'This is not a religious thing.' I certainly did not perceive this as a religious thing," Parks said.

Murillo said his only purpose is to create a respite in a busy city. "These pause points, these places of reflection and meditation, are opportunities to increase our enjoyment of life and our 'well-being'," he wrote in an e-mail. "These stone circles with centers offer us a place in the park where we can 'center' ourselves."

What happens now to Murillo's proposal is up in the air. Developing a master plan for Sedgwick County Park could take as long as a year.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Brewer backers get their donations back -- and convictions

At least one of the men convicted yesterday of underpaying Wichita Police detectives for scrap metal during a sting operation also gave a maximum $500 contribution to Mayor Carl Brewer's campaign on Feb. 27 while he was awaiting his court date. Louie Marks is one of five men from Kansas Can who gave Brewer $500 campaign contributions on that day in February. Not all of them faced charges, but Sheryl Wohlford, Brewer's campaign treasurer, tells The Hall Monitor that all five maximum contributions from Marks and his family members were returned "several weeks ago." (See a PDF of Brewer's campaign report)

Louie and John J. Marks face probation when they are sentenced on May 18. Another family member who apparently did not donate, Bobby Marks, was sentenced to 41 months in prison for stealing scrap metal and selling it back to the family business. (For more on the scrap metal case, see a story in today's Wichita Eagle by Tim Potter and Ron Sylvester.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

From District 84 to District 1? She might try

Add State Rep. Oletha Faust-Goudeau to the list of people who might take a shot at filling the District 1 City Council seat that Carl Brewer gave up yesterday. The third-term Democrat said she is seriously considering the position and has a petition that she'll need 100 people to sign in order to be eligible. (See rules here.) But, she tells The Hall Monitor, she's not yet certain. If she did run, she says she would step down from her District 84 House seat, leaving it up to the precinct committee to appoint someone to complete her term in the Legislature.

So why consider giving up one seat for another? Faust-Goudeau says when she's talking to her constituents in District 84 (See District map PDF), they're often looking for quick fixes to their problems -- be it repairing sidewalks or eliminating blight. And in her district, which contains "Beat 44" the area widely known as having some of the worst crime and blight in the city, she feels she could have more immediate impact on people's problems than as a lawmaker in Topeka. "I am a more hands-on type of person, and I interact with people on a regular basis," she said. But she said she doesn't want the race to fill Brewer's spot to get messy. There are a lot of qualified candidates, she said, noting some of those those mentioned in The Hall Monitor's previous posts. "I'm certainly not trying to create any friction," she said. "I'm a lover, not a fighter."

The race begins next Tuesday when the vacancy is officially announced during the Council meeting. "By the last day, we'll probably get 101 names thrown in the hat," Faust-Goudeau said.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Black men examined, local examples shine

While many organizations in the nation are examining the state of black men in America, Wichita has several examples of black men succeeding in the highest levels of government.

Carl Brewer was sworn in today as mayor at the Wichita City Council meeting. He adds to the diversity of local government officials. African-Americans are serving as city manager, assistant city manager, city spokesman, chief of police, assistant county manager and director of the city's visitors and tourism department.

It's a line-up that shouldn't be taken for granted.

The swearing-in comes days before the National Urban League plans to release its State of Black America report, which will focus on the status of black men in America. Sen. and presidential hopeful Barack Obama even wrote the forward to the report, which is set to be released April 17.

"Although many black men are doing well, glaring gaps continue to exist between black men and their white counterparts," a press release for the report reads. "These gaps are caused and aggravated, in large measure, by the underperformance of a disproportionate number of black men in a variety of areas and for a variety of reasons."

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Grading Kansas

The US Chamber of Commerce released their state-by-state report card on education and it looks like Kansas might need some tutoring.

The state received high marks in overall academic achievement and for students of low-income and minority students.

The organization also gave Kansas a high score in the return on investment category because "student achievement in Kansas is high relative to state spending on education."

But then the report card gets grim.

Kansas receives a D for rigor of standards mainly because of math and science curriculum standards and high school graduation requirements not aligned with college and workforce needs. Also adding to the low grade was the state's lack of high school exit exams.

Coming out of the woodwork...

As mayor-elect Carl Brewer thanked his constituents at his final neighborhood breakfast this morning, The Hall Monitor couldn't help but notice two familiar faces in the crowd - Lavonta Williams and Treatha Brown Foster.

These two names have popped up before on The Hall Monitor as possible candidates for the district 1 seat vacancy.

Williams who is a teacher in the Wichita school district said she was thinking about the possibility. Brown-Foster said she was "seriously considering it".

For whoever fills Brewer's old slot, it's not going to be an easy job, he told the crowd today.
"There are going to be high expectations," he said. "You'll have to perform like I did or better. It's going to take alot of commitment and time away from home. Don't think it's going to be an easy deal."

For more on the requirements to be considered for the council seat, see our previous post here.

Live from the 10th floor? Maybe

You won't see it on TV, but every other Thursday at 1:30 p.m. the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission meets on the 10th floor of City Hall to decide what this city will look like. It's often decided in pieces -- such as can a subdivision expand or can someone sell a house and turn it into a business. Other times, it's not so simple. For example, can a Wal-Mart SuperCenter move in or is it OK to relocate some wetlands to make way for development?

Some of the city's most contentious issues are first ruled on at the MAPC. The City Council can always overrule, but the MAPC's decisions usually set the tone. Now some City Council members, such as Paul Gray and Sharon Fearey, think it would be best to broadcast the meetings since the decisions can change the face of a neighborhood. But a $67,225 remodel of their meeting room that the Council will vote on Tuesday doesn't include broadcasting capabilities -- just audio and visual additions to improve the information flow during the meetings. Fearey and others are asking for broadcasting capabilities. In a meeting Friday, City Manager George Kolb said he would bring back some new prices with broadcast included. "We will do the TV wiring," he said after Fearey questioned it.

As it stands today, here's what's on the city's purchase list:
21 wireless microphones
Receiver and mixer for the mics
22 4 inch speakers (two-ways with woofers and tweeters)
A 60x80 inch fabric screen
Sanyo projector with computer interfaces
A podium
Hook-ups for reporters to patch into the system with audio/visual recorders

Friday, April 6, 2007

Going green... and building up downtown at the same time

City Council members say there's no doubt that more parking is needed downtown, especially with the forthcoming arena and all the commercial and residential developments that have been envisioned in the blocks around it. But they're also thinking about green space for playgrounds or just benches and trees to give people a place to chill out. Green roofs even came up.

City planners are proposing that 5 to 10 percent of each development, be it a shopping area or office building, should be green space. City Council member Sharon Fearey said in a workshop last week that she's hoping the city can convince developers to put their pieces together to make larger open areas in the heart of downtown. She also advocated for green roofs, a concept used in many cities to cut down on the heat generated by all the blacktop, cut energy costs in the buildings and offer grassy space in the most unlikely of spots -- several stories above ground. Fearey said green roofs could be integrated into parking ramps since many people don't like parking on the top level anyway because there's no protection from summertime heat or weather.

Read more about green roofs at this industry website. Read more about these types of concepts in this National League of Cities article. See the green roof atop the new Minneapolis Library here.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Wanted: someone to lead Kansas education

The Hall Monitor has learned that the Kansas State Board of Education has chosen five candidates in the search for the state's next top education guru.

The board members met in late March with the National Association of State Boards of Education. The national organization is helping the board conduct a nationwide search for the next commissioner. Former commissioner Bob Corkins resigned last November after some conservative members of the board lost their re-election campaigns. That changed the board majority from conservative to moderate.

For the moment, the identities of the five candidates is hush-hush. Board vice-chair and Wichita's representative Carol Rupe said that the board read all the applications that were presented to them by the search firm but she couldn't give out any of the candidate's names. "I don't know if that's public information yet," she said.

All five candidates will be interviewed April 26.

What's the Council up to next? Lots of ceremony

  • Here's what Tuesday's City Council meeting looks like: Pray, Pledge of Allegiance and then ceremony (swear in the new mayor), ceremony (swear in a new council member), ceremony (tribute to Bob Martz). Oh, and once the new Council lineup is in place, they'll dive into several issues.
  • Here are the hottest items:

  • Pick a new vice-mayor to replace Paul Gray, who is finishing his one-year term. (See procedure here.)

  • Vote to sign an agreement with the US Army Corps of Engineers to do a massive, $4.5 million flood protection project on the Cowskin Creek that will essentially cut a 300-foot wide overflow shelf into the shoreline. City drainage engineers say it could reduce flooding by more than a foot in some residential areas during the type of downpour that comes about once every 100 years. (See previous Eagle story.)

  • Consider a $45,000 contract for drug and alcohol testing of transportation, police and fire employees. That kicks in some new random tests agreed the unions agreed to about a year ago, and it comes at a time when both the police and fire unions' men and women are working under an expired contract.
  • Decide whether to OK a $67,225 remodel of the planning department's meeting room that includes audio/visual components.
  • Rename Harvest Park, 9500 Provincial Lane, as "Bob Martz Park" in honor of former District 5 City Council member Bob Martz, who died of an apparent heart attack in January.
  • Vote to rezone an oddly shaped swath of land near McConnell Air Force Base to "Air Force Base District" as part of the city's massive rezoning around the base to show military officials who may be preparing the next round of base closures McConnell is prepared for future expansion and has terrorism safeguards.
  • See the full agenda.

Kansas health: truth in numbers

Want to know how long people are staying married in Kansas, what people in Kansas are dying from or what age group is having more babies out-of-wedlock?

Don't look to the gossip columns. Look to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, which released its 2005 Summary of Kansas Vital Statistics Tuesday. It's the most up-to-date information on Kansas birth, deaths and marriages available from the state agency.

Among other interesting facts:
- Kansans are continuing to delay marriage.
- Slightly over half of the Kansans seeking abortions were 15 to 24.
- The black infant death rate continues to be over two times higher than the rate for whites.

For the inside scoop, see the PDF report here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

A long night... and it's not getting any easier

It was 2 a.m. by the time Mayor-elect Carl Brewer got out of his election party at the Courtyard by Marriot in Old Town. And he was up before sunrise and working by 7:30 a.m. today to figure out how he'll leave his post at Spirit AeroSystems in the next few weeks and responding to a batch of congratulatory e-mails.

At his neighborhood city hall, he got hit with TV interview after TV interview after Hall Monitor interview this afternoon. He even picked up a cold somewhere along the way. It's not getting any less hectic. He's setting up meetings with the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce (to talk about bringing in new businesses), City Manager George Kolb (to talk about a citywide wireless internet system), newly elected Council member Jeff Longwell (to get to know him better) and others.

Saturday morning, he'll be at Ryan's Grill Buffet & Bakery, 3323 N. Rock Rd. (See map.), for his monthly breakfast with community residents -- only this time near record attendance is expected. Some of them are likely to be people who want to fill the District 1 seat Brewer is leaving. "I think you'll see who's interested if you come there," Brewer said.

(People interested in petitioning for Brewer's seat can learn how the city fills vacancies here. See the full city ordinance here.And see a map of District 1 here.)

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Who should fill Brewer's City Council position?

As people sipped Coronas and sodas and mingled among the crowd at Carl Brewer's campaign party Tuesday night, The Hall Monitor was working the scene, trying to find out who's going to fill Brewer's shoes in District 1. We've got a list of potential contenders and we're hoping you'll add to it by clicking on the "comments" link below. The right person will need 100 signatures from district residents, an affirming vote from the District Advisory Board and a majority vote of the City Council. Let us know what you think and see what we heard by clicking "read more."

Here's a glimpse of people's reactions to the now-pressing question:
Asked about the vacancy, former mayor Bob Knight pointed to Rip Gooch, the former state senator and former City Council member. Gooch, however, said, "I've done that." He said maybe his daughter Bonita Gooch, publisher of The Community Voice, could take it on. She has a background in public administration, he said. Several people have urged her to step in, he said. Rev. Titus H. James came up too. He's the pastor of North Heights Christian Church.

Brewer said there's "an ocean" of good people who could fill his seat. He said many of them are on his District Advisory Board. Lavonta Williams seems to be high on the list. She appeared in Brewer's campaign ads, boasting Brewer's neighborhood clean-up efforts. She's also a teacher and is on the Visioneering diversity task force. James Thompson's name also surfaced -- as did the rest of the DAB, which includes: Gerald Domitrovic, Shane Dundas, Treatha Brown-Foster, Steve Roberts, Debra Miller-Stevens, Inga Taylor and Shontina Tipton.

Tell us who you think will be able to get 100 signatures, support of the DAB and four votes from the City Council.

Want another sales tax?

Struggling with rising costs for the Sedgwick County Jail and the new aviation training center at the Jabara Airport, county commissioners debated this morning whether a sales tax could solve their debt problems.

The Hall Monitor knows what you're thinking: We already have a 1 cent sales tax and it's for the downtown arena. True enough, but that sales tax ends Dec. 31, 2007. Commissioner Tim Norton wondered if the county could simply start another sales tax after that.

"I don't think people want to hear about a property tax increase," Norton said. "We either wait for the Legislature to allow us to impose sales taxes on our own or we wait for the arena sales tax to end. That could pay for a whole lot of public safety."

Norton likened a sales tax to paying cash out of your wallet.

"At least the pain is over in 30 months," he said. "It's like digging into your pocket and saying, 'Let's pay cash instead of putting it on a credit card.'"

Commissioner Gwen Welshimer shook her head at Norton's suggestion. "I think we should cut down on things that aren't mandated (by the state)."

She suggested downsizing costs for museums, minority businesses and consultants.

"A sales tax is the lesser of two evils," she conceded. "If you don't want to spend it, don't buy it. At least there's a choice."

Monday, April 2, 2007

Where to party with the candidates

Want to see the face of victory or defeat? How about listen to a consolation or victory speech? How about free pretzels and punch? It all happens Tuesday night -- when candidates rise and fall.

Carl Brewer's watch party will be at 7 p.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott in Old Town, 820 E. 2nd St. Mayor Carlos Mayans' party starts at 7:30 p.m. at The Broadview Hotel, 400 W. Douglas. Les Osterman isn't planning on a party. Sue Schlapp's party will start at 7 p.m. at BG Bolton’s Sports Grill, 11423 E 13th Street. Paul Tobia will be at his home.

School board candidates Karl Peterjohn, Cindy Duckett and John Stevens will have a watch party at Oscar's Sports Box at 353 N. Mead. Jeff Davis, Barb Fuller, and Betty Arnold, will be at the River City Brewery at 150 N. Mosley. Kevass Harding will make an appearence there but will spend most of the night at his church with his supporters at 1502 N. Dellrose.
The Hall Monitor reporters will hit as many of these places as possible. Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Church stakes claim in future gambling zone

During the Hall Monitor's weekend watch, the Rev. Terry Fox, a vocal gambling critic, announced that his church has purchased one acre of land in the heart of what could become a gambling hot-spot.

Summit church plans to build in the commercial development district at Wild West World Amusement Park. The Park City property sets across the street from the Wichita Greyhound Park where a new bill would allow slot machines to be installed. The bill also allows destination casinos in four areas of the state - in either Sedgwick or Sumner Co., Ford County, Wyandotte County and either Cherokee or Crawford County. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has promised to sign the bill into law.

Fox said Summit Church is now in a prime position to minister to people with gambling addictions.

"We want to be a church that - rather than criticizing and complaining - will be here to help people," said Fox, who added that the church could break ground before this year ends.

Read more about the church's plans in Monday's Eagle.