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Give ‘em tax dollars… They spend ‘em out of town.
Posted: 16 September 2013 09:30 AM   [ Ignore ]
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It has always rankled me that the local Chamber takes dozens of Manhattanites out of town on a January shopping spree.  They disguise it as their “Leader’s Summit”.  A convoy of locals take their dollars to Overland Park, spending a couple of days there.  Currently, we have City and County Commissioners looking at ways to save tax dollars.  Let’s look at the number of public officials who go to Kansas City to spend time ‘brown-nosing’ with the Chamber.

City of Manhattan:
City Manager
Deputy City Manager
Asst Manager(s)
City Clerk
City Attorney
5 City Commissioners


Riley County:
3 commissioners
Riley Co Legal council


JC city officials and county commissioners

Pott county commissioners and County Admininistrator

Most generally, the University is also represented.

Folks, that’s a lot of government people going to Kansas City for a funciton hosted by the MANHATTAN AREA Chamber of Commerce.  Do these folks all go on their own dime?  Of course not.  How many of those stay overnight and expense it with tax dollars?  Meals?  Auto expenses?  Overtime?

The Chamber has used the excuse that they must go out of town to “keep the attention of” the participants.  Yet, with today’s cell phones, you will have the same interruptions in KC as you would in Manhattan.  But, if the Chamber were to move the retreat to our new Convention Center, Chamber employees would no longer have a weekend getaway to Kansas City as one of their perks.

Why do our elected officials allow tax dollars to be spent on this?  What would it take to convince our local elected officials… City and County… to not only boycott the function but to restrict any City or County employees from attending.  Yep!  It might mean some political consequences during the next election cycle.  I doubt any of our local elected bodies have the spine to stand up to the Chamber.

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Posted: 16 September 2013 11:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Silly Larry.  This is what republicans do. 

Aid to the poor?  Forget it.

Gift baskets, fillet and cabernet?  Why, that’s just our tax dollars “stimulating the economy”.... in Kansas City….

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Posted: 16 September 2013 12:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Yep, Randall… I would imagine the tax dollars spent on this social event would go a long ways towards funding some of our social service programs.  But, the egos of those elected officials and government employees won’t allow them to refrain from attending.  They are wined and dined by the high-rollers of the community.

After I posted, I rec’d a communication reminding me that RCPD and the Manhattan Fire Department also send upper management people to this Overland Park social gathering.  What if we have some sore of catastorphe in the area while they’re all in Kansas City?  County administrators/commissioners, city administrators/commissioners, police management, fire department management, university management… all rubbing elbows with the Chamber in Kansas City at the same time.  Hmmmm…. maybe that’s the answer.  What would it take to reschedule Faux Pattys Day to the same day the Chamber schedules their shindig?  Would that keep all the community leaders in town?  I doubt it. 

Millions of tax dollars were given away to fund the construction of Manhattan’s new convention center.  Why in the world can’t the Chamber utilize that facility?  If the perk for their employees is a night’s stay at an Overland Park motel… have the Chamber pay for their rooms at the Manhattan Hilton… or Motel 6.

I’m waiting for one of our fiscally conscious commissoners to justify taking these personnel and tax dollars out of our community.

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Posted: 16 September 2013 01:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Question is, is part of that 1.5 million payment of our tax dollars to the Republican Chamber of Commerce, picking up the tab?  Is there ever an actual accounting done?  Or are a few numbers on a sheet of paper “good enough” in the good ol boy’s club?  Does the city ever do any of it’s own accounting?  Or do they just take the numbers the Chamber puts in front of them?

I’m betting on the laziness of the commission and it’s minions.  I’m betting nobody’s ever asked for proof… receipts or anything.  Cash giveaways, real estate giveaways, tax exemptions for churches and the chosen few are redistribution of the wealth, make no mistake.  It’s all about WHO gets the” redistributions”.

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Posted: 17 September 2013 05:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Funny thing is, Randall, we give $1 million/year to the Chamber/CVB to “promote tourism”.  Some of that money probably goes to pay the CVB staff’s perk of ‘promoting tourism’ by taking 150 people from the area… and their spouses… to Overland Park to shop.

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Posted: 17 September 2013 09:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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And the list goes on.  Superintendent of Schools and School Board attend this out-of-town shopping spree.  I’m told that the Riley County Director of Public Works has also attended.  I’m beginning to believe the tax dollar cost of vehicles, lodging, overtime, and incidentals for this excursion may run into the thousands. And, until some local elected officials will grow spine enough to simply tell the Chamber “NO!”, the waste will continue.

Again, we have facilities here in Manahttan to host this event.  Why should we taxpayers be hit with the expense of paying dozens of government officials and their wives for a trip to Kansas City… to attend an event hosted by the Manhattan Chamber?

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Posted: 17 September 2013 09:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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The silence is deafening.  Wynn?  Wynn???  Bueller?  Anyone?

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Posted: 30 September 2013 03:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I am not a fan of the travel budget.  Last year I went to the leaders retreat, I used my own car and gas.  Paid for my own registration and room – no cost to the city or the taxpayer (it was on my dime and time).  I will not attend this year.  In October the City will send a few folks off to the AUSA conference.  I will not attend again for the third straight year.  Simply because I do not believe the cost is worth the gain.  Many on the Commission support attendance at these type of events as the discussions are believed to provide some sort of benefit to the city.  I have not seen any hard data to support that view and as a result have not participated in the AUSA conference and will not attend the Chamber events at City Expense.

I am not sure the Staff and the Commission can be convinced to not attend conferences. But at least participation should be reduced to a small minimum number.

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Posted: 30 September 2013 05:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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But, Wynn.  You didn’t address a single question that was asked of you.  “Travel budget”?  How about the “retreat in Manhattan” thing?  You don’t say that the city staff travels/dines/stays on the Republican Chamber’s dime, but you imply it. 

VERY carefully worded, but said very little.  Absolutely bobolistic.  or sneadophilic?

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Posted: 01 October 2013 05:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Yes, Randall… Wynn is extremley careful in tiptoeing around the issue.  No politician in Manhattan will offend the Chamber.  It would be far too damaging to the ego if you were shunned by the “shadow government”.

Wynn… I could care less that you made a sacrifice and drove your own car at your own expense.  My question was how many City staff, County staff, School District staff, School Board members, City Commissoiners, and County Commissioners go to these annual out-of-town retreats.  And, what is the cost in time and dollars to the taxpayer?  Did every one of those public officials travel on their own dime?  How many of those public officials and/or their spouses spent nights in out-of-town hotels and went shopping in the KC area while on this junket?  No one want to cross swords with the Chamber and insist on moving the meeting to Manhattan.  To do so would be political suicide.

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Posted: 01 October 2013 11:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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What is the end result when the folks you represent and or work for do not have access to the annual “closed meeting”?

People represented by the elected government, appointed officials, city and county employees may not have the funds to go to KC as they would if they were driving to the city hall meeting room and or court house.  So much for the laws and rules on open meetings acts huh? It’s an open meeting if you can afford to go, otherwise tuff do as WE SAY.

As for staff not being convinced to not go, last time I looked they are directed by the commission that is elected BY THE PEOPLE. Every one of those people are subject to being released from their employment just as an election or recall will relieve and elected official of their duties.

An opinion might well be that this is all driven by a bunch of Two Faced, Double Talking, Word Game Playing Crooks. Otherwise known as self appointed Gods from the “Good Ole Boy Foundation”.

The public should DEMAND it be stopped. Sad part is the commission should stop it without being forced. Ethics what? This reeks of all the bad things written about corruption.

just my observation and opinion as a tax payer

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Posted: 01 October 2013 01:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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The Chamber does not pay for the attendance of City Staff or Commissioners.  That comes out of the travel budget.  I believe 12 folks from City Staff, Library and Commission were funded for the conference last year with your tax dollars.  I attended last year to see what it was all about, on my dime and time.  I oppose the use of city funding to attend the function.  I also would like to see the meeting be hosted in Manhattan.  I ask Lyle Butler about that and the desire is to have it out of town.  The logic is to get folks away from their offices etc.  The belief is that the away location makes for a better function.

Attendance is open to all and reporters take part.  So I do not believe the meeting is some kind of secret closed door session.  The Chamber has the right to conduct the meeting at any place that they feel is appropriate.  As an elected official I can attend or not attend.  When I do attend I will not do it at public expense. 

We had over a $250,000 travel budget last year.  Is the expense of these type of events costing the tax payer money?  You bet.  Each person that attends cost registration fee, mileage and hotel cost.  If they shared rides to cut expenses, it still cost about $250 a head at best.  The AUSA conference includes airfare to DC – so cost of that one is around 5K a year.

As for the comment that the public should demand that the chamber meeting in KC be stopped, that just would not be within the realm of the concept of right of assembly.  The public can demand non participation of the City Staff and Commission at least from the standpoint of expenditure of public funds.  Feel free to make comments at the Commission meeting or send email demanding that action to the commission and city.  Email addresses are on the city website.

My overall thought is that we need major scrutiny of travel budgets.  We need to limit trips to conferences that provide concrete definable measurable benefits and results.  I use the AUSA conference as an example.  At least this year only 3 folks are funded to go, the City Manager and two Commissioners.  I will not attend, simply because I do not believe that attendance provides any measurable benefit to the city.  The city manager and the other four commissioners disagree on the value of that conference.  The positive note is that while the city still participates at least the number of attendees (and cost) has declined.

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Posted: 01 October 2013 02:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I guess that did not get through very clear. An entity that gets tax monies from the city should NOT be dictating to have any meetings or conferences outside the city when they are the same that is to be promoting visitation within our own city. Let alone cost the tax payers more to go to the out of district shindig. This is a complete joke and a slam to the average taxpayer. What a crock.

Let’s say I am a franchised restaurant and I hire an outside firm to assist in promoting my company so my sales will increase. What would I think if the firm I hired set up a conference in my competitor’s restaurant for all of my management employees to go to for a conference? IS that promoting my franchise or just letting my management as well as my customers know the place of choice is better and should have our business as well as theirs? Lead by example and go elsewhere because its better there. How dumb can dumb be. Have a meeting 150 miles away because it’s too close to your office here. Find more excuses those don’t work for me. The Chamber is not my elected officials nor am I a member. So for my tax dollars to go where they want to go means absolutely nothing to me. For me they are no more than a very large money pit sucking tax payer’s dollars with no responsibility to quantify for the dollars taken. Prof is in the location chosen for the meeting to promote tourism for Manhattan and other under the table discussions. Apparently the majority of the commissioners and city staff are comfy in bed, so it would appear. Hire a firm to take your business elsewhere – good plan.

enough said - I’m preaching to a forest

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Posted: 01 October 2013 02:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Dave:  I get the point.  I am not for the conference outside of the city.  I also do not believe any city funds should be used on the conference, travel or hosting.  You make a good point about promotion of tourism and then holding your own conference away from the city.  I gave their logic as to why, but concur with your assessment. 

I have reservations about the Chamber Contract and the CVB funds.  That will be a topic of discussion in two weeks.  The Chamber Contract and CVB monies exceed one million each year.  The oversight of the contract/ funds and expenditures/uses is the issue for discussion. 

I am not 100% sure on all of the funding details for the Chamber retreat.  But if it is being funded all through private money, raised by the Chamber and does not involve contract dollars or CVB money (which I believe is the case) then I do not think the Commission or any taxpayer has the right to infringe upon their freedom of assembly.

The meetings are open to the public and reporters are present.  The KOMA applies if three or more Commissioners attend.  So while rumors of back room deals persist, I do not think that is the reality.  Can and should Commissioners attend -  yes if they feel it is worthwhile.  Should the taxpayer fund Commission attendance – no. 

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Posted: 01 October 2013 03:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Dave, you get the “Gold Star” for the day.  I’ve been vocally opposed to this “grooming of public officials” by the Chamber for years.  The public simply does not understand the big stick this Chamber weilds with local officials.  They say “frog”... public officials jump!!  Wynn won’t even address the issue.  He carefully dances around it by attacking the entire travel budget line item and stating he attended the Chamber event on his own dime.

You have it entirely correct.  The Chamber… an entitiy that receives well over $1 million/year in tax dollars… hold an annual “summit” in Kansas City.  ALL local elected officials… City, County(s), and School Board are expected to attend.  Until documented otherwise, we have to assume many of those officials travel on tax dollars to cover expenses.  The government entities are also expected to send the “monied” of their ranks.  KSU, School District, counties, and cities see numeorus administrative personnel attend this meeting… on tax dollars to cover expenses. 

And, no elected body has the spine to stand up and tell the Chamber “NO!”  They simply shrug it off and refuse to address it.

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Posted: 01 October 2013 07:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I am siding with Wynn on this one. He clearly stated that he was opposed and when he did attend it was “on his own dime”.
So why attack him when he obviously agrees with your positions? It is silly. It is a bad idea, Wynn agreed, and you keep on attacking.  Why don’t you attack the actual culprits?

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