“Playing” with tax dollars.  Tune in this afternoon!!
Posted: 08 April 2014 11:56 AM   [ Ignore ]
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5 p.m. Commission Work Session.  City staff will recommend going forward with P&R offices and Legal Department offices added to City Hall.  There will be discussion about whether to wreck out the Memorial Stage or bring it up to date.  There will be no vote, since this is a Work Session.  Would assume we will see posturing where Butler and Matta will want to tear out the stage, while the other three will want it to be left in tact and upgraded.

Once we hear that the most expensive option offered earlier will be accomodated with the new P&R and Legal Department offices, we get to hear the P&R vs. Fieldhouse discussion.  P&R has a plethora of projects planned for the immediate future.  Many of these projects are upgrades to facilities that the Fieldhouse Group wants to doze in and completely destroy.  The discussion tonight, should… SHOULD put to bed the “let’s spend $50 million to accomodate the privileged” project.  If not, we have no business spending good money to update facilities the privileged want torn down.

Could be some “interesting” discussion.

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Posted: 08 April 2014 08:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Well, pretty much the way it was expected to go.  No matter how many folks speak up in favor of saving the Memorial Stage… No matter how many veterans groups write letters and send e-mails pleading to save the Memorial Stage… it’s gone.  Three commissioners are in favor of wrecking it out and replacing it with basketball courts.  The discussion boiled down to… “How soon can we get this on a legislative meeting agenda.  One week… Two weeks…. If the veteran’s groups can’t raise a million dollars by the time we vote on this, the stage goes.”  Two commissioners are using this as a means of “cutting gubmint employees”.  A third will do whatever P&R wants.  It’ll go 3:2 to rip out the stage.

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Posted: 09 April 2014 05:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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The town’s too big for the brains of the people running it.  Another “fail” in a long line of epic failures. 

I note in the paper that another owner of one of the chosen businesses that gets to ride free on our tax contributions is building a “speakeasy”.  Ironic, don’t you think?  Using our tax dollars (because, let’s face it, WE’RE paying his) to expand his holdings.

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Posted: 09 April 2014 06:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Pretty evident, last night, minds are made up.  Amazing how there were even jokes made about public input, confirming that this Commission could care less about what the citizens think.  If one asks this Commission what their goal is, it’s to be “fiscally responsible”.  Yet, we will use one of the most expensive options available to provide P&R with new offices, while demolishing what the local veteran’s organizations see as a WWII memorial.  As soon as this issue is off the table, it sounds like we will see this “fiscally responsible” commission put together a ballot referendum to spend millions on P&R facility upgrades.  An additional ballot referendum is suggested to spend millions on street maintenance and repair. 
Previous commissions disregarded maintenance issues at swimming pools.  That resulted in City Park Pool being shut down and the voters were forced into raising our taxes to pay for new facilities.  The same direction is being taken with City streets.  Instead of spending money as we go to maintain the streets, we hand millions to the Chamber/CVB to make monthly videos of ladies jumping on hotel beds and Manhattanites “hunting for Sasquach”.  Instead of keeping our streets maintained, we will hand millions to “selected” people so they can buy up businesses, purchase private aircraft, etc.  Once the streets begin to be close due to safety issues, we will again be forced into another tax increase.  “Fiscally IRRESPONSIBLE”... but, we gotta get rid of that stage.  It’s far more important to build ne basketball courts than it is to repair the streets we drive on.  Sheesh!!!!

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Posted: 09 April 2014 10:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Larry:  I read the way the discussion went last night a bit different.  Two of the commissioners love stages and the arts.  They will vote to save the stage no matter what the data shows.  The data shows that the city needs more indoor sports facilities, it does not support keeping the stage.  The parks and recreation board all stated that the basketball courts were of more value than the stage.  The same special interest group folks were present to support the stage, presenting the same comments as before.  Not much has changed on the arguments.  The dollar amounts on what it would cost to repair the stage are clear – basically a whole bunch of money.  We knew that already.  The commission wasted money on the consultant to be told that it will cost $2,079,125 to fix the stage.  So where is the project at now?  The following options:

1.  1.5 million to renovate the current office/garage of P&R
2.  1.26 million remove seating keep stage – add P&R officers.
3.  2.95 million add P&R officer, two gym floors, remove stage and seating.
4.  1.7 million tear out front of city hall and build P&R offices.  Do nothing to the auditorium and let the special interest group raise the 2 million to fix the auditorium.
5.    3.77 million fix the stage and build the offices.

Option one is pretty much dead, no support.  Option two makes both the stage and the one gym floor less than useful and is also lacking in support. Option five is too expensive.  The argument boils down to option three or four. 
Option three is still the best overall value.  It helps support the unanimous belief that we need more indoor sports facilities, even the Field House group would agree.  All five Commissioners support the idea of having more indoor sports facilities.  It leverages the funds to get two projects done – gym space and P&R offices. But the down side is the option three would require three Commissioners to vote against the small save the stage special interest group.  One of the Commissioners is committed to avoidance of conflict and two love the arts.  So data and facts will not prevail. 

What will happen is that option four will be passed.  The stage and auditorium will remain as is.  The Special interest group will pledge to raise money to fix/renovate the facility.  They have $2000 at present. The stage project will drag on for years and the less than adequate memorial foyer will be the legacy.  Eventually the city will have to repair the roof and fix the space.  Cost by then will be over 2 million.  So we have managed to take a 2.95 million project and turn it into a 3.77 million dollar plus project that will preserve a stage that is little used.
 
Street repairs cannot be done with the dedicated parks and recreation money.  But yes we need another 30 million for that project.

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Posted: 09 April 2014 11:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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“Special interest group” being the actual VETERANS for whom the memorial building was dedicated.  Right, Wynn, they ARE a special interest group.  Too bad you have no respect for their sacrifices.

The 3 million dollar option is best, says Wynn, because it’s the one he wants.  You know, there’s a PERFECT building for P&R offices down by the library.  But, you know…. 5 blocks is just so FAR from City Hall.  How’s a Manager supposed to keep tabs on everyone?  It’s not like they have phones and the internet for communications, is it?

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Posted: 09 April 2014 11:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I certainly read the 2:2 you describe.  Hoewver, the swing vote… Rich… to me seemed committed to do whatever P&R wanted.  And, they want the BB courts. 

If the decision is to allow the veteran’s groups time to raise the money required to fix the stage, the success of that venture will depend on how well they market it to the community.  There were those who thought the Depot group was never going to raise the dollars necessary to save it.  They did.  But, we had a couple of commissioners at that time who were champions of preserving historical structures.  Today, we have a couple of commissioners who believe such preservation is a “liberal agenda” and I don’t see them supporting it… especially if those commissioners have some ego bruises to nurse. 

One of those adding public input last night suggested the State might have some matching funds available for the stage project.  If Brownback successfully campaigns and is re-elected in November, you can kiss much help there goodbye.  Should his competitior be elected, we might see more assistance in the way of matching funds.

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Posted: 09 April 2014 01:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Randall:  I served for 24 years as an Infantry Officer, I was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge.  My father is a WWII veteran, so are his four brothers.  My grandfather fought in both WWI and WWII.  My family has a long tradition of being soldiers.  No respect for Veterans?  A pretty uninformed statement on your part.  The special interest group in my mind are the folks that want to save a stage that is not being used.  They are good at PR and used the memorial angle and the trumped up WWII memorial to generate some passion.  Maybe we should take the time to show some real respect to the veterans and build a memorial that actually speaks to the topic.  The City Auditorium Peace Memorial does not, again read the plaque.  In any case the Flint Hills Veterans Coalition is working on a project that might provide a better memorial for all of the veterans.

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Posted: 09 April 2014 01:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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What about the VETERANS who spoke to saving it, Wynn?  They exist, don’t they?  And you’re blowing off everything they said when they spoke to the preservation, aren’t you?  VETERANS helped DESIGN the building, not the “plaque”.  The building was designed for certain uses, wasn’t it?

They didn’t design the plaque, did they?

They’re a “special interest”, isn’t that what you said?  Wrapping yourself in your family history says nothing about your actions as a city commissioner.

Veterans spoke at the public meeting, in support of keeping it in it’s original state.  After which, when a vote was taken, you publicly rheemed out everyone who voted differently than the way you expected.  Then there was a week of ranting on these fora, basically rheeming them out all over again. 

I suggest to you, Wynn, that you’ve got some kind of emotional baggage tied up in this, and it’s not concern for the wishes of the veterans.

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Posted: 09 April 2014 04:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Randall:  My point is that the large group of Veterans do not all speak in the same voice.  A few support the stage others like myself do not.  So yes that sub group of Veterans is a special interest group.  They do not represent all Veterans.  A few have an emotional attachment to the stage, and are looking at the history through filtered glasses.  The facts are still stubborn things.  The building is the memorial and the inscription on the wall (that does not mention WWII) is the end result of what ever effort was put forth in 1948 to 1954.  So if the intent of the project was to create a WWII memorial, it clearly failed.  I have looked at the facts/data and as the parks and recreation board members said last night, we need gym space above and beyond the stage.  But the number one goal is to - after 20 plus years get the Parks and Recreation offices improved.  That will happen in one fashion or another at City Hall.  I will support that effort, with or without the stage - the stage was never the primary goal.  The deputy city manager hit it on the head last night by stating that the two projects should be separated.  That separation and final resolution of this wicket will take place first meeting in May.  It is correct to state that I was not overly impressed by Commissioners that voted twice for a project and then waffled after it was set in motion.  That action has delayed final resolution of the Parks and Recreation office facility (unanimous commission established) goal by one year.

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Posted: 09 April 2014 04:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Interesting.  I was just reading the article about the session.  Looks like I wasn’t saying anything new, but just repeating what as said.

OK, so now the veterans ARE a special interest, because you, as a veteran, aren’t interested in… in fact, against… what THEY are?  So, of course, THEY are looking at things wrong.. through tinted “glasses’?

AGAIN, VETERANS had a hand in designing this building, including deciding the USAGE of it by design.  They were acting in concert as a group, not as citizens, but as veterans.  Same for the people who spoke to you about their desires for the retention of the original design.

Yes, Wynn, facts ARE stubborn things.  But no match for someone who believes anyone who doesn’t agree with him is a “special interest”.

“not overly impressed”?  These people sit beside you and must ” impress you”, or they get a good public rheeming.  Am I reading that right?

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Posted: 10 April 2014 07:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Randall:  What I believe is that disagreement on any topic does not equal disrespect.  I can respect the Veterans that spoke and clearly as a retired infantryman fully understand the sacrifices they made.  But the simple fact that they are veterans does not mean I or anyone else has the obligation to agree with all of their opinions, desires, wishes or interpretations of history. 

I do use the term special interest group to define or describe the activities not of the veterans, but of the collection of people that are pushing for saving the stage (that group includes some veterans and several other folks in the community).  I believe it is an appropriate label, that does not carry any negative connotation.  A Special Interest group is defined as:
An interest group (also called an advocacy group, lobbying group, pressure group, or special interest) is a group, however loosely or tightly organized, that is determined to encourage or prevent changes in public policy without trying to be elected.

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Posted: 10 April 2014 08:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Would you agree that, when your fellow commissioners were moved by the pleas of the veterans to vote against this thing, you showed your disagreement in a way that was disrespectful?

Of course you use the term “special interest group” as a negative. Have you ever used the term in a positive sentence on these fora? 

And, for the record, I believe it IS disrespectful of the veterans who spoke to preservation to label them and imply that they were fitted with tinted glasses, dressed up and trotted out to promote an “agenda”, just so that you can ignore their concerns.

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