Monthly Archives: March 2009

Forbes: Goldman Sachs had a hand in SemGroup bankruptcy

The ongoing bankruptcy story of SemGroup LP continues to grow. Forbes has a cover story for April 13 that asks, “Did Goldman Goose Oil?” The story says Goldman Sachs, through J.Aron & Co., its commodities trading arm, was in “prime position” to know about SemGroup’s trading positions.

Ex-SemGroup CEO Tom Kivisto has been made the villain of the bankruptcy, which included leaving Kansas oil producers holding the bag for about $140 million in unpaid receipts. The story suggests he may have some company.

Ain’t technology grand?

For those of you who’ve commented – at this morning’s City Hall meeting and throughout the morning – that you couldn’t link to the city’s downtown revitalization blueprint on, you’re right.

We’re working on an updated PDF file of the document and hope to have it on soon.

Sorry about that.

KTEC’s not giving up

Over the past couple of weeks, Kansas Technology Enterprise Corp. has been making a big push to keep itself intact, despite a budget recommendation by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to move parts of the agency into the Kansas Department of Commerce and completely do away with other functions.

Officials from the private-public agency charged with helping high-tech startups get off the ground and grow has been on an e-mail petition campaign to enlist support from Kansans.

Despite some media reports suggesting that KTEC will remain intact because of actions in the Kansas House, KTEC apparently isn’t convinced that its survival is guaranteed.

Click here to see the petition.

Moran wants food safety to stay under USDA


Proposed legislation to take food safety out of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and move it to the Food and Drug Administration will be discussed this week by the House ag committee. Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Hays, gave a preview Monday night in Wichita on where he stood on the issue:
Dead set against it.

“The FDA has more on its plate than it can handle,” Moran told an audience of about 250 at the Sedgwick County Extension’s 62nd annual barbecue. “We need someone involved with food safety who understands agriculture to some degree.

“And while I have my differences with the department of ag, I would rest more easily with them. We will work hard to retain food safety in USDA.
It’s important to us as producers. Even the threat, even the rumor of BSE (mad-cow disease) can cause markets to drop.”

Want to save money? Turn off your computers

powerUSA Today has an interesting story that states U.S. companies waste billions annually by leaving on unused computers overnight.

U.S. organizations squander $2.8 billion a year to power unused machines, emitting about 20 million tons of carbon dioxide — roughly the equivalent of 4 million cars — according to a report to be released Wednesday.

Belated well wishes to Moms and Pops

It was pointed out in an e-mail that was forwarded to me that Sunday was National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day. How did I miss that?

According to the Web site Holiday Insights, this holiday is celebrated every year on March 29.

National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day celebrates small business owners. These individuals spend countless hours nurturing and growing their young enterprises. The workload demands, and lack of a hired staff, often translates into long and late hours, and many missed family and personal events. But, all in all, they love what they do. After all, they are their own boss.

So to all you Moms and Pops out there, we here at Business Casual salute you. And next year we’ll try to be on time.

Things are happening downtown

Here’s a shameless plug for a good look at the coming city council election and downtown revitalization’s role in it, courtesy of my colleague Brent Wistrom.

It would be unfortunate if the election became a referendum on downtown revitalization and the city’s role in it. The reason is simple: Regardless of your stance on downtown redevelopment, things are happening downtown.

The arena’s less than a year away from completion. Rooftops are coming, through another Dave Burk loft project and the beginning of work at Exchange Place and the Bitting Building. A grocery store announcement for downtown could come at any time – a foundational need as the city and developers recruit residents for downtown.

City officials will begin their pitch for public engagement in reshaping downtown this week. They say that public and private investments downtown are almost a dollar-for-dollar match, and have increased downtown property values by about $200 million.

Alex Garvin, the Yale professor who visited Wichita earlier this month, talked at length about how public-private partnerships can and have worked to revitalize a downtown. They’re not perfect: Witness the failure in Des Moines to replicate a unique set of walkways in Minneapolis.

Nonetheless, it would be a tragedy if the “no taxes, no way, no how” crowd cut that process short.

TARP a four-letter word?

Seems that a few banks think that the capital infusions they got a few months ago from the Treasury Department’s Troubled Assets Relief Program are now something they want to get rid of quickly.

That’s according to a story in today’s Charlotte Observer, a sister paper to the Wichita Eagle.

Was February the turning point?

Add new home sales to the list of improving February economic indicators, according to this report.

And durable goods orders, which also jumped in February – after a January that was worse than originally thought.

We’re standing by, awaiting the release of the February new and existing home sales numbers in Wichita.

Group says bank lending is up

You might want to take this with a grain of salt, but a financial services industry trade group says banks are lending money.

In fact, the Financial Services Roundtable says that its “in-depth analysis” of the Treasury Department’s banking lending survey shows that lending increased 14 percent in January.

” … TARP capital continues to fuel lending activity,” says Steve Bartlett, the roundtable’s chief executive, in a news release.

FireWire’s 25 seconds of fame

Winfield entrepreneur Todd Gentry’s FireWire got a plug on NBC’s Today show.

The flexible device used for grilling kabobs was featured as part of the Today contributor Lou Manfredini’s more than 3-minute-long spotlight on new products at the International Home and Housewares show in Chicago.

Gentry, CEO and founder of Inno Labs, FireWire’s maker, wasn’t in the video report.

But his company’s product got a 25 seconds of national exposure.

‘Final Friday’ for three banks

Federal bank regulators on Friday seized three banks, including Paola, Kan.-based TeamBank.

That was in addition to regulators from the National Credit Union Administration placing two corporate credit unions, including Lenexa-based U.S. Central Federal Credit Union, into conservatorship.

Conservatorship is a nice word for a takeover.

Friday’s action on the three banks brings the total number of bank failures this year to 20.