Monthly Archives: March 2007

Mayoral candidates agree: shopping bags on heads don’t make sense

Mayoral candidates Carl Brewer and Carlos Mayans say those people with shopping bags, tickets and a dinner plate on their heads don’t make much sense to them.

“I probably would have used something a little different myself,” Brewer said, laughing. “I’ve never been able to figure out exactly what the catch was to it.”

“I think you said it all, it’s a little different,” Mayans said.

Their comments came during the candidates’ last face-to-face debate on KNSS NewsRadio 1330 this morning after host Gene Countryman asked whether the taxpayer-funded signs, which are on billboards all over the state, were a good idea.

“It just seems baffling to me,” Countryman said. (Get a podcast of the show here.)

The Greater Wichita Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and Greteman Group, which made the ads, also took some heat in 2004 when the ad campaign was first displayed. The slogan — “We got the goods” — didn’t sound right to some grammar hawks. Ad writers, however, said the casual wording was intentional — like the “Got Milk” campaign.

Election Commissioner predicts 20 percent (again)

In February, Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Bill Gale predicted 20 percent of registered voters would cast a ballot in the primary. Only 13 percent of those registered showed up. Given general elections have better turnout, Gale is sticking with 20 percent again Tuesday. It probably won’t help that the National Weather Service forecasts a slight chance of thunderstorms for Tuesday. Rain tends to keep voters home. But a barrage of last minute campaigning might counteract it.

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Partisan support for nonpartisan offices

Want lower taxes, better jobs, accountability, economic growth, personal freedom and limited government? The Sedgwick County Republican Party says their folks can do it — even in the non-partisan offices of mayor, city council and school board.

That’s the message in a recent Sedgwick County Republican Party mail-out flier that says “Wichita wins with Republican principles.” It lists Republicans Carlos Mayans, Sue Schlapp, Paul Gray and both Paul Tobia and Jeff Longwell for city races. Also on their list: Cindy Duckett, John Stevens, Karl Peterjohn and Jeff Davis for Wichita School Board positions. Then, the tiny asterisks: “*We encourage you to support the candidate of your choice.”

It’s not just the Rs showing their party colors, though. Mayoral candidate Carl Brewer, a Democrat, has also had help from his party — most notably from former Lt. Governor Tom Docking, who was one of three prominent Democrats to endorse Brewer in a letter sent to local Dems.

For more on the partisan nature of non-partisan elections and list of candidates’ registered party affiliations, see this previous post.

Party on: ticket prices drop for R&B show

Want to see Earth, Wind & Fire on Saturday, but your money is funny and your change is strange?

Don’t fret, you’ve got people. No, not H&R Block, but organizers of the Downing Concert Series, who have made more $35 tickets available.

Talk about a discount.

And if you paid more for your Kansas Coliseum seat, there’s no need to complain. Every dollar raised through ticket sales from the concert, a pre-party and gala dinner will benefit the Center for Health and Wellness, the Boys and Girls Clubs of South-Central Kansas and The Opportunity Project school. These are organizations that are investing in children and healthcare in our community.

Now that’s worth singing about.

Catch Friday’s Eagle for more information or visit

10th and Volutsia clean-up cost the city $12,000

The dump of a yard at 10th and Volutsia was probably the strangest and most controversial clean-up in the city’s history. It wasn’t cheap either.

It cost the city $12,000 to clean up the mess. (Watch Sunflower’s video of the clean up at this link.)

Here’s what Environmental Services Director Kay Johnson had to say about it, according to the District 1 Advisory Board minutes: “Basically, we could not go behind the fence and the property suffered years of neglect, which was an issue. Turn over in staff was another issue. Municipal Court had no jurisdiction to enforce the law and it was not until the District Court intervened those things changed. It cost the City $12,000 to clean up that property.” (See it all in this PDF of the minutes)

Fight against blight gains unlikely "partners"

The City of Wichita and Sunflower Community Action’s working relationship is improving after the nonprofit group’s meeting with city officials to discuss run-down properties.

The city agreed to provide updates to Sunflower in April and May after Sunflower revealed its “Dirty 20″ list of properties to City Spokesman Van Williams and the city’s Office of Central Inspections and Environmental Services department leaders. Both sides considered the meeting a success – the city was pleased with Sunflower’s grassroots efforts to clean up blight in Central-Northeast Wichita and Sunflower was pleased the city started cases on several of the properties.

“We got to talk to each other, and not through the media or other groups,” Williams said, “and the communication benefited from that.”

Still, four Sunflower members are going to trial on misdemeanor charges the city pressed against them for illegal dumping and trespassing during a protest at City Manager George Kolb’s house in December. The group hoped to pressure Kolb to clean up dumping at a house at 10th and Volutsia.

Mayans doesn’t like polls, polls don’t like him

Ask Mayor Carlos Mayans about polls, and he’ll tell you he hasn’t taken any in six campaigns (five for state representative, one for mayor). A self-described populist, he says there’s only one real poll — Election Day. Mayoral candidate Carl Brewer, meanwhile, spent $14,000 on polling and phone banks.

Now a poll has been taken by KWCH Channel 12 and The Wichita Eagle. It shows Brewer up 22 percent over Mayans in the race for mayor. The automated phone survey polled 470 likely voters and was conducted by Survey USA a week before the April 3 election.

Of those asked, 58 percent plan to vote for Brewer, 36 percent plan to vote for Mayans and 6 percent said they were undecided or planned to pick someone else, presumably a write-in. There’s a 4.6 percent margin of error. In the poll, Brewer leads among all age groups as well as among men, women, black and white voters.

Brownback: Iraq withdrawal timeline "like March Madness for terrorists"

Sen. Sam Brownback, who opposed President Bush’s troop surge in Iraq, says “now is hardly the time to set a date for retreat.”

That comes just a day after he was campaigning in Iowa and told The Des Moines Register that his opposition to the surge is a problem for some conservative voters.

Brownback’s answer is to split Iraq three ways and lead the country into federalism. “If the surge works, federalism can provide the framework necessary to stabilize Iraq over the long term,” he said in a press release. “If the surge fails, and Iraq’s sectarian violence deepens, a federal Iraq will be the only choice available to separate the warring factions while keeping Iraq from breaking apart – something that we cannot allow to occur in such a vital region.”

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Wichita may tone down the LED signs

People who own bright LED signs, like the one at a car dealership and car wash on North Rock Road, may soon have to dim them — at least at night.

In a City Council workshop today, Council members voiced support for an ordinance that would require new LED signs to have dimming controls and require existing signs to reduce their brightness. Sign owners who can’t control the intensity of their signs would have to come into the City Hall and talk to the Office of Central Inspection about modifying their signs or getting an exception to the rule. This decision is far from over, though. In workshops, the Council just gives city staffers some direction on what kind of ordinance they’d like to see.

John Lay, with George Lay Signs Inc., said requiring dimming controls won’t be a big deal since most new signs have them. He said most of the signs that people are complaining about also have dimming controls.

It’s your decision

After reading an earlier post about a letter sent out to Wichita district employees, Superintendent Winston Brooks is clarifying a paragraph he wrote about the election.

In a email he shared with us, Brooks wrote that employees should educate themselves on the candidates. He also wrote that there are other groups besides United Teachers of Wichita that they can contact to learn more.

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