Monthly Archives: April 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.”

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.

Read More »

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.

$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.

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.

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.)

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 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.

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.”

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.”