Monthly Archives: May 2007

How did Brownback fare in the GOP debate?

One way to gauge a candidate’s impact at a debate like the Republican presidential debate Thursday night is to see how many of their words made it into major news stories from outlets such as the Associated Press, USA Today, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

On this front, Sen. Sam Brownback did better than many in the crowded GOP field. The Kansan, who trails several candidates in polls and fundraising, was largely in the shadows in most national wire stories last night. But a Republican political consultant with Politico.com, which sponsored the debate, wrote that Brownback “had a particularly strong night. He talked with passion and elegance about the social issues that are the backbone of his candidacy.” Brownback also picked up some quick hits in an Associated Press story where he raised his hand to show he doesn’t believe in evolution and when he said the day the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade would be a “glorious day of human liberty and freedom.” McClatchy’s Washington Bureau quoted Brownback when he said he could support a more liberal GOP candidate. “Somebody who is with you 80 percent of the time is not your enemy,” Brownback said, citing Ronald Reagan’s philosophy.

Based on his comments to the Christian Science Monitor last week, he probably won’t worry about the coverage too much. When the newspaper asked him about debates, he said: “I think it’s important to get candidates side by side. I don’t think you make the candidacy or lose it over a debate or two, [but] I think they’re very helpful to have.”

See coverage of the Democrat’s debate last week.

See what Eagle readers had to say on WE Blog.

The dust hasn’t settled on paving the city’s dirt streets

Five months after the City Council first discussed ways to make it cheaper for people to get dirt streets paved, the conversation continued this week. It wasn’t much more than an echo. They even saw the same PowerPoint — complete with thrilling photos of empty gravel roads and bar graphs. As one long-time City Hall official put it in a different context this week: “Things in City Hall have two speeds: 0 MPH and 1,000 MPH.”

Council member Jim Skelton has anxiously advocated for a solution to get more of the city’s 96 miles of dirt roads paved, including dozens in his district in southeast Wichita. It’s clear from listening to him that he feels this is one of those 0 MPH issues. Skelton got little support for his ideas to use more bar ditches to reduce costs drainage costs in areas that aren’t flood-prone and extending the time people have to pay off the special assessments (a state legislature issue). But, when he suggested the city could let more people low incomes defer paying special assessments by increasing the city’s poverty guidelines, he got some support. As it is, a family of four must make less than $30,600 a year to qualify for deferral (it’s an annual process). That’s considered “very low income.” City finance officials said the city could use the “low income” level instead, allowing a family of four that makes less than $48,950 to forgo payments until they move or exceed the set income level.

City Manager George Kolb said the issue will get more serious consideration when the Council prepares its capital budget in June. Council members already say they expect things to be tight. It won’t help if the Council approves a three-year contract with the police union next week that pushes them $6.5 million beyond what they had budgeted for (See story). And things could get even tighter with Sedgwick County Commissioners’ decision to charge the city for the suspects it houses in the county jail (See story) and revenue lost from statewide business property tax exemptions. (See a PDF about petitioning for paving here.)

District 1 race stocked with names and experience

Maybe it’s because they won’t have to raise any money. Maybe it’s because only 15 people (the District Advisory Board and City Council) will be voting. Or, maybe it’s just the most politically active district.

Whatever the case, more people filed to fill the Distinct 1 City Council vacancy than ran in any of the other districts during this spring’s elections. And with a state representative, former state representative, former Council member, a pastor and three District Advisory Board members, the District 1 roster may also include more experience and name recognition than any of the races voters saw this spring. Some in City Hall say that Rev. Lincoln Montgomery, the pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church, was also going to submit a petition — and probably be a top candidate. But his name wasn’t on the list by the noon deadline.

“There’s no doubt, it’s a strong bunch of people,” said Carl Brewer, who left the seat to become mayor four weeks ago.

Brewer said that he doesn’t think there is a clear front runner.

Starting tonight, the advisory board will begin interviewing candidates, then it will forward four or five names to the City Council, which will vote until a majority agrees on someone. They could also agree to reject the candidates and appoint any other District 1 resident for the position.

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