Monthly Archives: December 2008

Layton contract likely Thursday

Maybe, just maybe, Wichita will sign its new city manager Thursday, a move that could be made official at a special 1 p.m. meeting in City Hall, sources say. Robert Layton was expected Tuesday to send back either confirmation that an agreement had been reached or that more negotiating would be needed. Neither happened, perhaps because of the heavy snow that canceled some classes and led to emergency street-clearing efforts in Urbandale, Iowa, the Des Moines suburb Layton has managed for more than 24 years. Stay tuned to Thursday for updates.

Karl Peterjohn speaks from audience to county commission about TIF district

Karl Peterjohn hasn’t been sworn in yet as a Sedgwick County commissioner, but he made his concerns about tax increment financing (TIF) districts known Wednesday morning when he took advantage of the public comment portion of the county commission’s meeting .

His comments that TIF districts give developers an unfair advantage give a glimpse of what votes could be like when Peterjohn moves from the audience to the bench after the first of the year. Peterjohn has been regularly attending commission meetings since the Nov. 4 general election.

Commissioners voted 3-2 to approve a 16-block TIF district near Intrust Bank Arena. Many are looking for Peterjohn to swing the board’s majority vote. When there is a split vote on the commission, members Kelly Parks and Gwen Welshimer typically line up together, as do Tom Winters, Dave Unruh and Tim Norton. Commission observers believe Parks, Welshimer and Peterjohn could have a majority vote on controversial issues in the future.

Governor’s spokeswoman leaving to become chief of staff for Lew Perkins

From a press release posted on the Kansas Athletics’ web site Dec. 17

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Nicole Corcoran, communications director and press secretary for Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, has accepted the position of Chief of Staff for University of Kansas Athletics Director Lew Perkins.

Corcoran has served with Sebelius since 1999, first as the public information director for the State of Kansas Insurance Commissioner from 1999-2002. When Sebelius was elected governor, Corcoran became communications director and press secretary of the Governor’s office. Read More »

Sheriff Gary Steed honored by county commissioners

Sedgwick County Sheriff Gary Steed joked this morning that he was holding out for a Rolex watch when commission chairman Tom Winters presented him with the county’s traditional crystal retirement clock.

Steed, who has served the county for 34 years, is retiring Dec. 20. County Republican leaders met Tuesday night and named Sheriff-Elect Robert Hinshaw as Steed’s replacement until Hinshaw takes office after the first of the year.

Commissioners praised Steed for bringing professionalism to public safety and for the handling of controversial issues with a steady hand.

County commissioners not too keen on City Hall debate

Sedgwick County commissioners on Tuesday hinted that they’re not going to be too keen about listening to public comment Wednesday calling for another public hearing on a tax increment financing (TIF) district near Intrust Bank Arena.

Commissioners Tom Winters, Tim Norton, Dave Unruh and Kelly Parks all agreed that that beef needs to be brought to the city, not the county.

Four people are on the county commission’s Wednesday meeting agenda to talk about the TIF district — a 16-block area targeted for street, sidewalk and landscaping improvements — before the board votes on it. Some of the speakers have said they want to talk to the county about how the city at the last minute added $10 million for parking into the plan to redevelop the area around the arena. They argue that the public hearing Dec. 2 after which the City Council voted to approve the district was not an open and transparent meeting because the public didn’t know about the parking until then. Read More »

Salerno passed over in Miami Lakes

City leaders in Miami Lakes, Fla., picked their police commander as town manager, passing over Pat Salerno, The Miami Herald reported today. Salerno is the former city manager of Sunrise, Fla., and Wichita City Council members offered him the city manager post here last summer only to have Salerno decide not to come a week before he was to start.

Salerno has been a finalist for several manager jobs since he withdrew from the Wichita job, but he has been beat-out by other candidates. Miami Lakes officials were aware of the recent censure the International City/County Management Association issued against Salerno for backing out of the Wichita job after signing a contract. But it’s unclear if that was a deciding factor.

City manager contract update

Mayor Carl Brewer threw his leg up on the sofa in his office this afternoon and relayed the basics of the on-going contract negotiations with Robert Layton, the Urbandale, Iowa city manager the council selected as Wichita’s next chief administrator. The catch, however, is that Brewer was only comfortable talking in some pretty broad terms. Read More »

Kansas House selects committee chairs and vice-chairs.

TOPEKA — Several south-central lawmakers will lead House committees in the legislative session that begins Jan. 12. The Republican House leadership announced the chairs and vice-chairs Wednesday. Wichita Rep . Jason Watkins will be vice-chair of the Appropriations Committee, which handles budget issues. He will also head the General Government Budget Committee; Arkansas City Rep. Kasha Kelley will be vice-chair. Read More »

Kansas Democrats announce a new executive director

TOPEKA – Kansas Democratic Party Executive Director Mike Gaughan is leaving to work in the governor’s office and the party’s technology director, Kenny Johnston, is assuming his spot, the party announced Wednesday.

Johnston began working with the party in February 2007 after working on two of Rep. Dennis Moore’s congressional campaigns in the 3rd District.

Democratic Party Chair Larry Gates praised Gaughan’s three-and-a-half years of work with the party. Read More »

Kansas Senate selects commitee chairs and vice-chairs

TOPEKA — Two south-central Kansas lawmakers will head the Senate Ways and Means Committee, which handles the budget for the chamber.

Sen. Jay Emler of Lindsborg was appointed chair of the committee. Sen. Carolynn McGinn, of Sedgwick will be the vice-chair.

The Organization, Calendar and Rules Committee makes the appointments, but those chosen reflect the wishes of Senate leadership. The chamber’s majority party controls the top committee positions, so all chairs and vice chairs are Republicans. Read More »