Monthly Archives: October 2009

Tiahrt, 6 others under scrutiny by ethics investigators

tiahrt_toddKansas Congressman Todd Tiahrt of Goddard is one of seven members of a powerful House subcommittee under investigation for ties to an influential lobbying firm.

Ethics investigators are said to be looking at the ties between campaign contributions and earmarks that benefit clients of the lobbying firm, the PMA Group.

The subcommittee in question controls spending by the Pentagon.

The probe includes a review of the actions of the chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on defense, John P. Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat long criticized for his devotion to earmarks and pork-barrel spending.

Tiahrt faces a tough 2010 U.S. Senate primary fight against fellow Republican Congressman Jerry Moran.

No word yet from Tiahrt’s office.

Here’s more from the Washington Post.

Wichita Tea Party IV to have a more national flavor

Rivoli Revue, scheduled to sing at tea party

Rivoli Revue, scheduled to sing at tea party

Wichita’s Tea Party IV will be a much more national affair than the first three, according to organizers who have now released the speaking and music lineup.

Instead of the local political figures who have addressed the conservative gatherings in the past, the event scheduled Wednesday at the Lawrence-Dumont Stadium parking lot will feature leaders of national political action committees and a man who claims to have been beaten outside a town hall meeting in Missouri for his opposition to national health care.

The event will center around a visit by the “Tea Party Express II,” a bus tour titled “Countdown to Judgment Day.” Read More »

State Commerce Secretary David Kerr leaves for Missouri

TOPEKA – Kansas Secretary of Commerce David Kerr is crossing the state line to serve as Missouri’s Secretary of Economic Development, the governor’s office announced on Thursday.

Kerr joined the department two years ago.

Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat, praise Kerr’s leadership during difficult economic times.

“Despite the global recession, he led our state to a record $12.47 billion in exports, marking the fourth straight year Kansas has achieved an all-time high in export growth,” Parkinson said in a written statement.

The governor’s office said he would announce his nominee for Commerce Secretary on Friday morning.

Transmission line project critical to Kansas wind future, governor says

TOPEKA – Kansas has the potential to produce up to 10,000 megawatts of wind power, but for that to happen the state needs transmission lines.

“We need to have the transmission line from Spearville to Wichita to be built,” said Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat, on Wednesday.

That project needs the Southwest Power Pool to regionlize the rates for that area and approve the project.

The project had dropped off the pool’s priority list, the pool oversees nine states.

On Tuesday the pool’s board move the project back on to the priority list.

“It will continue to be our priority to keep it on that list,” he said.

Parkinson reiterates his promise not to run for governor

TOPEKA – Gov. Mark Parkinson predicted that the 2010 gubernatorial race would be competitive – but he won’t be part of it.

Wednesday, Parkinson reiterate his statement that he will not run for reelection. It’s a promise he’s repeated consistently since taking over the state’s top executive spot.

Earlier this month, Kansas Democratic Party Chairman Larry Gates said he would not run for governor. Currently, the party does not have a candidate.

Parkinson said a number of other potential and “very interesting” candidates have surfaced but he wouldn’t name anyone.

“This is one of those things where time will tell and I continue to predict that we will have a strong and competitive candidate for governor,” he said.

Governor hints more budget cuts are ahead

TOPEKA – More cuts to state government could be possible before the end of the year if revenue numbers scheduled to be released are as bad as anticipated.

Wednesday, Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat, promised that the current budget would be balanced when the Republican-lead Legislature returns to Topeka in January.

“I’m going to take all the heat,” Parkinson said during a news conference in the Capitol.

Current estimates project a more than $100 million shortfall for the 2010 budget, which started July 1. The dollar amount could grow depending on what the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group says next week.

Kansas has seen four rounds of spending reductions this year from its $13 billion annual budget.

Next Thursday, revenue estimators will release their projections of the amount of money Kansas is expected to have to operate. Any cuts to the current budget and next year’s budget, which lawmakers will hammer out during the session, will be based on those figures.

Parkinson would not say how he planned to balance the budget but a likely option would be  cuts to state agencies.

Any decisions would be made with input from legislative leaders, Parkinson said.

Sedgwick County relieves SMG of its Kansas Coliseum contract

Sedgwick County commissioners agreed today to relieve SMG, which manages Intrust Bank Arena, of its duties to also manage the Kansas Coliseum.

Officials say the arrangement hasn’t worked out well. SMG has focused primarily on the downtown arena.

The move comes as commissioners struggle with the Coliseum’s future. They listened to two proposals Tuesday from groups that want a chance to develop the complex off of I-135 near 85th Street North.

Commissioner Gwen Welshimer said she believes the county will lose millions of dollars if it doesn’t take advantage of opportunities to develop the aging complex.

Other commissioners have expressed concerns about proposals for the Coliseum that rely on private-public financing.

Sedgwick County hires temporary staff to deal with H1N1 outbreak

To combat a second wave of H1N1, the Sedgwick County Health Department will hire 20 temporary workers.

The cost — about $196,000 — will be paid by a federal grant filtered through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Sedgwick County has received $2.1 million in grant money to respond to H1N1.

A temporary vaccination center opened today for pregnant women and healthcare workers. It will be open from 2 p.m. through 7 p.m. through Saturday or until vaccine runs out.

The center will be open for all other target groups next week. Hours will be 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday or until the vaccine runs out.

The target group, in order, is: Healthcare workers, pregnant women, children 6 months through 4 years old, children 5 to 18 years old with a medical condition that puts them at greater risk and caregivers for babies up to 6 months old.

Heritage plugs “Saddle Rock Rodeo Resort” to Sedgwick County

Kansas ColiseumHeritage Development Group has pitched its plan to Sedgwick County to develop the Kansas Coliseum into the Saddle Rock Rodeo Resort.

Heritage wants to focus on western-themed and agricultural events at the complex.

There currently is no permanent facility for non-professional rodeos, Heritage president and CEO Greg Lippincott told commissioners.

“Sedgwick County will become recognized as becoming the ultimate facility,” Lippincott said. “Saddle Rock will become the permanent home for non-professional western and rodeo events.”

Heritage recently received an oral agreement from the National High School Rodeo Association to host the Wrangler Junior High Rodeo Finals in 2012 and 2013. No contract has been signed, but Lippincott said he believes other national events will follow. Read More »

County chairman Kelly Parks shakes his gavel

GavelDuring the second presentation today from groups interested in redeveloping the Kansas Coliseum, Kelly Parks warned a speaker that his time to talk almost was up.

Greg Ferris of Heritage Development Group then noted that the commission gave North American Management-Kansas 26 minutes to make its presentation this morning.

Parks then said that he already had given Heritage more than the 15 minutes allowed.

He then picked up his gavel and shook it from the bench, as if reminding Ferris who was in charge.