Daily Archives: Feb. 3, 2010

Rail service advocates seek state support


TOPEKA — Proponents of expanded passenger train travel in Kansas urged lawmakers Wednesday to support such expansion and seek federal money to help.

Neighboring states have received several million dollars to develop or improve passenger rail travel in the last year, said Mark Corriston, Kansas vice president of the Northern Flyer Alliance.

“These are not distant developments in Florida or California or some other place where we are always hearing about big developments,” he told the Senate Transportation Committee.

States such as Missouri and Ohio were just a little more prepared and were able to tap into federal recovery investment dollars, he said.

Corriston’s group is pushing for the creation of passenger rail service that would connect Fort Worth to Kansas City, Mo. through Wichita.

Senate Bill 409 would allow the state Department of Transportation to work with groups along the proposed route. It also would allow Kansas to enter into agreements with Amtrak to implement the service.

“This is truly a vision for the future,” Corriston said.

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Church school thanks Democrats for not going ballistic over Sarah Palin visit



Leaders of the Bethel Life School in Wichita opened a news conference today by thanking Sedgwick County Democratic Party leadership for keeping its cool over the school’s decision to bring in former Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin to speak at a fundraiser.

“I … want to say a personal thanks to Sedgwick County leader, Democrat Kelly Johnston,” said Ted Barney, president of the Bethel Life School Association. “I appreciate his words in response to the paper that he understands this is a fundraiser and a fundraiser only and not a political event. I want to say a personal thanks to him for understanding that.”



Shortly after Palin’s May 2 appearance was announced Tuesday, Johnston, chairman of the Sedgwick County Democratic Party, said he would keep his feelings about Palin to himself and wished the school well with its fund drive. “I might have had a better chance of attending if it was someone else,” he said.

At their news conference today, Barney and Bethel Life’s lead pastor, The Rev. Andrew Fox, explained why they wanted to get Palin, a former Alaska governor who is revered by Republican conservatives but reviled and ridiculed by the political left.

They said the goal is to raise money for scholarships and school equipment and the association wanted a speaker who would draw a big crowd.

Palin fits that bill in Kansas. On Friday, she’ll be speaking to a sellout crowd of 6,000 at a chamber of commerce banquet at the Bicentennial Center in Salina.

Local Republican leaders said they won’t be surprised if Palin sells out the 15,000-seat Intrust Bank Arena, although ticket prices and the date they’ll go on sale have yet to be determined.

“She is a popular speaker and we knew that to do what we needed to get done … we needed to go get that person,” Barney said. “I think in this day and age anybody that you go and try to get, whether they be political or an athlete or any type, you have some question of why.”



Fox added that while he is a citizen of Great Britain and can’t vote in American elections, he wants to hear Palin talk.

“I’m interested in what she has to say and there’s no political connection whatsoever,” he said. He did acknowledge, however, that some will see it as political, no matter what.

“You don’t keep it from becoming a political event, that would be controlling people,” he said. “People will walk away with whatever impression they want to walk away with.”

Palin is scheduled to speak for 30 minutes and then answer 30 minutes of presubmitted questions.

Cato Institute Fellow to discuss urban development

Randal O'Toole

Randal O'Toole

Randal O’Toole, a Cato Institute fellow who has criticized government’s role in urban planning, will speak Thursday at the Bank of America Auditorium at 100 N. Broadway.

The event is free and runs from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. It’s being put on by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a nonprofit group that has organized tea parties and advocates for limited government.

O’Toole probably won’t address specific issues in Wichita, such as the incentives approved to help finance a new hotel at WaterWalk. But he will talk about what types of urban development plans are successful and unsuccessful in other cities, said Susan Estes, a field director for the Americans for Prosperity Foundation. Read More »

Jim Skelton “definitely” running for county commission

Jim Skelton

Jim Skelton

Wichita City Council member Jim Skelton said today he has “definitely” decided to run for Gwen Welshimer’s seat on the Sedgwick County commission.

A Republican, Skelton said he plans to file soon for the office.

Welshimer, a Democrat, has filed with the elections office to retain her spot on the board.

Derby mayor Dion Avello also has filed for the District 5 seat. Derby City Council member Chuck Warren has told The Eagle he plans to file.

Senate committee urges federal government to respect states’ sovereignty

Kansas capitalTOPEKA – The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday voted for a resolution to remind the federal government that Kansas is a sovereign state.

Olathe Republican Sen. Julia Lynn called Senate Concurrent Resolution 1615 “the voice of concerned people that feel left out of the process.”

The resolution, which will be sent to Washington D.C., seeks to remind federal lawmakers that states have rights under the 10th Amendment. It asks the federal government to stop efforts that go beyond the scope of the U.S. Constitution.

Sen. Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita, said she was supporting the resolution after watching the federal government meddle with public education, which should be left to local control.

Crowded into the committee room were several people wearing large yellow paper badges from the Kansas Sovereignty Coalition showing support for the non-binding resolution. Read More »

Senate Judiciary approves a resolution barring groups from using tax dollars to sue Kansas

moneyTOPEKA – A Senate panel narrowly pushed forward a resolution Wednesday that would bar groups from suing Kansas using tax dollars to garner more tax dollars.

While schools, which recently asked the courts to reopen a school funding lawsuit, are not specifically named in Senate Concurrent Resolution 1621, the idea is aimed at such situations.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to move the non-binding resolution, introduced by Sen. Dick Kelsey, R-Goddard, to the full Senate 6-5.

“Given our economic situation, I have not approved of or support this lawsuit and I think this resolution expresses the frustration of many people” said Sen. Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita, who chairs the Senate Education Committee.

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Sedgwick County agrees to settle with Goddard over jail fees

inmatestransferA week after Sedgwick County agreed to settle with Park City over jail fees, it has settled with Goddard for $9,000. Goddard also has agreed to begin paying fees on time, starting back to Jan. 1.

In 2008, the county began charging cities a fee to house inmates booked into jail on municipal charges. The jail is struggling with overcrowding, and county leaders see the fees as a way to encourage those in the criminal justice system to consider other alternatives besides jail.

Several cities, including Wichita, have refused to pay the fees. The county sued some of those cities, including Wichita. The lawsuit continues against Wichita, Bel Aire and Haysville.

Commissioners approve Polo Complex development in Haysville

poloSedgwick County commissioners this morning unanimously approved plans for The Polo Complex, an outdoor recreation and entertainment center that will have agricultural buildings, classrooms, offices and a banquet hall for fund raisers and other events.

Alcohol sales will be allowed at the site, which is at the northeast corner of 95th Street South and Broadway.

The plans already had been approved by the Haysville Planning Commission and the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission, planning director John Schlegel told commissioners.

Commissioner Kelly Parks asked if rodeos would take place on the grounds. Mike Dirck, the developer, said only polo events would take place at the complex.