Monthly Archives: October 2010

Governor urges Hawker-Beechcraft, Machinists Union to settle their differences

Parkinson

Parkinson

Gov. Mark Parkinson’s office confirmed today that he has been in contact with the parties in the Hawker Beechcraft labor dispute and is urging them to settle their differences and keep the company in Wichita.

Parkinson, who earlier floated a financial incentive package aimed at heading off the possibility of the company moving its 6,000 Wichita-area jobs to Louisiana, has contacted both Hawker Beechcraft chief executive officer Bill Boisture and Machinists Union business representative Steve Rooney, said gubernatorial aide Amy Jordan Wooden.

“The Governor has spoken with Mr. Boisture and Mr. Rooney and encouraged them to keep their lines of communication open,” Jordan Wooden said in an e-mail response to questions from Wichitopekington. “He told them that if they can reach an agreement that is acceptable to both the company and the majority of the union members, the state’s incentive package is still available.”

Exactly what is in the incentive package is being kept confidential by the governors’ office and the parties in the labor dispute, but U.S Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard, said he thinks it’s less than 10 percent of the $400 million in public aid Louisiana is rumored to have offered to get the company to move to Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s capital city.

The Kansas incentives are contingent on company management agreeing to keep about two-thirds of the jobs it now has in Kansas, and the union and management agreeing to a long-term labor contract.

On Saturday, the Machinists’ 2,600 members voted down a proposed contract with give-backs including a 10 percent salary cut and increased co-payments on health benefits.

Boisture has said no further talks are planned with the union, which continues to work under a contract due to expire in August.

But local officials, who expect to be asked to provide some of the money for the state incentive package, say they are optimistic that the two sides will eventually return to bargaining.

Early voting opened today in Sedgwick County

Advance voting in person opened this morning in Sedgwick County, and 30 people took the opportunity to cast a ballot in the first hour polls were open.

Election commissioner Bill Gale told county commissioners that his office has mailed out 63,000 advance ballots so far and has received about 20,000 completed ballots in the mail.

“We continue to promote early voting,” Gale said.

Gale is predicting a turnout this election of at least 50 percent.

A list of advance polling locations is online at www.sedgwickcounty.org.

Advance voting is available at the election office, 510 N. Main Suite 101, through Nov. 1.

Voters also can cast a ballot at any of the below listed sites from noon to 7 p.m. on Oct. 26, 28 and 29, noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 27 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. October 30.

Bel Aire City Building, 7651 E. Central Park Ave.

Center for Health and Wellness, 2707 E. 21st St.

Church of the Holy Spirit, 18218 W. Highway 54, Goddard.

First United Methodist Church, 560 N. Park, Valley Center.

Grace Presbyterian Church, 5002 E. Douglas Ave.

Haysville Activity Center, 7106 S. Broadway, Haysville.

Independent Living Resource Center, 3033 W. 2nd St.

Machinist Building, 3830 S. Meridian.

Maranatha Worship Center, 888 S. Webb.

Reformation Lutheran Church Parish Hall, 7601 E. 13th St.

Sedgwick County Zoo Cargill Learning Center, 5555 Zoo Boulevard.

Sharon Baptist Church, 2221 S. Oliver.

St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, 2555 Hyacinth Lane.

Westlink Church of Christ, 10025 W. Central Ave.

Woodlawn United Methodist Church, 431 S. Woodlawn Boulevard, Derby.

Tiahrt: Pompeo win would give him a good night’s sleep

Tiahrt

Tiahrt

Outgoing Rep. Todd Tiahrt said Tuesday that he’ll “sleep well at night” if Mike Pompeo wins his seat in Congress.

In fact, in a six-minute endorsement speech Tuesday, he said that three times.

Tiahrt, R-Goddard, the 4th District’s representative since 1995, lauded Pompeo’s business experience and commitment to cutting corporate taxes and regulations that he said strangle job growth.

“We know from history, especially the last two years, that you can’t do it from the government down. You have to do it from the ground up, to grow an economy,” Tiahrt said.

Tiahrt gave up his seat in the House to run for Senate, saying he had decided it was time to go “up or out.”

He lost in a hard-fought Republican primary to Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Hays.

Pompeo, a Republican national committeeman, also survived a bruising primary, besting four rivals for his party’s nomination.

In the Nov. 2 general election, Pompeo faces Rep. Raj Goyle, D-Wichita.

After the news conference, Tiahrt said when he leaves Congress in January, he plans to start his own business in unmanned aerial vehicles, an industry he nurtured with millions of dollars in congressional earmarks during his time in office.

Reminder: Last day to register to vote in Nov. 2 election

Today is the last day to register to vote in the Nov. 2 general election. You can register online at https://www.kdor.org/voterregistration. Or you can get a paper application from the county election office, Dillons stores, Kwik Shops and QuikTrips. Forms also can be printed at http://www.kssos.org/forms/elections/voterregistration.pdf. You can go online to www.voteks.org to check your voter registration status, find your polling place and learn more about voting.

Kassebaum Baker endorses Pompeo in 4th District

Kassebaum Baker

Kassebaum Baker

Fourth District congressional candidate Mike Pompeo announced Thursday that he has landed an endorsement from former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker.

In a written statement, Kassebaum Baker said she thinks Pompeo, a Republican national committeeman, would provide “thoughtful and dedicated leadership” in a fractious Congress.

“An us vs. them mentality is not a solution,” she said in the statement. “I believe Mike Pompeo has the background to bridge differences. I don’t agree with all of his positions but I do believe he has the ability to be a part of governance necessary for meeting the challenges ahead.”

Kassebaum Baker, the daughter of Kansas political icon Alf Landon, served in the Senate from 1978 to 1997.

In the Republican primary, she had endorsed one of Pompeo’s opponents, state Sen. Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita.

In the Nov. 2 general election, Pompeo is running against Rep. Raj Goyle, D-Wichita.

Congressional candidates Pompeo and Goyle differ on U.S. support for charities

Pompeo

Pompeo

Goyle

Goyle

Fourth District Congress candidates Mike Pompeo and Raj Goyle expressed divergent views on federal support for charities in a forum today sponsored by Wichita nonprofit groups.

Goyle promised to use the power of a congressional office to actively assist charities in their dealings with government. Pompeo said he’d prefer a more limited federal role in social services — but acknowledged practical difficulties would make that almost impossible to achieve quickly.

The candidates appeared together briefly at the forum sponsored by the Nonprofit Chamber of Service, an organization of local charities. Following the chamber’s forum format, the candidates spoke and answered questions separately with the opponent out of the room — although they were asked mostly the same questions.

One of those questions had to do with how the candidates view the relationship between the federal government and local charitable organizations.

Pompeo, a Republican national committeeman, said that he would like to move toward a system in which charities wouldn’t need to lobby Washington for funds to operate in their communities.

“I would truly love to put charitable organizations in a place where they could get much closer to where the resources they were relying on and that the demands, the services, the customers they were trying to meet the needs of, were more local,” Pompeo said.

However, he said he also recognizes that it’s unrealistic to expect nonprofits, many of which have built their systems and policies around federal funding, to go “cold turkey” and try to raise all their money locally.

“It’s neither possible nor proper,” he said.

Goyle, a Democratic state representative, promised to take a more activist role toward charities.

“As a member of Congress I would view my job as to be your champion in Washington to get things to make your organizations succeed as much as they can,” he said. “If there is information that you need, you need to call us and we’ll get that to you right away. If there’s red tape to be cut, I’d view that as my job. If there are pieces of legislation or regulations that are being implemented that need help from a member of Congress, that I view as my job.”

He said charities “not only provide great services, but they help grow a diverse and wonderful community and they also help grow our economy.”

The chamber members were polite to both candidates but clearly more sympathetic toward Goyle, who advocates public-private partnerships to get things done, than they were toward Pompeo, who advocates a smaller government.

After the forum, June Huie of Advocates to End Chronic Homelessness said she wanted more specific plans from both the candidates.

She said they mostly talked about what they’d like to do, but “the bottom line is, I’m waiting for the ‘how.’”

Reform Party candidate Susan Ducey was introduced at the event and sat with Pompeo and Goyle at the candidate table during the preliminaries, but did not get to present her views in the forum.

Jeff Longbine picked to replace state Sen. Jim Barnett

LongbineEmporia Republican Jim Longbine will serve as state senator for the 17th District until January.

Longbine, 48, who is running for the seat, will replace Sen. Jim Barnett, R-Emporia, who stepped down recently to focus more on his medical practice.

Precinct committee members from Marion and Lynn counties appointed Longbine to fill the position.

Longbine will be formally sworn in to his interim appointment in a brief Senate Chamber ceremony to be scheduled soon.

Kansas lags in energy efficiency efforts

A report released Wednesday by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranked Kansas one of the worst states for energy efficiency efforts.

Kansas came in 46th out of the 50 states and District of Columbia. Missouri and Oklahoma were tied with West Virginian at 43 and Nebraska ranked 47th.

Colorado came in 19th in the list. The state’s efforts include spending about $60 million on efficiency programs for electricity and natural gas.

Colorado electric utilities saved 203,344 megawatts hours in 2008 according to the Energy Information Administration.

Conversely, Kansas utilities save 13,900 megawatt hours in 2008.

The council is a non-profit which aims to improve energy independence and security through efficiency. This is the forth energy efficiency score card the council has produced since 2006.

The full report, including a break down of all the states, is available at http://www.aceee.org/sector/state-policy/scorecard

For more, read Thursday’s Wichita Eagle.

Commissioners: Remember to sign your advance ballot

When Sedgwick County voters vote by advance ballot, they’re asked to sign their name on the envelope.

Some people forget that task, required by law.

That means commissioners have to throw out those ballots, which is unfortunate, board member Kelly Parks said, adding that everyone’s vote should count.

Commissioner Karl Peterjohn agreed with Parks, saying the number of ballots that must be thrown out each election is distressing.

The return envelopes for advance ballots contain a signature line that must be filled out.

The upcoming election is Nov. 2.

More jobs open up in Kansas, but Southeast Kansas still lags

TOPEKA – It might not feel like it, but employment prospects improved slightly in Kansas over the last quarter.

Monday, the state Department of Labor said that there were 32,091 job vacancies statewide during the 2nd quarter of the year. That represents a 24.5 percent increase in vacancies from 2009.

“This change in the job vacancy rate is a move in the right direction and reflects the improvements we are seeing in the Kansas labor market as a whole,” said Jim Garner, Kansas Secretary of Labor. “Nevertheless, we need to see continued job growth and openings for recovery in the labor market.”

The increase in jobs openings was spread across the state everywhere except the Southeast Region. South Central Kansas had a highest vacancy rate of 2.9 percent (compared to 2.3 percent statewide) meaning there were almost three openings for every position in the area.

That doesn’t mean there is a surplus of work yet. Kansas averaged 96,428 unemployed workers, so there were about three unemployed people for every reported job opening.

The competition is slightly less than 2009, when there were four unemployed workers for every job opening.