Monthly Archives: November 2010

City gives county go ahead to tear down Coleman building

Coleman photoThe historic Coleman Company building at Second and St. Francis in downtown Wichita will be torn down.

Wichita City Council members this morning overturned the city’s historic preservation board decision to block the demolition of the building based on its historic stature.

City officials recommended the city overturn the board because the building has been abandoned for years, has a history of code violations and has been a nuisance. Read More »

Man shot in 2008 altercation wants police body cameras

tapeJerald A. Berry said he was shot by Wichita Police in a 2008 altercation in a nightclub parking lot. He said if police had been wearing body cameras it might have helped prove he wasn’t a threat and shouldn’t have been shot.

Speaking in front of city council members this morning, Berry urged the council to consider funding cameras that mount on police officers.

“It polices the police,” he later said. Read More »

City to pay $925,000 to man injured during 2006 arrest

052710copcars_mh3The city of Wichita plans to pay out $925,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a man who suffered internal injuries as the result of a 2006 arrest, City Attorney Gary Rebenstorf said this morning.

Rebenstorf said an officer, who the city declined to name, forced a man over the bumper of a car at a QuikTrip at Harry and Hillside after the man interfered while the officer was interviewing another suspect. The officer used “minimal force,” Rebenstorf said. But the man, who was much smaller than the officer, suffered internal injuries that stem from the officer’s weight and the “unusual” bumper.

The man was in Sedgwick County Jail for 12 hours before he was released, Rebenstorf said. After another 12 hours, the man went to the hospital where he remained in intensive care for six weeks, Rebenstorf said.

Read the original complaint.

The man was never convicted of his initial charge. He later filed a lawsuit against Sedgwick County and the city of Wichita, asking for $7.5 million for medical bills, attorney fees and pain and suffering. The case went to mediation and the parties recently agreed to a $925,000 settlement.

“I think this is appropriate under the circumstances,” Rebenstorf said. Read More »

Skelton to step down before 2011; sets stage for April election

Jim Skelton

Jim Skelton

City Council member Jim Skelton said this afternoon that he’ll resign from the council before Jan. 1, ensuring that people in District 3 in southeast Wichita have a chance to elect someone to serve the two remaining years of his term.

If Skelton had waited until after Jan. 1 to step down, the council would have been able to appoint someone for the remaining two years of his term.

“The people in my district wan an opportunity to elect somebody,” he said.

Skelton, who was elected Nov. 2 as a Sedgwick County Commissioner, said that he hopes the council will appoint an interim council member to serve between January and April to ensure his constituents are represented.

“The district needs representation,” he said. “I don’t feel comfortable with an open seat for three months.” He added that it’s important for the council to have seven members because some votes require a super majority.

He said he will not support anyone for the interim position who plans to run in the election because it gives them an unfair advantage in campaigning. It’s unclear whether Skelton would be able to vote on his replacement.

Whether the council decides to appoint someone for the short interim term remains to be seen. Mayor Carl Brewer asked City Attorney Gary Rebenstorf to provide the council a briefing on all of its options. For example, Skelton said he would submit a Dec. 29 resignation date in coming weeks if it would give the city council and district advisory board more time to vet interim candidates. Rebenstorf said he thinks that would work, but he plans to research the law to make sure.

To appoint an interim representative, the District 3 advisory board would interview willing candidates and forward four or five to the city council for a vote.

If the process can’t begin until Skelton actually leaves office at the end of the year, it could take a month or more to fill the vacancy. That would leave the interim council member with only about a month of time in office before the election.

“I want to get it going as soon as possible,” Skelton said.

To view rules for filling vacancies read on —> Read More »

Kizzire picked as new Sedgwick County treasurer

Sedgwick County Treasurer Linda Kizzire

Sedgwick County Treasurer Linda Kizzire

Sedgwick County Republican precinct committee members selected Linda Kizzire Thursday night to serve the next two years as county treasurer.

Kizzire will fill the unexpired term of Ron Estes, who was elected state treasurer in the Nov. 2 election.

Kizzire is a longtime fixture at the county courthouse, having served as Estes’ chief assistant for five years, and before that as assistant to county Register of Deeds Bill Meek for seven.

She began working for the county in 1990 and also held positions in the public works and county clerk’s offices.

Kizzire, her voice breaking with emotion, thanked the 194 GOP committee members who picked her to succeed her boss.

“I am so moved that you have placed your confidence in me,” she said. “Together we are the glue that holds the Republican Party together.”

Jason Dilts drops out of city council race

Dilts

Jason Dilts

Jason Dilts, one of the first candidates to announce a run for city council in the April 2011 election, has decided to drop out of the race, according to a message sent to his supporters this morning.

Dilts was running for District 4, which includes Delano and most of southwest Wichita. Council member Paul Gray will vacate the seat next spring because of term limits.

Dilts said he was in a different place professionally and personally when he decided to run last spring.

“Today, my job at the MS Society has me out of town often and keeps my schedule full when I’m in Wichita,” he wrote. “I love the work that I do for the society, and simply don’t think I can do it effectively while being a candidate in the midst of what is likely to be a hectic campaign.”

He said he plans to exit politics entirely.

Dilts appointed former KSN news anchor Anita Cochran as his treasurer in early March and has hosted fundraiser events and promoted his campaign via online social networks. He said he would return any campaign donations to the donors on a pro-rated basis. He plans to donate whatever remains to the Tallgrass Film Festival.

Intrust Bank Arena loses money in September

Intrust Bank Arena lost money again in September, the second month of negative income.

The arena lost $284,023 in September, assistant Sedgwick County manager Ron Holt told commissioners this morning.

The arena had no events in September.

Holt said that year-to-date through September, the arena has netted about $1.8 million.

County commissioners approve jail fee settlement with Wichita

Sedgwick County commissioners have voted unanimously to approve a settlement with the city of Wichita over back jail fees.

Wichita City Council members approved the same agreement Tuesday.

The agreement calls for the city to pay back jail fees by giving the county several pieces of property, including multiple parcels in Furley in the northeastern part of the county.

The agreement will settle a lawsuit the county filed against Wichita — as well as four other cities in the county. The county began charging a $2.09 hourly fee in 2008 to cities that brought inmates to the jail on municipal charges.

The city owes about $10.2 million and will settle the majority of that debt at a rate of 37 percent, paid by property.

The city will begin paying the fees in cash next year.

Commissioners said they were glad the city and county were able to come to an agreement.

Read more in Thursday’s Eagle.

Westar to start four-year tree trimming program

Westar will trim trees and vegetation as part of a four-year “ReliabiliTREE” program that will bring 75 full-time jobs to Sedgwick County.

Don Sherman, manager of customer and community relations for Westar, told county commissioners this morning that tree trimmers will identify certain trees that can cause damage to power lines, making electricity less reliable.

Sherman stressed that Westar would work with homeowners concerned about losing trees and vegetation.

Commissioner Gwen Welshimer expressed concern about homeowners losing trees and shrubbery they use as privacy between houses in neighborhoods that don’t have alleys.

Westar gives at least two weeks’ notice before trimming trees and vegetations and leaves customers a number they can call with any concerns, Westar representatives said.

Republicans to nominate treasurer’s replacement

Sedgwick County Republican Party precinct committeemen and committeewomen will meet Thursday to elect a replacement for the outgoing county treasurer.

Republican Ron Estes won the statewide treasurer seat in last week’s election and will resign his county office Jan. 9.

County party chairman Kelly Arnold has called a special convention to name Estes’ replacement, likely Linda Kizzire, chief deputy treasurer.

The meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Redbud Ballroom at the Wichita Hyatt.