You don’t say

“I keep waiting for Sam Brownback to send me business cards with the state seal on it.”

– Restaurateur and caterer Ben Arnold, who says he feels more like he’s in the tax business, though he’s resolved his latest issue over $7,222 in contested taxes at A.V.I. Seabar & Chophouse

You don’t say

“It’s not a publication that favors me. It’s not Fox News. It’s the Kansas City Star.”

Gov. Sam Brownback explaining to the Hispanic Business Forum his source for numbers showing that the Kansas side of Kansas City has seen all the job growth in that metro area

Gov. Sam Brownback is a fan of fried Milky Ways

WICHITA — Why talk business when there’s food on a stick to discuss?

Gov. Sam Brownback was the guest speaker at the Kansas Restaurant & Hospitality Association’s Evening of Hospitality Monday at the Hyatt Regency Wichita.

He talked about a lot of things, such as the federal government shutdown.

“Hope you’re praying for your country.”

And small business.

“Small business is the engine of growth,” he said to applause.

Not surprisingly, though, his most fun remarks were about food.

“I eat all foods that come my way, so I appreciate everybody here.”

Brownback explained what a dining roller coaster he’s been on the last few weeks.

First there was an obesity summit he attended, followed by the Kansas State Fair.

Though Brownback is partial to Oreos, he said he ate an entire fried Milky Way on a stick – minus the stick – while at the fair.

He suggested it might be something for restaurateurs in the audience to check into.

“I don’t know if some of you want to consider serving that on a regular basis.”

Three state agencies close to signing new downtown leases despite city’s objections

The former Ryan International Airlines building.

UPDATED — Three state agencies, including two that currently are in the Finney State Office Building, are close to finalizing leases for the former Ryan International Airlines building at 266 N. Main.

The Joint Committee on State Building Construction will consider leases for the Kansas Corporation Commission and the Kansas Human Rights Commission next month and the state Board of Indigents’ Defense Services on Wednesday.

“To my great surprise and chagrin, this committee has no authority to stop this process other than the bully pulpit,” says state Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, a new member of the committee. “We can raise questions about the appropriateness of the move … and hopefully shame them into doing the right thing.”

Ward says the reasons the state has offered for why nine agencies need to leave the Finney building, a city-owned property at 230 E. William, “don’t seem to hold water compared to the bid given by the city.”

He’s referring to a new lease rate the city is offering to the state to keep the Department for Children and Families at the Finney building. DCF has more than 550 of the 700 state employees at the building.

According to a Sept. 9 letter Mayor Carl Brewer sent to Gov. Sam Brownback, the city would slash DCF’s lease rate from $11 a square foot to $6 a square foot for half the space it currently has. The reduced space is at DCF’s request, according to the letter. The city also offered to make a $6 million investment in improvements in the building.

“It is my hope, as mayor of Wichita, that the valuable relationship between the City and State can be preserved by a responsible business decision allowing the continued use of the Finney State Office Building as a centralized location for state agencies,” Brewer wrote.

Chuck Knapp, spokesman for the state Department of Administration, says it’s a “foregone conclusion” that DCF and the Kansas Corporation Commission will be leaving, because the Finney building does not meet their needs.

“Someone could offer you a cardboard box for free, and if it didn’t meet your housing needs, you … wouldn’t accept it,” Knapp says. “I’m certainly not saying the Finney building is a cardboard box. … Price isn’t necessarily the determining factor in the deal.”

In his letter, Brewer referenced a July meeting he had with Brownback after which a new conversation started with DCF about how the city could meet the department’s needs.

“However, despite our best efforts, we encountered obstacles that prevented a full evaluation of our counterproposal,” he wrote.

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Property owner Jeff Greenberg confirms state is considering leasing his building

WICHITA — Property owner and Wichita broker Jeff Greenberg confirms the state is considering leasing his 100,000-square-foot building near East 47th Street South and South Oliver, but he says the potential deal has nothing to do with a payback for supporting the governor or anyone else.

“It’s not political,” he says.

Since Have You Heard? reported that the state of Kansas has notified the city of Wichita that it’s leaving the Finney State Office Building downtown, Rep. Jim Ward (D-Wichita) has raised concerns that the search for new space might be politically motivated. He says he’s also worried that clients – particularly at the Department for Children and Families – won’t have easy access to services if the state moves.

Greenberg wants to address both of those points.

“The biggest thing … is allegations of political payback,” he says.

Greenberg says he’s registered as a Republican but only so he can vote in primaries.

“I’ve never been able to pigeonhole myself,” he says. “I’m not political. I’m not an activist.”

Greenberg says he hasn’t made a political contribution to Gov. Sam Brownback or anyone else in at least a decade or more.

He says a broker with J.P. Weigand & Sons brought him the possible deal.

“This was a natural,” Greenberg says of his space.

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Mayor and governor meet about Finney State Office Building; state may be zeroing in on new DCF space

WICHITA — The state appears to be zeroing in on new space for the Department for Children and Families near East 47th Street South and South Oliver, even as Mayor Carl Brewer is working to try to keep the office where it is.

“I have been digging into this, and I have heard from reliable folks that the state is looking at (that building),” said Rep. Jim Ward (D-Wichita), who has been critical of a possible move.

Brewer went to Topeka on Wednesday to visit with Gov. Sam Brownback about keeping DCF and other state agencies in the Finney State Office Building at 230 E. William.

Last month, Have You Heard? reported that the state of Kansas has notified the city of Wichita that its nine agencies that occupy the downtown building won’t be renewing their leases after 20 years in the city-owned space. That means more than 700 people will be moving, more than 550 of whom are with DCF.

According to Loopnet, an online commercial real estate site, there’s a two-story, 100,000-square-foot former Bank of America call center that’s available near the southwest corner of the intersection, and it looks like that’s what the state could be interested in.

“I hope that that’s not true,” Ward said. “I don’t think that’s a good spot. … I don’t think that’s a good location for those kinds of services.”

One of his concerns is that Jezebel’s, an adult club, is across the street.

“It’s not unusual for kids to be part of their parents’ dealing with the state,” Ward said.

He also wonders how accessible the site would be compared to the more centralized Finney building.

Brewer didn’t return calls for comment. A representative of the governor’s office confirmed the meeting but wouldn’t say anything more.

“I know that the governor and Mayor Brewer did in fact meet this morning,” said spokeswoman Sara Belfry. “I believe they talked about a couple of things, including the Wichita office building.”

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You don’t say

“I got a jake turkey for $198. This is a scam!”

– Gov. Sam Brownback telling Rotary members Monday how he paid a fine this month after his annual turkey hunt when he shot two birds but only had a permit for one

You don’t say

“Where does the apocalypse fit into this?”

– Sedgwick County Commissioner Jim Skelton on Gov. Sam Brownback’s weight-loss challenge and the county forming teams to participate

You don’t say

“Well, we’ve had a great tour going on, on a Wichita-made motorcycle. That’s a Big Dog made in Wichita. Great company.”

– Gov. Sam Brownback on the Kansas Republicans’ Road Map for Growth Tour Friday in Wichita where he referenced Big Dog Motorcycles, which went out of business last year

You don’t say

“The legislators, they’re like, ‘Send me to the orthodontist first,’ or, ‘Send me to the dentist without any painkillers.’ ”

— Gov. Sam Brownback, speaking Friday at a Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce forum about the enthusiasm of Kansas legislators for the upcoming debate on school finance reform