Daily Archives: March 12, 2013

More wild claims about turnpike merger

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, is still counting $30 million in savings over two years from merging the Kansas Turnpike Authority with the Kansas Department of Transportation, even though the heads of both KDOT and KTA have said they don’t know what the specific savings would be. What’s more, when Rep. Nile Dillmore, D-Wichita, complained that the savings “seems to be a number plucked straight from the air,” Rhoades claimed Monday that KTA president and CEO Michael Johnston had offered to transfer $25 million to the state if Gov. Sam Brownback would drop the merger proposal, the Lawrence Journal-World reported. Johnston said later that “there is no truth” to Rhoades’ claim. Rhoades apologized Tuesday for the claim, saying he was misunderstood, but Johnston wasn’t satisfied. “How do I get my good name back?” he asked.

Gray lashes out at 23-year-old ADA

Wichita City Council member Paul Gray used an agenda item on swimming pool improvements at last week’s meeting to blast the Americans With Disabilities Act. Gray, a contractor who works in commercial construction, said he appreciated the sensitivity of such issues and has friends and relatives with disabilities, but that making facilities ADA-compliant can add $15,000-$20,000 to a $80,000 project and prove too much for mom-and-pop businesses. “Some little bureaucrat sits in a room and draws a picture and says, ‘This is the rules everybody has to follow,’ but they far exceed the requirements of people that are handicapped,” Gray said. “We treat the world as if everybody is blind and in a wheelchair, and that is not the circumstance. We are driving our economy into the ground with stuff like this.” Gray voted for the item, as did reluctant fellow council member Pete Meitzner. Hearing Gray’s rant about the 23-year-old ADA, it was hard to believe he was talking about what then-Sen. Bob Dole called “fair and balanced legislation that carefully blends the rights of people with disabilities … with the legitimate needs of the American business community.”