HPT helicopter view

Governing body turnover threatens proposed Heartland Park purchase Four new city council members to take office Tuesday

The 7 April election has changed the compositon of the City Council.  The following article speculates that HLP issue may have a different outcome now.  HPT is on the agenda on 21 April – Let your opinion be known…..

From the Topeka Capital Journal…..

By Tim Hrenchir

Topeka’s governing body has approved every proposal it has considered to move forward with the city’s proposed purchase of Heartland Park Topeka.

But a 40 percent turnover that body will see when four new members are sworn in Tuesday could threaten the move’s chances for approval.

The governing body plans to discuss the topic next week, though no vote has been scheduled whether to finalize the transaction. The purchase would need six votes from the 10-member governing body to pass.

Seven members voted in favor Dec. 2 as the governing body authorized steps to market and sell bonds for the purchase.

That vote saw:

■ “No” votes being cast by council members Elaine Schwartz, Richard Harmon and Chad Manspeaker.

■ “Yes” votes being cast by Mayor Larry Wolgast and council members Karen Hiller, Michelle De La Isla, Denise Everhart, TJ Brown, Nathan Schmidt and Sylvia Ortiz.

Among the “yes” votes, Everhart, Brown and Schmidt are leaving the council Tuesday while Ortiz indicated in an email Monday she opposes the purchase.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions,” Ortiz wrote.

That leaves Wolgast, Hiller and De La Isla as the only “yes” votes from Dec. 2 who remain on the council and haven’t withdrawn support for the purchase.

The Topeka Capital-Journal emailed city governing body members Monday asking them to share their perspectives regarding the potential upcoming vote.

Schwartz responded in an email she wouldn’t be ready to vote in favor of the purchase if it were considered next week but left open the possibility she could eventually vote in favor of it. She wrote she had told city manager Jim Colson he needs to do more to educate voters and get the entire community behind the decision to purchase the track and expand its STAR Bond district.

Schwartz added while most of the input she has received in her district has been against the purchase, her constituents are more inclined to agree the purchase is a good idea when she notes the proposed arrangement calls for state sales tax from the track’s expanded STAR Bond District to go to pay off the Heartland Park STAR Bonds rather than go to the state.

The new governing body members who take office Tuesday were each asked their thoughts regarding Heartland Park for a Voter’s Guide The Capital-Journal published March 28.

One, Brendan Jensen, appeared to support the Heartland Park purchase. The others — Jonathan Schumm, Jeff Coen and Sandra Clear — were less enthusiastic.

■ Jensen responded: “HPT is a difficult situation, from what I understand there were a number of decisions made years ago that set up the current situation. HPT is a city property we are in danger of losing unless we take swift action to protect it. I believe with the right management and expanded events and activities calendar, it has the opportunity to become an asset to our community. I think the city has made the best of a not-so-good situation, though I wish they would have been much more open about what led up to this issue and the process of trying to solve it.”

■ Schumm responded: “I am not in favor of the city running a racetrack when we have street and infrastructure issues that have been unresolved for years. The vast majority of the voters I have spoken with in District 4 have expressed to me their desire to not have the city involved in a project that a private owner could not make profitable. Our City’s focus needs to be on jobs and infrastructure. The recent news that the City kept quiet for five months on an additional $7 million of needed improvements has further eroded our citizens’ trust in our local government.”

■ Coen responded: “The people who live in my district aren’t very happy with how the City has handled the Heartland Park situation. The communication from the City Leadership has been below average on keeping the community informed. It’s definitely on the minds of a lot of people I have spoken to. They are concerned that their tax dollars are being wasted, and I am also concerned.”

■ Clear responded: “The City’s approach has turned a ‘problem’ into a ‘fiasco.’ Because of wheeling and dealing behind closed doors and a process of excluding the public from the discussion before committing millions, we are now facing paying a failed businessman $2 million, rescuing a large bank from their decision to make an ill advised loan, subjecting Topeka taxpayers to a $1.8 million guarantee of a race that may never be held, and to another $7 million of improvements to a facility that has already had over $20 million of public monies infused into its existence the last 12 years. As a government, if you wish to have the support of the public in the decisions you make, this ordeal is a lesson in how not handle the matter.

“Probably the worst move the Council has made, in the whole affair, is their vote to not even have a discussion on the public’s right to vote on the matter. After voting with the majority to deny that debate and discussion, my opponent now has the audacity to state in his campaign material that he ‘Supports a binding public vote on Heartland Park that counts.’ I believe voters are tired of politicians who treat them as ignorant.”

 

HPT on the City Agenda 21 Apr 2014

Heartland Park Purchase on the City Council Agenda 21 April 2014

From the meeting agenda:

“The City of Topeka is in the process of purchasing Heartland Park Topeka (HPT) and expanding the STAR Bond district that currently encompasses HPT property.
On August 12, 2014, the City Council voted to approve the purchase of Heartland Park and the STAR Bond district expansion. This acquisition will allow the City to meet its ongoing debt obligation associated with Heartland Park.”

This is the last chance for citizens to make their voice heard on this matter and that is to ask to speak on the issue or show up in the gallery for this meeting.

 

Democrat+Mailer

Claims of Overt Partisan Support Will be Decided in Court

WIBW reported today that …..

The Kansas Republican Party has filed suit that claims that Democrats made last week’s local elections partisan.

The Republican Party said that the Shawnee County Democratic Party Central Committee mailed out a postcard saying “vote Les Parrish.”

The postcard also named Parrish as a Democrat and his opponent, Sandra Clear, as an ultra-conservative Republican.

The Republican Party says that since the flyer said “Paid For by Shawnee County Democrats” it constitutes corrupt political advertising.

The Republicans also filed suit against the Johnson County Democratic Party who listed and endorsed every Democrat running in local elections.

In non-partisan elections – do you think it is appropriate for party organizations to make in kind endorsements? Should the candidate report it on his form as an in-kind donation? Is it a moot point since the endorsed candidate lost?

Capitol Building Docking forground

City council will have four new members after two incumbents lose Councilmen TJ Brown and Nathan Schmidt fall

The people have spoken….meet your new Topeka City Council Members….

By Tim Hrenchir and Justin Wingerter
tim.hrenchir@cjonline

Topeka Capital Journal 7 Apr 15

The Topeka City Council will have four new members after the defeat of two incumbents in Tuesday’s general election.

District 2 Councilman TJ Brown and District 4 Councilman Nathan Schmidt were defeated by opponents Sandra Clear and Jeffrey Coen, respectively.

In two races without an incumbent, District 4 candidate Jonathan Schumm topped Les Parrish and District 6 candidate Brendan Jensen defeated Jim Lord.

District 2

The District 2 race was the most lopsided of the night. Clear cruised to victory with 630 votes to Brown’s 319.

Clear said she was surprised by the results.

“Oh yes, I was surprised,” she said with a laugh. “It’s a lot of hard work and you never, never know.”

Clear credited the hard work of her family for the success of her campaign.

“My husband works a lot on my campaign, my sister. It was just a lot of hard work,” Clear said.

Clear, 59, is a teacher at Osage City Middle School. She has lived in the district her entire life, has been married for 23 years and has six grown children, three biological, three adopted.

Despite never winning an election, Brown has twice held a seat on the city council.

Brown served on the council after being appointed in February 2013 to fill a vacancy left by Councilman John Alcala’s resignation but was defeated in a primary election later that month. The winner of that election, John Campos II, resigned in May 2014 while facing an ouster proceeding. Brown was again appointed District 2 councilman in June 2014 and has represented the North Topeka district since.

Brown and Clear were the only District 2 candidates to run in the March 3 primary election.

District 4

In District 4, Schumm defeated Parrish by more than 200 votes. Schumm finished with 793 votes and Parrish had 590.

Schumm, a financial representative with Modern Woodmen of America, said he was humbled by the results.

“It’s my team that made this a reality and I am forever grateful,” he said.

Parrish works at Clear View Inc., a window-cleaning service. He and Schumm received the top two vote totals from among four candidates in the March 3 primary election to place on the ballot in Tuesday’s election.

District 6

The race for District 6 was the closest of the night. Jensen finished with 924 votes to Lord’s 881.

Jensen said it felt “fabulous” to win and he owed the victory to a great team behind him.

Jensen, 32, owns and runs a technology strategy company, Jensen Commuications, while Lord, 71, owns and runs Lord’s financial planning. They received the top two vote totals among four candidates in the primary to win places on the ballot in Tuesday’s election.

District 8

In District 8, Coen had 997 votes to Schmidt’s 695.

When asked if he was surprised by his victory, Coen said, “the election process is kind of fluid and you can’t really control it.”

Coen credited door-to-door campaigning for his victory.

“I presented my message by going door to door,” Coen said. “I did it every day for 70 days.”

Coen, 43, owns The C-Team Studios, LLC, a local website design, graphic design and videography company.

Coen handily defeated Schmidt and opponent David Mountain in the March 3 primary. Coen finished the primary with 577 votes to Schmidt’s 269 and Mountain’s 34.

Schmidt, 37, has served as the District 8 representative since June 18, 2013, when the Topeka City Council appointed him to finish the unexpired term of former Councilman Andrew Gray. A graduate of Washburn University, he is a senior database administrator for the Kansas Department of Revenue, where he has worked since 2005.

Election totals will become official after County Commissioners Kevin Cook, Shelly Buhler and Bob Archer meet as the county’s board of canvassers Monday to decide the status of any ballots that were classified as provisional because election workers for various reasons questioned their legality. The new council members will be sworn into office on April 14.

Downtown_Topeka

From the OP ED of the TCJ: If we have a City Manager – Why have a Mayor?

On 7 April there will be a ballot initiative to allow the Mayor to vote on ordinances, retain the powers to veto and change the purpose of the City Council toward economic development. All wrong headed…

The following article was submitted to the Editor of the TCJ and published 23 Mar 2015:

It really isn’t a matter of whether Topeka’s mayor has a vote, or what resolutions/ordinances the mayor may vote on. The manager/council form of government doesn’t require a mayor. This form of government is established that the council is the legislative arm of the municipality and the manager is the administrative (executive) arm.

When the manager/council form of government was adopted, Topeka voters established limited voting privileges for the mayor, and for good reason. That the city council is of an odd number of representatives is by design. Adding the office of mayor would make the vote of our elected representation very convoluted.

The characteristics of a manager/council form of government are: The council has oversight of the general administration, makes policy and sets the budget; the council appoints a professional city manager to administer day-to-day operations; and the council elects a mayor, when needed by state statutes, from among the council on a rotating basis.

The proposed changes that will be on the April 7 ballot would alter two things. Voting power would be extended to the mayor on all issues and identification of the “city council” would be blurred. That body and the mayor would be known as the “governing body.”

I hope the people of Topeka will consider the small value the office of mayor brings to our city when they consider their vote in April to grant additional legislative power to that office.

JACK L. WOELFEL, Topeka

Unoffical final count 2

Primary Over – District 6 General Election Will Proceed with 2 Candidates

This has been a great experience running for public office in my community. I would like to thank my family first who supported me 100%. Second, I would like to thank my online friends and extended family for all their unwavering support. Finally, I would like to thank the voters who voted in this election for their commitment to the campaign and the city.

This crossroads has established, subject to a county canvassing of the ballots, that I won’t be on the ballot on April 7, 2015 but has galvanized the ideal of civic interaction and voicing concerns of my Topeka neighbors.

God bless all the candidates who had the courage to enter this race and I hope they too continue to pursue the issues they have championed in this race. I know I will.

Just because I won’t be the District 6 Council Member, doesn’t mean that this forum will go away. I want to continue to hear from you as I discuss issues and solutions for the concerns many of us have here in Topeka.

One issue of concern is the reorganization of the City Council and the change of role for the Mayor in Ordinance 114 which will be on the 7 April ballot.

You can read it here:

http://www.topeka.org/cityclerk/charterordinances/114-amending_topeka_municipal_code_section_a2-24_concerning_duties_of_the_mayor.pdf

More to follow.

“Miscommunication” considered “New Speak” by Many Veterans

 

 

The VA has is pro’s and con’s.  It provides adequate care to a majority of its patients most of the time, then you hear about a case like this one. I was at the Town Hall Meeting last Monday when he told the Director and his staff his issue with his foot.  Other staff took his name and details so they could get him in right away.   8 days later, doesn’t seem like right away to many.

It does cost money to place adds or send a mailer.  Media has no problem spreading bad news and occasionally does a good job of posting a community calendar but is a shot in the dark for the agency.

It isn’t miscommunication when you don’t get the word out, its actually not communicating effectively. In this age of technology, the VA has the ability to send email and potentially texts.  That may be a more effective way to contact veterans in the future.

Canvasing with the Family

Leivan Will Appear at Citizen Group’s Candidate Forum 1 March 2015

Citizen’s for Accountability in Government will host a forum at the Topeka and Shawnee County Library this evening in Marvin Auditorium Room 101 from 6 pm to 8:30 pm. The forum’s organizer, Carol Marple, invited all City Council Candidate to participate.

The forum is set to give each of the 13 candidates a 2 minutes to introduce their campaign followed by general and district specific questions until the event is complete.

Hope to see you there.

Remembering Our Fallen Veterans is Always an Honor

I have presented many public addresses on Memorial and Veteran’s Day.  Most recently at the American Legion Post 400 here in Topeka but I don’t have that video.

I was privileged to be invited by the citizen’s of Highland, KS to present the Memorial Day address.  Memorial Day is a special day to remember the cost of our freedom.

The message I offered that day, means as much to me now as the day I presented it.

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VA: What? No cardiologist on staff? What is a Temporary Service Card?

Today, I attended the VA Town Hall Meeting. I asked the staff if it was true that they do not have a cardiologist on staff. The answer was that the resident cardiologist retired and the replacement had to return to his country of origin for an unspecified time. The current plan is to share Dr Rodriquez with the Leavenworth facility until Dr Kawana returns or is replaced. This isn’t comforting since so many Veterans have heart health risks.

Additionally, I asked about the Temporary Service Card for the Veteran’s Choice program. This program is fund for 3 years or until the money runs out. In that time, the VA is supposed to fix the problems that were exposed in the Arizona facility scandle 2 yrs ago.

While I have always received quality care and excellent service at the VA, many veterans stated they get the run around.

The director did announce new services that will be available this year. An expanded psychiatric ward in Bldg 2 and a 12 bed dementia unit in Bldg 6 and next year Bldg 1 will enclose an additional 18K square feet to provide clinical care.

Finally, I privately spoke with the interim assistant director about the VA’s plan on disposition of the dilapidated and unused housing on 21st Street.. We will exchange information over email.

More here: http://www.wibw.com/home/headlines/Town-Hall-Invites-Veterans-To-Voice-VA-Health-Care-Concerns-293766901.html