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

 

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District 6 Candidate answered questions on a live blog

District 6 Candidate answered questions on a live blog –

All eight Topeka City Council candidates taking part in live blogs this week agreed a public vote was appropriate on the city’s proposed purchase of Heartland Park Topeka.

The Topeka Capital-Journal on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday held the live blogs featuring candidates vying to represent the seats in City Council Districts 4, 6 and 8.

Primary elections will be held March 3 to narrow the list of candidates to two in each of those districts. The finalists, plus the two candidates running in District 2, will then face off in the April 7 general elections.

During the live blog debate today, Leivan’s responses struck true with the CJ Online staff and was tweeted…..

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Full story and blog here:

http://cjonline.com/news/2015-02-20/district-6-council-candidates-answer-questions

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Does the long range plan for the Expocenter make sense?

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This is the bird’s eye view of the facilities that is in the strategic long range plan for the Expo center. You can download the executive briefing here:
http://ksexpo.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=109&Itemid=248

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It will only take $60M to set the facility up for continued usage for the next 30 years or 210 dog years equaling roughly $298K per dog year. It will take about 2 dog lifetimes to pay off.

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In part of the “problem” statement, the report shows Topeka lacks the median income to justify promoting events that do not sell out. Additionally, there is a chart that shows a steady decline in annual attendance since 2001.

A key component and goal of this campaign is to increase jobs and raise the median income. We cannot expect grow our population without more jobs. Our economic development needs to make well paying jobs its priority one.

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Riddle me this: If the Mayor is a voting member of the City Council – Who is the executive?

Riddle me this – if the Mayor moves from the Executive to a voting member of the City Council – who is the executive? …the City Manager? This question, ie change the Mayor to a voting member of the City Council is on this years April 7 ballot.

`As a matter of public record, the voters can see all the candidates’ filing forms and Statements of Substantial Interest filings here: http://www.topeka.org/CityClerk/elections-info.shtml

See the entire proposed ordinance 114:

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

Are you paying higher taxes because someone else isn’t paying theirs?

How many vacant houses and commercial properties do you drive by everyday and ask “How long is that going to stay like that?” Then do you ask your self “I wonder if I am paying more in taxes because someone isn’t paying theirs?”

As a homeowner, I value property rights however when you live in a community, you have a responsibility to maintain your property and pay your taxes. Currently the law protects property rights very well, too well in some cases. The Kansas Legislature will consider a bill that will grant cities more power in handling non-compliance to ensure the safety and value of your neighborhood and property value.

http://ksnt.com/2014/10/10/legislature-hears-concerns-about-abandoned-and-vacant-properties/

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City Population Growth Near Zero

10425050_650892008371550_4935622926682037920_nSince its founding, Topeka’s population grew at 20% per decade until 1960. Since 1960, Topeka’s population has not grown, rather it is stagnate with only a net increase of 1.5% since 1960. Additionally, since 1960, only 2 out of every 10 new Shawnee Co residents moved into the City and Shawnee County’s growth has more than doubled. Finally, Topeka’s area has nearly doubled as well over the same time frame making our population less dense and more expensive to provide and sustain services. Topeka also has an 11% higher rate of renters than the Kansas average.

We need an increase in population density and growth. In order to do that, we need to improve the quality of life in the center of the city and not just around the bypass in the hopes of annexing new developments to maintain our static population.

We must embrace a better vision for the future. We can no longer continue the status quo and continue. Vote for growth – vote Leivan for Topeka!

Only 2 out of every 10 New to Shawnee County moves into Topeka

Very interesting presentation with a quantifiable vision.

A key trend that may not change even if the plan is approved is:

“only 2 out of every 10 new Shawnee Co Resident moves into the city limits over the past 50 years”.

The premise for this plan is sound however prioritizing and resourcing the City’s responsibility in making this happen is important. There will need to be a balance between infrastructure re-investment, maintaining serviceable areas and future growth.

Topeka is ranked 9th for affordability

Topeka is ranked 9th in the US for affordable cost of living hugely based on cost of housing due to percentage of income. That is good news and something to celebrate.

Pocket Parks – Public and City Hand in Hand

From the City’s Adopted 2015 Budget document:

“The downtown redevelopment project is proposed to be a two-year, $5.8 million restoration project spanning four blocks. Expected to be completed in late 2015, the project will include street, sidewalk and lighting improvements, as well as new water mains and storm sewers and the addition of hi-speed fiber internet infrastructure. An influx of private capital – over $2.5 million – makes this project a unique public/private partnership. The private contributions are pledged to enhance aesthetics, including decorative arches and eight new pocket parks.”

Almost 1/2 of the project is privately funded. Harry Colmery is a pioneer in advocating for Veteran’s with his seminal contributions in formalizing the G.I. Bill. The G.I. Bill provides professional and collegiate education for those who serve either voluntarily or were drafted in an effort to transition service members from the military to being successful in the private sector. Senator (retired) Bob Dole was one of the most notable Kansas G.I. Bill recipients.

Projects like this where private interests share this cost to improve the aesthetics of the city, public safety and honor great Kansans are welcomed by the Leivan Campaign.