Saturday, August 30, 2008

hospitals, bike paths and politics

Here is my column that appeared in Saturday's paper.

Tuesday, the group pushing for a new hospital will make their pitch to the City Commission. There's been a lot of controversy already about whether they should build the new hospital a couple miles north of town. They are also going to be pushing for a half-cent sales tax to help pay for a new facility.
I am just not sure why this is such a controversial item.
From what we have heard, major upgrades and repairs are needed at the current facility.
They are saying it would cost less to build a new one than to upgrade the old one. I know with cars sometimes you get to the point you could buy a new one for what you are paying in repair costs, so it is a valid argument.
Our online poll shows almost a dead heat about our question concerning the hospital, with 184 in favor and 173 opposed.
I am not sure if those opposed have legitimate arguments or whether it's just the negative sentiment that floats around Arkansas City.
Everyone should come to the meeting Tuesday and hear what they have to say. The hospital people have not yet had a good chance to plainly make their case before the public. We should at least listen to them and get the facts before we jump on the bandwagon in either direction.
I have been a little surprised to see some opposition to the hike and bike path that is proposed for the levee around the city.
I did a poll on my blog and those in favor slightly outnumbered the naysayers.
This is being funded, in large part, by a state grant. It is true that state money is "our" money and is tax dollars that we have paid. What some do not seem to realize, is that this money is going to be spent.
The state sets aside a certain amount of money for these grants. Cities compete for those funds through the grant process. If we don't build the path, we will have to send the money back. There are probably at least 50 cities lined up to take it and use it.
Either way, it won't change what we pay in taxes to the state.
The process is under way and the path will likely be built. It's been in the works for years, but hopefully work should begin this fall.
Both the hospital and the hike and bike path are quality-of-life issues. It is true that we need street repairs and various other infrastructure needs that one could argue are more important. Quality of life is an essential need as well.
* * *
It's pretty hard to get by these days without being bombarded by lots of politics. Thanks to the Internet, I keep in touch with a friend who lives in Australia. He is already tired of hearing about our election and he could just imagine how tired we are. They allow campaigning only for two months for any race. I think we could learn something from the people down under.
* * *
Jim Slattery, candidate for U.S. Senate and running against Pat Roberts, was here recently. He had what may be the most profound political line I have heard this season. He said the truth is not in either ditch, referring to the extremes of conservative and liberal philosophies. I have never heard it put so well.
* * *
I always like to hear what our readers think. We are thinking about some changes and I would really like to hear your opinions on a couple of issues.
One is our cartoons. We were thinking about changing some of them. Several of them no longer have the original authors at work on them, and some are in re-runs.
Another issue is Big-12 football and basketball coverage. Would you like to see more of that in the paper?
Let me know what you think.
* * *
The River of Life Music Festival is moving right along. We are going to have a "battle of the bands" of sorts on Friday, Oct. 3.
We will have several local bands playing Friday night and we will be picking a "winner." The winner will get to open the show on Saturday for the longer program.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Music festival

Ive not posted much the last few days because I am hard at work on the music festival.
Its gotten hectic the last few days. Just like I remember last year.
As a result, Ive not felt much like posting, and didnt feel I had anything relevant to say anyways.
:) Yea i know, some will say i never do, so ....
Anyways, We will have more on the hospital in coming days in the paper.
Id like to hear from the hospital people about why they chose this location.
And why they didnt choose other locations.
Maybe they are right.
But hopefully we can bring you those reasons soon.

The music festival is going pretty good. I am just tired. Been preparing mailings and such, dealing with musicians, making arrangements and begging for money.

We do still need some money. We have an account at Union State Bank.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Topics of interest

A few people have voted in the new poll. What do you all think about that poll itself?
The bike path is pretty much on the way to completion. Now it would take some strong opposition to stop it, and Im not sure that will happen.
I really believe that the bike path will begin the process of utilizing our rivers. Its a first step. And having the state paying for two thirds of it is a good deal.
Any city ive been to that has a river nearby, has river access and they utilize the resource. At one time they did in Arkansas City. Ive seen pictures from the early 1900s where there were riverside parks and people rowing around in boats.
We just need some people with an mind for business and a good bit of intestinal fortitude.

It wont happen over night, but it we dont get it started, it will never happen. Its a good thing we have the levee. Had we not had it we would have had major flooding last summer. Im sure there were opponents then too.
Things do need to be questioned. Im not against that at all, I am just against the usual naysayers that tend to show up to oppose just about anything. There must be a balance there.

The hospital is also a good case in point. we do need a hospital, but there are lots of questions. The hospital board needs to be more open and give the public more information about the project. They also need to answer a lot of questions.
Im not for or against a specific location. I dont see how people can complain about 2 miles out of town when they drive 60 to go to a hospital in wichita.
The hospital board needs to let us know specifically why they chose that location.

Then there is the insurance thing with the city and the police. I intend to look more into that as well. I could be wrong, but I just dong think thats any big deal.

Ok, there are some opinions.
Let the debate begin.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Music Festival

I have a new post on my blog about the River of Life Music Festival.
Its over there to the right where the blog links are.
If you want to keep up with the music festival, check on that blog.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I just added some new stuff to my blog.
One thing is a poll. Thought id see if it is interesting to people.
Another thing is a bigger list of other blogs.
Just added some weird stuff ive found.
Check out that blog on Kansas City. It is a bit offensive in places, so reader beware.
Certainly makes our commission look pretty tame.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hospitals and Windows

Both topics came up at the work session last night.
The commission may no be 100 percent behind the new location. But they do agree we need the new one.
One bad thing about small towns, is that people like criticizing the "institutions" such as police, commissions, hospitals, newspapers etc.

The location does have a lot of people up in arms. The hospital has some selling to do. Hopefully they will have some public hearings where they explain why they have chosen what they have chosen - and why they didnt choose other things.
The commission didnt take any position last night, but the general feeling is that they are not sold on the location. They are not necessarily opposed, but not necessarily in favor either.

On the windows.
The commission met with the planning commission last night and they hammered out an agreement. They will get their ordinance with some modifications.
Basically its the same, but it spells out some things that were vague in the original ordinance. People will be required to do 10 windows a year. For most of the businesses downtown, that will do. Those that have more than 10 will have three years.
They will do Summit Street first, then the Avenues, then address the alleys.
Should come up for a vote soon, but not likely tonight.

Monday, August 18, 2008

city meeting

here's the agenda for tuesdays meeting 7 p.m.
worksession is today at 5:30

1. Consider Planning Commission recommendation on proposed windows ordinance, and consider ordinance amending zoning in downtown regarding windows.

2. Consider ordinance authorizing vacation of street at Monroe Avenue between 7th and 8th
Street, and a portion of the alley between Monroe Avenue and Quincy Avenue between 7th
and 8th Street. LG Pike.

3. Review bids, consider ordinance issuing bonds, and consider resolution authorizing the sale
of bonds to the low interest bidders and setting the terms for repayment for permanently
financing various City improvement projects.

4. Consider ordinance authorizing infrastructure financing for Recreation Center

5. Consider ordinance repealing existing ordinance regarding work site utility vehicles and
authorizing micro utility trucks on City streets.

6. Consider bid tab on C Street Canal cleanup project and consider resolution awarding
contract for project.

7. Consider resolution rescheduling the Commission’s September 1, 2008 work session.
(Voice vote).

8. Consider Mayor’s appointments to City Boards.

Miscellaneous Matters from the City Manager/City Commission.



Ive not felt like posting lately. But discussions seem to be moving along fine anyway.
The hospital is an issue that needs some discussion.
It was the main point at that town hall meeting. That meeting was not supposed to be a hospital meeting.

Anyways, the hospital board meetings are open meetings. They don't notify us as well as they should, Im going to look into that.

They will be having some meetings with the city - which are also public, where they will explain their choice of a location.
Is the location really that important? Parking seems to me to be a hassle at the current location.
People now living north of Kansas have a ways to go now to get to the hospital.
I live a block from the current hospital. I dont see many older people walking up there.

But this is an issue where you can make a difference.

What do you think about moving the River of Life Music Festival to Curry Field?
from its current location by the river?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

town hall meeting

City commissioners want to hear from you. They will be holding a town hall meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at the senior center in Arkansas City.
People will be able to ask questions and share their concerns with the commission.
Commissioner Patrick McDonald said he would like to hear ideas and solutions to problems facing the city.
There will be no agenda.
"We are just going to be there to listen to people," he said.
Depending on how many people show up, there may be a time limit put on each speaker.

You all should come. I dare ya.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Money for nothing.

Check out today's paper. I went to that meeting Thursday night where the state historic commission lady talked about money available to people in the historic district - the downtown area - to help them fix up their buildings.

Tax credits are available to pay as much as 45 percent of the cost. To qualify you have to be in the district and your building has to be 50 years old. Thats a combination of federal and state money. Cool thing about the state part, is that state tax credits can be sold and are very flexible. The fed stuff is a bit more complex, but its still there.
There are also grants available, and that is competitive and not everyone gets approved.

However, the thing that was interesting to me, was the fact that almost no one has applied.
She said there has been ZERO, NONE, NOT A SINGLE ONE, application from Arkansas City this decade. There have been less than five since the historic district was created in the 80s.

There is also a great tax break from the city for people who do work on their buildings,

The Burford has a grant, and thats about the only one that is active.

She also said that since there have been so few from Arkansas City to apply, that would give Arkansas City people and edge in the application process for grants. The tax credits are available if you qualify, its there for the asking.

Another excuse bites the dust. What will they come up with next?

Im just tired of people making excuses. We need to fix up the city, have some pride and make the city what we all want it to be.

In the words of Bob Dylan
"get out of the way if you cant lend your hand
cause the times they are a changing."

Friday, August 8, 2008

Gummint rolls

Some people have posted recently about the role of government. That is a huge question and one that needs to be debated.
One side thinks government should only do basic services - locally like fire and police, and utilities - nothing else. The other side wants government to work toward improving the quality of life.

Some time back, I asked commissioners this hypothetical question. "If the majority of people in town wanted everyone to have free soft drinks, and were willing to pay for it with more taxes, would you vote for it.?"
Got some interesting answers but I don't remember who said what now. Suffice to say it would not pass with the current commission.

Usually both sides are so focused on their side they don't bother trying to understand the other side. Often you just get labeled if you don't agree with someone on this question. Its something that needs to be thought about seriously, and debated seriously.
It is a huge question for Arkansas City, and for the nation really. Its one of the fundamental differences nationally even, and with the conservative-liberal divide.

(An aside, I see myself as a moderate. This means I don't think either side has the answers, which generally gets me labeled instead of understood. By moderate I don't mean a Kansas Democrat. Neither side is right. The real value of both sides is that they keep either side from getting too much power. I'm really ready for some third-party options.)

I said that in order to suggest that in the debate of the role of government, neither conservatives nor liberals are right. :)
The government is not some entity in a vacuum. We all are the government. We do have leaders and representatives, but the people still have a voice. If our reps don't listen, we can turn them out of office at the next election.

I do think government should be involved in some quality of life issues. There can be too much of course so we need people who will say whoa! when needed. Just exactly where that line is, is hard to define.
Id rather decide on the role of government on a case by case basis, instead of just being blindly conservative or liberal about it.

What do you think.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

election and commissions

You can see the election results by clicking on the link on our main page.
Nothing too surprising there.
The Abrams vs. Goodwin race will be interesting. Lots of people thought Goodwin would not run for reelection to the state senate, and that Kasha Kelley would run for the office. Not too many, if anyone, would have predicted that Abrams would be in this race.

The city commission passed its budget last night. No new tax increase, but there will be an increase in your water, sewer and sanitation rates. The water increase is the fourth raise in a five-year phase of raises.
It's all gonna cost about $3 a month for the average residential customer. The sanitation - trash pickup - rates will go tup $2.25 a month for 2009 and about .25 a month for the next five years. Water and sewer will also be going up about 25 cents a month each.

They did cut the museum as expected. Now the community needs to step up and volunteer .

Also, the commission gave KACY permission to have its concert down by the levee. However, they denied them permission to sell beer there. Hockenbury, Margolius and Smith were opposed. McDonald and Kuhn were for it.
If this were private property there would not have been an issue at all.
Hopefully the show will go on, regardless.
That area is a great venue for an outdoor concert.
People can sell beer at the agri-business building and there are some other venues where it would be allowed.

A few issues here, maybe we should split it up into different posts?

Id like to say im glad to be back from vacation. Id like to.

Could have used another week. I was just getting really relaxed and settled when it was time to come back.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The news

Well im off the clock so to speak, and relaxing. I only know what i read in the papers. :)
If you all want to discuss the Emerson thing, you can do so here.
I may not check in again till Monday or so,