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local politics Politics

I approved this message…

Today was primary day in Kansas. Here’s who I voted for in the Republican Primary

US Senator: Jerry Moran
Basically, the two leading candidates are fairly close policy-wise. What sealed the deal for me to break for Moran was the way Mike Shanin and Scott Parks of KMBZ felt of the way the candidates handled themselves while being interviewed on their program.

US House of Representative, District 2 – Lynn Jenkins
With Moran and Tihart running for the senate seat, and Dennis Moore deciding not to run for office again, Lynn Jenkins was the only incumbent house member running for the seat they held during the current congress. Dennis Pyle ran on a campaign indicating that Lynn was not conservative enough.

Kansas Govenor – Sam Brownback
Senator Brownback is, of course, the front-running candidate overall in the current race for govenor.

Kansas Secretary of State – JR Claeys
I’ve actually received messages from the Claeys campaign for a while now. I didn’t pay that much attention. However; the front runner, Kris Kobach, doesn’t excite me that much. With all of the hubub regarding the immigration bill, among other things…. Kobach seems to be ‘Damaged goods.’

Kansas Attorney General – Dereck Schmidt
In reality, whoever I vote for in this race didn’t makea difference. Something tells me the incumbent, Democrat Steven Six, will get elected for a full term, especially after the controversy with the two previous AG candidates.

Kansas State Treasurer – Ron Estes
Free Pass to November – Mr. Estes ran unopposed on the Republican Primary.

Insurance Commissioner – Sandy Preager
Basically, this is the de facto insurance commissioner race, with no opposition from democrats or third parties. Her opponent ran on the fact that he is n insurance agent, and that Preager is a RINO. I have not seen a problem in the Insurance Commissioner’s office, however

Knsas House – Lee Tafenelli (unopposed)
Kansas Board of Education – Dawn Weston (unopposed)

County Commissioner – Lynn Luck
Haven’t seen much debate on this one.

Categories
highways local politics

On the Kansas Highways front

On Memorial Day, I took a road trip to explore a couple of roundabouts, as well as parts of the new US 69 freeway in Linn County.

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As a Consequence of my raodtrip, I’ve also updated the US 69 exit guide to reflect the actual signage out in the field (I wasn’t *that* far off regarding the final segment of the freeway between Fort Scott and Kansas City.

https://www.route56.com/exitguides/us69.html

I also added a conceptual exit numbering scheme… the new 2009 Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices mandates that all major freeways have milepost-based exit numbering.

In addition, over the past week, there were protests over the removal of a Beaver Dam in the Baker Wetlands done to prevent 31st Street from losing integrity. Therefore, I wrote a Letter to the Editor:

31st Street Decay

Categories
local politics Personal Politics

Politics and spirit… a reminder of events 10 years ago

A recent set of comments on a spirit squad related email list reminded me of events that happened 10 years ago this month that brought controversy to the KU spirit squad.

In December of 1998, the KU Athletics department decreed that the spirit squads would not be allowed to participate in Nationals. However, the Dance team captain had already made the necessary arrangements to participate at the the ’99 UDA nationals, which by then were about a month away. The elected to ignore the embargo and proceeded as planned, which was publicly posted in the local newspaper. Reaction from the squad was extremely negative. Many of the cheerleaders quit in protest, reducing that squad to 12 by the end of February.

The mother of one of the squad members was nice enough to contact me that Saturday night to let me know how they did. I was also able to greet them when they returned to KCI.

The dance team was also moved from the floor into a reserved section in the south bleachers. Some of the squad believed it was because they were concealing advertising banners for the local phone company. Toward the end of the season, rumors also persisted that the the south bleachers were going to be turned from student seating to reserved seating.

In the end, the coaching staff was dismissed, and the 99-00 dance squad was reduced from two squads of 12 to one squad of 10, with an alternate. The athletic department also sponsored an student support organization called the HAWK club, of which I was a participant. The south bleachers remained student seating, and in fact, the HAWK club was encouraging its members to sit in those south seats. The dance squad was returned to its two squad lineup for the 02-03 season, however, the original name “Crimson Girls” was retired. The new name, “Rock Chalk Dancers,” was introduced in 2004. The squad still anchors the south bleachers while the game is underway, and I doubt they will be moved back to the floor anytime soon.

I didn’t mind the name change, partially because the athletics had been promoting the use of blue over crimson, and because I knew there were male dancers out there. In fact, I have a couple of them in my family. I’m also fine with the south end bleachers; that move may have actually saved them from being turned into reserved seating.

I haven’t been in contact with the squad personally since the fall of ’03, but thanks to Facebook, I have re-established contact with many of the members of the past squads, including the 98-99 squad. Among that squad, a couple of them are still dancing. I’ve also got a nurse and a dentist. Some are married, a few have kids of their own.

The following is a letter I wrote 10 years ago, which was published in the Lawrence Journal-World on February 2, 1999. The letter also notes that Kansas high school cheerleaders and dance teams cannot participate in nationals. As of 2009, this is still the case. However, they can participate in contests where the site is no more than 500 road-miles from the border (this limit in 1999 was 150)

To the Editor,

Among the worlds of business, academia, and sports, there is one common goal: the pursuit of excellence.

Recently, the KU Athletic Department decided that the cheerleaders and Crimson Girls should not be allowed to compete in nationals. Since the spirit squads were willing to raise their own funds, money is not the problem. Therefore, the only plausible reason I could think of is the Athletic Department simply does not want them to go.

When it comes to similar spirit groups on the high school level, the Kansas State High School Activities Association is among the most restrictive associations in the country. The Lawrence High and Free State High pom squads and cheerleaders have been invited to national competitions similar to the ones KU have been attending several times. Because of the rules of the KSHSAA, they have not been allowed to go. In addition, the KSHSAA does not allow groups attending summer camps under their name to be ranked, whereas other camps rank their participants on a regular basis. This leads me to believe that the KSHSAA believes that spirit groups should not be competing, a mentality which I suspect has spread to the KU athletic department.

Why should the Crimson Girls and the pom squads and cheerleaders of Lawrence be allowed to compete? By competing, they have a brass ring to reach for. If a team succeeds and reaches that ring, they become the mark of excellence. If they try and dont quite make it, they would have my utmost respect for reaching for the top. Not reaching for the top, not really competing, means they have no real passion for what they do and would settle for mediocrity.

The Athletic Department and the KSHSAA, whether intentionally or not, are promoting mediocrity by disallowing the spirit squads under their control the opportunity to compete against their peers with little or no reason. Their actions are not good for the students that these organizations are representing because it takes away from their spirit and passion for cheering. Without that passion, their support for the teams they cheer on would be weaker, and that would take away the atmosphere the spirit squads bring to the game they attend.

Richie Kennedy

Categories
local politics Politics

Sarcoxie Township is definitely GOP territory

Once again, I present my not-so-surprising voting decision.

POTUS: McCain. In a previous post, I noted that the a presidential picking website generally favored McCain as my pick. If there’s any other reason for me to choose McCain over Obama, it is this: The National Federation of Independent Business gave Senator McCain a rating of 100 in its 110th (2007-2008) Pre-Election Congressional Report, versus a 50 for Obama. The NFIB determines the ratings of its candidates using information gathered by surveying its members… people like my uncle Marty. Basically, McCain is considered better for small buisness than Obama.

US Senate: Pat Roberts. I find it somewhat amusing that Jim Slattery is riding on the Obama style change Bandwagon. Slattery was our US representative in the 2nd District for many years, then ran unsucessfully for Govenor in 1994. (That election was basically called at 7:01 CT) Outside of Douglas County, Senator Roberts remains popular. He also received a 100 from the NFIB.

US House – District 2: Lynn Jenkins. Although Boyda received a respectible grade from the NFIB (70), the fact is, the rest of her party, particulary the incumbant speaker of the house, generally have low marks.

State Senate – 3rd District: Roger Pine. His opponent, Rep. Tom Holland, has been running attack ads, to which the incumbant Senator has found unworthy of response.

State Rep – 47th District: Republican Lee Tafanelli is running unopposed

County positions – All GOP, all unopposed.

Sales Tax – 1/4 cent for County matching KPERS. Yes.

Judicial Retention – None of the Judges that serve my district have run into contraversy. I voted to retain them all.

Other issues of interest
Lawrence Sales Tax – since I no longer live in Lawrence, this issue is not on my ballot. There’s currently a ballot measure for major infrastructure projects and for the transit service. I support the infrastructure measure, but oppose the transit measure on the grounds that, based on ridership and demographics, a fixed route bus system is *not* an nessecity for Lawrence and should be decommed.

JoCo question 1: Johnson County has a ballot measure to switch Judges from an appoint and retention system to direct election. This should be interesting

JoCo question 2: This question is on a sales tax to fund research development in cooperation with the state universities.

Kansas City Light Rail: This one is similar to the “T” question in Lawrence. Those opposed to the Light Rail basically argue that the demographics are not present to support rail transit just yet. I do believe, however, that the use of rail transit should be considered in cooperation with busses and automobiles.

Categories
local politics Politics

New address… New Polling Place

With the move to a new house, and a new county, there’s a new polling place.

The polling place for Sarcoxie Township is at an old one-room schoolhouse just north of Lawrence. They also use a optical scanning method pretty much the same as the one in Douglas County.

For the Republican Primary, there were only two contested seats, plus one ballot question. Here’s how I voted.

US Congress, KS-2: Lynn Jenkins
The Republican Primary has been somewhat contested between the incumbent state Treasurer and former Congressman Jim Ryun over their respective service records. I choose Jenkins mainly because I wanted to vote out the Democratic incumbent, and I doubt the person the was previously defeated would be able to re-claim his seat.

County Attorney: Caleb Stegall
The Kansas Court district Jefferson County is in is shared with neighboring counties, each county having its own attorney. In the larger counties, such as Shawnee, Douglas, Johnson, and Wyandotte, the court district is contiguous with the county, and therefore, they are considered District Attorneys.

Stegall’s campaign against his opponent, the incumbent county attorney, mainly challenged his effectiveness. I did not see any campaign material from his opponent.

Sales Tax Issue: Yes
Jefferson County also had a sales tax issue on the docket. It was a 1% tax with a 6 year Sunset clause for road improvement. There was no campaign material for or against, and the tax is very likely a renewal of an existing tax issue.

All other positions on the ballot were unopposed, except for township treasurer, which did not have a Republican candidate.

Categories
local politics

The future of elections….

Over at the fairgrounds this afternoon, the county brought in vendors to demonstrate their voting systems. One Vendor used a exclusive touch screen system, the others featured touch screen and optical ballot options. One even had the ability to transfer from a touch screen to a optical ballot.

Being in the IT realm, I know that the computers that will use this system could potentially, however unlikely, be vunerable to hackers, viruses, and spyware. There is always the possibility (and some have already thrown this accusation) that either a vendor or a third-party could rig the voting.

The paper trail provided by vendors that also have optical systems appear to be secure. I doubt, once the ballot has been printed, it could be altered by the machine after it is prepared for the next voter. Keeping an optical system, however, does alllow for the posability of handling larger numbers of users than the touch-screen, since there is only one machine and multiple people can be on it at the same time.

Categories
highways local politics

New SLT stuff

Two new articles have been published on the front of the local section regarding the South Lawrence Trafficway

Quality of new, restored wetlands center of debate — questioning of if any mitigated wetlands will be good enough

KDOT could file lawsuit over trafficway — KDOT is prepared to call the “wetland supporters” on wheather they have enough evidence to prove that the EIS is fatally flawed.

I’ve been considering writing up an opinion colum for some time. I may consider implementing it soon.

I believe that a south of the river “avoidance” route, which the “wetland supporters” are claiming would be good for the wetlands, would acutally be worse for the wetlands than the preferred 32nd Street route, meaning that it’s not a true avoidance route.

Categories
local politics Politics

How I voted

Here’s how I voted. Like I inferred earlier, I went with a straight GOP ticket.

POTUS — Bush/Cheney

John Kerry is a Massachusetts Liberal — in most years, he wouldn’t even be considered electable. He’ll pull Douglas County, though.

I don’t believe there is a conciveable way Bush could have prevented the country from going in the red again, and I believe Kerry’s tax proposal amounts to punishing the rich. Our Income tax system is preety much progressively in line with the amount of wealth the classes control as it is.

As for military action: Somehow, I think Kerry is going to try to use a diplomatic solution that will amount to a surrender.

US Senator: Sam Brownback
His Democratic opponent lost the Primary to a “placeholder. ”

US Representative: Jim Ryun
Boyda may take Lawrence, but will likely give up the rural regions that rest of the district. Ryun had an ad that suggested that Boyda moved from JoCo to Topeka to try to take his seat (the 3rd Distict, which includes JoCo and the eastern part of Lawrence, is covered by Dennis Moore) and is fiercely anti-war in an area which may tend to lean more towards support for Military action.

State Senator: Mark Buhler

I’ve known Mark for some time now, since his days as a county commissioner. I consider him a friend, and he’s had to settle me down once or twice. Certainally, the Democrats don’t care for him because he’s a Realator by trade.

State Representative: Tom Sloan
The Democrats didn’t find anyone to challange Rep. Sloan. However, he does have a Libertarian on his tail.

Board of Education: Robert Meissner
This is one where I went with party lines. Both candidates seem worthy of filling the position.

District Attorney: Christine Kenney
Her opponent charges that the incumbant DA has been less than competnent in the DA office. I don’t see it, but than again, I’m a partisan for the GOP 🙂

County Commission: Jere McElhaney
Like Sen. Buhler, I’ve met with Comm. McElhaneny a few times and I like him. His opponent is a local vet who filed as an independant, as the Democrats have had no chance in this county district. My mom had initially taken my two cats to this vet, but I wound up taking them elsewhere. The vet I go is on 6th Street, and has a rubber-stamp policy for political yard signs: if you come in and ask, he’ll let you put one up.

County Clerk: Marni Penrod
County Tresuarer: Cindy Monshizadeh

Back to party lines for these two. Cindy’s husband is also the manager at a local Sports Bar/Restaraunt that I have been going to on many an occasion..

Register of Deeds: Kay Pesnell (D)
Sheriff: Ken McGovern (R)

Both of these candidates are running unopposed. In the Primary, I put down “Big Jay” for Register of Deeds as a “throwaway” write-in. Four Years ago, I filled in “The LFS Firebird”

Judicial Retention:

4 Supreme Court Judges, 4 Court of Appeals Judges, and three district judges are up for retention, usually, this is a “rubber-stamp” yes, but for Paula Martin, a group has formed because of what some consider to be an extreme deviation in sentacing in a Rape conviction (60 days confinment minimum with 5 years probation, 2 years confiment if probation is broken — minimum presumed sentance is 13 years).

I disagree with the notion that Judges should not be subject to the political wind — appoitment of Judges has been know to be an issue in Presidential races (including this one) and some districts in Kansas continue to elect judges in partizan elecetions. I also believe that the DA did not punt this one, as some suggest. I voted down Martin, and voted to retain Judge Murphy and Malone (who has a son one year older and a daughter one year younger than me) as well as the Supreme court and Appeals judges.

Categories
highways local politics

More SLT ramblings

Local Resident Richard Heckler had a Letter to the Editor in today’s J-W about the South Lawrence Trafficway. He also posted it to Larryville. Some of his opening paragraphs were cut, focusing on the issue of a Traffic Light that is along the existing stretch. A recent fatality accident and the proximity to the local youth soccer field has may people concerned, including the letter writer.

Here’s my response, with Mr. Hecklers words space in in fixed type


One more example of bad planning with Dean Carlson at the helm not to mention a strong influence of two Douglas County comissioners at the time and probaly others behind the scene.

The two lane speedway was built as a means to force the the SLT through the wetlands before a court decision was rendered thinking no one would say NO once the project was underway. The court said no not through the wetlands. Bad planning

While the existing leg of the SLT was constructed with the assumption that the eastern leg would be built, it was not built with any particular alignment in mind. Also, the courts did not say that we could not build through the wetlands. That’s not their perogative. The courts did say that the Federal Highway Administration could not “pull out” of the EIS process because parties could not decide on a alignment. That ruling led to a rare “no-build” decision and, ultimitely, to the all-new EIS process and the current alignment selection.

When asked why not build a four lane instead of two considering the speed at which drivers would likely travel the reply was "We'll add on once traffic counts warrants two more lanes". My best guess it would have cost less a few years ago than whenever if it ever gets done. Now there is no money and people travel as if it is a four lane. Bad planning.

The bulk of the costs for expanding a roadway appear to be Right of way acquisition. In the process of building the first two lanes, KDOT acquired the Right of Way for the second carridgeway. While it certainally would be somewhat more expensive to build the second carridgeway in the future over building both carridgeways at the same time, some would see it as a waste, and the maintance costs for the second carridgeway would probably make it a wash cost-wise anyway.

I say pick an area east of Lawrence which will connect K-10 and I-70 to the north thus bringing all of this together under a toll road plan.

Whether or not anything else is built there are two intersections that are in desperate need of attention. They are at the soccer field and the bridge to nowhere.

Why was a a traffic light placed at K-10 and the soccer fields in the first place? Perhaps KDOT knew then this intersection was not safe. Certainly no safe passage for pedestrians crossing the two lane speedway to a popular area was provided.

Why did they not design a safe intersection considering the popular area and its 'proximity to a neighborhood? They ran out of money.

Is that any reason to leave a project with unsafe intersections? Probaly not.

Why are they leaving the bridge to nowhere and the soccer field intersections,both unsafe designs, as they are? Were the decisions to leave these intersections with unsafe designs irresponsible? I think so. Now the new administration is left hopefully appropriating funds to correct the situation in the near future.

In retrospect instead of building bridges to nowhere should we be sure we have our priorities straight thus not allowing unsafely designed intersections when working with limited funds?

Soccer field intersection has been brought to the attention of KDOT officials during discussions in the SLT hearings if my memory serves me well more than once. A pedestrian bridge for cyclists,joggers,walkers and children at this intersection was suggested due to the rather precarious situation of this intersection.

In the interest of safety KDOT needs to rectify this situation very soon.

KDOT (as would just about any transportation agency) certainly balked about the idea of placing a traffic light on a high speed roadway, but also determined (quite correctly) that there was enough crossing traffic to justify it. While the design of this intersection is not as safe as a grade-separated interchange, every reasonable effort to protect the safety of cross traffic and pedestrians has been made.

The problems that have occurred at this and other at-grad intersections on major highways in Kansas have not fallen on deaf ears in Topeka. Such problems are part of the initiative for making US 59 a full freeway, for example.

Also KDOT should reconsider the I-70 connectors east of Lawrence as a means of putting the SLT matter behind us, perhaps more economical. Eastern Hills Business Park and all other traffic would benefit greatly.

As for the idea of building an eastern bypass over the proposed eastern SLT leg: The Eastern Bypass has been proposed for just as long, if not longer, than the southern bypass/SLT project. That proposal, for whatever reason, has gone nowhere in Topeka. Even if it now receives a more serious look, it would require the same environmental scrutiny given to the SLT, would likely face opposition from river preservationists, would take longer to complete, and would likely not be any more economical.

Categories
highways local politics

SLT Musings

The local paper has done a story about the status of the South Lawrence Trafficway highway project — which, as the local highway guru, I have a perticular interest, and have been observing since about 1990.

As it stands, the earliest the SLT could be completed is 2012, based upon the idea the legislature would start up a new transportaion plan upon the expiration of the current one in 2009, and that threatand litigation were judged in KDOT’s favor. The current proposal calls for the SLT — and a proposed relocation of local 31st Street — to be built across a common ROW within the northern part of the Baker Wetlands. Needless to say, many in the environmental community are not going along with it.

The thesis of the EIS approving the proposed 32nd Street routing is that the short-term mitigatable environmental impacts of the 32nd Street route outweigh the long-term impacts to the wetlands due to the concequences of the proposed 42nd Street alignment south of the Wakarusa River that the environmentalists are preferring. I accept and agree with this thesis.

As for funding: despite the anti-tax feelings currently occuring in the statehouse, I think that another transportation plan will be in the works. I know of at least one other major project that has had no money allocated to it all all — the interchange between I-235 and US 54 (Kellogg Ave.) is substandard and due for a major upgrade; however, the price tag is preety heafty — a railroad line and the “Big Ditch” complacate matters.