Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Snouts in the Trough for the Kids

The Wichita Eagle ran an editorial today decrying the lack of mandatory campaign finance disclosure in bond votes. Even without mandatory disclosure, a little bit of digging will go a long way.

Last week we took a look at George Fahnestock's involvement in the pro-bond group. Let's take a look at the other sponsors of last week's "Vote Yes for Kids" bond kickoff party:

Anne & Bob Simpson - Bob Simpson is the owner of Simpson Construction. While the Simpsons don't live in USD 259 and won't be paying a dime of the increased property taxes, Simpson Construction did work on the last bond and is likely to do very well on the 2008 proposal.

"(School work has) been one of the staples in our family for 50 years," says president Bob Simpson.

Foley Rental - The interest of a heavy construction equipment company in a $370 million bond issue seems self evident....and self serving. Foley Rental president Ann Konecny lives in the Andover school district..

Bill Livingston and Gossen Livingston Architecture - Bill Livingston is yet another bond supporter who doesn't live in the Wichita School District, but "Gossen Livingston Associates Inc. is one of the larger architectural firms engaged in numerous school bond projects."

Michael and Terri Monteferrante - They do live in the district and will be paying increased property taxes. Michael Monteferrante is CEO of Occidental Management, a company involved with sales and acquisitions of real estate. It will be interesting to see who handles the real estate acquisition for new construction related to the bond.

Randy Thon - Works is employed by Cessna and lives in USD 259 boundaries. Perhaps Randy is the mystery business person who recommended the last minute addition of technical aviation training to the bond proposal.

Kenton Cox - Like a relative who suggests dinner at Chester's Chophouse knowing you will pick up the bill, Mr. Cox does not live within the Wichita School District and won't pay for the bond proposal that will likely bring hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, to architecture firm Schaefer, Johnson, Cox & Frey.

Keith Stevens - Treasurer of CARE and Senior Vice President at Southwest National Bank. His previous community activities include service on the Wichita Park Board, Metropolitan Transit Authority, and Wichita Symphony...and $250 donor to Obama for America. Stevens does live in USD 259.

Bill Pickert - Partner in Charge of the BKD Wichita office. BKD is one of the nations largest CPA firms. Mr. Pickert's interest in this bond issue is unclear since he does not live in the Wichita district. Bill could just be a good citizen, he might have had his arm twisted by other business owners, or he might think that someone will need to keep track of the $370 million floating around.

Joe Johnson - Partner of Schaefer, Johnson, Cox & Frey, consistent winners of no-bid contracts from the Wichita School District. There are enough 'Joe Johnsons' that it is a little difficult to determine where this particular one lives.

Conco Construction - Another general contracting company, like Simpson Construction, that has done work related to the last bond and would certainly be looking for future work on the next bond.

The Eagle is concerned that voters won't be able to figure out who is behind the various bond groups. It really isn't hard to figure out at all: we have two architecture companies, two construction companies, a banker, a CPA firm, a heavy construction equipment company all working 'for the kids'.

Wichita voters should be concerned with the volume of support for the bond coming directly from those who have a financial interest in its passage. That a majority of those sponsors stand to make six and seven figures from a bond when they won't have to pay the accompanying taxes because they don't even live in the district makes their motives even more suspect.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here is an example of true reporting. If there was an active news media in Wichita, this type of information would be broadcast or appear in print.

However, this is a town where everyone who is anyone is "moderate" in their politics and no tax hike can be opposed except by what one, now former, county commissioner called the "CAVE people," (Citizens Against Virtually Everything). As soaring property taxes in USD 259 continue, I believe that many voters will be voting "NO" in November.