February 9, 2016

Gardner government embarrasses with hurdles to development

Bill O’Connor
It doesn’t take a long memory or much research to document the short-sighted decisions, bureaucratic hurdles, and overall incompetence of our elected and appointed officials. It is amazing how recent history, and much longer history reflects this.
A short overview of a few, recent items: 1) complete incompetence in handling the intermodal, on so many levels. How many governments completely disregard a previous administration’s commitment? And we all know how well that worked out. Intermodal is here and we have nothing to say about its management.
2) Approving then revoking permits and permissions. There seems to be a common theme here. Countless examples here but let’s just mention the car lot, located in an industrial/commercial area on the south side. This entrepreneurial citizen of Gardner, risking his own money and time, was given permission to operate. At a later date he was told sorry, but city hall was mistaken and his permit was revoked. He was told oh yeah, you can file, at an additional expense, but no guarantee. What a way to treat a tax paying business. I have personal experience with planning commission making commitments then failing to follow through or flat reversing itself.
3) Perkins flag pole. Really, it is now the job of city government to oversee FAA regulations? Another tax paying business being forced through unnecessary hurdles. Certainly a national staple, like the huge Perkins flag, should take a back-seat to the brain trust that is our city leaders. They are obviously much smarter than the thousands of other cities where Perkins proudly flies our national banner.
Do we really have such an abundance of commercial entities in this town that we can play this ridiculous game? Gardner is a great community, because of the people that live here. How did the bureaucrats and elected/appointed officials become so disoriented in their mission? Our government shows continual power hungry, egocentric, self-compulsive, narcissistic actions. Truly an embarrassment!
Now there is nothing really new in what has been outlined here. So what has generated this discussion? The city is now playing the same games with one of our area churches! Our churches are the cornerstone of this community. They provide the traditional, community-oriented services, are exceptional leaders for our area, and generally promote the public welfare. Amazingly, they pay some of the same fees to government that any, for-profit business does, particularly the building/platting fees. Years ago this was explained that Gardner didn’t have enough commercially-generated fees to consider waiving this. So churches pay fees to build, which many communities discount or waive, because we can’t figure out a way to truly be business friendly.
Divine Mercy Parrish has built a beautiful church on the west side of town. They want to put a multi-purpose, family-use building next to it. They have far outgrown their facilities at Warren and Center street. They have 4,000-plus members and the Sunday school traffic, which overflows the intersection, is a danger to all. They went through the necessary, and expensive, planning and platting steps. They where set to break ground as they had city approval. Yet they get a phone call telling them there are 35 items that need to be changed! Thirty-five changes, seriously? After getting all approvals the city decides there are 35 other things to do, 35 things to add expense and delay to a community church expansion.
Like many in Gardner, I am at a loss how our wonderful community can continue to send such incompetence to our city hall. Our government makes us a laughing stock.
Love the town, embarrassed by our leaders.


  1. Judith Rogers says:

    Gardner is now an intermodal, railyard town and as you have seen, about all you will be getting as far as development will be fast food restaurants, trucking companies, low paying hire and fire jobs, container parking lots, low-income rental properties, gas stations (even those in “F” rated locations), warehouses and more trucks than you can count and many, many thieves who don’t want to pay their FULL TAXES or want and get their fraudulent “farm” appraisals while citizens will be faced with much suffering and astronomical costs that will never end. Average citizens are merely an ATM which enables and supports the politicians, bureaucrats and the thieves and the citizens have brought that about by their choices in the ballot box.

    These are my “comprehensive” opinions. That comprehensive plan the city of Gardner is building now at the cost of thousands of taxpayer dollars, is just another dog and pony show that will not bring about the needed changes and that is because our city is still being built on the shifting sands of slimy politics and corrupt cronyism rather than a stone foundation of honesty, integrity, ethics, integrity, strong moral values, etc.

  2. Judith Rogers says:

    Read this N.Y. Times article with interest. Reminds me of Kiegerl here a couple of years ago who was ready to run as State Representative again while renting a room within the newly made district boundaries to meet the residency rules. In my opinion those politicians are pros at conniving, dishonesty and manipulation and who get a very, very, very poor grade from me (no vote whatsoever) with respect to protecting and representing me, an average taxpayer.

    A few years ago I was chatting with a young gentleman. He told me the story of how when he was in college he was thinking about going into politics and therefore was contemplating making a change in his major in college. He went to his grandfather to talk to him about this change he was considering. The young man said his grandfather told him the following: “If you are thinking about going into politics, then you must be ready to forget every moral value that was ever taught you.” That statement pretty much hits the nail on the head then and certainly now in today’s world.

    In my opinion, it is way, way past time for Roberts to be kicked out of office along with many more.


    Lacking a House, a Senator Is Renewing His Ties in Kansas


    Pat Roberts, a three-term Republican senator from Kansas, lists on his voter registration a home in Dodge City owned by two donors, but lives in a home in Alexandria, Va. Facing a Tea Party challenger, he has begun appealing to conservatives. J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

    DODGE CITY, Kan. — It is hard to find anyone who has seen Senator Pat Roberts here at the redbrick house on a golf course that his voter registration lists as his home. Across town at the Inn Pancake House on Wyatt Earp Boulevard, breakfast regulars say the Republican senator is a virtual stranger.

    “He calls it home,” said Jerald Miller, a retiree. “But I’ve been here since ’77, and I’ve only seen him twice.”

    The 77-year-old senator went to Congress in 1981 and became a fixture: a member of the elite Alfalfa Club and the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which made him a regular on the Sunday talk shows. His wife became a real estate broker in Alexandria, Va., the suburb where the couple live, boasting of her “extensive knowledge” of the area.

    But such emblems of Washington status have turned hazardous in a Republican establishment threatened by the Tea Party and unnerved by the defeat of incumbents like Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, who was viewed as a creature of the capital.Mr. Roberts is registered to vote at this house in Dodge City, Kan.

    Mr. Roberts is now desperate to re-establish ties to Kansas and to adjust his politics to fit the rise of the right in the state. But his efforts underscore the awkward reality of Republicans who, after coming of age in an era of comity and esteem for long-term service, are trying to remake themselves to be warriors for a Tea Party age.

    In an interview, the three-term senator acknowledged that he did not have a home of his own in Kansas. The house on a country club golf course that he lists as his voting address belongs to two longtime supporters and donors — C. Duane and Phyllis Ross — and he says he stays with them when he is in the area. He established his voting address there the day before his challenger in the August primary, Milton Wolf, announced his candidacy last fall, arguing that Mr. Roberts was out of touch with his High Plains roots.

    “I have full access to the recliner,” the senator joked. Turning serious, he added, “Nobody knows the state better than I do.”

    That assertion is disputed by Tea Party activists energized by Mr. Wolf’s candidacy.

    “In four and one-half going on five years of existence have we been contacted by Senator Roberts or any of his staff? Not once,” said Chuck Henderson, a Tea Party activist in Manhattan, Kan., who mocked the notion of the senator’s “official” residence here.

    Mr. Roberts’s race highlights the divisions within the Republican Party that are playing out in primaries across the country at a time when anti-Washington animus is running high and moderate voices have been displaced by lawmakers with conservative positions on abortion, taxes and education.

    Mr. Roberts has suddenly begun aligning himself with the most conservative elements of the Senate, after a career in the mainstream conservative tradition of fellow Kansans like Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum.

    He opposed a major spending project at his beloved alma mater, Kansas State University, that he had sought for a decade, because it was tied to a larger appropriations measure. And he called for the resignation of the health and human services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, the daughter-in-law of his former boss, Representative Keith Sebelius, over the troubled rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

    “It isn’t personal,” Mr. Roberts said of demanding that Ms. Sebelius quit. “Was it tough? Sure, it was tough.”

    When Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, took to the Senate floor last fall for 21 hours to protest the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Roberts joined him in the early morning.

    He also opposed a United Nations treaty banning discrimination against people with disabilities after being personally lobbied to support it by his predecessor, Ms. Kassebaum, and by Mr. Dole, who uses a wheelchair. (Mr. Roberts said he did not trust the United Nations.)

    “I have to say I’m disappointed in Pat,” said Ms. Kassebaum, referring to both the treaty vote and his larger reluctance to stand up to his party’s right wing. “You’re not sent there just to go whichever way the polls tell us.”

    Mr. Dole, who supports Mr. Roberts, acknowledged that his old friend’s vote had irritated him “a little bit.” “My view is we need to be a party of inclusion, and that includes moderates as well as conservatives,” Mr. Dole said.

    Mr. Roberts’s aides candidly acknowledge that the moves are an effort to ensure that he will not suffer the same fate as Mr. Lugar, who was criticized for staying in hotels when he returned home and listed on his voter registration an Indianapolis address at which he did not reside.

    Mr. Roberts moved his address from a rental property he owned in Dodge City but had long since leased to tenants, and got a new driver’s license giving the golf course home as his address.
    Mr. Roberts, a Kansas Republican, owns a home in Alexandria, Va.

    He began paying the Rosses $300 a month to allow him to stay overnight with them occasionally. “We’re not going to get Lugared,” said David Kensinger, an adviser to Mr. Roberts.

    Mr. Ross said in a telephone interview that he could not remember how many times the senator had stayed at the family’s home since October. “I would say several,” he said. Asked when the last time was, he said he could not remember, and the senator’s staff also declined to provide dates, but said he had stayed there “a few” times.

    Job security has rarely been an issue for Mr. Roberts, who has tended to his state’s agricultural needs and delivered projects. He won with 60 percent of the vote in 2008, before the rise of the Tea Party, with its anti-establishment ethos, suspicion of long-term Washington tenure and emphasis on ideological purity.

    “I think career politicians are changed by Washington,” said Mr. Wolf, Mr. Roberts’s opponent, who is a radiologist and a second cousin of President Obama on the president’s maternal side.

    Kansas has not had a Democratic United States senator since 1939, but the Republican Party here no longer embraces the consensus-minded centrist-style politics of its most famous son, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

    The national Tea Party-versus-establishment battle has become particularly vivid in Kansas, where conservatives, including Gov. Sam Brownback, have ousted their party’s old guard from power in the State Capitol after decades in which a coalition of center-right Republicans and Democrats had effective control.

    “Pat’s very cognizant of what’s happened to the party,” said Mr. Brownback, who served alongside Mr. Roberts in the Senate until being elected governor in 2010.

    Given the changing political climate, Mr. Brownback says that Mr. Roberts is doing precisely what he needs to do to win another term. “Being active, being aggressive, being conservative,” the governor said. “He’s got to get through a Republican primary, and people are pretty fired up about what’s going on at the federal level.”

    Nowhere is mistrust of Washington more evident than in the Capitol. There are two statues of Eisenhower in the building, but conversations with the new vanguard of conservatives here seem to reflect the Capitol’s gripping mural of a zealous-looking John Brown more than the even-tempered Eisenhower.

    “I believe that to really turn the country around there will have to be some political martyrs out there,” said State Representative Marty Read, a rancher and auctioneer who is one of the few state legislators backing Mr. Wolf.

    Still, Mr. Wolf’s obstacles are formidable. He has only $179,000 in the bank, compared with Mr. Roberts’s $2.2 million, but his aides are hoping to win over deep-pocketed outside groups such as the Club for Growth by demonstrating viability before the primary.

    On policy, though, Mr. Wolf is already having an impact. The latest reminder came this week, when Mr. Roberts opposed the five-year, nearly $1 trillion farm bill, which was prized by leaders of the Kansas farm lobby but opposed by Tea Party activists. Mr. Roberts, who had written an earlier version of the measure, said the final legislation included too many subsidies.

    In the interview, Mr. Roberts conceded that “everything’s changed” about politics since he began working as a staff member. He arrived in Washington in 1967, and was first elected in 1980, in an era when finding a new house and school for the children in the capital area was as much a part of coming to Congress as learning how to cast a vote, and when he was rarely questioned back home.

    Now, connectedness to the home state is more important than ever in an election climate with Congress’s approval ratings at record lows and conservative activists seeking purity, not pork-barrel spending. The new political reality helps explain his extraordinary efforts to establish voting residency and be seen back in the state — in the last year, he has visited 72 of the state’s 105 counties, several of them more than once.

    Sitting in his Senate office, across from a painting of a covered wagon and from photographs and totems from Kansas, Mr. Roberts said his loyalty to the state where his ancestors settled in the 1800s was beyond question. “I’ve been to every county in Kansas more than anybody else,” he said, pausing for a moment before noting that only Mr. Dole “might quarrel with that.”

    “Senators have a tendency to get involved in their committees and important works,” Mr. Roberts said, recalling Mr. Lugar. “You get involved in that, and you’re not out there touring 105 counties like I am. We get out.”

    Correction: February 8, 2014

    An earlier version of a picture caption with this article misidentified the Virginia community where Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas lives with his wife. As the article stated, it is Alexandria, not Arlington.

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