February 11, 2016

OPINION: City should hold Chamber financially accountable

Any organization requesting public money should be financially accountable. That includes Chamber of Commerce of Southwest Johnson County, formerly called the Gardner Area Chamber of Commerce.
Last January, Gardner City Council members approved providing $20,000 to the local Chamber organization. Before the council approve funding the group next year, council members should request more information from the Chamber, which recently admitted it has lost its tax-exempt status.
Specifically, council members should inquire:
• Who does the Chamber of Commerce for Southwest Johnson County represent?
• Can documents on the chamber’s name change be provided? Is the newly-named organization registered with the Kansas Secretary of State?
• Is the organization a legal entity? Is it incorporated and does it have a 501©6 or a 501©3 and can the group provide that documentation?
• Can the organization provide a membership list to the city council?
• Who is on the chamber board and what are the group’s bylaws?
• What type of financial accountability will the Chamber provide the city for their use of taxpayer money? Can they provide monthly reports and an accounting of past funds?
• Will a Chamber representative attend council and school board meetings?
• What evidence can be provided to show that the group has actively worked to represent local businesses?
• Will an office and phone be staffed on a regular basis to facilitate this effort?
• Will the website or newsletter be updated on a regular basis?
• Are proper accounting procedures in place at the chamber to protect taxpayer monies?
Any organization requesting public funds should be able and willing to answer these basic questions.


  1. ThePatriot says:

    Did Mr. Brandon ask these questions of the Chamber of Commerce of Southwest Johnson County? Why wouldn’t a journalist who wanted answers to these questions do what journalist do? That is, go after the story, interview people, and report.

  2. Judith Rogers says:

    What exactly has either of these organizations done for the average citizen in this area? I would say didly squat and in many instances they have hurt the average citizen in my opinion.

    I sent my usual e-mail last week to the Gardner City Council stating I don’t want one cent of taxpayer money being provided to either of these entities, just like I have done for several years. Will the politicians actually LISTEN AND ACT on behalf of average citizens? I highly doubt it considering what I have experienced over numerous years. Same ole, same ole…….taxpayers are the ATM of choice for the special interests, thieves, etc. who want to be taken care of like they have been for years and the politicians make it all happen. The apathy of citizens cost themselves an arm and a leg in many, many ways and some citizens are right in there enabling and supporting the wrongdoing.

  3. Judith Rogers says:

    How many citizens are out there, young and old, who can relate to the following feelings of an 86 year old woman? And the process doesn’t just apply to banks and it probably would be a good idea to have all of the businesses/government entities who are lucky enough to have and get your business/tax payments to be vetted and treated in the same manner of which you are required. I especially would love to require that the jaybirds give me their PIN number before they get anything out of me and in order for them to have the PIN number, they are going to have to spend oodles of time in vetting themselves and giving me about every piece of personal information there is about themselves. And if it is the city of Gardner person, who is totally vetted, calling me and I don’t want to answer their question or questions, I can just remain silent like they have done time and time again – good ole city of Gardner still hasn’t told me how they computed the city mgr.’s 2014 salary and bonus she received. Gardner City Hall thumbs their nose at any citizen if it is a question they don’t want to answer, much like how Gilhaus operated. Their day will come and it can’t come soon enough.


    Shown below, is an actual letter that was sent to a bank by an 86 year old woman.
    The bank manager thought it amusing enough to have it published in the New York Times.

    Dear Sir:

    I am writing to thank you for bouncing my check with which I endeavoured to pay my plumber last month.

    By my calculations, three nanoseconds must have elapsed between his presenting the check and the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honour it..

    I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my entire pension, an arrangement which, I admit, has been in place for only eight years.

    You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account $30 by way of penalty for the inconvenience caused to your bank.

    My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to rethink my errant financial ways. I noticed that whereas I personally answer your telephone calls and letters, — when I try to contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging, pre-recorded, faceless entity which your bank has become.

    From now on, I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh-and-blood person.

    My mortgage and loan repayments will therefore and hereafter no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank, by check, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must nominate.

    Be aware that it is an OFFENCE under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope.

    Please find attached an Application Contact which I require your chosen employee to complete.

    I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative.

    Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be countersigned by a Notary Public, and the mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof.

    In due course, at MY convenience, I will issue your employee with a PIN number which he/she must quote in dealings with me.

    I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modelled it on the number of button presses required of me to access my account balance on your phone bank service.

    As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

    Let me level the playing field even further.

    When you call me, press buttons as follows:


    #1. To make an appointment to see me

    #2. To query a missing payment.

    #3. To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there.

    #4 To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping.

    #5. To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature.

    #6. To transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home.

    #7. To leave a message on my computer, a password to access my computer is required.

    Password will be communicated to you at a later date to that Authorised Contact mentioned earlier.

    #8. To return to the main menu and to listen to options 1 through 7 again

    #9. To make a general complaint or inquiry.

    The contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service.

    #10. This is a second reminder to press* for English.

    While this may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration of the call.

    Regrettably, but again following your example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement.

    May I wish you a happy, if ever so slightly less prosperous New Year?

    Your Humble Client

    And remember:
    Don’t make old people mad.
    We don’t like being old in the first place,
    so it doesn’t take much to upset us

  4. I agree with accountability on behalf of the City, while working close w/ Chamber Board member’s and chamber (EE’s), moreover I would promote / invite the Chamber to partner with City EDC initiatives and attract / win medium to large cap commercial opportunities (another 3-5 star hotel) in which more Transient Guest Tax (8%) is generated i.e. Intermodal EE working at BNSF Edgerton for short stints, furthermore the taxing of community member you speak of Judith is NOT CORRECT, rather visitors / visiting commerce supports the Chamber see – 2436 An Ordinance levying a Transient Guest Tax of eight percent (8%) upon the gross receipts from or paid by transient guests for sleeping accommodations within the City of Gardner, Kansas, for the promotion of economic development and repealing Ordinance No. 2050 in its entirety. Passed the 5th of August, 2013.

  5. Judith Rogers says:

    Oh, yes, the 6% Transient Guest Tax wasn’t creating enough funds for the special interests so the politicians, who work for the special interests, increased that tax to 8% on August 5, 2013. If I were one of those people visiting Gardner who got stuck with that tax, I sure wouldn’t feel inclined to spend any money in Gardner while I was there. Not only do the guests have to pay this 8% tax, they will also have to pay a sales tax of 8.875% bringing their total tax percentage to 16.875%. Nothing like gigging people if you can get by with it.

    I am sure most of the current batch of politicians will once again stick it to visitors and give these special interests what they are asking for and I certainly note they are asking for more than they did last year. As all thieves do, if you give them an inch, they want a mile and you have elected people who are more than happy to enable and support this type of highway robbery.

  6. Judith Rogers says:

    Also please note that the city of Gardner does not receive any sales tax from the Super 8 and why the sales tax rate is at 8.875%. It is my understanding that the City of Gardner only receives the Transient Guest Tax of 8% and that all goes to these two special interest groups – no tax collected or going to the needs of the community or to help out the citizens. That is called and is CRONYISM GOVERNMENT which has been around for years and years and I would think any citizen with a brain could figure out who brings that to them on a silver platter and why your taxes and utilities are higher than hell. I would hope citizens would be making wiser choices in who they promote to run for office and who they support in that voting booth. In my opinion citizens continue to not take action to help themselves.

  7. Judith Rogers says:

    I want to correct my statement as to how the sales tax percentage of 8.875 is divided among the government entities. 6.15% goes to the state of Kansas, 1.225% goes to Johnson County and 1.5% goes to the city of Gardner. I called the Dept. of Revenue today to confirm this information.

    Of course, the 8% Transient Guest Tax goes to the special interests here in the Gardner area made possible by most of the politicians the citizens have voted into office and the bureaucrats who the citizens pay their salaries.

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