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Sedgwick County commissioner tries again to appoint Weeks to advisory board

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Sep. 4, 2013, at 10:33 a.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Sep. 4, 2013, at 10:59 a.m.

Sedgwick County Commissioner Karl Peterjohn tried again Wednesday to get Bob Weeks, a conservative Wichita blogger, a seat on the Wichita Mid-Continent Airport advisory board.

But he couldn’t get a majority of his colleagues to push for Weeks’ nomination a second time after the Wichita City Council rejected him.

Peterjohn said he had no plans to push the issue further but voiced disappointment that Weeks would not be able to serve on the board.

“If Bob’s nomination can’t get three votes on the commission, I don’t see any way it can proceed,” Peterjohn said. “This is kind of the final nail in the coffin for his nomination. I’m very disappointed that that’s the way things have gone.”

Weeks also expressed concern.

“I’m the one that Karl wanted to represent his interests on the airport board,” Weeks said. “So one-fifth of Sedgwick County is not going to be represented the way their commissioner wanted them to be.”

Commissioners approved Peterjohn’s nomination of Weeks once. But the Wichita City Council, which has final approval of appointments to the airport board, voted 4-1 last month against the nomination. Weeks is a vocal critic of the council at times, questioning members’ ethics and decisions about economic development.

Peterjohn had said he planned to submit Weeks’ name again, and there was clear indication at a staff meeting last month that he would have the commission votes necessary to send the nomination to the council.

But Wednesday, only Richard Ranzau supported his request to take up the nomination as an off-agenda item at the commission’s regular weekly meeting.

Commissioners Tim Norton, Jim Skelton and Dave Unruh voted against doing so.

“There’s no need to keep forwarding the same nomination,” Unruh told Peterjohn.

Unruh noted that he initially supported appointing Weeks to the board but would not do so again knowing the city voted against the nomination. He said to do so would be argumentative.

County Manager William Buchanan said in a memo to commissioners after Wednesday’s meeting that a consensus agreed Aug. 20 “to place this item on the next agenda. Subsequent to that meeting, the managers’ office was informed that a majority of commissioners did not want the item placed on the agenda. I should have informed all the commissioners. I failed to do that. It was a mistake, and I apologize.”

Weeks said it was unfortunate that the City Council apparently doesn’t want anyone who takes a more skeptical viewpoint of the role of government.

Peterjohn said Weeks wasn’t treated well “at the hands of the City Council or the County Commission.”

He said he would have liked to have all seven City Council members vote on his nomination to appoint Weeks to the board.

Council members Pete Meitzner and Lavonta Williams were not present for the Aug. 6 vote. Jeff Blubaugh was the lone vote supporting Weeks’ appointment.

Each of the five county commissioners is allowed to make one nomination for the 13-member airport advisory board. The whole commission votes on the nomination before submitting the name to the City Council.

Reach Deb Gruver at 316-268-6400 or dgruver@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SGCountyDeb.

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