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More defections from Kansas Chamber

The Wellington Chamber of Commerce may withdraw its membership from the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. "I am going to recommend to my board that we do not renew until some more moderate and leveler heads are in charge again," Shelley Hansel-Williams, executive director of the Wellington chamber, told the Topeka Capital-Journal. She is frustrated that the Kansas Chamber is targeting state Rep. Vince Wetta, D-Wellington, for defeat because he supported the sales-tax increase. During the past legislative session, 16 local chambers representing most of the major business centers in Kansas (with the notable exception of Wichita) signed a letter supporting a tax increase. Some businesses also are leaving the chamber because of its narrow agenda and hardball politics, including J.E. Dunn Construction, the 11th-largest general building contractor in the United States. But Kansas Chamber officials dismiss the defectors as being out of touch with the business community and being too connected to universities and social service agencies that depend on government funding. "We don't kiss babies and cut ribbons like a lot of local chambers do," said Kent Eckles, vice president of government affairs at the Kansas Chamber. Maybe they should try it.