Votes, petitions can be confusing
Regarding “Battle over hotel tax heats up” (Dec. 8 Local & State): Susan Estes, spokeswoman for Americans for Prosperity-Wichita, asked: “Do we trust the people of Wichita to make an informed decision at the ballot box that will be in the best interests of the community, or don’t we?” The answer to Estes’ rhetorical question was found in “Revote sought on racetrack slots” (Dec. 9 Local & State), in which the Wichita Wins organization suggested that the vote to allow slot machines in Sedgwick County was defeated because voters were confused about the ballot question — the ballot question that did not specify that the Wichita Greyhound Park was the only location in Sedgwick County where the slots could be legally placed. Confused by visions of children playing the slots in convenience stores, the voters did not make “an informed decision.”
Americans for Prosperity’s petition drive to force a public vote on allowing the Ambassador Hotel developers to retain $2.25 million in guest tax creates the same ambiguity and confusion. Many people who signed the Americans for Prosperity petition likely thought that the guest tax is a “sales tax.” Not true. The guest tax only is used to fund tourism, not to repair roads, install sewer lines or clear snow. No city service will be compromised by diverting guest tax to the hotel developers. I can’t think of a better use for guest tax than to facilitate a swanky new hotel in downtown Wichita within walking distance of Intrust Bank Arena.
In an attempt to enjoy the vitalized urban life of the area and support the economy, my wife and I purchased season tickets this year to Wichita Theater League. The first show was an enjoyable “Young Frankenstein.” But a chilly walk to the car in anticipation of an after-show sushi stop in Old Town was cut short by glass crunching beneath my feet and the glow of my vehicle’s dome light. My vehicle had been vandalized, windows broken, its contents spread throughout the parking lot. The worst of it was that gifts for one of our less-fortunate Wichita families were taken.
As I told this story to others, I found my experience was not isolated. I was shocked by the number of individuals who had been affected by crime in our downtown.
I have been trying to understand the rationale behind the promotion and development of a section of our city without the forethought to plan for crime prevention. To me, the solution is easy: Do something.
As I collected my remaining belongings from the parking lot of Century II, I made several observations. First, I saw no presence of the Wichita Police Department in and around Century II for about 45 minutes. Second, there was no Century II security. Third, the lighting in the area was worse than poor.
I will no longer support the use of our tax dollars to build arenas, supplement businesses, promote performers and grow the downtown area if we cannot enjoy the area in a safe and effective manner.
Want cheap labor
I doubt that Gov. Sam Brownback and others on the far right will ever get serious about curbing immigration and funding education. They want cheap labor and desperate, uneducated people who will work for lower wages. Also, better-educated people tend to think for themselves and are not so easily swayed by right-wing rhetoric.
The failure of the deficit supercommittee, the president and Congress to find spending cuts would be laughable if it weren’t such a danger to the country. It is also evidence that the people we elect and send to Washington, D.C., end up representing the government and not the people.
All federal agencies could operate with fewer employees. Some agencies, such as the federal departments of education, commerce and energy, could be abolished, because they accomplish nothing. After that, with the exception of the military, government employment including congressional staffs should be reduced by 10 percent.
We made a move toward correction in the previous election. Term limits would let us get rid of all the self-serving career politicians who let us get into this deplorable situation.
Don’t miss show
I attended a showing of “Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: A Spirited New Musical” at the new Forum Theatre Performing Arts and Events Center in Wichita. If you haven’t seen it yet, you need to get to the Forum and be entertained by the excellent musicians, actors and production staff.
The most impressive thing about the musical is that two local and talented writers are responsible for the book and the music. Conrad Jestmore and Paul Jackson have done a marvelous job of preserving Dickens’ lovely language while putting a fresh twist on the familiar holiday story. It is festive, fast-paced, family-friendly and well-done. The kids will love it, too.
It’s a great way to get into the holiday spirit while celebrating local talent in a new and interesting Wichita venue. Don’t miss it.