Archive for Wednesday, January 17, 2001

The ‘Big Chair’ II

January 17, 2001

To the editor:

Citizens of Baldwin. Since the news article of Jan. 10 that held the information and quotes from the three mayoral candidates, I would like to respond to Mayor Krysztof's inquiry of why I want to set in "the big chair."

Well, the short answer is that a lot of citizens are fed up with our current leadership and desire a change. As to the issue of debates, I have been contacted by several groups that are interested in hosting the event and I agree to any format that will please the mayor. I want it to be an informative exchange between the three candidates and not a slugging match.

The following seven planks form the agenda for my campaign.

1.) Responsible planning for the future. This would take the form of mapping the expansion and development of the city, both internally and around its perimeter. I want to make it clear that Baldwin City with its current utility issues has no business annexing any land that it can not support with adequate utility service most specifically the proposed business park.

2.) Fiscal Responsibility. Our taxes and utility rates are radically out of proportion with what we receive in services. This is verified with the facts that our city has the highest utility and tax rates in all of Douglas County. We are not receiving much in return for these hefty bills. Also a thorough review of cash flow, salaries and wages in the city must be undertaken. Life-time contracts, overly high salary rates for department heads, vehicle allowances, and other perks should be stopped immediately to relieve the pressure on the taxpayer.

3.) Community relationships. A program to make the city and its employees more aware of citizen concerns and develop skills in dealing with the public is long overdue. Many citizens voice disapproval at how they are treated by some city employees and that needs to change. Also the city government's relationships with USD 348, Baker University, Douglas County and the city of

Lawrence, need some serious work. If we get along and cooperate with these other entities both in the city and surrounding us, we will profit by it. A combative or stubborn approach towards dealing with these groups will only cause strife and halt any coordinated efforts between the groups.

4.) Police and Fire Protection. Currently our city's police department is struggling along with vehicles that are close to there effective lifespan, and other types of equipment that need to be upgraded. Training for both the fire and police forces should always be a high priority. Those of us who work out of Baldwin need to feel that our property and loved ones are safe in the city in our absence.

5.) Utility Infrastructure. Improvements have been accomplished over the past two years, but we have a long way to go. It shows the lack of vision by the current administration that we did an upgrade on the sewer plant in 1998, and now we need to build a whole new plant. Why wasn't this project started in 1998? Water pressure is quite frankly a sad joke in large areas of the city, and our main supply line is still under the Baker Wetlands. We have alreadytouched on the power issue, but all facets of infrastructure need improvement.

6.) "Quality of Life" program. We need to develop a recreational program that will serve the young as well as our senior citizens. For example the current administration has provided the city with a new pool. This pool much to my shock was not open in the evenings for much of the summer. I pay taxes and if I want to swim at 8 p.m. then it had better be open considering what we paid for it. A joint task force between Baker, USD 348 and city should seek to maximize our current facilities while we plan ahead for development of a recreational park. Many aspects of the Lawrence parks and recreational programs could be affordably initiated in Baldwin city but there has been little action on this front.

7.) Codes and Enforcement. Baldwin City has some major issues as to the structure of our codes and enforcement of these codes in all areas. This includes law enforcement, zoning, building, land use, maintenance of property and animal control. My family, for instance, lives across from an eyesore of a house that has been "under construction" for over two years. This structure is occupied and has not passed an occupancy inspection. It has escalated to the point that my neighbors are considering legal action to resolve the situation. We are repeatedly told by the city that they are working on the problem, or that nothing can be done, depending on the source you ask. And in the meantime the neighborhood is treated to a scenic trashpile, with construction equipment, debris and other items completing the ensemble.

These are my planks for areas to improve our city. If you still have questions as to why I am running, Mr. Mayor give me a call. Also Mayor Krysztof, I learned both in the private sector and through the military that one makes a better leader by being in front, standing on your feet and looking forward, not with my fanny planted in "THE BIG CHAIR."

Ken Hayes
Baldwin City

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