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City to approach Baker, school district about interest in bringing Internet upgrade to Baldwin City

The mayor was a one issue candidate. Unfortunately, her one issue is pure fantasy when you understand the technology and cost issues involved. The mayor received only 1/3 of the votes while 2/3 of the cast ballots went to other candidates (and against her). The mayor did not get any type of approval or mandate from the election.

This is not to say I do not want the mayor to be successful. I hope she will take the time to understand why taxpayers are angry with the issues city hall is pursuing and change course.

Here's an simplistic example. A family with 3 kids, 2 adults, 2 computers, an iPad and 2 smart TVs only needs about 5 megabits of broadband service to utilize all of the above devices to their maximum potential. A family can get this service for $30 to $40 a month currently.

The 2 Baldwin City providers, MediaCom and CenturyLink, usually tier their service to provide more than 5 megabits.

Gigabit fiber optic broadband is 200 times faster than what a normal family can even utilize in their home. No family is going to pay $100 or more a month for 995 megabits of broadband that they cannot even utilize.

If a local business or institution wants gigabit fiber optic, let them cover the $5 million investment privately. Gigabit is not a technology for residential users at this time and will not be for a number of years in Baldwin City.

Additionally, it is not even an economic issue for attracting new business to Baldwin City. The new InterModel in Edgerton includes over 4,000,000 square feet of spanking brand new cutting edge warehouse and office space which is something that Baldwin City can never compete against and if our leaders were wise they wouldn't even attempt to.

We should be promoting Baldwin City as a great bedroom community with superior city services and infrastructure catering to residents. And then focus the city in this direction. You play to your strengths, if you're wise enough to identify them and build upon what sets you apart.

June 29, 2013 at 7:49 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Baldwin City Council agenda for July 1

How about listening to the taxpayers for once and expressing a big "no" vote on this walking trail out by the Douglas County Lake.

This project is opposed by the majority of taxpayers for numerous reasons, including-

- This is a project decided behind the scenes to solely benefit the wealthy homeowners in this far northern area of the city limits in addition to a few rich developers who would like nothing better than to print up a fancy new home sales brochure that includes a grand nature walking trail right next to their newly built neighborhoods.

- A walking trail built on the outskirts of the city is inaccessible to the majority of residents, especially the elderly. Most citizens wanting to use the walking trail would have to drive their car just to get to the trail and it would only be usable during daylight hours.

- As a safety issue, a trail area in a remote location such as this cannot be regularly watched over or patrolled for medical or crime issues.

The new mayor would be wise to get out and talk to taxpayers. It is evident that some council members are ignoring the voters.

It should be remembered that the new mayor actually had more voters vote against her for office than voted for her. One third of the votes went to her and 2/3 of voters cast ballots for the 2 competing candidates. That is not a mandate. She would be wise to step back and take the time to learn why the citizens of Baldwin City have grown extremely angry with the city governance and the school district's mismanagement.

June 29, 2013 at 7:22 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Maple leaf statues to adorn downtown

I am very happy to hear this, City_Admin1. This is something I have mentioned many times based on conversations with other taxpayers.

Once your city center degrades, you're whole city looks bad. Appearance is everything.

I hope the city takes the time to think the design and quality issues out on new sidewalks, streets, curbs, gutters, lighting, alleys and water run-off, etc. Just slapping in quick, cheap concrete is not an investment, but a band-aid.

The city center deserves a design scheme matching the 30's, 40's or 50's era. Especially new, reproduction street lighting.

The quality of concrete used on the downtown renovation was of a lesser quality and the cracks and deterioration a few years later is showing.

Spend a little city funding on a good design team.

May 14, 2013 at 8:07 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Council seeks grant for trail

GreyGhost. With all due respect, I cannot tell you how many people tell me how extremely angry they are about the walking nature trail "to serve the north Highway 56 newbie, upper class".

That trail only serves the north Highway 56 people as no walkers from the city center neighborhoods (especially the elderly) can walk the 3/4 mile to get to that walking nature trail, then utilize the trail itself. (And then walk all the way home again).

Have you ever observed how many people use those spanking new $700,000 sidewalks in that neighborhood? I have. At most, 5 or 6 people per day can be seen walking on small portions of those sidewalks.

Have you noticed that the new road from Highway 56 to the Douglas County Lake road includes a "turn-off" for a "future" housing development into the acreage to the west? Who had the forethought and presence of mind to predict the future? Perhaps a whisper in the ear from the property owner that a nice, new, taxpayer-funded road sure would be a great deal for a developer of a future housing development along that new road.

A great, new, taxpayer-funded walking, nature trail would also be a super selling point on an upper class, new housing development sales brochure too.

The city deserves a huge "Thumbs Up" for re-thinking their focus and providing these enhancements within the center city areas (which have been neglected for 20 years). The center city area of 20 blocks around the Baker University campus represents the "majority" of the town's population.

The Midland Railway and Kansas Belle dinner train draw many visitors to this city and any enhancements to this area are positive.

On any evening, you will see 10 - 20 people out walking, with or without dogs, right in that very neighborhood. (Walking in the streets as the sidewalks are so poor.) These people will use the 2 city park walking trail and maybe even stop for a bit to visit the residents at the elder care facilities nearby. (Or offer those residents a walking path also.)

April 19, 2013 at 10:49 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Ladies' night

All the winners deserve congratulations and an opportunity to prove themselves.

Here are a few statistical facts I would offer after hearing several winners state that “the voters are generally happy with the direction the city has been taking.” I don’t believe the voters (and city residents) disliked the previous mayor, but from my emails and conversations with numerous taxpayers, there is a vast majority of homeowners who believe the center city area of Baldwin City were neglected and those neighborhoods left to degrade.

Here are a few facts-

Our new mayor Marilyn Pearse won the election with 235 votes, but 321 voters voted against her (222 for Mock and 99 for Plumberg).

New councilperson Gerstner won with 408 votes, but 490 voters voted against her. New councilperson Darnell won with 329 votes, but 569 voters voted for other candidates.

There is no mandate or “approval of the current direction” in voting numbers like that. In fact, a “majority of voters” did not vote for the winners.

Residents believe there is something “funny” happening when all their tax dollars are being spent north of Highway 56 and the center city areas are left to age and decay. My conversations with Baldwin City residents say they expect their city government to provide “services” that make their lives easier and more carefree, while maintaining the history of the city with some modernity.

The center city residential areas need new sidewalks (designed to be historically correct), new rainwater drainage, curbing, streets, alley improvements and lighting. I know I intend to push these issues and I am told others are prepared to offer petitions or court intervention to force the city government to stop pandering to developers, the new wealthy neighbors or businesses.

April 8, 2013 at 6:57 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Three vying to two open Baldwin City Council seats

The board of the BEF is loaded up with insiders and most distressing of all, the superintendent. The BEF should be 100% independent from any school district official, and thus be representing the donors foremost in any grants. How can any teacher feel their grant application will be fairly considered or approved unless they kiss-up to the superintendent or other school officials when these same officials are now making grant decisions?

At one time the mother and wife of a school board member both served on the BEF which is a major conflict of interest.

Other BEF board members include other teachers.

Education Foundations are established to be 100% independent from school districts. They make grants for education related projects with donor funds and therefore have a fiduciary (a legally binding) responsibility to manage their donor monies openly and with their donor’s interests always in mind.

The fact that Ms. Gerstner seems to be blind to these issues at the Baldwin Education Foundation prevents me from offering a recommendation for her candidacy for city council at this time.

All Baldwin City residents should remember to vote, Tuesday, April 2. A few votes can make an election and therefore can affect the wise management of your tax dollars and lifestyle for years to come.

April 2, 2013 at 6:24 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Three vying to two open Baldwin City Council seats

My question of Mr. Paulick would be in regards to the water agreement signed by the current city council with the city of Lawrence. That new agreement was supposed to reduce the wholesale costs of water and lock those lower rates in for Baldwin City over the long term. The wholesale rates were tied to price increases that Lawrence might make to their residents and other wholesale buyers. In other words, the new lower rates could not be raised on Baldwin City unless and until Lawrence raised water rates on their own city residents and wholesale customers.

After signing this new contract with Lawrence, we now see that Lawrence wants to build a new sewage plant and is requesting water rate increases from their residential users and customers. Did Baldwin City therefore get hoodwinked in this whole water negotiation and do we now face rates higher than what we thought were locked in rates just agreed to last fall?

I will not be recommending Ms. Gerstner for city office. Although I am confident she is a nice person, my decision is based on her relationship with and management of the Baldwin Education Foundation.

The Baldwin Education Foundation was a noble venture initially and had a very valuable contribution to make to the education system in Baldwin City. Currently should any of the reputable charity or foundation rating organizations looking into the BEF, I suspect they would fail the foundation on governance and independence.

The Baldwin Education Foundation has, in fact, become an organization rife with nepotism and cronyism. It now lacks the independence and fair standards to offer grants to deserving teachers based solely on merit or educational value without regards to friendships or pandering.

March 30, 2013 at 4:10 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Three vying to two open Baldwin City Council seats

I do not personally know any of the 3 candidates running for the 2 open city council seats, however, I do know enough about them to venture an opinion on who meets the qualifications and will make good representatives of the voters and taxpayers. No candidate is perfect in anyone’s eyes, so I base my recommendations on the candidate’s background, experience and most importantly, my judgment as to their representation of my views and priorities.

While I have no doubt that all these of these candidates are fine people and make very good neighbors and citizens, I will place my recommendation in this city council race with Christi Darnell and Michael Paulick.

Ms. Darnell seems to have good connections to the city through her volunteer work and education at Baker University. She also recognizes the value of the history of this area and the culture. I would hope she would also recognize that many taxpayers are looking for the city to provide quality of life enhancing services and not large expenditures on projects that do not improve our lifestyles and city experiences.

I would pose the question to Ms. Darnell regarding the Visioning Exercise. The Vision Exercise last year was a product “sold” to Baldwin City by a retired western Kansas city official through a private company. It was held in private which may have violated Kansas Sunshine Laws which prohibit discussions of city business by 2 or more elected officials outside of a public forum. Additionally, the topics discussed and approved were never vetted to taxpayers or voters. They were approved in secret and now are mentioned as if there was citywide approval. I would like to know what Ms. Darnell’s opinion is of the focus of that Visioning Experience.

While I would prefer that Mr. Paulick have more experience in business or elected office, I think he will provide good input towards city decisions. I trust he will make his own decisions and not allow the city manager to bully or roll over the top of elected official into voting a particular way. The city manager is an employee, not a decision-maker. He will certainly be able to solicit wise advise from our current mayor.

March 30, 2013 at 4:09 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Baldwin City mayoral race draws three current or former council members

Pardon.... at the intersection of 8th Street (Not High Street) and Highway 56.......the access to the north side businesses from the center city.

March 29, 2013 at 6:47 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Baldwin City mayoral race draws three current or former council members

Given the poor decision by the school district to build the elementary schools on Highway 56 and the resulting morning and afternoon severe traffic problems this created, a signal needs to be placed at High Street and Highway 56 before one of our senior citizens (driving) or children (walking) is injured at this intersection. It is almost impossible to exit Baldwin City onto Highway 56 during school drop-off and pick-up times.

Consider a multi-year program of moving all city offices and buildings to the Orange Street location and consolidating administration, police, maintenance, courts, etc. at this one location. Somewhat out of the way and located all in one place. The city government should not be the major occupier of the downtown. The downtown should be promoted for entertainment and retail.

The poorest decision of past city governments was to allow the cell phone tower downtown in a population zone given the in precise and ongoing scientific studies of the effects of cell tower radiation on those living in the area. Over time, this tower should be relocated.

Tuesday, April 2 is the day to vote. Every vote counts in these smaller elections. Candidates can win or lose by only a few votes. Make your decisions wisely and exercise your right to have your opinions represented.

March 29, 2013 at 4:04 p.m. ( | suggest removal )