Archive for Opinions

Congressman favors tax reduction

Opinion column

by Murrel Bland

Regardless of what anyone may feel about President Donald Trump, his economic policies are working. That was the message from U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Third Dist., who spoke Friday, April 22, at Children’s Mercy Park at the monthly meeting of the Congressional Forum. The Kansas City, Kansas, Area Chamber of Commerce sponsors the forum.

Rep. Yoder said it will be important for wages to increase and outstrip inflation in the coming months. He said that the corporate tax rate reduction will allow business owners more money to invest in equipment and additional employees. He said the typical family will receive a $2,700 annual decrease in federal taxes.

The congressman said he supported a $3 billion increase in funding for the National Institute for Health. He has said that spending money on research for such diseases as Alzheimer’s today will save money that would be needed to care for such patients later. He also favors a plan that would allow veterans to receive treatment at private-sector hospitals in areas where there are no veterans’ hospitals.

Rep. Yoder said he favors a discussion between those on both sides of the gun issue—that they might sit down and discuss areas that they might agree.

The congressman was quick to deny any interest in becoming the Speaker of the House. The present speaker, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, will be leaving Congress after his present term. He said possible candidates to succeed Rep. Ryan include U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California and U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

Mike Smallwood, who is chairman of the Chamber’s Legislative Committee, urged Rep. Yoder to support an origin-based sales tax. Smallwood said that it is very expensive for small businesses that sell items across the nation to collect sales tax among many taxing jurisdictions.

Craig Gaffney, a senior executive with Country Club Bank, said that the Dodd-Frank law puts undue regulations on smaller banks and urged reform.

Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is executive director of Business West.


Opinion column: Property owners concerned about rising property assessment

Opinion column

by Murrel Bland

More than 50 persons crowded into a conference room at the downtown Kansas City, Kansas, Area Chamber of Commerce office Friday morning, April 13. It was the monthly meeting of the Legislative Committee. One of the chief concerns among those attending was the very significant increase in commercial property values.

One “horror story” was that of a property owner in the Fairfax Industrial District whose value shot up from $300,000 to $750,000. The concern of this property owner and others with significant valuations is that they will have to pay substantially higher property taxes.

One such property owner said his increase could be the difference whether he would add any new employees.

When I first started to cover the Wyandotte County Assessor’s office in the 1960s, it was during the reign of Charlie Sugar, arguably the most powerful political and public office in town. I was told by longtime court house observers that the way to get your assessment lowered was to go into Charlie Sugar’s office with your checkbook.

When I was doing research for “The 50s in Wyandotte County” book, I reviewed the official records of county commissioners’ records. I found numerous examples of property valuation reductions due to “clerical error.”

Charlie Sugar controlled 30,000 Democratic votes and was on a first-name basis with national political figures including Jack and Bobby Kennedy.

Sugar’s political empire came tumbling down when a political gadfly from the Argentine community, Paulene Clifton, was a source of an investigative newspaper article in The Kansas City Star. That led to the election of a Republican assessor. However, he only served for one term. Julius Novak, a Democratic reformer, was elected assessor; his deputy was Norm Schoneman.

Along the way, the Kansas Legislature had the sense to change the law so that the assessor (we now call that person an appraiser) is appointed. The Wyandotte County Appraiser is nominated by the County Administrator and the County Clerk; he or she must then be approved by the Unified Commissioners.

Being appraiser is not an easy job. The appraisal staff is limited and not that well paid. It is a constant battle to keep property value in compliance.

Property owners have the right to protest their assessments. However, that takes time and can be expensive if a property owner has to hire outside counsel.

One of the important things that I expressed to the Legislative Committee is that although property values may increase, ultimately the amount that elected officials approve in dollars is what will affect tax bills. Elected officials need to hold the line on spending. Just because values jump up is no reason to run up spending.

The consensus at the meeting was that Kathy Briney, the Wyandotte County Appraiser for about the last three years, is doing a reasonably good job. She is accessible and professional.

Taxes you and I pay are the price we pay for a civilized society. I agree with that. I also believe that the power to tax is the power to destroy.

Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is the executive director of Business West.


Mayor to speak at Leavenworth Road Association meeting Tuesday

Guest column

by Lou Braswell

Just reminding everyone that the Leavenworth Road Association meeting is April 10, at Eisenhower Center, 2901 N. 72nd, Kansas City, Kansas, with the potluck dinner and social hour at 6 p.m. followed by the 7 p.m. meeting. Mayor David Alvey will be the guest speaker at the meeting.

Also we have important events coming up through the next few months, lots of opportunities to volunteer with us, donate items or funds to some of our active helping hand programs, and this will be discussed at this next meeting.

One of the big events that LRA has worked toward for a number of years is Welborn Lake. We will be providing the treatment to Welborn Lake with our conservationist , Ian Thomas. We have heard complaints for years from the community about the look of the water, we listened, we heard, we researched, Ian stepped forward and we put our plans together. Looking forward to clear, glistening water in 2018. LRA is paying for the products, Ian is donating his skills, education and knowledge.

We still have request forms for our amazing Teen Team coming to Kansas City in July. I will have forms at the meeting or you can call the office. These kids are fantastic workers, they love helping and it shows. The adult leaders give their time to help train, most of them using their vacation time to be here for us.

KU rowing team is back at Wyandotte County Lake, and LRA is serving food and providing friendly faces. We can use volunteers or cash donations toward the foods to be served. This is also a fundraiser-type event.

The Summer Youth Program check is not in our hands yet, but we know BPU will come through. LRA will be sending out letters to returning youth and mentors about mid-May. If you have or know of a youth that may be interested have them call the office or email us their address.

Ed and Ione Trapp originated the Kid’s Free Fishing Derby that now is going into the 34th year. That is always the second Saturday in June, so mark your calendar for June 9.
Registration begins at 7 a.m., the derby whistle sounds at 8 a.m. and trophy presentation is at 10:30 a.m.

Lawn service and small repairs for senior citizens or disabled persons is ready to kick off the 2018 season.

Our April 10 meeting will also include more details of all the above programs. Hope to see you there, bring a friend, make a friend. We are the “people lovin’” organization. There is no charge to attend the April 10 meeting. Those attending the dinner usually bring a covered dish to share.

Lou Braswell is the executive director of the Leavenworth Road Association. For more information, call the LRA office at 913-788-3988 or email