Our Western Heritage

Our Western Heritage
Front Street, Dodge City, circa 1879

Monday, July 30, 2007

Makes your heart warm when good things happen to good people

Can't name names yet, but it seems that good things have happened, almost out of the blue, to good people, re: land sales for Event/Casino Center.

Stay tuned as we found out what lucky fellow has sold land to the Dodge City/Boot Hill Gaming Inc./CFAB/Ford County Commission -- hard to know which name should come first each time, isn't it ?

Only millions of dollars involved of public money. Hey, nice to see a fellow get a break, huh?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Boot Hill Gaming controls CFAB -- "agreement in concept" ?

"Boot Hill Gaming currently has an agreement in concept for the option for purchase of lands for a hotel and casino. The 390-acre tract of land is located at the west end of the U.S. 50 bypass.

The Community Facilities Advisory Board has already agreed that an ideal location for the special events center would be next to the casino. The board hopes to work with the casino's management company in the future to make that possible, according to CFAB Chairman Greg Starks."

Dodge City Globe Article

And Boot Hill Gaming Board member Starks -- by the way. Seems that Starks forgets that They is We and We is We We. And that ideal location certainly means that historic Dodge City will not be near the citizens events center.

Move Ford County Courthouse ?

[Ford County Commission] Heard a presentation by HMN Architects, Inc., the firm in charge of designing the new law enforcement center. The original site plan will be tweaked to move the jail east of its originally planned location, which will allow space for expansion of the jail to the east. In addition, there is the possibility of placing a courthouse to the west, if the county feels moving the courthouse is necessary. -- per the Dodge City Globe Ford County Courthouse Move?

What ? Guess they want the city to move -- your choice -- west or east.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Kansas: Definition of a substantial interest RE: Conflict of interest questions

February 21, 2002
Opinion No. 2002-01

K.S.A. 75-4301a provides the definition of a substantial interest. It states in pertinent part:

“(a) 'Substantial interest' means any of the following:

. . .

“(4) If an individual or an individual's spouse holds the position of officer, director, associate, partner or proprietor of any business, other than an organization exempt from federal taxation of corporations under section 501(c)(3), (4), (6), (7), (8), (10) or (19) of chapter 26 of the United States code, the individual has a substantial interest in that business, irrespective of the amount of compensation received by the individual or individual's spouse.”

[Blogger Note: Seems that Mr. Starks, by being a director of Boot Hill Gaming Inc., does hold a "substantial interest" -- whether the decisions involving $30 million dollars of tax money is affected by his interest in the private casino group that is wanting a certain placement of the Events Center to benefit the casino is THE question .......]

Let's keep an eye on Global's promises --

[With all the promises over the years -- let's start keeping an eye on the ball, as it were -- Bold added to important facts stated by Global ... ]

Global Entertainment Corporation Announces New Event Center Development Project for Dodge City, Kansas

May 30, 2007 - Global Entertainment Corporation (AMEX: GEE), announced that on May 10, 2007, an agreement was signed for the development of a multi-purpose events center to be located in Dodge City, Kansas. The development project was approved by the Dodge City and Ford County Commissions. International Coliseums Company (ICC), a Global subsidiary that has completed multiple projects of this nature, will lead the design phase and have oversight responsibility for the construction phase that is expected to begin in December 2007.

Dodge City, situated in the center of America’s Heartland, has a population of approximately 34,000 and boasts with pride its Western heritage. Dodge City and the surrounding area have experienced growth unequaled by any other Eastern [sic Western] Kansas city, which makes the feasibility and long-term success of this project achievable. The area is well known for historical and rodeo events which the new center will easily accommodate with additional events to include concerts, trade shows, family shows, agricultural events and other civic functions. The closest major city is Wichita, roughly 150 miles east of Dodge City.

The new $33.7 million multi-purpose events center is well suited to enhance nearby attractions and allow room for future development. The center will have approximately 4,300 seats, with designated VIP seating and luxury suites as well.

Steven J. Bielewicz, president of Global Properties, said, "It has been a pleasure presenting our plans to the city and county commissions for a multi-purpose events center that will serve Dodge City and the surrounding communities, and provide a new option for a wide range of entertainment and civic events. ICC will now move forward to refine our design to meet the specific requirements of Dodge City. Our Encore division will be engaged in a multi-year agreement to manage the center, which will include staffing and catering. Under Encore, our licensing and advertising division, GEMS, will handle sales and marketing services. Our GetTix subsidiary will provide exclusive ticketing services for all events held at the events center."
Global Entertainment link

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ford County to raise property taxes if sales tax voted out ?

From The Hutchinson News

Dodge sales tax fight plays out in court, By Jon Ruhlen

The latest chapter in the saga of the "Why Not Dodge?" half-cent sales tax and the beleaguered attempts to build a special events center played out in Ford County District Court on Wednesday.

Jack Dalton, a retired attorney, recently filed a motion requesting that Senior Judge Ronald Innes prohibit Ford County from holding an election that could result in the repeal the county's share of the sales tax, which is supposed to fund the event center.

Innes, who ordered local governments to make construction of the events center a priority a year ago, will now decide the election issue.

Opponents of the events center gathered enough signatures on a petition earlier in the year to prompt the Ford County Commission to schedule a special election for Tuesday.

In light of the pending motion, the commission has postponed the election until the judge issues a ruling.

Dalton and Dodge City legal counsel Ken Strobel argued that a repeal of the Ford County share of the sales tax would violate the contract clause in the U.S. Constitution, which protects individuals' rights to enter into agreements.

In his motion, Dalton argued that allowing the vote would create chaos and confusion for local governments.

"An instrument of democracy (the right to vote) should not be used as a tool for anarchy," Dalton wrote.

Ford County legal counsel Glen Kerbs argued that the repeal itself would not constitute a violation of the contract clause because the county could cover its share pledged for the project through other sources of funding, such as property taxes. [NOTE: this quote, directly from the Hutch News, has been questioned -- see comments attached to this post for that information]

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Casino location ? City buys 285 acres

Dodge City Globe, July 4, 2007
"285 acres purchased by city west of 14th and north of the by-pass" ? Is this correct? Just was clearing out older papers -- darn, didn't read the paper that day.

Any thoughts ? Article link added: Water rights and ground

CFAB Chair a conflict of interests?

Several private communications with us and careful study of definitions indicates that Mr. Starks' dual positions as chair of the CFAB and board member with Boot Hill Gaming, Inc. may not constitute actual "conflict of interest". However, there is little doubt that it is an ethical indiscretion on Mr. Starks part. We strongly suggest that anyone who shares this opinion privately encourage Mr. Starks to resign
one position or the other in order to save himself and both entities the appearance (if not he fact) of impropriety.

It goes without saying that since Mr. Starks is also a real estate broker, and since both the special events center and casino will require real estate acquisition as a building site, he should additionally refuse himself from any deliberation concerning the location of the new structures as he may have a vested financial interest in the outcome.

Finally, it is significant that the architectural firm hired by the city to
investigate a master plan for these two structures, in context with the rest of our community and in order to provide the most benefit to us, has only this week (for theumpty-umpth time) told the city again that it would be absolute folly to build either structure somewhere other than near the city core.

By our recollection, we now have only about 6 professional studies we have paid for which say the same thing about location of these structures. Several of which suggest that it would be financial suicide for the city to build elsewhere.

We wonder if those who advocate building somewhere on the "fence line" believe they are more erudite and experienced than 6 separate groups of professional planners. What do you think?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

One answer to the conflict of interest of Mr. Starks

"Those with a conflict of interest are expected to recuse themselves from (i.e., abstain from) decisions where such a conflict exists. The imperative for recusal varies depending upon the circumstance and profession, either as common sense ethics, codified ethics, or by statute. For example, if the governing board of a government agency is considering hiring a consulting firm for some task, and one firm being considered has, as a partner, a close relative of one of the board's members, then that board member should not vote on which firm is to be selected. In fact, to minimize any conflict, the board member should not participate in any way in the decision, including discussions."

IE: Mr. Starks should not vote on any decisions affecting the location of the Events Center, which, by his own statement, will affect the location of the casino, which he is an active private board member of one applicant, and intends to benefit financially. Actually, he should be removed by the City Commission/County Commission from the CFAB board, but hey, neither the of the other board members quit their public positions -- they quit their Boot Hill Gaming Inc. Board positions -- at least they read the cards right about That conflict ... 1) wonder if they'll be back on BHG Inc Board; 2) Boot Hill Museum Inc. owns Boot Hill Gaming Inc. (FC Chair on board of Boot Hill) 3) Mayor still has large clients on board of Boot Hill Gaming Inc.

Gee, what a confused mess this is -- let's just hope that the interest of the public is actually being considered by all involved. Not clear to me what the law is on this type of mess, but with millions of dollars involved -- both tax dollars and future private gain -- it is not a small mess. (Would the State of Kansas be smart in not selecting Boot Hill Gaming Inc. due to the potential court issues that other applicants could bring?) I will say that Mr. Thorpe has remained clearer in his goals -- private involvement with public influence but not voting nor on public committees. He wouldn't fall under this question, I would think.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

When "they" means "us" and why churches are cut out of meeting center : two centers, actually

How confusing is it when the chair of the "Why Not Dodge?" CFAB committee is also on the private Boot Hill Gaming Inc. Board -- a for-profit private applicant for the casino management in Dodge City -- or not Dodge City depending on location. (At least the county commission chair and the mayor of Dodge City resigned from the private Boot Hill Gaming Inc.)

Every time CFAB chair Greg Starks said "they" as in "they [Boot Hill Gaming Inc.] said they wanted the events center near the casino" -- he meant "we want the gambling casino near the tax-funded events center" -- but never cleared that up until the end when he was asked if he was still on the Boot Hill Gaming Inc. Board -- "yes" was his answer. "We'll put the events center where we want it and the casino will follow," Greg Starks. No doubt! But which "we" was he speaking for -- Boot Hill Gaming Inc. or the CFAB public position he holds?

Even in large cities, this seems to be a conflict, but -- hey, Dodge never had rules anyway, from the start -- what with the "soiled-doves" & the illegal booze, and the gambling of our Old West history -- a little conflict of interest over a few $ million dollars is nothing in 2007. At least, it didn't matter to anyone on the CFAB Committee or to the City Attorney. Does it make you wonder what else is going down? (At least two other groups are moving to apply for the management of the casino, by the way. Both Kansas based; both experienced at gambling management.)

And the potential agro expo hall being built on the last of the Western Trail -- "we don't need no historic sites," I guess. (Oh, you didn't vote on that -- guess what -- it doesn't seem to matter to CFAB what you voted on -- sales tax money is free money -- right? Endless free money.) So we'll have two centers to support. (What if the county pulls out?)

And about the meetings concerning that agro expo hall -- as Rick Sowers, City of Dodge City Commissioner said, "Am I out of the loop. Did we authorize a meeting?" No, the county did.

Oh yes, and sales tax (circa $350,000) money being used for Ross Blvd. street extension by Legends Park -- hey, its free money, right ?

So, get ready Dodge City -- no meeting rooms will be built in the city owned facility is my bet -- 2 to 1 odds I'll give you -- and if a church or a state group doesn't like meeting at a casino -- hey, go to Garden City.

But it is nice to at least hear Greg Starks being honest about something -- "Yes, I'm still on the Boot Hill Gaming Inc. Board." (Seems odd that the City Attorney is having discussion with one applicant already?)

About all that was done at the CFAB meeting about a location -- it is clear that the "Why Not Dodge?" Events Center will probably not be in Dodge -- at least that question is answered; "No!" -- is what CFAB has said (so far). "Here comes the judge; here comes the judge." We'll await the next development. But it was clear that the city sales tax will pay for the utilities expandsion needed for the events center -- bonus for the casino! (And Dodge City will get cut out of the money from the casino IF it is not in the city limits, as the state law seems to read.)

Oh, and the promised historic venue consultant, or the promised Dodge Theater review -- nothing has been done about those issues at all. Reminder: the consultant was directly connected and included in the motion for "emergency" money to keep Boot Hill Museum open longer. And Ford County still doesn't have an actual county museum, the only county of size in Kansas without one.

[Kansas Attorney General on what a conflict of interest is: "official has an interest not shared in common with the other members of the public. A conflict of interest has also been expressed as contradictory desires tugging the official in opposite directions.(6) A "personal interest" is one type of a conflict of interest.

Because the term "personal interest" is not statutorily defined, we turn to common law and find guidance concerning conflicts of interest within a 1972 Kansas case:

"We, of course, recognize the common law principle that a public officer owes an undivided duty to the public whom he serves and is not permitted to place himself in a position that will subject him to conflicting duties or cause him to act other than for the best interests of the public. If he acquires any interest adverse to those of the public, without a full disclosure it is a betrayal of his trust and a breach of confidence." December 31, 2001 ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINION NO. 2001-56}

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Monday, July 9, 2007

CFAB Meeting Wednesday, 4 p.m., City Commission Chamber, City Hall, Dodge City, July 11, 2007 -- Special Meeting to discuss location and funding of Western Tourism Venues [corrected date and time]

Questions to be raised include future status of c. $400,000 for Western tourism venues, Dodge Theater building review, and when the museum consultant agreed to by all venues and included in Boot Hill Museum funding motion, will start.

Additional discussions planned include the issues involved in cross-ownership/membership of Boot Hill Gaming and CFAB, and whether the intend of the 1997 vote was to have the Events Center help downtown Dodge and whether it was voted to have meeting rooms useable by any public group -- clearly something that would not happen if the only meeting rooms were in a casino hotel.

More information to follow on time and place of CFAB meeting.

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Thursday, July 5, 2007

Moving Right Along now....

Well, interested readers, much has changed since the last post to this blog! First of all, the CFAB
voted to investigate purchase and restoration of the Dodge Theater from Mike Burkhart with the possibility of using it as a "home away from home" for the famous western singing group "Riders in the Sky". They also voted to pursue a contract up to $80K to bring Dr. Michael Husband here and develop a master tourism plan. These two gestures were, at the time, felt to be a step in the right direction for Dodge City tourism and for downtown revitalization - two subjects which have classically received only lip service from the CFAB and commissions for many years.

A few months later, the CFAB recommended to the joint commissions that Global Entertainment (International Colliseums) be awarded the contract for the Special Event Center. The Commissions approved the recommendation and voted to award the contract. Shortly thereafter, the Ford County Commission put forward a ballot initiative for a 1/2 percent
sales tax increase to pay for a new county jail. This, they intended to follow with a second ballot initiative to repeal the 1/2 percent sales tax voted in back in 1997 to finance the county's share of the "Why Not Dodge" projects including the special events center. Local retired attorney Jack Dalton has, to date, filed an injunction halting that question temporarily.

Then Boot Hill Gaming, Inc. stopped all the presses as they guided a bill through the Kansas Legislature which would allow casino gambling in Dodge City upon approval of the voters of Dodge City and Ford county. A local election followed on June 26, 2007 on that question with the result that the electorate approved a single lottery gaming facility for Ford County and Dodge City.

Boot Hill Gaming, in their election campaign, claimed the casino would:

  • Increase Tourism
  • Lower Property Taxes
  • Compliment Existing Local Businesses
  • Bring 670 new full-time (FTE) jobs to the area
  • Bring $18 million in annual pay and benefits to the area
  • Bring $3.25 million in annual revenue for local county and municipal projects

The slogan on their poster said "Preserving Our Past, Building the Future".

As of this writing, the special events center which we were in such a hurry to vote on is now on hold as are the promises of the CFAB concerning the Dodge Theater and the master tourism plan. Additionally, the city attorney informs us that there will be no organizational funding for tourism non-profits this year as there always has been in the past.

It appears that the gambling initiative has already had huge impact on the community by bringing everything to a grinding halt. What we will now attempt to do with this blog is to track the promises made by the CFAB, the City and County Commissions, and Boot Hill Gaming, Inc.

These people have made some pretty broad and sweeping promises to the community and it behooves someone to provide oversight.

Come back at any time to check on how things are progressing....

Your comments are also welcome via email as long as they are polite and reasonable. We have a "delete" key specially reserved for partisan rants, spam and ignorant raving.