Our Western Heritage

Our Western Heritage
Front Street, Dodge City, circa 1879

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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