Our Western Heritage

Our Western Heritage
Front Street, Dodge City, circa 1879

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dodge City Commission: Conflict of Interest Guidance

Here's an excerpt from the Government Ethics: Markkula Center for Applied Ethics site, one great resource on ethics. Perhaps a discussion might start? Perhaps the City of Dodge City Commissioners might want to improve our local conflict of interest laws before spending millions and millions of dollars? Yours, Uncle George

Conflicts of Interest in Government

These materials were prepared for the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics program in Government Ethics by Senior Fellow Judy Nadler and Communications Director Miriam Schulman. The Center provides training in local government ethics for public officials.

What are conflicts of interest?

Conflicts of interest occur when an officeholder puts his or her personal or financial interest ahead of the public interest. In the simplest terms, the official reaps a monetary or other reward from a decision made in his or her public capacity.

The most common conflicts in local government happen when officeholders face a vote on real property/land use issues that affect their own holdings. Other examples include voting to grant a benefit to a company in which the officeholder owns stock or even to a non-profit organization on whose board the officeholder may sit.

When a conflict of interest is possible, an officeholder is expected to abstain from the discussion and the vote.

What do conflicts of interest have to do with ethics?

Public service is always about protecting the common good, which may be defined as the common conditions that are important to the welfare of everyone-police, fire, parks, libraries, and other services. A public servant must always put the common good ahead of any personal, financial, or political benefit they might receive from a decision about such matters as where to situate a park or who should collect the garbage.

Also, conflicts of interest interfere with the basic ethical principle of fairness-treating everyone the same. A public official should not take unfair advantage of his or her position by voting on a matter that could benefit them at the expense of others.

Finally, conflicts of interest undermine trust. They make the public lose faith in the integrity of governmental decision-making processes.

What ethical dilemmas do conflicts of interest present?

Many times, government officials honestly believe that they are not being unduly influenced by their personal stake in an issue. They may feel, to the contrary, that their interest in the matter gives them special insight into the subject. A city councilmember who ran on a platform of revitalizing the downtown, for example, may feel entirely justified in supporting measures to improve the area, even if part of the benefit of such improvement might go to their own business. They might argue that they understand the problems of a downtown business because they own one. They might claim, further, that their constituents elected them specifically to represent this interest.

But conflict of interest laws prevent such partiality. First, it's almost impossible for individuals to determine whether they are being fair when their self-interest is involved. Also, as the Institute for Local Self-Government puts it, "The law is aimed at the perception, as well as the reality, that a public officials personal interests may influence a decision." Even the appearance of impropriety undermines the public's faith that the process is fair.

Another common misconception about conflicts of interest is that officeholders are absolved of their responsibility merely by being transparent about their stake in the issue. It is not sufficient for government officials to make conflicts public. They must take themselves out of the decision-making process altogether.

This includes discussion and debate as well as actual voting. Abstention is only half the requirement. A public official is also expected to refrain from public pronouncements and private arm twisting on decisions in which he or she has an interest.

Note, also, that the interest may be personal as well as financial. Helping one's fraternal order to obtain rent-free space in a public building is a form of conflict of interest, especially if it improves one's standing in the organization. Being elected president of a community group because of such favors might prove to be in an officeholder's personal and political interest when the next election rolls around. Conversely, public office should not be used to punish one's personal and political enemies. Voting no on your annoying neighbor's reasonable zoning waiver request is another form of putting private ahead of public interest.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Serious problem, Dodge City Conflict of Interest ordinances

Finally, thanks to Ken Strobel, City of Dodge City Manager and Brad Ralph, City of Dodge City Attorney, the serious issue of non-applicable conflict of interest ordinances on the Dodge City code has a possible answer -- if the Dodge City Commission decides to fix it -- and fixes it before millions and millions of tax dollars are spent on the Events Center and the infrastructure connected with it and the Casino.

According to a reply on my request for a ruling on whether the City of Dodge City conflict of interest ordinances -- see previous post -- apply to ANY city appointed volunteer committees:

City of Dodge City Code, Article 4, Chapter 1, Article 1-404(e):
(e) Conflict of Interest - No elected or appointive city official or employee, whether paid or unpaid, shall engage in any business or transaction or shall have a financial or other personal interest, direct or indirect, which is incompatible with the proper discharge of his or her duties in the public interest or would tend to impair his or her independence of judgment or action in the performance of his or her official duties. Personal as distinguished from financial interest includes an interest arising from blood or marriage relationships or close business or political association. Specific conflicts of interest are enumerated below for the guidance of officials and employees:

Mr. Ralph states:

...There exists no definition within the city code of the term, "city official". However, the fact that this provision contemplates the city official potentially being "appointive" and "unpaid" would lead one to believe that members of city boards are, in fact, included within these provisions....

...it would seem reasonable to contemplate that members of city boards and committees would, in fact, be subject to the conflict of interest provisions found within Article 4 of the city code. However, as I have previously indicated, the code provisions are sometimes vaguely worded and may not be as clear as one would wish.

Now, time to see if Mr. Strobel and Mr. Ralph suggest a definition of "appointed city officials" and if the Dodge City Commissioners decide that ethics and codes that are applicable to city committee members -- all committees -- are wanted by them or not. If the city commissioners do nothing -- ie.,they now know that there are no conflict of interest codes which clearly apply to appointed committees, including CFAB -- then I guess that conflict of interest issues are not important to them -- I would hate to think that they may want there to be no applicable laws.

I don't want to be that negative -- so I look forward to a very fast update of the codes so that they clearly apply. If this issue matters to you, contact the City Commissioners and ask when they may fix this very glaring problem with Dodge City laws.

They can be reached at:

Monte Broeckelman
Email: mbroeckelman@yahoo.com

Jim Sherer
Email: jim.sherer@yahoo.com

E. Kent Smoll, Mayor
Email: ksmoll70@hotmail.com

Rick Sowers, Vice-Mayor
Email: rsowers@starrtech.net

Brian Weber
Email: commissionerweber@gmail.com

Yours, Uncle George

Friday, October 17, 2008

Dodge City, a town with no interest ?

Currently, a request for a legal ruling on which city committee members of Dodge City are covered by the conflict of interest ordinances is slowly moving through the city attorney's office (or actually, a hired city legal advisor office) -- so it might be useful to first review the current laws -- laws that right now seem to apply to no one at all. Here's the Dodge City laws that should apply -- but, we've been told -- don't since "appointive city official or employee, whether paid or unpaid" was not a term that was defined (and I'm still waiting for a list of city employees that are not paid -- )

Dodge City Municipal Code

(e) Conflict of Interest - No elected or appointive city official or employee, whether paid or unpaid, shall engage in any business or transaction or shall have a financial or other personal interest, direct or indirect, which is incompatible with the proper discharge of his or her duties in the public interest or would tend to impair his or her independence of judgment or action in the performance of his or her official duties. Personal as distinguished from financial interest includes an interest arising from blood or marriage relationships or close business or political association. Specific conflicts of interest are enumerated below
for the guidance of officials and employees:

(1) Incompatible Employment - No elected or appointive city official or employee shall engage in or accept private employment or render services for private interests when such employment or service is incompatible with the proper discharge of his or her official duties or would tend to impair his or her independence of judgment or action in the performance of his or her official duties.

(2) Disclosure of Confidential Information -
No elected or appointive city official or employee, shall, without proper legal authorization, disclose confidential information concerning the property, government or affairs of the city. Nor shall he or she use such information to advance the financial or other private interest of himself, herself or others.

So, the question being asked the City Attorney now is if these laws apply to ANY city committee members at all. Since a couple of the Dodge City commissioners talked much about their ethics during the election, seems to me that if no Dodge City conflict of interest laws apply to anyone, there's not much to talk about concerning ethics in Dodge.

You'll be informed as soon as that nice outside paid lawyer lets us know. Until then, guess that Dodge City has no interests to have conflicts over? Or just no laws concerning what, in most places, would be illegal involvement of appointed city officials making money off of your tax dollars -- and getting to make decisions for their own personal financial gain on how to spend those dollars.

Waiting too, Uncle George

Friday, September 26, 2008

Kansas Casino Awarded Butler National, Dodge City Casino, Ford County Kansas 5-2 decision by Kansas Gaming Casino Review Board

From the Dodge City Daily Globe, Dodge City casino contract awarded to Butler National: 5 - 2 vote by Kansas Gaming Commission Casino Review Board

Butler gets the contract on a 5-2 vote. Board Chairman Matt All and Jim Bergfalk supported the D.C. Resort proposal. The other members favored Butler.

Next up, a background check.

Even I suggest that the background checks will go well for the local folks financially involved or as representatives. More interesting is how much Why Not Dodge? sales tax money will be used for the infrastructure.

Time for follow-up to great Dodge City Daily Globe article on that $34 million possible tax dollar cost (in twenty or thirty years, it might be paid back -- ) by now new managing editor Mark Vierthaler. Tax payers would be smart to get involved.

Casinos by state of Kansas gaming casino law are to use no tax money at all -- although a court has refused to rule on the use of benefits such as city water/sewer being put in 50 feet away, etc. in locations that would never be used for city property normally. This involves a huge ecological cost, too.

If Dodge City and Ford County citizens require it, cost savings would be massive if the infrastructure cost is shared and shared fairly. Butler publicly promised to pay their fair share -- I hear one third of it being the opening bid... I would go one half.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Kansas Gaming Director Stephen Martino: Higher ethics required for gambling management

Stephen Martino, Kansas Racing & Gaming Commission Executive Director, gave a speech (with questions taken) to the Dodge City Rotary Club public lunch forum held Wednesday, July 23. The major keynote and theme of the speech was Mr. Martino's clear and serious statements about the ethics rules imposed on the whole KS Gaming commission -- not only can they not have any financial interest,etc., in a Kansas casino, but can't even stay at the future hotels that will part of the Ford County - Dodge City casino when built.

Stephen Martino has been in the position since appointed in 2005 by Governor Sebelius. He is a lawyer, and also founded the Kansas Responsible Gambling Alliance, "a group of state agencies and interest groups involved in responsible gambling promotion and problem gambling treatment."

It will be of interest how local conflict of interest issues affect the casino review board's decision -- Mr. Martino is not on it -- but if his speech is any indication, it wouldn't seem good for any applicant to be anywhere near any ethical or legal issues at all, let along be directly involved in a formal business manner.

The issue will be presented in the brief comment section of the July 31st public hearings in Dodge City for Butler National Services Inc. and Dodge City Gaming Inc.

Whatever the outcome, Mr. Martino was very sincere and serious about the requirement of his agency to hold to a higher ethical standard than even required by law.

Thank you for that, Stephen.

Best, Uncle George
(note: no financial connections to any of the proposals, the land, the land sales, the road construction, the water wells, none, nope.)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Dodge City Resort and Gaming Co. presentation:

Dodge City Casino Presentation by Dodge City Resort and Gaming Co.

...If Dodge City Resort and Gaming's proposal is selected by the Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board for further development, the casino would be built on 281 acres in the northeast corner of the city by Highway 50. The Western-style casino would consist of 800 gaming machines, 20 gaming tables, conventions and meeting rooms, three rodeo arenas, an RV park and livestock showroom and several buildings reminiscent of Front Street in the 1880s....

...During the first year of operation, the casino developer would pay the state about $13 million in gaming revenues as well as property, local and sales taxes, said Joseph. Of that amount, $1.3 million would be split evenly between the Ford County and Dodge City....

Time that Dodge City and Ford County citizens faced facts -- $1.3 million oh boy -- with need for expanded fire, EMS and police force....... property taxes watch out. We're high anyway. Guess we're going to be higher.

Makes matters even more expensive for the Butler National Services proposal -- way out 2 miles west of town. No fire/EMS near it at all. Will require a new fire station I would bet. Money, money, money. And none of it for you or me. Darn it. Unless you're the winner at the casino. Yup, that one. Or you're the real estate CFAB chair broker for Butler National, if they get it.

Don't bet on that yet, folks. The massive complaints about conflict of interest concerning one CFAB Chair Greg Starks may take up an hour at the July 31st public statement part of the review. Might make a difference, might not.

But given the time delays that could be caused by legal action against the Events Center location, et al, I would suggest that the Kansas state review board (hi, board members) might not want to bet on income for the state of Kansas for a long time if that west location is chosen -- unless one CFAB Chair resigns before the July 31 meeting. Then, no issue.

Best, Uncle George (note: no financial connections to any of the proposals, the land, the land sales, the road construction, the water wells, none, nope.)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Dates for Dodge City/Ford County casino decision - Sept. 18-19

[Note that "The emphasis throughout the process will remain on doing things in the open." There are and have been conflict of interest issues in the Dodge City decisions -- private gain planned that was clearly not discussed in the open. Since no doubt these conflict of interest issues will come up in the July public hearings in Ford County and involve the city/county CFAB committee chair -- unless Mr. Starks is off of CFAB by then -- wonder how they will play with the state?]

Gaming board's job won't be lit by neon, Hutchinson News, June 9, By Carl Manning

Deciding who will manage the four state-owned and operated casinos in Kansas won't be a task filled with glitz and glamour.

More likely, it'll be filled with non-glitzy topics such as revenue estimates, population projections and targeted markets.

By the end of September, the decisions will have been made by the seven-member Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board on the developers for a single casino each in Cherokee, Ford, Sumner and Wyandotte counties.

It's important for the board to pick the strongest proposals and the ones offering the best deals for the state. But it's just as important to do it in the open, where the public can see what's happening. Gambling automatically raises concerns for many.

Over the years, the gambling industry has worked on its image, promoting its locations as family friendly, touting its amenities, donating to various causes and making "gaming" the industry term of art.

"There is a sleaze factor associated with the gambling industry, and some of that is deserved from years ago, and they've worked hard to change that. But the sleaze factor is still there, which makes transparency even more important," said Joe Aistrup, head of Kansas State University's political science department.

He said that makes it even more important for the board to go out of its way to show that everything is on the up and up.

"They want to make sure people perceive the decision was made on the merits of each bid compared to a decision being made based on somebody lining their back pockets," Aistrup said.

Chairman Matt All, the former chief lawyer for Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, has emphasized the need for doing everything in the open. To him, transparency is the hallmark of success....

The decision about who will operate the casinos in Cherokee and Sumner counties will come Aug. 21-22 and for Wyandotte and Ford counties Sept. 18-19. Between now and then, board members will conduct public hearings, hear sales pitches from prospective casino managers, talk to their consultants and among themselves....

The emphasis throughout the process will remain on doing things in the open.

"If it gets tainted, then you have the first steps of casino gambling going down the wrong path," Aistrup said. "It could lead to some people wanting to reconsider gambling in the state and maybe legislation affecting the casinos."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ford Co. Dodge City casino plans advance

[Note that the promised donations to Western tourism venues isn't part of either presentation. Both of these Kansas companies, with local supporters, have made oral statements of a percent or so of their revenues going to help SW Kansas Western heritage tourism. Time will tell.]

Two Ford Co. casino plans advance

Developers' proposals will now move on to second round of the competition,

By Chris Green, Hutchinson News, May 28, 2008

Two developers cleared an initial hurdle Tuesday in their battle for the right to build and manage a state-owned resort casino in Ford County.

The Kansas Lottery Commission voted to endorse contracts with both Olathe's Butler National Service Corp. and Wichita's Dodge City Resort and Gaming Co. to develop a Dodge City casino with a Wild West theme. ...

Wichita attorney Steve Joseph, who leads a bid by Dodge City Resort and Gaming Co., said his group's task is to now persuade the seven-member review board to the merits of its plans.

Joseph's venture includes former Wichita Mayor Bob Knight, state media magnate Larry Steckline and his wide, former Kansas Attorney General Carla Stovall Steckline among its investors.

It plans to spend $20 million to build a temporary casino by spring 2009. It would later develop a $92.3 million permanent gaming site, complete with hotel, restaurants, shops and three rodeo arenas near the northeast corner of Dodge City.

Joseph said his group has the biggest "concept" for southwest Kansas and hopes to make Dodge City an entertainment capital in the model of Branson, Mo.

"If Branson, Missouri, can do it, Dodge City can do it, too," Joseph said.

But Clark Stewart, president and chief executive officer of Butler National, said it's his firm's plans that would be in the best interest of the state and the southwest region.

The project's manager emphasized the company's support from local officials and how the project will help Dodge City's economy and its effort to retain its young people during a presentation to the commission last week.

Butler National, hired by Dodge City's Boot Hill Gaming Inc., plans to build a $92.9 million casino in two phases near U.S. 50 on the city's western edge.

Initially, the company would open a $22.3 million interim gaming site by September 2009. It plans to complete the project, along with a 124-room hotel, restaurants and a spa, by September 2011. ...


Butler National Service Corp.

(Boot Hill Casino and Resort)

State: 22 percent of annual casino revenues plus an additional percentage based on revenues above projections, up to 38 percent.

Ford County: 1.5 percent.

Dodge City: 1.5 percent.

Problem Gambling-Addictions Fund: 2 percent.

Dodge City Resort and Gaming Co.

(Dodge City Casino Resort)

State: 22 percent of annual casino revenues, plus 10 percent of net cash flow when revenues exceed $95 million.

Ford County: 1.5 percent.

Dodge City: 1.5 percent.

Problem Gambling-Addictions Fund: 2 percent.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Dodge City casino: some new plans & visitor numbers

The Hutchinson News, May 21, has two different views of the tourism impact of the two different casino proposals for Ford County/Dodge City -- neither set of figures seems to match any research done on the Dodge City location -- research that clearly states most gamblers would be coming from within 50-100 miles from Dodge City.

With gas heading for $4.00 a gallon and higher, seems unlikely that either set of figures will be accurate. And, of course, with casinos going up all over Kansas and Oklahoma, I wouldn't want to be planning much on any of these projections. Only the State of Kansas will win in this casino building orgy, and of course, those selling the land, and constructing the buildings.

Developers present plans for new casino, Hutchinson News:

"...Butler National, hired by Dodge City's Boot Hill Gaming Inc., plans to build a $92.9 million casino, called the Boot Hill Casino and Resort...

The developers said the project would employ 654 full-time workers and could, by 2013, draw up to 418,000 annual visitors traveling from more than two hours away...

...The competing project, the Dodge City Casino Resort, ...said the casino would likely draw 1 million people per year [nee', 1 million visits], 250,000 to 300,000 of whom would come from outside the state or from more than 100 miles away. It would employ at least 377 full-time workers...."

[Compare these numbers with the 2007 research quoted often in public by one of the applicants -- before $4.00 gas -- which states:]

"In order to maintain the quality of life of the area, the additional fiscal and economic costs incurred due to a casino would need to be covered by additional governmental revenues...

"Conversely, benefit-cost ratios of 0.75 shows public benefits are only 75 percent of public costs – costs exceed benefits...

"Since gambling has been legalized and made accessible in several states, the range of pathological gamblers has increased to 1.5 to 5 percent in those states..."

"Distance from Casino in miles and
Annual Spending per Person*

0-10 $ 527.64
10-25 $ 234.23
25-50 $ 114.76
50-75 $ 66.97
75-100 $ 32.22

100-125 $ 13.37
125-150 $ 14.36
150-175 $ 8.99
175-200 $ 3.29

*Estimates by Christiansen Capital Advisors, LLC in current dollar value (2007$)


Best, Uncle George

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Untangling the Kansas casino legal mess: Dodge City Events Center issue

Questions that the various Dodge City Daily Globe articles by Mark Vierthaler on the $34 million casino infrastructure costs, forgot to ask, re: public funds paying for casino infrastructure --

Untangling the Kansas casino legal mess, By Rick Alm, The Kansas City Star, April 07, 2008

The question of public financing for state-owned casinos in Kansas is a sticky one. It’s also an odd one considering that state dollars and state manpower will be expended in coming years in the state’s role as casino owner.

That dilemma hasn’t come up yet.

For now, both sides in the battle are lawyered up, and the legal briefs are flying.

A lawsuit financed in part by Topeka-based taxpayer watchdog Americans for Prosperity-Kansas has alleged that all three casino projects proposed for Kansas City, Kan., violate the state casino law’s ban on public financing of casinos.

And from same article:

Kansas’ casino law is clear: “No state or local tax abatement … no revenue bonds, tax increment financing or similar financing shall be used to finance any part of any lottery gaming enterprise or any racetrack gaming facility.

Seems that with the location of our Events Center being decided, without vote, by a member of the private casino applicant Boot Hill Gaming Inc./Butler National -- ie., CFAB Chair Greg Starks -- that the Americans for Prosperity-Kansas will have a field day when public tax money is used to pay for $34 million dollars of infrastructure NOT NEEDED by our Events Center, except that the location was suddenly moved to help the CFAB Chair's private interests. Remember that Mr. Starks, for 10-years, pushed and pulled the Events Center to the center core of the city -- where the costs would be only a fraction of the 2-miles from downtown location that he wants now -- on land he brokered, from a fellow Boot Hill Gaming Inc. board member.

That Starks had to quit the gaming board was at least finally a statement of ethical problems, but of course, after the fact of his profit.

Time for the City/County Commissions to review the location of the public Events Center or state that the cost of at least half or more of the infrastructure must be paid by one of the two casino applicants, when awarded the exclusive multi-year contract by the State of Kansas.

Lawyers are going to love this otherwise.

Signed: Uncle George

Friday, March 28, 2008

1st Annual Legends of McCarty Speedway, May 24 & 25

Put it on your calender now -- 1st Annual Legends of McCarty Speedway, Dodge City Raceway Park, May 24 & 25

Both nights will feature a program of weekly racers highlighted by the "Boot Hill 1000." Details to follow.

1956 Trophy Dash Champion Race Team, No. 98 Jalopy, McCarty Speedway, Wright Park, Dodge City, KS.

Junior (Cecil) Maupin, Jr. driver, with (from l.) Hank
(Henry) Palmer, car builder; Bud Stanley, chief mechanic; Burney Faulkner and unknown -- the 1933 Ford coupe jalopy racer's first-class crew, rare in 1956. Note matching overalls and bill-less caps, and also infamous McCarty Speedway's tin fence in background.

No deaths were recorded at races on McCarty Speedway, which featured two dirt tracks -- a 1/2-mile track for motorcycles and horses, and a 1/4-mile track for cars. (Photograph courtesy: Roger and Troy Burnett, Dodge City, KS.)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Dodge City Commission Candidates & Casino $34 million infrastructure

Dodge City Commission Candidate Forum, High Plain Journal conference room, Sat., March 15, 10 a.m.

Suggested by many that this public candidate forum on Saturday will be a great opportunity to ask serious questions about the possible tax payer costs and underwriting of the casino infrastructure through the Special Events Center forced location next to the for-profit privately managed state-owned casino.

It has been noted often that the major forces for this Events Center location were people directly involved (ie., CFAB Chair Greg Starks, although at the time not to the public) with the private casino related Boot Hill Gaming Inc. and thus would gain financially by the tax payers' money. It is illegal under Kansas State laws to have ANY tax money used for the casinos.

Time for potential and current city commissioners to be asked how they plan on paying for the huge increased infrastructure costs for the Events Center by the far out-of-town locations. And how that cost will be passed on to the two possible casinos.

Since the Events Center is budgeted at $30 million dollars and the casinos at over $60 million dollars or more each -- looks like at least 2/3s of the cost should be carried by the casinos, or more, since their needs for sewers (hotels, etc.) are massively different than the Events Center's.

Be sure to go to this forum and be sure to ask very pointed questions. It may be the only time that these candidates have to publicly answer.

Signed: Uncle George

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Special Dodge City Commission meeting -- Monday, March 3, 5:30 p.m. -- Casinos, event center

Looks like anybody wanting to hold on to their tax money better be at this one. Wonder how the casinos will pay for their infrastructure? Wonder where the water will come from? But, hey, with that $34 million infrastructure, we'll have the most expensive $30 million dollar events center in the country. Bonus?

City Commission Chambers
Monday, March 3, 2008 5:30 p.m.


1. Review and Action on Butler National Memorandum of Understanding
Re: Butler National Casino/Event Center Proposal

2. Review and Action on Global Entertainment Consulting Agreement
Re: Special Event Center

3. Review and Action on Joint Communication Board Agreement Amendments

4. Review and Action on Dodge City Resort & Gaming Casino Endorsement Resolution


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

$34 million for casino/event center infrastructure -- a record ? -- money certainly not a problem for an actual county museum

FORD COUNTY CASINO: Dodge City Could Pay an Estimated $33,340,000, Dodge City Daily Globe, Feb. 19, 2008

First, glad that money is just not an issue for CFAB/Dodge City Commission/Ford County Commission. That is obvious, since it is a fact that they didn't like this number being added up and put in a headline.

This may be a record, right up there with the "Big Dig" -- of potentially $34 million city tax dollars spending on infrastructure for a $30 million events center. How will they divide up the cost so that no tax money goes illegally to the casino? How does that work? Or is it not of interest to CFAB to stay within that law? How does a city file for bankrupt status? Should look that up.

Of interest is the failure by CFAB or the Dodge City Commission to plan ahead on the massive cost of putting the public event center by the casino -- in either location. Somehow, this planning was avoided until this week -- and the figures, as would be expected due to locations, are very, very high. $34 million dollars is the current estimate of the cost for water, sewer, roads for the far west location. And this figure doesn't seem to include a no-doubt necessary EMT/fire station for the west location. Costs would be similar for the east location, it was said.

What is sad is that the $10 million or so needed for an actual Ford County Museum with archive has been ignored as being to expensive by the same CFAB/City/County boards. It is just history -- not the 'fun' of gambling.

That makes it clear where the priorities are -- non-productive gaming wins over protecting history for the future. Perhaps the voters will keep this in mind in questions asked of the candidates for Dodge City Commission this spring.

As one that will not go into the casino (although, due to conventions, I have been in casinos in other states more than a few times -- I don't care if people want to throw their money away -- I just don't like to watch it happening, and don't consider it "entertainment"), the massive cost to Dodge City/Ford County of the casino's need for water, et al, negates the value of having the casino here -- except for those few companies and persons building it, servicing it, et al.

Seems that the cost of the infrastructure needs to carried by the for-profit casinos, not the event center. The location of the event center should be, again, reconsidered. And since the court order makes it necessary to build it before any other use of the Why Not Dodge! money, that location will mean the difference between a few million dollars and $34 million dollars for the tax payers.

Sorry to say, property taxes will be affected no matter what is being said now -- there is not enough sales tax money on-going to cover that huge cost, and build the events center -- and certainly not to get it done for an events center before the agri expo center (when did we vote on that ?) or a water park (again, was that in the vote?), as the judge requires.

Signed: Uncle George

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ford County Casino Proposal from Dodge City Gaming Inc.

Dodge City Gaming Inc. proposal includes free land for county/city, horse barns, rodeo area, and 3 percent for non-profit tourism venues.

Endorsement Postponed: Commissioners to decide on casino endorsement at later joint city, county meeting, Dodge City Daily Globe, Jan. 23, 2008

Proposal from the Wichita-based Dodge City Gaming Inc. includes free land for the city to build our events center, something not in the current Butler Services proposal. Dodge City Gaming Inc. also welcomes horses, rodeo, the Old West. This means that a second expo center currently under discussion by CFAB would not be necessary, saving millions.

The location suggested by Dodge City Gaming Inc. is on the north east side of Dodge City, north of the highway, near Ave. P, a location that will not require a new fire/emergency building, again saving a lot of dollars for the tax payers of Ford County.

The state of Kansas will have two solid proposals for consideration, and both include money for non-profit venues, Boot Hill, et al. Guess it is a good bet, so to speak, that Ford County and Dodge City can save a lot of money by having the free land for the Events Center -- no doubt Butler can match this offer in the future.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Boot Hill Museum struggles with attendance, Museum has received $775,000 in local sales tax money

"Over the past four years, the Boot Hill Museum has received $775,000 in local sales tax money to keep it afloat, according to figures from City Hall.

"But some local officials wonder what the museum, founded in 1947 as a tribute to the heritage that has made Dodge City known throughout the world as a symbol of the Old West, has done to improve its financial viability....

"The last Kansas Humanities grant Boot Hill has applied for was a 1991 mini-grant for a one-night speaker, according to a Humanities Council database dating back to 1991...."

Boot Hill Museum struggles with attendance, Dodge City Daily Globe, January 20, 2008

It is good to finally see some public figures on Boot Hill Museum's budget -- first time for most of us, including Dodge City Commission. Thanks to Mark Vierthaler, Daily Globe reporter, for getting those facts somehow.

Time for Boot Hill to actually reach out to the community, become transparent in their operation, and get going on fund raising, grant applications, advice gathering from state and national museum professionals in Dodge City -- all normal for every successful museum.

[Important note: the figures on historical attendance have grown and grown over the years -- no actual solid figures exist. Urban legend would indicate a few hundred thousand per year in the 1960s, but the 300,000 figures for later decades are not to be believed, and are not fair to the current management of Boot Hill Museum Inc.]

Signed: Uncle George

Friday, January 11, 2008

Gambling decisions are ‘not for sale’

Gambling decisions are ‘not for sale,’ leader says, Lawrence Journal-World, Jan. 11, 2008

Stephen Martino, executive director of the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission, also says that nothing would be left to chance in the process for choosing precisely which companies will get the exclusive contracts to build, develop and operate such state-sponsored gambling centers.

“This process is not for sale,” Martino said. “It’s going to be squeaky clean.”

And that should be interesting for us all to learn from in Western Kansas, don't you think....