Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 211
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for October 16, 2003

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

Have you seen the fancy new Warrensburg/Johnson County economic development piece put together by “Ingram’s,” a Kansas City business publication? Wasn’t it nice of them to such a professional-appearing piece on our town? Wasn’t it nice of tax supported entities, including CMSU, the city, the county, the hospital and the Warrensburg Area Economic Development Council (WAEDC) to sponsor the publication? After all, nobody believes that “Ingram’s” does such blurbs for free.

The puff piece had a couple of interesting facets to it. One is a picture of various community leaders from Warrensburg, Holden and the county. Conspicuously absent is Warrensburg’s mayor. I hear he’s persona non grata with the Chamber because he dares question the effectiveness of the GWACC&VC’s use of room tax money. Another interesting point is that all the articles seem to say the same thing; one wonders if this is an intentional advertising ploy or if there just aren’t enough different facts to go around.

Hard on the heels of the “Ingram’s” piece, one reads of the WAEDC asking the county to put together a new industrial park. It seems that Warrensburg’s is about full; I wonder if allowing several government buildings contributed to that situation. The county used to have a park on the northeast edge of town, but much of that space was given to the veterans’ home. Given the climate of competition for business, I see why they want it, but that doesn’t make relocation incentives right.

The biggest problem is that to amass a several-hundred are tract for an industrial park, governments often have to use their power of eminent domain. While government expressly has the power to take private property for government use, the phenomenon of taking private property to turn over to another private entity is both recent and abusive. It forces the unfortunate citizen whose property is taken to involuntarily subsidize a more powerful entity which is unwilling to trust the free market. One would hope that the county commission doesn’t fall into this trap.

It seems that much of the new development here in Warrensburg hasn’t required government subsidies such as land seizure or tax increment financing. Let’s keep it that way and not get caught in the “anything for growth” syndrome.

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