Back in August, the city council in Topeka, Kansas, voted to expand a redevelopment district and purchase Heartland Park Topeka, a “multi-purpose motorsports facility” featuring drag racing, dirt racing and more.
Chris Imming wasn’t keen on the notion. He put together an initiative petition calling for a public vote. Topeka townspeople eagerly signed it.
Taking this as a cue, did the city officialdom welcome this vibrant exercise of basic American democracy? Did they ready themselves for that election?
Instead, the city sued to block a vote on the issue.
A local judge sided with the insiders, ruling in the city’s favor. The development decision was administrative in nature, the Robed One determined, not legislative. That made it beyond reach of the citizen initiative process.
Both the judge’s designation of “administrative” and his rationale for exemption from a citizens’ veto seem more than dubious. Clearly, “the people” should be able to overrule any decision made by the city council, which is established for the express purpose of representing the views of “the people.”
Kudos to Mr. Imming for appealing that lower court decision. Thank goodness for folks like him, folks who stand up against the powerful public and private forces always looking for a bailout or a subsidy.
“We’re bailing out the city,” argues Doug Gerber, Topeka’s administrative and financial director. He cites the city’s previous redevelopment district, which annually costs a cool million dollars in bond service, while bringing in only a fifth of that in sales tax revenue.
So politicians want to double down, to cover their past rotten wheeling and dealing by . . . expanding it.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.