More than two month after writing a letter to Wichita officials asking for information about the city’s $75 million plan to build a baseball stadium, Debra Miller Stevens’ request is still being ignored. She even took out a full page ad in The Wichita Eagle repeating her questions to let other residents know about city officials’ refusal to be transparent.
“I’ve had no response to the questions from the Mayor or the Council Members,” says Stevens.
Stevens says through her involvement in the community she has come in contact with city officials, but that the baseball stadium and subsequent funding is off limits.
“I had an opportunity to speak with folks but not about the ball park. That topic is totally avoided,” says Stevens. “No one seems interested in answering the questions.”
Her letter posed 23 questions on a variety of topics, including funding details, vetting the recipients of taxpayer subsidies and risks that could further expose citizens. The full page ad also took the city to task over the lack of communication. At a City Council meeting in March regarding the stadium private development agreement, Wichita City Manager Robert Layton admitted there had been some communication issues.
“I am regretful that we were not more purposeful in our language at the time the two baseball agreements were presented to you last year in terms of recognizing that there is still a third agreement,” said Layton
Stevens ad says “The public deserves to know how decisions were being made over the past two years that have now culminated in a commitment to a large, $75 million dollar plus project, that to date, the public knows very little about.”
Stevens is not alone. At the city council meeting some residents held up signs saying “’Trust Me’ is not the answer.” Stevens desire for answers led her to publish the ad. It also led her to research the stadium development.
“In doing that it made it even more suspect of what is transpiring,” says Stevens.
The Sentinel reached out to Scot Rigby, Wichita Assistant City Manager for comment regarding the Stevens ad and have not heard back. However, at the March 19th city council meeting Layton admitted communication has been an issue.
“I really hope that we as an organization have learned from that and that going forward we will be a little more purposeful as we talk,” says Layton.
Stevens is still waiting for answers.
“If you ask questions, then immediately you are a naysayer and it’s disappointing. It’s like can you give us some credit and just answer the question,” says Stevens.