JOBS Inc., the Height Of Hubris?


  Last week, I asked the question; ‘JOBS Inc, who and what are they?’ Now it’s time to talk about the answers to that question. Dr. Steve Miller was the only person to respond and volunteer any information at all. Everything else I learned I had to find out on my own. Here is what I found out, and my opinion of what I learned.

 JOBS Inc, was formed as a private corporation after the MKT railroad was purchased in 1988 and formally merged into the Union Pacific railroad in 1989. This was done with the intention of finding, and funding, ways to bring employment to Parsons. The KAAP was another struggling long time area employer, and it was continually in the process of being downsized and closed by the federal government. In short, the employment prospects in Parsons were bleak. That has not changed, in fact it has worsened. Many people contributed money to this new corporation, anywhere from $100 to $10,000, each according to their own resources.

 Although I can find nothing written about this corporation, some of the original contributers tell me that it was their understanding that this group was creating a “special fund to allow money to be available to land businesses to increase the economic viability of Parsons.” The money “was a gift to help the help the economic development of the community with funds outside of the legal and statutory requirements of the city.”

“(We) donated the money so that those trying to bring businesses here could bypass long and involved red tape.” -Dr. Miller

 Fair enough. Sounds like a great mission, bringing jobs to our foundering town. That was 20 years ago. I have no idea what JOBS has accomplished since then. Mostly due to the fact that JOBS does not publicize anything they do, who their members are, or anything else. Being a private entity, they are not bound by the open meetings or open records laws. That was the original intention, bypass all that ‘red tape’ and bring employment here. Great. Let’s GET ‘ER DONE! We all need jobs, now more than ever.

 So what am I writing about? To support JOBS Inc.? Well, yes. And no. I support them in their original mission to bring jobs here, but they seem to have suffered what the military calls “mission creep”. That is to say that their priorities seem to have changed. Now their priorities are to bring what sounds like a ‘gated community’ housing development to Parsons.

 You see, they have this problem. The problem is that they have already purchased this land near town. Now they have this investment that is not paying off for anybody. No jobs, nothing. Just taxes to pay on the land they bought. Not good. Mission not accomplished. What to do? Well, obviously get this land off their hands. This is where the mission starts creeping, and things start getting a little dubious.

 The dubious part of their new mission, to build a housing development called Redtail Ridge, is the problem of conflict of interest and some concerns that our city government is so intertwined with this group that in some cases, this corporation and our city government are one in the same! On top of that problem, the voting members of this corporation stand to make profits above and beyond just recouping what the investment in the land is. It is true that JOBS Inc. is a nonprofit organization. However, when these people go to their regular paying jobs, they will benefit from the development of this property.

 How will they benefit, and what are they other conflicts of interest that I mention above? First of all, the voting members are bankers, real estate professionals and construction company owners, or at least some of them are. One of the voting members is also a sitting city commissioner. Other de facto members are apparently our City Manager and Economic Development Director. Although these two may not vote, in all practicality, they should be considered as members due to their heavy involvement in the group and the group’s new interests. I see this group as the local equivalent of Washington D.C.’s K Street lobbyists, complete with the revolving door to and from local government.

 In light of this past Monday’s unanimous vote to authorize a $30,000 payment to this corporation, out of the city’s budget, I see many reasons to be concerned about ethics and conflicts of interest. And that does not address the issue of if this new housing is needed. Many may think it is, certainly JOBS Inc. will argue that it is needed and the project has merit. They will argue that they are doing this for the suffering community, and any profits made by members will be just coincidental. I would argue that if the project indeed has merit, and the housing is needed, this group is still a private entity and should use private money to finance their project. As well I would argue that the $30,000 amounts to another tax on Parsons residents that we cannot afford at this time.

 I have no problem seeing private corporations thrive. In the past, our city has already set a precedent for laying out this kind of money to private interests though. Other people seeking to start, or expand their businesses have been subject to much scrutiny and have had their books and business plans made public. I would think this would be more than appropriate in this case also.

 I believe that the reasoning for JOBS Inc. venture into housing development has stemmed from some twisted “trickle-down” logic. As their members will gladly tell you, if they thrive, the community at large will also thrive. When the local captains of commerce do well, so will the average worker. You really have to jump through some mental hoops to get the same conclusion. I believe that decades of stagnant wages, along with the upward migration of real wealth have more than disproved this fallacy.

 As massive layoffs and double digit unemployment plague our nation, the city is now raising our water rates by nearly 50%. I agree, our sewer systems are in bad need of repair and replacement. We could use the $30k for that. As our privately funded animal shelter is about to disappear, our cost of dealing with an unwanted animal population is spiraling upwards. Wouldn’t $30k go quite aways in funding the shelter we are about to lose? I wonder if our more than generous benefactor from California would consider this $30k given to JOBS a kick in the teeth?

 In conclusion, I do not want to be part of a movement that would in any way quell job growth. I hope and pray that Redtail Ridge will become a necessity in the near future. I envision only a positive outcome for the people of Parsons, and for JOBS Inc. too. I do not seek to be “anti” anything, but I do seek to be “pro” something else. In this case, I could even be pro-JOBS Inc. ….IF they, along with our city government would do the next right thing. That is, be transparent and forthright with who your members are and what you seek.

 Now that the $30,000 is allocated, I would ask that any new money directed to JOBS or Redtail Ridge would come to a vote of the people. After all, isn’t this money actually the people’s money first, and the city’s money only at our expense?

 You decide…. JOBS Inc., the height of hubris, or just good business?

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30 Comments

Filed under Kansas, Labette County, Opinion, Politics, Southeast Kansas

30 responses to “JOBS Inc., the Height Of Hubris?

  1. Wow you have done your research Sekan. Hmm, does anyone trust corporations? I don’t think so. It is always about profit. But I am always cynical so who knows! Another white elephant or a step towards the future?

  2. Transparency in government means individuals or groups have to live in the light and not hide behind claims of their being none of the public’s business, even though they want the public’s money.

    Have you sent this to the Parson’s newspaper, assuming they have one, for publication? Have you gone to city meetings and brought this up before the city council? If so, what was their response? Have you thought of running for a city council position? You seem to have a handle on what’s going on, as well as what’s needed by the city. I don’t know anything about your personal life, and maybe something of that nature might not fit in, but I do know you’re an intelligent guy, with his head on straight. Sounds to me Parsons would do well to have you, or someone like you, having a direct say in the cities business.

    • I agree Jammers, I think you would be perfect in that position Sekan. You could even set a blog for people to discuss issues related to things that are concerning them in the community. You have so many skills that can only benefit the community.

      • I thought this blog would be the place to discuss this. I sent links to 2 commisioners and at least 1 member of JOBS Inc.
        I will get hundreds of people reading this and nobody will comment.

        And I don’t wanna tear anybody down. I just want a say in how our tax money is spent.

        I have nothing against any members of JOBS, or the city staff. I think they are all good people, and I’d like to believe their intentions are good too. Nobody is commenting.

        Right now, I can’t even find a job, let alone be the guy you envision me to be.

        I have good references, a good work record, and even a letter of recommendation. I can’t even get an interview.

        There are very few jobs here right now.
        Mostly in healthcare. Our local hospital is doing well and growing. The CEO is pushing this developement (Redtail Ridge), so I suppose sending him a resume’ would be a bad move after writing this huh?

        Would you like fries with that comment?….

  3. About the FLAG counter,
    I have many thousands more views than are reflected there.
    I recently added that so it just shows those views since I added it.
    Amazing how this can be read in just about every language in the world!

  4. Bob Wood

    I am currently vice president of JOBS, Inc. I have served in many capacities within the organization over the last ten years, including President. I welcome any questions about the activities or motives of our organization, and will gladly share who the members of our group are, and what our game plan is. Please call or email, as there is no hidden agenda.

    Office (620)421-6900
    Cell (620)423-9241
    email bwood@wooddulohery.com

    • jammer5

      Then open your books, Bob. It really is that simple.

      • Amen jammer.
        I would be glad to publish membership, business plans, etc.
        The fact that Mr. Wood is here commenting speaks to the readership and growing popularity of this blog!

        Thanks Bob for visiting.
        You might share a link to this so everbody can join the discussion.

    • Thank you for your reply Bob.
      I just may have questions.
      My concerns may not be so much your motives.
      It is highly unusual to have a sitting city commissioner voting 30k for a group he is part of though.
      You would think that the least Mr. Bartelli could do is abstain. It still would have passed.

      And…even with the best of motives, shouldn’t the taxpayer have a vote, especially since all our city services have escalated in costs?

      I really do hope that several large companies sign letters of intent to move into the former KAAP. Then this whole discussion would be much different.

      For now, I must go help with the funeral of Dr. Farley. Then I have to go out of town to hand out a couple of resume’s in hope of getting interviews.

      Isn’t that the whole point of why I question the need for any of this housing?

      There are NO JOBS here.

  5. Bob

    Pls do call. Maybe it would help to know that the City isn’t giving JOBS, Inc. anything. They have agreed to fund the engineering/platting of Redtail Ridge, which is on ground that JOBS now owns. This housing project is a partnership between the City and JOBS, with JOBS providing the land and the City providing the infrastructure. The exact details of repayment to both entities has not been decided yet, as the costs won’t be known until this initial engineering has been completed. JOBS expectation is to hopefully recoup it’s initial investment in the land, which is a very small amount on a per lot basis. It is also expected that it would be recouped as homes are sold, so possibly over a long period of time. I don’t really want to get in to blogging but would add the statement “the only way we can ever have a positive effect on our high property tax problems is to expand our tax base”. The only way to do that is to build new properties.

    • Bob, what you say makes some sense, except who is selling or building the addition?
      JOBS members?

      Those real estate professionals and construction professionals maybe?

      You are not blogging.
      I am blogging, you are commenting.

      I would feel entirely comfortable with the whole thing if JOBS members were not going to profit in their PRIVATE jobs. Not the non-profit group.

      That’s what I keep saying. You lobby as non-profit, then profit as Bob Wood, real estate broker.

      If that’s the case, it’s a conflict of interest.

      Would you return the profits to the animal the shelter? That would benefit the community too!

  6. Bob

    I’m finished here. I left my contact info if anyone would like to discuss the operations of JOBS, Inc.

    • Anonymous

      Bob So how much intrest do you have in JOBS

      • Bob intends to be the real estate broker who sells the properties. Last I knew, those percentages would be either 3% or 6%.
        3% for being the broker, another three for whoever the actual selling agent is.

        Since he is also VP of JOBS, he doesn’t talk about that part much. Just the fact that JOBS is non-profit.

        JOBS will not be selling the lots though. Private Realtors will be.

        Let’s take this a step farther. Mr. Miller would like to be the liscensed plumber for this addition, so you won’t hear him here raising hell about any of this.

        As I’ve said. One of the city commissioners is also a voting member of JOBS Inc.
        He is able to cast a vote to favor giving tens of thousands of dollars to JOBS Inc.
        Conflict? Hayell yes!
        Where’s the outrage, Mr. Miller, Mr. Howerter?

  7. Blogette Skeptic

    SEKAN,
    You said you are going out to deliver some resumes’? I have not “delivered” a resume in many years. You might be able to save some time effectively using the internet. Also the September numbers of unemployment came out and Kansas was 11th best with 6.7percent. Good thing we do not live in Michigan with 15.3 or Illinois with 10.5 it would be really hard for us job seekers wouldn’t it?
    In regards to Jobs inc., good questions, however you are breaking down and becoming personal in your investigation and it is reflected in your comments on here. But, since it is simply a blog you are allowed to do that.
    However, lets get back to the original idea you placed before us, if something is worth doing it is worth doing correctly, and if it is done correctly ALL insurance agents will benefit, ALL real-estate agents benefit, ALL people in the city will benefit. If I get this straight you are asking that anyone on the board forfeit any potential gains? Good luck getting a board together anywhere, SEKAN.
    Also, Mr. Wood has made himself more than available, please call him and refrain from the cheap shots on YOUR blog. After all, a blog is not media, it is simply an opinion and you know what they say about opinions, just on a blog you type it in so you feel better. For many, a blog is a personal Hubris within itself.

    • jammer5

      I agree. Call Bob for a sit down, and maybe all the questions can be answered, maybe not. Nothing gets accomplished when there’s no communication. Give it a shot.

    • Blogette, you write well.
      You should start your own blog!

      You mention being allowed to write personal opinions, isn’t that the American thing to do.
      Being “allowed” sounds like you are used to being censored or moderated, whatever you would call it.

      Again, I urge all to participate. This is the ultimate in free speech. I have never moderated comments….yet. All have been polite and sensible.

      You could start the ANTI-sekanblogger blog if you like!

    • Anonymous

      You can tell you are political trying to blow smoke and always trying to justify or change the facts.

      You know percentages are just manipulated numbers and mathematical equations.
      I can make a chart to show anything I want. And are favored for a particular implication, they are no ways factual or even close to accurate. They are intended to look professional but it is just an opinion with mathematical equations.
      Most percentages are made on napkins in bars.

      How many have fallen off of unemployment that is not included in those figures ?
      What are so many other factors of these so called percentages?

      Percentages and charts try to intimidate the week minded and justify the negative results that have been compiling over a period of time or wanting to change peoples opinions by a bunch of houghy, trying to make someone believe that you are knowledgeable of something when in fact that you are just making excuses and do not have a clue yourself.

      It is a good tool to utilize to take the sting out of what ever they are trying to accomplish with them.

      And why do we worry what other countries or states doing lets worry about Kansas and its people and more precisely in this matter to SE KS and Parsons and its elected corruption weather it be City, County, College, JOBS, Labette College foundation, to mention a few and there Corruption.

      This is all corrupt as the day is long many of you believe that you can shove this junk down our throat weather we like it or not and you think we are dumb enough to believe it. And the reason is we have let you get away with this kind of actions far to long.

      Tax Payers are waking up slowly, The people are waking up slowly these officials work for the public not them to circumvent the laws to make personal gains.

      STATE OF KANSAS PLEASE PLEASE investigate these
      There is no oversight or ethics control what so ever left here
      How ever this is a wonderful board for those that stand against corruption and dirty politics I stand for up and salute you.
      I have no respect for those that would make fun of tea parties or anything else this is a public out cry, and our own elected officials are making fun of us and demonstrating they have no concern about the people what so ever.
      It amounts to what they can put in there pocket or the stature the can achieve.
      Any elected person making fun of demonstrations such as the tea parties. Should be voted out in the next election. They have demonstrated they have no true concern for the public.

      It is TIME TO STAND UP AMERICA

  8. Sorry if you interpret anything as cheap shots.
    I apologize. I probably shouldn’t correct anyone, that does seem a bit petty. It is very easy to interpret tone and tenor of the written word in a negative manner. I repeatedly said that I’m not here to tear anybody down.

    I’m asking the tough questions for sure!
    Mr. Wood has been more than gracious, I do appreciate that. I have known Bob for many years and have nothing against him, or anybody else with JOBS or the city for that matter.
    I see nothing personal about asking the tough questions.
    And I do think they should be asked and answered in an open forum.

    I don’t agree that blogs are not a media. Blogs have become a huge media. Some are credible, some not so much. Haven’t you noticed the big networks commonly checking with and interviewing the best bloggers? They do.

    And you DO HAVE a point blogette!
    JOBS is basically lobbying for their own interests, and that’s the norm I guess, whether we like it or not. If they did not lobby for their own interests, they would be failing in their positions, huh?

    Blogette, I will take your advice and ask the questions in private since Mr. Wood has indicated he will not answer here in public.

    I can see that he, and you, were offended.
    I apologize.
    My intention is to ask the tough questions and get good answers.
    When I asked about profits, this was not a new question. Mr. Wood and the JOBS group have been asked similar questions by others.

    As stated on the COGNITION page here, I am just trying to lobby for and represent the common people. The mediocre, if you will.

    I will ask Mr. Wood in private, and bring the answers back here. It is a media, a good one!

  9. I have contacted Bob Wood by email.
    See what a good media/forum blogging can be?

    Oh, and bloggette, I had to go apply in person the place I went today was not taking anything by internet. Old fashioned I guess?

  10. Blogette Skeptic

    I hope your meetings are productive for all involved. Yes, old fashioned would be the politically correct way to describe where you dropped off your resume. I wish you luck on what I am sure will include a future interview.

    I do however have one discrepancy in our communication, which may in itself require the start of an entirely new string. Blogs are not media in the traditional sense of reported happenings. By definition and as we both mentioned above, a blog is a statement of opinion. It is not “referencing of the facts with two credible sources reported unbiased.” This is the reporting media standard, from Woodward and Bernstein to Chronkite.

    Is it great that you have the forum to state opinion? Absolutely! But you cannot mix the editorial page of a newspaper with the reporting of news and call them the same thing. Blogs are simply the opinion page of the newspaper come to life in the public forum, nothing more and nothing less.

    • Once again, well said. And true of this blog. It is history/entertainment/opinions, in a nutshell.

      I would point out that I never touted this blog as THE NEWS. It is my opinion only, and was presented as such.

      There are however, many credible blogs that are true news outlets too. CNN is one.
      CNN also uses wordpress, which is what this blog is from.
      The Wichita Eagle, Kansas City Star, and many hundreds of other reliable sources have a variety of good and credible blogs.

      I’ve been blogging for years, but have just recently become a strictly local blogger. Even then I resisted the urge to express ANY political opinions, mine or otherwise.

      As you’ve noted, we all have opinions and they can be ugly to the person who disagrees. However, just as lobbying by groups like JOBS is in the finest American tradition, so are these opinions.
      Blogs, no matter if they are professional (Wichita Eagle) or strictly hobbies (mine, not for profit and amatuer), are the one of the finest expressions of the freedoms we owe to our soldiers and veterans.
      I want you to be skeptical.
      There are blogs that the entire format is skepticism.
      There are blogs on every imaginable subject. And I do mean every subject.

      This blog, and the people who comment here are very mild in their opinions compared to the professional blogs.

      Please check out some of the hateful discourse you can find there on a daily basis:
      http://blogs.kansas.com/weblog/

      Enjoy the openly shared hate there.
      You had better have some pretty thick skin to wade into that crowd.
      Take special note of the “Open thread”.

      And once again, thank you for commenting!

  11. As you can see, opinion blogging can become an awful thing, I would also submit a link to the blog that Fred Phelps and his clan of hate sponsor, but I don’t wish to give him any attention.

  12. FAIR

    Come on this city goverment should work for and do services for everone in town.

  13. Still waiting on Bob Woods to give some facts.

  14. Pingback: Our Money WELL SPENT! « KANSAS MEDIOCRITY

  15. Pingback: Howerter’s “Win” Is a Loss For Us All « KANSAS MEDIOCRITY

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