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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 6:26 pm 
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one_lead_foot wrote:
What can we do to help? Send letters? Email? Threats where we cut letters out of a magazine?

Here's a couple of things you can do:

- Make positive comments about HPT on the Topeka Capital-Journal articles that I post in this forum

- Write a letter to the editor of the Topeka Capital-Journal supporting HPT (letters@cjonline.com , include hometown and phone # for verification)

- Make public comment at a Topeka City Council Meeting, which are on Tuesday nights at 6pm. (Citizens wishing to offer Public Comment may sign up by phoning the City Clerk’s office at 785-368-3940)

- Hold up signs outside of Chris Imming's place of business protesting his legal obstructionism


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 3:17 pm 
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Kansas Court of Appeals rules in favor of Topeka regarding Heartland Park

Topeka Capital-Journal wrote:
Topeka’s purchase of Heartland Park can go forward as planned.

The Kansas Appeals Court on Wednesday, while agreeing with several aspects of petitioner Chris Imming’s case, including that the city manager didn’t have authority to file the lawsuit, ruled Imming’s petition was the wrong format to challenge the issuance of Sales Tax Revenue (STAR) bonds.

“A citizen must challenge the issuance of STAR bonds by circulating a protest petition,” the court wrote.

Imming, the court continued, is not entitled to a writ of mandamus because the Topeka City Council is not legally required to appeal its ordinance to issue the STAR bonds. A mandamus is a “proceeding to compel some board or some corporation to perform a specified legal duty,” the ruling states.

“We affirm the district court’s denial of Imming’s claim for the issuance of a write of mandamus,” the court noted.

The city’s progress to acquire the racetrack and issue STAR bonds has been stalled since the appeal was filed Dec. 2. CoreFirst Bank & Trust technically could have foreclosed on operator Jayhawk Racing as early as Feb. 28, but opted to wait until the ruling from the appeals panel, which heard oral arguments in the case Feb. 26.

Meanwhile, the city’s plan to issue $5 million in STAR bonds to acquire the property and expand the sales tax district passed an investigation from the Legislative Post Audit. The audit looked into eight areas of the city’s plan to determine whether they met the legal requirements for the STAR bond act. While the city met all eight measures, post audit staff recommended three amendments to current law to prevent other cities from following suit.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2015 1:43 pm 
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Editorial: Still time to weigh in on Heartland Park

Topeka Capital-Journal wrote:
A ruling issued Wednesday by the Kansas Court of Appeals cleared the way for city officials to proceed with the proposed issuance of Sales Tax Revenue (STAR) bonds and purchase of Heartland Park Topeka.

The appellate court ruled a trial court erred on several issues, but upheld the trial court’s decision that Chris Imming, who challenged the city’s plans, filed an initiative process when he should have filed a protest petition.

City officials plan to discuss during Tuesday’s Topeka City Council meeting how to proceed.

That gives Topekans another opportunity to let their elected officials know what they think about the proposed purchase of the racetrack and the STAR bond financing.

Heartland Park Topeka and its fate have been hot issues since the city council last summer made the public aware of its plans, which include issuing STAR bonds to purchase the property from owner Ray Irwin, expand the bond district to increase sales tax revenue and find a racetrack operator.

The city has been making payments with general fund revenue on an earlier STAR bond issue for the property because the track hasn’t been generating enough sales tax revenue to retire those bonds.

City officials and Topekans who support the plan see the new STAR bond issue and expanded district as a way to pay off all the bonds without using property tax revenue and keep the racetrack operating.

Opponents, however, view the proposal as a bailout of Irwin and his creditors. Imming is foremost among the opponents and circulated a petition, which garnered about 4,000 signatures, calling for the council to repeal its action or put it to a vote. Two courts have ruled he filed the wrong petition.

Regardless, Topekans still have time to make themselves heard and should let their elected city officials know whether they support or oppose the bond issue and racetrack purchase.

Contact information for the mayor and city council members is listed below.

Members of The Capital-Journal Editorial Advisory Board are Gregg Ireland, Mike Hall, Fred Johnson, Ray Beers Jr., Garry Cushinberry, John Stauffer, Frank Ybarra and Sally Zellers.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2015 6:30 pm 
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Public meetings planned before Heartland Park vote by new council

Some controversial provisions may not be in contract


Topeka’s way is clear to issue bonds and purchase Heartland Park, city staff told the council Tuesday evening, but the public will get to weigh in first.

The city planned to issue $5 million in Sales Tax Revenue (STAR) bonds to purchase the racetrack and expand the district surrounding it. State and local sales tax collected within the surrounding district would go to pay off the remaining debt on $10.5 million in bonds issued in 2006 and the additional $5 million.

City attorney Chad Sublet said the city no longer has any legal obstacles to issuing the bonds since the Kansas Court of Appeals ruled a petition to force a public vote on the bonds was invalid, but city manager Jim Colson said the issue will go before a new council after the April election. Colson also said the process could include town hall meetings before the council would vote to authorize bond sales.

It was a substantial shift in tone from discussions of Heartland Park in recent months, when lawyers for the city and racetrack operator Jayhawk Racing raised alarms that the track was in imminent danger of closing if a petition drive led by Topekan Chris Imming went to a public vote. CoreFirst Bank & Trust could have foreclosed on Jayhawk Racing as early as Feb. 28, but has opted not to do so thus far.

Imming collected 3,587 signatures in the fall to attempt to force a vote on issuing the bonds. City manager Jim Colson filed suit against the petition and prevailed in Shawnee County District Court.

Imming appealed, but the Kansas Court of Appeals ruled March 11 that the city could purchase Heartland Park without a public vote. The court found Imming used the wrong type of petition to challenge the issuance of STAR bonds. Imming’s attorney, R.E. “Tuck” Duncan, said they plan to ask the Kansas Supreme Court to review the case.

Races at the track are scheduled to start April 4. Jayhawk Racing owner Ray Irwin may continue to operate the track for the time being, Colson said.

It isn’t clear how the council’s views on Heartland Park might shift after the April 7 election. Council members Denise Everhart and Chad Manspeaker didn’t seek re-election, and councilmen T.J. Brown and Nathan Schmidt have opponents.

Councilwoman Sylvia Ortiz said she had received comments from constituents saying they didn't want the city to purchase Heartland Park.

“They're saying, ‘Have they paid their water bill,’ ” she said, referencing Heartland Park's large outstanding water bill.


Councilwoman Denise Everhart said she hadn’t heard an alternative way to pay off the old bonds other than to raise property taxes.

“I guess the question that should be posed to all those folks that are going to come forward is, ‘What else should we do?’ ” she said.

Some council members raised the question of whether the city could call a special election to decide whether to proceed with the vote, but that isn’t legally possible, Sublet said.

Sublet also moved to clarify what a contract with a racetrack operator might include if the council directs them to negotiate one, though Colson reminded the council that nothing had been negotiated yet. The operator would be legally required to invest at least $5 million into the property, but it wouldn’t be required to do specific projects — such as building a banquet hall — that had been suggested, Sublet said.

“It could be whatever the operator wants to invest in the park, but it has to be at least $5 million,” he said.

A controversial provision also could be removed, Sublet said. The National Hot Rod Association had asked for a $1.8 million profit guarantee from the city and the prospective operator.

“The NHRA has verbally agreed they would do away with the guarantees in the contract,” he said.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2015 2:12 pm 
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I've created a facebook group to coordinate activities in support of Heartland Park. Please join the group and share with your friends that want HPT to stay open

Click Here to join 'Save Heartland Park' group on Facebook


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2015 2:35 pm 
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Sign up here to show your support for Heartland Park


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2015 7:25 pm 
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Thank You to those who are working to keep HPT open!

Change.org petition seeks support for city's purchase of Heartland Park Topeka


Topeka Capital-Journal wrote:
A petition on the website change.org asking the Topeka City Council to complete the city’s purchase of the financially troubled Heartland Park Topeka racing facility had 1,660 supporters as of Thursday afternoon.

The website indicates Topekan Dhruvil Shah about a week ago started the petition, which can be found at http://cjon.co/1MH4hTY.

Shah posted a message Tuesday on his Facebook page asking people to sign it.

The petition says: “Heartland Park is an integral part of Topeka. Heartland Park brings a lot of racing business to the city; drag racing, road racing, dirt track racing and motorcycle racing. On any given weekend, people come from hundreds of miles away to use Heartland Park. This represents millions of dollars of money from out-of-towners that are spent in Topeka.”

The petition adds: “Please issue STAR bonds and purchase the remainder of Heartland Park so that Topeka may hire an operator to keep Heartland Park open and serving the surrounding racing community.”

A Kansas Court of Appeals ruling last week enabled the city’s governing body — which consists of the nine council members and Mayor Larry Wolgast — to proceed with finalizing the purchase of the financially troubled racing facility without a public vote.

However, the governing body won’t take up that matter until after next week’s municipal elections, in which four of the nine council seats will be up for a vote.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2015 7:02 pm 
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Ray Irwin: Heartland Park to delay start of 2015 season

Topeka Capital-Journal wrote:
Heartland Park Topeka officials confirmed Friday the auto racing facility will delay the opening of its 2015 season because of the uncertainty surrounding the proposed purchase agreement with the city of Topeka and the issuance of Sales Tax Revenue (STAR) bonds.

Heartland Park had released its 2015 schedule in early February, hoping a new management group would be in place by the start of the season, but with the Saturday Showdown dirt track series scheduled to open its season Saturday night, the agreement with the city has not yet been finalized.

Heartland Park owner Raymond Irwin confirmed in a Friday morning text message to a Capital-Journal reporter the start of the season would be delayed, and HPT director of operations Mike Walker said in a Friday afternoon interview the track is waiting to see how the situation with the city plays out.

“Not knowing what the future owner/management of Heartland Park Topeka is going to want to do, it’s basically impossible to start a race season at this time,” Walker said.

A Kansas Court of Appeals ruling last week allowed the city’s governing body — which consists of the nine council members and Mayor Larry Wolgast — to proceed with finalizing the purchase of the financially troubled racing facility without a public vote.

However, the governing body won’t take up that matter until after next week’s municipal elections, in which four of the nine council seats will be up for a vote.

With that in mind, Walker said HPT is in a wait-and-see mode concerning both the dirt track series and the E.T. Bracket Racing Series, which is scheduled to open May 9.

“I can’t start a series race if new (management) may come in and says the year-end season points payout is too much or the weekly payout is too much or they don’t want to run under the current rules so they’re going to change it,” Walker said. “New management may come in and get rid of a couple of classes at the dirt track and they might invent a new class, who knows?”

Walker said concerns about insurance also factored into HPT’s decision to delay the start of the season.

Heartland Park’s marquee event, the NHRA Kansas Nationals, remains on the NHRA schedule for May 22-24, and Walker said HPT officials are confident the event will go on as scheduled.

“I just got off a conference call with some of the guys at the NHRA about moving forward with parking plans and what needs to be done for the event, so NHRA’s still moving forward,” Walker said.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 8:09 pm 
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The Topeka Capital-Journal finally ran my letter to the editor

Letter: Imming should have to pay city's legal fees

Topeka Capital-Journal wrote:
Chris Imming should pay the city of Topeka’s legal fees for his failed appeal of Shawnee County District Court Judge Larry Hendricks’ decision that his petition was invalid.

Imming lost one decision, and then he lost again. The public court system is not his personal playground. The people of Topeka have had enough of his renegade legal maneuvers. Imming’s continued legal obstructionism and stalling tactics have cost the taxpayers of Topeka and he should be held accountable.

All Imming has accomplished is to divide the populace and weaken Topeka. I find it ironic that Imming stated that “democracy was lost” when he appealed, yet he has been operating outside the boundaries of public accountability the entire time.

Imming is not an elected official and doesn’t represent the citizens of Topeka. I do not condone his legal obstructionism and he should be held accountable for the damage he has done.

If Imming wants to make a positive difference, I would encourage him to run for office or find volunteer opportunities that will strengthen Topeka.

NICK SCOTT, Topeka


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2015 6:42 pm 
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City vote to come May 5 on whether to proceed with Heartland Park purchase

Topeka Capital-Journal wrote:
Topeka city manager Jim Colson announced Tuesday evening he plans for the city’s governing body to vote May 5 on whether to proceed with the city’s proposed purchase of Heartland Park Topeka.

Colson spoke at a meeting in which four new council members were sworn in — the city’s largest such total in 10 years — and Councilwoman Karen Hiller was elected deputy mayor after having lost in two prior bids for that position.

While the version of the governing body that left office Tuesday had approved every proposal it considered to proceed with the purchase of the financially troubled Heartland Park racing facility, turnover that body saw as a result of last week’s election could threaten the move’s chances for final approval.

Colson said Tuesday after governing body members hear a presentation and discuss the proposed purchase at their April 21 meeting, the city plans to hold one and possibly two public town hall meetings prior to the May 5 vote.

The atmosphere for Tuesday’s meeting in council chambers was upbeat and cordial as the governing body held a ceremony to recognize outgoing Councilmen TJ Brown, Chad Manspeaker and Nathan Schmidt. The other outgoing member, Denise Everhart, was absent.


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