Activist groups kick off their campaign against jail expansion

March 3, 2018. The Lawrence Journal-World.

Representatives of four activist groups crowded the steps of the Douglas County Courthouse Saturday to kick off their joint campaign against a proposed expansion of the county jail and a referendum on a sales tax that would fund it.

“We are planning a comprehensive campaign with many partners right up to that mail-in ballot,” said Ted Mosher, co-chairman of the Lawrence faith-based activist group Justice Matters.

Justice Matters is one of the four groups behind the campaign, which the activists are calling “Jail No.” The other partners — the Lawrence chapter of the NAACP, the social justice advocacy group Kansas Appleseed and the taxpayer watchdog group Lawrence Sunset Alliance — also turned out Saturday to speak against the jail expansion and the half-cent sales tax.

Editorial: Consider issues separately

December 19, 2017. Lawrence Journal-World.

If Douglas County does decide to pursue a mental health crisis center, any bond issue to fund the center should be presented separately from a proposal to build a new county jail.

A plan for a mental health campus was presented to Douglas County commissioners last week. The site is north of the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center along West Second Street and northeast of Lawrence Memorial Hospital. The campus would provide three tiers of housing for people experiencing mental health crises:

Bullying, restorative justice, equity work among issues discussed at school district’s Community Conversation

December 14, 2017. Lawrence Journal-World.

Around 50 people filled the Lawrence Public Library’s auditorium Thursday night for a public discussion on challenges facing the Lawrence school system.

The Community Conversation took place nearly a year after the district hosted its first event, which came after a tumultuous semester dominated by talk of racial equity and drew hundreds to Lawrence High School’s cafeteria. Race and other overarching equity issues were once again the focus Thursday night, along with concerns ranging from bullying and mental health services to curriculum and limited classroom resources.

Lawrence sales tax questions pass overwhelmingly

November 7, 2017. Lawrence Journal-World.

Lawrence voters approved all three of the sales tax questions in Tuesday’s general election, lining up millions of dollars in revenue annually for transit, infrastructure and affordable housing.

All three of the sales tax questions — totaling 0.55 percent and projected to generate $116 million over a 10-year period — were approved with comfortable margins, winning about 70, 73 and 62 percent of the vote.

Mayor Leslie Soden said the election results were important positive feedback from voters.

Faith group wants Lawrence residents to vote yes on affordable housing sales tax

September 25, 2017. Lawrence Journal World.

The faith group Justice Matters wants Lawrence residents to vote yes on a special citywide sales tax to support affordable housing.

Purple signs with the words “Vote yes on question 3” have begun popping up in Lawrence to support repurposing a sales tax that will more than triple the funding for affordable housing projects.

Katie Sears, associate organizer for Justice Matters, said the shortage of affordable housing has been affecting Lawrence for at least 25 years with little progress toward a solution.