Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Historic Districts Seek Input ; Historic: Downtown's Buildings Have Character

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Historic Districts Seek Input ; Historic: Downtown's Buildings Have Character

Article excerpt

Shawnee County Commissioner Bob Archer experienced some nervous moments Thursday before his fellow commissioners joined him in arranging for the county to name an aquatic center after Topeka- based Midwest Health in exchange for a $1 million contribution.

Commissioners Archer, Shelly Buhler and Kevin Cook voted 3-0 to approve a contract putting the arrangement in place, then voted 3-0 to adopt a resolution Archer sponsored naming the facility "Midwest Health Aquatic Center."

But first, Buhler asked whether commissioners could legally make a move spelled out in the agreement allowing Midwest Health for the next 10 years to have a representative on the Shawnee County Parks and Recreation Foundation Board of Directors.

County counselor Rich Eckert said he thought commissioners had that ability but Buhler said she wasn't so sure. Eckert said he would look into the matter.

Commission Chairman Kevin Cook then asked whether the contract gave the county the option of revoking the name if it needed to.

He made reference to how the Houston Astros baseball team sold the naming rights to the stadium they opened in 2000 to the now- bankrupt energy company Enron, then saw the company go bankrupt amid a scandal for which some of its executives went to prison. The team in 2002 bought the naming rights back.

Cook said that while he considered it highly unlikely that Midwest Health would ever do anything to discredit itself in that manner, he wanted to know whether the county would have the ability to come back and say "We don't want to be associated with this entity?"

He stressed that commissioners were talking about naming the facility for "forever."

Eckert said the agreement enabled the county to remove the "Midwest Health Aquatic Center" name if that company failed to meet its payment obligations but contained no "morals clause" covering the type of situation Cook described.

Eckert added that though it might not be specified in the contract, "If one side has such outrageous conduct that it impairs the contract, they would be in breach. …

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