After learning of the broad interpretation of the Kansas Open Meetings Act used by Johnson County Community College and its lawyers at Lathrop and Gage, the editorial board of The Kansas City Star this afternoon faxed a letter to the college administration and Board of Trustees explaining what The Star views as the intent of KOMA.
But as reported on this blog (Sebelius’ Proposed Cuts Not Likely Enough, Kansas Governor Not Facing Reality of Budget Crisis) and in other places, this crisis was solely of the Governor’s own making.
Her budget proposal for fiscal year 2009 from January met the legal requirement she faced, but came nowhere near facing the economic reality. Had she proposed a reasonable budget in January, this crisis — such as it was — could have been avoided.
Instead, Governor Sebelius left it to the legislature to come up with a bill that met economic reality. Is that leadership?
The basic function of KOMA: it is almost always illegal for elected officials to gather in a private meeting to discuss government business. The Johnson County Community College Board of Trustees had a recent meeting to discuss ideas for dealing with a reduction in income to the college. Trustee Ben Hodge released information to the KC Star about the “closed” meeting and now the fat’s in the fire. Should the discussions be open? The JCCC President wants the discussions secret.
In an Wichita Eagle Editorial Blog post, Rhonda Holman calls for more disclosure for groups that send mailings that “dodge campaign finance disclosure law by deftly telling people how to vote without using the words ‘vote for’ or ‘vote against.’” (Treat campaign ads the same)
A few points:
Holman’s target is quite selective. As shown in my post On the Wichita Eagle Editorial Board, Partisanship Reigns from right before last election day, she’s willing to overlook the Eagle’s own political contributions and the use of taxpayer money to fund election campaigns when she agrees with the causes.
And, why the need for a law when, as Holman writes “Kansans aren’t fooled by the ads and mailings”?
Hodge replies to JCCC’s Calaway
Benjamin Hodge, a member of the Johnson County Community College board of trustees, came under fire this week for releasing a copy of budget reductions under consideration for next year.
Benjamin HodgeBenjamin HodgeThe list of more than 50 items was given to the board of trustees recently during an executive session that was called under a personnel exemption in the Kansas Open Meeting Law.
Hodge’s release of the list to a reporter for Prime Buzz drew a sharp rebuke from Terry Calaway, the college’s president.
Here is Hodge’s response:
“Where the First Amendment is implicated, the tie goes to the speaker, not the censor.”– US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the 5-4 majority in the June 2007 decision FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, which declared unconstitutional a portion of the federal law known as “McCain-Feingold”
There is a law called the Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA).
One premise for KOMA is that it is more important to protect citizens from government than it is to protect government from its citizens. If one side should be on the defensive, it should be government: Government should fear its citizens, not the other way around. Another premise for KOMA is that humans are flawed and easily corruptible; we are at our best when held accountable. (more…)
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, President Barack Obama’s choice to head the Health and Human Services Department, is facing questions about increased state payments to a social services group whose board includes the chairman of the state Democratic Party.
Last fall, Sebelius’ secretary of social and rehabilitation services, Don Jordan, approved an increased rate for Community Living Opportunities, a nonprofit group that provides services to the developmentally disabled, that amounted to $713,000.
The group’s board of directors included Larry Gates, a Sebelius friend who has served as state Democratic chairman for six years; Dan Biles, a Gates law partner recently appointed by Sebelius to the Kansas Supreme Court, and Lew Perkins, athletic director at the University of Kansas. Biles left the board at the end of 2008.
Mark Parkinson, who is expected to become the next Kansas governor soon, was a Republican state representative and senator for six years in the Johnson County legislative delegation.
He ran for the Kansas House in 1990 and then was elected to a four-year term in the state Senate two years later.
If Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is confirmed as a member of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, the 51-year-old Parkinson, now a Democrat, will move from lieutenant governor to the state’s top job.
What was Parkinson’s record during those early years as a public servant representing an Olathe legislative district?
During Parkinson’s first two years in the House, he worked closely with another Olathe lawmaker, former Rep. Vince Snowbarger.
In the 1990 election, Democrats swept to power in that legislative chamber. Snowbarger, Parkinson and other Republicans found themselves in the minority during the 1991 and 1992 sessions.
Today, the notion that turnarounds constitute a new, better way to solve the countless problems facing America’s schools is gaining immense popularity among reformers of all stripes. Roughly 3,300 schools are estimated to be in turnaround mode in 2008-2009, and approximately 4,900 are projected to be in 2009-2010. Approximately 90 percent of these schools are in large urban districts. (more…)
A recent Meadowlark article, “Free Speech” May Cost Kansas Citizen $7500, gave details from a civil fine hearing held by the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission in January, which was decided at their February meeting.
Kris Van Meteren brought a complaint to the Ethics Commission several months ago, and then talked to the press about his signed complaint. Van Meteren then found himself the subject of an ethics complaint for breaking confidentiality about his own complaint, and was later fined $7500.
This article shows the actual complaint filed against Van Meteren by the Ethics Commission, as well as the Commission’s Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law (see below).
After the secret Executive Session held to discuss this case, which is part of Kansas Law, Commissioner Gerald Goodell made a motion to fine Van Meteren $2500 for violation of the first count, and $5000 for violation of the second count. Van Meteren is facing a fine of $7500 for what he considers was “free speech” on his part.
Barack Obama and his advisors are doing their best to destroy any possibility for a meaningful recovery.
President Obama’s budget proposes $989 billion in new taxes over the course of the next 10 years, starting fiscal year 2011, most of which are tax increases on individuals.
1) On people making more than $250,000.
$338 billion – Bush tax cuts expire
$179 billlion – eliminate itemized deduction
$118 billion – capital gains tax hike
Total: $636 billion/10 years
$17 billion – Reinstate Superfund taxes
$24 billion – tax carried-interest as income
$5 billion – codify “economic substance doctrine”
$61 billion – repeal LIFO
$210 billion – international enforcement, reform deferral, other tax reform
$4 billion – information reporting for rental payments
$5.3 billion – excise tax on Gulf of Mexico oil and gas
$3.4 billion – repeal expensing of tangible drilling costs
$62 million – repeal deduction for tertiary injectants
$49 million – repeal passive loss exception for working interests in oil and natural gas properties
$13 billion – repeal manufacturing tax deduction for oil and natural gas companies
$1 billion – increase to 7 years geological and geophysical amortization period for independent producers
$882 million – eliminate advanced earned income tax credit
Total: $353 billion/10 years