Steve Rose, chief mouthpiece for the Dick Bond-wing of Johnson County politics, has largely been off our radar for the past few months. The largest reason is that due to some kind of contractual issue, his column was removed from the front of the Johnson County Sun and with it, his automatic access to tens of thousands of Johnson County residents who received the Sun in their mailboxes or driveways the past 20+ years. (more…)
On June 9, I wrote about a survey in Johnson County and in the 4th Congressional District, performed by my political action committee on June 4, 5, and 6. As part of that same survey, we asked questions about the upcoming August 3 primary for Chair of the County Government. At the time of our survey, only two candidates were in the race, incumbent Chairwoman Annabeth Surbaugh and County Commissioner Ed Eilert.
Since the survey, there are two additional candidates who have filed. Former County Commissioner and State Representative John Toplikar filed on Tuesday, June 8. Former County Commissioner and Shawnee City Councilman John Segale filed Thursday, June 10.
Here are the results of our poll. Questions were asked only to likely Republican primary voters. Voters registered as “Republican” in Johnson County who voted in either 2004, or 2006, or 2008 equal 85,129 voters, or about 71.2% of all primary voters. All primary voters in Johnson County, in either 2004, or 2006, or 2008 equal 119,637 voters. (more…)
Here is some recent commentary:
- Kaw and Border: “JCCC Intimidating Whistleblower Trustee”
- the JCCC Board of Trustees, where recently-defeated Trustee Ben Hodge has been ripped apart by his fellow board members and Steve Rose, simply for being what amounts to a whistleblower to “absolute power” tactics that often occur when a board is controlled nearly unanimously by one political party — in this case, the Johnson County Oligarchy.
- All Things Joco, Tracy Thomas
- Christopher Berger: “Who Watches the Watchmen?”
- What particularly disturbs me about this incident, however, is not the possible KOMA violation but the reaction of the officers of the board to it. After a long chain of attempts to silence Hodge, including the board’s attorney Mark Ferguson conducting a sham review of the incident and finding nothing there (though he didn’t bother mentioning his investigation to Hodge) they have now threatened a defamation lawsuit if he doesn’t shut. The suit itself would be specious; to support a claim of defamation, Ferguson would have to be able to prove false the charge of unethical behavior, something which seems absurd on its face, and prove that Hodge’s charges were intentionally and maliciously false. Whatever their problems with Hodge, Calaway’s and VanArsdale’s very public condemnation of his actions under a reasonable interpretation of the law in the face of their own failings leaves one wondering under what rubric they account their behavior in this matter as ethical, and this threatened lawsuit does nothing but further the point with its obvious speciousness.
Ben Hodge, who is seeking another term on the board, has garnered the endorsements of two conservative lawmakers_ House Majority Leader Ray Merrick, a Stilwell Republican, and Rep. Mike Kiegerl, an Olathe Republican.
Hodge is well known among conservative activists and is expected to get a lot of support from conservative, pro-life voters. He also has the endorsement of Kansans for Life, although it is doubtful the board of trustees will ever vote on an abortion issue.
The faculty association at the college has endorsed four candidates, Melody Rayl, Peter Jouras, Stephanie Sharp and Bob Drummond.
The Kansas City Star recently endorsed Rayl, Jouras, Sharp and Miguel Morales.
The faculty association may be having second thoughts about Drummond. They are concerned about reports that he referred to homosexuality as a disorder and that as a member of the Olathe School Board he supported the removal of the book “Annie on My Mind” from school libraries.
Hodge is also endorsed by The Gardner News and Hope for America Coalition’s Steve Shute.
From Benjamin Hodge:
This week, Kansas House Majority Leader Ray Merrick (R-Stilwell) recognized Benjamin Hodge’s pro-growth, pro-taxpayer voting record by endorsing Hodge for re-election to the Johnson County Community College Board of Trustees.
Merrick has represented Kansas House District 27 since 2000 and was first elected Majority Leader in 2006.
View Merrick’s campaign page. View Merrick’s legislative page
The area blog Kaw and Border on JCCC President Terry Calaway, Board Chair Shirley Brown-VanArsdale, and Vice chair Lynn Mitchelson:
Ben has worked very hard to bring transparency and openness to the JCCC Board of Trustees. Unfortunately, as Yael Abouhalkah (of all people) at the Kansas City Star recently editorialized, the JCCC Board and President (outside of Hodge) have been conducting meetings in secret in violation of the Kansas Open Meetings Act. Ben didn’t like that and as a result, has been lableled a nuisance by Steve Rose. One would think that Steve Rose, whose name is synonymous with Johnson County’s long time suburban newspaper, the Johnson County Sun, would appreciate Ben’s efforts at upholding a state law that even The Star had to correct the college on, as Ben describes on RedCounty.com here.
Of course, JCCC President Calaway and the other 5 establishment board members have tried to come up with lame excuses for their secrecy, as described in this recent article in the Gardner News, that apparently KOMA doesn’t apply to written documents, just verbal communication. Right.
Not only that, they subsequently violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act back in November as well when four of the board members, a majority, wrote a letter to The Star discussing Ben’s claims in his own letter to The Star regarding the board’s possibility of raising the mill levy. Problem is, having four people sign a letter was a violation of KOMA as well. Ben discusses these issues at length here.
At RedCounty.com, Benjamin Hodge provides an update on the open meetings issue at JCCC. President Terry Calaway is keeping the story in the news by unapologetically and repeatedly reminding the county’s voters that he doesn’t support a strict interpretation of the Kansas Open Meetings Act.
Attached is a picture of the letter faxed to JCCC from The Kansas City Star, in which The Star made it clear that it thought the college had broken the law.
There are five questions:
Which of these local governments is the most out of touch with its citizens?
Johnson County Government
Which of these local governments best represents the views of its citizens?
In general, do you trust local elected officials in Johnson County?
In general, do you think your mayor is a:
If you had two choices: to either keep all local elected politicians, or to replace them all with individuals selected at random from the phone book:
Congratulations to the team of writers at the five-week old Johnson County section of the RedCounty.com network, for building one of the fastest-growing sections in the two-year-old RedCounty’s history.
The Red County national network has about 40 separate blogs. The Johnson County section already is ranked number 8 in page views since January 1.
The full Web address for the Johnson County section is www.redcounty.com/johnson.