Posts Tagged ‘JCCC’

Op-Ed – Kansas Web site ‘Kaw and Border’ defends Ben Hodge after false KC Star column

Monday, March 14th, 2011

From Kaw and Border.  Re-printed with permission:

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…)

Op-Ed: Transcript and YouTube audio, Ben Hodge and Kathy Brown interviewed by KMBZ 980′s Darla Jaye about free speech at JCCC under college leaders Terry Calaway and Jon Stewart

Monday, May 31st, 2010

The transcript follows after the YouTube audio.  This is from the Darla Jaye program on Kansas City’s KMBZ 980 AM.  Originally aired on Friday, May 28, 2010.  Four parts, total length 32 minutes.

To learn more, visit Red County.

The transcript follows after the fold:

(more…)

Hodge at Race42012.com: Steve Howe’s failure on the job damages Brownback’s presidential hopes

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Benjamin Hodge at Race42012:

In large part because of Brownback, the largest county in the state of Kansas has an activist as its top law enforcer.  Due to in-name Republican Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe (left), whose office is charged with enforcing the rule of law in a county with a fifth of the state’s voters, the 30 or so local governments bodies that receive receive billions of tax dollars can now completely ignore the state open meetings law.  During the Republican primary of 2008 for the Johnson County District Attorney’s office, Brownback unnecessarily decided to endorse Howe, a candidate with a blank slate, over a proven conservative who would have faced a tougher chance of winning the general election.

Did Brownback know that DA Howe would fail the voters?  Probably not, but I don’t care.  Brownback failed to properly vet this guy.  Brownback took a calculated risk for political reasons, and lost the bet.

Editorial — Steve Howe and Terry Calaway vs. Everybody else; Hodge on open meetings opinion: “It gives me great confidence in going forward that virtually nobody of significance has agreed with what DA Steve Howe today writes.”

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

On Wednesday, Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe made the Kansas Open Meetings Act a meaningless law.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Howe released to former Johnson County Community College Trustee Benjamin Hodge the DA’s official opinion on two Kansas Open Meetings Act violation allegations that Hodge had made toward JCCC.  One of the allegations concerned a serial meetings violation (where a majority of a local goverenment’s elected officials end up communicating about government business, over the course of a series of meetings that each involve a smaller number of politicians), and the other involved the the discussion of general budget-related information during a closed “executive” session.  Two documents:

  1. The April 2009 formal request for review of two allegations of KOMA violations from Benjamin Hodge, former Kansas Representative and JCCC Trustee (PDF).
  2. The official opinion from Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe (PDF),  released Wednesday, July 15, 2009.
The results of the opinion from DA Howe, if it stands:
  • Serial meetings concerning virtually any government-related business MAY occur (and involving a majority of a local government’s elected officials), provided that there is not an agreement to later VOTE in a certain manner.
  • During a closed, in-person meeting involving a majority of the politicians, general discussions on the budget MAY occur, provided that either:
    • 1.  A portion of the closed meeting involves a job evaluation of a specific government employee; or,
    • 2.  If, at least once, only the name of any specific government employee is referenced, in any context.
There are only two options now, for those who wish to require local governments to discuss public business only during meetings that are well-announced and open to the public:
  1. In ruling on behalf of JCCC President Terry Calaway, either DA Steve Howe knows something the rest of us don’t, and virtually everybody else has been incorrect with regard to understanding the current language of the Kansas Open Meetings Act:  The Kansas City Star, The Kansas Press Association, legislators, and nation-wide open meetings expert and attorney Mike Merriam.  If this is the case, then the entire law needs to be re-examined and re-written.
  2. Or, Steve Howe is wrong, and there needs to be a different opinion issued from a higher authority.
Below is an initial reaction that Hodge Emailed Wednesday evening: (more…)

Hodge at RedCounty.com, on JCCC President Terry Calaway: “exactly the type of person whom our founders had in mind as they drafted the First Amendment. He is a coward and a bully, unwilling and unable to justify his actions with words”

Friday, June 12th, 2009

At RedCounty.com, JCCC Trustee Benjamin Hodge writes about one more failing of JCCC President Terry Calaway, this time in support of punishing employees who make remarks that are critical of Islamic countries:

John’s detractors said John was being anti-Muslim; they said had stated verbally that he “hated Muslims.”  John denies saying that, and, with regard to credibility, emphasizes the question, Why did these other employees wait a full two years to complain, if they were so concerned?  Of course, it should be noted that, with respect to the First Amendment rights of government employees (in particular, professors), it’s not all that relevant what John exactly said.

Without much investigation, asst. dean Betty Furtwengler took the side of John’s detractors, and she placed a permanent note in John’s file, reprimanding him for what was alleged. (more…)

Hodge on Chris Stigall Morning Show (Jack Cashill, guest hosting) tomorrow morning, Friday, June 5; will discuss “continued ethical cloud covering” at JCCC under President Terry Calaway

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Benjamin Hodge at Race42012:

I’m scheduled to be on the Chris Stigall Show during the 6:30-7:00 a.m. (Central) period tomorrow morning, Friday, June 5.  I think it’ll be closer to 6:30 a.m.

Jack Cashill will be guest-hosting the program.

Click below to listen live on streaming radio (direct link; small box/radio opens)

(more…)

Through constant lies, high taxes, and wasteful spending, Lynn Mitchelson of Mission Woods and Shirley Brown-VanArsdale of Gardner are rapidly bringing JCCC’s credibility level down to zero

Monday, May 25th, 2009
Shirley Brown-VanArsdale, Gardner

Shirley Brown-VanArsdale, Gardner

Lynn Mitchelson, Mission Woods

Lynn Mitchelson, Mission Woods

Ex-bank executive and JCCC leader Lynn Mitchelson was quoted in April by The Kansas City Star, saying:

“Everybody on this board and administration has been sensitive to the taxpayers this year.”

That turns out to be just one more example to add to the many times Mitchelson has willfully misled the public over the last 6 months.

JCCC Trustee Benjamin Hodge writes at RedCounty about his Sunday night comments on KCMO 710 AM, made to the listeners of the Kris Kobach show.

Mitchelson regularly attempts to convince the public that JCCC is responsible with taxpayer dollars, but since he joined the board, the real [amount of tax money] paid by Johnson County households has increased at TWICE the rate of inflation.

….

JCCC leaders refuse to reform the out-of-control spending at the college.  They spend hundreds of thousands of tax dollars a year on unnecessary expenses, such as taxpayer-funded lobbying and the select support of their favorite area non-profits, including one that Lynn Mitchelson used to run.  All the while, they are burdening Johnson County homeowners with high property taxes, and they are increasing the in-state tuition fees faster than they are increasing tuition charged to out-of-state students.

JCCC leaders Terry Calaway, Shirley Brown-VanArsdale, Lynn Mitchelson increase the property tax rate, then mislead the public about it

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

JCCC leaders appear unable to tell the truth about anything these days.  The property tax rate is being increased, and that’s a fact.  But JCCC leaders are trying to pretend that this is an opinion that is up for debate.

At Thursday night’s monthly JCCC Board of Trustees meeting, chair Shirley Brown-VanArsdale said that she didn’t “agree” with Trustee Benjamin Hodge that JCCC is increasing taxes.  But The Kansas City Star reported that, Johnson County homeowners will, in fact, pay a higher percent of their property taxes this year to JCCC, when compared to what trustees approved in last year’s budget.  Jim Sullinger reports:

In other action, trustees approved a $134.3 million budget for the next school year. It includes a $4 increase in credit-hour tuition for students living in Kansas and a property tax levy equal to the amount levied last year – $8.77 on each $1,000 of assessed value.

However, Benjamin Hodge, a trustee, pointed out that the proposed levy was not the same as trustees approved a year ago. That amount was $8.75 cents on each $1,000 of assessed value.

He noted that by October the county had increased that levy amount by .019 mills or about 2 cents on each $1,000. Don Perkins, the college’s budget director, said the 2-cent increase was caused by a rare reduction in the county’s overall assessed value amid a worsening economy and slumping real estate values. To collect enough tax money to fund the college budget, the county made the 2-cent adjustment.

Hodge asked the board to roll back the $8.77 levy by 2 cents. His motion failed for lack of a second. He then voted against the budget.

After the trustee meeting, Perkins said the county could increase levies this coming October if the economy and home values do not improve.

In Kansas, local governments rarely actually vote on a property tax mill levy.  Rather, based off of the county appraiser’s office, local governments make assumptions of the total value of private property, and then elected officials vote on a dollar amount for the budget.  In the rare occurance of the assumptions being lower than expected — if property values decrease more than expected — because the total budget stays the same, what necessarily occurs is an automatic tax increase on property.

That’s what happened last year at JCCC.  The county appraiser’s office was incorrect and assumed a too-high total property value across the county.  And because JCCC wanted the same total dollar amount, an automatic (without any votes) increase occurred in the property tax rate.

As Sullinger reported, JCCC’s financial director Don Perkins said that an automatic tax increase may may AGAIN happen this year.

At last week’s board meeting, Trustee Hodge pointed out that the property tax rate had increased above what trustees had voted on in 2008.  Therefore, Hodge was not trying to decrease taxes, but he was merely attempting to restore the mill levy (which is a percent of a homeowner’s property value) to the original 2008 tax rate.

Terry Calaway’s JCCC not only government practicing arrogant, retaliatory acts against critics

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

OH paper:

- CONNEAUT – City administrators have sent a letter to a local Website operator, ordering her to remove information related to municipal offices, City Council members learned at Monday’s work session. (more…)

Hodge on KCMO 710′s morning show: The good news is we cut the budget 6%, the bad news is JCCC is probably the most openly unethical government in KCMO.

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Johnson County Community College Trustee Benjamin Hodge was interviewed by guest host Jack Cashill on this morning’s Chris Stigall’s KCMO 710 AM Morning Show.  They talked some about the college’s budget, and Hodge said the good news at JCCC is that they’re going to cut the budget by 6%.  Hodge asked listeners to remember JCCC‘s 6% budget cut as they continue to hear other governments complain loudly about much smaller budget cuts, and as they see the federal budget continue to grow.  The JCCC trustee said that the college would not even notice a difference next year as it operates without the dollars being removed from next year’s budget.

But Hodge said the bad news is that JCCC — currently under the leadership of JCCC’s CEO and President Terry Calaway, and Trustee Leaders Shirley Brown-VanArsdale and Lynn Mitchelson – is perhaps the “most openly unethical” government in the Kansas City, MO, metro area.  He explained his use of the term “openly unethical” by saying that officials in most governments attempt to hide their unethical behavior, but “in Johnson County, we give ourselves awards for it.”  They discussed the thousands of dollars that JCCC is spending on legal fees to cover up what Hodge said what should have been considered relatively minor violations of the Kansas Open Meetings Act.  Hodge compared JCCC’s actions surrounding the likely KOMA violations to “getting a speeding ticket, and then abusing government power to attempt to destroy the career of the police officer.”

Cashill and Hodge also discussed the college’s addition of health benefits for the college’s gay employees, and how President calaway and HR committee chairman Mitchelson abused their leadership roles by secretly inserting the benefits without board discussion or even alerting other board members to their actions.  JCCC is the first government body in Kansas to add taxpayer-supported domestic partnership benefits.

Local blogger rips apart the made-up, false arguments of the ‘whine-and-cheese’ socialist Steve Rose

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Kaw and Border’s recent article covers a recent column by Steve Rose, with the free, now-delivered-by-mail Johnson County Sun.  First-time readers of Rose should note:

  • Rose no longer owns the paper that was once (successfully) run by his father, the founder.
  • Rose lives in Mission Hills.
  • Though he lives within the Shawnee Mission School District — which, he will write, provides an excellent quality of education — for his own children, Rose chose Pembroke Hill, an expensive area private school.  Rose practices the freedom of school choice because he can afford it, but he denies that freedom to others.
  • Rose only has his front-page column because he is legally obligated to it.  He has successfully sued (or threatened litigation) at least once when an owner of the paper attempted to take him off of the front page.
  • Dick Bond and Charles Carlsen named Rose a JCCC Foundation’s “Johnson Countian of the Year,” which Rose’s paper makes a big deal about every year.  Until this past year, there were over 100 members of the JCCC Foundation, and Leawood’s representation was six times the proportion when compared to county residents.  Rose’s paper has never once mentioned that, until about 2002, that the entire group of foundation directors never actually voted on the annual award, but rather only two people (Bond and Carlsen) chose the winner.   Bond and Carlsen, in other years, chose Bond and Carlsen as “Johnson Countians of the Year.”
  • The current president of the JCCC Foundation is Bob Regnier, another “Johnson Countian of the Year” (his friends have given him several other “greatest person” awards).  Regnier also has the distinction of being Kansas City’s first recipient of the TARP federal bank bailouts; he is the CEO of Bank of Blue Valley.  Regnier is also the recent chairman of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, a self-described “pro-business” group that supports the current CITY income tax (KCMO) and rallies around one of the most oppressive school districts in America, The Kansas City (Missouri) School District.
  • When four women accused Carlsen (former JCCC President) of sexual harrassment, Rose and most of the other “Johnson Countians of the Year” unsuccessfully attempted by public letter (published in The Sun) to instruct the board to stop the investigation of the former president, going so far as to state as fact that the work environment under Carlsen was a good one.

One of the funnier points made by Kaw and Border is that Steve Rose is so out of touch with Kansas politics that he was unaware that RINO-turned-Democrat Mark Parkinson — like Brownback — would ALSO sign the “coal plant legislation.”

Kaw and Border: Dewey, Cheatem, and (Steve) Howe?

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

Kaw and Border:

In fact, according to today’s article in the Star by Jim Sullinger, the board’s attorney, Mark Ferguson, told the board in March that no violation occurred because the budget reduction list was presented to the board during an evaluation of Calaway.

Is this seriously their new defense?…

Steve Howe by all accounts is doing a good job. But, he is a politician like the rest of them and he was elected on a coalition that included some of these country club types that permeate the board. One can only guess that these folks would simply like this issue to go away, and for Howe to, in his opinion, rule that no violation occurred, vindicating their secret meetings and as such, their post-offense ridiculous exchanges with Hodge. To put it simply, they are assuredly all hoping D.A. Howe squashes that annoying wasp once and for all.

Of course, not all feel that way and that includes this blog. Even if the original violation was minor, there is no doubt, if the Kansas Open Meetings Act is to have any validity, that the JCCC Board of Trustees, by presenting budget information in an executive session, and by coordinating efforts in private in a letter to the Star, violated that law — both in word and in spirit.

As noted earlier, what’s the entire point of having such a law if BUDGET discussions are going to be held in private?

After unethical behavior and thousands of dollars wasted by JCCC leaders to cover-up mistakes, Hodge requests formal review by JoCo District Attorney

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

In December, JCCC attorney Mark Ferguson told four members of the JCCC Board of Trustees — including the board chair and vice-chair — that they broke the open meetings law.  In March, JCCC leaders lied by saying that they have always followed the law.

In March, JCCC leaders Shirley Brown-VanArsdale and Lynn Mitchelson gave new meaning to the phrase “the cover-up is worse than the crime” by wasting thousands of dollars on legal fees, when the purpose was only meant to mislead the public.  They even asked JCCC Mark Ferguson to get an “unofficial opinion” — whatever that means — from the district attorney and state attorney general, though the public was never made aware about those discussions.

Only Trustee Benjamin Hodge has now asked for an official opinion from District Attorney Steve Howe, who has confirmed to The Kansas City Star that an investigation is under way.

Prime Buzz:

Here are the instances he wants the DA to examine.

He wrote a letter to the editor, which was printed in The Star Nov. 29, suggesting the board might be considering an increase in property taxes. It prompted a December letter signed by four of the six trustees denying Hodge’s assertion.

Hodge believes a letter signed by a majority of the board violated the open meetings law.

He believes the second violation may have occurred during a closed executive session Feb. 19 in which the board met to review the performance of Terry Calaway, college president.

Prior to the meeting, Hodge said he would evaluate Calaway based on a budget proposal that did not raise taxes.

Calaway responded during his closed evaluation with a list of more than 50 budget cuts being considered at the time as administrators worked on a budget proposal that was presented to the board earlier this month.

Hodge said he never asked for such a list to be presented during Calaway’s review. Calaway said he presented the list to show Hodge that he was working on reductions that ultimately would not raise taxes.

JCCC leaders face District Attorney review of open meetings law

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

On Friday, JCCC Trustee Benjamin Hodge filed with Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe a detailed summary of two likely violations of the Kansas Open Meetings Act at Johnson County Community College.  District Attorney Howe is not required to investigate the request, but Hodge says he would be surprised if a formal review is not performed.

Here is a link to the 106-page document (PDF) that is now filed with the district attorney’s office.

At RedCounty.com, Trustee Hodge writes that included in the formal KOMA complaint is the detailed 64-item budget list that President Calaway chose to share during a closed meeting, and that Calaway claims should be considered part of his own job evaluation.  Hodge writes:

I encourage readers to look at the 64 items on the list, on page 102.  Is this the type of information that closely relates to Terry Calaway’s private job evaluation?  I don’t think so, and neither does The Kansas City Star nor The Kansas Press Association.  This is budget information, information that the Kansas Open Meetings Act requires be discussed during an open session.

JCCC Campus Ledger provides update on cover-up and waste

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

The JCCC Campus Ledger covers the continued cover-up and dishonesty by JCCC leaders Terry Calaway, Shirley Brown-VanArsdale, and Lynn Mitchelson, that began as a relatively small likely violation of the Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA).  Here are facts made known in the Ledger that were previously unreported in a print publication:

  • Because of JCCC’s dishonesty and the use of taxpayer money to mislead and intimidate, Hodge called for Mitchelson and Brown-VanArsdale to resign from positions of leadership at JCCC, and for Mitchelson to resign as a representative to the Johnson County Research Triangle (JCRT).
  • JCCC attorney Mark Ferguson misled the public at the March meeting by stating that he performed a “complete review” of the February 19 board meeting (the meeting at which occurred a likely violation of the law).  The Ledger reports that Ferguson, as part of the “complete review,” not only did not talk with Trustee Benjamin Hodge — who initially reported the open meetings problems — but did not even make Hodge aware that Ferguson was performing an investigation.  Keep in mind that Ferguson does not represent Calaway, but the college — which is the board.  Ferguson is Hodge’s client, and Ferguson — at the request of a politically-motivated Calaway — unprofessionally performed a misleading, incomplete, and probably pre-determined review without informing Hodge that it was taking place.  Ferguson also is for the first time ever competing for his own job in a mere two months, and the attorney knows that Hodge is among the least likely to renew his contract.
  • In recent months, as part of JCCC’s monthly post-meeting Email summary, marketing director Julia Haas — who reports directly to President Calaway — included in the Email the endorsements of the faculty NEA (the membership of which constitutes under 5% of employees).  But in last week’s Email summary after the April board meeting, Haas refused to include Hodge’s public statements regarding the dishonest and intimidating behavior of President Calaway.  Haas provides her own misleading reply to The Ledger as she tries to dodge her inconsistent behavior:
    • “The summary does not give opinion and does not comment, it simply reports things happening,” Haas said. “If you look at the budget report, there is a lot more discussion than what is put in the summary.”

KMBC video: Hodge interviewed in JCCC Tea Party coverage

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

KMBC’s Jim Flink reporting last Wednesday.  Click for video:

Recent mini-summary at Red County of blogosphere coverage on KOMA

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Red County:

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.

Terry Calaway’s ‘absolute power’ actions are ‘frightening’ and ‘bizarre’: Kaw and Border

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Kansas blog Kaw and Border:

Rather than this “above board” approach allowing everyone to cool down and move on, essentially Calaway, with presumably the full cooperation of the majority of the Board of Trustees, has decided to manufacture a crisis over what could have been a simple acknowledged mistake. (more…)

JCCC’s Arrogance and Wednesday’s Tea Parties: Christopher Berger

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Who Watches the Watchmen?

Christopher D. Berger
UnvarnishedOpinion.com
KansasProgress.com

Wednesday’s tax day tea parties had a cause mirroring those of the original Boston tea party, to whit, a government so invasive and unwieldy that it can perpetrate generational theft on the order of tens of trillions of dollars, with no one to stop them. They were there to demonstrate against the ability of government to tax our grandchildren into oblivion, and more importantly, the fact that government is effectively doing it with mind-numbingly large spending packages. They were there to protest taxation with representation that doesn’t listen to them, representation that doesn’t represent their interests, taxation that they don’t want, don’t need, and will be forced to pay anyway. (more…)

All Things JoCo: JCCC President Terry Calaway the ‘New Chuck,’ broke the law; college attorney cheated taxpayers, a ‘schmuck’

Friday, April 17th, 2009

AllThingsJoco:

The more you learn about this, the madder it will make you. The President of Johnson County Community College, Terry Calaway (I call him the New Chuck, because he is as much a lying, conniving weasel as was Chuck ‘The Groper’ Carlsen) is still persisting in his coverup of his CLEAR VIOLATION of the Ks. Open Meetings Act (KOMA).

Calaway (and his boy, the lazy attorney Mark Ferguson)have concocted a “Speak No Evil” coverup story, a wholly novel legal maneuver, claiming that if you hand out illegal materials ie proposed budget cuts, during a closed meeting, it’s OK “as long as you don’t SPEAK OUT LOUD about them!”

You know, it’s the cover-up that kills you. Just ask Bill Clinton.

Later:

Then two cohorts in crime, elected JCCC Trustees Lynn Mitchellson and Shirley Brown-VanArsdale, served as Calaway’s other two monkeys: Hear No Evil and See No Evil. They supported the coverup. They smeared Trustee Ben Hodge. And made up, completely made up, a story that HODGE broke confidence, when he shared the illegal document with Jim Sullinger, the Star reporter who diagnosed the document as a violation of KOMA.