Posts Tagged ‘koma’

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.

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?

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.”

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…)

For Lynn Mitchelson and Shirley Brown-VanArsdale, the cover-up is worse than the crime

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

Johnson County Community College elected leaders Lynn Mitchelson (Mission Woods) and Shirley Brown-VanArsdale (Gardner) broke the law.  That’s not merely the opinion of the taxpayers who have followed recent events at JCCC — that’s according to JCCC attorney Mark Ferguson.  In an Email sent late December 2008 to the entire board and JCCC President Terry Calaway, Ferguson confirmed that four board members — Lynn Mitchelson, Shirley Brown-VanArsdale, Jon Stewart, and Don Weiss — had violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA, for short) by agreeing in private to the contents of a letter to the editor that was published in The Kansas City Star on December 10, 2008.  The letter’s topic was whether JCCC would be increasing the property tax mill levy.  The letter was political in nature, and it discussed college business, and it therefore fell under the guidelines of KOMA.

In an effort of good will, Hodge in December chose not to make public the embarrassing fact of the ignorance of Mitchelson and Brown-VanArsdale toward Kansas laws.

Lynn Mitchelson

Shirley Brown-VanArsdale

(more…)

JCCC leadership doesn’t have a clue about open meetings laws; openly refuses to learn

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Just three months ago, by violating the Kansas Open Meetings Act, a majority of the JCCC Board of Trustees — including “experienced” college leaders Shirley Brown-VanArsdale and Lynn Mitchelson — made it clear to the entire Kansas City metro that they had absolutely no understanding of Kansas law.  This week, the majority of board members made it abundantly clear that they have absolutely no interest in ever learning the law.

And a week ago, board Chair Shirley Brown-VanArsdale and JCCC President Terry Calaway, in an article in The Gardner News, unintentionally yet clearly stated that they think that open meetings laws only apply to verbal comments, and not also written and electronic communication.  That is 100% incorrect.  Here is Calaway, in reference to typed budget information that he inappropriately distributed to the JCCC Board during a closed meeting:

“We’re very careful about it, which was why there wasn’t any discussion about this material.”

Read more of Benjamin Hodge’s update on situation at RedCounty.com/Johnson.

Calaway unchanged after being told by Star that he broke the open meetings law

Friday, March 13th, 2009

For the first time in JCCC President Terry Calaway’s career in Johnson County, county taxpayers are beginning to ask if there is any noticeable difference in the level of trustworthiness of the new president and the old president.

At AllThingsJoco, Tracy Thomas calls Terry Calaway “The New Chuck,” in reference to former JCCC President Charles Carlsen.  Calaway’s behavior during the last two weeks can only be described as odd, and it is quickly damaging his reputation and that of Board Chair Shirley Brown-VanArsdale of Gardner. (more…)

Principally Political: With Calaway, the cover up worse than the crime

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Over at a regional blog Principally Political: “Hodge pushes for budget, board transparency.”

“It looks like this could develop into one of those political flaps where the “cover up” … is worse than the actual “crime” … The issue started out as a small one, but in drawing attention to it Calaway has made it a larger one, and one that he may lose.

Star covers open meetings issue at JCCC

Monday, March 9th, 2009

A more-or-less fair article by Jim Sullinger.  The article doesn’t make absolutely clear that Trustee Benjamin Hodge did not ask for budget detail during executive session.  It says: “Shortly before Calaway’s job performance evaluation, trustee Benjamin Hodge asked Calaway how he would address the declining revenue picture without raising taxes.”  In actuality, it was days before that Hodge had asked for detail on budget plans.

The story became a larger issue after JCCC President Dr. Terry Calaway criticized Hodge for releasing budget information, criticized Sullinger’s reporting, and attempted to publicly justify a very broad — some say illegal — interpretation of the Kansas Open Meetings Act.

Mike Merriam, an attorney for the Kansas Press Association and an expert on the open meetings act, said Friday that bringing up the budget material under the personnel exception was inappropriate in his opinion.

“These budget issues should not have been discussed as part of the evaluation,” he said, adding that the topics should have been handled separately.

The Kansas attorney general has said that meetings can be closed to discuss personnel only when the discussion applies to individuals, rather than groups that might be affected by a policy.

One week after the meeting, Hodge released the list at the request of a reporter for The Kansas City Star. Its existence and some of its contents were reported in the Prime Buzz section of the newspaper’s Web site.

Calaway then sent an e-mail to the college staff criticizing the release of the list.

Hodge said the list focused on pending budget issues and should be shared with the public.

Breaking: JCCC receives an education from Kansas City Star on KOMA

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

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.

Related:

KC Newswatch covers the KOMA issue at JCCC

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

KCNewswatch.com covers it here.

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.

Sullinger: Hodge replies to JCCC’s Calaway

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

The Star:

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…)