Posts Tagged ‘shirley brown-vanarsdale’

Op-Ed by Benjamin Hodge, Three Words that Explain the National Banking Crisis: “Meet Lynn Mitchelson”

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Hodge writes at a RedState diary entry:

Sam Brownback cannot be taken seriously while ex-banker Lynn Mitchelson remains a campaign co-chair.

Some questions for future Kansas Governor Sam Brownback:

  1. Why did you choose a provably corrupt public official to be a campaign co-chair?
  2. Why is part of your campaign team giving a no-bid legal contract to the Democratic Party Chairman’s law firm, at the largest Kansas college, and when the college’s lawyer has clear ethical problems?
  3. Are you trying to make Sarah Palin’s PAC look like a well-run organization?
  4. Should we assume that you have given up hopes of becoming a future US President?
  5. Is this how you plan on running the State of Kansas – through reckless acts of incompetence, corruption, and cover-ups, then followed by failed attempts to intimidate your critics (and even top news agencies)?  That’s what your choice of campaign co-chairs tells us.
  6. Do you realize that for every one liberal “Republican” to whom your campaign is reaching out, you are losing – perhaps permanently – the support of two or three conservative voters?
  7. Really, Senator? Really?

RedState readers, I can explain to you the national banking crisis, in three words:  Meet Lynn Mitchelson.

For 15 years, the ex-banker Lynn Mitchelson has been one of seven at-large elected trustees at Johnson County Community College.  In large part because he is now unelectable, Mitchelson will permanently retire from public office in 2011.

Mitchelson once had a reputation in Kansas City as someone who could “fix banks.”  Troubled banks would hire him as a temporary CEO, and, in theory, he would bring them back to health.   But now that his record in elected office is widely known, I’ll be surprised if he is ever again hired by a bank.  Why?  Because he is directly responsible for much of lawlessness, failed cover-ups, and retaliation that has become commonplace at JCCC.  The only thing more embarrassing than the corruption in which Mitchelson has participated, is that he has been so unsuccessful at carrying it out.  I did not properly understand the phrase “the cover-up is worse than the crime,” until I had witnessed first-hand Mitchelson at work.  Time and time again, Mitchelson’s actions have brought national embarrassment to this college, the largest college in Kansas.

I had not planned on writing about Mitchelson’s work, but today I’ve learned that JCCC leaders have made malicious, baseless legal threats directly to the top conservative news organization RedCounty.com, where I have written in detail about JCCC’s culture of corruption.

Inexplicably, the once-thought-to-be-conservative Sam Brownback months ago made Mitchelson a key part of Brownback’s 2010 campaign for governor, even though Mitchelson’s public record was already well-known.  Brownback campaign manager David Kensinger - who apparently is under the illusion that Brownback can literally do whatever he wants, and that Brownback then will automatically receive the enthusiastic support of conservatives – doesn’t want to talk about it.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Opinion – The call for “do-over” is an admission of guilt by Calaway, VanArsdale: Unprecedented corruption, incompetence within JCCC leadership causes business to grind to a halt

Monday, June 15th, 2009

After Trustee Benjamin Hodge brought sunshine to the ongoing corruption at Johnson County Community College under President Terry Calaway — most recently, with regard to questions surrounding how truly competitive the “competitive bid” for legal services is — Calaway and elected Board Chair Shirley Brown-VanArsdale ran for cover Monday and cancelled tonight’s scheduled meeting.

JCCC has not once in 40 years performed a competitive bidding process for its main lawyer.  Elected leaders VanArsdale and Lynn Mitchelson had pledged to bid out this contract, but it quickly became apparent that the two had no interest in putting first the interests of the public. (more…)

Hodge at Red County: “Ethical troubles continue for JCCC leaders Shirley Brown-VanArsdale, Terry Calaway”

Friday, June 5th, 2009

At RedCounty.com/Johnson, Benjamin Hodge writes:

In 2006, at the direction of the former president, Ferguson engaged in openly hostile behavior toward employee Miguel Morales, who had uncovered the multiple accusations of sexual harrassment by female employees toward the former president.  And in 2009, at the direction of President Calaway, Ferguson made JCCC a national embarrassment by engaging in the ridiculous behavior of sending me a “cease and desist” letter that was intended to threaten me from making further fact-based criticisms of the board and President Calaway. (more…)

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.

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.

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 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.”

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…)

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…)

USA Today now tracking JCCC board chair who broke open meetings law

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

USA Today now tracks Shirley Brown-VanArsdale, who, with the support of Vice-Chair Lynn Mitchelson and JCCC President Terry Calaway, violated the Kansas Open Meetings Law at least once in the past year:

  1. Example one
  2. Example two

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.

Hodge calls for new board leadership elections

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

At Redcounty.com/johnson, JCCC Trustee Benjamin Hodge calls for new elected board leaders.  Currently, Shirley Brown-VanArsdale is the board chair and Lynn Mitchelson is the vice chair.  But Hodge says, “There has been an absurd amount of unethical behavior in recent weeks by JCCC President Calaway and by the current JCCC board leadership” and that “the budget is too important” an issue.

Hodge suggests Trustee Jon Stewart be appointed chair.

Terry Calaway’s ‘lame excuses’: Kaw and Border

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

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.

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…)