October 23, 2014

VIDEO: Lynn, Sutton provide legislative update

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Photo courtesy of Rick Poppitz, kcvideo.com

WATCH VIDEO: Rick Poppitz, kcvideo.com
Special to The Gardner News
April 12, 2014 – The city of Gardner hosted a public forum for a review of accomplishments of the 2014 Kansas legislative session,  followed by a question-and-answer session.

Sen. Julia Lynn and Rep. Bill Sutton participated. Rep. Willie Dove and Sen. Pat Apple were also scheduled but did not appear.

Comments

  1. Judith Rogers says:

    How many citizens were at this meeting?

  2. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    I counted approximately 60 in the overfull City Council Chamber.

  3. Wes Rains says:

    I highly recommend that all citizens take the time to watch these videos. And thank you to the Gardner News for putting these up for those folks that were unable to be there.

  4. Judith Rogers says:

    After watching most of this video I am reminded again as to why citizens have BIG problems in the state of Kansas. These jokers will never admit that they discriminate plus numerous other issues that adversely affect citizens such as conniving, manipulation, cronyism, being less than truthful, not voting on important issues, not submitting bills for an up or down vote, etc., etc. Sen. Lynn and definitely Rep. (so-called) Sutton will not be getting my vote, and never have, unless they are totally rehabilitated which I don’t believe will ever happen.

  5. Judith Rogers says:

    There are thousands of Kansans who are not eligible to Medicaid nor coverage under the Affordable Care Act. It disgusts me to see Brownback and his legislature turn away their eyes, hearts and minds to these people. I believe the Kansas legislature passed a bill requiring insurance companies that do business in the state of Kansas to provide some type of coverage for autistic children. What good is that going to do for the autistic children in those families who still do not have health care coverage? The Republicans have a definite hate and spiteful relationship with the federal government and that is shown in numerous ways but the worst way is when Kansans suffer because of it and in so many ways. They are cutting their noses off to spite the very people they are supposed to be protecting and governing for.

    Brownback eliminated state income tax for LLC entities and yet we have oodles of those LLC entities here in Gardner still getting their fraudulent “farm” appraisals where they might be paying around $3 to $5 a year in property taxes rather than the thousands of dollars they should be paying if their properties were properly classified. If proper classifications were in effect for most of the 32% of the “farm” appraised properties here in Gardner, citizens would be getting many more dollars for their schools, for the needs of the citizens living in Gardner, County Parks & Rec, the library system and on and on. Do you see any of the legislators, city and county politicians and bureaucrats or even citizens addressing that expensive problem which results in the loss of millions of tax dollars each year? No, you don’t, and that is because these same entities close their eyes, hearts and minds to cronyism government of this type but they sure want to take care of their cronies, especially with corporate welfare where the thieves are very well taken care of in numerous ways with the average citizen picking up that expensive tab but the poor Kansan who can’t get or afford health care coverage is on his or her own and have no financial security because of it. .

    Then this business of discriminating against gays due to people’s religious beliefs is another bucket full of BS. Are you going to allow a fireman or a policeman to not help gays when they need it due to their religious beliefs? Are you going to allow a doctor to not treat gays due to his religious beliefs? Are you going to allow a teacher to not teach a child coming from a gay household? As the Pope says: “Who am I to judge” certainly doesn’t apply to these narrow minded extremists who probably think the gays need to be burned at the stake and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Pilcher-Cook would be submitting a bill for that to take place within the state of Kansas.

    Then you have the Kansas Republican love story with the NRA which is about as sick as you can get in my book. And the Kansas Republicans tell the federal government to stay out of their state regarding just about anything to do with guns. I see where Bloomburg is throwing out around $50 MILLION to fight that NRA hold on on sorry politicians but until citizens get their heads on straight on that issue, we will continue to see thousands and thousands of people dying each year from the sick mind set so many have on guns – especially when they fight to have serious background checks prior to ANY gun sale. Extremists again creating big problems for average citizens.

    The extremist nut jobs are every where you look in Kansas in my opinion and those sick extremists bring about tragedies like we saw on Sunday in Overland Park, Ks. at the Jewish Community Center. Citizens might want to think long and hard about what/who they are supporting and enabling in and out of the voting booth.

  6. Judith Rogers says:

    It has taken a good 4 years for the people of Bell, California to receive the justice they deserve. This type of corruption happens because of apathy of citizens and when no checks and balances are in place. Hope all citizens in this area think about all of the corruption within our government entities across the U.S. and whether they have had a hand in it one way or another.

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    Bell’s Rizzo sentenced to 12 years in prison
    L.A. County judge also orders the former Bell administrator to pay the city nearly $9 million in restitution.

    Former Bell city administrator Robert Rizzo was sentenced on Wednesday to 12 years in prison, closing a major public corruption scandal.

    April 16, 2014, 5:32 p.m.

    Four years after he became the face of municipal greed, Robert Rizzo broke his long silence Wednesday in a Los Angeles courtroom and asked a judge for mercy.

    The former Bell administrator was pale and baggy-eyed, and his thinning hair had turned gray. For many, there was hope that he would finally reveal how he engineered a brazen scheme to boost the salaries of top officials that left the working-class city tumbling toward bankruptcy.

    But in a small, halting, scratchy voice, Rizzo offered only the vaguest of apologies, and no details.
    “I breached the public’s confidence,” Rizzo told Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy. “I am very sorry for that.”

    Comparing him to The Godfather, Kennedy sentenced him to 12 years in state prison on corruption charges and ordered him to pay nearly $9 million in restitution.

    “Mr. Rizzo, you did some very, very bad things for a very long time,” she told the 60-year-old, who had pleaded no contest to 69 corruption-related felony counts rather than go to trial.

    The judge will allow him to surrender next month, and serve his time concurrently with a 33-month federal prison term he received earlier for income tax fraud. The former city boss could be a free man in six years with time off for good behavior.

    The sentence marked another step in bringing the long-running Bell criminal saga to a close. Rizzo and seven other city leaders werearrested in 2010 in a case that Steve Cooley, then L.A. County’s top prosecutor, called “corruption on steroids.”

    Since then, five council members have been convicted of misappropriating city funds and the town’s second-in-command, Angela Spaccia, was sentenced to 11 years, eight months in prison for her role in the wrongdoing. One council member was acquitted.

    Rizzo became Bell’s city manager in the early 1990s, at a time when the city was hard-hit by recession and Rizzo’s talents as a numbers-oriented administrator seemed welcome. He developed a reputation as a micromanager who pinched pennies even as he burnished the city’s image, adding a miniature golf course and pristine playing fields.

    In 2005, in a little-noticed election, fewer than 400 voters turned Bell into a charter city and cleared the way for higher salaries for council members. Rizzo and Spaccia’s pay also jumped with salary contracts the council never approved.

    When he was forced to resign in 2010, Rizzo’s total compensation was roughly $1.5 million — the highest municipal salary in California, and probably the nation. At the time, Rizzo lived near the ocean in Huntington Beach and owned a ranch outside Seattle, where he kept a stable of racehorses.

    Rizzo’s machinations left the city in financial peril. New leaders have slowly steered the city back into the black.

    The judge had indicated earlier that she would give Rizzo 10 to 12 years in prison.

    On Wednesday, Rizzo’s attorney, James Spertus, asked the judge to consider that the former city boss had prevented a costly and time-consuming trial by pleading no contest last October.

    He said Rizzo had been a responsible city manager for years and pinned blame on Spaccia, Rizzo’s former second-in-command.

    “She slept with her paycheck and was constantly coming up with more justifications why more money should be spent,” Spertus said. “Those weren’t his ideas.”

    Spertus requested a five-year sentence for Rizzo, and fought to persuade the judge to allow Rizzo to serve his tax fraud and Bell sentences concurrently so he would spend as much of his sentence as possible in a low-security federal facility, rather than a state prison where he would mix with violent felons. He argued that Rizzo had cooperated with prosecutors.

    But Anthony Taylor, one of Bell’s attorneys, vehemently denied that Rizzo had been fully cooperative.

    “It isn’t true, your honor, and I want the court to be aware of that,” he said. “We have tried from Day One to get Mr. Rizzo to tell us everything that happened in the city of Bell.”

    Rizzo, he said, sued the city for his legal fees and invoked 5th Amendment protections against self-incrimination when Taylor tried to depose him.

    Rizzo has never laid out his story to authorities. His lone interview with the district attorney’s office was focused solely on Spaccia and he was never asked about the suspected illegal acts by other city officials.

    Asked if he wanted to address the court, Rizzo stood and spoke, though only for about a minute.
    “I started in Bell in 1992. For the first 12 years, we ran a very good, tight ship, a good city. We didn’t have any issues. Beginning in the 13th year, I breached the public’s confidence,” he said. “I am very, very sorry for that. I apologize for that.

    “If I could go back and make changes, I would. I’ve done it a million times in my mind. All I can do today is ask you to please understand that I am sorry. I did breach the public’s confidence and I do apologize.”

    Kennedy said the case reminded her of the dictum that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. “And that is the theme of what happened in Bell. There were no checks and balances to control Mr. Rizzo.”

    The judge added: “Nobody wanted to upset the apple cart because they were being paid so well.”

    After the scandal broke, Bell was faced with about 50 civil lawsuits, including those from former officials seeking legal fees as well as business entities that said they had not been paid. Taylor said no adverse judgments have been found against Bell in any of the cases.

    “The city has survived this storm, but we still have to fight every single day as the residents continue to pay this tax burden,” he said.

    Taylor said most of Rizzo’s money and assets appeared to have been squandered on real estate investments and about 30 racehorses that would have cost more to care for than what they were worth.

    The city has recovered $1.2 million from Rizzo’s supplemental retirement fund, although that will not discount the $8.8 million he has been ordered to pay in restitution.

    “It’s a day to rejoice. Justice has finally come after four years,” said Alfred Areyan, 57, who has lived in Bell for four decades and watched much of the criminal proceedings against Bell’s former leaders. Standing before the judge, he described Rizzo as the mastermind of the wide-ranging corruption.

    “He was the black widow that created the web,” Areyan said.

    Walking to his car after the sentencing, Rizzo — who must surrender May 30 to begin his prison term — looked like a defeated man.

    “I should have realized the salaries were way out of whack and taken steps to bring them back in line, but it just got away from me,” Rizzo told The Times. “There’s not much I could do after a period of time.”

    About a block from the downtown Los Angeles courthouse, a man recognized Rizzo and shouted, “Taxpayer justice!”

    “I can’t go anywhere,” Rizzo murmured.

  7. Judith Rogers says:

    Recently I have been communicating with the City Clerk and the City Human Resources Mgr. with respect to the 2014 salary the City Mgr. is receiving and the bonus she received. I could not come up with how they computed the amounts on these two items and asked for their calculations. This has been gone on forever and yet these two city employees refuse to answer my inquiry which I would think any citizen would want answered, especially when the two amounts they have come up with are in excess of what you have computed. Councilwoman Harrison sent an e-mail trying to get these two to answer my inquiry that has been going on forever and yet they still remain silent and their silence tells you what respect they have for Gardner citizens. The above mentioned corruption came about by city employees doing whatever they wanted and if it is allowed, it can certainly quickly snowball into a huge costly mess for taxpaying citizens.

    Evidently the Mayor and the Council do not care to hold these two employees accountable for their inaction. Not surprising to me, especially when I see the apathy of citizens here in Gardner who also won’t and aren’t interested in most of what goes on at City Hall. The Rizzos and the Gilhauses of the world get by with what they do because they can so easily. You would think the city manager would step in and make it clear to me how her 2014 salary and her bonus was calculated but again, silence – no surprise…………..

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