November 25, 2014

DA says Gardner City Council violated KOMA – UPDATED 1-13-12

Mark Taylor
mtaylor@gardnernews.com
The Gardner City Council violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA) on two occasions last summer, according to an investigation by the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office.
District Attorney Steve Howe, in a Jan. 10 letter to the mayor and council, said the council violated KOMA through serial emails on June 10 and at a work session on July 14.
“In both instances, these were violations of the Kansas Open Meetings Act and you should refrain from this type of conduct,” Howe said.
The investigation was the result of a complaint regarding Mayor Dave Drovetta’s use of email for “interactive communication” with council members regarding city business.
KOMA prohibits serial emails between members of a governing body.
In that email, Drovetta asked each council member if they would be willing to increase the maximum salary for the vacant city administrator position by $10,000 for a particular candidate who was “very interested in the position but is currently compensated at a higher rate.”
“I’m writing each of you individually; please respond as soon as practical,” Drovetta wrote.
Howe said, “In my opinion, a mayor and/or city council member can notify other city council members of an agenda item. This can be done through the use of electronic mail. But a mayor and/or city council member should not send an email to a majority of the membership with a request that they indicate their prospective vote on an issue.
“This would constitute a meeting that would violate the Kansas Open Meetings Act.”
Howe also found that the mayor and council violated KOMA by entering an executive session to discuss salary ranges on July 14.
KOMA allows public officials to meet behind closed doors in executive session for matters pertaining to non-elected personnel, attorney-client privilege and land negotiations.
Howe said the salary ranges should not have been discussed behind closed doors.
“This was done even after Councilman (Larry) Fotovich alerted council members of the potential of violating the Kansas Open Meetings Act,” Howe said.
KOMA violations are subject to fines not to exceed $500 per incident.
But Howe said he will not pursue civil penalties against the mayor and council.
“I am not filing an action alleging these violations of the Kansas Open Meetings Act at this time,” he said. “The reason for this is that after the investigation began, the Kansas Attorney General’s Office conducted training on KOMA and the Kansas Open Records Act for you and your fellow members of the Gardner City Council.
“However, should future violations occur, I will reconsider this decision.”
Drovetta said, “I appreciate the efforts of DA Howe’s office in the investigation and his subsequent response.  It is important to recognize that we were proactive and scheduled training with the attorney general’s office to reinforce our understanding of KOMA and KORA prior to any investigation.  This was noted by Mr. Howe as key in his decision not to file ‘action alleging these violations.’   As we learned in the training provided by the attorney general, each circumstance is unique and should be reviewed against the requirements of KOMA in appropriate context.  We also learned that each circumstance can reviewed by different attorneys and different conclusions can be reached.”

The full text of Howe’s letter to the mayor and council can be found here:

http://da.jocogov.org/sites/da.jocogov.org/files/koma.pdf

Comments

  1. Judith Rogers says:

    I can hardly wait for the Kellogg/Beasley Bunch spin on this one………..it should be good…….I am sure the Dictator will say the decision is not “germaine” to Gardner city government………what gripes me the most, however, is that the lowlifes are not held accountable or responsible for their actions…………more corrupt politics while the slimeballs continue to operate how, when and where they want to…………..you could give these jerkwads training session after training session and they will continue their manipulation, conniving, etc. in the closed door back room, cell phone, e-mails, etc. and the people will continue to pay the high price of cronyism government………..nothing will change until the PEOPLE get their act together…………I won’t be holding my breath waiting for that to happen……………

  2. Oh Judith, It all about the tablets.

  3. Mr. Drovetta. I am ashamed for you. You owe us an apology.

  4. This mayor says:

    has continually brought shame to this town. This is merely the latest example. How much more should we have to take of this?

  5. Whatever Judith says:

    Once again, complaining does not equal productivity, go to the council meetings, ask questions, get involved, vote, but be respectful

  6. Judith Rogers says:

    He owes you more than an apology, Senior – he owes you his letter of resignation. How many more times do you think the Open Meetings Act and Open Records Act have been violated by the city of Gardner and by government entities across the land – PLENTY!!!! And the connivers are sitting around probably right now figuring out how to continue to operate as they have for years or perhaps worse. Politicians like Howe aren’t going to do anything to help the citizens – the citizens are going to have to help themselves

  7. Yes, the mayor does says:

    owe us his resignation. I for one, am ready to accept it. We will be waiting Mr. Mayor. Somebody publicly tries to warn him he’s about to violate the law and he has the arrogance to do it anyway. Unbelievable he is.

  8. Judith Rogers says:

    It is all Fotovich’s fault…………..or Judith’s fault…………or the fault of Thompson, Peters and Shepherd…………who will be the next scapegoat for the lowlifes?????? Press and the Dictator every day tell you that you should not give them any oversight, question them in any way, etc. and let them “manage” as they please – well, these violations are just the tip of the iceberg in my opinion………………..nothing new – your cronyism government has been going on for eons and won’t stop until the people do something about it………THAT IS MY OPINION.

  9. It’s easier for them to project blame onto others than to take responsibility for their actions. They should take a lesson from Dustin Martin. He’s more a man than any of them, and he’s much younger.

  10. I'm starting to worry says:

    We haven’t heard much from GardnerPride, ALL CAPS MAN (a.k.a. jdelphiki) or that self-righteous Ryan. He especially should be really upset about this. He has a take-no-prisoners mentality against KOMA violators, whether you’ve really violated it or not. So he must be really fired up about this. But they haven’t commented. Why do you think that is?

  11. They’re probably all meeting in a backroom somewhere trying to decide who to blame. Should it be Take Back Gardner? The newspaper? Judith? Fotovich? Stay tuned, I feel their keyboards vibrating with anxiety. Ready, set, go . . . .. start deflecting blame NOW.

  12. Charlie K says:

    I’m not sure what all this other stupidity is here but I agree ‘Yes the mayor does’. The fact that the Mayor went ahead with a potential KOMA violation even after having been warned by a Council Member says volumes about his mentality.

    Unfortunately, Drovetta is not interested in doing what is best for the City, only furthering his own agenda. You can see that in the way he runs the Council meetings.

  13. What a load of... says:

    …crap!

    This article is a full-fledged hatchet job. Not that Judith or any of the other posts she posted here under other names (to give herself an imaginary “consensus”) would notice.

    Why is it that Gardner News can post everything down to the color of Dave Drovetta’s bowel movements, but refuses to post WHO FILED THE INITIAL COMPLAINT!?!?!? How can this be “newsworthy” if the pretend news source, Gardner News, won’t tell us who filed the complaint? Without that bit of information, this is just an opinion piece, masquerading as a hatchet job, pretending NOT to be a Take Back Gardner revenge plot.

    Who filed the complaint? C’mon, Danedri…own up. It was you. Or your punching bag pal, Larry Fotovich tipped you off to file it for him. You can tell us. Nobody else will EVER suspect you and we’ll keep it quiet. Who filed the complaint, Danedri?

    The funniest, and most pathetic part of it was that, unlike the Take Back Gardner lowlifes, at least Mayor Drovetta’s accused KOMA violations were procedural and didn’t involve hiding communications from half the Council. Even GN’s article couldn’t obscure that Drovetta allegedly sent his emails to the entire Council. Y’know…”EACH Council member” (emphasis mine). He wasn’t trying to hide his actions from the Council while he plotted to take over the city. Take Back Gardner, and it’s Gardner News supporters, can’t make the same claim about THEIR KOMA violations.

    So again, the question remains: If this is supposed to be a condemnation of Drovetta, as Gardner News clearly wants it to be, then Gardner News needs to tell the WHOLE story.

    Who filed the complaint?

    Is ANYONE at Gardner News honest enough to tell us the truth?

  14. . . . . and there it is. Blame has successfully been placed.

  15. Now don't you feel better says:

    ALL CAPS MAN! You really shouldn’t hold that in. Bravo for trying to make the mayor’s blatant disregard for the law someone else’s fault. Good to see you haven’t lost your touch!

  16. State of Affairs says:

    So much for moving to a small-town community.

  17. @What a load of... says:

    Is that you Adam? Daddy’s been a very naughty boy.

  18. So to follow this “reasoning” thru: If someone becomes aware that a law is being broken, maybe a murder or theft, they should not report it. And if they do report it, the police should make the informant’s name known. Is that why they have an anonymous TIPs hotline?
    And let’s say the informant is correct, a crime was committed, then it’s the informant’s fault right? For trying to ruin the criminals reputation? I mean, if the informant hadn’t provided information regarding the crime, the law breaker wouldn’t have been found guilty.
    You’re right. That is a load.

  19. Entirely backwards, as usual says:

    Samuel, your “reasoning” is backwards. The same set of hacks who were screaming conspiracies over the recall of the Take Back Gardner Council members…who spent months arguing that their secret plan for taking over Gardner government required NO special interest by the JoCo DA…who even TODAY are crying foul over anonymous donors to the recall effort…who continue to allege (with no proof whatsoever) that Gardner’s Mayor was behind the citizen led and suppored Take Back Gardner recall effort…

    All of those hacks fought tooth and nails at ignoring the actions behind legitimate KOMA violations and the ultimate will of the voters; fought tooth and nails to bring into the light anyone they thought might be associated with the recall, regardless of the facts.

    And now, that the tables are turned and the DA has decided that the Mayor needs to be warned about KOMA violations, even though his weren’t geared around nefarious plots, these self-same hacks….and you seem to include yourself into the mix, Samuel…are ready to form a lynch mob. Worse, you’re all quite happy to hide the involvement of…whoever it was who went running to the DA as the first sign of KOMA questionability. At least in this case, the Mayor has dutifully been warned and WILL face full sanction by the DA if he repeats his action. I doubt very seriously if you’ll see KOMA recidivism from him.

    And you’re hilarious, acting as if the reason Gardner News refused to publish the source of the complaint was out of fear for some “tips hotline” kind of retribution. Could you BE any more ridiculous?

    I doubt you’ll see Drovetta hiring lawyers and suing Gardner News to punish them like Take Back Gardner’s supporters did to try to stop the recall effort. I doubt you’ll see him or his supporters threatening people or launching smear campaigns against the “hidden” complaintant in all this.

    From all appearances, Gardner News seems to be protecting, either themselves, or someone who is too cowardly to come out in public with their allegations and involvement in making these allegations against our Mayor and our city. Maybe you ought to read back in the GN archives to the LAST time Gardner News got a “tip” about a supposed KOMA violation and issued FOIA requests for SPECIFIC emails made by specific council members…inside knowledge they would not have had without the direct involvement of themselves and their secret informer. In both cases, the past one and this one, Gardner News magically comes up with knowledge about KOMA violations, but hides their own obvious involvement in creating the crises. Not suprising they got lucky this time, even if the last time was so laughably unsubstantiated that they couldn’t even generate a followup story about it.

    As always, though, the questions remain: who is generating these KOMA complaints that Gardner News keeps “finding”; what involvement does Gardner News have in filing the complaints themselves; where was Gardner News when Take Back Gardner was skulking around with its nefarious plans for our city; and most important: could we trust Gardner News to find KOMA violations (or any other questionable activity) on any of the politicians it supports?

    Gardner News owes us the truth. The real question is: do they have the integrity to give it to us?

  20. Judith Rogers says:

    They didn’t get lucky, they got right!!! These violations have occurred so many times that it is pathetic and it finally caught up with them and yet they still are not held accountable and responsible……………the people will have to do it and set the standard because as you can see there are entities out there who go along with all of this wrongdoing – this wrongdoing is just not confined to a select few or to these violations only – the loss of moral values is widespread and is taking a heavy toll on the U.S. And I love how the no-namers take up for these lowlifes………….they sure as hell aren’t signing their names to the crud that goes on but that is the norm for criminals in my opinion.

  21. We love Jdelphiki says:

    Welcome back jdelphiki. Trolls not getting fed on the other sites?

  22. As Rick Perry would say, it looks like the Mayor “stepped in it.” Was he trying to overthrow the city council? Not so much….but with the training they all receive on KOMA they should have known better.

    As far as knowing who filed the complaint, in my opinion, I don’t think that matters. If people have to worry about their names being trashed by people like Judith and Danedri because they filed some complaint against our government then no one will be around to keep things in line.

    I do think it would be wise of the Mayor to maybe explain what he was doing or at least apologize. Do I think we should fire up the Gardner Recall machine…..? I’ll let Judith and Danedri run with this one.

  23. why not recall this time? You obviously were bothered by alleged KOMA violations enough last time to start a recall even when the DA indicated no law had been broken. Why the indifference this time? This is a serious question. Why is it not worth your time now? What has changed. Help us understand.

  24. If you had any idea of the mess and cluster it was to go through that recall campaign then you’d understand why I’m not to excited to jump back into it.

    And I’m by no way justifying the Mayor’s actions when I say this, but he’s not trying to pull a bunch of power from the City Council like Peter’s and Co. tried to do with the office of Mayor.

  25. Ryan is now part of the machine. He sold out. That simple.

  26. Judith Rogers says:

    Beasley and his bunch including Kellogg, Steve Hale, Solie, Dan and many more will be there to get what THEY want and will cover and support and enable the worthless politicians, bureaucrats and thieves all day and night and they are always there to put the spin out there for gullible citizens to swallow if they see fit to do so – that is my opinion…………….if you go along with their crud, you become the lowlifes yourselves…………sitting on the fence and being a part of the wrongdoing or turning your head will get you more and bigger problems……THAT IS MY OPINION.

  27. So when will this recall election take place?? Oh wait, there won’t be one will there? Two council members were ousted for having closed door meetings, and this entire council has done it, twice apparently, and nothing will happen…Why is that? Because this co called mayor, and his soon to be hand picked city government, (yeah right, city government…I crack myself up), orchestrated the whole thing with a group of “concerned citizens” to get rid of the last two, so our fine leader can load the council with his “yes” people. Now the one voice of reason, (if there is such a thing), in city hall, calls them out for doing the same thing. And for what? The DA does nothing but send these little children to bed without dinner, and they will wake up tomorrow and go right back their BS personal agendas and running this so called great city into the ground. I’m sure the other “cool kids” are in the leaders clubhouse trying to come up with a way to “get rid” of Fotovich. I, for one, am embarrased to call Gardner home, I guess all the people moving out of Gardner feel the same. Half the people on here blame Drovetta, the other half blame Gardner News…bottom line is, all of us citizens are to blame, we are the people who voted in this clown, we are the people who didn’t vote at all, but yet we all bitch and moan because this city is run like it’s personal property, and do nothing about it. WE are to blame period!! Wanna fix it? Elect someone worthy of the job, not who has the most money and “friends in high places” who want to further their own agendas. One lady ALWAYS voicing her opinion on here, seems to think she has all the answers, why not sack up and put your money where your mouth is, put your name on the ballot and run for mayor. I would vote for you, just in hopes that you did win, and watch you fall flat on your face just like the circus we have now. Until we have someone in office who genuinely cares about this city, look forward to the same old BS..

  28. *Ryan said:”Ryan is now part of the machine. He sold out. That simple.” Now THAT I believe! He’s a player. Anyone watching carefully can see that. As long as he gets his that’s all he really cares about. He seems more concerned with befriending the “right” people than truly doing what is right for the people. His above excuse is just that, an excuse. He should be just as upset about this violation as he was when he accused others of violating the law.

  29. Judith Rogers says:

    Hey, Ryan, you don’t think the Dictator has NOT been playing the power games????……….give me a freaking break………..you put yourself further in the hole every time you open your mouth – you have no credibility, ethics, integrity, honesty and never have had in my book and your words, actions, inaction and voting record prove it.

  30. Judith Rogers says:

    You won’t be seeing me run for office as I have stated before but I will continue to voice my concerns and opinions – those who try to shut down my voice will be sorely disappointed.

  31. I’m just glad I can give all you whinner something else to complain about.

  32. Jared is that you? says:

    “Ryan is now part of the machine. He sold out. That simple.”

  33. Jared Taylor says:

    No, it wasn’t me. I would start a recall of Mayor Drovetta, he broke the law. His motive was purely personal and a dereliction of duty and entirely motivated on his personal hatred of Larry Fotovich. He has consistently put himself above the good of the City and has acted inconsistent with a man of his position. His decision making has been obviously compromised consistent now with this proof as he and council members have been found guilty of open meetings act violations.

  34. Jared Taylor says:

    I should have said, I would “support” instead of “start” a recall effort.

  35. What gives? says:

    Why won’t you start it?

  36. Jared Taylor says:

    Someone else can step up and do it if someone feels passionate about it.

  37. State of Affairs says:

    Repeating-So much for moving to a small-town community. Stuck where the people get ripped off.

  38. The first violation is a no-brainer. The Council shouldn’t have conversations via email. I’m assuming the second violation was because the intention of the Council was to discuss certain positions on the City payroll and not the specific personnel employed in those positions. That sounds like a procedural error to me. I’m not sure that I trust this Council to stay within their guidelines and not discuss specific personnel in public thus opening our City up to potential litigation from the employee base. A couple of them seem like they are above the laws that they are to operate under while others appear to not really know what they can and can’t do as a Governing Body. I can see how it would feel wrong to discuss salary information in public knowing that there is only one person in a specific position i.e, City Engineer, Planner, etc. That may have made the Council feel like they would be in violation to discuss it in public. I’m glad to see that they were proactive and asked for clarification in the form of training from the D.A. Let’s hope that it was a lessoned learned.

  39. Judith Rogers says:

    Kay, I HIGHLY doubt if THEY asked for the training and they ALL know what is going on because this kind of stuff has been going on for eons in my opinion and thru my experience with the rotten to the core politicians, thieves and bureaucrats. Mike Press, Melissa Mundt, Gardner city administration personnel, the city and government attorneys and all of those connected to government entities along with the worthless politicians are NOT dumb as dirt, uninformed, they know the procedures, etc., etc. – make no excuses for them – hold them accountable and responsible and for your sake as well as all citizens’ sakes, don’t vote them into office and don’t enable and support them and keep them in their jobs – they are NOT working for YOU. You get the government you deserve by the choices you make and what you enable and support.

  40. Where's our apology says:

    Mr. Mayor?

  41. I doubt you’ll find it on the Gardner News.

  42. It's a prepared says:

    statement Ryan. That means he didn’t apologize to anyone, regardless of the news outlet. What is it in this town with people in power not offering an apology when there is evidence of wrongdoing?You are accused of beating up a council member, no apology. You violate an open meetings law, no apology. Are our expectations so low in this town that we think this is acceptable behavior?

  43. Jared Taylor says:

    @It’s a prepared… this is because most politicians feel they are above reproach and believe they have no accountability. It is a product, in my opinion, of a political system and an electorate that doesn’t hold people responsible.

  44. Charlie K says:

    I would support a recall effort of the Mayor as well and I wish someone would start it. I’m afraid as I simply don’t have the time to devote to spearheading something like that so it won’t be me. But he is obviously acting for his own interests and not Gardner’s.

  45. Judith Rogers says:

    How much credibility will the Dictator’s choice to fill Pugh’s council seat carrry???? I think only an idiot would be willing to be appointed by the Dictator – that is my opinion. That announcement should really be interesting…………………

  46. Judith Rogers says:

    I like how the GardnerEdge, the Gardner Chamber of Commerce media, has already taken this KOMA violation story off their front page and there was only one comment posted there……..LOL but it is really not funny…………another source of problems for the people in my opinion……..

  47. Mayor. I am growing impatient. Take a lead from Dustin Martin. Acknowledge the error, apologize and do better. And if your attorney is giving you such poor advice that it caused the council to break the law, he should be apologizing as well. You should lead by example, and the example you set is an embarassment.

  48. Small town BS

  49. Remove the Mayor says:

    It’s time to remove the mayor. What do we need to do to make it happen?

  50. Judith Rogers says:

    These following comments tell any citizen how bad things really are, not only in your city government, but with all of your government entities. Wonder why you have problems, you have to look no further than your worthless politician and the thieves they take care of. THAT IS MY OPINION. Sounds to me like the Dictator is more than ready to do whatever he sees fit to do once again just as long as he has an attorney around to back him up, that or citizens who enable and support him and I am sure that City Hall Bunch and some Council members will also go along with his wrongdoing as they have – sad, sad, sad, sad……………..

    ***********************************************************************************************************

    Drovetta said, “I appreciate the efforts of DA Howe’s office in the investigation and his subsequent response. It is important to recognize that we were proactive and scheduled training with the attorney general’s office to reinforce our understanding of KOMA and KORA prior to any investigation. This was noted by Mr. Howe as key in his decision not to file ‘action alleging these violations.’ As we learned in the training provided by the attorney general, each circumstance is unique and should be reviewed against the requirements of KOMA in appropriate context. We also learned that each circumstance can reviewed by different attorneys and different conclusions can be reached.”

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