October 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. have killed him to stick an apology in that statement? You have to wonder about someone that can’t apologize after being caught doing something wrong. We can do better than this. Our former mayor said we should let our current mayor lead. Well, we have, and he led us right into a KOMA violation. How is it that newcomers to city government can grasp what is appropriate and inappropriate in regard to KOMA rules but our mayor and city attorney who have been involved in council meetings for YEARS cannot?

  2. Apparently he didn’t apologize because he’s not sorry and doesn’t believe he is wrong. No one is above the law in this country. Mr. Drovetta has changed. He needs to put aside his ego and remember all his years of public service. He was a better councilman than he has been a mayor.

  3. Oh, the hypocrites says:

    Judith and her fans and Gardner News now are big supporters of taking action against KOMA violations. Judith and her fans and Gardner News now are big supporters of allowing people to hide their involvement in pursuing action on KOMA violations.

    What hypocrisy!

    Evidently, obeying the laws and transparency in Gardner politics only applies to the “other guys”, not to Judith, Gardner News, and all the “dittos” out there.

    Ironically, the people involved in the recall, along with the people who frequently post here in support of the Mayor: all have come out in favor of the Mayor facing the consequences for his KOMA violations. All have gone on record as saying the Mayor and Council should know better. I agree with that sentiment.

    The laws should apply equally and be enforced equally. But you’d never know it, reading Gardner News or listening to Judith and her collection “lowlife, cowardly, backstabbers” taking the exact opposite positions that they did during the prior KOMA violation incident on the Gardner Council.

  4. Judith Rogers says:

    Mr. Drovetta has not changed, he or Lehman – you just now know how they have always operated and evidently will continue to do so and the wrongdoing doesn’t begin or end with KOMA violations. Myself, I will continue to file complaints with the Attorney General, Dist. Attorney, Secretary of State, Sheriff’s Office, FBI, KBI, Justice Dept. or whoever if I see wrongdoing and want it stopped and every other citizen should be doing the same if they want or care about having decent government and if they don’t take an interest in how their governments are run, they will suffer the consequences.

  5. Judith Rogers says:

    P.S. And I sign my name to my submitted complaints.

  6. @Complaintant says:

    Are you saying, Judith, that YOU are the complaintant in this current KOMA investigation by the DA? Or are you trying to change the subject by ignoring all the times you have hypocritically whined about anonymous posters here, even though you only seem to mind the ones that disagree with you. Or are you trying to see if we’ll ignore the obvious fact that in THIS KOMA investigation, the main complaintant (if it’s NOT you) remains anonymous…without a peep from you about it.

    Describe THAT hypocrisy in yourself, if you can.

  7. Judith Rogers says:

    I did not submit this particular complaint on KOMA violations but I would have been glad to do so if I would have been in a position to know everything that occurred. Whoever the entity was to bring about this justice and showing the people how their government is ACTUALLY being run and managed and knowing who the people are who are allowing it and promoting it, I give them a great big THANK YOU – JOB WELL DONE! Bringing out the truth on matters of this kind are way overdue and it sounds like citizens better be ready to file more complaints when you read the Dictator’s statement on the issue. It appears to me from the Dictator’s statement that the status quo government involving all of the players you have had for so long are more than willing to continue to operate as they have for years and much to the detriment of the people in my opinion.

  8. Does it matter who filed the complaint? A law was broken. And if I recall, Councilman Fotovich said in a public meeting that he objected and believed the executive session was illegal. As my daughter used to say: Duh.

  9. Ah, hypocrisy says:

    So you say NOW, Judith. NOW, you applaud KOMA violations and the DA. NOW, you and your “me-too” buddy, Senior, cheer the secrecy that hides the identity of the complaintant.

    Do we need to dig up all the posts that you, Judith, and your friends, posted saying that there should be NO reason for privacy or secrecy for candidates for the City Manager position? That things like confidentiality, or the expectation of protection of ones’ identity, REGARDLESS of the reason, was not important?

    Do we need to rehash all the rabid screels that you, Judith, and your friends, posted about the “unfairness” of KOMA violation investigations. We seem to recall you specifically NOT applauding the quest for information surrounding the prior KOMA investigation over Council members Peters and Shepperd. You were, in fact, supporting the opposite: Shepperd and Peters didn’t have to say squat. You didn’t question their story or ask for any proof, other than their say-so, for the questionable events that occurred. You were quite happy to see people getting sued to protect all that illicit, questionable behavior. To protect the secrets of accused. You were quite happy to call out the identities of anyone who supported the recall and to deny the rights of the voters to decide its outcome.

    You cannot hide from your hypocrisy, Judith. Nor yours, Senior. Either you support the laws applying to EVERYONE, or you’re just trying to support the lowlife thuggery of using the laws only to beat up the people you dislike. Given your past posts, your applause of the current KOMA events illustrate perfectly where your sentiments truly reside.

  10. It would be hypocritical for the same people who led a recall of John and Mary based on alleged KOMA violations to NOT start a recall of the mayor now that he has been found to have violated KOMA. If they don’t, we will know that this was not really their true motive for trying to get rid of these two council members.

  11. I’m not sure what I said to make you think I don’t support laws equally applied to everyone, hyprocrisy. But you seem very angry, and your logic is somewhat convulated. Peace be With You.

  12. Judith Rogers says:

    What a bunch of bull hockey………….Shepherd, Peters and Thompson did not violate the KOMA as indicated by the findings of the Dist. Attorney and many citizens such as myself………I said all along that the first line of that recall petition carried a lie and still feel that way…………the poison still flows………………..

  13. Judith is wrong says:

    Judith you are actually wrong, the DA may have said they couldn’t find KOMA violations but the people who voted did. The courts went well out of their way to continually say that they do not find guilt or non guilt in a election but only the people do. Clearly the people found them guilty of KOMA violations.

    So you are wrong.

  14. Besides... says:

    Shepherd, Peters, and Thompson took specific, surrpetitious actions intended to plan for, and organize actions they intended to take in Council meetings. They were clever enough to use a proxy to carry their surreptitious communications back and forth between them, and, in my opinion and the opinions of the voters, told outright, blatant lies about their knowledge of the actions their proxy was doing for them. They repeated this apparent lie to the public AND to the DA and were clever enough at hiding their tracks that the only word we had was to accept their own words. As if they’re going to admit that they were willfully breaking KOMA laws.

    Counter that to the KOMA violations of our Mayor…basically sending out emails to the entire council…and tell us, Judith. Who’s the lowlife? The Mayor who stupidly sent out private emails, or the Council members who planned and executed a secret scheme to circumvent KOMA, then apparently lied about it? You SAY that you’re all for integrity, but be honest with us (if you can) Judith and tell us: which of the two cases showed less regard for the intent of KOMA laws?

  15. Judith Rogers says:

    That Mayor, some Council members and that administrative staff are not stupid and make incidental errors – they know what the Sam Hill they are doing and 99% of it is wrong and is adversely affecting the citizens far and wide – that is my opinion. It has been found that the Mayor and some council members have violated the law and yet you continue to support and enable the lowlifes and it is understandable since you come from the same cut right along with Pugh also who the Dist. Attorney found grounds to charge. You can put the spin on the wrongdoing all you want and especially while you do it anonymously like all lowlifes do but I can still smell your stench throughout Gardner.

    And now this evening I will get another lowlife who knows how to come and go thru the back and side doors of City Hall already and once again, the people will be forced to have his representation without the ability to vote on the person. Your city hall and Dictator stink to high heaven to me and I don’t like it one iota.

  16. Prove that they are willfully breaking laws. says:

    Judith, as usual, you make serious, libelous charges about people and offer no proof.

    I note that you have no defense for your OWN support of much worse surreptitious KOMA violators…that you continue to defend that the voters found offensive enough to recall two sitting Council members over. Where is your sense of outrage there, hypocrite?

    You won’t find any of the people out here who ask you to justify your words and actions condoning misbehavior from the Mayor, from Dennis Pugh, or from ANY members of Gardner government.

    But you’re so corrupt in your own beliefs that you can’t even say the name of the KOMA complaintant for fear of highlighting the lowlifes you and Gardner News keep in office through your skullduggery. How can you live with yourself and the damage your hypocrisy causes our City?

  17. Judith Rogers says:

    You name the complaintant…………..you know everything………LOL……..you are really hung up on this………what is your problem???? Wait, I don’t have time to listen to all of your problems……they are many.

    It was proven by the District Attorney that Thompson, Peters and Shepherd DID NOT VIOLATE THE KOMA. Do you have a brain??????? Do you use it if you have one????? Doesn’t look like it.

  18. It was proven that Thompson, Peters and Shepherd went against the will of the Gardner voters and are gone for that and for screwing Gardner out of any say or income from the intermodal that is still happening. Epic fail on their part.

    Some day you may lose your biiterness over them getting the hook by the voters that they ignored the 1st time around. They couldn’t ignore them the 2nd time thankfully.

  19. Gee, Judith says:

    Do YOU have a brain?

    Nothing was PROVEN by the DA with regards to Shepherd, Peters, Thompson and their blatant nose-thumbing of KOMA laws. And you know it. The DA did say that he found no actionable evidence. That is NOT saying that the DA proved or disproved anything. It’s saying that the evidence he had available was not enough for him to carry out legal proceedings against the people involved.

    The truly scummy thing that you’re doing here, Judith, in arguing about PROOF against those three is that they were clever enough to hide their actions to the point that only THEY knew the proof. If you recall, with that thing you call a brain, the DA was reduced to asking Shepherd, Peters, and Thompson what they did concerning the actionst they took. He had to rely on their honesty to tell him, “No, Mr. DA, I did not know that the other Council members in our cabal were going to sign our petition to take over the city!”. They might as well have told him, Bill Clinton style, “I did not have sex with that intern!”. Your definition of proof, Judith, depends on what the definition of “is” is.

    Worst of all is your continued, hypocritical protection of the person you think is the complaintant in this current KOMA situation. You scream bloody murder at the slightest hint of anonymous…ANYONE…but you are happy with hiding the identity of the complaintant. Seems like you have comparable integrity to your deposed Council friends…transparency is for the other guy. Secrecy is perfectly fine as long as it helps promote your own agenda.

    If you’re so convinced that Drovetta’s KOMA violation is noteworthy, fire up the recall machine. I’m all for letting the voters decide. The seemed to have made the right choice the last time.

  20. Skeptic says:”It was proven that Thompson, Peters and Shepherd went against the will of the Gardner voters and are gone for that and for screwing Gardner out of any say or income from the intermodal that is still happening.” But I thought the recallers said that the recall had nothing to do with their decision on the Intermodal? Which is it, they allegedly violated KOMA or they ticked off the wrong people when they deannexed the Intermodal land? You boys need to do a better job of keeping your stories straight.

  21. State of Affairs says:

    Edgerton Residents have to pay for the water/sewer setup for the intermodal. We already have high water/sewer fees. Also, Edgerton has promised to provide other projects for the intermodal. What income are you all talking about missing from the intermodal? All I hear is pay out, not income.

  22. Judith Rogers says:

    They wouldn’t know straight if it bit them on the rearend…………..Jdel, that is, Dan, loves to write the stories and lines for the lowlifes…………

  23. You seem to be confused. You can’t even keep your own stories straight. One minute, KOMA violations are pointless and besides, EVERYBODY does them; the next you’re quibbling over the technicalities over, basically, how good YOUR KOMA violators were at covering their tracks…all so you can condemn our mayor for his own KOMA violations. It’s confusing for everyone else, keeping track of whether you support or don’t support KOMA laws; whether violations of intent that you USED to complain about matter when you’re covering for your friends. We need a scorecard to keep track of it all, so I can’t imagine how confused you must get, yourself. The twisted path of your hypocrisy makes it pretty easy to find things that are straighter. With more integrity than you seem to show.

    I’m not Jdel or whoever, either. Ya got that confused, too. Do we need to call EMS for you, just to make sure you’re okay? You seem like you’re losing your grip.

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