December 20, 2014

KOMA violation UPDATED

Danedri Thompson
submissions@gardnernews.com
The Johnson County District Attorney’s Office hopes to complete its investigation into alleged Kansas Open Meetings Act violations by the Gardner City Council before the end of the year.
Steve Howe, district attorney, would not confirm a deadline for wrapping up the investigation, but said he was hopeful his office would conclude its investigation before the end of 2011.
Howe said his investigator will present information to county attorneys who would then make a decision based on the information.
“After we make a decision, we will render an opinion that we will make available to the public,” Howe said.
He would not comment on possible penalties should the DA’s office deem the Gardner City Council violated the law, but a letter to The Gardner News from Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office said violators can be fined up to $500. Other penalties include open meetings training.
“There are no statutes that address payment of costs associated with such remedial payment,” Assistant Attorney General Liza Mendoza said in a letter delivered via U.S. Postal Service.
Monetary penalties are rare.
“We do not know of any cases where a court has ordered such civil penalties under the provisions of KOMA or KORA,” Mendoza said in her letter.
However, Montgomery County Attorney Larry Markle recently reached a settlement with members of the Independence Community College Board of Trustees concerning a KOMA violation.
In that case, trustees met in executive session to discuss applicants to fill a vacancy on the board.
“KOMA is clear that executive session would only include discussions of non-elected personnel,” said Andy Taylor, editor of The Montgomery County Chronicle, who filed the complaint.
The county attorney issued a letter to the trustees saying they needed to acknowledge the error and apologize.
Less than a year later, trustees met again in executive session to discuss applicants for a second vacancy on the board. Taylor filed a second complaint.
The county attorney said the violations were wanton attempts to subvert the public interest, and two board members were fined $500 each. The entire six-member board was forced to attend open meetings training.
“Very few cases ever go to court,” Taylor said. “The county attorney or the district attorney determines whether a violation existed and then he or she will have to create an agreement. It doesn’t go to a courtroom or a judge.”
A spokesperson for the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office declined to comment about any specifics of the local investigation including who filed the complaints and which council members are under investigation.
However, The Gardner News was able to confirm through other sources that an investigator from the D.A.’s Office questioned at least two city officials about a July 14 executive session and about a possible serial meeting violation related to an email.
During a July 14 work session, council member Larry Fotovich objected to going into executive session on five different occasions saying a discussion about overall salary structures should not be discussed in private session.
“It’s something that can be gotten as part of the Kansas Open Records Act and is not something that should be secret,” he said prior to joining the council in executive session.
All other council members voted each time, four-to-one, in favor of retreating behind closed doors.

Comments

  1. So, then... says:

    Aside from the blatantly exploitive title, that implies a violation actually took place, what are you REALLY trying to say, Ms. Thompson? You act like you know more details on the investigation than you’re letting on. After all, you’re spelling out specifically a sample scenario that seems similar to ours here. Why would you know to search for THAT kind of scenario if you didn’t already know what the Gardner situation was all about?

    So come clean, Ms. Thompson. Did YOU file the complaint? Is someone on the Council feeding you information so you can blow it up into some huge “scandal” for your paper? Are you pursuing this as some kind of payback vendetta for some past wrongs?

    YOU opened this door and continue to try to make a big deal about it. You owe all of us the integrity to come clean about your involvement in this and/or the involvement of whatever quiet voice who’s playing your source.

  2. GardnerPride says:

    It’s important to note the the violation of the ICC Board was due to the fact that they were discussing the replacement of elected personnel.

    “KOMA is clear that executive session would only include discussions of non-elected personnel,” said Andy Taylor

    The City Admisistrator position certainly qualifies as non-elected personnel, so at first glance, the council was within KOMA regulations to discuss in executive session.

    I see the comparison that Ms. Thompson is trying to draw here, but it appears to me that she is barking up the wrong tree. Hopefully most will be able to see through that.

  3. Inflammatory and divisive work from Ms Thompson. It is unprofessional, biased, and activist journalism. It is nothing new for her, though. What’s sad is that I often agree with her underlying conservative viewpoints, but I certainly do not want to be associated with her if this is how she chooses to express herself.

  4. Politically, I’m probably not quite as conservative as she is, but I lean that way. I just don’t think she has objectivity when it comes to representing her paper when it comes to Gardner government. She’s repeatedly shown that in what she chooses to report (or not report) and the means she goes about to gather information to report about.

  5. Judith Rogers says:

    Well, the usual Drovetta clones have been on here to cover the Dictator’s rearend……I always enjoy their drivel, especially when it is submitted by the same ole no-namers who have no credibility since they won’t take ownership of their comments. Drovetta has his plants and they know the roles they are to play………..isn’t that right, Dan???

    It looks to me like one of the penalties has already been invoked since the city has received Open Meetings/Open Records training. I just hope they look at the city denying my requests for Open Records requests such as when I wanted to know the administrative staff salaries for each of the past five years and when I wanted to know if city funds had been used for retirement programs for any elected official – why would the city want to deny me this information??? I know why as any citizen should know why – stonewalling is used time and time again to keep the people uninformed and it takes any form necessary to keep the people in the dark. In the process I also hope the District Attorney makes the Beasley Bunch follow the campaign finance laws and not allow “anonymous” donors on their reports.

    Open Meeting violations I believe occur on a weekly basis by cell phone, e-mail, back room discussions on a one on one basis or whatever it takes to avoid a violation as far I am concerned – same ole manipulation and conniving and it appears to me you even have your city attorney involved in the games. It is just a matter of whether elected officials who are supposed to enforce the laws will do so. And, of course, it is up to the people to work for and demand the type of government they deserve and need.

  6. Judith Rogers says:

    If the walls of City Hall could talk, they should prey………………..

  7. Judith Rogers says:

    Boy, when I flub, I flug real good…………..instead of the word “prey”, I meant to say PRAY…… the jerks have already preyed……………..

  8. Who's being investigated? says:

    You act like it’s Drovetta. Could be Fotovich, instead.

  9. Judith Rogers says:

    It could be all of them………do you think you will ever know??? Do you know what goes on every day at that City Hall???? No, you don’t – they need 24/7 surveilance on and off the clock and now they have another smoooooth player in residence who is well versed on the games that are played……..that is my opinion.

  10. Who's being investigated? says:

    We certainly won’t know as long as Ms. Thompson or whoever is filing the complaint continues to play shell games with what she and they know. SOMEBODY filed the complaint

  11. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    I attended the Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA) and Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) training session that was held in Council Chambers at Gardner City Hall on September 16, 2011. In attendance were the mayor, all city council members, city administration directors, senior staff members and members of the public. I was surprised to note the absence of any reporters from the local news media during this important public meeting.

    According to Gardner City Clerk Doreen Pesek, Open Meetings and Open Records training is customarily provided by the City Clerk to newly elected members of the city council shortly after they are seated. However, due to this year’s exceptionally heavy schedule of council meetings and work sessions leading up to a final vote to adopt the fiscal year 2012 City Budget on August 15, KOMA/KORA training was delayed, according to Ms. Pesek. It should also be mentioned that since March 21, 2011, council members have held many work sessions to assist the mayor with the selection process to find a qualified candidate to be appointed by the mayor as Gardner’s new City Administrator.

    In her response to my information request concerning the September training class, Ms. Pesek explained to me that she attended a KOMA/KORA seminar presented by the Kansas Attorney General’s Office and the Kansas Sunshine Coalition in Emporia on July 18, 2011. Assistant Attorney General Lisa Mendoza conducted that meeting.

    http://www.ksag.org/page/attorney-general-schmidt-announces-upcoming-open-meetings-and-open-records-training-sessions

    Ms. Pesek said, “[Ms. Mendoza’s] training class was quite thorough and generated good discussions within the group. At the end of Ms. Mendoza’s presentation I asked if she would be available to present [training] to our City. The AG’s office provided this training at no cost to the City which was an added bonus.”

    Ms. Pesek added, “The training is held to educate new Councilmembers on these two very important laws. It also serves as a refresher course for our veteran governing body members.”

    Unfortunately, in light of subsequent events, Ms. Pesek’s request to the Kansas Assistant Attorney General was made four days after the July 14 Gardner council executive session now being investigated by the Johnson County District Attorney’s office. The complaint of an alleged KOMA violation by the Gardner City Council was originally reported by The Gardner News on October 14, one month after the council members’ September KOMA training and three months after the subject July executive session.

    While no one has been reported publicly admitting to filing the KOMA violation complaint, it would seem logical to me that since Council member Larry Fotovich was the only 5-time ‘nay’ vote to conduct the July 14 executive session, he should have been the official who felt an obligation to self-report his participation in an alleged illegal meeting.

  12. Judith Rogers says:

    Kellogg you ought to be on the City payroll…………perhaps Drovetta is already paying you and Dan but they wouldn’t answer an Open Records request about that one……….LOL……………if someone did file a complaint, I say “GOOD JOB, BROWNIE” – way past time for it to occur and it should be done on a yearly basis and without notice……as I have said those thieves and the worthless politicians/bureaucrats need all the oversight and regulation that is possible……………the KBI and FBI needs to be wiretapping them, have cameras anywhere and everywhere, etc., etc…………..big brother always needs to be looking over the shoulder of the politicians/bureaucrats and lowlifes like the Beasley Bunch and slamming them against the wall on a regular basis……………I know one thing for sure, they feed Kellogg all the information they want put out there and he proceeds to be the joker of the day to carry out their work………….

  13. Rather than everyone coming up with all this blather, why not call the county and ASK who filed the complaint? Then post the answer. My guess is that when a government official reads into the public record that he objects to a secret meeting somebody ought to investigate – that’s their job. If you stand up and repeat several times a crime is being committed, I would imagine the police – or whoever – would check out the story. That’s what we pay taxes for. If no crime was committed, then no problem. If there was, then the officials will deal with it, and I expect the newspaper to report the outcome, whatever that is. I really don’t understand all this upset. We have laws, and we are ALL expected to abide by them.

  14. Kellogg for Mayor says:

    Jerry, should we assume all this politic-ing means you’re running for office?

  15. Well said Senior says:

    We do have laws. And I too am troubled by the appearance of some in this town that they are above these laws. Do we want to bury our heads in the sand Mr. Kellogg and not know about our city officials and their alleged open meeting violations? You are really going to suggest that reporters shouldn’t report on newsworthy stories? Yes, I too am curious about whether you are some relation to someone at city hall. Do you get paid for doing your own research and posting it? Why were you in city council chambers attending an open meetings training session designed for city council members? Are you planning on announcing your candidacy soon? I find your posting habits very peculiar. You must be connected to somebody in this town. Now that would make for a good investigative piece. Maybe Ms. Thompson should start looking into that story.

  16. GardnerPride says:

    I applaud Mr. Kellogg for his work and research. Unlike nearly every other poster on this board, including Judith, Jerry attends nearly every Council session, is knowledgeable on the proceedings, and rarely casts a critical word on either side. He simply does the research and shares the facts. No hatefullness, no slander, no vendictiveness, just facts. Something many of us struggle with.

    I think there are many in this town who should be criticized and held accountible, but he’s not one of them.

    Well done Jerry, thank you for your efforts.

  17. at GardnerPride says:

    How do you know he attends every city council meeting? Do you attend every city council meeting and see him there?

  18. ?Gardner Pride says:

    I’m sure Mr. Kellogg appreciates your support. Will he be running on your ticket next election then? or will he just be an appointee? or perhaps a jester in the royal court.

  19. Judith Rogers says:

    If this matter wasn’t so serious, it would be hilarious………maybe Kellogg could run on the 9-9-9 plan and the City Hall Gang could guide him through the process……………LOL………….he could take training for the Comedy Club party………….Run, Kellogg, Run……………reject all requests for info, have your meetings in the back room with one Council member at a time or perhaps two (that’s the way Fairburn and Lehman did it with the Commissioners) and have a different cell phone for each special interest and fellow politicians and numerous e-mail accounts and by all means be sure to get on Facebook, Kellogg and get your Twitter Tweets going………are you up to 999 Facebook friends by now………or better yet maybe you could just Occupy City Hall……….come on, Kellogg, give me your next “official” report…………

  20. GardnerPride says:

    No, I haven’t attended meetings in months, but have attended meetings on several occasions throughout the past 2-3 years, and Jerry was at each. I’m basing my assumption of him attending nearly all council meetings on his own replies in other threads, and mentioning that he was at the particular meeting in question.

    I spoke with Jerry during the previous council elections, and he made it clear then that while he has a great interest in Gardner and it’s politics, running for office isn’t for him. He can speak for himself though.

  21. Judith Rogers says:

    Kellogg has hired himself, or Drovetta has, as the City of Gardner’s public relations officer………no bias involved whatsoever……………..he reads like the propaganda being pedaled by the School Dist………….I can only hope the people use their brains to think independently and inform their own selves and remember you can’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see……….get involved yourself, do your own research and it won’t take an Einstein to figure things out if you truly have an open mind and watch and hear the politician’s and bureaucrat’s words, actions, inaction, flip-flopping, conniving, manipulation, stonewalling and voting records, etc., etc……………..

  22. ?Gardner Pride says:

    You must admit it’s interesting Mr. Kellogg attended the KOMA training and seems to be on first name basis with city staff; what other community members were invited? As an open meeting, was the KOMA training schedule published and when and where? Perhaps Mr. Kellogg can interview the mayor and post an article about Mr. Drovetta’s insight into the KOMA investigation.

  23. ?Gardner Pride says:

    Or maybe the Mayor could just start posting under his real name — So then . . .

  24. Blah, blah, blah says:

    Yada, yada, yada….This is all a blatant (and desperate) attempt by Danedri to save face for her KOMA violating father. The only respectable thing that man ever did while serving in office was resign. Politics as usual from Take Back Gardner and their “news” supporters.

  25. @?GardnerPride says:

    Agreed. There’s something weird about Kellogg inserting himself into this story. Interviewing the city clerk and writing his own little news article? Very bizarre. Wouldn’t be surprised if he’s on somebody’s payroll.

  26. ?Gardner Pride says:

    Venom is venom no matter what name you use. Come on, spit out another nasty comment, it’s so endearing.

  27. @@?Gardner Pride says:

    Politicians routinely have people monitor web sites, reporting back and posting items to lead discussion in the direction they prefer. Welcome to the world of social media. Odd everyone keeps sidetracking the comments into finger pointing rather than an intelligent discussion on whether a law was circumvented.

  28. So who's paying you? says:

    @?GardnerPride – Odd that YOU insert yourself into the discussion, so somebody must be paying you too, right? That IS the logic you’re using, isn’t it?

    Kellogg takes the time to make sure that he’s informed and to give an alternate, and better researched, viewpoint than even Ms. Thompson did when she dredged all this up. Being active in a discussion or keeping yourself informed does not mean you’re on the payola. If it was, Judith would be a millionaire.

  29. Please don’t ruin a good argument by inserting facts. Thanks!

  30. @So who's paying you says:

    You said, “Kellogg takes the time to make sure that he’s informed and to give an alternate, and better researched, viewpoint than even Ms. Thompson did when she dredged all this up.” Are you for real? She dredged this up? Surely you meant to say she reported on a formal complaint that was filed with the DA’s office. In other words, she was doing her job as a reporter. I’m always suspicious of anyone who advocates suppressing the news media. That includes you ALL CAPS GUY. Or should I say the artist formerly known as JDELPHIKI.

  31. GardnerPride says:

    I don’t know for certain, but I think it’s a safe bet that the entire city of Gardner would have been invited to the KOMA training, and it was probably announced on the city’s website. Only a few appear to have taken them up on the offer.

    In regards to sidetracking the argument from the issue at hand in the article, we have nothing to discuss. There are no details supplied, only a date of a meeting. We know nothing more than that a complaint has been filed. That really doesn’t give us much to go on.

    From the minimal information we have here, the Mayor seems to have every right to go into Executive Session for personnel matters regarding un-elected positions. Some disagree with that, but it isn’t a violation of the law as stated.

  32. doesn't matter says:

    Just trying to figure out why its okay for Judith to post all her blabber blabber “oh i know everything and wont do anything to fix anything but complain and mope and have a pitty party” crap and its all okay but when Mr. Kellogg post on her just some harmless unbias facts he’s ripped to shreads….

    BTW….does anyone wanna tell me why Danedri Thompson never has anything postive to report about Gardner?

  33. Judith Rogers says:

    And you, doesn’t matter, are the epitome of positivity???? What a joke…………….

  34. Pot, meet kettle says:

    You don’t have any room to talk, Judith. None of us (except Jerry) do.

  35. Judith Rogers says:

    Give me a break…………Jerry is no saint and fits in well with that City Hall Bunch as you can well tell by his postings and how he was and is a part of the lowlife Beasley Bunch……..you are free to pick your poison and I can tell which poison you are or have signed up for…………..

  36. Judith Rogers says:

    Kover-Up Kellogg………….probably worked for so many years in government that he knows just how to make things look and feel “clean as a whistle”…………just what I need is another government blood sucker who probably doesn’t know what work is but knows how to cover his rear and others’ rears and had many years of practice at it on the people’s dime……….also known as dead wood……………

  37. Pot, meet kettle says:

    Re: “pick your poison”…

    Here’s something you can try, Judith: reread Kellogg’s post and then reread everything you’ve written in this thread. I’ll take Kellogg’s type of poison over yours any day. You’ve got more than enough poison for twenty people.

  38. GardnerPride says:

    For the record Judith, I believe you and Jerry have the same job right now.

  39. Judith Rogers says:

    Don’t think I have much in common with Kover-Up Kellogg……………I am always wanting the truth out there which the worthless, corrupt politicians/bureaucrats/thieves try to keep hidden and ole Kellogg would try to make a pig pretty with lipstick as so many of the lowlifes do………as I have said before the rot runs deep these days and you could shovel the crap for months and it would still stink……………

  40. GardnerPride says:

    Hmm, we must have read the wrong article. I found Jerry’s comment to be concise, factual, and relevant to conversation. No wonder you hare having so much problem with it.

    What exactly was covered up by the comment? He didn’t white wash anything, he simply gathered relevant information and shared it with the rest of us. I thought you said information is power Judith?

  41. What an exhausting string of comments.

  42. It’s kind of like na-na-na- boo boo on the playground (imagine thumbs in ears and fingers waving as you say this.)
    I agree, it’s exhausting.
    But, rather amusing at the same time.

  43. Is Kellog running for office???

  44. Judith Rogers says:

    Kellogg can run on the Beasley Bunch ticket………..not much to be proud of on that one………

  45. Is Judith running for office???

  46. Judith Rogers says:

    You won’t be seeing me run for office as I have stated time and time again………no way do I want to rub shoulders with so many of the slime and crime crowd at City Hall and beyond…………..

  47. Why complain, then? says:

    You complain endlessly, Judith, about how bad Gardner government is and tell everyone else that they need to do stuff to change it, but you refuse to do anything yourself? Other than complain? Kellogg clearly isn’t running any more than you are, but at least he offers constructive views on thing instead of tearing them down…like you do.

  48. doesn't matter says:

    @ Why Complain….thats Judith….always there to complain, moan and groan, and tell us about how bad the “croanies” are. She isn’t happy unless she is complaining. That is why the Gardner News keeps these stories up, without Judith there is no Gardner News and so its like feading the beast.
    You would figure that she would step out and try to do some good, the problem is vampires dont like the sun so she is stuck inside….a little holy water might fix that though.

  49. Judith Rogers says:

    Ya, da, Ya, da……….same ole hate job on Judith from the coward, lowlife, no-namer backstabbers who can’t even take ownership of their hate postings………..you just keep on supporting and enabling the corrupt, worthless government you have all around you and see what it brings you, however, you no-namers are probably part of the crap that has been involved in wrongdoing for years and want the gravy train to continue for your benefit………….

  50. Keep cryin', Panda says:

    Your hypocrisy knows no bounds.

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