I’m scheduled to be a guest tonight at 6 p.m. Central on the Kris Kobach Show on KCMO 710 AM. Click here to go to 710KCMO.com, where you may then click on “Listen Live.”
I will be discussing a victory over the culture of corruption at a major Kansas City-area public college. Johnson County Community College is one of 19 colleges which operates the League for Innovation, a group that considers itself among the best of the best of international community colleges.
The public has recent won a complete and total victory in a battle over corruption at the largest college in Kansas, Johnson County Community College. But it’s just one battle, and there remains much work to be done at JCCC, where the Terry Calaway administration is the most obviously corrupt administration in the college’s 40 history; that’s saying something, because the president whom Calaway replaced had resigned after being accused by four women of sexual harrassment. I was one of seven at-large elected trustees at JCCC from 2005 to 2009. One of my biggest mistakes was voting to hire Terry Calaway.
In early 2009, Calaway violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA) by sharing a lengthy list of possible budget cuts during his job evaluation. After being asked for budget information by Kansas City Star reporter Jim Sullinger, I decided to share the list. Portions of the list were then reported by The Star, but only on its Prime Buzz political blog. The reporter and I both knew that Calaway had violated KOMA, but the reporter didn’t report on it, and I decided not to publicly criticize my elected colleagues. The violation would likely have never been commonly known, had Calaway not later attempted to cover up his mistake.
But Calaway and some of my fellow trustees were incensed that I dared to share the budget-related list, and without first asking their permission. I’ll note that I had voted on parts of the Kansas Open Meetings Act while a member of the Kansas House of Representatives.
They decided to engage in a mission to cover up the crime and to attempt to destroy me. The “moderate Republican” elected leaders at JCCC — at the time, the Board Chair was funeral home director Shirley Brown-VanArsdale and the Vice-Chair was ex-banker Lynn Mitchelson — knew that I was up for re-election in April 2009, and during the monthly March meeting, they violated our Board Code of Conduct by coordinating, with President Calaway and college attorney Mark Ferguson, a pre-planned and incomplete “review” which declared themselves innocent and myself somehow guilty.
Calaway, Brown-VanArsdale, and Mitchelson spent thousands of public dollars on legal fees, when the primary intent was only to protect their reputations. They even went so far as to send me a baseless “cease and desist” letter threatening legal action towards me, and on “TEA Day” (April 15, 2009), of all the days.
College attorney Ferguson is a law partner with Kansas Democratic Party Chairman Larry Gates, and the firm is given a no-bid contract to work for JCCC. Ferguson intentionally misled the public through what he said, what he didn’t say, and through his active promotion of Calaway’s subsequent obstruction, as I attempted to gather information relating to the KOMA violation and cover-up. Indeed, in Ferguson’s words within a December 2008 Email, JCCC leaders likely violated KOMA during a separate incident.
Recently, joining my efforts in demanding adherence to open government laws are the Kansas Press Association, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters, the editorial board of The Kansas City Star, and the editorial board at ABC affiliate KMBC channel 9.
I’ll be writing more extensively in the coming weeks about my reform efforts at JCCC and what still needs to be done. For now, I’ll invite you to go to BenjaminHodge.com, where you can click on the “News” button on the left to read in detail about this year’s events.
To listen online this evening, click here to go to the Web site for KCMO 710 AM, where you then simply click on the “Listen Live” button to listen. Kansas City residents can simply turn to 710 AM on their radio “dials,” a term I’m realizing is almost out-dated.
Connect with Benjamin Hodge at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, The Kansas Progress, and LibertyLinked. Hodge is President of the State and Local Reform Group of Kansas. He served as one of seven at-large trustees at Johnson County Community College from 2005-’09, a member of the Kansas House from 2007-’08, a delegate to the Kansas Republican Party from 2009-’10, and was founder of the Overland Park Republican Party in 2011. His public policy record is recognized by Americans for Prosperity, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters, the Kansas Press Association, the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government, the NRA, Kansans for Life, and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).