The largest college in Kansas wants to sue me
College attorney sends second malicious “cease and desist” threat to Hodge
There is a group called the “League for Innovation,” which claims to represent the best community colleges in America. I encourage you to visit its Web site, to find out if your state has a member on the board of directors, and to ask why they employ a CEO who is unwilling to speak to a former elected member of one of the League’s board member schools. I must conclude one of two things by the fact that the League’s CEO Dr. Gerardo E. de los Santos first agreed, and then later refused, to speak to me on the telephone: he is either a coward, or else that he is so accustomed to incompetence and low standards in higher education that he is genuinely uninterested in learning about ongoing retaliation, free speech violations, fraudulent contracts, and general corruption at Johnson County Community College in Greater Kansas City.
JCCC serves 50,000 students a year, and for a government-run school and for the price, it’s a good quality of education. But the quality of education is there despite the college leadership, not because of it. For proof, one only need to look back at the college in 2006, when for a period of several months there was no permanent president. The quality exists for two primary reasons. First and most importantly, because unlike K-12 “public” schools the college must compete for the right to serve its students. Secondly, most of the staff and faculty are not at JCCC because of a personal or political agenda; rather, they simply want to provide a good education to students.
For President Calaway and other leaders, though, it’s not about education. It’s about advancing reputation, needless building projects, diverting money to friends through contracts, a left-wing political agenda, and other non-public-oriented matters. For four years, I did my best to work with them, many of them self-described “moderate Republicans.” But near the end of my tenure, college leaders chose to engage in unethical actions in an attempt to destroy me. They won the first round, but with the help of legislators, activists, and the press, I have won every round since. It is because we’ve been effective that JCCC leaders have now — twice — attempted to intimidate me with a malicious, baseless threat of a “defamation” lawsuit. The first occurred while I was still elected, in April 2009. The college president had the audacity and arrogance to instruct the college attorney to send me the threat, without any kind of vote or authority to do so. This time, it’s theoretically from the college attorney, himself, but I doubt that. Regardless, every day that the attorney — a law partner in the firm of the Kansas Democratic Party chairman — continues to work on behalf of JCCC is another day that education is under attack in the state of Kansas.
Below is my public response to the latest threat by JCCC’s attorney. You may click here to read it as a Web page.
Kansas Representative, 2006-’08
JCCC Trustee, 2005-’09
Monday, February 22, 2010
Abuse of power: JCCC attorney again proves to be a threat to free speech & education by sending malicious, frivolous lawsuit for second time in a year
JCCC President Terry Calaway & the elected JCCC Board send you a clear message: It doesn’t matter whether you are a student, faculty member, student, staff, or even a private citizen. They will do what they want with your tax dollars, they will ignore your laws, and you will not question them, or you will be attacked.
My question to you: Will you continue to let them bully you?
Never before at Johnson County Community College has learning quality been less valued. Education does not come first at JCCC. It might come in third or fourth. No, what comes first today at JCCC, the largest college in Kansas, is the reputation of a few of its leaders, who continue to demonstrate that they will engage in brute intimidation against those who are trying to do their jobs. Education cannot thrive at a place where the First Amendment is ignored, and where college leaders repeatedly engage in retaliatory behavior. During the last five years, JCCC leaders have approved of the attempted intimidation of people who fit under the following categories: female administrators, a faculty member, a staff member, a student, a public official, and now, for the first time, a private citizen. Their behavior is reckless, it is dangerous, and it is offensive.
This is the local government whose arrogant, open attempt in early 2009 to break the Kansas Open Meetings Act, which led Kansas City’s ABC affiliate KMBC to editorialize, “Calaway and the trustees should be ashamed of their blatant and clumsy attempt to circumvent state law.” The Kansas City Star, the Kansas Press Association, and the Kansas Association of Broadcasters agreed that JCCC leaders violated the law. The Gardner News, Kansas House Speaker Mike O’Neal, and Kansas House Judiciary Chairman Lance Kinzer have also examined the facts, and have reached the same conclusion. Yet to this day, President Terry Calaway continues to defend his practice of distributing detailed budget information during closed meetings that involve “performance reviews.”
Before I continue, I would like to mention that if you are bothered by what I write about in this letter, I encourage you to contact:
- JCCC at 913-469-8500 (press “0″ and ask for the president’s office)
- JCCC Board Chair Jon Stewart at 913-544-1208 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- JCCC Treasurer Lynn Mitchelson at 913-432-5757 or email@example.com
At JCCC, this recklessness is also is very expensive to taxpayers. Soon after I was elected as a JCCC trustee in 2005, it became known that JCCC leaders, including the still-serving Trustees Lynn Mitchelson and Jon Stewart, for years had virtually never questioned the decisions of 25-year President Charles Carlsen, who abruptly resigned after four women accused him of sexual harassment. For unexplained reasons, JCCC’s main building is still today named “The Carlsen Center,” named by Carlsen after himself in the 1990s. After the resignation, trustees spent $600,000 on legal fees for what today should be considered a disingenuous effort to “investigate” internal college procedures. Also, it’s been shown to me that Calaway — who barely hangs on to his presidency through hand-outs to the left-wing faculty – broke his 2009 promise of a “hiring freeze” by recently adding an unneeded “diversity” administrator to work under Vice President for non-Diversity Carmelita Williams, who:
- Is on record supporting Calaway’s decision to violate the Kansas Open Meetings Act.
- Failed to act when a fellow faculty member was illegally reprimanded for engaging in protected First Amendment speech, by merely stating that many Muslim nations have terrible human rights records.
- Failed to act when President Calaway promoted the dean who illegally reprimanded the above faculty member for speaking his opinion.
- Is on record praising President Calaway.
- Functionally answers to nobody.
That $600,000 I mentioned in legal costs: it should have been lower, perhaps much lower. During the post-Carlsen investigation, we were paying three lawyers. We had an attorney to investigate internal matters (at $500 an hour), we had our attorney from our insurance company (in theory, to protect the college from lawsuits), and we had our permanent contract-based attorney, for whom I later learned the college had never performed a competitive bid. At the conclusion of the investigation, the trustees had planned on releasing a report to the community, given the situation’s high profile and high cost. To produce the report, the board had initially decided to trust those three lawyers, but we later regretted that decision, after the first “report” contained nothing new that the public did not already know. It was even ridiculed by the far-left Johnson County Sun, which rightly criticized it as being “12 pages of nothing” and being a “$40,000-a-page document.” In retrospect, it now makes sense that the process produced “nothing”: the investigating attorney wanted more, the protect-JCCC attorney wanted less, and JCCC’s permanent attorney Mark Ferguson was supposed to find an acceptable middle ground. But Ferguson apparently chose to prefer to be more interested in protecting the reputation of “the college” (read: Charles Carlsen and a few others), and it caused a great deal of embarrassment to the college, and it cost the taxpayers money when the three attorneys had to “go back to the drawing board.”
As another note on JCCC’s tremendous cost to you, the taxpayer, I’ll point out that in 2009 JCCC increased the property tax mill levy from the 2008 level. I was the lone vote against that decision.
Now, to the main reason why I am writing this letter: From 2005-2009, I was the lone voice at JCCC for the rule of law, for low taxes, for cutting wasteful spending, for questioning the college president, and for the true “diversity” that requires free speech for all, and not just for group-think professors who think “that makes me uncomfortable” equals “unconstitutional.” As I challenged them, college leaders didn’t like to have “their” college intruded upon. Repeatedly, these high-paid PhDs and elite elected liberals were either afraid or unable to engage in actual debate, and so they attacked me. So far, I have chosen to avoid replying through legal channels, even though I could, and that is largely out of respect to you, the taxpayer (your taxes pay for any lawsuit against the college). Instead, with your help, I have fought back through political and press-related means, and we’ve been thoroughly successful.
But it is because of our success that I continued to be threatened by JCCC’s attorney.
I received an unexpected letter a week ago. It was from attorney Mark Ferguson, whom Kansans pay lots of money so that he can be the lawyer for the two largest education entities in the state of Kansas: JCCC and the K-12 Kansas State School Board. Ferguson is mad at me because I continue to talk about the lawlessness and waste at JCCC, and Ferguson has made a silly “cease and desist” threat towards me, and for the second time in less than a year. He continues to falsely claim that I have made “defamatory” comments about JCCC leaders and him. He doesn’t like it that I’ve called him “unprofessional,” and that I don’t think he’s done a good job, so he is threatening to sue me. Let’s be clear about something: serious government officials do not send “cease and desist” letters to one another, and that is why the few government agencies around the US which do engage in meaningless threats toward reform-minded Americans are then appropriately mocked in subsequent news reports. But these are not serious people who are running JCCC.
I mentioned that Ferguson is frustrated with me. Actually, Ferguson may be more mad at himself than at me, because he may now regret taking all of the bone-headed actions over the years at the direction of JCCC’s leaders. In particular, though, I will guess that he’s currently motivated by my discussing with you two things: his participation in a failed cover-up of a relatively minor legal violation (the Kansas Open Meetings Act), and Ferguson’s decision to engage in the defamation of a public official and his client, me. I served as one of seven at-large trustees at JCCC from 2005 through 2009, and during those four years more reform occurred than during any similar period in the college’s 40-year history, including the needed replacement of former President Carlsen. I also served a two-year term in the Kansas House, during which time I voted on the Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA) and other good-government legislation.
Today, JCCC’s leaders refuse to perform a competitive bid for Ferguson’s legal contract, even though President Calaway (left) has acknowledged that it would better serve the taxpayers if the college hired a permanent, less-costly attorney to do common legal work. But Calaway isn’t interested in serving the taxpayers, so I have called Ferguson’s legal contract exactly what it is: fraud. Calaway is knowingly wasting tens of thousands of Kansans’ tax dollars for an unnecessary legal contract. That’s fraud by any good definition of the word. You should also know these two things: that Ferguson is today a partner in the law firm of Kansas Democratic Party Chairman Larry Gates, and that he is a personal friend of current Board Chair Jon Stewart, former CEO of Metcalf Bank.
What prompted Ferguson’s most recent bullying attempt was my decision to go to Topeka twice over the last month, to testify in House committees on behalf of taxpayers, and to provide input on two bills that were under consideration. I’ll mention to you that, while in the capitol, I sat near “your” taxpayer-funded lobbyist for the City of Overland Park and your separate taxpayer-funded lobbyist for JCCC; you pay these two men good salaries so that they can fight against your freedoms in Topeka. Related, I’ll note that I was the lone vote at JCCC against the wasteful decision to hire a contract lobbyist.
One bill was in the House Taxation Committee and was being pushed by Governor Mark Parkinson. It would have increased your state sales tax by 18%, from 5.3 cents to 6.3 cents on the dollar, and I submitted written testimony in opposition to the bill. The second bill was in the House Judiciary Committee and would have required local city and school governments to make an audio recording of their closed “executive” meetings; I gave both written and verbal testimony in favor of this legislation. Both bills later failed to pass out of their respective committees.
My experiences and observations while at JCCC were highly relevant to the main topics of the above two bills — a tax bill and an open-government bill. I’m making a point with regard to relevancy because JCCC’s attorney Mark Ferguson is complaining that I am being “defamatory”, and a key legal test of whether one’s comments are “defamatory” includes not only whether the comments are knowingly false, but also that the comments serve no legitimate purpose. I’m certain that readers will agree with me that JCCC’s wasteful spending decisions legitimately relate to whether state tax increases are necessary. Similarly, I’m confident that readers will agree that my observations of JCCC’s KOMA violation legitimately relate to whether KOMA needs to be amended by the House Judiciary Committee. In other words, Ferguson is doing one of two things: demonstrating that he has no idea about the proper definition of “defamation,” or he is engaging in malicious activity by making knowingly false threats towards me, a private citizen. Either way, it’s unacceptable for a high-profile, government-contract attorney to demonstrate so much irrational hostility towards anybody.
Now, to address the non-legitimacy of the threats and claims made by no-bid-contract-recipient and JCCC attorney Mark Ferguson, I will provide the following point-by-point summary of the last several years, with regard to retaliation, lies, etc., by various JCCC leaders:
- A few brief comments on attorneys for local governments: An attorney for your local government should in good faith represent the interests of the public, and he should not merely represent the group of elected officials. When the “client” is a city or school, this is not the same thing as if the client were a private company: there are laws, taxes, local standards, and many other things to consider. And where the attorney does represent the elected officials, the attorney should consider each elected member of the local government as a co-client. In other words, the government attorney should not “pick and choose” which elected officials he wants to more competently represent, particularly when there is not a formal vote by the majority of the elected officials to direct the attorney to engage in behavior which is opposed by the minority.
- In the mid-2000s, then-President Charles Carlsen resigned as president after 25 years in the role. He did not resign under his own ideal circumstances. At first, one woman had accused Carlsen of sexual harrassment; Carlsen denied it, and trustees at first believed him. But soon, it became known that four women accused Carlsen of sexual harrassment, and Carlsen immediately resigned.
- The only reason why anybody knows of the sexual allegation claims were because of student Miguel Morales, who at the time was the editor of the student newspaper The Campus Ledger.
- Later, the board learned that there was an apparent attempt by top administrators to intimidate Morales. During the time where it was “only” one woman who was known to be making accusations toward Carlsen, two people — attorney Mark Ferguson, along with Carlsen’s top vice president — approached Morales while he was working part-time in the library. Miguel was asked to step away from his job, to “talk” to the two JCCC leaders. Morales thought that this was retaliatory in nature, and today I agree with him.
- Once again, the only reason why we know about Ferguson’s actions are because Morales later came before the board in a closed meeting to make a complaint that Ferguson had violated JCCC’s internal ethics policies. Ferguson was lucky, here: there was no evidence to demonstrate that Ferguson’s explicit word choice towards Morales was dangerous. Meaning, while Morales rightly felt pressure as two top college employees approached him, it appears that Morales was never explicitly forced to step away from the library job. While the board never affirmed Morales’ complaint because Ferguson, I do consider Ferguson’s actions to be unprofessional: it put the college at a litigation risk from Morales; Ferguson did not inform all of the trustees that he engaged in this behavior, before or after; and there’s no evidence that a simple Email or phone call couldn’t have been made to Morales, rather than the unwelcomed visit by two top administrators.
- At the time of the apparent retaliation towards Morales, current Trustee Lynn Mitchelson (right) was the second-in-command (vice-chairman of the board). Today, Mitchelson refuses to answer whether he knew ahead of time about Ferguson’s treatment of Morales. Therefore, we should assume that Mitchelson did approve of the attempt to intimidate Miguel Morales, ahead of time.
- As I mentioned earlier in this letter, Ferguson played a disappointing role in the initial release of “12 pages of nothing” to the public.
- As I mentioned earlier, a faculty member was reprimanded for merely stating to others that Muslim nations commonly have poor records with regard to human rights. I’ll provide a little more to this story. Somebody complained about the professor, and the assistant dean (the direct superior) reprimanded him. The professor attempted to go through appropriate channels, but he had no success. He then came to me. We had never met, and for my liberal readers, I’ll note that there’s no evidence that this professor is at all “conservative.” It’s also important to note that his own union, the KNEA, refused to stand up for the faculty member. I listened to him, I decided that the man sounded reasonable, and I immediately Emailed various administrators, informing them that I wished to talk about his case. Within days, President Calaway told the assistant dean to remove the letter of reprimand from the man’s file.
- Inexplicably, President Calaway promoted the above assistant dean to a full dean. I offered the dean — and the dean’s boss, Vice President Marilyn Rhinehart — the opportunity to tell me her side of the situation, and they declined. Therefore, I will consider this situation to be a full violation of the First Amendment.
- There is no record that college procedures or polices were at all changed, after this First Amendment violation. Not by attorney Mark Ferguson, not by President Terry Calaway, and not by elected leaders. This clearly demonstrates two things: a lack of concern for the rule of law, and a lack of concern toward an unnecessary litigation risk. By litigation risk, I mean that a First Amendment violation is likely to happen again, and the taxpayers will be unnecessarily footing the bill for any potential lawsuit from a college employee or student.
- Trustee Lynn Mitchelson (above, right), who time and time again has proven to merely be a pushover to the JCCC administration, later informed me that he and President Terry Calaway were both frustrated with me for not requiring the professor to go through all of the complaint procedures that are available to college employees, and which can take months. I refuse to apologize for “interfering” in a situation that should have never occurred, and which caused an immediate impacton that professor’s ability to speak openly to his students. JCCC leaders should be ashamed of their record on free speech.
- The Kansas Open Meetings Act also applies to “serial meetings,” and these are meetings in which several people communicate through a series of communications (phone, Email, or in person), and where they do not all meet at one time. With regard to any part of KOMA, the point of the law is to force a majority of local elected officials to meet in open and in public, before they discuss the public’s business.
- In late 2008, it had become clear that four other trustees, including Trustee Mitchelson, had engaged in a serial meeting that involved a majority of the board, and during which time they discussed the budget and taxes. I was concerned that this violated KOMA, and so I asked Ferguson for an opinion. At first, he obstructed and delayed. In the process of delaying, he insulted me and stated that I was being impatient; he later told me in person that he merely didn’t want to put it in writing, and that’s why he obstructed. But he did eventually reply through Email, and he informed the entire board in late 2008 that, yes, four trustees had violated the letter of the law but not the spirit of the law. At that time, Ferguson surely would not have recommended to those four trustees that they repeat that type of behavior. Even though the intent of the law is clear that a majority of a local government cannot meet through serial meetings to discuss legitimate government business, I decided to drop the issue. For the sake of the “collegiality” thing that is so frequently discussed on college campuses, I decided not to embarrass my colleagues.
- With regard to closed “executive” meetings: the clear purpose of these meetings is to protect the privacy of private citizens, such as government employees. Kansas courts had determined that legitimate government business — such as conversations on budgets and taxes — cannot be discussed during closed meetings, unless it is burdensome to separate the “private” and “public” matters.
- In late 2008, Ferguson wrote to trustees that perhaps it might be a helpful idea to arrange a closed meeting, during which time the entire board could discuss a general application of the Kansas Open Meetings Act. This demonstrated to me a lack of understanding toward, or else a refusal to support, the true intent of the KOMA law.
- The Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) is the state version of the national Freedom of Information Act. According to a former JCCC student reporter, Ferguson once told him (paraphrase): “I’m not going to grant your KORA request because I’m concerned you’re going to report about it.” This tells us plenty about Ferguson’s understanding of the KORA law.
- In early 2009, during a closed meeting intended to review the performance of President Terry Calaway, the president gave trustees a 64-item list of possible budget cuts. It was near the end of the meeting, and the document was separate from any other. It clearly could have — and should have — been shared during an open meeting. Calaway then even verball instructed board members not to share the list. I’ve been clear that at that moment during the closed meeting, it did not occur to me that trustees had just violated the law.
- A week later, Kansas City Star reporter Jim Sullinger asked me if I had any budget information. He and I had talked regularly in the Topeka, and he and I were both accustomed to the appropriate mentality that most legislators have: if you’re given information, you can essentially do with it what you wish, and you do not need to ask anybody’s permission. I told him, “I do have some budget information, but it was given to me during executive session.” He immediately replied, “If it’s budget information, it was not supposed to have been handed out during a closed meeting.” I replied, “You know what, you’re correct,” and I gave him the budget information. I’d do the same today.
- Once again, I chose not to make a big deal about the violation of KOMA by JCCC’s leaders. At that time, I did not understand the degree to which Calaway, Mitchelson, and Ferguson are all extremely dishonest, classless individuals.
- Star reporter Sullinger wrote an online-only article about the budget cuts. It would have ended there, if JCCC leaders were normal. Only a few hundred people would have read that article, and half of them would have lived in Kansas City, Missouri, outside of our taxing and voting base.
- Calaway was furious that I shared the list. He first told me over the phone that I had asked for the list by writing something on his evaluation. His theme was that I had somehow stabbed him in the back by first asking for it, and then sharing it. I told him that was false. Once he realized it was provably false, he decided to continue with the more general theme that he was “responding” to something that I had written. Whatever; I didn’t choose to fight him on what I couldn’t prove (what was going on his mind as he was reading something that I wrote, and then choosing to “respond” in some unexpected fashion).
- Calaway then did this: he sent an Email to 2,000 college employees and faulted both me and The Star reporter for sharing the list. His premise was clear: we “leaked” the list, and we were unprofessional. Really, to this day, I’m amazed at both Terry Calaway and whatever college gave the guy a PhD: it’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen, for a government employee to pick a fight with the largest newspaper in town, over the issue of open government, and when that paper’s reporter is in the middle of the “controversy.”
- The Star’s managing editor Steve Shirk faxed a letter to Calaway, scolding JCCC leaders for violating the law. I’ll note that I seriously doubt whether I would have ever known about this letter, had a Star source told me that it was being sent.
- Calaway then permanently denied my right to reply in a similar manner through college communications.
- Only after Calaway had falsely and needlessly attacked me, did I reply with my extremely compelling argument for why I “dared” to share the budget list to the public: it was illegal for it to be shared, to begin with!
- Calaway knew that I was up for re-election on April 7, 2009. What he did next is unheard of in the Midwest, and it’s an affront to the citizens of Kansas who had welcomed him just two years prior. At the next monthly board meeting in March 2009, it became clear that Calaway had orchestrated an effort to engage in defamation towards me, his employer and a public official. He violated numerous internal college policies, and he asked employees to violate internal college policies. There to help him him were Board Chair Shirley Brown-VanArsdale, Vice-Chair Lynn Mitchelson, and college attorney Mark Ferguson.
- During the previous month, Ferguson had been directed to perform a “review” of whether KOMA had been violated. Yet he intentionally chose to not talk to me, his own client.
- At the direction of JCCC leaders, board secretary Sue Kuder engaged in unethical behavior by intentionally failing to inform me that the forthcoming “review” was going to occur.
- At the televised March meeting, the JCCC Board voted to re-hire attorney Ferguson. As I recall, I voted “present” because I was concerned about whether he could appropriately interpret the rule of law. Directly after the vote, Ferguson began to talk about his previously unannounced “review.” In public, he called it a “complete” review: this is knowingly false on his part, given that he had never talked with me about it.
- At the March meeting, Ferguson stood by silently, while Calaway stated that he had privately reassured Star managing editor Steve Shirk, after somehow telling Shirk that The Star was not aware of all of the facts. That’s false, given The Star’s later decision to editorialize that Calaway broke the law. Ferguson also did nothing, while Mitchelson lied and said that I had explicitly asked for the budget list, thereby falsely insinuating to the public that I had been unfair to the president.
- The above lies were never acknowledged by JCCC leaders, and Ferguson is later on record recommending that I be denied an ability to speak during a board meeting, in order to correct the many false statements. Regardless of Ferguson’s incredible disregard for his client, I’ll note that the board agenda is a political matter, and there’s no reason why Ferguson should even be involved in setting the agenda.
- On April 7, 2009, in the only small victory for JCCC leaders, I did lose re-election. There were 10 candidates running for four at-large positions. I needed a top-four vote, and I received sixth. But I would serve on the board through the end of June.
- On April 15, 2009 — “TEA Day,” as you may recall — JCCC leaders instructed Ferguson to send me a “cease and desist” letter. April 15 was also the next monthly board meeting, and I had made it known that I would continue to talk about the attempted cover-up of the open meetings violation. By sending me the lawsuit threat, Ferguson did many things: he was not representing the public and its laws, he was not representing me (his client), and he stated what he knew to be false, that I was engaging in “defamation” towards JCCC leaders. He knew that I was making a good-faith interpretation of the law, and he knew that JCCC leaders were lying and violating their own “codes of conduct.” In the letter, Ferguson said that it was false to talk about a crime — remember, even his own words which stated that yes, the latter of the law had been violated in late 2008.
- JCCC leaders have never repaid the taxpayers for the thousands of dollars in legal fees paid to Ferguson, in their attempt to cover-up the KOMA violation, a relatively common legal violation that merely carries a maximum of a fine and/or mandatory training.
- Around this time, JCCC Trustees and Human Resource committee members Lynn Mitchelson and Melody Rayl again violated their own codes of conduct by sneaking through domestic partnership health benefits, making JCCC the only part of Kansas government to provide health benefits to non-married couples. To be clear, I recognize and welcome a debate within the Republican party over gay rights, but I expect a government body to also require this debate. JCCC had no debate, and these actions by President Calaway and Trustees Mitchelson and Rayl were disrespectful to taxpayers.
- Near the end of my term in mid-2009, Calaway pretended to bid out the legal contract, for the first time in the college’s 40-year history. But it quickly proved to be a sham. Board Chair Van-Arsdale, a funeral home director, and Calaway hand-picked the members of their “hiring committee,” which met at 3 p.m. on a Friday afternoon (never a time for high-quality actions by government). The committee’s stated task was to narrow the field from five firms to three firms. And — surprise — the committee refused two good firms, but included Mark Ferguson among the three firms it recommended to the full JCCC Board. I challenged the committee members, including the administrators, with a series of questions about Ferguson’s past actions and why they thought the actions were appropriate, and I promised them that I would make open records requests for their Emails. They complained to Calaway, who then cancelled the bidding process at that time. The college’s “internal auditor” Janelle Vogler was a member of that committee, and it’s unfortunate that she therefore can no longer be taken seriously.
- Over the next several months, through my work with legislators, the Kansas Attorney General, and members of the press, it became clear to the public that not only had a legal violation taken place at the college, but that a far more serious cover-up had also taken place.
- To conclude: Terry Calaway and the elected JCCC leaders apparently learned nothing from Watergate, because the cover-up for them has been far, far worse than the original crime. To some extent, this all would be comical, if this were a private institution. But it’s a taxpayer-funded institution, and there should be no tolerance for these types of behaviors. These are not people who are serious about education, or about representing the public. And because I continue to discuss the ongoing problems, JCCC’s attorney wants to again bully me into a silence. While he claims in his most recent “cease and desist” letter that he did not bill the taxpayers for his most recent threat of a lawsuit, you should assume that his actions are being done with the full support of JCCC leaders.
If you are bothered by JCCC’s actions, I encourage you to contact:
- JCCC at 913-469-8500 (press “0″ and ask for the president’s office)
- JCCC Board Chair Jon Stewart at 913-544-1208 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- JCCC Treasurer Lynn Mitchelson at 913-432-5757 or email@example.com
As always, thank you for your time and support.
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).