Archive for Friday, November 4, 2005

In the end, Corkins gets his consultant

Conservative to play role on transition team

November 4, 2005


— New Education Commissioner Bob Corkins got to hire a conservative consultant after all.

Last month, just days after being hired for $140,000 per year, Corkins asked the State Board of Education to allow him to hire Daniel Harden for as much as $15,000 to coordinate his transitional team.

But Education Board Chairman Steve Abrams, R-Arkansas City, who pushed for the hiring of Corkins, told Corkins to remove the request for a paid consultant from the board's agenda because there was not enough background material on the proposal at the time.

Fast forward to Thursday, and Corkins announced the formation of his transition team, which will be led by Harden "who is fulfilling a contract with the department."

When asked for details, Valerie Jennings, Corkins' newly hired spokeswoman, said Harden would be paid up to $2,500 per month for up to three months.

When asked why Corkins did not seek board approval of the hiring, Jennings said Corkins spoke with majority party and minority party members of the board and "none of them expressed concern with Dr. Harden."

Education Board member Bill Wagnon, a Democrat from Topeka, whose district includes Lawrence, is one of the minority party members of the board.

Wagnon said Corkins didn't speak with him about hiring Harden.

"I've yet to have my first conversation with him," Wagnon said.

He said the expense was wasteful. Corkins was hired for $140,000 by conservatives who hold a majority on the board because "he supposedly knows what to do," Wagnon said.

"To spend this level of money at a time of fiscal austerity is irresponsible," he said.

Corkins was hired by a 6-4 vote despite having no background in the education profession and having spent the past several years lobbying against increased public school spending. Wagnon was one of the four who voted against him.

Corkins said the transition team would improve efficiency at the Kansas State Department of Education.

"This team will work to identify the best practices for improving KSDE efficiency and effectiveness and the challenges in achieving State Board objectives," he said.

Harden is an education professor at Washburn University and vice president of the Jefferson County West school district in Meriden. He was a finalist for the education commissioner job, and his Web site,, provides numerous links to conservative Web sites.

The site starts with "Traditional Education in the Year of Our Lord 2005." And it quotes a 19th century French poet, saying, "We will never know how many acts of cowardice have been motivated by the fear of appearing not sufficiently progressive."

The remaining members of the transition team will serve as volunteers but will be reimbursed for expenses, if they submit them, Jennings said.

Commissioner's transition team

Bob Corkins' transition team also includes: ¢ Art Hall, the founding executive director of the Center for Applied Economics at Kansas University. Prior to joining the KU School of Business, Hall was chief economist in the public affairs groups of Wichita-based Koch Industries Inc. ¢ Diana Aguirre of Kansas City, Kan., works for the KU Medical Center, School of Medicine, where she recruits high school students into math and science programs. She also serves on several boards and committees. ¢ David Penny, a former Lawrence city commissioner, engineer and president of Masters Dredging Co. ¢ Chiquita Coggs, executive director of the North East Business Assn. Inc. of Kansas City, Kan. ¢ Cheryl Randall of Topeka, an assessment coordinator for the state education department. ¢ Karen Watney, director of human resources at the education agency. ¢ Beryl New, an assistant principal at Lawrence High School. ¢ Crosby Kemper III is chief executive of the Kansas City Public Library and president of the Kansas City Public Library Foundation. ¢ Scott Hill of Abilene, former member of the Education Board, and is self-employed. ¢ Charles McClain, currently a higher education consultant, and former president of Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo.


Patty Buchholz 12 years, 4 months ago

Well, let's see, if Mr. Corkins did not have approval to hire this "team" to help "in transition" let's just tell him NO! Let the "team" know that a mistake was made and their services will no longer be needed, after all someone has to approve and sign the check for payment.

Jeff Barclay 12 years, 4 months ago

Bob Corkins has thoughtfully assembled an eclectic, stellar group. Someone needs to take an honest look at Kansas education. Unfunded mandates, increased and confusing teacher certification requirements, and the misplaced view that higher taxes and more money can rescue education are all issues that need judicious review by this transition team. Clearly, "the same oh, same oh," has not improved Kansas education.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 4 months ago

Corkins was chosen for strictly ideological reasons, and several members of his team look as if their selection was also for primarily ideological reasons. I have no reason to doubt that all members share the same ideological outlook, and this team will be an echo chamber, not a group offering much useful advice to a wholly unqualified candidate for this positiion.

mcoan 12 years, 4 months ago

Does Kansas even HAVE a governor anymore? Oh, that's right, you have a DEMOCRATIC one. Well how come she doesn't scream loudly about what's going on with the Board of Education? Sure, she may not have any pull with them or legal authority over them, but she has the power of the Bully Pulpit to insist that all government bodies do what's right! Surely she knows how embarrassing this stuff is for the state.

I also find it hard to believe that the new commissioner can legally make financial decisions (hiring Harden) by polling a majority of Board members over the phone. In most states, that's a violation of the open meetings law.

opinion 12 years, 4 months ago

See how a REPORTER covers the same news item. Compare the tone with that of Scott Rothschilds.

Rothschilds' slants are getting old. We don't care what YOU (Rothchild) want us to think - just give us the facts.

erichaar 12 years, 4 months ago

"In the end, Corkins gets his consultant"

Who writes these headlines?! Could their personal disgust for Bob Corkins be any more apparent?

Sandman 12 years, 4 months ago

No kidding Erichaar. The word "conservative" appears four more times in this article as an adjective to describe either Corkins or his supporters.

That makes the count about thirty for the string of articles about Corkins.

Thanks (again) to Rothschild for the descriptive adjectives. But can he find anything, at all, that deserves the "liberal" adjective in what he writes?

Or does his own bias prevent you from seeing anything as liberal?

John1945 12 years, 4 months ago

"The 237-employee education department is one of the largest in the state, helping to oversee Kansas' 300 school districts and roughly $3 billion in public school spending."

Golly, you think with $3 billion in the budget there might just be $7500 worth of waste somewhere.

Out of fairness I think Scott should closely examine the DOE budget and see how much wasteful spending he can comes up with. I'm betting the paperclip budget is bigger than that. This article is just silly.

Jamesaust 12 years, 4 months ago

and yet the Radicals wonder why so much money is needed?

mkhawk 12 years, 4 months ago

I would suggest to Corkin that he not get used to his new financial lifestyle. When is that next election again?

Kodiac 12 years, 4 months ago

Even with the "slant" in the article you have to wonder if the article accurately states what everyone has said. If it is accurate then did Jennings misspeak concerning Corkins contacting all of the board concerning the consultants. I am not sure how clear Bill's statement is in reference to whether someone actually talked to him about the consultants. All he says is that Corkin has not spoken to him which seems to contradict Jennings statement.

The other thing that is confusing to me that the article does not give any details on is whether or not the education commisioner can hire his own staff without board approval and just where does the money to pay the consultants come from? Was the open meetings law violated here? I don't know. Does anyone know how to find this out?

John1945 12 years, 4 months ago

The hypocrisy here is absolutely stunning. Millions upon millions are frittered away by these departments on an almost daily basis, and yet you're all upset over $7500.00? I don't think so.

If you want to babble about this let's take a look at the 6 figure income that's wasted on David Adkins so he can go out and campaign for his next shot at getting elected to office. I'm betting his travel vouchers are over $7500.00 a year. Any takers?

james bush 12 years, 4 months ago

The KU school of journalism must flunk anyone claims to be conservative because it's more and more difficult to find a facts-only article in the news on this subject. The libs think they're the norm and anyone who disagrees with them is a no-good, mean "conservative" and their readers need to be warned.

Kodiac 12 years, 4 months ago


Please be more specific.

Whose hyprocrisy? Give examples of "Millions upon millions" being frittered away daily. How is "frittered" being defined here? What exactly is the amount of money that is spent on a daily basis? Where is the money going. Its easy to state those opinions but with no tangible or concrete examples, it makes it hard to form your own judgements or opinions. I would rather be informed to all sides of the situation before I make a judgement.

At least with David Adkins, he has qualifications to do the job he was hired for and has not needed to and probably will not need to hire consultants to help him do his job. Even with having said that, I am not sure how applicable this comparison is. You seem to view David Adkins as a waste of time and resources which is your right to state but I'm not sure how that relates to this topic.

Also, it is my understanding that there is a legal process to using departmental funds which everyone by law has to go through. Even if you only spend 7500 dollars, it still needs to be done legally. I certainly would not want to jeopardize my position over just 7500 dollars. So my questions concerning the process are still there. How is it done and who can do what?

AlexFenton 12 years, 4 months ago

The Lawrence Journal-World has always been ultra-liberal. Expect them to attack any conservative politician.

He he, yeah right.

If you detect any bias it might be disdain for a wacko school board that once again has gone too far. And that disdain would be difficult for even a seasoned journalist to mask.

magnificentbastard 12 years, 4 months ago

Does the radical right pay you guys to come in here and say these things? Or do you truely believe them?

I'm not sure which would be more disturbing.

anonym2 12 years, 4 months ago

john1945 - i agree with you 100 percent. $2,500 a month, to uncover the crap that corkins knows is out there...YOU GO BOB!!!

legally, schmigally...he has the job, he is doing what he thinks is right, that's the legality i'm concerned about.

we all want corkins to get to the bottom of the lost spending - the overworked teachers with low pay - the fat admins - the trashed board of education assigned consultants. get some real finance people in there and find out what the heck is going on with the money.

find the money and give as much as you can to the underpaid teachers - give the taxpayers the right to a private school education if they chose - and get the fat liberal dollars for people to stand around and talk smart OUT.

lightenup 12 years, 4 months ago


Isn't it truly? If so, I believe them.

Kodiac 12 years, 4 months ago

What an embarassment. It is time to vote out the idiots on the school board. What is amazing about the article posted by wendt are the prominence of lawyers touting ID.

wbob 12 years, 4 months ago

Why are the public schools so afraid of competition?

anonym2 12 years, 4 months ago

good question!

and they're afraid of anyone else looking at their finances, procedures and business in general. they hire their own "specialized" consultants straight out of the education admin MESS. if bob had done that, it would cost ALOT more than $2,500 a month, guaranteed!!!

it's about time someone had a backbone. good for bob corkins.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 4 months ago

It's long over due to get rid of the zealots and bring some moderate common sense thinkers to the table.

Here's a good place to start:

These two organizations are very bipartisan. The second group has endorsed and donated to individuals on all sides of the aisle.

The alliance, which Hineman said is made up so far of 10 or 12 people from across the state, will kick off a fundraising campaign within the next week. The group's Web site -- -- describes it as "a nonpartisan grassroots organization" to "promote the election of individuals whose beliefs and objectives are more in line with mainstream Kansans." is another organization to keep in mind for politcal donations this year. Both are very much bipartisan and this group has donated to and endorsed members on both sides of aisle.

Check out the websites.

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