Letters to the Editor

Pursue violation

November 30, 2007


To the editor:

The attorney general's opinion concerning Mayor Hack's involvement with Deciphera - a company in which she has over $5,000 invested - leaves a lot to be desired. Stopping with an "appearance of impropriety" determination leaves the answer to a very important question up for grabs: Did or did not Sue Hack improperly and illegally influence a community decision involving millions of dollars?

It is very hard to accept that someone who has as much experience in public office as Mayor Hack - six years on the City Commission and two terms as mayor - would "misunderstand" the conflict-of-interest rules. It is still harder to accept that, even if the relevant disclosure laws were not there, the mayor would fail to realize this was a touchy situation. She should not need the AG to tell her participation in the commission's closed-door, executive session where Deciphera was discussed, simply doesn't look right.

The lack of documentation is given by the attorney general's office as the problem with further action on the more serious aspects of the situation, but there seems to be an obvious way around that: Prosecute the technical violation of law that in fact did occur. Doing so brings a judicial process into play that is public, and involves sworn testimony by witnesses. This would give the taxpayers of Lawrence considerably more confidence that the mayor's "appearance of impropriety" was in fact only an appearance.

Dennis Constance,



Richard Heckler 9 years, 12 months ago

Yes an investigation is warranted by someone. For it would be in the best interest of the community and its taxpayers. Potential mismanagement of tax dollars is also a question in which the community would take an interest I would think. How many Bio Science Authorities does Kansas need as a means to spend taxpayers money on private ventures "non profit"(?) or not?

Why are investors investing in a non-profit if some serious private gain not on their table?

As it appears there is one authority at the state level and oneat the Lawrence,Kansas level soooo why were local taxpayers not allowed to vote on this local authority? Do our politicians not trust their taxpayers have the savvy to make the right decision ORRR were they afraid that taxpayers are intelligent enough to vote NO WAY?

Do taxpayers truly want politicians at the front door and the back door developing these spending authorities without a vote?

Do taxpayers trust politicians enough to allow them to develop spending authorities at every whim? I certainly do not!

This is still some stinky politics any way one observes this situation.

Mayor Hack is likely far from alone in this matter.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 11 months ago


Monday, Dec. 3, 2007 Grassroots Action welcomes the Attorney-General's recent announcement that the Lawrence City Commission violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act when City Commissioners met privately in September to discuss the multimillion dollar tax rebate subsequently awarded to Deciphera Pharmaceuticals. This was the contention of the complaint we filed last month, which the Attorney General has now upheld. But we believe that the proposed remedy does not go far enough.

The Attorney-General is asking the City Commission to admit wrongdoing, vow not to break the law again, and take a refresher course on open government. But the decision reached by the Commission as a result of this unlawful meeting to give a multimillion dollar tax break to a private firm -- has been left in place.

We consider this unacceptable. No private decision, reached behind closed doors without public input, should be allowed to stand. The City Commission is obliged to discuss public policy in public, not in private. Commissioners are not authorized to give unannounced tax breaks to private firms without citizen oversight and review.

So we now call upon the City Commissioners to do the right thing. Acknowledge that you violated the law when you met privately to discuss Deciphera's tax break and rescind the decision that you reached, without public input, as a result of this illegal session. Don't just admit guilt, DO something about it.


Respectfully, Grassroots Action

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