Let's try to follow the line of reasoning put forth by Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline this week.
Eight former employees of the district attorney's office announced Monday that they were dropping their lawsuit claiming they were improperly dismissed from their jobs when Kline took over the office in January 2007. A year and a half later, all eight reportedly had found other jobs and were willing to drop the lawsuit in exchange for a statement by Kline that their firings were not a result of any issues with their job performance.
Kline said Monday that, on the recommendation of his "transition team," he had terminated the eight employees - seven assistant DAs and the office's chief investigator - for "various job performance reasons." This statement came forth on the same day as the letters Kline sent, as part of the court settlement, to each of the dismissed employees stating that he had "no criticism of your professional ethics" and "since you did not serve under me in my position as District Attorney, I do not have personal knowledge of your skills and performance."
So which is it? Were there "job performance" issues that justified these firings or not? The letters basically admit that the employees were right, there was no legitimate cause for their firing.
And yet, in true Kline fashion, he spins the decision as a victory for him. "We're happy with this," he said. "This demonstrates that there was no basis in law for them to sue." If that was the case, why didn't Kline simply ask the judge to dismiss the lawsuit rather than agreeing to write the letters?
Kline was chosen by the Johnson County Republican Party to fill the DA's job after former DA Paul Morrison ousted Kline from the Kansas Attorney General's Office. After saying he had no interest in seeking re-election, Kline changed his mind and filed just before the deadline.
Perhaps Johnson County voters aren't concerned with having a top law enforcement officer who can't make up his mind. Kline got to decide, on whatever basis, to fire eight DA's staff members. Now, Johnson County voters get to decide whether to fire Kline.