Archive for Thursday, October 2, 2008

Flap over Sen. Pine’s residency spills over to wife’s term on board

October 2, 2008


A political flap over the residency of State Sen. Roger Pine has now spilled over to his wife's previous service on the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission.

Questions have now arisen over whether Sue Pine was improperly allowed to serve on the Planning Commission from May of 2000 to January of 2004.

Roger Pine has acknowledged that he began living in Leavenworth County in 1999, despite keeping Lawrence as his political address and voting in Douglas County elections.

Sue Pine on Thursday said she also began living in Leavenworth County in 1999, but she amended previous comments made by her husband. She said after reviewing some records, it is more accurate to say that they began living part time in Leavenworth County in 1999. She said she and Roger spent much of planting and harvest season at their longtime farm home north of Lawrence.

"We were living half here and half there," Sue Pine said. "We gradually started spending more time here (Leavenworth County)."

Sue Pine said she does not believe she did anything wrong by serving on the Planning Commission, which by law requires its members to live within the county. The couple have said they were not attempting to mislead anyone.

She said she consulted with the family's personal attorney, who advised her that she was free to serve on the board, which is an unpaid position. But she said she did not notify county or city leaders that she was living at least partially in Leavenworth County.

The appointment was made by former Douglas County Commission Chairman Tom Taul. County Administrator Craig Weinaug said he can see how the issue was overlooked, given that the Pine family has had a deep history in Douglas County.

But Weinaug said the county may start confirming the addresses of appointees to various boards.

"It wouldn't occur to us to double-check residency, but we probably should in the future," Weinaug said.

Toni Wheeler - who as the city's director of legal services provides legal advice to the Planning Commission - said if the city had been aware of the residency question it would have discussed it with county leaders and taken appropriate action.

But now, Wheeler said the issue likely is moot. She said the statute of limitations to appeal any decision made by the planning commission would have expired years ago.

The Planning Commission largely is an advisory board by nature. During the time period that Pine was on the commission, it did have the authority to give final approval to final plats and final development plans of projects.

But the Planning Commission during Pine's tenure did make many close recommendations to city and county commissioners on controversial projects.

Wheeler said the city did not have any plans to review the past votes of the Planning Commission to determine how many times Pine's vote may have been the deciding vote on an issue.

One issue that has been brought up is whether Pine voted on a now contentious expansion of the city's Urban Growth Area to include land owned by the Pine family near the Lawrence Municipal Airport. The land is now the site of a proposed industrial park that has sparked opposition from neighbors.

That vote was taken in December of 2003, according to planning records. Pine was not present at that meeting.


pace 9 years, 7 months ago

All the Pine family had to do was be upfront rather than self serving about saying where they lived. The only reason the didn't was because they wanted the political advantage. I think a lot less of them because they thought the white lie was ok. It isn't. yes I know that it is acceptable that even local politicians do what they need to do to keep in power or hold their seat, If people don't expect or demand change we won't get it. I am so tired of the small cheats.

Boston_Corbett 9 years, 7 months ago

That place to which you intend to eventually return to is the test for voting residency... . Many seniors own two homes in two states, and can legally choose either of them for voting residency. If I heard correctly, the Pines still own their Douglas County home. So this is a total non-issue.If this wasn't the rule, we would have to arrest every Susie or Sammy Student who votes in Lawrence, when they intend to eventually return to Wichita, or conversely, when they vote in Wichita, where they intends to eventually return to, while they arguably sleep here. This is a such a total non issue.

c_dubya 9 years, 7 months ago

What a total non-story. Thanks for wasting 3 minutes of my life Chad.

somebodynew 9 years, 7 months ago

And I agree with Keith. People on this board (can't remember who and too lazy to look) took Jonathan Keeling to task about this. Gee, and now there is a story to follow up with it. I don't often (ever) defend the LJW but they actually did what some people requested. I say congrats.And I do think the Pines knew just what they were doing, and wanted the "benefit" of claiming they lived in Douglas County.

packs_of_wild_dogzz 9 years, 7 months ago

Wow. The amazing powers of Chad. Must be a Jedi mind trick.

Keith 9 years, 7 months ago

Hey, people asked about it, they looked into it and reported what they found. Just another day in journalism, small city variety.

threetoedsloth 9 years, 7 months ago

Boston-Kansas law for determining residency refers to where a person sleeps/stays at night. That is, you may have multiple houses, but your legal residence is where you lay your head at night. It is not "someday I indend to go here, so that's where I'll vote." I don't know if it's the local election board or the Secretary of State makes the determination of one's primary residence when the question is whether someone is eligible to be a candidate for a particular district. That's not the issue with Pine, as both of his houses are within his Senate district. The Pine issue is whether he should have been voting in certain local elections. I believe that's for the local election office to determine.What you may be thinking of is federal law, at least for individuals in the military. As I recall, folks in the military hope to get stationed in Texas or Florida for a spell and declare it their permanent residence. While they're on active duty and moving around, they continue to vote in the elections of that state, while enjoying the benefits of being a "resident" of a state with no income tax.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 7 months ago

They made their decision for political reasons and to keep voting for uncontrolled growth in Lawrence,Kansas thus a higher cost of living for most of the population.These folks are not stupid and knew exactly what they were doing and now they want to mess up North Lawrence.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 7 months ago

Wonder if this could make some of those Planning Commission decisions null and void?

Boston_Corbett 9 years, 7 months ago

Threetoed: And while you are at it, you better build some new prisons. With your understanding of voting residency, there are several tens of thousands of young adults, including thousands in Douglas County, who are breaking the law by voting where they don't sleep at night.......But guess what? You are wrong. They are not breaking the law. Neither did Pine. The end.

Boston_Corbett 9 years, 7 months ago

threetoed: Cite me a single other situation in Kansas where this has been determined to be illegal. (You can't)Nothing has been done illegally. If it had, the democrat DA or AG could have easily gotten involved. They haven't. They won't. They can't.Merrills and other's rants here on this topic are just their blindless D party-line mantras. As idiotic as others' R party-line mantras screeds.

somebodynew 9 years, 7 months ago

Just trying to keep the voters informed bozo. And, thanks for the link.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 7 months ago

Pine is a real piece of work-- and from the story, it confirms what most of us already knew-- Jere McElhaney (and his dad) was cut from the same cloth.From the link above"In 2003 and 2004, Jere McElhaney, who operates a fence-building company and serves on the Douglas County Commission, sent bills to the drainage district for $21,900. Public documents of the drainage board contain a one-word definition of the projects: "verbal.""

somebodynew 9 years, 7 months ago

If you really want an interesting story on Mr. Pine go to today's (Saturday) Cap-Journal. There is a lengthy article about his participation in the water district. Well, his past participation since he resigned as treasurer as soon as he was contacted by the reporter. And, not he can't officially comment since he isn't a member. Of course, he was legally allowed to be an officer for quite some time due to where he lives, but . . . . The money part of it is very interesting.(I would post a link, but (1) I am not good at that, and (2) since it is a competing newspaper it probably would not go over very well here.)The people who may vote for Mr. Pine should REALLY read this peice.

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