Archive for Thursday, March 5, 2009

Candidate discusses details of bankruptcy

March 5, 2009

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Gwen Klingenberg is running for one of three seats opening on the Lawrence City Commission, while still in the shadow of filing for bankruptcy just four months ago.

“I was upfront and honest with everybody about this,” Klingenberg said of the Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection that she and her husband sought. “But I still had people telling me to go through with the campaign. They said lots of people were going through this.

“And this was related to a medical condition. It was not because I didn’t want to work or was lazy.”

Here are some of the details of the bankruptcy:

● Klingenberg hurt her back by lifting several large containers of paint while working as an office employee for Lawrence Habitat for Humanity in March 2007. The injury required two surgeries. Klingenberg filed for workers compensation, and was unemployed for about 18 months, she said. Klingenberg said the time she was off work should have been shorter, but she said the state’s workers compensation program delayed approving her second surgery.

● During the time that Klingenberg was off work, she and her husband — a Journal-World pressman — were unable to keep up with their bills. According to the bankruptcy filing, Klingenberg and her husband owe 40 creditors a total of $80,448. The amount does not include the couple’s mortgage. The creditors include credit card companies, payday loan companies, and a handful of local businesses. Overall — when the couple’s mortgage and personal property are included in the equation — the filing lists the couple as having $233,003 in liabilities and $237,210 in assets.

● According to the filing, the couple was responsible for writing some checks without having sufficient funds to cover the checks. The filing lists eight instances where creditors are claiming checks were bounced. The checks totaled $1,007.

● The filing details that the couple was having trouble paying their federal and state income taxes prior to Klingenberg’s medical problems in 2007. The filing includes claims from the Internal Revenue Service and the Kansas Department of Revenue for tax payments from 2005, 2006 and 2007. The couple owe a total of $11,498 in tax payments to the state and federal government.

Klingenberg said she’s not entirely clear how the couple fell behind in their tax payments.

“We’re not exactly sure what happened,” said Klingenberg, who said she and her husband mistakenly believed they were having enough money taken out of their paychecks to cover their taxes.

Klingenberg said she and her husband were in contact with the IRS prior to the bankruptcy filing to try to rectify the back taxes.

Klingenberg said her financial problems should not cause people to have concerns about her ability to serve on the commission, which oversees the city’s budget of approximately $146 million. Klingenberg said much of her financial problems were out of her control because of the slow response time by the workers compensation program to approve her surgery and benefits.

“My hands were tied,” Klingenberg said. “I was not allowed to work. When somebody else is controlling your life, it is impossible to keep your head above water.”

Comments

jlw53 6 years, 2 months ago

I believe she was a strong Obama supporter. All the more reason that "government" should have even more control over our lives. Or maybe not, huh, Gwen. This is clearly the direction the new administration is taking us.

medyas 6 years, 2 months ago

If she is not sure what happened on how they fell behind on their taxes even before she end up being injured , how can she even make sure that a city budget is also falling behind their bills if she will handle it, she can't even handle a simple budget, how much more for a $146 million. Maybe she will also say, I'm not sure what happened, it's the peoples money anyway. Simple---be responsible with your own problem and not point to other sources why it happened and try to go the easy way. Maybe she can run for something that doesn't handle the budget.

madameX 6 years, 2 months ago

To be fair, pointing to sources why problems exist is not necessarily taking the "easy way," sometimes it's telling the truth. If she couldn't work due to an injury then she couldn't work due to an injury, how else is she supposed to explain it?

Noweigh 6 years, 2 months ago

Just what we need, another candidate running from accountability. "Not sure how we feel behind on our taxes". Not even counting the inability to handle their personal finances. No thanks.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 6 years, 2 months ago

"40 creditors" including payday loans?

"The filing includes claims from the Internal Revenue Service and the Kansas Department of Revenue for tax payments from 2005, 2006 and 2007."

No, that's too hard to overlook. Lots of people get into trouble over medical debts, but this is mismanagement. This indicates to me some really poor decision making on her part. One year of messed up taxes is understandable, but this went on and on and on...

I don't see how she can see herself as qualified. That part is almost as scary as her history: she doesn't see that this is a problem.

8muddyboots 6 years, 2 months ago

I think it is remarkable refreshing to have someone so willing to openly discuss their finances. Look around you people, this is what your neighbors and your families are going through whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.

Thank you Ms.Klingenberg bringing a bit of reality to the table.

gabbo 6 years, 2 months ago

8muddy, that is like saying it is remarkable refreshing (sic) for a problem gambler or addict to openly discuss his or her problems. Why would we want someone so poor at managing her own life and finances to have anything to do with ours? How did Mike Rundle turn out? Gwen should put her own affairs in order.

think_about_it 6 years, 2 months ago

$11.5k in back unpaid taxes and this stupid leftist Democrat wants to be in charge of our money? What is it about Democrats that they don't ever seem to pay their taxes?

I've already had enough of these progressive tax and spend losers, including Obama. Look at the market so far this week. Every time he opens his yap my retirement goes down the drain. SHUT the hell up you anti-capitalist dumba$$!! How will this country survive 4 years of this crap?

somedude20 6 years, 2 months ago

Is it sensible to have someone oversee a city when they can not even be responsible for their own finances? Bouncing that many checks? Not knowing that you owe a large sum of tax money or worse yet not paying it when you do? Sounds like someone who has their head buried firmly in the sand.

alm77 6 years, 2 months ago

Okay, I have a question... I'm serious here.... how much control does the commission have over the actual spending? Would one person who, I admit, is clueless about cash really have that much of an impact or a say-so over the budget? Isn't that done by a separate committee and then approved by the city council?

I only ask these questions because I like where she stands on several issues. I would love to have her service, but would not want to hand her the checkbook. The medical problem is understandable, the taxes... not so much.

I already know 2 people I'm voting for and am torn between Gwen and another person...

think_about_it 6 years, 2 months ago

alm77- That is exactly the danger in voting for this woman or anyone who shares her political ideology. Everything that she stands for increases the size and scope of government and in turn the cost to the average citizen, at least those of us who actually pay taxes.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

While her financial difficulties give absolutely no indication, good or bad, about how she would perform as a city commissioner, swan diver is right that they will likely become the central focus of her campaign, as well as the campaigns of other like-minded candidates.

This could make it very difficult to focus on a much more critical issue-- the continued use of the city commission to promote the special interests of the development/cancerous growth sectors, to the detriment of everyone else.

think_about_it 6 years, 2 months ago

Why is that swan_diver?

She only got caught doing what all progressives do. Spend other peoples money without worrying what it does to the average tax paying citizen. Her taxes are already too high to be able to pay them and she wants to impose even more of a financial burden on people, especially the ones that contribute to the tax base.

monkeyhawk 6 years, 2 months ago

Who in the world has 40 creditors??? ... and then to stiff them all and blame her irresponsibility on someone else. I find it repugnant, and in this climate it is doubtful that she has a snowball's chance in hail to be elected. You know things are pretty bad when even boozo won't endorse a progressive.

No more deadbeats in city, county,state or federal offices.

alm77 6 years, 2 months ago

monkey, 40 creditors are easy to accrue with medical problems. You have to pay the hospital, the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, your referring doctor, etc. all separately. It did say that she had outstanding bad checks and each would count as one creditor as well.

It's a mess, that's for sure.

sunrunner1960 6 years, 2 months ago

I read all of these negative comments and I find myself wondering who, out of you all, has ever suffered from a streak of bad luck. If you did, did you spend your time blaming other people? I mean, come on people. It is in the news every single day. Millions losing their homes, millions more filing bankruptcy... I know nobody knows me here, I just recently moved into Lawrence (Sept 08), but I want you all to think about something for a minute. The Klingenbergs did not file a Chapter 7, which just expunges their debt, they filed a Chapter 13, which is a debt reorganization. That means that they are paying off their creditors, not avoiding them. The bad checks? Let he who is perfect cast the first stone. It happens to the best of people in the worst of times. One adding error and everything else falls apart. I have only lived in Lawrence for a few months, but I have known Gwen Klingenberg for 7 or 8 years now. She was instrumental in my move to this city. She is a wonderful person, full of heart and enthusiasm for the city of Lawrence. That she had some problems is obvious. Does that automatically mean she is detrimental to the city? Of course not. She helped save the T, and she was the TREASURER of that committee. Apparently she does have some money sense, or that would never have taken place, huh? My point? Everybody likes to throw dirt and sling mud. It is fun, isn't it? Is it how we want our youth to turn out? Negative, hateful and hurtful? I would much rather my little one learn how to look beyond the small picture to the big one. Incidentally, 40 creditors is not that uncommon. And people do not file bankruptcy just because they are standing on the edge. They have to need serious help before they take that route. Just remember, they could have filed a 7, instead they are paying off their creditors with a 13. I for one am going to vote for Gwen, because I know her track record with this city, and I know she is sincere in her desire to help the city, not hurt it.

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 2 months ago

"“We’re not exactly sure what happened,” said Klingenberg, who said she and her husband mistakenly believed they were having enough money taken out of their paychecks to cover their taxes."

Yeah... this is exactly someone who should be managing Lawrence's budget... On the positive side, at least she has experience writing worthless checks - Lawrence is pretty good at spending money it doesn't have.

"sunrunner1960 (Anonymous) says… I read all of these negative comments and I find myself wondering who, out of you all, has ever suffered from a streak of bad luck..."

I've had bad luck before - but this is a rather remarkable streak of bad luck. Further, Lawrence didn't draft her to run for government. She chose to do it and thus opens herself up for scrutiny. It is rather laughable that you argue she isn't blaming other people when the article stresses time and again that it isn't her fault she's been out of work for so long.

"sunrunner1960 (Anonymous) says… The bad checks? Let he who is perfect cast the first stone. It happens to the best of people in the worst of times. One adding error and everything else falls apart."

Uh no. If you run your finances so that "one adding error" causes everything to fall apart, you shouldn't be running a $146 million budget. Further, one bad check is a mistake but $1000 worth of checks is not.

"sunrunner1960 (Anonymous) says… She is a wonderful person, full of heart and enthusiasm for the city of Lawrence... She helped save the T, and she was the treasurer of that committee. Apparently she does have some money sense, or that would never have taken place, huh?"

Wow. Well when you put it that way... I had no idea that she quite possibly effectively managed hundreds of dollars as a treasurer to save Lawrence's empty bus system. Add that to her heart and she's certainly qualified.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 2 months ago

This bankruptcy issue has nothing to do with anything other than an attempt at character assassination.

People file bankruptcy everyday not necessarily due to mismanagement of any sort. Medical,laid off or economy goes sour perhaps. One thing in Gwens favor is the fact that over the past 3 years she has educated herself on building codes and ordinances,Lawrence growth plans,is familiar with neighborhood concerns and supports economic growth. Gwen is ready for the job.

Consider that Chestnut,Dever,Amyx and Hack are local business people and/or who have been commissioners for a number of years: *Economic Growth Problems in Lawrence http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2007/sep/why_do_you_think_lawrence_growth_lagging/

bearded_gnome 6 years, 2 months ago

oh yeah, Merrill/Richard Heckler endorses her! he's backing CC&K! so we certainly know from that alone how to vote on CC&K: NO!

? According to the filing, the couple was responsible for writing some checks without having sufficient funds to cover the checks. The filing lists eight instances where creditors are claiming checks were bounced. The checks totaled $1,007.

unless she can show check(s) she thought and any reasonable person would believe they were deposited, but were not, this is a very bad sign. the 40-creditors, not so hard to get to with medical trouble and the workers comp probably really screwed them over royally. workers comp doesn't have a very good track record.

no, we don't need one more "progressive" elected, C C or K.

in the 1930's word went out from Moscow that U.S. communists and their sympathizers should call themselves "progressives."

and, as to AIG, John Kerry is really really big into them! or rather, AIG is very big into Kerry. Kerry, the demorat president candidate in 2004.

Stephen Roberts 6 years, 2 months ago

Merrill: Wake up. I am confused; they rang up 80K in debt (outside of their mortgage) but didn't use any equity in their house to pay down their debt? Did they try to enter into a payment plan with their creditors outside of bankruptcy???????

Also, why is an office worker for Habitat for Humanity trying to lift several containers of paint?????? To me I question her judgement and her motives!!!

Bob Forer 6 years, 2 months ago

gwen, your financial crisis separates you from the majority of candiates in one particular way: you are one of us. And who do we want represneting us? A representatie from the wealthy, who choose their candidancy to inhance their idividual finanacial status and that of their cronies. Or, two, to represent the interests of the vast majority of ciizens. Abraham Lincoln once said that God must love the comon. He made so many of them.

You have my vote, girl. Thanks for you tenancity.

sunrunner1960 6 years, 2 months ago

Let's be very clear on this. I am in no way saying that Mrs. Klingenberg did not open herself up to scrutiny. In fact, a truly informed public would scrutinize all their candidates and vote according to their understanding of the issues at hand. However, there is a huge difference between scrutiny and just plain being nasty and calling names. I stand behind my earlier statements. There is still a huge difference between a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and it is not to be taken lightly, nor is it "baseless". Shame on those of you who do not know the difference. Because the Klingenbergs are paying their creditors, for whatever reason they filed Chapter 13. They are not trying to skip out on their debt.

Gwen, keep your chin up. There are people out here who really care about you and and know what you have to offer the city of Lawrence. Remember, in the darkest night, a light will shine through. As I said before, you do have now, and will continue to have my vote. Hang in there!

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

MaxMMPower 6 years, 2 months ago

When was the last time Lawrence had a city commission that was composed of anything other than a majority of weirdos, power-trippers, pork-barrel-fillers, flakes, snarks, residency-cheats, dull-normals, laughing-stocks, and many other forms of ass-clown?

Several of the candidates who "look good"at this point and talk a good, bland game are in the pockets of the same Bushian low-lifes who think there are still a couple of dollars to suck out of the bank accounts and retirement funds of working people. They are likely to win because they can spew forth pretty much what the Lawrencian mass wants to hear. But they will do what suits them and this is not likely to suit Lawrence in the long run.

And most of the pundits who are posting comments about this election will probably not get off their duffs and vote anyway - Instead, they will sit at their anonymous computers feeling superior as they spout their ill-considered and self-satisfied judgments of a woman who seems to be both honest about her troubles and her mistakes and yet is still willing to devote her time and effort to actually doing something for her community. And that's as close to the democratic process as they will get.

sourpuss 6 years, 2 months ago

Geez, people, if you don't like her, don't vote for her. Sounds like she has enough problems without half the city badmouthing her. No wonder so many people don't want to be involved in politics.

Bob Forer 6 years, 2 months ago

jlw53 (Anonymous) says…

"I believe she was a strong Obama supporter. All the more reason that “government” should have even more control over our lives. Or maybe not, huh, Gwen. This is clearly the direction the new administration is taking us."

The "big government bad. It cxontrols us" is a myth created by the wealthy to hide the real issues:

who should control government. The wealthy., Or the people.

jlw53 6 years, 2 months ago

Sycophant - you missed the point. I was referring to the Workmans Compensation which is run by the inefficient government and furthered her problems with bureaucratic delays. Is that how you want to be treated? Let someone competent take care of it like a private insurance company that answers to the state Insurance commissioner. She would get results and people wouldn't be hurt further with delays. It seems apparent she needed the other surgery and should have rightfully gotten it without delay.

jayhawklawrence 6 years, 2 months ago

It is obvious to me that this woman is not qualified to be a city commissioner and be in the position to manage a multi-million dollar budget.

That being said, why is it so difficult to attract the very qualified and talented people who know how to manage a budget and attract quality businesses and people to Lawrence?

When I read the negative comments on this blog by the same group of people everyday, it is hard to imagine anyone feeling welcome or inspired to tackle the job.

So I think the talent pool will be very small whenever there is a city election in this town.

KS 6 years, 2 months ago

Marion - They are NOT progressives. They are liberals, thru and thru. Never will be anything else, because there are just some people that can't navigate thru life without blaming someone else for their problems. It is what it is.

monkeyhawk 6 years, 2 months ago

For those whose sensibilities have been offended: remember Joe the Plumber and the scrutiny he was subjected to merely for asking a question? Or Sarah Palin and the media invasion scavenging for the slightest bit of dirt? Did that offend you? Probably not, it didn't offend me. I understand that if someone steps into the spotlight they are open to public view, unless they are the darlings of the media. I don't think that's the case with this person.

On the positive side, she is excellently positioned for a cramdown.

KS 6 years, 2 months ago

monkeyhawk - As the old saying goes, "it is not necessarily what you say, but how you say it". The Liberals will always use personal attacks when they can not effectively argue a point. Lose an argument? Attack your opponent!

yankeevet 6 years, 2 months ago

Seems like alot of those polticians owe tax money; hummmmmmmm;.........

medyas 6 years, 2 months ago

sunrunner1960- being a wonderful person doesn't make the fact that a person can still be very irresponsible. If a person serves the public one thing they should think is to be a good rule model , not unless the US has no moral values to speak of already, which is a shame and will lead the US to go down. It always starts below. Everybody has their own problems and I know people who make very little money and can still make ends meet---the problem is most US households live BEYOND their means and when things gets tough they don't have any thing to fall back on. They live as if their is no tomorrow and one thing, people who file for bankruptcy specially for being irresponsible doesn't know that the business they owe money are also hard working people to make money to live.

Godot 6 years, 2 months ago

"Overall — when the couple’s mortgage and personal property are included in the equation — the filing lists the couple as having $233,003 in liabilities and $237,210 in assets."

Looks to me like the Klingenbergs could sell everything they own and pay back the money they borrowed and make good on the goods and services they consumed. And they would still have $4,204 left over to start over with a clean slate. That would be the honorable thing to do.

alm77 6 years, 2 months ago

Okay, so we've established that she's no financial genius. Anyone have any problems with her policies?

I've seen her in action at the city commission meetings and it's incredible. She's brought up points and made the commission ask important questions to themselves and Mr. Corliss.

Speaking of Mr. Corliss, wouldn't he be the one that's responsible for the city's money? I'm just thinking maybe her lack of financial wherewithal is a non-issue since she won't be writing checks or balancing the checkbook herself.

Let's get real for a moment here. She helped to lead the fight against Wal-mart, which failed, but was a very organized effort and she helped to save the T. Everyone here arguing against her as viable candidate also disagreed with her previous work, but she has had a fair amount of success. You cannot count her out.

Again, I admire her service, but I am cautious.

bangaranggerg 6 years, 2 months ago

The story quotes her as saying: "When somebody else is controlling your life, it is impossible to keep your head above water".. Wow, that's pathetic. Is she running under a complete incompetence platform? I'm not saying it hasn't worked in the past.

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