Archive for Sunday, April 17, 2011

KBA questions

Questions about the operation and leadership of the Kansas Bioscience Authority should be cleared up as soon as possible.

April 17, 2011


Tom Thornton’s sudden resignation as president and CEO of the Kansas Bioscience Authority is sure to generate much fingerpointing in an effort to blame this or that person for Thornton’s departure.

The one true fact is that the KBA is a unique, visionary creation of the Kansas Legislature, and it has the potential to play a tremendous role in the Kansas economy.

Whether Thornton was the right man to lead this effort is debatable. Whether he and/or board members engaged in questionable policies and actions is up in the air. KBA Chairman John Carlin is quick to say Thornton and board members were responsible for getting the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility located at Manhattan and Kansas State University. This is a giant overstatement. Also, there is unanimity among many with whom Thornton worked that his manner often was offensive, arrogant and uncommunicative.

At the request of Gov. Sam Brownback, KBA officials have contracted with the accounting firm of BKD to perform a forensic audit in order to try to prove there have not been any questionable fiscal actions by Thornton or board members. This is the same firm that handled the recent audit of the Kansas University athletic department ticket scam. Some question whether the BKD action at LI was a true audit or a mere review.

Many observers also believe the public should know whether KBA placed a cap on the fee BKD would receive, which could limit the scope of the audit. They also are interested in the identity of the lead auditor and his or her past experience.

Many supporters of Thornton have said they believe the KBA/Thornton question was fueled by Brownback, who wanted to take control of the body. Maybe some of those making this charge were aware of how former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius did, indeed, try to take over the KU Hospital board and how she injected herself into the KBA board.

Brownback makes it clear he has no desire to control the KBA but he does say he wants to make sure there is proper stewardship of state taxpayer dollars. Apparently, there are sufficient questions relative to this that Johnson County officials have issued subpoenas to individuals seeking more information about possible questionable actions.

Thornton, Carlin and board members have handed out millions of dollars, which is one way to win friends and admirers. Also, it’s almost guaranteed to win defenders.

The KBA, the authority itself is great for the state, but there appears to be reason to question Thornton’s leadership, as well as board actions and the defense of Thornton by former Gov. Carlin.

In order to protect the KBA and not handicap what this authority can do for the state, this unfortunate situation should be clear ups as soon as possible.


lawrenceguy40 7 years, 1 month ago

Government should get out of funding science research. It is just welfare for the idle liberal elite.

Take the funds that would have been spent by the KBA and put them in the State's general fund. That will go a long way towards fixing the deficit. It will mean a few professional teat suckers in Douglas County will be out of work. The hardworking taxpayers will no longer be feeding them, while they feed us their science bovine excrement.

pusscanthropus 7 years, 1 month ago

You obviously don't understand the value of scientific research. If our government does not fund basic scientific research while other countries continue, we will fall further behind technologically. It's important that we, as a society, continue to advance our understanding of science. It's not always about a marketable's knowledge for the sake of knowledge.

Joe Blackford II 7 years, 1 month ago

"Thornton, Carlin and board members have handed out millions of dollars, which is one way to win friends and admirers. Also, it’s almost guaranteed to win defenders."

KBA board member Col/Dr David R Franz, former commander of the U S Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, Ft. Detrick, MD, Home Lab of the Anthrax Mailer.

It's time Kansans question bringing the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility to Kansas. While Army & DHS should have been reviewing the lapses in security & safety protocols @ Franz' lab, the FBI's findings were swept under Franz' carpet while he plotted to bring the N B A F to his alma mater.

Joe Blackford II 7 years, 1 month ago

Franz retired, signed up with the Southern Research Institute (known for his slip up in sending Live Anthrax to a Calif. children's hospital lab, where researches had to take preventative measures for the deadly mistake): and then jumped ship to Midwest Research Institute (now mriglobal) as VP & in charge of the MRI lab @ U S A M R I I D.

Sebelius appointed Franz to the KBA.

The Dept of Homeland Security appointed Franz to its committee on labs & sent him to take a look at every govt lab with lethal germs. The a secret DHS committee picked KSU for the relocation of USDA's Plum Island research, including Foot & Mouth Disease, a pathogen so devastating as to be banned from research on the U S mainland. Other countries, including Australia, have located FMD research in 3rd world nations!

The National Institute of Health appointed Franz to its new "dual use research" committee, as in "my lab scientist used my germs to kill my fellow Americans."

It is inane to believe KSU was chosen from 5 locations, while overlooking the KSU ringer on the committee in charge of labs.

I'm going on 4 years of Googling in an attempt to answer why DHS was looking @ KSU for a minimum security lab (Secret), while Franz' old Army lab was relocated to a Top Secret - Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. The answer: Pres. Bush's EO permitting contract employees (MRI) to carry their security clearances between Federal Agencies; Franz is a VP of MRI, KC, MO; Franz went to KSU Vet Med; Franz sits on the KBA; Franz ran KSU's Nat'l. Agro- & Bioterrorism Center (house of cards w/KBA grants?).

Google for yourselves:

David Franz

David Franz

Franz Ivins NBAF

DevilsAdvocate Franz

DevilsAdvocate Franz

But don't bother looking to find any of these facts in The Manhattan Mercury, owned by KSU's previous University Attorney.

Kendall Simmons 7 years, 1 month ago

After 4 years of Googling, all the so-called 'evidence' we're presented with is anonymous forum posts? And innocous DHS, NIH and NBAF links?

If someone wants to perform a serious investigation into something, they need to realize they do not accomplish that by simply googling "David Franz" for 4 years.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

I say shut it down. Brownback and Wagle will not bring honor and integrity to this matter.

BUT refund the dollars to Kansas taxpayers for safe keeping and reasonable spending. Brownback and Wagle are NOT the answer.

What was Brownback doing while the nations economy was in the making of going straight to hell? Turning his blind eye? Brownback certainly did not come to Kansas and warn us that millions of our jobs were about to go down the tubes.

thefactsare 7 years, 1 month ago

oneeye - have you ever asked Douglas County about the purchase of East Hills? The County is repaid their original investment of $3,000 per acre every time a lot is sold at East Hills so you can't say that a penny has never been put back. Specials are also paid out of the sale of a lot back to the City of Lawrence for their original investment in roads, water and sewer lines. Get your facts straight.

FTC_Jayhawk 7 years, 1 month ago

Most of the posters here are awfully short-sighted and obviously ignorant of the work actually being done by KBA. Kansas has already benefited from new jobs due to KBA and in the long-term, KBA is playing a very important role in bringing more science and technology jobs to Kansas.

It is a high-tech industry that KBA is wooing, and that takes intelligent and hard working people, many of whom are worth well more than $100k per year.

Establishment of KBA was visionary for Kansas. It is important to the future of the Kansas economy. Current unborn, elementary, high-school, and university students are the ones that will benefit most directly, but they will help to grow the Kansas state economy as a whole.

Please allow Kansas to be smart about something for the future instead of squashing it because our economy is temporarily down and these employees are making more than the average citizen. I would guess that most people complaining don't understand how a person can deserve to make this much money (but the math can be quite simple). This isn't communist China, get over it and put the future of our state economy ahead of the present-day whiners.

Stymie 7 years, 1 month ago

Does the KBA really need THREE Directors of Commercialization?? This triple redundancy comes at a cost of $532,090 in salary, benefits, and bonuses.

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