Advertisement

Archive for Thursday, August 4, 2011

Statehouse Live: Legislative committee seeks answers on SRS office closures

August 4, 2011, 11:45 a.m. Updated August 4, 2011, 4:46 p.m.

Advertisement

— A key legislator on Thursday rejected the justification used by the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services to shut down the Lawrence agency office and eight others.

And a legislative committee has asked for information from SRS related to the closures.

SRS Secretary Robert Siedlecki Jr. has said the closures are necessary because of a legislative mandate included in the state appropriations bill that the agency find $1 million in administrative cuts.

But Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, said that was not the case.

“The cuts were supposed to be at the administration level in Topeka and not be dispersed to local offices,” said McGinn, who as the lead budget-writer in the Senate was instrumental in putting the final state budget together that was approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback.

McGinn said that during the legislative session, SRS officials invited reductions. “They said they could handle the cuts,” McGinn said.

While Siedlecki has decided to close nine SRS offices, he also has added new positions among top-level administration, such as a $97,500-per-year deputy secretary for faith-based initiatives.

SRS spokesman Angela De Rocha, however, said Siedlecki and the agency “were very transparent during the session that if administrative cuts were passed, office restructuring was a possibility. We even provided a list of possible cuts which included office restructuring as an option to meet budget reductions.”

McGinn said she expected legislators to start delving into the office closure decision.

That started on Thursday as the Joint Committee on State Building Construction requested information on SRS’ actions.

Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, a member of the committee, said the office closures raised several questions.

Francisco asked for information on:

• Whether SRS pays building rents on a monthly or annual basis.

• How staff reductions in the agency have affected office space considerations.

She also said SRS is paying more in rent per square foot in Topeka than it is paying for space in Lawrence.

Rep. Bob Grant, D-Cherokee, asked for a tally of how much the office closures are supposed to save the state.

“Supposedly, these closings will save millions of dollars without losses of jobs. I’m trying to figure out how that is happening,” Grant said.

The Lawrence office, the largest of those to be shut down, would save approximately $400,000, with most of that coming from rent, according to SRS. But local leaders have said the closure will result in vulnerable Lawrence residents losing services and pushing extra costs onto local nonprofit agencies. Others have argued that SRS might face a legal challenge if it breaks its lease, which would eat into any potential savings.

The committee said it wanted to hear from SRS and Department of Administration officials during its September meeting.

Comments

autie 2 years, 8 months ago

Why do I now think that Sidekicky is just Eddie Haskell's nephew? Good lord for a Harvard type he sure acts like sombody's little bitch. And what is the deal with all these C Streeet butt buddies showing up in my State with jobs anyway? I think that the solid midwest real people values have had just about enough of this crap. And how can Sidekicky be the chief of family values when he abandon his on children to go on to pursue his BS career as a hate monger Republican? Where is his wife now? oh, he doesn't have a wife, he abandon family and kids to be a C Street punk.

0

Richard Heckler 2 years, 8 months ago

Brownback,Koch family ,Wal-Mart money want to privatize these services and public schools.

While they despise paying taxes they love the thought of billions in tax dollars creating a nice profit margin.

http://www.democracynow.org/2011/8/5/secretive_corporate_legislative_group_alec_holds

http://www.democracynow.org/2011/8/5/new_expos_tracks_alec_private_prison

Included in their process is reducing wages across the board = blue and white collars working for less pay while Walton's and Koch's increase their wealth.

How many here want to make less money for their hard labor?

0

justajoke 2 years, 8 months ago

One eyed Wilbur.. How would you know if the employees are happy or not? The bottom line is that all the employee are still happy to have a job. The things they are not happy with is this thing they keep referring to as "transparent ".. They are not being told anything. All they have is a date of closure but no mention of where they will be relocated to. Might be nice as a few people may need to get out of leases to relocate or find new daycares and make arrangement for care of elderly family members or kids since they will probably have longer distances to travel. So instead of making rude remarks about the employees, find something else to do. Obviously you aren't any of the people that will be affected by the closure so move on..

0

edjayhawk 2 years, 8 months ago

Who wants to bet that brownback doesn't get re-elected? I think even the state's Republican party thinks Brownback is right of right.

0

Cait McKnelly 2 years, 8 months ago

""This is a Democratic partisan temper tantrum you are reporting,” said SRS Director of Communications Angela de Rocha." Dear Ms. Angela de Rocha, This has to be one of the stupidest things I have ever seen come out of a government spokesperson's mouth, much less brain. It represents a hubris that's breath taking in it's scope. Whatever letter I have behind my name on the voter rolls makes no difference. You serve me. My taxes pay your salary. You work for a government agency, not a political party. If this fight is partisan it's because your bosses made it that way, not this town. You should be fired on the spot for making that kind of statement and if the DOJ truly is looking into this then I hope that sentence makes them sit up and take notice. I also hope that Steve Six takes notice of this little snit fit. No one is above the law and this includes you, your boss and your boss's boss. Bottom line, they were the ones who drew the line in the sand, not this town or county. They made this a partisan fight and if, in the end, they get the excrement slapped out of them for putting the lives of thousands of people in jeopardy for the sake of partisan "politics" then they rightfully deserve it. Every single penny that could have been potentially "saved" by the closure of the Lawrence SRS office has now been eaten up by the creation of four (count them; FOUR) new administrative positions, including your own. This gives the impression that you aren't trying to communicate or explain what the department is doing; you're fighting to save your job. Believe me, pointing fingers isn't the way to do it. If this doesn't leave a bad taste in the mouths of people of all political stripes, you will be one very lucky woman.

0

Cait McKnelly 2 years, 8 months ago

Ummm guys. The DOJ is investigating SRS? Siedlecki worked for the DOJ under Bush II. Yeah, it's a new administration but....my paranoia is ringing alarum bells.

0

Lana Christie-Hayes 2 years, 8 months ago

and... for the nonbelievers... though it may be a bit redundant... http://articles.kwch.com/2011-08-04/s...
where the most telling line says: "Xochitl Hinojosa, a spokesperson with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington D.C. confirms the DOJ is gathering input and reviewing funding cuts to SRS as possible violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act."

0

lsense 2 years, 8 months ago

"Siedlecki defends the changes he’s making at SRS, saying he puts efficiency as a top priority with taxpayer dollars."

Efficiency is creating multiple $90k+ top-level positions, making SRS even more top-heavy, while shutting down offices? Wow, they must have taught me the reverse meaning of efficiency in school.

0

lsense 2 years, 8 months ago

You want cuts? Start with firing the dunce they call a spokesperson:

“The ‘public input’ was the election and the subsequent decisions of the state Legislature, which were extensively covered by the media. This is a Democratic partisan temper tantrum you are reporting,” said SRS Director of Communications Angela de Rocha.

0

Lane Signal 2 years, 8 months ago

Some of the above postings look like spin control to me. Is the governor's office (or some quietly affiliated group) monitoring LJW boards and trying to make it seem like the SRS office closing has significant local support? I think especially the posts that misstate obvious facts are suspect.

0

CHKNLTL 2 years, 8 months ago

whatever b*tch got that $97,000 salary had better start praying for sammie's assassins to be caught!!!

0

Lana Christie-Hayes 2 years, 8 months ago

from an article in ljw just posted: ..."Tuesday, city commissioners are scheduled to receive a public briefing of the various options under consideration. The item appears on the agenda for the city’s 6:35 p.m. meeting on Tuesday."

0

Kontum1972 2 years, 8 months ago

take the capital....one if by land two if by sea....

0

oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 8 months ago

So, big deal. A lawsuit occurs, a lease is broken, payments are made but the fact still remains that the lease is over. There is no reason that a new lease will be negotiated for space in Lawrence.

The ministers praying should offer up their church space. the school district has buildings full of people, that is hard to believe. The problem with Weinaug and Mr. Bradford is that even if local governmental space is offered the locals will foot a remodeling bill like never seen before. It seems that the SRS workers can't just be happy with being in difference locations and using the same desk or maybe folding tables to do work.

Bottom line, the clubhouse at 19th and Delaware is being shut down.

Now, if this is a matter of rent and the owner of the buiding is concerned, then where is his interview about the lease and/or renewal. The Journal World has been sloppy in reporting about any future lease renewal.

0

jayhawklawrence 2 years, 8 months ago

When the lawyers start lining up it gets everybody's attention.

The Brownback honeymoon is over and everybody is starting to question his ability to manage without getting direction from his handlers.

Maybe Sam is what we need to get Kansans to open their minds and start getting more educated about the issues instead of getting led around by the nose ring by political propaganda.

0

viva_la_revolucion 2 years, 8 months ago

The Department of Justice is now looking into the SRS cuts

0

Cait McKnelly 2 years, 8 months ago

DNC death panels? Really "notright" (how fitting), Sarah Palin is so yesterday.

0

tomatogrower 2 years, 8 months ago

People keep pointing out that places in western Kansas don't have offices. I think that's a crime too, but if you live in a rural area, you must have a vehicle or access to one. You can't live without it. You can't go to the grocery store or anywhere without it. In a city like Lawrence, you can live without a car. You can take the bus. You can find a place to live that's within walking distance of a store. There are cabs, if you can afford it. I'm not saying that the western part of our state doesn't deserve to have offices in their towns. I'm just saying the needs are different.

0

Richard Heckler 2 years, 8 months ago

"What is so special about Lawrence that we require our own office when we have two offices within 30 miles?"

It's called need.

It is my assertion that none should be closed. When people need these services help is quite likely a ASAP situation. No time for driving all over the state. Until we are in these "shoes" we will never know.

0

Richard Heckler 2 years, 8 months ago

Time to send SRS Secretary Robert Siedlecki Jr. back to Florida aka fired and terminate the new high dollar hires.

This makes dollars and sense.

Thanks to all of the legislators working on this matter. Hats off for stepping up!

0

distant_voice 2 years, 8 months ago

Americans, including Kansans are spoiled, rotten, little brats. We want it all, we want more, and we want it all for free. Any time a government tries to make cuts in any service, there's always a contingent of radicals whining about it. Do we not understand the impossibility of what we're asking our legislators and congressmen to do? Keep the same level of government service we have, make it work better, but by the way, cut government costs so we live within our budget. To keep up with our endless littany of whining and demands, our local, state, and national governments have had to go deeply into debt, putting our economy and our entire way of live at extreme risk.

There are hundreds of towns and cities in Kansas that do not have their own SRS office, and yet somehow, the thousands of SRS recipients in these areas make out just fine. What is so special about Lawrence that we require our own office when we have two offices within 30 miles?

0

mloburgio 2 years, 8 months ago

DNC death panels? notleft_notright you need to shut off fox "lies" news.

Fourteen Propaganda Techniques Fox "News" Uses to Brainwash Americans

http://www.truth-out.org/14-propaganda-techniques-fox-news-uses-brainwash-americans/1309612678

0

bobberboy 2 years, 8 months ago

I wish we could cut brownback as gov.

0

ShePrecedes 2 years, 8 months ago

What is going to happen to all those unwanted babies the GOP is forcing us to have, those we cannot abort? Is the government going to make them micro-chipped, plasticized super-soldiers? Guinea pigs for that bioweapons lab they want to build here in this state? Food supply? Or what? What are they going to do with all those babies?

0

SilverShadow 2 years, 8 months ago

Actually, brownie is a bigger joke. But hey, the idiots in Kansas elected him. They are determined to prove how backward and ignorant Kansans are.

0

LH3867 2 years, 8 months ago

A big thank you from this Kansas taxpaying family. It is time that political affiliation is put aside and figure out what is best for the citizens of Kansas. I am thankful that the legislators are paying attention. BRAVO! SRS administrators need to respond to questions. I understand the Secretary is giving pre-recorded statements now. If he can't be trusted to represent the agency he should really save the taxpayers 100,000+ and go back to Florida or better yet, join his kids wherever he left them. Putting this man in charge of the marriage initiative is the biggest joke of all.

0

SilverShadow 2 years, 8 months ago

We need to look no further than simple fact that voters here did not vote for brownie.. ie: they must pay for that.

0

Bob_Keeshan 2 years, 8 months ago

A quick refresher -- 33% of the "savings" is going to pay the salary of newly hired Angela De Rocha.

Because SRS needs fewer offices but 100% more PR flaks. Apparently only having one spokesperson wasn't serving the people of Kansas efficiently.

0

4accountability 2 years, 8 months ago

Legislators continually battle with the pressure to makes cuts and then the pounding they get from their constituents when the results of the cuts occur. Everybody needs to get real and understand they can't ask for cuts and expect it not to impact something in their own backyard. It would not ever have been realistic to think that $1,000,000 in cuts could have come from the Topeka Administration only...no way that was ever the deal. When taxpayers say we don't want to pay higher taxes, when the legislators say they will spend less....expect to lose something. It is real...Lawrence is not special although it is becoming more and more apparent they believe they are for some reason.

0

ResQd 2 years, 8 months ago

Am I to understand as a taxpaying citizen that the money was suppose to come from top administrators, but they decided in order to save their own butts, to close offices? I am one pissed off taxpayer!

0

JohnSickels 2 years, 8 months ago

Sounds like SRS lied to the legislature during the budget process about what their plans were.

Not surprised.

For an administration run by so-called Christians, the Brownback gang sure seems to lie a lot.

0

autie 2 years, 8 months ago

But Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairwoman Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, said that was not the case.

Partisan effort there notright? You got part of the correct, Not Right.

0

2 years, 8 months ago

great to see other republicans questioning the details on this planned closure...

0

Kim Murphree 2 years, 8 months ago

Go Marci and Go Carolyn--one Dem one Rep--both asking for accountability--I like it! Wish there were more on both sides that would do the same!

0

kernal 2 years, 8 months ago

Some people spend their lives throwing in the towel, never wondering "what if?".

0

LHS56 2 years, 8 months ago

Thank you Marci! I just knew you were representing the people with this issue. Keep up the good work and pressure.

0

notleft_notright 2 years, 8 months ago

Looks like a partisan effort getting publicity locally but not much else. Quit beating the horse, it died two weeks ago. All that is being accomplished is the swatting of a few flies. Let it go.

0

Lana Christie-Hayes 2 years, 8 months ago

BRING THE HAMMER DOWN!.. Keep turnin' up the fire! Demand some answers!

0

Commenting has been disabled for this item.