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Archive for Thursday, August 11, 2011

What’s next?

Top state officials are making a lot of decisions that aren’t in the best interests of Kansas.

August 11, 2011

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Gov. Sam Brownback and his administration are on a roll when it comes to ill-conceived, autocratic decisions that have a negative impact on the state.

It was hard to top the decision to close the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services offices in Lawrence and eight other communities or the Kansas Department of Health and Environment decision not even to apply for some of the $900 million the federal government is making available over the next five years for efforts to battle chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

Those decisions were certainly noteworthy, but the decision announced Tuesday to reject a $31.5 million grant to let Kansas control its own destiny on a key component of national health care takes the cake.

Although he had signed on to accept the grant earlier this year, Brownback now has decided that the money comes with too many “strings attached” and that all states “should be preparing for fewer federal resources, not more.” Should Kansas also apply that principle to federal highway funds? Maybe we should change our minds about accepting federal funds for the National Bio- and Agro Defense Facility planned in Manhattan. Too many “strings attached.”

The $31.5 million grant rejected on Tuesday would have allowed Kansas to be a leader in developing online resources to provide information that will allow consumers to make educated decisions about their health insurance coverage. Kansas was one of only seven states to receive such a grant, which was a strong endorsement of Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger’s experience and expertise in her field.

Kansas could have used that grant money to develop a system that would meet the state’s needs and set a model for other states to follow. Instead, Kansas now likely will be forced to use a system developed by some other state or the federal government.

“It’s a missed opportunity,” said Praeger, who reportedly wasn’t consulted before the governor made his decision, “but I understand the politics.”

Yes, it’s all about “the politics.” It’s not about saving money. Some other state will get the $31.5 million we sent back. It’s not about “the strings.” Praeger said that wasn’t a problem on this grant and it certainly doesn’t keep Kansas from accepting other types of federal grants.

It’s about the politics. Refusing the federal money is another way to create fear and doubt about the national health care program that Brownback opposes.

It’s no coincidence that Brownback’s decision was announced only a week after a number of Kansas legislators attended a meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council in New Orleans. In fact, rejecting federal grants was a specific strategy outlined in ALEC’s “State Legislators Guide to Repealing ObamaCare.”

ALEC pushes a conservative agenda and was described in a report by the Center of Media and Democracy as a public policy front for corporate interests, including the Kansas-based Koch Industries, which helps fund ALEC and donates heavily to many conservative political causes and candidates. ALEC foots much of the bill for state legislators to attend its meetings, where they get strategy advice such as rejecting federal grants. The group is using state legislators to push a national agenda that may or may not benefit their individual states or the citizenry.

The top priority of Brownback or any governor should be to do what is best for Kansas and its people. It’s too bad that many recent actions taken by Brownback and his administration appear to be based on loyalty to political entities or agendas that have nothing to do with the best interests of the state.

Comments

akuna 3 years, 4 months ago

Recall Brownback NOW! His extremist politics have no place in government.

saraj 3 years, 4 months ago

Excellent editorial. One that should be read by every Kansan. Those who were hoodwinked by his campaign rhetoric and neglected to do their homework to find out who this man really is have put all of us in jeopardy.

Keith 3 years, 4 months ago

Thanks again for your editorial endorsement of Brownback in the last election. Your support helped make Browbackistan possible.

Lawrence_is_home 3 years, 4 months ago

What kills me is that Sam could have taken this money, hired a bunch of currently out-of-work software engineers living in KS to create the exchange. If he hired programmers as contract workers for this project only, there would have been no obligation to keep them after the exchange was created. Then the state could have sold or leased the software program to other states (creating a revenue stream) AND claimed he had created the JOBS.

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

When even a rather conservative paper like the LJW writes an editorial like this one, that really means something!

I have more hope that this administration will only last one term in KS.

grannyh 3 years, 4 months ago

Brownback has only one agenda folks and it is NOT to help Kansas. It is to help those pulling his strings in the background. This whole mess throws a light on t he underside of our political system. There are so many special interest groups working and so many highly paid lobbyists working night and day, that we are pretty much out of the loop. I don't care if you are a Republican or Democrat, a Conservative or Liberal. Right or Left. Right to life or Freedom of Choice. Pro Gay or Anti Gay. These dear fellow Kansans are only the smoke screens being used to hide the fact that our Governor is a puppet to the Koch brothers, and other big monied interests in this state. Just be aware. I don't ask you to agree with me, but I do ask you to take the time to read and learn about the issues, and to draw your own conclusions based on your own knowledge not on what the the puppet says.

Sally Piller 3 years, 4 months ago

Wow. Brownback is even too right wing for the LJW! Great editorial.

christy kennedy 3 years, 4 months ago

Yes, great editorial, based on common sense, decency, and a grasp of simple math—things we should be able to expect from our elected officials.

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

That seems to be true, for many people.

Returning this money will not reduce our debt at all - it will simply go to another state.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 4 months ago

And one of the major generators of our debt is our screwed up healthcare system.

But Sam apparently likes it screwed up-- why else would he turn down $31 million that could have made it better for everyone (except his corporate benefactors.)

hedshrinker 3 years, 4 months ago

Thanks for reversing yr editorial stand on Brownback; it's hard to imagine what's in store in the remaining yrs of his admin. We need to prepare a strong, viable opposition candidate NOW.

sciencegeek 3 years, 4 months ago

The first line in this editorial sums up the difference between this administration and any other in one word: "autocratic".

There may have been others whose decisions were "ill-conceived", although the number of them since January is phenomenal. The difference is that this administration doesn't listen to any other opinions, doesn't consider any information other than what supports its agenda, shows complete disregard for the citizens and even the Legislature, and doesn't even have the courtesy to inform people in a timely fashion. Commissioner Praeger gets a late-night phone call from the Lt. Governor. Announcements with huge impact are made late Friday, preferably before a holiday weekend. A tour of the Lawrence SRS office is made shortly before the closure announcement, with no negative feedback at the time of the visit.

No matter what moral platitudes they make, their actions make one thing obvious: Gov. Brownback and his administration are people without honor.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 4 months ago

That's the dirty little secret behind the Koch-brothers funded tea party. It's all smoke an mirrors to hide their true intent-- to make sure government is run by autocrats in their hire, such as Brownback.

Cait McKnelly 3 years, 4 months ago

Wow. I'm with hedshrinker. I never thought the day would come when someone would be so right wing that even the LJW couldn't swallow it. But then, I've always felt that, although Dolph may have been a fiscal conservative, he wasn't a social one. Like a lot of us, he probably mourns for a party that produced the likes of Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum and is now deader than a door nail, hijacked by the GOTP.

4getabouit 3 years, 4 months ago

For the sake of discussion.......what is the process for recalling Brownback?

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

More important than that are the grounds for recall, and as far as I know, he hasn't done anything that would meet those criteria.

George_Braziller 3 years, 4 months ago

I would say he qualifies because of incompetence.

"Conviction for a felony, misconduct in office, incompetence, or failure to perform duties prescribed by law. No recall submitted to the voters shall be held void because of the insufficiency of the grounds, application, or petition by which the submission was procured. (KS Stat. §25-4302)"

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

As I understand it, incompetence was removed from those criteria, and no longer is grounds for recall.

George_Braziller 3 years, 4 months ago

You are correct. I went directly to the statute and "incompetence" has been removed.

Just in general that was actually a pretty stupid change. An elected could have a stroke or some other health event which might make them "incompetent" to hold office. Not out of malice, but out of inability to perform the job.

My dad had pretty aggressive Pick's Dementia and in less than six years his ability to make logical choices was gone. He was able to function socially and continued to be involved in community events, but then he'd come home and do something bizarre like eat an entire can of bacon grease.

If he had been an elected official I would have headed up the recall petition. It wouldn't have been for "failure to perform duties" because he would have been at every meeting. It would have been for "incompetence."

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

I understand what you're saying, but I think it's probably an overly broad concept, and one that's too dependent on interpretation.

George_Braziller 3 years, 4 months ago

There's a fine line between "incompetence," and "failure to perform duties."

notanota 3 years, 4 months ago

Brownback is neither conservative nor fiscally responsible. He's an ALEC puppet with a radical, fiscally unwise, and freedom obstructing agenda. It's time for Kansas to take its state back.

overthemoon 3 years, 4 months ago

ALEC and Dominionist Christians...toxic combination.

Abdu Omar 3 years, 4 months ago

The recall is a great idea, but then there is the other side of the state. Most of those in Western Kansas love this man and they will oppose any action against him because they pride themselves in being reactionally conservative.

Let's also wonder about the so-called checks and balance system. Why is this not working and how does he make unilateral decisions? Can't his decisions be overturned by the legislature? What is that process?

weeslicket 3 years, 4 months ago

hmmmm........ this editorial could not have been written by dolph. nowhere in the piece does it say "this writer", for example. what has the ljworld staff done with poor ol' mr simons?

overthemoon 3 years, 4 months ago

Thank you LJW for starting a trend of exposing ALEC and its behind the scenes control of our government. They go way back (mid '70's) and have infiltrated our government in a secretive, highly funded process for giving control of everything to a few corporations. One of their primary objectives is to privatize EVERYTHING to their own benefit.

ilovelucy 3 years, 4 months ago

Great editorial. Sam's whole agenda is to be the VP nomination on Rick Perry's presidential bid.

Laura Wilson 3 years, 4 months ago

An LJW reader for over twenty five years, I have always avoided the editorials because they have been so far right, but since I started reading the paper online, I have been drawn to them and I have agreed with several in the last few months including this one. Congratulations for allowing moderate, rational editors to write sane editorials. I still avoid Dolph's Saturday columns like the plague, though.

Joe Hyde 3 years, 4 months ago

This editorial should be carved word for word into a marble slab mounted in plain view beside the statehouse main entry.

eyeye 3 years, 4 months ago

Subsidy-Sam heard from those who will back his primary run in 2016 who are positioning their current point-man, Richard Fry, for his trial outing as apprentice King-maker in 2012.

jayhawxrok 3 years, 4 months ago

Brownback has never cared about Kansas or Kansans, we're just a pit stop for this zealot on his nutball quest to turn back the clock to 1860.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 4 months ago

ALEC Exposed

What is Brownback up to?

ALEC Exposed: State Legislative Bills Drafted by Secretive Corporate-Lawmaker Coalition

This week the Center for Media and Democracy released 800 model bills, legislation that is straight out of the corporate playbook and drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council.

The group’s membership includes both state lawmakers and corporate executives who gather behind closed doors to discuss and vote on draft legislation.

ALEC has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months for its role in crafting bills to attack worker rights, to roll back environmental regulations, privatize education, deregulate major industries, and pass voter ID laws.

Thanks to ALEC, at least a dozen states have recently adopted a nearly identical resolution asking Congress to compel the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to stop regulating carbon emissions. We are joined by Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media Democracy.

http://www.democracynow.org/2011/7/15/alec_exposed_state_legislative_bills_drafted

Koch Brothers, ALEC and Their Corporate Allies Plan to Privatize Government

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

http://www.truth-out.org/publicopoly-exposed/1310660473

Flap Doodle 3 years, 4 months ago

Wow, you waited more than 3 hours since the last time you copy/pasted this stuff on this award-winning website.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 4 months ago

The RINO party has a long history of economic destruction and crime to include Iran-Contra and Watergate. Like or not a consistent and disturbing pattern has developed by their choosing.

STOP electing RINO’s ! My My father in law left the RINO party because he is a fiscal conservative republican with at least 50 years under his belt. Evermore stunning he is working with democrat party in Pennsylvania.

After spending so so many decades in Washington D.C on tax dollar payrolls RINO’s are sure they learned all they needed to know about OUR money and founding reckless economies. Republicans have much experience under their belts and they never quit sharing.

What else does Brownback have in store?

TABOR is Coming by Grover Norquist and Koch Bros which sells out state governments http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2005/0705rebne.html

Brownback has been a believer in TABOR for many years.

thebigspoon 3 years, 4 months ago

Two points:

1) I am overwhelmed that this viewpoint came from the Journal World. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for renewing my faith in the paper.

2) I am sorry you will be put out of business the moment Brownshirt/Koch get around to making you the evil face of liberalism. It's been a great run.

lunacydetector 3 years, 4 months ago

who writes the editorials for the jw?

the Center of Media and Democracy is run by a democrat hack.

non-partisan is a disingenuous way to describe the Center of Media and Democracy

jayhawxrok 3 years, 4 months ago

LOL, coming from a faux snooze hound, that's hilarious

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