Archive for Thursday, December 15, 2011

SRS Secretary Siedlecki steps down, returning to Florida

December 15, 2011, 3:44 p.m. Updated December 16, 2011, 12:28 a.m.


— Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services Secretary Robert Siedlecki Jr. likely will be remembered for angering thousands of Kansans in his short tenure.

SRS Secretary Rob Siedlecki spoke with Lawrence Journal-World editors and reporters in this file photo from Monday, July 11, 2011. Siedlecki will be returning to Florida to take a state government position there and be closer to his family, Gov. Sam Brownback's office said Thursday.

SRS Secretary Rob Siedlecki spoke with Lawrence Journal-World editors and reporters in this file photo from Monday, July 11, 2011. Siedlecki will be returning to Florida to take a state government position there and be closer to his family, Gov. Sam Brownback's office said Thursday.

On Thursday, Gov. Sam Brownback announced that his pick to run probably the most complex agency in state government was stepping down.

Brownback said Siedlecki was returning to his home state of Florida to take a state government job there and “be closer to his family.”

Just last month, Siedlecki, a Republican, in a testy exchange with a Republican legislator, said he had bought a house in Topeka and preferred to be called a Kansan.

The exchange occurred during a committee meeting in which legislators — Republican and Democratic — expressed frustration over a plan pushed by Siedlecki to move some juvenile justice functions over to SRS. They said the plan was hatched without having talked with anyone affected by it.

It was not the first time that kind of complaint was made by state officials about Siedlecki, who was the point-man for many controversial social welfare policies pursued by Brownback.

Prior to the three-day July 4th weekend, Siedlecki released a list of SRS offices targeted for closure, including the one in Lawrence.

The decision sparked a mammoth public outcry.

Brownback and Siedlecki said the closures were needed to save money, and that those receiving services in Lawrence could go to offices in other cities. “Lawrence, in particular, has a proximity to several major SRS offices on four-lane roads,” Brownback said.

Local officials said many SRS recipients didn’t have transportation. The office closure would have wreaked havoc for thousands of people, strained social service agencies and endangered the public, they argued.

After weeks of negotiations, the city of Lawrence and Douglas County agreed to pay the rent for the SRS office and Brownback has since said he will seek to restore state funding next year.

The fight left a bad taste. Douglas County Commissioner Mike Gaughan, a Democrat, said of Siedlecki, “He spent his time here needlessly fixing things that weren’t broken, and he seemed determined to make it more difficult for Kansans who count on SRS to ever get in the door. SRS used to be focused on the people it served and its stakeholders, but he changed that culture from Day One, and now we don’t know who to trust.”

When Brownback came into office he picked Siedlecki, who had been chief of staff for the Florida Department of Health and had worked in the U.S. Justice and Health and Human Services departments under President George W. Bush.

Siedlecki went about reorganizing SRS and he touted marriage and faith-based initiatives.

But some legislators complained that Siedlecki brought in too many people from Florida who lacked Kansas experience.

In a prepared statement, Siedlecki said, “I promised Governor Brownback one year to transform SRS to make it more effective and efficient and that we have done so.”

He added, “We initiated an aggressive anti-fraud campaign, made adoption a priority, promoted work rather than dependence in our welfare programs, and laid the groundwork for a more child and family-focused department. Governor Brownback is a true statesman and I was honored to serve under him. While I am returning to my home state of Florida, Kansas and Kansans will have special places in my heart. Kansas hospitality is real.”

Brownback wished Siedlecki “continued success in all his future endeavors.” Siedlecki’s last day at SRS will be Dec. 31.

Brownback’s office said it didn’t know what job Siedlecki had taken “only that it’s in his area of expertise.” Brownback will name an acting secretary before the 2012 legislative session starts Jan. 9.

Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka was the one No vote when Siedlecki was confirmed by the Senate. He said the Brownback administration made a bad hire with Siedlecki. “They miscalculated, especially with the proposed Lawrence office closing,” he said.


plainspeaking 6 years, 5 months ago

My prayers have been answered! Only nine more to go...

earthenvessel 6 years, 5 months ago

As a newcomer to Kansas...I was expecting to find kinder gentler people,. but I have seen clearly that outsiders are not welcome in this state. I will never feel welcome here. There are always two sides to every story..and just because the Lawrence Journal tells a story, it' doesn't mean it's the whole truth.. I hate it here when I read things like this.

Lana Christie-Hayes 6 years, 5 months ago

Welcome to Kansas earthenvessel. Sorry that your interpretation has been tainted by the dislike of some of our Kansas "leaders"... but it is those that CARE about the less fortunate of this state that have gotten a very bad taste in our mouths for our current Gov. and those he hired to undermine the good-hearted nature of the citizens of this great state. Don't take it personally Sweety!

Brian Hall 6 years, 5 months ago

Kansas is a wonderful state and I will defend it to the death. The people are wonderful and nice and will do anything for their neighbors but, like with every state, there are people that ruin it. Governor Brownback is one of those people because while he has maintained a residence here, he's spent most of the last 20 years in Washington, DC losing touch with the people who elected to have him represent them. Siedlecki always claimed he was a Kansan but he was far from it. What he did was akin to someone from Texas moving to New York and immediately claiming to a New Yorker. No one immediately gets to be a New Yorker, a Texan or a Kansan, it's something you have to earn if you weren't born here.

"Outsiders" are always welcome in Kansas but if you come here to radically change things and have no intention of learning about our people, our lives and our heritage then you shouldn't be upset when people don't consider you a Kansan.

earthenvessel 6 years, 5 months ago

Thank you so much. I understand completely. Some here want to paint anyone related to the Brownback team as ignorant, outsiders, scum, stupid, selfish, uncaring and foolish, there happen to be some on the team who care deeply about the less fortunate, and research and give hours and time to care for those who are extremely disabled. It's easy to paint all involved, and anyone who believes or follows Christ as foolish and out of touch with reality, when the contrary is true. I'm just defending things I know as a fact...and saying that generalities of any sort are foolish. I know for a fact that there are some who have taken much care to try to help the less fortunate. It is not all as black and white as the LJ World would like to paint it and wrap it all up in a tidy box to justify their hatred and demonization of Brownback and anyone connected with him. just sayin....and no..I'm not Mrs. Brownback.. :) thanks again for the kind comments...I do understand why people are's just that there are always two sides.

overthemoon 6 years, 5 months ago

Yes, there are two sides, but Brownback has gone to considerable effort to conceal his 'side' of the story. This is why people are so angry with him.

Kaw Pickinton 6 years, 5 months ago

I just love new accounts setup today that do nothing but defend this a-hat.

Welcome to back to the LJWorld forums earthenvessel, what are your alts?

sourpuss 6 years, 5 months ago

I think Florida has space for one more.

kochmoney 6 years, 5 months ago

He was doing a good job, if your standard for "good job" is that he did exactly what his boss told him to do. If your standard is that he did what was best for the state... not such a good job.

tolawdjk 6 years, 5 months ago

So I guess he's not really a Kansan then?

bunnyhawk 6 years, 5 months ago

And he won't be around to clean up the mess he made!!!!

conservativejayhawk 6 years, 5 months ago

Mr. Rothschild will have to change his computer. SRS Secretary "Robert Siedlecki Jr., who tried to shut down the Lawrence SRS office." I am sure he has had that phrase programmed to automatically type out whenever he began typing the words "SRS Secretary." Why should I trust anything Mr. Rothschild reports?

earthenvessel 6 years, 5 months ago

facts slanted toward his view...there are always two sides, and many things that are not common knowledge.

Armored_One 6 years, 5 months ago

You speak of common knowledge with the distain towards those that were not in the "loop", which you are at least vaguely hinting at being.

That isn't much different than taunting a blind man for not being able to see the red door next to him/her.

The only thing a person can truly be judge on, by a mass group, are the actions of that person, and frankly, the actions of those in power have left much to be desired in terms of the results.

I admit that I tried to give Brownback the benefit of the doubt, but there comes a limit and that line has not only been crossed, it was used as the starting line for a race. Unfortunately that race is being run away from those most in need of their help.

Kaw Pickinton 6 years, 5 months ago

If you've ever had a Lafitte Rothschild you would would have every reason to trust the man...

blindrabbit 6 years, 5 months ago

I said in an earlier blog, that as soon as the snow flew this guy was headed South. He didn't make it that long. Oh well trash to trash.

earthenvessel 6 years, 5 months ago

he was not always from Florida..if you check his background..he lived in the North and studied about generalizations. ...why don't you research things before you judge people.

northtowngrl 6 years, 5 months ago

Umm actually since you are new to these parts you maybe weren't part of previous conversations, but its been made pretty clear that he didn't "study" anywhere. His degree is from a mill and bought and paid for. You might want to do you own background research, we already have.

on another note, I'm sorry you don't feel welcome here. Kansas is a great state, but if feeling welcome means we have to agree with you lock stock and barrel you are in the wrong place. We tend to think for ourselves out here in the prairie and value that. We may not always agree with each other but we all respect the right to disagree. I hope you give us a chance, but if not, I hope your next home is more to your liking.

earthenvessel 6 years, 5 months ago

I like a good discussion..and I've lived in many parts of the US and overseas...and know how to adapt. I appreciate Kansas, love it and am trying to learn as much as I can about it, and give what I can as well.. By the way..Siedlecki didn't get a degree from a mill..he studied at Cornell and Harvard.

Alex Parker 6 years, 5 months ago

northtowngrl, You are thinking of the governor's pick lead the IT department, who has since resigned. Siedlecki went to Harvard and Cornell Law School, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Alex Parker Digital Editor

northtowngrl 6 years, 5 months ago

Ahh thanks to you both! My apologies for the mistake. They are comin and goin so fast its hard to keep track sometimes!

And see that's another good thing about Kansans! Sometimes we can even admit it when we are wrong. :)

Bob_Keeshan 6 years, 5 months ago

From the Associated Press on 11/30/2011:

Owens and Siedlecki exchanged words after the senator said he found it offensive that people hired by the administration from out of state haven’t done their research in Kansas before proposing changes. Siedlecki, who moved from Florida, responded that he had bought a home in Kansas and was paying state taxes.

“I prefer you call me a Kansan,” Siedlecki said.

webmocker 6 years, 5 months ago

"“I prefer you call me a Kansan,” Siedlecki said."

So, will he be one of the fraudulent voters Kobach is so stoked to ferret out?

This administration is proving to be the worst in the 40 years I have been something approaching sentient. That even includes the Finney years, which one might have thought could not be surpassed for stupidity.

I give evolution two opposable thumbs up.

Rusty Thomas 6 years, 5 months ago

Happy trails to Bob...we hope never to meet again.

dogsandcats 6 years, 5 months ago

Good riddance! Too bad he couldn't take Brownjoke with him.

cowboy 6 years, 5 months ago

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

Abdu Omar 6 years, 5 months ago

couldn't handle the heat, if you get my drift!!

Abdu Omar 6 years, 5 months ago

couldn't handle the heat, if you get my drift!!

Abdu Omar 6 years, 5 months ago

couldn't handle the heat, if you get my drift!!

OldSoldier 6 years, 5 months ago

Hallelujah! Prayers are answered, so faith-based public policy must work. Siedlecki is out.

What does it tell you about Brownback's appointments? They declare themselves "Kansans" one week and Floridians the next. The Gov appoints liars? What does that say about the Gov?

somebodynew 6 years, 5 months ago

And while I am happy as H*11, what does this say about Florida ??? They are probably paying him more money to come back. No wonder some call it Floriduh !!! But from what I read he will fit right in with their Gov and staff. Their Gov is one who took the 5th Admendment 40 some times during an investigative hearing - THEN got elected.

lgrant 6 years, 5 months ago

Not sad to see Siedlecki go--at all! Too bad he can't take some more of Brownbackward's out of state hirees with him. And some of his in-state appointees, as well. Kind of scary though, Siedlecki was the best Sam the sham could find, what troll will he dig up now? And how much of an increase in salary will the new person get?

pusscanthropus 6 years, 5 months ago

Next Sherienne Jones-Scumbag needs to go! Come on Santa...we've been good!

Lana Christie-Hayes 6 years, 5 months ago

WHoooOoo HOoooOOooo! Ciao! The heat must be getting pretty hard to handle in the Browncrack Kitchen!

Lana Christie-Hayes 6 years, 5 months ago

Now that the little doggy is off to greener pastures full of doo doo, it's time to get rid of the GRINCH himself!

Getaroom 6 years, 5 months ago

The Mathinator speaks!
Oh, so you mean just like you! You are in good company then.

earthenvessel 6 years, 5 months ago

what a warm welcome you all give to anyone not from

gudpoynt 6 years, 5 months ago

Kansans will welcome anyone with open arms who does not attempt to dismantle social service networks in our beloved communities.

woodscolt 6 years, 5 months ago

He figured he had done as much damage as he could here and it was time to find a new gig where he could spread his carnage . Brownback has a never ending list of these maggots so its hard to be too happy about it, but I will take a moment to savor the news.

verity 6 years, 5 months ago

I think that just maybe Brownback is starting to realize that the wheels have fallen off. But I could be wrong.

verity 6 years, 5 months ago

Oh, Tange, you always make me laugh!

kochmoney 6 years, 5 months ago

He's like the dog that finally caught the car, but I'm not sure he's realized it yet.

kochmoney 6 years, 5 months ago

You really don't want to move there. They're busy destroying both their school system and tourist industry.

Jonathan Becker 6 years, 5 months ago

Reverse Carpetbagger!

Who wants to buy his home? Make a low-ball offer, no contingencies.

kochmoney 6 years, 5 months ago

No, let it sit unoccupied while we collect Brownie's new increased property tax on it.

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 5 months ago

So when is the right hand hit man of the screw-up-in-chief actually leaving? And does this mean that they will no longer have the every morning prayer sessions at the main office?

earthenvessel 6 years, 5 months ago

I'm sure he can't wait to leave Kansas with attitudes like this......and you can all throw a party.

overthemoon 6 years, 5 months ago

We expect people to do the job we pay them to do in the best interests of the people. He has not done this. Its not attitude, its simply reaction to his many mistakes. And this is not a partisan line of critique. Everyone is mad at him.

deec 6 years, 5 months ago

To add insult to injury most if not all the out of staters were given salaries considerably above what the jobs previously paid. And new highly paid positions were created for some of them. Meanwhile front line workers in state agencies have been fired or laid off, had their pensions attacked, had policies and procedures summarily changed with no notice, had their collective bargaining rights attacked, and seen their wages and benefits stagnate.

parrothead8 6 years, 5 months ago

I'm sure Brownback will just import another Floridian to replace him.

hujiko 6 years, 5 months ago

Seeya Sidekicky, any chance convincing Brownpipe to follow suit?

mloburgio 6 years, 5 months ago

Kansas ranks 50th in progress on insuring children

While the nation as a whole made progress in reducing the number of uninsured children from 2008 to 2010, the number in Kansas without this benefit increased by 7,850 over those three years. The rate of uninsured Kansas children was 8.2 percent in 2010, up from 7.4 percent in 2008. At that same time, Nebraska reduced its rate 1.2 percentage points. Oklahoma's rate dropped 2.4 percentage points. Nationally, the rate was reduced from 9 percent in 2008 to 8 percent in 2010. Thirty-three states cut their rates. The bottom line: Kansas tied with Minnesota for 50th in terms of futility on this pressing issue.

Getaroom 6 years, 5 months ago

Ok then, he is gone so make way for the next Christian Crusader's minion. Just in time for Christmas!

Jim Williamson 6 years, 5 months ago

"Brownback’s office said it didn’t know what job Siedlecki had taken 'only that it’s in his area of expertise.'"

When someone figures out just what the hell his area of expertise is, please let us know.

JackMcKee 6 years, 5 months ago

Is Brownback really in touch with Kansas anymore. He hasn't really lived in this state for years. Which explains a lot about his bumbling governance.

Jayhawk1958 6 years, 5 months ago

So the chickens have come home to roost.

Abdu Omar 6 years, 5 months ago

So I ask, why and how did Brownstone get elected? I didn't know his opponent but couldn't vote for Brownie because of his tenure in the Senate. He has done nothing positive for Kansas and never has. During his time in the Senate he never voted against Bush and followed the Repub line 100%, even when it was clearly wrong. So How did he get elected? He doesn't have original ideas.

kochmoney 6 years, 5 months ago

He promises his base that he'll grant their wishes in the culture war, and in exchange his base is deluded into voting against their own economic best interest. He promised he'd magically fix the economy, cut taxes, and improve schools. There might have been unicorns and puppies promised somewhere in there, too. Anyone not engaged in the political process may have just voted for him based on name recognition, too.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 6 years, 5 months ago

What is it with Brownbackwards and these cronies from Florida? Do they have a prime piece of real estate sitting for old blowsalot for his retirement? Too bad he did not take advantage of early retirement, his tenure as a Senator. He was such a lousey representative of Kansas and people who voted for him should be hiding under their couches right now.

geekin_topekan 6 years, 5 months ago

Blowsalot got elected because he pimps the Christ Jesus and places the fear of Mexicans in the heart of Kansas' gullible population which is extremely easy to do apparently.

How many small businesses have suffered because his FLorida buddy came and transferred SRS operation funding into the hands of a corporation based out of St, Louis? How many jobs were lost or transferred because of this FLorida-blow'sbuddy?

kochmoney 6 years, 5 months ago

He's going to transfer more of that money to out of state bidders with that whole "managed care" thing, too. Does Brownback really think he's improving the state by sending all our money to other states?

vuduchyld 6 years, 5 months ago


Our state needs jobs, and there his record really ain't so great Unless you count executives he's hired from out of state!

Welcome to Brownbackistan, it's where Kansas used to be Welcome to Brownbackistan, it's our new theocracy

the vid:

George Lippencott 6 years, 5 months ago

I guess he just could not face a Kansas winter??!! It is warmer down there!

Bob Forer 6 years, 5 months ago

When he accepted the job it appears that he planning on staying for a while, or otherwise he would have never bought a home, especially in a down market where resale might prove somewhat difficult. So, why did he abruptly leave? Falling out with Brownback? Was he asked to resign? Did Brownback simply envision him as a short-term hatchet man and flak catcher. His resignation raises a lot of unanswered questions.

kochmoney 6 years, 5 months ago

He'd have stuck around until February to wreak havoc if his only purpose was hatchet man. I suspect he was asked to resign. Otherwise, why say he's moving to Florida for a new job without saying what the job was?

Alceste 6 years, 5 months ago

People have lost sight of what has actually happened: As long as Brownback and ilk who think like him are in charge, SRS will be about morality and a demonization of the impovershied of Kansas.

The people Siedlecki put into the various "leadership" slots within the Central Office of SRS are all still there, churning out their filth and trash talk about poor folk. They're wearing their crosses, thumping their bibles and ferreting out "welfare fraud" instead of processing applications for public assistance and encouraging people to apply for benefits. This group of schulbs are more interested in chasing down a $50.00 overpayment of food stamp benefits than they are in making certain little kids and such go to bed with a full belly.

Gloat all you like about Siedlecki leaving SRS, but what he put in place still remains. Nothing has changed; Siedlecki will come out smelling like a rose as the Good Ole Boy/Girl network of Rightwing simpletons make yet another $100k+ slot for hatchet men like Siedlecki. Big deal that he is out of here. What's left is something people might want to focus on as the nimrods who "lead" SRS will be there for years to long as Rightwing, wealthy, removed from reality types are in Cedar Crest.

jayhawklawrence 6 years, 5 months ago

He's gone because it is time to get rid of any loose ends before they go after the real prize, massive tax cuts for wealthy Kansans and the ultimate trashing of the Kansas educational system.

We are going back to the good old days before social reform movements ruined everything.

oldbaldguy 6 years, 5 months ago

Talk to anyone involved in providing mental health treatment in this state and they will tell you good riddance. Now Pedro Moreno needs to go. I approve of cost saving initiatives by the state but they have to be made with common sense and not based on political preference. These guys from Florida do not know what they are doing other than cutting costs.

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