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Opinion

Opinion

Please explain

State officials owe Douglas County a full explanation for their decision to close the Lawrence SRS office.

July 6, 2011

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A spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services said Friday that the decision to close the SRS office in Lawrence was the result of “a very detailed process that was thought out and researched and examined.”

Please do tell us more about this “detailed process” that led to the closure of the SRS office in Lawrence and eight other Kansas communities. By what calculation does it make sense to close the SRS in the state’s sixth largest city, a city with close to double the population of the other eight communities combined?

How much money will closing the Lawrence office actually save? SRS officials say all of the 87 Lawrence positions will be transferred to other offices and not eliminated, so the state apparently won’t save anything on salaries.

SRS officials say that clients who currently come to the Lawrence office will be expected to mostly depend on phone and Internet connections to maintain their services, but sometimes face-to-face contact is required to determine what services are needed and to confirm that recipients are meeting SRS requirements. How much mileage will be paid to case workers based in Ottawa or Overland Park to oversee clients currently served in Lawrence?

As part of its review, SRS determined that all the communities that will lose their offices have public libraries that provide public Internet access, as well as other SRS “access points” where people can receive information about services and applications for assistance. The “access points” may be nothing more at this point than a stack of SRS brochures.

Who will be responsible for helping people access services over the Internet or otherwise? Will that duty fall to already overburdened nonprofit agencies in the community? Or maybe to agencies like the library and health department that are supported by city and county tax dollars? Perhaps the SRS cost-cutting strategy is simply to make it so difficult for people to access SRS services that they simply give up and try to do without.

Lawrence residents were understandably stunned by the SRS announcement, which came the day before the three-day July Fourth holiday. The decision made so little sense that many local people have jumped to the conclusion that it can only be explained as some kind of political payback to a county that often votes Democratic and sends Democratic legislators to the Kansas Statehouse. We certainly hope there is a more reasonable explanation.

Lawrence and Douglas County residents are asking legitimate questions about this decision, and SRS officials owe them some answers that are just as “detailed” as their decision-making process.

Comments

Lawrence Morgan 3 years ago

An outstanding editorial. And ANSWERS IN DETAIL, with responsible people and their names attached, are NEEDED now.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years ago

"Please do tell us more about this “detailed process” that led to the closure of the SRS office in Lawrence"

The process had one detail-- Lawrence is a blue dot in a red state, and thus stood out as deserving of any attack on it they could devise.

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jesse499 3 years ago

Its called Brownback screws Lawrence get used to it you've got a few more years to go and if the people of Kansas are not any smarter then the last election maybe more.

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Ken Lassman 3 years ago

It's time for another strategy, folks. Instead of whining about the politicization of SRS and complain about how Brownback is punishing his adversaries, real or otherwise, how about calling the Brownback Administration for what it is: incompetent!

It's time to start concluding that the ever-growing list of poor judgement displayed by the governor is just that: poor judgement. It has resulted in bad, ill-conceived, half-baked notions being implemented, with no concern for the fallout, leading to a wasteful loss of our state's collective intelligence. The governor's lack of interest in learning how things work before he tries to "fix" a problem has led to a kind of paranoia and a dangerous consolidation of power into the hands of a few, leading to a level of incompetence that we have seldom if ever seen in the governor's mansion.

It's time to start calling a spade a spade and stop accepting this kind of governance. If the dems want to re-take the governor's office, I certainly hope that they're talking seriously to some business types or anyone with a head on his/her shoulders who is willing to listen and pull folks together. And it's not out of the question for the Republicans to do the same thing--most Kansans recognize the difference between innovative and incompetent and will throw out incompetence when given a viable alternative.

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Lane Signal 3 years ago

I agree that there is incompetence here and it is important to focus on the consequences of these stupid policy changes. We should lead with incompetence as the primary issue, but I think after that it helps to look at some of what's behind these idiotic decisions. Brownshirt is giving reasons for his changes, but often the reasons don't fit the facts. I do think he is incompetent, but also he is trying to make political statements. There is a hubris and sense of entitlement in this administration that seems to rival governor's offices in all other states. I think this is a group of extremists who want to set an example for the rest of the country as to how far right an administration can go. We talk about how Brownshirt needs to listen to his constituency, but I think the audience he (and his advisers) are courting is not Kansans but rather the far right on the national level.

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Ken Lassman 3 years ago

Extremism is merely a flavor of incompetence, and should be treated as such. The prime way of doing this is by pointing out that a given action does not address the issues that it was designed to fix. The SRS action to close the Lawrence office has this written all over it, and should be exposed primarily as an incompetent action that will not save money and will dismantle important safeguards for living in Lawrence.

It may be extremist views that are behind the fact that local officials were not consulted, consequences were not well thought through and how it will roll back years of hard work that have been spent improving the current SRS system, but front and center, the bottom line is that this is an incompetent move, plain and simple.

Don't let this man hide behind conservative principles and "traditional values." Call out that the emperor has no clothes!

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Alceste 3 years ago

Why would the "business type" have any desire whatsoever to remove the fox from the hen house when, in the final analysis 99% of "business types" are foxes themselves? Brownback is opening up the main gates to the hen house. He's going to lower taxes and create jobs. Isn't that the mantra of the "business type", Douggie?

Heck, I create more jobs by not rolling my shopping cart out of the parking lot and into the designated "zone", simply leaving it next to my car.

Most Kansans LIKE Brownback.....and most Kansans have no clue what you're referring to when you type "....recognize the difference between innovative and incompetent.....". Balderdash....and when pigs fly.....This is Kansas, DougCounty.

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Kirk Larson 3 years ago

"It' 'cause Lawrence is fulla hippies and we want the hippies to suffer."

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kernal 3 years ago

If you aren't happy with the way this last election went, then I suggest the next one you vote!

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dinoman 3 years ago

hey just a thought lets all quit throwing stones.... yes it was a stupid act.. just how many users of the SRS office have the means to access the places that will be required to now use the services..that we all pay for out of our taxes... yes my late wife was dependent on their services and yes even while she was using it it was far from being user friendly.. and now its obvious that the monetary savings will be in the services that they wont provide to this area simply because the people who need them won't be able to get to them... simple simple... no stones thrown... just an observation... and oh yea what ever happened to the homeless shelter that they were trying to move out of the center of town... won't the citizens that use it be farther away from the library and other means of accessing the SRS just a thought... stupid is as stupid does....

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marzipan 3 years ago

I think it's time the Republicans stop hiding behind their "religious morals" when it comes to things like abortion now. If they withdraw funding from both Planned Parenthood AND SRS, then what they're essentially doing is ensuring an extra generation of Americans now. A generation of mostly impoverished Americans who aren't going to have proper access to SRS. So, a couple decades down the road, what do you get? More taxpayers, on the lower end of the income bracket. The term 'serf' comes to mind.

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BrianR 3 years ago

If Sam's legislative agenda is any clue, he hates women and their children. Since Adult Protective Services will also be gone, I can only surmise that he is at war with everyone.

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Randall Uhrich 3 years ago

This is just another transparent move by Brownback to assault the people who vote Democratic. Let's hope that he gets some enlightenment at Rick Perry's Christian Fundamentalist pow-wow down in Texas.

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gudpoynt 3 years ago

Looks like people are taking action. http://bit.ly/mOud3D

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Scott Morgan 3 years ago

Perhaps our office has been overly aggressive fighting for benefits for one, people who do not qualify, and two, people not living in our area. Recruiting so to speak.

Many call it the fog of KU, much like the leftover homeless situation. Untethered unthinking growth of our social service programs. The KU social work staff and students while solving the world ills, move on, back to mommy or another city to pollute.

A wet shelter for instance. Who's idea was this? Now it's haunting Lawrence by giving us the unfair reputation of an unsafe city.

Very easy to run zip code histories of who we serve. Or, where our new SRS needy came from. Truusssst me Douglas County takes care of many who find us with help from SRS. Case managers from surrounding areas love us. Send them to Douglas County while marking them off caseloads, cost cutting for them, headaches for us.

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Flap Doodle 3 years ago

Ever hear of the "Chicago Way"? It may have arrived in Kansas. Progressives should be proud of this progress.

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Scott Morgan 3 years ago

Problem with the Chicago way, and I do see this happening here only in reverse, is we tax paying plebeians are supposed to have no crime, cheap utilities, and government goodies running on time.

Shall I call it the Lawrence way, is we tax paying plebeians are paying out the yang, we enjoy nothing extra and crime on us is rising.

On the other hand our non tax paying counterparts enjoy the high life. Actually literally our homeless enjoy Miller High Life beer while picking the pockets of we Pleabs.

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Cait McKnelly 3 years ago

"On the other hand our non tax paying counterparts enjoy the high life. Actually literally the Koch Brothers enjoy Cristal champagne while picking the pockets of we Pleabs." There. Fixed it for ya.

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4getabouit 3 years ago

Don't worry. Brownshirt's new "marriage program" will fix everything. And heck, if that doesn't work than the Rick Perry Texas Prayer Party will do the trick. In the meantime, Brownshirt and his rich Wichita buddies will continue to punish Lawrence. Welcome to Brownshirt's America.

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