Opinion

Opinion

SRS edict

The stated desire of SRS officials to “work with the community” should have started well before they made the decision to close Lawrence’s SRS office.

July 13, 2011

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There was “no politics” involved in the decision to close the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services office in Lawrence, SRS Secretary Robert Siedlecki told a group of Journal-World editors and reporters Monday.

It was simply the hard reality of having to satisfy a $42 million budget cut approved by the Kansas Legislature. Siedlecki said he didn’t fight the size of the cut during the legislative session because he thought the agency he has led for less than six months should do its share to help cut the state budget.

Siedlecki and the two aides that accompanied him brought along the facts and figures that they said justify the closing of the Lawrence office, but for the people of Lawrence and Douglas County, the closure decision and the process by which that decision was reached still don’t add up.

Initially, SRS said it wouldn’t eliminate any of the 87 positions at the Lawrence office. However, on Tuesday, Siedlecki promised only that there would be “no layoffs.” If Lawrence employees quit rather than move to another office, their positions might be eliminated unless they are considered “critical.”

There will be no reduction in local services, Siedlecki and his aides said. The county will continue to be served full-time by SRS workers that handle child in need of care cases. If someone offers SRS some free office space, they will try to have caseworkers available locally a couple of days a week. It’s not unusual, they say, for local entities to provide free space to SRS.

And they hope more people will use the Internet to access services. Statewide, only about 16 percent of SRS services currently are accessed on the Internet, but they want that to increase.

They say the are working with local “stakeholders” like Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center to help ease the transition. Have agencies like Bert Nash and the Lawrence Community Shelter expressed concern about the added responsibility their agencies will have to help clients access SRS services? No, we haven’t really heard that, the SRS officials said. That message came through loud and clear at a public meeting Monday night at Plymouth Congregational Church, but no state SRS officials attended.

The process by which this decision was reached is frustrating to many local residents. Siedlecki said his office didn’t seek local input during the decision-making process because legislators and others across the state would have risen up in defense of their local offices. That probably was a safe assumption, considering that more than 500 people attended Monday night’s meeting organized by local legislators.

So rather than seeking input from local officials or perhaps considering a more moderate approach to downsizing the Lawrence office, SRS officials simply decided to announce the closing and deal with the details later. Siedlecki said on Monday that “we really want to work with the community to make sure that we do have adequate coverage.”

It’s unfortunate that state SRS officials didn’t do a better job of working with the community before this decision was handed down. We hope they will try harder in the future.

According to Siedlecki, there is no possibility that the state will reconsider the closing of the Lawrence SRS office. If the decision stands, local officials and nonprofit agencies will have little choice but to try to work with state officials to minimize the negative impact on Lawrence and its residents. They currently do an outstanding job of providing and coordinating needed services for local residents who face a number of physical, mental and financial challenges. That job apparently will become far more difficult in the months to come.

Comments

jayhawxrok 3 years, 9 months ago

What a crock of ___. Brownback is slash and burn on programs the state's residents need if that's what it takes to make his mark as an ultra conservative loon. His crying about deficits then hiring Koch Bros lawyers to defend the state in the Planned Parenthood suit at taxpayer expense instead of using the AG at no cost to us, shows everyone exactly what kind of dishonest extremist he is. Brownback is one of the worst Governors in America today.

John Sickels 3 years, 9 months ago

Everybody, even Republicans, knows the truth here. This was done for political reasons, to punish Lawrence and Douglas County at large for not supporting the Republican Party at election time.

You guys need to stop pussy-footing around the truth and just say it. We know you don't believe the "no politics" thing. Nobody does.

Liberty275 3 years, 9 months ago

And the left will continue worshiping at the feet of government even as the government snatches the rug from beneath their feet. Of course, liberals will anesthetize the dissonance by personalizing the government as "brownback".

Every politician is brownback and the sooner the fools figure that out, the better off we will all be.

Scott Drummond 3 years, 9 months ago

"If the decision stands, local officials and nonprofit agencies will have little choice..."

We, the people, are not so powerless that all we can do is hope for better treatment from our abusers in the future.

There is the choice of changing the resident of the Governor's mansion and his SRS Secretary, so let's "hope" everyone who disagrees with this edict is taking affirmative steps to achieve that change.

Further, there is the choice of putting the hurt to those who supported this Governor's campaign. Find out who they are and make sure that they understand what you think and are willing to do to back up your thoughts. I, for one, refuse to do business with those who take my proceeds and use it to harm me and my community. Do you do business with the Koch Brothers? Chamber of Commerce members? Banks which are "too big to fail?" The local cable monopoly? Investigate and act.

Hoping for change hasn't done much for us. Time to act upon our hopes and dreams.

notanota 3 years, 9 months ago

It was pretty obvious that he wasn't willing to compromise when this was released as a holiday weekend Friday news bomb. Look for the next catastrophic announcement on the Friday before Labor day. Also note the mealy mouthed way Brownie answered the questions compared to Sidekicky. "I'm considering the options" means "I'm hoping you stop raising a stink until nothing can be done about it." That's how he handled the Arts Commission, too.

All we can hope for is massive public outcry and media embarrassment for Brownback, because only tarnished hopes for the White House would keep him from doing the wrong thing for Kansas in the name of winning talking points on his future campaign.

Good editorial, LJW. Thanks for holding his feet to the fire on this and the Arts Commission closing.

rbwaa 3 years, 9 months ago

Has anyone contacted national news media to alert them to this story? How is that done?

Alceste 3 years, 9 months ago

He'll "make" over $400,000.00 gross during that time frame and watch for the bonus he's gonna get, EACH YEAR, for doing such a swell job. I reckon autie and Alceste could make that $400,000.00 gross stretch for a couple of years, eh?

Plus, with the soon to come income tax reductions Brownback has in store for him that has.....well.....that $400,000.00 plus bonus' is gonna go even further. Why, Robert might even became a Jayhawker........wait.....he already is a Jayhawker. Sooner or later he'll figure out where the Missouri line is and go do some evne stronger Jayhawking. He's just practicing on Lawrence, I expect. We can take it, right? I mean we took Bushwackin' from Quantril and Jayhawkin is the same thing only cept it goes from West to East....whereas Bushwackin' goes from East to West. Lawrence generally leaves out the part of our history about all the Jayhawkin' that eminated out of this area. We just have to help Robert understand where the state line is is all. wink

Sally Piller 3 years, 9 months ago

Real lame editorial LJW. This is an outrage and you need to say as much. We can't just lie down and accept this abuse. There is too much at stake.

weeslicket 3 years, 9 months ago

well, if siedlecki said there were "no politics", then that must be the truth. right?

yertles.

Lana Christie-Hayes 3 years, 9 months ago

"Have agencies like Bert Nash and the Lawrence Community Shelter expressed concern about the added responsibility their agencies will have to help clients access SRS services? No, we haven’t really heard that, the SRS officials said. That message came through loud and clear at a public meeting Monday night at Plymouth Congregational Church, but no state SRS officials attended." ~~This statement proves to me that the little weasel likely hasn't even attempted to listen to any feedback by those that have tried to contact his offices by e-mail/phone!~~~ " Siedlecki said his office didn’t seek local input during the decision-making process because legislators and others across the state would have risen up in defense of their local offices. That probably was a safe assumption, considering that more than 500 people attended Monday night’s meeting organized by local legislators." ~~~COWARDS!~~~~

Lana Christie-Hayes 3 years, 9 months ago

Brownback Administration Motto: "Attack while they're sleeping, then run like HELL!"

thinkagain 3 years, 9 months ago

While the poor will be no doubt suffer due to the closure of the local SRS office, this is clearly an attack on the middle class. Middle income SRS employees will be forced out of their jobs, risk their KPERS or be forced after several years w/ no pay increase to spend money from their own budget to keep their jobs at some distant location. The middle income employees of all of the other agencies, some of whom are already working longer & harder to compensate for the layoff of co-workers, will now do additional work so that tax breaks can still be given to businesses and individuals in the highest income brackets. If this was just going to hurt the poor SRS would have had public hearings and been more transparent. Afterall, many of those indivduals often can't or don’t speak for themselves. But this secrecy was because they are afraid the middle class might notice. Good for Lawrence for stepping up to speak. But wake up Kansas and start paying attention.

overthemoon 3 years, 9 months ago

"Edict" is an interesting word choice and a good one I think. It is usually used in reference to totalitarian or fascist states, not democratic ones. I hope we don't get to the point that "pogrom" is a word that fits the actions of Brownback and his out of state crew of slash and burn 'faith based' police.

Lana Christie-Hayes 3 years, 9 months ago

Save Our SRS -- Rally in Southpark Public Event Saturday, July 16 · 9:30am - 10:30am South Park gazebo 1141 Massachusetts Street Lawrence, Kansas Created By :Save Our SRS - Lawrence, KS (on facebook)
Join us this Saturday, July 16th from 9:30am to 10:30am at the South Park gazebo for a rally to protest the decision to close the Lawrence SRS office. There will be guest speakers from around the community as well as live music and opportunities for you to find out what you can do to help save our SRS office. Rally with us this Saturday and make sure your voice is heard!

Alceste 3 years, 9 months ago

“We are really focusing on the idea of universal access – of being able to serve our customers in non traditional ways. In many instances, customers can contact their caseworkers online or by phone to apply for or manage services,” said SRS Secretary Don Jordan. “The physical location of an office does not hinder our ability to provide services.”

Read that last sentence several times. Read it and weep. http://www.srs.ks.gov/News/Pages/4132010.aspx

("The decision to close the offices was made as part of ongoing efforts to provide services and supports to Kansans in need through the most efficient and cost effective means. The Wamego and Abilene locations were chosen for closure due to small caseload sizes, close proximity to other SRS offices, and the increased ability to provide services outside of the traditional office setting.") Man.....it's dejavualloveragain........only in Lawrence now? Can't be.

I don't recall anyone in Lawrence troubling themselves over those 2010 closings. Too, it reads like the current SRS secretary is only moving forward with what some other clown started? I'm confused. Not......

xclusive85 3 years, 9 months ago

Alceste, you will not convice the people posting here that this has happened before. Especially if you try to convince them it happened under a democratic governer. Were the closings that happened under Sebelius politically driven as well? Where was the outrage when this happened during times when we were not in a depression/recession?

"The year 2000 marked the beginning of a decade focused on efficiency and effectiveness in public service delivery.

Early in her first term, Governor Kathleen Sebelius implemented Budget Efficiency Savings Teams, or “BEST” Teams, to review state expenditures and recommend ways to increase efficiency in public services. In 2003 a BEST team recommendation was implemented to consolidate SRS regions from eleven to six. In addition, some county offices were closed. These changes were made to save money and improve services, allowing the agency to do more with less."

http://www.srs.ks.gov/agency/Pages/history.aspx

Alceste 3 years, 9 months ago

Yeah? But it DID happen, right, xclusive85?

Are you suggesting that the people of Lawrence are just more better than places where the other offices were closed....as late as the article I posted....2010....under Jordan who was handpicked by Sebelius......; and he was the first to use the EXACT same language Brownback & Company are using.....word for word if you take a close look at it.

Here's the deal: In hard times, Americans blame the poor. Kansans have perfected this practice if they didn't start it in the first place. Again: shrug

xclusive85 3 years, 9 months ago

NO, i am not suggesting that. Look at some of my recent posts. I am suggesting the opposite of that. It seems that is the view of the people of Lawrence. I have been saying all along, where was the outrcry when the office closures started in western KS where I grew up and lived until 2003? The outcry in Lawrence would carry more weight with me if they were concerned about all Kansans, not just the people of Lawrence.

Lana Christie-Hayes 3 years, 9 months ago

The Lawrence community is not the STATE...but perhaps if there had been more outcry from those communities when it happened they may have received some support from the people of Lawrence!

Alceste 3 years, 9 months ago

Oh...right....as if their NOT so loud "voice" would even make it's way to the sound secluded rooms of Lawrence. Did YOU even know their offices were on the chopping block? Really....would you have even cared?

The issue is, larrytowngirl, that Public Welfare in the state of Kansas SUX. It does so because we allow it......

Lawrence is a sad joke with respect to being "progressive"....we care little about anything other than "Lawrence"....and even within Lawrence there is a distinct pecking order.

Lana Christie-Hayes 3 years, 9 months ago

P.S. xclusive~ Welcome to Lawrence, where we stand together!!

Alceste 3 years, 9 months ago

That's a lie....and I've 5 generations of Lawrence under my belt/skirt to document same.

Lana Christie-Hayes 3 years, 9 months ago

My family's roots have been here for that long too. (makes me wonder who you are).. I can only speak from personal experience. I have needed help from the resources in this community on and off over the last 10-15 years.. and thank God the help was here, in Lawrence to be had. Standing up for each other doesn't necessarily mean verbally.

Alceste 3 years, 9 months ago

...and that "help" will remain available....only the application process shall be different. Big deal.

One used to be able to access a pay phone on the street corner for a nickle....later a dime......and now.....IF you can find the phone booth....a quarter......things change.....shrug

xclusive85 3 years, 9 months ago

Thanks. Like I have said before, I don't agree with closing the Lawrence SRS office, just as I didn't agree with closing the SRS office in the county I came from. There was outcry from our county, but as Alceste noted, the cry didn't reach Lawrence ears.

In this case, I have seen several people post that Ottawa's office should be closed, or Overland Park's office should be closed, or Manhattan or Junction City's office should be closed instead of the one in Lawrence. These are not acceptable responses in my eyes. None of the offices should be closed.

Waste and fraud in SRS needs to be eliminated. Waste like renting a building for over $300,000 per year instead of buying or renting a building. Waste like renting copiers at outrages prices. These are the types of waste that goes on at what I can pretty safely assume is EVERY SRS office in the state. We all know the fraud I speak of. But it also goes to the community organizations that ger paid by the state for services rendered without proper paperwork. There was one, I believe in Dodge City, that the state paid about $800,000 to for services that were not documented.

The last thing I want to say, is that the hatred spewed from Lawrence towards Brownback for this is misplaced. The hatred solves nothing. There are a couple of points I want to say about this. 1) There was no hate spewed from the people of Lawrence when this happened under Sebelius, probably because she was a democrat. 2) If there was any chance (there's probably not) that Brownback was going to work with Lawrence, I believe that option is severely damaged by all the name calling hate coming from this city.

Lana Christie-Hayes 3 years, 9 months ago

Save Our SRS - Lawrence, KS (facebook) Please sign our online petition and be heard! http://www.ipetitions.com/peti​tion/saveoursrs/ Save Our SRS - Lawrence, KS www.ipetitions.com Thousands of Lawrence's most vulnerable citizens benefit from the services available only through the SRS office. SRS helps our neighbors access the resources they need to live with dignity and greater independence.

Alceste 3 years, 9 months ago

The clients do NOT obtain the services they require via the local OFFICE. Nope....it's through Federal and state funding. SRS offices have been being closed slowly but surely across the state for years. And, in fact, as I posted above, the now hollowed last SRS Secty. who was nothing more than a highly paid bobbing head stooge in his own right....was also hell bent on closing offices. Here are the facts in black and white:

“We are really focusing on the idea of universal access – of being able to serve our customers in non traditional ways. In many instances, customers can contact their caseworkers online or by phone to apply for or manage services,” said SRS Secretary Don Jordan. “The physical location of an office does not hinder our ability to provide services.” (Isn't that the EXACT same language coming out of Brownback's office this time around???).

Read that last sentence several times. Read it and weep. http://www.srs.ks.gov/News/Pages/4132010.aspx ("The decision to close the offices was made as part of ongoing efforts to provide services and supports to Kansans in need through the most efficient and cost effective means. The Wamego and Abilene locations were chosen for closure due to small caseload sizes, close proximity to other SRS offices, and the increased ability to provide services outside of the traditional office setting.") Man.....it's dejavualloveragain........only in Lawrence now? Can't be.

I don't recall anyone in Lawrence troubling themselves over those 2010 closings. Too, it reads like the current SRS secretary is only moving forward with what some other clown started? I'm confused. Not......

It's just bizness as usual in Kansas where the disenfranchised shall remain so AND serve all of us as we go about our merry, fun-filled days......

It is what it is.....and that's KANSAS.......shrug

Lana Christie-Hayes 3 years, 9 months ago

"None of the offices should be closed. Waste and fraud in SRS needs to be eliminated. Waste like renting a building for over $300,000 per year instead of buying or renting a building. Waste like renting copiers at outrages prices. These are the types of waste that goes on at what I can pretty safely assume is every srs office in the state. We all know the fraud I speak of. But it also goes to the community organizations that ger paid by the state for services rendered without proper paperwork. There was one, I believe in Dodge City, that the state paid about $800,000 to for services.."
exclusive~~~I definitely agree with all the above!..

JM Andy 3 years, 9 months ago

What luck for rulers that men do not think. - Adolph Hitler

Lana Christie-Hayes 3 years, 9 months ago

Well.. we know what happened to HIM..eventually at least!

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