Letters to the Editor

Children will lose

July 14, 2011


To the editor:

Many children will be hurt if Gov. Brownback closes the Lawrence office of the Kansas social service agency (SRS), as his administration has threatened. That’s because children, like people with disabilities, are core clients of these irreplaceable services.

Robert Siedlecki, the new SRS head, told the Journal-World that closing an office is like sacrificing a child. That couldn’t be more literally true — except that in this case many children will be sacrificed, not just one. Times are tough, especially for kids. Cases of child neglect and abuse have risen 11 percent in northeast Kansas in this fiscal year. And now Siedlecki, who lived in Florida until joining SRS in January, wants to close the service office!

In defense of his ill-advised decision, Siedlecki said that the child poverty rate in Douglas County (19 percent) is lower than in Shawnee and Wyandotte counties and that under 10 percent of the public in Douglas County is directly served by SRS. This shows two things: How much is at stake (one in five children, nearly one in 10 residents) and how little the Brownback administration seems to care.

But SRS remains open. The closure isn’t due until October. So we have time to resist. The city should file suit to overturn the decision. And we can rally again as we did on Monday at Plymouth Congregational Church, when 600 people stood up to be heard. The children of Lawrence will be defenseless only if we fail to defend them.


lunacydetector 6 years, 11 months ago

go ask the school district for one of their closed school buildings. s.r.s. is trying to save on rent. throw it back at them...they can have a building for free, then see what they say.

Brock Masters 6 years, 11 months ago

Finally, someone with a clue. It does not good to wail, cry and call names, but offering viable alternative solutions might work.

Yeah everyone go protest in the park - you'll feel better, but it won't accomplish anything, but if we come up with solutions like lunacydetector is offering then they might listen.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

They won't.

The fact is that this move may not save much, if any money, when you factor in increased travel expenses for SRS employees.

That alone calls into question the "money saving" motive.

And, have you noticed that Brownback is hiring outside counsel instead of using the AG to defend a lawsuit by PP? So much for wanting to save money.

Brock Masters 6 years, 11 months ago

It is like a game of chess. Brownback makes a move, closing the office supposedly due to the cost of rent. So, counter-move, offering a building that is rent free.....they then have to figure out their next move to counter that one, but in the end you may be able to put them in check mate. No guarantee that it will work, but finding solutions has a chance. Sitting in a park crying and yelling doesn't.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

I've been playing chess for many years, and I play pretty well, if I can say so without appearing immodest.

Your analogy is poor.

Brownback has a much better position than Lawrence residents - there's virtually no way for us to "win" the game.

Siedicki has already said it's a done deal.

Brock Masters 6 years, 11 months ago

You appear immodest. jk

Maybe it is a done deal, but what does one have to lose from trying?

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

Expending one's energy in ways that are not effective is a drain on that energy.

I accept that he won the election, doesn't care about what Lawrence Democrats think, etc.

From my perspective, unless one wants to bring lawsuits, as PP did, there's really not much that can be done during his tenure to affect his decisions.

He's shown a willingness to ignore even Republican legislators, with the Arts Commission funding issue.

It's a bit discouraging, I know. My hope is that his extremism will cost him moderate Republican and Independent voters, and energize people to vote in the next election for governor.

And, perhaps, he will alienate whatever moderate Republicans are still in the legislature.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

In chess tournaments with many rounds, if you find yourself in a very bad position against a stronger (higher rated) player, you have to ask whether it's worth the expended energy to keep fighting for a possible mistake on your opponent's part or not.

If you do, there's a small chance they'll make a mistake, but you have to work very hard and use a lot of mental energy.

That can easily affect your performance further on in the tournament, and you may lose or draw some games that you would otherwise win.

It's often a better idea to accept the loss, and save your energy for games you have a better chance of winning.

somedude20 6 years, 11 months ago

I like the way Christina Hendricks moves her chest's pieces!

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago


You're the first chess player in the history of the world to never lose - even world champions lose games.

Alceste 6 years, 11 months ago

jafs.....it does appear that you simply don't understand how little time social workers for SRS spend outside the office doing abuse and neglect investigations.....

The nuts and bolts of that operation centers around human services specialists (fancy name dreamt up by some highly paid HR type) accepting and processing applications for assistance: child care; cash assistance; food stamp assistance (now called SNAP); and even medical assistance despite the fact there is a whole other entity responsible for health care AND then maintaining the cases so they're in compliance with any one of 10 million regulations. Take a look at: http://content.srs.ks.gov/EES/KEESM/Current/Home.htm .

Now....how long do you think it would take you to master that very small set of rules and regulations?

The correct compromise to the matter, and that's all you can even hope for, a compromise..... is that the people who actually carry the water for SRS be found space to stay in town. The "administrators"; the lawyers; the social workers, etc. can all be housed outside of town and "things" will move along quite nicely. Maybe they'll actually start being compelled to answer their phones and return phone calls....particularly them lawyer types and them fancy administrators who administer exactly what....nobody really knows.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

You could be right, as you seem to have detailed information about SRS.

Of course, you also seem to have a rather large anti-SRS bias.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 11 months ago

"Closed" doesn't mean "free".

Have you talked with the school district to see if this actually could be an option? Without knowing that, this isn't a "solution"...just an idea off the top of your head.

Bob Hechlor 6 years, 11 months ago

We know that won't work, because that isn't the real reason they closed it. They closed it to replace it with some so called faith based organization that promotes the Brownback version of Christianity, the kind where you steal from the poor and give to the rich.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 11 months ago

But, but, but, children can't vote!

"Well I called my congressman and he said quote "I'd like to help you son, but you're too young to vote" - Jackson Alan, lyrics of 'Summertime Blues'

Alceste 6 years, 11 months ago

I have read and heard that Brownbacks' vision for Kansas includes the enactment of a 22 year post birth abortion law. Post birth abortion is very different from pre-birth pregnancy termination as post birth allows both females and males acces to the technique. Brownback is seeking to strengthen families and providing parents with this powerful new parenting technique is high up on the "to do" list......

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 11 months ago

We can't kill our kids till they're 23? Hmmm.

Alceste 6 years, 11 months ago

No, that's not what I've told. You're misinterpreting what I wrote, or perhaps it simply wasn't written well enough. You have up until the 22nd year following birth to abort....you must wait for the birth to happen first, however.

Bob Hechlor 6 years, 11 months ago

Oh, this powerful new parenting technique that Brownback was told about by gawd perhaps? Yes, I am sure he is such a wise man who apparently knows more than anyone else and therefore, he can just act as a dictator and never really discuss anything with anyone. They probably wouldn't understand since, well, no one is as wise as him. Maybe eventually, Brownback will just invite us all to a prayer meeting and then through the spirit of prayer, we will just all know all that is needed to be known. Yah, that's it. Meantime, he can build coal fired plants and make his rich benefactor even richer. Did you ever hear of Elmer Gantry?

llama726 6 years, 11 months ago

You are so unbelievably stuck on your ideals that I am not quite certain how it is that you function within the society that we have. Get over yourself a little bit and come down to Earth to live with the rest of us. The government takes hostages, but businesses are glorious!!! Hallelujah (Inc)!

llama726 6 years, 11 months ago

I'm sorry that you cannot interpret the English language. You are too much of an idealist. You need to calm down and stop making ridiculous statements. I find it humorous that you feel you are so unique. You have a different opinion from me, sure. But it's hardly unique. You think you're the first person who has ever espoused libertarian principles or read Ayn Rand?

I cannot stand absolutists. You have stated a distaste for religious faith. It's interesting, because a concept (belief in an absolute) that I find most irritating about the most religious people I've encountered is one that I find in you, as well. There is only "the market," and the market will work, no matter what. We have to let go of anything else we have and allow the market to work. We have to accept the Market and understand that the Market will rebuke us when we have done wrong. You even have your own idol, and it is currency. The only thing your religious faith in the Market is lacking is a bizarre preoccupation with sex - add that in, and it'll be a bona fide religion.

Your insistence upon false dichotomies (accept the market or face eternal peril) is not endearing. If we don't agree with L_O, we are sheep. The only way not to be a sheep (and blindly follow someone) is to blindly follow Liberty One. It's nice how simple the world seems for you. I am not asking you to agree with me, accept my worldview or see things your way. You are asking for elimination of my worldview altogether. How, exactly, should I then perceive you as reasonable?

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

First, it's entirely possible that a number of these employees won't be able or willing to relocate, and those positions may very well be eliminated, according to Siedlicki (sp?).

Next, if staff have to travel a lot more to meet with clients, the extra costs of doing that will cut into any savings on rent.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

"None of the staff has been fired"

People who cannot relocate to offices in other areas will not be working for SRS any more, and the head of it has said that those positions may not be filled if people don't relocate. That would reduce the number of employees.

The point about staff travel is that if we no longer have an office in Lawrence with SRS staff, if they have to come to Lawrence to meet with them, that's an extra expense that hasn't been considered that will cut into the savings on rent.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago


But if they're traveling to Ottawa to be at the office, and then have to meet with somebody later in the day, ...

And, the point is that the extra travel will involve costs - gas, wear and tear on cars, etc.

If the state pays for it, that will cut into the savings on rent.

Alceste 6 years, 11 months ago

Nonsense. No reason the social worker can't dictate notes to a voice activated voice recorder and keep two hands on the steering wheel at the same time. Might cut into the radio/cd/iPod listening time though.....

Alceste 6 years, 11 months ago

...and...wait....doesn't even have to voice activated....just to set it to "RECORD" and blather away while driving. They do it all the time anyway....blather away, that is.....

Alceste 6 years, 11 months ago

There are tons of people who commute EVERY DAY to Topeka, Kansas City, Leavenworth, Ottawa, Overland Park, KCMO, Holton, Manhattan, etc., etc., etc.

It IS true that having to commute for these individuals who have been fortunate enough to have employment in Lawrence.....a place that really doesn't have very many jobs, is going to cut into their spendable income.

The people being harmed the most are the support staff: clerks, aides, etc. who are being paid the least. Being able to afford the petrol costs is going to be rough, if not impossible for these folks; and it presupposes they even have a car that can put up with the mileage one puts on a car when one ain't got a job in the same town where they live because that town is too busy worrying about silly things like bowling alone or how to "preserve" an already deceased downtown......

Are the car pools being organized now? Is there still such a thing as a van pool out of Topeka....I kinda remember that program got stopped....can't remember. Oh wait.....here's the web link: http://www.da.ks.gov/fm/cmp/information/VanPoolCoordinators.htm for joining up with a Van pool.....seem to be quite a few.

Bob Hechlor 6 years, 11 months ago

This is just more of the same kind of stuff we get from repubs. Reduce access to services and create new "privatized services" that cost more and are still paid for by taxpayers, and some of Brownback's cronies can make a profit off of it. He can also promote his brand of religion at the cost of the state. Isn't that a great idea? And if the families don't go for it, well they are just a bunch of ingrates. They don't deserve help. Brownback has never taught school and never provided any social service, never had any training in it and yet somehow now, he is an expert at it. Fat chance.

justajoke 6 years, 11 months ago

It seems that oneeye has all the answer.. Let me break this down. First of all the staff at the SRS office are not allowed to talked to anyone about these issues so they can't call Bert Nash or others to ask for space. This is all being done by the higher ups and nothing is being talked about to the staff. So really these people have no growing up to do.. Secondly you are correct that no one has lost their jobs yet but that won't be the case. Some of the people that work there are single parents and don't make a lot of money to begin with. There are also a few that walk to work. Now how can they afford to drive 35 mins to and hour to relocate?? They have worked for the State for many years and now this is happening. If you can afford to commute to another office then you will be forced to quit. Also you need to consider that other offices are closing too a people may chose to relocate to some of these communities. No one knows what spaces offices have available or what jobs they will even do when they get there. It seems you have all the answers so maybe you should head up the moving process. You don't hear these workers lives that are being changed by the closure complaining. They are still at work listening to all of the consumers needs and trying to stay positive for them.. Maybe you should show a bit of compassion and not make judgement until you work in that office for a while and realize what each employee does..

Alceste 6 years, 11 months ago

Again, there are plenty of people who reside in Lawrence, work in social services, were not good enough to make the cut to work at the Country Club, as Wilbur so aptly refers to it.....and commute to Topeka, Overland Park, Wy. County, etc.

The fact someone has gotten used to be able to walk or bike to work is a luxury. I've posted a link to the Dept. of Administration's web site which is dedicated to state supported van pooling. It's the aides, clerks, etc.; the people who are being paid the least that are drastically impacted due to the fact the price of petrol is what it is....let alone if they even have a car that cut driving so many miles each and every day.

Still....for years and years....many folks in social services have driven from Lawrence to Topeka, KC, OP, etc. because Lawrence SRS didn't think they were "good enough" for the "elite" of the state. These folks made the adjustments and are surviving. I personally know people who work for the Dept. Of Corrections who live here in Lawrence but drive each and every day to Topeka and Kansas City, Kansas. I also know of people who reside in Overland Park and Olathe....but make so much money via SRS that they're nice & comfy in that commute to Topeka. Why not? They're in Lexus and better cars; box turned up to 12 with Yani playing soft and cool.

Sam Brownback gave the problem of closure back to the people of Lawrence: Find a way to house staff and provide infra-structure business wise at no cost to the state. LEADERS do that.....not line level workers. Vacant schools have been proposed. Check. Cubicle at Indepence, Inc., Bert Nash, DCCCA, Office on Aging, Library, KU, etc. have all been suggested. Check. The proof will be in the pudding: Will these "community partners" provide the space and the infrastructure or will the typical "I'm sorry. We're not set up to do that" be the common refrain? What about cubicle staff in City of Lawrence offices? What about County buildings? What about the Lawrence Police Department? There's a ton of places. However, just what kind of "partners" they turn out to be shall be most interesting to watch.

Oh....and maybe the past Chief Social Worker for the County, Jean Shepard might offer set aside space in her home? She'd get a Republican Party created tax dodge for so doing. Wait and see.....wait and see.....watch and learn....learn just how fragmented we really are.

I asked my big brother, an Olathe school teacher pulling down $75k per annum for a part time job, if he was aware of the fracass going on in Lawrence. He was not.. When I told him nobody was slated for job loss his single response was "What's the big deal? Can't they work out of Topeka or Overland Park?" My big brother.....what a thinker!

llama726 6 years, 11 months ago

"I asked my big brother, an Olathe school teacher pulling down $75k per annum for a part time job, "


Alceste 6 years, 11 months ago

Nope. look it up at http://www.kansasopengov.org/SchoolDistricts/PayrollListing/OlathePayGrid/tabid/1593/Default.aspx

Perhaps you fail to understand that school teachers are part time employees? No more. No less. Even my brother has the courage to admit he has a "very comfortable schedule"....of course he can afford to do so because he's just there collecting a check. He don't care what his "colleagues" think.....he knows what time it is.........Can't blame the guy......30+ years of dealing with litle grubby handed 8 year olds can get to a guy....not to mention being surrounded by a bunch of card carrying andrists.....

llama726 6 years, 11 months ago

"I asked my big brother, an Olathe school teacher pulling down $75k per annum for a part time job, "


Cait McKnelly 6 years, 11 months ago

She's calling it a "part time job" because he works nine months out of the year for the school district. I call bull too. I was married to a teacher for twelve years. I know exactly what they do over the summer. It's very possible he was making a 75k contract if he worked for the same district for thirty years, especially a wealthy district like Johnson County. I also know that during the school year they work ten hour days doing class room and lesson planning, grading papers; heck even coaching sports, outside the classroom. But yeah, it's bull.

gogoplata 6 years, 11 months ago

Can we cut funding for the drug war next?

Alceste 6 years, 11 months ago

There's a war on drugs? How can that be what all the dope being given to children in foster care or otherwise under the scrutiny of Public Welfare officials? Them drugs likes Lexapro, Zoloft, Abilify, Paxil, etc., etc., etc. All VERY addictive....and let us not leave out ritalin and the other amphetamine related drugs.......they're given out like candy by them "professionals" at Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center. Say it ain't so......

Bob Hechlor 6 years, 11 months ago

Nothing you say is so for starters and secondly you don't even know how to say it coherently. You demonstrate however, how the most ignorant people can still have an opinion.

Alceste 6 years, 11 months ago

Ignorance permeates rshrink's post. Clearly rshrink doesn't know the extent to which children in state custody are drugged; nor is rshrink knowledgable as to the number of other children drugged to the hilt with these powefully addicting drugs. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reports that neither animals nor humans can differentiate between cocaine, amphetamine and methylphenidate (Ritalin) because they produce effects that are nearly identical.

http://www.cchrstl.org/documents/facts_about_foster_care_children.pdf care to read the report: FACTS ABOUT FOSTER CARE CHILDREN ABUSED WITH PSYCHOTROPIC DRUGS

How about this one: CONTEXT. Studies have revealed that youth in foster care covered by Medicaid insurance receive psychotropic medication at a rate >3 times that of Medicaid-insured youth who qualify by low family income. Systematic data on patterns of medication treatment, particularly concomitant drugs, for youth in foster care are limited. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/121/1/e157.full We must be careful with a fool. Johnny Winters taught us this fact. Someday they get smart: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Tyg5S...

And just to pour salt in your gaping wound, here we have from Tuft's: Over the past decade, psychotropic medication use in the general youth population has more than doubled. Estimated rates of psychotropic medication use in foster care youth, however, are much higher (ranging from 13-52%) than those in the general youth population (4%).


Kelly Johnson 6 years, 11 months ago

During a difficult time in my life I had to utilize SRS services. I consider myself to be a decently intelligent person, but it was hard even for me to keep up with all the paperwork requirements and documentation, both in understanding exactly what they wanted and in providing it all. I know several people who have given up trying to get assistance because they had trouble figuring out the application process.

If it's this difficult to obtain services when you have a local office, imagine adding the headache of attempting to get transportation to KC or Topeka and/or trying to get to the library for internet access, since many of the people served by SRS don't have internet service at home. Their website is not the easiest to navigate, as well.

I really hope there's some way for this decision to be reversed.

Sunny Parker 6 years, 11 months ago

With an 18 Million dollar library...the takers will continue to find a way to take. Trust me!

Bob Hechlor 6 years, 11 months ago

We could also eliminate the position of governor. That would save a ton of money and be far less disruptive. Then the legislators would just have to battle it out and be forced into making agreements.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.