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Archive for Thursday, July 21, 2011

Local officials continue efforts to prevent closure of SRS office

July 21, 2011

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Local officials said Thursday they are continuing their efforts to get Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration to reverse its decision to shut down the Lawrence office of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.

Brownback has said he is open to options, but SRS Secretary Robert Siedlecki Jr. has indicated the office, which deals with thousands of people each month, will be closed within three months.

Still, SRS indicates there may be some room to deal.

“Any alternate arrangement regarding real estate would have to meet the department’s budget-cutting criteria,” SRS spokeswoman Angela De Rocha said.

But she added, “There has been no change in the decision to close the SRS office in Lawrence.”

SRS says it must close nine offices to save $1 million in administrative costs. Shutting down the Lawrence office, by far the biggest on the hit list, would save $413,385, according to SRS. Of that amount, $331,875 would be in rent.

Some have asked whether another entity could pay the rent.

Douglas County Administrator Craig Weinaug said if that discussion comes up, he would like to see a more in-depth study to determine if SRS’s estimate of savings “is a real number.”

Weinaug noted that in SRS’s estimate of savings, there are no costs figured in for a possible legal challenge to the state for breaking its lease for the SRS office.

SRS did put in its cost-savings estimate an additional $14,528 for SRS workers in travel expenses, but Weinaug wondered how accurate that figure was.

Plus, he said, the state’s estimate doesn’t take into account the extra costs to local agencies and governmental entities that losing the SRS office would entail.

Earlier this week, nearly 20 groups said they would see their costs go up if SRS shut its doors in Lawrence. Many said they would have increased travel costs in taking clients to Topeka or Kansas City to get services.

The prospect of vulnerable residents having to travel to another city has prompted many calls, according to Erika Dvorske, president and chief executive officer of United Way of Douglas County.

“This is a crisis,” Dvorske said. “There is a high anxiety level with people contacting us, just worried how they are going to access services,” she said.

Dvorske said she hopes Brownback and Siedlecki will reverse the decision, but she said United Way is also working on plans if the office is shut down.

“I’m supportive of those who are working to get the position reversed, but given the role the United Way plays, I’m more involved in trying to plan for ‘Plan B,’” she said.

She said that without a Lawrence office, “There is a very strong potential when the services are harder to access, it is likely that fewer people will access them.”

Interactive Timeline

Lawrence SRS closure timeline

Comments

SoooDone1 2 years, 8 months ago

I should add, Siedlecki has fired nearly all program directors and brought in people from Florida. Additionally, he fired nearly all of the directors in the regions that serve the communities. This has nothing to do with work performance, but this decision was done so that he could put in individuals that would support his agenda, nothing more. The new leadership, 90% from Florida, know nothing about Kansas or knowledge about SRS. While this approach and leadership may have worked in Florida for all these folks, I hope Kansans will make it clear that it just doesn't fly here.

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SoooDone1 2 years, 8 months ago

I beg the media to continue to follow this and ask the important questions. I can tell you that state employees are fearful to speak out, as this administration does not respect one's right to do so, and it is likely that you will find yourself without a job. Please ask the following- 1. How many new positions Siedlecki has created in SRS Central Office to serve as mouthpieces for the conservative agenda. I can tell you, as an SRS employee, there are positions directly under him, likely all making 100,000 plus, that have never existed in the agency before (examples include the new chief of staff Jeff Kahrs, who exist so that the Secretary himself does not have to deal with staff. The new position of Deputy Secretary of Faith based initiatives, which....well don't get me started on, there are new positions that have been created to speak to the media and try to do damage control around what they are doing).
2. How much salary money is being used with the new top administrators in Central Office in SRS in comparison to previous administrations? I bet the difference would have said nearly all of the SRS offices that are set for closure.

While it is being claimed that these closures are being done to address a budget shortfall and a call to reduce administrative spending by one million dollars, please don't be mistaken that this money has been saved. It has just been relocated to the hands of a few, most of whom have come here from Florida to ride the Brownback train to Washington. These individuals know nothing about and care very little about Kansas itself.

Employees that have worked for the state for years indicate that this is the worst it has ever been. This new administration makes decisions and does not solicit feedback from the individuals in the communities in which SRS serves. They have come here with one agenda, and that has nothing to do with saving you money as a tax payer. Guaranteed.

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Daffy 2 years, 8 months ago

I usually use SRS to report on people I don't like. Who will I call now?

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Daffy 2 years, 8 months ago

I usually use SRS to report on people I don't like. Who will I call now?

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xyz 2 years, 8 months ago

I got this robo-email from FlimFlamSam this afternoon. Maybe when FFSam is praying in Texas next month God will have mercy upon us and do a one person rapture!

July 22, 2011

Dear Kansan:

Thank you for taking the time to contact my office to share your thoughts and suggestions concerning the difficult decision to close nine SRS offices. There is no better guide to tough decision-making than the views and concerns of my fellow Kansans.

Caring for the most vulnerable among us is vital. Kansans have always taken pride in the fact that we take care of each other. As your Governor, I intend to continue to carry on this time honored tradition. After combating a budgetary shortfall of more than $500 million for FY2012, our state is projected to face similar challenges in FY2013. In order to solve our further shortfalls, it is my goal to turn our state’s gaze toward protecting the core functions of state government. These core functions most certainly include looking after the most vulnerable among us. My administration is committed to this task.

SRS Secretary Siedlecki and his staff have worked diligently to identify ways in which reductions required by the Legislature in this year’s budget could be made. As you are likely aware, the Legislature called for a 2.5% reduction across the board to all state agencies. This amounted to a reduction of $42 million dollars for SRS. A decision was made by Siedlecki and staff to reduce administrative costs in the interest of preserving services and avoiding the laying off of staff. Therefore, the decision was made to close a number of SRS offices using specific criteria. Amongst these is easy access to other nearby SRS offices, significant capacity in neighboring state owned offices to accommodate transferring staff, and a significant savings in rent and administrative costs. By consolidating the Lawrence office, SRS achieves savings of $413,000 per year, enough to keep five other SRS offices open.

As a part of our commitment that those in need of services are never denied them, additional actions will be taken. Siedlecki and staff are working with local leaders and stakeholders to identify free office space in Lawrence to house a small number of SRS staff to assist individuals who cannot travel to the neighboring offices to access services. Also, SRS will be keeping a small number of child protective service workers in Lawrence to respond to time-sensitive and emergency situations to ensure that services are not interrupted and remain in place for all Kansans.

Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and recommendations with me. As we continue to move our State forward, please keep me informed on issues that are of concern to you. I encourage you to visit my website or contact my office.

Sincerely,

Governor Sam Brownback

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justajoke 2 years, 8 months ago

Well the Friday email is out again. Once again the workers are all getting the screw job. First they are told to list their top 3 choices of oFfices to transfer too including Topeka. Now today they got the email that Topeka isn't an option. The people running the State are nothing but a bunch of liars. They have no clue as to what is going to happen to caseloads or employees. They are just banking that half of the staff will quit because they won't be able to afford to commute. If they treat their own employees this way, I can't imagine the poor consumers.

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Liberty275 2 years, 9 months ago

Maybe we can set up old parking meters so our oh so concerned citizens can deposit their nickles and dimes to keep the building open.

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lunacydetector 2 years, 9 months ago

the s.r.s. recipients will end up moving. there's no case about the lease. pure b.s.

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Stain 2 years, 9 months ago

Go anywhere in Kansas, and if someone has been to Lawrence, they rave about it. There is a reason for this. The city takes care of what needs to be taken care of, and the citizens are willing to pay for it.

Closing the SRS office is going to cost far more in the end than keeping it open will cost.

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edjayhawk 2 years, 9 months ago

Brownback continues to hope for God to come down and provide needed services so that money can fund cuts in income tax for the rich and Koch bros.

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SouthWestKs 2 years, 9 months ago

If you want to know how much these people make, go the the county clerk & ask for the payroll of everybody that works for the county.. It is all open records.. Stay cool.. Have a great day..

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pace 2 years, 9 months ago

Unlike Quantrill, Brownback's raids on Lawrence are aimed at women, children and the elderly. No mercy, Bloody Brownback

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overthemoon 2 years, 9 months ago

Interesting to hear Brownback on Steve Kresge's Up to Date show on KCUR yesterday. His explanations for all of his Friday bombs sound quite reasonable...except he did not answer the question about how he seems to make all of these decisions without consulting those affected. On the Lawrence SRS he said the entire issue was the rent charged for the building being over market value rates. So why did they not talk to anyone about a better deal or another building??? He made it seem as though it was all about real estate and then went on to say where he was born and where he grew up and those places didn't have SRS facilities so it wasn't political. That's when I decided he didn't sound so reasonable after all.

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kathyslobb 2 years, 9 months ago

i a gre that it should be shut down at all beside people dont have aother to a SRS office out of town beside there alot of people that uesd this office here we need to take a stand on this

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allamerican4ever 2 years, 9 months ago

i hope theyre gone and they cut our taxes that fund them

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allamerican4ever 2 years, 9 months ago

or has the srs ever served someone in a manner they deseve ? its a crappy system, i turned my x wife in many times kids come bruised and beaten, she got shot in front of them no charges ever filed because theyre a scamm

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To Sides 2 years, 9 months ago

Why save the state even more money and close KDOT? Make the county pay for roads? isn't that the Brownback way?

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Ken Lassman 2 years, 9 months ago

Methinks the excessive heat has muddled the minds of Indus and alceste.

It's really quite simple, folks. You can't send away coordination of social services in a community of nearly 100,000 and not expect there to be a) a significant drop in service quality as folks 25 to 50 miles away who are not necessarily familiar with the players try to take up the slack, and folks can't get face-to-face assistance in real-life true emergencies; b) overall costs overriding the nominal savings--commuting, teleconferencing, extra time will eat up so much more time that it's not funny. Anyone thinking that the 413,000 in rental savings won't be eaten up by these additional expenses is not thinking about the whole picture and has blinders on; c) the lawyer thing, costing both sides untold amounts of money, for what? Are you sure Siedlecki isn't getting donations from the trial lawyers?

Keep the eye on the ball, folks. This travesty will only be more so as time passes and the need grows.

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Alceste 2 years, 9 months ago

Craig Weinaug is paid via Douglas County taxpayers to hand wring? Simple Simons' can do better than that. Oh Yeah....what's he paid? $120large or thereabouts, eh, Craig?

Why does Douglas County have, need, or even require a seperate department of health when there is a state department of health? Let me suggest that the county department of health which is VERY bloated with overweight people being "paid" far too much county tax payer monies, needs to re-invent itself.....or just ........poof disappear.

How much money does that guy...Dan Partridge, get paid from the people of Douglas County? Six figure income or the high 5 figure income? One hand washes the other.....

In fact I'd like to see it posted by the LJWorld.com how much money these Douglas County staff are paid:

Lori Nichols, DO Health Officer/Medical Consultant

Charlie Bryan, MPA Community Health Planner/ Medical Reserve Corps Coordinator

Karen Flanders, BS Child Care Licensing Coordinator

Jennie Henault, BS Director of Administrative Services

Rebecca Holmes, LMSW Project LIVELY Coordinator

Charlotte Marthaler, MS Director of Policy and Planning

Kim Ens, RN, BSN, MS Director of Clinic Services

Jennifer Church, MS, RD, LD WIC Coordinator/Nutritionist

Lisa V. Horn, BA Communications Coordinator

Richard Ziesenis, RS Director of Environmental Health

If the LJworld.com doesn't want to read the ditry truth, I'll get the data on my own and then post same.

The time has come to attack the status quo and these highly paid do nothing County paid "people".

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IndusRiver 2 years, 9 months ago

Excellent note made of the dastardly detail and yet they forever cry poverty. They, not the poor, beg for the money. Therein lies the heart of the problem of the money. The self-appointed "caregivers" that they and so many others are handle the "banking," and, well, we all know how the gov. handles the people's money.

We have gone in a circle, folks, all of the way back to the Declaration of Independence. Back to talk of revolution, good god.

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Ralph Reed 2 years, 9 months ago

From the article: "Brownback has said he is open to options, but SRS Secretary Robert Siedlecki Jr. has indicated the office, which deals with thousands of people each month, will be closed within three months.

Still, SRS indicates there may be some room to deal.

'Any alternate arrangement regarding real estate would have to meet the department’s budget-cutting criteria,' SRS spokeswoman Angela De Rocha said.

But she added, 'There has been no change in the decision to close the SRS office in Lawrence.' "


Brownstripe moment. Let's see. The Gov tells Siedlecki to close the Lawrence SRS office and 8 others, regardless of any pain caused, because Lawrence didn't vote for him. Siedlecki announces plans to do that, saying you have to sacrifice some children to get things done.

Seidlecki says there is no recourse, so deal with it. Neither the Gov nor Seidlecki comes to Lawrence to field questions at either one of the recent rallies (comment: cowardly behavior on their part).

From the article, the Gov says he's open for discussion, Seidlecki says the Lawrence SRS is closing, so deal with it. It appears to me that the Gov and his minion are not talking with each other.

I wonder if the Gov is going to blame Seidlecki and try to make it sound as if he went beyond what the Gov wanted. He does have a past history of blaming others for his misdeeds. I also wonder if behavior like Seidlecki's is what led to foster children being lost in the Florida system and foster parents continuing to draw support for dead children.


The SRS Talking Head, Angela De Rocha, says no change in the decision has been made. So now we have three people not talking with each other, The Gov, Seidlecki, and the SRS Talking Head. Which one of them is lying? Are they all lying? Lies, half truths and passing the buck seem to be the order of the day in the Statehouse.

A question. Where did the State get the money to pay for the new SRS Talking Head? It seems to me that if SRS doesn't have the money to keep offices open, then they don't have the money to hire a Talking Head. Second question. Is the State able to hire a someone as a favor to a crony because they closed the Lawrence and 8 other SRS offices across the state?

As a note, the SRS Talking Head is well versed in Republican lore and has their koolaid running through her veins. "De Rocha grew up in western Kansas, has a background in journalism and worked most recently for U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., according to a news release from SRS. A request for more detailed information on De Rocha, including her salary, was not answered immediately by SRS." (http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2011/jul...)

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IndusRiver 2 years, 9 months ago

Dominoes, folks. Collapse SRS and directly impact the "web" of deceit. LPD, LMH, the glut of Social Service agencies, DCCCA, Bert Nash, LDCHA

It all falls down.

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IndusRiver 2 years, 9 months ago

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

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