Advertisement

Archive for Monday, July 25, 2011

Statehouse Live: SRS salaries come under question as agency plans to close offices; Lawrence workers can’t go to Topeka

July 25, 2011, 11:13 a.m. Updated July 25, 2011, 6:05 p.m.

Advertisement

Related document

SRS selected salaries comparison ( .PDF )

Related document

SRS notice to Lawrence employees ( .PDF )

— House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, on Monday questioned high-dollar salaries and newly created executive positions at the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, which is closing nine offices, including the one in Lawrence.

Gov. Sam Brownback and SRS Secretary Robert Siedlecki Jr. have said the offices must be shut down to cut $1 million in administrative expenses that was required by the Legislature.

They have said people receiving services at the Lawrence office can access them online or travel to other SRS offices in nearby cities. Lawrence officials have said this isn’t reasonable and will result in more people losing assistance, a heavier financial burden on local non-profits, and an increase in crime.

Davis also questioned whether the Legislature mandated office closures, and he criticized new executive hiring at a time when thousands of vulnerable Kansans will be affected by the SRS moves.

“I'm concerned that the new administration seems to be spending a couple hundred thousand dollars more on upper management staff at the same time that they are closing local offices in order to meet a mandate for a $1 million in administrative cuts,” Davis said.

“It seems they ought to be cutting upper management positions to make sure that the Legislature's directive is followed rather than closing local offices,” he said.

Davis' office asked for salary information of top level positions at SRS, comparing the spring of 2010, under former Gov. Mark Parkinson, and now.

Under Siedlecki, who was appointed secretary by Brownback, several new positions have been created, including a chief of staff, who is Jeff Kahrs, former chief of staff to former U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan. Kahrs is making $100,000 a year.

Another new position is filled by Anna Pilato, who is a deputy secretary heading a new faith-based initiative and making $97,500.

Siedlecki is earning $115,000 per year, while his predecessor, Don Jordan, was paid $112,742 annually. There is also a communications director and public information officer, earning a combined total of $100,000 per year. Last year, one person was the communications director at $70,000 and the public information officer position was vacant.

When he announced his new leadership team in May, Siedlecki stated: “We have assembled a team of experienced leaders who will focus on transforming SRS into an agency committed to improving the well-being of children and families, while remaining accountable to the taxpayers of Kansas through transparency and reform.”

In total, Siedlecki is spending $386,595 more on high-level staff than the amount spent at the end of 2010, Davis said.

SRS has repeatedly said the Lawrence closure alone will save approximately $400,000, with most of that coming in rent.

But on Monday SRS said that half of the projected savings would be in lost federal reimbursement funds that are currently paid to the state for administrative costs.

“It's all taxpayer money, so we are saving money,” said SRS spokeswoman Angela De Rocha.

And in another development, Davis questioned whether the Legislature, in its budget deliberations, intended for SRS to close offices.

The approved appropriations bill calls on SRS to make a cut of $1 million in the “Administrative Program,” but this line-item doesn’t include expenditures for office leases. SRS has a total budget of approximately $1.6 billion. Davis said there are other areas in the budget that SRS could look at beside shutting offices.

Additionally on Monday, an SRS memo obtained by the Lawrence Journal-World shows that Lawrence SRS office employees will not be able to transfer to the Topeka office, which is contrary to what SRS officials had initially said. The Lawrence SRS office has approximately 87 employees.

“The Topeka office is no longer an option for Lawrence staff to transfer to,” according to the memo.

“Based on the complexities of managing a county across two regions the decision was made to keep all Lawrence staff and cases in the current KC Metro Region and its remaining 5 offices,” the memo says. “KCM region will retain all responsibility for DG cases (unless a customer requests that their case move to another region).”

Comments

LH3867 2 years, 8 months ago

It's going to be quite a spin job.... watch for it! That's ok, we know the truth. At this point, no one is going to believe him or Siedlecki because they haven't been honest about any of this. It is obvious there was no plan. It was politics. No integrity between the two of them. Siedlecki is an embarassment to the state. Back to Florida for you. Back to C street for you Brownback and stay away from Kansas and politics. Possibly you could be a preacher somwehere. Give Phelps a break every other Sunday.

0

SilverShadow 2 years, 8 months ago

Isn't honor a requirement for a duel of honor? You assume brownie has some?

0

Gandalf 2 years, 8 months ago

Hey brownback, I challenge you to a duel of honor. I'll even give you the choice of weapons, time and place.

Got any guts?

0

shadowlady 2 years, 8 months ago

I said it wrong, "tar and feather brownbeck, sedilicki and other high officials out of the state of Kansas on a rail".

0

shadowlady 2 years, 8 months ago

I say tar and feather and run Brownbeck, Sedilicki(however you spell it) out of the state of Kansas on a rail.

0

Richard Heckler 2 years, 8 months ago

Sam Brownback is from the party that created 81% of the national debt under Reagan Bush and Bush. This means to me that he takes debt lightly no matter what so long as it furthers his political and religious ambitions.

His party is anything but fiscal conservative which is also reflected in the republican state legislature. These thinkers who adopt Koch/Walton/Norquist values are NOT the economic giants of our time in managing state revenue.

You will find Kansas number 19 thanks to the republican led state legislature.

25 States With the Highest Debt Per Person http://www.investinganswers.com/a/25-states-highest-debt-person-2395

In the end big debt and super duper bailouts were the results which does not seem to bother Republicans, as long as they are in power.

In fact, by the time the second Bush left office, the national debt had grown to $12.1 trillion:

  • Over half of that amount had been created by Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy.

  • Another 30% of the national debt had been created by the tax cuts for the wealthy under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

• Fully 81% of the national debt was created by just these three Republican Presidents. http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2010/0111orr.html

0

emariew 2 years, 8 months ago

No one should be making almost $100K as the head of a "faith based initiative" for the STATE.

0

chiefdist2 2 years, 8 months ago

News from the inside......Brownbacks lawyers conceed that to void the building rental contacts at Lawrence and Fort Scott would cost the SRS 4 years worth of rental on those buildings. No way out, so no closing of those offices. Now, how will Brownback spin this to look like he made the choice due to his caring nature and the needs of Lawrence and Fort Scott rather than because the Administration failed to fully research the issue before slaming the liberal college town?

0

Richard Heckler 2 years, 8 months ago

This execise is one more item the neoconservative fundamentalist christian brought back from D.C. Getting rid of all the hard workers to install a few chiefs who likely have no idea what they are doing.... they merely obey orders. The fewer workers = less educated eyes on the jobs = less enforcement of the rules = more corruption aka fraud by corp america.

When the liberal spending neoconservative fundamentalist christians purged republicans from the repub party in D.C. with the help of Koch and Wal-Mart money the party became kinda nazi like.... every member says YES and worships the president. YUCK

That is what Brownback has on his agenda backed by the same money sources. A story heard often from old school fiscal conservative republicans was that they were not christian enough.

All that will expected from the new neoconservative fundamentalist christians is to do nothing but what you're told. But say whatever it takes to get elected and sound like old school republican thinkers.

Why shop Wal-Mart when their money endangers your democracy,rights and quality of life?

For the same reasons why buy Koch Products which include quite familiar names? http://inspirationgreen.com/koch-brothers-products.html

0

sciencegeek 2 years, 8 months ago

Did anyone happen to notice--

The increase in salaries under this administration is just about the same amount they claim to save by closing the SRS office in Lawrence.

0

Centerville 2 years, 8 months ago

Too bad Rothschild didn't follow up with a couple questions to SRS about this. And reported rumors...as ordered.

0

Floyd Craig 2 years, 8 months ago

they r paid to much yeah right look at the butt heads in the capital they get paid way to much gees they always give them selfs a rasie they need to cut thier pay alot

0

Kate Rogge 2 years, 8 months ago

Go Paul Davis! The more I see of him, the more I like him.

0

adawnb 2 years, 8 months ago

That's the real point. Not only are the employees being forced to go to other offices that are further away from where they live, the people who rely on SRS services too will be forced to do so as well. This whole thing will end up being a cluster and people will lose services due to this. The people behind this are incompetent and that's why the "plan" changes from week to week.

0

irvan moore 2 years, 8 months ago

it would be interesting to know how many people who voted for brownback because of his conservative ideals are losing their jobs or have family members who are.

0

Bob_Keeshan 2 years, 8 months ago

A lot of focus on the employees, but the real message coming from SRS is that those being served by the Lawrence office do not have the option of going to Topeka.

Their only option is to go to Kansas City unless they can convince SRS to "allow" them to go to Topeka.

And here I thought the closeness of Lawrence to Topeka was a major factor in the decision.

So instead, SRS will just keep on paying for three or four big beautiful offices in Topeka. Don't need to have any of those folks in Lawrence stopping by and forcing them to work.

0

BlackVelvet 2 years, 8 months ago

Brownback....Obama.....no difference.

0

omnedon 2 years, 8 months ago

I also notice that Lawrence SRS employees who ARE able to keep their jobs, although they will now have to drive much further to wherever they end up, will be essentially getting a cut in pay as they will have to pay for the additional gas and wear and tear on their vehicles to get there. I'm sure they will be appropriately grateful for keeping their jobs.

0

adawnb 2 years, 8 months ago

I know someone who works at another office that is going to be closed. This person was given two options for transfer. He found out via conference call last Thursday that the only option now was Topeka, regardless of how far his commute would be. He lives in a town with an office that will remain open and that has open space. This office is actually closer than Topeka to the majority of customers that he serves. It will take him well over an hour to make it to Topeka. He considers this a layoff, regardless of the euphemisms being thrown out there. Of course, he will be denied his right to the layoff process due to these shenanigans.

0

Alceste 2 years, 8 months ago

Being the braggart Alceste is....Alceste is compelled to point out Alceste "scooped" LJWorld.com and "Chad" with this post on 24 July 2011 at 11:34am....almost 24 hours before the LJWorld. Stay tuned....those cards and letters just keep rolling in.....

Alceste (anonymous) says… Not going to work, jhawkinsf. Here's why:

The Lawrence SRS office is part of the KC Metro Region. Topeka SRS office is part of the NE Region.

Earlier, SRS Central Office had given the soon to be displaced Lawrence staff the option of transferring to the Topeka SRS office. SRS Central Office, as of Friday, 22 July has removed that option. SRS Central Office has determined that housing KC Metro Region staff in a NE Region Office is not going to work. It's been taken off the table and the Lawrence SRS workers got an email on Friday, 22 July informing them that if they had selected the Topeka Office as the place they preferred to transfer to, they needed to re-submit their paper work and select an office in the KC Metro Region: Overland Park; KCK; Ottawa; Leavenworth. Too, the Lawrence SRS staff will be keeping their current case loads. Clients will be following their assigned case workers.

The bottom line is that SRS Central Office has no idea what they're going to do or how they're going to adapt/adjust to the Lawrence SRS office closure.

Concluding: there is no plan. there was no plan. closed. That's it. Brain trust indeed.

July 24, 2011 at 11:34 a.m. ( permalink | reply | suggest removal | )

But let us first and foremost stress this reality: " there is no plan. there was no plan. closed. That's it. Brain trust indeed." NO PLAN. We're making it up as we go along. We here at SRS Central Office roll like that.....we've been doing it for years.....well before Sammy got here......leave us alone....we know what we're doing. Go on now.....run along.....

0

funkdog1 2 years, 8 months ago

Thank you Scott for doing the work on this story!

0

chootspa 2 years, 8 months ago

"SRS has said the Lawrence closure will save approximately $400,000 but on Monday SRS said that half of the projected savings would be in lost federal reimbursement funds that are currently paid to the state for administrative costs."

In other words, it's not saving anything. It's losing $200,000 in reimbursement funds and the argument that we were saving the lease in Lawrence is already being shown to be untrue. That's an announcement I'm sure they'll save for another Friday.

0

Ceee 2 years, 8 months ago

Protests and forums in Lawrence won't move the current administration. They need to hear from voters statewide. Someone in the know, possessed of facts and figures, should gather data and write a one page paper that highlights the reasons why closing the Lawrence office is an inefficient, ineffective, expensive choice. No name calling. Just facts logically and appealingly written. Maybe it should be a two part message: data (e.g. increased cost to law enforcement) and real life examples (e.g.story of a person who can't use a computer or drive and still needs help he won't get easily).

Then network the letter with a personal request from the Lawrence resident that those who read it and support our cause agree to contact the Governor/SRS Director. Provide email addresses and/or addressed postcards. The network should start, but not be limited to, social service organizations, judicial groups, law enforcement personnel, churches, well known philanthropists and civic minded Kansans, including prominent sports figures. The letter should also be sent to newspapers/tv stations in the state. Ask a development person or one in public relations to fine tune the process. If one person in Lawrence contacts three people outside the city who in turn contact the Governor/SRS Director, our voice gets louder. Maybe they'll listen. Maybe.

0

Agnostick 2 years, 8 months ago

What justajoke describes has been going on a long, long time... and it's a tradition practiced, used, and abused by all sides of the political spectrum.

When Sebelius moved out all of the Graves folks, and brought in her own people and cronies, did she/they post all those positions? I'm not making any excuses for what Brownback's Machine is doing; I'm merely cautioning that before picking up rocks and stones, make sure you're not standing near any glass walls.

0

tomatogrower 2 years, 8 months ago

Come on LJW. Get with the other papers. These people need to be exposed, especially if what justajoke says is true. There has to be some ethics violations. If anything, we need to make sure that in 3 years Brownback and his supporters are voted out. We need some facts, and Brownback's campaign promise about transperancy was another lie.

0

bobberboy 2 years, 8 months ago

It's what Brownback likes to call the trickle up theory.

0

justajoke 2 years, 8 months ago

Maybe they should ask for a list of all the new employees that have been given jobs in the KC Metro Region since the firing of Lori Alvarado. Like the Masey lady who handles customer complaints. But wait we already had several people doing that job but the Supervisor in charge was fired ( or retired). How about the Regional Directors new secretary who was a friend from church that just got hired at 40 k a year. Really there was already a secretary but we have to make room for our friends. These positions were never posted so that current employees could apply. And should we bring up the fact that the secretary is making more money then the employees that have college degrees and have years of service with this agency. This all just makes me sick.

0

irvan moore 2 years, 8 months ago

do you think brownback might really be fred phelps in disquise?

0

notleft_notright 2 years, 8 months ago

Here would be a good plan:

Cut SRS offices around the state. Start with 9 this year, bump that number to 12 next year. Consolidation was mentioned above.

Consolidate the 105 counties in Kansas to 30. That would save a lot of money. Next consolidate the 200 plus school districts into county districts. That would save millions in salaries.

Legalize pot and kick all the drug (marijuana) dealers out of prison. Provide medical marijuana to the SRS clients complaining about their lot in life, now they won't mind their condition. Creates jobs.

Finally, cut pay accross the board, say 4%. Don't like your pay cut, we have plenty of applicants ready to fill your position.

0

Agnostick 2 years, 8 months ago

Ms. Pilato's experience with the Bush II administration should be helpful in her latest career turn.

http://archive.hhs.gov/pma/

0

Agnostick 2 years, 8 months ago

"... and Anna Pilato, who is a deputy secretary heading a new faith-based initiative and making $97,500."


So, remind me again why we need to pay someone all this money to tell churches where they should set up their soup kitchens and picket lines? Can't guys like Joe Wright figure that out on their own?

I suspect Mr. Shoeman's latest user account will be along momentarily to explain it all for us.

Agnostick agnostick@excite.com

0

pace 2 years, 8 months ago

So you think Bloody Brownback is targeting Lawrence SRS because he is angry we voted for a better public library? Or do you think God is punishing children, the lame and the elderly bacause we have a bus system? You might be right. Buses, libraries are sins against the family, the Koch family.

0

plainspeaking 2 years, 8 months ago

"It's all taxpayer money, so we are saving money," said SRS spokeswoman Angela De Rocha.

Yes, matching federal funds are taxpayer money. So, Governor Sam, quit telling Kansans you expect to receive - and are vigorously fighting for - matching funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Mid America Arts Alliance. You personally cut state matching funds for the arts to "save taxpayer money," so stop lying.

0

Cant_have_it_both_ways 2 years, 8 months ago

Maybe you that voted for the library and its 150 new computers provided the State with an easy reason to close the local SRS office. You all voted for the empT so they could get to the library. The parking garage so they would have a central hub for the empT and a place to park. Now those who need SRS services have no reason to go to KC or Topeka. I would bet none of the other cities affected had such forward thinking citizens to provide all these attributes for the needy.

Congrats! You voted for it... now enjoy your harvest!

0

Kyle Chandler 2 years, 8 months ago

this is where 'we the people' revolt

0

scott3460 2 years, 8 months ago

Hit their sources of funding, folks.

Brownback and crew can only do this because of the $$$ they get from their campaign contributors.

Find out how that money flows, choke it off and then Brownback and all the other right wing thieves and traitors no longer have the ability to ruin our country.

0

verity 2 years, 8 months ago

". . . . but at least all the options haven't been shut off, right?"

Wait for it---I'm sure this isn't the end. There will be more obstacles.

And, yes, for many this will mean their options are cut off. Traveling to KC many not be possible for a number of reasons---cost of transportation, daycare expenses and limitations---just to mention two. But, of course, with those cushy salaries we're paying the employees, I'm sure they can fit all this into their budgets.

More and more this sounds like retribution. Good little Lawrencians will vote Republican next election.

0

frankfussman 2 years, 8 months ago

There was a T-shirt worn on stage last night at the Victor Continental Show: "Buck Frownback."

0

meggers 2 years, 8 months ago

It was reported on NPR this morning that the closure of the Lawrence SRS office will result in a substantial loss of federal funds. Here is a link to the brief report NPR gave:

http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/kcur/news.newsmain/article/0/0/1831849/KCUR.Health/Closing.Lawrence.SRS.Office.Means.Losing.Federal.Funding

LJW, it would be great if you could provide a more detailed report about this.

0

d_prowess 2 years, 8 months ago

Am I correct that this just means that these 87 employees have the option of still trying to get hired on in one of the KC Metro offices, and just no longer the Topeka office? It always sucks to have your options limited, but at least all the options haven't been shut off, right?

0

Lana Christie-Hayes 2 years, 8 months ago

More proof that Browncrack is trying to make Lawrence part of the greater JOCO Metro. GAG ME!

0

verity 2 years, 8 months ago

Obviously the closing of the Lawrence SRS office was not thought though before it was decided.

Please tell me something Brownback has done since becoming governor that is actually forward thinking and positive---that doesn't cause more harm than good in the long run. Please. Really.

0

StirrrThePot 2 years, 8 months ago

Someone commented yesterday on the story of the most recent forum that this would be the next announcement that came. They all have to go to OP or else it is the unemployment line - and they can't get unemployment unless they can prove that this causes them hardship.

0

pace 2 years, 8 months ago

Bloody Brownback will literally be leaving bodies in his wake. While I was sitting at an ophthalmologists office, the staff was told Medicaid patients would no longer be served at the Lawrence office. All medicaid patient are to be referred to an Overland Park office.

0

Pat Long 2 years, 8 months ago

Gov. Brownback's Golden Rule..."I have the gold, so I make the rules."

0

sciencegeek 2 years, 8 months ago

So much for the public comments, protests, forums, requests for justification, etc. Doesn't sound like there's any interest at all by this administration in what the constituents think.

Is anyone surprised?

0

Bob_Keeshan 2 years, 8 months ago

So what are they going to do with all that empty office space in Topeka?

0

irvan moore 2 years, 8 months ago

and it keeps on getting worse and worse and ----------------------

0

Commenting has been disabled for this item.