Archive for Tuesday, July 26, 2011

SRS says workers now can transfer to Topeka; Douglas County commissioners petition governor over office closure

Regional director: Earlier memo had ‘misinformation’

The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services announced Friday that it will be closing the Lawrence SRS service center, 1901 Del.

The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services announced Friday that it will be closing the Lawrence SRS service center, 1901 Del.

July 26, 2011

Advertisement

— Douglas County commissioners have asked Gov. Sam Brownback to reject the planned closure of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services office in Lawrence, saying shutting it down will cost county taxpayers more than the state will save and result in the loss of services to vulnerable people.

And in another development related to the shutdown, SRS said Tuesday that employees at the Lawrence SRS office can apply to transfer to the Topeka office. That’s contrary to a memo the department had sent out earlier.

On Monday, the Lawrence Journal-World obtained an SRS memo by Jason Haney, interim director of programs for the Kansas City Metro Region of SRS, that said Lawrence SRS office employees would not be able to transfer to the Topeka office.

But on Tuesday, SRS Kansas City Metro Regional Director Phyllis Gilmore said that earlier memo contained misinformation. “The Topeka office has always been and remains an option for Lawrence staff to transfer to. I apologize for the confusion.”

The Lawrence office has 87 employees.

When asked if Lawrence cases could be transferred to Topeka, SRS spokeswoman Angela de Rocha said, “No decisions have been made. This is still undergoing review.”

In the letter to Brownback, the Douglas County commission said the planned closure would have a negative impact on the community.

“There are a number of crucial SRS services upon which our residents depend that will be diminished and it will be impossible for any other agency to fill the gap,” the letter signed by Commission Chairman Jim Flory said.

The commission also sent Brownback written testimony from approximately 20 Lawrence agencies and governmental entities about their increased costs should the SRS office be shut down.

Brownback and SRS Secretary Robert Siedlecki Jr. have said the state needs to close nine offices, including the one in Lawrence, to save about $1 million in administrative costs. The Lawrence office savings has been tabbed at $400,000, according to SRS.

Brownback and Siedlecki have said SRS services can be accessed online or by traveling to offices in nearby cities, such as Topeka, Overland Park, Kansas City or Ottawa.

But non-profit social service agencies have said this will greatly increase their costs in helping people get to those offices, and many folks will simply lose assistance because it will be too difficult to reach those offices.

“There are no public transit services that go from Lawrence to the alternative SRS offices,” the letter said. “A large percentage of Douglas County SRS clients do not have access to a car.”

The letter states that a round-trip taxi trip to the Topeka SRS office from Lawrence costs $128. That trip is even more expensive to other towns. “That is the reality facing more than 10,000 people who will now have to consider how to reach the office where their caseworker has been transferred,” the letter said.

The letter concluded “ ... it will cost the taxpayers of Douglas County more tax dollars than the state is saving. And even with best efforts, there will be critical losses in services that we cannot fill locally.”

Comments

Bob_Keeshan 4 years ago

Remember yesterday when it was revealed that most of the $400,000 in savings is federal funds?

Remember what the Brownback administration said? "It is all taxpayer dollars, so it is all taxpayer savings."

Do they practice what they preach?

rhd99 4 years ago

Part of saving us, the taxpayers some dollars would be to FIRE Jason Haney.

Bob_Keeshan 4 years ago

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.

ChangeIntheWind 4 years ago

Welcome to what appears to be the new world of SRS Ms. Gilmore; Mr.Haney did not create the "misinformation", you and your bosses did; At least you did not blame him outright, only by implication. Dancing and spinning does not become you, good luck.

Evan Ridenour 4 years ago

You would think a decision like this would have involved a complete analysis that actually showed cost savings. It is clear from the loss of federal funds and the increased tax burden on the city and county that not only will services be worse that it will cost a great deal more to provide that worse service.

bad_dog 4 years ago

Complete analysis??? Cost savings??? From this administration? How about complete disclosure of the basis for those projections as well?

While I agree complete analysis was certainly required Eride, "rumor" has it the current lease runs for more than another decade. How will paying rent on a vacated building for ~ 10 years result in "...Lawrence office savings...tabbed at $400,000, according to SRS."? Perhaps the state intends to default on the lease and run the risk of a lawsuit? Perhaps they plan to assign the lease or sublease to another tenant? Who knows?

How about some reporting on this issue LJW? The owner of record can be easily ascertained and identified from public records. Heck, even I figured it out. Hmm, I wonder who owns the Ottawa office?

majorfunding 4 years ago

The SRS's retraction of their previous retraction, with the currently ending of retractions being that Employees now do not feel at all secure in t of their offering Topeka as a choice for emploees to transfer their jobs to. This also makes the SRS clients feel unsure of their already fragile help, and its continuance.

This is more then simply a bit of jerking everyone around for a bit of gubernatorial fun, it also speaks the the utter lack of planning as well as complete disregard for SRS employees and the citizens of Lawrence. I wonder what forced the SES to change>?.

majorfunding 4 years ago

Sorry for the typos in my previous post. i am newly blinded and have not yet mastered the software which made my ability to post possible. BTW it was acquired with help from the SRS.

majorfunding 4 years ago

Sorry for the typos in my previous post. i am newly blinded and have not yet mastered the software which made my ability to post possible. BTW it was acquired with help from the SRS.

Lana Christie-Hayes 4 years ago

This is NOT a Christian issue. A political Faith Bases Initiatives issue, Yes.. but not a Christian one! In my humble opinion, the policies that the Brownback administration run, and run forth on, are not the least bit Christian. They are downright evil!

Kim Murphree 4 years ago

Please do not associate the politica "falth based initiatives" with Christianity or Christ believers---there are far too many of us who think this administration and what they are doing is evil--the antithesis of Christ's teachings.

OldSoldier 4 years ago

There is a new SRS management style endorsed by Brownback and implemented by Siedlecki: Jump first, look later.

Seriously, SRS staff have been told that decisions will be made FIRST, and then implementation issues dealt with AFTER. Really! If this were a management style for a for-profit business, the CEO would be outed in a heartbeat.

thinkagain 4 years ago

Maybe the "jump first, look later" is why they keep hitting their heads. Maybe this will result in less of a reduction in funding for head trauma victims. Or maybe that is why the decision making is so sloppy. It was already done in Florida for along time and now all the SRS Floridians suffer from head trauma. They might be able to function at a higher level and contribute more to society with some support services. I wonder if any of them live in Lawrence? No matter, they will have to go elsewhere to get SRS services in the near future.

Lana Christie-Hayes 4 years ago

"When asked if Lawrence cases could be transferred to Topeka, SRS spokeswoman Angela de Rocha said, “No decisions have been made. This is still undergoing review.” More back-peddling and hogwash! Originally they said people could choose where they wanted to access services. This whole thing just gets more ridiculous with each passing day and each utterance from these administrator's mouths! CLUELESS and RUTHLESS! a bad combination to say the least!

Lana Christie-Hayes 4 years ago

And again, what they are doing is NOT Christian, at least not the way I was raised and believe. The actions of this administration are evil and mean!

Kim Murphree 4 years ago

Again...nothing "Christian" about what Brownback and his henchmen/women are doing.

kubmg 4 years ago

I'd rather not see the office closed but the decision as already been made. I can't foresee how anyone will convince this pathetic Governor to reconsider. Why not pursue having SRS folks to work from home? Meeting with their clients may be a challenge but they could setup meetings at their home or find alternative meeting locations.

LH3867 4 years ago

If this wasn't so pathetically sad, it would be funny. Where is human resource staff in all of this? He either needs to be replaced or they need to listen. I don't know which it is. Where is the union? Someone help these employees.

justajoke 4 years ago

Just another lie to cover up more lies. The only reason that email went out today is because the LJ World got ahold of the email from Friday and it made Brownback and Sidekick out to be liars and must have had a lot of phone calls. Don't forget consumers were told they could travel the 4 lane highways to other offices and Topeka would have been the closest. That email was contradictory of their speech so they had to send the newest version out today. The wife said that they ( employees) have been told to trust and have faith in the leadership team.. WTH how can you when you don't know what office you will be sent to or what job you will do. Let's not forget these State workers applied to work in Douglas county and many have children and they need notice to come up with a plan for daycare or after school care. Those things just don't happen overnight. This leadership has no respect or concern for these employees and I am sure the consumers will be treated worse.

rbwaa 4 years ago

This begs the question as to whether SRS employees actually will have any say in where they work. The ambiguity here is overwhelming. Additionally, the memo stated the client would have the choice to change the location of service - not the worker. And, who even says the employee would be allowed the choice even if the client did not choose. Double talk to me.

sciencegeek 4 years ago

Just shows how little the SRS administrators know or care about their clients or their employees. If it were up to this administration, there's be no social service funding, no unemployment, no public schools--the list goes on and on.

And they call themselves Christians!

Joe Hyde 4 years ago

Thank you, Douglas County Commissioners!

If the targeted-for-closure SRS offices handle cases from clients with little or no local public transportation available (and we can assume many clients qualify in that regard), then why not check into contracting with a regional bus line? Notify these clients to meet at the previous office address then get bussed to the office where their case just got transferred to.

It'd be interesting to see how the dollars work out in a head-to-head comparison of what it costs to gradually reduce the agency's operating costs by more, shall we say, "conventional" means -- as opposed to the sudden damage that a severe disruption of its operating methodology will soon and almost certainly cause SRS clients to suffer in Lawrence and some other cities.

There's gotta be a better way than leaving some folks to trek 25-to-35 miles cross-country afoot. Hitchhike or whatever, regardless of the weather forecast.

From growing up near a small town, I suspect those "other cities" on the list are smaller and thus currently more vulnerable than Lawrence in terms of seeing their public services about to get stressed beyond the breakiing point.

i_read_things 4 years ago

Little bird says stepping away from the Lawrence SRS building lease is not even a savings in the first instance, but the lease buyout or remaining lease term is significant ... far in excess of the $400k figure. Open Records request could find out for sure, no? Brownie and Sid should be ashamed; I'm sure that's not the case.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

Sociopaths rarely feel any remorse for their actions. That's why they make such successful politicians.

globehead 4 years ago

Sounds like the right hand didn't know what the far right hand was doing!

jvinland 4 years ago

Throw them a bone. It will make a disastrous decision better. NOT!!!

rbwaa 4 years ago

Also, what about the impact on the offices that will be inundated with new employees. My guess is that they could already be maxed out.

ResQd 4 years ago

OK, I don't know if this would work or not, or has even been brought up before. But, instead of transferring those SRS workers to Topeka, why can't they work from home and service the Lawrence area? Or, why can't the City of Lawrence make some office space for them, especially since there are some open, unused school buildings.

sciencegeek 4 years ago

And just how would YOU like to have a parade of people come into your home? People who may be ill, desperate, angry, with relatives and friends who will then know the address of the person who may have denied or limited benefits? If you wouldn't do it, why in the world would you expect state employees to do it??

That shows as much thought and understanding as Brownback and his ilk.

ResQd 4 years ago

Hello Nitwit - I meant the SRS workers could work from home and visit the people in need.

Lana Christie-Hayes 4 years ago

The amount of time and expense it would take to do that, not to mention the lack of safety of the workers being at stake, would be extravagant. Not a good solution at all.

tomatogrower 4 years ago

Well, this answers a question that was brought up at last Sat.'s meeting. It was determined that we needed to know more about SRS's plan, so we could plan. Now we know that they don't know what their plan is. There is no plan. We have a bunch of incompetent political hacks running the show. They aren't even good at spinning their crud.

George_Braziller 4 years ago

It was pretty obvious from the beginning that there wasn't a plan. But now that the wheels have been set in motion I doubt they will be stopped. That would require a public admission that bad decisions were made and I don't see that happening.

The Brownback administration will ultimately crash and burn. Unfortunately it will take down the State and the most vulnerable citizens in the process.

LH3867 4 years ago

tomatogrower - you are right. no plan. complete incompetence and compensated highly for it. sad, very sad. kansas needs new leadership.

BleedingheartofLawrence 4 years ago

Brownback has no compassion for vulnerable people, or for people who don't vote for him. After people are born, he has no use for them.

earline james 4 years ago

... until the next war. (How's this for cynical and jaded?) The preborns, the unborns (save the babies!) ... will have almost no education, reduced access to medical, ketchup soup in their school lunches, no art. They will be your cannon fodder in 18 years. Stupid, sick, malnourished cannon fodder.

rhd99 4 years ago

Sorry. I meant to add the word voted. Sorry for any confusion.

rhd99 4 years ago

Yeah, and don't forget this: This piece of trash Governor has no compassion for naive voters, like myself who him into office. I apologize here and now. I vow to not make that mistake AGAIN!

GardenMomma 4 years ago

Just curious, why did you vote for him in the first place? Was it because he had an "R" next to his name or did you not like his opponent or was it something else?

I'm not criticizing your decision, just curious as to why you made the choice you did.

rhd99 4 years ago

As I pointed out to somebody else, I did NOT hear one thing from the opponent a message about how the opponent was going to make Kansas better. I was then told, and then realized later that the more money Brownback had, the louder his voice was. Holland had no money to match Brownback.. Holland had no voice. Now, look at the crap going on now. SRS here closing, Kansas Arts Commission GONE, and more stupid abortion regulations he has no business implementing, among other things. I know you're not criticizing my decision. Now, however, you know why I was sucker punched by this piece of trash and why I'm going to fight back like you won't believe.

jafs 4 years ago

It's unfortunate you didn't hear more from Holland, of course, although he probably felt he had little chance of winning, so why spend a fortune, assuming he could raise it.

But given Brownback's openly right-wing Christian stance, I find it hard to understand how you didn't know this is what he would do.

Right-wing folks like to cut education, social services and arts funding, and his kind of Christianity expresses itself in anti-abortion positions.

What did you think he would do?

rhd99 4 years ago

Ok, Jafs, Mr. Anti-abortion got his way. He does NOT know jack about abortions and their medical ramifications but he's restricting them. No shocker there. That's all he cares about. I thought he was going to produce SOME kind of program that would create jobs.

Look, I'm not a perfect voter. I made a mistake. What more do you or others want? I can't control this bozo!!!

Lana Christie-Hayes 4 years ago

thanks rhd.. at least you can acknowledge it and vow to make a difference on the next one!

Centerville 4 years ago

No one changed his mind. Rothschild got caught being a stenographer for the KDP rather than being a reporter - which would require the backbreakin effort of making a phone call.

deec 4 years ago

All the reporter did was publish the memo that the SRS functionary wrote and distributed to the employees. The fact that SRS stooges felt the need to contradict themselves twice is not the reporter's fault. He is reporting the story that Sidekicky & Co. create by their lies and obfuscation.

Richard Heckler 4 years ago

Neoconservatives only cut services not spending. According to Rep Paul Davis the savings went back into high dollar salaries at the State House.

And HealthWave is in the final process of being "privatized" so we're told. Which means the medical insurance industry is jumping up and down with joy. So much for saving tax dollars.

Private insurance requires more money to operate not to mention the CEO salaries,shareholders,golden parachutes and campaign contributions OUR tax dollars will now be supporting.

When the private insurance provider wants more tax dollars for their services it will just happen to be in the budget. Have no fear the cost will increase and medical care will be become more difficult to obtain.

Corporate welfare aka socialism really stinks!

Kim Murphree 4 years ago

A big thank you to our County Commissioners who seem to be stepping up to the plate for the people who need someone to speak up! I commend you and your actions on behalf of so many who live in Douglas County!

Jan Rolls 4 years ago

Sham the sham and his people can't even get their lies straight.

nativeson 4 years ago

I am not in agreement with this decision, but this is a dead issue. The chances of a reversal are remote. This is another cost transfer between the state and local agencies that has been going on for quite a while.

The reason that the administration will be open for transfers to other locations is to avoid severance. If an employee does not take up the offer, they terminate voluntarily and will normally not be eligible for unemployment.

Soon local agencies will need to develop the contingency strategies required to help those who need to access services in different locations or online. This is the end game.

LH3867 4 years ago

not so. it should be announced any day that they are backing off. not because they care or because they are hearing the taxpayer, because they don't, but they stepped in it big time not researching the lease requirements or getting bad legal advice. the decision will be changed. watch for the spin.

i_read_things 4 years ago

yes - as I said, the lease buyout is more than the $400k ... Brownie and Sidekick with another major fumble ... they (we) would have to spend a ton just to get out of the lease

Sunny Parker 4 years ago

Maybe those who aren't so 'in need' of services but get them anyway,will look for a job and help themselves! Go BROWNBACK!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

Yea, I hate those lazy kids and cripples. The nerve.

bertwilkey 4 years ago

Today at a public meeting, Mr. Pedro Moreno, another Florida sidekick asset of the Secretary announced that patients going to and being sent to state hospitals, when they are dangerous to themselves and others, are "breaking the bank" and that the courts and professionals sending these people to the state hospitals for the safety of the patients and the community are "breaking the bank" for the state. He said he is going to talk to judges to tell them to stop doing this. He went on to indicate he didn't care that the cost of such dangerous patients would be shifted to community hospitals, jails, and communities; nor acknowledged the human cost of life. Nor does he acknowlege that funding to treat mental health in communities has been cut from 37 million dollars to 10 million dollars, though it is the fault of the communities that they are sending more people to hospitals. No wonder they fired the two state hospital leaders, who probably would not have put up with this non-sense.

LH3867 4 years ago

Moreno is BAD news. Watch for the press coming on this political appointment. He has a BIG mouth and has no clue what he is talking about. He is an arrogant buddy of Siedlecki. He (Siedlecki) does pay for loyalty. It is the ONLY way he will get it. They shall go down together.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.