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Archive for Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Statehouse Live: Former state hospital chief ‘shocked’ by administration’s plan to close Lawrence office

July 26, 2011, 12:09 p.m. Updated July 26, 2011, 1:48 p.m.

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— Greg Valentine, who on July 1 was in charge of two state mental health facilities, said that on that day he was paid a visit by two high-ranking lieutenants of Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services Secretary Robert Siedlecki Jr.

Valentine said SRS Deputy Secretary Pedro Moreno and SRS Chief Counsel Bob Corkins told Valentine he could resign or consider himself fired or laid off.

They said Valentine had done a good job as superintendent of Osawatomie State Hospital and manager of the Rainbow Mental Health Facility in Kansas City.

Valentine said that Moreno and Corkins said the decision wasn't personal. Valentine said they said, "We want people loyal to the secretary and governor." Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, appointed Siedlecki as SRS secretary.

Valentine's remarks were made Tuesday in an interview with the Lawrence Journal-World.

Angela de Rocha, a spokeswoman for SRS, denied that Moreno or Corkins said that. "They did not say anything like that," she said.

She added, "This is obviously a disgruntled former employee who has used you for his own personal purposes." Valentine said the conversation did take place, and added that he was not disgruntled at all.

On the same day of Valentine's departure, Larned State Hospital Superintendent Robert Connell was also dismissed by SRS.

De Rocha said SRS cannot comment on specific personnel matters other than to confirm employment or departure.

July 1 was also the same day SRS announced the closure of nine agency offices, including the one in Lawrence.

Valentine, an 11-year veteran of SRS who has worked under Republican and Democratic administrations and been a part of SRS administrative cost-cutting, says he was stunned by the decision to close the Lawrence office.

"I was shocked that Lawrence was chosen because it is so large," he said.

Brownback and Siedlecki have said the office closures are needed to comply with a legislative mandate to reduce SRS administrative costs by $1 million. They have said people served by the Lawrence office will be able to access services online or travel to nearby cities, such as Topeka, Overland Park.

But local advocates and law enforcement say this approach isn't reasonable and will result in many people losing needed assistance, increasing costs on non-profit organizations, and more crime.

And some legislators have said Siedlecki mis-read the Legislature's intent and wanted cuts in administrative expenses, such as salaries, instead of shutting down offices.

Valentine also said the Brownback administration has gone much farther in removing veteran SRS workers than previous administrations.

Typically in a change of administration, Cabinet-level secretaries and some top agency chiefs will change, he said. "You just don't see it going to the levels that it is going," said Valentine, who said he is registered as a Republican voter. He said there have been approximately 30 people that he knows of who have been forced out at SRS.

Comments

Carol Bowen 2 years, 8 months ago

SRS - programs? Bert Nash - programs? KS Unemployment Medicaid Salvation Army Homeless shelter Health Care Access Social Security Affordable Health Care State hospitals Others? Just brainstorming.

Should we address state, national, or both?

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LH3867 2 years, 8 months ago

Alceste - you are just rude. Greg Valentine was an excellent superintendent. He did hold employees accountable and as a taxpayer, I think you would appreciate that. Did he fire you for not doing your job? thats the only reason I can think of for your bitterness. He was a very effective leader in SRS and well respected.

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Alceste 2 years, 8 months ago

Greg Valentine is "shocked"?

Man, I'd like to see the photo version/picture version of that kind of remark. Were there tears in the little boy's eyes?

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George Lippencott 2 years, 8 months ago

OK, as a starting point

Just what are we trying to accomplish with it

We can start anywhere that is just my suggestion. If we find that useful we should start to look up what the different programs list as their reason for being.

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George Lippencott 2 years, 8 months ago

jafs (anonymous) replies… So you'd rather pay for new administrative positions and faith-based marriage initiatives than SRS?"

** Well jafs I believe I have made it abundantly clear that I would rather pay for neither.

I support a social safety net but not the one that has evolved. If we have to destroy the village to save it (I guess I was part of thta once before) than so be it.

How about a reasoned dialogue about what we are trying to do with our social safety net, how we are implementing that goal anb how well we are achieving it? WE seem to avoid any discussion of that approach and revert to the you like idiot one if you do not agree with idiot 2.

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TJ_in_Lawrence 2 years, 8 months ago

I wouldn't get your hopes up on that one. I predict he will be a two term governor with relative ease. Because regardless of all the name calling and seeing the devil in him here in Lawrence. Most Kansans know that you have to spend less than you take in, or the place goes belly up. These may not be popular choices, but they are tough ones that someone has to make. Most people in Kansas understand that, even if they don't like it

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Kate Rogge 2 years, 8 months ago

Brownback is such a C Street Family tool. How on earth do we make sure he never wins another election in this country?

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George Lippencott 2 years, 8 months ago

I'm shocked said Captain Renault in Casablanca. Would not someone fired by the current administration not be shocked at their actions? This is news?? Not much better than Fox.

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Carol Bowen 2 years, 8 months ago

What is so strategic about positions over state hospitals? And loyal to the secretary and the governor probably means more immigration from Florida. So now, the question becomes loyalty for what? Certainly, not for the state of Kansas. These people are from Florida.

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LH3867 2 years, 8 months 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. They shall go down together.

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bertwilkey 2 years, 8 months 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. Moreno also revealed that the Secretary and his inner circle, first thing every day, get together to review the numbers of bad outcomes, tragegies, fallout, deaths, etc in their system....clearly to put spin on situations ( i.e. Great Bend foster care youth death). Frankly, I would rather they get together for prayer.......it would do much more good than their earthly actions.

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aryastark1984 2 years, 8 months ago

Is Mario Puzo writing this stuff? What is Brownback's middle name, Corlenone?

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onewhoknows 2 years, 8 months ago

Alceste clearly has a personal vendetta here. Perhaps he/she was also fired or disciplined? Managing requires tough decisions and within SRS, most of those decisions have to do with letting the dead wood go. Encouraging to hear that a state level administrator was actually holding state employees accountable. You don't hear about that very much!

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Alceste 2 years, 8 months ago

What....Greg Valentine is in his 2nd, 3rd, or 4th career? I forget....I just remember he sure as all get out isn't a professional social worker....he "found his way" to the "calling" well into his working life.

Valentine finds himself in the very same situation he put a LOT of people....UNEMPLOYED....due to politcal non-sense and shenanigans. How many people did he have given the same message he had delivered to him.....get out or be fired?

This guy moved from running the Manhattan SRS office to running the KC Metro Region....jacked it up per his marching orders from the SRS secretary of the moment; and then was rewarded with the state hospital gigs. He's full of sour grapes and feeling the loss of income he himself laid on so many.

He signed up for politics and now has the gall to suggest politics are involved in his removal from office???? He signed up for this show. Cry baby. What goes around comes around. This man never did anything special and tended to play to the crowd. He too surronded himself with headbobbers while both in the KC Metro Region as well as with the state hospital: You don't think like me, you ain't getting hired. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Let him work as an entry level social worker and PROVE he knows what time it is.....his rapid rise wasn't due to having a stellar intellect relative to Public Welfare....it had everything to do with politics. Want to know more? Send me a PM. Good grief....what a little child.....

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Carol Bowen 2 years, 8 months ago

It's impossible to downsize administration when the administrators make th decisions. Slight conflict of interest here.

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lauraneville 2 years, 8 months ago

As someone who worked for Dr. Robert Connell ( superintendent of LSH until recent firing) and closely with Greg Valentine on several projects for SRS, I think that I can speak to the fact that both were excellent superintendents along with being advocates for the mentally ill population in kansas...It has occurred to me that they were "let go" because of that very reason. From all appearances, it seems as if Brownback and Co. have an agenda to dismantle the mental health system in the state-along with undermining all services for the poor and disabled in general. This is not paranoid ranting--but real concern that there will be little remaining of the service network when the Brownback regime heads for larger pastures ( as in national pastures). It is not unlikely that the Department of Justice may be paying Kansas a visit related to Olmstead Act violations...just a matter of time! Laura Neville

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 8 months ago

The nazi state government is on the scene.

How would Angela de Rocha know what Corkins and Moreno said.

Meanwhile:

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 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

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1983Hawk 2 years, 8 months ago

Gotta love the irony of Corkins, maybe the most unqualified person for his former job (education commish) in state history, telling Valentine that although he had been doing a good job in both Demo and GOP administrations, the jig is up, the purges are here, and it's time for people who ate blindly loyal to only one wing of the GOP, regardless of their competence or qualifications.

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vuduchyld 2 years, 8 months ago

The headline on this article is kinda an afterthought. Sure, he's shocked about the Lawrence SRS office, but the real news here is the way Valentine was summarily discharged.

Welcome to Brownbackistan.

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kernal 2 years, 8 months ago

Angela de Rocha... "They didn't say anything like that". Wonder how she could actually validate her statement given she wasn't there.

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autie 2 years, 8 months ago

Why can somebody with experience and is doing a good job? Loyalty? Loyalty to the oafs (hired thugs) Brownie brought in? My loyalty would never be to a man or to a agency...ones loyalty should be to the people you serve. I don't think I've seen a time when so few have pissed off so many in such a short period of time.

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bd 2 years, 8 months ago

like I said before someone call a WAAAAMBULANCE!

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1983Hawk 2 years, 8 months ago

Love the quote from the PR flak, de Rocha, assuring everyone what was NOT said at a meeting she wasn't at. I can promise you if Corkins was there, it went down pretty much as Valentine said, and probably with a schadenfreude-eating grin on the former "education commissioner's" face ...

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2 years, 8 months ago

@chiefdist2.

I've read of few a rockchalk1977's posts. I don't think we should really consider his comments as most of them seem to be geared to start an on-line fight. What's the term people use? Troll, perhaps?

  • KC
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rockchalk1977 2 years, 8 months ago

"Typically in a change of administration, Cabinet-level secretaries and some top agency chiefs will change". Keep up the good fight Gov. Sam. Make the libs squeal like little pigs.

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begin60 2 years, 8 months ago

Dang! What an Orwellian definition of loyalty Brownback must have! Sad!

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Lana Christie-Hayes 2 years, 8 months ago

This was a comment on a previous article... I sure do hope it's true.. and something tells me it is!! :) "chiefdist2 (anonymous) says… 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?" It will just show to go ya what an imbecile Browncrack is!!

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poto63 2 years, 8 months ago

And wanting people loyal to the administration wouldn't happen if the political affiliation of (D) was behind his name? Please. I think the heat is getting to people.

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notanota 2 years, 8 months ago

The godwining isn't helping. He's scary enough without the hyperbole.

Come on Kansas, we're better than this, and Brownie should be ashamed. It's time to make some noise about it. I'd be just as ticked if it were a D that did this. You don't need to belong to the same party as the gov in order to make sure kids don't get abused and disabled people get medical care. It certainly doesn't hurt, however, if your intent is to let those people fall through the cracks and bury the evidence.

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DRsmith 2 years, 8 months ago

How much play can the LJ get out of this same story?

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Paul R Getto 2 years, 8 months ago

Should get interesting as Muscular Sam and his jesus flex and display their wares as they seek to make SRS go away, to be replaced by their CINO buddies and selected versions of the approved religion.

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SDTPlant 2 years, 8 months ago

toe,

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Martin Niemoller, German Pastor
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nascar 2 years, 8 months ago

So Brownback will pay big bucks to someone from out of state to be loyal. Seems to be a pattern here. The news of these two firings was overshadowed by the closure of the SRS offices. When Brownback announces a Friday Freak-out, watch for the undertow as there is likely a strong one. It's just quieter.

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 8 months ago

"We want people loyal to the secretary and governor." That's incredible! The National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, abbreviated NSDAP), known in English as the Nazi Party, is alive and well! Be afraid! Be very afraid!

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question4u 2 years, 8 months ago

"We want people loyal to the secretary and governor."

Sieg heil! The Long Knives are out.

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