Archive for Friday, April 26, 2013

Turnpike leader Johnston is leaving

April 26, 2013


— Michael Johnston, the president and chief executive officer of the Kansas Turnpike Authority, who was thrust into the middle of a political battle this legislative session over control of the turnpike, announced on Friday he plans to retire from his position.

The announcement came one week after Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law a bill that would make his appointed secretary of transportation the director of operations of the Turnpike Authority, which oversees the 236-mile Kansas Turnpike.

Johnston said the new law was a factor in deciding to retire, but a "fairly minor" one. At age 68, Johnston said he had already been contemplating retirement. Johnston said he notified the turnpike's board and employees Friday that he intended to leave, making his last day June 15.

Brownback and Kansas Department of Transportation Secretary Mike King have maintained that the new law will produce savings through efficiencies. But critics of the legislation called it a power grab by Brownback, a Republican, aimed at forcing out Johnston, who served in the Legislature as a Democrat.

Some Republicans also argued against the bill, saying the turnpike was efficiently run and should be left alone.

Others feared turnpike revenue would be used to pay for other areas of the state budget, which faces large revenue shortfalls because of tax cuts signed into law by Brownback.

Johnston said he wasn't asked to leave, and he declined to comment on the new law, saying it was a policy decision within the prerogative of the Legislature and governor.

Brownback's office issued a statement that said Brownback and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer thanked Johnston "for his many years of service to our great state and to wish him all the best in his retirement."

Johnston joined the KTA in 1995. Prior to that, he served as KDOT secretary from 1991 through 1994. He served in the Legislature for 14 years.


captainzeep 5 years, 2 months ago

Google "Brownfield lease toll roads" to understand what's going on here.

chootspa 5 years, 2 months ago

There's nothing in Kansas Brownback can't ruin with privatization.

Greg Cooper 5 years, 2 months ago

I have two major problems with this.

First, I have done business with Mr. Johnston, and retain a quite positive memory of the transaction.

Second, Mr. Johnston has provided excellent financial and physical leadership to the KTA and the State of Kansas. To have been forced out of his position--and, have no doubt, he was forced out--because he created a model road system with positive cash flow and zero issues with physical facilities can only be because his creation of that cash flow is direly needed by the state to make up for its idiotic, fiscally irresponsible actions in cutting taxes with no thought of how to continue state services, including roads.

This administration has been bought and is being paid for by the very interests that have a huge financial stake in having the middle- and lower income classes pay for their continuing monetary gains. Mr. Johnston, having been a part of both the legislative and executive branches of the state's government, has shown that a fiscally responsible policy, backed by solid planning and long-term goals, is achievable and believable, unlike the current regime, which believes that magical thinking, unproven fiscal theory and quasi-religious "policy-making" is how a responsible state should operate.

If you who voted for the governor or any AFP/KPI/Koch-backed "Republican" do not see the light by now, then this state is indeed doomed to less than mediocrity, as are the vast majority of the citizens thereof. Mr. Johnston stands as a symbol of the current crop of selfish, destructive attitude that prevails in the Kansas Republican Party. And if those of us who voted against this "team" do not get out and campaign vigorously against its continuation, ther is no hope of bettering our state.

It's all up to us.

WilburM 5 years, 2 months ago

Great post. Good guy, responsible politician, excellent administrator. Exactly the opposite of the current regime.

Abdu Omar 5 years, 2 months ago

I also agree. This is a bold move by a very power hungry administration and this must stop! When the campaign starts you will see me out there with support for who ever runs against him and his collegues. I said this from the beginning. He did nothing as a senator and he is destroying this state, law by law.

Alceste 5 years, 1 month ago

If you got to be a "wounded_soldier" in SW Asia.....Brownback most certainly DID do SOMETHING as a U.S. Senator: He helped you get banged up. Give the guy some credit......

Tony Kisner 5 years, 2 months ago

The idea of the turnpike as an entity is long over due for elimination. What was he head cashier?

Paul R Getto 5 years, 2 months ago

31% Sam and his muscularjesusperson are gaining momentum. Will the other 69% wake up and participate in 14/16? Possible but not likely. We need must work together to succeed.

bad_dog 5 years, 2 months ago

Oh please, elaborate in detail about those identified savings. Just saying it doesn't mean it exists. No one aside from B-back has said anything more definitive than your unfounded conclusion.

Ira Rott 5 years, 2 months ago

Hmm, former legislature, years of government service at the head of a competent government agency, maybe Johnston should run for Governor.

globehead 5 years, 2 months ago

Had Mr. Johnston been a bulletin clerk at the Topeka Bible Church he could have retained his position. Instead, he was an experienced and capable leader, thus he is gone.

KS 5 years, 2 months ago

As most of you know, I have posted in the newspaper on the "right", but I think this is a lousy decision. I have had experience with Michael, allbeit not for many years, but he is an honest guy. Don't know why we needed to fix something that was not broke. Only time will tell.

Good luck Michael.

kujayhawk7476 5 years, 2 months ago

Mr. Johnston has provided excellent leadership to the citizens of Kansas and the patrons of the Kansas Turnpike by providing an excellent roadway and accessories. I am quite sure Governor Brown-Koch and his minions, the leadership and members of the legislature, will raid the KTA treasury and ruin the good reputation of the KTA. Another sad chapter added to the Brown-Koch legacy.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

Sam ALEC Brownback mismanagement policy moves forward....

buffalo63 5 years, 1 month ago

Watch this experiment fail in the laboratory called Kansas. Where are the jobs?

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