Archive for Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Brownback’s office redacts names of Court of Appeals candidates from his schedule

August 28, 2013, 1:13 p.m. Updated August 28, 2013, 5:03 p.m.


— Responding to a request under the Kansas Open Records law, Gov. Sam Brownback on Wednesday refused to reveal the names of candidates for a position on the Kansas Court of Appeals.

Last week, Brownback nominated his chief counsel, Caleb Stegall, to the second highest court in Kansas, saying that Stegall was the most qualified candidate.

But breaking with decades of practice, Brownback has refused to reveal the names of other applicants for the job.

The League of Women Voters of Kansas filed a request under the Open Records Act for the schedules of Brownback, Stegall, Chief of Staff Landon Fulmer, and the governor’s Appointments Director Kim Borchers from July 15 to Aug. 16 to try to find out who else was interviewed.

Brownback’s office released the schedules but redacted the names of those interviewed, citing an exemption in the Kansas Open Records Act.

That provision exempts from the law “personnel records, performance ratings or individually identifiable records pertaining to employees or applicants for employment, except that this exemption shall not apply to the names, positions, salaries or actual compensation employment contracts or employment-related contracts or agreements and lengths of service of officers and employees of public agencies once they are employed as such.”

Under a new law that was pushed for by Brownback and Stegall, the governor nominates Court of Appeals judges with Senate confirmation.

Under the former law, a nominating commission accepted applications, vetted applicants and conducted interviews before forwarding to the governor three names from which the governor selected.

The nominating commission had made public the names of those applying and those who made the final cut.

Brownback has said if he revealed the names of applicants, some potential applicants would shy away.

Dolores Furtado, the president of the Kansas chapter of the League of Women Voters, said she was disappointed that Brownback will not reveal the names of those who were interviewed.

“My goal is transparency,” Furtado said. “That is so important in the process that the government operates under. We are left with no comparisons, no way of knowing the quality of the applicants.”

She said that Brownback’s statement that Stegall was the most qualified “can’t be verified.”

She said Brownback’s administration “is among the most secretive in recent memory.”

Furtado said the League will try to inform people about the new process of selecting judges “so people can make informed decisions.”

The calendars provided in response to the League of Women Voters’ request showed interviews for judicial candidates took place, but no names are provided.

Stegall will face a Senate committee confirmation hearing on Tuesday, the start of a special session that was called to fix the state’s Hard 50 sentencing law for convicted murderers.


tomatogrower 3 years ago

He really doesn't want anyone to know that there were more qualified applicants. How is his government more transparent? Come on supporters of Brownback. How do you defend this?

Kansass 3 years ago

In a way, it's very transparent.

We can all see what a sneaky slime he is.

booklover2 3 years ago

Either that schedule has been wiped clean or he really doesn't do anything. Probably both!

Thomas Bryce Jr. 3 years ago

Great! So, Now it takes Litigation just to find out what our elected officials are doing on a daily basis? This is absurd. Does anyone still have questions about whether this whole process has been "On the Up and Up"? Keep digging Governor. The Hole is getting deeper by the day. Of course, the hole gets bigger quicker when you have SO much help.

oldbaldguy 3 years ago

He is going to be reelected. This is real chickens***. the public should know who the other applicants were.

verity 3 years ago

If everybody has that kind of defeatist attitude, he will be.

I am sick of hearing that kind of attitude.

I am also old, but I will not give up. Get off your duff and fight back.

Bobby Burch 3 years ago

Ironic he constantly criticizes the Feds for everything they do — and then he applies their system of appointing a judge! Oink oink

irvan moore 3 years ago

he doesn't care what we think and why should he, the good people of Kansas will re-elect him based on his good Christian values while he ruins education, working peoples rights, and the government programs that help truly needy people

verity 3 years ago

Same to you as my post above. What is wrong with you people?

Quit wallowing in your misery and get to work.

Lefty54 3 years ago

The last thing Brownback and Kobach want is transparency. The less the voters know the better. The more people they can keep from voting the better.

It is all very shameful that Kansas puts up with these wannabe dictators.

optimist 3 years ago

"...individually identifiable records pertaining to employees or applicants for employment, except that this exemption shall not apply to the names, positions, salaries or actual compensation employment contracts or employment-related contracts or agreements and lengths of service of officers and employees of public agencies once they are employed as such." Everyone here so far act as though he has a choice here. He is following the letter and the intent of the Open Records act to the letter. The law is very clearly stated. These records are not public, including the names of applicants, until such time as one is employed by the State. This isn't about transparency or politics. He is not President Obama who ignores laws he doesn't like or tries to create laws he hasn't the authority to create. The candidates that applied or were nominated for this position have the right to their privacy. How would you like your current boss to know that you are looking for a new job? Anyone trying to make this a political issue in the face of facts are hacks and can't be taken seriously, ever.

jafs 3 years ago

Of course it's about transparency.

Releasing names of applicants is transparent, while withholding them is not.

These jobs are public jobs, and I think the public has a right to know who's applying for them - for one thing, it will let us decide if we think he nominated the best candidate or not.

People applying for public jobs should know that, and be ok with having their names made public.

optimist 3 years ago

The public has no right to know who is applying for public jobs. Until they become a candidate they are still private citizens. The veil of privacy extends to them until such time as they accept a job or an appointment. That is the case with any State job, applicants names are not a matter of public record. As for who decides who the best candidates is, that is up to the guy that ran for and won the election for Governor. The decision as to the best candidate is a matter of discretion and you clearly would choose anyone but who the Governor chose so what can you really offer to this situation. It will be up to the duly elected legislature to consent to the appointment or not. That’s the way our system works.

jafs 2 years, 12 months ago

See Sycophant's response about privacy.

And DougCounty's about promises of more transparency.

Your desire to leave this choice completely up to the governor, with no knowledge and/or input by the public, isn't shared by very many people. In our system, it's not enough to elect politicians, we also have to keep an eye on what they do once elected.

In this case, our governor's actions are directly opposed to his promises and stated goals.

billbodiggens 2 years, 12 months ago

this is not a matter of applying for a mere public job - this is a situation of applying to become an elected official of the state.

jafs 2 years, 12 months ago

Not really. Judges are appointed and confirmed, not elected.

Liberty275 2 years, 12 months ago

Where can I find a list of people that applied for jobs as teachers in Kansas?

nick_s 2 years, 12 months ago

A judge will be hearing arguments, & making/influencing policy that will affect the whole state. You know just as I that the comparison is not even the same. Of course every person that applies for a government job should not be listed in a public forum, that is just silly.

Liberty275 2 years, 12 months ago

"Of course every person that applies for a government job should not be listed in a public forum, that is just silly."

Actually it is nobody's business who applies for what job. Judge and teacher are both government employees and should be subject the the same law regarding their privacy, which means that as private citizens, their privacy should be protected. If applicants for judge don't deserve privacy, then neither do applicants for teacher positions. Neither do applicants for police officer, fireman, dog catcher and custodial engineer.

Ken Lassman 2 years, 12 months ago

Um, Mr. Brownback himself said publicly that he wanted a process that was more transparent than the current system as the driving force behind the changes he implemented. He's the one who politicized the process and then covered it up so that nobody could see the machinations, under the guise of "protecting potential candidates from exposing themselves." Had he laid out the process ahead of time saying that the process would all be behind closed doors, his "transparency" argument would be, well transparently hypocritical. So don't criticize the chorus of citizens who are offended by such hypocrisy.

optimist 3 years ago

Thanks to Scott for getting the facts about the law into this article. It would have been a more accurate headline if it read; Brownback’s office redacts names of Court of Appeals candidates pursuant to law.

jafs 3 years ago

The law doesn't require him to redact the names, it simply allows him to do so.

He could have released the names at any time, and he still can, as far as I understand it. We just can't force him to do it based on that exemption in the Open Records Act.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 3 years ago

I hope that Law falls over on him while he is hiding behind it. Thanks for the Clarification, jafs. Brownback CHOSE not to release the names is what the Headline should read.

optimist 3 years ago

The reason the names are exempted is because of privacy laws pertaining to those applicants. In order to get around that the candidates would have to agree to have their names released. Until they become appointees they are entitled to that privacy and you and I don't have a right to know that they applied. If one of them felt they were more qualified and wished to dispute the appointment they have all the right in the world to come forward publicly on their own. There is nothing stopping that. You just want to embarrass those candidates in order to hurt the Governor.

Bob Forer 3 years ago

There are no privacy laws that would prohibit the release. You are not a lawyer. I am. you shouldn't be spouting authoritatively about a subject you obviously know nothing about. It makes you look foolish.

Liberty275 2 years, 12 months ago

Your'e a lawyer? Then why are you complaining in a web forum and not filing a lawsuit to compel the Governor to follow the law? You should go after him like he's an ambulance.

nick_s 3 years ago

To add to other points, these people are applying for public positions, being paid with tax money by us. We have a right to know. If these people are applying for these positions, they most likely already lead very public lives as high profile attorneys or judges themselves. In the natural progression of ones career, these individuals, & Im speculating, are most likely at the height of their current career path & would be expected to apply for this esteemed position to make it to the next level.

jafs 2 years, 12 months ago

I don't want to embarrass or hurt anybody.

But, I would like to shed light on the decisions that are being made at the state level. And, if it turns out that there were many other more qualified applicants, and this one was chosen for certain political reasons, then I'd like for us all to know that.

Also, given the stated desire to make the process more transparent, I'd like to see that happen in reality rather than the reverse.

Liberty275 2 years, 12 months ago

I'd like to see a list of people that applied for jobs with the HRS.

nick_s 2 years, 12 months ago

A judge will be hearing arguments, & making/influencing policy that will affect the whole state. You know just as I that the comparison is not even the same. Of course every person that applies for a government job should not be listed in a public forum, that is just silly.

Liberty275 2 years, 12 months ago

Public servants just the same. Well, after they are hired. They are private citizens until they accept the job and I see no reason you or anyone should be allowed access to any information regarding jobs that private citizens apply for. Their existence is none of our business until we hire them and they accept the job.

jafs 2 years, 12 months ago

The reason is clear - if we don't know who the applicants are, we can't evaluate the governor's choice of nominees, and thus determine whether or not he picked the best applicant for the job.

So, we're left in the dark, and have to trust him - do you?

Also, of course, he sold this new plan as a way to make the process more transparent, and not releasing the names (which was common practice with the old system) is obviously a step in the other direction.

Seems to me if we wanted the best of both worlds, we could have kept the old process for getting possibilities to the governor, and added confirmation by the Senate.

hillsandtrees 3 years ago

It appears that Caleb Stegall was present at all the interviews?

question4u 3 years ago

Don't hold your breath expecting transparency in Kansas. Transparency is not a trait of third-world governments. It leads to inconvenient things like justice.

oldexbeat 3 years ago

Liar Sammy doesn't want you to know that other then talking to Phillll Kilne, a couple Koch Brothers and Rick Perry, he didn't interview anyone. At all.

His appointment got turned down twice -- Sammy changes the rules -- gets the guy that defended Phillll Kline. Oh Boy.

Tracy Rogers 3 years ago

This guy is the worst governor our state has seen in a long long time. And to think he was promising more transparency while he was campaigning, and he has done the complete opposite since taking office. Where are all the people who voted for him? How can you possibly defend this weasel?

smileydog 3 years ago

At least he's more transparent than the Obama Administration. Why isn't the League on Obama's butt?

Ken Lassman 2 years, 12 months ago

"pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!"

We are in Kansas, after all, and have our own Wizard pulling the levers, having coming into our lives in a balloon full of hot air. I just hope we're about to the "I can't come back! I don't know how to control this thing!" stage of the hot air balloon, if you know what I mean.

Liberty275 2 years, 12 months ago

Here's why:

President Obama and his successors in the Oval Office are not obligated to make public the names of individuals visiting the White House, according to a decision of the federal Circuit Court for the District of Columbia made public Friday.

The case was brought by Judicial Watch, the government watchdog nonprofit that has been fighting a long legal battle seeking to force release of the White House visitor logs as public records under the Freedom of Information Act.

But in a decision that is drawing intense criticism from across the ideological spectrum, the circuit court said the president has a "constitutional perogative" not to tell the American people who he or his staff meets with in the White House.

Wayne Propst 2 years, 12 months ago

All the other candidates are graduates of Devenshire University.................

Ronnie24 2 years, 12 months ago

What a jerk Brownback is! I did not vote for him, and I will NOT in the next election. The ONLY way things will change is for EVERYONE votes. I know Brownback CAN be defeated! Remember all this crap and the crap that will be coming, election time and make your vote count!!!

yourworstnightmare 2 years, 12 months ago

Brownback is being needlessly secretive. I think his actions imply nefarious deeds when in actuality none likely exist. So he only interviewed his ideological comrades and/or picked a less-qualified candidate? So what? Take the heat.

It is troublesome that Brownback's first inclination is secrecy. This is a pattern he has established and is continuing with this redaction.

jafs 2 years, 12 months ago

That's not been his way - he doesn't take the heat. He hires folks from other states to come in and change things, and then they leave.

He somehow tries to blame the legislature for cuts in education, when he signed those budgets.

Somehow, he doesn't want people to know what he's actually doing - I agree it's troubling. The more troubling thing perhaps is that people will continue to vote for him.

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