Archive for Monday, July 1, 2013

Democratic leader says Brownback improperly packing Kansas Board of Regents with too many Republicans

July 1, 2013


— Gov. Sam Brownback's appointments to the Kansas Board of Regents were approved today, but not before a Democratic leader accused the governor of improperly packing the board with too many Republicans.

"I don't understand what it is, that this governor doesn't think he has to play by the rules," said Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley, of Topeka.

But Republicans on the Senate Confirmation Oversight Committee accused Hensley of taking a partisan shot.

"Seems we are entering election season a little early," said state Sen. Pat Apple, R-Louisburg.

The dispute was over Brownback's selection of Shane Bangerter, a Dodge City workers' compensation attorney, to the regents.

Under state law, the nine-member board can have no more than five members of one party. Hensley said there already are five Republicans on the board.

Bangerter, a longtime Republican Party activist, changed his party affiliation from the GOP to unaffiliated.

"We have had an intentional circumvention of the law," Hensley said.

When Hensley asked Bangerter when he changed to unaffiliated, Bangerter said he thought it was nine or 10 months ago, but according to the Ford County clerk, it was in February.

Bangerter said he was active in the Republican Party up until five years ago, but Hensley produced documents that showed Bangerter served in various GOP positions as late as 2010.

Hensley said Bangerter "has an adult lifetime of service and leadership in the Republican Party." He called Bangerter's nomination a "sham process," adding that "someone in the governor's office should be held responsible."

But Bangerter said he no longer considers himself a Republican. "Maybe being a plaintiff's lawyer tends to make you a little more moderate," he said.

He said no one from the governor's office asked him to change his party affiliation. "Independent more accurately describes where I am right now," he said.

State Sen. Jeff King, R-Independence, said he was embarrassed by Hensley's criticisms. King read aloud a portion of a newspaper article from 2006 when Mark Parkinson, the former chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, changed his party affiliation to Democrat to run for lieutenant governor with then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat.

The committee approved Bangerter to serve on the regents, with Hensley voting against him.

The committee also approved to the regents Helen Van Etten, a Republican national committeewoman and audiologist with the Topeka school district, and Ann Murguia, who is a commissioner for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan.

Murguia recently ran an unsuccessful bid for mayor. In the race, Murguia was assisted by allies of Brownback's.

The three come onto the board after the Legislature cut $44 million in higher education over two years. Brownback publicly criticized the cuts, but he signed them into law.

During the committee meeting today, Van Etten said higher education funding must be balanced with other state needs and that economic growth will happen "when Kansans are allowed to keep more of their own money."

She also said that higher education must adapt to the marketplace and produce more graduates with technical skills and expertise.

Bangerter, Van Etten and Murguia are replacing Christine Downey-Schmidt, a former state senator from Inman, Janie Perkins, a school district administrator and former mayor of Garden City, and Dan Lykins, a Topeka attorney.

The board oversees the six state universities, 19 community colleges and six technical colleges.


toe 4 years, 11 months ago

Seems the universities support of a single party is going to bring long time troubles.

Shelley Bock 4 years, 11 months ago

Toe, you always seem to get it wrong. Democrats have supported education while the Republicans don't care one bit about it. (I do exaggerate.) Universities simply respond to positive attention.

Now go back to decreasing the size of government so it can't provide any services and all is privatized as Brownback wants.

Hooligan_016 4 years, 11 months ago

I guess my question is more about what are their qualifications to serve on the Board of Regents?

Also, this talking point, "She also said that higher education must adapt to the marketplace and produce more graduates with technical skills and expertise" is getting awfully tiresome. There aren't enough jobs for everyone to be an engineer or plumber. Moreover, engineering jobs keep getting outsourced by the large corporations.

chootspa 4 years, 11 months ago

That's getting to be a very tiresome song and dance, indeed. Universities are not technical colleges, and turning them into such would be a huge mistake.

Liberty275 4 years, 11 months ago

We could use a tech school in Lawrence though, and a tech school associated with a major university would be pretty cool.

chootspa 4 years, 11 months ago

I agree that we could use a tech school, but I'd rather JCCC just run it. They're already here, and they already know how to run a tech school.

jgkojak 4 years, 11 months ago

You have one of the best Community Colleges in the country 30 min away at JCCC w/sat. offices/classrooms in Lawrence.

Mike1949 4 years, 11 months ago

Their jobs are to serve brownback every wish, destroy Kansas schools to a point that they are not even competitive any more. It isn't enough that the republicans take away our freedoms, now they have to take away our education!

John Hamm 4 years, 11 months ago

Oh. Republicans take away our freedom? Who is President? That's right - a Liberal

elliottaw 4 years, 11 months ago

And we are talking about the workings of the State government so what is your point?

Seth Peterson 4 years, 11 months ago

He doesn't have real points, just talking points.

TalkSense 4 years, 11 months ago

It would nice, if possible, to see the full statements of the three nominees before the committee. Out of context, Van Etten's comment that "higher education funding must be balanced with other state needs" is pragmatic. But it doesn't offer much hope she will fight to restore budget cuts imposed on the Regents institutions in 2013 and past years. Her assertion "that economic growth will happen `when Kansans are allowed to keep more of their own money'" also suggests she lacks an independent perspective on tough public policy choices in our state. Of course "higher education must adapt to the marketplace" and, when you look at the entire Regents system - universities with varying priorities and profiles, a good mix of technical colleges and community colleges - it is doing just that. Producing "more graduates with technical skills and expertise" is a laudable goal when you look at all Regents institutions as a whole. K-State and KU educate engineers, while technical colleges train welders. We need both. But K-State and KU also produce scholars, and it would be nice to hear a Regent or legislator or anyone lift up the value of THAT particular set of "technical skills and expertise." Again, it's hard to tell what she and the other nominees think about the whole of higher education based on a couple of quotes.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

Right Wing Brownback is not a republican and he does not select republicans = his preferences are right wing sheep.

oldexbeat 4 years, 11 months ago

Lawyer Bangerter, in addition to fighting again workers for the meat companies -- check out his law firm info -- hosted Brownback when he started his run for governor and before that when he ran for senate. This is dishonest BS. Bangerter, graduate of the 600 foot tall Jesus Oral Robert University, is a tea party lover and a rightwing nut. They are liars.

He lead the white flight from Dodge City -- to a ugly windblown snake filled suburb miles north of the city -- but funny thing. Immigrants followed him out.

His law firm anti-worker profile reads:

"His cases have made new law in Kansas regarding such work issues as determining accident dates; issues regarding employee termination for cause and whether a work disability should be granted; consideration of overtime when determining qualification for work disabilities; the applicability of the agricultural pursuit exemption, and the impact of a person’s legal status on work benefits."

kcchef 4 years, 11 months ago

Workers unite FREE BROWNBACKENSTAN! where there is no rule of law only the dictated of a mad man.

Liberty275 4 years, 11 months ago


That has always seemed like a pejorative to me. Working is only part of what I do and it doesn't really define who I am.

verity 4 years, 11 months ago

Really? A pejorative? Why on earth would you think that?

tomatogrower 4 years, 11 months ago

Well, not all of us are independently wealthy and most of us spend 40 hours or more working either at a job or on our own business. That's a huge chunk of time, so if we aren't being compensated properly, or we hate what we do, it's hard to separate work from ourselves. And we don't have time to hang out on forums all day.

Miles Nease 4 years, 11 months ago

These appointments do not bode well for KU. Only one of the three appointees is a KU grad. Bangerter went to ORU undergrad and KU Law. He is a personal injury attorney and probably a wacko Christian, considering where he attended undergrad. Van Etten graduated from Wayne State and Florida. Being the State Republican Chairwomen, she will do nothing to upset the Koch Brothers. Finally, we have Brandau-Murguia. She did not attend a public university. Her degrees are from Ottawa and Baker.

So fellow Kansans, the Fuhrer has appointed a Christain wacko/ambulance chaser, a Koch Brothers lapdog and a person who has never attended a public school in her life to guide our public universities.

Mike1949 4 years, 11 months ago

and you thought I was kidding when I said brownback is destroying Kansas education!

oldexbeat 4 years, 11 months ago

actually an anti-worker (read immigrant) attorney in the case of Bangerter. He makes sure that the working poor on the dangerous jobs at the meat factories do not get coverage when hurt. Not a nice guy.

verity 4 years, 11 months ago

One would think that I would quit being surprised at the underhanded power plays made by our current governor, but he continues to outdo himself.

The interesting thing, in a very morbid way, is that this breed think they have to cheat, lie, suppress legal voting, gerrymander, etc. to stay in power. Obviously, they don't think they can compete on a level playing field.

We are giving away our power. We can take it back and we must.

hedshrinker 4 years, 11 months ago

huh, news flash; I didn't know Sen. Jeff King was even capable of embarrassment.

yourworstnightmare 4 years, 11 months ago

Not surprising.

Brownback and the ideologue legislature have proven very good at one thing: undermining secular and government institutions so that they can consolidate power and install their own institutions (religious).

The ultimate goal of these right wing christian anarchists is to use every means to consolidate power and to destroy anything that can't be "rendered unto Brownback and thus to god".

Lest my ideas seem overwrought, their demonstrable proof is in the very behavior of Brownback and the right wing christians in the legislature over these past two years.

Tracy Rogers 4 years, 11 months ago

I wanna be governor so I can ignore every law on the books too.

snitty 4 years, 11 months ago

This is very scary for the future of higher education in Kansas.

verity 4 years, 11 months ago

So, at the risk of being redundant---the only way we can stop this insanity is to run somebody against this fake christian ego-maniac who is trying to destroy us in the name of God.

Is somebody qualified going to step up?

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

Not likely. Eventually, the Democratic Party will put forth a seemingly qualified, yet unelectable sacrificial lamb to run against Brownback. If the Democrats really thought there was someone out there with a legitimate chance of beating Brownback, that person would have been put forth by now, mounting a credible campaign. The silence of the Democrats speaks volumes.

chootspa 4 years, 11 months ago

I just got polled asking about Jill Docking.

verity 4 years, 11 months ago

Nobody ever polls me. Do you have to have a land line?

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

Why would you cheer for him to skirt the rules and put more R than he's supposed to on the Board of Regents?

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

Just out of curiosity, Jafs, I've seen several posters say they intend to re-register as Republicans, so they can influence their primaries, only to then vote for Democrats anyway. While perfectly legal, might we think of that as "skirting the rules", and would you condemn that practice equally?

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago


Nothing is required of those who register as R or D - in fact, D allow anybody to vote in their primaries (not sure why), while R require one be registered R.

And, while registered as either one, one can vote for whatever candidate they like in general elections.

If the parties want to impose more stringent conditions, I suppose they could do that. But, failing that, there are no rules being skirted.

I wouldn't be surprised, by the way, if the R party does in fact try to impose conditions, if others register as R, vote in the primaries, and the outcome is more moderate candidates. Whether or not that's constitutional, and what effect it would have remains to be seen.

verity 4 years, 11 months ago

I think your first paragraph is wrong. What I was told is that if you are registered as unaffiliated, you can declare as a D at the primary, but then you are a D and would have to re-register as unaffiliated. You have to be registered as a R a certain number of days before the primary to vote their ticket. So, as I understand it, you do have to be a D to vote in the D primary.

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

Could be.

My memory is that you can vote in the D primary without being registered D.

verity 4 years, 11 months ago

You can be registered as unaffiliated, but must declare as a D before voting. If you are registered as a R, you can not vote in the D primary.

verity 4 years, 11 months ago

I think you may have misinterpreted what people said about registering R.

I registered R so I could vote for Carolyn McGinn in the primary. No D was running in that race, so the primary was the only election. If you live in Douglas County, you may not realize what the rest of the state looks like. Often there is no D running, so the only vote you have is between a moderate R and a radical right R---in the primary.

Kate Rogge 4 years, 11 months ago

I think you're confusing elective and appointive offices.

oldexbeat 4 years, 11 months ago

No. That would be voting in the only election that matters in Kansas and thus keeping our rights as citizens. There is no rule on the number of Dem or Rep that can vote in a primary. There is a law about how many Rep or Dem are on the Board of Regents. That is the difference. Clearly the lawyer Bangerter is not being honest about being an 'independent' -- remember Sammy started his run for governor at Shane's law office. Etc.

verity 4 years, 11 months ago

Lynn, I would like to know precisely what it is you think Gov Brownback (I assume that's who you're referring to as "Sam"---I take it you know him well enough to be on a first name basis) is doing a good job of.

gcccstudent 4 years, 11 months ago

A lot of misleading info in this article. BOR does NOT govern nor anything else except approve curriculum for community colleges. I was informed of this today by the BOR. We have had serious computer issues at Garden City Community College for 18 months. Complaints to the local Board of Trustees have been ignored. I called the BOR today and was informed "tough"! we only deal with the 6 state universities. Do we really need a special board to oversee 6 universities???

Kate Rogge 4 years, 11 months ago

Of course Brownback's taking over the state's Board of Regents, and the state judiciary for that matter. What a surprise, huh? This isn't state government by the people. It's state government for corporate donors' profits and lots of red meat social 'issues' to keep the evangelicals on board. Once there's no place to appeal any foul decision, he'll finish off public schools and sell off the state's agencies and assets until we've been thoroughly Bained. God forbid there should be any unrealized profit left in Kansas.

oldexbeat 4 years, 11 months ago

Sam Brownback's god tells him to lie. (And his owners, the Koch Brothers LLC ALEC Ltm do too.) So he lies. Like Bangerter, OK to lie when you've got a 600 foot tall god on your side.

Greg Cooper 4 years, 11 months ago

Does anyone remember "The Mouse That Roared"? It seems Kochback is planning the same strategy: create a nation-state right here in Kansas by taking advantage of the electorate who are too simplistic to actually investigate issues, who vote Republican because they are fed information that just isn't true, and get them so riled up they vote to secede. Thereafter, Kansas declares war on the United States, loses badly, and gets tons and tons of Federal funds for "reconstruction" under the patient tutelage of Kochback.

Idiotic? Probably. But what else can explain the FACTS that the governor ignores/breaks laws, spews misinformation/lies, runs the state as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Koch consortium, regards "religion" as the sole driver of legislation, drives spikes into the hearts of any and all education so that the people will not have the training to distinguish between his lies and the truth, and fosters legislation making it less and less possible for working-class people (yes, unions) to make meaningful, free contributions to the candidates of their choice?

I hate that my native state has become the laughingstock of the nation. I detest the fact that over two million people are ruled by several billion dollars and the few people over whom those dollars are masters. I can not stand the lying.

verity 4 years, 11 months ago

Loved that movie---one of my all time favorites.

verity 4 years, 11 months ago

The Winfield Daily Courier calls Brownback a monster in an editorial posted today.

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