Archive for Friday, June 14, 2013

Embattled KCC director out following critical statements

June 14, 2013, 10:31 a.m. Updated June 14, 2013, 5:27 p.m.


— Patti Petersen-Klein is no longer executive director of the Kansas Corporation Commission, but agency officials would not say whether she resigned or was fired.

The commission on Thursday also reversed a decision made last week and opted to seek an external consultant's opinion about various KCC processes that have come into question.

Petersen-Klein's departure comes on the heels of news stories that cited a confidential report in which she criticized the agency as "inefficient and overstaffed."

KCC spokesman Jesse Borjon said today that during a public meeting on Thursday Commissioner Tom Wright made a motion to relieve Petersen-Klein of her duties, but that motion died for lack of a second.

However, on Friday morning, Borjon said Petersen-Klein "is no longer employed by the Kansas Corporation Commission."

The corporation commission is a three-member body that regulates public utilities, the trucking industry, common carriers and the oil and gas industry in Kansas. That group hires the executive director, who supervises the agency staff.

Petersen-Klein was hired as executive director in June 2011. Before that she had served as a staff attorney for the KCC since 2005. She was promoted about the same time that newly elected Gov. Sam Brownback made two new appointments to the three-member commission, Chairman Mark Sievers and Commissioner Shari Feist Albrecht.

In May, a report by an external consultant who was hired to evaluate the agency's operations was leaked to the media. In that report, Petersen-Klein described herself to the consultants as a "clean-up" person whose job was to overhaul the agency and prevent it from causing political problems for Brownback.

She also said that dysfunction at the agency had compelled her to use "Theory X," a management approach that uses rigid control systems to hold employees in line, based on the assumption that they are lazy and unreliable.

Meanwhile, employees described the work environment under Petersen-Klein's management as "hostile," "unhealthy," "combative," "confusing," "closed" and "unproductive."

Many employees suggested the atmosphere would not change unless Petersen-Klein was removed.

The KCC contracted with Gerald E. Johnson and Associates, of Lee's Summit, Mo., for $5,000 to conduct that review.

Last week, following the leak of that report, Commissioner Wright, who was appointed by former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, called for a second independent audit to examine Petersen-Klein's allegations further, but his motion died for lack of a second. However, at Thursday's meeting the commissioners agreed to direct the agency's staff to prepare a recommendation on an independent consultant to examine various KCC processes.


deec 2 years ago

The purge continues. Stalin would be proud.

Bob Burton 2 years ago

I want all the commissioners to resign, after hearing about the use of "pink sheets" to make decisions for utility rate increases without having an open meeting. Plus all the decisions should have to be reviewed to see if they are legal.

Bud Stagg 2 years ago

"inefficient and overstaffed." Heaven forbid that we be efficient. Inefficient because they are overstaffed and the result is productivity suffers. Your tax dollars at work! When will people wake up and realize that Government is the definition of wasteful spending. The smaller the government is, the less waste there is = more dollars out there available for private sector economy.

jimmyjms 2 years ago

You really have no idea what you're talking about. But regurgitating talking points that you heard on the tee-vee sure does feel good!

patkindle 2 years ago

we need to eliminate all wasteful spending at all levels unless of course the pork barrel funds end up in douglas county then it is pretty much ok, cause that's how we roll

gccs14r 2 years ago

On Wednesday I got a notice from AT&T that they are no longer subject to KCC oversight. That won't end well.

kernal 2 years ago

A confidentail report becomes public because a handful of people can't take criticism? Really? It just sounds too stupid to believe.

Leslie Swearingen 2 years ago

I am going to go back to the beginning and watch Game of Thrones more intently, I might pick up a pointer or two that I can use. Same with Walking Dead, you never know what information is going to come in handy in the future.

tomatogrower 2 years ago

"She also said that dysfunction at the agency had compelled her to use "Theory X," a management approach that uses rigid control systems to hold employees in line, based on the assumption that they are lazy and unreliable."

So there is an official name to the business model that has turned workers into deficits, instead of assets. If you treat people like they are "lazy and unreliable" they will probably live down to your standards.

Bud Stagg 2 years ago

So instead you should give them a 10th place trophy like our kids get when they lose... If you suck at your job, you should be "encouraged" to find another.

BigDog 2 years ago


That question have never been answered. I agree with those who say she was a bad leader and manger .... her technique sucked.

But the major question remains ......IS THE KCC OVERSTAFFED AND INEFFICIENT??

Bud Stagg 2 years ago

I think they probably are overstaffed and inefficient and probably incompetent to boot. I think she was trying to change that culture. I think everyone should have a little fear of losing their job. Keeps you honest.

verity 2 years ago

I don't need fear of losing my job to keep me honest. I am honest and I think most employees are. Fear of losing one's job can actually lead both to dishonesty and not being proactive because of the fear of getting in trouble.

That kind of mindset does not make for a good and productive work environment.

Do you have some basis for "I think they probably are overstaffed and inefficient and probably incompetent to boot."

Ms Petersen-Klein seeing her job as ". . . prevent it [the FCC] from causing political problems for Brownback" is rather telling.

thinkingaboutstuff 2 years ago

The plot thickens, but what about the KCC commissioners who participated in granting a 100%+ rate increase? KCC and CURB are, among other things, supposed to help protect consumers.

verity 2 years ago

"She also said that dysfunction at the agency had compelled her to use "Theory X," a management approach that uses rigid control systems to hold employees in line, based on the assumption that they are lazy and unreliable."

That statement makes my skin crawl.

My experience has been that when there's a problem, it's generally management that is lazy and unreliable---or at least counter-productive. While there are always some who slack off, most of the people at lower levels that I've known go above and beyond. Too often they are hampered by power-grubbing and incompetent management who make it impossible to do the job as efficiently as it should and could be done---or in some cases are plain jealous because an underling knows more than they do or does a better job.

When you treat adults like naughty stupid children and stuff them into a rigid environment with no room to act like rational adults or to have any control over their situation, you're going to have problems. Assuming that employees are lazy and unreliable---only a really hateful and incompetent manager would assume that. And even if it turns out that they are, a rigid control system will just make the problem worse. When employees, who are doing the job and know what's going on, don't have input into how best to do their job, rather having it dictated from above by people who don't have a clue, you will have a situation that is "hostile," "unhealthy," "combative," "confusing," "closed" and "unproductive."

streetman 2 years ago

Anyone who has had to deal with the DMV would be shocked -- SHOCKED! -- that there could possibly be governmental inefficiency. We cannot have change -- it's upsetting and inconvenient for the employees and their "leadership," and we seem to get along now, I guess.

verity 2 years ago

I don't see anybody saying government (or private) organizations shouldn't change or become more efficient. But it should be done in a sensible and efficient manner.

If you're a bottom rung office worker, you may have little control over how you do your job. If you really want to improve efficiency, attitude, etc., then ask the person who does the actual job rather than issuing edicts from on high---which happens way too often.

I don't know about your interaction with the DMV, but my experiences have been mostly positive. From my experience, it's often customers who are causing the problems---waiting until the last day or until it's almost closing time, not having the proper documentation and having to return to their vehicle while the line is held up, bringing in additional family members who really don't seem to have a purpose being there and so forth. ( It wasn't the parents with children who were causing the problems, it was other adult family members.)

Last year I forgot about my vehicle registration until the morning of the last day of the month before the office was closing down for changing the computer system---my bad. I had to wait about 45 minutes. An employee had to come out and tell people to move forward on the chairs so the line could move efficiently. It would seem that was an obvious thing to do. I made sure I had everything ready when I got to the desk and it only took a few minutes, much shorter than a lot of the other transactions.

Centerville 2 years ago

This from the agency that always grants 1/2 of every rate increase request. It apparently takes 200+ bureaucrats to produce each boiler-plate order.

Trumbull 2 years ago

She also said that dysfunction at the agency had compelled her to use "Theory X," a management approach that uses rigid control systems to hold employees in line, based on the assumption that they are lazy and unreliable.

Wow. It is statements and management approaches like this that are bad. Most of the inefficiencies I see are actually caused by bad management. Especially when they do not know the job from the bottom up and do not ask for contributions and include staff workers in on process changes.

Then, when bad management ideas and changes bear bad fruit, what else do they do but blame it on the "inefficient" and "over-staffed" employees. It does not have to be a Government or business. This type of bad management happens in all organizations. I have seen it happen too often. Makes you want to count the days to retirement and exit from this nonsense.

Centerville 2 years ago

Just wait til you all have to start paying extra for new transmission lines that will carry all our wind power generation out of state. That boondoggle is making its way through the KCC with zero staff interest, let alone analysis. The KCC used to be less of a classified employee backwater than it is now.

Trumbull 2 years ago

There should be a Theory X,Y,Z. This is where arrogant managers thank god each day that the lowly staff actually knows the nuts and bolts, keeps things going, and allows them a pretty good salary.

But there are good managers, and just as many who are not, but would be better if given the opportunity. I guess that is life though.

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