Archive for Tuesday, June 9, 2015

KU students headed to trial over records related to business teacher with Koch ties

Attorneys dispute whether Art Hall is a public employee or private individual

Art Hall, director of the Center for Applied Economics at Kansas University, testifies to the House Tax Committee in this file photo from January 2010.

Art Hall, director of the Center for Applied Economics at Kansas University, testifies to the House Tax Committee in this file photo from January 2010.

June 9, 2015

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The Kansas University students who paid $1,800 for records regarding a KU business teacher with ties to Koch Industries won’t be getting them any time soon.

A judge Tuesday denied student Schuyler Kraus’ request to deem those records subject to the Kansas Open Records Act, which would allow KU to release them.

Instead — with Douglas County District Court Judge James McCabria saying more evidence is needed to resolve disputed facts — the case appears headed to trial, with the date set for November.

The most hotly disputed fact: Is Art Hall a KU — and thus public — employee, or a private individual?

Kraus’ attorney, David Brown, called the answer “stupidly simple.” Hall is a KU employee, and thus his university emails are subject to the Open Records Act and should be released, Brown said.

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KU also considers Hall a KU employee, said Mike Leitch, an attorney for the university.

“I don’t know how you could reasonably conclude ... that he does not work for KU,” Leitch said.

Hall teaches KU students, his office is at KU, his supervisor is a KU administrator, his paychecks are signed by KU, and he is executive director of the KU Center for Applied Economics, a public policy think-tank within KU’s School of Business.

However, questions lie in who ultimately funds Hall’s position — because money used to pay him is funneled through KU Endowment, a private entity — and how much that matters.

Hall’s attorney, Curt Tideman, argued Hall is a private individual and said that fact needs “further exploration” in a trial setting.

The Center for Applied Economics is “100 percent self-funded,” Tideman said. He said Hall’s job description states he must raise the money to support the Center and that funding comes through KU Endowment.

Also, Hall’s various duties at KU are not one and the same, Tideman said. Hall operates in at least three capacities: a lecturer, executive director of the Center for Applied Economics and a private individual.

“Where does one position start and the other end?” Tideman said.

•••

The three attorneys traversed broad legal and academic territory during Tuesday’s hearing.

Arguments addressed various subsections of the Kansas Open Records Act, precedent set by numerous Kansas and U.S. Supreme Court cases, the influence on the case of political views, First Amendment rights to free speech, personal versus business subject matter in emails and the issue of academic freedom.

The court case began in December, when Hall sued KU and the court agreed to block the university from releasing his emails pending further review.

Students for a Sustainable Future, a KU student club of which Kraus is president, had requested the emails along with records involving the hiring of Hall and two other business school teachers. KU gave some of the records to the students in November.

Students for a Sustainable Future is part of a network of groups nationwide attempting to investigate the influence that brothers Charles and David Koch, conservative activist billionaires who own Wichita-based Koch Industries, have on academia.

Previously Hall was chief economist for the Public Sector Group of Koch Industries Inc., which he has included in Center for Applied Economics publications. His economic philosophy is a market-based approach in line with the Kochs', though no one at Koch Industries is telling him what to teach, he said in a previous interview with the Journal-World.

The Center for Applied Economics, established in 2003, was funded by contributions from the Fred C. and Mary R. Koch Foundation and other private donors, according to KU, the Journal-World previously reported. Foundation grants are made in line with university policies regarding hiring and curriculum, a representative told the Journal-World in December.

•••

Seeking to learn who Hall truly answers to was the reason Kraus sought his correspondence in the first place, Brown said.

“That’s why my client filed this request,” Brown said. “She believes he doesn’t work for KU when you really get down to it. He’s a shill for somebody else.”

A university spokesman said he was unable to confirm, late Tuesday afternoon, whether KU intends to pursue the case to trial.

Brown, who has represented Kraus largely pro-bono, was appearing on a limited basis and is now withdrawn from the case.

“Ms. Kraus simply cannot afford a protracted court battle to protect her rights,” he said. “At this point, I believe she will attempt to move forward by representing herself.”

Brown added: “We are confident, however, that the university will fight the finding that Mr. Hall is a private person rather than a university employee. Then, we hope the court will be able to rule that the records should be released.”


Previous coverage


Comments

Richard Aronoff 2 years, 6 months ago

"Students for a Sustainable Future is part of a network of groups nationwide attempting to investigate the influence that brothers Charles and David Koch, conservative activist billionaires who own Wichita-based Koch Industries, have on academia."

Given the fact that numerous surveys over the years have shown that over 90% of college professors (and journalists) vote for Democrats, I think the answer to the question of influence is.....not much.

Cille King 2 years, 6 months ago

Richard Aronoff, please give links to your sources: "Given the fact that numerous surveys over the years have shown that over 90% of college professors (and journalists) vote for Democrats, I think the answer to the question of influence is.....not much."

Cille King 2 years, 6 months ago

I have seen data that says that the more educated folks do vote for progressive ideas.

Sam Crow 2 years, 6 months ago

There is a reason it is called the Ivory Tower. From the 19th century, it has been used to designate a world or atmosphere where intellectuals engage in pursuits that are disconnected from the practical concerns of everyday life.

Professors spend decades at the public teat with high paying jobs consisting of teaching a couple classes a week. Those are jobs for life, due to tenure. Of course there is the “research” and traveling to far off places for extended periods, always on other peoples dime. One such example is Burdett Loomis who recently spent 5 months in Australia to work on a project researching lobbying and its impact in Australia.

“My research project will first seek to understand the overall scope and nature of the Australian lobbying industry; this will include how the national government and the individual states/territories seek to regulate lobbying. The second, related research strand will address how lobbying affects agendas and policy outcomes,” Burdett said. In Australia.

Professors get to be liberal because they are not accountable or responsible for anything. People in the business world at that income level are accountable for things such as sales, profit, productivity, or people. It is easy to be liberal when you have nothing on the line.

Joe Blackford II 2 years, 6 months ago

Professors come to KSU as conservatives "because they are not accountable or responsible for anything" (other than their mindset).

Case in point, is this weekly column in The Manhattan Mercury " by the honorary political journalist" (which used to have the KSU byline):

Dale R. Herspring, a University Distinguished Professor at KSU and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, is a retired Foreign Service officer and Navy captain.

http://themercury.com/articles/obama-picks-incompetent-ambassadors

http://themercury.com/articles/obamas-cuts-would-diminish-our-military

http://themercury.com/articles/after-the-bluster-north-korea-cries-uncle

http://themercury.com/articles/u.s.-foreign-policy-is-becoming-embarrassing

Dr. Dale Herspring is a University Distinguished Professor ... and has published more than 100 articles and books including Rumsfeld's Wars: The Arrogance of Power (2008), NOTE, THIS WAS AFTER ~ 4 YEARS OF COLUMNS BACKING BUSH, RUMSFELD & CHENEY

David Carson 2 years, 6 months ago

Doesn't matter if Cille is or is not denying the truth of the statement, Fred. What matters is that Richard made a statement that he is unable to back up with valid and unbiased sources. This is a typical tactic amongst right wingers, just say what ever you want, and hope it becomes viral 'truth'. It's incredibly dishonest, and does nothing to promote Richard's way of thinking, but it certainly does promote a certain level of trust regarding the statements Richard makes. Which is, a certain level of distrust.

This is often referred to trolling as well.

Richard Aronoff 2 years, 6 months ago

Go to Bing or Google and on the search line type "percentage of college professors who vote democratic." One of the first of many hits will be an article from that right wing rag The Washington Post. Then repeat substituting journalists for college professors.

Joe Blackford II 2 years, 6 months ago

FYI: that means of searching is drilling down to your own preconceptions. You're searching for a statement to reinforce your notion & therefore, are NOT likely to get any other results.

The WaPo gives me a limited # of "free" visits. I'm not about to subscribe, nor waste one of those visits, based upon your claim. Perhaps your WaPo hit contains your phrase, preceded by:

"DEAD IN THE WOOL REPUBLICANS BELIEVE"

as I've posted before, "DEAD IN THE WOOL REPUBLICANS" is not meant to be derogatory; just a lesson I learned from my Dad (RIP). ANY TIME Dad & I would discuss politics, and he was playing a bad hand, he would resolve the discussion by stating: "Roosevelt started WWII by keeping the fleet in Pearl Harbor," end of discussion.

Such is the statement "over 90% of college professors (and journalists) vote for Democrats." IMHO, you will be convinced of that until the day you die. You are entitled to your opinion. Have a good day!

David Carson 2 years, 6 months ago

Richard, you still haven't proven anything at all. You made the claim, so it is your responsibility to back it up with honest facts. You're deflecting now because you do not have honest facts to back up your statement.

I think that tells everyone just what they need to know about your statement.

Joe Blackford II 2 years, 6 months ago

"over 90% of college professors (and journalists) vote for Democrats"

Never been to KSU, WSU, PSU, FHSU, or ESU?

KSU has institutionalized conservative values -> just a dairy product?

A large % of Ag faculty belong to the Manhattan Faith Evangelical Free Church. From my personal experience, new faculty are invited by interviewing faculty member(s) to join. (Do you think it's a coincidence that the previous Dairy Prof, his replacement (Associate Professor/Extension Specialist ) & Associate Professor (Lactation) were Evangelicals at the same point in time?

Take a look sometime @ the KSU Landon Lecture Series http://ome.ksu.edu/lectures/landon/past.html

Generals, NSA Chief, DHS Secretary, Secretary of Defense (Rumsfeld, on day after resignation).

KSU Cultural Anomalies:

Timothy Leary spoke shortly before his death, he was invited by Physics Dept.

Bob Dylan played to a sparse crowd in Bramlage Coliseum.

There is no "artisan bakery" in a town w/KSU's bakery, feed and milling sciences and management degrees; & the American Institute of Baking?

Do you really think IF KSU had 90% Democrats, the NBAF would be coming here?

Armen Kurdian 2 years, 6 months ago

One school in the University of California System would probably outweigh in liberalism what every school in the State of Kansas is for Conservatism. No hard evidence to support that, but having lived here for several years it's probably a safe assumption.

Ralph Reed 2 years, 6 months ago

@Richard Aronoff Great deflection - very well done.

The point of the article is whether Art Hall works for KU or his he a Koch employee? It has nothing to do with who votes for whom and you know that.

IMHO he works at KU, he uses KU equipment, his email is a KU address, his office is at KU, he teaches classes at KU and his paycheck comes from the state through KU, hence he is a KU employee. Ergo his emails are public domain.

This also has deeper implications. What about the professors and researchers whose positions are funded by grants? Do they work for the grants, or do they work for KU. The outcome of this could have wide-reaching effects on human resources at KU. But, then, isn't that a goal of the Kochs; the destruction of education at all levels in our society?

Sam Crow 2 years, 6 months ago

On the one hand….

Kraus’ attorney, David Brown, called the answer “stupidly simple.” Hall is a KU employee … Brown said.

On the other hand….

Brown said, “She believes he doesn’t work for KU when you really get down to it.”

Seems Kraus and Brown really cant figure it out, other than Hall is a conservative and must be stopped.

David Carson 2 years, 6 months ago

Nicely taken out of context, and you completely missed the point. The rest of us were able to comprehend what was said.

James Howlette 2 years, 6 months ago

If the courts decide that Hall doesn't work for KU, I hope KU also makes it official that he no longer works there.

Arnie Bunkers 2 years, 6 months ago

Why? Is he not a good teacher? Is he clueless on the subject matter he is presenting or does not present it well? Why would they get rid of him?

James Howlette 2 years, 6 months ago

It doesn't matter if he's a good teacher on top of his administrative duties. If he insists he doesn't work there, he shouldn't work there. KU should grant his wish. He shouldn't have an office at KU, an official email address, access to KU benefits, use KU in his job title, or publish his studies on KU servers with KU letterhead. Because those are things that people at KU get.

If, on the other hand, he'd like to abide by the open records standards every other KU employee abides by, welcome to KU.

Allowing him to shirk the rules sets a bad precedent. Would you like all the privately funded chairs and other positions to be able to shield their correspondence as "not employees?" Awfully dangerous standard.

Clara Westphal 2 years, 6 months ago

As reported earlier, the students' objections were based on what Hall was teaching in class; that his subject matter was heavily slanted toward the views of the Koch Brothers. Brown will have an uphill battle if she pursues this as her own attorney.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 2 years, 6 months ago

She is Schuyler Kraus and Brown(David Brown) is Her attorney. She is not representing herself.

Jason Randall 2 years, 6 months ago

2nd and 3rd to last paragraph



Brown, who has represented Kraus largely pro-bono, was appearing on a limited basis and is now withdrawn from the case.

“Ms. Kraus simply cannot afford a protracted court battle to protect her rights,” he said. “At this point, I believe she will attempt to move forward by representing herself.”



Ms. Kraus is the defendant not her pro bono lawyer Mr. Brown, yes, but it appears she will be representing herself for any future proceeding too, unless of course she finds another lawyer.

Lawrence Freeman 2 years, 6 months ago

Seems it should be pretty easy to determine one way or another.

Does Hall have tenure, does he earn vacation time, is he a part of KPER's? Does he receive any employee benefits from KU? If the answer is yes to any or all of those questions, he is an employee.

James Howlette 2 years, 6 months ago

He doesn't have tenure. He's not in a tenure-track position. He's an administrator with light teaching duties. It's a common arrangement at universities, and other KU employees are likely in similar positions. Most KU employees don't get KPERS. They have a different retirement system as part of their work benefits.

Lawrence Freeman 2 years, 6 months ago

Any idea if hall is part of the KU retirement system? Or if he has medical insurance through the KU system?

James Howlette 2 years, 6 months ago

I don't know, but my guess is yes to both.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 2 years, 6 months ago

My question would be are the credits students have received by taking his classes valid if he is indeed found to Not be a KU employee?

Joe Blackford II 2 years, 6 months ago

& the corollary question would be Are the credits Dean Neeli Bendapudi has received by hosting Hall's classes valid if he is indeed found to Not be a KU employee? And are they as redeemable as her Chamber of Commerce Plugged Nickels?

Video touts unity between Chamber, state

By Mary Clark in The Hutchinson News | Updated 10 months ago

"Gov. Sam Brownback and top leaders in the Kansas Legislature took turns before the camera for a new video promoting the Kansas Chamber of Commerce.

The University Of Kansas' School Of Business Dean Neeli Bendapudi is the only person from academia who appears. . . .

Bendapudi served as master of ceremonies at the Chamber's annual banquet this year, and she "was a natural for inclusion in the video," O'Neal said."

http://www.hutchnews.com/news/article_1086f69a-fed2-5af5-9cc2-6797c8732232.html?mode=jqm

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