Archive for Friday, June 2, 2017

City Commission race stirs allegations of illicit partying and property damage

Lawrence City Commission candidate Christian Lyche, top, and incumbent City Commissioner Matthew Herbert, bottom.

Lawrence City Commission candidate Christian Lyche, top, and incumbent City Commissioner Matthew Herbert, bottom.

June 2, 2017


In its first official day, the City Commission race has brought up allegations of false impersonation, illicit partying and property damage.

University of Kansas student Christian Lyche filed for a seat on the commission Thursday. By that evening, the details of a small claims suit filed against him last year had been posted on social media by Rachael Sudlow, wife of incumbent City Commissioner Matthew Herbert.

Christian Lyche

Christian Lyche

According to a statement included in the court documents, Lyche, who has denied the claims, and another teenager misrepresented themselves as pastors hosting a church retreat when seeking to rent a home on the short-term rental website Airbnb. Instead, the filing alleged he and his friends hosted a keg party for teenagers that caused more than $2,000 in damages.

Herbert’s mother-in-law, Lorri Sudlow, owns the rental, which is located in rural Douglas County. Herbert and his wife help her manage the rental, and when reached for comment by the Journal-World, Herbert said that though conflicted, he thought the public should know about the incident.

“We all make dumb mistakes when we’re kids, but the depth and the degree to which he vandalized and damaged my property just shows an utter lack of responsibility,” Herbert said. “…I kind of went back and forth about whether or not I really wanted to be part of this story, but I just think that it’s a bad enough deal that I think people ought to know about it.”

Herbert said Airbnb eventually reimbursed them for damages, which included holes in the walls, damage to the yard and driveway, and water damage. Herbert said the house’s basement flooded after the sump pump was unplugged in order to plug in a disco ball. Herbert said wallets were left at the house and when they eventually spoke to kids and parents, multiple individuals told them that Lyche was one of the boys who organized the party.

In this file photo from August 2015, Lawrence City Commissioner Matthew Herbert speaks during a meeting at City Hall.

In this file photo from August 2015, Lawrence City Commissioner Matthew Herbert speaks during a meeting at City Hall.

The small claims suit, which was filed against Lyche and another teenager, was dismissed in December after the court was unable to serve Lyche with a summons, according to court documents. A return of service form for the case states that the defendant was avoiding service. It notes that the car has been there on several attempts and that the officer talked to Lyche on the phone but he would not come outside. The case against the other teen was permanently dismissed, but the case against Lyche was dismissed “without prejudice,” meaning that it could be brought back to court.

Lyche, now 19, did not return phone calls from the Journal-World Friday, but did email a statement. The statement reads, in part, that he is not the one who threw the party and he is among multiple people who have been wrongfully accused of doing so.

“I have made mistakes in my life and I am not always proud of my actions,” Lyche wrote. “As a high school student I attended parties that I should not have. I feel awful for what happened to the Sudlow family and believe nobody should have that happen to them. But I am not the one who threw this party nor am I the first to be accused of it.”

On her Facebook page, Rachael Sudlow called Lyche a "dirtbag kid."

In his statement to the Journal-World, Lyche said he was disappointed in the tenor of the campaign already.

"I know very well that politics can become ugly, but false accusations on the first day of the race are more than I expected," Lyche said.

The terms of commissioners Lisa Larsen, Mike Amyx and Herbert are expiring this year. Lyche was the eighth candidate to file for the election, following filings by Herbert, Larsen, Bassem Chahine, Dustin Stumblingbear, Jennifer Ananda, Ken Easthouse and Mike Anderson.

The filing deadline for the City Commission race was Thursday. An Aug. 1 primary will narrow the field to six candidates.

Candidates filing for 2017 Lawrence City Commission election
June 1 — Christian Lyche
May 30 — Mike Anderson
May 26 — Ken Easthouse
May 15 — Jennifer Ananda
March 31 — Dustin Stumblingbear
March 8 — Commissioner Lisa Larsen
Feb. 28 — Bassem Chahine
Feb. 23 — Commissioner Matthew Herbert

Related: Commissioner Mike Amyx announces he will not run for re-election (May 18)

Related: Seventh candidate filing forces Aug. 1 primary election (May 30)


Brett McCabe 1 year ago

I am consistently amazed at the ineptitude of Herbert. If he and Larsen are retained in this election, then Lawrence has officially said "Whatever, bush league is our style."

Eric Neuteboom 1 year ago

For one, the damage amount is far greater than what was quoted here. If the LJW reporters are going to scour social media for their information, they should at least be able to do so accurately.

Two, if this dirtbag Lyche really has the courage of his convictions, he should have answered the summons and defended himself. His behavior, and refusal to speak on the record, makes him look so, so guilty.

Lastly, I consider Rachel and Matt friends, and I know how heavily this issue weighed on them. They're good people. Dirt bag kid is not.

Nick Gerik 1 year ago

Hi, Eric. As we clearly stated in the story, that amount and other information about the case comes from the court filing and new interviews we conducted with the parties involved.

— Nick Gerik, LJW digital editor

Francis Hunt 1 year ago

This behavior is par for the course, Matt and his wife thrive on social media. The arrogance and holier than thou attitude they have both adopted since Matt was elected is disturbing along with his condescending attitude. Want to talk immature and irresponsible, Matt & Rachel? There was probably a better way to let the public "know about the incident." And to call him a dirt bag, how old are you? As a teacher, what a great example for students! This is what's wrong with politics today, immature, childish, "Trump-like" behavior. The Herberts, like Trump have been throwing bombs on social media since Matt was elected. Hold onto your hats Lawrence because they just showed what kind of re-election campaign they are capable of. Whatever Lyche may or may not have done needs to be dealt with in a venue other than social media.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year ago

They tried to deal with it in the courts, but the guy wouldn't answer the door. But I know if I had let out my house only to have it destroyed, I would talk about it on my Facebook page. That's what social media is about. Letting your friends and family know what is happening in your life. And quite frankly these boys should be glad they weren't arrested for vandalism and for identity theft. Pastors? Really?

Scott Quenette 1 year ago

They are quite the LJWorld comment scolds. This isn't surprising at all.

Aaron McGrogor 1 year ago

"There was probably a better way to let the public 'know about the incident.'"

Since they tried the court system and it failed them, what do you suggest?

Eric Neuteboom 1 year ago

Francis, it's obvious you know neither Matt nor Rachel. Arrogant? Condescending? I'm not sure those words mean what you think that they mean.

I think it's unfortunate the LJW chose to post this, while cherry picking their facts and quoting (inaccurately) social media. However, If the dirt bag who pretended to be a church group doesn't want this out there, then he shouldn't act like an entitled, whiny little rich kid.

Scott Quenette 1 year ago

Are Rachel and Matt busy today? They're usually lighting up these boards.

Bob Smith 1 year ago

Perhaps this election will be entertaining after all.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year ago

And that's what it is for you? Entertainment. Bring on the dirt? Not about good governance? Your life must be really boring. Get a hobby.

Scott Quenette 1 year ago

Good governance? We're talking about the Lawrence city commission, right?

Eric Neuteboom 1 year ago

Nick, no need to be condescending. Treating your readers contemptuously is the mark of a small man.

Nick Gerik 1 year ago

Eric, my apologies. No contempt was intended. We take great pride in our reporting, and I was merely trying to correct the misunderstanding about the source and accuracy of our information.

— Nick Gerik, LJW digital editor

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year ago

I do not know the Herberts personally, nor do I agree with Mr. Herbert's stances 100%, but I'm sorry. This even didn't occur in someone's long ago past, when they were a stupid youth. He is still a youth. If he and his friend misrepresented themselves as pastors in order to rent something it should be against the law. They were the ones responsible for renting the place, no matter for what reason. They were responsible for anyone who showed up. If you invite some people over and it gets out of hand, you call the cops.

Now if this was even 10 years down the road, and this man was older and wiser, and took responsibility for his actions, then I would say, let it go. But I am real sure he doesn't have a snowball's chance in h*ll of winning. Time to grow up and clean up your reputation, kid.

Zoe Flowers 1 year ago

"the case against Lyche was dismissed “without prejudice,” meaning that it could be brought back to court." Since he can still be charged in the future, of course he will insist he is innocent. After Farmer, candidates past will be scrutinized closely so this was bound to come out. Better sooner than later so voters can make a better informed decision.

Francis Hunt 1 year ago

Dorothy, post away on Facebook, my guess is your Facebook is made up entirely of friends and family, Matt's is not. Matt's is made up of friends, family and voters. He and Rachel knew exactly what they were doing by posting it to Facebook, it is not the first time the LJW has taken information for a story from Matt's Facebook page. We should hold our elected officials to a higher standard. I don't condone Mr. Lyche's behavior in any way shape or form and he too should be held to a higher standard if he expects to serve his community. But this information should have come to light in another manner, not on a candidate's Facebook page with his wife calling another candidate a dirt bag kid.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year ago

So the issue is if this guy broke a law or not. I could care less where they got the information if it's true. Did this guy pretend to be a pastor to rent a house for a party? Did that party get out of hand? Was property destroyed? Why would I vote for someone who did this? Why doesn't he address this in court, so he can clear his name?

Paul Beyer 1 year ago

Facts are facts, no matter the source. I did not and would not vote for Herbert ever. But Lynch is running for elected office and his record will be subjected to scrutiny. From what I see, he has absolutely no qualifications nor chance of being elected. Think dirt bag probably describes him exactly.

Lee Saylor 1 year ago

Rachel posted it on her page, not on the commissioners page. She is not an elected official and is free to express her views.

Scott A. Thomas 1 year ago

It's always good to know who the bigoted trash in your community is. Thanks for outing yourself, Francis Hunt. Much appreciated!

Bob Smith 1 year ago

It's always good to know who the knee-jerk name-callers in your community are. Thanks for outing yourself, Scott Thomas. Much appreciated!

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year ago

Look, Francis, I don't care where the venue is, if some kids rented my property and trashed it, I would call them "dirt bag kids" everywhere, including to their faces. I would probably call them a lot worse than that too. Dirt bag kid seems kind of mild. How about an apology from your friend Lyche? If he rented the place, whether or not he threw the party, he was responsible for the property while he was renting it. Quit trying to distract. Did he or did he not lie about being a pastor? Did he rent this place? Is he your son? your boyfriend? Why are you blaming the victims here? And I would ask why this was in civil court? Why wasn't in criminal court?

Scott Callahan 1 year ago

Seriously, Scott Thomas? Francis is about the only person on this thread making any sense. Is maturity politically incorrect now?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year ago

I can tell this young man right now, even if we agreed 100% on every issue, I would not vote for him. If you are really innocent, then you would try and clear your name, instead of hiding. If you aren't innocent, you have a few more years of maturing and a whole lot of admitting how stupid you were when you were young, before I would trust you in a position of responsibility.

Steve Jacob 1 year ago

Anyone see yet his Facebook photos floating around from a few years back?

John Gallup 1 year ago

Wow, who to vote for, the people that call other people dirtbags on facebook or the kid that could be said dirtbad, Hmmmmmm. Good job Rachael Sudlow, you must be very proud covered in all that dirt.

James Canaday 1 year ago

Certainly doesn't suggest that one should vote for Lyche. btw, how is Lyche pronounced anyway? dodging the process server as noted above suggests he is indeed guilty.

Calvin Anders 1 year ago

Well, LJW has gotten right into the mud slinging, haven't they. There does seem to be some effort to report the facts of the case. But details are so vague that Lyche's culpability is implied without much hard evidence. I'm left with more questions than answers. But based on comments, it seems that Lyche has been convicted in the court of public opinion. I'm going to wait until I know more before writing off Lyche. Herbert is not someone I could vote for. Name calling and smearing an opponent based on a personal grievance (via ones spouse's social media account no less), is just a bush league, weasel move.

David Holroyd 1 year ago

Well, I am more concerned about Mr.Herbert and Mr. Farmer's almost check to cheek photo at the election results....After all, the cheek to cheek of Mr. Farmer and Mr. Dever did not fare them well.

From the candidates thus far.....may as well outsource the government of Lawrence.

If Mr. Herbert has a rental business of sorts, he should know about leases and why now does the new City Manager raise the question of money not paid from leases with the city?

Does Mr. Herbert ask questions at Study sessions and likewise his fellow commissioners.

Mr. Herbert as for as I am concerned is tied to Mr. Farmer..and just what donations has Mr. Herbert provided with his commission salary to date?How's that going donating?He was to give all the money away.

Hey, if you want to match my $100 toward the Mausoleum...I'll take you up on it.

AS an about the property damage Mr. Farmer left at his former rental in west Lawrence...just ask the guy in charge of the bus system he took photos he told me ...why didn't the Journal World get out there to see that big pile of trash...a KU professor owned the place...wonder if he went to court for damages...prob not..

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