Archive for Friday, June 9, 2017

Allegations of wrongdoing between Lawrence City Commission candidates continue

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 9, 2017, 10:06 a.m. Updated June 9, 2017, 1:35 p.m.


Allegations of wrongdoing continue to fly between two Lawrence City Commission candidates.

In statements emailed to the Journal-World last week, City Commission candidate Christian Lyche accused incumbent commissioner Matthew Herbert of being “scolded by the city ethics committee for awarding his personal company huge city painting contracts.”

Lyche’s accusations came after Herbert’s wife, Rachael Sudlow, posted on social media allegations that Lyche had hosted a keg party at a rental property that Herbert and Sudlow manage, and that the party caused thousands of dollars in damage to the property. On her Facebook page, Sudlow called Lyche a "dirtbag kid." Lyche, 19, has denied that he was a host of the party.

The Journal-World did not immediately publish Lyche’s accusations against Herbert because it wanted to investigate the veracity of the claims. Upon review, several of Lyche’s claims proved incorrect.

There is no city ethics committee, and there are no records that Herbert’s house painting business has been awarded any city contracts. However, Herbert did acknowledge that he briefly investigated seeking a city painting job, but abandoned the idea after the city attorney counseled against it.

Herbert, who in addition to being a high school teacher runs his own property management company, said that he was asked by Lawrence Police Officer Drew Fennelly to assess a painting job for the department's training room. Fennelly is also chairman of the local police union that represents Lawrence police officers. Herbert said that on May 4 he visited the facility, but after speaking with city legal staff did not submit a bid.

“It was all over and done with in a day,” Herbert said. “And like I said I never submitted a bid and I called (Lawrence Police Department staff) and left a voicemail saying that I wouldn’t be submitting a bid.”

The Journal-World did not locate a record of the painting project in the city’s published bids, but City Attorney Toni Wheeler confirmed that Herbert has not submitted a bid to paint the police facility training room. She did not say whether or not she spoke with Herbert about it but stated the situation is governed by state statute.

The statute, K.S.A. 75-4304, states that local governmental officers cannot make or participate in a contract in which they have a “substantial interest.” However, local leaders could receive such a contract as long as they abstain from any action regarding the contract. Essentially, it is legal for city commissioners to enter into contracts with the city as long as they don’t vote or otherwise participate in the contract in their capacity as an elected official.

The Journal-World informed Lyche shortly after receiving his allegations that the city does not have an ethics committee and that the Journal-World hadn’t thus far been able to locate a bid matching the one Lyche described in his original statement. Lyche maintained Herbert used his position unethically.

“Had he not been convinced otherwise, he would have used his government position to award his own company a very valuable city contract,” Lyche wrote in an email.

Herbert disputes that assertion. Herbert said when he asked Wheeler about the painting job immediately following the assessment, she told him not to submit a bid and that he "absolutely" understands that. He also said that he has never submitted any other bid to the city and has not received any payment other than what he receives for his seat on the City Commission, which he noted that he donates.

“The very first thing I did was contact the city attorney and ask about the situation,” Herbert said. “And I followed, to the letter of the law 100 percent, what she advised me to do, which was to not submit a bid, not take any interest in it, not do the work, not receive any payment for it. I have no interest in violating any ethical standards set forth by the state, by the city, by the federal government.”

The incident does highlight how the city’s bidding process has changed in recent months. Previously, all city bids and many city purchases were approved by the City Commission, which would have made it obvious to the public that a city commissioner was being awarded a contract.

However, the city’s bidding and purchasing policies were changed last year. The City Commission is required to approve purchases or services only if they are greater than $100,000. Previously, the commission approved all bids and all purchases greater than $15,000. City staff recommended the changes because those purchasing limits hadn’t been updated in years, and it was agreed the changes would make routine purchases more efficient.

The painting job in question may not be found in the bid results on the city’s website due to its price. Under the same procedures adopted last year, bids are required only when it is expected the goods or service will cost $50,000 or more. Previously, bidding generally was required for purchases greater than $15,000.

After the party at the rental property, a small-claims lawsuit was filed against Lyche but was dismissed in December. Lyche avoided multiple attempts to serve him with a summons, according to court documents. Herbert and members of his family have alleged that Lyche misrepresented himself as a pastor hosting a church retreat in order to actually rent the Airbnb property for a wild party.

Herbert and Lyche are two of eight candidates seeking three seats on the Lawrence City Commission. The terms of commissioners Lisa Larsen, Mike Amyx and Herbert are expiring this year. The other candidates are: Larsen, Bassem Chahine, Dustin Stumblingbear, Jennifer Ananda, Ken Easthouse and Mike Anderson.

The filing deadline for the City Commission race was last week. 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)


Dan Edwards 7 months, 2 weeks ago

IMHO Herbert is one of the better commissioners we've had in recent memory. While I agree he should have known better than even to consider submitting a bid for the painting given his position, at least he did quickly and ultimately did the right thing. When you look at the craven money-grabbing going on with our current federal administration, Herbert's almost-lapse-of-judgement here looks like exactly what it is--a nothingburger.

Meanwhile, this Lyche twerp has near-zero credibility (and falling). Most 19-year-olds have neither the knowledge or temperament to lead and this guy seems below average in those respects.

Although this is Kansas... so he probably has a bright future in the Kobach administration.

Brett McCabe 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Only a dish*t like Herbert would pick a fight with a kid who was going to get, what, 300 protest votes. This is yet another example of the bad judgement of the worst commissioner we've had since Jeremey Farmer and the current Mayor.

Herbert has ethical issues. He needed someone to tell him that he shouldn't bid on a city project? Does he know when he should go to the bathroom?

He never recuses himself on direct conflict of interest votes, he picks fights with kids, he tweets idiocy on a repetitive basis. And this is one of the "better" commissioners we've had. He's a dolt. You owe the city an apology for voting for him.

Dan Edwards 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Hyperbole much? And knock it off with the profanity (misspelled profanity at that).

You're entitled to your opinion, but keep in mind it's just that--an opinion. And you know what they say about opinions.

Gotta love your last paragraph where you seem to be addressing our current POTUS, not a Lawrence City Commissioner. But by all means, If Mr. Herbert has had multiple incidences where he has failed to recuse himself and multiple occasions where he's picked fights with "kids", please share with us so we can be better-informed voters. Or do you just have an axe to grind because he doesn't vote the way you'd like him to? If the latter, feel free to cast your vote for someone else--no need to apologize.

Rick Masters 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Lyche should file charges with the United Federation of Planets on this one. I smell a mopery case coming down the pike.

Rick Masters 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Are the kids these days back into flugelling? That's some dirtbag activity right there.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 months, 2 weeks ago

“Had he not been convinced otherwise, he would have used his government position to award his own company a very valuable city contract,” Lyche wrote in an email.

When Herbert told it would be the right legal thing to do, he didn't do it. Telling an airbnb that you are a paster is not ethical. Is this kid for real?

Mike Gant 7 months, 2 weeks ago

The scary thing isn't the fact that Lyche could win - let's be honest, he doesn't have a chance - it's that he's honing skills for the future. Not taking responsibility, making false allegations, denying facts when presented with them, making ad hominem attacks against opponents - he's obviously found an idol in the most unscrupulous of our politicians and is crafting his behavior in much the same way. While his past (both reported and unreported, check the conversations on facebook from those who know him) will likely prevent him from even getting past the primary, he's just the type of "Rising Star" certain types would support in the future.

Until the other stuff is proven that is.

Alex Landazuri 7 months, 2 weeks ago

for the sake of transparency, do you mind sharing with the group?

Michael Kort 7 months, 2 weeks ago

YEA,.........THIS KID COULD BE PRESIDENT SOMEDAY.........But first he will have to do 5 huge bankruptcies, steal other people's donated money from his own charitable foundation to cover his own corporate debts, lie about another sitting president's citizenship for 5 years, try to influence an FBI investigation, create mass quantities of FAKE NEWS for the public to consume daily, .........etc..

Paul Beyer 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Think the description of Lynche as a dirt bag is dead on. He might be a pastor, sounds like he would be a good "evangelical" one.

Gary Pomeroy 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Never let the facts get in the way of a good accusation.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Are you talking about Lyche? I don't know why the police weren't called and it was just a civil case. Vandalism is a crime. What are the facts? Did he rent with Airbnb in his name? Did he say he was a pastor?

Apparently it is a fact that he managed to avoid being served the court papers, but that doesn't tell me anything. It does imply that he is guilty. I certainly hope, since Airbnb paid for the damage that he and his buddies are banned from using their services.

Gary Pomeroy 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Sorry I was not clear enough - I was referring to Mr. Lyche's accusations,, that apparently are not holding water, and that he has evidently doubled down on then regardless of their veracity.

David Holroyd 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Jeremy Farmer was and still is a pastor, a minister. Just sayin'

AS for Herbert and Lyche, wouldn't their claims have been settled in court? After all, Mr. Herbert is in the rental and lodging business, so where did he screw up in the matter.

If these two want to banter themselves around in the public over some stupid lodging problem, it is highly likely that neither should be allowed to advance in the voting process.

Dump both in the primary!

Tristan Moody 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Did you not read the linked article? Lyche was sued, but the case was dismissed without prejudice because he managed to chicken out of being served papers. Airbnb's insurance covered the damage he caused.

Steve Jacob 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Historically, many people who have the time and with little pay to be on the city commission is business owners. They vote on things that affect their business all the time.

Calvin Anders 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I'm going to vote for neither of these guys in the primary. Herbert's public airing of his grievance with Lyche showed Herbert has no inclination to run a reasonable, above board campaign on the issues when he has an opportunity to engage in salacious smears. Now Lyche has demonstrated that he is willing to embellish and distort facts in an attempt to smear his opponent. They are both weasels. But now that I have written them both off, I do hope this mud slinging they have started will continue to escalate. It might really turn into some fine local entertainment. Fingers crossed.

David Holroyd 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I am with with those two down who is left? And by the way Mr moody if you are referring to me I read the article and yes the court settled the matter. It was dismissed so what is your point..lyche smarter than Herbert or neither smart bantering around before a primary? Two down....

Andrew Applegarth 7 months, 2 weeks ago

The court did NOT settle the matter. They gave up and said "Try again later." Herbert is free to refile the dismissed without prejudice charges up until the statute of limitations runs out.

Zoe Flowers 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I admit I don't know much about Airbnb but I assume some sort of credit card must be used. I assume that information was used to track down responsible party. As for Herbert making allegations public, I wish some former commissioner had known about Farmer's past transgressions and made them public. If you found out one did, wouldn't you be mad if they had kept quiet?

David Holroyd 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Zoe, many knew about Mr. Farmer's transgressions but the city commission, CADRE and the Chamber of Commerce and his many snowflake supporters wanted the facts suppressed.

Since you brought up Mr. Farmer, I would suspect that even Mr. Herbert knew as they were friends in high school and also Mr. Herbert probably knew that Mr. Farmer had gotten married as well as other Farmer supporters. Maybe even Ms. Soden,,,does she know a Caleb Soden...wasn't that the name in the wedding party.

Oh well, Mr. Farmer trashes up his rental property that belonged to a KU professor and not even the press followed that.

AS for the Herbert/Lyche circus...yes, Mr. Mood and yes, Mr Applegarth...the issue can be refiled...maybe at the "meet and greet" of the candidates...the Server (not from Applebees) will show up...with the papers.

It would seem more applicable that AirBnB would sue but then again,,,they can stick it to Mr. Lyche on his credit card.

All lthis fussing over a rental house and some party and two candidates , one of which has his wife in the middle of the squabble.

Let's see how long the paper can keep this is better than rehasing to the public about the INTEREST FREE loan about to be given to Queens Price Shopper to have a grocery store downtown..Interest free folks..

Who will vote YES,,,,Herbert? Soden? Boley? Amyx or Larsen?

Brandon Devlin 7 months ago

". . .he would have used his government position to award his own company a very valuable city contract." Oooh, a contract to paint a room. Highly valuable indeed.

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