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Archive for February, 2014

JOCO SPOTLIGHT

Lawsuit fights takeover of mental health board

February 18

BY ROXIE HAMMILL

Special to The Star

Two Johnson County citizens — one of them a former member of the county’s mental health governing board have filed a lawsuit against the county commission’s decision to dissolve the board and replace it themselves.

Saying the commission’s action violates the county’s home rule charter, Ken Dunwoody of Olathe, and Benjamin Hodge, formerly on the governing board, have asked the court to put a stop to the commission’s proceedings as the new governing board.

The suit has the potential to slow the search for a new executive director of the mental health department, but Dunwoody said it’s more important to see that the commission follows the charter, which is essentially the county’s constitution.

“What they did was illegal and I’m going to do everything in my power to keep it from happening,” he said.

The suit asks for a temporary injunction while the decision is being made whether the board’s action late last year was legal. No monetary damages were requested.

At issue is whether the county’s charter allows the commission to end the terms of governing board members early.

Last December, after financial and personnel troubles in the mental health center came to light, the commission decided to end the governing board and take over its duties, which include overseeing operations of the center. However, not every term on the governing board was set to expire in 2013. Three board members would have had until the end of this year; two more, including Hodge, would have served until December 2015. The board’s dissolution infringed on Hodge’s right to deliberate and vote on mental health business, the suit said.

That violates a section of the county charter that says governing board members shall be appointed to “definite terms,” the suit says.

Formerly, the nine-member governing board worked through the issues of programming and budgeting the mental health center then reported to the county commission, which had the final say over the center’s budget. Last year, though, a combination of factors, including failure to replace fee-generating employees like caseworkers, caused the center’s income to fall short of its expenses.

The county commission authorized a bailout of up to about $1 million, the executive director resigned and the county manager’s office took over day-to-day oversight. Assistant County Manager Maury Thompson is temporarily in charge of the department and a new advisory board has been appointed to give the community input on the center’s services. But a new executive director has not yet been found.

Removal of board members has been a sticky issue before. In 2011, the county charter commission, which reviews the home rule charter every 10 years, considered the question but failed to make an amendment. Instead, it urged the Kansas Legislature to clarify rules about appointments and removal of board members for “good cause.”

The county commission’s decision to dissolve the board came with some agonizing about their right to do so. But commissioners said at the time they were confident the state law gives them that power.

Dunwoody said his suit is not about whether the mental health center has been well or poorly run. “I care very deeply about adequate mental health care in the county,” he said. “But I care even more about the constitution.

“I want the rule makers to follow the rules.”

Hodge did not comment about the suit.

Don Jarrett, the commission’s legal counsel, also would not comment.

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Feeding off the ignorance in Washington, DC the Johnson County Government has chosen a “phone and pen” principle of governance, to change The Constitution to fit their needs.  Our “Constitution” our Closest to the People is our Home Rule Charter.  It’s preservation is more important than any single component it serves to protect.

In December 2013 The Board of County Commissioners terminated the existing Mental Health Board Commission and filled the created vacancies with themselves.  This was in direct violation of more than a decade’s use of the voters’ Home Rule Charter.  From 2011 through 2013 (period of concern) the Board of County Commissioners had at least three means of legally accomplishing their December 2013 outcome and intentionally chose not to.

I may not have impact or influence in Washington, DC.  But if I also have no impact or influence on the happenings in my own backyard, then our Republic is truly lost.  After considerable time, treasure and prayer I have filed a law suit in District Court.  Court Documents Filed 

I now stand ready for the criticism that I must not care about mental health services in Johnson County.  Allow me to once again state clearly……… I do not care about the whats and whys the Board of County Commissioners did what they did.  This is about the HOW they did it.  The Court must now decide if the voter approved Home Rule Charter has standing or not.  It’s preservation is more important than any single component it serves to protect.

“Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Anyone Who Threatens It”
Ken Dunwoody                                                                    GOD
Henpecked Acres                                              
One Nation
14850 W. 159th St.
Olathe, Ks. 66062
(913)768-1603
kdunwoody2@aol.com
http://NOlathe.net

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For what it’s worth, thanks for keeping me and the NC Farm Coalition abreast of what’s occurring in KS. Your missives continue to be shared with FC supporters and legislatures where appropriate and as representative of the tenor occurring nationwide that may influence NC public policy.
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Otherwise, unfortunately, land-use and rural rights protections, IMO, have lost to development interests here if recently published research proves reliable over the foreseeable future. As you may recall, development interests descended upon NC’s Piedmont beginning in the late 60’s, having identified its milder climate, beauty, medical and educational (university) alternatives, mountains and ocean communities as what our aging population would (and now) seeks. By 1971 they’d successfully lobbied to dramatically change state laws whereby, thereafter, towns controlled all rural land three miles outside municipal borers but rightful property owners (largely farm owners b/c of their large plots targeted for development and eventual annexation).
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The landmark laws adopted in June 2011, IMO, were too little too late. Since 1997 the FBI had ranked NC tops in the Nation for corruption (various categories). The evidence clearly supports that, regardless of which political party governs NC, the development juggernaut is so embedded in every level of government since and at this time as to make the 2011 laws laughable. In other words, as with law enforcement, the legislative process is “reactive”; seldom if ever able to surmount the forces of greed and evil.
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In December this was summarized by the release of a UNC study which illustrated a “megalopolis” reaching from east of the state Capital, Raleigh, westerly towards mid-state Greensboro/High Point/Winston-Salem and then southerly to include greater Charlotte. Overall 24 counties (of 100) have been compromised and the landowners in all have lost big time and continue to do so. Whereas the 2011 laws did acknowledge 40 years of Unconstitutional “involuntary annexation” of tens of thousands of agricultural acres, the development of hundreds of rural subdivisions representing the eventual annexation of innumerable thousands of residences, and how state laws for decades denied landowners “due process” and “just compensation” for their lost homes, land and livelihood — again, the die has been cast.
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Development interests continue to advertise nationwide “move to NC” and at a time when the forecast is for a
30% shortage of potable water and a 50% food shortage within NC by 2025, the dissipation of governmental processes, lack of leadership objectivity, endemic greed, and ignorance ensure this outcome. 500,000 more “carpetbaggers” are expected to arrive into NC by 2020. And at a time when the EPA has demanded a 40% reduction in potable water contamination levels — which, predictably, continues to be disassociated with ongoing development goals.
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In one-on-one meetings with the commissioners of Commerce (Decker) and Natural Resources Skvarla) last April, each concurred with the above forecast. Each asked me “What can we do about it?” Each acknowledged helplessness as their boss, and the first Republican administration and GA to govern NC in 142 years continues to pursue a decades of Democratic corruption, if for no other reason than to get re-elected. Again, in other words, slowing the juggernaut is impossible; NC, already iconic for its endemic corruption, will soon become a total loss. At least this is how the General Counsel of Commerce see it. But, then again, who really cares! The FBI simply claims helplessness – lack of resources, “no bodies yet to bury”, a thorough focus on terrorism.
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Thanks again for keeping me in “the loop”. If you’re inclined to pray, do think of us from time-to-time. I and my farm are among the many hundreds of farm owners expected to be bankrupted after year-end 2014 — the deadline for NC to finally comply with the EPA’s 2001 to reduce N and P contamination, the product of unrestricted urban development. Once farmers lose water rights stemming from saturation of watersheds from urban development, farming will cease. Farmland has been targeted to serve as “the giant sponge” necessary to filter contaminants before they collect in watersheds but the latter are already known to be full-up and beyond being able to comply witih the EPA mandate. In the meantime with the mandate deadline looming, local governments have raced to exhaust every imaginable opportunity to plop down new housing and commercial structures. And in related scams not address by recent laws, development interests via control of local governmental processes have developed targeted farmland by up to 94%, effectively positioning such for acquisition once rightful owners face bankruptcy.
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I’ve written more than I set out to do. As I opened my remarks to NC’s leaders this past spring, “NC has been positioned to become the next New Jersey of the United States! What are you doing to prevent this?” The answer, sadly, is nothing.
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So please do not “look to the East” for a model of the future. We see no viable future, except for the un-informed and greedy!
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Marilyn Kille
Chapel Hill, NC
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Unbelievable! One more time!
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This AM I spoke with Orange County’s Tax Assessor re an update of local land valuations, using my land as an example. Bottomline: My farm should have a current market value up to $356,566 per acre. Instead, arising from NC’s laws and development scams, it’s current valuation is between $11,865 – $16,252 per acre, about 4.4% of market value. If interested, read further.
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As illustrated by the numbers below, a comprehensive understanding of developer scams was never considered during the run-up of the 2011 Annexation Reform and Farm Protection laws. For what it’s worth! M.
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– In Dec, 2012 Orange Cty’s water authority (OWASA) illustrated via its GIS mapping that my farm’s acreage IS NOT subject to the highly restrictive state and federal watershed regulations; however,
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– Since 1988 Brough/Carrboro have convinced all that my and my neighbor’s farms (2,000 acres), in fact, are watershed restricted; thus, zoned “WR” since;
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– Not so coincidentally, our land has remained zoned 3-ways: for agriculture, residential subdivision and commercial uses [the latter likely to enable future developer acquisition];
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– As a result (and as reflected by the county’s Jan. 2014 land records), the market value of my farm’s 19.47 acres is less than I paid for it 20 years ago, merely $700,094 [$35,958/acre] (explained as “What a developer might pay for it!“); its discounted “farm use value” is $316,425 [$16,252/acre];
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– By comparison, the underlying value of the comparable 13.86 acres immediately opposite my farm has a current value of $4,942,000 or $356,566/acre;
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Now, keep in mind that, through Dec, 2013 there were an estimated (unprecedented) 45,500 viewings of my farm’s various online real estate site listings BUT not one offer. Explanation? Carrboro continues to incorrectly inform inquiring “none preferred” developers and realtors (potential non-commercial buyers) that (a) under the 2011 Farm Protection law, the town continues to have jurisdiction over my ETJ farm and (b) it will not grant to a buyer the permits necessary to operate either for agriculture or development (until his agenda plays out, of course).
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Add to this understanding how, in July 2011, Brough engineered the devaluation of the neighboring Ray Farm estate to about $11,865 per acre [to serve as the “comparable” for the remaining annexable 2,000 farm acres, positioning our farms for when our water rights disappear by year-end 2014]; . . .
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Conclusion: There is absolutely no reason why my land isn’t worth something far greater than $11,865 per acre and something closer to $356,566 per acre; nor why, instead, it’s market value is merely 4.4% of comparable land opposite the farm. But, of course, this represents developer scammming at its best.

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