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StemExpress-flyer

Above quote from “Dorothy Furgerson, M.D., Chief Medical Officer” http://www.plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-mar-monte/who-we-are/management-team-board

“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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JCSOJuly2nd-ResponsetoDiscussionPaper

Ask why the secrecy to nullify HOME RULE CHARTER here……………

County Chairman

Chairman

Ed Eilert
913-715-0500 | Bio | ed.eilert@jocogov.org

First District Commissioner

First District Commissioner

C. Edward Peterson
913-715-0431 | Bio | ed.peterson@jocogov.org

Second District Commissioner

Second District Commissioner

James (Jim) P. Allen
913-715-0432 | Bio | jim.allen@jocogov.org

Third District Commissioner

Third District Commissioner

Steven C. Klika
913-715-0433 | Bio | steve.klika@jocogov.or

Fourth District Commissioner

Fourth District Commissioner

Jason Osterhaus
913-715-0434 | Bio | jason.osterhaus@jocogov.org

Fifth District Commissioner

Fifth District Commissioner

Michael Ashcraft
913-715-0435 | Bio | michael.ashcraft@jocogov.org

Sixth District Commissioner

Sixth District Commissioner

John Toplikar
913-715-0436 | Bio | john.toplikar@jocogov.org

 

From: Cynthia.Dunham@jocogov.org
To: Kdunwoody2@aol.com
Sent: 7/15/2014 3:34:22 P.M. Central Daylight Time
Subj: RE: Commissioner Ashcraft

Mr. Dunwoody:

As a follow-up to my prior email, attached JCSOJuly2nd-ResponsetoDiscussionPaper please find the Response to the Johnson County Auditor’s Discussion Paper, which was prepared by the Sheriff’s auditor, BKD. This Response was received subsequent to my prior email. Additionally, please note the restrictions on publication and reproduction set forth in BKD’s cover letter, which is part of the Response.

If you have any problems with the attachments, please let me know.

Thank you.

Cynthia Dunham

Deputy Director of Legal

Legal Department

111 S. Cherry Street, Suite 3200 Olathe, Kansas 66061

Direct (913) 715-1852 | Fax (913) 715-1873 | Office (913) 715-1900

E-mail: cynthia.dunham@jocogov.org Kansas Relay Operator (800)766-3777

www.jocogov.org| @jocogov | F/jocogov

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This e-mail, and any attached document accompanying this transmission, contain confidential information belonging to the sender which may be privileged. It is intended only for the use of the above named. If you are not the intended recipient, any disclosure, copying, distribution or taking of action based on the contents of this information is strictly prohibited. If you received this transmission in error, please notify the sender immediately by return e-mail and then delete all contents received. Thank you for your cooperation.

From: Dunham, Cynthia, LGL
Sent: Thursday, July 03, 2014 3:08 PM
To: Kdunwoody2@aol.com
Cc: Ashcraft, Michael, BOC
Subject: RE: Commissioner Ashcraft

Mr. Dunwoody:

Attached please find records responsive to your request. If you have any problems with the attachments, please let me know.

Thank you.

Cynthia Dunham

Deputy Director of Legal

Legal Department

111 S. Cherry Street, Suite 3200 Olathe, Kansas 66061

Direct (913) 715-1852 | Fax (913) 715-1873 | Office (913) 715-1900

E-mail: cynthia.dunham@jocogov.org Kansas Relay Operator (800)766-3777

www.jocogov.org| @jocogov | F/jocogov

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This e-mail, and any attached document accompanying this transmission, contain confidential information belonging to the sender which may be privileged. It is intended only for the use of the above named. If you are not the intended recipient, any disclosure, copying, distribution or taking of action based on the contents of this information is strictly prohibited. If you received this transmission in error, please notify the sender immediately by return e-mail and then delete all contents received. Thank you for your cooperation.

From: Ashcraft, Michael, BOC
Sent: Tuesday, July 01, 2014 5:09 AM
To: Kdunwoody2@aol.com
Cc: Dunham, Cynthia, LGL
Subject: Re: Commissioner Ashcraft

Thank you Ken. I will ask that those results be sent to us.

Michael L. Ashcraft

Sent from my iPad
On Jun 30, 2014, at 8:04 PM, “Kdunwoody2@aol.com” <Kdunwoody2@aol.com> wrote:

Commissioner Ashcraft,

Nothing I like more than a healthy digestion of the budget, any budget. Not to disappoint, JoCo has left me on pins and needles since last Thursday. Actually creating a budget is tedious and boring, troubleshooting the final document is always fun.

Last Thursday 6/26/14 there was considerable discussion and criticism directed towards the Sheriff’s Office for having a non-governmental company do an independent audit as it concerned the Sheriff’s proposed 2015 budget. Chairman Eilert seemed concerned that the independent auditor had not consulted with the County Auditor when there were gross contradictions with the numbers. Someone should have reminded the Chair, that’s why it’s called an “independent audit“.

The independent auditor made it clear several times that she could not replicate the County’s numbers. Yourself and others requested that the two auditors meet Friday 6/27/14 and reconcile the two audits. Today’s second look meeting was shocking to say the least. The Board of County Commissioners took nearly an about turn and unanimously supported the Sheriff’s budget. Absent was any discussion of the auditors’ reconciliation of the two documents.

Having had some experience in replicating budgets, I find the absence of Thursday’s importance somewhat curious today. I may very well be wrong but it’s only June 30th so allow me to venture a guess. The County’s Auditor was wrong and the independent auditor was correct? Since the questions regarding the differences of the two audits were clearly made part(s) of the record, it is necessary that the reconciliation of the two audits also be made part(s) of the record. As my Commissioner, I leave that responsibility to you.

As my Commissioner, please accept this as a KORA request for all documents (electronic or written) that clarifies, reconciles, discusses or make up your own word addressing the auditors’ differences or similarities.

When I could not replicate the Olathe budget involving the annexation of my little Henpecked Acres, they aborted their attempt and someone lost their job. Creating numbers is easy, defending them is more difficult.

Thank you for your service to this GREAT Nation.

“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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From: patricia57b@aol.com
To: Kdunwoody2@aol.com
Sent: 5/2/2014 2:21:10 P.M. Central Daylight Time
Subj: My filing
Hi Mr. Dunwoody,
Yesterday I filed for Johnson County Commissioner Chair at the Johnson County Election Office.
Steve Rose’s prediction that Eilert would win should have stopped me, but then again who is Steve Rose?
Sincerely,
Patricia Lightner
From: dlight3344@aol.com
To: kdunwoody2@aol.com
Sent: 5/2/2014 2:57:02 P.M. Central Daylight Time
Subj: Patricia Lightner has filed for County Chair

Hi Ken,
I just thought I would inform you that Patricia has officially filed for Johnson County Chair yesterday. If you have any questions, we would be glad to respond. Patricia57b@aol.com. Or Patricia’s phone 913-486-4082.

Sent by my iPhone
David Lightner
11728 W. 146th Street
Olathe, KS 66062
(913)909-0011
Dlight3344@aol.com

 

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During the 2013 Five Year Planning Sessions, the Solid Waste Management Committee did allow public input from citizens present.  When Mr. Dennis Batliner and Mr. David Losey began supplying statistics that contradicted information supplied by County Staff, the Committee was faced with some serious decisions.

Solution-  The Chairperson along with County Staff changed the Committee’s By-Laws making the public input under the discretion of the Chairperson. Batliner and Losey have been virtually silenced.

On February 6, 2014 an Ethics Complaint JOCOSWMCcomplaint–Jorke was filed with the County Board of County Commissioners.

On April 10, 2014 during a public meeting the BOCC addressed this complaint captured in this 4 minute video.

Two weeks later, County Staff addressed this complaint.

Loseyltr4-21-14

Jarrett.1 jarrett.2

The Ethics Complaint was filed with the County Board of County Commissioners per established policy.

VI. ETHICS ADVISORY BOARD

The Ethics Advisory Board shall be a standing committee, established by the Board of County Commissioners, composed of the following designated members:

1. The Director of Personnel for the County, or their designee;

2. The Chief Counsel for the County, or their designee;

3. The District Attorney for the County, or their designee; and

4. The County Clerk, or their designee.

.

The Chief Counsel does not have the policy authority to rule on an Ethics Complaint.  In the absence of an Executive Session since April 10, 2014 the Chief Counsel does not have the policy authority to speak for the BOCC.  A reasonable person would conclude the Ethics Complaint has not been legally responded to but is more of a decision made by Chairman Eilert.  The only thing compliant is the other six commissioners.

“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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Eilert Law Suit

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10/21/2010

Mr. Dunwoody:

I must advise you that your request is more in the nature of a request for information or an interrogatory than it is a Kansas Open Records Act (“KORA”) request. The KORA affords public access to existing documents and does not require a public entity to create a new document in responding to a KORA request. Nevertheless, as an accommodation to you in this instance, we are answering your questions but without thereby acquiescing in an interpretation of the KORA that would require the City to do so in the future. There will be no charge to you for the costs incurred by the City in constructing this response. However, we do not thereby acquiesce in an interpretation of the KORA that would require this waiver of fees with respect to future requests.

The insurance policy of the City that responded to the Kerry Patrick claim and lawsuit was the law enforcement and police professional liability policy, an occurrence policy, issued through the First Mercury Syndicate, Inc., of the Illinois Insurance Exchange (“insurance company”) for the policy period from March 15, 1994, to March 15, 1995. The premium paid for the policy period from March 15, 1994, to March 15, 1995, was $128,588. The premium paid for the policy period from March 15, 1995, to March 15, 1996, was $128,438. The premium paid for the policy period from March 15, 1996, to March 15, 1997, was $116,322. In late 1996, the general managing agency for the insurance company indicated that law enforcement and police professional liability coverage was no longer being offered through the insurance company. Hence, the City moved to the St. Paul Fire and Marine for its law enforcement and police professional liability coverage and all other coverages for the policy period from March 15, 1997, to March 15, 1998. The premium paid for the law enforcement and police professional liability policy was $96,080 for the policy period from March 15, 1997, to March 15, 1998.

The cost to the City of defending the City, the Mayor and the Chief of Police in the Kerry Patrick matter was the $100,000 deductible paid by the City. This payment consisted of payment by the City directly to the Spencer Fane law firm of $10,274.08 for its initial defense of the City and the Mayor, and to the Bryan Cave law firm of $8,799.30 for its initial defense of the Chief of Police. These payments were made in 1995, prior to the assumption of the payment obligation by the City’s insurance company. The City was given a credit against its deductible for the payments it had made to the law firms. The City paid to the insurance company the balance due on its deductible of $80,926.62 on December 19, 1996, all of which amount was attributable to additional defense costs.

With respect to your request that the City “confirm that the lawsuit was settled out of court based on the recommendation of the city’s insurance carrier,” the City has found no record that provides such a confirmation. With respect to your request “for any settlement payments paid by the City of Overland Park outside of the insurance settlements to Mr. Patrick and/or his attorney Mr. Dennis Egan and/or court costs,” the City has found no record of such payments. Kerry Patrick and his attorneys voluntarily dismissed, with prejudice, all claims against the City and the Mayor. No funds, public or private, were paid to Mr. Patrick or to his attorneys in return for the dismissal. All claims by Kerry Patrick against the Chief of Police were settled and dismissed and the Chief of Police denies any liability. No public funds were paid to Mr. Patrick or to his attorneys in return for the settlement.

ROBERT J. WATSONCITY ATTORNEYLAW DEPARTMENT

CITY OF OVERLAND PARK

8500 SANTA FE DRIVE

OVERLAND PARK, KS 66212

913-895-6083 (w) | 913-484-0280 (m) | 913-895-5095 (f)

bob.watson@opkansas.org | www.opkansas.org

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913

Citizen watchdogs go the extra mile to keep an eye on Johnson County governments

January 28

BY ROXIE HAMMILL

Special to The Star

They email. They blog. They attend the meetings, sometimes with a video camera in hand.

And often, this band of citizen watchdogs gets things done.

Those detailed minutes, transcribed from Shawnee City Council meetings and available online? Thank Tony Lauer and Ray Erlichman for that. The yard sign campaign against a sales tax increase in Roeland Park? That was Linda Mau’s baby, and voters rejected the hike. And if you live in Mission and got a new City Council representative in 2012, Bill Nichols may have had something to do with that.

These are some of Johnson County’s citizen activists — a small but vocal group of people well known to city councils and commissions for their persistence, watchfulness and willingness to delve into the smallest details.

These are no casual dabblers. They spend countless hours attending meetings and running down facts.

In some cases, it runs into money, too.

“I’ve spent probably several thousands of dollars on open-records requests since 2012,” Lauer said.

Not surprisingly, open access to public records is a pet cause for Lauer, who often helps neighborhood groups negotiate city hall when they have problems with a developer or want to contest city policies.

For their efforts, they are sometimes met with distrust and dismissal by the people they keep an eye on. Even casual observers sometimes make the mistake of making light of them.

“One expression I hate is when people say I’ve got too much time on my hands,” said Erlichman, who attends most council meetings and writes about them in the blog, Shawnee Ray’s Ramblings. “You jog around the block for two hours or watch Monday night football and that’s better than a council meeting?”

Erlichman has been writing about Shawnee’s goings on for about eight years — long enough for his outspoken opinions to have had an effect on the city officials he critiques. Sometimes that means a certain slowness in responding to his questions, he said. But he’s also been on the receiving end of some criticism himself. His response? At the bottom of each blog post, Erlichman runs a couple of lines of small type: “WARNING!!!!!! The City Manager of Shawnee has determined that local bloggers post items that may contain bad or misinformation. Please read these posts with care and determine for yourself whether the information is valid.”

In some cases that blowback has been a little harsher.

“In 2010 somebody reported to the sheriff I was dangerous,” said Ken Dunwoody, who comments on the doings of the city and the Johnson County Commission in his NOlathe’s Blog. Now, whenever he attends a county commission meeting, he said, he presents his driver’s license to the law enforcement official in attendance.

For elected officials, these activists are a regular part of political life. Some politicians take them in stride, others are more bothered by the criticism.

Ed Eilert, chairman of the Johnson County Commission, said public comment is just part of the process.

“Whether it’s a citizen comment or a staff comment, you evaluate the veracity of that information,” Eilert said

Mission Mayor Laura McConwell, frequent target of criticism from Nichols, worries that the frustration and partisan bickering in Washington will spill over into the local level.

“My big fear is that what happens with bloggers is going to trickle down and create gridlock at the local level, and that’s going to really impact people’s lives,” said McConwell, who recently decided to not run for re-election.

McConwell is thick-skinned enough to work with people who don’t agree, but she said Nichols sometimes is misleading in the numbers he presents to his readers. And his videotaping “creates an uncomfortable situation for everyone” because they know he will edit it, she said. “He’s videotaping and getting right in people’s faces.” Nichols said he always tries to be unobtrusive and polite in his taping.

McConwell said she’d much rather have a dialogue with voters who have criticisms of the city’s direction, rather than read about it in a blog. “What that allows is for people just to kind of lob hand grenades,” she said.

Shawnee Councilman Jeff Vaught, who has been a target of Shawnee Ray’s Ramblings, said it’s worth remembering that the people in city government live there, too, and are doing the best they can for the community.

“These are your neighbors,” he said. “These people live in the community and care about the community.”

Vaught said he hasn’t read the blog in over nine months.

“I think it’s great that people want to engage and get involved. It would be boring if nobody did,” said Vaught. “But I am frustrated by personal attacks. That really discredits that person.”

Mark Grannell, president of the Gardner-Edgerton Board of Education, said the school takes pride in providing the highest level of information to citizens as well as quality education. But some of the scrutiny from Walter Hermreck of Gardner and others can cast a negative light on the school and staff, he said.

“Any time you hold public office, there’s going to be a counter-view. That’s healthy,” said Grannell. “But when you continue to pound on negative issues it gets people feeling like there’s always something wrong.”

Grannell said he supports open information. But “the flip side is that data can be manipulated to make an issue where there is none.”

As for relations with the group of Gardner citizens asking the questions: “I like to think they’re cordial,” Grannell said. “It’s hard to be overly friendly with the negative image the group projects. It’s not like we’re failing here.”


It would be easy to dismiss the efforts of these people as the nattering of right- or left-wing crazies devoted to a grander national agenda. Some people do.

But those people don’t get it, say several of the activists. “I hate specific labels,” said Erlichman, when asked if people ever associated him with the tea party. “To me that means you’re just as bad, that you’re marching in lockstep.”

Lauer also dislikes labels. He has a blog, For What It’s Worth, but rarely posts and dislikes being marginalized with a “blogger” label. He even demurred at the idea of being called a watchdog.

“I’m hesitant to put on labels because that gives others and excuse to dismiss you,” he said. “Being called a watchdog puts others on the defensive.”

Sometimes, just being seen talking to someone with political views results in accusations of partisanship, he said. Lauer said he’s open to talking with people from any part of the political spectrum.

That said, though, some of them admit to at least a little partisan history. Erlichman, who has another blog supporting gun rights, ran as a conservative Republican for a state assembly seat when he lived in New York more than 20 years ago. “For a long time I would have classified myself as a Rockefeller Republican, but in the past few years I’ve gone a little more to the right.”

Dunwoody and Hermreck consider themselves more Libertarian than Republican. Mau is a registered Democrat who campaigns against tax increases and considers herself fiscally conservative. And Bill Nichols, who has served as a GOP committee representative, makes no bones about his conservative viewpoint.

The line between citizen watchdog and government official can get a little blurry at times. Sometimes, the natural interest in government inspires citizen activists to run for office themselves.

Such is the case with Nichols of Mission, who recently decided he would like to represent the city’s 4th Ward, a spot now held by Suzie Gibbs.

But he’s not the only one. Lauer of Shawnee put his name in the hat last fall when City Council members appointed a replacement for Dawn Kuhn in Ward 3. He was nominated, but Stephanie Meyer was eventually appointed. Lauer applied to make a statement about the city’s selection process for vacant seats, he said.

And there are those, like Mau of Roeland Park, who have served council terms but continue to be involved in civic affairs.

Running for office is a temptation that has so far been resisted by others. Erlichman and Hermreck, for example, say they often are asked whether they’ll run for office. But both prefer the flexibility and freedom to speak their minds that comes with being outside the politically correct strictures of elected office.

“I feel I can do more by being an outspoken advocate for what’s right without being locked in,” said Erlichman. “I can speak my mind without having to play politics.”

Things look different from the other side of the dais, say the council and commission members who are subjects of scrutiny.

Teresa Kelly knows. Just a couple of years ago, she was an activist herself, campaigning for the right to keep chickens in her Roeland Park back yard. Now she is on the City Council, dealing with tough tax issues as the city tries to plan a budget after losing Wal-Mart, its largest retailer.

“It’s totally different sitting behind the dais,” she said. “There is so much information that people don’t dive into as deeply as we do.”

That means sometimes people don’t understand why certain plans won’t work, she said. Even so, Kelly said, it’s important to treat everyone with respect. “I try to remember how I felt when I would make public comments or write letters to my representative,” she said.

Kelly and other elected officials said they welcome the differences of opinion. “It shows no one is in control. We’re having an adult conversation about the issue,” said Kelly.


If there’s one thing that ties this group together, it’s the belief in citizen involvement at the local level. And perhaps a certain frustration that more people are interested in following the big names in Washington than their own city councils.

“When’s the last time you saw the president of the United States filling a pothole, mowing lawns or anything else?” said Erlichman. “City government has the largest effect on people of any government. It’s also the easiest place to get involved.”

Other points in common: A belief that local government should be open, a love of the hunt for information — and most of all, a hope that all the time and energy they invest will make things better for their fellow taxpayers.

Here, then, is a brief who’s who of local government watchers, their motivations and causes.

Ken Dunwoody

Governments watched: Olathe and Johnson County Commission

Blog: NOlathe’s Blog, https://nolathe.net/

Background: Dunwoody served in an elite Navy “brown-water” unit at the Cambodian border. Afterward, he worked as an electrical/mechanical consultant for a soft-drink company. In 1998, he developed health problems due to exposure to Agent Orange and has been retired to his farm since.


Dunwoody’s interest in local politics dates to 2008, when the city of Olathe tried to annex his farm near Heritage Park. “Something just sparked,” he said.

After a little research, Dunwoody and other residents were able to win the fight because of an ordinance that forbade annexation if the area couldn’t pay its own way in taxes, he said.

The fire was lit. Dunwoody continued to explore issues with the Johnson County Commission. He objected to the summarized minutes that appear along with video of the commission meetings on the county’s website, at one point even offering to pay the $500 cost of having them transcribed. The county turned down his offer but decided to make full transcripts available beginning in 2014.

Health problems have made it difficult for Dunwoody to get out to commission meetings as often as he would like, so he follows the meetings online. He’s been particularly interested in the county’s plans for the former King Louie bowling alley and, recently, the future of the county mental health governing board. The commission recently voted not to spend the money necessary to remodel the King Louie into space for the museum and other offices. And the county commission recently dismissed the mental health governing board so commission members could take on its duties directly. Dunwoody contends that action is against the county’s charter.

“I’m never happier than when I’m doing research,” he said. “It’s frustrating when you know the truth and share that truth and it doesn’t change anything. Incredibly frustrating.”

Thankfulness and a hope to inspire others keep Dunwoody going, he said, remembering a high school trip to Washington, D.C., that his parents helped pay for.

“I never lost the meaning of that sacrifice,” he said. “A lot of my life right now is payback.”

Ray Erlichman

Government watched: Shawnee

Blog: Shawnee Ray’s Ramblings, http://shawneeray.blogspot.com/

Background: Born in Brooklyn and raised in the Bronx, Erlichman moved to Shawnee in 1989 on a job transfer selling fasteners, nuts and bolts to businesses.


Erlichman got involved in local government because of a proposed smoking ordinance. Passed in 2007, it prohibited smoking in enclosed public places, places of employment and outdoor seating areas.

He had already quit smoking by the time it was being discussed but disagreed that the city should step in to prohibit it. So he went to the council and said so, and ended up on the city’s task force. “It was a learning experience. I wouldn’t say it was a bad experience,” said Erlichman.

As he continued to watch city government, Erlichman became more concerned about how things were being run. When former council member Cheryl Scott delayed her resignation, apparently to ensure her replacement would be appointed rather than elected, and when a relative of the mayor ended up being appointed to the council, Erlichman said things had gone too far.

“It just highlighted the arrogance of officials that they could do what they want,” he said.

Erlichman continued to blog on those and many other issues about the city. He said the blog posts played a part in the city’s decision to bring back detailed minutes of council meetings to augment audio recordings and summarized minutes that were there previously. And he has criticized as “inflated” the job creation numbers city officials use as rationale for special taxing districts.

Shawnee Ray posts can be positive. He pointed out positive pieces he’s done on the fire department and parks. “I can be cooperative. I just can’t stand the hypocrisy going on,” he said.

“My agenda is to try and get more people involved,” he said. His biggest complaint, he said, is “apathetic” people. “That’s why sometimes government gets away with that it does.”

Walter Hermreck

Government watched: Gardner Edgerton school district

Blog: Gardner 24 Seven, http://gardner24seven.wordpress.com/

Background: Hermreck retired from the Army three years ago after 24 years of service in artillery and recruiting. He moved to Gardner a little over two years ago from Wichita and now stays home with his children while his wife attends school.


It was a series of Facebook posts about a Gardner Edgerton High School football game that got Hermreck into the complexities of school district affairs.

The home opener featured festivities with a special appearance by Chiefs mascot KC Wolf. Some commenters wondered where the money for the show came from, he said.

Hermreck set out with the intention to defend the district because he assumed the show was paid for by a booster club rather than the district, which turned out to be true. So he went looking for some open records on school policy. A few days later, he said, he got the records — along with a bill for $122.

“I was dumbfounded,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it.”

But the more he talked to people around town, the more he became convinced the district needed to be more open. School board members’ emails, for instance, are deleted from the system after only 24 hours, he said.

Hermreck also began to question school budget cuts and tax cuts, which he suspects are hurting the school system. He claims the replacement of three school board members and slowly improving access to records as successes. “We’re trying to clean house,” he said.

The issue is transparency, he said.

“I want to get people engaged,” he said. “You can’t control the things that happen in Washington, D.C. City council and school board members make decisions that affect everyday life.”

Linda Mau

Government watched: Roeland Park City Hall

Blog: Citizens for Roeland Park, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Citizens-for-Roeland-Park/201819109961859

Background: Mau moved to Roeland Park in the mid-1980s and became involved in the community as a stay-at-home mom. She is a former City Council member and ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2013.


Growing up in southeast Houston in the 1960s, Mau remembers her parents working hard to save money for the poll taxes. “I have three kids, and I tell each and every one of them that voting is a privilege. Don’t throw it away,” Mau said.

When she first moved to Roeland Park, Mau said she’d heard about a series of home break-ins and became worried enough that she went to the police station to ask if it was true that burglars were circling certain neighborhoods. But police wouldn’t tell her unless she gave them her address, she said. “That was what got me started in Roeland Park.”

But perhaps the biggest factor that got her involved was when former Roeland Park Mayor Jack Carpenter used the term “tar babies” to describe city’s increasing expenditures on a new swimming pool. The Tar-Baby was a character in an Uncle Remus story that entrapped Br’er Rabbit with its stickiness, but has also been viewed as a racial slur. Mau called the mayor out publicly for using the term.

“When someone attacks someone else for the color of their skin, you can let it ride or use it as a teachable moment,” Mau said.

Mau became increasingly involved in numerous city committees on such things as parks and Octoberfest. She won a council seat in 2003 but was defeated for re-election four years later. She ran for mayor in 2013, beating incumbent Adrienne Foster in the primary but eventually losing.

Late last year Mau was most visible for a successful campaign against a sales tax increase meant to offset some of the $700,000 in revenue the city will lose when Wal-Mart, its largest retailer, moves away.

People sometimes ask how Mau can be so passionate about issues yet maintain normal blood pressure, she says. “It’s because I love it,” she said. “So many people despair about politics and government in general, and they think, ‘My vote won’t matter.’ Your vote always counts.

“I do what I do because you have to know what’s going on in order to keep the community a community.”

Tony Lauer

Governments watched: Shawnee, Johnson County Commission, De Soto School District among others.

Blog: Shawnee, Kansas — FWIW (For What It’s Worth), http://blog.shawneefwiw.com/

Background: Lauer said he’s been an independent thinker at least since age 12. That was when he took a job stripping and polishing floors in Oklahoma City so he could pursue his own education at home. He and his mother had moved there from Johnson County, but he moved back again in the early 1990s and has made a living at a variety of pursuits, including technology consulting, writing data applications, product development and Internet marketing.


Lauer’s has been a data-driven life. He took to computers in the 1980s, and they are a mainstay in his search for information. Part of his house in west Shawnee is given over to several monitors as well as shelves of printed material he’s requested from governments over the years. “I don’t hack,” he said. “But I know how they work.”

That interest in data drove Lauer to campaign for detailed minutes to be kept of the City Council meetings. The council had been providing audio recording of the meetings plus minutes that provided few details of the council’s discussions.

“Historical data is critical,” he said. “Nobody has a crystal ball to see what the future is going to be, but hindsight should be 20/20.”

Because of his computer expertise, Lauer is able to turn that data into bigger pictures, spotting oversights in spending and other areas of city business, such as the proper recording of plats.

Lauer became interested in city business because of an issue in his western Shawnee neighborhood, Crimson Ridge. The neighborhood was to have 40 acres of trees and jogging trails running among the homes, according to the developer, Lauer said. But neighbors asked him to help when it became known that the land was sold to Habitat Kansas for stream mitigation. Homeowners would not be allowed to use it.

“As far as I was concerned that was like someone trying to take toys away from my children,” Lauer said. In response, he immersed himself in the records, taking a crash course in plats and planning commission minutes. Habitat has since backed away from the mitigation plan, but the neighborhood still doesn’t have its jogging trails, he said.

Since then Lauer has been called upon by many other citizens looking for help in disputes with the city. But he’d prefer to get more people paying closer attention to what’s going on so they can help themselves. “My agenda is to help others do what I do,” he said. “What happens too often is that people spend a lot of time complaining, but they don’t complain to the right people.”

Linda Mau

Government watched: Roeland Park City Hall

Blog: Citizens for Roeland Park, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Citizens-for-Roeland-Park/201819109961859

Background: Mau moved to Roeland Park in the mid-1980s and became involved in the community as a stay-at-home mom. She is a former City Council member and ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2013.


Growing up in southeast Houston in the 1960s, Mau remembers her parents working hard to save money for the poll taxes. “I have three kids, and I tell each and every one of them that voting is a privilege. Don’t throw it away,” Mau said.

When she first moved to Roeland Park, Mau said she’d heard about a series of home break-ins and became worried enough that she went to the police station to ask if it was true that burglars were circling certain neighborhoods. But police wouldn’t tell her unless she gave them her address, she said. “That was what got me started in Roeland Park.”

But perhaps the biggest factor that got her involved was when former Roeland Park Mayor Jack Carpenter used the term “tar babies” to describe city’s increasing expenditures on a new swimming pool. The Tar-Baby was a character in an Uncle Remus story that entrapped Br’er Rabbit with its stickiness, but has also been viewed as a racial slur. Mau called the mayor out publicly for using the term.

“When someone attacks someone else for the color of their skin, you can let it ride or use it as a teachable moment,” Mau said.

Mau became increasingly involved in numerous city committees on such things as parks and Octoberfest. She won a council seat in 2003 but was defeated for re-election four years later. She ran for mayor in 2013, beating incumbent Adrienne Foster in the primary but eventually losing.

Late last year Mau was most visible for a successful campaign against a sales tax increase meant to offset some of the $700,000 in revenue the city will lose when Wal-Mart, its largest retailer, moves away.

People sometimes ask how Mau can be so passionate about issues yet maintain normal blood pressure, she says. “It’s because I love it,” she said. “So many people despair about politics and government in general, and they think, ‘My vote won’t matter.’ Your vote always counts.

“I do what I do because you have to know what’s going on in order to keep the community a community.”

Bill Nichols

Government watched: Mission City Hall

Blog: SaveMission, http://www.savemission.net/

Background: Nichols retired in 2009 from his job as a photographer for a listing service. He’s been involved in Republican committee politics and is now a candidate for Mission City Council.


Nichols is probably best known as the guy with the video camera who comes to just about every City Council meeting. He then posts the videos — about 340 so far — on YouTube.

Mission doesn’t stream its meetings online. “People just don’t show up,” he said. “I certainly didn’t before the driveway tax.”

The measure, called the “driveway tax” by critics and “transportation utility fee” by its supporters, has been a thorn in Nichols’ side since it was approved three years ago and is a big reason he spends so much time following up on and blogging about City Hall. That, plus a mistrust of the city’s mayor, Laura McConwell.

He counts the 2012 elections among his biggest successes as an activist. That year he helped elect three new council members of the four who were running, unseating two longtime incumbents. After talking to The Star for this story, he decided to run for a council spot himself.

“I hate to say I stir the pot. But all I want is government that takes care of my money,” he said.

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