Butler County Times Gazette
  • Kent Bush: State officials need to do better

  • Even the reddest red state voters can’t be overly secure with the state officials they have elected recently.
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  • I know somewhere between 80 and 90 percent (that statistic may or may not have been made up by me to make a point) of Kansas voters are Republicans.
    But even the reddest red state voters can’t be overly secure with the state officials they have elected recently.
    Of course, it wasn’t necessarily Gov. Sam Brownback’s fault that his budget director gave him the wrong information about spending levels under his Democratic predecessor. But for him to claim significant decreases in spending when the amount the state is spending is actually up over 2010 totals is less than confidence inspiring.
    Locally, we have had issues that relate to GOP officials at the state level that also make it difficult to sleep at night. Last July, I filed a complaint with Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office related to an executive session held by the Augusta City Council.
    I asked a very simple question. Was the reason given by the council to go into executive session valid?
    I still don’t think it was and no one from that office has ever said whether it was. Maybe it was valid. In that case, the Attorney General’s office could have sent an email back saying the council was within its rights to go into executive session and closed the complaint.
    No one did that.
    Instead, one of Schmidt’s lieutenants did a marginal (that’s the nicest word I could find in the thesaurus) investigation into the event and somehow has made this entire complaint into something about exact wording or motions and whether or not they would return to the same room from which they recessed.
    The council claimed attorney client privilege as the justification for a private meeting. I argued then – and still do – that when Mayor Kristey Williams discussed a five-point plan with the council during the meeting that the council lost its claim to attorney client privilege.
    Privilege depends on communications with your attorney remaining confidential. Discussing a matter with your attorney in a public meeting would violate that privilege – thus, there is no privilege to protect in an executive session.
    But I’ve been wrong before. I’m not an attorney. Maybe there is some super secret privilege that you can retake for the purposes of “whatever the heck I just made up.”
    I don’t know that rule.
    But I do know that neither I, nor any Augusta resident, really cares about exact wording of motions. In my opinion, that discussion should have remained in public because we had the right to know.
    Page 2 of 2 - After the Attorney General’s office finishes with this, the council may be cited for flying their hovercraft too low. It shouldn’t take nine months to answer a question and resolve an issue.
    It also shouldn’t take a week to count a few hundred votes. But thanks to immigration warrior and Secretary of State Kris Kobach, more than 2.5% of all votes cast in Butler County in Tuesday’s primary elections were considered provisional ballots. Since the race for second place in Ward 2 was only decided by a one-vote margin, the five provisional ballots in that ward will determine who takes on Jamie Hubbard in April.
    All of the new regulations trying to stamp out voter fraud and illegal immigrant voting that never really existed has bottlenecked our electoral process to the point that we can’t even announce who is running for a city council seat for six days.
    It seems like every comment after these Republican officials take action is, “You’re doing it wrong.”
    I don’t care if another Democrat ever holds a state-wide seat. But I do wish the red-state voters would find better candidates for whom they can blindly vote.
     
    Kent Bush is the publisher of the Augusta Gazette, the El Dorado Times, and the Andover American newspapers. He can be contacted at: publisher@augustagazette.com.

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