Kansas legislative forums should be for citizens


This week’s meeting of the South-Central Kansas Legislative Delegation with citizens featured a number of speakers who — while citizens, of course — are working for taxpayer-funded agencies. Many of these also have a strong lobbying presence in Topeka. The large-scale presence of these speakers at this meeting was a matter of concern for one legislator who contacted me, suggesting that so many taxpayer-funded speakers crowded out regular citizens, which is who these meetings are designed for.

Government agencies have their own meeting with legislators each year at this time in Wichita. Furthermore, many government agencies like USD 259, the Wichita public school district, have their own year-round, highly-paid lobbyists to represent them.

The taxpayer-funded group that stood out the most was United Methodist Youthville, an agency that contracts with the state to provide a variety of child protective care services. Youthville sent six speakers to this meeting, and they, one after another in tag team fashion, presented their case to the legislators.

One of the speakers for Youthville was Heather Morgan, who is listed at the Secretary of State’s office as a lobbyist for Youthville.

Undoubtedly part of the reason for Youthville’s large presence was to counter criticism of their operations, which is often a topic at the legislative forums. The Youthville representatives, which spoke very near the start of the meeting, left as soon as they had delivered their message to the legislators.

School spending advocates made their appearance. Randy Mousley, who is vice-president of United Teachers of Wichita (the teachers union), spoke in favor of more school spending — at least I think so, as his message to the legislators could be interpreted several ways. But the entire goal of the UTW, which is an affiliate of Kansas National Education Association (KNEA), is that there must be more spending on schools, and it lobbies for this quite effectively. Brent Lewis, a board member of UTW, also spoke in favor of government and school spending.

Other taxpayer-funded entities made their appearance in the persons of Mark McCain, general manager of Wichita Public Radio, and Michele Gors, President of Kansas Public Television. These heads of these at least partially taxpayer-funded organizations made their case for more state government funding.

These executives have the time and wherewithal to travel to Topeka to lobby legislators. Citizens — especially if they’re not local to Topeka — don’t have the ability to do this. And when they do, their travel is not paid for by their companies or unions.

As legislators told me, these taxpayer-funded agencies make their case — often at taxpayer expense — very well in Topeka. They shouldn’t be crowding out citizens at legislative forums.


8 responses to “Kansas legislative forums should be for citizens”

  1. Anonymous

    Year 2007 Youthville spent over $225 Thousand Lobbying legislators, their staffs, government officials or a legislative body.
    See this link for their tax form 990 page 15 bottom of page Part VI-B: http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments//2008/480/543/2008-480543712-04bfe394-9.pdf

  2. Elisa Marie Breitenbach

    What more do you need to show it’s all about the $$$ and not so much about taking care of children. How do they have that much money to just toss out to lobbyist and not use that money for the children? All they want is more of them. More power, jobs and control. Sure makes all of us want to write a big fat check to them, don’t it?

  3. sheila

    You can always find the word “Kansas”, “Wichita”, “Methodist”, or “children” in the name of every grant sponging organizations. OR “American”, of course. Makes them sound official, I guess. Kansas HEalth Foundation, Kansas Health Insitute, American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, American Heart Association, American Medical Association, Tobacco Free Kansas. I find that one especially humorous. Every nickel they get is from New Jersey. And “tobacco free”? That is the LAST thing they want! Tobacco Free Kansas means NO tobacco licensing or selling. That would result in the end of their grants from the nicotine replacement company, Johnson and Johnson. I want to donate to the Kansas ANTI Cancer Society. All money for locals, NO money to their million dollar paid execs. And NO more lobbying for pharma. Never hurts to dream.

  4. Clive Cowhan

    Until Youthville gets rid of Shelly Duncan nothing will change.

  5. Nancy Berry

    Youthville appeared as a well oiled machine that was prepared to show that they were oh so much better than those
    lowley people who dared to challenge their authority. They lie, They Lie, They lie.

  6. Dana Tompkins

    ST. Francis Acadamy and Youthville are the same thing.. They take our children and don’t give them back. Its all about money and power. These private companies get $2,000 per child that they take out of the home and the unrelentless lies and lies are overwelming. Pray for families that have to to with them. Its a long battle.

  7. Anonymous

    Kansas Head Start and the Social Justice Center had speakers there also.

  8. Anonymous

    Foster Contracts with the State of Kansas:

    St Francis makes $999,970 every month plus $1,608 per child (this rate increases if the child is labeled special needs)

    Youthville makes $937,293 every month plus $1,594 per child (this rate increases if the child is labeled special needs)

    There are no incentives to return the children to their families and Sedgwick County, which is served by Youthville, keeps children in foster care 2 times the National Average.

    USA OOHP 15.4months

    Kansas OOHP 19.4 months

    Sedgwick County OOHP 30.7 months (2 x the national average)

    *OOHP is Out Of Home Placement


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