An incident involving Kansas Senator Dick Kelsey and a fired state employee’s Kansas Public Employee Retirement System (KPERS) pension is of interest not only for the incident itself, but the resulting news reporting.
The Topeka Capital-Journal article Fired JJA official’s KPERS benefits questioned contains some details that the Wichita Eagle decided not to include in its coverage contained in Fired Kansas juvenile official gets state pension.
For example, the Capital-Journal reported: “State Sen. Dick Kelsey, a Goddard Republican and friend of Casarona, had urged Brownback to allow Casarona to be rehired by the state for one day of active service before being placed on sick leave for a period of months to allow completion of a natural 10-year cycle of service to Kansas.”
The Wichita Eagle characterized this proposal as a request to “rehire Casarona long enough to allow him to be eligible for a pension.” I would submit that most readers would be interested in the details presented in the Capital-Journal reporting, especially a proposal to rehire someone for one day so he can earn a pension. This is the type of favoritism and cronyism that citizens hate.
A spokesperson for Governor Brownback explained why this highly unusual request by Sen. Kelsey was wrong: “Mr. Casarona was terminated for cause. The governor’s office declined Senator Kelsey’s request because rehiring Mr. Casarona for a short period of time would merely have been a pretext for skirting state retirement law. Such action would amount to an improper use of limited state resources.”
This explanation didn’t appear in the Eagle story.
Both stories included the culmination of this matter and the curious twist of reasoning that was found to apply: “Casarona was retroactively deemed to have orally requested permission to buy service time one month before he was fired. That position countered [Brownback counsel Caleb] Stegall’s contention Casarona was ineligible because he had been fired before seeking the exemption.
Retroactively deemed. I’d never heard that phrase before, but a Google search finds that this legal concept or maneuver has been used before. But retroactively deeming that someone said something opens up a giant can of worms.
Can we also retroactively deem that someone didn’t say something? This would eliminate the need for apologies.
Retroactively deeming that someone made an oral request is a handy way to skirt the meaning and intent of contracts and the rule of law. The individuals involved ought to be ashamed, and Senator Kelsey ought to be reminded that his loyalty should be to Kansas taxpayers, not to one specific person.