#chuckzuck On Inauguration Day

By Lee White

I’m going to tell y’all something that will probably cost me some friendships. At the very least, there will be people I’ve known for decades who will think ill of me and probably speak ill of me either to my face or behind my back.

I voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton for President of the United States on November 8, 2016. So did my wife, Sherri. It wasn’t because we have a great deal of admiration for her character or her economic policies. It came down to her social agenda versus that of the Republicans. Having many close LGBT friends, we just couldn’t in good conscience support a candidate who might gut recent reforms put in place to protect them from discrimination.

But the voters have spoken and elected Donald Trump president. The Democrats, apparently failing to understand that they lost the election because they betrayed large sections of their political base and not just in 2016, have blamed the Russians for costing Clinton the election by conducting a disinformation campaign — in other words, planting “fake news.”

In response, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook, has appointed a panel of experts to label certain information as fake and even to keep it from showing up as readily on the site. You’d still be able to post a link to a story deemed “fake,” but the story might be labeled as such. Here’s the more sinister part: The link also might not show up in your friends’ Facebook feeds or in search results, so the only way anyone would see it would be if he or she visited your page directly. That would severely curtail the number of eyeballs on that link.

I’m going to give you two links to read more about Zuckerberg’s plans: This one from the New York Times and this one from Alex Jones’ Infowars. I’m going to let you decide which version to believe and where the “facts” from each intersect. This I’m doing because I believe you, Gentle Readers, are intelligent enough to spot BS on your own and, if not, to suffer the consequences just as I did when I fell for this ruse about a biscuit can exploding in a shoplifter’s vagina.

If all Facebook does is limit access to “exploding biscuit” stories, which are designed to drive traffic to clickbait sites that make their money when visitors click on advertisements, that would be fine. I don’t believe, however, that Facebook will stop there. I know the sting of censorship all too well and so do others.

A Circle High School student told me he was ordered to stop displaying a Donald Trump banner at Tuesday night’s basketball game against Buhler. Flinthills Services also filed a frivolous complaint against me with the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services after I reported on a developmentally-disabled client who had signed over his property rights to the county-funded agency. The mainstream media in Wichita and Butler County have failed to report on these stories.

Some readers, particularly Democrats, are probably asking, “What’s the big deal?” They may even believe that Facebook’s initiative is a good thing that will serve their political interests well in the coming years. They fail to consider that censorship will eventually reach their back yard.

Most of my Democratic friends supported Bernie Sanders in the primary. Many Sanders supporters believe he got a raw deal from party leaders, even going so far as to say that the election was rigged against him. What’s to stop Zuckerberg’s panel of experts from branding stories as fake if they support a Democratic primary candidate they don’t like in 2020 or beyond? The answer is, “nothing.”

Facebook is a business. As such, the type of censorship it proposes is perfectly legal because the First Amendment exists to shield the public only from government restrictions on free speech. But those of us who use Facebook also have the right to stop doing business with Facebook if we do not agree with its policies. We grant Facebook a tremendous amount of power over our lives by posting life events, photos, and other personal information to its massive network of servers. It is time to take some of that power back.

Please join me on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2017, in disabling your Facebook account. Click here for instructions on how to do so. You may also download my Facebook profile picture above and use it as your own. Click here for a direct link to the file, or you Windows users may simply right click on it and select “Save image as.”

Facebook has been a wonderful tool for me to stay in touch with family and with friends old and new. It has also allowed me to get the message out concerning issues I feel strongly about. Although I don’t always agree when others do the same, I don’t want anyone but me telling me what is truth. I don’t trust the news media to do this for me because of the experiences I have had both as a reporter and while blogging. I realize I risk Facebook revoking my user account and maybe even suing me for undertaking this protest, but I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t try.

One of my journalism instructors likened censorship to Carl Sandburg’s poem, “Fog:”

The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
It is up to us, my fellow Americans, to be the foghorn.

The Real Reason To Hate The Media

By Lee White

I saw that bumper sticker the other day — the one that reads, “I DON’T BELIEVE THE LIBERAL MEDIA!” That thing has been around since the Reagan Administration. The first time I saw it, I was a young reporter doing afternoon traffic reports in Wichita. There it was on a dumpy little clunker driven by an older woman near Central and Ridge. The recent encounter made me swear time travel was possible.

After watching bits and pieces of ABC’s Election Night coverage, it is understandable why Republicans believe the media is biased toward Democrats. The commentators seemed positively incredulous at the notion that anyone had voted for Donald Trump — let alone that he was beating Hillary Clinton. She was clearly smarter, better organized, better qualified and all the cool people were voting for her. Except some of them didn’t. A lot of them didn’t. The media came face to face with the reality that their grip on the nation’s collective psyche is slipping away and they weren’t taking it well.

The media probably are biased toward liberals, but they are also biased toward incumbent politicians and the bureaucrats they hire or appoint. Reporters love the status quo and one needn’t venture far from Butler County to prove that assertion. Never in my 51 years have I encountered so many journalists so positively enamored with “the way things are” than I have in the Wichita metropolitan area.

All reporters, to some extent, are reluctant to bite the hand that feeds them. Advertisers feed them money. This is why one rarely sees a hard-hitting investigation of car dealers. Public officials feed them information. This is why one rarely sees a hard-hitting investigation of, well, anything.

Reporters have become so afraid that politicians and especially cops will cut off easy access to routine stories and sound bites that they won’t risk running any coverage that might embarrass sources even if the public good demands otherwise.

Time and again during the nearly six months this blog has been in existence, I’ve broken stories that needed to be told. Examples:

  • The whistleblower lawsuit against Flinthills services and the retaliation I faced as a result of reporting on it,
  • A dispute between the Augusta Department of Public Safety director and Rose Hill officials,
  • The fact that the EMS director lives almost as far away from Butler County as I do,
  •  The real reason an Augusta cop left the department and the fact that he continued to work for the chief’s private business long after,
  • Turnover in the EMS and sheriff’s departments, and
  • Questionable donations to Sheriff Kelly Herzet’s campaign.

The only story the mainstream media covered at all was turnover at the sheriff’s department and only after it became the central issue in the campaign. Even when there was little left for reporters to do but make a few phone calls and use this blog as political “cover” for running a story, they wouldn’t pull the trigger.

Granted, I started this blog as a way to help a friend, Walker Andrews, get elected sheriff. I’ve never lied about that or tried to hide it. I also involve myself in stories and offer opinions in ways mainstream journalists wouldn’t. I don’t pretend to be something I’m not and that I never really wanted to be in the first place.

I wouldn’t have a problem with the mainstream media being “liberal,” “conservative,” or refusing to do stories because they don’t want to offend a source or an advertiser. But, for the love of God, don’t pretend to be an unbiased source of information or an occupier of the moral high ground.

You’re not on my side. You don’t have my back. And the only thing anyone should expect more of is the same. And don’t think I’m picking on TV stations. It’s just that most newspapers don’t have catchy slogans. What some papers do have that broadcast outlets usually don’t is people who are capable of investigative reporting and in-depth writing. Unfortunately, they also have editors and publishers who won’t allow those people to use their skills to hold the powerful accountable.

If traditional media are going to abandon their, uh, watchdog role — and sources and advertisers are going to utilize the stick and carrot to make sure they do — something will fill the void. People, corporations, and even government agencies will tell their own stories via social media. Rogue reporters will start blogs. Special interest group “think tanks” such as the Kansas Policy Institute will similarly circumvent the media. Before you know it, there is no more “bubble headed bleach blonde who comes on at five.”

Maybe that’s part of the grand scheme. I mean, how relevant could she be in an age when news breaks at the speed of light on cyber platforms that didn’t even exist until the second Bush Administration? By the time five o’clock rolls around, everybody already knows what’s going to be in tomorrow’s newspaper if the presses even run the next day. And the news comes on at 4 p.m. because the stations that carried Oprah have never found a suitable syndicated replacement.

So hate the lamestream media if you will, but do so for the right reason. Loathe them not for the information they bring you but for that which they do not.

Better still, instead of hating the media — even if the media you hate is me — BECOME the media. Develop a following. Learn how to dig up facts. Write or speak or photograph or shoot video of what you believe isn’t getting enough coverage. Post it on Facebook, Twitter, or a blog. Sounds trite, but be the change you want to see in the world.

That’s what we’re doing with Watchdog. I thank you for being part of our growing audience.

Rose Hill Council: Still Rife With Strife

dsc00261By Julie Pots

Council Member Bill Baker brought forth a list of requests at Monday night’s Rose Hill City Council meeting and again exposed an ongoing rift between council factions. Baker wants details of attorney billings. The city chose to enter a contract to reduce its month billing about 50 percent, so details have to be requested by council. Baker requested a paper copy of Administrator Austin Gilley’s PowerPoint that is viewed by each council member at each meeting via individual laptops. He also asked for more flood information because last flood he did not know what was happening.

“This isn’t about transparency, Mr. Baker, this is about control,” Gilley said. “If you want me to provide a monthly statement to you regarding everything I do, I can do that. The presentation is available at every meeting. All anyone has to do is ask.”

Council Member Bob Klem said he believes the problem is that the council has the responsibility to know what is going on. Council Member Roger Perryn stated he would just like to get past “this.”

Gilley agreed that it’s council’s job, as the council body, to know what is going on, but “you have to ask for detail as a council, not as individuals. I am not going to play these games.”

Baker said that if he had any questions about bills from the city attorney, he would call the mayor. Gilley said he has offered multiple times to meet with Baker, but Baker refuses to meet with him. Baker said he refuses to meet with Gilley “because you set me up and lie about me and demean me.”

Mayor Beth Pompa interjected, “When is going to stop? I am done with this!” She asked if there was a motion Baker would like to make. Baker made a lengthy one regarding attorney billing statements, but no second was offered and the motion died.

“You (Baker) have to ask for (the detail),” Klem said.

“But I can’t ask for it, the council has to,” Baker said.

“So what? We still can!” said Council Member Ross Chappell.

Gilley said that since it’s a contract billing then council as a whole must ask for it from the attorney. Chappell said he would do that.

Looking at Klem, Chappell stated: “Are you afraid we won’t (agree) to that? I’ll do it.”

“Well yeah, it’s been that way for a little bit,” Klem replied.

Council President Roger Perryn said he recently wanted a paper copy of Gilley’s meeting presentation, called Gilley about it, and received one right away.

“Just ask (Gilley) for it,” Perryn said. Pompa agreed, stating that a motion regarding the distribution of paper copies was unnecessary.

The council also received reports from staff and citizens.

Long-time citizen Harold Beedles addressed the council, inviting members to a presentation at 6 p.m. tonight (10/20/2016) featuring a writer from Rose Hill who was a former POW. A second citizen, Mindy Runnalls, asked about the possibility of placing information regarding the coming library speaker on the Rose Hill City FB page. Councilman Bill Baker requested a change in the agenda to add a discussion of the council’s attorney billing procedure and was granted that change.

Next up was Rose Hill’s new Police Chief Nelson Mosley, who gave a very impressive and detailed summary of his first three months on the job. Nelson was appointed on July 17. He is steadily implementing the philosophy of Community Policing as a priority with the police department. He noted several recent activities such as chamber involvement, senior center breakfasts, a children’s puppet show at the library, the Charlie Futhey event, the emergency services recognition dinner, and the annual fall festival. Mosley mentioned that in addition to the very good article in the Rose Hill Reporter, the Derby Informer also ran an article August 10.

Among the chief’s priorities are the updating of policies and procedures, uniforms and equipment and officer training. Something else he is researching is reviving the Crime Stoppers program. He is currently inventorying equipment and uniforms, as many were hand-me-downs. The standard uniform will be dark blue. To display officer awards, he is planning on purchasing different uniform bars that will be given to wear on an officer’s uniform when they receive special recognition. The chief also noted that the reserve officer count was up to seven now.

Chris Wendt, representing the Rose Hill Historical Society, asked that the council approve some temporary road closures during the Old Time Christmas festivities scheduled for December 10. They asked for a donation of just $400.00 to hire a second transportation trolley. Wendt stated that the first trolley was being sponsored by the Rose Hill Veterinary Clinic, and noted that would also be two horse drawn carriages as well. The council approved both the street closings and the $400.00 donation to support the second trolley.

Gilley discussed lightning damage to the traffic light and the fact that the city of Rose Hill is one of the most transparent cities in Kansas and also noted that not a single records request had gone unanswered to date.

Gilley also talked about updating zoning regulations regarding cell towers in the right-of-way. Perryn commented that recent laws have been passed that make cell carriers free to install cell towers in the right-of-way giving cities no say in where they put them.

Analyzing The Ongoing Council Feud

Baker was unhappy with previous city administrator Kathy Raney. He attended meeting after meeting, constantly criticizing both her and the city council. Eventually, Raney quit and Baker took full credit for her departure as he prepared to run for city council himself. Gilley’s knowledge, experience and education far exceed Kathy Raney’s (no offense intended) but Baker and Klem are still not satisfied. Growth would mean a certain loss of control to those who want to maintain Rose Hill as it is. They can feel control slipping away each month Gilley and the current council move toward the future and away from the old ways of staying a bedroom community.

For a long time, it has felt like the city motto was, “Come here and raise your children, and when they are grown go back where you came from.” With the exception of Klem and  Baker, who insist on treating the mayor with disrespect, the remaining council members are a true blessing for the entire city – respectful, open to new ideas and discussions, and considerate of their fellow council members.

The current council, administrator, and mayor are not responsible for the city’s woes. They did not cause the sewer cost to be underestimated by hundreds of thousands. The old regime did. They are not responsible for the fact that Rose Hill’s contract with the Wichita Water Department has no limitations on how many times per year the rates can increase, unlike other cities close by. Again, this was the old regime. As Gilley noted, he will always make himself available to the council members. It’s not proper protocol for individual members to take action without a vote of the entire council.

Neighborhood Revitalization, Housing Starts & More Arguments

 

 

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By Julie Pots

The Rose Hill City Council met Monday evening October 3 with a simple agenda, but after a lengthy discussion on the pros and cons of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (tax abatements for certain remodeling and new housing starts) things got very nasty when the board changed subject matter. 

The bullying began after the city’s legal counsel, Andrew Moreno, offered to bill the city a flat rate of $1800.00 instead of the “usual” over $3,000.00 per month in legal fees.  That’s all it took for Councilmen Bill Baker and Bob Klem to make yet another attempt to hijack the council meeting by talking out of turn and ignoring the mayor’s call to order.  (This has been the case off and on since Mayor Pompa became mayor in March of this year.)  Councilman Klem does not want the city to be billed a flat fee but wants to remain on an hourly schedule, which has proven to be more expensive.  Councilman Baker also voiced his concerns.   At one point, Klem even accused Mayor Pompa of not wanting to be transparent with public records.

The other three council members, Lionel Diamond, Council President Roger Perryn and Ross Chappell had no problem reducing the monthly attorney fees to a flat rate (voting yes) while Councilman Klem and Councilman Baker voted no.  Motion passed three to two.

The bullying came to a head when Councilman Klem directed his comments to Chris Wendt, editor of the Rose Hill Reporter, telling her that “she’d better put his comments in the paper, or he’ll take out a big ad.”

Chris Wendt promptly told Councilman Klem not to threaten her.

 

Rose Hill Honors Veterans

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By Julie Pots

It was almost standing room only for the unveiling of Rose Hill’s new Veteran’s Memorial, designed and sculpted by John Parsons of Derby, Kansas, with the help of some military personnel, just to make sure all the little details on the statue were correct.  

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Sculptor John Parsons, left, and Mayor Beth Pompa

Mayor Beth Pompa started the meeting by thanking the many citizens and businessmen involved in making this evening finally happen. After a moment of silence and the Pledge of Allegiance, Mayor Pompa recognized several special guests, asking for a standing ovation for all veterans in attendance, and acknowledging council president Roger Perryn, council members Lionel Diamond, Bob Klem and Bill Baker, Commissioner Dan Woydziak and former Rose Hill Mayor Jason Jones.  Several members of the Rose Hill Planning Board were in the audience, along with representatives from corporate sponsors Viking and Dynamic.

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City Administrator Austin Gilley

The Veteran’s Memorial Project began in 2003, and several fundraisers, donations and volunteers later, has finally come to fruition.  Right now the area of sidewalk where  it will be placed is being revamped in preparation for the statue’s permanent installation. 

The statue, weighing 325 pounds, will rest on a base of special bricks, each having been imprinted, in remembrance, with the name of a veteran.

The bronze statute will be placed in front of city hall, and November 11, Veteran’s Day, is the date that’s been set for the dedication ceremony.

Rose Hill Getting Another ‘Grocery Store’

Untitled presentation

By Julie Winslow

It was great news that Austin Gilley, Rose Hill City Administrator, and Beth Pompa, Rose Hill City Mayor, shared with the Rose Hill Council Monday night – the Dollar General store is moving from its current Rose Hill location into the newer building abandoned by Walmart approximately six months ago.  A total of 41 “express” stores in various locations were recently purchased from Walmart by Dollar General.

Although Dollar General operates several ‘Marketplace/Express’ stores other places, the store here will not be called a ‘marketplace’ or an ‘express’.  But, with a much larger building than usually houses Dollar General stores, the one that is scheduled to reopen in this location will add produce and meat to its current selection of wares and will also operate the adjacent fuel outlet.

The Rose Hill community was thrilled when Walmart purchased the land here and proceeded to build a new Walmart Express.  The store operated for approximately one year before is was suddenly closed.

Anonymity And Credibility

By Lee White

There are times when it is necessary to offer information sources anonymity. People are often afraid to speak publicly because they fear losing their jobs or even their lives. Even when one has a legitimate need for anonymity, however, there is a bit of credibility lost when one won’t stake his name and reputation on what he says.

Law enforcement is a profession that values secrecy maybe more than it should. Undoubtedly, one does not want to reveal information that could jeopardize an ongoing investigation or put officers in harm’s way. As is the case with most other professions, however, the “need” for secrecy is frequently a “want.” It is rooted in a desire not to embarrass the profession, a department, or those who run a department, not in any real need to protect life or property.

When evaluating the credibility of a source who requests anonymity and the information that source provides, I ask myself, “What does the source have to lose?” If the answer is, “not much,” I begin to question the validity of the information that source provides. I may use that information, but only after confirming it independently with another source or, preferably, with physical evidence such as a document or recording that corroborates what the anonymous source tells me.

There are two reasons I haven’t written much about the Becky Stone case despite the fact that I’ve known about it for eight years. First, there are reputations at stake — those of law enforcement, anyone who may have been present when Stone died, and my own. The last thing I want to do is to publish a false fact, harm someone’s reputation, get sued for it, and forfeit my own credibility. Second, some of the sources have been reluctant to “go public.”

When Sigrid and David Denchfield showed up at the July 11 Republican candidate meet-and-greet in El Dorado, I finally wrote something about this case. I identified the Denchfields and stated that they questioned the findings of police and the autopsy report connected with their daughter’s death. The mainstream media, including the Butler County Times-Gazette, did the same.

Because the Denchfields “went public,” so did I but on a limited basis. No reporter I know wants to place innocent people under suspicion of having committed a crime. And I know what that feels like thanks to Flinthills Services’ baseless accusation to the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services (click here for more).

I have encouraged privately and now I am encouraging publicly those with information about the Becky Stone case to tell their stories to members of the mainstream media who have access to the resources it will take to publish this information. When I say “resources,” I mean money to pay an experienced attorney to review the story to determine whether it might be defamatory. I simply do not have the money to handle that, so I will have to let the “big boys” decide whether to run the story.

Sheriff Kelly Herzet and Augusta Department of Public Safety Chief Tyler Brewer drew far more attention to the Stone case than anyone by speaking with the Times-Gazette for this story. In their haste to score a political “hit” by linking sheriff candidate Walker Andrews to the release of the Stone story, Brewer and Herzet threw the rumor mill into overdrive.

If Brewer and Herzet truly believed there were no inconsistencies in the investigation — if they were really concerned about the Denchfields’ grief being used for political gain — they would have allowed the matter to drift naturally from public consciousness. To paraphrase a line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “The sheriff and chief doth protest too much, methinks.”

The voters would be right to question Herzet’s judgment for breathing life into what otherwise might have been viewed as just another conspiracy theory. Of course, this isn’t the first time in recent memory that Chief Brewer was unable to resist the temptation to lash out at enemies real or perceived.

As this blog post explains, Brewer sent a letter to Rose Hill officials in May complaining about remarks that town’s city administrator allegedly made concerning the sexual preference of an Augusta Department of Public Safety sergeant. The letter Brewer sent listed by name a sergeant who had been sent a copy. I redacted the name from the letter because I don’t want to get into the business of implying whether someone is gay or straight. As long as that individual is a good law enforcement officer, it doesn’t matter.

Many folks seem to think Chief Brewer is a good guy including Walker Andrews, who worked for him at the Wichita Police Department. One wonders, however, whether it is time for Brewer to call it a career. Both these situations clearly called for restraint and the call went unanswered. There might be more at stake next time.

Recall Petition Targets Rose Hill City Councilman

By Lee White

Three Rose Hill men have filed a petition to recall City Council Member Bill Baker. The men — Mike Tanner, Chad Spaulding, and Jason Jones — say they had the petition’s language approved by Butler County Attorney Darrin Devinney this week. Under Kansas law, the county attorney approves the form of the petition, but does not take a position on the merits of the allegations it contains. Tanner is a former city council member who resigned his seat in 2015. Jones resigned as mayor in March.

The men have 90 days from the date the petition was approved to gather a number of signatures equal to “a minimum of 40 percent of the votes cast in the election for all candidates of the office divided by the number of persons elected,” according to ballotpedia.com. These results from the Butler County Clerk’s Office indicate there were 1,215 votes cast in the 2015 city council general election, so 162 valid signatures would be required to force a recall election. Only registered voters who live in Rose Hill are allowed to sign the petition. A list of those authorized to circulate the petition is available at the county clerk’s office.

Here are the allegations contained in the petition:

  • That on April 18, 2016, at 7:30 p.m., Baker failed to attend a regularly scheduled city council meeting without giving prior notice causing there to be lack of a quorum. That necessitated a special meeting being called on April 25, 2016, to take care of necessary city business.
  • That on June 2, 2016, Baker ordered publications from the Kansas League of Municipalities in the amount of $13.56 and had them billed to the city and shipped to him in violation of city policy.
  • That on July 13, 2015, city administration advised the council of a Kansas Open Meetings Act violation in which Baker contacted Tanner and Council Member Lionel Diamond about an upcoming vote to eliminate the position of City Inspector Richard Brown, which Baker didn’t support.
  • That on May 11, 2016, after review of water and sewer rates at a regularly scheduled council meeting, Baker went to Ranson Financial in Wichita to discuss the rate review without permission of the council or city administrator, which violated the city code of ethics and put the city in the position of being billed for the time.

Baker has been invited via e-mail to defend himself against these allegations on the Watchdog blog. I will print his response in its entirety if and when I receive it.

Augusta Chief Accuses Rose Hill City Administrator of Defamation

By Lee White

Augusta Department of Public Safety Chief Tyler Brewer has sent a letter to the mayor and city council in Rose Hill accusing that city’s administrator of defamation. But Rose Hill’s mayor and city administrator say the situation did not transpire as described in Brewer’s letter.

Brewer said in the letter that the remarks from Rose Hill City Administrator Austin Gilley came during an employee meeting the mayor and members of the police department attended. Click here to view a copy of the letter.

“The City Administrator’s comment was that I hired Bob Sage so that a gay Sergeant employed by the City of Augusta would not ultimately become the Chief of Police,” Brewer wrote in the letter dated May 13. “This statement is completely false, defamatory, and done to impugn my character.”

Sage resigned as Rose Hill’s police chief on March 21, according to this story from KAKE-TV. A statement Sage issued indicated he had clashed with former Mayor Jason Jones, who resigned two weeks before Sage did, as well as the new mayor who replaced Jones, Beth Pompa.

Brewer said in his letter that a phone call he made to Pompa had not been returned. He asked the mayor and council to take disciplinary action against Gilley and issue an apology.

At the bottom of the letter, Brewer indicated that he had sent copies to three individuals — Augusta City Manager Josh Shaw, City Attorney Stephen Robison, of the Wichita law firm Fleeson Gooing, and an Augusta sergeant. Watchdog has redacted the sergeant’s name and will not report it because we do not know whether he was the individual named in the rumor. Multiple sources say the sergeant named in the letter is a good law enforcement officer.

Julie Winslow, a community activist, said she confronted Brewer about the matter by phone this afternoon (May 25). Winslow also serves as a township clerk.

Winslow said in this statement e-mailed to Watchdog that Brewer said he’d been advised by his attorney not to discuss the letter.

“The person that was written to should not have made that (letter) a public record,” Brewer told Winslow, according to the statement. Winslow said she believes the letter is public record under Kansas law.

Winslow said she asked Brewer to apologize to Rose Hill officials. She said Brewer replied, “I will not!” and hung up on her.

Rose Hill Mayor Beth Pompa said in this letter to Brewer that she attended the meeting where officials discussed the rumor about the Augusta sergeant.

“The purpose of the meeting was to discuss my expectations of the officers and City Administrator,” Pompa wrote. “One part of the conversation was in regard to recent rumors and how they quickly spread.

“Mr. Gilley stated he had heard that day a rumor from the City of Augusta that Bob Sage was hired in Augusta to replace Chief Brewer upon his retirement because they didn’t want the Sergeant who is gay to become the Chief. One of the Rose Hill Officers, I don’t remember who, stated that they had heard something similar. We all commented how ridiculous that rumor was, including Mr. Gilley.”

Gilley responded to the allegations in this letter to Mayor Pompa. He said the March 30, 2016, meeting was conducted “for the purpose of helping everyone clear the air and move on from the recent leadership change (Sage’s resignation).”

“To illustrate the ridiculous nature of rumors, I shared the rumor that I had heard that same day from an employee of the City of Augusta,” Gilley wrote. “I recall one of the officers even saying they had heard that one, too.

“I was making the point that rumors can be ridiculous and hurtful — which I know well having been on the receiving end of many painful rumors. Never once did I state what I had heard as fact, and I would not have shared this rumor except for in the context of illustrating that not everything you hear is truth.”

Gilley apologized for any hurt feelings and offered to speak with anyone about the matter.

For his part, Sage is seeking appointment to fill the vacant seat on the Rose Hill City Council created by Jones’ resignation. Sage lives in Rose Hill and works as a detective for the Augusta Department of Public Safety.

“It is with extreme humiliation as a citizen of Rose Hill that I have sat back and watched a growing public perception and recognition of the dysfunction within our city government,” Sage wrote in this e-mail to the council. “Citizens deserve better. Paralysis created by mistrust and
parochial thinking has caused our City to lose its once reveled reputation of being the community of choice.”

Sage said he will run for office if the council’s failure to appoint a replacement for Jones triggers a special election.

Sage’s entry into consideration for the vacant council position follows an embarrassing moment for County Commissioner Dan Woydziak — a Sage supporter — who submitted this letter on March 16 to the Rose Hill City Council seeking to be appointed. Woydziak is president of the Kansas Association of Counties.

Woydziak later withdrew from consideration, telling the Butler County Times-Gazette in this April 2 story that he couldn’t work with Gilley. Although there is undoubtedly animosity between Woydziak and Gilley, that is probably not the real reason Woydziak withdrew.

Winslow, a frequent attendee at county commission meetings, said she approached commissioners at a subsequent meeting and asked to be appointed to fill the upcoming vacancy to be created when Woydziak took a seat on the Rose Hill City Council.

K.S.A. 19-205 states: “no person holding any state, county, township or city office shall be eligible to the office of county commissioner in any county in this state.” Had Woydziak been appointed to the Rose Hill City Council, he would have had to resign his county commission seat for which, according to this Times-Gazette story, he receives an annual salary of $28,072.