#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.

Figure In Flinthills Case Caught In Real Estate Limbo

By Lee White

UPDATE 8:05 p.m. CDT 10/28/2016: U.S. District Court Judge Kathryn H. Vratil yesterday agreed to dismiss Jonathan Henak from the lawsuit apparently after receiving the signature of Assistant U.S. Attorney Jon Fleenor. Moving day is apparently back on. Click here to view the order. 

A key figure in this federal whistleblower lawsuit filed against Flinthills Services, Inc. finds himself in a bit of a pickle due to protracted settlement negotiations. Jonathan Henak, who was named as a defendant in the case, was chief financial officer at Flinthills, an agency that provides services to the developmentally disabled, from October 2009 to February 2015, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Since leaving Flinthills, Henak has worked as CFO at a similar agency based in Wichita, Paradigm Services, Inc. On October 18, parties in the case filed a stipulation to dismiss Henak from the case. They had originally notified the court July 28 that they were working on a settlement. Today, U.S. District Judge Kathryn H. Vratil, citing a procedural error, refused to allow Henak’s dismissal. Click here to view Vratil’s written order.

“By separate email, plaintiff’s counsel informed the Court that although the parties are still finalizing their settlement, they have agreed to dismiss claims against Henak because he is in the process of moving from Wichita to Kansas City to take a new job, and he has contracts to sell and purchase
houses which will fall through if the lawsuit against him is not dismissed,” Vratil wrote. “In the email, counsel states that the United States Attorney General has consented to the stipulation of dismissal.

“…the parties may dismiss a qui tam suit only if the Court and the Attorney General give written consent to the dismissal and their reasons for consenting. Here, the record does not contain the Attorney General’s written consent to the dismissal, or her reasons for consenting.”

Being named as a defendant in a lawsuit creates what is known as a “cloud on title” in a real estate transaction. Banks typically balk at lending money until they know for certain that a borrower won’t be forced to pay a judgment. It is unlikely, then, that either of Henak’s house deals can close until he is officially dismissed as a defendant in the Flinthills case.

A developmentally disabled Flinthills client signed over the rights to live in his home rent free — a “life estate” — to the agency in 2011. Click here for details. There is a question as to whether the client knew what he was signing or the ramifications of doing so.

It is unclear what, if any, role Henak played in the client’s signing over his life estate to Flinthills, but he was CFO at the time and one would think that the matter would have at least crossed his desk. Henak is still listed as resident agent for Sandstone Homes I, LLC, the separate company that owns group homes Flinthills uses, according to the Kansas Secretary of State’s website. It’s not much of a stretch to believe he at least had knowledge of all properties the agency owned and how Flinthills came to own them.

But if Henak did, indeed, take part in what happened to the Flinthills client, perhaps his adventure in real property Purgatory is karma. If it is (and even if it isn’t), I’m glad Judge Vratil is following proper procedure and requiring U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to sign off on the settlement releasing Henak as a defendant. That could take awhile. And winter is coming.

County Commissioners Discuss Sporting Events, Make Board Appointment

By Julie Pots

 

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Gary Wartick addresses county commissioners

Butler County commissioners on Tuesday conducted a work session on the subject of issuing Gary and Deborah Wartick special permits to continue holding more than two cross country running events per year at their private residence.  Several area citizens voiced their concerns regarding dust, school bus parking, speeding vehicles and the possible damage being done to the township roads.  The commissioners listened to all citizens, including Mr. Wartick, but did not make a decision regarding the granting of special permits to continue this practice.  One access route to the Wartick’s property uses a road maintained by Spring Township, another route uses a road maintained by El Dorado Township.   A different area of concern brought up by a resident not living in the area was the potential for accidents.  The citizen was concerned that although the Warticks operate an insurance company on the premises and purchase insurance for these events, that policy may not protect any participants or attendees, and may cover only the insured.

Several school districts along with the Butler County Community College hold events on the property at several times during the calendar year.  Mr. Wartick is also employed by Circle School District as a cross country coach.

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Flinthills Services CEO Kathy Walter and board appointee Norm Duncan speak to commissioners

Commissioners also appointed Norm Duncan to an at-large position on the board of directors of Flinthills Services and the Community Developmental Disabilities Organization of Butler County. Duncan is branch manager of Bank of the West in Augusta, but lives in Sedgwick County. Commissioners recently amended the Flinthills Services by-laws to allow an individual who resides outside the county but is employed locally to serve on the board. Duncan said he became interested in Flinthills because his son has a disability that includes autism.

Rose Hill citizen Julie Winslow spoke to Butler County commissioners during the public comment period regarding open records requests sent to the county for processing.  She cited three incidents that she wanted to put “on record:”

1) Several months ago she requested statistics from the sheriff’s office, and after passing that request through the county clerk’s office she received a telephone call from Sheriff Herzet and Undersheriff Wilhite explaining that they had a new computer system that they weren’t able to use yet

2) Winslow also stated that six other unrelated requests were made specifically to the sheriff’s office as well – those requests were made recently by the Citizens for a Better Butler County – and all six requests were immediately referred to Terry Huelskamp, the attorney for the Board of Commissioners and were responded to in six separate letters stating that basically the information would take time to gather.  She advised that nothing further had been received nor has the cost of gathering such information been supplied as is required by law

3) Speaking on behalf of a citizen in Pleasant Township, Ms. Winslow also presented several records to the board that were “incident reports” received from the sheriff’s office where much of the information on the reports were redacted before the records were released to the requestor.

Ms. Winslow stated that these were public records containing no personal information such as social security numbers or birthdates.   She also stated that she has received multiple such county records and not once had any information ever been redacted.  Commission Chairman Jeff Masterson, of Andover, said he  did not know why the redactions were done to these records nor was he or other commissioners aware of public records being handled through the board’s attorney, and that he would check it out and let her know.  Ms. Winslow asked if the information would be received at the next commission meeting but Mr. Masterson would make no promises as to when he might have that information for her.

I recently spoke with Ms. Ladonna Johnson regarding questions she asked the commission a few weeks ago (click here for the Watchdog article) on behalf of the Pleasant Township Coalition as to 1) Why Butler County EMS Director Chad Pore is being allowed to live in Greensburg, Kansas 2) Why he is allowed to ‘hotel’ at the Augusta EMS facility three nights per week free of charge  3) When or if he will be moving, to Butler County.   Ms. Johnson also did not understand why the county just gave him a $5,000-per-year raise given the circumstances.  Chairman Masterson has not yet responded to any of those questions either.

Click here to view county commission agendas and minutes and to listen to audio of this and other meetings.

Tentative Settlement Reached In Flinthills Services Whistleblower Lawsuit

By Lee White

Flinthills Services, Inc. has reached a tentative settlement with an employee fired in 2012 who alleged financial wrongdoing in a whistleblower lawsuit against the agency, according to a document filed in U.S. District Court on Wednesday. Click here to view the document. U.S. Magistrate Judge K. Gary Sebelius on Thursday granted the motion by attorneys for both sides to allow time for a deputy U.S. attorney to approve the settlement. The federal government is a party to whistleblower lawsuits, so the U.S. attorney’s office must OK all settlements in such cases.

Gloria Canady, who worked at Flinthills from 1994 until she was fired on March 2, 2012, filed the lawsuit in 2014. Click here to read the original blog post, which includes case documents and in-depth background on the matter.  I originally reported on the case because Sheriff Kelly Herzet has been a member of the Flinthills Services Board of Directors since a few months before Canady was fired. Herzet currently serves as board president.

Shortly after I reported on the case on May 13 and included information about a developmentally-disabled Flinthills client who signed the rights to his house over to the agency in 2011, Flinthills filed a complaint against me with the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) alleging that I had exploited the client by naming him, the city where he lives, and the fact that he is disabled. Although I never received official notice of the complaint from the state, I understand it was investigated and I was cleared of any wrongdoing. Click here to read a blog post explaining the property rights the client relinquished.

Canady’s attorney, Robert Collins, issued a subpoena for my records related to the property transfer. I handed over a large stack of deeds, e-mails, letters, chat transcripts, and Facebook posts on July 7. Wednesday’s court filing indicated the tentative settlement was reached during a mediation session on July 21.

I hope bringing this case to light — and I am the only one who has done so despite having shared information about it with the mainstream media — will result in the client having his property rights restored. I know this client has a supportive guardian and a wonderful little community full of people who look after him. I hope he’s able to live out his days in peace and if I played a small role in ensuring that happens, that means more to me than the outcome of any election.

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.

Attorney in Flinthills Case Subpoenas Blogger’s Records

Robert Collins, the attorney representing Gloria Canady in this whistleblower lawsuit against Flinthills Services, Inc., has subpoenaed my records related to the 2011 property transfer from client Dwayne Suffield to Flinthills. I intend to fully and swiftly comply with the subpoena. Click here to view a copy of it.

Suffield, who is developmentally disabled, signed a quitclaim deed in 2011 granting Flinthills all rights to the home where he lives in Burns. By doing so, Suffield went from having the right to live in the home until he either died or was absent from the property for a year to being Flinthills’ tenant. In her lawsuit, Canady, who was fired from Flinthills in March 2012, alleges she had knowledge of financial wrongdoing on the part of the county-funded non-profit agency against several clients including one referred to as D.S. Click here for a blog post containing copies of the deeds and a more thorough explanation.

Exhibit A of the subpoena states:

  1. Produce copies of all records or documents in your possession regarding the chain of title of Dwayne Suffield’s home in Burns, Kansas and its transfer to Flinthills Services, Inc. in April of 2011.
  2. Produce copies of all publications you have made regarding the transfer of title of Dwayne Suffield’s home in Burns, Kansas and its transfer to Flinthills Services, Inc. in April of 2011.
  3. Produce copies of all documents and correspondence in your possession related to any report of Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation made against you by Flinthills Services, Inc. or any employee of Flinthills Services, Inc.

Shortly after I wrote about the whistleblower lawsuit for the first time, I spoke with Flinthills Executive Director Kathy Walter by telephone, who confirmed that the agency had filed a complaint against me with the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services for revealing Suffield’s name, disability status, and his city of residence. I have heard nothing official from the state regarding this complaint.

In my opinion, the complaint was an attempt to retaliate against me for publishing information Flinthills and members of its board of directors, including Sheriff Kelly Herzet, found embarrassing. And they should be embarrassed. Anyone who deals with people who have diminished mental capacity on a regular basis should know there are rules to be followed when dealing with money and property.

My father has Alzheimer’s Disease and lives in a care home in Rose Hill. After my mother’s recent death, I wanted to give their car to my niece. As holder of durable power of attorney for health care, I make my dad’s health care decisions, but his banker makes financial decisions under a general power of attorney. Instead of placing the car title in front of my dad and asking him to sign, I obtained the banker’s signature. My motives may have been pure as the driven snow and no real harm may have resulted had my father signed the title, but it wouldn’t have been the right thing to do. Similarly, I don’t believe Flinthills did the right thing by having Suffield sign the quitclaim deed in 2011 regardless of the agency’s motives for doing so.

Deed Sheds Light On Flinthills Client’s Housing Situation

By Lee White

In this blog post, I discussed a Flinthills Services, Inc. client who signed a quitclaim deed giving up rights to his home in Burns. At the time, I did not know exactly what rights he gave up when he signed the deed. Now, I do.

Let’s review. Northview Developmental Services, Inc., of Newton, which had acquired the home from a couple in 1994, sold its rights to the client’s property to Flinthills via quitclaim deed on April 4, 2011. On April 26, 2011, client Dwayne Suffield signed a quitclaim deed gifting his rights to Flinthills. Click here to view those deeds.

Unclear at the time of the original blog post: What rights was Suffield giving up when he signed the quitclaim deed? This morning, I obtained another deed signed September 4, 1998, in which Northview granted Suffield property rights commonly referred to as a “life estate:”

“…for and during his natural life provided that he should occupy the real estate at all times. In the event of the death of Dwayne Suffield or should he not occupy the real estate for 365 continuous days, the real estate shall revert and become the property of Northview Developmental Services, Inc.”

Click here to view a copy of this deed. People with life estates typically do not pay rent. They usually do pay property taxes, homeowners insurance premiums, and maintenance costs.

The effects of Suffield signing a quitclaim deed — if the deed were held to be valid by a judge, which is a big “if” due to his possible lack of capacity to sign away his rights — are far reaching. With a life estate, Suffield could have lived in the home until he either died or was gone (say, in a nursing or group home) for 365 days. Without that life estate, he is essentially a tenant of Flinthills and may be subject to eviction. Had he not signed the deed, Flinthills would have received full rights to the property upon Suffield’s death or year-long absence.

I am forwarding information about this deed to the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services (KDADS). It is my sincere hope that KDADS and Suffield’s conservator, if he has one, will take this matter up with an attorney who is well-versed in real property law.

A New Low For Flinthills, Butler County Government

By Lee White

I have been burning up this keyboard the past 24 hours since I learned that Flinthills Services had filed a bogus complaint against me with the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) for reporting on the possible exploitation of one of its clients as described in a federal whistleblower lawsuit.

My phone call yesterday with Kathy Walter, Flinthills executive director, was a decidedly unpleasant one. Sure, I was upset. Who likes having complaints filed against them — especially when they are thinly-veiled attempts by a public agency to stifle constitutionally-protected free speech?

But Walter was rude and arrogant to me when it was her agency that was likely at fault. Instead of addressing the problems with her own employees that led to the situation with the client, she chose to hide behind a mandatory reporting requirement and come after me. Shoot the messenger.

What a failure as a leader Ms. Walter is!

I wouldn’t entrust my worst enemy to the care of Flinthills after the experience I have had with her and the Cowards of the County (Commissioners) who appoint its board of directors. They and County Administrator Will Johnson have refused to address my grievances in any way. I can see why Ms. Walter got the job. She fits in nicely in Butler County government.

I broke absolutely no laws by publicly identifying the client in question. I only did so because it was necessary to show his signature to illustrate that he might have been taken advantage of. Ms. Walter would have known that I didn’t break the law had she bothered to read it. Click here to read the state law concerning abuse, neglect, or exploitation of adults. Who do you think really may have broken the law? Furthermore, if Ms. Walter’s understanding of this important law is so poor that she believed I violated it, how can she be expected to protect the clients in her care?

I have faxed a letter to KDADS Interim Secretary Tim Keck asking him to launch an investigation into whether the client was exploited when he signed a quitclaim deed in 2011 gifting the rights to his house to Flinthills.

That’s not all. I contacted the media, the Kansas Attorney General’s Office, the deputy U.S. attorney overseeing Canady’s case, and the county attorneys of Marion and Butler Counties. The only people I’ve heard from: A producer at KWCH-TV and Marion County Clerk Tina Spencer, who was working late last night and notified me that the parcel search system was down. You folks in Marion County need to keep that hard-working lady in office!

Another one I never heard from (didn’t really expect to) was Butler County Sheriff Kelly Herzet, who is now president of the Flinthills Board of Directors and has been a member of the board since shortly before Canady’s firing in March 2012. Is Sheriff Herzet supportive of Walter’s actions in filing the complaint against me? Did this happen because I support Walker Andrews for sheriff? One wonders. One really wonders.

I will continue to write about the deep-seated problems in Butler County government. I will not be deterred by these foolish tactics. Although I do not live there for many reasons — some completely unrelated to the awful public officials and the people who vote themselves the spoils of democracy by keeping them in office — I still have friends and family in Butler County. I’m probably the only one left with the skills and long-term knowledge to do what I do effectively. Not bragging. It’s just that nobody has killed me yet.

As for this complaint, it needs to be dropped. KDADS has better things to do than to carry out vendettas against political opponents. That’s what I believe is really going on here — just a little old-fashioned intimidation that backfired spectacularly on people who would do well to clean up the messes their people have made. And I’m not just talking about Flinthills. I’m talking about the county in general, which has seen massive turnover in its emergency medical service and in the sheriff’s department (not just the jail).

Ms. Walter needs to be disciplined for this. I really question whether she can continue to lead effectively given what has happened. It might behoove her to step aside.

As for the president of the Flinthills Board of Directors, Sheriff Herzet, it’ll be up to the voters to decide August 2 whether he continues as sheriff. It would be in his best interest politically to show some leadership and end this Flinthills debacle swiftly.

Kansas Law: Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation Of An Adult

By Lee White

Flinthills Services, Inc., a de facto Butler County public agency, is filing a complaint against me with the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) alleging that I exploited one of their clients by publishing his name, the nature of his disability, and the city where he lives. Below you will find Kansas law as it pertains to the abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an adult. I will leave it to you to determine who has more to worry about here: Flinthills Services or me. Please read the earlier blog posts for details.

Article 14. – REPORTING ABUSE, NEGLECT OR EXPLOITATION OF CERTAIN PERSONS Next

 

39-1430. Abuse, neglect or exploitation of certain adults; definitions. As used in this act:

(a) ”Adult” means an individual 18 years of age or older alleged to be unable to protect their own interest and who is harmed or threatened with harm, whether financial, mental or physical in nature, through action or inaction by either another individual or through their own action or inaction when: (1) Such person is residing in such person’s own home, the home of a family member or the home of a friend; (2) such person resides in an adult family home as defined in K.S.A. 39-1501, and amendments thereto; or (3) such person is receiving services through a provider of community services and affiliates thereof operated or funded by the Kansas department for children and families or the Kansas department for aging and disability services or a residential facility licensed pursuant to K.S.A. 75-3307b, and amendments thereto. Such term shall not include persons to whom K.S.A. 39-1401 et seq., and amendments thereto, apply.

(b) ”Abuse” means any act or failure to act performed intentionally or recklessly that causes or is likely to cause harm to an adult, including:

(1) Infliction of physical or mental injury;

(2) any sexual act with an adult when the adult does not consent or when the other person knows or should know that the adult is incapable of resisting or declining consent to the sexual act due to mental deficiency or disease or due to fear of retribution or hardship;

(3) unreasonable use of a physical restraint, isolation or medication that harms or is likely to harm an adult;

(4) unreasonable use of a physical or chemical restraint, medication or isolation as punishment, for convenience, in conflict with a physician’s orders or as a substitute for treatment, except where such conduct or physical restraint is in furtherance of the health and safety of the adult;

(5) a threat or menacing conduct directed toward an adult that results or might reasonably be expected to result in fear or emotional or mental distress to an adult;

(6) fiduciary abuse; or

(7) omission or deprivation by a caretaker or another person of goods or services which are necessary to avoid physical or mental harm or illness.

(c) ”Neglect” means the failure or omission by one’s self, caretaker or another person with a duty to supply or provide goods or services which are reasonably necessary to ensure safety and well-being and to avoid physical or mental harm or illness.

(d) ”Exploitation” means misappropriation of an adult’s property or intentionally taking unfair advantage of an adult’s physical or financial resources for another individual’s personal or financial advantage by the use of undue influence, coercion, harassment, duress, deception, false representation or false pretense by a caretaker or another person.

(e) ”Fiduciary abuse” means a situation in which any person who is the caretaker of, or who stands in a position of trust to, an adult, takes, secretes, or appropriates their money or property, to any use or purpose not in the due and lawful execution of such person’s trust or benefit.

(f) ”In need of protective services” means that an adult is unable to provide for or obtain services which are necessary to maintain physical or mental health or both.

(g) ”Services which are necessary to maintain physical or mental health or both” include, but are not limited to, the provision of medical care for physical and mental health needs, the relocation of an adult to a facility or institution able to offer such care, assistance in personal hygiene, food, clothing, adequately heated and ventilated shelter, protection from health and safety hazards, protection from maltreatment the result of which includes, but is not limited to, malnutrition, deprivation of necessities or physical punishment and transportation necessary to secure any of the above stated needs, except that this term shall not include taking such person into custody without consent except as provided in this act.

(h) ”Protective services” means services provided by the state or other governmental agency or by private organizations or individuals which are necessary to prevent abuse, neglect or exploitation. Such protective services shall include, but shall not be limited to, evaluation of the need for services, assistance in obtaining appropriate social services, and assistance in securing medical and legal services.

(i) ”Caretaker” means a person who has assumed the responsibility, whether legally or not, for an adult’s care or financial management or both.

(j) ”Secretary” means the secretary for the Kansas department for children and families.

(k) ”Report” means a description or accounting of an incident or incidents of abuse, neglect or exploitation under this act and for the purposes of this act shall not include any written assessment or findings.

(l) ”Law enforcement” means the public office which is vested by law with the duty to maintain public order, make arrests for crimes, investigate criminal acts and file criminal charges, whether that duty extends to all crimes or is limited to specific crimes.

(m) ”Involved adult” means the adult who is the subject of a report of abuse, neglect or exploitation under this act.

(n) ”Legal representative,” “financial institution” and “governmental assistance provider” shall have the meanings ascribed thereto in K.S.A. 39-1401, and amendments thereto.

No person shall be considered to be abused, neglected or exploited or in need of protective services for the sole reason that such person relies upon spiritual means through prayer alone for treatment in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination in lieu of medical treatment.

History: L. 1989, ch. 129, § 1; L. 1998, ch. 200, § 8; L. 2003, ch. 91, § 11; L. 2014, ch. 115, § 167; July 1.