Bloated Budgets and Cloak of Secrecy

As posted in the Johnson County Gazette

shared with permission
by Charlotte O’Hara, 3rd District Johnson County Commissioner

As always, an interesting day at the BOCC business and agenda review meetings on August 23rd. Discussions on the budget during agenda review were rather heated following the very well attended public hearing on August 21st.

Chairman Mike Kelly demanded, berated, and lectured me and Commissioner Ashcraft for not disclosing our motions we will have for the budget vote next week, August 31st, accusing us of sabotaging and bushwhacking staff by not giving them time to respond to our concerns.

Hmmmm, he must be tone deaf, since both Commissioner Ashcraft and I have been very vocal about our opposition to the process and the final proposed $1.79 billion 2024 budget.

However, I thanked him for the lecture and assured him that I would have comments and motions next week when I’m certain the bloated ship of state budget will be passed in the now normal 5-2 vote count.

In other news, I filed a Kansas Open Meetings Act complaint with the AG’s office July 6th concerning our executive session on 6/29/2023. I contend (my opinion) the BOCC used executive session that day to discuss issues in private that should be discussed in a regular open meeting so the public can hear the discussion.

Full civil war has erupted because of my decision to go directly to the AG with my complaint. However, this is not the first time I’ve had a concern about the BOCC violating KOMA in executive session.

On the previous occasion, I visited with District Attorney, Steve Howe, shared my concern and he suggested that I attend one of his KOMA training sessions in order for me be to armed and ready for the next battle should I have more questions about the cloak of secrecy the commission uses to keep you, the public, in the dark.

I informed our Chief Legal Counsel on my conversation with the DA and she indicated she would also like to attend the DA’s training session. That will be a fun outing. I will report when and if our joint appearance at the DA’s KOMA training session occurs and, if she and I had a nice girl chat at lunch.

Anyway, here we are, government at its best in Johnson County with bloated budgets, financed by taxing unrealized gains through reappraisal, and the BOCC hiding from the public in unwarranted executive sessions (my opinion).

Stay tuned for the AG’s opinion.

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