There’s a Hole in the Boat, Part II

by Charlotte O’Hara

3rd District Commissioner, JoCo BOCC. This is my opinion and does not reflect the majority viewpoint of the BOCC

Here is update on my previous article, There’s a Hole in the Boat.  

On April 18th, I had a flurry of text nessages with our Chief Legal Counsel, Peg Trent, on how, over a 22-year span, nearly $5.4 million of Library expenses were paid out of the county’s General Fund rather than from the Library Fund. In response to my inquiry as to what Kansas State Statues would be governing this issue, the text exchange begins:

Peg Trent:  I don’t know, will have to analyze……I am intrigued by the issue.

Charlotte O’Hara:  Are you going forward with your analysis?

Peg Trent: Yes, but it might take me a week or two.

Charlotte O’Hara:  I’m sure you are aware of the implications.  After your review I will have several questions.

Peg Trent:  Understood…. This is why I need to review carefully.  Also I have to consult with Fred Logan too (Library attorney) as well as Robin Symes (Budget Director).

Charlotte O’Hara:  Looking forward to your analysis…. Are the other commissioners aware of the situation or are you waiting to advise them when your review is complete?

Peg Trent: I advised Penny you need Board approval but need to ask permission from her to do research.

End of April 18th text stream.

Ok, so let’s get this snarled episodic text stream straight.

First, the Chief Legal Counsel is intrigued-but-busy and knows it should be reviewed carefully.

Then, when pressed for her opinion, she tells Yours Truly (me, Charlotte O’Hara a county Commissioner) that I need Board approval and permission from the county manager for her to do analysis.

And then a week later, on April 24th after I informed her (via text) that I was pursuing other avenues of research, Ms. Trent answered (via text), “I intend on answering the questions.”

If that doesn’t make your head spin!!!!

May 15th, nearly a month later, the long-awaited research on the issue of using General Funds to pay nearly $5.4 million of Library expenses suddenly appears, but released only to the BOCC and a few high-level staff members and marked as PRIVILEGED INFORMATION!!!!  

Also, I was informed in order for the report to be released to the public, it would require BOCC action.  But of course, I’m the one who must ask. The old adage comes to mind: not a snowball’s chance in Hell!!!!  You must remember I am a member of the 5 to 2 crew on the BOCC and the chance that the majority of the BOCC would support me is nil to slim.  

So, I have taken another route. I have submitted a KORA request for the secretive PRIVILEGED memo, which, if provided will give you, the taxpayers of JoCo, the right to be privy to at least some of how and why nearly $5.4 million was diverted from General Fund to pay for Library expenses since 2002. If my KORA request is denied, I will send a request to review to the Kansas AG’s office.

I love transparency.

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