Thursday, December 21, 2006

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius refuses to back Phill Kline as Johnson County DA

By Diane Silver

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius doesn't have the power to stop Phill Kline from becoming Johnson County district attorney, but in an unusual move she has refused to bless his appointment.

Sebelius has refused to sign the paper making his appointment official. However, the appointment, made by the county Republican Committee, still goes into effect.

Kline lost his effort to be re-elected as attorney general in November by a statewide landslide. In Johnson County, 65 percent voted to boot him out of office.

AP quotes Sebelius as saying that she refused to sign the paper "out of a deep and enduring respect for the will of the people."
"I do not believe such a clear majority of Kansans rejected Kline's stewardship as attorney general with the intention of seeing him continue a public career in law enforcement paid for by taxpayers," Sebelius said in a written statement.
I've watched Kansas politics for more than 20 years, and I don't remember ever hearing of a governor refusing to rubber stamp one of these county appointments. Good for you, Sebelius!

Now the question remains: When will Kansas get smart and start using special elections to fill vacated government positions?


Anonymous said...

Kline had the backing of 89 sheriffs in Kansas, as well as the Fraternal Order of Police. Their opinion of Kline's fitness as a law-enforcement official matters far more than Sebelius' politically-motivated opinion.

Diane Silver said...

For what it's worth... Neither the opinion of the sheriffs or the governor mean anything because none of them have the power to stop Kline from becoming DA.

Sebelius stated the obvious: The vast majority of voters in Johnson County just voted to remove Kline from a law enforcement position, and the 316 precinct committee members who voted for Kline ignored those people.

Another obvious point: Those 316 people ignored the other candidate who had 18 years of experience as a prosecutor and went with a candidate with ZERO experience as a prosecutor.

Kline is going to have his way. He gets to be DA, and the rest of the state will get to see if he can handle the job. I hope he can. Otherwise the people of Johnson County will suffer.

That's not politics. That's just the truth.

Oh, and I almost forgot! The sheriffs did not endorse Kline as DA, but as attorney general. Prosecuting murderers and other criminals is a vastly different job than being the top lawyer for the state.

Anonymous said...

"Oh, and I almost forgot! The sheriffs did not endorse Kline as DA, but as attorney general."

That works the other way as well. The voters did not reject Kline as DA last month, but as attorney general.

The majority of voters in Johnson County voted to remove Kline from A law-enforcement position, not ALL law-enforcement positions.

Diane Silver said...

(chuckling) You do have a point.

However, I don't think a 35 percent approval rating for any job is much to write home about. Have a great Christmas!

Anonymous said...

We can spout sound bites and rhetoric. Or we can...
In November of 2005, a full year prior to the election, and long before Paul Morrison filed to run for AG, Phil Kline through his office solicited endorsements from the states sheriffs. At that time, 89 gave Kline the endorsement.

Sheriffs are elected in Kansas and depend upon support of their party to run. Once elected, they also depend upon the AGs office to help out by providing state resourses.

Many organizations that rely upon good relationships with those in power, maintain "emcumbent friendly" policys regarding endorsements. Such is the case with many cash stapped rural departments.

Several of those sheriffs later dropped their endorsement. The Allen County Sherriff doing so just 2 weeks before the election.

The Johnson County Sheriff, a Republican, refused to endorse Kline.

The FOP is a lodge type organization. Just like the Elks. Included in its membership are privately employed security officers as well as retired law enforcement officers and spouses. The president of the Kansas Lodge is a retired police detective working in private security. The previous president had been a cop, but got a law degree and is now a corporate lawyer.

Many law enforcement officers were angered in the past year when Morrison prosecuted two Grandview, Missouri police officers for failing to follow multiple agency proceedures as well as laws in extending a chase into Leawood Kansas where they entered an intersection against the light and stuck another vehicle resulting in serious injuries.(Missouri laws were also violated but Morrison of course could only prosecute for the Kansas violations.)

There are 396 precincts in Johnson County. Only 8 of those precincts were carried by Kline. (COMBINED they were carried by only 49 votes.)

Your suggestion that voters removed Kline from "A law enforcement position, not all" is frankly, silly.

And your suggestion that the voters don't reject him as DA, is BEYOND stupid. It is frighteningly blind.

groenhagen, Do you LIVE in Johnson County? Have your read the paper lately, read the blogs, listened to talk radio, talked to your neighbors, your co-workers, your family?

Have you even listened to yourself? Do you think such careless logic and rationalizations as you offer are the product of a reasonably established and honest assessment of reality?

Other points for consideration:

In the vast majority of Jo Co precincts, registered republicans SIGNIFICANTLY outnumber registered democrats.

There is the possibility of two "precinct committee people" - 1 male & 1 female- from each precinct.

If no one is elected into a precinct position the county political party chair may appoint someone into the vacancy. (I wonder how many were "appointed" between the general election when Kline lost, and the county meeting.)

In a significant number of the precincts with both an identified male and female committee person, those people are married and living in the same household.

Many of the recently elected "state representatives" elected to represent us in Topeka, are also precinct committee people.

Unlike their votes in Topeka, committee votes are done anonymously and with no measure of accountability.

Precinct committee meetings are open to the public (but not generally publicized.)

In the republican precinct committee meetings I attended, (I was not at the meeting last week) votes were cast on blank 2x5 index cards. Those present who were not precinct people were asked not to vote...

The precinct committee position is a political party function. But those individuals so elected (or appointed) are there to represent the republican residents of their precincts.

This they failed miserably at. You know it. I know it. Sebelius knows it. And Kline knows it.

All that said. Kline is our next DA for 2 years. I do wish him well. I imagine that he will be a passable administrator. If he can refrain from pursuing his own personal agenda... He did not waste all of his time in Topeka.

The circumstances of his appointment will make his job difficult.

He was certainly NOT the most qualified candidate.

Diane Silver said...


I certainly can't add anything to that. Thanks for the fact checking and for all of the detail.

Anonymous said...


Can't you keep the discussion civil? Why the personal attacks?

We'll see in four years if Morrsion gets the large number of endorsements from Kansas' sheriffs that Kline got this time around. My guess is the premise of your argument will be proven incorrect.

Fact: 89 sheriffs endorsed Koine, including 8 Democratic sheriffs. All sheriffs who endrosed an AG candidate endorsed Kline.

Fact: The Johnson County sheriff did not endorse Morrison, either.

Fact: You are correct in saying that the 89 sheriffs endorsed Kline before Morrison filed for AG. However, that's a bit misleading. Morrison ANNOUNCED he would run for AG in October 2005. Kline released the list of 89 sheriffs a month LATER. In other words, those sheriffs knew who Kline's likely Democrat opponent would be before they signed off on Kline.

Fact: You state that several of the sheriffs who endorsed Kline later withdrew their endorsement. I addition to the Allen County sheriff, name the others. The Iola Register article concerning the Allen County sheriff (this blog shared a link) notes, "None of the other 88 sheriffs mentioned in Kline ads has publicly withdrawn support, at least not with flourish enough to make it known statewide."

Fact: FOP also endorsed Gov. Sebelius. According to AP, Sebelius touted that endorsement "as evidence that she has a strong record on crime." Did Sebelius overstate the value of the FOP endorsement? FOP also endorsed Democrat Biggs over Kline in 2002. Democrats considered that a major endorsement then. And ought you denigrating the 3,000+ rank-and-file law enforcement officers across the state of Kansas by comparing them to the Elks?

Fact: Morrison anger MISSOURI police offers in the car chase incident. Name one prominent KANSAS law-enforcement official who said he was angered over Morrison charging the Missouri officers with misdemeanors.

"Your suggestion that voters removed Kline from 'A law enforcement position, not all' is frankly, silly."

It's the truth. The AG slot was the only one voters voted on last month. Even Diane said I had a point on that. If you have information to the contrary, please present it.

"groenhagen, Do you LIVE in Johnson County? Have your read the paper lately, read the blogs, listened to talk radio, talked to your neighbors, your co-workers, your family?"

No, I don't read the blogs. I just write stuff and, for some mysterious reason, it shows up here.

"Have you even listened to yourself? Do you think such careless logic and rationalizations as you offer are the product of a reasonably established and honest assessment of reality?"

Ah, yes, the old "Kline supporters are nuts" argument. Great logic on your part. And in what way is your extreme hatred for Kline a product of rationalization and careful logic?

"But those individuals so elected (or appointed) are there to represent the republican residents of their precincts."

Those Republican residents put a conservative majority in the precinct positions. If they chose a conservaive to replace Morrison as DA, how are they not representing the Republican residents?

I wouldn't mind continuing the conversation with you, as long as you grow up a bit and drop the "sillys," "stupids," etc. Those insults suggest that you come here with a weak argument. Before posting, just imagine that the person you are addressing is standing right before you. If you wouldn't issue personal attacks face-to-face, why do it here?

Anonymous said...

I also find it interesting that Sebelius and Morrison continue to attack Phill Kline. Also, as Jim Ryun noted in the Journal-World today, Nancy Boyda continues to attack him. Is there something about Democrats that make them sore winners? It must be difficult belonging to a party whose members cannot be gracious even in victory.

Diane Silver said...

I'm not certain what you're talking about when you say Sebelius and Morrison continue to attack Kline. If you're speaking of Kline being made DA, then I believe their comments concerned the actions of the precinct committee members in picking a candidate that many people feel is unqualified.

As for the alleged attack by Nancy Boyda in the Journal-World, I can't seem to find it. I'm assuming today means 12/21. What story are you talking about?

Also, let's tone down the rhetoric, Groenhagen. This isn't personal. Let's not make it that way.

Diane Silver said...

Some key questions are getting lost in all of the chaff Groenhagen is throwing up in the air.

Does Phill Kline have any experience as a prosecutor?

Has Phill Kline ever even worked as a prosecutor?

Was there a qualified candidate who ran against him who was anti-abortion, or pro-life?

As I understand it, the answers to the first two questions on Kline's experience is NO and NO.

As I understand it, the answer to the final question is a resounding YES.

Diane Silver said...

I meant the second question to say: Has Phill Kline ever worked in a district attorney's office? Has Kline ever prosecuted a single case?

By the way, I'm sure Groenhagen will correct me if I'm wrong.

Anonymous said...

groenhagen, I am sorry you took my comments so personally. I called one of your arguments silly. The second I refered to as "beyond stupid." That comment slipped by. I'd originally refered to both comments as stupid and had then meant to soften both comments to silly. I stand by that characterization.

I don't intend these comments to be personal. The reality is we all make silly, and yes, stupid comments sometimes. Probably more so when we feel strongly about things.

Face it, some of your arguments ARE silly. And some seem to want to inflame.

I did not attack you. I passed an opinion on your arguments.

True, the Johnson county Sheriff didn't endorse Morrison as AG either. In a public statement he pointed out that he didn't feel it was his place to enter that argument. I think his absence from the list, particularly given his political affiliation, is significant however. I imagine the argument could be made that he didn't want to compromise his relationship with his county DA. (thats MY opinion)

But isn't it just fascinating that one of the few republican sheriffs who DIDN"T endorse Kline as AG now has to work with him as DA? Such irony.

Now, while you have accused me of getting personal, you in turn try to suggest that I am "denigrating the 3,000+ rank-and-file law enforcement officers across the state of Kansas." That is the furthest from the truth. In fact my work brings me into very close and regular contact with law enforcement officers. I have the utmost respect for the work they do and the challenges they face. I also have very close family members who are commissioned officers. Although it was some years ago, I was a (non-commissioned) "team leader" for a large urban police departments "Crisis Team." And I still serve as an "on-call" person for a large urban PD, responding to incidents such as line of duty deaths and serious injuries to work with officer peers and families. groenhagen, your suggestion is unfounded. Was it intended to be inflamatory as well?

I'm pointing out that the FOP is in fact a social order established along the same lines as the BPOE. Many officers join primarily to access its oustanding insurance benefit packages. (By the way, The Elks raise and distribute a great deal of money in the way of local charitable and educational contributions. I don't think either of us are necessarily trying to denigrate them by the comparison. Are we?) Now, my nephew tells me I'm wrong about the spouses membership in the FoP however, it turns out his wife although not a police department employee was in her own right a commissioned law enforcement office...) Look, if I want to denigrate cops (plural) I can do it face to face across my families Christmas dinner table.

And yes, I will offer that politicians on both sides of the aisle inflate the significance of particualr endorsements such as the FoP. And I say this largely because MANY such organizations have clearly established policies of "incumbent endorsement." When the FoP endorsed Briggs four years ago there was no encumabant! (opinion supported by fact)

I have personally been privy to comments from a number of officers from at least three different jurisdictions (urban and suburban) who were really pissed at Morrison for prosecuting the Grandview cops. None of these officers had a higher rank than sergant. When the chase videos were released it was pretty obvious that policy was ignored and laws were broken. Most commanders recognized this. But for the officers in the field, it certainly felt as if they were not being supported. (At least one Overland Park officer that I know of -a friend- who was really pissed at Morrison, is even more distressed however at the thought og having Kline as DA . Morrison is tough on criminals and both a strong prosecutor and administrator. Kline is... well very clear about going after Planned Parenthood and perhaps on-line child predators.)

Understand, I'm a pretty straight forward guy. I much prefer conversations such as this to be face to face. And if I think an argument is silly or stupid, I have no hesitation in saying so. And I expect the same in return. Intellegent debate is important and sadly absent in most political forums. (face to face or otherwise) I sincerely appreciate that you are willing to have this back and forth interaction. The future of our nation and our world is dependent upon such conversations. I know I grow from this. I suspect that you do. Perhaps others reading this will as well. (neither one of us knows it all)

The advantage of face to face debates is that we can see when the other side is getting whiney or fidgity, we can then rachet it up a point, or tone it down.

On these blogs, it's point, counter point. (long drawn out point and long drawn out counter point) And we don't know if the others partner is downstairs hollering "are you gonna be on that damn computer all night?" or if the thermostat is set unusually and annoyingly -frigidly- low and causing fingers to sssssshake.. OR if something you just wrote was mistaken, mis-understood, typed wrong, or totally just plain and simple: boneheaded STUPID.

Moving on...
Dude, you refer to my "extreme hatred for Kline", but if you read, AND PAY ATTENTION, the ONLY thing I even say say about Kline should easily be seen as positive.

I wrote, "I do wish him well. I imagine that he will be a passable administrator. If he can refrain from pursuing his own personal agenda... He did not waste all of his time in Topeka. The circumstances of his appointment will make his job difficult. He was certainly NOT the most qualified candidate."

I don't HATE Kline.(I didn't care for him as our AG and I don't care for him as our fiture DA either.) I AM profoundly offended by the manner in which he was appointed to the position of district attorney. And that is after all what this particular blog thread was about...

I stand by my position that some of your arguments are still pretty silly. And perhaps a bit imflamitory as well.

As for my (our) being gracious in victory... I certainly cheered when Kline lost in the general election. The landslide of the vote only magnified my joy. But I didn't jeer or heckle or intentionally attack any of his supporters. In fact, I recognize that many of his supporters stand on positions of sincere and respectable belief.

I don't however feel "the warm glow of gracious victory" when the man who three years ago directly and as it turned out,(thank God for those activist judges...)ILLEGALLY threatened to criminally prosecute me and to revoke my professional license, is suddenly made my county DA. (I've easily initiated, contributed to or testified in more prosecutions leading to convictions of child abusers than Kline has! And I could defend that position realtive to ANY ONE of perhaps 14 consecutive years! How dare he suggest that I promote sex between children and adults by refusing to turn in a 15 year old, legally asking questions about contraception and STD's because HE's had sex with his 16 year old girlfriend!!!)

I don't feel the warm glow of gracious victory when precinct committee people make such a clearly boneheaded, irreversable, willfullly offensive, "in your face," and STUPID decision.

(getting back on track) Sebelius' comments on the issue were certainly, political, they were certainly opinion, and they were certainly fair.

Ya'all I'm outa here. Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannaka, joyful Kwanzaa, peaceful sabbath, quiet vacation, full belly, and intellegent conversation. And for goodness sake, no politics at the dinner table!!!!!!!!!!!


Diane Silver said...

Peace to you, GEB and to Groenhagen and all.

Many you all have the happiest of holidays.

Anonymous said...


"Dude, you refer to my 'extreme hatred for Kline'...."

Sorry, when you use the word "dude," it reminds me of something I just read in the December issue of Business 2.0 magazine:

"You know the reaction when 55-year-old guys try to be 'hep'? That's the reaction Wal-Mart got when it launched its own social network for teens...."

It appears to me that you have a personal vendetta towards Kline. How else can one explain the extreme hatred directed at him?

GEB said...

Groenhagen Dude, Thats the best you can do? Bummer. I was hoping for something like, reasoned and intellegent dialog.

Martin Luther King Jr. is quoted as saying, "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

I commend your initial willingness to wage an intellegent exchange. You sincerely took effort to investigate and site information from reliable sourses. I appreciate and respect your effort. You compelled me to check my own facts, and I found weakness in some of my positions. I also respect your basic passion. Such actions and such passion is essential if we as a society "are to long endure."

Sadly, you lost any measure of reason and respectability with the seeming pettiness of your last post.
You have conjured up the handy excuse of "hatred" as your explanation for my own passion. You are mistaken.

The sad sad irony is that my passion is based in in a desire to seek a place of compassion, and care, responsibility and understanding.

Perhaps my willingness to label an argument as silly or stupid may feel hurtful. That is not my intent. It is sincerely intended to move us towards a place of understanding. You ask me to explain something that I have already clearly explained. You have apparently chosen to ignore the majority of my last post only to respond with a narrow agenda that is seemingly contrary to any possible constructive outcome. That sir, reflects to me conscientious stupidity.

THAT, sir, is something that I could grow to hate. It is certainly something that I mourn. GEB