Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Kansas: Phill Kline's actions are just like every other DA's, except they aren't

By Diane Silver

I'll admit to having read this article fairly quickly, so I may be wrong about this. However, it seems as if the Kansas City Star's story today on Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline's firing of his top staff does as much to disprove its point as it does to prove it.

The headline and lead argue that what Kline did on his first day in office wasn't all that unusual, even though Kline's actions led his former employees to file a lawsuit against him. The story then goes on to say that, well, that yes the firings were out of the ordinary.
But administrators and attorneys in Kansas’ six largest counties — the only ones that have district attorneys — said the transition in Johnson County was unusual for the number of people who lost their jobs. They also said they thought the lawsuit that the eight employees filed against District Attorney Phill Kline was the first to directly challenge the extent of a district attorney’s power.

The article notes "significant turnover" in two other counties, but then declares that the employees in those cases weren't covered by counties' grievance procedures. However, the point the Johnson County "firees" are arguing is that they were covered by their county's grievance procedures and should not have been fired in the way Kline did.

I'm not certain that anyone has argued that a political leader can't fire people when he or she takes over a new office. The issue in Johnson County, though, is how it was done.

And why do I care about Johnson County? Aside from the fact that this is a key suburban Kansas City county, I like to watch Kline, the recently ousted Kansas attorney general and darling of the religious right.


Stephen said...

Yeah, that Kline is a hoot, isn't he?

This is just another way for him to show that he isn't bound by the same ethics and morals that us lesser beings have. In a practice that predates Paul Morrison, the JoCo DA would follow county HR policy, even though it's a state position. Kline of course doesn't care about that. However, he also didn't care enough to warn anyone of his intentions. He had time before taking office in which he could have given these people their fair warning. In fact, some people might say that keeping these prosecutors and investigator on during the transision might have helped the new people he wanted to bring in.

But Kline's utter contempt for Morrison ruled the day. Phill Kline thinks that because he's a 'Christian' he can do or say whatever he wants. Never mind what the Bible says.

We have to pummel his ass in the next election. We just have to.

Diane Silver said...

Good heavens, I didn't even think about the fact that Kline could have warned people that he was going to boot them. That would have been the kind thing to do, wouldn't it? It might have also helped the functioning of the office if he had kept folks on for say, a month, or so.

Stephen, I'm not in Johnson County, so it's hard for me to tell what's going on. It's certainly not too early to start working on identifying the right candidate and organizing. Are folks doing this?

Many thanks!