The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


January 30, 2014

Other Views: Long overdue

— Legislation that calls for more government and more government spending isn’t exactly popular in many parts of the country these days. But a bill that would allow Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt to create an open government unit within his office is something that is long overdue.

Officials at the attorney general’s office, which proposes to create a two-person unit to investigate complaints about violations of the Kansas Open Meetings Act and Kansas Open Records Act, say the initiative would cost about $160,000 a year. It would be money well spent.

The AG’s office now investigates complaints it receives, but assistant attorney general Lisa Mendoza says the office doesn’t have the resources to give those complaints the focus they deserve. The open government unit would change that and provide resources for an intermediate level of administrative review and enforcement of the law — a step that could avoid the need for a lawsuit.

Residents who think public officials have violated KOMA or KORA can file a complaint with their local county attorney or district attorney, or file a civil lawsuit.

The problem is many individuals can’t afford to file a civil lawsuit, and some local prosecutors don’t take violations of KOMA or KORA as seriously as they should.

Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor has proven to be a staunch supporter of the state’s open meetings and open records acts — his office devoted the necessary resources to thoroughly investigate KOMA complaints against legislators and the Kansas Corporation Commission — but prosecutors in some other jurisdictions don’t have the resources or inclination to give such complaints the attention they deserve.

As Doug Anstaett, executive director of the Kansas Press Association, told members of the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday as they reviewed the attorney general’s proposal, prosecutors may be reluctant to investigate complaints against the county officials who hold the purse strings to their budgets.

It is to Schmidt’s credit that he has detected a need for more participation by his office and is willing to make it happen.    — The Topeka Capital-Journal

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  • Our View.jpg Our View: Pledge must be priority

    Mike Seibert, after being elected Joplin’s mayor on Monday, immediately pledged that the city will be operating with transparency.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Your View: Free choice

    Joan Banks’ guest column (Globe, April 13) regarding right-to-work seems to assume that if workers are given the choice of joining a union, they won’t join.

    April 16, 2014

  • Your View: Serious drawbacks

    Joan Banks’ guest column (Globe, April 13) lays out clearly and persuasively the serious drawbacks with so-called right-to-work legislation.

    April 16, 2014

  • Your View: Step aside

    The people of Joplin made it clear they wanted change at City Hall with their decisive votes to replace two council members.

    April 16, 2014

  • Geoff Caldwell, columnist: Government without apology or explanation

    Americans feel closest to their Uncle Sam at this time of year as he extends his hand for his “fair share” to fund his numerous endeavors.

    April 16, 2014

  • Phill Brooks, columnist: Value of outside fiscal experts for government

    Missouri recently lost a man who had been one of the state’s tax leaders of decades past.

    April 15, 2014

  • Our View.jpg Our View: Hate hurts us all

    Investigators say Sunday’s shooting of three people — two at a Jewish community center and another at a retirement complex in Overland Park, Kan. — were hate crimes.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Other Views Other Views: State’s theatrics

    Conservatives in the Kansas Legislature have taken advantage of a serious problem — inequities in public school funding — to attack teachers and create new problems.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Joan Banks, guest columnist: Right-to-work isn’t what’s right for Missouri

    Right-to-work legislation is up in the air right now in the Missouri Legislature.  Last week, the bill failed to get enough votes to advance to the Senate, but supporters are working to get those votes and move it forward.

    April 14, 2014

  • Our View: A hand across

    Have you ever needed $20 to help you get by until payday, a ride to work when your car wouldn’t start or someone responsible to watch your children for a few hours?
    Of course you have, and odds are you picked up the phone and there was someone on the other end willing to help.

    April 13, 2014

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