Archive for Wednesday, December 8, 1999

KBI to oversee closed-meeting investigation

December 8, 1999

Allegations about open meetings violations by two Leavenworth County commissioners have been forwarded to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

During the week of Nov. 22, the Kansas attorney general received a complaint from county commissioner Wayne Eldridge, in which Eldridge said his two fellow commissioners violated the state's open meetings law on three occasions. The attorney general's office kicked the complaint to Frank Kohl, Leavenworth county attorney.

Last week, Kohl said, he referred the complaint to the KBI.

"They have enforcement authority, and they're in a better position to obtain records," Kohl said. "We have an ongoing investigation that started with the EMS case and still is an ongoing and open investigation."

Richard Vick, Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent, said he and Kohl would meet soon to discuss the county commission case.

"Basically, what I do is I get guidance from the county attorney and gather facts and present it to him for prosecution," Vick said.

Don Navinsky and Bob Adams, the two commissioners that Eldridge charges violated the opens meetings act, have denied the allegations. It is illegal for two commissioners on a three-commission panel to make decisions outside of the public's purview.

Kohl explained that two of the meetings contained in Eldridge's allegations centered on meetings held with Emergency Medical Services employees.

The EMS issue has traveled a long route through the county's legal system.

Kohl's office had charged EMS

director Irene Maley and deputy director Charles Conrad with making a false writing, alleging they had submitted time sheets in 1997 that included overtime hours the two had not worked. Those charges were dismissed in June, Kohl said, after his office received additional information in the case.

Basically, the new information provided by the county commission conflicted with earlier information that the county commission had provided, Kohl said. Initially, he said, county commissioners had said they had not OK'd the way Maley and Conrad wrote the timesheets. Later in responding to a civil lawsuit the commission said it had approved Maley and Conrad to handle the timesheets as they did.

"So at that point, we had to dismiss the case we had on file," he said.

The KBI investigation, in part, is trying to resolve the conflicting statements made by the county commission, Kohl said.

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