Archive for Wednesday, February 23, 2000

KBI ready to begin open meetings probe

February 23, 2000

After a three-month delay, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation is prepared to examine allegations that two Leavenworth County commissioners violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act.

In December, the Leavenworth County attorney said he forwarded to the KBI a complaint that Commissioners Don Navinsky and Bob Adams violated the open meetings law.

"I'm ready to start pursuing it and interview people to see if we've got anything," KBI agent Richard Vick said recently. "Exactly where it's going, I'm not sure."

Vick said other cases had delayed his work on the open meetings allegations.

In late November, 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 forwarded the complaint to Frank Kohl, Leavenworth county attorney, who then forwarded it to the KBI.

The two commissioners deny they violated the law, which makes it illegal for two commissioners on a three-commission panel to make decisions outside of the public's purview.

The KBI apparently will couple the open meetings investigation with another probe into commissioners' conduct.

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, commissioners had said they had not OK'd the way Maley and Conrad wrote the timesheets. But later in responding to a civil lawsuit the commission said it had approved Maley and Conrad to handle the timesheets as they did, which led to dismissal of the criminal case against Conrad and Maley.

Part of the KBI's probe will attempt to resolve the conflicting statements made by the county commission.

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