Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Q and A with John Kanaga, candidate for JCCC Trustee

The Konnection recently interviewed John Kanaga, candidate for Johnson County Community College Board of Trustees in the April 7th election. Kanaga is one of 10 candidates seeking a position on the 6-member board which oversees policy and budget for the community college. You can find out more about Kanaga's candidacy at www.johnkanaga.com.

1. Why are you running for JCCC trustee?

Public service has become a passion of mine since I first worked on a congressional campaign several years ago. I have since helped others in their pursuit of this passion and I felt it was time that I got involved. I believe the purpose of a community college is to provide affordable and accessible education, which Johnson County Community College clearly does, and I intend to continue that tradition if elected to the board of trustees. This being said, the first meeting after the election will have the budget vote, and I will not vote for an increase in the mill levy. Increasing the burden on the taxpayer in these economic times would not be prudent, and we must look within to find the necessary fund for the college to continue at its current success.

2. What is the single most important issue you will have to confront if elected?

The biggest challenge currently facing JCCC and its board is the budget. It will become increasingly difficult in the upcoming years to continue the fiscal balance that has allowed the current growth and success of the college. With lower valuations the income from the mill levy will be lower than it has been in years. With the approval of a small increase in tuition it is important that the school looks within to find the money to continue its success.
A major opportunity for the college is an increase in non-degree programs for the residents and businesses in the community. For example a recent grant for a sustainability office at the college will directly translate into opportunities for local businesses to increase sustainability training through the school.

3. How does your experience and perspective qualify you for the office and how do you differentiate yourself from your opponents?

I come with a unique and new perspective to this board. I believe I have the most direct experience with the modern education system that this board governs. I have received two bachelor’s degrees (in economics and geography) from the University of Kansas, and am currently pursuing my J.D. at the University of Kansas School of Law. With this education I have developed an understanding and appreciation for an open and diverse environment at institutions of higher learning. I bring the unique insight of the consumer of JCCC’s product, and I will work tirelessly to ensure its continued excellence and accessibility.

Kathleen Sebelius--Tax Cheat #5

Now, we have the 5th Obama nominee who owes back taxes--and it's none other than my home state governor, Kathleen Sebelius, who has now managed to further embarrass the great state of Kansas before a national audience. According to CNN, Sebelius revealed "unintentional errors" on her 2005, 2006, and 2007 tax returns to the amount of $7,040 in back taxes, which she has now paid back. Sebelius' husband is a magistrate judge--it's a pretty sorry state of affairs when a governor and her spouse--a magistrate judge--are either too incompetent to figure out their taxes or they attempt to cut corners and find loopholes in the tax code. My open-ended question for all: Are there any elected Democrats who do pay their fair share of taxes while singing the praises of higher taxes for the rest of us? Do I hear crickets chirping.

Of course, we just now hear about these tax problems--thank you Kansas press and thank you Kansas City Star for doing your job and uncovering this previously, since this started four years ago! This could have been an issue in her 2006 re-election campaign, but whether or not the KC Star and Wichita Eagle knew about it, this would have put them in a tough position of jeopardizing their favorite politician's re-election chances. Report hard news or engage in political posturing? And some still wonder while newspapers are disappearing faster than American auto industry jobs.

To recap Obama's tax-evading nominees so far:
  • Ron Kirk, U.S. Trade Representative, owed $10,000 in taxes

  • Tim Geithner, Treasury Secretary, owed $34,000 in taxes

  • Tom Daschle, HHS Secretary, owed $128,000 in taxes

  • Nancy Killefer, Chief Performance Officer, owed unemployment taxes

Monday, March 30, 2009

April 7th Elections

In just one week, Johnson County residents will be voting in local municipal races for mayor and city council, as well as school board, water board, and countywide races for Johnson County Community College. These low-turnout, low-intensity races have not generated much buzz, but they could have profound implications for all of us (for example, local school boards are responsible for mill levy increases).

Many of the county's cities have intense races for mayor and city council--some of the races could be characterized as bizarre, unpredictable, incendiary, and disorganized, such as the municipal races in Roeland Park and Merriam. As these races are officially nonpartisan, the Kenig Konnection usually refrains from making endorsements, however, we will take this time to highlight the school board races and the JCCC Trustee races.

For Olathe School Board, we endorse known Republicans Mike Poland and Jim Churchman, who are known fiscal conservatives who have worked hard to protect taxpayers while ensuring that Olathe schools grow and prosper.

For Shawnee Mission School Board, we endorse Cynthia Jarrold, for the simple reason that she is not Cindy Neighbor. Neighbor serves simultaneously as state representative and SMSD board member and we feel that she should step down and allow someone else to run for SMSD--her work in Topeka in the legislature keeps her busy enough, and serving on the school board requires additional time and energy, which she just does not have. We know very little about Jarrold other than her PTA experience, but we believe she remains a much better alternative to liberal Neighbor.

Voters will have the option of selecting up to four candidates for JCCC Board of Trustees. Jerry Cook, Bob Drummond, Ben Hodge, John Kanaga, Melody Rayl, and Stephanie Sharp are the known Republicans running for a position on the 6-member board. The ballot includes 10 candidates.

Soon, we will post an interview with John Kanaga, candidate for JCCC trustee, about his campaign. In full disclosure: Kanaga and I have worked together on previous campaigns, and I know Kanaga well--much more so than most of the candidates running for the position in this cycle, which is why I fully support and endorse his candidacy.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Off-year elections show encouraging signs for the GOP

Republicans won the three federal elections held in 2008 after Obama's November landslide win (Chambliss was re-elected to the U.S. Senate from Georgia, and Republicans won two house contests in Louisiana, including Louisiana's most Democratic district, the New Orleans-based 2nd congressional district, which has not been represented by a Republican since the 1800s).

Next Tuesday, March 31st, the party and Michael Steele, the new chairman at the helm of the RNC, will face an early, crucial test. A special election will be held in New York's 20th congressional district, vacant after Gov. Patterson's appointment of Rep. Kirstin Gillibrand to Hillary's senate seat. The 20th congressional district is slightly Republican (+3 R) and was held by Republican John Sweeney until 2006, when he lost his seat to conservative, Blue Dog Democrat Gillibrand. The upstate district stretches along New York's eastern border, taking in the far-flung NYC exurban areas and the more rural areas, up to the Adirondacks, Catskill Mountains, and Hudson Valley.

State Assembly leader Jim Tedisco is running on the Republican side and Wall Street Businessman Scott Murphy is representing the Democratic party. Murphy faces fire for his Wall Street dealings, a major concern especially for New Yorkers who have lost many of their savings and investments in scandal-ridden Wall Street, which is practically next door to this district. Murphy's anti-death penalty views--even for known Islamic terrorists--have also been criticized. Yet, this is still a close race, with most polls showing either candidate leading by just a point or two.

We predict this will be a close race, and despite the millions spent by outside liberal special interest groups, we predict a win by Tedisco is the realm of 3-5 points. The Republican base will turn out, but the Democrats will have trouble producing the momentum and turnout needed on their side. If you want to help push Tedisco across the finish line and ensure another seat flips to the GOP, visit www.jimtedisco.com and make a last minute donation.

Later this year, the Republicans have great opportunities in November's gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey. New Jersey always seems like fools' gold for the GOP, but every once in a while, the stars align just right and New Jerseyans eventually tire of Democratic party corruption (see Christine Todd Whitman's win in 1993 and re-election in 1997). Gov. Jon Corzine's approval ratings are at an anemic 30 percent. Corzine faces voters' wrath for slashing state jobs, raising taxes, and his former work for Goldman-Sachs. Polls show Republican U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, who is running on reform platform, with an 8-9 point lead over Corzine.

In Virginia, the Republicans have great opportunities in November's gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey. The GOP has rallied around Attorney General Bob McDonnell in VA, while the Democrats face a crowded and divisive primary, and most polls show McDonall leading his probable Democratic proponents. A win here would be a major boost for the GOP, which has not held the governorship in 8 years.

Judging by recent elections in northern Virginia, Republicans have reason to be happy. In January's special election to fill Brian Moran's state house seat, Republican Joe Murray almost won, losing by only 16 votes in the heavily-Democratic, Alexandria-based district just minutes from D.C., scaring the lights out of local Democrats who never expected an election to occur with a margin of less than 20 points, much less an election with a margin of 0.59% !

Recently, a Republican almost won the chairmanship of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (for KC locals, this is similar to Annabeth Surbaugh's position as chair of the Johnson County Board of Commissioners or Scott Burnett's chairmanship of the Jackson County legislature). Since Republicans only hold two seats on the board in D.C. metro's most heavily-populated and most affluent county. Additionally, a special election just occured for one of the Board of Supervisors seats vacated by the Democrat who ran for chairman--the election was won by a Republican, a change-over in the previously Democratic-held seat.

A Republican does not need to win northern Virginia (Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William, Stafford) to win the state, but the GOP must hold their own and do reasonably well, remaining competitive. If local elections are any indication, the GOP may be more competitive in this region for this fall's gubernatorial race than in many years prior.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Special U.S.-British relationship in jeopardy

Obama the candidate promised to restore American diplomacy and our international standing around the world, yet in his first few months in office, his administration managed to singlehandedly botch the century-intact Anglo-American relationship with our staunch ally, Great Britain. The first blow: Obama announced in January he was returning the bust of Winston Churchill back to the British, a gift and sign of solidarity from our ally acrross the pond that has remained in the Oval Office since 9/11. British diplomats were bewildered by this and reiterated that the gift belonged to the American people, but Obama insisted on rejecting it, while providing no explanation.

Blow #2: As he arrives in the U.S. for his first official state visit with Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is told Obama will not be attending the joint press conference that is planned, leaving the British scrambling to arrange a solo act for PM Brown.

Blow #3: The leaders exchange gifts--a customary tradition that should include thought and consideration as to the relationship between the two nations. Gordon Brown gives Obama a pen holder carved from the H.M.S. Resolute, a British naval ship commissioned in 1880 that carries great significance and sympolism for the presidency, as the famed "Resolute Desk" in the Oval Office was carved of the same wood and given to President Hayes by Queen Victoria in 1880. Brown also gave Obama the framed certificate for the ship and a seven-volume biography of Winston Churchill.

Obama's sole gift to Brown? A DVD box set of some American movies, a set sold in big-box retailers, chain stores, and even gas stations across America. Even more embarassing, Obama does not seem to realize that Brown cannot watch the films in the UK, as U.S. DVDs are formatted for "Region One" format and will not play on UK DVD players, which are formatted for "Region 2."

The embarrassing faux paus extended to the exchange of gifts for the children between the leaders' wives. Brown's wife bought the Obama girls outfits from one of Britain's most trendy and upsale clothing retailers. In return, Michelle Obama had a staffer run down to the White House gift shop to buy a few toy helicopters for the prime minister's sons.

Adding insult to injury, when an Obama administration official was asked by a British reporter about this series of slights towards our most reliable democratic ally, the official responded:
There's nothing special about Britain. You're just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn't expect special treatment."

This astounding and outrageous response, while verifying typical liberal disdain for western democracies and the moral relativist view that Britain is equal to Iran morally, should have been the topic of discussion by political pundits on cable news and should have even made local newscasts for the stir it caused across the Atlantic. But alas, you can hear crickets chirping--no coverage on this side of the pond.

Naturally, the British are miffed and the British press has reported thoroughly on this, while the U.S. press has conveniently ignored the story.

And just this week, unnamed British officials say the PM's office cannot get through to the White House in their attempts to coordinate the upcoming G8 summit. Their calls are unreturned and unanswered.

Don't believe me? You can read about it here and across the pond in these publications: here and here.

Who says money doesn't grow on trees?

After giving us the largest spending bill in American history, Obama and congressional Democrats are not done yet. While the Democrats were quick to remove funding for the D.C voucher program, depriving thousands of D.C. students a quality education and putting their futures at risk, they found time to insert over $5 billion for pet projects in the $410 billion omnibus bill that includes, among other priorities, money to build Polyponesian sailboats. I seem to recall candidate Obama pledging to go through the budget "line-by-line" (even though the president doesn't legally have line-item veto, but Obama is not one to let the facts obfuscate his soaring campaign rhetoric).

Some of the tantalizing pork:
  • $200,000 for "Tattoo Removal Violence Prevention Outreach Program"
  • $5.8 million for the creation of a "Ted Kennedy Institute for the Senate"
  • $473,000 for the National Council of La Raza
  • $2 million for the promotion of astronomy in Hawaii
  • $143,000 for the Las Vegas Museum of Natural History (where Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid's son serves as a board member--mere coincidence, right?)

Money may not grow on trees, but at the rate the treasury continues to print money to fund corporate bailouts, spikes in social spending, and pork projects, we will need to start planting trees.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Here Comes Obama Tax Cheat #4

OK, this is beyond ridiculous and is just insulting. Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, nominated by Obama for U.S. trade representative, owes $10,000 in back taxes and becomes the 4th Obama nominee in a slew of appointments to fail to pay their fair share to the government (I'm sure it was a slight oversight or "clerical error"- $1 here, $10,000 there, etc). Obama's inability to find a decent Democratic public servant or political figure who actually pays taxes reflects the incompetence of the Obama administration in their vetting of nominees or the lack of integrity and rank hypocrisy of leading Democrats who sing the praises of high taxes publicly but do everything privately to ensure they do not have to pay their fair share--only we do.

To recap the list of Obama nominees with tax problems:
  • Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner owed $34,000 in back taxes and interest on income during his employment at the U.S. Monetary Fund
  • HHS Secretary nominee Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination after the revelation that he owed $128,000 in back taxes and did not report his use of a limousine and chauffeur on tax forms, giving new meaning to the expression "limousine liberal."
  • Obama's pick for performance officer, Nancy Killefer, failed to pay unemployment taxes for her household help

The profiles in liberal hypocrisy continue. Is it any wonder Obama's approval rating was as low as 59 percent last week and his negatives are steadily climbing?