“Conservative majority on county commission holds firm, rejects attempt to reverse ouster of Hannes Zacharias,” reads the headline of the Shawnee Mission Post.
The headline is only half true. A “majority” did reject an attempt to keep Zacharias’s job. That much is a given, but it was not a “conservative” majority, nor was the decision driven by ideology.
In the Post article in question, reporter Jay Senter provides information that would seem to contradict the headline. In fact, three of the four commissioners who voted to oust the “popular” Overland Park city manager–Mike Brown, Jason Osterhaus, and Michael Ashcraft–likely would identify as “conservative.”
The fourth, Steve Klika, would not. It is for this reason that he bore the brunt of the criticism from county employees and city residents.
“We especially take issue with the vote of Mr. Klika, who was endorsed in 2016 by Stand Up Blue Valley after he claimed to be a fellow moderate,” said Patty Logan, a firebrand physician representing that group.
“We find laughable Mr. Klika’s assertion that he did not allow politics to enter into his decision,” Logan continued. “We will not tolerate elected representatives who do not actually represent us.”
In the mendacious tradition of Johnson County politics, there are no liberals, only moderates and conservatives or, from Stand Up’s perspective, “ultracons” and “anti-government extremists.”
Moderates like Dr. Logan are not hesitant to express their contempt for those “ultraconservatives” who advocate for “laws restricting restroom use to ‘gender at birth’; against same-sex marriage; for “school choice.”
Despite its soccer mom image, Stand Up endorsed incumbent Overland Park City Councilman Terry Goodman in the November election. Goodman, the reader will recall, so perversely harassed real soccer mom, Gina Burke, that even the Kansas City Star refused to endorse him.
There were, in fact, excellent reasons to remove Zacharias. Having grown complacent in his position of power, he had not bothered in recent years to hide his contempt for Sen. Sam Brownback and his administration.
In 2014, Zacharais told the Kansas City Star that the county needed a tax hike because, in the Star’s words, “there was no more fat left to trim.” Zacharias did not shy from blaming the state. “When I look at the horizon,” said Zacharias, “the biggest threat we have is the state of Kansas.”
In 2016, Zacharias was again bemoaning the fact that “the state of Kansas has reduced resources, particularly at the county level.” In the same conversation with KCUR, he defended the County Commissioners’ vote to increase the mill levy and said there was nothing secret about it.
In reality, there were plenty of secrets hidden and plenty of fat left to trim. Based on most recent data, 189 employees of Johnson County government–-this excludes schools and municipal governments but includes Parks & Rec–-made in excess of $100,000 last year. It is no wonder many of them supported Zacharias.
In 2016, as reported in Kansasopengov.org, Zacharias made a cool $221,487 excluding benefits, making him the highest paid employee of any county in the state who is not an M.D.
In Johnson County, there may not be any limousine liberals, but there are Leawood liberals. Nothing quite says liberalism like living in the lap of luxury and lashing out at your less affluent neighbors for worrying about their taxes.