KS lawmaker alleges conspiracy with Johnson Countian of the Year Award
Suburban myth or behind-the-scenes revelation?
A Kansas state representative alleges that the Johnson Countian of the Year Award, given by the Johnson County Community College’s nonprofit foundation, was determined by just two people for 14 years.
Rep. Ben Hodge, an Overland Park Republican, told KMBZ radio Sunday that from its inception in 1987 to 2001, the award was decided by former Kansas Senate President Dick Bond of Overland Park and Charles Carlsen, former president of Johnson County Community College.
Why is that interesting? Bond won the award in 1996 and Carlsen two years later.
Bond and the foundation’s director deny the claim, but Hodge is sticking by it and citing several sources he calls reliable. Hodge also sits on the college’s board of trustees and presumably has insider knowledge.
Bond admitted that he came up with the concept of the award, which Carlsen eventually agreed to as the college president. But Bond said the notion that he and Carlsen were the sole deciders is “the product of a sick mind.” Bond is a moderate Republican; Hodge, a conservative.
The college’s nonprofit foundation is made up of a 117-member board and a 12-member executive committee — a regular Who’s Who of Johnson County civic and political life.
Joseph Sopcich, the foundation’s director, said that before 2002 a handful of people decided the award and that Carlsen and Bond were part of that group. After 2001, the selection committee was expanded to about 10 members.
Sopcich said that in the years they won it, Bond and Carlsen abstained from voting for themselves. (Bond said he first declined the award before accepting it.) Sopcich said the suggestion that Bond and Carlsen alone chose the award recipient was a “suburban myth.”
The Johnson Countian of the Year Award folds into the foundation’s mission to raise money for scholarships. A black-tie event called “Some Enchanted Evening” goes with the award, and people who can write big checks attend and give cash to the foundation.
The event raised more than $350,000 last year. This year’s gala is scheduled for Nov. 10 at the Overland Park Marriott.
Sopcich said all board members were mailed forms this year allowing them to nominate a recipient. This year’s winners were Dick and Barbara Shull. Dick Shull is president of Shawnee Mission Ford Inc. and Johnson County Auto Credit.
The winners tend to be people who have donated a lot of money to the community college, but not always.
Bond and Carlsen remain on the foundation board. Carlsen abruptly retired as president of the college in April 2006 after the campus newspaper published claims that he had sexually harassed a female employee in 2003. He denied the allegations.
Past Johnson Countians of the Year: Norman and Elaine Polsky, 2006; Ed Eilert, 2005; Robert D. Regnier, 2004; Walter Hiersteiner, 2003; Mary Birch, 2002; Drue Jennings, 2001; Betty Keim, 2000; Steve Rose, 1999; Charles Carlsen, 1998; George and Floriene Lieberman, 1997; Dick Bond, 1996; William Dunn, 1995; Adele Hall, 1994; SuEllen Fried, 1993; James P. Sunderland,1992; Stan and Shirley Rose, 1991; John H. Robinson, 1990; Paul H. Henson, 1989; Ben Craig, 1988; and Robert H. Meneilly, 1987.
Note: No social conservatives have made the cut.
Read more here: http://midwestdemocracy.com/blogs/entries/ks-lawmaker-alleges-conspiracy-with-johnson-countian-of-the-year-award/#storylink=cpy