The Kansas Meadowlark

Nov 26, 2007
(Postscript Nov 27, 2007)
[Updated Dec 13, 2007]


KCTV5 Stalks Innocent Women, Teenage Girl, and Others

First-Year Johnson County school teacher thought
 "Psycho Killer is Stalking Me" on her way To school.  

Shawnee County parents thought 
a child predator may be stalking their kids near a school.  

Oh, it's just KCTV 5 investigating Phill Kline.


Sources:  Four individuals directly involved with this story, including the school teacher, were interviewed by telephone on Sunday for this article. Quotations below are directly from those phone conversations.  Channel 5 can malign my reporting in their radio interviews, but this story accurately reports what was told to me, especially the teacher's account of being terrified by KCTV5's stalking. 

Bottom line:  If Phill Kline is breaking the law, why doesn't Attorney General Paul Morrison do anything about it?


At a Dec 14 Zenith Boosters Club meeting Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline joked about a KCTV 5 investigation of him.  At that time Kline didn't know when, or if, the piece might air, but in the last few days a KCTV's news promotion indicated the piece will air tonight at 10 PM.  

At the Zenith meeting Kline wasn't sure what KCTV was looking for, but knew they had been watching him, his family, and neighbors for months -- Channel 5 now brags their investigation has taken six months.  Kline owns a house in Shawnee County and keeps an apartment in Johnson County.  Kline speculated KCTV might be challenging his residence as Johnson County District Attorney, even though Kline had lived in the Johnson County area for most of his life, and served as a Johnson County State Rep for District 18 in Shawnee from 1993 till 2000.  Kline only moved from Johnson County to Topeka after being elected Attorney General in 2002.  He rented an apartment in Johnson County just prior to winning the election to District Attorney by Republican precinct committees in Dec. 2006. 

Kline also speculated at the Zenith meeting that KCTV might be looking at his "daily attendance" at the Johnson County Courthouse.  At the Zenith meeting Kline passed out a handout showing his "load" as district attorney was comparable to Paul Morrison's, and his office was operating just under budget.  It's not clear what about Kline interests KCTV5. 

We won't know till later today exactly what Channel 5 has to report, but after networking through several sources it's clear KCTV has engaged in ethics-challenged behavior in their pursuit of Kline.  

KCTV's Harassment in Johnson County.  Kline's landlord at his Johnson County apartment describes harassment  by Channel 5 in recent weeks, the most disturbing of which was KCTV's stalking of their other tenant.

Other tenant harassed. [The school teacher was interviewed on KCMO's Chris Stigall's program on Wednesday -- listen to podcast -- and echoed much of what she told me on Sunday].  Recently, a young 20-something, first year, school teacher realized someone was nearly tail-gating her on her 25-minute trip to school.  She tried to convince herself that it was just a big coincidence that a car seemed to be tailing her on a Johnson County road that usually had sparse traffic on her way to school.  As usual, she stopped for coffee and the car following her seemed to have gone away.  But, as she continued her trip to school, the same vehicle was making unusual maneuvers in a nearby filling station parking lot, which caused her great concern -- she was scared.  Shortly after leaving the gas station, this young teacher noticed the stalking car was only two car-lengths behind her.  She didn't know what to do, and by the time she reached the school's parking lot she said she was "hysterical" and "very shaken".  She thought that a "psycho killer is stalking me".  The car seemed to have gone away after her arrival at school. She called her mom for advice from the parking lot:  "Someone is following me."  She was badly shaken. Then the gray Jeep Cherokee pulled into the school parking lot briefly, before driving away.  The teacher wanted to call 911, but she only had a vague description, since she had never seen the license plate, and only knew the guy had gray hair. 


Would you want this vehicle stalking you without any explanation?
KS Tag UCL-944

The teacher had a difficult time focusing on teaching that day since she had no idea why someone had been stalking her.  She had no idea why someone would follow her to her place of employment, and wished she had driven to a police station instead.  She was so troubled by the incident, and scared to go to her apartment, that she stayed with relatives that night instead of returning to her apartment.

Later the teacher caller her landlord for a possible explanation of what had happened to her.  She thought her apartment was safe, but she was greatly troubled by what had happened.  Her landlord explained that a day or two before they noticed a similar gray vehicle near the apartments.  From a distance it wasn't clear, but from the light reflections, someone in the vehicle may have cameras and may be taking pictures.  The landlord explained that the car may the local press stalking Phill Kline, one of their other tenants.  The teacher felt violated with someone watching her, but was relieved she may not be the target.  She explained "I don't have anything to do with Phill Kline!"

The next day, on an early quick stop at her apartment, the teacher noticed the same Jeep Cherokee as she approached her apartment.  She was furious.  She called 911, but the Johnson County sheriff explained that "freedom of the press" allowed the press to watch Phill Kline.  The teacher still felt "violated when someone has been watching you."  An officer from the sheriff's office made a comment suggesting the driver of the Cherokee "was not supposed to be driving" but it's not clear why the sheriff took no action.

Two days later the teacher received a phone call at school from an unidentified Channel 5 official, who apologized for what had happened to her. But immediately after the apology, the Channel 5 person said they wanted to know if "Phill Kline actually lived at that address."  The teacher said she didn't know Phill Kline -- she worked long hours as a first year teacher and wasn't home that much.  She said she told Channel 5 she had "nothing to do with [the Phill Kline] situation."   The Channel 5 person said they wanted to get her tag number -- she had temporary tags at that time -- to find if she had any connection to Phill Kline.  The teacher doesn't understand how it took a 25-minute stalking episode following her to school to get her license tag.  The Channel 5 "story" didn't' make any sense.  

The teacher and her relatives have threatened legal action against Channel 5 if her privacy is violated again.  "What they did was not right."  From her experience, the teacher explained that Channel 5 seemed more interested in making news than reporting news.  Why did KCTV stalk a 20-something first-year teacher instead of simply trying to talk to her politely? 

Landlord harassed. [One of the landlords was interviewed on the Shanin and Parks show on KMBZ on Tuesday and substantiated much of what was told to me for this article.]  The landlord explained that they were also being watched and followed.  An unidentified vehicle even followed them on a trip to a cemetery.  The landlord called the Johnson County Sheriff's Office and were told the gray Jeep Cherokee was registered to Meredith Corporation (the parent company of KCTV) and the driver had been KCTV's Sam Zeff, from Prairie Village.  [Zeff is a registered  Democrat.]  


Sam Zeff, KCTV 5's Executive Producer for Special Projects
Would you want this guy stalking your daughter, or your neighborhood, without any explanation?
If you're a 20-something female, would this guy be terrifying if he stalked you?

The landlord described the extremely rude behavior by Zeff and his associates.  They burst into the rental office with demanding and leading questions.  At one point, with the video camera running, the Channel 5 team tried to open Kline's apartment without knocking and just wanted to barge in on him -- but the door was locked.  At that point the landlord asked them to leave or they would call the Sheriff.

Kline's landlord has seen the Channel 5 team arrive between 7 AM and 9 AM to stalk Kline's morning trip to work.  The landlord laughed since KCTV apparently doesn't know that Kline leaves for work as early as 5:30 AM and sometimes doesn't arrive home at his apartment till 11 PM.  Kline told his landlord that once when he left for work at 5:45 the KCTV team was going the "other way" to watch him.  Did KCTV follow Kline on a recent out-of-state business trip? Where does the KCTV harassment end?

KCTV's Harassment in Shawnee County.  KCTV apparently is disturbed that Kline is living at an apartment in Johnson County while working as the Johnson County District Attorney.  The Klines  kept their house in Shawnee County (with the bad real estate market could they sell it if they wanted to?), and for continuity the Klines kept their teenage daughter in a Topeka-area school.  

Perhaps KCTV wants to prove Kline is living in Topeka, so for months KCTV has stalked Kline's family in unmarked vehicles near Kline's daughter's school and in unmarked vehicles near Kline's home.   Neighbors near Kline's home and school saw suspicious vehicles at times school children were going to school, and times school children were coming home from school.  Concerned parents  phoned the Shawnee County Sheriff fearing someone was perhaps stalking their children.  The Shawnee County Sheriff found the vehicles were owned by Meredith Corporation (the KCTV parent company), and identified Sam Zeff as the KCTV investigator.  The Shawnee County Sheriff informed the Klines and their neighbors of the KCTV activity to help them deal with their stalking concerns.  .

Recently, the KCTV "Chopper 5" was seen circling the Kline property in Shawnee County.  The helicopter circled at least three times, and then hovered near the property for at least 45 seconds -- how intimidating is that!  The KCTV report will likely show aerial views of Kline's house in Shawnee County.

A few weeks ago Kline's teen-age daughter was driving to school with her mother when she noticed a vehicle following her quite closely.  The teen was concerned that a quick turn might not be safe because the car was following so closely.  Phill's wife started watching the vehicle, and it was clearly following them -- too closely at times -- and it troubled her.  After dropping her daughter at school, Kline's wife followed the mysterious vehicle and even called 911 since she felt threatened by the stalking activity.  The Topeka Police Department offered her little help since they said her husband was fair game for the press.  OK, Phill Kline is fair game for the press, but does his wife and daughter have no right to privacy?  How would the press feel if someone were to stalk their family members?


[Update:  KCTV edited out Kline's reponse:]
“Stop following my daughter to school.” 
[2nd segment of "The Kline Controversy" aired on Tuesday night]

[Kline appeared on the Raubin and Megan show on WIBW radio in Topeka on Tuesday.  
Listen to the podcast.]
[Kline appeared on Chris Stigall's show on KCMO on Wednesday.
Listen to podcast.]

In the KCTV news promo video, investigative reporter Ash-har Quraishi is seen asking Kline a question after Kline rolled his car window down.  

Will KCTV5's chief investigative reporter, Ash-har Quraishi, have the journalistic integrity to show the video of Kline's response:  "Stop following my daughter to school"?  As a concerned father, Kline was right to challenge KCTV for stalking his family and following his teenage daughter to school.

With limited time as the Johnson County District Attorney, Kline appears to be focused on his job and ignores the press as much as he can.  Why should Kline talk to the press?  Where's is the Kansas press' investigation into the "secret" court cases going on in the Kansas Supreme Court involving Kline?  Why isn't the press demanding to know why there are so many secret court actions in Kansas?  


Channel 5 Promo for Hit Piece Against Phill Kline to air Nov 26, 10 PM:
"there was actually no protection and that is why people will not speak up"
[Update:  This woman, a criminal defense attorney, is believed to now work for Paul Morrison,
and worked in the Morrison's DA office for years. She has 
not worked in the Johnson County District Attorney's Office for months,
during most of the time of the KCTV investigation.]

This woman shown in silhouette in the Channel 5 news promotion for tonight's hit piece against Kline doesn't make any sense.  Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison would be more than happy to take Kline to task for anything.  If there were real and legitimate concerns about any legal matter involving Kline as Johnson County District Attorney, Morrison would take the case.

Morrison is doing something against Kline in one or more secret Kansas Supreme Court cases, but has the press investigated that, or asked why there is so much secrecy?  Isn't this secrecy unprecedented in Kansas Courts?  

Channel 5 Announcer:
"He can dodge our questions, but it won't change what our investigation uncovered."
10 PM tonight on KCTV5

Sadly, KCTV5 has a history of biased and unfair reporting. Perhaps some other Kansas City TV station can investigate all the police reports and 911 calls against the stalking behavior of KCTV5?

In May 2003,  KCTV5 reporter Steve Chamraz (who often teamed with Sam Zeff a that time) did a yellow-journalism piece on "Who's Driving Phill?"  The black-and-white promo for that "investigative" report was aired in the days before the May 4, 2003 Kansas City tornado.  KCTV thought it was more important to lead with a story slamming then Attorney General Phill Kline than  informing the Kansas City area about the effects of the devastating tornado.  Also, at that time, KCTV's Chamraz couldn't find the bigger nepotism story in Kansas politics, when Scott Allegrucci, son of then Kansas Supreme Court justice Don Allegrucci, and then Gov. Sebelius' chief of staff, Joyce Allegrucci,was appointed to a $60,000/year job without any experience.  We can thank Scott Allegrucci for the hundreds of thousands spent on the new Kansas tourism motto:  "Kansas, as big as you think".  KCTV5 has a history of not being fair to Kline.  

KCTV5 should air any legitimate news story about Phill Kline, but that should not require intimidating and terrorizing innocent people.  The press should report news, and not involve itself in political character assassination.  

We'll see tonight what KCTV SUPPOSEDLY has on Kline.  


Postscripts

Tuesday, Nov 27, 2007

Postscript after airing of KCTV "investigative journalism" piece on Monday night (online report and video):

Agenda-driven political reporting in Kansas City has reached a new low.  

KCTV's Ash-har Quraishi concluded his hit piece saying Kline was carrying a case load comparable to his predecessor, Paul Morrison.  Quaishi failed to explain how Kline could be carrying such a case load even when he was unable to document where Kline was at all times. Doesn't Quaishi understand that Kline could be working whether or not he can document where Kline is?  

Quaishi mentioned several court actions taken against Kline, but failed to mention that almost all had been dismissed.  Is this journalist ethics?   Where's the "beef" after months of "investigation"?  


KCTV secretly stalks Kline family members, who are not elected officials.
Why are family members, especially children, "fair game" for the press to stalk?
[Update:  KCTV LIED about following Kline's daughter while driving.  The video shows the daughter
getting out of the driver's seat -- with mom meeting her after walking around the car.
Ash-har Quraishi:  "We never followed Mr. Kline's daughter anywhere."  
So, who was in the above video?]

 

Ash-har Quraishi:  "Research, " invasion of privacy, trespasser?

 


Ash-har Quraishi::  "Investigative journalist" or agenda-driven, political stalker?

Wednesday, Nov 28, 2007

On Tuesday night Channel 5 unbelievably aired a 30-minute, "The Kline Controversy" special, and delayed the normal 10 PM news.  Unprecedented.  More yellow journalism leaving out facts that would make KCTV5 look quite bad, like 

  • denying they followed Kline's daughter while driving (they denied it but it can be seen in the video)

  • failing to mention charges that were brought and later dismissed against Kline

  • failing to show video of Kline saying:  “Stop following my daughter to school.” 

  • failing to mention their "inside source" (in silhouette) now works for Paul Morrison and hasn't worked in the DA's office for months.

  • failing to do an open records request for the 911 and other calls to police from those terrified by their "investigation" tactics.

On Wednesday evening KCTV5 made automatic phone calls to Johnson County residents, which seems to be a bit bizarre.  The questions were something like this:

  1. Are you aware of Phill Kline?

  2. Do you like Phill Kline?

  3. Do you think he should live in the County?

  4. Do you have the right to know salaries of any county employee?

  5. What is your age?

  6. What is your gender?

  7. What is your race?  Black/White/Hispanic

  8. Are you Republican or Democrat?

  9. Are you Moderate / Conservative / Liberal?

It's unclear when/where their results will be announced.

Thursday, Nov 29, 2007

Friday, Nov 30, 2007

KCPT's Kansas City Week in Review aired Friday evening at 7:30 PM.  News reviewers were  Nick Haines, KCPTScott Parks, KMBZ 980,  Dave Helling, Kansas City Star,  Jack Cashill, Ingrams Magazine, and Hearne Christopher, Kansas City Star.   The first topic was:

"BREAKING THE LAW OR YELLOW JOURNALISM?
The KCTV5 expose on Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline"


Nick Haines, KCPT

Nick Haines:  "... KCTV5's lead producer in charge of that story was to be with us on our program tonight but late yesterday, for undisclosed reasons, that appearance was cancelled."  


Dave Helling, Kansas City Star

Dave Helling:  "... for other politicians over the years, and in essence, you live where you say you live.  And if you say I live at a post office box, for the purposes of the law ..."

"If you want to do a story on how bad that law is, and that residencies should be more strictly enforced, that's a pretty good story.  That goes beyond Phill Kline ... In total then, perhaps there was too much aggression taken out on the District Attorney."   ...

"But, come on Jack [Cashill].  Admit that if the tables were turned and a Democrat was involved in the exact same kind of subterfuge, you would be outraged.  Kansas Meadowlark would be outraged.  They would be screaming "bloody murder" that he doesn't really -- or she doesn't really -- live in the District ..."

Scott Parks said KCTV's story was like Swiss cheese -- full of holes.  Hearne Christopher commented:  "...it's a little bit of an overkill.  Everybody's been bashing that guy within an inch of his life.  He's a lame duck.  .. at this stage of the game, I think it's a ratings deal."  Then Christopher mentioned the JoCo Sun editorial today asked for Kline's resignation.  Jack Cashill provided as much balance as he could by pointing out several stories the press was ignoring that were bigger than KCTV5's story.

Saturday, Dec 8, 2007

Sources say KCTV5's Special Projects and Investigations Producer Sam Zeff was fired.  But this action had nothing to do with this story?

Monday, Dec 10, 2007

KCTV5's News Director, Tracy Miller, in an E-mail to KCTV employees:

"Sam Zeff has resigned to pursue other interests.  We appreciate the hard work Sam has done as a part of our award-winning investigative unit and we wish him well in the future".

Wednesday, Dec 12, 2007

Bottom Line Communications reports Zeff's departure from Channel 5:

Sam Zeff, executive producer of special projects at KCTV5, who was given much of the credit for the station's dramatic rise to the top of the local TV ratings, is no longer with the station. No official reason for his departure has been made, however, KCMO-710AM morning talk show host Chris Stigall announced it on his show (12/12). ...

KCTV did a major November sweeps piece on where Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline resides that has generated tremendous controversy. 


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