The Johnson County League of Women Voters (LWV) along with the Johnson County Community College (JCCC) hosted a forum recently for August primary candidates, which can now be viewed online. A recent Meadowlark article asked about the “tilt” in the panel discussions because the LWV is mostly a left-leaning group and is confusing “non-partisan” with “not political” in their promotion of the public forum.
The inclusion of Richard Voss on the panel to ask questions of candidates Steve Baru and Jeff Colyer in State Senate District 37 is a good example of the bias introduced by the LWV in this process. Remember: the JoCo LWV declined a request to provide transparency in how these forums were run.
The stage was set for the LWV-JCCC Candidate Forum between Steve Baru and Jeff Colyer.
The moderator for the forum was Missy Taylor. Isn’t she a politically neutral figure?
Not exactly. Taylor is an Barack Obama supporter:
Obama has the strength of character, the intellect, and charisma we so desperately need to unite this country around positive goals and restore our damaged image throughout the world. Missy Taylor, Roeland Park
Taylor is a Board Member of the JoCo Democratic Party representing District 7. Missy Taylor is a member of a Democratic Party Precinct Committee, and ran as a Democrat for State Rep 25 in 2004 and 2006. She received the endorsement of the Kansas Democratic LGBT Caucus in 2006. Taylor is the VP of the liberal group, Kansas Families for Education (formerly KFUPE) and serves as their lobbyist. In 2005 Taylor served on the board of the Johnson County Democratic Women’s group. Also in 2005, Taylor attended the “Torch Dinner” for the liberal Greater Kansas City Women’s Political Caucus. Taylor attended the DNC convention in 2004 as a delegate. In 2004 Taylor contributed $50 to Democrat Pete Roman for State Senate. Open Secrets says Mary Taylor (Missy’s name is Mary) of Roeland Park (where Missy lives) contributed $300 to the Democratic Party of Iowa.
Aren’t Taylor’s qualifications what you would expect for a neutral moderator at a political forum?
Baru sat at the left (physically and politically), while Jeff Colyer sat at the right (physically and politically).
The panel for the forum consisted of (from left-to-right):
- Richard Voss, the JoCo League of Women Voters,
- Jerry Magliano, JCCC, Professor, Personal Computer & Web Applications, and advisor to College Republicans but “currently, the College Republicans on campus have no members.”
- Jim Sullinger, the Kansas City Star.
Both Sullinger and Magliano are fairly well-known public figures, but what about Voss? As a member of the non-partisan League of Women Voter’s he represents “non political” interests, and isn’t pursing an agenda?
Both candidate Baru and panelist Baru are officers in the Kanza Group (Kansas City) of the Kansas Chapter of the Sierra Club:
|Vice Chair||Steve Baru||(913) email@example.com|
|Treasurer||Richard Voss||(913) firstname.lastname@example.org|
Richard Voss’ wife, C. Elaine Giessel, are both members of the Kansas Chapter statewide Executive Committee:
|Council Delegate Alt||Steve Baru||(913) email@example.com|
|Education / Outreach Chair||Elaine Giessel||(913) firstname.lastname@example.org|
Both Voss and Giessel are members of the JoCo LWV, and are registered Republicans. Their adult children at their home address are registered Democrats, however.
Was the League of Women Voters being fair to have Richard Voss on the panel at the candidate forum without disclosing the Sierra Club relationship between Voss (and Giessel) and Baru? Was this fair to Colyer? Quite predictably, Voss’ first question was a “soft ball” about global warming intended to help Baru.
Why is transparency and full public disclosure by panelists of political activities and conflicts of interest with the candidates they are questioning too much to ask for?
See the entire Colyer-Baru political forum for State Senate District 37 online. Here’s an outline of the topics discussed:
|0:59||Colyer: Opening statement|
|2:25||Baru: Opening statement|
|3:44||Sullinger: Should cigarette taxes be used to help pay for health care?|
|6:18||Magliano: What is your opinion about illegal immigrants, employment, tuition?|
|8:28||Voss: What is your opinion about global warming, coal power plants, carbon dioxide?|
|11:27||Sullinger: What about buses, transit, and traffic? Do we need a transit tax?|
|14:02||Magliano: In troubled economic times, do we raise taxes, cut spending, or a combination of both?|
|17:19||Voss: Should we change law about allowing citizen petition for grand jury?|
|20:19||Sullinger: Were tax breaks for business a mistake since we’re having a budget crises?|
|24:03||Magliano: What qualifications make you a better candidate than your opponent?|
- Steve Baru seeks public trust in State Senate race but forged customer signatures!, Kansas Meadowlark, July 20, 2008.
- JoCo League of Women Voters doesn’t believe in transparency in their candidate forums?, Kansas Meadowlark, July 19, 2008.