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Every Kansas resident owes a debt of gratitude to Rich Gannon E-mail
Opinion
Tuesday, 16 May 2017 07:11

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L&T Publisher Earl Watt



Kansas has its share of folklore heroes, from John Brown to Amelia Earhart, Dwight D. Eisenhower and more. We know their names and the impact they made on the nation and the world.

While Rich Gannon may not be a name that many might associate with those historic giants, his contribution to you was massive.

Almost none of you will recognize this name, and that is why I am sharing this, because he has accomplished a great deal for you and you never even knew he was on your side.

Rich Gannon is a former Kansas State Senator, but that is not why you should know him.

Rich Gannon might even be thought of as one of those special interest cronies in Topeka. 

You see, he’s a lobbyist.

Rich represents the Kansas Press Association, and he talks with lawmakers on a daily basis during the legislative session on your behalf.

Why is he working for you?

Because year after year there are efforts in the Kansas Legislature to provide you with less and less information about how the government spends your money. On an almost annual basis there is an effort to remove public notices from newspapers, leaving you to have to search for budgets, bids and rule changes on some obscure website also controlled by the government.

Rich faces off against the real big boy lobbyists — those representing the Kansas League of Municipalities, the Kansas Association of Counties, school district lobbyists and others who are trying to convince lawmakers that running public notices is a waste of money.

In other words, why should they spend a few bucks to tell you how they are spending millions of your dollars?

Rich has entered the lion’s den over and over to make sure that you have access to this information from an independent third party — your local newspaper.

Imagine how many bids would go unseen on a county or city or school website that sees little to no traffic. How much more would it cost taxpayers when only one company is offering a bid? Not very competitive, is it?

Would it be more tempting to simply place a budget buried deep on a government website rather than printed on the pages of the local newspaper, especially if that budget had substantial increases?

Some might argue that it is the job of the newspaper to gather that information and report on it.

But what if that newspaper condones the excessive spending habits? What if that newspaper simply looks the other way while mill levies shoot through the roof?

No, we can’t even trust the newspapers in Kansas to simply report and expect it to be done fairly, and many newspapers are trying to accomplish more with less in an effort to control costs. The only way to insure that the information reaches the public is for it to be required to be printed, and the law stipulates that newspapers must charge the cheapest rate available, so the government cannot be overcharged for these notices.

Many times this issue has come up, and Rich Gannon has made the case that you deserve to receive the information.

At times he has called in reinforcements, and editors and publishers across the state have made the drive to Topeka to discuss this cornerstone of keeping the government responsible to the people it serves.

Rich does his job like few can. He’s not a bully. Quite the opposite, he is a soft-spoken, level-headed communicator that has the ability to de-escalate an argument rather than ramping it up.

When Rich speaks you have to lean in a little bit to hear him, and you always get it straight.

The biggest threats to public notices will now be on the horizon as Rich Gannon will retire at the end of this legislative session, and it will be imperative for the Kansas Press Association to find another voice that can continue to make the case for the people of this great state.

With Rich stepping down, I am sure that the efforts to convince lawmakers that now is the time to pull public notices and place them on some obscure internet site, saving a few bucks on the printing of the notices while bids, budgets and ordinance changes become invisible, will be ramped up, believing lawmakers will no longer have Rich Gannon in their ear explaining the folly of this venture.

Government functions best in the light, and these public notices help keep government visible.

No, you won’t know his name, but you have benefitted greatly from his efforts. 

If you have a moment, send Rich an email as he heads into retirement, and let him know that you appreciated his efforts to keep you informed. His email address is This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Thank you, Rich, for looking out for all of us and not only for what you were able to do, but for the class and dignity with which you did it.

 

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About The High Plains Daily Leader

The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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