Dodge City Community College’s attorney is not happy with Terry Malone, a trustee for the school.

Attorney Glenn Kerbs issued a press release after Malone’s outburst concerning possible litigation against DCCC during the last Dodge City Community College Board of Trustees meeting on Oct. 24.

Malone — while bringing forth a motion calling for an independent audit into federal funds awarded and used by the college — announced the school was facing an Arizona attorney general grand jury looking into if the school had overcharged the federal government $8.5 million for its helicopter program.

"Why would you bring up something that was in executive session and not out in the public?" asked Gary Harshberger, the newest member of the board. "What’s wrong with you? Do you not understand the purpose of executive session?"

At the time of the incident, Kerbs issued a statement confirming the grand jury.

"I can confirm that Dodge City Community College received a grand jury subpoena issued by the US District Court for the District of Arizona," Kerbs said. "DCCC has retained legal counsel in Phoenix, Arizona, to represent the college. This is an ongoing matter and not near any final resolution.  

"Any information provided to the trustees of the college concerning the grand jury proceeding was provided to them in confidence. The public disclosure of piecemeal information is, in my opinion, highly inappropriate and not in the best interest of the college. Because this is a pending matter and for the foregoing reasons, it is not appropriate for me to either confirm or deny statements made by Trustee Malone."

Kerbs issued a press release late on Wednesday concerning Malone’s actions.

"Last week, during the Dodge City Community College Board of Trustees meeting, Trustee Terry Malone revealed information related to a grand jury subpoena issued by the US District Court for the District of Arizona in June, 2017. This information has been repeated in political advertisements paid for by Trustee Malone and others. This information was provided to Trustee Malone during an executive session pursuant to an exception to the Kansas Open Meetings Act which allows consultation with the board’s attorney to discuss matters which are deemed privileged in the attorney-client relationship.

"The purpose of the exception isn’t to keep information from the public, but it intended in this instance to protect the interests of the college in a legal matter which is pending and unresolved. The board of trustees, as the elected representatives of the public and the governing body of the college, must be informed and make decisions during the course of a legal proceeding which are in the best interest of the college. The right of the public to know isn’t denied, but rather delayed until an appropriate time when the release of information will not cause harm to the institution.

"Trustees have an obligation to maintain confidentiality. They are entrusted to govern and make decisions which are in the best of Dodge City Community College. To reveal incomplete and misleading information serves no good purpose.

"Further explanation to Trustee Malone’s statement at this time would not be appropriate. Unfortunately, the public is left with misleading innuendo until a full disclosure can be made."

Malone, when contacted about the press release, responded.

"The grand jury subpoenas are public record. The subpoenas requested public records from a public institution," Malone said. "Any person who files a request for records under the Freedom of Information Act can get the same records. The subpoenas were served upon former employees.  

"The taxpayers are paying for four very high-priced Arizona attorneys to represent the college and former employees of the college. The hiring of the attorneys to represent those who received subpoenas was done in open session of a public meeting. Virtually everyone in Ford County had knowledge about the grand jury subpoenas from the minute they were served because it was shocking news and people were asking questions about why their college was receiving subpoenas from involving a criminal grand jury investigation in Arizona. 

"It is inappropriate for the board to conceal information from the public that it has a right to know about, by using an executive session as a ruse to keep the public in the dark about information it already knows about or has an absolute right to know about regarding how their money is being spent and how their college is being managed.

"Mr. Kerbs is simply trying to protect the people who retain him from having the public learn how they mismanage our college. I get that."

At the meeting, Harshberger accused Malone of leaking information from an executive session, stating Malone gave the information to Pete Weil, a candidate for the board in next week’s election, and Weil posted it to his Facebook account prior to Malone’s declaration in an open meeting.

Since the statement in the meeting several political advertisements have used the possible litigation prominently in ads. Many of the ads are paid for by Malone, who isn’t up for re-election for another 2 years.

 

To contact the writer email rbluhm@dodgeglobe.com.