Sunday, August 9, 2015

Just a Couple of Good Ol' Boys

Back in 2009, when I was working for the U.S. Census verifying addresses, me and a group of people were sent down to the Miami/Linn/Allen/Anderson county area of Kansas. We had a meeting in a Dairy Queen in Iola because it was a central location to where everybody was. Being an interesting job, we remarked on some of the weirder things that had happened to us. My stories never got any more interesting than the man who had his house surrounded by cameras and wanted me to present my "badge" to the camera before opening the door. One woman had stopped at someone's house in rural Miami County, got the information she needed and began to leave. The people she had just spoken to, stopped her. "Where are you going next?" and she pointed right next door. They warned her about going over there saying that whoever lives there doesn't like people on his property and that they hear explosions--gunshots, bombs, fireworks, they weren't sure. It's so bad that even the sheriff doesn't go there to see what's going on. I've always remembered that because while this type of person is rare, it is more common than people think. There is nothing I hate more and consider more pathetic than someone who harasses or disturbs their neighbors. But it's one thing to just be a jerk and harass your neighbors and either be able to talk yourself out of punishment or resign yourself to your fate. It's quite another to use your governor brother's name is scare everyone into submission.

Jim Brownback, younger brother to current Kansas governor, Sam, owns a farm, like their parents, near Parker, Kansas. It was just revealed Saturday night that Jim has been harassing, threatening, vandalizing and killing animals of nearby neighbors and using Governor Brownback's name to avoid punishment. This is common in small towns and rural areas, to use someone-in-power's name to avoid consequences but we don't live in the age of isolation anymore and I'm baffled why local law enforcement could never squelch what was going on. Neighbors presented the case to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the FBI, Kansas Highway Patrol and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt. None were eager to jump on the case. From the article, I couldn't gather if they weren't eager because it was just a "neighborly dispute" or because of Brownback name involved. Chances are Attorney General Schmidt didn't take it because of the name.
Jim Brownback, mugshot from a 2006 arrest for failure to pay child support.
From what I know, in the article and just being a Kansan, the Brownback's are well-respected in the Parker area. They brought up four lovely children with the black sheep being Jim, according to the neighbors. Where were these neighbors in 2010 and 2011 and 2012? All the problems seem to start in 2011 after the hogs of a neighbor were found mauled by a dog belonging to Brownback's stepdaughter. I don't know the Brownback's and I am sure the elder Brownback's are good, "salt of the Earth" people but I don't believe that Jim is the black sheep. I believe most, if not all, of their children are just like Jim but in different ways. Reading this article and researching Governor Brownback's political career, they are both completely different but also very similar. That's what having a name does to people, they believe that they are better than everyone else and will use their name to avoid what they don't want to face.

Governor Brownback has not commented on this, as of this post, and when he does, he'll disavow any knowledge, say that his brother is his own man, not to judge an entire family on one person, every family has that one relative and maybe, just maybe, he'll say Jim needs to be investigated and arrested but I doubt it. The Governor will handle this like everything else. A private meeting with Jim and a promise that he'll never do it again. And I typically don't judge families based on one person but when there are two people in the family that operate the same way just with different tactics, I then assume the whole family operates that way and when it's a family with name prestige such as "Brownback", I assume people are glossing over the terribleness and only focusing on how long they have worked on a piece of land.
Jim Brownback's property along 1900th Road southwest of Parker.
I went to middle and high school in a small town and having a certain last name could get you far. I happened to go to a school that my mom went to, my aunts, my uncle and my cousin. Teachers were thrilled to have me in class until they learned that I am nothing like any of my relatives and soon, most forgot that I was even related to my cousin despite us only being two grades apart. You could probably chalk my disdain for using name recognition up to it not working for me but that's the thing. It shouldn't work for anyone. Using name recognition should only get you so far--at most, a job but even that could be pushing it depending on the job--but avoidance of legal repercussions definitely shouldn't one of the things.

Until next time, I remain...
~Brian

For more information, please read Tim Carpenter's article from the Topeka Capital-Journal.

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