News Columns & Blogs

Why were Juvenile Justice Authority officials fired?

Gov. Sam Brownback's administration should be forthcoming about the reasons for the Friday firings of Kansas Juvenile Justice Authority Commissioner Curtis L. Whitten (in photo) and Deputy Commissioner Dennis Casarona, rather than characterize them as a personnel issue that necessitates confidentiality. Especially when a member of the governor's cabinet gets the ax, Kansans and state legislators deserve to know why. Whitten, a Wichita businessmen and president of the Wichita Metro Youth Football League, also has served on the Kansas African American Affairs Commission and the Governor's Task Force on Racial Profiling. Casarona was a key, respected administrator at the authority, having worked there for 10 years and been deputy commissioner for eight. Worse, Whitten and Casarona reportedly were fired by phone, and not by Brownback or someone high in the administration. A lawmaker who has worked closely with both Whitten and Casarona, state Sen. Dick Kelsey, R-Goddard, told The Eagle editorial board: "I believe the public deserves explanation of why the two top people in an agency were abruptly dismissed without any explanation to them or to the public."