Kahn's push backfired. Urged in part by Hinz and other family members, the Legislature ultimately agreed to restore the exemption.

The divide between families and the "self-advocates" on the council only deepened thanks to Kahn's second push.

When the Legislature considered shutting a state-run home for people with severe disabilities, family members argued that it was the only home their loved ones had ever known. But Kahn argued that the council needed to oppose institutions, on principle.

Franc Kahn, executive director of the Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities, has a life story more complicated than his official résumé.
Franc Kahn, executive director of the Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities, has a life story more complicated than his official résumé.

Again, Kahn's side lost.

The council's executive director resigned in the wake of those battles. And when the council failed to find a successor after a national search, Kahn stood at the ready.

The finalists for the job wound up being insiders: the council's chairman, Matthew Wangeman, and its policy analyst, Kahn.

It's not clear how extensive the council's background check on Kahn was. But it's clear it should have dug deeper. Here's what it could have learned about its new hire:

• Franc Kahn used to be Franc Dextra. Under that name, in Nevada, he ran into financial trouble, with at least $2,488 in judgments filed in courts. Some appear to still be active.

• The federal government filed liens saying Dextra/Kahn owes back taxes for 1993, 1994, and 1997, when he had an unpaid balance of $10,654. He racked up another $2,619 in liens after moving to Arizona.

• In 1998, after he'd already divorced twice, Franc Dextra legally changed his name to Franc Kahn.

Just as troubling are the misrepresentations on Kahn's résumé.

Kahn claimed to have been an "assistant town manager" in Camp Verde. He wasn't; the city has never had such a position. He did work there, but not as a manager.

Kahn also claimed to have worked as a programs administrator for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department from 1994 to 1999. But police spokesman Jay Rivera says Kahn never worked for the department.

Kahn did get hired by the city of Las Vegas in 1996, but that was as a "life skills facilitator." Rivera tells me Kahn's job would have been limited to helping jail inmates obtain their GED and other educational opportunities. "He was not a sworn officer," Rivera says.

Several people tell me that Kahn showed them a badge and told them he used to be a chief of police. His résumé, too, claims he is a "life member" of the National Associations of Chiefs of Police. But the association told me that Kahn's membership expired in 2001.

And Kahn's career as a chief was short-lived at best. The only one of his résumés to cite a chief job claims he was "chief of police" of the Moapa Police Department, which serves the Moapa Indian Reservation in Nevada.

The reservation's current chief couldn't confirm or deny that Kahn had worked there, much less that he'd ever been police chief. There's been too much turnover, he said.

Finally, there's his college degree.

The degree is the biggest discrepancy between the résumé Kahn submitted to the Department of Economic Security, which oversees the council — and the one he tried to pawn off on me earlier this month.

Kahn's original résumé lists a bachelor's degree from LaSalle University. But LaSalle University in Philadelphia had no record of his enrollment.

Apparently, there's also a second LaSalle University — a Louisiana-based "diploma mill" that sold degrees online. After the feds shut down LaSalle in 1996, its founder did five years in federal prison.

Could that be the LaSalle Kahn "attended"? I don't know. But I do find it interesting that, in the altered résumé, Kahn makes no mention of LaSalle, or any a bachelor's degree. Instead, he skips ahead to his MBA, which he claims to be working on at Heriot-Watt University.

That university is based in Scotland. But its representative told me that Kahn is not in its MBA program — he's instead completing an "independent study" for "a master's in science in strategic planning."

And, the university confirmed, Kahn wasn't a student in September 2007, when he applied for the council's top job. He wouldn't begin his course of study for another year.


The council could have hired Kahn on the cheap. He was, after all, an internal candidate.

But the committee that negotiated his hiring — led by attorney Peri Jude Radecic of the Arizona Center for Disability Law — was feeling generous. It hired Kahn at $70,000.

One year later, it received special permission to give him a $5,000 raise, despite the state's wage freeze. When then-member Hinz complained, Radecic said that the raise was part of the package she'd negotiated, Hinz says. (Radecic did not return calls seeking comment. She did respond to questions over email, saying she was merely one of two people doing the negotiating, not the leader.)

Despite his sweet salary, Kahn's finances have hardly improved. Records show the following:

• The federal tax lien is still current.

• In October 2007, Kahn's Scottsdale landlord filed for a "forcible detainer" over unpaid rent. When Kahn didn't show up in court, the justice of the peace gave his landlord permission to change the locks.

• In the spring of 2008, Kahn's new landlord twice took Kahn to court in hopes of getting forcible detainers over unpaid rent.

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6 comments
John
John

This guys name should be Franc Con. There is alot more info out there on this guy. How he ever got into a position to appropriate tax payers money is beyond me. For the sake of all Arizona taxpayers please investigate the next individual a little further to avoid the same huge mistake of hiring another liar , con artist , and all around buffoon. Thanks to the editor for exposing this idiot.

Charles
Charles

We are considering that the Governor's Council is different from the Division of Developmental Disabilities that actually pick vendors to provide care, are we not? It's not obvious from the article.

GRivkin
GRivkin

Dear Sarah,

I read your article in The New Times regarding Franc Kahn and the Governor�s Council on Developmental Disabilities and I wondered why a celebrated journalist like you would want to put your name on a piece such as this. I am shocked and surprised by the tone which has a decidedly malicious edge. The impression left on me by your writing is not, I believe, the intended or perhaps typical effect. The poison darts you�ve launched in regards to this man�s past are giving me pause to wonder about the person who fired them, rather than what the target did to deserve it. Your insensitivity to what was likely a painfully rocky personal history your impression that changing one�s name in a court of law is somehow criminal gives me the distinct impression that there�s more to the matter than meets the eye in the New Times.

The article doesn�t depict a specific issue you�re attempting to illuminate. I get a whiff of a political agenda when you mention the �battle� Mr. Kahn �spearheaded.� My limited understanding of the minimum wage exemption is Mr. Kahn is of the opinion these workshops should be required to pay the same minimum wage to persons with developmental disabilities as those without. I don�t see why that should be a bad thing, even if the workshops can�t operate. Who wouldn�t rather see a hardworking individual get paid what they�re worth? I understand the plight of the business owner who can�t afford a higher labor bill, but in a capitalist society that�s his miscalculation.

The only other issue I�m picking up on is why was this supposedly invaluable government agency �sunsetted?� The best I can come up with based on your writing is the equivalent of someone forgetting to pay the light bill. The mandate ran out because �Legislature failed to act�. �Legislators [would like to] start over in the next six months,� so other than the former employees of the counsel needing to file for unemployment benefits, no harm no foul? I�m not sure where you�re going with this.

I�m left thinking then about Mr. Hinz, whom you say has a daughter with Down Syndrome, as though that phrase automatically gives him martyr credits. Given that most of the information about Mr. Kahn�s past was largely unsubstantiated except by your meager search of public record, I can hardly believe anything you assert about this fellow either. What sticks out for me, however, is that �Hinz had threatened� a colleague�s life and that the �council voted to remove Hinz from his seat.� I can extrapolate that you�ve met Mr. Hinz a few times. Out of curiosity, have you actually met Mr. Kahn as well? Maybe if you had you would have thought better of publicizing his marriage track record and jumped to conclusions about why he changed his name or has a few outstanding debts.

In the next piece I read from your pen I would love to see some cited fact or feel illuminated on a particular political issue. If I�m right the intended tone of this piece was to incite drama or create an image of edginess and a discerning reader will certainly see through it.

Denise
Denise

I have special needs children and my husband is a disabled vet. He is also a volunteer on the Governor's Council. Frank Kahn aside, I want to state that on the local level, at least in our area, the Gov Council has been very busy advocating and alerting self-advocates and families to issues. We have been strongly encouraged to contact our legislators about issues, but have never felt forced to make our opinion fit the mold. It was the contact, not the specific message, that was encouraged. Volunteerism is also highly encouraged by the Council. Our area has logged an impressive number of volunteer hours from already overburdened families and self-advocates who believe that community service benefits us all. I sincerely hope that the misdoings at the top do not negate all of the important work done at the local levels.

Sarah Fenske
Sarah Fenske

Hi Balance - I don't normally respond to online comments, but you raise a good question about an issue I was forced to breeze by in this story thanks to space limitations. I previously did an entire column about the charges against Hinz, which you can read here: http://tinyurl.com/nvyovr. I didn't have the room to rehash the controversy in this week's story, but anyone who'd like to know how I reached the conclusion that the charges were "extremely dubious" should go back and read the column from January, which examines them in depth.

Balance
Balance

Sarah -

"Hinz decided to run for chairman of the council. But before members could vote at the November 2008 meeting, the council actually voted to remove Hinz from his seat! The vote came with no warning and a set of extremely dubious charges."

What were the charges? What made them "dubious" (other than your claim)? Was the vote unanimous? Did you speak with any of the council members regarding their vote on this set of "extremely dubious" charges? If not, why?? If so, what did they have to say??

Investigative journalism is great, but where is the balance? What kind of journalism is this?

Let the merits of the facts speak for themselves, please. The piece was well written enough as it was without your personal, agenda-driven embellishment.

 
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