• In March of this year, DCFS Trust, a company associated with DaimlerChrysler, filed an $8,717 judgment against Kahn in superior court. He has yet to satisfy the debt.

All these troubles might have gone unnoticed if it weren't for Jon Hinz. Earlier this year, I wrote a column about the council's strange treatment of Hinz (see "Dear Jon," January 8).

I wrote that the council attempted to "remove" Hinz from his volunteer position. The council's then-executive director claimed Hinz had threatened his life. Hinz was also accused of "speaking in opposition to the council at public meetings" thanks to his advocacy on the minimum-wage issue.

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.

I reported the council's overreach at the time. But it wasn't until I discovered Kahn's financial history that things started to make sense.

Hinz had told me all along that he was skeptical of Radecic's role in hiring Kahn. And, by March 2008, Hinz had begun to raise hell at council meetings about conflicts of interest.

The reason? That spring, Kahn made a pitch for earmarking $50,000 for Radecic's non-profit agency, minutes show. When the council rejected the plan, Kahn then quietly included a $50,000 line item for Radecic's agency in the council's next budget.

Now, there's nothing unusual about a government agency for the disabled giving money to a non-profit that helps the disabled. But several members tell me they were concerned about the way it happened. No one from the Center for Disability Law ever made a proposal, they say. They question why Kahn would slip the money into the budget after their initial rejection.

Thanks to questions from Hinz, the money for Radecic's agency was taken out of the budget.

Then came the kicker.

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.

Not surprisingly, neither then-Governor Janet Napolitano nor her successor, Jan Brewer, has acted on the council's recommendation and officially removed Hinz.

But the damage was done. At the meeting, Hinz could hardly run for chairman — everyone believed he'd just been removed. That left only one candidate. And that candidate has been supportive of both Franc Kahn and the earmark for Radecic's legal agency.

In May, the council approved a scope of work for a "special education advocate," budgeted at $50,000. Members thought Radecic's organization was sure to make a proposal.

Then everything fell apart. The Legislature balked at renewal, public records showed serious problems in Kahn's past, and I started asking questions. Kahn suddenly announced his medical leave in an e-mail.

Kahn's e-mail is a hoot. In his paranoia, Kahn is Richard Nixon and Mother Teresa rolled into one. He blames problems at the agency on "personal attacks, lies, manipulation of the press, backdoor deals, and all manner of outrageous conspiracy, subterfuge, and intrigue." He adds, "I have also been targeted for personal attack and character assassination by this cabal of individuals because of my loyalty to the council body and my unwillingness to be swerved or manipulated." Yikes.

We'll see how much "loyalty" Kahn has to the council once the smoke clears. I know legislators who have some questions for him — and if he wants to keep playing the martyr, he'll have no choice but to answer them. Sick or not, Franc Kahn definitely has some explaining to do.

The legislators may want to start by asking where he got his undergraduate degree. Or why his agency produced a public record that had clearly been altered.

They may even want to ask about that federal tax lien. Kahn is being paid with tax dollars. It shouldn't be too much to ask that he also pay them.

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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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