Small Town Showdown
Keen Umbehr, a trash hauler in rural Kansas, was an "affliction" to the county commissioners in Wabaunsee County. He did what most of us only talk about: He got involved in local politics by attending meetings and writing a weekly newspaper column questioning how taxpayer money was being spent and insisting on accountability from elected officials. Apparently viewing participatory democracy as better in theory than in practice, however, the commissioners demanded that the editor of the local paper censor Umbehr's articles or face withdrawal of all county business. When that failed, they took a more direct approach and terminated Umbehr's contract to haul solid waste for the county. The message to other citizens could hardly have been more explicit - speak out against government abuses at your economic peril. Robert A. Van Kirk "Costly Criticism" The Washington Post July 24, 1996 This is fascinating reading! A page turner! Barbara Lerma, Adjunct Instructor in the Humanities Eileen Umbehr was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1958, and grew up in Hudson, Wisconsin, before moving overseas to Singapore where she would meet her high school sweetheart and future husband, Keen A. Umbehr. Keen and Eileen were married in 1978 and moved to Alma, Kansas, the following March. Together they raised four sons and have since added two daughters-in-law, two grandsons, two granddaughters and one more on the way. Eileen has been a homemaker and bookkeeper for the family businesses for twenty-nine years. For the past four years, Eileen has written a weekly newspaper column titled "Reflections," for The Prairie Post in White City, Kansas. Small Town Showdown is her first book.
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