In January, the Board of Commissioners of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) elected Steve Klika, Johnson County government’s appointee to the metro area transportation board, as its 2017 chair. In August, Klika quietly resigned from the role.
The move, say several sources familiar with the situation, came after an interaction between Klika and a KCATA staff member that resulted in a complaint to KCATA human resources. Klika, the 3rd District Commissioner on Johnson County’s board, acknowledged the incident, but said that there had been no intent on his part to make the employee feel uncomfortable.
According to Klika, he and the KCATA employee were discussing a problem the employee had been having getting colleagues to pay attention. He told the employee that “sometimes you have to talk to them like a youngster” and then put his hands on her face to show her how to get someone to look “eye-to-eye.”
“It was an instructional or demonstration deal,” he said. “I did not want anyone at all to feel uncomfortable.”
Both the KCATA and Johnson County Government declined to release any documentation of incident requested under open records act laws saying that because such records involved personnel matters, they were not subject to disclosure.
Klika said that when he learned the employee had made a complaint about the incident, he decided to step down as board chair. Two other sources have suggested that his resignation had been required as part of an agreement with KCATA management after the incident.
Klika also said the complaint was just one factor in his resignation.
“I’ve been traveling every week for work, and with all the work on the county board and with the ATA, the schedule was difficult,” he said. “On top of that, there was a suggestion that an employee felt like I got into a conversation or whatever that they did not feel comfortable about.”
Klika resigned as KCATA board chair the week of Aug. 21. At its Aug. 28 meeting, the board elected Daniel Serda, who had been the vice-chair, to replace Klika in the top spot for the remainder of his term.
The KCATA board is made up of 10 appointees, with half from metro communities in Kansas and half from Missouri.
Klika reportedly applied to become the president and CEO of the KCATA in 2015 after Joe Reardon announced his resignation from the post so that he could become president of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. The job ultimately went to Robbie Makinen.