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Headlines for Monday, August 11, 2014


Kansas Teachers' Union Challenges New Changes to Tenure

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The largest teachers' union in Kansas has filed a lawsuit against a new state law that ended guaranteed tenure for public school teachers. The Kansas National Education Association argued Monday that the law violated the state constitution for the anti-tenure policy to be added to a larger education funding measure. The lawsuit filed in Shawnee County District Court alleges the Republican-dominated Legislature violated a provision of the state constitution requiring most bills to contain only one subject. However, the 23,000-member union is asking a judge block only the anti-tenure provision. The measure approved by legislators in April boosted state aid to poor school districts by $129 million for the new school year. Conservative GOP legislators insisted on tying the new funding to other policy provisions, including the one on tenure.


Brownback Decries Kansas Teachers' Union Lawsuit

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says he's worried that a lawsuit by the state's largest teachers union challenging an anti-tenure measure could endanger additional funds for poor school districts. Brownback said Monday that the lawsuit filed by the Kansas National Education Association in Shawnee County District Court was, in his words, an exercise in labor-union politics. The KNEA contends that legislators this year violated the Kansas Constitution by tying additional funding for poor public schools to a measure ending guaranteed tenure for public school teachers. The union said the combination violated the state constitution's requirement that most legislation have only one subject. The group wants to block only the anti-tenure measure. But Brownback said he's concerned that the education money also could be jeopardized.


Feds Charge Kansas with Fraud over Public Pensions

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Federal authorities have filed securities fraud charges against Kansas accusing the state of misleading investors about the financial health of its underfunded public employee pension system. The Securities and Exchange Commission said Monday that the state has consented to its cease-and-desist order to settle the case. The state has since adopted policies and procedures to help ensure disclosures about pension liabilities are made in its bond offerings. No monetary sanctions were imposed. The SEC says Kansas has implemented remedial actions and agreed to settle the charges for its prior incomplete disclosure. Governor Sam Brownback says in a statement that since taking office he has made restoring the health of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System a priority. He says Kansas has made significant strides.


Kansas Health Care Finance Director to Keep Job

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Physician and former state Representative Susan Mosier is staying on as director of the division of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment overseeing programs that provide health care coverage for the state's residents. The department says Mosier was promoted last week from acting director to director of the Division of Health Care Finance. She'd been acting director since May, when Kari Bruffett left to become secretary of the Department for Aging and Disability Services. Mosier was a Manhattan doctor elected to the Kansas House as a Republican in 2010. She gave up her seat in 2012 to become director of the state's Medicaid program, which provides health coverage to the needy and disabled. The Medicaid program falls under the division Mosier now leads.


Orman Releases 'Reform' Plan in Kansas Senate Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas businessman running for U.S. Senate as an independent candidate says he supports term limits and ending pensions for members of Congress. Greg Orman outlined a plan Monday for reforming Congress. It includes term limits and ending members' pensions, as well as a lifetime ban on lobbying by former lawmakers and barring political action committees controlled by congressional leaders. Orman said he wants to change an environment in Washington that encourages lawmakers to become career politicians. He's discussing the plan during an 18-stop, eight-day bus tour. Orman hopes to unseat Republican Senator Pat Roberts. The Democratic challenger is Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor. Roberts spokesman Leroy Towns called Orman's plan stale. Taylor spokesman Brandon Naylor said problems in Congress can be solved by voting out long-term incumbents.


Body Recovered from Northeast Kansas Lake

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Investigators are trying to identify a man found dead in a northeast Kansas lake. KCTV reports police in Kansas City, Kansas, were called to Big Eleven Lake shortly after 10 am Monday on a report of a body in the water. Wyandotte County Sheriff's Lieutenant Kelli Bailiff says the man's age and race were not immediately determined. It's also unclear how the man died and how long he had been in the lake.


Authorities Identify Man Killed in Skydiving Accident

OTTAWA, Kan. (AP) — Franklin County authorities say a 54-year-old Wichita man died in this weekend's skydiving accident. The sheriff's office says the body of Brad Giffin was discovered Saturday evening in a field about a mile where he was supposed to land outside of Ottawa. Giffin was an experienced skydiver who had more than 500 jumps. Firefighters from Lincoln-Ottawa-Harrison Fire Department and representatives from a skydiving company began searching for Giffin when he didn't land in the designated drop zone. The Federal Aviation Administration is helping with the investigation.


University Seeks Honor for Kansan Who Wrote GI Bill of Rights

A Lenexa-based online university is working to get the nation's highest civilian honor for a Topeka attorney who crafted the GI Bill of Rights.  Joseph McGrath, president of Grantham University, wants the late Harry W. Colmery awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for writing the GI Bill of Rights. The bill, signed into law in 1944, has helped millions of veterans and their dependents pursue higher education.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Colmery, a World War One veteran who became the national commander of the American Legion, wrote the first draft of the Serviceman's Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly known as the GI Bill of Rights.  McGrath and other Grantham University officials have started a grassroots campaign to nominate Colmery for the medal. The campaign includes an informational website,


After Several Good Years, Farmers Take Hit in 2014

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A poor wheat crop and falling prices for corn and soybeans have Kansas farmers preparing for a sharp drop in their incomes after several prosperous years.  The state's wheat harvest is down by 26 percent from last year, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics.  Abundant rain and cool temperatures in June and July have put the nation on track for the second-biggest corn crop ever and the biggest soybean crop. But the glut has driven corn prices down more than $1 a bushel in the last month.  Kansas livestock producers could benefit from low crop prices that have made feed cheaper for their animals. And with the state's ranchers rebuilding their herds, fewer head of cattle are going to market, and profits are rising.


Analysis: Roberts Favored in KS Senate Race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Although Kansas Senator Pat Roberts looked vulnerable after winning his Republican primary race last week with only 48 percent of the vote, he still has an easier path to victory in November than his remaining opponents.  Democrat Chad Taylor must hold his party's smaller base and build on it with GOP moderates and unaffiliated voters.  Independent candidate Greg Orman must supplant Taylor as Roberts' main rival and capture the support of centrists of all stripes.  Both are trying to tap the same frustration with Washington and an anti-incumbent mood.  Roberts' simpler task is to unify the GOP enough to keep his percentage of the vote in the low-to-mid 40s _ and 44 percent of the state's registered voters are Republicans.  


Despite University's Efforts, Sexual Assaults Persist

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A University of Kansas survey shows that one in 10 students has been a victim of sexual harassment, including sexual assault. The Lawrence Journal-World reports a University of Kansas official says about 30 reported incidents over a two-year span involved men raping or sexually assaulting woman who were drunk. KU created the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access about two and a half years ago. It investigates sexual assaults reported to the university. The office's executive director, Jane McQueeny, says the university investigates all sexual assault complaints. McQueeny says the college also conducts confidential surveys and provides many ways to report sexual assault claims. According to a 2012 CDC report, nearly 20 percent of undergraduate female students have been victims of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault.


Small Kansas Colleges Have $980 Million Impact

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A new study says small, private colleges might not be well known but they are having a big impact on the state's economy. The study, commissioned by the Kansas Independent College Association, says the 18 colleges contribute more than $980 million a year to Kansas' economy. Matt Lindsey, president of the association, says the study was commissioned in part to raise the profile of the colleges, which generally aren't well known except by their graduates. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports colleges included in the study are Baker University, Friends University, Benedictine College, Bethel College, Central Christian College, Donnelly College, Hesston College, Kansas Wesleyan, Manhattan Christian College, McPherson College, MidAmerica Nazarene University, Newman University, Ottawa University, Southwestern College, Sterling College, Tabor College and University of St. Mary.


Police: Kansas Teen Critically Injured in Car Fall

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say a teenager has been critically injured after falling off of a moving car. Police say the 19-year-old man was with a group of people at the Side Pockets sports bar and billiards parlor Sunday morning. They say the teenager jumped onto the back of a moving car as the group the left. He fell and hit his head on the pavement. The car left the scene. The teenager was taken to an area hospital with critical injuries. Police say it's unclear if he had been drinking or knew the driver.


Military Appeals Court to Hear Kansas HIV Appeal

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The nation's highest military court has agreed to review the evidence used to convict a Kansas airman of assault by exposing multiple sex partners to HIV at swinger parties in Wichita. The attorney for David Gutierrez said Monday his case could potentially remap HIV testing and prosecution in the U.S. military. The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces is expected to hear arguments this year. Attorney Kevin McDermott says existing case law reflects attitudes from the mid-1990s, and the hope is that the case will get the military up to speed on current issues with HIV. Gutierrez was a sergeant at McConnell Air Force Base when he was sentenced in 2011 to eight years in prison and stripped of his rank for aggravated assault.


1 Killed, 2 Hurt by Gunfire in KC While Waiting at Intersection

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Gunmen fired into a car at an Kansas City intersection, killing one person and injuring two others. The Kansas City Star reports the triple shooting occurred early yesterday (SUN) in Kansas City's Crossroads District when the victims were inside a car stopped at an intersection.


Police Name Couple Found Dead in Kansas Home 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police have released the names of an elderly couple found dead in the northeast Kansas home over the weekend. Officers were called to the home in Kansas City, Kansas, on Sunday and found the man and woman dead in a car inside their garage. They were identified Monday as 88-year-old Gerald Lorfing and his 86-year-old wife, Mary Lorfing. Authorities have not released any details on how the couple died. The police department's Major Case Squad asked to hear from anyone with information about the deaths.


Wichita Toddler Burned in Home Accident

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Hairspray and a candle are blamed for a fire that left a 2-year-old Wichita boy with second-degree burns. KAKE-TV reports that the accident happened Monday afternoon in the western part of the city. Police say a 12-year-old and an 8-year-old were watching their younger siblings while their parents were at work. The older children left the toddler on a bathroom counter after brushing their teeth. The 2-year-old knocked over a plastic bottle containing a flammable liquid thought to be hairspray, and a candle ignited the liquid. Police said the 12-year-old carried the toddler to the home of a neighbor, who called for help. The 2-year-old was hospitalized with burns on his upper body. No criminal charges are expected.


Man Dies in Johnson County Detention Facility

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) _ Authorities are investigating after a 30-year-old Overland Park man died while serving a two-day sentence in Johnson County.  Matthew Worsham was found August 3rd in his cell at Johnson County's Olathe Central Booking facility. He had been scheduled for release later that morning.  The Johnson County Sheriff's Office says Worsham was serving a 48-hour sentence for driving under the influence.  The death is under investigation.  


Kansas City Man Sentenced for Child Pornography

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for attempting to distribute child pornography over the Internet. The U.S. Attorney's office says 32-year-old James A. Rhea won't be eligible for parole under the sentence he received Monday in federal court. Rhea pleaded guilty to the crime last November. Investigators said a technician at a Best Buy store alerted police in August 2010 after finding child porn on a computer Rhea had brought in for repairs. Police found more than 400 images and more than 40 videos of child pornography on the laptop. Detectives said Rhea admitted receiving child porn through email and Web chats. After he was questioned and his laptop was confiscated, police said, Rhea resumed downloading such material on his cellphone.


Police: KS Pizza Delivery Driver Attacked, Robbed

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Wichita police say robbers made off with about $50 and a pizza after attacking a delivery driver.  Police say the 22-year-old Pizza Hut employee was robbed early Sunday in the northeastern part of the city.  They say he was delivering a pizza to a home when he was attacked.  Police say the delivery driver had approached a woman on the porch when two men circled around him. The men knocked him down, beat him and took his pizza.  Police say the trio also robbed the driver of all his cash before walking off.


No Jobless Pay for Co-Pilot Who Didn't Lower Landing Gear

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A co-pilot who didn't lower a plane's landing gear has lost his appeal for Iowa unemployment benefits. The Des Moines Register says that 49-year-old Donald Scarsella was co-pilot on a SeaPort Airlines plane February 14 as it attempted to land at Salina Regional Airport in Kansas. Records say Scarsella and the pilot didn't lower the gear, so the plane crash-landed on its belly. The two weren't injured, and there were no passengers aboard. The airline soon fired both. Scarsella filed for unemployment in Iowa. He lived in Iowa at the time. The Iowa benefits were granted, but SeaPort appealed. Last week the Iowa Employment Appeal Board denied the benefits, saying Scarsella disregarded steps required to safely fly an airplane. Scarsella declined to comment.


Royals Continue Winning Streak; Beat Giants 7-to-4

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ The Kansas City Royals are still on a roll!  The Royals beat the San Francisco Giants 7-to-4 yesterday (SUN) in Kansas City to extend their winning streak to seven games.  The Royals have put together two winning streaks of seven or more games this season for the first time since 1985.  The Royals' seven steals were one shy of the club record set in 1998.


Sporting KC, Peterson Joseph Agree to End Contract

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Sporting Kansas City has terminated the contract of Peterson Joseph in what the club calls a mutual decision. The 24-year-old midfielder from Haiti has been on the disabled list since the start of the season following an unknown medical issue that arose during last year's playoff push. Joseph has not played in a match for the MLS Cup champions since last October. Joseph appeared in 36 matches during his Sporting KC career, including three matches in the CONCACAF Champions League and three U.S. Open Cup victories. The move opens an international roster spot for the team.





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