Kansas Lawmakers End Special Session
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators have ended their special session after passing an education funding plan aimed at satisfying a court mandate and averting a threat that the state's public schools might shut down. The Senate adjourned at about 8:20 p.m. yesterday (FRI), and the House followed about 30 minutes later. Republican Governor Sam Brownback called the GOP-dominated Legislature into session to respond to a state Supreme Court order last month. The court said the state's education funding system remained unfair to poor school districts despite three revisions of school finance laws in the past three years. The justices had warned that schools would not be able to reopen after this month if lawmakers didn't make more changes. The governor and lawmakers expect the plan to satisfy the court.
Former Kansas Governors Unite Against Brownback and Supporters
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Four former Kansas governors are lashing out at Governor Sam Brownback over policies they say have thrown the state into a serious fiscal crisis. A letter signed yesterday (FRI) by Republicans Bill Graves and Mike Hayden and Democrats Kathleen Sebelius and John Carlin calls the upcoming elections the most important in Kansas history. The letter says Kansans are starting to acknowledge that many of the wrong people are serving in state office, but adds that too many residents don't understand the issues and will be vulnerable to misleading political campaigns. The governors are part of the Save Kansas Coalition, which also includes more than a dozen former lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. A Brownback spokeswoman said yesterday (FRI) afternoon the governor hadn't seen the letter and couldn't comment.
Feds Charge Third Suspect in Dodge City Attack on Somali Men
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors have charged a Kansas man for allegedly lying to FBI agents who were investigating an attack on three Somali men in Dodge City. An indictment unsealed yesterday (FRI) charges 27-year-old Diego Martinez of Dodge City with one count of making false statements. He is the brother and the half-brother of two of the alleged attackers. The indictment alleges he lied to FBI agents to provide himself a false alibi for the time of the assaults. Court records do not show an attorney. His indictment is the latest fallout from the June 19, 2015, assault on the three Somali men, who were in the country legally, by Hispanic men outside the African Grocery Store in Dodge City. Omar Cantero Martinez and Armando Sotelo were charged in April with federal hate crimes.
Coroner: No Determination in Death of 2-year-old Wichita Girl
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A coroner's office wasn't able to determine what killed a 2-year-old Wichita girl whose body was found in a field. Medical examiner Timothy Gorrill says in an autopsy report that toxicology tests on Jhornee Bland were negative and the cause of her death will be listed as undetermined. The girl was found dead in a field May 9, a day after her mother reported her missing. Wichita police have said her body showed no signs of trauma. Investigators said they believe she died early Sunday, May 8. A babysitter was caring for Jhornee in the days before her death. Police have said the babysitter put the girl's body in the field and lied to her mother about Jhornee's whereabouts. The babysitter was arrested but later released without charges.
Man Charged with Threatening Overland Park Jewish Congregation
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City man has been charged with threatening a Jewish congregation in Kansas. Forty-year-old Brian Wachter made a first court appearance Thursday on a single criminal threat count. Wachter is jailed in Johnson County, with bond set at $25,000. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. The Kansas City Star reports that prosecutors accused Wachter of making an unspecified threat last month against the Jewish Congregation Beth Shalom in Overland Park. Court records say Wachter was born in Pittsburg and spent time in Las Vegas before moving to Kansas City. Wachter's bond is set at $25,000.
Wichita Museum to Hold Workshops on Cursive Handwriting
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum is holding a series of workshops to teach cursive writing and its importance in history. The Wichita Eagle reports that the museum will host eight workshops every Thursday through July 28. Cynthia Martinez-Woelk, a museum educator and art teacher at Irving Elementary School, says the workshop was conceived while discussing ideas on how to get younger children involved in learning local history. Martinez-Woelk says much of the history of Wichita is written in cursive so it's important to learn how to do it. Cursive handwriting had not been a part of the Wichita school district's curriculum until 2013, when the Kansas Board of Education implemented new handwriting standards. The state board doesn't mandate how cursive should be taught.