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Headlines for Tuesday, October 21, 2014


KS Governor Seeks More Power over Kansas Judiciary

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback is seeking more power to appoint Kansas Supreme Court justices and is using a Wichita murder case to make it a campaign issue. The Republican incumbent addressed the topic Tuesday during his fourth and final debate with Democratic challenger Paul Davis. Davis said Brownback was "exploiting" the case of brothers Reginald and Jonathan Carr, whose death sentences for a quadruple homicide were vacated by the state Supreme Court in July. Brownback's campaign released a new ad on Tuesday focusing on judicial philosophy. During the debate, he repeatedly assailed the Supreme Court as "liberal" while contending Davis wants to appoint liberal justices. The Carr brothers were convicted of killing four people execution-style in a Wichita soccer field in December 2000.


Kansas Governor, Challenger Discuss Gay Marriage

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Governor Sam Brownback vowed during a debate last (MON) night to defend Kansas's ban on same-sex marriage. His Democratic challenger, Paul Davis, said Monday that he voted against the ban as a legislator because it would give the state an unwelcoming image. But he also said he respects the decision of voters to approve the prohibition. Davis added that the matter is now in the courts and there is nothing either candidate can do to impact its outcome. The televised debate at KWCH studios in Wichita was the candidates' third. Their final debate is Tuesday before the Kansas Association of Broadcasters meeting. The back-to-back appearances come amid recent independent polling showing the governor's race has tightened as outside money from has flooded into the state with negative ads.


GOP Official Breaks with Party in Big Kansas Races

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Retiring Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger grew up in a Republican family and won't drop her GOP affiliation even after the party moved well to her right. But Praeger is breaking with the GOP by publicly opposing the re-election of Republican U.S. Senator Pat Roberts and Governor Sam Brownback. She's also endorsed Democrat Dennis Anderson for insurance commissioner. Praeger said Tuesday that she's backing Democrat Paul Davis in the governor's race and independent candidate Greg Orman in the U.S. Senate race because she wants to move the GOP back toward the center. She's finishing her third, four-year term as insurance commissioner after deciding not to seek re-election this year. She turned 70 on Tuesday. Kansas GOP Executive Director Clay Barker doubts her endorsements will carry much weight.


Kansas Independent Orman Campaigns Under the Radar

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Independent candidate Greg Orman is not nearly as well known as his opponent in the U.S. Senate race in Kansas, three-term Republican incumbent Pat Roberts, but he's not spending much time in public to raise his profile. Instead, Orman, 45, is campaigning mostly through ads, social media and small invitation-only events. He's hoping that staying under the radar will keep the attention on the embattled Roberts, who has been criticized for losing touch with his home state during his four decades in Washington. Roberts, 78, complains that Orman is dodging questions that would show he's a secret liberal. Roberts is conducting his most vigorous campaign in many years, touring towns across the state to meet voters.

Roberts Ad Protests Housing Gitmo Detainees in Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Senator Pat Roberts is airing a television advertisement in his re-election campaign in which he vows to filibuster any federal effort to house terrorism detainees at Fort Leavenworth that are now being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Roberts made the statement earlier this month while campaigning for re-election. He's seeking a fourth term in a surprisingly competitive race with independent candidate Greg Orman, a Kansas City-area businessman. President Barack Obama this month was weighing bringing detainees to U.S. federal prisons, such as Leavenworth. Roberts has tried to paint Orman as a Democrat and automatic vote for Obama's agenda, though Orman repeated Tuesday that he opposes bringing detainees to U.S. prisons. Senate Republicans need to gain six seats to capture a majority and weren't counting on having to defend GOP-heavy Kansas.

Orman Outlines College Cost Accountability Plan

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Independent candidate for Senate Greg Orman says colleges that receive federal dollars should be barred from raising costs to students above the rate of inflation. During a press conference at the University of Kansas Tuesday, Orman says college costs are holding back business growth, despite previous government plans to ease the burden of paying for higher education. Orman's plan would cap government lenders' profit margins on college loans at the rate of 10-year Treasury bonds, plus one percent for administrative costs. Orman says the policy would not require additional government bureaucracy. The government already keeps the statistics, but isn't doing anything with them to curb costs, he says. Orman is in a close race with three-term Republican Senator Pat Roberts.


Romney to Campaign for Kansas Senator Pat Roberts

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney plans to campaign for Kansas Senator Pat Roberts in suburban Kansas City next week, the latest national figure working to save the embattled three-term incumbent. Romney is to headline a rally with Roberts next Monday at the Prairie Fire shopping and residential complex in Overland Park. In a statement, Romney calls Roberts "a conservative champion for Kansas." The former Massachusetts governor has also endorsed Senate nominees in battlegrounds such as Colorado, Iowa and Louisiana. Romney in recent weeks has stepped back into the limelight, acting as a national GOP leader in a party searching for one. Roberts is facing independent candidate Greg Orman, an Olathe businessman, in what has become a surprisingly competitive race in GOP-heavy Kansas.


Court Sets Hearing in Kansas Gay Marriage Lawsuit

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) -- A federal judge has set a hearing this week to hear arguments over whether he should order Kansas to allow same-sex marriages. U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree has scheduled a hearing for Friday at the federal courthouse in Kansas City, Kansas. At issue is the request by the American Civil Liberties Union for a temporary injunction that would bring Kansas into line with a binding 10th Circuit Court of Appeals precedent set in other cases. The ACLU argues gay couples should not be prevented from marrying, while government officials have vowed to defend the state's constitutional prohibition against gay marriages. The ACLU contends that a federal ruling specific to Kansas law would aid the state Supreme Court in a separate case.


Brownback Calls for Steps to Prepare for Ebola Virus

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has ordered the creation of a special team to respond quickly to any suspected Ebola cases in the state. The governor's office also wants to come up with $4 million that could be used in an emergency and is calling on the federal government to provide an emergency cleanup team and federal disposal of Ebola-related waste. Brownback says in a news release he also has ordered the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to develop a plan for the state that includes stronger rules on protective gear and isolation than those required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Kansas has had no confirmed cases of Ebola.


Kansas Company Raising Money for Ebola Clinics

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita-based nonprofit is trying to raise $300,000 to send eight solar-powered clinics to western Africa in response to the Ebola crisis. The Wichita Eagle reports that Clinic in a Can also will be collecting food locally and money for food to be purchased by aid organizations in Africa. Clinic in a Can was founded by Mike Wawrzewski, a physician assistant, converting shipping containers into medical clinics. The eight clinics to be sent to Liberia are the first to be completely solar powered, which Wawrzewski says is necessary because of the country's weak power system. He says the clinics will be ready to ship in about three weeks if funding is in place. The containers will be packed with personal protective equipment for medical personnel who are treating Ebola patients.


Arrests Made in Deaths of Wichita Couple

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita police say they have arrested two people in connection with the deaths of a Wichita couple. A 19-year-old man was arrested Monday afternoon and booked into the Sedgwick County jail on suspicion of two counts of first-degree murder and other charges. A 17-year-old suspect was arrested Monday morning and is being held in a juvenile detention center. They are suspects in the deaths of 70-year-old Martha Moreno and her husband, 72-year-old Godofredo Moreno, whose bodies were found in their home Thursday. Police originally said the victims apparently died of stab wounds but Lt. Todd Ojile said Tuesday they died of gunshot wounds. Ojile says the suspects knew one of the couple's children and both have criminal histories. He says robbery was the apparent motive for the crime.


Former Bourbon County Worker to Be Sentenced for Theft

FORT SCOTT, Kan. (AP) — A former payroll clerk for a southeast Kansas county will be sentenced in November for stealing nearly $24,000 in public funds. The Fort Scott Tribune reports that 29-year-old Angela Timi faces up to 29 months behind bars at her sentencing November 10 in Bourbon County District Court. She must also pay full restitution. Timi worked in the county clerk's office from August 2011 until she was fired in January 2013, when officials announced an employee was being investigated for theft. Timi initially faced 59 charges. Most were dismissed last month when Timi pleaded guilty to misusing public funds and two counts of criminal use of a county credit card. Agents from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation found numerous instances of a county credit card being used for Timi's personal expenses.


Student Still Hospitalized After School Bus Wreck

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. (AP) — One member of the Raymore-Peculiar High School girls volleyball team remained hospitalized after the team bus collided with a truck on the way to a match. Thirteen students were taken to hospitals after the accident in Lee's Summit Monday. Police say the bus driver tried to make a U-turn when the truck hit the bus. The Kansas City Star reports that the student was in stable condition Tuesday with non life-threatening injuries. District spokeswoman Michele Stidham says the other students were treated and released. A 14th student who was taken to the hospital by her family also was treated and released. Police say the team was on its way to a tournament at Lee's Summit West High School when the driver missed a turn and tried to make the U-turn.


Military Converges at Scene of Jet Collision

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Military personnel are investigating at the site in southeast Kansas where two Oklahoma Air National Guard fighter jets collided during a training exercise. One pilot ejected after Monday's crash about three miles northeast of the Elk County town of Moline. The Oklahoma National Guard said Tuesday that the pilot was taken to a clinic at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, where he was treated for slight injuries and released. The other pilot wasn't injured and landed his F-16 safely at a Tulsa base. Crews are assessing the damage. The Guard said more information would be released when the investigation is completed. The pilots are part of an F-16 unit that routinely trains in designated airspace over sparsely populated areas.


School Bus Driver Arrested on Suspicion of DUI

ALLEN, Kan. (AP) — An eastern Kansas school district has fired a bus driver following his arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. KWCH-TV reports that the 57-year-old man was arrested Monday afternoon after pulling up to Northern Heights High School in Allen, about 20 miles north of Emporia. An employee of the North Lyon County School District notified the sheriff's office that a driver appeared to be driving under the influence. No students were on the bus. The North Lyon County superintendent said the driver had worked for the district for eight years without any previous problems. The sheriff's office declined to comment about the driver's blood-alcohol level. Charges were pending Tuesday.


KC, San Francisco Mayors Announce World Series Wager

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The mayors of Kansas City and San Francisco have a bet riding on the outcome of the World Series. If the Royals take the crown, San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee will travel to Kansas City to read to students. If the Giants prevail, Kansas City Mayor Sly James will serve meals to the homeless in San Francisco and sing with a church musical group. Food also is on the line, with James betting barbecue, and Lee wagering Humphry Slocombe ice cream and Boudin sourdough bread. James says that Kansas City has waited 29 years for a World Series championship team and that "not even a Giant can stand in our way." But Lee says that although Kansas City has been playing well, the Royals are no match for the Giants.


'Sweat Equity' Housing Starts in Reno County

SOUTH HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - A project that will build homes for four families is bringing a new way to provide housing in Reno County. Interfaith Housing Services and the four low-income families broke ground Monday in South Hutchinson on a project that requires the families to help with construction. The new home owners will provide about 20-30 hours of labor each week on the homes to earn "sweat equity" that reduces their costs. The project is supported by a federal grant and is restricted to communities with less than 35,000 residents. It's new in Reno County, although the city of Liberal has had a similar program for years. The Hutchinson News reports South Hutchinson is planning a comparable program to build homes for moderate income families.


Restaurant Owner Pleads in Illegal Workers Case

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - The owner of restaurants in Kansas City, Missouri and Olathe, Kansas, has pleaded guilty to employing and harboring several illegal workers. Forty-year-old Wei Liu of Olathe pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens for private financial gain. Several of his family members, including his wife, 36-year-old Xiang Liu, pleaded guilty to other charges in the case. Liu and his wife owned Wei's Super Buffet restaurants in Olathe and Kansas City. Prosecutors say Wei Liu admitted that he employed at least 12 illegal workers in his two restaurants, paid them in cash and provided them with housing without charging for the rooms. Xiang Liu pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the Department of Homeland Security.


Salina Man Gets 60 Days in Cyclist's Death

SALINA, Kan. (AP) - A 64-year-old Salina man has been sentenced to 60 days in prison in the fatal hit-and-run death of a bicyclist. A Saline County judge handed down the punishment to Dennis Grider on Monday. He was also ordered to serve 36 months of probation after the jail time. A jury convicted Grider last month of misdemeanor vehicular homicide and a felony count of leaving the scene of an accident. He struck and killed 49-year-old Gail Kline in May 2013. She was riding alone west of Salina as part of the Kandango Bicycle Tour. A trucker found her in a ditch and called emergency officials. Grider testified he didn't see Kline on the road and thought he struck a deer.


Missouri Man Charged in Cocaine Scam

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A 39-year-old suburban Kansas City man is accused of extorting $3 million from a businessman who thought the money was going toward bribing judges and paying off lawyers in pending drug cases. Shelton E. Lewis of Grandview was arrested earlier this month in Atlanta on federal charges of money laundering and making exortionate communications. Prosecutors say the scam began in July 2012 when Lewis agreed to sell the businessman $3,000 worth of cocaine. When the deal fell through, prosecutors say Lewis said his drug source had assessed a $10,000 "penalty" against the businessman. Prosecutors say the man paid more money with each new claim Lewis made, but instead of bribing judges Lewis used the money to live an extravagant lifestyle.


Sheriff: Topeka Woman Arrested After Chase

ST. MARYS, Kan. (AP) - The Pottawatomie County Sheriff's Office has arrested a woman who it says led officers on a slow-speed chase and ran into a police car. Deputies say the chase began Sunday night after authorities received a call about an unwanted person at a home in Emmett. They say the 43-year-old woman from Topeka left in a van and wouldn't pull over for authorities. Deputies say she was driving slowly. The chase ended in St. Marys after city police officers used spike strips on the van. Officers say the woman hit a patrol car directing that was traffic before coming to a stop. No injuries were reported. The woman faces charges of criminal damage to property, fleeing and eluding, DUI and transporting an open container.


Former White House Spokesman to Appear at Fort Hays State

HAYS, Kan. (AP) - Former White House press secretary Jay Carney will speak at Fort Hays State University on the eve of this year's midterm elections. The university says Carney will speak the evening of November 3 as part of the Sebelius Lecture Series on Current Issues. Carney resigned in May after more than three years as President Barack Obama's primary spokesman. He was communications director for Vice President Joe Biden from 2009 to 2011 and worked at Time magazine for two decades before that. His university speech is expected to cover topics including the situation in the Middle East, immigration and health care reform, the economy and the November 4 elections. He'll also talk about working with the White House press corps. Carney joined CNN last month as a political commentator.


Man Pleads to Lesser Charge in Olathe Death

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — An Olathe man has pleaded no contest to an involuntary manslaughter charge in the death of his brother's estranged girlfriend. Thirty-year-old Samuel L. Moore originally was charged with first-degree murder in the 2011 death of 25-year-old Laura Coltrane in Olathe but he pleaded to the lesser charge Monday. He will be sentenced December 29. The Kansas City Star reports that Moore's brother, 33-year-old Derek Deon Owens, is serving a 74-year prison sentence after he was convicted of strangling and beating Coltrane in her apartment. He also found guilty of rape, aggravated criminal sodomy and violation of a protection order. Coltrane was a radiologic technologist from Humboldt, Kansas.


Kansas Teenager Sentenced for Death of Father

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A northeast Kansas teenager will spend five years and four months in a juvenile facility for killing his father during a custody exchange. The Kansas City Star reports that the Bonner Springs youth was sentenced in Johnson County on Monday, which was his 16th birthday. He pleaded guilty earlier to second-degree murder. The fatal shooting occurred in July 2013 outside a Shawnee business where the boy's mother and stepfather had arranged to turn him over to his 46-year-old father. The mother and stepfather were inside when the teen walked to his father's car and fired several times with a handgun. The teen told police and mental health professionals that he had suffered years of emotional, physical and sexual abuse by his father. He was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.


Wheat Seeding Running Behind in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas farmers are running a bit behind normal in planting next year's winter wheat crop. Monday's weekly update from the National Agricultural Statistics Service showed 78 percent of the winter wheat now seeded in Kansas. That is below the five-year average of 84 percent by mid-October. About 58 percent of the wheat crop has emerged. Meanwhile, harvest continues for other farm crops. About 66 percent of the corn in Kansas has now been cut. Sorghum harvest is at 25 percent, while the soybean harvest is 31 percent complete. About 12 percent of the state's sunflowers have also been cut.


Kansas Man Killed by Freight Train

McPHERSON, Kan. (AP) — A central Kansas man is dead after being struck by a Union Pacific freight train over the weekend. The McPherson County sheriff's office told that the body of 36-year-old Joshua Miller was discovered around 2 am Sunday by the crew of a westbound train. Authorities say Miller had been struck by an eastbound train while walking near the tracks just outside the city of McPherson. Miller was a resident of McPherson. The sheriff's office was still investigating the accident Monday while waiting for information from Union Pacific. 


Card Maker Hallmark Wishes the Royals Luck

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Hallmark Cards is playing off its historic ties to the Kansas City Royals as the club makes its first World Series appearance in 29 years. In the 1960s, an artist for the Kansas City-based greeting card giant created the logo for the Royals. The logo features a crown similar to the crown that is part of Hallmark's logo. Before the first game of the series against the San Francisco Giants kicked off Tuesday night, Hallmark artists began work on a chalk art mural. The company also invited the public to sign a specially designed greeting card for the team. The mural says "Go Royals!" and includes the phrase "Crown to Crown." Similarly, the card reads "From Our Crown to Yours."


Jackie Robinson's Daughter to Speak at Museum

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The daughter of Major League Baseball's first black player will be at the landmark Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City before the second game of the World Series. Robinson began his professional career with the Negro Leagues' Kansas City Monarchs in 1945 before joining the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. His daughter, Sharon Robinson, will speak Wednesday to a group of about 60 elementary school students. Her appearance is part of a program called "Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life." Participants learn and write about Jackie Robinson and how they can use his example to overcome obstacles. MLB says the program has reached more than 22 million youths. The Kansas City Royals are playing host to the first two games of the series against the San Francisco Giants.


Chiefs Raise Expectations After Comeback Win in San Diego

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs were such a mess in their season opener against Tennessee that some people were quick to write them off, their dramatic turnaround last season merely a fluke. After steadily improving over the first few weeks of the season, the Chiefs earned a marquee victory on Sunday when they rallied for a 23-20 victory in San Diego — not only knocking off one of the league's hottest teams but taking a big step toward the top of the division. Now, they face a schedule that starts with the Rams and Jets at Arrowhead Stadium, a chance to pick up a couple more wins before the schedule gets difficult again.


Royals Add Nix to Active Roster and Drop Colon

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Infielder Jayson Nix has been added to the Kansas City Royals' active roster for the World Series against San Francisco in place of rookie Christian Colon. The 32-year-old Nix hasn't played since the wild-card playoff win over Oakland on September 30, when he entered in the 10th inning and struck out in the 11th. Kansas City is his eighth major league team. Colon sacrificed as a pinch hitter in the 10th inning of that game, then drove in the tying run with an infield single on a 12th-inning chopper as the Royals rallied to win 9-8. Colon's only other postseason appearance was when he entered Game 2 of the AL Championship Series as a ninth-inning defensive replacement.


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