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Headlines for Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Legislators Request Additional Data from Kansas Schools Seeking More Aid 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Top Republican legislators are asking Kansas school districts seeking extra state aid to provide information about how they've become more efficient in recent years. Four GOP legislative leaders sent a letter Wednesday to the superintendents of 38 school districts that have applied for extra aid under the state's new education funding law. The districts are seeking about $15 million in funds, but only $12.3 million is available under the law. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter after the state Department of Education sent it. The letter asks each district to list five efficiencies and to respond by Friday. Republican Governor Sam Brownback and the GOP-dominated Legislature's top eight leaders meet Monday to decide how much each district receives. The lawmakers include the four who signed the letter.

Lawrence Selects New Mayor Following Former Mayor's Resignation

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence commissioners have named a new mayor after the city's former leader resigned.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Lawrence City Commissioner Mike Amyx became the new mayor last (TUE) night. This marks the sixth time he has served in that role in a political career that stretches back to the 1980s.  Amyx succeeds former Mayor Jeremy Farmer, who stepped down last week. Farmer's departure followed his resignation from his food pantry job, where about $50,000 in federal payroll taxes had gone unpaid. Farmer says it was an oversight that the taxes weren't paid.  Under Lawrence's form of government, the office of mayor is a rotating seat, and the person chosen serves a one-year term. The mayor chairs meetings and is authorized to sign certain documents but otherwise has no day-to-day administrative duties.


Kay McFarland, Former Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice, Dead at 80

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kay McFarland, the first female chief justice of the Kansas Supreme Court, has died. She was 80.  Leina Cox, administrative assistant at Penwell Gabel funeral home in Topeka, said McFarland died yesterday (TUE) morning at her home after a long illness.  McFarland was appointed to the state Supreme Court in September 1977 by Governor Robert Bennett, becoming the first woman appointed to the high court. In September 1995 she became the court's first woman chief justice, a position she held until retiring in 2009.  McFarland was also the first woman elected as a Shawnee County district judge in 1972.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports McFarland graduated from Washburn Law School when she was also the only woman attending classes full time. Her 31-year high court tenure is among the longest on record.


Report: Kansas Missing Out on Manufacturing Job Growth 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new report finds Kansas is missing out on the manufacturing employment growth the nation is experiencing. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Governor's Council of Economic Advisors released its findings Tuesday. The group says Kansas saw a 0.9 percent decline in manufacturing employment between June 2014 and 2015, losing about 1,400 manufacturing jobs. During that same period, the nation saw 1.3 percent growth in manufacturing, adding 160,000 jobs. Dan Lara, of the Kansas Department of Commerce, said in an e-mail that the general aviation sector continues to lag behind. Lara says the state lost 39,000 manufacturing jobs during the recession and has only gained back about 4,000 of them. As of June, the state has about 162,300 manufacturing jobs, 10.2 percent less than it had 10 years ago.


Kansas Secretary of State Clerk Sues for Wrongful Termination 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former state employee claims in a federal lawsuit that she was fired from her job at the Kansas secretary of state's office after she declined to attend prayer services in the office. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Courtney Canfield says in her lawsuit filed in federal court in Topeka that before Assistant Secretary of State Eric Rucker ousted her in November 2013, he "repeatedly and emphatically indicated a basis for her termination as the fact that, 'She just doesn't go to church.'" The lawsuit names Rucker and the office of the secretary of state as defendants. Canfield's lawsuit says she declined to attend religious services in the office despite "repeated invitations" to the services. The secretary of state's office didn't return calls seeking comment Wednesday.


Topeka City Council Approves Public Nudity Ban 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Topeka City Council has approved a ban that bars public nudity in most places, but allows exceptions for breast-feeding mothers and children under age 5. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the measure approved Tuesday makes public nudity a misdemeanor punishable by a fine between $1 and $499 and a jail term of up to 30 days. Acting city attorney Mary Feighny says under the new rules, the city wouldn't prosecute someone who was naked in their own yard. Councilwoman Sylvia Ortiz said the city needed to take action against public nudity, because "we've got too many naked people running around, and it's not the same person." Councilman Jeff Coen sponsored the proposal and said it was based on a similar nudity ban implemented by another city.


Police: Man with Explosive Device Had No Anti-Abortion Motives

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a Wichita man had no anti-abortion motives when he brought a small homemade explosive device into a women's health clinic while applying for a job.  Wichita police spokesman James Espinosa says the 19-year-old was homeless and carrying everything he owned in his backpack when he went to the South Wind Women's Center on Monday for an interview.  A security officer who searched the pack called police after finding knives and a small bottle with gunpowder inside and a fuse.  The man was arrested on suspicion of possession of an explosive device. Espinosa says the police investigation "absolutely ruled out" any intent for anti-abortion violence.  The clinic is in the same building where Dr. George Tiller provided abortions until an anti-abortion opponent shot and killed him in 2009.


Topeka Bans E-Cigarettes in Enclosed Public Places

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka officials have banned electronic cigarettes in enclosed public places.  WIBW-TV reports that council members voted 7-2 last (TUE) night to extend the city's ban on indoor smoking to include vaping. The e-cigarettes, which allow nicotine users to inhale vapor, have become increasingly popular substitutes for tobacco cigarettes.  But Topeka City Councilwoman Elaine Schwartz says questions remain about the safety of e-cigarettes. The ordinance makes exceptions for private residences, except when used as a day care home and outdoor places of employment. The exception is limited to no more than 20 percent of hotel or motel rooms available to be rented to guests.  Overland Park, Olathe, McPherson and Kansas City, Kansas, already ban the use of e-cigarettes in some public places.


Moran Touts Drones as Valuable for Creating Jobs in Kansas 

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — U.S. Senator Jerry Moran says he wanted the nation's top federal transportation official to see the importance of unmanned aerial vehicles to the Kansas economy. The issue came up during an aviation forum Wednesday attended by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. Foxx told the state's leading aviation leaders that while the government is on "a good path" when it comes to commercial use of drones, he is concerned about their private use. Foxx says officials are looking at strategies such as a possible registration system at the point of sale so that problem drones can be traced back to their owners. Moran says drones are important to the Kansas economy with its aviation research centers and manufacturers. They also can be valuable for use by agriculture, utilities and rail transportation.


Kansas Panel Hears New Case Against Already-Sanctioned Judge

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge who's already been disciplined over allegations that include sexual harassment is facing a second complaint that accuses him of not testifying truthfully in a past hearing over his conduct.  A panel of the state Commission on Judicial Qualifications finished a two-day hearing yesterday (TUE) for Sedgwick County District Judge Timothy Henderson.  Henderson was suspended without pay for 90 days earlier this year by the Kansas Supreme Court over allegations that included repeatedly making inappropriate comments to female attorneys and staffers. Another complaint filed last year accuses him of not being candid or truthful in testifying during a hearing last year.  But retired District Judges Jean Schmidt of Shawnee County and Robert Schmisseur of Pratt County testified Tuesday that they never doubted his honesty in their past interactions.


Group Says No Academic Protection for KU Teacher

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A state faculty organization says a University of Kansas business teacher does not warrant academic protection to keep his emails private.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Kansas Conference of the American Association of University Professors says in a brief in the case of Art Hall vs. the University of Kansas that Hall isn't a faculty member entitled to academic protection.  Hall is a lecturer and director of the Center for Applied Economics in the University of Kansas School of Business. He previously was chief economist for the Public Sector Group of Koch Industries.  A University of Kansas student organization filed an open records request for Hall's email correspondence. Hall sued to temporarily block the university from releasing the records.  The case is set for trial in November.


Police: 2 Men Killed in Kansas City Drive-By Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police are investigating after two men were fatally shot in a drive-by shooting in Kansas City, Kansas.  According to authorities, police responded to several calls about multiple shots fired shortly after 2 o'clock yesterday (TUE) afternoon.  Police say two men in their 20s were found dead in a parking lot outside a restaurant.  Officer Amber Hickerson with the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department said the victims were next to two vehicles, but authorities are not sure whether the men were outside the vehicles when the shooting happened.


Kansas Man Charged in Shooting Death of His 25-Year-Old Son 

PARSONS, Kan. (AP) — A southeast Kansas man has been charged with killing his 25-year-old son after an argument. The Parsons Sun reports that 56-year-old Jeffery M. Patton made his first court appearance Tuesday in Labette County District. He is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Preston Patton. The son was dead and his father was suffering from head injuries when police and emergency workers responded Sunday night to a 911 call at a Parsons home. Jeff Patton told District Judge Robert Fleming that he was working and that he planned to hire an attorney; he just needed to get the cash together. He didn't give the attorney's name. He also said his son had been living with him. Fleming set bond at $500,000.


2 Arrested in Death of Toddler in South-Central Kansas

ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in south-central Kansas have arrested two people in the death of a toddler.  KWCH-TV reports that the child's mother and her boyfriend are jailed in Cowley County on suspicion of second-degree murder and possession of drug paraphernalia, marijuana and methamphetamine. Police say the 16-month-old was dead when officers responded Tuesday afternoon to an Arkansas City apartment.  An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.


KC Police Investigate Death of Transgender Woman Who Was Run Over by SUV

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities are investigating the death of a transgender woman who died after being run over several times in northeast Kansas City.  The Kansas City Star reports that 36-year-old Tamara Dominquez was injured early Saturday and died at a hospital.  Officers who responded to a report of an injured pedestrian found the victim unresponsive in a parking lot. A witness told officers that the victim got out of the vehicle before the vehicle's driver struck and ran over the victim several times.  Her boyfriend, Rene Antonio Alas, said Dominquez was a native of Veracruz, Mexico, and came to the United States to escape discrimination against transgender individuals.  Investigators haven't determined whether the death represents a hate crime. Police initially identified the victim as Jesus E. Dominguez.


Sentencing Set for Lawrence Woman Convicted in Roommate's Death

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Sentencing has been scheduled for a 21-year-old woman who was convicted earlier this year in the 2014 killing of her roommate and former employer.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Sarah Brooke Gonzales McLinn is set to be sentenced September 4 in Douglas County District Court. She was convicted on March 20 of premeditated first-degree murder for the death of Harold Sasko.  Authorities say McLinn drugged the 52-year-old pizza shop owner with sleeping pills, bound and nearly decapitated him at the home they shared.  A jury has recommended that McLinn be sentenced to 50 years in prison with no chance of parole.


Kansas Police Use Stun Gun on Brick-Throwing Man 

NEWTON, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a stun gun was used on a man after he threw bricks at a south-central Kansas law enforcement building and expressed outrage about police shootings. The Wichita Eagle reports that surveillance cameras at the Law Enforcement Center in Newton captured police officers deploying a Taser on the man Tuesday afternoon. The Newton Police Department said in a Facebook post Tuesday evening that the man at one point "indicated he was tired of seeing news reports of police officers shooting people and decided today he would take a stand." The man can be heard on the video repeatedly saying, "Shoot me." The department says that it appears that the man is from another state and was passing through the community.


DNA Results Confirm Topeka Sperm Donor Is Child's Father

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Genetic testing has confirmed that a Topeka man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple is the biological father of the 5-year-old child born to one of the women.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Shawnee County District Judge Mary Mattivi ordered that William Marotta's DNA results be entered in the official record. The testing identified Marotta as the father, with a 99.9 percent certainty.  Kansas wants Marotta declared the father so he can be forced to pay child support. The state started pursuing the case in 2012 after the couple split up and one of the women applied for state health insurance for the child. Marotta claims he signed a contract waiving his parental responsibilities.


Police: Tattoo Parlor Owner Hid Cameras, Spied on Tenants 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The owner of a Kansas City tattoo parlor has been charged with 42 felony counts of invasion of privacy after hidden cameras were found in the apartment of a woman living above his store. Jackson County (Missouri) prosecutors say 48-year-old Rodney Sanell used the cameras to secretly watch people in the woman's bathroom and bedroom. According to the release, a 25-year-old woman who worked at Sanell's tattoo parlor contacted authorities last year after a friend found a strange looking smoke detector inside her apartment. Police searched the apartment and found 11 pinhole cameras, including four hidden in the woman's bathroom and three in her bedroom. Four of the cameras were concealed in smoke detectors. Sanell's attorney didn't immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment on Wednesday.


University of Kansas Representatives Plan 5-City Tour

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas faculty and staff are embarking next week on a five-city tour of the state to recruit students, and the first community will be Kansas State University's hometown.  School officials say they will meet with high school counselors and students throughout the day and hold receptions in the evenings. Students from 157 high schools have been invited to participate.  The university's main campus is in Lawrence, and this will be the 13th year it has had such a tour.  The tour begins Sunday afternoon in Manhattan, home to Kansas State.  Events will continue on the following days in Salina, Hutchinson, Garden City and Hays.


Chelsea Manning Found Guilty of Violating Prison Rules

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Convicted national security leaker Chelsea Manning has been found guilty of violating prison rules and will receive three weeks of recreational restrictions at the Kansas military prison where she's serving a 35-year sentence.  Manning was accused of having a copy of Vanity Fair with Caitlyn Jenner on the cover and an expired tube of toothpaste, among other things. Her attorney Chase Strangio said in a press release that Manning was convicted of possession of prohibited property, medicine misuse over the toothpaste, disrespect and disorderly conduct during a hearing Tuesday that was closed to the public.  He says Manning received 21 days of recreational restrictions limiting access to the gym, library and outdoors. Manning could have faced indefinite solitary confinement.  The former intelligence analyst was convicted of espionage and other offenses for sending classified documents to WikiLeaks.


USDA Seeking Proposals for Production of Bird Flu Vaccine 

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is taking bids from animal health companies for a bird flu vaccine. The department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service says it's preparing for the possible return this fall of the H5N2 virus that resulted in the death of 48 million birds. Companies may use a government-prototype seed strain or create their own that could be mass produced for a vaccine if needed. The USDA won't approve a vaccine for use unless it's deemed necessary to control another outbreak. The agency said Tuesday it wants to acquire an emergency stockpile of vaccines available for delivery anywhere in the United States within 24 hours. The USDA seeks companies capable of producing at least 100 million doses and up to 500 million doses.



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