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Headlines for Wednesday, September 24, 2014

GOP Group Backs Democrat for Kansas Elections Post

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A group of dissident Republicans has endorsed Democrat Jean Schodorf in her campaign against Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Schodorf had a news conference Tuesday outside the Statehouse to publicize her endorsement by Traditional Republicans for Common Sense -- a group of former lawmakers. Schodorf is a former moderate GOP state senator from Wichita who switched parties after losing her seat to a conservative challenger in 2012. She was among the founding members of Traditional Republicans for Common Sense but no longer belongs to it. The group has also endorsed independent candidate Greg Orman for U.S. Senate, and many of its members back Democrat Paul Davis for governor. Kobach said the group's move isn't surprising and said it is as little a Republican group as he is a Democrat.


Outside Political Groups Blanketing Kansas Airwaves

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A new study confirms what anyone watching television in Kansas recently probably knows: political ads in the hotly contested race between Republican incumbent Governor Sam Brownback and Democratic challenger Paul Davis are flooding the airwaves. Spending by campaigns and political groups is about seven times more this election than in 2010, when Republicans easily swept all statewide offices in Kansas, according to a report released Wednesday. The non-partisan Center for Public Integrity estimates $2.2 million has been spent on television ads for statewide offices - or about $1.11 per eligible Kansas voter - so far this election cycle. The center counted a total of 8,967 ads, many of them repeats of the same ad. The governor's race alone has consumed $2.1 million of that spending.


Voter Mulling Options in Kansas Senate Dispute

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The lawyer for a disgruntled Kansas Democratic voter says he's considering his options as he faces a delay in getting a court to hear his lawsuit to force the party to name a new U.S. Senate nominee. Attorney Tom Haney said Tuesday that voter David Orel of Kansas City, Kansas, was surprised by a state Supreme Court decision sending Orel's petition to Shawnee County District Court. Orel filed the petition last week after the Supreme Court allowed Democrat Chad Taylor to have his name removed from the November 4 ballot in the race against Republican Senator Pat Roberts. The Supreme Court said Tuesday more evidence must be gathered in Orel's lawsuit. Taylor's move was seen as helping independent candidate Greg Orman and putting the Kansas race in the national spotlight.


Kansas GOP Criticizes Davis Campaign Event at Justice's Home

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Republican Party is criticizing a campaign event for Democrat Paul Davis in the governor's race because it was being held at a state Supreme Court justice's home. The barbecue Tuesday night was organized by Richard Green, a retired high school teacher and the husband of Justice Carol Beier. Beier says she was not involved in organizing the event and did not attend. Neither Davis nor lieutenant governor candidate Jill Docking were expected to attend. The Kansas GOP said holding a campaign event at a sitting state supreme court justice's home is inappropriate. A Davis spokesman said the GOP is resorting to what he called "manufactured outrage."


Perry to Headline Fundraiser for Brownback

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is getting some fundraising help from his colleague in Texas. Texas Governor Rick Perry will be in Wichita on Wednesday for a rally at the Republican Party headquarters followed by two private receptions for donors. Brownback is locked in a surprisingly close race with Democratic challenger Paul Davis. The two Republican governors have had a close relationship for years. Both are former state agriculture secretaries, and Brownback endorsed Perry's 2012 campaign for the GOP nomination for president.


Palin Campaigns in Kansas for Pat Roberts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin is coming to Kansas to stump for Senator Pat Roberts' re-election campaign. A person familiar with the Roberts campaign told The Associated Press that Palin will be at a pancake breakfast in Independence on Thursday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to release the information publicly. Palin's appearance is part of a week of events featuring Republican heavyweights. Roberts is locked in a competitive race with independent candidate and Olathe businessman Greg Orman. Former GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole was stumping Monday and Tuesday for Roberts. Arizona Senator John McCain had an event Wednesday in Overland Park, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is expected to be in Wichita on Monday.


KU Students Raise $1,800 for Records Request

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - A student seeking records about the financial relationship between the University of Kansas and the Koch brothers has raised the $1,800 the school required to fulfill her request. Schuyler Kraus, president of the Students for a Sustainable Future, filed the Kansas open records request last month. She wants to know about the financial relationship between Art Hall, the executive director of the university's Center for Applied Economics, and billionaires Charles and David Koch. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the university told Kraus it would cost $1,800 to provide the information because the request covered more than 10 years and would require the work of several offices. The American Association of University Professors donated $1,000 to Kraus and other donations helped her raise the rest of the money.


Kansas State Lands $50 Million Federal Grant

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - Kansas State University has been awarded a $50 million federal grant for a global food security project. The award was announced Tuesday by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Kansas State will use the funds to establish a Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Sustainable Intensification. The government's Feed the Future program funds labs at colleges and universities nationwide to research ways to improve food production and nutrition around the world. Kansas State's new lab will identify technologies to help small farmers in West Africa and South Asia improve land, water, soil, crop and livestock management while also improving yields and sustaining natural resources. Kansas State has three other Feed the Future labs, focusing on sorghum and millet research, applied wheat genomics and the reduction of postharvest loss.


KS Budget Division Asks Agencies to Evaluate Efficiency

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Division of Budget has told seven state agencies to evaluate whether they can operate more efficiently. The results of the evaluations are to be presented to the budget division in the first two weeks of October. The governor's spokeswoman says the evaluations aren't related to projections that the state faces a $238 million budget shortfall by the end of June 2016. She says the state officials look for opportunities to better use taxpayer money, no matter how much money the state has. Budget Director Shawn Sullivan will work with the agencies over the next few months to determine if state services are being delivered as efficiently as possible and whether there are any duplicate programs.


Federal Government Sues Kansas Bitcoin Business

LEAWOOD, Kan. (AP) - The Federal Trade Commission alleges in a lawsuit that a Kansas bitcoin company bilked more than 20,000 customers out of up to $50 million. The FTC alleges that the Leawood-based company, Butterfly Labs, told consumers that computers could generate bitcoins but didn't deliver the computers or sent worthless equipment. The FTC said Tuesday the federal court in Kansas City issued a temporary restraining order that shutdown the business. The company said in a statement that it would fight the federal action and accused the government of wanting to shut down the company. Bitcoins are a way to buy and sell some goods and services instead of using dollars or other government mon


Topeka Council Delays Vote on Public Nudity

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Topeka residents can still legally walk around nude in the city, for now. The Topeka City Council voted on Tuesday to send to committee a proposal to make public nudity a misdemeanor offense. The issue arose after a man was seen walking nude in south central Topeka near an elementary school earlier this year. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the issue was sent to committee after councilman Richard Harmon suggested restricting public nudity only near schools and day cares. The proposed ban wouldn't apply to children under 10 or breastfeeding women. Violators could face up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of between $1 and $499. Public nudity is not banned by state law or Topeka ordinance, though state law prohibits it in the context of sexual arousal.


Tank Crushes Worker at Wichita Worksite

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A worker is dead after a Wichita industrial accident in which a 6-ton tank shifted unexpectedly and fell on him while he was sandblasting it. The man, whose identity hadn't been released Tuesday afternoon, was under a tarp outside Boardman working on the tank when it fell onto him at 2 p.m. Wichita police say the man was a subcontractor at the steel plate fabricator. Sgt. John Ryan says it's rare for the tanks, which fall several times a year, to injure workers because most of the time people are able to get out of the way. Emergency crews and family members arrived shortly after the incident, but police were withholding the victim's name until other relatives were notified.


Eisenhower Memorial Panel to Vote on Gehry Design

WASHINGTON (AP) - Members of a federal commission planning a memorial near the National Mall to honor the late President Dwight D. Eisenhower are voting on how to proceed after years of controversy. The Eisenhower Memorial Commission met last week but didn't have enough members present. So they are holding an electronic vote by the end of the day Wednesday on how to proceed. Architect Frank Gehry has presented a revised design for a proposed memorial park after objections from critics and Eisenhower's family. The revised design eliminates two large, metal tapestries on the sides of the park. One long tapestry would remain as a backdrop, depicting the Kansas landscape of Ike's boyhood home. The memorial commission is deciding whether to proceed with Gehry's design. Eisenhower's family has called for a simpler design.


Judge Sets Hearing in Spirit AeroSystems Labor Lawsuit

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - A federal judge will hear arguments next month on whether to block aircraft parts maker Spirit AeroSystems from selling off its fabrication operations or laying off workers pending arbitration. U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree on Tuesday set an October 8 hearing in Topeka over the lawsuit filed by the Machinists Union against the Wichita company. The union contends the potential outsourcing would violate its labor contract and cost 1,400 jobs. Spirit argues the grievances filed by the union are premature and provide no basis for an injunction. The lawsuit contends the Machinists gave up the right to strike and accepted pay cuts and smaller wage increases in a 10-year contract negotiated in 2010. It says that in exchange, Spirit agreed to maintain major manufacturing operations in Wichita.


Topeka Zoo Adopts Orphaned Black Bear Cub

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Topeka Zoo has temporarily postponed a black bear exhibit after adopting a second orphaned cub. The zoo took in a female cub named Valor this month who had been orphaned in Alaska. Zookeepers on Tuesday introduced her to their other cub, Independence. The exhibit tours have been postponed so the animals can get used to each other. It's unclear when the exhibit will reopen. The cubs will live together until they are old enough to meet Sneak and Peak, adult black bears who arrived at the zoo in 1996 from Peoria, Illinois.


Wichita Woman Accused in Prostitution Racketeering Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Wichita woman accused of running an escort service as a front for prostitution has told a federal judge she wants to change her plea. U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren on Tuesday set an October 8 change-of-plea hearing for 60-year-old Saundra J. Lacy at federal court in Wichita. Prosecutors used a federal racketeering law to indict Lacy in June on 27 counts of racketeering in promotion of prostitution. Her business, Jessie's Primetime Entertainment, had hired at least 20 women as escorts. The indictment alleges Lacy required escorts to carry condoms and to engage in sex at the customer's request. Prosecutors said the escorts typically charged $160 for a half hour and $185 for an hour. Escorts accepted credit cards and offered customers discount coupons.


Kansas Woman Sentenced for Death of 4-year-old Boy

HIAWATHA, Kan. (AP) - A northeast Kansas woman has been sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for the beating death of her boyfriend's 4-year-old son. 30-year-old Janice Summerford, of Hiawatha, was sentenced Monday in Brown County District Court. Mekhi Boone died in March 2013, two days after he was taken unresponsive to a hospital. His father, Lee Davis IV, is serving nearly 20 years for second-degree murder and felony child abuse. Prosecutors said Summerford was the father's live-in girlfriend and the little boy's primary caregiver. She entered Alford pleas last month to second-degree murder, child abuse and interfering with law enforcement. An Alford plea does not admit guilty but acknowledges that prosecutors can likely prove the charge.


Lion Dies at Sedgwick County Zoo

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The Sedgwick County Zoo says a 19-year-old lioness has died. The zoo's executive director tells the Wichita Eagle that the South African lioness named Nemesis died Tuesday. Necropsy results haven't been released, but the director says recent tests indicated her kidneys were failing. Nemesis came to Wichita in 2000 for the opening of the lion exhibit from the Oklahoma City Zoo. She gave birth to 12 cubs, six of which are still at the zoo. She has 24 grand-cubs and seven great-grand-cubs living in zoos across the country.


Sentencing Delayed for Kansan in Brother's Death

SALINA, Kan. (AP) - Sentencing for an 18-year-old Kansan who pleaded guilty to shooting his 9-year-old stepbrother to death has been delayed until November 3. Ryan Velez was scheduled to be sentenced Monday for second-degree murder for the June 2010 death of Kaden Harper. Velez was 14 when his stepbrother was killed at their family home near Assaria. The Salina Journal reports an attorney for Velez needed more time to review reports from Larned State Hospital. Velez had been housed at Larned from 2011 until mid-July, when he pleaded guilty to his brother's death. His stay at Larned was not to exceed 10 years and three months. Because Velez was released before his sentence was complete, he was referred back to district court for sentencing.


Former Kansas Man Sentenced for Mortgage Fraud

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A former Kansas man has been sentenced in Missouri to more than seven years in federal prison for his role in a $2.7 million mortgage fraud scheme. The U.S. Attorney's office says 49-year-old Terrence Matthew Brown must also pay $1.2 million in restitution under the sentence he received Tuesday in federal court. Brown, formerly of Wichita and now living in Texas, was convicted earlier in a conspiracy that defrauded lenders in 10 loans for five properties in western Missouri and northeast Kansas. Prosecutors said the conspirators obtained loans with false information on applications and other documents. Brown bought homes at inflated prices and received more than $200,000 in kickbacks from the excess loan proceeds. All of the loans went into default and the properties were foreclosed.


Dodge City Police Investigating Woman's Death

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) - Law enforcement authorities say the death of a 30-year-old woman is being investigated as a homicide. Dodge City police and the Ford County Sheriff's Department were called to a Dodge City home Monday afternoon on a report of an injured person. Officers say they found 30-year-old Natasha Pruitt dead at the home. Dodge City Chief of Police Craig Mellecker says the department is investigating the death as a homicide. Police have not said how Pruitt died or released any other information about the case. Reno County Sheriff Randy Henderson said in a news release that a 26-year-old Dodge City man was arrested Monday evening on unrelated charges near Hutchinson after a police chase ended when the suspect pulled over and surrendered.


Ventura and Royals Beat Indians 7-1

CLEVELAND (AP) — Rookie pitcher Yordano Ventura blanked Cleveland's punchless offense for seven innings as the Kansas City Royals kept pressure on first-place Detroit in the AL Central with a 7-1 win over the Indians on Tuesday night. The hard-throwing Ventura allowed four singles and threw a 100 mph fastball on his 104th pitch. Kansas City entered one game out of first and with a grasp on one of the league's two wild-card spots. The Royals are closing in on their first postseason appearance since 1985, when they won their only World Series title. At 86-71, Kansas City matched its win total from last season. It's the first time the Royals have had consecutive seasons with at least 86 victories since 1977-78.



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