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Headlines for Friday, September 21, 2018

Kobach Disputes Ad, Says He Never Called Schools Overfunded

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is disputing a new television ad in which his Democratic rival in the gubernatorial race accuses him of saying the state's schools are overfunded. Kobach says state Senator Laura Kelly should change or take down the ad, which began airing Thursday. In the ad, Kelly says Kobach "actually says our schools are overfunded," citing his comments at a Republican primary debate in April in Atchison, The Kansas City Star reports. "We had the entire section over education transcribed," Kobach said in an interview. "And nowhere did I ever say anything like that or use the word 'overfunded.'" Referencing income tax cuts passed under former Gov. Sam Brownback, Kelly's campaign said Kobach plans to repeat "the Brownback experiment," which "would lead to another massive cut to our schools." The cuts led to years of budget problems before the Legislature largely reversed them last year. It doesn't appear Kobach literally said Kansas schools are overfunded, but on numerous occasions he has characterized some districts as opulent spenders. Kobach also opposes a $500 million school funding increase to be phased in over five years, which the Legislature approved this spring, and says the Kansas Supreme Court overstepped its authority by ruling on education finance. He said he wants a greater share of education spending to fund classroom instruction. Kelly supports the funding and opposes a constitutional amendment supported by Kobach that would restrict the Supreme Court's ability to review funding for education. The other major candidate, independent Greg Orman, was left out of Thursday's battle. Kelly's ad doesn't mention Orman, who has promised to adequately fund schools.

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GOP Targets Kansas Democrat with 1998 Strip Club Charge

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Republican group is resurrecting an embarrassing scene in a strip club from a Democratic congressional candidate's past in a television ad that characterizes him as "shady." The Congressional Leadership Fund, a political action committee aimed at maintaining GOP control in the U.S. House, is running an ad in eastern Kansas that targets former state legislative leader Paul Davis. The ad describes Davis's presence during a 1998 drug raid in a club where an officer reported finding him in a dark back room with a nearly naked woman. Davis's spokeswoman notes the incident happened 20 years ago when Davis was a 26-year-old new lawyer who went with his boss to meet an unsavory client, who owned the club. Local police have said Davis wasn't accused of wrongdoing. The ad begins: "What's worse than getting caught at a strip club during a drug bust? Ask Paul Davis." The ad goes on to say Davis was found in a VIP room with a woman wearing only a G-string. The ad also says Davis voted in the Legislature to allow strip clubs near homes, churches, schools and day cares. The ad is referring to 2011 legislation that would have barred strip clubs and other sexually oriented businesses within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, homes and libraries. Davis was among 28 Kansas House members who voted against the legislation, which died in the Senate. The ad concludes: "Shady Paul Davis can't be trusted." The strip club story also briefly gained attention during Davis's 2014 run for governor against former Republican Governor Sam Brownback. Davis is currently running against Republican and political newcomer Steve Watkins for the 2nd District seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Lynn Jenkins, who has opted not to seek re-election . Davis carried the district in his narrow statewide loss to Brownback.

"It's our hope Steve Watkins will stop hiding behind attack ads and focus on the issues that everyday Kansans face," Davis campaign spokeswoman Kelsi Browning said.

When the strip club incident was cited in the 2014 race, Davis said he'd been in "the wrong place at the wrong time." He said his firm represented the owner of the strip club. Davis released a statement from Independence Police Chief Harry Smith, who participated in the raid as a detective, saying Davis was not involved in any wrongdoing. He wasn't arrested. The owner spent six years in federal prison after the raid. The Congressional Leadership Fund signaled in August that it planned to remind voters about the incident. McClatchy Newspapers reported that after Davis complained about an ad that falsely stated he supported Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, fund executive director Corry Bliss said: "Paul Davis should be careful what he wishes for — when the Pelosi ads come down, the strip club ads go up." Davis early in his congressional campaign promised to oppose Pelosi's return as U.S. House speaker if Democrats won back the House. The Congressional Leadership Fund, headed by U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, has set up an office in the Kansas district and in the neighboring 3rd Congressional District covering Kansas City and its suburbs. The moves are part of a nationwide effort to maintain GOP control of the House, where Democrats need to pick up 23 seats nationally to gain the majority.

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Kansas Court Considers Challenge to Railroad Regulation

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — BNSF Railway is challenging a Kansas law that limits how long trains can block intersections. The Wichita Eagle reports that the Kansas Court of Appeals heard arguments Thursday in the case involving a lengthy blockage of two Chase County railroad crossings in December 2016. The Texas-based railway company's court challenge could have ramifications for railroad crossings throughout Kansas. The law in question says railroads can only block a crossing for 10 minutes. The Chase County Sheriff's Department cited BNSF, alleging the company parked a train on a siding for four hours and blocked the only crossings that provide access to several farms. BNSF denies the length of the blockage. The company also says the state doesn't have a right to regulate how long a train can block a crossing.

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Kansas Board of Regents CEO Gets 15 Percent Salary Increase

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The president and CEO of the Kansas Board of Regents will be receiving a 15 percent pay raise The Lawrence Journal-World reports the board approved the salary increase Thursday for Blake Flanders, whose $200,000 salary will increase to $230,000. The raise comes at a time when Kansas universities are facing budget challenges. Board chairman Dennis Mullin says compensation studies showed Flanders' current salary was below that of many other leaders of state university systems. In a recent survey by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association found of the 28 CEO positions at governing board agencies, the 25th percentile for the group was $277,205. Flanders has led the Regents since 2015.

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Thousands Gather to Remember Slain Kansas Deputy

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Flags are waving throughout Wichita as thousands remember a sheriff's deputy who killed his attacker in his final moments in an act his boss said saved lives. The Wichita Eagle reports that an honor guard of law enforcement officers in dress uniforms and white gloves escorted Sedgwick County Deputy Robert Kunze's flag-draped casket into a church before services began. Army veteran Tim Wooding says he had planned to go out of town, but instead stood in the drizzling rain hanging flags along the route that the hearse carrying Kunze's coffin would follow to his final resting spot. Wooding says all the community can do is "be here." Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter says others could have died Sunday if the mortally wounded Kunze hadn't killed his attacker, 29-year-old Robert Greeson.

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Labor Day Flood Caused $17.2 Million in Damage in Manhattan

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Manhattan City Manager Ron Fehr says a flood over the Labor Day holiday weekend caused $17.2 million in structural damages in the city.  Fehr told the Manhattan City Commission Tuesday that four commercial and eight residential properties suffered substantial damage — meaning more than 50 percent damage from the storm or 25 percent or more damage in successive storms.  Nearly 9 inches of rain fell, causing Wildcat Creek to overflow its banks and forcing more than 300 people to evacuate their homes.  The Manhattan Mercury reports the U.S. Small Business Administration opened a disaster loan outreach center on Tuesday. It will remain open until Sept. 27. Businesses, nonprofits, homeowners and renters can apply for money to help repair or replace their property.

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Board of Regents OKs Funding Increase for State Universities

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents has approved an $85 million funding increase for state universities during the next two years.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports the request approved Thursday would restore funding cut by the Kansas Legislature in 2009. Lawmakers will have to approve the funding increase.  The request includes $50 million for fiscal year 2020, which begins in July, and an additional $35 million for the fiscal year 2021.  The board's official budget document will be submitted to the governor and Legislature by October 1.  The state's current funding of state universities is about $588 million out of a total state general fund budget of $7 billion.

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KBI Investigating Baldwin City Police Department

BALDWIN, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is investigating alleged criminal activity in the Baldwin City police department.  KBI spokeswoman Melissa Underwood said Thursday the investigation involves allegations against police department personnel. She would not say how many employees were involved or provide information on the nature of the allegations.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports Police Chief Greg Neis resigned Tuesday, months before his previously planned retirement date.  Underwood said more information would be released if the investigation results in arrests or charges.

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Wichita Man Guilty in Rape, Attempted Murder of Young Girl

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 24-year-old Wichita man has been convicted of raping and trying to kill a young girl just six weeks after he was released from prison.  A Sedgwick County jury on Thursday convicted Corbin Breitenbach of attempted capital murder, rape, criminal sodomy and burglary.  Witnesses said Breitenbach broke into a Wichita apartment in June of 2017 where the then-7-year-old girl was staying with her brother and a family friend. Prosecutors say he choked the girl until she was unconscious and then raped her.  Breitenbach, who acted as his own attorney during the trial, was convicted on two counts of aggravated sexual battery in 2013. The Wichita Eagle reports he was paroled in Sedgwick County in April 2017, six weeks before the girl was attacked girl.  Sentencing is scheduled for November 13.

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Suspect in 2015 Topeka Death Arrested in Mexico

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Marshals Service says a suspect in a 2015 homicide in Topeka has been arrested in Mexico. The Marshals Service announced Thursday that 25-year-old Fernando Diaz, a known gang member, was booked into jail in Texas after his arrest. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Diaz is wanted for second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of 22-year-old Christopher Galvan, who died three days after he was found shot in a car on July 27, 2015. Diaz fled the state after a warrant for his arrest was issued in August 2015. Diaz was booked into the Harris County Jail in Texas, where he will be held until he can be extradited to Shawnee County.

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Man Charged with Fatal Shooting of Father

HOLTON, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a Kansas man has been charged with fatally shooting his father while he was in bed and then barricading himself in the home for hours.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 49-year-old Derrick Bohnenkemper, of Holton, is charged with first-degree murder and six other felonies in the death of 73-year-old Gaylen Bohnenkemper. Police responded Tuesday after a 911 caller said her son had shot his father in the head.  Jackson County Sheriff Tim Morse says deputies were able to extricate the woman from a bedroom window while the man tried to break down the door.  After speaking to the man on the phone for hours, tear gas was used. Morse says he fired a shotgun at deputies, striking a vehicle they were using for cover, before he eventually surrendered.

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NASA Seeks Dismissal of Moon Dust Lawsuit Filed in Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — NASA seeks to dismiss a federal lawsuit by a woman who thinks it will seize a vial of moon dust she claims was a gift to her from astronaut Neil Armstrong. Laura Cicco filed the case in June in Kansas asking the court to issue a declaratory judgment that she owns the lunar dust she received as a 10-year-old girl from Armstrong, who was a friend of her father's. She cites cases in the past where NASA has seized similar moon-related artifacts because it contends the government owns all lunar material, The Kansas City Star reported. The space agency filed a motion in late August to dismiss the lawsuit on various legal grounds, contending that it's a hypothetical issue because the agency has not tried to confiscate the artifact, which is being kept in a secret location in Kansas. In a response this week, Cicco's attorney, Christopher McHugh, said NASA could officially say it has no interest in the artifact and the lawsuit would end. "It appears to be the Government's position that the threat to Mrs. Cicco is not 'immediate or real' enough ... until NASA is at her doorstep with a warrant," he wrote in response. NASA also argued that the lawsuit should not have been filed in Kansas because none of the events involved occurred in the state. "The events giving rise to the claim in this case occurred on the moon," McHugh wrote. "While venue there does have its appeal, I am going to need a ride." Although Cicco lives in Tennessee, the lawsuit was filed in Kansas because its federal court has experience with lunar material. In 2005, the former director of the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Max Ary, was convicted of selling museum property for his personal gain. Space memorabilia seized by the federal government included a bag Armstrong used to collect dust on the moon. That bag and other memorabilia were mistakenly put up for auction before they were seized by NASA. The attorney who bought the memorabilia at auction sued and it went to federal court in Wichita and NASA lost. The attorney last year resold the bag at auction for $1.8 million.

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Kansas City, Kansas, Stabbing Victim Dies Days After Attack

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a Kansas City, Kansas, stabbing victim has died from his injuries.  The Kansas City Star reports that 32-year-old Robert Tichenor was rushed Monday night from his home to a hospital. He died Wednesday night.  Police are no investigating his death as a homicide. Anyone with information is asked to call a tips hotline.

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Mobile Home Fire Leaves 1 Dead Near Wichita

HAYSVILLE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say one person has been killed in a mobile home fire near Wichita.  KWCH-TV reports that firefighters responded around 2 a.m. Friday to the burning home in Haysville, which is on the southern edge of the Wichita metropolitan area. During a search, the victim was found dead inside the home. The victim's name wasn't immediately released.  The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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Lawsuit: Topeka Police Officer Beat Man, Broke His Jaw

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A black man alleges in a lawsuit that his face was bloodied and his jaw broken in a police beating in Topeka.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 35-year-old Timothy Harris sued Wednesday in federal court. The suit says Harris' constitutional rights were violated in January after an officer approached him as he was sitting in his car. Harris says he was cooperative but that the officer detained him without explanation. The suit alleges that the officer took Harris to the ground, punched him and used pepper spray.  Harris was convicted of parallel parking too far away from the curb and interference with a law enforcement officer. A battery against a law enforcement officer charge was dismissed.  A city spokeswoman says the city doesn't comment on potential litigation.

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Former Democratic Leader's Assistant Sentenced in Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The longtime aide of former Democratic leader Mike Sanders was sentenced to six months in prison for his role in stealing campaign funds.  The sentence given to Calvin Williford Thursday was far shorter than Sanders received on Wednesday, when he was sentenced to more than two years in federal prison and ordered to forfeit $40,000. Williford and Sanders pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.  Prosecutors say the two men stole campaign funds to pay for gambling trips and political activities. The Kansas City Star reports Williford was ordered to forfeit $36,000 — or $2,000 stolen from campaign accounts for each of 18 trips that he made to Las Vegas to gamble.  Judge Rosann Ketchmark and federal prosecutors noted that Williford's cooperated in two ongoing investigations.

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Former Wyandotte County Deputy Charged with Sexual Battery

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A former Wyandotte County sheriff's deputy has been accused of sexual misconduct against another law enforcement officer. Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree announced Friday that John Warczakoski is charged with two misdemeanor counts of sexual battery. The female officer continues to work at the Wyandotte County Sheriff's Office. Warczakoski was a deputy for 12 years before resigning earlier this week. The Kansas City Star reports the incidents allegedly happened in June and early September while the deputy was on and off duty, the district attorney said. Dupree said the alleged incidents occurred in June and early September while the deputy was on and off duty. Warczakoski was issued a summons. He is scheduled to appear in court October 2.

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Joyland Owners Put the Abandoned Amusement Park on Auction Block

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The owners of the abandoned Joyland Amusement Park in Wichita are putting the land up for sale.  Joyland opened in 1949 and was once one of the largest amusement parks in the southwest. Since it closed in 2006, a series of fires and other vandalism has hit some of the artifacts and rides left at the site. Last month, one of the last rides left — The Whacky Shack — was destroyed by a fire.  The Wichita Eagle reports McCurdy Auction will auction the 57-acre property on November 7. The site will be split into two separate parcels of commercial land, which can be brought separately or as one purchase.  The auction website strongly advises people not to enter the abandoned amusement park, due to the potentially dangerous conditions.

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Man Charged After Police Chase, Fatal Wrong-Way Crash

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ A 24-year-old man has been charged after a police chase ended with a fatal wrong-way crash on Interstate 70 in Kansas City, Kansas. Wyandotte County authorities charged Collan Leigh Cross Friday with two counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, fleeing and eluding, possession of a controlled substance and criminal damage to property. The Kansas City Star reports 29-year-old Chrissy Sale died in the crash.  The chase began Thursday when Kansas City, Kansas, police followed a car onto a dead end street before the driver struck a police car and drove off, crossing into Missouri before returning to Kansas. The car eventually drove the wrong way on the interstate and collided with another car. Sale was a passenger in Cross's car. Cross and the other driver were treated at a hospital for injuries.  

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