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Headlines for Thursday, December 13, 2018

Kelly: Kansas Voters Would Reject School Funding Amendment

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Incoming Democratic Kansas Governor Laura Kelly said she doesn't see much chance of a state constitutional amendment to limit court rulings on school funding being approved in Kansas. Republican lawmakers don't have enough votes to pass an amendment in the Legislature and, even if they did, Kansas voters would reject it, Kelly said Wednesday. Kelly's remarks come as some Republicans have expressed renewed interest in the amendment in reaction to Kansas Supreme Court rulings on school funding in Kansas, The Kansas City Star reported. The state GOP has discussed a constitutional amendment for years but has never advanced a proposal in the Legislature. A proposed constitutional amendment in the spring didn't make it past the House floor. Two-thirds of the House and Senate would have to approve the amendment before it went to voters. Kelly would not be able to veto it.House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins, R-Wichita, said earlier this week that there is growing interest in a constitutional amendment on school funding. During her campaign, Kelly said one of her goals is to further increase in spending on public schools to comply with Kansas Supreme Court mandates in an ongoing education funding lawsuit. She supported a law enacted this year to phase in a $548 million increase in funding over five years. The court said the state needs to boost spending further to account for inflation, perhaps another $90 million a year. This week, Republican leaders said they are considering reopening - or even starting over - on the funding plan. Kelly also rejected that idea on Wednesday.

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Nebraska City Keeps Paying Kris Kobach to Defend Immigration Rule

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An eastern Nebraska city will continue paying former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach at least $10,000 a year to defend its immigration ordinance even though the last legal challenge to the rule ended in 2014.  Fremont's City Council unanimously approved its annual agreement with Kobach on Tuesday. Since 2010, the city has paid the Republican, who lost his bid to become Kansas governor this fall, a total of $101,817.29.  Kobach earned more than $800,000 in legal fees from several communities, including Fremont, for his immigration work over more than a decade.  Fremont Mayor Scott Getzschman said the city wants to maintain its contract with Kobach, so he could defend the ordinance he wrote against new challenges and answer any enforcement questions that come up.  "As Fremont continues to grow, if there ever would be a challenge, the City Council wanted to have Kris Kobach in their corner," Getzschman said. The city of 26,000 people is about 35 miles northwest of Omaha.  Fremont voters twice supported the rule that bans renting homes to immigrants living in the country illegally and requires employers to use a federal online system to check whether prospective employees are permitted to work in the U.S.  Kobach didn't immediately respond Wednesday to phone messages from The Associated Press, but he has previously defended his work for small cities as being part of a mission he believed in.  In addition to helping communities such as Valley Park, Missouri and Fremont craft ordinances related to immigration, Kobach served on President Donald Trump's commission on combating voter fraud that was shut down after a bevy of lawsuits challenged it.  In Kansas, Kobach championed a state law that had required proof of citizenship to register to vote. In June, a federal judge struck it down.  Kobach hasn't said what he plans to do after he leaves office.  Fremont's housing rule requires residents to apply for a $5 permit and swear they have legal permission to live in the country. Only applicants who say they aren't U.S. citizens are investigated.  The rental permit rule took effect in 2014 after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to it.  The employment provisions, which were less controversial, took effect in 2012. Many larger employers, including major meatpacking plants just outside Fremont, were already using that federal E-Verify system before the ordinance was adopted.

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Kansas Senators Support Bill to Overhaul Federal Sentencing

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Senators Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts support a bill that would be the largest overhaul of federal sentencing laws in decades.  The two Republicans reiterated their backing of the bipartisan measure Wednesday. President Donald Trump also supports it.  Moran was among the measure's first sponsors and said it is sensible legislation to make drug sentences fairer, fight the opioid epidemic and promote programs that prevent repeat offending.  Roberts is also a sponsor and said current mandatory federal sentences have "simply increased the prison population rather than deter crime."  The bill would revise 1980s and '90s-era "tough on crime" laws to boost rehabilitation efforts for federal prisoners and give judges more discretion when sentencing nonviolent offenders. It would attempt to focus the toughest sentences on the most violent offenders.

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Kansas City Man Charged with Shooting Trip Driver 20 Times

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man has been charged with shooting a zTrip taxi driver about 20 times, leaving her critically wounded.  Eighteen-year-old Derron "Ronnie" Nevels was charged Wednesday with federal counts of robbery and using a firearm in a crime of violence. His attorney didn't immediately respond to a phone message from The Associated Press.  An FBI agent wrote in charging documents that the driver transported Nevels on December 4. Another suspect joined Nevels when he arrived at his destination. When they demanded cash, the driver said security cameras were recording everything. Nevels replied: "I don't care; give me everything."  After struggling over the rifle, the driver was shot. Charging documents say Nevels had the rifle stuffed down his pant leg when he was arrested Monday after getting off a bus.

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Man Shoots Himself in Head with Nail Gun, Walks to Find Help

DERBY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man shot himself in the head with a nail gun as he fell off a ladder, but was able to walk to the site of a traffic accident to ask law enforcement for help.  Sedgwick County Sheriff's Lt. Tim Myers says the man is in critical condition after the accident Wednesday morning in Derby, about 10 miles south of Wichita.  The Wichita Eagle reports that Myers said the man told sheriff's deputies and a Derby police officer that he was renovating a house when he slipped off a ladder with the nail gun in his hands. When he landed, the nail gun hit him in the back of the head and the man "inadvertently pulled the trigger with his finger."

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Del Monte Recalls Fiesta Corn in 25 states, Including Kansas and Missouri

TOEPKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- As reported by WIBW TV, canned food giant Del Monte is recalling hundreds of thousands of cans of its Fiesta Corn Seasoned with Red & Green Peppers, which were sent to 25 states, including Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.  Del Monte attributed the recall to under-processing that could result in contamination by spoilage or other pathogens and cause possibly life-threatening illnesses if eaten. The company stressed there have been no reports of illnesses linked to this recall.  The affected products are 15.25-ounce (432g) cans with the UPC number 24000 02770 printed onto the label. The can will also have one of the following "Best If Used By" 2021 dates stamped onto the bottom.  Anyone who has a can with the matching UPC code and "Use By" date is asked to return it to where they bought int for a full refund or exchange. Anyone with questions can call Del Monte's toll-free hotline at 1-800-779-7035 or by visiting www.delmontefoods.com.

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Kansas Governor-Elect Lowers Inaugural Costs

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Gov.-elect Laura Kelly's inaugural committee has slashed the cost of a premium-seating package for her inaugural ball after the state ethics commission rescinded its approval of a higher-priced plan that appeared to exceed the legal limit for contributions.  The Associated Press obtained an email Wednesday from the inaugural committee's chairwoman saying the cost of a "gold" package for a table for 10 people had been dropped to $3,000. The price initially had been $10,000, which is five times the legal limit on individual contributions to inaugural committees.  The inaugural committee email said the ethics commission signed off an earlier email detailing the cost of ticket packages but "reversed" itself. The change came a day after AP reported on the inaugural committee's plans.

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Kansas Lawmaker Disciplined by GOP Becomes Democrat

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas lawmaker who was stripped of a committee leadership post after endorsing Democratic Governor-elect Laura Kelly's campaign has switched to the Democratic Party.  State Senator Barbara Bollier of Mission Hills said Wednesday that the Republican Party no longer represents her values. Bollier said she had been a registered Republican for nearly 43 years.  Her move makes the Senate's partisan split 29-10, with one independent.  In July, Senate President Susan Wagle removed Bollier as vice chairwoman of the Senate health committee after Bollier endorsed Kelly and a Democratic congressional candidate.  But Bollier said a key moment for her came in June when the Kansas GOP adopted a platform with what she sees as an anti-transgender provision. It declares, "We believe God created two genders, male and female."

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Topeka Online Utilities Pay System Safe After Cyber-Attack

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka officials say the city's online utilities payment system is safe after a cyber-attack in November. City spokeswoman Molly Hadfield said the system was breached on Nov. 1. Its billing payment software vendor, Central Square, notified the city of a possible cyber-attack on Dec. 7. The breach might have affected up to 10,000 Topeka customers. Hadfield said Central Square has turned over the information to a forensics investigator. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports city staff worked with Central Square to move the current online payment system to a more secure platform.

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Kansas EMT Pleads Guilty to Stealing Morphine

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An emergency medical technician in Jackson County, Kansas, has admitted to stealing morphine. Federal prosecutors said 33-year-old Colby VanWagoner, of Mayetta, pleaded guilty Wednesday to obtaining a controlled substance by deception and making a false statement during an investigation. VanWagoner worked for the Jackson County Emergency Medical Service in Holton. In his plea, he said he replaced morphine sulfate with saline solution and put the vials back into narcotic boxes on ambulances and in office stocks. Tests showed some of the vials that had been tampered with had concentrations of 1 percent or less of morphine. The concentration of morphine should have been 100 percent. VanWagoner will be sentenced March 12. The parties have agreed to recommend a sentence of five years on federal probation.

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2 Jailed After Stolen Kansas Cattle Taken to Oklahoma

COLUMBUS, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have arrested two suspected cattle rustlers after they stole 17 steers from a Kansas pasture and attempted to sell them in Oklahoma. The Cherokee County, Kansas, Sheriff's Office says in a news release that Anthony Francis Whittley and Jasmine Boone are jailed in Oklahoma County on suspicion of transporting stolen property across state lines. The release says they were caught after an employee with an Oklahoma City livestock barn recognized the owner's brand on the steers, which were reported stolen Tuesday. Kansas and Oklahoma law enforcement coordinated and made it appear that the cattle had been sold. When Whittley and Boone when to collect the check, they were taken into custody. The release says they also are suspected of stealing another eight head of cattle in November in Kansas.

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Man Who Fled After Kansas Slaying Faces 10-Year Sentence

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A gang member who fled to Mexico after a Topeka killing will be sentenced in February. WIBW-TV reports that 25-year-old Fernando Diaz pleaded guilty last week to involuntary manslaughter in the death of 22-year-old Christopher Galvan. In July 2015, Galvan was found wounded in a crashed car. He died three days later. Diaz initially was charged with second-degree murder and fled the state after a warrant for his arrest was issued. The U.S. Marshals Service announced this September that Diaz had been arrested in Mexico. Court records say that as part of the Diaz' plea agreement, prosecution and defense attorneys recommended that Diaz be sentenced to 10 years and eight months in prison. Prosecutors also will ask that his probation be revoked in a law enforcement assault case.

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Wichita Art Gallery Reports Break-In, Theft of 8 Pieces

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita art gallery says eight pieces of glass art were stolen during a break-in. The founder of Karg Art Glass, Rollin Karg, says he discovered the break-in and theft early Wednesday. Gallery officials estimated the loss was about $2,500. Police are investigating. The Wichita Eagle reports Kart Art Glass is generally regarded as the city's foremost glassblowing studio and gallery.

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Man Killed in Collision with Trash Truck Near Wichita

ANDOVER, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a man has been killed in a head-on collision with a trash truck near Wichita.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the crash happened Wednesday morning just north of Andover and about 10 miles east of Wichita.  Andover police Captain Joseph Schroeder says the victim was headed westbound and the trash truck driver was going westbound when one of the vehicles crossed the centerline. The impact of the crash sent both vehicles into a ditch.  The victim was partially ejected from the passenger vehicle and died at the scene.  His name wasn't immediately released. Schroeder says he was in his mid-20s.

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Appeal Rejected for Woman Who Stole $1.5 Million from 2 Companies

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri woman who embezzled a combined $1.5 million from Black & Veatch and Garmin International has lost her appeal of an eight-year prison sentence.  The Kansas City Star reports that the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal filed by Patricia Webb. The 46-year-old claimed the sentence handed down in U.S. District Court in Kansas City was unreasonable. It was a departure from federal sentencing guidelines, which called for a maximum sentence of six years and nine months.  Webb was convicted of stealing more than $1.2 million from Garmin International while working in the Olathe-based company's payroll department. After leaving Garmin, she was hired to a similar payroll position with Overland Park-based Black & Veatch, where she embezzled more than $300,000 from the company.

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Douglas County Considering Jail Expansion Plans

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Douglas County Commission is considering a plan to add between 84 and 154 beds to the county jail. Undersheriff Gary Bunting and Assistant County Administrator Sarah Plinsky presented the plan Wednesday. The commission asked for a plan that would allow the county to stop housing 50 to 80 inmates in other counties. Commissioners also want more room for work-release and re-entry programs, and enough beds to separate inmates of different security classifications. The Lawrence Journal-World reports one option includes building a central south tower to provide from three to four new incarceration pods, which would each house 28 inmates. Cost estimates were not presented. In May, county voters rejected a $44 million jail expansion proposal that would have added 93,200 square feet in jail space and 178 beds.

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Negro League Bobbleheads Part of Fundraising Campaign

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Fans of the former Negro League are being asked to help a campaign to create bobbleheads of 30 stars from the league — with a goal of commemorating the league's upcoming centennial. Organizers of the effort, which was unveiled Wednesday, have created a team of 30 Negro League stars who would be honored with bobbleheads if the campaign raises enough money. The first bobblehead of pitcher Satchel Paige of the Kansas City Monarchs has already been produced. The Paige bobblehead stands on a baseball-shaped base in front of a replica of the Kansas City YMCA at 18th Street and the Paseo, where the Negro National League was organized on Feb. 13, 1920, The Kansas City Star reported . Production of the rest of the licensed, limited-edition bobbleheads will depend on a Kickstarter campaign launched Wednesday by the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum and Dreams Fulfilled, which was formed to promote the Negro League centennial. The goal is to raise $10,000 by Jan. 7. Any donation is welcome but those who give $20 or more will get first choice and better pricing for the bobbleheads, which will be individually numbered up to 2,020. The bobblehead series is licensed by the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City. Museum President Bob Kendrick and Caldwell on Wednesday announced the African-American and Hispanic players selected for the Centennial Team. They played between 1895 to 1947, when Jackie Robinson became the first African-American in the major leagues. If the Kickstarter campaign is successful, bobbleheads of the 30 Centennial Team players, plus a manager and an owner, will be introduced on average of two a month through February 2020. The bobbleheads will be available at the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum's online and retail stores, at the Dreams Fullfilled website and at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum store and other outlets. They are expected to retail for $30 plus $8 shipping. A portion of the proceeds of each sale will go to relatives of the players and to the Negro Leagues museum.

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Man Killed in Trash Truck Wreck Was International Student

ANDOVER, Kan. (AP) — Andover police say the man killed when his vehicle hit a trash truck was an international student at Butler Community College. Police said a car driven by 25-year-old Henry Too Cheseto crossed the center line of an Andover street Wednesday and crashed head-on into a Waste Management truck. Cheseto was partially ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene. Police say Cheseto formerly lived in Alaska and Kenya. He was apparently on his way home from the school when the crash happened. The trash truck driver wasn't hurt.

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Oil Producer Who Donated $12M to WSU to Get Honorary Degree

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An oil producer who gave $12 million to Wichita State University will receive an honorary doctorate from the school. The Wichita Eagle reports that 87-year-old Wayne Woolsey will receive the honorary degree during the university's fall commencement ceremony Sunday. He's the fifth person to receive an honorary degree from Wichita State in the past 30 years. He founded an oil and natural gas exploration and production company in 1978. He's been involved in large-volume wastewater disposal methods used to recover deposits of oil and natural gas in south-central Kansas. Woolsey's gift was the largest of its kind in the school's history. The bulk of it — $10 million — went toward building a new business school. The rest will go toward the petroleum geology program and field camp experiences for students.

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Authorities: Man Posed as Currency Trader to Bilk Investors

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A former northern New Jersey resident has been arrested in Kansas and charged with running a Ponzi scheme. Thomas Lanzana is charged with wire fraud and commodities fraud. The former Midland Park resident was arrested in Park City, Kansas on Wednesday. Authorities say Lanzana's current address is in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. The U.S. attorney's office in New Jersey alleges in a criminal complaint that Lanzana falsely represented to prospective investors that he was a successful foreign-currency trader in order to solicit about $900,000 in investments. To deceive investors, Lanzana allegedly posted false account statements for trading accounts that didn't exist. He allegedly used about $350,000 of the money he raised to pay off earlier investors and use for personal expenses.

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Kansas Couple Accuses Store of Selling Fake Persian Rug

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A couple is accusing a Kansas City rug company of selling them a fake antique Persian rug.  The Kansas City Star reports that Maranatha and David Christie filed a lawsuit against Knotty Rug Co. last week. The Johnson County couple says an appraiser told them the $28,000 Persian rug they purchased in December 2014 could've been altered to appear in older condition.  The lawsuit also alleges the store misrepresented about 14 other rugs the couple purchased for more than $39,000 in September 2014.  The lawsuit comes after the store agreed to buy back the Persian rug and two others for nearly $39,000.  Owner Darrel Wingo says he stands by the rugs and their prices, adding that the couple didn't complain until years after the purchases.

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