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Headlines for Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Here's a look at area headlines from the Associated Press

Kansas Governor Promises Extra $600 Million for Schools

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is proposing that the state phase in a $600 million increase in spending on its public schools over five years without detailing how he'd pay for it. Brownback included the proposal in his State of the State address Tuesday evening to a joint session of the Legislature. The proposal is a response to a Kansas Supreme Court mandate to boost spending on public schools. The court ruled in October that the state's annual aid of $4.3 billion to its public schools was insufficient. Its decision came after lawmakers last year phased in a $293 million increase in education funding. Brownback told lawmakers that he is proposing to increase spending on schools without increasing taxes. He planned to release detailed budget proposals to lawmakers Wednesday.​


GOP Leaders Upset with Brownback School Aid Plan 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) —  Top Republican legislators in Kansas are upset with GOP Governor Sam Brownback's proposal to boost spending on public schools because he is not yet spelling out how he would pay for it. Senate President Susan Wagle of Wichita and Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning of Overland Park said Tuesday night that they do not think the state can sustain the spending Brownback is proposing. In his State of the State address, Brownback proposed phasing in a $600 million increase in education funding over five years. He said he's not proposing a tax increase. Wagle called it a feel-good proposal that will force lawmakers to consider tax increases later. Denning said the plan is "insulting." House Majority Leader Don Hineman of Dighton said he doesn't see how the plan will work.


Kansas Lawmaker Quits Posts After Remarks About Blacks

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas state legislator who suggested at a public forum that blacks are predisposed to abusing drugs has resigned from two committee leadership jobs. Republican state Representative Steve Alford of the western Kansas town of Ulysses stepped down Tuesday as chairman of the House Children and Seniors Committee and vice chairman of a legislative task force on child welfare. Alford resigned from those positions a day after apologizing for remarks he made Saturday at a public meeting in Garden City. During the meeting, Alford discussed his opposition to legalizing any use of marijuana and referenced a time in the 1930s when it was outlawed. He said marijuana and other drugs were prohibited partly because blacks responded "the worst" to them "because of their character makeup — their genetics and that."


Kansas Legislature Opens Annual 90-Day Session

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas lawmakers opened their annual session Monday facing a court mandate to boost spending on public schools. Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr. told House members he is excited to get to work. But there appears to be little appetite in the GOP-controlled Legislature to either raise taxes or cut spending elsewhere to provide more money for public schools. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in October that the state's education funding is insufficient under the state constitution. It did not set a specific spending target but hinted that it expects funding to rise by as much as $650 million a year. Governor Sam Brownback is set to deliver the annual State of the State address this (TUE) evening. 


ACLU Seeks Contempt Ruling Against Kris Kobach

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The American Civil Rights Union has asked a federal judge to hold Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in contempt of court, alleging that he refused to comply with multiple orders. A court notice on Tuesday shows U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson will handle the ACLU request. The latest legal skirmish stems from Robinson's earlier preliminary injunction ordering Kobach to register for all federal elections people who registered to vote at driver's license offices, regardless of whether they provided documentary proof of citizenship. The group late Monday filed a motion saying Kobach is refusing to send those voters a certificate of registration which contains information such as the polling location or to correct erroneous information in the election manual. Kobach's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Topeka Gets Its First Hispanic Mayor

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The city of Topeka has just sworn in its first Hispanic mayor. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 41-year-old Michelle De La Isla was sworn in Monday after winning the November election with 51.3 percent of the votes. She'll replace Larry Wolgast, who decided not to seek re-election after serving as Topeka's mayor since April 2013. De La Isla was born in New York and moved as a child to Puerto Rico with her family. She spoke during her campaign about overcoming circumstances such as homelessness and teen pregnancy, and receiving her degree from Wichita State University. De La Isla says she asked others at her swearing-in ceremony to join her at the front of the Topeka City Council chambers to show that she can't work on the community alone.


Push Emerges for Body Camera Legislation in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Pressure is growing for lawmakers to make some rules about body camera footage because police departments are releasing it so inconsistently. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Democratic Representative John Alcala, of Topeka, said body camera access is a topic that "we do need look at it so it's more accessible." Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay is among the advocates of legislation. Ramsay says he wants "statewide consistency." Last month, the Wichita department waited only hours before releasing video of a deadly shooting that happened after a hoax 9-1-1 call. In Topeka, police waited eleven weeks to release footage of a deadly shooting involving officers. But the representative for several Kansas law enforcement associations says the "current statutes adequately balance the interests of justice of all parties and the public interest."


Lieutenant Governor Proposes $16.5 Million Boost for Child Welfare Services 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer and the head of the Kansas Department for Children and Families are proposing to spend an extra $16.5 million on child welfare services over the next 18 months. The plan outlined Monday by Colyer and DCF Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel would allow the state to hire more child welfare workers and investigators and boost spending on community services for families. The state would use part of the funds to find places for abused and neglected children to stay so none of them sleep overnight in DCF offices. The department also would hire a consultant for a top-to-bottom review. Colyer and Meier-Hummel said federal funds would cover $8 million of the new spending. The plan will be included in budget recommendations Governor Sam Brownback presents to lawmakers tomorrow (WED).


Kansas Lawmakers Expected to Have Sexual Harassment​ Training Soon

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislative leaders say they expect to offer sexual harassment training to all lawmakers within a few weeks. Senate President Susan Wagle of Wichita confirmed Monday that she's hoping to have a session for all 40 senators by the end of next week. House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr. of Olathe said he's working on arranging one for House members later this month. And House Minority Leader Jim Ward of Wichita said he's planning to schedule training for fellow Democrats who were unable to attend a session in December. The Kansas City, Missouri-based Women's Foundation has recommended an overhaul of the Legislature's 1994 policy on sexual harassment. That policy does not require annual training for lawmakers or their employees, and the foundation says it should. 


Brownback to Get Another Shot at Trump Administration Job

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Kansas Governor Sam Brownback's nomination for an ambassador's post will be resubmitted to the U.S. Senate. The White House said that Brownback is one of dozens of officials who were renominated Monday by President Donald Trump. Brownback was first nominated last July to become ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom but the nomination was opposed by Democrats and LGBT rights groups. He is one of dozens of officials who were renominated by the president on Monday because they were not confirmed by the Senate after Democrats refused to allow their nominations to roll over into the new year. It is not clear when a vote on Brownback's nomination will occur. Brownback says he will continue as Kansas governor until he is confirmed by the Senate.


Spokesman Says Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach Not Advising DHS

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security says Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is not advising the agency on election fraud issues. But Kobach told The Kansas City Star on Monday that the White House has informed him that it wants him to work closely with President Trump and his team. Kobach said his role is not formal and has not been fleshed out after Trump disbanded a commission on election fraud. Kobach was the commission's vice chairman. Acting DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton says that Kobach was not advising the agency formally or informally. The White House said DHS would handle any future election fraud review.


FBI Investigating Shooting of Kansas Man in Altercation with Federal Officer in Arizona

PHOENIX (AP) — The FBI says last week's shooting of a Kansas man on his way to a spiritual retreat in Arizona occurred during an altercation with a federal officer following a traffic accident. The FBI's Phoenix office said Monday that a U.S. Forest Service officer stopped to help Friday after 51-year-old Tyler Miller was in a traffic accident in Coconino National Forest about 100 miles north of Phoenix. The agency says the officer was also wounded in a subsequent altercation. Miller was taken to a medical center, where he died. Family attorney Matt Bretz says Miller, from Hutchinson, apparently lost control of his pickup truck on a mountain road. The FBI has not told The Associated Press if Miller was armed. Bretz says the agency told him Miller was unarmed.


Man Charged with Shooting, Wounding Officer in Manhattan

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A research associate at Kansas State University has been charged with shooting and wounding a police officer in Manhattan. Riley County prosecutor Barry Wilkerson said 38-year-old Mark Harrison was charged Monday with three counts of attempted capital murder. He said Harrison made a first court appearance Monday afternoon. Bond is set at $2 million. The Riley County Police Department said in a news release that Sergeant Pat Tiede has been released from the hospital and is recovering at home. Tiede was wounded Friday afternoon while responding to a report of a domestic situation. Harrison surrendered after barricading himself inside a home for two hours. Kansas State spokesman Jeff Morris told the Manhattan Mercury that Harrison is a research associate in the university's mechanical and nuclear engineering department.


Former Mail Carrier Gets Probation for Delivering Marijuana

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a former mail carrier was part of a scheme to deliver marijuana to Johnson County. Twenty-five-year-old Terrell Dewayne Shears of Overland Park on Tuesday was placed on five years of probation for possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute. Prosecutors say while Shears  delivered mail, he would give addresses to Arizona drug traffickers. The dealers would then mail packages with marijuana to those addresses and Shears would drop them off at an apartment building. He then texted a person he knew only as "John" to pick them up. Investigators found 40 pounds of marijuana in Shears' postal vehicle when he was arrested.


Goodwill Returns Accidentally Donated Acuff Fiddle to Owner

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A fiddle believed to be once owned by the late country music star Roy Acuff is back with its owners after it was accidentally donated to a Goodwill store in Missouri. The instrument was anonymously donated. Goodwill of Western Missouri and Eastern Kansas put it up for auction on Dec. 27. The Kansas City Star reports that after bidding began, a member of the family that mistakenly donated the fiddle asked to have it returned. Kevin Bentley is interim president and CEO of the Kansas City Goodwill organization. He says the item was given back because it was a family heirloom. Acuff's fiddles were made by his uncle, Evart Acuff, who numbered each one. A sticker inside said the fiddle, No. 19, was handmade in August 1945 in Maryville, Tennessee.


Kansas City Airport Gets First Nonstop Transatlantic Flight

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City's airport is getting its first regularly scheduled nonstop transatlantic flight. Airport officials announced Tuesday that Icelandair will fly a seasonal nonstop flight from Kansas City to Iceland's capitol, Reykjavik, beginning May 25. The flights will be three times a week from May to the end of September. The airport says travelers will be able to connect to more than 25 popular destinations in continental Europe from Reyvjavik. The flights from Kansas City will be on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, with return flights to Kansas City on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. The Kansas City Star reports airport officials are pursuing other transatlantic routes, possibly to the United Kingdom or Germany. Icelandair will use a 183-seat airliner that includes economy and business class sections for the flights.


Kansas Man Arrested After Wife's Body Found in Missouri

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have arrested a Kansas man after his wife's body was found across the state line in Missouri. The Kansas City Star reports that police say the man was alone when officers went to his Overland Park, Kansas, residence Monday afternoon after receiving calls about a domestic disturbance. The man called police hours later to return to his residence to report that his wife was missing. Police said officers became suspicious during the interview and that the man admitted to having a role in her disappearance. Her body later was found later in nearby Raymore, Missouri, and the man was taken into custody. The name of the man and his wife weren't immediately released.


21-Year-Old Man Wounded by Wichita Police Booked into Jail

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 21-year-old man who was wounded after a police chase in which he was accused of shooting at officers has been booked into jail. The Wichita Eagle reports that the man was booked Monday on suspicion of attempted capital murder and other charges. Wichita police Lieutenant Todd Ojile says the chase began December 27 after a witness spotted the man and a woman stealing mail and called 911. Police say an officer went inside a business, where the suspect shot at the officer. Police say the officer got outside and that the man stole a truck. A chase ensued, and police say the man fired more shots before two officers returned fire. The suspect was struck in his lower jaw and taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.


2 Charged in Deadly Missouri Shooting 

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) - Authorities say two people have been charged in a deadly shooting outside an Independence, Missouri apartment complex during an attempt to rip off a drug dealer. Twenty-four-year-old Valincia Alexander, of Independence and 25-year-old David Racy III, of Kansas City, Missouri were charged Monday with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of Alexander's boyfriend, Steven Ragsdale Jr. Bond is set at $200,000 each. Court records say Alexander told police the shooting happened December 30 after she went on Facebook to set up a drug deal. She said she gave Racy a fake $100 bill, grabbed the marijuana and ran behind a building where Ragsdale was waiting. Police say that at some point, shots were fired and Ragsdale was hit.


Kansas City Man Pleads Guilty to 2015 Homicide in Park

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A 22-year-old Kansas City man was sentenced to 18 years in prison after pleading guilty to his role in a 2015 homicide at a Kansas City park. The Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney's Office said in a news release Monday that Davonte D. Gordon pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and armed criminal action and was sentenced to prison. He was charged in the September 2015 shooting death of 20-year-old Kameron Gay at Peace Park in midtown Kansas City.


Kansas City Police Say Officers Killed Armed Man 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Police say officers shot and killed a man last (MON) night in Kansas City, Missouri after the man pointed a gun at the officers. KMBC-TV reports that the shooting happened at the Citadel Apartments near The Paseo and 61st Street. Police Captain Lionel Colón says a driver ran after a traffic stop. Colón says officers fired when the suspect turned around and pointed the gun at them. No other information was immediately released, including the name of the man who was killed.


Man Pleads Guilty in Brutal Murder of Former Topeka Educator

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A man accused of killing a former Topeka school principal has pleaded guilty. Prosecutors say 24-year-old Calvin Phillips Jr. pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping for in May 2016 death of Curt Cochran. The pleas came as attorneys began picking jurors to hear Phillips' trial. As part of the plea deal, Phillips will be required to testify against a co-defendant, Michael Hall, who is charged with murder. Co-workers discovered Cochran's body in a Topeka warehouse. Investigators say he was tied to a chair and his head was wrapped in plastic. He was beaten and his throat was cut. Cochran was part owner of a company that used the warehouse. He previously was a teacher and principal in the Seaman School District from 1975 to 2000.


Man Charged in Missouri Police Chase 

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) - A man has been charged in a police chase that ended in a head-on collision and fire. Eighteen-year-old Dennis Mead III was charged Monday in a Jackson County, Missouri court with resisting a lawful stop and creating a substantial risk of serious injury or death after fleeing from Independence police Sunday in a stolen sport utility vehicle. Prosecutors requested $150,000 bond. A detective wrote in court records that Mead hit one person standing by the SUV as the chase began, causing minor injuries. Police say the chase ended when he hit a pickup truck head-on, causing it to catch fire. Police say a woman in the SUV with Mead was ejected in the crash. Three people in the pickup truck were hurt.


Topeka Police Identify Woman Killed in Standoff

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police have identified a woman who was found dead inside an apartment after a 16-hour standoff with law enforcement officials. Police spokeswoman Lieutenant Colleen Stuart says the woman was 33-year-old Tiffany Montalvo, of Eudora. She and 33-year-old Juan Lucio, of Topeka, died during the standoff. They were found dead Friday after police sent chemicals into the home. Stuart says a preliminary investigation indicates the deaths were a murder-suicide. Stuart said Monday it will take weeks to complete toxicology reports for Lucio and Montalvo. No officers were injured during the incident.


Former Pratt School Secretary Sentenced for Email Threat

PRATT, Kan. (AP) — A former Pratt elementary school secretary has been sentenced to prison for making a bomb threat to the town's high school. Claudia Rodriguez-Oviedo was sentenced Monday to concurrent sentences of a year for aggravated criminal threat and eight months for unlawful act concerning a computer. The threat, sent via a fake email account, prompted school officials to call police, evacuate the high school and cancel school events. The district's technology director determined the email was sent from within the school and traced it to a computer assigned to Rodriguez-Oviedo, who was a secretary at Southwest Elementary School. Rodriguez-Oviedo is in the U.S. on a work visa that expires in March. Pratt County Attorney Tracey Beverlin said she will likely face deportation after her prison term.

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