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Headlines for Tuesday, November 15, 2022

 

Kansas Refuses to Increase Legislature’s Power over Agencies

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas voters have narrowly rejected a proposal to give the Republican-controlled Legislature a bigger say over how the state regulates businesses, protects people’s health and preserves the environment. The Associated Press called the election on Tuesday, a week after Election Day. The failed amendment to the Kansas Constitution would have made it easier for lawmakers to overturn regulations written by state agencies and boards under control of the governor and others in the executive branch. Lawmakers would have been able to revoke a rule with a simple majority vote by both chambers rather than having to pass a bill that the governor can veto. Business groups and advocates of smaller government viewed the measure as reining in unelected bureaucrats.

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Kansas City Police Officers Convicted of Assaulting Trans Woman

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KC Star) - Two former Kansas City police officers pleaded guilty Monday to assaulting a transgender woman. The Kansas City Star reports that Charles W. Prichard and Matthew G. Brummett each faced a felony third-degree assault charge for slamming Breona Hill’s head into the ground during a May 2019 arrest. A passerby captured video of the officers assaulting Hill and placing one of their knees on her neck. The two former officers were sentenced to three years on probation. They are barred from carrying firearms and must surrender their police certifications. Five months after the assault, Hill was found fatally shot after an argument.

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Former KCK Police Detective and 3 Others Indicted for Conspiracy to Commit Sex Crimes

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - A federal grand jury in Topeka has returned a three-count indictment, charging former Kansas City, Kansas police detective Roger Golubski and three other men with sex crimes. Prosecutors say Golubski - along with Cecil Brooks, LeMark Roberson and Richard Robinson - are accused of conspiring to hold young women in a condition of involuntary, sexual servitude. According to the indictment, from 1996 through 1998, Brooks provided a location at Delevan Apartments in Kansas City, Kansas, where young women were held and where the three men used beatings, sexual assaults and threats to compel young women to provide sexual services to men. If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. Golubski was previously charged, in a separate indictment, with civil rights violations for allegedly acting under color of law to commit aggravated sexual assaults. (Read more.)

( –AP Version– )

Former Kansas Detective, 3 Others Accused of Sex Trafficking

UNDATED (AP) – A former Kansas police detective and three other men have been charged in a federal indictment with operating a sex trafficking operation involving teenage girls in the 1990s. In a grand jury indictment unsealed Monday, former Kansas City, Kansas, Detective Roger Golubski, and Cecil Brooks, Lemark Roberson and Richard Robinson were charged with conspiracy against rights and two counts of involuntary servitude. Golubski was already facing separate charges alleging that he preyed on Black women and girls for decades. The new indictment alleges that Brooks, Roberson and Robinson raped and beat girls and kept them at an apartment complex to provide sex to men. Golubski is accused of providing police protection for their activities and sexually assaulting the girls.

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Kansas Episcopal Priest, NY Businessman Indicted in Foster Care Scheme

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - A federal grand jury in Topeka has returned an indictment charging a Kansas priest and a New York businessman in connection with a scheme to defraud a foster care organization of $10 million. Prosecutors say 50-year-old Robert Nelson Smith, an Episcopal priest in Salina, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, 15 counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. Prosecutors say 50-year-old William Byrd Whymark, of Mount Kisco, New York, is facing similar charges. The two men are accused of defrauding Saint Francis Ministries, a faith-based organization in Salina that provides foster care and social services in Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas. The FBI is investigating the case.

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Google to Pay $5.9 Million to Kansas, Change Location Tracking Practices

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Google is set to pay $5.9 million to the state of Kansas and change its location tracking practices after reaching a settlement with the state.  Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced Monday that a deal had been reached with Google over its location tracking practices in account settings. WIBW TV reports that the settlement resulted in an agreement for Google to alter its business practices to safeguard the personal identification information of users.

Schmidt indicated that the agreement is related to Google’s location data for digital advertising. States raised concerns about privacy and potential violations of privacy laws. He said the multistate settlement between Google, Kansas and 39 other states will result in a $391.5 million payment from the internet search provider - $5.9 million of which is to be sent to Kansas. Schmidt noted that Google uses the personal and behavioral data collected to build detailed user profiles and target ads on behalf of advertising customers. He said location data is among the most sensitive and valuable pieces of personal information the search engine collects.  Schmidt said the settlement also limits Google’s use and storage of certain types of location information and requires Google account controls to be more user-friendly.

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Second Person Charged After Johnson County Man Stabbed to Death in Merriam in October

JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. (KC Star) - A second person has been charged in the fatal stabbing of a man in October in the Johnson County community of Merriam. The Kansas City Star reports that 25-year-old John Daniel Crawford Murray has been charged with 1st-degree murder. On October 21, police were called to a disturbance at a home in the 7300 block of Royalty Way where they found 23-year-old Charles Dillon, who had been stabbed. Dillon died at the scene. Last week, prosecutors also announced charges against 20-year-old Devin Darnell Braswell, of Johnson County. He also faces a charge of 1st-degree murder in Dillon’s death. Bond for both men was set at $1 million.  Dillon’s killing was the second homicide reported this year in Merriam. The first was a fatal shooting in March.

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55 Million Americans Expected to Travel for Thanksgiving Holiday

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNT) – Nearly 55 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more for the Thanksgiving holiday.  According to AAA, most travelers will drive to their destinations. KSNT reports that nearly 49 million people are expected to travel by car, with 4.5 million Americans flying. AAA expects more than 581,000 Kansans will travel over the holiday weekend. That's an increase of 1.2% over last year. More than 525,000 Kansans will be traveling by car, the most popular mode of transportation.

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Kansas City Area Hospital Beds Filling Up as RSV, Flu and COVID-19 Cases Hit Residents

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Respiratory illnesses are filling up Kansas City area hospital beds. KMBC TV reports that doctors are warning of a perfect storm of flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19 - all hitting at the same time. Officials with the University of Kansas Health System say COVID-19 and RSV in adults are the biggest respiratory illnesses they are seeing right now. Add in flu cases, and they want people to take precautions: social distancing, washing hands, considering a mask, and staying home if you are sick. Doctors also urge people to get their COVID-19 and flu vaccines. Doctors say three different respiratory illnesses at the same time can overload the system if people don't do their part to protect themselves.

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KU Faculty and Academic Staff Announce Effort to Organize Union

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) — University of Kansas faculty and academic staff on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses have announced plans to organize a union. United Academics of the University of Kansas (UAKU) would represent over 1,500 full and part-time faculty members. The union would be affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors. UAKU will be collecting union authorization cards over the coming months, with a secret-ballot vote to officially form a union to follow. KU sociology professor Lisa-Marie Wright says KU has long enjoyed high rankings for academics and recognition as a premier research university, but that status is at risk. "Faculty and academic staff need a voice in decisions, especially when the student experience is at stake,” she said.

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Missouri Approved Recreational Marijuana, Will Kansas Approve Medical Marijuana?

UNDATED (KNS) - A vote in Missouri to allow recreational marijuana use could put pressure on Kansas lawmakers to take action. The Kansas News Service reports that Kansas lawmakers have been debating the issue of medical cannabis for years, but have yet to pass legislation due to opposition from some Republican lawmakers. Kansas Cannabis Coalition advisor Kelly Ripple says with most of the state population living close to Missouri, that could push Kansas lawmakers to act. “To really move forward with protecting the provider and patient’s relationship by allowing a medical cannabis program to be enacted," Ripple said. The Kansas Speaks 2021 survey from Fort Hays State University found about 70% of people supported legalizing recreational marijuana for people over 21.

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Changes Made to Lawrence-Run Homeless Camp After Public Outcry

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KSNT) – The City of Lawrence says changes have been made to a controversial homeless camp that generated a public outcry. KSNT reports that city officials have made two changes to the homeless camp, located behind Johnny's Tavern in North Lawrence. First, a fence has been added to provide both wind screening and visual screening from nearby businesses. Second, staff will be placed on-site to provide additional help to those staying at the camp. These actions come as members of the Lawrence community raised concerns about the city-run homeless camp.

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Dangerous Chemicals Discovered in Rivers Across the Midwest

UNDATED (HPM) - Dangerous chemicals known as PFAS have been found in rivers across the Midwest. That’s according to a report from Waterkeeper Alliance. Harvest Public Media reports the chemicals were discovered over the summer. PFAS is a family of chemical substances that break down slowly. What has become known as "forever chemicals" are now present in the blood of people and animals and has been linked to certain cancers. Charles Miller, of the Missouri Confluence Waterkeeper, says their test of Cold Water Creek near St. Louis showed the highest concentration of any river tested in the Midwest. “I do genuinely think that in the region we're kind of behind the curve on regulating it. We're also behind the curve figuring out where it is," Miller said. Because there are currently no federal regulations, it is up to states to regulate PFAS. The EPA has committed to proposing a new national drinking water regulation by the end of the year.

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Ground-Penetrating Radar Used to Search for Site of Mass Grave in Shawnee County

SHAWNEE COUNTY, Kan. (TCJ) - Twenty-two Potawatomi tribal members were buried in a mass grave in 1849 or 1850, after dying during a cholera epidemic that ravaged Uniontown, the first white community in what is today Shawnee County. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that researchers may have recently pinpointed the grave's location southeast of the city of Willard, along the county's western edge. Testing conducted using ground-penetrating radar and electrical resistivity suggests the gravesite was 10 feet long and 10 feet wide, said Blair Schneider, associate researcher and science outreach manager for the Kansas Geological Survey. For three years, Schneider has been conducting research regarding Uniontown, which was founded in 1848 when two government agents started a trading post near what is now Willard. The town stood just south of where the Oregon Trail crossed the Kansas River, according to the website of the Kansas Historical Society. Uniontown was hit in 1849 and 1850 by an outbreak of cholera, an infectious bacterial disease. "Many of the settlers abandoned the village, and those who stayed died," the historical society website said. "The Potawatomi Indians were not immune from the epidemic." Hundreds died, including 22 Potawatomi who were buried in a mass grave, the site said. "The town was then burned in order to ensure that the cholera epidemic would not spread again," it said.

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City Employee Files $1.8 Million Discrimination Lawsuit Against Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KC Star) - A Kansas City, Missouri, employee is suing the city for $1.8 million, alleging discrimination after he was passed over for multiple promotions. According to the Kansas City Star, David Sims, a Black employee of the city for 22 years, claims he has experienced systemic racism on both a regular basis, and in promotional opportunities. Sims is requesting a trial by jury for his case.

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Undefeated Pittsburg State Gorillas Prepare for Playoffs

PITTSBURG, Kan. (KPR) - After completing an undefeated regular football season with an 11-0 record, the Pittsburg State Gorillas are now preparing for the NCAA Division II playoffs. The Gorillas are seeded third in their region and will host the University of Indianapolis Saturday at 1 pm.  This is the first playoff appearance for the Gorillas since 2014.

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Royals Considering Several Sites for New Stadium, Owner Says

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Royals owner John Sherman says the team is considering several sites to build a replacement for the aging Kauffman Stadium. In a letter to fans posted on social media Tuesday, Sherman estimated the new stadium could cost $2 billion. He says that would make it the most costly project in Kansas City history. Sherman bought the team in 2019. He announced last year the organization was considering options to replace Kauffman Stadium, which will be 60 years old when the team's lease ends at the end of the decade. Sherman said the sites under consideration are in downtown Kansas City or close to it.

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These area headlines are curated by KPR news staffers, including J. Schafer, Laura Lorson, Kaye McIntyre, and Tom Parkinson. Our headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays, 11 am weekends. This news summary is made possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today. And follow KPR News on Twitter.

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