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Weekend Headlines for May 12-13, 2018

Area news headlines from the Associated Press

KanCare Data So Poorly Documented Auditors Can't Analyze It

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas's data is too poorly documented to determine whether the state's privatized Medicaid plan is working, according to legislative auditors. Lawmakers directed their independent auditors in April 2017 to determine KanCare's effect on beneficiaries' health outcomes. But auditors last month said they couldn't analyze the data because it was unusable, the Kansas City Star reported . "These data issues limited our ability to conclude with certainty on KanCare's effect on service use and limited our ability to interpret cost trends," the auditors wrote. "More significantly, data reliability issues entirely prevented us from evaluating KanCare's effect on beneficiaries' health outcomes. Former Governor Sam Brownback and his successor, Jeff Colyer, said the plan enacted in 2013 has saved Kansas $1 billion while improving care for 400,000 low-income and disabled residents. But provider groups and health care workers said the program is rife with billing problems, secrecy and finance-based decisions. "The (Legislative Post Audit) findings confirm what stakeholders, advocates and providers have been voicing concerns about," wrote Sean Gatewood and Barb Conant, co-directors of KanCare Advocates Network, a group for people on the plan. Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Jeff Andersen didn't dispute the auditors' conclusions about the data on patient outcomes, which he said he became aware of after being appointed in January. He said he has requested more money to hire additional state employees and strengthen KanCare oversight, including data verification. Gatewood and Conant said the administration should address the data problems and a backlog of Medicaid applications before proceeding with major additions to KanCare.

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Kansas State Plans More than $15 Million in Budget Cuts

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State plans to reduce its budget by more than $15 million for the upcoming school year.  This week, University officials said the 5.27 percent cut will affect administrative offices, colleges and research and extension.  Spokeswoman Jennifer Tidball says the reductions include $6.1 million for administrative units, such as the president and provost offices and Hale Library.  The Manhattan Mercury reports about $6.3 million will affect all the university's colleges and $3 million will come from Kansas State Research and Extension.  School officials cited declining enrollment as the main reason for the reductions. The university's enrollment has dropped in each of the last three years. Its September 2017 census counted 22,796 students, nearly 1,000 fewer than in 2016.

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Summer Trial Date Set for Sedgwick County Commissioner

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge has set a summer trial date for a Sedgwick County commissioner accused of misspending more than $10,000 in campaign funds and trying to cover it up.  U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren on Friday scheduled Michael O'Donnell's trial for July 10 in federal court in Wichita.  O'Donnell has pleaded not guilty to federal fraud and money laundering related to his handling of campaign funds.  A 12-count indictment unsealed this month alleges the 33-year-old Wichita man took $10,500 from campaign accounts to put into his personal bank account and to give to friends, then filed false reports with the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission.  O'Donnell was elected to the state Senate in 2012. He didn't run for re-election and was elected to the Sedgwick County Commission for a term set to expire in 2020.

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Missouri Exports Sex Offenders to Surrounding States, Including Kansas

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's tough treatment of sex offenders living outside of prison is sending hundreds of the offenders to neighboring states, where laws are not as stringent. Missouri requires sex offenders to register for a lifetime, with no exceptions. Other states require registrations for a specific number of years, with a lifetime registration only for high risk sex offenders. Kansas is one of at least 20 states with no sex offender residency restrictions The Columbia Missourian analyzed Missouri State Highway Patrol records of more than 2,500 offenders who moved out of the state in the past two years. Kansas, Illinois and Arkansas are the top destinations for sex offenders. Almost three dozen sex offenders moved to Mexico, which has no national sex offender registry. "Sex offenders do shop around," said Paula Stitz, who runs the State Sex Offender Registry for the Arkansas Crime Information Center. "It's been my experience and the experience of other state-level managers. I had actual telephone calls and them telling me that they are shopping around." Last year, as part of an overhaul of Missouri's criminal statutes, Representative Kurt Bahr, R-St. Charles, sponsored a bill that included a minimum registration requirement of 15 years, followed by 25 years, with lifetime registration only for high-risk offenders — the same registration tiers as Kansas. The bill died but a similar bill passed the House this session and is headed to the Senate. Kansas is one of at least 20 states with no sex offender residency restrictions unless on probation or parole. Kansas is now home to 512 former Missouri registrants who moved there in the past two years. John Gauntt, of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, isn't sure Kansas attracts sex offenders because of its looser requirements. State agencies do not question offenders when they move and register in another state. Gauntt said it's up to law enforcement to know where the offenders live. "Just because we don't have a residency requirement, the agencies are not giving the offenders a free ride," Gauntt said. "I think the system here in Kansas has been running pretty well." The Illinois State Police Sex Offender Registration Unit reviews sex offender profiles every day. In Illinois, a registration sentence is either 10 years or a lifetime. According to the unit supervisor Tracie Newton, last year Illinois removed about 1,000 people from the registry. More than 600 completed their 10-year registration duty, some died, and 208 offenders had their convictions modified through the courts. Out-of-state registrants' convictions are substituted for an Illinois equivalent. Before 2012, that would determine if an offender would have to register only for 10 years instead of a lifetime in Missouri. But in 2012, a new law meant incoming sex offenders can no longer avoid lifetime registration by crossing the state border. Kansas closed that loophole 10 years ago. "It makes people re-evaluate their plans a little bit more" Newton said. Arkansas doesn't yet have that provision, and 205 Missouri sex offenders headed there in the past two years. The state has about 16,000 registered sex offenders, with many also coming from Texas and Oklahoma.

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Police Investigate Possible Hate Crime in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City authorities are investigating a possible hate crime after a Muslim couple reported someone vandalized their home. The Kansas City Star reports the couple reported someone spray-painted "Allah Scum," and other slurs on surfaces throughout their home. Police suspect charcoal lighter was used to set fire to a staircase. Kansas City police's bomb and arson unit is investigating. FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said the agency has been in contact with police about the incident. The man is a native of Pakistan and his wife is a black woman from Kansas. The Star says they asked that their names not be used because police have not made an arrest. They told police they found the damage when they returned home one night last month with their three children. The family does not plan to return to the home.

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Wichita Police: Officer Saved 2 Women Caught on Fire

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita fire officials are investigating how two women caught fire at a city restaurant. And they are praising an officer who came to their aid. Officer Charley Davidson says an officer was driving by Rostizeria Los Reyes Friday night when a woman who was on fire ran out of the building. He stopped and used his hands to extinguish the flames. The woman said her sister was inside the restaurant. Davidson said the officer broke a window to get into the business and found the second woman. He again used his hands to extinguish the flames. Both women — ages 51 and 57 — were taken to a local hospital with serious injuries. The officer had minor injuries. No one else was in the building at the time.

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Kansas Man Who Stole from His Disabled Brother Avoids Prison

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — An Olathe man convicted of stealing more than $43,000 from his mentally disabled brother must pay restitution but will not serve prison time. The Hutchinson News reports 66-year-old Kenneth Leamon McDonald was placed on three years' probation, with an underlying prison term of nearly three years. McDonald has been removed from the brother's financial accounts. Assistant Attorney General Paul Brothers contested a claim by McDonald that he spent nearly $43,000 on expenses while visiting his brother in Hutchinson. Brothers says McDonald spent the money in Johnson County, near his home. His 63-year-old brother, Larry, has lived at TECH group homes in Hutchinson for years.

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K-State Ag College Dean Chosen as President for New Mexico State University

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A two-person leadership team will replace Garrey Carruthers when he retires as New Mexico State University chancellor and president. The NMSU regents on Friday announced the surprise dual selections of Dan Arvizu as chancellor and John Floros as president. Arvizu is a former senior U.S. Department of Energy official while Floros is dean of the Kansas State University agriculture college and K-State Cooperative Extension. Flores will focus on operations of the university's main campus in Las Cruces. Arvizu will oversee the entire NMSU system and be tasked with addressing the big-picture vision and strategy of the overall system, regents said. They were among the top five candidates in a national search for the next chancellor. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that regents Chair Debra Hicks said she discussed the possibility of splitting the job titles with both men after the regents agreed Monday to take that approach. Regent Vice Chairwoman Kari Mitchell said it has been apparent for some time that NMSU eventually would have to take the new leadership path to address challenges facing the university such as declining public funding. "We were compelled to start thinking about how the university would overcome those challenges, given the fact the university has struggled in some of those fronts over the last decade," she said.

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Lawrence Underground Railroad Site Gets National Designation

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A city-owned property in southwest Lawrence is now a nationally designated Underground Railroad site. The Lawrence Journal-World reports the site, known as the Grover barn, was originally the barn of abolitionist settlers Joel and Emily Grover. The two-story limestone building once hid fleeing slaves, including a group of freed slaves from Missouri led by abolitionist John Brown. The city acquired the barn in 1980. Kerry Altenbernd, chairman of the Guardians of Grover Barn, said the designation from the National Park Service is the first step toward recognizing the barn's important place in American history. The designation allows the city to apply for grants to preserve the building and create historic markers or signs for the site. The building is currently used by the fire/medical and police departments.

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Ford to Restart Truck Production at 2 Factories, Including Kansas City

DETROIT (AP) — Ford expects to restart production of F-Series pickups May 18 at two factories that stopped making trucks due to a fire at a parts supplier plant.  A spokeswoman says Friday that production should resume in Dearborn, Michigan, and Kansas City, Missouri. Super Duty pickup assembly in Louisville, Kentucky, will remain idle but workers will keep producing big SUVs.  Earlier this week Ford temporarily laid off 7,600 workers after a May 2 fire at Meridian Magnesium Products in Michigan. A spokeswoman says Ford is working with Meridian and others to get parts.  Also Friday, Mercedes said it ran out of Meridian parts at its SUV plant near Tuscaloosa, Alabama. As a result, production was canceled Thursday and Friday. No layoffs are expected. Employees will work next week on a limited schedule.

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Second Man Sentenced for Murder of Kansas Union Steward

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A 20-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison for the fatal shooting of a man during a botched robbery outside a Kansas City, Kansas, bar.  The Kansas City Star reports Efrain Gonzalez was sentenced Friday for the November 2016 death of 29-year-old Louis Scherzer, a union steward at the Board of Public Utilities.  Prosecutors allege that Gonzalez and co-defendant Filiberto Espinoza Jr. confronted Scherzer outside the bar and Scherzer was shot in the back when he turned to get away.  Espinoza pleaded guilty and was sentenced in November to life in prison. Both men will have to serve 25 years before being eligible for parole.

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New Law Bans Sex Between Police and People They Detain

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new Kansas law makes it illegal for police to have sex with people they stop for traffic violations or detain during criminal investigations.  Kansas legislators who passed the bill say they were surprised that such activity wasn't already illegal in the state.  Governor Jeff Colyer signed the bill Thursday as part of several law enforcement-related measures.  The Wichita Eagle reports Kansas was one of 33 states where consensual sex between police and people in their custody isn't a crime.  Representative Cindy Holscher, an Olathe Democrat, sponsored the bill. She said state law previously said police could not have sex with people in jail, but it didn't address situations where people are stopped or were in custody as part of criminal investigations.

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Kansas Legalizing Vending Machine Sales of Lottery Tickets

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has legalized the sale of state lottery tickets through vending machines, and they're expected to start popping up in stores and gas stations next year.  Republican Governor Jeff Colyer this week signed a bill sought by lottery officials to authorize vending-machine sales. Most states already allow such vending machines, and Kansas Lottery officials see them as a way to boost sales.  Lottery Director Terry Presta said Friday that annual sales eventually could rise by up to $100 million.  Lawmakers passed a bill legalizing lottery vending machines last year, but then-conservative Republican Governor Sam Brownback vetoed it. He argued that expanding state-run gambling would hurt the poor the most.  Brownback stepped down in January for an ambassador's post, and lawmakers quietly passed another bill with bipartisan support.

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Applebee's Sues over Closure of Restaurant in Profiling Case

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — Applebee's is suing a Kansas City area franchise owner over the closure of a restaurant where two black women said they were falsely accused of not paying for meals in an earlier visit.  The Kansas City Star reports that the chain claimed "significant brand and reputational damage" from the "controversial and high-profile circumstances of the closure" of the restaurant at the Independence Center Mall. It happened in February after the two women posted a video showing an employee, a police officer and a mall security guard confronting them for "dining and dashing" during a previous visit, which the women denied.  The Kansas City area franchise holder also closed six other restaurants. The lawsuit says Applebee's didn't approve any of the closures. It's seeking $11 million in total damages.

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Immigration Agent Sentenced in Kansas Leak Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An agent with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement who sent a Wichita television news anchor sensitive law enforcement material has been sentenced to the six months he has already spent in jail.  Andrew J. Pleviak declined to make a statement before he was sentenced Friday to time served and a year of supervised release. He pleaded guilty in February to exceeding authorized access to a government computer.  Defense attorney Stephen Ariagno told the court Pleviak has some mental health issues, but has "been more peaceful" since his medication was changed.  An affidavit released in January shows KAKE-TV anchor Deb Farris told police that Pleviak was sending her law enforcement material and texting messages that were sexual in nature. Farris has said Pleviak's texts made her uncomfortable and scared her.

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Kansas State Polytechnic Offers New Robotics, Automation Degrees

SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus in Salina is offering new degree options. The Salina Journal report s beginning in the fall, the school will offer a bachelor of science in robotics and automation engineering technology. The degree option applies concepts of mechanical engineering technology, electronics engineering technology and computer systems technology to the design, building, programming and use of controlled machinery or systems. Students will receive hands-on experience learning the basics of the necessary machines and circuits, as well as specialized training in robotics and automation topics.

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Texas Man Charged with Having Sex with Kansas 15-Year-Old

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a 36-year-old man is charged with traveling from Texas to Kansas to have sex with a 15-year-old girl and later bringing the girl back to Texas with him.  The U.S. attorney's office says Juan Carlos Carmona has been charged with two federal counts. It wasn't immediately known whether he had an attorney.  The complaint says the investigation began May 16 when the Hutchinson, Kansas, teen was reported missing. Investigators say they found that in April 2018 Carmona drove from Texas to Hutchinson, where he rented a hotel room and had sex with the girl.  The complaint says that after returning to Texas, Carmona came back to Kansas in May. He is accused of picking up the girl and driving her to Houston, where the two had sex.

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Kansas Police Arrest Student in Alleged Fraternity Burglary

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have arrested a University of Kansas student on allegations he tried to burglarize sorority and fraternity houses.  The Lawrence Journal-World reports that officers arrested a student this week on suspicion of aggravated burglary and interference with law enforcement.  Lawrence Police Officer Derrick Smith says authorities received a call about a suspicious person trying to enter residences in an area populated by university Greek houses. Officers found a man walking out of a fraternity house with two golf bags.  Smith says the suspect attempted to run away and fell down a hill. He was then arrested and booked into jail.  Jail records say the 21-year-old is a student at the university but lives off-campus.  Smith says the student had minor injuries resulting from the fall. No officers were hurt.

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Jayhawks Out in Second Round of NCAA Women's Tennis Tournament 
 

In the NCAA women's tennis tournament, the Kansas Jayhawks missed a chance to make the Sweet 16. KU lost to Pepperdine University on the Waves' home court in Malibu, California, ending the Jayhawks' season in the tournament's second round.

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Harvick Wins at Kansas Speedway

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Nobody has been able to keep pace with Kevin Harvick this season...not even the reigning series champion on a track where he swept both races last season. Harvick surged past Martin Truex Jr. with one lap to go Saturday night at Kansas Speedway, winning for the fifth time in what has turned out to be a record-setting start to the year. His total matches a career high for Harvick, who still has 24 chances to win a few more Monster Energy Cup Series races. Nobody had ever won five of the first 12 races in NASCAR's top series. "Man, that was wild the last few laps," said Harvick, who deftly dodged a couple late-race cautions, then used four fresh tires to roar to the front on the final restart with 10 laps remaining. "That was so fun," he said, "hearing those fans screaming and yelling. It was a great race." Harvick made the final pass as he crossed the start-finish line to take the white flag, while Truex chased him the final lap to finish second — a strong showing after his two wins at Kansas last year. "He just got through traffic too quick and was too fast," Truex said. "The flip switched, I got tight, started shaking the right front tire and I knew I was in trouble. He was coming quick." Joey Logano finished third, and Kyle Larson rallied from a late tangle with Ryan Blaney to finish fourth. Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five for Joe Gibbs Racing.

 

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