Headlines for Sunday, May 17, 2015
Kansas Governor Uses Private E-mail Account
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Governor Sam Brownback uses a private email address to communicate with staff, raising concerns about the availability of much of his communication under the state's open records law. The Wichita Eagle reports that email records show Brownback uses a private email address, while his staffers use official government emails. Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley confirmed Brownback's use of private email. Attorney General Derek Schmidt, a Republican, says private emails from public officials fall outside the bounds of the Kansas Open Records Act.Brownback's emails to staff would be public records if the staff member were on a government account. But a media outlet or a person could obtain those records only by knowing which staffer Brownback had emailed and when. Schmidt has recommended changes to fix the private email loophole.
Lawrence Police Required to Read Ferguson Report
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence police officers have been required to read the federal report that details the Ferguson, Missouri, police department after Michael Brown's shooting death last summer. The black, unarmed 18-year-old was killed August 9th by Officer Darren Wilson, which sparked nationwide protests and unrest in Ferguson. The Justice Department report, which was published March 4th, highlights how Ferguson's police practices, including "racial bias," eroded community trust. According to the report, Ferguson city officials also pressured the police department to generate revenue by issuing more and more citations for city code violations. Lawrence Police Chief Tarik Khatib told The Lawrence Journal-World he wants Lawrence police to learn from the 102-page report. They have a month to finish it.
Wichita Official: Family Notified of Military Pilot's Death
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita school president says Marine officials have notified a local family their son was among those killed after a U.S. Marine helicopter crashed during a relief mission in Nepal. Nepal's Army said Saturday the bodies of all eight people on board the UH-1 "Huey" have been recovered. The aircraft, with six Marines, including Wichita native Captain Chris Norgren, and two Nepali soldiers on board, disappeared Tuesday while delivering earthquake aid. The wreckage was found Friday. The U.S. military hasn't confirmed the identities of the crash victims.Leticia Nielsen, president of Bishop Carroll High School, said Marine officials visited Ron and Terri Norgren yesterday (SAT) and confirmed their son was killed. She said no services were planned yet. Ron Norgren said earlier his son loved flying and loved helping people.
Storms, Tornadoes Hit Midwest
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Another round of strong storms, including some tornadoes, is moving across the nation's midsection. National Weather Service forecaster Daryl Williams says tornadoes touched down yesterday (SAT) in southwestern Oklahoma near the towns of Elmer and near Tipton. Williams says another touched down briefly near Elk City along Interstate 40. Williams said the tornadoes in southwestern Oklahoma were very strong, but are in largely isolated areas. He said it was too early to know how much, if any damage was caused. A police dispatcher in Tipton said there were no immediate reports of injuries. Storms were also moving across parts of Texas, Kansas, Nebraska and Minnesota, where there were some reports of tornadoes. Last weekend's weather caused several tornadoes, flooding and at least four deaths.
Storm Chasers Come to Kansas Seeking Tornadoes to Study
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Three storm enthusiasts from Georgia are hoping for a chance this weekend to fly small unmanned aircraft into a Kansas tornado. The Salina Journal reports Warren Causey, Nolan Lunsford and Bret Bouthiller started the Sirens Project more than a year ago with the goal of flying unmanned planes into a tornado.They say the aircraft allows them to remain a safe distance from a tornado and fly the planes into the heart of the storm to collect data. Bouthiller says the aircraft can be launched from a mile or more away, and the transmitters have a range of at least five miles. Most storm chasers get much closer than that, which he says is ridiculous. The National Weather Service predicted possible severe weather in the state this weekend. Tornadoes were spotted yesterday (SAT) in Oklahoma, but not Kansas.
U.S. House Removes Protections for Lesser Prairie Chickens
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. House has taken steps to remove federal protections for the lesser prairie chicken. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports House members voted 229-190 to approve an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would prohibit listing the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened or endangered species until 2021. Opponents of listing the bird as threatened say it places unfair restrictions on farmers, ranchers and oil companies. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said last year the birds warranted protection because of a nearly 50 percent population decline between 2012 and 2013. Lesser prairie chickens are found in five Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Nebraska and New Mexico. All four members of Kansas' House delegation voted in favor of the measure. The measure now heads to the Senate.
3 Charged in Death of Man in SW Kansas
DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — Three people have been charged in the death of a Dodge City man whose body was found under a bridge in southwest Kansas.The Dodge City Globe reports Christopher Boyd's body was found Sunday under a bridge north of Bucklin. Ford County Sheriff Dean Bush said an autopsy determined Boyd's death was a homicide, but he did not release the cause of death. Authorities say James Schmidt, Anthony Becker and Chelsea Sosa appeared in court Friday and were charged with murder in the first degree and conspiracy to commit murder. The defendants are from the Bucklin area. Schmidt and Sosa are also charged with aiding a person charged with a felony. They're being held on $1 million bond each. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is also investigating.
New John Brown Play Planned in Lecompton
LECOMPTON, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Historical Society says an acting troupe of history re-enactors plans to present the new play "John Brown: Widow Maker."The Lecompton Re-enactors plan to put on the new play about the fiery abolitionist at 2 p.m. May 3 at Constitution Hall State Historic Site. Amid fighting over whether the Kansas territory would enter the union as a free or slave state, Lecompton was the seat of government for several years. The acting troupe will portray Mahala Doyle and Louisa Jane Wilkinson. Both women lost family during the "Pottawatomie Massacre" in which Brown oversaw the killing of five pro-slavery supporters in May of 1856 in retaliation for a Lawrence attack. Brown and his second wife, Mary Brown, are also portrayed.