Headlines for Monday, August 24, 2015
Panel Approves Reduced Aid Amounts for Kansas Schools
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Several school districts in Kansas get less than half the emergency aid they were seeking under measures a state panel approved. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 38 districts, including some of the state's largest, were vying for $12.3 million in emergency funds that had been allotted by lawmakers for this purpose last March. The districts had submitted requests for aid totaling $15.07 million. The State Finance Council, which includes Governor Sam Brownback and eight legislative leaders, granted about $2 million total to 13 school districts experiencing considerable growth in student enrollment this year. The panel granted another $4 million to 22 districts that lost local revenue for this school year because of declines in the valuation of oil and gas properties. Most of those districts are in western Kansas.
Kansas Seeks to Block Release of Voting Machine Paper Tapes
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Top election officials in Kansas and Sedgwick County have asked a court to block the release of voting machine tapes sought by a Wichita mathematician who is researching statistical anomalies in election counts. Secretary of State Kris Kobach argued in a court filing made public Monday that the records sought by Wichita State University mathematician Beth Clarkson are not subject to the Kansas open records act, and that their disclosure are prohibited by Kansas statute. Kobach also contended he is not the custodian of records kept by the Sedgwick County Elections Commissioner Tabitha Lehman from the November 2014 general election. Lehman told a Sedgwick County District Court judge in a separate filing last week that production of the tapes would be "unnecessarily burdensome" because the material cannot be easily copied.
Kansas Democrats Regroup After Chairman Resigns
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The sudden resignation of the Kansas Democratic Party's chairman on Friday made for a chaotic weekend at the party's mid-year convention in Wichita. The "Demo-Fest" convention began just hours after the resignation of Larry Meeker Friday. He resigned amid a backlash over comments he made about rebranding the state party's message to emphasize more conservative aspects of its platform. Meeker said it was the only way for Democrats to broaden their appeal in predominantly conservative Kansas. An executive committee held a closed door meeting during the weekend convention to discuss the party's next moves. Democratic leaders say they want to focus on winning back more seats in the Kansas legislature in the next election cycle. A committee will meet in October to select a new chairperson.
Kobach Proposal Would Purge 34K Prospective Voters
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Opponents of a proposed regulation to purge the names of more than 34,000 prospective voters will protest at a public hearing next month. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is pushing an administrative rule that would allow him to throw out any incomplete voter registration forms after 90 days. Most of the incomplete forms lack proof-of-citizenship documentation. The number of incomplete voter registrations on hold as has grown to 34,454 names. Purging it would leave just 4,200 prospective voters. A hearing is set for September 2 in Topeka over the proposal. Kobach says he has the power to unilaterally change the rule.
Man Charged in Jewish Site Killings Makes Opening Statement
OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A white supremacist charged with killing three people at two Jewish sites has given his opening statement after earlier being halted so the judge could clarify what the man was allowed to say. Frazier Glenn Miller Jr. is representing himself in the capital murder trial stemming from the April 2014 killings near Kansas City. He attempted Monday to lay out a defense contending that Jewish people are committing genocide against the white race. All three victims were Christian. Assistant Johnson County prosecutor Chris McMullin objected before Miller could complete his first sentence, in which he started to say that he tried to make a plea deal before the trial. Jurors were removed from the courtroom for a time. The 74-year-old Miller later completed his abbreviated opening statement.
Man Sentenced to 13 Years for Shooting Clerk in Topeka
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 41-year-old Topeka man has been sentenced to 13 years in federal prison for robbing a gas station and shooting the clerk. U.S. prosecutors said Corey Eugene Johnson was sentenced Monday after pleading guilty to one count of robbery. Johnson admitted that he robbed a Valero gas station in July 2013. When a clerk refused to surrender the money, Johnson shot the clerk several times. A customer, who Johnson had ordered to the floor, was then forced to open the cash register before Johnson fled the store. The clerk was hospitalized and survived the shooting. A co-defendant, 22-year-old Shawn Michael Sneed, of Topeka, was sentenced in June to seven years in federal prison.
Jackson County (MO) Jail Focus of FBI Investigation
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jackson County, Missouri and the FBI are investigating four cases of guards accused of abusing jail inmates. County Executive Mike Sanders announced the investigations Monday. Sanders says he's also forming a citizens task force to look into practices at the Jackson County Detention Center. The Kansas City Star reports recent injuries to four male inmates ranged from bruises and stitches to a man who suffered a broken neck when he was restrained. Joe Piccinini, acting director of county corrections, learned there was a problem last month when a nurse informed him an inmate had been hospitalized with a broken neck. He says none of the accused guards still work for the county. Sanders says county officials have been cooperating with the federal probe for more than a month.
Wichita Woman Ordered to Pay $40,000 in Medicaid Fraud Case
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita woman has been ordered to repay the Kansas Medicaid program over $40,000 for committing Medicaid fraud while she was a care attendant.The Wichita Eagle reports 59-year-old Joyce Ann Spencer was also sentenced to two years of probation Friday. She had pleaded no contest to one count of making a false claim to Medicaid for billing the program for work she did not do between May 2009 and October 2013.According to Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, Spencer claimed she was working for three different Medicaid patients at the same time. Schmidt said Spencer has also been banned from working for any program funded by federal health care dollars.
Wichita Man Gets 33 Years in Prison for Fatal 2013 Shooting
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita man has been sentenced to about 33 years in prison for the slaying of a 23-year-old man two years ago. The Wichita Eagle reports 25-year-old Manuel Rivas was sentenced Friday in the fatal shooting of Eric Salazar on November 6, 2013. He had been found guilty of second-degree murder in March. According to prosecutors, Salazar was shot in the head during an argument over money after two men forced their way into an apartment building. He later died at a hospital.
Wheat Fungus Reappears in Kansas After Decades
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A fungus called wheat flag smut has re-emerged in Kansas after not being seen since the 1970s. The Kansas Department of Agriculture says the fungus is not a danger to humans or animals and doesn't affect grain quality. Jeff Vogel, of the KDA, says the main concern is that 15 countries have some restrictions on imports that might be infected with the fungus. He says the infestations found so far have been very low. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports farmers are being encouraged to choose wheat varieties resistant to fungi, apply fungicides to their seeds before planting winter wheat, and delay planting. The fungus has been found in Phillips, Smith, Rooks, Graham, Wallace, Logan, Trego, Ellis, Lincoln, Wichita, Scott, Ness, Rush, Barton, Pawnee, Edwards, Stafford, Kiowa, Pratt and Dickinson counties.
KCK Police Identify Body Found in River
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Police in Kansas City, Kansas, have identified the body of a man found last week in the Kansas River. Police on Monday identified the victim as 34-year-old John G. Simpson of Olathe. Officers found the body last week after responding to a call. The cause of death could not be determined, and police say the incident remains under investigation.
Exhibit About Middle-Class Art Marketer to Begin Tour
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — An exhibit about a gallery that marketed art to middle class American homes beginning in the 1930s is going on display next month at Kansas State University before heading to three other museums. Touted as the first critical overview of the Associated American Artists, the exhibit opens September 15 at the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art. The Kansas museum has a large collection of AAA prints, and a curator there helped develop the exhibit. The AAA was known for its mail delivery sales. Regionalist artists Thomas Hart Benton and John Steuart Curry were among the painters it promoted. The exhibit also will appear at the Grey Art Gallery at New York University, the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts, and Syracuse University Art Galleries in New York.
Wichita Police: Man Who Dragged Officer Shot and Killed
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The officer who fatally shot a man while being dragged by a vehicle during a traffic stop has been released from the hospital. Interim Wichita Police Chief Nelson Mosley said Monday the officer was talking to 26-year-old Nicholas Garner through the open door of the Toyota Prius after pulling him over Saturday night for traffic infraction. Mosley says the officer may have tried to stop him from driving away and became lodged in the car, with his legs hanging outside. Garner drove around some gas pumps and through a restaurant parking lot before driving the wrong way down a street. He hit a patrol car, three parked cars and a motorcycle before colliding with an oncoming car — all while dragging the officer. Police say the injured officer shot Garner, killing him.
Kansas Kickapoo Tribe Sues Former Chairman
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas is accusing its former chairman of financial malfeasance in a tribal court lawsuit. The suit's August 12 filing came after the tribal council voted to remove Clifford "Steve" Cadue from his job as chairman in January. The suit accuses Cadue of falsifying meeting minutes to fraudulently pass an unbalanced budget. Cadue says the lawsuit is without merit and should have been handled through the tribal council, not in a courtroom. The 30-square-mile Kickapoo Tribe reservation is located west of Horton in Brown County. Kickapoo Tribe officials say the lawsuit against Cadue marks the first time in tribal history that a tribal official has been sued as an individual for malfeasance.
Judge: Former Lawrence Officer Not Fired Because of Race
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - A federal judge has ruled that a former Lawrence police officer accused of dismissing speeding tickets for a University of Kansas employee was not fired because of his race. Michael Monroe, who is black, was fired from the police department in March 2012 after allegations that speeding tickets were dismissed in exchange for free tickets to KU athletic events. Monroe sued the city and Police Chief Tarik Khatib in 2012 claiming he was fired because of his race. U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren ruled that evidence showed Monroe was fired because he took "inexcusable actions," not because of his race. The Lawrence Journal-World reportsthe police department conducted two investigations into allegations that its officers dismissed tickets for Rodney Jones, a former assistant athletics director at the university.
Report: Kansas Corn Crop Maturing Slowly
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A new government report says that 8 percent of the Kansas corn crop is now mature. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that is near the 12 percent that had matured by this time a year ago, but is behind the 20 percent average for this late in the season. The agency was upbeat about the condition of the crop with 12 percent rated as excellent and 47 percent as good. About 31 percent was said to be in fair shape, with 10 percent rated in poor to very poor condition. Other major Kansas crops are also making progress. About 71 percent of the state's soybeans are setting pods and 1 percent of its sorghum crop is now mature. The fourth cutting of alfalfa is 28 percent complete.
Hearing Set for Garden City Woman in Marijuana Case
GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — A western Kansas woman has a November hearing scheduled in a case stemming from accusations that arose after her 11-year-old son said in school his mother smokes marijuana "a lot." Finney County District Attorney Susan Richmeier said in an email that Shona Banda's preliminary hearing is November 16. The Wichita Eagle reports that law enforcement and Kansas Department of Children and Families officials started investigating Banda after her 11-year old son said "my mom smokes ... a lot!" during an anti-drug program at a Garden City school. Banda's lawyer, Sarah Swain, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Banda faces charges accusing her of using marijuana and is the author of a book recounting her use of concentrated cannabis oil to treat Crohn's Disease.
Eisenhower Foundation Raises Money for Museum Renovation
ABILENE, Kan. (AP) — A multi-million dollar fundraising campaign is underway to update exhibits about President Dwight D. Eisenhower at the Eisenhower Presidential Museum, Library and Boyhood Home. The Eisenhower Foundation began the fundraising campaign three months ago. The money will go toward improving the museum's exhibits, its website and educational programs. The museum is located near Eisenhower's boyhood home in Abilene in north-central Kansas. The foundation's Executive Director, Meredith Sleichter, says the update is important because new details have been emerging over the past two decades about Eisenhower's presidency. She says the museum needs to be revamped so it can get Eisenhower's story up to date.
Superintendent Removes Religious Painting from Chanute School
CHANUTE, Kan. (AP) — A picture of Jesus has been removed from a southeast Kansas school where it had hung for decades. First-year superintendent Richard Proffitt says the district's lawyer advised that Royster Middle School in Chanute could not legally display the print of Warner Sallman's "Head of Christ." The district received a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation last month. The national organization is dedicated to the principle of separation of church and state. Ryan Jayne, a spokesman for the foundation, said it's encouraging that the district responded as quickly as it did. But many in the community aren't happy with the decision. Former student Erika Semey told reporters that "Not enough people have Christ in their lives."
Kansas City Zoo Faces Challenges with Geriatric Animal Care
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Treating elephant arthritis is among the challenges the Kansas City Zoo is facing as its animals live longer. The Kansas City Star reports that zoos have for years steered away from rejuvenating their collections with wild-born species unless deemed vitally necessary. The zoos have chosen to prioritize captive breeding and wild animal conservation. The Kansas City Zoo's chief veterinarian estimates that about 25 percent of the zoo's 1,100 animals could be considered geriatric. Since late July, a 47-year-old African elephant named Lady has been receiving inflammation-reducing laser therapy to help soothe arthritis. The zoo also has trained its aged silverback gorilla, Radi, to undergo regular echocardiograms.
Man Dies in Tree-Trimming Fall in Wichita
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 41-year-old man has died after falling from a tree he had been trimming in Wichita. Police say the man was cutting limbs Sunday when he fell more than 20 feet.The Wichita Eaglereports the man was pronounced dead at the scene. No other details were released.
Cozart Wins Competition to Start at Quarterback for KU
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Montell Cozart will be under center for new University of Kansas coach David Beaty when the Jayhawks begin their season September 5 against South Dakota State. Beaty announced Monday that the junior had won the competition for starting quarterback. Beaty said, "He is a very bright, hard-working, smart dude. "He's what you want. I love the dude that he is. Our team loves him." Cozart started three games as a freshman in 2013 and the first five games last season before Michael Cummings took over. But when Cummings sustained a season-ending left knee injury in the spring game, it appeared the job would be Cozart's to lose. Still, Beaty made him earn it in a competition with talented junior college transfer Deondre Ford and a pair of freshmen, Ryan Willis and Carter Stanley.
Royals Rally in 9th Inning to Beat Red Sox, 8-6
BOSTON (AP) — Mike Moustakas's two-run double capped a four-run ninth inning to carry the AL Central-leading Kansas City Royals to an 8-6 comeback victory over the Boston Red Sox on Sunday. Moustakas also had a solo homer and RBI double for Kansas City, which a split the four-game series in Boston. The Red Sox led 6-4 going into the ninth. Kansas City rallied with four hits against Junichi Tazawa (2-6) to tie the game before Moustakas hit a bases-loaded double to right. Royals' starter Edinson Volquez gave up six runs in 6 2/3 innings. Chris Young retired one batter and Wade Davis got the final three outs for his 11th save.