Headlines for Monday, October 12, 2015
Kansas Reviews Legislative Software Contract
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials are reviewing a contract with an Irish software company hired to build custom legislative software that some lawmakers say has been problematic. The Wichita Eagle reports that Kansas has paid Dublin-based Propylon $15.8 million since 2005 to build software and provide technical support for the Legislative Information Systems and Services. Legislative leaders have held off renewing the contract until the firm addresses problems with the software. Senate President Susan Wagle has said glitches in the software often forced staff members to work late during the 2015 session and delayed votes. Propylon CEO John Harrington says crews are putting plans in place to address the requests from state staff. House Speaker Ray Merrick says he's pleased with progress so far in the state's discussions with Propylon about addressing issues.
Emerald Ash Borer Invades Douglas County, Residents Warned
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ Douglas County residents are being encouraged to either get rid of their ash trees or commit to a lifetime of treating them against the emerald ash borer. The invasive insect has been confirmed in Eudora. Officials say the bug could wipe out every ash tree in the county because the mortality rate for infected trees is 100 percent. Officials say it is possible to treat the trees against the invaders, but there's no guarantee the costly treatment will work and the treatment would need to continue for years.
Kansas: No Court Order Needed for Same-Sex Birth Certificate
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials say no court order will be needed in the future to process birth certificate applications of children from same-sex couples who conceive by artificial insemination. That assurance came in a court filing today (MON) in a federal lawsuit that challenges the Kansas ban on same-sex marriages. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling already cleared the way for such marriages in Kansas, but the judge wanted evidence the state was complying with that decision. Kansas also objected to the American Civil Liberties Union even raising the birth certificate issue because none of the plaintiffs in the federal gay marriage case are seeking to become parents. The state says nothing has been offered in this or other lawsuits to show paternity laws that recognize biological differences between men and women are unconstitutional.
Topeka Democrat Resigning from Kansas House at Month's End
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Democratic lawmaker from Topeka says he will step down from the Kansas House at the end of October to spend more time with his family. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Rep. Harold Lane said Monday that his resignation is effective October 31. Lane said he already had planned not to seek another two-year term next year and wants to spend more time with his grandchildren. Fellow Democrats in his 58th District in east Topeka will pick a replacement. Democrats selected Lane to fill a vacancy in the seat in August 2003, and he won his first full term in 2004. He also is a former Topeka City Council member. Lane is the ranking minority party member on the Veterans, Military and Homeland Security Committee.
Expanding Capacity for Domestic Violence Victims in Kansas
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ In Wichita, there's been a surge in the number of homicides involving women in abusive relationships. And, a rising number of women who have requested help have been turned away from overcrowded shelters. Now, a number of Wichita agencies are looking for ways to expand capacity to help domestic violence victims. The Wichita Eagle reports that the 100-year-old Sisters of St. Joseph Convent will soon start accepting referrals from local shelters. Eventually, the convent will have more than 50 rooms for victims of domestic violence. The Sisters of St. Joseph Convent has been renamed The Mount and initially will have 14 rooms available. Twelve more are slated to open in January and a dozen more about three months after that. Harbor House, a Wichita shelter for women, was forced to turn away 178 requests for shelter in August.
New Study Finds Virus Found in Missouri May Have Spread
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — A doctor says a virus found in Missouri in 2009 appears to be showing up in other states. Dr. Scott Folk, director of adult infectious diseases at Heartland Clinic in St. Joseph, says the Heartland virus discovered in 2009 was initially thought to be confined to the region. But he told The St. Joseph News-Press that new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates the Heartland Virus may extend through more of the nation than initially thought. He says the new CDC study found Heartland virus antibodies in white-tailed deer, raccoons, moose and coyotes in 13 states, including Florida, Georgia, Maine, Texas and Kansas. The presence of antibodies indicates the animal's been exposed to the virus, which is believed to be carried by lone star ticks.
Manning Sues FBI over Access to Records in WikiLeaks Case
WASHINGTON (AP) — Imprisoned national-security leaker Chelsea Manning is suing the Federal Bureau of Investigation over access to files compiled during the agency's inquiry into her release of classified documents to the WikiLeaks website. Lawyers representing the Army private formerly known as Bradley Manning filed the lawsuit last week in the U.S. district court in Washington. The FBI denied Manning's 2014 request to release the records under the Freedom of Information Act, claiming they may be relevant to a pending or prospective law-enforcement proceeding. Manning argues that her 2013 court martial should render that exemption moot, since any further prosecution of her in federal court would constitute double jeopardy, barred by the Constitution. Manning is appealing her conviction and undergoing gender therapy while serving 35 years in military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Olive Garden Apologizes to Kansas City Police Officer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ The president of the Olive Garden restaurant chain has apologized to a Kansas City police officer after a restaurant employee asked the officer to leave because he was armed. Officer Michael Holsworth says he was waiting at an Independence Olive Garden to celebrate his birthday with his family Sunday when he was on duty and in uniform. He says a restaurant employee asked him to leave because guns aren't allowed in the restaurant. The officer detailed his experience in an online post and said he thought the employee was kidding, but she wasn't. Olive Garden spokesman Rich Jeffers told The Kansas City Star that Olive Garden president Dave George personally apologized to Holsworth later Sunday. Jeffers says the employee's request was unacceptable, and the restaurant chain welcomes law enforcement.
Topeka Democrat Resigning from Kansas House
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Democratic lawmaker from Topeka says he will step down from the Kansas House at the end of October to spend more time with his family. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Representative Harold Lane's resignation is effective October 31. Lane said he already had planned not to seek another two-year term next year and wants to spend more time with his grandchildren. Fellow Democrats in his 58th District in east Topeka will pick a replacement. Democrats selected Lane to fill a vacancy in the seat in August 2003, and he won his first full term in 2004. He also is a former Topeka City Council member. Lane is the ranking minority party member on the Veterans, Military and Homeland Security Committee.
Reno County Still Plagued by Whooping Cough
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Reno County health officials say the number of suspected cases of whooping cough has risen lately, but the spread is slowing. The Hutchinson News reports that the whooping cough outbreak in Reno County began in early May. So far this year, 331 pertussis cases have been confirmed in 38 Kansas counties, with Reno County reporting the most. There were 120 suspected cases at last count two weeks ago in Reno County. The number of laboratory confirmed pertussis cases in the county as of October 3, was 92. Reno County Health Department Director Nick Baldetti says the county has received a report of on another suspected case of whooping cough recently, but that the spread is slowing down and there have only been sporadic cases reported in schools.
Kansas City, Kansas, Activist Challenges Charges
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City, Kansas, activist charged in the death of a pedestrian has filed motions challenging the charges and the legality of the Wyandotte County court proceedings. The Kansas City Star reports that Tamika Pledger is charged with involuntary manslaughter and aggravated battery. She's accused of running into four teenagers Jan. 13. A 16-year-old girl died a week later from her injuries. Pledger was running for a seat on the board of commissioners of the Unified Government in Wyandotte County at the time of the crash. She contends Wyandotte County officials don't have jurisdiction to prosecute her and that a judge didn't sign the affidavit to support the charges. Wyandotte County District Attorney Jerry Gorman says he'll comment on Pledger's comments in the courtroom. Her preliminary hearing is October 29.
Topeka Aims to Demolish Unsafe Homes
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka is expected to quadruple its annual budget to demolish unsafe homes. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the city demolishes about 11 homes a year after the structures are declared unsafe. But the city expects that total to rise next year to about 44 homes. Richard Faulkner, the city's division director of property code and development, says the city will quadruple its annual budget from $100,000 to $400,000 to demolish those homes. He says a recent survey identified 700 vacant houses in Topeka, and residents have expressed concerns about those structures. The city is also trying to address problems involving vacant homes. Next year's budget also provides funding for the neighborhood services department to increase its number of code enforcement inspectors to 10 from eight.
Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese Settles Claims for $200,000
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has agreed to settle claims involving a pedophile priest for a total of $200,000. The Kansas City Star reports that the out-of-court settlements, finalized last week, stem from a parent's claims that Shawn Ratigan took obscene photos of her two minor daughters. Ratigan was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison and 21 years in state prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges. His case also resulted in a misdemeanor criminal conviction in 2012 against former Bishop Robert Finn for failing to report suspected child sexual abuse to the state. Finn resigned in April. Diocesan spokesman Jack Smith said Monday that the settlements included an offer of counseling for the two girls and their mother if they desire it.
Woman Struck, Killed on Side of Interstate 135 in Wichita
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A woman has died after police say she was struck by a vehicle on the side of Interstate 135 in southern Wichita. WIBW-TV reports that the woman, who authorities say was in her 20s, was killed Sunday morning. According to Wichita police Sergeant Matt Lang, the victim had car trouble, and she and a passenger pulled off to the side of the road. Lang says the two exited the vehicle and another came up from behind and struck the driver, who was thrown into a ditch. She was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead. The other passenger was taken to a hospital with minor injuries. Authorities say they are still searching for the suspect whose car was located near the crash scene.
Kansas Man Dies After Crashing Stolen Truck
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A 20-year-old man has died after crashing a stolen Cox Communications truck into a bridge guard rail in southern Kansas. The Wichita Eagle reports the unidentified driver lost control of the vehicle early Monday and hit the guard rail before flipping over and going into Sand Creek. The Harvey County Sheriff's Office says the driver died at the scene. A Cox spokesman says video shows that the truck was stolen shortly before 4 am Monday from a company parking lot in Hutchinson. Authorities weren't naming the driver until his family could be notified. The sheriff's office says the guard rail and part of the bridge will have to be repaired.
Kansas City Man, 32, Charged with Injuring Girl, 7
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 32-year-old man faces charges accusing him of injuring a 7-year-old child who was shot in the hand at a Kansas City home. Police were called to the home Sunday morning on a report of a child being shot. Police say she suffered injuries that weren't life threatening. The Jackson County (Missouri) prosecutor's office said Monday that Craig K. Tinsley is charged with two counts of first-degree domestic assault and two counts of armed criminal action. Court records show police who responded to the call reported it appeared the child had been shot in the left hand and that that she also had a gunshot wound to the lower left back. It's unclear if Tinsley has a lawyer. Prosecutors are seeking a $150,000 cash bond.
Royals Win Game 4 of ALDS, 9-to-6
HOUSTON (AP) — The Royals are going back to Kansas City to decide their AL Division series. The Royals rallied with five runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth to beat Houston 9-6 and tie that series at two games apiece before the deciding game Wednesday in Kansas City.
Jinx? Texas Governor Congratulates Astros Before Collapse
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Here's a new "oops" moment for a Texas governor: prematurely celebrating a Houston Astros playoff victory. With Houston up four runs and six outs away Monday from finishing off Kansas City, the office of Republican Governor Greg Abbott tweeted congratulations to the Astros for advancing to the AL Championship Series. The Royals then rallied in the eighth inning and forced a decisive Game 5 with a 9-6 victory. The tweet has since been deleted. Abbott, who is an avid Twitter user, responded to the gaffe by telling Astros fans to unfollow his office and stick to his personal Twitter account. He tweeted: "No predictions. Just support." Abbott spokesman John Wittman said the deleted tweet was sent by a staffer and declined further comment. Game 5 is Wednesday at Kansas City.
Chiefs Fall to Bears 18-to-17
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ The Chicago Bears trailed most of the game but roared back to win in Kansas City, defeating the Chiefs 18-to-17. The Chiefs have now fallen to 1-and-4 on the season.
KC Chiefs: Jamaal Charles Likely Done for Season with Knee Injury
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs anticipate Jamaal Charles will miss the remainder of the season after the star running back hurt his right knee in the third quarter of Sunday's loss to Chicago. Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Monday that results of an MRI on Charles were not yet available, but "the worst case is the ACL is torn. That's probably the direction it's heading." Charles was making a cut deep in Bears territory on Sunday when his right knee buckled at a gruesome angle. The four-time Pro Bowl selection needed help from a trainer and linebacker Justin Houston to get off the field, never once putting any weight on his right leg. Charles tore the ACL in his other knee four years ago, missing most of the season.