Headlines for Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Kansas Urges Court to Let Governor, Lawmakers Decide School Funding
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is urging the Kansas Supreme Court to let the governor and lawmakers decide whether schools are getting enough money. Lawyers for the state argued in a brief Tuesday that if the court wants to make that decision, then the evidence that Kansas students are excelling should convince it that the funding level is sufficient. Attorney General Derek Schmidt contends the Kansas school finance system satisfies the requirement for adequate funding in the state Constitution. The motion urges justices not to allow a small number of districts to second-guess the Legislature's judgment. The new school funding law took effect in April and scrapped the old per-student formula for distributing school funding in favor of more predictable block grants for each districts. A lower-court panel invalidated parts of the new school financing law enacted by the Legislature.
Kansas Urges High Court to Look at Judiciary in Other States
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The attorney general's office wants the Kansas Supreme Court to look at how the judiciary in surrounding states works when it decides the validity of a law stripping the high court of its power to appoint chief judges. Court filings Wednesday laid out each side's arguments before the December 10 hearing on the state's appeal of a Shawnee County judge's ruling striking down the 2014 law. The judge ruled the law violated the state constitution by infringing on the Supreme Court's power to administer the courts. Kansas contends that determining how chief judges are picked is a legislative power. It notes Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma allow district judges to pick their own chief judge. Opponents counter the law passed by the Legislature is an unconstitutional violation of the separation-of-powers doctrine.
Black Leaders Call for Election Day Voter Registration
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Black Leadership Council is asking the state to allow people to register to vote on Election Day. The Wichita Eagle reports the proposal was included in the council's 2016 legislative agenda and is a response to the state's requirement that people provide proof of citizenship in order to register. State law requires voters to register at least 21 days before the election. Bonita Gooch, the council's president, said in a statement that allowing people to register to vote on Election Day would eliminate an extra step for those who don't have the proper documentation when trying to register before the election, and address concerns about voter fraud. Voter fraud concerns prompted the citizenship requirement. Secretary of State Kris Kobach said he strongly opposes same-day registration and that it leaves the door open for voter fraud.
Prosecutors Seek Removal of Topeka Councilman
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors are seeking to remove a member of the Topeka City Council over child abuse allegations. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Shawnee County prosecutors filed a civil action Tuesday seeking first to suspend and then to oust Jonathan Robert Schumm. Court records show that the 34-year-old is accused of choking a child and threatening to "kill him" the next time. Schumm and his wife are charged in Shawnee County District Court on charges of aggravated battery or, in the alternative, abuse of a child. Both are free on bond. The Schumms have 16 children, including four who are their biological children, two who are in foster care and 10 who are adopted. His attorney, Tom Lemon, didn't immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press seeking comment.
University of Kansas Residence Hall Demolished as Planned
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A massive 50-year-old landmark residence hall at the University of Kansas has been imploded as planned. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that crews detonated about 750 pounds of explosives spaced through McCollum Hall on Wednesday. The implosion of the 10-story, 220,000-square-foot building also included keeping onlookers at least 600 feet from the site. The university arranged the demolition work on the first day of Thanksgiving break so most students would be away from campus. McCollum Hall opened in 1965 and was replaced with two new residence halls that opened at the start of the school year. The new dorms house about 350 students each. The university has planned surface parking in the space where McCollum once stood.
KBI Investigating Police Department in Halstead
HALSTEAD, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say the Kansas Bureau of Investigation is investigating a matter involving a south-central Kansas police department. Harvey County Attorney David Yoder says KBI agents visited the Halstead Police Department on Monday. Yoder says he asked for KBI assistance recently after receiving information about the police department that warranted further checking from an outside agency. Yoder says he can't comment on the nature of the investigation because it's ongoing. The KBI said in a release Tuesday that it's investigating in and around Halstead, but did not specify the police department. The KBI says no search warrants had been served and there had been no arrests. A message left with the police department wasn't immediately returned Wednesday. Halstead has about 2,100 residents and is located about 35 miles north of Wichita.
Junction City Man Gets Life for Operating Cocaine Ring
JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Junction City man faces life in prison for his role in a cocaine trafficking ring in northeast Kansas. The office of the U.S. Attorney for Kansas said Wednesday that 33-year-old Albert Dwayne Banks was sentenced to life in federal prison after he was convicted in June on charges of distributing crack cocaine and being involved in a conspiracy to distribute crack in Manhattan and Junction City. Prosecutors say another defendant, 34-year-old Martye Madabuti Madkins III, was sentenced to nearly 22 years for his convictions for distributing crack cocaine, and doing so within 1,000 feet of an elementary school. Prosecutors say Banks and Madkins were among three men convicted of operating a large cocaine trafficking ring in Geary and Riley counties during late 2012 and early 2013.
Homemade Alcohol Found in Kansas Jail Kitchen
SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have found two batches of homemade alcohol in the kitchen of the Saline County Jail. The Salina Journal reports the alcohol was found this week. Saline County Sheriff's Captain Brent Melander says officials found a dispenser filled with about two gallons of clear, homemade liquor during an inspection Monday. And on Tuesday, jail officials found a mustard jar of homemade wine inside a tea dispenser. Crushed tomatoes were still fermenting inside the jar with a rubber glove attached to the top of the jar to help the fermentation process. Melander says charges aren't likely, but the inmate suspected of making the liquor has lost some privileges.
KCP&L Appeals Rate Increase Ruling
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas City Power & Light is appealing a September ruling by Kansas regulators reducing the percentage of annual profit the utility is allowed to return to its stockholders. KCP&L filed a rate request seeking to boost annual revenues by $67 million in Kansas, and it proposed increasing the allowed annual profit to 10.3 percent, up from 9.5 percent. In September the Kansas Corporation Commission approved an increase of $40 million, roughly $27 million less than KCP&L was seeking. The ruling also lowered the amount of allowed profit to 9.3 percent. KCP&L asked the Kansas Court of Appeal to either increase the allowable profit to closer to 10.3 percent or set aside KCC's ruling and send it back for further deliberations.
University of Kansas Creates Diversity Task Force
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - The University of Kansas has created a task force on diversity efforts. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that incoming interim provost Sara Rosen announced the new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Group on Tuesday. Sheahon Zenger, the university's director of athletics, and Clarence Lang, chairman of the African and African-American Studies department, will co-chair the task force. The group's focus will include making recommendations for campus diversity training, incorporating diversity into curriculum and developing a campus strategic plan on diversity, equity and inclusion. Rosen says additional appointments to the group will be announced later.
KC Prepares for Holiday Lighting Tradition
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Author Gillian Flynn will flip the switch that lights up Kansas City's Country Club Plaza on Thanksgiving night. The annual lighting event attracts tens of thousands of people to the upscale shopping and dining district, where several blocks of buildings will be outlined in holiday lights through Jan. 17. A local celebrity gets the honor each year of flipping the switch. Flynn is the author of the 2012 novel, "Gone Girl." In the 2014 movie adaption, Ben Affleck stars as a husband under the suspicious glare of the media and the scrutiny of police when his wife goes missing. Musical performances also will be part of Thursday night's festivities.
Franklin County Residents to Receive Summons for Murder Trial Jury
OTTAWA, Kan. (AP) — Hundreds of Franklin County residents are expected to receive jury summonses for the capital murder trial of a man accused of killing four people in 2013. Kyle Trevor Flack's trial is scheduled to begin February 1, 2016. He's charged with capital murder in the 2013 slayings of 21-year-old Kaylie Smith Bailey and her daughter, 18-month-old Lana-Leigh Bailey. He's also charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of 30-year-old Andrew A. Stout, and 31-year-old Steven White. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that summonses for 600 Franklin County citizens are expected to be mailed next week. Also Tuesday, a Franklin County judge granted prosecutors permission to show jurors security video clips depicting three of the victims.
Poor Equipment, Weather to Blame for Fatal Plane Crash in Derby
DERBY, Kan. (AP) — A new report says a plane crash that killed a California traveling pastor and his longtime pilot in 2013 near Derby was the result of the pilot attempting to navigate icy conditions with malfunctioning controls. The National Transportation Safety Board report also says 49-year-old pilot Mitchell Morgan had reported problems with the plane's instruments after arriving in Wichita. Maintenance personnel replaced one of the faulty instruments before the flight, but no other work was performed on it at the time. The report says Morgan likely became disoriented as he attempted to maintain control after an air traffic controller gave him altered flight instructions. The crash killed Morgan and 72-year-old Ed Dufresne, who was a pastor in Murrieta, California.
Highway Patrol Blames School Bus Driver for Wreck in Hiawatha
HIAWATHA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Highway Patrol says a school bus driver is to blame for a wreck that injured more than 20 students last week. KHP officials say that the driver failed to stop at an intersection south of Hiawatha on November 18. The Highway Patrol says the driver was attempting to turn onto the highway when the bus went off the side of the road and rolled over. Investigators did not find any mechanical problems with the bus and cited the cause of the crash as "driver error." The investigation is ongoing.
Wichita Man Ordered to Pay Back $165,000 to Investors
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A Wichita man has been ordered to pay back more than $165,000 in funds he took from investors. The Wichita Eagle reports 56-year-old Paul Carageannis also was sentenced Tuesday to 60 months of probation. He pleaded no contest to one count of felony securities fraud under the Kansas Uniform Securities Act. Investigators say Carageannis sold unregistered securities in an oil and gas lease to pay off existing debts. He has already repaid nearly $82,000 to the victims as a result of the prosecution.
Ex-Cowboys RB Joseph Randle Arrested at Kansas Casino
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Former Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle has been arrested after an altercation at a Kansas casino. The Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission says Randle was asked to leave the Kansas Star casino in Mulvane on Tuesday night after causing some unspecified concerns. Randle left, but returned and got into a scuffle with security. The Sumner County attorney's office said Wednesday that no formal charges have been filed, and he remains jailed on a $25,000 bond. He was booked on suspicion of criminal threat, assault of a law enforcement officer, battery, criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and interference with a law enforcement officer. Randle was suspended four games by the NFL under the league's personal conduct policy earlier this month, one week after he was released by the Dallas Cowboys.
Kansas Easily Beats UCLA, 92-73, in Maui Semifinals
LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) — The Jayhawks' Perry Ellis scored 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting and No. 5 Kansas had another easy win on the way to the Maui Invitational championship game. KU (3-1) beat UCLA 92-73 on Tuesday night in the semifinals. The Jayhawks will play No. 19 Vanderbilt for the title tonight (WED). It would be the second championship for either school. Vanderbilt won here in 1986, and Kansas won in 1996. Frank Mason III had 16 points, Wayne Selden Jr. scored 15 and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk had 13 for Kansas in a game that wasn't as close as the final score. The Jayhawks were up 59-33 at halftime and by led at least 20 points for all but the closing seconds of the second half.
North Carolina Rallies Late to Down Kansas State, 80-70
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) —Ninth-ranked North Carolina beat Kansas State 80-70 on Tuesday night in the CBE Classic title game in Kansas City. The Tar Heels (5-1), trailed 67-59 with just more than 4 minutes remaining before their 21-3 game-ending charge. North Carolina's Justin Jackson scored 22 points, Kennedy Meeks added 15 and Theo Pinson contributed another 10 to the Tar Heels' winning score. K-State's Kamau Stokes hit six 3-pointers and finished with 24 points for the Wildcats (4-1), but the freshman also committed a pair of costly turnovers in the closing minutes. Justin Edwards added 10 points to the Wildcats' total.
NCAA Clears KU's Diallo to Play
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ The NCAA will allow freshman Cheick Diallo to begin playing for the number five-ranked University of Kansas beginning next week, ending a months-long investigation into the five-star prospect's background. In a statement Wednesday, the NCAA said Diallo received a limited amount of impermissible benefits. The result is a five-game suspension that includes four games already missed and the Maui Invitational title game Wednesday night against No. 19 Vanderbilt. Diallo will be allowed to play Tuesday night against Loyola of Maryland. The 6-foot-9 Diallo has been allowed to practice with KU, but he had been barred from participating in games while the NCAA examined his coursework from a New York prep school and his relationship with his guardian, Tidiane Drame. The NCAA said KU provided new information last week that helped it render a decision.