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Headlines for Monday, August 15, 2022

 

Kansas Department Stopped Compiling Annual Reports of Child Sex Abuse for Six Years

TOPEKA, Kan. (TCJ/KNS) - The Kansas Department for Children and Families stopped compiling required annual reports on child sex abuse cases just as allegations were rising. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the lapse lasted six years. The state should have compiled the number of sexual abuse allegations reported by abortion providers in Kansas. The department had the information, but only updated the report when the Topeka Capital-Journal asked about it. The agency does not have an explanation. The lapse started in 2016 under Republican Governor Sam Brownback and it continued under current Democratic Governor Laura Kelly. The new numbers show sexual abuse allegations increased from 10 in 2018 to 56 most recently.

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UPDATE: Kansas Secretary of State's Office Approves Partial Recount of Constitutional Amendment Ballots  

UNDATED (KNS) – Kansas officials have approved a recount for a proposed state constitutional amendment on abortion rights, but only for some counties. The group pushing the recount scaled back its request to a handful of counties, rather than the whole state. The list of counties includes the three most populous — Johnson, Sedgwick, and Shawnee. The recount will cost the group nearly $120,000. The group originally wanted a statewide recount at a cost of around $230,000. A recount will not change the outcome of the election and the main advocacy group that supported the amendment has accepted the defeat.

(–Related–)

Kansas Hasn't Started Hand Count of Vote for Abortion Rights

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas hasn't started a statewide hand recount of this month’s decisive vote in favor of abortion rights. The Kansas secretary of state's office is waiting until the abortion opponents seeking it can show they can cover $229,000 in projected costs for the recount. The state’s elections director gave a western Kansas woman until 5 p.m. Monday to provide cash, a valid check or a credit card with a sufficient balance. The recount request came from Melissa Leavitt, of Colby. However, Wichita anti-abortion activist Mark Gietzen pledged to help pay for the recount. Voters on Aug. 2 overwhelmingly rejected a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would have allowed the Republican-controlled Legislature to further restrict or ban abortion.

Pro-Life Activist Offers to Pay for Recount of Abortion Vote in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP/KPR) — An anti-abortion activist who heads a small Republican group said he's offered to pay the expected $229,000 cost of a hand recount of votes from every Kansas county after a decisive statewide vote affirming abortion rights. Mark Gietzen, who leads the group Kansas Republican Assembly, told the Kansas City Star on Saturday he wants to pay for the recount that Melissa Leavitt, of Colby, requested because he believes it could change the outcome. The 165,000-vote difference in the election makes that unlikely, however. And there has been no evidence of significant problems with the election. The Kansas Republican Assembly is significantly to the right of the state Republican Party and isn't affiliated with the GOP-led legislature. 

Kansas Now Has Five Abortion Clinics but Operators Say Access Remains Limited

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KNS) - Kansas voters have affirmed the right to abortion in the state, but those who provide abortion say access remains limited because of the number of out-of-state patients seeking services.  The Kansas News Service reports that the newest clinic, in the Kansas City area, should help reduce the wait for those seeking abortions.  Planned Parenthood opened a new clinic in Wyandotte County, bringing the total number of abortion providers in Kansas to five. The Wyandotte Health Center of Kansas City, Kansas, also offers birth control, STI testing and treatment and gender-affirming care. Planned Parenthood officials say they chose Wyandotte County because it has fewer health care providers per capita than neighboring areas.

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Starbucks Asks Labor Board to Halt Union Votes Temporarily

UNDATED (AP) – Starbucks is asking the National Labor Relations Board to suspend all union elections at its U.S. stores. The request came Monday in response to a board employee's allegations that regional NLRB officials improperly coordinated with union organizers. In a letter sent to the board, Starbucks said an unnamed career NLRB official told the company about the activity, which happened in the board's St. Louis office in the spring while it was overseeing an election at a Starbucks store in Overland Park. The labor board says it doesn't comment on open cases. More than 220 U.S. Starbucks stores have voted to unionize since late last year. The company opposes unionization.

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Kansas City Chiefs Football Legend Len Dawson in Hospice Care

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KNS/KPR) - Football and broadcasting legend Len Dawson has entered hospice care.  Health issues prevented Len Dawson from attending Super Bowl 54 in Miami, when the Kansas City Chiefs won their second Super Bowl in franchise history. Dawson led the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl championship in January, 1970. Dawson is also well-known for his work in broadcasting as a sports anchor at KMBC, Channel 9 in Kansas City, along with his color commentary on the Chiefs Radio Network and HBO’s “Inside the NFL” during its heyday. Dawson turned 87 in June.

(AP version...)

Len Dawson, MVP of Chiefs' First Super Bowl Win, in Hospice

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Len Dawson, the 87-year-old Hall of Fame quarterback who led the Kansas City Chiefs to their first Super Bowl title, has entered hospice care in Kansas City. KMBC-TV, the Kansas City station where Dawson began his broadcasting career in 1966, confirmed Dawson is in hospice care through his wife, Linda. The MVP of the Chiefs' 23-7 Super Bowl victory over Minnesota in January 1970, Dawson was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987 and received the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award in 2012. In addition to his work at KMBC where he was the station's first sports anchor, Dawson was a game analyst for NBC and the Chiefs' radio network and hosted HBO's "Inside the NFL" show.
 
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Got Milk? KU Researchers Say Drink It Up for Better Brain Health

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KPR) — Drinking dairy milk can improve brain health in older adults. That's according to a new study published by researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Researchers say drinking three cups of dairy milk a day boosts an antioxidant that helps protect the brain from damage caused by aging. The research, by KU Med Center faculty, appears in the international journal Frontiers in Nutrition. (Read more.)

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Kansans to Vote on Giving Legislature Power over Governor’s Administrative Rules

TOPEKA, Kan. (KC Star/KPR)  — A constitutional amendment on the November 8 ballot in Kansas would give the Legislature veto power over rules and regulations issued by Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s administration, if she’s reelected.  The measure was originally proposed by Kelly’s Republican opponent, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt.  If it passes, the amendment would allow the Legislature to revoke or suspend rules and regulations by governors of either party. The amendment would hand the Legislature final control over rules and regulations issued by state agencies – on everything from fireworks manufacturing to the cleaning of livestock feedlots.

Proponents say the measure is intended to ensure executive agencies follow legislative intent in establishing regulations and don’t create new laws. But opponents point to it as yet another example of the Legislature seeking to expand its own power.  Kelly and Schmidt have taken different positions on the amendment. Schmidt is in favor of the proposal, Kelly opposes it. (Read more in Governing magazine.)

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Health Officials Urge Education, Awareness as Kansas Keeps Monkeypox at Bay

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - With monkeypox declared a public health emergency, people around Kansas might wonder how worried they need to be.  The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reports only two cases in the state: one in Johnson County in mid-July, and the other in Shawnee County last week. WIBW TV reports that the steady rise in monkeypox cases in the U.S. since May 2022, a virus that has been rare in this country, has public health officials keeping a close watch. Monkeypox symptoms usually surface 7 to 14 days after exposure. It starts with typical symptoms associated with a viral illness, like a fever, headaches or sore throat. Several days later, a rash develops. While Kansas has had only two cases, the U.S. topped more than 10,000 cases in all last week. The CDC’s map showed three cases in Kansas, but KDHE has only announced two. While there’s been much talk about the high number of cases among gay men, health officials stress anyone can get it.

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Even in Retirement, Washburn's Outgoing President Will Do Well Financially

TOPEKA, Kan. (TCJ) - The president of Washburn University will retire next month. But even after Jerry Farley steps down September 30, Washburn will continue to pay him $762,000 in a separation agreement that includes continued use of the presidential house and an on-campus office.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Farley's exit agreement includes country club dues and a statue.

The Kansas Board of Regents approved the separation agreement with Farley in late June.  The Capital-Journal received a copy of that agreement last week, via an open records request.  Per the agreement, Farley will continue to be paid at the rate of his annual $283,522 salary, plus a university-wide 5% increase, through his retirement date. Between October of this year and September of 2023, Farley will transition to a president emeritus role, where he will assist with the transition for Washburn's next president. He will also fundraise on behalf of the university and help recruit international students. For that post retirement work, Farley will be paid $327,467.

Farley will also continue to receive university benefits — including a university car, travel expenses, health and disability insurance and retirement plan through September 30, 2024, at which point Farley's tenure and employment at Washburn will end. When Farley's successor moves to Topeka, he or she will move into a different home than other Washburn University presidents have lived in for the past half century. The separation agreement states that at Washburn's request, Farley agreed that he and his wife will continue to live in the university-owned President's Residence at 3130 S.W. Shadow Lane for a period of five years after his retirement.

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Bomb Detonates Outside Labette County Courthouse 

PARSONS, Kan. (KOAM-TV) – A person detonated a bomb outside the Labette County Courthouse in Parsons, Kansas, according to the county sheriff. KOAM News reports that Labette County Sheriff Darren Einhinger says the device was in a dumpster by the Labette County District Court building and they have identified a person of interest in the incident. There were no reported injuries. The Kansas Bureau of Investigations is on the scene. The sheriff says the ATF bomb squad is on its way to Parsons, and that the FBI may get involved as well.

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Six Kansas Creeks and Streams Will Get New, Less Offensive Names

TOPEKA, Kan. (TCJ) - Next month, federal officials are expected to rename five creeks and a stream on federal land in Kansas because their names include a slur for Native American women. That word, "squaw," was formally declared derogatory last November in an order issued by Deb Haaland, the nation's first Native American Secretary of the Interior. Haaland said the term is an ethnic, racial and sexist slur, particularly for Indigenous women.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Haaland ordered the Board on Geographic Names, the federal body tasked with naming geographic places, to find replacement names for more than 660 geographic features bearing that term, including the six sites in Kansas.  The term "squaw" originated from the Algonquian word for "woman," but its meaning has been skewed for centuries by white people, Haaland said.

Here are the places in Kansas that are expected to receive new names, including their locations:

  • Squaw Creek / Location: Brown County
  • Squaw Creek / Location: Brown and Doniphan counties
  • Squaw Creek / Location: Chautauqua County
  • Squaw Creek / Location: Montgomery County
  • Squaw Branch / Location: Norton County
  • Squaw Creek / Location: Cherokee County

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Wichita Officer Won't Be Charged in Man's Fatal Shooting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett says a Wichita police officer will not be charged in a 2020 fatal shooting. Bennett said the officer shot 37-year-old Jason Williams after Williams had shot his estranged wife and killed his mother-in-law, 52-year-old Michelle Barr. Bennett did not name the officer. He said Williams was shot by a SWAT officer in December 2020 in Riverside. Williams' wife had filed for divorce a month before the shooting. Bennett's report says Williams shot the two women while two young children were inside the home and had threatened to kill himself. The children were released and were not physically injured.

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Kansas Law Enforcement Steps Up Enforcement Efforts Against Drunk Driving

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Police departments across the state of Kansas are joining together as a part of a campaign called "You Drink. You Drive. You Lose.” Television station KSNW reports that the campaign is aimed at removing impaired drivers from roads. Authorities say one person is killed in a drunk-driving crash every 52 minutes in the U.S.  The Kansas campaign hopes to lower the number of fatalities related to drunk-driving. The statewide campaign runs from August 20 through Labor Day, September 7. (Read more.)

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Afghan Refugees Adopt to New Lives in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCUR) - As many as 760 Afghan refugees have made their new homes in the Kansas City area since the Taliban took over Kabul a year ago. KCUR Radio reports that Sabawoon Faqiri was the only member of his immediate family allowed to board a plane to America. The 22-year-old landed in Kansas City last November, and got a job as a case manager at Jewish Vocational Services. He says many of his fellow refugees are finding jobs, even if it’s not the same work they did back in Afghanistan. But many still struggle with what they left behind. "I know all the Afghans who have been here in the USA, they suffer from not having their family members," he said. Officials at local resettlement agencies say that a lack of transportation and English language skills remain barriers for Afghan refugees to integrate into their new communities.

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Kansas Supreme Court Rules Wichita Ordinance Unconstitutionally Overbroad

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that a Wichita ordinance requiring a license for after-hours clubs is too broadly written. After-hours clubs typically operate between midnight and 6 am. But some Wichita residents would bypass the requirement by claiming they were hosting a private party. The city then made the ordinance apply to both commercial and residential properties – which the Supreme court ruled was overbroad and could make large gatherings in private homes illegal.
The Kansas News Service reports that the ruling comes after a years-long court battle between the city and after-hours club operator Arlando Trotter. He was cited for not having a license at one of his clubs. The city says it will evaluate its options in order to comply with the court’s ruling.

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Jury Convicts Kansas Veteran of Defrauding VA and Collecting $450,000 in Disability Benefits

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (WIBW) - A federal jury has convicted a Kansas veteran of defrauding the Department of Veterans Affairs by claiming he was disabled. According to court documents, 53-year-old Bruce Hay, of Greeley, an army veteran and former Osawatomie resident, fraudulently misrepresented his ailments in order to receive disability benefits. Hay claimed he could only walk with the use of a walker and could not engage in basic activities of daily living. WIBW TV reports that the VA initially ruled that Hay was completely disabled. But prosecutors used surveillance, photographs and testimony from others to demonstrate he had fabricated his injuries. Officials say Hay, without any assistance, was engaged in residential construction, hunted deer and threw hay bales on the back of moving trucks. As a result of his disability claims, Hay received more than $450,000 in VA benefits. This month, a jury found him guilty of six counts of wire fraud and 10 counts of theft of government funds. Hay faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. Sentencing is scheduled for October.

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Feds: Kansas Foster Care Contractor Defrauded of $10.7 Million

WICHITA, Kan. (TCJ) - The FBI says a former IT employee for a Kansas foster care contractor may have defrauded his employer out of $10.7 million.  The Topeka Capital Journal reports that federal law enforcement officers have seized bank accounts of the former employee.  The U.S. Attorney's Office for Kansas alleges that William "Bill" Whymark and his company, WMK Research, defrauded Saint Francis Ministries out of millions of dollars. Saint Francis Ministries is a Salina-based religious organization that provides services in Kansas and other states.  Saint Francis is a contractor for the Kansas Department of Children and Families, providing foster care, adoption and other social services. Wymark's attorney denies the allegations. (Read more.)

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Kansas District Rejects Strategic Plan Urging Diversity

DERBY, Kan. (AP/KMUW) — The board of a Kansas school district rejected a proposed strategic plan after some members criticized its emphasis on diversity and student mental health. The plan for the Derby school district was rejected after months of work from parents, students, employees and community members. The Kansas News Service reports four of the seven board members voted against adopting the five-year plan, a normally routine document that outlines the district's priorities and goals. Board president Michael Blankenship said the district should emphasize things that unite people, rather than focusing on diversity. Board member Pam Doyle supported the plan, saying the district should celebrate diversity. (Read more.) 

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KU Ornithologist Weighs in on Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Evidence Inquiry

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The federal government has been asked to consider at least two videos made in recent years as evidence that ivory-billed woodpeckers may still exist. A group dedicated to finding such evidence provided drone videos that founder Mark Michaels says show a bird with hallmark color patterns and landing style. Another shows a closer view of a black-and-white bird crossing a corridor in a swamp, then flying away. But a University of Kansas ornithologist calls them laughable. Mark B. Robbins, ornithology collection manager at the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute, said the video is so poor that it’s impossible to tell what is flying. “It could be anything,” he wrote in an email. Both were provided as public comment against a U.S. Wildlife and Fisheries Service proposal to declare the bird extinct. The comment period ended last week. The agency said it was looking for photos or videos that all experts could agree on.

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Upcoming Kansas City Winter Described as "Hibernation Zone"

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — Enjoy the summer heat while you can. Old Man Winter is coming to Kansas and Missouri.  And WDAF TV reports that the Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a rough winter ahead.  The Farmer’s Almanac provides a forecast every year. Publishers said they decided to release winter predictions earlier than ever because of the extreme heat and drought affecting different regions.  The Farmer's Almanac warns this winter will be cold and snowy for people living in Kansas and Missouri. While that describes many winters in the Kansas City area, the Farmer’s Almanac predicts a “hibernation zone” and uses words like “glacial, snow-filled” to describe what will be heading to the metro in a few short months. The 2023 Farmers’ Almanac will be available in stores beginning August 15.

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These area headlines are curated by KPR news staffers, including J. Schafer, Laura Lorson, Kaye McIntyre, and Tom Parkinson. Our headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays, 11 am weekends. This news summary is made possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today. And follow KPR News on Twitter.

 

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