Monthly Archives: December 2009

Republican candidates for 4th Congressional District to appear at debate

WICHITA — The five Republican candidates in the race for the Kansas 4th Congressional District seat will take questions at a public debate to be held Jan. 15 in the Bank of America auditorium at 100 N. Broadway. The event is from 7-8:30 p.m.

Questions for the forum should be submitted to questions@gacpac.com. Susan Peters, a news anchor for KAKE, will moderate the forum.

The candidates are state senators Dick Kelsey and Jean Schodorf and businessmen Jim Anderson, Wink Hartman and Mike Pompeo. They are seeking the spot left by Todd Tiahrt, who is running for the U.S. Senate.This is the third in series of forums bringing the Republican candidates together. It is sponsored by the Great American Forum, the Sedgwick County Republican Party and the Wichita State College Republicans.

–Rick Plumlee

Abortion still on agenda at Kansas Statehouse

Don’t expect Kansas law-makers to skip their annual abortion debate this year just because of the slaying of abortion provider George Tiller.

It’s likely that many law-makers who supported tougher restrictions on late-term abortions will try again this year. After all, they say, new rules could prevent another abortion provider from opening a new late-term abortion clinic in Kansas, or at least put new rules in place first.

And two weeks before the 2010 session begins, Sen. Tim Huelskamp is saying he’ll try again to prohibit any tax dollars from going to Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.

Huelskamp, a Fowler Republican, pushed to de-fund Planned Parenthood last year. The measure passed the Legislature but was vetoed by Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat.

The money going to Planned Parenthood is actually a federal grant that goes to a variety of health clinics and organizations. By law the money can’t be spent on abortion-related services. Instead it pays for birth control, testing for sexually transmit-ted diseases and other serv-ices for low-income women.

Last year, Planned Parent-hood’s portion amounted to $300,000.

Huelskamp said organizations that perform abortions should never receive any tax-payer subsidies, no matter what the money actually pays for.

“This is the right thing to do,” Huelskamp said in an email. Funding Planned Parenthood “flies in the face of basic Kansas values… We need to get serious and let them know that they are no longer welcome at the public trough.”

Tiller, whose clinic specialized in late-term abortion, was for years a lightning rod in the state’s abortion debate. Lawmakers proposed laws designed to restrict his practice while he poured his own money into political races to support candidates that support abortion rights. He was shot and killed last spring in Wichita.

Kelly ends challenge to Republican Rep. Jenkins

State Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, is ending her race for Congress in the 2nd District in eastern Kansas.

Kelly had sought to challenge one-term Republican Rep. Lynn Jenkins.

Kelly said in a statement that she was honoring her commitment to her state Senate constituents at a time when the state faces challenging budget problems. She is the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

“This has been a very hard decision, but it is the right one,” she said in the statement.

Jenkins was elected in 2008, ousting Democratic incumbent Nancy Boyda.

Conservative ‘tea party’ movement to move inside Century II for winter political rally

Tyler

Tyler

A conservative group has announced plans for a February “tea party” political rally at the Century II Convention Center, which will be Wichita’s fifth such event and its first to be held indoors.

Kansans for Liberty has booked the Exhibition Hall at the Century II Convention Center for its “Winter Rally 2010,” said Lynda Tyler, who organized the political group earlier this year.

The agenda is still being worked out, but planners are expecting to have a forum or debate for candidates in 4th Congressional District race. That will be held in conjunction with Independence Caucus, a national group that advocates for limited government, tax reform, political ethics and government transparency, Tyler said.

Andrew Gray, chairman of the Kansas Libertarian Party, is expected to speak. Smart Girl Politics, a conservative women’s group, will staff a voter-registration table, Tyler said.

The tea party movement draws its name from the Boston Tea Party of 1773, a protest raid on British merchant ships that helped solidify support for American independence.

The modern tea party movement has been widely promoted by Fox News and other conservative-oriented media.

Wichita’s first large-scale tea party rally was held near the Mid-Continent Airport Post Office on April 15, the deadline day for mailing income tax filings.

Subsequent tea parties have been held outside the Sedgwick County Courthouse, in Sedgwick County Park and in the parking lot at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.

The most recent two tea parties were organized by Kansans for Liberty, an umbrella group Tyler started to keep the movement’s momentum going.

In addition to Independence Caucus and Smart Girl Politics, Kansans for Liberty includes representatives from Young Americans for Liberty, the John Birch Society, Oathkeepers, Tea Party Patriots and the 9/12 organization started by Fox News commentator Glenn Beck.

Tyler said weather was the dominant factor in deciding to hold the next tea party at an indoor venue. It is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on Feb. 20.

Organizers are planning for the event to be open to the public for free, as the other tea parties have been. But they are leaving open the option of charging for admission if they bring in a nationally known speaker, Tyler said.

Commissioners get testy over $20,000

During discussions this morning about giving $20,000 to Healthy Options for Kansas (formerly known as Healthy Options for Planeview), Sedgwick County commissioners got a little testy.

There was talk of delaying the donation until an audit of the group was completed, but commissioner Gwen Welshimer then noted that she doesn’t spend a lot of money on traveling as a board member. She specifically mentioned that she doesn’t travel to Visioneering Wichita events.

“I’m not asking for a lot,” she said.

In response, commissioner Tim Norton said he didn’t understand what traveling had to do with giving money to Healthy Options. He said he travels with Visioneering and will continue to do so.

Sedgwick County appoints sheriff as head of criminal justice group

Sedgwick County Sheriff Robert Hinshaw will lead the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, a group charged with trying to reduce the jail’s population and improve the county’s criminal justice system.

The council makes recommendation to the county about criminal justice issues.

The county is trying desperately to find ways to reduce its jail population and avoid spending tens of millions on a jail expansion.

The council is made up of county and city leaders and criminal justice leaders such as judges, prosecutors and corrections officials.

Taxpayers for Tickets leader urges county to act on ticket scalping

The founder of a group called Taxpayers for Tickets urged Sedgwick County commissioners today to strengthen and enforce laws on ticket scalping so that all residents have an opportunity to see shows at Intrust Bank Arena.

Organizer Todd Allen noted that the Taylor Swift concert sold out quickly, leaving many who had hoped to see the show without tickets.

He said city and county leaders are pointing fingers at each other as to whose responsibility it is to enforce scalping laws. The city has a law on the books about scalping that requires a $200 license, but no one has applied for one.

Allen said tickets for performers scheduled to appear at the arena have been listed for sale on sites such as eBay and Craigslist.

Allen expressed frustration that city officials told him the arena was a county issue and county officials pointed to the city law.

District Attorney Nola Foulston has advocated pushing for a statewide law.

Commissioner Kelly Parks urged Allen to report to police any tickets being sold on eBay and Craigslist for far more than their face value.

County to give KPTS $33,000

To help viewers across Sedgwick County have access to KPTS, the area’s PBS station, commissioners today gave the station $33,000 to expand its coverage.

The $33,000 represents 10 percent of the cost of the project.

Board chairman Kelly Parks said residents in his district in the northern part of the county without cable have complained about not being able to get KPTS since the digital conversion.

The $33,000 will come from the commission’s contingency fund.

Board member Tim Norton said he supported the measure but expressed concern — again — that Parks brought up the issue in an off-agenda item. Consideration to give the station money was not on the board’s agenda today.

Magazine for political pros and ‘people of power’ profiles Kelsey, Moran

Kelsey

Kelsey

Moran

Moran

State Sen. Dick Kelsey and U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran are featured in the fall edition of Political Leaders Today, which bills itself as “The Magazine for People of Power.”

Both candidates — Kelsey is running for the 4th District congressional seat and Moran is running for US Senate — are the subject of multi-page profiles and big photo spreads outlining their platforms and strategies and assessing their chances of winning.

Kelsey is seeking the seat being left open by Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard.

Tiahrt is leaving the House and running against Moran for the Senate seat now held by Sam Brownback, who is running for governor.

The five-way GOP primary in the 4th District includes Kelsey, GOP National Committeeman Mike Pompeo, state Sen. Jean Schodorf, oilman and football-team owner Wink Hartman and small-business owner Jim Anderson.

Kelsey, the magazine concludes, “has more than a fighting chance against the running pack of candidates for the 4th Congressional District.

“In a time when politicians have been buying their way into the political scene, Kelsey has the proven track record to accomplish more for the people of Kansas,” the article continued.

The magazine is also high on Moran’s chances.

“While both gentlemen (Moran and Tiahrt) have been busy collecting endorsements, Moran uniquely secured the endorsement of seven mayors in Johnson County, a district he has never represented,” the article said. “This band of mayors are a popular bunch, well-liked in the community and keen on Moran’s vision for Kansas.

“Considered a swing area and representing 25 percent of the vote … it could just be the portent he needs to win over other new voters.”

But don’t go looking for the magazine at your local newsstand.

It has less than 10,000 circulation and is targeted directly to an audience of lobbyists, campaign consultants and high-income businesspeople/campaign donors.

The magazine does not accept subscription orders from the general public and the political news in it is sandwiched between ads for Mercedes-Benz automobiles and Rolls Royce wristwatches.

But while you can’t buy the magazine, you can access an online edition, which includes the Kelsey and Moran profiles, at www.politicalleaderstoday.com/newsite/magazines1.html

Home for the holidays at Cedar Crest

TOPEKA – Budget cuts, revenue short falls and political maneuvering aside, there are some bonuses to being governor – such as the holiday season.

Before Mark Parkinson took over the state’s top executive seat eight months ago, then Gov. Kathleen Sebelius told him that being governor during the holidays was a wonderful experience.

“She was right,” Parkinson said Thursday during an interview.

Parkinson and his family are spending their first Christmas in the governor’s mansion and adapting their traditions to the new setting.

“Cedar Crest is of course beautiful and it is beautiful all the time but at Christmas it is especially nice,” he said. “It is basically decorated for you but we brought over all of our Christmas decorations and it feels like home.”

They also had family visit during Thanksgiving.

As Parkinson and his brother were doing some last minute grocery shopping for the turkey dinner his brother teased the governor that no one seemed to recognize him.

Two little girls disproved that.

As the two were standing in line, Parkinson said he felt a tugging on the back of his coat and turned around to find two small girls – about 5 and 6 years old – behind him.

They looked up at him and said “Happy Thanksgiving Mr. Governor.”

“It was very touching,” Parkinson said.