Daily Archives: Feb. 4, 2010

Kurtis launches documentary project

Kurtis

Kurtis

Television journalist Bill Kurtis of Sedan has a new project starting, traveling the nation to chronicle positive stories from the recession.

At a campaign event for his sister, 4th District congressional candidate and state Sen. Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita, Kurtis said he is in discussions with a major financial services firm that wants to underwrite a series of documentary profiles and town meetings to find the silver lining in the economic downturn.

“We’re going to try and find the positive stories of people who have changed their lives for the better,” Kurtis said.

Some possible examples might be people who took advantage of being laid off to start their own business or do volunteer work.

Kurtis said he thinks a lot of people are tired of being battered by news of people beaten down by the economy and want to see people picking themselves up.

“As a journalist, I can just sense the feeling is out there,” he said.

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Convenience stores: Let us sell full-strength beer

TOPEKA — Convenience store owners are urging lawmakers to allow them to sell full-strength beer, contending it would level the playing field. But liquor store owners fear changing the laws would cause them to close shop.

“They are attempting to stab me in the back and take 60 percent of my business,” said Wichita liquor store owner John Davis.

For 35 years, Davis has operated Davis Liquor. The enterprise has become a family affair with his wife and two children each owning their own stores.

He estimated that 60 percent of his sales come from beer. Allowing convenience and grocery stores to sell full-strength beer would pull away customers. If those stores want those customers, let them follow all the regulations he has to follow, Davis said.

Convenience and grocery stores can sell only beer that is no more than 3.2 percent alcohol. House Bill 2537 would remove that restriction. The House Federal and State Affairs Committee heard testimony at a standing-room-only hearing Thursday. The hearing continues Monday.

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Kansas gets $415,000 plus consumer restititution in settlement over annuities

Insurance seal

Kansas has received $415,000 from a five-state, $2.1 million settlement with the Nationwide Insurance Co. over questionable annuities sold by Overland Park-based Waddell & Reed Inc., the Insurance Department announced Thursday.

The settlement ends about 10 years of complaints and litigation over the annuities, said Bob Hanson, an aide to Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger.

The insurance departments alleged that in 2000, Wadell & Reed, a multi-state financial-advising firm, asked Nationwide to develop annuities that the company could exchange for annuities that some Wadell & Reed clients held.

Annuities are life insurance policies that pay benefits over time, either for a set period or for the life of the policyholder.

The insurance departments alleged that the problem with the Nationwide annuities was that the death benefits were lower than the benefits in the annuities that customers exchanged for them, Hanson said.

Nationwide did not admit to any wrongdoing.

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Tiahrt wins backing of James Dobson

tiahrt_toddRepublican Senate hopeful Todd Tiahrt just picked up the endorsement of James Dobson, of Focus on the Family fame.

“I believe it is imperative that we elect Christian leaders who will fight for the principles that promote strong family values,” Dobson said.

“Todd has never cowered in the face of a tough fight. Whether it is defending the lives of the unborn, working to preserve parental rights or standing up for traditional marriage, he has been willing to fight important battles at a time when many chose to sit on the sidelines.”

Dobson continued, “Todd not only votes the right way, but he also speaks out and helps lead the fight to get conservative policies enacted. His activism is not a recent development, but a mark of his entire political career.”

Will it soon be easier to complain to the city? Probably

Brewer gesturesMayor Carl Brewer said in his State of the City Address that he wants city government to be more accountable and to provide better customer service.

So what? Every politician says something like that, right? Sure. The question is: How will they do it and is it more than lip service?

As an example, Brewer said he has asked for a “new on-line system that will allow residents to report and track problems like potholes and graffiti.”

Michael Mayta, the city’s chief information officer, said the city is researching ways to create an interactive complaint system. There are no firm time lines — though Mayta said it would be by year’s end. The system would give residents a direct line to supervisors and field workers who repair the potholes, paint over graffiti and file code cases. That would cut out the secretaries most complaints are channeled through, and give residents a way to see what’s being done about their complaint. The city already has a less advance version of that on their site — though it’s limited in its scope (for example, it doesn’t have a pothole reporting form). Read More »

Committee hears burning concerns

flinthillsburningTOPEKA — When it comes to burning rangeland in the Flint Hills, lawmakers should listen to the prairie chicken, one lobbyist said Thursday.

“In fact, what is good for the greater prairie chicken is in many cases also very good for landowners and their businesses,” Kansas Sierra Club lobbyist Chris Cardinal told the Senate Natural Resources Committee.

Annual burning is harming the greater prairie chicken’s habitat, Cardinal said, adding that the bird is not endangered but could become so if the burning does not change. He advocated a three-year rotation for burning.

Widespread rangeland burning also could cause problems for Wichita and Kansas City, Kan., when it comes to ozone regulations, the committee heard.

The state needs to come up with a smoke management plan this year that could encompass everyone’s needs, possibly including an air quality exception for when the rangelands burn, said Kay Johnson, the city’s environmental initiatives manager.

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