Monthly Archives: March 2010

Aggravation apparent as commission talks about jail consultant

inmatestransferSedgwick County Commissioners this morning vented frustrations about a long-delayed report from its jail consultant, Justice Concepts.

“I’m ready to just say we’re done,” Commissioner Dave Unruh told county officials and other commissioners. But he and others also acknowledged that they have a contract with the firm.  Read More »

O’Neal panel aims to recommend any disciplinary action Tuesday

A  legislative panel reviewing an ethics complaint against House Speaker Mike O’Neal aims to complete its work and recommend any possible disciplinary action Tuesday.

Punishment, which must be approved by the House, could range from a formal reprimand to expulsion from the Legislature.

Rep. Clark Shultz, a Lindsborg Republican who chairs the six-member committee, said he hopes the committee will vote Tuesday to either dismiss the complaint or recommend any punishment to the full House.

The complaint stems from O’Neal’s work as an attorney representing a coalition of business groups in a lawsuit against the state.

Read More »

Winner selected in PR-stunt hubcap giveaway. It’s you, Marysue

UPDATE: After careful consideration (more or less) , the winner of the 1998-2002 Mazda hubcap is …


I liked the idea of using it for an office decoration. I didn’t mention this in the earlier post, but it comes complete with a display stand, which Marysue also will be receiving.

Marysue, you can e-mail me at to claim your prize.

Everyone else, I’m sure we’ll have more one-of-a-kind PR oddities to give away over time, so check back regularly.



Want a hubcap?

Me neither.

But I got one anyway.

And you can, too.

The wheel cover pictured at left comes courtesy of the EZ Street Co., which recently launched a campaign at to focus attention on the nation’s pothole problem.

It showed up in my mailbox as an attention-getter accompanying a press release for the “Spoken Wheel” campaign, which is publicizing potholes by sending out hubcaps recovered from the sides of America’s highways to “civic and business leaders”. Reporters, too, I guess.

Each boxed set comes with a display stand and a coroner tag detailing the hubcap’s “cause of death.”

EZ Street is a Miami-based company that makes …

Wait for it …

Wait for it …

… cold-mix asphalt, used to repair potholes.

Bet you saw that one coming.

One other guy at the paper got a hubcap too, but his was pretty thrashed.

Mine’s definitely from a Mazda and my research (about a minute and a half on eBay) indicates that it fits a Mazda 626, circa 1998-2002.

It’s actually in decent shape — a little scratched up, but a coat of spray paint and you’re good to go.

On eBay, they’re going for about $20, plus $10 to ship.

'Late '90s fashion victim

This could be you

To walk out of here with this baby under your arm, leave a comment and some form of contact info below.

If more than one person (!) wants the hubcap, the decision of who gets it will be made based on completely arbitrary criteria made up on the spot.

Extra points if any of the following apply to you:

“I have a 1998-2002 Mazda 626 with only three hubcaps.”

“I would like to turn a quick 20 bucks on eBay.”

“I want to wear it on a chain around my neck and make believe it’s bling.”

Kansas House will consider forcing attorney general to sue over federal health care reform

Kansas lawmakers critical of federal health care reform are considering a rare procedural move that would force Attorney General Steve Six to join the mounting legal challenges against the new law.

Six, a Democrat, says he is reviewing the federal health care legislation before deciding whether to sue Washington.

The bill, introduced this morning in the Kansas House, would compel Six to sue on behalf of the House, which is ostensibly his legal client. Such legislation requires passage in only one of the state’s two legislative chambers, meaning the Senate couldn’t stop it.

Last week a proposed state Constitutional amendment designed to block the reform bill’s insurance mandate failed in the House.

Read More »

Legislature delays budget decisions until wrap-up session

moneyTOPEKA — The clock ticks away on the 2010 legislative session, and Kansas lawmakers have yet to figure out an exit strategy that eliminates a massive budget deficit.

As a result, for the first time in anyone’s memory, lawmakers will leave town this week for a three-week spring break without passing an appropriations bill for the next fiscal year. Instead, they’ll leave the heavy lifting to a wrap-up session that begins April 28.

Because this wrap-up session will be so freighted with big decisions, it’s likely lawmakers will leave a little early this week, perhaps as early as Tuesday. That will save two days that can be used during wrap-up.

Typically wrap-up sessions last three to five days as lawmakers put the finishing touches on legislation. But this year could be a lot longer — two weeks, many lawmakers predict. Senate Vice President John Vratil, a Leawood Republican, even said this weekend that a special session could be in the cards.

Read More »

Judge rules in favor of Sedgwick County on jail fees

jailA Sedgwick County District Court judge ruled today that the county has the right to charge cities a fee for housing inmates in its jail on municipal charges.

“We’re pleased with the ruling and believe it validates our position to bill the cities to house their prisoners,” county manager William Buchanan said in a news release.

The county began charging cities an hourly fee in 2008. Several cities, including Wichita, refused to pay.

The county recently settled with Goddard and Park City.

City of Wichita attorney Gary Rebenstorf said the city was disappointed by the ruling.

“The court’s ruling is a change from the preliminary decision that was highly favorable to the city. The city attorney’s office is reviewing the court ruling and will advise the city council regarding the city’s legal options,” Rebenstorf said in a news release.

County commissioner Karl Peterjohn said he hoped the next step of the case — determining how much money the cities owe — would move quickly.

Read more in Friday’s Eagle.

A Republican proposing a tax increase? It’s not what it seems

TOPEKA – You know an amendment is unpopular when everyone votes against it – including the sponsor. Or maybe it’s just opposite day under the dome.

After 5 p.m. Wednesday, on the last bill of the evening, Rep. Anthony Brown tried to insert into Senate Bill 255 the governor’s proposed three-year, 1 cent sales tax increase. In its original form, SB 255  would authorize sales tax increases in Pottawatomie and Kingman counties for various projects.

Brown is a conservative Republican from Eudora and the proposal most likely was an attempt to get House Democrats on record voting against the increase.

And vote against it they did. The amendment failed 0-115. Republicans asked that the vote be a roll call vote, meaning it was recorded.

Watching the board where House members’ votes show up either red for no or green for yes, one Republican lawmaker joked: “That is the reddest board I’ve ever seen.”

Read More »

Governor signs bills to boost passenger rail service

heartlandflyer.hutTOPEKA — Passenger rail service between Kansas City and Dallas-Fort Worth got a boost on Wednesday when the governor signed into law two bills that could facilitate the project.

“Passenger rail service in Kansas would create economic opportunities for the future, but the planning must begin now,” said Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat, in a written statement. “A strong public infrastructure system helps attract businesses and jobs to our state, and a high speed rail service is another piece in furthering our economic recovery.”

One measure would create the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Compact, which would allow Kansas to work with other Midwestern states to develop high speed rail service.

The second would allow the state transportation secretary to enter into agreements with Amtrak to expand passenger rail service in Kansas.

Read More »

Senate panel endorses slots bill but cuts Wichita

012909casino_br05.JPGFrom staff and wire reports

TOPEKA — A Kansas Senate committee endorsed a bill designed to bring slot machines to racetracks in two communities but eliminated a chance for a Sedgwick County revote on slots.

The measure approved Wednesday by the Federal and State Affairs Committee rewrites a 3-year-old gambling law. The 5-4 vote sends it to the Senate for debate, which is likely to happen next week.

The bill had included a provision that would have allowed a second vote on slots at the Wichita Greyhound Park. That was eliminated. An amendment to reinsert the option is likely when the measure is debated on the floor, said committee Chairman Sen. Pete Brungardt, R-Salina.

Read More »

High schoolers: line up here to get your share of anti-government angst

Marcus McNeil makes a speech for mayor during the Mayor's Youth Council elections at City Hall in February.

Marcus McNeil makes a speech for mayor during the Mayor's Youth Council elections at City Hall in February.

City Hall is trying to recruit 40 Wichita-area high school students to be on the Mayor’s Youth Council, the city announced today.

The recruiting started in February and runs through April for all those students who want a closer look at the gears of local government.

Students mostly focus on community volunteer projects, such as their shoe drive last year. But they also are occasionally asked to informally weigh in on issues that impact their age group.

The council positions are open to students in Wichita high schools and in a few other nearby schools, including Maize, Valley Center and Andover. Applicants must have at least a 2.5 grade point average. Applications are available on the right side of this page.