Author Archives: Marcia Werts

Pompeo, White House trade words over impending budget cuts

U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo and White House Press secretary Jay Carney swapped words Tuesday over the impending sequestration cuts.

Carney, speaking during a press briefing, mentioned Pompeo when talking about whether the cuts could still be prevented:

“Well, we’ll have to see what the Republican leadership does.  Unfortunately, on the other side of the ledger, we’ve seen comments, as we did from Congressman Pompeo, a Republican Congressman, that suggests a different course of action.  He said it would be a home run politically for Republicans to see sequester implemented.  I wonder if he would say that to the 90,000 Defense Department workers in Virginia who would see their pay cut because of furloughs, or the thousands of Virginians who would lose their jobs because of sequester if it were allowed to be implemented.  We certainly don’t think that’s a home run for ordinary Americans, even if that Congressman thinks it would be for him politically.”
Pompeo fired back with a news release cast as a response to “today’s misguided White House attacks”:
“Mr. Carney doesn’t understand that not every public official is willing to play games with lives of hard-working Americans for political gain like his boss, President Obama.  I said that the sequester is a home run not because it is good politics, but because it begins to put America back on the right fiscal track.

“I would welcome the opportunity to tell the 90,000 furloughed workers, the ones President Obama is choosing to let go of, that they need to know several things:

“First, the sequester does not have to mean furloughs.  The President is choosing to make this minor reduction in spending painful — by furloughing people — in order to pursue his twin goals of raising taxes and increasing the size of the federal government.  The President wasted $1 trillion dollars of stimulus money that did nothing to grow our economy and create jobs.  Now, he is needlessly using a decrease in federal spending amounting to less than a few percent to harm even more American workers and their families.

“Second, there are fewer Americans working in America today than when the President took office.  I find it bizarre that Mr. Carney would ask me about talking to furloughed workers.  I’ve been talking to and representing thousands of furloughed and laid-off workers in Kansas who have lost their livelihood because of this President’s failed economic policies and his consistent attacks on the general aviation industry.  Before President Obama’s wreckless deficits, general aviation was a robust manufacturing jewel providing high-paying jobs in the Air Capital of the World.  Today, he continues to cause it pain.

“Third, Mr. Carney says that this isn’t a home-run for average Americans.  He is wrong.  While there will surely be dislocations, the President’s $6 trillion in new federal debt have been a strikeout for our country.  Most Americans understand the need to stop year-on-year trillion dollar deficits.  For them, we should have done even more to reduce the size of our federal government.  The sequester is a solid first step.  Growing American prosperity will require us to hit a grand slam on reducing spending, taxation, and regulation.  I look forward to being part of making that happen.

“Finally, the President proposed, signed, and threatened to veto changes to, the sequester.  It was his plan.  Not once, but twice, Congressional Republicans have provided alternatives.  We have seen nothing from Carney’s boss.  If it is really that bad, why has he not sent a different set of cuts?  The President’s actions — claiming to be upset about the sequester and traveling to Virginia to confuse workers there — are at best disingenuous and at worst just plain mean.”

 
 

Former U.S. Sen. Kassebaum Baker endorses Schodorf in Senate race

By Simina Mistreanu

Former U.S. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker has endorsed Jean Schodorf in her re-election bid for the Kansas Senate.

She is running against Wichita City Councilman Michael O’Donnell in the Republican primary in District 25 in central-west Wichita.

“I believe Jean to be the best qualified candidate, based on her experience as a state senator and school board member, as well as her considerable skill in finding solutions to difficult problems by working with people,” said Kassebaum Baker, according to a release by Schodorf’s campaign office.

Schodorf said Kassebaum Baker’s endorsement is a positive event in a “very negative” race.

“This is just another example of somebody recognizing that we are talking about issues, about what’s good for Kansas and Wichita,” Schodorf said. “I don’t know how it will affect the race except that Nancy is very well respected and I hope that people will at least read what she has to say.”

O’Donnell said endorsements don’t affect political races considerably.

“It doesn’t surprise me that Senator Kassebaum would endorse a candidate that has voted to raise taxes numerous times and supports President Obama’s health care plan,” he said. “I’m more interested in receiving the endorsement from the good people of the 25th Senate District.”

O’Donnell also pointed out that he received campaign contributions from prominent business people and groups in Wichita.

Kassebaum Baker’s endorsement might not change people’s minds, but it could convince voters who were planning to stay at home during the primaries to go out and vote for Schodorf, said Mel Kahn, a political science professor at Wichita State University who is a Democrat. Kassebaum Baker served as a U.S. senator from Kansas between 1978 and 1997. Among the issues that she supported were education and access to affordable medicines. “I would say she is probably the most popular Republican in Kansas in the last 40 years,” Kahn said. “She’s not as prestigious as Senator (Bob) Dole, but she was more popular. She was so popular that after the first term she just used the name ‘Nancy’ on her advertising.” The categories of voters Kassebaum Baker might appeal to are women, moderate conservatives, people who oppose Gov. Sam Brownback’s policies and people who feel strongly about education, Kahn said.

Wichita lawyer plans to seek new District 87 seat in House

By Fred Mann

Wichita attorney and small business owner Mark Kahrs announced Friday that he will run in the Republican primary for the House seat in the new District 87 in east Wichita.

Kahrs said in a written statement that job creation and the economy are the biggest concerns of most Kansans.

“These are difficult times in our state and nation, and we need leaders who know how to get things done,” Kahrs’ statement said. “As a small business owner in Wichita, I know what it takes to create jobs.”

He said his first job in the Legislature would be ”to create a positive economic climate to promote job creation.”

 

Derby Democrat files to run in Senate District 28

By Simina Mistreanu

Keith Humphrey, a businessman and Navy veteran, filed to run for state Senate in District 28 as a Democrat on Friday. Incumbent Republican Mike Petersen of Wichita is seeking re-election in the district. District 28 includes south Wichita, Oaklawn-Sunview and north Derby, according to maps released Thursday by the federal district court in Kansas City. Humphrey, who lives in Derby, is president and CEO of Jet AirWerks, a repair station for commercial jet engines, and Jet AirParts, a distributor for commercial jet engine components. Together, the companies employ 33 people. He served in the U.S. Navy for 10 years. Humphrey’s campaign said he filed by nominating petition with the signatures of 430 Democratic voters in the 28th Senate District. He is married and has six children.

A transit tax and Tuesday’s vote to avoid bus cuts

By Bill Wilson

A few locker room notes from Tuesday’s transit discussion at City Hall.

• The 4-3 vote to approve Janet Miller’s compromise cuts to save transit came as a surprise on press row.

The swing vote, council member James Clendenin, didn’t voice much approval of Miller’s ideas during council discussion, instead expressing concern about the loss of some neighborhood cleanups and street maintenance, along with the quick pace of Miller’s 11th-hour plan to scale back the two services and delay Kennedy Plaza renovations at Century II for a year.

That pace clearly bothered council members Lavonta Williams and Michael O’Donnell, as well. Meanwhile, council member Jeff Longwell was focused on the inefficiency of the westside connector, which serves an average of 52 riders per day.

Perhaps Mayor Carl Brewer deserves some of the credit, for his brief interjection that council members were “trying to save projects in their own district” at the expense of a “citywide” transit system.

Read More »

Lawmaker criticizes House Speaker O’Neal

More dark clouds could be on the horizon for Kansas House Speaker Mike O’Neal as the legislative session begins, Brad Cooper of the Kansas City Star reports:

Conservative state Rep. Owen Donohoe of Shawnee took aim at O’Neal in a letter he circulated to the House Republican caucus. He ripped into the speaker for nepotism and “abuse of power.” He suggested it might be time for a new leader.

“As we approach the 2012 legislative session, I would like to share my concern about the continuous abuse of power and nepotism by Speaker O’Neal which has compromised the integrity of the Republican caucus,” says the opening paragraph of the letter.

“I feel that the Speaker’s violations will make it extremely difficult to arrive at legislation that is in the best interest of our constituents when it is so compromised from the start,” Donohoe wrote in the letter.

“I believe the Republican caucus should examine its leadership in light of these issues, and determine if this is what we want in our leaders. I would like to know your feelings about these issues.”

The Donohoe letter comes just days after O’Neal gained national notoriety for an email he forwarded to lawmakers that compared First Lady Michelle Obama’s hair to the Grinch and called her “Mrs. YoMama.”

Donohoe criticized the hiring of O’Neal’s wife, Cindy, as secretary of the appropriations committee led by Rep. Marc Rhoades of Newton.

Go to the Midwest Democracy Project to read more.

 

 

Wichita councilman assails city hall critics

By Bill Wilson

In the midst of a routine debate over the refinancing of the Old Town Marriott, the growing disconnect between City Hall and a group of free-market proponents erupted Tuesday morning.

Council member Pete Meitzner, one of three new councilmen on the Wichita bench, went after two frequent critics of the city’s economic development policy, accusing them of hiding their motives and of misstating the truth on the projects they criticize.

Meitzner unveiled his tough stance as the meeting opened. Susan Estes, the field director for Americans For Prosperity-Kansas, who was continuing the group’s criticism of the Ken-Mar development revisions approved last week by the council, had just concluded her remarks when Meitzner asked her bluntly if she was speaking as a private citizen or representing a private group. Estes outlined her association with AFP, a free-market group which appears weekly at the council to voice its opposition to public funding for private development projects and has been vocal in its opposition to Project Downtown, the city’s downtown revitalization plan.

But the new councilman reserved his strongest criticism for blogger Bob Weeks, whose Voice for Liberty in Wichita blog trumpets the same values as AFP. Read More »

Kansas senators split on debt vote

Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran diverged on the Senate’s 74-26 vote today to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. Roberts voted for the package; Moran opposed it. Here’s their reasoning:

Roberts

Roberts: “My first priority in voting today was to ensure our country did not default, which could have sent our country into economic chaos at a time when our economy is already on the brink. I will never play roulette with Kansans’ life savings.

“This agreement protects Kansas families and businesses from an even greater economic crisis than we have already experienced while stopping proposed tax increases and cutting $2.4 trillion in run-away government spending. Read More »

How area legislators voted on bill restricting insurance coverage of abortions

Kansas legislators have approved a ban on insurance companies offering abortion coverage as part of their general health plans except when a woman’s life is at risk.

Here’s how area lawmakers voted on the bill, which passed the Senate 28-10 and the House 86-30 and has been sent to the governor.

SENATE

Republicans

All area Republicans voted yes, except for Jean Schodorf of Wichita, who voted no, and Les Donovan of Wichita, who did not vote.

Democrats

Oletha Faust-Goudeau of Wichita voted no.

HOUSE

Republicans

All area Republicans voted yes, except for Joanne Pottorf of Wichita, who voted no.

Democrats voting yes

Jan Pauls, Hutchinson; Vince Wetta of Wellington

Democrats voting no

Nile Dillmore, Gail Finney, Geraldine Flaharty, Judy Loganbill, Ponka-We Victors and Jim Ward, Wichita; Ed Trimmer, Winfield.

Democrats not voting

Melody McCray-Miller, Wichita.

House budget negotiators increase education offer

By Brad Cooper

House budget negotiators returned this morning with new offers to settle its budget fight with the Senate.

Among other things, it has agreed to reduce the amount it wants to cut education so long as the Senate agrees to pass three other bills that would bring in additional funds.

The House also wants passage of a bill that would allow schools to access reserve funds to offset cuts in state aid — a bill that Kansas City area schools districts say might not help them a whole lot.

The House now is willing to fund elementary and secondary education at a rate of up to $3,780 per pupil, up from its original position of $3,762.

The governor originally had wanted to fund education at $3,780 per student, down from the $4,012 that schools received at the beginning of the year. The cut was because the governor chose not to replace federal stimulus funds.

The Senate has wanted to fund education at a rate of $3,786 per pupil.

The House and Senate return this afternoon for more talks.