Daily Archives: Jan. 5, 2007

Wittig gets a reprieve

Fraud convictions of former Westar Energy executives David Wittig and Douglas Lake were tossed out today by a federal appeals court in Denver. What’s more, most of the counts can’t be retried, the court said. It just goes to show how difficult it is to convict CEOs, even when they nearly run their companies into the ground for their personal enrichment.
Posted by Phillip Brownlee

Snooping on snail mail, too?

The government can’t open somebody’s mail without a warrant. Yet a recent signing statement by President Bush gave notice that his administration would construe that provision “in a manner consistent, to the maximum extent permissible, with the need to conduct searches in exigent circumstances.”
White House spokesman Tony Snow downplayed the signing statement. “This is not a change in law, this is not new, it is not . . . a sweeping new power by the president," he said. But some civil liberties and law experts said the statement’s language is unduly vague and appears to go beyond long-recognized limits, the Washington Post reported.
It sure sounds like the Bush administration thinks the government can open somebody’s mail without a warrant — and like a good issue for the new Congress to explore.
Posted by Rhonda Holman

Will raising minimum wage help the poor?

It seems likely that Congress will pass and President Bush will sign a bill raising the federal minimum wage. But columnist George Will (who thinks there should be no minimum wage) argues that raising the wage won’t help the poor much. Among his stats:
*Most of the working poor earn more than the minimum wage.
*Only one in five workers earning the federal minimum lives in families with earnings below the poverty line.
* More than a quarter of people earning the federal minimum wage or less are between ages 16 and 19.
* Sixty percent of those earning the federal minimum or less work in restaurants and bars and earn tips — often untaxed, perhaps — in addition to wages.
Posted by Phillip Brownlee

Open thread

Why won’t Kline share records?

Operation Rescue activists are still claiming that Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston is protecting abortion doctor George Tiller (see lame cartoon). They went to Foulston’s office Wednesday to try to persuade her to let outgoing Attorney General Phill Kline prosecute Tiller and left complaining about being “stonewalled.” But if these activists are so convinced that Kline has a good case (and how exactly do they know this?), why don’t they press Kline to give copies of the investigation records to Foulston? She says she has asked for the records in order to evaluate the case but has still not received them.
Posted by Phillip Brownlee

Hottest new sign in town for the new year

Maybe the no-gun signs just take some getting used to, or maybe their posting will be short-lived. In any case, it was remarkable to see so many pop up prominently on local doors right on schedule Monday, including at malls and hotels. Especially in the latter case, the large, Phill Kline-approved signs risk sending off-putting messages to visitors. Gun-rights proponents may see the businesses as infringing on their constitutional rights to carry, as those who favor gun laws may find it uncomfortable to be reminded that concealed-carry is now mostly the rule. Why don’t the 46 other concealed-carry states seem to have no-gun signs all over the place?
The Kansas City Star reports, by the way, that Sedgwick County leads the state in conceal-carry permit applications, with 950 of the state’s more than 4,880. Does that make Wichita the new Dodge City?
Posted by Rhonda Holman

Wanted: new leader for Kansas GOP

The race to replace Tim Shallenburger as chairman of the Kansas Republican Party could get interesting. Farmer-rancher and state Sen. Tim Huelskamp (in photo), R-Fowler, wants the job, which he’d combine with his lawmaking. “I’m conservative, but if you look at polls of Kansans, they are as well,” Huelskamp told the Hutchinson News.
Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, president of Sentry International and co-founder of Thayer Aerospace, announced his candidacy on Wednesday, with running mate state Rep. Peggy Mast, R-Emporia. In an announcement statement, Pompeo said, “We must improve the effectiveness of our efforts to organize and raise capital, the professionalism of our advance voting efforts, and the thoroughness of our voter identification plans,” adding, “there is no time to waste and much to be done — it’s about Republicans winning.”
Meanwhile, the KC Buzz Blog has noted blogosphere talk that outgoing Attorney General (and incoming Johnson County District Attorney) Phill Kline may seek to moonlight in the state GOP job. Another rumor is that Kris Kobach, a former candidate for Congress from Overland Park, may also run.
Kansas Republicans choose their leader at Kansas Day weekend activities Jan. 26-28 in Topeka.
Posted by Rhonda Holman

Norton’s new job not surprising

Another year has brought another job for Gale Norton, the former Wichitan who resigned as President Bush’s interior secretary last March. This month Norton will become a general counsel in Royal Dutch Shell’s exploration and production business, which partly involves recovering oil from shale. Norton will work out of Colorado, where she served two terms as attorney general before her five years in the Bush Cabinet.
Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, called the hiring an example of the “hand-in-glove relationship between Big Oil and the Bush administration’s top Interior officials.” Anybody who has observed the revolving door between Washington, D.C., and industry would call it nothing new.
Posted by Rhonda Holman