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Author Archives: Rhonda Holman
Dec. 8, 20136:00 a.m.
“Washington will change the way you think. It will kind of mess you up. That’s why I travel back and forth from Kansas to D.C. every week.” – Sen. Jerry Moran (in photo), R-Kan., in Marion, at his 1,000th town hall meeting
“Does this midnight New Year’s Eve race include Breathalyzers at the start or the finish line?” – Vice Mayor Pete Meitzner, as the City Council passed an ordinance blessing GoRun Wichita’s special 5K
“So you’ll be able to go ahead and run then, vice mayor, with immunity.” – Council member Janet Miller, when the answer was “no”
“We’d like to get engaged before we announce we got married.” – Kansas Commerce Secretary Pat George, suggesting the Brownback administration was blindsided by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s recent speech advocating a truce in the economic development border war
“In my opinion, the worst family in the world is better for a child than the best foster home.” – Kansans for Liberty’s Craig Gabel, in the Topeka Capital-Journal, about the group’s 2014 goal of curbing the state’s capacity to remove kids from homes
“Did you realize you’ve been getting dumber?” – Rep. Annie Tietze, D-Topeka, joking to a crowd in fluoridated Topeka about proposed legislation to force cities to tell water users about the (scientifically disputed) dangers of fluoridation
Dec. 5, 201312:17 p.m.
Sedgwick County commissioners’ welcome vote Wednesday to give Episcopal Social Services’ Breakthrough Club $137,500 from their contingency fund moved the club out of immediate danger, as it removed any doubt about the county’s appreciation for all the club does for its members and the community. The meeting also highlighted how unique and effective Breakthrough Club is as a resource for those with serious and persistent mental illnesses. Now the hope is that the grant – half the amount that the club has received from the county since it lost access to Medicaid funding in 2010 – can be leveraged to find sustainable funding. Given the budget pressures the county has seen and expects going forward, its Comcare community mental health agency will continue to feel the need to keep resources focused on clinical mental health treatment, especially for those in crisis.
Dec. 5, 20136:00 a.m.
Grover Norquist, founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, described Kansas’ Sam Brownback as a “phenomenal” governor and counted him among the seven current or former state CEOs he sees as serious contenders for the Republican nomination in 2016. His list for the Daily Caller also included New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. They “could raise the money and have governed well enough to be able to straight-faced say, ‘I’m running for president and you should consider me as a Reagan Republican,’” Norquist said.
Dec. 3, 201312:01 p.m.
When the Wichita City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to proceed with a design and planning study of Century II, a formal $30,000 to $50,000 consideration of the performing arts’ needs and potential was included. That was appropriate – and a relief after the initial push for a study mostly focused on facility improvements that could bolster Wichita as a convention market. In addressing the council, Music Theatre of Wichita producing artistic director Wayne Bryan noted that quality-of-life issues are an important part of planning Wichita’s future. He also confirmed that Century II’s arts tenants draw more than locals; for example, Music Theatre’s 75,000 attendees over a summer include about 15,000 from out of town and even season ticket holders from Colorado, Arkansas and Oklahoma. “Maybe some of them have private planes. I don’t know, but they show up every two weeks in the summer to come see the shows,” Bryan said.
Dec. 2, 201312:11 p.m.
A frustrating number of area drivers failed to switch on their headlights in Monday morning’s fog. Maybe they could see without difficulty, or so they assumed, but they made it challenging for other drivers to see and avoid them. Using headlights in fog isn’t just common sense. It’s also in state law, which calls for lighted head and other lamps whenever, “due to insufficient light or unfavorable atmospheric conditions, including smoke or fog, persons and vehicles on the highway are not clearly discernible at a distance of 1,000 feet ahead.” Since 2006, Kansans also have been required to use headlights “when windshield wipers are in continuous use as a result of rain, sleet or snow” – another law too often ignored.
Dec. 2, 20136:00 a.m.
There is still room for improvement in USD 259’s graduation rate of 76.5 percent, which lags the state average of 86 percent. But the district is moving in the right direction, having brought up the rate from 63.1 percent four years ago. With the help of special programs that engage and support students, the Wichita district has been able to help more Hispanic males (up 30 percent) and African-American males (up 24 percent) reach the finish line since 2009 during a time when state per-pupil funding has been cut. Well done.
Dec. 1, 20136:01 a.m.
Pondering who’s up and down in politics these days, the Kansas City Star’s Steve Kraske noted that the old conventional wisdom was that Gov. Sam Brownback (in photo) would “breeze to a second four years. The new CW: He still will, but with a hitch in his gait against the Paul Davis-Jill Docking Democratic ticket. Put Brownback’s odds at maybe 3-to-1. The issue remains Brownback’s anemic poll numbers. We’re going to have a race, folks.” As for Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Kraske wrote: “He’s making all the right moves with tea party challenger Milton Wolf now staring him in the face for the August 2014 primary. Roberts remains a prohibitive favorite. Still, it’s breathtaking to see the extent to which the challenge has re-energized the three-term senator.”
Dec. 1, 20136:00 a.m.
“Legislating is a very intensive process. Emotions run high, and it can be confrontational. That’s why one of the first things I did when I became Senate president was get rid of the space underneath the door to my office, so people can’t hear what is going on outside. We sealed it, because we didn’t want those conversations to be heard.” – Senate President Susan Wagle (in photo), R-Wichita, in a Pittsburg speech
“I can’t use KPERS to gas up our buses.” – Paul Dorathy, superintendent of Baldwin City schools, on how the governor’s efforts to better fund the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System don’t help pay district bills
“Looks like Wichita special interests won’t be happy until they control all #ksleg in #joco. It’s time to stand up.” – Rep. Stephanie Clayton, R-Overland Park, tweeting about a report that Craig Gabel’s Wichita-based Kansas for Liberty group may try to recall Rep. Melissa Rooker, R-Fairway, and Rep. Diana Dierks, R-Salina, over their education voting records
Nov. 30, 20136:00 a.m.
Is concealed-carry welcome at Kansas polling places? Well, it depends. According to an opinion issued Wednesday by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, whatever the rule in a building the rest of the year will prevail on Election Day, except in the unlikely event that a county rents an entire private building as a polling place. “The use of real property as a polling place does not transform the nature of that property for the purposes of the (Personal and Family Protection Act),” he wrote. But in answering Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s question that way, Schmidt likely has sowed confusion for voters and local election officials. It would be better if Kansas did as Texas and Florida have done, and specifically barred guns at polling places.
Nov. 28, 20136:00 a.m.
State government needs to open up and let the public watch it work, as evidenced by two events Monday in Topeka. Gov. Sam Brownback held a closed-door meeting with select legislators and educators to talk about school finance (his spokeswoman said “the goal really in all of this was to have people feel as free as possible to have an open discussion”). And the Legislature’s joint oversight committee for home and community based services and KanCare held a Statehouse meeting without taking advantage of the room’s streaming-video capability, which could have provided an online audience statewide. One Capitol insider noted on Twitter, “Ironic that no one at home or in the community can watch a HCBS committee meeting” – and wrong, especially with the Statehouse renovation having just cost more than $300 million.
Nov. 27, 20136:01 a.m.
It compounds the shock and tragedy of the mobile-home fire early Tuesday in east Wichita that two of the four fatalities were children. Of the 10 fire deaths so far in 2013 in the city, at least four have been kids. Though the cause of the latest fatal fire is under investigation, the deaths and injuries should serve to remind Wichitans to safeguard their own homes, including by ensuring smoke detectors are operable and chimneys are well-maintained. Other fires this year and last have been linked by investigators to hazards such as spliced, coiled and overloaded power cords; to gasoline vapors ignited by a space heater; and to children playing with a lighter or matches. This week’s four fatalities approach the five deaths for all of 2012 in Wichita, and should call the community to be especially cautious during this holiday period.
Nov. 25, 201312:34 p.m.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, has a new long-shot plan of attack on the Affordable Care Act, according to Politico: If another continuing budget resolution is necessary in January, conservatives would include a provision stripping funding for states’ Medicaid expansion and redirecting that money to offset $20 billion in defense cuts scheduled under sequestration. “It helps us achieve two goals at once — one to pull something out of Obamacare…. Two, it pushes back at some Republicans worried about the sequester,” Huelskamp said. He also told Politico that because many GOP governors (including Gov. Sam Brownback) aren’t expanding Medicaid under the ACA, the impact would be felt most in Democratic states.