Registered?Commenting on WE Blog now requires you to be a Kansas.com member. Use the links above to register, if you haven't already, or to log in.
Do you tweet? Follow us on Twitter: @WE_Tweet.
Author Archives: Rhonda Holman
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.
Nov. 25, 20136:01 a.m.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, and former Bush and Reagan administration attorney David B. Rivkin Jr. fretted that Edward Snowden’s leaks of National Security Agency documents may deter Congress from passing needed legislation. “It would be lamentable if the entirely legal and invaluable NSA surveillance program became more of a political football than it already is,” they wrote. The commentary pushed back at Capitol Hill criticism of the NSA’s data collection (“Every member of Congress has had access to these programs’ inner workings and the relevant congressional committees have been consistently and fully briefed”), argued it has taken on more importance because “other intelligence collection channels have dried up” and concluded that “doing away with or weakening NSA surveillance programs would eliminate one of the country’s few remaining effective and constitutional tools for keeping Americans safe.”
Nov. 25, 20136:00 a.m.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (in photo) is strongly positioned to be re-elected next year, judging from a recent SurveyUSA poll. In the survey, sponsored by KWCH, Channel 12 in Wichita, 49 percent of the 512 registered voters polled said they favored Kobach. That compares with 33 percent support for Democratic challenger Jean Schodorf, a former Republican state senator from Wichita. It’s early, of course, and 31 percent said they might change their mind. But it’s striking that even after three years of news reports about Kobach’s moonlighting legal work and the registration and voting problems caused by his phony anti-fraud legislation, only 11 percent of those who said they voted for him in 2010 would switch to Schodorf next time.
Nov. 24, 20136:02 a.m.
This should be reason enough for the Kansas congressional delegation to avoid more government shutdowns: The 16-day impasse in October delayed 156 airplane deliveries worth $1.9 billion, according to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. Whether or not they agreed with the Obama administration’s decision to deem the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Registration office nonessential and lay off employees, the Kansas Republicans in Congress should recognize that the cost of another shutdown would be too great for Kansas’ planemakers and fragile economy.
Nov. 24, 20136:00 a.m.
“We have weakened this body, permanently undermined it, for the sake of this incompetent administration. What a tragedy.” – Sen. Pat Roberts (in photo), R-Kan., reacting on the Senate floor to the rules change curbing the GOP minority’s filibuster power
“This policy will hasten our economic collapse as a country…. I will not soil myself with this garbage.” – Sedgwick County Commissioner Richard Ranzau, during his 13-minute speech against allowing any county employees to act as Obamacare “navigators”
“Another day, another ACLU lawsuit.” – Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, dismissing the American Civil Liberties Union’s “strange” legal challenge to his proposed dual voter-registration system
“Most people who are complimentary wait until you are walking out the door and then they kind of whisper in your ear, ‘I just want to tell you you are doing a good job.’ People who are more likely to complain and raise concerns are the ones that speak the loudest at town hall meetings.” – Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., who will hold his 1,000th town hall Monday in Marion
“Help, I’ve landed and I can’t take off!” “If this isn’t an air force base, then why is it named after a colonel?” – Thursday tweets from the “Jabara Dreamlifter” Twitter account after the massive cargo plane went to the wrong airport
Nov. 22, 20136:00 a.m.
The Air Capital can thank Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, for the victory of the Small Aircraft Revitalization Act, which won final congressional approval last week and moved to President Obama’s desk. Amid a toxic political atmosphere, Pompeo worked with the Federal Aviation Administration and industry representatives to not only improve the regulatory environment for general aviation but also prove that Congress and the White House can still come together on needed legislation. And as National Business Aviation Association president and CEO Ed Bolen put it: “Streamlining the certification process for general aviation manufacturers, while preserving important safety requirements, will lead to swifter adoption of new aircraft designs and vital safety equipment, benefiting everyone from pilots and their passengers to manufacturers.” Now, the president needs to sign the bill.
Nov. 21, 20136:00 a.m.
President Obama’s latest nomination of a Kansan to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is going smoothly so far – and thank goodness for that, given how abortion-related politics doomed his solid choice of former Kansas Attorney General Steve Six two years ago. Kansas Supreme Court Justice Nancy Moritz, chosen by Obama in August to fill a long-vacant seat on the Denver-based federal court, reportedly was well-received at last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and already has the stated support of Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan. The nomination of Moritz, a Beloit native and Washburn University law graduate, still must be approved by the committee and full Senate. Carl Tobias, a federal court watcher who is Williams Professor of Law at the University of Richmond (Va.), told the Topeka Capital-Journal: “I’m optimistic, cautiously, that she’ll be confirmed. Probably with very few ‘no’ votes.” For Kansas Republicans, the nomination has the plus of allowing Gov. Sam Brownback his first opportunity to name a member of the state Supreme Court.
Nov. 20, 20131:15 p.m.
Confronted by Sedgwick County Commissioner Karl Peterjohn’s off-agenda resolution Wednesday to “cease and desist” in participating in the Affordable Care Act and to not accept a $2,400 grant to train Comcare employees in ACA sign-up, County Commission Chairman Jim Skelton (in photo) and Commissioners Dave Unruh and Tim Norton considered the best interests of county residents and, to their credit, voted accordingly. Skelton and Unruh both expressed concern about the short notice and potential consequences for low-income residents. “I think we want the law of the land to change,” Skelton said. “But since the law of the land is what it is, I feel it would be irresponsible for me to deny mentally handicapped people, low-income people, people who are underserved in medical care that come to the county to seek help, because that’s all there is.” Skelton was right: Though the problems that the ACA is experiencing and causing are real, the county commissioners’ priority should be helping county residents.
Nov. 20, 20136:00 a.m.
Good for the Wichita City Council for opting to take more time to consider the performing arts before diving into a Century II planning and design study aimed at increasing Wichita’s ability to attract conventions. The council voted 5-1 Tuesday to wait until next month to approve the study, which will spend up to $240,000 in funds that had been earmarked for Century II improvements to instead look at whether to gut and redo the blue-domed convention facility or tear it down. As Wayne Bryan, producing artistic director of Music Theatre of Wichita, argued so persuasively to council members, any look at Century II’s future should thoroughly consider the needs of and possibilities for the performing arts, including the programs at area universities. Despite the official assurances that the arts are crucial, this process has been too fast and too convention-focused so far.
Nov. 10, 20136:01 a.m.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, has gained attention for declaring his office won’t help constituents with the Affordable Care Act, referring them instead to the Department of Health and Human Services. At a town hall in Hays last week, Huelskamp took his defiance a step further, according to the Hays Daily News. “I’m here for Kansans to say, ‘Hey, we are not participating. Send us the fine or penalty, we’re not paying that either,’” he said. “We refuse to be coerced by Washington.” In another provocative statement, Huelskamp claimed the National Security Agency is not being truthful with Congress or the public about its domestic and international spying: “Every time they have told us something in closed-door hearings, I usually read about it on the front page (of the) paper a day later that said it was untrue. They have lied to me.”
Nov. 10, 20136:00 a.m.
“Everything is in limbo, or until the 1,000-pound gorilla keeps thumping its chest or goes away.” – House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, on the Kansas Supreme Court and its pending school-finance decision
“Maybe it’s not Eisenhower. Maybe it’s the infamous Pete Meitzner.” – Mayor Carl Brewer, kidding the vice mayor about the possible scope of the airport renaming
“Just man up.” – Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, telling Politico his advice to his 230 Republican colleagues in the House, while also acknowledging another anti-Obamacare shutdown is unlikely
“John Bardo’s got guts.” – Kansas Board of Regents chairman Fred Logan, praising the leadership of Wichita State University’s president
Nov. 9, 20136:00 a.m.
Neither Kansan in the U.S. Senate was among the 10 Republicans who helped pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act on Thursday. In the unlikely event that the landmark bill passes the currently GOP-led House and becomes law, it will add protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans to those that bar workplace discrimination on the basis of religion, race, gender, disability and age. It exempts religious institutions and the military, and was amended Wednesday to protect religious groups further. The Kansans’ “no” votes were not surprising, especially considering that Sen. Pat Roberts (left) has a GOP primary challenger next year. But it’s disappointing that neither Roberts nor Sen. Jerry Moran was willing to take a stand against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, recalling memories of their votes last December against the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities.