Front Page » Monthly Archives » Archives: March 2010


GREAT BEND, Kan. - "Hey, Marty, this guy was in this morning and introduced himself," said Paul Wagner, owner of Great Bend Coffee in downtown Great Bend. Wagner handed me a palm card from Tracey Mann, Republican candidate for Congress. "Nice guy," said Wagner, as he prepared for the daily lunch crowd.

When I got home for lunch, my wife, Julie, a Republican, had received the same palm card about Mann in the door, and a more detailed brochure arrived later in the U.S. Mail.

Yes, the Tracey Mann for Congress road show was in Great Bend today, and he seems pretty organized. His campaign brochure is impressive, particularly the fact that he was raised on a farm at Quinter, a quintessential Western Kansas farm town.

Why You Should Answer the Door

OSKALOOSA, Kan. - I know many of you out there are like me in that when someone that looks like they want something comes knocking at your door, you treat them like a Jehovah's Witness and sit very still not to make a sound and hope they go away. Being someone that has walked many a neighborhood in the past few years, I can say that those who come a knocking aren't all bad.

House Hears Concealed Carry Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. - Do the No Concealed Carry signs posted on numerous buildings around the state make you feel more safe, or more vulnerable? Different answers to this question led to a long debate on the House floor on Tuesday, March 23, when a bill was heard to loosen conceal carry laws for the state of Kansas.

House Bill 2685 would allow individuals (including employees) with a conceal carry license to be able to carry a weapon into a public building unless that building has "adequate security measures" in place. What kind of security measures would it take to make the proponents of this bill feel safe? Metal detectors, wands or full time security guards at every entrance to the building for example. Public buildings would be required to take down their No Concealed Carry signs.

FHSU Visits Oxford Mississippi

HAYS, Kan. - After seeing the pictures on their walls and talking to each individual, I was not surprised that Brad Will and Brenda Craven should team up to chaperon an English department trip. Students in Will's course Faulkner and the Literary South traveled to Oxford, Mississippi, during the fall 2009 semester. Both Will and Craven are lively and engaging members of the Fort Hays State University faculty. Will is clearly a Star Wars enthusiast, based on the adventurous posters in his office -- in fact, he edits Star Wars manuals. I first met Craven when I was welcomed into her office, and my eyes were captured by the enormous canvas that engulfed her plain-white wall with bright ranges of reds and oranges, much like her vivid personality.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Today's Wichita Eagle mentions the latest SurveyUSA poll sponsored by KWCH, Channel 12. According to the poll results, only 23% of Kansans approve of the job done by the Kansas Legislature, and Republican U.S. Senator Sam Brownback's job approval rating is only 50%.

Considering that the Kansas Legislature is dominated and controlled by Republicans in both Chambers, this bodes well for the Democrats picking up House seats this year. The State Senate is not up for reelection until 2012. And Senator Morris, the Republican President of the Senate, seems to be more sensitive to public opinion than
House Republican leaders.

President Obama has a higher approval rating (37%) and a lower disapproval rating(61%) than the Kansas legislature. 65% of Kansans disapprove of the Kansas Legislature.

And Senator Brownback? For a 16 year Republican incumbent to have an approval rating of 50% suggests that his quest to switch from Washington, D.C. to the Governor's Mansion this year may be more adventurous than he had hoped. 42% of Kansans disapprove of Brownback's job performance.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - What now seems like a lifetime ago, I taught English as a Foreign Language in Naples, Italy. A young lady came into my life for the academic year 87-88. She was the younger sister of a friend, and the last child of huge German Catholic family. She was a student at the University of Kansas and had come to Naples to study the great 20th Century Neapolitan playwright, Eduardo De Fillippo.

Her spirit of adventure and wonderment amazed me.

Her talents for acquiring language, overcoming obstacles, and seeing possibilities impressed me.

Now 22 years later she still does.

Kansas Children Are Above Average

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Every child in America deserves an equal chance in life. The best way for every child to receive an equal chance in life is an adequate education. For our children to be equal, they must be given the same skills and resources to prosper in life. Not just for themselves, for the state and community they live in. My Father would always tell me, "An education is something no one can take away from you, no matter what happens. Everything you own may be taken, but you have knowledge and thought on your side."

GREAT BEND, Kan. - The Kansas Chamber of Commerce scolded 14 local chambers of commerce on Thursday for supporting a tax increase to fix the yawning Kansas budget deficit. The starkly differing constituencies of the KCCI (Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Industry) and local chambers of commerce can no longer be papered over.

The KCCI supports huge transnational corporations. The local chambers support Main Street. The KCCI supports far-right libertarian thought. The local chamber groups supports small businesses, whether owned by Republicans, Democrats, Independents, or non-political types.

I assume these local chambers of commerce pay dues to belong to the mother organization: the KCCI. Expect some defections. You can expect this recent dustup to be the prelude for more infighting between the 'mothership' and the local chambers. The KCCI is completely out of touch with small business, and is not worthy of being paid dues by any local chamber of commerce in the State of Kansas.

Turn Off the T.V. and Read

HAYS, Kan. - Though I should be excited, not to mention proud of myself, that I am reaching the end of the book I've been feverishly reading this past week, I'm not. In protest to my upcoming biology test, I've immersed myself in the book "Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang" and have only one chapter left.

I often have a hard time finding a book that completely catches my interest, but I can't put this one down. Chelsea Handler, who runs a late night comedy show on E!, keeps me turning the pages for more.

For anyone who's seen her show, you know just as well as I do that she's a hoot! From her pulling outlandish tricks on her staff, family and Boyfriend, to her Jewish father Melvin and his shenanigans, I've spent the past week laughing. When you read the book, her voice resonates, making her catchy punch lines ten times better.

COUNCIL GROVE, Kan. - In late January 1860, the Kanza Indians traded 500 wolf skins to Emporia merchant, A. G. Proctor, in exchange for "groceries, dry goods, etc." Proctor found most of the tribe in their winter camps approximately thirty miles west of Emporia near present Elmdale in the Cottonwood valley and its tributaries, Middle and Diamond creeks.

The Kanzas had just returned from their annual autumn hunt in present-day central Kansas. From October through mid-January, the tribe dispersed in bands, establishing camps on Cow Creek and the Little Arkansas, Smoky Hill, and Saline rivers. The men pursued game, especially buffalo, and gathered furs; the women tanned and dressed the robes and peltry into saleable condition.

The return trip down the Cottonwood River valley passed through where Florence stands today. But the Kanzas had not made a successful hunt, "owing to the fact that the Buffalo had for some reason gone further back and were very scarce in the country where they had been accustomed to find them."

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Kansas Senate Majority Leader Steve Morris (R-Hugoton) favors a tax increase. So why would a Republican in Western Kansas -- the most Republican area in the state -- want to raise taxes?

Because he's smart. Because Senator Morris cares more about the future of rural Kansas than his own political future. Because he knows that those suffering most from the draconian state budget cuts are those in rural Kansas. But maybe Senator Morris is smart like a fox, and knows the heart of Western Kansas. I suspect he does.

HAYS, Kan. - It could happen anywhere, anytime, anyplace -- in a coffee shop, in a room, on a Monday, or on a Friday -- but the Human Right's Group always meets once a week. Most of their meetings are held on the Fort Hays State University campus. The Human Right's Group is open to anyone who is willing to fight for a cause. It brings FHSU students, non-FHSU students, faculty, staff and community together to take action against anything from sexual violence to poverty.

They head many rights awareness projects including their most recent one "To Write Love on Her Arms" (TWLOHA), a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. All they asked was that people write the word love on their arms as a symbol of support. The unofficial attendance for TWLOHA was somewhere around 265 people.

This last Monday the 22, I attended my first meeting. There seemed to be many matters that I was left in the dark on since I joined too late in the year, but the members, who were both inviting and helpful, didn't hesitate to get me caught up.

Last Train to Crazyville

They could have called, or written an email, or even stopped by to talk. But instead, they decided to throw a brick through the window of Sedgwick County Democratic Party Headquarters.

WICHITA, Kan. - If one would have asked me if the Republican Party has gone completely off its rocker I would have to say no, At least that true for the majority of rank file members. Recent events however test that resolve, verbal racist slurs at Congressmen John Lewis and Andre Carson, protesters spitting on on Kansas City Congressman Emanuel Cleaver.

Then apparently egged on by self styled Militia leader Mike Vanderboegh, of Pinson, Alabama,.calls for a modern "Sons of Liberty," to smash windows at Democratic Party offices. Vandals broke out windows at several Democratic party offices in NY, and Arizona and here in Kansas.

Health Care Bill Is Not Socialism

GREAT BEND, Kan. - When I was growing up in the 70's, people used the word "Communism" if they wanted to scare people. Because Communism collapsed and the Cold War is over, a different word is being used now to scare people: Socialism.

The health care bill has been referred to as "Socialism" over and over by it's detractors. So I decided to look up the word "Socialism." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines Socialism, to wit:

  1. any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods;
  2. a system of society or group living in which there is no private property; a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state.
  3. a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.

Balance vs. Budgets

MCDOWELL CREEK, Kan. - "Families have to balance their budgets," my Republican friend said to me, "and the state should, too." We were discussing Kansas's latest round of budget cuts. I had expressed a worry that deeper cuts would eliminate even more jobs and that insufficient spending on education and infrastructure would undermine long-term recovery. Afterwards, I thought about the family as a metaphor for the state. What if we pushed the analogy further?

A few days ago, I was in a post office in another community, waiting to mail a package. I had spent the previous day on the phone and then on-line, trying to get the USPS's click 'n ship to work. The USPS has been urging customers to complete transactions on-line; but after many hours of frustration -- and multiple "chats" with on-line help -- I learned that the zip code I was trying to mail to had not yet been entered into the system. Hence, my trip to an actual, physical post office. There I found a line of customers extending out the door and around the lobby. I was recovering from surgery and unsteady on my feet, so my package and I leaned against various spots on various walls as the line crept toward the two employees at the counter.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - About a month ago, health care reform was dead. The President himself acknowledged that health care reform "might die in the Congress." Insurers like Anthem and WellPoint brazenly started raising their health insurance premiums again. It was over. Back to business as usual.

When health insurance reform died on January 19 with the loss of the Jack Kennedy/Ted Kennedy Senate seat in Massachusetts, the health insurance companies began to celebrate.

Heath insurance companies announced that they had made record profits in 2009 -- totalling $12.2 billion -- a 56% increase in profits from 2008 for Cigna, Humana, Aetna, Wellpoint, and United Health. In 2009 they kicked 2.7 million Americans out of their health plans. The health insurance industry didn't seem embarrassed by these statistics at all. After all, health care reform died with Senator Kennedy on August 25, 2009. Kennedy's replacement, Republican Scott Brown, was elected on January 19, 2010. Brown's election was "game over" for health care reform.

ELLIS, Kan. - First, I would like to clearly state my premise and reason for writing this piece. I believe it is always irresponsible to forward, publish, or publicly declare material that one knows to be malicious, false, and inflammatory. I further believe that it is also irresponsible to disseminate material that is inflammatory, even if the specific facts contained therein are technically correct, if by omission of some facts and over-emphasis of others, there is clear intent to arouse others to unjustified anger and potentially unjust action. I believe that a weak "small print" disclaimer accompanying such dissemination does not relieve one of responsibility.

A few years ago, at a Memorial Day observance at the Hays, Kansas, VFW, a local dignitary presented a "keynote" speech, in which he declared that we (the United States) had been "at war with Islam" for, at that time, 33 years. He cited a litany of events over the 33 years to "prove" his point.

LAWRENCE, Kan. - Here in Lawrence, we just came through a dramatic and upsetting round of school funding cuts that effectively divided our community. There were threats of some--or several--of our grade schools being closed and things got ugly as parents turned on each other. When parents of children in threatened schools rallied, some parents of children whose schools were not on the chopping block were concerned that their schools would lose teachers, librarians, nurses, paras, etc. in order to save smaller, older grade schools. (What they didn't seem to take into consideration was that class sizes were going to go up regardless, because all those kids from closed schools were going to have to flood the remaining schools.)

Hoof and Mouth Disease! Oh, Oh, Oh!

GEM, Kan. - How many people even know what hoof and mouth disease is? Is that the epidemic that is running rampant in Washington D.C. or Topeka? Politicians are hoofing it out of town and mouths are spreading 'virus like' rumors and innuendos that have no fact behind them?

I'm compelled to write (It rained last night and I can't go to the field.) in response to another writer's article and the responses that followed. The article, if you want to reference to it, was: One Cent Will Save Public Education. Foot and mouth disease got worked into the comment section. What's that got to do with sales tax?

Let's look at this 'hoof and mouth' issue.

Tough Times

GREAT BEND, Kan. - I remember the first time I seen a homeless person. My family took summer vacations each year to fantastic American destinations, the Grand Canyon, Lake Tahoe, Maine, Florida, we made it to each state by the time my sister graduated high school. The Griswold vacation movies hold a bit of nostalgia for me. A family that piles into a car with a pop up camper and an atlas share an experience never forgotten. For better or for worse. Most can write a book about their childhood. I'm pretty certain I could write a sitcom.

Speaker cancelation

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Sasha Abramsky, scheduled to speak at the Manhattan Alliance for Peace and Justice Annual Meeting and Dinner on March 27th, has informed MAPJ that his grandfather has passed away in London, UK, requiring him to cancel his scheduled speaking engagements through early April.

Further announcements will be forthcoming as rescheduling is determined to be feasible or not.

Opinionated Pragmatist

GEM, Kan. - I always thought pragmatism was a positive attribute. But, I've discovered, since President Obama's thought process has been labeled pragmatic, that a great number of people consider pragmatism to be negative.

Since as far back as I can remember, my opinions, motivations, and actions have been arrived at through a pragmatic process. The consequence of what I thought was well reasoned pragmatic opinion resulted in some rather memorable spankings from my parents. It took me a while to learn that even though the boss wasn't always right, the boss was still the boss. Quite often, we pragmatists make spur of the moment decisions and speak without thinking.

TOPEKA, Kan. - On March 16, a crowd estimated to be 1,000 parents, teachers and students rallied at the east steps of Capitol in Topeka to protest potential future cuts in education funding. Demanding that schools get "what's right, not what's left," and "SOS - save our schools," the crowd's chants echoed in down the halls of the Capitol. Photobucket
AYF rally particpants

Following the Montoy lawsuit in 2005, funding levels substantially improved educational results and programs across the state. Kansas children were learning more, were achieving high academic standards and graduating from high school ready to contribute to our state.

Still the funding never reached the levels ascribed in the Kansas Legislature's own cost study (2001 Augenblick and Myers). This study found that funding needed for Kansas schools - now nine years ago - ranged from $5,811 per pupil (large districts) to $8,541 per pupil (small districts); with additional costs for: special education: $7,400-$12,000 per pupil; at-risk: $1,900-$2,600 per pupil; English Language Learner (ELL): $1,200 to $6,000 per pupil. In order to be a "Successful School," the average base cost of $4,547 per pupil was proposed.

Covenant Marriage ... FAILS!

TOPEKA, Kan. - Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee debated leaving the Covenant Marriage Amendment as a part of HB 2667. This amendment was added by Rep. Anthony Brown (R-Eudora) on the floor of the House. It would have changed marriage statutes in our state without even having received a formal hearing.

Yesterday, Kansas NOW testified against the amendment in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The opposition to the bill was overwhelming, while absolutely no supporters came to offer testimony in favor of the amendment. Even the fellow who introduced it stayed away. The bill was "worked" this morning and I am happy to report that the amendment was removed from the bill! Only two Senators voted in favor of the amendment, Senator Pilcher-Cook (R-Shawnee) and Senator Donovan (R-Wichita).

The following is the testimony that I presented on behalf of Kansas NOW...

GREAT BEND, Kan. - The Kansas Constitution provides for six statewide elected offices:
Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner, Secretary of State, and State Treasurer.

With the appointment of Democrat Chris Biggs today as the new Secretary of State, this leaves only Republican Sandy Praeger, our Insurance Commissioner, as the lone Republican constitutional statewide elected official. And we could do a lot worse than Praeger. Right Wing Republican Eric Carter tried to unseat her three years ago by telling audiences: "She's not a Republican." He lost.

Republicans love to point out that all five Democrats were appointed, as if it was sinister. But the Kansas Constitution gives the Governor great power, and having a Democrat Governor these last seven years has made these appointments possible.

TOPEKA, Kan. - On Wednesday, state employees will be making their voices heard in Topeka. Below is a press release they sent out Tuesday.

More than 250 members of the Kansas Organization of State Employees (KOSE) will be marching on the State House to make our voices heard and to share our concerns with Legislators. In the midst of this current budget crisis we are more vigilant than ever to protect our jobs, paychecks, and pensions. As state employees, our jobs, wages, and retirement are directly linked to what happens at the State House.

We understand this crisis calls for shared sacrifice from all aspects of state government. However, we are not about to sacrifice our very livelihoods and the well being of our families to balance this budget. We know where the real waste in government is and if we were better protected from reprisal we would bring it out into the open. That is why we support the Whistleblower Protection Act. It's time to cut government waste, not jobs!


TOPEKA, Kan. - Citing his experience, professionalism and dedication, Governor Mark Parkinson today named Chris Biggs as Kansas' Secretary of State.

"Chris has been in public service for more than twenty years, demonstrating an unwavering commitment to our state, our citizens, and our future," Parkinson said. "Chris will bring his forward-looking vision to the Office of Secretary of State while increasing the efficiency and participation in Kansas' elections."

Prior to today's appointment, Biggs, also served as an attorney in public service, including 14 years as Geary County Attorney. Biggs is a graduate of Kansas State University and KU Law School.

On April 1st, the Kansas Free Press (KFP) will mark its 6-month anniversary. With gratitude for the Kansans who nobly commit their time and talents to citizen journalism, we are celebrating our upcoming half-year anniversary by proudly showcasing each of our own KFP writers.

TOPEKA, Kan. - In this profile, we are honored to introduce KFP correspondent, Patrick Woods. He lives in Topeka with his wife Anna, a Topeka Public Schools teacher, and their young son Zen. When not spending time with his family, Patrick works as the director of governmental affairs, Office of Public and Governmental Services for the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. He began his state service in the governor's office, shortly before the special session of 2005, as the education policy adviser to then Governor Kathleen Sebelius.

On April 1st, the Kansas Free Press (KFP) will mark its 6-month anniversary. With gratitude for the Kansans who nobly commit their time and talents to citizen journalism, we are celebrating our upcoming half-year anniversary by proudly showcasing each of our own KFP writers.

MCDOWELL CREEK, Kan. - In this profile, we are honored to introduce KFP correspondent, Margy Stewart. She lives with her husband Ron Young on a ranch in the northern Flint Hills. Margy is professor of English at Washburn University, where she teaches American literature, composition, and nature writing. At Washburn, she is also coordinator of Writing Across the Curriculum. She is also founder of Bird Runner Wildlife Refuge.

On April 1st, the Kansas Free Press (KFP) will mark its 6-month anniversary. With gratitude for the Kansans who nobly commit their time and talents to citizen journalism, we are celebrating our upcoming half-year anniversary by proudly showcasing each of our own KFP writers.

LAWRENCE, Kan. - In this profile, we are honored to introduce KFP correspondent, George Dungan. He hails from the great state of Nebraska and spent his early life involved in Midwestern progressive politics. He was also recently elected by the Kansas Young Democrats as that state organization's 2nd Vice President. George is finishing a degree in political science and women's studies at the University of Kansas and will soon head to law school, possibly out of state. He promises to continue writing at KFP. Naturally, we hope he comes home when he achieves his J.D.

On April 1st, the Kansas Free Press (KFP) will mark its 6-month anniversary. With gratitude for the Kansans who nobly commit their time and talents to citizen journalism, we are celebrating our upcoming half-year anniversary by proudly showcasing each of our own KFP writers.

SHAWNEE, Kan. - In this profile, we are honored to introduce KFP correspondent, Amber Versola. A lifelong Kansan, Amber was born in Salina and grew up in Galva, Kansas. She attended the University of Kansas in Lawrence, where she played rugby, was active with the Emily Taylor Women's Resource Center and the Oliver Hall Government, serving for one year as its community service co-chair. She's currently continuing her education working towards a bachelors in political science from Fort Hays State University.

Paying for Access

HUTCHINSON, Kan. - The Speaker of the House for the Kansas Legislature, Mike O'Neal, just doesn't get it. He doesn't seem to understand how his actions look to the ordinary citizens he is supposed to represent.

For those who haven't heard, he is accepting money from workers compensation funds, the Kansas Bankers Association, the Kansas Realtors Association, and Speedy Cash to sue the state. These special interest groups have every right to lobby the legislature. But make no mistake about it, they try to influence legislation. And when Mr. O'Neal accepted money from these groups it sure looks like he is charging for access to his office. O'Neal may not consider this paying for access. But I do. And many other Reno County residents do.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - At the 2000 Democratic Convention in Los Angeles, an unknown State Senator from Illinois with a funny name attended the convention, but could not even snare a floor pass to the convention. The State Senator had recently gotten crushed 61% to 30% in a Congressional race in Illinois, and had no discernible future in politics.

Eight years later that unknown State Senator was elected President of the United States. Obama was cocky and foolish to challenge Congressman Bobby Rush (D-IL) in 2000. But Obama seems to have a habit of trying something audacious, getting crushed, but then making a comeback against all odds.

When Obama, a relative newcomer to the U.S. Senate, challenged Hillary Clinton for the 2008 Democratic nomination for President, he was written off by many as an overconfident upstart. When he stunned everyone by winning the Iowa caucuses, he got overconfident in New Hampshire a few days later -- and lost.

COLBY, Kan. - I lifted the following quote from the comment section of an editorial column.

Abortion neutral may be an elusive concept, but it remains very much alive if Congress, the White House and supporters of the overhaul effort want it to be.

If is a pretty big word, isn't it! The problem is the extremists on both sides don't want it to be neutral. Abortion issues and end of life ethics are the hot button issues that have stymied all efforts to pass health care reform. Neither of the extremist sides of those two issues have been interested in passing a health care bill that is neutral on those issues. As a result of this, we have a proposed health care bill that no one trusts. All the pork barrel amendments and verbose sections have produced a bill that defies simple interpretation.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - On Monday, March 8th President and Michelle Obama celebrated International Women's Day. They were joined by Madeline Albright (the first female US Secretary of State) to mark the progress women have made in the United States and to draw attention to the problems women still face all over the world. Madeline Albright pointed out many struggles women all over the world face and said that while some may claim these are cultural differences and should be left alone, she believes "it is criminal and we each have an obligation to stop it." Michelle Obama pointed out many accomplishments women have made. She also made it clear that this day was not just to honor the famous women who have made history, but the "quiet heroes;" the first women in board rooms, on playing fields and battle fields.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - The results are in, unemployment in Kansas jumped during the month of January from 6.2% to 7.1%. Kansas needs jobs; no one will argue with that. Kansas needs good paying jobs, jobs where a person can work hard, receive a paycheck and not have to worry about food at the end of the month. That should not be a debate.

It is no secret legislature in Kansas has continued to hand out tax exemptions and
give sweetheart deals to major corporations for years, while at the same time enacting tax cuts. Now the state is in trouble and according to The Pew Center On The States, a nonpartisan organization, it may be several years before our states realize just how dire our budget situation is. This is because of two reasons - people in the state of Kansas will need monetary support from the state while they are unemployed, and people are spending less. Both issues have only just begun. When people spend less money that means less revenue, or taxes for the state, this will begin to really hit the budget in the next fiscal year.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - There is no evidence that Senator Brownback is even slightly worried about losing this year's governor's race. However, a new poll by the Associated Press-GfK suggests he should be worried.

Americans detest Congress, Republicans and Democrats. A dismal 22 percent approve of the job Congress is doing. Over half of people want to fire their congressman. The American people want the two parties in Congress to work together to solve our nation's problems. And they aren't doing anything.

HAYS, Kan. - I admit I am asking a somewhat provocative question. And I will not name any particular farm reporters because perhaps the most prominent one in Kansas has family roots in Ellis County, which means I am probably related to him. However, I will say that he has given quite a bit of air time recently to Bob Stallman, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

WICHITA, Kan. - Like many other progressives, I voted for President Obama with the hope that he could facilitate positive change. But, alas, on issue after issue, Obama has been playing a one-note samba titled "Let the corporations have their way." The guy who was elected because he was "from the outside" has put in place a team that seems to be full of insiders.

In regard to our expectation that Obama would rein-in the banking industry, it's frustrating to find out the banking industry is not only fighting rule changes, but virtually the same rules and same people are still in place that led to our economic crisis.

I agree with Thomas Jefferson, who said, "If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them (around the banks), will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Sometimes, somebody just tells the truth. It's usually a child, like in the "Emperor With No Clothes." Everybody knows the truth down deep, but then someone just blurts it out, and there is a sense of relief and embarrassment.

Johnny Carson once said the only people who really tell the truth are the very young and the very old. There is some truth to that, but sometimes a middle aged person says what everyone knows to be true but is afraid to say.

Governor Mark Parkinson had such a moment last week. Discussing the Kansas legislature's 20 year "tax-cutting binge," Parkinson mentioned that the tax breaks have generally gone to the wealthy and corporate interests. "What have we done for the average person? Virtually nothing. The public has got to understand, they are being left out."

How true.

TOPEKA, Kan. - On March 4, 2010, after a lengthy debate, the Senate voted on legislation that prevented cuts from being made to Kansas' unemployment benefits.

As unemployment rates have continued to rise in Kansas, the state's Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund has been drastically depleted. The fund, which is financed by employer taxes, has recently had to borrow money from the federal government to keep up with payments to unemployed Kansans.

I voted to prevent any cuts to unemployment benefits for Kansans. I have always sided with Kansas workers on issues such as wrongful death, worker's compensation and unemployment.

This bill doesn't solve the problem of a dwindling unemployment trust fund, but until we get the economy working for everyone again, the best decision is to help struggling Kansans make ends meet.

HAYS, Kan. - Those of you who have followed the stories I've written at EverydayCitizen.com (such as this one) regarding Mabel Rawlinson may remember that finally last summer President Obama signed a bill authorizing the U.S. Congress to award her with a Congressional Gold Medal.

In World War II, over 1,100 women, called the Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), were trained to fly for the Air Force. All 1,100 of the WASP will be honorees at the ceremony this week in Washington DC.

Of course, Mabel won't be there. I will go in her place. Mabel died in 1943 in the cockpit of her Air Force bomber. Only 38 of these brave women died in service to the country. My mother's sister, Mabel Rawlinson, was one of those 38 fallen heroes.

Wednesday morning, my heart will be heavy as I enter the United States Capitol building.

Justice Should NOT Be Bought!

TOPEKA, Kan. - Kansans for Life has targeted Kansas Supreme Justice Carol Beier. They have bought ads on television, print and radio in an attempt to control and influence the judiciary process. The motivation to remove Justice Beier stems solely from their disfavor with the Justice over rulings surrounding the actions of former Attorney General Phil Kline.

Justice Carol A Beier recently asked the Kansas Ethics Commission to decide if campaign finance rules apply to retention elections for Supreme Court Justices. The ruling stated...

"Since the position of Supreme Court Justice is not included in the definition of state officer, The Campaign Finance Act does not govern your election."

VALLEY FALLS, Kan. - On Sunday, March 7, our next governor, Tom Holland, spoke to a group at The Barn Bed and Breakfast Inn, Valley Falls. I think Sen. Holland is precisely who we need to lead our state through the difficult times we are in. Don't write him off. That was the mistake made by the last two Republicans he ran against. Both were incumbents; first in a state House race, then a state Senate race. Both districts were conservative. Sen. Holland is a very pragmatic and formidable candidate who will pull no punches in the race against Sam Brownback.

On April 1st, the Kansas Free Press (KFP) will mark its 6-month anniversary. With gratitude for the Kansans who nobly commit their time and talents to citizen journalism, we are celebrating our upcoming half-year anniversary by proudly showcasing each of our own KFP writers.

WICHITA, Kan. - In this profile, we are honored to introduce KFP correspondent, Dr. Mildred Edwards. She is a passionate community leader, mobilizer and advocate. Her professional and volunteer experiences include public policy and advocacy activities, community mobilization, coalition building, capacity building, program evaluation, and non-profit administration and board development. A lifelong student of the art and science of leadership, Mildred's special skills include her abilities to think strategically and provide direction based on national trends and local data.

On April 1st, the Kansas Free Press (KFP) will mark its 6-month anniversary. With gratitude for the Kansans who nobly commit their time and talents to citizen journalism, we are celebrating our upcoming half-year anniversary by proudly showcasing each of our own KFP writers.

LAWRENCE, Kan. - In this profile, we are honored to introduce KFP correspondent, Travis Swicegood. Besides writing here, Travis is a professional programmer and owner of Domain51, a web development company in Lawrence, Kansas with a focus on non-profits, NGOs and online activists.

He says that he doesn't personally change the world, he just supports those who do.

"We want what's right, not what's left."

TOPEKA, Kan. - The above is the motto of a grassroots groups calling itself Adequate Yearly Funding. This group is organizing a rally to support education in Topeka on Tuesday, March 16. Everyone, educators, teachers, students, grandmothers, grandfathers, and other interested citizens, are welcome to join this rally.

Why should people rally for education? All one has to do is read the local newspaper or watch the local TV news to know what funding cuts will mean for Kansas schools and the students who attend them. According to an article in the March 7, 2010, issue of the Wichita Eagle, "Senate Republican leaders [have] outlined plans to push for $300 million in tax increases to help close a $450 million budget gap for the 2011 budget." (Parkinson cuts roads funding to fix budget) Tax-wary legislators need citizen support in order to follow through with these tax increases.

WICHITA, Kan. - Kansas legislators held a Town Hall Meeting on Saturday, March 6th at the WSU Metroplex and what a meeting.

Kansas State Rep. Brenda Landwehr sounded like she was trying to resurrect the confederacy. Y'all remember the confederacy? Our southern cousins decided in 1861 that they didn't have to obey the U.S. Constitution's "supremacy clause" and in fact could leave the Union if the national government passed a law they didn't cotton to.

Landwehr has decided she doesn't much cotton to following a president she didn't vote for, let alone being forced to uphold his nasty piece of legislation that would provide health insurance for a bunch of losers who can't afford to purchase their own but want a handout from hard working legislators like Landwehr.

On April 1st, the Kansas Free Press will mark its 6-month anniversary. With gratitude for the Kansans who nobly commit their time and talents to citizen journalism, we are celebrating our upcoming half-year anniversary by proudly showcasing each of our writers.

WICHITA, Kan. - In this profile, we are honored to introduce KFP correspondent, Delia Garcia. She has served in the Kansas House of Representatives since 2005. She represents the 103rd House District, which includes portions of central Wichita. As a state lawmaker, Delia currently serves on the House Committees on Commerce and Labor, Health and Human Services and Judiciary. She also served on the House Select Committee on Corrections Reform and Oversight.

Her dedication to community service has been a consistent theme in her life.

On April 1st, the Kansas Free Press will mark its 6-month anniversary. With gratitude for the Kansans who nobly commit their time and talents to citizen journalism, we are celebrating our upcoming half-year anniversary by proudly showcasing each of our writers.

SALINA, Kan. - In this profile, we are honored to introduce KFP correspondent, David Norlin. In addition to writing here, David writes occasional columns for the Salina Journal and other area print newspapers. He is former instructor of broadcast communications and English at Cloud County Community College. David's civilian, "retired" activities include swearing under and above his breath at ideologues and taking part in interesting Salina projects, such as the recent Reality Not Celebrity event in Salina. He also ran for the Kansas Senate in 2000 and as Democratic candidate for Kansas House District 71 in 2008.

MOUND CITY, Kan. - In 2002, Tom Holland said that he ran to represent his neighbors in the Kansas House of Representatives, "because our schools were facing severe funding shortages."

He explained, "Year after year, I watched my kids' classroom sizes get bigger and important programs being cut. I knew how to solve problems for businesses, and when I saw the problems facing my kids' schools, I decided to lead. I set out to share my vision with other Kansans. The critics said I had no chance. But, I went on to beat the established candidate, a four-term incumbent, and the chair of the House Education Committee."

Living in Kansas full-time, Holland raised four children: Thomas, a Kansas University graduate; Derek, a Baker University graduate; Brandon, a Kansas University junior; and Louisa, a South Junior High eighth grader. All four attended Lawrence schools during a tumultuous time when public schools faced severe funding shortages.

On April 1st, the Kansas Free Press will mark its 6-month anniversary. With gratitude for the Kansans who nobly commit their time and talents to citizen journalism, we are celebrating our upcoming half-year anniversary by proudly showcasing each of our writers.

HOBOKEN, N.J. - In this profile, we are honored to introduce KFP correspondent, David Cogswell. He says that he is a product of the middle of America in the middle of the 20th Century. David was born in Kansas to an English war bride and her D-Day veteran Navy lieutenant husband. He studied at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, pursuing courses in fine arts, art history, industrial design, English, American studies and mass communications.

SALINA, Kan. - Few folks are against free speech. But what one says is always limited to what one sees. Many good talkers are not necessarily good seers.

Case in point: Chapman Rackaway's recent editorial on the Supreme Court Citizens United case. His misguided missile, intended to strike its critics, instead winds up wounding the very free speech he advocates.

That arrow struck especially deep, given Rackaway's solid contributions to free speech, particularly through his hosting of candidate forums on Smoky Hills Public Television and his college teaching at Fort Hays State. His achievements illustrate, however, that all truth is relative, and easily blinded.

To defend free speech, Rackaway scaled Mount Everest rhetorical heights, only to fall off the cliff of corporate, moneyed influence. It's a common error.

ANDOVER, Kan. - Why would any church want to align itself with a politician or a political party?

As the geeky Milhouse van Housen asked Bart Simpson, "What do they have to gain?", and the next shot cuts to the Reverend Lovejoy throwing a cache of coins down a counting machine, the implications are clear; the church needs money to destroy the secular world.

In real life, it is not as crass as directly funneling money from the church to the politicians since that would be a campaign violation and no church would be that profoundly foolish. However, when it comes to the well known and often maligned principle of the separation of church and state, the only separating going on is the church effectively keeping government out of their business while entangling itself into the bowels of political races, governmental entities, and PACs to push their agenda into secular society.

On April 1st, the Kansas Free Press will mark its 6-month anniversary. With gratitude for the Kansans who nobly commit their time and talents to citizen journalism, we are celebrating our upcoming half-year anniversary by proudly showcasing each of our writers.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - In this profile, we are honored to introduce KFP correspondent, Kristen Walters. She is currently a senior at Kansas State University with an English literature major and a women's studies minor. She's hoping to go to graduate school to pursue a masters degree in women's / cultural studies.

Kristen is also a Kansas Free Press (KFP) intern, earning college credit at KSU by writing at KFP. We're thrilled to have her here. She says that she will continue writing at KFP, even after her semester is over. Eventually, Kristen would like to work for a non-profit feminist organization, like a crisis center, or build a career that focuses on promoting women's rights and equality.

On April 1st, the Kansas Free Press will mark its 6-month anniversary. With gratitude for the Kansans who nobly commit their time and talents to citizen journalism, we are celebrating our upcoming half-year anniversary by proudly showcasing each of our writers.

ELLIS, Kan. - In this profile, we are honored to introduce KFP correspondent, Darrell Hamlin. He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from Rutgers University, and a B.A. in American Studies from Baylor University. He has taught full time on the faculties of Rutgers, Spring Hill College, and Fort Hays State University. His scholarship, teaching, and service have received awards, and he has been the recipient of grants for research and for educational development.

As a writer, educator, and consultant, he focuses on civic renewal and expanded narratives of public life.

We Deserve Better

PRETTY PRAIRIE, Kan. - At a recent legislative forum Reno County Representative Mike O'Neal told the audience they were blaming the wrong people for cuts in education. He claimed it was the local school boards spending too much on non-classroom items that was at fault.

He certainly left me with the impression that it was high administrative costs that were the problem.

I was outraged. How could our school boards be doing this in a time of economic crisis?

Armed with righteous indignation I confronted area school superintendents. What I found was not what I expected. What Mr. O'Neal had called wasteful administrative spending seemed pretty essential to me.

Kwedit for Kids?

WICHITA, Kan. - With current financial difficulties facing the country, I find it hard that a service like Kwedit is going help solve the countries current economic crisis. The truth of the matter is although the government, banks, and other financial institutions certainly share the brunt of responsibility for the recession, the public shares a part of the blame, maxing out credit cards so one can have all the latest gadgets and live beyond their means, was a problem even before the recent meltdown.

Here is Stephen Colbert doing an expose albeit in a statical and humorous way shows the sad state of the mainstream media.

On April 1st, the Kansas Free Press will mark its 6-month anniversary. With gratitude for the Kansans who nobly commit their time and talents to citizen journalism, we are celebrating our upcoming half-year anniversary by proudly showcasing each of our writers.

HAYS, Kan. - In this profile, we are honored to introduce KFP correspondent, Henry Schwaller, IV. He works in the department of management and marketing at Fort Hays State University, where he currently teaches principles of management, entrepreneurship, small business management and business, society, and ethics. His research interests include economic development and labor force issues. Henry received his Bachelor of Science in Business and MBA from the University of Kansas.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - A sitting Republican U.S. Senator runs for governor of her state and gets thumped, 51% to 30%. On Tuesday Texas Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison became a prominent symbol of the powerful anti-Washington sentiment this year. She lost a Republican primary to Republican Governor Rick Perry, whose message was simple: anti-Washington, anti-Washington, anti-Washington.

Hutchison's Republican U.S. Senate colleague Sam Brownback should take notice. Like Senator Hutchison, Brownback sees an easy transition from U.S. Senator to Governor. But the voters of Texas seem to have said "not so fast." Republican primary voters were comfortable with the candidate who lived in Austin, Texas -- not Washington, D.C.

Kansas voters now have a choice for governor. Should they hire a guy who has been in Washington, D.C. the last 16 years, or hire a guy who has been in Baldwin City, Kansas the last 16 years?

On April 1st, the Kansas Free Press will mark its 6-month anniversary. With gratitude for the Kansans who nobly commit their time and talents to citizen journalism, we are celebrating our upcoming half-year anniversary by proudly showcasing each of our writers.

WICHITA, Kan. - In this profile, we are honored to introduce KFP correspondent, Geraldine Flaharty. She has served in the Kansas House of Representatives since 1995. She represents the 98th House District in Sedgwick County. Her district includes part of Wichita, the city of Oaklawn-Sunview and part of Riverside Township.

A lifelong Kansan, Geraldine was born in Parsons and currently lives in Wichita. For 36 years prior to her service in the legislature, she taught in public schools in both Derby and Wichita. Throughout her years in the Kansas House, Geraldine has been actively involved in issues relating to health care and education.

TOPEKA, Kan. - The Kansas Senate will debate an unemployment insurance bill Thursday that will reduce benefits for many Kansans.

Send an email to your state Senator now!

A senate committee chaired by Wichita Senator Susan Wagle passed HB 2676 out of committee. They have tacked anti-worker provisions on to to a House measure designed to aid businesses with high unemployment tax cost. The Wagle bill would place a moratorium on the "waiting-week" benefits and eliminate spouse relocation benefits.

TOPEKA, Kan.- Last Friday, the Kansas Coalition for Workplace Safety held a rally in the old Supreme Court chambers at the Kansas State Capitol. The rally was well attended by many of us who want to see injured Kansas workers given a fair shake for a change.

Rep. Paul Davis, the House Minority Leader and Sen. Anthony Hensley, the Senate Minority Leader gave a run down of Kansas' failing public policy concerning the treatment of workers injured on the job by no fault of their own.

Workers who have been victimized by our workers compensation system showed up to have their stories heard as those of us who attended saw real life examples why we need to ramp up this fight. We are among the worst in the nation, folks, and it is time we get this backwards mess straightened out.

On April 1st, the Kansas Free Press will mark its 6-month anniversary. With gratitude for the Kansans who nobly commit their time and talents to citizen journalism, we are celebrating our upcoming half-year anniversary by proudly showcasing each of our writers.

WICHITA, Kan. - In this profile, we are honored to introduce KFP correspondent, Shala Perez. She was appointed by Governor Kathleen Sebelius to the Kansas Hispanic and Latino American Affairs Commission in 2007, and was appointed as the commission's executive director by Governor Mark Parkinson in 2009. Shala's career of public service includes law enforcement, juvenile corrections, teaching, and work in the non-profit sector.

Dems Are Alive

GEM, Kan. - Thank you, Marty Keenan, for your post, Kansas Democrats Aren't Benchwarmers. The assurance that the Kansas Democrats are alive and kicking is great news. Those of us out here in the far west are a little isolated from the few rallies we here about in the eastern part of the state. For instance, I'm not going to drive 100, 200 and 300 miles to get in on a 1 or 2 hour rally. I also understand that it is hard for state wide candidates to justify the great traveling distances to rattle the bushes in western Kansas.

Especially when the candidates know there is only a handful of Democrats with the gumption to speak up when they are surrounded by dyed-in-the-wool Republican parrots who repeat, over and over, the falsities espoused by the right wing talk show hosts, especially the Sarah Palin-Rush Limbaugh types. Our newspapers are fed the political news from Republicans, who basically lay out the Republican agenda and point out all the good things they, as our reps, have accomplished.

On April 1st, the Kansas Free Press will mark its 6-month anniversary. With gratitude for the Kansans who nobly commit their time and talents to citizen journalism, we are celebrating our upcoming half-year anniversary by proudly showcasing each of our writers.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - In this profile, we are pleased to introduce KFP correspondent, Travis Linnemann. He achieved his high school diploma at Marysville High, his bachelors degree in sociology from Emporia State University and his master's degree in sociology from Kansas State University. Travis is currently a doctoral student at K-State and resides in Manhattan. In the coming year, he hopes to graduate with his Ph.D. (ABD) in sociology with an emphasis in gender and criminology.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Circular firing squads are stupid. There are so few Democrats in Kansas that it is important that we stick together, and not shoot each other. 2010 was my seventh consecutive trip to Topeka for "Washington Days," the annual Kansas Democrat gathering. But this was the first one where I felt some overt dissension among the party faithful.

The major complaint: Kansas Democrats have no "bench." But the thing is, we have so many "starters" holding statewide office, we have a great lineup right now.

Democrats need to count their blessings. Eight years of a Democrat Governor has done wonders for the Kansas Democratic party. Governor Sebelius and now Governor Parkinson are both extraordinarily talented. And a lot of new political talent came forward over the last 8 years due to Democratic control of the Governor's Mansion.

On April 1st, the Kansas Free Press will mark its 6-month anniversary. With gratitude for the Kansans who nobly commit their time and talents to citizen journalism, we are celebrating our upcoming half-year anniversary by proudly showcasing each of our writers.

HUTCHINSON, Kan. - In this profile, we are pleased to introduce KFP correspondent, Mikaela Coon. She has lived in Hutchinson, Kansas since 2007. She grew up in Japan and has also lived in Chicago, Denver and Omaha.

Mikaela is a co-founder of the Hutchinson Action Alliance, a group which supports the service and advocacy work of citizens through organization and volunteerism, and acts as a forum for social justice concerns.

WICHITA, Kan. - My father's father was a pioneer in Kansas and much given to teaching essential lessons by using old folk sayings. One of his favorites was, "Always keep your word; without honor you are nothing." I have held that memory in my mind all of my life. We were taught to never make a promise we couldn't keep unless we apologized in person for not keeping our word.

Frequently I have been reminded of his words, especially in politics. In 1976, my husband was a candidate for Udall delegate to the National Democratic Convention. I counted votes and he was a little short so I approached the leaders of the Kansas Young Democrats, suggesting they support my husband and our contingent would give our second votes to their supposed delegate. After discussion, the two men told me that was agreeable. They would trade votes. Unfortunately, they reneged on their commitment. One of the leaders came to me later and apologized; the other just smirked at me. I have never forgotten his failure to keep his word and to this day will not trust him.

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About This Page

This is an archive page containing all stories published in Kansas Free Press in March 2010. These are listed from newest to oldest.

February 2010 is the previous archive and April 2010 is the next one.

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