Front Page » Monthly Archives » Archives: June 2010


WICHITA, Kan. - It frustrates me when I write my legislators about what I think they should do about an issue, and they send me a letter back telling me about their opinion. I believe in a democracy in which our representatives would actually represent the opinions and issues of us, their constituents. Instead I should receive a letter back that says, "Thank you for your input. I will be taking the opinion of all of my constituents, and make my decision based on that."

Currently when a candidate decides they are going to run for office, they raise a lot of money and they give speeches telling us what they believe in. We decide based on these speeches who we will vote for. The person who receives the most votes wins the election, gets lots of pats on the back, and goes on to make decisions for us. It's up to the winner of an election to decide whether or not they will consider the opinions of the people who voted for them? Am I the only one who sees the flaw in this?

MANHATTAN, Kan. - A couple of weeks ago some friends started to ask me if I was interested in running for office again. "New election cycle, why not give it another go," they said. Several wanted someone "with new eyes" looking at how local government operates and work to make it better for everyone. I know others were disappointed when I did not run for city commission in April 2009.Photobucket
My previous experiences at running for elected office included a run for the legislature when I was 18, - that was many, many moons ago - and my 2008 bid to unseat Kathy Martin on the State Board of Education. Neither went in my favor, but both were great experiences.

So after thinking about it for a week, I walked precincts collecting the signatures I needed to file by petition in a bid to run for the Riley County Commission. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised when everyone I talked while walking the neighborhoods expressed their support for my effort.

You Are Not Unique

GREAT BEND, Kan.- We are all 98 percent (these percentages are not based on any kind of scientific study) the same, we really are not all that different, and no one is really all that special. You are not unique.

There are so many advertisements and books telling us how unique, and different we are that sometimes it is easy to forget how minute our differences really are. As a general rule all of human kind must eat, drink, breath oxygen, blink, pump blood through our veins, and stay active to stay alive. As a general rule we all want the same things, shelter, a decent job, someone who understands us, a purpose for our life. We have the same basic physical structure.

The 2 percent difference is what riles up most of us. We focus on this small difference between us. We allow it to put up road blocks so we become angry with each other. As a rule we all want the basics in life, we just choose to go about them in different ways, ie. types of jobs, types of homes.

wink-hartman.jpgGREAT BEND, Kan. - A new poll released by KWCH-Channel 12 in Wichita shows that Mike Pompeo's TV ads, coupled with his attacks on Wink Hartman regarding Hartman's vacation home in Florida, have paid off.

A similar poll taken by KWCH-Channel 12 taken in February showed Hartman leading with 36%, State Senator Dick Kelsey at 11%, and Pompeo and State Senator Jean Schodorf at 10% each. Both polls were done by SurveyUSA at the request of Channel 12.

Actually, in the new poll, Hartman gained a point from the February poll, from 36% to 37%. But Pompeo gained a whopping 29% percentage points, from 10% in February to
39% now.

While the Pompeo/Hartman race is a statistical dead heat, Pompeo has the momentum now.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - It all started with Earl Butz, Nixon's Secretary of Agriculture, who had to resign due to a racial slur. In the early 70's grain and commodity prices were high, and the family farm was still intact. But the city people at the supermarket complained about high food prices, and that's when the New Deal farm programs started to come apart, and with it, the Great Plains.

It happened slowly. But looking back at Western Kansas over the last 30 years, it has been a steady and slow decay of "life as we knew it." I doubt we can reverse things, but we can know who did this to us and hold them accountable. And we can start to turn the ship around back toward pro-family farm policies.

Everybody on the Great Plains knows something horrible has happened over the last 30 years, but they really don't know what happened or why. They just see their downtown buildings boarded up, the abundance of thrift stores, and young people who turn to methamphetamines rather than working at McDonalds.

TOPEKA, Kan. - On Thursday, long-time Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley endorsed Chris Biggs for Secretary of State.

That is not very surprising in itself. After all, Biggs is the incumbent Secretary of State, appointed to the position by Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson. What was notable was that Hensley also called on Wyandotte County Senator Chris Steineger to withdraw from the primary and give his full support to Biggs.
Chris Biggs

In an open letter to Kansas Democrats, Hensley wrote:

Now Kris Kobach wants to be our next Kansas Secretary of State. Should he become the Republican nominee, Kansas Democrats need a strong candidate who will bring professional conduct to the office.

I believe the man to beat Kobach is our current Secretary of State, Chris Biggs.  Chris is a lifelong public servant.  He has the experience and integrity needed to go head-to-head with h and win.  It is important that we unite behind the strongest Democratic candidate and in this case the choice is clear:  Chris Biggs is the man for the job.

Read the open letter after the break...

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Unfortunately, the first rule of politics is: "If you're behind in the polls, go negative." Wink Hartman is the clear front runner for the Republican nomination in the Fourth Congressional District, and rival Mike Pompeo has thrown the first ugly punch, blasting Hartman for having a second home in Florida.
Mike Pompeo

This might be an effective attack if it came from a lifetime Kansan. But coming from Pompeo, this attack crumbles. Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, and one the issue of who is more "authentically Kansan," Pompeo lives in a glass cathedral.

Pompeo was born and raised in California, attended college in New York, went to law school in Massachusetts, practiced law in Washington, D.C., and moved to Kansas for the first time in 1998, a dozen years ago. Why would a candidate with such a thin Kansas resume' launch an attack on which he has no credibility?

Standing Up For Our Future

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - For some people, it's easy to give up on the younger generations. Honestly, after working with the "at risk" teenage population, I can see why people don't like to stick around for that proverbial long haul. It's difficult to love a kid through their rage and pain, or to consistently provide for someone else's kid when that child fails to show any sign of gratitude. In fact, some of the kids will do everything they can think of to show you that they don't need your help.

They don't want to be classified as "needy," but they will take everything that you can give while they call you every name in the book (and they will even invent some names that you've never before heard). Obviously, walking away from these kids is the easy thing to do. However, I simply do not accept it as the right thing to do. Neither does a local chapter of a national organization. The Kansas City chapter of Stand Up For Kids has proven time and again that they aren't afraid to do what's right by these children.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Both leading 3rd District Republican Congressional candidates claim they are conservatives, but the best way to settle this argument is to see how they each voted head-to-head during the two year period that they served together in the legislature.
Patricia Lightner

Patricia Lightner served in the Kansas House from 1998-2004. Kevin Yoder served from 2002-2010. That leaves us with only a two-year window where we can compare their voting records, but we are very fortunate to have a head-to-head vote on a key issue of taxing and spending during that time.

March 26, 2004 is the day in question. On that day, the House of Representatives passed the Kassebaum-Neighbor bill, an income and sales tax increase intended to go to K-12 schools. Rep. Yoder voted in favor of the income and sales tax increases. Rep. Lightner voted "no."

A Wild, Roving People

kaw-with-government-1857.jpgCOUNCIL GROVE, Kan. - On Sunday, June 17, 1860, Luke Parsons was returning home from the sandstone "buttes" southwest of Salina, when he decided to visit a nearby camp of Kanza Indians. Although Salina was located about 65 miles west-northwest of their reservation villages near Council Grove, Parsons' diary recorded the presence of the Kanzas near Salina on six occasions June through December 1860.

Parsons and his white contemporaries did not consider it unusual to encounter the Kanza far from their reservation on the upper Neosho valley. One hundred fifty years ago the tribe continued doing what it had done for at least two centuries before Salina's appearance on the banks of the Smoky Hill River -- roaming the prairies of present-day eastern and central Kansas.

two-men-in-mercantile-300px-best-size.gifGREAT BEND, Kan. - Our local, state, and federal governments heavily regulate individual conduct by people. Let's say I took a gallon of gas and threw it on my neighbor's front lawn. I would find myself in the Barton County jail for "criminal damage to property."

When I drive to work each day, I can only travel 20 mph through school zones, and 30 miles per hour elsewhere in town. If I break the law, I get pulled over and get a traffic ticket. The criminal codes that regulate people prevent you from hurting others, or yourself.

For good reason, we make it illegal for people to speed, text while driving, steal, commit arson, and drive while drunk. We make it illegal for people to push another person down on the street, to pull a gun or knife on another person. We make it illegal to smoke marijuana, to smoke in public, and to use illegal drugs.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Manhattan's Monthly Film Series is please to announce that Kevin Willmott, Junction City native and professor of film at the University of Kansas, will be on hand to moderate the screening of his most recent film, The Only Good Indian, when it is screened on Tuesday July 6th, 6:30 pm, at the Manhattan Public Library Auditorium.

PhotobucketThe Only Good Indian was written and produced by Thomas L. Carmody and stars J. Kenneth Campbell, Wes Studi, and newcomer Winter Fox Frank.

Set in Kansas during the early 1900s, a teenage Native American boy (played by Winter Fox Frank) is taken from his family and forced to attend a distant Indian "training" school to assimilate into White society. When he escapes to return to his family, Sam Franklin (played by Wes Studi), a bounty hunter of Cherokee descent, is hired to find and return him to the institution. Franklin, a former Indian scout for the U. S. Army, has renounced his Native heritage and has adopted the White Man's way of life, believing it's the only way for Indians to survive. Along the way, a tragic incident spurs Franklin's longtime nemesis, the famous "Indian Fighter" Sheriff Henry McCoy (played by J. Kenneth Campbell), to pursue both Franklin and the boy.

WICHITA, Kan. - The American system of electing officials to govern has always been imperfect. The high cost of campaigns to challenging entrenched incumbents potentially discourages many good citizens from pursuing elective office. In Kansas, elections are further strained by the litmus test of the abortion issue.

Candidates who are prochoice in the democratic party have remained silent giving the impression that they are not as principled as prolife candidates. Their silence has only emboldened more prolife candidates to run for office. These republican/religious right candidates in Kansas tend to be less qualified and even more extreme in their positions than ever before. [Yes, that's a shout out to you Kris Kobach and Aaron Jacks.] It's time for the democrats to rethink their "don't ask don't tell" policy on abortion because unless you are a prolife democrat, every conservative in the state is convinced you are a baby killer any way.

Kansas Republicans are not at all shy about airing political ads touting their prolife stance discriminating against women for being women. For good measure, the ads often end by flashing the word "conservative" on the screen to denote conservatism as some kind of Christian doctrine upheld by God. It isn't.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - At this point in the First District Republican Congressional race, Dr. Jim Barnett looks to be the front runner. And it's mostly because his TV ads are so good.

It's hard to not like a small town physician, raised on a farm, who appears to be interested in listening, not talking. His sign off line "How about you"? is brilliant. The good doctor wants to know what you think.

TV is one thing. But direct mail, personal contacts, and yard signs go a long ways, too. And Tracey Mann of Salina has the best direct mail, and the best-looking yard signs in lots of locations. His yard signs looks similar to the Moran yard signs---same color and font, and both names start with an "M" and end with an "N." Mann? Moran? Pretty similar.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - 3rd District Republican Congressional candidate Kevin Yoder inexplicably voted against the interests of Johnson County and the entire 3rd Congressional District by voting against the 2010 Comprehensive Highway Plan, and also voting against the funding mechanism for the plan.

I was fortunate to serve on the "Project Selection Process Working Group T-Link Task Force" regarding the new highway plan this past year. Although I always tried to bang the drum for more highways for Western Kansas, it was clear that Johnson County and Eastern Kansas had more immediate needs due to high traffic counts and population growth.

A decade earlier, in 1999, when Governor Graves presented his "Comprehensive Highway Plan," Rep. Patricia Lightner voted for it. She was a practical conservative, and did the right thing for Johnson County and her constituents. She is Yoder's main opponent in the August 3 Republican primary for Congress.

jim-barnett.jpgGREAT BEND, Kan. - For the last week or so, I've felt the momentum in the First District Republican Congressional primary shift toward Senator Jim Barnett. Obviously, so has one of his opponents.

On Saturday Senator Barnett held the grand opening of his Hutchinson campaign headquarters. One of his opponents wanted to ruin his big event in Hutchinson, and sent out an phony e-mail Friday night from "teambarnett2010gmail.com" saying that the grand opening had been canceled "due to flooding at Barnett's Kansas City Area home."

The e-mail instructed Barnett supporters to "Please forward this to as many people as possible so we can get the word out. It will be rescheduled for a later date, most likely next weekend," and was signed "Team Barnett."

Tea Party GOP

tea.jpg
BASEHOR, Kan. - In this month's Harper's magazine, the magazine's Washington editor, Ken Silverstein, puts together a scary picture of what right-wing Republican, Tea Party, no-taxes governance in action looks like.

Look no farther than Arizona.

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GREAT BEND, Kan. - Republican Congressional candidate Mike Pompeo was raised in Santa Ana, California, went to college in New York, attended law school in Massachusetts, practiced law in Washington, D.C., and moved to Kansas about a dozen years ago. And that's okay.

That's why I was surprised to read the Wichita Eagle headline on Sunday: "Mike Pompeo Questions Rival Wink Hartman's Residential Ties to Kansas." Of the three major candidates, Hartman, Pompeo and Schodorf, Pompeo has the weakest connection to the Sunflower State. He's a California native.

FORT SCOTT, Kan. - State House District 4, Representative Shirley Palmer of Fort Scott, announced her campaign for re-election. Palmer, first elected in 2006, represents all of Linn County and most of Bourbon County. This election cycle, she is running unopposed in the August 3 Primary, but will face two candidates from Linn County running on the Republican ticket. Renee Slinkard of Parker, a local Tea Party organizer, and Caryn Tyson of Parker is the GOP second district chairperson.
Shirley Palmer

"It has been an honor to serve the people of the 4th House District," Palmer said. "I have deeply appreciated the opportunity to work across party lines to find practical and efficient ways to solve problems. I have made every effort to vote according to the values of our district, keep my constituents informed, and help those in need."

Palmer serves on the House Committees on Commerce and Labor, Veteran's, Military, Homeland Security, Higher Education, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Transportation, Education, Rules and Regulations as well as the Commission for the Aging. Throughout her four years of service, Palmer has maintained near perfect attendance both in committee and on the House floor.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - State Senator Jean Kurtis Schodorf comes from a Kansas homesteader family, has served on the Wichita School Board, and has even been a State Senator for three terms. But her two main opponents in the Republican primary in Kansas 4th Congressional District, Wink Hartman and Mike Pompeo, seem to have more money to get their message out.

Neither Hartman nor Pompeo have ever held elective office. Both are as far right as you can get, while Schodorf represents the moderate Nancy Kassebaum wing of the Republican party, to the extent that it still exists. But as the only woman in the race, as the only candidate who has held elective office, and with her famous brother, broadcaster Bill Kurtis on board, it's hard to count her out.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - The June 10th edition of Community Bridge, Manhattan's alternative to talk radio, featured the publisher and editor-in-chief of the Kansas Free Press, in a follow-up to our 2009 show about the online newspaper. Now in its eighth month of activity with over 70 writers, the Kansas Free Press provides Kansans with an alternative to the mainstream media.

She talks about how the Kansas Free Press has grown, what some future plans include, how people can support the newspaper, the mainstream media in Kansas, and the role Net Neutrality plays in allowing the Kansas Free Press to survive and reach its public.

Just click the arrow below to begin playing audio of the radio program:

(Or, download and save the original MP3 file)

senior-citizen-walking.jpgHAYS, Kan. - In regard to federal assistance for state Medicaid funding, a recent survey found that voters oppose cutting funding to nursing homes so strongly that 62% of voters favored additional federal funding for Medicaid.

The new national survey from The Mellman Group found that Americans, by significant margins, strongly support passage of federal Medicaid relief. Voters support the use of federal funding to prevent additional cuts at the state level.

The new survey findings further punctuate the impact of Medicaid cuts enacted in state capitols across the nation on elderly and disabled constituents - and the threat of more to come as state governors face ongoing budget crises.

Results also show that voters vehemently oppose any additional state Medicaid cuts initiated by their state legislatures.

MCDOWELL CREEK, Kan. - I have often wondered what the Plains Indians felt as hide hunters killed off their bison--the vast herds which were the center of their lives. These days, the poor folks along the Gulf can no doubt identify with those indigenous peoples--and the helpless rage and pain they must have felt. As plumes of oil, toxic to humans and wildlife, invade their beaches, fisheries, and wetlands, they can only stand by and watch helplessly, unable to protect what they love and live from. "I get tears in my eyes, because when you'd pull into that marsh previously, fish would jump and scurry," said one Louisiana resident (quoted in Newsweek), describing a ruined wetland. "[Afterwards,] ain't a bird, ain't a bug, nothing....Everything was dead."

Though the spill in the Gulf was an accident, and the killing of the bison was intentional, there are similarities between the two catastrophes. Both were the result of market forces too big for their actual settings. President Obama and Attorney General Holder have raised the possibility of criminal prosecutions: Given the number of safety violations that BP stands accused of, it may in fact turn out that the Gulf has been savaged by criminals.

OSKALOOSA, Kan. - Today, I, James Robert Faris, announce my candidacy for the Kansas 47th State House District's seat. This is not the first time in recent memory that I have made this announcement. In 2006 I jumped into the political waters of the electorate for the first time. I lost that race, but I was not disheartened by what I learned and the people I met.

Now four years later, I still see needs that have not been met and voters that are still tired of the lip service that they receive each election year from career politicians that say everything to get elected then forget who elected them when they return to office saying they're for more state money for the classrooms, but stiff the school districts and teachers with a bounced check expecting them to fend for themselves.

kelly-kultala.jpgOVERLAND PARK, Kan. - In her first appearance with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sen. Tom Holland, state Sen. Kelly Kultala said that she will file paperwork to begin campaigning as the Democratic candidate for Kansas Lieutenant Governor. Kultala, 51, is in her first term in the state senate serving District 5, which includes Ft. Leavenworth, Leavenworth, Lansing, western Kansas City, and Bonner Springs.

In announcing his choice of Sen. Kultala as his running mate, Sen. Holland contrasted their moderate campaign against that of Sam Brownback, who he refers to as the "Washington Insider,"

"Sam Brownback says he's a fiscal conservative, but he forked over billions in earmarks to his campaign donors. He pretends to be a champion of Main Street, but he treated Kansas as an obstacle to Wall Street's bottom line."

david-haley.jpgGREAT BEND, Kan. - The fact that four Kansas Democrats are competing this year for a chance to run for a U.S. Senate slot is encouraging. Kansas hasn't sent a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in over 70 years, and the number of Democrats who want a shot at this is a sign of a growing, vibrant and optimistic party. The four candidates: David Haley, Charles Schollenberger, Lisa Johnston and Robert Conroy would all acquit themselves well in the general election.

But Haley is the only candidate who currently serves in elective office. He's a fantastic public speaker. He has experience in running a statewide campaign. He has paid his dues to the Kansas Democratic Party.

WICHITA, Kan. - On June 7 KOSE (Kansas Organization of State Employees) members overwhelmingly approved a new contract to ratify a 2010-2013 MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) which will now be sent to Governor Mark Parkinson for his signature.

The MOA governs such things as compensation, hours of work, benefits, discipline and protocol for classified executive branch state employees.

During a seven month period of Meet and Confer with the state the KOSE Bargaining Team achieved major victories for state employees.

Michelle Walters, a state employee at SRS and a team member says of the now ratified agreement, "This MOA is a huge win for Kansas state employees. It strengthens the rights of 11,000 state workers."

HAYS, Kan. - What do you think of when you hear the word equality? Do you dig up the past - all of the social muck the African Americans trudged through as they reached out towards a day of social equality? Or, does the future pass through your mind - something filled with flying DeLoreans, crazy white haired scientists, and an attitude of "we just don't care anymore?" We can't change the past, but we can affect the future.

When I think of equality, I visualize a flat, white ground (like a cutting board for instance) where all individuals can stand and see each other. There's nothing around to blame on anyone else; white seems flawless. No one is higher or lower than anyone else; everyone's feet are placed equally. You could stand all the way across the cutting board from someone and realize that even though you're in a different spot, breathing different air, and living a different life, you stand on the same, seemingly perfect ground that they do. But the world isn't flat.

WICHITA, Kan. - When the Kansas State Legislature finally got a budget passed in May, it went to Gov. Mark Parkinson's desk with a one cent sales tax increase, a tax to help end the cuts to education and social services in the state. Unfortunately, the budget also contained provisions to forbid sending state funds to Planned Parenthood for non-abortion services for poor Kansans and cuts for public broadcasting totaling $903,000.

As soon as activists got the news of the cuts, they got busy on e-mail lists and social networking sites asking people to call, e-mail, or write a snail mail letter to the governor with a request that he veto the cuts to Planned Parenthood and public broadcasting.

SALINA, Kan. - In the United States, 8 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 drank alcohol in the past year, around one fifth used an illicit drug, and 4 million teens under age 18 smoked cigarettes.

A new report gives insight into a day in the life of American adolescents. The study, A Day in the Life of American Adolescents: Substance Use Facts Update, presents a stark picture of the daily toll substance abuse takes on America's youth. It presents facts about adolescent substance use, including initiation, receipt of treatment, and emergency department visits for substance use "on an average day."

Among the report's major findings is that on any given day, 563,000 adolescents used marijuana, nearly 37,000 used inhalants, 24,000 used hallucinogens, 16,000 used cocaine and 2,800 used heroin.

LAWRENCE, Kan. - After listening to as much right-wing talk-radio as I can stand and having endless arguments with hardcore Republicans in person and over the Internet, I have now established what it means to be a REAL American patriot. And boy, have I been totally wrong about what it means to be a good American! Just in case any of my fellow pinko-commie-bleeding-heart liberals have also been confused about what it means to be a REAL American patriot, let me clear things up for you.

Being a REAL patriot means that you get a job and you work your ass off until the day you die. You don't ever, ever, EVER apply for unemployment or welfare, because that is pure communism. If you're out of a job for awhile and you lose your house and have to live in your car, you can go wash up at the corner gas station, pull yourself up by your own darn bootstraps and start over. This is America, where opportunities are boundless.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Over the last two years in Kansas, the number of Independent ('Unaffiliated') voters has grown by more than 7.4%. Meanwhile, during the same time period, the number of Democrats jumped 3.2%, while the number of Republicans dropped slightly, by 0.4%.

But the thing is, the growth in Democrats is heavily concentrated in eastern Kansas particularly northeast Kansas. Meanwhile, western Kansas gets redder. This confirms the thesis of Bill Bishop's book The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded American is Tearing Us Apart (2008), which argues that people with similar political views tend to group together geographically.

Statewide, the Republican party still has 738,750 members, compared to 484,995 Independents, and 463,225 Democrats. So the largest group by far is Republicans, then Independents, and then Democrats.

Theft From Those Who Hunger

sep1507-4.jpgHAYS, Kan. - After leading the Allied victory in World War II, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was asked to speak in Canada's capitol city of Ottawa. He said, "I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity."

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense," he emphasized later, speaking to a gathering of the American Society of Newspaper Editors on April 16th, 1953.

In preparing to leave the White House in January 1961, President Eisenhower made these remarks in his farewell speech ...

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

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