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LAWRENCE, Kan. - Governor Sam Brownback sure seems to like Fridays. Whereas research shows that most Americans do the least amount of work on Fridays, Sam absolutely revels in them.

Some Kansans suspect that there's a pattern here; that the administration is making surprise cuts on late Friday afternoons to catch folks off guard before the weekend. Others maintain that's just conspiracy theory. Let's take a brief look at Sam's apparent affinity for the (ahem) "F-word."

Friday, January 21 - Announces a proposal to close the Kansas Neurological Institute, a facility that is home to approximately 157 developmentally disabled Kansans, by the year 2014, in order for the state to "save money". Opponents of this idea question how servicing disabled Kansans in their homes rather than at a centralized facility will indeed be cost-effective, not to mention that the four hundred and fifty employees at the KNI will lose their jobs.

Friday, March 11 - Announces that $50 million will be cut from public schools.

Friday, April 8 - Demands investigation of Kansas Bioscience Authority which ultimately leads to Thomas Thornton, president and CEO of the KBA, abruptly resigning on Friday, April 15.

LAWRENCE, Kan. - With the sudden onslaught of political attacks on the arts, women's rights, unions, children, schools, gays, the poor and the elderly, both nationally and in right here in Kansas, it's hard for a progressive to know what to do.

Which protest do I attend? Which causes do I have time to support, even though I'd like to support them all? Where do I send my hard earned money? And for we writers: Which editorial do I write?

Where do I even start?!?

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.

TOPEKA, Kan. - If you live in Kansas, chances are pretty darn good that you've heard of psychotic homophobe, religious cult leader and all-around a-hole freakazoid Fred Phelps.

You may not, however, have heard of his son, Nate Phelps. Nate is the 6th of Fred Phelps' 13 children. Rather than follow in his father's footsteps and stay with his family clan, Nate chose to leave home at 18 and has never looked back. He denounces all of his family's homophobic beliefs and, through lots of thoughtful contemplation, is an atheist.

What's sort of shocking--as if there's anything about the Phelpses that can't be called "shocking"--is that Nate shines a light on the secretive Phelps compound and reveals the chilling physical abuse he and his siblings endured while growing up, both at the hands of their father and each other--at their father's direction. You can read some of Nate's story on his website. He's also busy writing a memoir.

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.)

WICHITA, Kan. - In the wake of massive budget shortfalls and threats all over the state of school closings and funds being cut to our poorest and most vulnerable citizens, I find it extremely distasteful that the Wichita Chamber of Commerce has just announced its intention to lobby against the Kansas State Income Tax. While the chamber admits that it will take years to reach this goal, the timing of the announcement, in my opinion, is just incredibly insulting.

Leonard Pitts, Jr. on Factual Facts

LAWRENCE, Kan. - This past Friday, KU's school of journalism, in its infinite wisdom, awarded the William Allen White Award to Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. I became familiar with Pitts' work a little over ten years ago via my hometown newspaper, the Lawrence Journal World.

I like Pitts because, though his politics tend to lean left, as mine do, he's not a knee-jerk liberal, either. His columns offer a sort of horse-sense, real-world analysis of events that appeal to me in a very personal way. Often when I read his columns I find that Pitts is the only commentator saying exactly what I'm thinking. If only I could write those thoughts as eloquently as he.

The Truth About Third Term Abortion

LAWRENCE, Kan. - Okay, now that that dirtbag Scott Roeder has been put away where he rightfully belongs, can we please, as a country, grow up and discuss this issue out loud? I mean, really discuss it? Because if we leave things as they are, abortion providers are in trouble. Women are in trouble.

Transgenders Are People Too

LAWRENCE, Kan. - This past year, the Lawrence branch of the Kansas Equality Coalition, a statewide group that advocates for the rights of GLBT Kansans, went to the Lawrence city commission asking that the city add the term "gender identity" to Lawrence's human rights ordinance. The ordinance as it stands now includes language protecting Lawrence residents from discrimination based on race, sex, religion, color, national origin, age, ancestry, sexual orientation, disability or familial status.

Apparently the city commission wasn't sure whether or not to include two more words in the ordinance, so they passed the issue on to the Lawrence Human Relations Commission for a recommendation. After holding an open forum where the public could speak its mind and then discussing the matter amongst themselves, in November of 2009, the Human Relations Commission recommended to the city commission that it NOT add the term "gender identity" to the anti-discrimination policy.

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This is the main archives page for Amber Fraley. To learn more about this author, you can also read a short biography of Amber Fraley here.

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