Front Page » Table of Contents » Archive: Politics: April 2010

GREAT BEND, Kan. - On January 16, 1997, longtime statehouse Associated Press journalist John Hanna wrote an article entitled "Regents Budget Scrutinized," about funding for higher education in Kansas.

Hanna interviewed a KU student named Kevin Yoder from Hutchinson, who said he was concerned "whether he, his friends and other young people will be able to afford to attend college." Yoder, a political science major, told Hanna: "Students are always getting new fees."

Thirteen years later, Kevin Yoder is Chairman of the Kansas House Appropriations Committee. And his concern for college students paying "new fees" has vanished.

Many Soundbytes Do Not Make a Meal

BOGUE, Kan. - I attended the recent event at Fort Hays State Univ. last Monday, April 26, to hear 7 Republicans and one lonesome Democrat (Alan Jilka of Salina) use up less than ten minutes apiece to introduce themselves, deliver soundbytes on six broad issues, and get an additional closing minute to come up with something really big.

Given the number of candidates and the 90-minute slot, from which was deducted a few minutes for a welcome by Dr. Edward Hammond (and a few more for the moderator, Kent Steward to explain the format, ask the questions and enforce time limits), that seems a generous estimate.

Except for a couple semi-moderates like Marck Cobb of Galva, and Tracy Mann of Quinter, the Republicans tried to out-rightwing one another, appealing to the base, I guess.

freedom-flag.jpgHAYS, Kan. - Tea Party supporters talk about 'freedom from government' but as a new survey suggests, many of the Tea Party supporters also strongly support certain government activities that could limit citizen freedom.

A new University of Washington survey shows that whites who are strong supporters of the tea party are apparently less committed to freedom and equality than those who oppose or are unenthusiastic about the movement.

"Our survey suggests that among tea partiers, there's less dedication to certain civil liberties," said Christopher S. Parker, a UW assistant professor of political science who leads the 2010 Multi-State Survey of Race & Politics. It examines what Americans, including supporters of the tea party, think about race, public policy, national politics and President Barack Obama.

'Liberal' Offenses?

HAYS, Kan. - My most recent essay dealt with the problem of disseminating or forwarding false, inflammatory, and slanderous materials. Most of the feedback I received was quite positive, except for a note from one very good friend, who suggested that I give equal attention to the similar offenses from "liberal" sources. His idea, I think, was that, in writing of the abuses of truth and civility in the disseminations and fowardings I described, I was criticizing conservatives.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - It is often said that Kansas has three political parties: Democrats, Moderate Republicans, and Conservative Republicans. And at the young age of 34, Kevin Yoder is one of the few elected officials who has been a member of all three.

Yoder, like many with family roots in the Amish/Anabaptist areas in Reno and Harvey County, started his political journey as a Democrat. In many ways, the group of Mennonites and Amish who populate Reno and Harvey County could be described as
"religious left." And hence, many are Democrats.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - I made a huge blunder early in my marriage. Julie and I were married in 1989. I was lucky to convince this Wichita girl to move out west to Great Bend.

When election day arrived in November, 1990, I did something terrible that my wife still reminds me about today.

I told her who to vote for. Big mistake. I didn't think of it as sexist at the time. I was a political junkie and this was her first election living out here on the Great Plains. So I thought I would give her some advice. I was so stupid that I actually made up a list for her to take into the voting booth. A colossal mistake.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - The state of Kansas has slashed about $1 billion from it's budget during the past two years. Still, a revenue shortfall of $450 million to $510 million looms for Fiscal year 2011, which starts July 1.

The State Senate is willing to bite the bullet and raise taxes to prevent cutting more state services. But the House of Representatives isn't biting, and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Kevin Yoder (R-Overland Park) is the ringleader of the effort for no new taxes. Politically, it's a good bet for Yoder, a candidate for U.S. Congress, to reject new taxes. But all the House members supporting Yoder's idea are running for a different office - re-election to the Kansas House of Representatives. And Yoder's gamble is a high risk gamble for each of them.

brownback.jpgTOPEKA, Kan. - "Sam Brownback's career in Washington is defined by gridlock and partisanship, not results," said Kenny Johnston, Executive Director of the Kansas Democratic Party, "Simply put, Kansans disapprove of Sam Brownback's so-called 'Washington leadership.' Voters are quickly realizing he's not the solution for Kansas, he's just part of the problem in Washington."

According to Kansas Democratic Party staffers who have examined recent poll numbers, Brownback had an approval rating at 57% in November. In the time since the November poll was conducted SurveyUSA has conducted five more polls, revealing an overall downward trend in his approval. In the past sixty days alone, his approval rating plummeted fifteen points while his disapproval steadily rose ten points. Currently, Sam Brownback has a 41% approval rating and a 47% percent disapproval rating.

EMPORIA, Kan. - Last Saturday the Tea Party held another rally complete with right wing candidates (I think they actually like that moniker now because it helps them in the primary) at which a local Tea Party leader declared that she had recently observed an illegal immigrant registering to vote while applying for a driver's license.

HAYS, Kan. - The State of Kansas should plan on $130 million less than we had previously thought, says the Consensus Estimating Group in a memo sent yesterday to Governor Mark Parkinson and the Legislative Budget Committee.

The Consensus Estimating Group says that for the rest of the current fiscal year, which ends on June 30, the state should now plan on $46 million less than it had been planning on. Next year's budget will have to incorporate that $46 million cut and then cut another $84 million.

WICHITA, Kan. - Koch Industries issued a statement last night in advance of Tax Day claiming it has never provided funding to support Tea Parties.

"Koch companies value free speech and believe it is good to have more Americans engaged in key policy issues. That said, Koch companies, the Koch foundations, Charles Koch and David Koch have no ties to and have never given money to FreedomWorks. In addition, no funding has been provided by Koch companies, the Koch foundations, Charles Koch or David Koch specifically to support the tea parties. Thanks for your consideration."

These statement may be true, however it's all about what is not said in this statement. If you do your research you will find out that David Koch is co-founder and executive vice president of Americans for Prosperity, which (yep, you guessed it) supports and organizes tea party events.

Mr. Wasinger Goes to Kansas

GREAT BEND, Kan. - One of my favorite movies is "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," the 1939 Frank Capra film starring Jimmy Stewart. What's amazing is how contemporary the film is, in terms of how corrupt the system can become. In the film, Jefferson Smith (played by Stewart), an innocent wide-eyed idealist, gets appointed to fill a U.S. Senate Seat in an unnamed Western state vacated due to the death of a Senator.

People still love the film today, because they love the story line: a true idealist, an honest man "too good for politics," thrust into the corrupt world of Washington, D.C. When newly-minted Senator Jefferson Smith arrives in Washington for the first time, he is awestruck by the Lincoln Memorial, the Capitol Building, and the idea of serving "We the People." He quotes Lincoln and Jefferson, but literally doesn't know his way around the Capitol, and his rookie mistakes are funny and refreshing. But what is more refreshing is what he stood for: bedrock honesty. Those who appointed him mistook his naivete for malleability, and thought they could control him. They couldn't.

Boycott Chamber Businesses

WICHITA, Kan. - I noticed a Letter to the Editor in the Wichita Eagle the other day that sparked my interest. "Boycott Chamber Businesses" spoke of John Eaton's frustration of our legislators' refusal to follow Gov. Mark Parkinson's recommendation of a temporary 1 percentage point sales-tax increase. Since I share the same frustration I felt the need to spread the word of Mr. Eaton's letter.

I am very frustrated by our legislators' refusal to follow Gov. Mark Parkinson's recommendation of a temporary 1 percentage point sales-tax increase. His plan would prevent serious harm to education and other Kansas services. I am equally frustrated by the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce's public stand against any sort of temporary tax increase.

I have written my district legislators by both e-mail and letter, with limited results. Recently, I had an idea that might help. ...

I visited the chamber's Web site. I noticed it had a great membership directory with excellent contact information for Wichita business owners and managers. I can only assume that if a local business is in the membership directory, then it supports the chamber's stand against a temporary tax.

I intend to write every business owner on the list with whom I do business, express my disappointment with its association with the chamber, and explain, in a polite way, that unless its position on the tax can be proved otherwise, my future purchases may be with a business not in the directory.

If I am the only one who writes, business owners will think that I am an eccentric and ignore my letter. What would happen, though, if a business received 50 letters? How about 100?

Don't assume that someone else will do something. Take an hour; write a few letters.


The Coffee Party: Stirring into Action

WICHITA, Kan. - For those of us frustrated by and fed up with Tea Party negativity, Tax Day, Thursday, April 15, 2010, will provide a chance to make our voices heard. Local Coffee Party activists will gather on that day at 5 p.m. at the Sedgwick County Courthouse, Central and Main, Wichita, to counter-demonstrate against Tea Party members. According to the notice sent by Coffee Party leader Nancy McCarthy Snyder, "Our intention is to hold a non-confrontational peaceful rally FOR responsible citizenship and effective government. Coffee Party Ground Rules of mutual respect and tolerance will be in effect."

Snyder has asked people to spread the word about this demonstration, which will give a chance for those who want a positive voice what happens in American to be heard. Those who want to demonstrate should bring signs with positive messages to counter the negativity of the other side. As Tea Party participation, along with incidents of violence and vandalism, has ramped up, many citizens have decided the time to be quiet is over.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Senators Huelskamp and Barnett are not only the two front runners for the Big First Republican Congressional nomination, they are both doctors. Huelskamp has a doctorate from American University in political science. Barnett is an M.D., graduating from KU Med School in 1979.

Most doctors don't give away their inventory, their knowledge, for free. But Dr. Huelskamp is literally giving free advice to Dr. Barnett that could lead to a Barnett victory in the August 2 primary. "Jim Barnett is committing political malpractice by posing as a conservative," says Huelskamp, through his Campaign Manager David Ray.

The Huelskamp campaign is handing out the best advice any candidate like Barnett could hope for. And with four months to correct the problem! I've never seen such an act of charity from one competing politician to another.

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - Lisa Johnston has spent the past 17 years working in higher education teaching and supporting students. This should come as a breath of fresh air when viewing the current education disparities in Kansas and the nation.

For the past seven years, Johnston has worked as Assistant Dean for Student Academic Services at Baker University where she both teaches courses and oversees a variety of support services for students.

Prior to holding this position Johnston served in a variety of administrative, teaching, and academic support roles at several different universities. She has earned Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Psychology from the University of Central Missouri and the University of Kansas and will complete her Ph.D. in Foundations of Education from the University of Kansas in May of 2010.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - There are eight candidates for First District, U.S. Congress. Democrat Alan Jilka of Salina is the only Democratic candidate. Republican candidates include State Senator Tim Huelskamp (R-Fowler), State Senator Jim Barnett (R-Emporia), Rob Wasinger (R-Cottonwood Falls), Tracey Mann (R-Salina), Monte Shadwick (R-Salina), Sue Boldra (R-Hays), and Marck Cobb (R-McPherson).

My question for each of them is this: If you lose the August 3 primary, or the November 2 general election, will you still live in the First District, or will you move back to an urban area?

Jilka, Huelskamp, Barnett, Shadwick, and Boldra are longtime residents of the First District. I don't even need to ask them, because I know they are going to continue to live out here with us country folks whether they win or lose. I know this because they have lived here for decades. They like it here. I don't know anything about candidate Marck Cobb of McPherson, but he appears to be a McPherson townie.

But Wasinger and Mann? That's the $64,000 question.

The Kansas Free Press is honored to occasionally publish illustrations created by our friend, artist Angelo Lopez. He is a regular contributor to KFP's sister publication, Everyday Citizen. Turn this page if you'd like to read Angelo's very interesting essay about his inspiration for drawing the cartoons above.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Governor Mark Parkinson is refreshingly honest, and sometimes his verbal sugarplums take your breath away for their candor. One such moment happened when Parkinson was in Hutchinson recently. As noted by the Hutchinson News in the editorial "Parkinson Tea," the Governor let loose this zinger last week in Hutchinson:

"What's happening in Kansas is that when times are very good, when we have lots of revenue, we cut taxes for wealthy people. When times are bad, we cut services for everyone else."

How true. And how refreshing to hear a politician "tell it like it is," as Howard Cosell would say. For a long time, perhaps due to his 6'5" frame, his rare intelligence, and his reputation for honesty, I have thought of Parkinson in Lincolnian terms. About 15 years ago I sent him a letter to his home in Olathe, and it was returned to Great Bend as "undeliverable". The postmark was "Springfield, Illinois," Lincoln's hometown. I have the undelivered letter boxed up somewhere.

Crazyville Redux

WICHITA, Kan. - It has been two weeks now since the recent country wide window smashing incident that among other places effected Kansas also. My question and asked by others is where is the outrage? Not among those who support the Democratic party or progressivism, but those on the other side of the aisle. Those who on any other issue scream the "Rule of Law", their has been several ordinary Republican/Conservative citizens who have called the Sedgwick County Democratic Headquarters and expressed their displeasure at the recent vandalism. However from GOP leadership nothing but silence, no condemnation from either Senators Brownback or Roberts nor from Congressman Tiahrt who represents Sedgwick county.

Also silent, State GOP chair Amanda Atkins, Sedgwick County Republican Chair Kelly Arnold, and every member of the South Central Republican delegation, candidate, and office holder. Several members of the GOP delegation pride themselves on being moderates yet they too remain silent? Either they are attempting to placate the fringe elements of their base for votes, afraid of the fringe elements or approve of violent tactics themselves and only give lip service to being moderates in order to get votes.

We have more! This page only lists entries in a particular month. We encourage you to look back through our archives in this same category.

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This is an archive page containing all of the stories posted to Kansas Free Press in one particular topic in a particular month. These stories were published in the Politics: April 2010 section.

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