Front Page » Table of Contents » Archive: State: November 2009

TOPEKA, Kan. - Mark Parkinson, Kansas' 45th Governor, is the tallest Governor we've ever had, and possibly the brightest. And he's proving, during his short tenure, to be one of the best. During the worst state budget crisis in memory, Parkinson is being praised by both sides of the aisle for stepping up to the plate and making unpopular budget cuts.

Parkinson seems to be the consummate anti-politician. He's not running for anything, so he's not asking for, or taking, campaign donations. He has his own money, so he doesn't panhandle for freebies like some politicians. He doesn't make wiseacre remarks to belittle the opposition. He just wants to fix things.

Parkinson's deepest roots are Democratic. His family in Scott City, Kansas was always active in Democratic politics. Parkinson's father chose the Republican party---perhaps just to be a maverick. And his father grew to a powerful position in Washington in Republican politics. Growing up, Parkinson saw both parties up close.

As a WSU student, Parkinson threw down the gauntlet and challenged longtime Republican State Representative Ben Foster in the Republican primary. Foster no doubt scoffed at the young upstart. But Parkinson walked. And walked some more. And knocked on more doors, and more doors----the Wichita Eagle called his efforts "indefagitable". He barely lost to Rep. Ben Foster. And Parkinson now acknowledges that had he won that race, it would have "ruined his life."

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Monday 22 November was a black day for our state and our public education system. Declining tax revenues did what the conservatives in the legislature have been unable to achieve as Gov. Parkinson cut an additional $36 million in funding to the state's public education system and a recommendation not to fund the $155.8 million increase based on revised estimates of property tax revenue and student enrollment.

As a result of the Governor's action on Monday, the base state aid per pupil for the current school year has been cut $421 per pupil. Kansas has approximately 455,000 students on our K-12 public education system. You do the math. Education organizations like KNEA and Kansas Families for Education believe this is as deep as K-12 cuts can go without jeopardizing federal Recovery Act (ARRA) funds.

donkey-and-elephant.gifGREAT BEND, Kan. - While some believe the announcement that six-term Democrat Congressman Dennis Moore will not run for reelection is another nail in Kansas' Democrats 2010 coffin, it is far too soon to say anything definitive about next year's election.

The only certainty in politics is uncertainty. And with almost a year to go before the election, one must remember that things may look a lot different a year from now. The two wild cards in the equation are, to wit: 1) How will the heavily Republican Kansas legislature handle the budget crisis in the 2010 session, and, 2) Will President Obama's be viewed differently a year from now?

Regarding the state legislature, all 125 Kansas House of Representative seats are up for grabs. Governor Parkinson deserves a "profile in courage," for stepping up to the plate and making the difficult budget cuts. That puts the ball back in the Republican legislature's court. For the first time in years, the Kansas budget crisis is affecting real people in greater numbers than ever before. And there may be lots of new political activism among the disaffected. The last off-year (non-Presidential) election (2006) resulted in five new Democrat house members in Topeka.

Close Encounters of an Undocumented Kind

LAWRENCE, Kan. - Next month, the Spanish edition of Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives is coming to bookshelves near you. Edited by Peter Orner, Underground America is the third installment of McSweeney's Voice of Witness series. It consists of 24 first person accounts from one of the most silenced groups in America: undocumented immigrants.

According to the 2006-2008 state censuses, 66.1 percent (plus or minus 3,628 people) of the 167,159 foreign-born Kansas residents are not U.S. citizens. Even with Lou Dobbs off the air, undocumented immigrants, who account for four percent of the total Kansas population, are still seen by a large group of people as foreign opportunists, preying on the innocent United States of America.

But, as Underground America reveals time and time again, this couldn't be further from the truth. And this truth hits close to home.

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - Deputy Communications Director, Megan McClendon confirmed this afternoon that, "He (Moore) is indeed stepping down."

U.S. Congressman Dennis Moore, 64, now serving his 6th term, will become the first member of Congress to retire without seeking another public office.

The official statement released today by Moore's D.C. Communication Director Brandon Naylor gave confirmation to Moore's retirement.

It has been an honor and a privilege to have been elected six times to represent the people of the Third District in the U.S. House of Representatives. I have decided not to seek reelection in 2010. It is time for a new generation of leadership to step forward.

Kansans Want Health Care to Change

HAYS, Kan. - Do Kansans want lawmakers to improve health care? A recent survey of Kansans, conducted by the non-partisan Docking Institute of Public Affairs, addressed that question as well as others. The survey was designed to provide insights about what Kansans think about Kansas.

One particularly interesting aspect of the study involved the collection of opinions about the general state of health care in Kansas, as well as opinions on the government's role in ensuring that all citizens have adequate health care coverage. Half of our state's citizens think that health care in our state needs 'major change.'

Altogether, 83 percent of Kansans believe that health care in our state needs to change. A small number, only one-sixth of Kansans, expressed that health care in Kansas is 'adequate.'

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Fredonia native Tom Wiggans' entry into the Kansas Governor's race came this week as I was reading a remarkable book about the brain drain that afflicts states like Kansas.

Hollowing Out the Middle: The Rural Brain Drain and What It Means for America, by Patrick J. Carr and Maria J. Kefalas classifies small towners like Wiggans into four categories: The Achievers, The Stayers, The Seekers, and The Returners.

The problem with small towns is that their #1 export is their "Achievers" like Tom Wiggans. Born and bred in Fredonia, an Eagle Scout and KU graduate, Tom Wiggans personifies the achiever who leaves the state due to limited opportunities. Wiggans went on to make great contributions in producing life-saving medicines.

Wiggans' recent return to his home state of Kansas puts him in a second category, according to Carr and Kefalas: Tom Wiggans is also a "a Returner," and a particular type of returner: a "High-Flyer" - one who succeeded elsewhere but returns to Kansas with a wide list of accomplishments.

LA CYGNE, Kan. - Linn County Democratic Party hosted a potluck Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday to welcome U.S. Senate candidate Charles Schollenberger from Prairie Village.

Schollenberger believes the next U.S. Senator should not be a career politician, rather one who is both visible and accessible to the people.

"We still have two conservative Republican U.S. Senators who have acted indifferently after the stock market crashed last year due to Republican deregulation of the financial industry, causing Americans to suffer a $5 trillion loss in household wealth. Our two U.S. Senators are not attuned to the needs of working Kansans, nor are the two Republican Congressmen who want to be elected to a Senate next year. It is time to send a U.S. Senator to Washington who is going to represent the true interests of the working people of Kansas, their children and grandchildren, and our senior citizens," Schollenberger said.

After getting tough on KS - Senator's Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback; and his two "far right-leaning opponents, Jerry Moran, and Todd Tiahrt, Schollenberger made the announcement...

tom-wiggans.jpgTOPEKA, Kan. - Today, Tom Wiggans filed paperwork with the Secretary of State to establish his campaign committee in the race to become the next Governor of Kansas. Kansas Democratic Party Executive Director, Kenny Johnston released this information:

Tom Wiggans was born and raised in Fredonia in Wilson County, Kansas where his father and grandfather operated Wiggans Drugstore. Growing up in a town like Fredonia gave Tom a clear understanding of the importance of hard work, personal sacrifice, and community values. Tom's grandfather ran the drug store everyday from 7 am until 11 pm. Oftentimes, families were unable to pay for their medicine and the Wiggans family simply kept track of the charges, knowing they would be paid once the harvest season arrived. The Wiggans family belonged to the First Methodist Church, where Tom was baptized, sang in the youth choir, and received his God and Country award and Eagle Scout Award. Beginning at age 13, Tom always held a summer job including mowing lawns around town, working for the city and local cement plant, hauling hay, and being a life guard at the Fredonia City Pool.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - The Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty held their annual meeting in Topeka on November 16th. The event was attended by 30 people and featured a keynote
Sam Millsap & Donna Schneweis
speech given Sam Millsap, former Bexar County (TX) Prosecuting Attorney.

During the 2009 Kansas legislative session, proponents of the death penalty were successful in getting the Senate's Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on a bill to repeal the current death penalty law and voted out the bill to the full Senate. Conservatives in the Kansas Senate, lead by Sen. Derek Schmidt, blocked the bill from being voted on and had it referred back to committee.

Following this effort, The Wichita Eagle, Iola Register and Hutchinson News, all issued editorials calling for a repeal or seriously questioning the need for the death penalty in a state that has not executed a capital offender since 1965.

dennis-moore.jpgWASHINGTON - The White House overcame a major hurdle for health care on Saturday when the House of Representatives passed a bill that includes a public health insurance option.

The bill that passed in the House was far from perfect. What it did accomplish, is to provide a foundation upon which to build. No bill is perfect. While many are not satisfied with the final bill of passage it is important to recognize there is in place a health care policy that will compel legislators in the future to fix what does not work and expand on what does. Once Americans come to see this bill much like Medicare (that familiar voices vehemently opposed) actually is good for them, constituents will drive the need and desire to improve an imperfect bill.

While dozens of conservative Democrats sided with big Insurance to vote against the Affordable Health Care for America Act, one single Kansas Legislator stood tall. Congressman Dennis Moore, KS - 3 not only voted for the bill, he also voted against the Stupak amendment.

LAWRENCE, Kan. - As a member of the activist community in our fair state, I've been privileged to meet many activists of varied ages throughout the last few years. Many of the activists I've met write for blogs, such as this one, attend rallies, attend conferences, and gather at social events meant to network activists with each other. However, at a good number of these events, and in some of my political science classes at KU, I hear something disturbing quite often.

The older, often more experienced, members of the community seem to think that they can't rely on the younger generation to make a difference. They don't think they can be relied on to show up or to really care. Now, I may be straddling the line between seasoned old warhorse and youth activist at the age of 30 but I can assure you that if there is one thing I know about the activist community in Kansas it is that you can count on the younger activists to be there.

Photograph courtesy of Melissa Carlson

SHAWNEE, Kan. - This morning, the Kansas City Young Dems led a protest and rally at city hall. About 100 activists gathered to hear speeches and show solidarity for the right of Kansans to be able to be offered a public option offering of health insurance. The specific purpose of their protest was to voice their opposition to an amendment that may soon be introduced in the Kansas State Senate by Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook (R-District 10). Pilcher-Cook's amendment would allow the state legislature to prevent the public option, if passed in the U.S. Congress, from being made available to citizens of Kansas.

MOUND CITY, Kan. - "Abort Obamunism," "Proud to be the Party of Know," and "Spay and neuter Democrats," were only a few of the mean-spirited signs hoisted by the "Tea Bag" attendees Thursday in front of the steps to our nation's Capital.
David Koch linked to
TEA Party funding

Another popular phrase, "Water board Congress," could be read on several signs and buttons.

Instigator of the "Tea Bag" protesters, Michele Bachmann, received the loudest cheers. Speaker and author Mark Levin suggested that Democrats are illiterate.

Thursday's GOP rally at the Capitol was technically a "press conference." According to a Capitol Police spokesperson in one report, lawmakers did not have a permit for a protest. However, speakers at Thursday's "press conference" took no questions. Rather, they repeatedly shouted to the "fired up" crowd, "Kill the Bill."

TOPEKA, Kan. - The state will have about $235 million less than the legislature had planned on in passing the state budget in May, 2009, says the estimate from the Consensus Estimating Group and released today by the Governor's office.

The $235 million deficit amounts to about 4.2% of the budget for the current fiscal year, which began July 1, 2009, and runs through June 30, 2010.

Governor Mark Parkinson promised last week that he would take executive action to cut the budgets of state agencies to keep state spending in line with the declining revenues. This line of action is in contrast with the actions of former Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who--when faced with revenue shortfalls a year ago--preferred to have the legislature take action when it returned to session in January.

dennis-moore.jpgTOPEKA, Kan. - In a struggling economy, this is the kind of news we need. Rep. Dennis Moore (D-KS) just announced that the Department of Energy has awarded $9,593,500 in Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants (EECBG) to the state. These grants provide much needed job opportunities as well as give us a chance to take the lead in developing renewable energy.

"The award of these block grants to Kansas highlights the bright energy future of our great state," said Congressman Moore. "With the third highest wind production potential in the country, we must continue to make investments in renewable energy to capitalize on the growing 'green economy' and ensure Kansas is a leader in the adoption of smart and sustainable energy practices."

The EECBG funds are funded through the Recovery Act and will implement a variety of public and private sector initiatives geared toward energy efficiency and renewable energy. Said projects include grants that will be given to local government energy managers across the state. These funds are projected to create hundreds of jobs statewide, reduce energy consumption, and limit carbon pollution.

Also, kudos to Congressman Moore for the launch of his Congressional website -- it looks great!

GREAT BEND, Kan. - When 28-year-old Great Bend Democrat Randy Yowell threw down the gauntlet and challenged longtime Republican First District Congressman Keith Sebelius, it led to what Yowell now calls "the wildest congressional campaign ever by land, sea or air."

No Congressional District has been tougher on the Democrats than Kansas' Big First. And Keith Sebelius (father-in-law of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius) seemed to have an unshakable grip on the District in 1976. Somebody forgot to tell Randy Yowell.

Yowell had no money. Although he had been a star athlete at Great Bend High School, he had no political experience, but made up for it in guts, blasting Sebelius at every turn.

"I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense ..." Thomas Paine, 1776, pamphleteer

HAYS, Kan. - Today is our first month anniversary! The Kansas Free Press launched just one month ago, on October 1st. Since that first day, the reception, readership and traffic here has been phenomenal. Our 54 writers have collectively filed 121 stories. During October, this site has had 271,959 "hits" and we have welcomed between 365 and 5,070 unique visitors every day! That's really magnificent! We are so grateful to our readers for welcoming this new project with such enthusiasm. Thank you! We will do our best to continue to live up to your expectations.

So, what is the Kansas Free Press? As it steadily grows over the coming months and years, the Kansas Free Press will strive to be a trusted state-wide online newspaper, featuring both opinion and news, written by citizen journalists about people, places, politics and policies that effect Kansans.

Our writers are chiefly interested in examining what the people of Kansas value most and how we, our governments, communities and neighbors respond to those values.

By writing about the places, local events, politics and, especially, the people of Kansas, our journalists hope to coax others into meaningful public conversations about our way of life and the future of Kansas.

With both boldness and simplicity, this electronic newspaper seeks to provide opportunities for everyday citizens in Kansas to speak freely with one another about things that truly matter to Kansans.

Opting Out of Military Telemarketing

WICHITA, Kan. - Opt-Out notification forms, forms that notify military recruiters that students don't want to be contacted, have been included in the packets sent to parents in the USD 259 school district in Wichita for four years. Every year, Janice Bradley, member of the Peace and Social Center of South Central Kansas, asks the school district for a report on the number of parents opting their students out of contact by military recruiters. And every year, this number has increased. After four years, the number of those opting out of military recruitment contact in Wichita high schools has reached 57.1%, an increase of 5% from the 2008-2009 school year. Wichita parents are using the The Opt-Out Notification for Military Recruiters form, which became available in 2005, to prevent the automatic release of their sons and daughters' names, addresses and phone numbers to military recruiters.

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.

The previous archive is State: October 2009. The next archive is State: December 2009.

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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 State: November 2009 section.

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