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Kansas Legislature

Primary election night was brutal for conservative Republicans in the Kansas Legislature. 

Six Republican members of the Senate lost their primaries. The more moderate candidates won two additional seats left open by conservatives who decided not to run for reelection.

Eight Republican House members were ousted in the primaries. The Kansas Chamber, which has been known to back lawmakers who align with Gov. Brownback on tax policy, had endorsed all of those defeated incumbents. Eight others the Chamber endorsed in 13 open House races also lost.

Courtesy of Bruno Bessa

Story of a Song is a monthly segment on KCUR's Central Standard in which local musicians tell the story behind a song they have written or are performing.

The Song: "Sabiá"

The Songwriters: Chico Buarque and Antônio Carlos Jobim

Interpreted by: Vocalist Bruno Bessa and guitarist Beau Bledsoe with Ensemble Ibérica

Facebook - KC Mothers in Charge

A day after Kansas City lost two more of its children, family and community members are struggling to comprehend what happened.

Two young boys died after shots were fired into a home near 58th and College early Saturday morning. They were 8 and 9 years old. The other victim, a 16 year-old-girl, is expected to recover. 

Rosilyn Temple is the executive director of KC Mothers In Charge.  She says she arrived at the scene around 2:30 a.m. She was told shots were fired into the house, striking the three victims.

Fernando Frazão / Agência Brasil / Source http://agenciabrasil.ebc.com.br/rio-2016/foto/2016-08/natacao-rio-2016

It’s been a week since the Olympic flame was lit in Rio de Janeiro, and so far these Games have gone more or less as expected — for better and for worse. Amid all the storylines and golden moments, "A Fan’s Notes" commentator Victor Wishna muses on a larger, urgent meaning for all of us watching back home.

RedBull Trinker / Flickr — CC

An investigation into the distribution of contraband at the Leavenworth Detention Center has morphed into an explosive case involving possible violations of attorney-client privilege on a massive scale.

Evidence at a hearing Tuesday revealed that the private contractor operating the facility, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), made video recordings of confidential conversations between inmates and their attorneys and passed some of it on to government prosecutors in response to a grand jury subpoena.

Swope Health Services

In a roundtable conversation on Thursday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon heard from police and mental health workers about their collaboration in efforts to provide treatment, not punishment, for the mentally ill.

There are five so-called "community mental health liaisons" in the Kansas City area, thanks to a three-year effort by Nixon's administration. These liaisons assist law enforcement in crisis situations such as a threatened suicide or person suffering from delusions.  

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Miguel M. Morales has been a writer his whole life, but he began to make it more than a hobby after joining Kansas City's Latino Writers Collective seven years ago (he recently finished a two-year term as the organization's president).

Morales says this summer's shootings at the Pulse nightclub "disrupted" his life in ways that will probably always affect his writing.

"This summer, in particular, has been very troubling, very violent — just one instance after another of violence, shootings, and massacres," he says.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

The Buhs is an 11-piece pop group from Kansas City that fuses elements of hip hop and soul.

 

They formed in 2013 when trumpeter Hermon Mahari was corralling talent for a Michael Jackson tribute show. The band started with a vision of writing songs to be picked up by other artists, but has since changed its focus to keeping their own music and growing their online presence through videos.

 

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

As part of our 30/30 Vision series, KCUR takes a look at three of Kansas City’s grandest ideas from the last 30 years. We also looked at magnet schools and the Wizard of Oz theme park.

Courtesy The Goddard Group

As part of our 30/30 Vision series, KCUR takes a look at three of Kansas City’s grandest ideas from the last 30 years.

We also looked at magnet schools and the world-class aquarium

Anna Leach / KCUR

    

Gillham Park Pool at 41st St. and Gillham Road in Midtown Kansas City, was built in 1977 as a fountain-wading pool hybrid. Generations of Kansas Citians have swum at the free facility — but this generation could be the last to remember the quirky pool.

Julian Gabriel started coming to the pool 13 years ago as a recent high school graduate, right after moving to the neighborhood from Jefferson City, Missouri.

MoBikeFed / Flickr - CC

Any hopes Gov. Jay Nixon may have about patching things up with Missouri’s top public defender will have to be put on hold for a while longer.

Budget tensions came to a head last week when Michael Barrett, director of the state’s public defender’s office, assigned the governor to defend an assault case in Cole County, Missouri.

Jacob Meyer / KCBMC

By the time the weekend arrives, a little comic relief is welcome. So how about more than a little?

You can begin with a comic book party, a comic beard contest and that funny little comic who made “makin’ copies” a catch phrase on “Saturday Night Live.”

I know, it’s never enough. How tragicomic.

1. Kansas City Comic Con

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

With the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in full swing, nearly all eyes have been glued to the outcomes of the swimming events and women’s gymnastics at their respective venues in Brazil.

But some of the local athletes like archer Zach Garrett of Wellington, Missouri, and tennis player Jack Sock of Overland Park, Kansas, have also made their impact on the Olympic games.

Discus thrower Mason Finley is one of several track and field athletes with local connections scheduled to begin competition Friday.

One of the school funding lawsuits that has been hanging over the head of Kansas has been dismissed.         

The lawsuit is called Petrella and was filed in federal court by a group of Shawnee Mission School District (SMSD) parents.

They argued that the district, one of the wealthiest in Kansas, should be able to raise and spend as much local tax money as it wants.

Kansas law caps how much local money a district can spend.

Dan Margolies / Heartland Health Monitor

Since the Affordable Care Act took effect, Wyandotte County has seen the number of its uninsured fall from 26 percent to 18 percent, one of the biggest drops in the country.

But it’s one thing to boast of boosting the ranks of the insured, another to steer them through a complicated and, at times, bewildering health care system.

With a $1.9 million grant from the United Health Foundation, announced today by county officials at the offices of the Community Health Council of Wyandotte County, the county is now in a better position to do that.

Courtesy Wendy Thompson

Longtime Kansas City film producer and director Rick Cowan died of a heart attack around 2 a.m. on Monday. Cowan’s wife, Wendy Thompson, announced the news on Facebook.

The two had shared a nice evening together before he started feeling poorly, Thompson tells KCUR.

Cowan had worked in Kansas City’s film industry since arriving in town in the late 1970s.

Courtesy The Rainmakers

Rightfully categorized as a heartland rock band in the vein of John Mellencamp, The Rainmakers are one of the most notable bands to emerge from Kansas City.

They remain local favorites more than 30 years after the group’s formation.

3 reasons we’re listening to The Rainmakers this week:

1. The Rainmakers’ self-titled debut album was released by Mercury Records in 1986. Two tracks, “Downstream” and “Let My People Go-Go,” were minor hits.

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

John Fasbinder’s dental office was busy on a recent Tuesday.

Three employees helped in the reception area, answering phones and clicking away at computers. Hygienists tended to patients in three dental chairs in the main clinic. Fasbinder and his associate, Seth Cohen, flitted among those patients and others in private rooms set up for more intensive work.

Most days are like this for Fasbinder. At his Prairie Village office, he takes patients on Medicaid — no matter how old they are, what part of Kansas they come from or how difficult they are to treat.

 Julia Szabo
KCUR 89.3

The number of teachers leaving Kansas or simply quitting the profession has dramatically increased over the last four years.

The annual Licensed Personnel Report was released Tuesday by the Kansas Department of Education. While it was provided to the Board of Education meeting in Topeka Tuesday, the report was buried in board documents and not addressed by either staff or the board.

The report shows that 1,075 teachers left the profession last year, up from 669 four years ago. That's a 61 percent increase.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

If you just want to see the video, scroll down

It's makes for dramatic pictures but more importantly, it's improving the neighborhood.

Kansas City — in partnership with donated services from Kissick Construction and Industrial Wrecking — started tearing down blighted homes Tuesday morning in the 2000 block of Chelsea Ave. It's the second phase of a $10 million dollar program. 

Mayor Sly James says the city will start with 23 homes the  city owns in it's Land Bank.

Michael Robinson

Two Kansas City design firms Helix Architecture + Design and Blackbird Design Studio announced a merger Tuesday morning.

In its nearly 25 years in downtown Kansas City, Helix has gained a reputation for renovations of notable city landmarks, such as Midland Theatre and the Kansas City Missouri Police Department building.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City’s neighborhoods have seen major shifts in recent years, as urban areas attract new residents and the suburbs become more diverse. Those changes are especially obvious in houses of worship throughout the city.

That phenomenon recently hit home in an unexpected way for Dan Margolies, editor of KCUR’s Heartland Health Monitor. As part of an interfaith program at Children’s Mercy Hospital, Margolies was among several people who paid a visit to the Victorious Life Church, a mostly African-American Pentecostal church at 34th and Paseo.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

The family of Caleb Schwab has made arrangements for his memorial service.

Ten-year-old Schwab died Sunday riding the Verrückt waterslide at Schlitterbahn in Kansas City, Kansas.  He was the son of Kansas state representative Scott Schwab.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder’s efforts to secure increased funding for the National Institutes of Health has earned him recognition from The Science Coalition.

Yoder convinced more than 100 Republican lawmakers to sign a letter calling for the largest increase in NIH funding since 2003.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

The death of 10-year-old Caleb Schwab Sunday on the Schlitterbahn water park’s Verrückt water slide is the first known accident involving the attraction since it opened in 2014.

But at least three negligence lawsuits have been filed since 2014 against Schlitterbahn, which opened seven years ago – although none involved the Verrückt, at 17 stories the world’s tallest water slide.

Missouri Valley Special Collections / Kansas City Public Library

As part of our 30/30 Vision series, KCUR takes a look at three of Kansas City’s grandest ideas from the last 30 years. Here's the first:

When Russell G. Clark died in 2004, The Kansas City Star noted that the former U.S. District Judge had endured death threats over his effort “to transform the Kansas City School District.” Clark had ordered the district and the state of Missouri to “wipe out segregation.”

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Last week, in an interview with The Kansas City Star, Kansas City, Missouri Police Chief Darryl Forté blamed recent police shootings of young black men on what he called “unreasonable fear” by some officers and “institutional racism” in law enforcement. 

The comments drew the ire of both the Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri police unions.

KCK Fraternal Order of Police President Scott Kirkpatrick posted a long open letter on the union's Facebook Page. In it he calls Forté's remarks "misguided, ridiculous and uninformed," and says the chief had "torn ...healing wounds wide open," in reference to the recent shooting death of two of their colleagues.

File photo

The effort to expand Medicaid in Kansas has been stuck in the political mud for the better part of three years.

Not anymore.

The results of last week’s primary election may have given expansion advocates the traction they need to overcome opposition from Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and legislative conservatives who thus far have blocked debate on the issue.

A series of victories by moderate Republicans over conservative incumbents and challengers for open seats has fundamentally changed the legislative landscape.

Contractor Mike Hudson and his team pull apart an old barn in Malta Bend, Missouri. The pieces will be sold as reclaimed wood.
Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

Larry Gerdes is having his barn taken down and disassembled in Malta Bend, Mo. It’s about the size of a three-car garage but stands much taller in a clearing surrounded by six-foot stalks of corn.

The barn’s exterior is graying, part of its roof is missing and there’s a gaping hole looking out from the hayloft. It’s about 100 years old and it’s not really useful.

“It’s deteriorated and it would cost a lot of money to repair it,” Gerdes says. “And it doesn’t fit into the modern farming. Unless you got two cows to let them loaf inside, nothing fits and it’s just obsolete.”

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