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Courtesy Trampled Under Foot

Following a hiatus of almost two years, the popular Kansas City blues-rock band Trampled Under Foot (named after the song on Led Zeppelin’s 1975 album Physical Graffiti) has reunited. They’re playing Friday, July 15, and Saturday, July 16, at Knuckleheads.

Three reasons we’re listening to Trampled Under Foot this week:

A new plan for 18th and Vine Jazz District upgrades trims phase one commitment to $7 million.
Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

City Council discussions have produced a new, scaled back proposal for improvements to the Historic 18th and Vine Jazz District.

Councilman Jermaine Reed tried to bring a $27.6 million, three-phase plan to a vote in last Thursday's legislative session, but called for a postponed vote when support failed to materialize.

The main concerns other council members expressed had to do with the total financial commitment on the part of the city and making that commitment before exploring the possibility of reducing the burden through private investment.

Sam Zeff
KCUR 89.3

This week I did a story on a group of Democrats and moderate Republicans who are already working on a new school finance formula in advance of the 2017 session which will gavel in come January.

The story was based on an interview I did with Democratic state Sen. Laura Kelly from Topeka on KCUR's political podcast Statehouse Blend. Kelly is the senate minority whip.

Kansas Elections Director Bryan Caskey and state Sen. Vicki Schmidt discuss the proposed voting rule during the  Kansas Rules and Regulations Board meeting.
Stephen Koranda / KPR

With little advance notice of the hearing, a state panel has approved a temporary election rule that will have some Kansans vote with provisional ballots, but only their votes in federal races will be counted. Votes for state and local races will be tossed out.

Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach proposed the rule. The Kansas Rules and Regulations Board approved it Tuesday morning after notice of the meeting was sent out Monday afternoon.

Anna Sturla / KCUR 89.3

The Kauffman Foundation and the Hall Family foundation will donate more than $1.5 million over two years to the Kansas City Neighborhood Academy, a new charter school serving East Kansas City.

The Kauffman Foundation is donating $1 million while the Hall Family Foundation is donating $600,000.

“This is a tremendous vote of confidence for our new school,” says Urban Neighborhood Initiative Executive Director Dianne Cleaver. UNI was created by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce in order to revitalize Kansas City neighborhoods.

Anna Leach

Around 11:15 p.m. Sunday night, a police car drove by a crowd of around 60 people gathered near J.C. Nichols Fountain.

A shout rang out, and others quickly chimed in, the calls of what seemed like the entire group filling the warm night air.

The yelling, though, quickly morphed into laughter.

“‘I wanna be the very best,’” Rafeael Arevael sang, echoing the song that continued to blast out of the passing car.

Kicking styles in FootGolf vary with some players kicking straight-on and others using a soccer-style kick.
Steve Bell / KCUR 89.3

In July, Tomahawk Hills became the third area golf course offering FootGolf, a variation of golf played with soccer balls.

Like regular golf, FootGolf is played on a nine or 18-hole course. At Tomahawk Hills, the new nine-hole green wends its way around and between golf course fairways.

Heart of America golf pro Nate Richardson at Swope Park says fairways are shared at that course, which opened in 2014.

Within the year, the soccer-golf hybrid was drawing almost as many players as regular golf.

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

Tim DeWeese highlighted Johnson County’s neediest residents Monday while briefing an audience about what the county is losing because Kansas policymakers have declined to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

DeWeese, executive director of the county’s mental health agency, said there are people living under bridges or “surfing” from couch to couch in the state’s most prosperous county — and they didn’t come in from elsewhere.

“There is a homeless population, here in Johnson County,” he said.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Amazon is building another huge facility in the Kansas City area, this one in Kansas City, Kansas, and it will bring more than 1,000 new jobs to an underutilized part of Wyandotte County.

Those jobs will start above minimum wage, come with benefits, and steep community college tuition discounts. They’ll be at a new facility south of I-70 near the Turner Diagonal, which is good news to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback.

What appears at first blush to be little more than a contract dispute between a state agency and a University of Kansas research center is actually much more than that.

The state’s failure to renew a contract with the KU Center for Mental Health Research and Innovation is another assault on the state's mental health system, according to the directors of several community mental health centers.

SWARE. / Flickr-CC

Organizers are moving forward to decriminalize marijuana in Kansas City, Missouri.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws' Kansas City branch is collecting signatures to get an initiative added to the November ballot.

Courtesy photo - Storycorps

This story was updated on Tuesday to add remarks by U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs. 

Scott Wright, a federal judge in Kansas City for 35 years, died today. He was 93.

Wright was nominated to the federal bench in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter. He was chief judge from 1985 to 1990 and took senior status in 1991, but continued to handle a full caseload until ill health forced him to step down a couple of years ago.

Healthcare.gov

Almost nine out of every 10 Kansans and Missourians who selected health insurance on the federal online marketplace paid for at least the first month of their coverage this year, offering one bit of stability in the sometimes-turbulent marketplace.

Critics of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, questioned whether people who signed up for coverage actually would pay their premiums after the exchanges’ troubled rollout in late 2013 and early 2014.

Most of the soybeans, like those pictured here, and corn grown in the United States are geneticall modified. Some new varities are not required to undergo federal regulation.
Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

In a brightly-lit lab at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, workers with tweezers hunch over petri dishes scattered with sprouted sorghum seeds. Sorghum produces grain and also a sugary stalk.

But this sorghum has a genetic tweak, explains plant scientist Tom Clemente. Instead of sugar, it’s engineered to make oil, which could be used to make fuel or chemicals.

“You know if we can get oil in a stock of sorghum anywhere greater than 5 percent, that’s a winner,” Clemente says. “That’s a grand slam.”

Stephen Koranda / KPR

 

It’s time to start voting, Kansas.

From the top of the primary ballot to the bottom there are important decisions to make by Aug. 2.

Heartland Health Monitor

The Disability Rights Center of Kansas is seeking more information from the state about its backlog of Medicaid applications to determine whether Kansas is breaking federal rules.

Rocky Nichols, the center’s executive director, said the organization has filed an open records request to examine whether the state is doing what the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requires for Medicaid applicants stuck in the backlog.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

People in Kansas City are still reeling after a week of violence across the country, and many sought different outlets over the weekend to express their grief and frustration.

Sunday evening, hundreds gathered at the East Patrol Station at 26th and Prospect for a prayer vigil organized by area pastors.

In a crowded gymnasium, Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forté said that there are changes that need to be made within his own department.

"We've done a lot of things wrong," he said.

KCUR 89.3

A column published Friday evening in The Kansas City Star website (and in the print edition Saturday) has been removed from The Star’s website, after backlash from the community and other media outlets.

The column, titled “Women can take action to prevent rapes,” argues that women should take responsibility for their bodies by not getting so intoxicated that they become victims of sexual assault or rape.

That elicited strong reactions on Facebook and Twitter.

KHI News Service

While most Kansas educators are still breathing a sigh of relief that the school funding equity issue was solved in a special session and public schools could remain open, some lawmaker are already looking ahead to the new session in January.

Sen. Laura Kelly, the minority whip from Topeka, says a small bipartisan group has already begun meeting to draft a new school funding formula to replace block grants, which expire at the end of this fiscal year.

The plan, drafted by Democrats and moderate Republicans, is based a great deal on the old formula.

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

Rural Americans are gaining health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act at rates outpacing their urban counterparts, according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Mark Andes is among those in rural Kansas who have benefited. Andes was living and working in McPherson last year when he began having some scary health symptoms.

Kevin Collison / KCUR 89.3

Supporters of the proposed downtown University of Missouri-Kansas City campus for the arts have enlisted Warren Erdman, a savvy veteran of Missouri politics, to lead the lobbying effort for $48 million in matching state funds.

“Warren has been fantastically supportive since early on,” says Dean Peter Witte of the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.

“His understanding of the University of Missouri System and his reputation in the State Legislature are great assets.”

Javier Giribet-Vargas / KERA News Special Contributor

After a deadly night for police officers in Dallas, a frustrated Sly James addressed reporters at Union Station Friday morning.

“You’ve got police officers being shot at from high altitudes by people with killing machines,” says James. “Weapons that were meant for war. The type of weapon I used when I was in the Marine Corps.”

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

(Updated Friday to note House support)

The U.S. Senate late Thursday approved a bill that outlaws states’ efforts to put labels on food products made with genetically-modified organisms and instead gives companies more leeway in disclosing GMOs.

Courtesy Mark English

Transitioning from picking cotton to painting storefront signs was a big change for a young Mark English growing up in Texas during the Great Depression. 

The change was notable for its pay increase, English remembered, going from earning two dollars a day to a hundred. But painting signs was also his first “art job.” 

At the time, English had yet to take an art class or even meet a self-described artist. 

Sarah Long / Joyful Photography

Funding cuts and changes for children’s programs across the state became a reality at the start of this month — and that means fewer Kansas families will receive some services.

An official with TARC, a Shawnee County organization that serves people with developmental disabilities, said the nonprofit was out of options for administrative cuts in the wake of state funding reductions.

Postcards, Shoe Leather Factor In Kansas Elections

Jul 8, 2016
A line-up of candidates at a meet-and-greet in Ulysses, Kansas. From left to right: District 39 Sen. Larry Powell, Congressional candidate Roger Marshall, state Rep. John Doll, and Democratic challenger Zach Worf.
Amy Jeffries / KCUR

In far Western Kansas, Senate District 39 spans 10 counties -- it’s vast and it’s flat.

For once, there is a Democratic candidate out here. Zach Worf, a political novice, is the first Democrat to try for the senate seat in a long time.

The real race is still the Republican primary. This time it’s a contest between incumbent Sen. Larry Powell and Garden City Rep. John Doll.

Doll says he knows what the prime attack against him will be: that he used to be a Democrat.

File: Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR

Southwest Missouri native Courtney Frerichs is heading to Rio de Janeiro looking for gold.

Frerichs, who hails from Nixa, Missouri, finished second in the steeplechase at the U.S Olympic track and field trials on Thursday, good enough to earn her a ticket to the Olympics in Brazil in August.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

With three last-minute alternatives on the table and no apparent consensus, Kansas City Councilman Jermaine Reed backed down Thursday on his plan to force a vote on Jazz District improvements.

Reed had already softened his original stance that the council should fully commit to $27.6 million in three-phase funding for the 18th and Vine area.

Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio

The four Republican candidates for Missouri governor kicked off their debate Wednesday night with a variety of statements about the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion. KCUR fact-checked some of those statements. Here’s what we found:

Catherine Hanaway:

“Obamacare has failed in every regard. We were told it was going to reduce premiums. On average, premiums went up for the exchange in Missouri over 23 percent last year.”

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