News

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.”

Kris Krug / Wikimedia Commons

Can I give it to you straight? Probably not. Even if I could, would you take it that way?

Increasingly little these days appears to be totally safe from a potentially ironic interpretation – the sense that the opposite may be true of whatever professed message is being sent, often with humorous results.

Of course, there’s both intentional and unintentional irony, which sometimes can be tricky to differentiate. So I won’t try here. Unless I just did. But I probably didn’t!

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

As the Kansas City Council considers more than $27 million in new investments in the historic 18th and Vine Jazz District, leaders of the district’s oldest landmark want to make sure City Hall respects the special status of the Mutual Musicians Foundation.

It’s a sacred place not just because alcohol flows legally there after hours.

File photo

Kansas community mental health centers are sending a distress signal to state policymakers.

The association that represents the state’s 26 community mental health centers issued a statement Wednesday expressing “strong concerns” about the $30 million in funding cuts that it says its members have suffered in the past 12 months.

“The community mental health centers have taken one devastating hit after another over the last year,” said Kyle Kessler, executive director of the Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas Inc.

Courtesy Beth Jacobs

Across the United States, thousands of men, women and children are being forced to work as prostitutes. 

Sex trafficking remains a big problem, but a small group is mobilizing the far-flung trucking industry to fight it.

That’s a big change from the early 1980s, when Beth Jacobs was a teenager. At the time, she thought if you were prostitute, it was your choice.

Sunflower Development

Beacon Hill soon could be joining Kansas City's downtown hotel boom.

On Wednesday, the City Council Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee endorsed plans for a $13 million, 90-room hotel project at 24th and Troost in the Beacon Hill redevelopment area. It would operate as a Best Western Plus.

The master plan for the area, created when Emanuel Cleaver was mayor, focuses on affordable housing, principally town homes. But Leonard Graham of design firm Taliaferro and Browne says the hotel is consistent with the original goal. 

Missouri Department of Insurance

Starting in 2018, Missouri will no longer be the only state in the country barred from collecting information on health insurance rates.

Gov. Jay Nixon on Tuesday signed legislation requiring health insurers to file proposed rates with the Missouri Department of Insurance and the department to determine if they’re reasonable or not.

If the department finds them to be unreasonable because they’re excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory, the law authorizes it to disclose that to the public, which can then comment on the proposed rates.

Prof Cloverdale / Flickr--CC

The investment firms that bought Hostess brand snack cakes for $185 million three years ago are about to make bank on the recovering Kansas City-based company. The firms announced Tuesday that they’d reached a deal to sell a majority of the company for $725 million.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

In 2011, Cole Lindbergh was 25 and working his dream job as the games manager at the Kansas City amusement park Worlds of Fun. He was walking over 20,000 steps a day, working 60-hour weeks, managing 100 teenage employees and couldn’t have been happier. But, Lindbergh was facing a dilemma: while incredibly happy with the job, it didn’t pay well and the hours weren’t good. It’s a problem that a lot of 25-year-olds could probably relate to, but unlike most, Lindbergh’s story was shared with about 2.1 million listeners on the weekly radio show, This American Life.

Courtesy Aliki Barnstone

Missouri has a new poet laureate: Aliki Barnstone, a professor of English at the University of Missouri-Columbia, appointed last week by Gov. Jay Nixon. Barnstone has published seven books of poetry; her first was published when she was 12; her eighth, Dwelling, is expected this fall.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

You hear the term “placemaking” a lot these days. It's about taking what already exists in a neighborhood and building on it — or reinventing a public space to attract more people to it. The city of Merriam, Kansas is launching a new five-year public art initiative on Wednesday, with a sense of place. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Here’s something you probably didn’t know about the University of Kansas Medical Center: For almost 40 years KU doctors have been flying around the state to bring their expertise to small towns.

But in another unintended consequence, budget cuts in Kansas have drastically cut back this service.

About 6:45 a.m. on an already steamy June morning, seven KU Med staffers pile on a twin-engine King Air at the Downtown Kansas City Airport.

Cramped but certainly comfortable, they're about to take off on a 40 minute flight to Hutchinson.

Matt Hodapp / Heartland Health Monitor

A federal judge blocked Kansas’ effort to cut off two regional Planned Parenthood affiliates’ Medicaid funding, ruling the move likely violates federal law.

In a 54-page decision handed down late Tuesday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson granted a preliminary injunction sought by Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri (now known as Planned Parenthood Great Plains) and by Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

The members of Kansas City's Dance Gurukul troupe are hoping “Cosmic Forces” helps revive an ancient tradition while honoring the Hindu god Shiva.

This weekend, they'll be performing in the classical Southern Indian tradition of Kuchipudi, a style of dance that started as a temple art form thousands of years ago.

“The stage is a sacred space for us and the essence of the dance is deeply spiritual,” says Samarpita Bajpai. “It’s a way of connecting with God. That’s what you should feel when you are dancing.”

Aaron Bowen

Katy Guillen and the Girls
Heavy Days

With the blues, people throw parties to cover up pain.

That’s exactly what Kansas City-based blues rockers Katy Guillen and the Girls have done with Heavy Days, their second CD. The band takes addictive Friday-night catharsis as seriously as any roots band, and the opening song here, “Driving To Wake Up,” arrives like a house party. Heads can bob. Lips can be bitten in ecstasy. Hips can spontaneously pivot and swirl and shake.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Massive bison herds used to be a staple of the Great Plains. That is until we almost hunted them out of existence.

Now, with a new designation as the United States’ national mammal, bison ranchers argue that to conserve the species we have to eat them.

It’s an idea called “market-based conservation,” and it contends that humans are no good at saving species out of the goodness of our hearts, or motivated by some driving force of environmental justice.

While many educators are spending the summer on the campaign trail, the sign outside a public elementary school in Wichita urges voters to register.
Abigail Wilson / KMUW

To say that many educators in Kansas are fed up with state lawmakers would be an understatement. The legislature has been putting a tighter and tighter squeeze on public schools in recent years. This election season, educators are trying to send legislators packing.

The Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB) estimates that all across the state roughly 50 current and former school board members, administrators, and teachers are candidates in legislative elections.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Incumbents and political hopefuls lined up Monday morning before the 2016 Lenexa Community Days Parade.

Kansas Sen. Greg Smith was near the front, right behind U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran and U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder.

“It’s just a fun event,” Smith said, adding that he participates even in non-election years. “If you’re in Northeast Johnson County, this is the place to be.”

Smith’s primary challenger, Dinah Sykes, was in the middle of the parade pack, marching alongside other moderate Republicans campaigning on public education.

Facebook - Candlelight Vigil For Orlando

Update, July 5,  5:07 p.m.: Organizers informed participants on Tuesday that the event had been canceled.

Plans for a vigil honoring victims of the mass shooting in Orlando are causing tension between event organizers and some LGBT people of color over a lack of Latino representation at the vigil.

Paul Andrews/paulandrewsphotography.com

Chuck Magerl grew up surrounded by family history.

During Prohibition, his grandfather was sent to Leavenworth Penitentiary for distributing alcohol.

One great-great grandfather was the sheriff of Jackson County, Missouri --  in 1869, the governor of Missouri sent a letter, authorizing him to capture Frank and Jesse James, dead or alive.

Another ancestor ran a saloon in Kansas City; a ledger book shows he paid $7 per barrel of beer in 1909.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Today is the first official day on the job for new Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Mark Bedell, and he certainly has his work cut out for him. 

Bedell is looking to help the district regain full accreditation, but he is also focusing on changing negative attitudes about the district. In these first few weeks, he says he "wants to come in and just restore hope and really give these kids the best opportunities to be successful." 

University of Kansas Hospital

This story was updated at 5:24 p.m. to include KU Hospital's statement. 

An explosive lawsuit filed by a University of Kansas Hospital pathologist charges that the head of the hospital’s pathology department wrongly diagnosed a patient with cancer and then covered up the mistake after an organ of the patient was removed.

Sam Zeff
KCUR 89.3

Do you remember not long ago when Kansas was on the edge of facing a public education shutdown? Many feared schools would be closed July 1. Some even believed they may not be open for the start of the school year in August.

The unconstitutional inequity between rich and poorer districts appeared to be a problem the Legislature couldn't solve.

File photo

The Kansas Hospital Association is urging federal officials to stop Gov. Sam Brownback from implementing $56.4 million in Medicaid cuts set to take effect today.

Brownback ordered the cuts in May to cover shortfalls in the fiscal year 2017 budget approved by the Legislature. The hospital association is asking the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to immediately intervene to stop the cuts, which include a 4 percent reduction in provider payments.

Kansas City Zoo Archives

If you visited the Kansas City Zoo anytime from the late 1960s to the early 1990s you’ll probably remember the Great Blue Whale. The giant concrete play structure was made up of 18,000 pounds of concrete and metal rods.

 

The Whale so well known that I have clear memories of the whale — which is impossible since I wasn’t born until 1995.

 

The Great Blue Whale was removed from the Zoo in the 1990s, when the zoo went through major renovations. At the most, I may have caught glimpse of it from my stroller.

Kansas City author and teacher Whitney Terrell embedded with the U.S. military in Iraq about a decade ago — writing for publications such as Slate Magazine and The Washington Post. Some of the stories he heard became the basis for his third novel, The Good Lieutenant, an eye-opening look at women in the military.  

Ronnie Russell, who farms near Richmond, Mo., stands in one of his soybean fields.
Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

On this sunny, summer morning in late June, Ronnie Russell is “windshield farming.”

Driving from field to field in his Ford pick-up, he can see that his corn is about to tassel, his soybeans are mostly weed-free and white butterflies are floating above the alfalfa.

All three crops, adding up to about 1,500 acres, are grown with genetically-engineered seeds, a technology Russell views as a boon to farming.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Kansans who register to vote using a federal form at the Department of Motor Vehicles will have to provide proof of citizenship as a lawsuit plays out, a judge ruled Wednesday.

The League of Women Voters and other civil rights groups had sought a preliminary injunction to block such rules in Kansas, Alabama and Georgia.

“Because it’s a barrier to voting,” says Dolores Furtado, the immediate past president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas. “The percentage of eligible registered people that vote is sometimes terrible.”

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

"We need to finish the 18th and Vine District," said Kansas City, Missouri, Manager Troy Schulte in an opening statement at Wednesday evening's public forum on three different but intersecting plans for the historic Jazz District.

Schulte was joined on the pulpit of the Centennial United Methodist Church by 3rd District Councilman-at-Large Quinton Lucas and Harrietta Harris, a plaintiff in the court challenge to a private development plan for the Parade Park Homes.

MoDot / Flickr-CC

It’s that weekend for doing fireworks, waving the American flag and, by all means, having a slice of all-American apple pie.

But you can also sublimely groove to a top-of-the-charts pop princess or be nostalgically serenaded by a famous southern Missouri rock band from the 1970s. However you opt to have fun this Fourth of July weekend, remember, it’s your right to decide.

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