News

St. Joseph School District

The embattled St. Joseph Board of Education Thursday night appears to have put one of its many legal problems behind it.

The board voted 5-0 to settle a lawsuit filed by CFO Beau Musser after he was falsely accused of sexual misconduct.

"We are relieved that we are at this point," said board member Chris Danford.

Courtesy Photo / Paula Rose

Gender trouble at Wikipedia is well-documented. Studies conducted by the Wikimedia Foundation (which serves as Wikipedia’s support structure) conclude that less than 15 percent of the popular online encyclopedia’s contributors are female.

According to Siko Bouterse, director of community resources at the Wikimedia Foundation, diversity among editors is vitally important to Wikipedia’s vision.

Charvex / Creative Commons, Wikimedia

Rashaan Gilmore is a Kansas City native with a lot to say about our city's unspoken code for polite conduct. During a January conversation about race in Kansas City's LGBTQ community, he said, "We don't like to talk about things that are uncomfortable, we don't like to talk about things that are difficult. We're Kansas City Nice."

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Dr. Joseph Waeckerle says he's always been interested in sports medicine because athletes are usually highly motivated to get better and get back on the field.

Put simply, they're better patients.

But now doctors know more about concussions than they did when Waeckerle, a longtime Kansas City physician, studied sports medicine in the 1970s. 

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Uber drivers rallied outside City Hall in Kansas City Thursday morning to oppose an ordinance draft that would regulate ride-hiring companies similar to taxi companies.

The proposal would require drivers to pay a $250 vehicle permit fee, or $150 if the parent company pays an annual $10,000 fee. The city says they need to make sure drivers have proper insurance, vehicle inspections and background checks.

Brad Wilson / Flickr-CC

Not 12 hours after Gov. Sam Brownback signed legislation that would fund public schools in Kansas with block grants, the law has been challenged in court.

The motion was filed in Shawnee County District Court by several schools districts, including Kansas City, Kan., which have sued the state claiming it is under funding K-12 public education.

The motion alleges the block grant law violates the Kansas Constitution because it freezes funding for the next two years. A three-judge panel has ruled that the state failed to provide enough money to adequately educate students. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Artist Sarah Lugg Regan is carefully gluing dolls to the back of a plastic Stegosaurus. Surrounded by buckets of toys in a sun-filled room in Epperson House on the campus of University of Missouri-Kansas City, Lugg Regan and her assistant Ben Breslow are working on a two-story sculpture for the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures.

When the museum reopens on August 1 after extensive renovations, this 150-foot "Toytisserie" — a rotating ribbon of metal covered by whimsical scenes of toys — will be in the lobby, greeting visitors.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

Olathe Northwest High School graduate Willie Cauley-Stein is one of five finalists for the Naismith Award recognizing the best college basketball player. But here’s the caveat: He grew up in Kansas, but plays for Kentucky. The prevailing question is: How did the Kansas schools let him get away?

When the Kansas Jayhawks and Kentucky Wildcats played for the NCAA championship in 2012, Willie Cauley-Stein, who is now listed at 7-feet tall, was a senior at Olathe Northwest High School. The Jayhawks had 6'10 Thomas Robinson that year before he turned pro. They also had 7-foot Jeff Withey, a junior at the time. When Cauley-Stein decided to sign with Kentucky, he stunned his grandparents, Val and Norma Jean Stein.

The Conmunity / Flickr-CC

Maybe it’s just in anticipation of the seasonal bunny that will soon be bringing hard-boiled gifts, but I’ve got eggs on the brain.

As will those taking part in all sorts of egg hunts this weekend, along with other entertainment and activities appealing to eggheads, good eggs and even folks who have a thing for free-range eggs.

However you go about it, eggs-press yourself!

Courtesy Black House Collective

Five Kansas City artists will receive $10,000 in unrestricted cash as this year's winners of the Charlotte Street Awards. The awards went to three visual artists and two generative performing artists.

The Charlotte Street Foundation has been giving cash to selected artists for more than 15 years — the visual artist awards began in 1997; the foundation added awards for performing artists in 2008. In total, Charlotte Street has now awarded $700,500 to Kansas City artists, recognizing their accomplishments and encouraging their continued development and achievement.

flickr user j.s. clark / Creative Commons

The Kansas City city council votes Thursday on putting Kemper Arena on the market nationally as “surplus property.” 

Councilman Ed Ford, who chairs the economic development committee says assuming full-council approval, the city will send out a request for proposals on Kemper in early April, hoping to get at least one feasible offer. 

"If there is none, then the city is going to have to determine whether it makes economic sense to to tear it down or to mothball it, because status quo it's not working.  It's costing the city too much money to keep it open for too few events,” said Ford.

www.woodsoncounty.net

A cluster of counties in southeast Kansas are among the least healthy in the state, according to new rankings released Wednesday.

Four of the five state’s unhealthiest counties — Woodson, Cherokee, Greenwood and Labette — are in southeast Kansas. Several other counties in the region rank among the bottom 10.

But the director of an initiative launched in 2011 to address the underlying causes of the region’s health and economic problems said progress is being made.

When it comes to standard measures of health, Kansas is a laggard. Whether we’re talking about obesity rates, incidence of diabetes, acute or chronic diseases, or childhood mortality, the Sunflower State typically ranks in the bottom half of state health rankings – and in recent years it’s been sinking even lower.

That’s bad enough. But there are vast disparities within the state itself. Averages only give a rough-and-ready sense of the state’s overall health picture; dig deeper – down to the county level – and you’ll find that some counties actually perform quite well while others perform poorly.

Chafer Machinery

As you’ve probably heard, a well-respected group of World Health Organization scientists said glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s wildly popular Roundup herbicide and its generic cousins, is probably capable of causing cancer in humans.

Here are five things you should know:

1. What the report said: Roundup could cause cancer in humans.

The federal investigation into the St. Joseph School District has widened to include another district in the state.

The West Plains School District in south-central Missouri has been served with a subpoena from a federal grand jury sitting in Kansas City.

The subpoena in West Plains came at the same time that the grand jury issued a fourth subpoena for documents from the St. Joseph district.

Sources say the latest subpoena in St. Joseph demands expense reports and time sheets for some top administrators and contracts from certain district vendors.

Eleanor Klibanoff / KCUR

If I asked you to imagine the next great tech mind, you might picture a 20-something man in Silicon Valley. But the 20 girls at Coding and Cupcakes at the Sprint Accelerator last Saturday don't have time for gender stereotypes. They've got a website to design. 

Like 8-year-old Kyanne Carlgren, who says she "just maked an account" — her first e-mail account.

Farmers and ranchers from the Midwest and Plains states were among those who testified before the U.S. Senate agriculture committee Tuesday. Many objected to a proposed change to the rules on how the federal government oversees waterways.

Nearly a year ago, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a change to the Clean Water Act that it says would clarify its authority over certain wetlands and streams. But Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, who serves on the agriculture committee, says the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule has met strong opposition in farm country.

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

Until the federal health insurance marketplace opened in late 2013, farmers and ranchers were more likely to be uninsured than many other occupational groups. The Affordable Care Act changed that by requiring them to buy insurance. But it also gave them coverage options they didn’t have before.  

Jon Bailey, of the Nebraska-based Center for Rural Affairs, says it’s hard to make sweeping generalizations about how the health care law is working for farmers and ranchers.

Transit advocate Clay Chastain, left, Mayor Sly James, and Vincent 'The General' Lee take questions at a League of Women Voters mayoral candidate forum.
Elle Moxley / KCUR

All three candidates in the race for Kansas City, Mo., mayor answered questions at a League of Women Voters forum Tuesday Night.

Mayor Sly James will face challengers Clay Chastain and Vincent Lee in the primary April 7. 

James has more than $400,000 in campaign contributions on hand, a virtually limitless war chest when Chastain and Lee only reported "limited activity" to the Missouri Ethics Commission, which by law indicates less than $500 in spending.

Chastain's name will be familiar to voters because of his failed light rail initiatives, including one last summer he contends James and others in City Hall effectively killed when they required a change in ballot language.

Kathy Disney

Members of Kansas City's arts, LGBT and non-profit organizations are in deep mourning over the death of Stephen Metzler, widely described as "a pillar of the community" who suffered a stroke and died Tuesday at St. Luke's Hospital. He was 66. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR

The legal woes of the St. Joseph School District continue after a fourth federal grand jury subpoena was issued to the district.

This latest subpoena, according to sources, demands documents ranging from expense reports and time sheets of some top district administrators to contracts with district vendors.

The FBI and the U.S. attorney in Kansas City have been investigating the district for almost a year.

Previous subpoenas have sought records of district maintenance workers after allegations that some employees were doing work for administrators at their homes during school hours.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

It's hard to keep up with how schools in Kansas might be funded.

First it was a debate over block grants. Now it's a new plan that's mostly based on graduate outcomes.

The new funding formula legislation is a result of months of meetings between Sen. Steve Abrams of Arkansas City, chairman of the senate Education Committee, and educators from around the state.

It would base funding on student population and factors such as poverty, something superintendents and school board members stressed was important.

bradenp34 / Flickr--CC

Schools, hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions that purchased single-serve cups of Blue Bell ice cream are being urged to return them as a listeria-related recall broadened on Tuesday.

Multiple state and federal agencies launched an investigation of Blue Bell products earlier this month after five Kansans who ate them at Via Christi Hospital St. Francis in Wichita became sick with listeriosis, a potentially-serious bacterial infection. Three of them died.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

A proposed change to livestock rules has put Nebraska hog farmers at the center of a debate that gets to the very core of what it means to be a farmer today.

In the top pork producing states like Iowa, Minnesota and North Carolina, many farmers are under contract with giant meatpackers like Tyson or Smithfield Foods – the companies actually own the pigs and pay the farmers to raise them. That arrangement is illegal in Nebraska.

Like many other Midwest states, Nebraska barred corporations from owning livestock in the late 1990s in order to protect smaller farm businesses. After a slew of court challenges, Nebraska’s ban on meatpacker-owned livestock is one of the only laws still standing. And a bill introduced in the state’s legislature seeks to change that.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback says he isn’t concerned by budget bills in the House and Senate that aren’t balanced. The chambers are considering bills that would require a tax increase to keep the state out of the red. That comes after lawmakers cut taxes in recent years.

Brownback fielded some questions about the budget at an event in Topeka Monday. Brownback does not seem phased by the budget bills. He says lawmakers will fill the deficit, like the Kansas Constitution requires.

Jim McLean / Heartland Health Monitor

The recent legislative hearings on Medicaid expansion brought representatives from dozens of powerful groups to the Kansas Statehouse.

Lobbyists representing hospitals, doctors and some big businesses pleaded with members of the House Health and Human Services Committee to approve an expansion proposal one day.  The next day representatives of conservative, anti-tax organizations urged committee members to continue to say ‘no’ to expansion, despite the billions of additional federal dollars it would inject into the Kansas economy.

But the hearings also attracted scores of everyday citizens. They included those who need the coverage that expansion would provide and others opposed to extending benefits to non-disabled adults.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

The city of Omaha made a lot of money over the weekend on college basketball fans who followed the Kansas Jayhawks and Wichita State Shockers to their NCAA matchup.

The most devout fans did anything they could to get their hands on seeing a game that, until Sunday, hadn’t been seen in a long time — it has some wondering if the two teams would play each other again soon.

When it was apparent that Wichita State was going to advance from Friday’s game against Indiana, Shocker alum Tony Townsend knew he had to find a way from his home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Omaha. He looked for tickets online.

TheTruthAbout / Flickr-CC

Representatives from the Kansas City branch of ridesharing company Uber say that a new ordinance scheduled for debate by the Kansas City Council Thursday could force them to leave the city entirely.

The new ordinance would require ride-share drivers to pay a $250 fee to get licensed, or $150 if their parent companies pay an annual $10,000 fee. To ease the up-front cost, the city would waive its inspection fee and allow drivers to use state vehicle inspections instead.

Now that it appears block grants will replace the current school funding formula in Kansas, work has already begun on a new formula.

The block grants, which moved swiftly through the Legislature, were always meant to be a bridge between the current formula and a new one set to go into effect in two years.

This week a bill from Senate Education Committee chairman Steve Abrams, a Republican from Arkansas City, will start to be worked on.

courtesy of the author

Andrés Rodríguez grew up in a working class family in Kansas City. For about two decades, his father’s job was at the Swift meatpacking plant – and one visit, as a young child, made a lasting impression. But Rodríguez says in writing poetry, there’s a fine line between memory and imagination.

"The paradox is that the more you imagine, the closer you come to the truth," says Rodríguez. "But I know that the experience that it's trying to get it is the letter and spirit of what happened."

Pages