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Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

On a rainy Sunday at Brush Creek Community Center in Kansas City, Missouri, several dozen people sit in a circle, each wearing nametags with preferred pronouns written beneath their names. Some of the tags list "he/him/his" or "they/their/theirs." Others simply say, "anything respectful."

As they go around the circle sharing how they're feeling that day, a group leader asks, "Is anyone feeling anxiety about leaving here and having to back to your normal lives tomorrow?"

Americans tend to think that each election is a littler dirtier than the last. Certainly that is the feeling among many candidates running for the Kansas Legislature as attack postcards fill mailboxes as the Aug. 2 primary quickly approaches.

This year the postcards often focus on education. Who is for kids and who is against them? Let's use the Republican primary for House District 21, which includes Prairie Village, Mission Hills plus chunks of Overland Park and Leawood, as an example.

Courtesy Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services

Editor’s note: Heartland Health Monitor partner KHI News Service conducted a months-long investigation into what led federal officials to deem Osawatomie State Hospital as a facility too dangerous for Medicare patients and whether officials can rebuild the hospital for a successful future. This is the fifth and final story of the series.

Janet Saidi / KCUR 89.3

It all started with Death of a Salesman.

When up-and-coming Kansas City playwrights Sarah Aptilon, Victor Wishna and Inbar Kahnsat sat down and thought about how they might collaborate on a project for the Kansas City Fringe Festival, they understood it would be a challenge to combine three separate plays into a production that made sense.

But they each were inspired by the themes of disillusionment in Arthur Miller’s classic.

Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio

Kansas City Mayor Sly James has been vocal about his call for stricter gun control measures. During a speech Wednesday to the Missouri Delegation at the Democratic National Convention, James gave a blistering critique to Missourians who resist stronger gun control.

“I think it’s time for us to start targeting a few key legislators and supporting their opponents in the way the NRA and other people support them,” James said. 

Those views will make it difficult for the mayor to support his party’s likely nominee for Missouri Governor, Chris Koster.

Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr - CC

Want to get real?

I hope not, because this weekend’s shaping up to be a surreal treat, with music, comedy and festival action promising to be out of the ordinary, fantastic and even dreamlike.

So … want to lose touch with reality? I knew you could do it all along.

1. Dolly Parton

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

More often than not, Republican incumbents in Johnson County are skipping what was once a mainstay of campaign season – the candidate forum.

I’m not talking about one or two no-shows. I’m saying the League of Women Voters invited every candidate in a contested primary to participate in a political meet and greet in June, but not one of 14 Republican incumbents showed up.

Their challengers did, but they didn’t.

Which begs the question: where are current lawmakers campaigning?

A top Kansas official said he hesitates to propose renovating all of Osawatomie State Hospital until he knows federal inspectors will give the state a “fair shake.”

Federal officials cut Medicare payments to OSH in December after inspectors found safety issues, including patients assaulting one another and the sexual assault of an employee. Losing the payments has cost the state about $1 million per month.

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

One of the area’s leading mental health service is cutting services for more than 800 adults and children.

Wyandot Inc., an umbrella organization for four nonprofit agencies in Kansas City, Kansas, said today that it would need to cut services due to revenue losses and Gov. Sam Brownback’s decision earlier this year to reduce Medicaid reimbursements by 4 percent.

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

Kansas Department for Children and Families Secretary Phyllis Gilmore brushed off two Democrats’ calls for her resignation and defended her agency Wednesday following an audit critical of its oversight of the state’s foster care system.

Gilmore acknowledged that the audit was “negative,” but disputed some of it and said the agency already had started correcting most of the deficiencies cited.

Shawnee Mission Health / Facebook

Federal health officials today released much anticipated – and controversial – quality ratings for 4,000 hospitals in the United States, and just one in greater Kansas City, Shawnee Mission Medical Center, received the top rating of five stars.

The ratings, published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), are intended to enable consumers to comparison shop and to encourage hospitals to improve their quality of care.

Facebook

Rachel Mallin & The Wild Type release their debut EP Degenerate Matters on Friday at the RecordBar.

After establishing a reputation as one of the region’s most significant small rock-oriented venues at its initial location in Westport, RecordBar has moved to a larger, two-tiered space downtown.

3 reasons we're listening to Rachel Mallin & The Wild Type this week:

Dutch Newman / Facebook

Hila “Dutch” Bucher Newman, a leading figure in Missouri Democratic politics for decades, has died. She was 95.

The morning after Hillary Clinton officially became the first woman to head a major party ticket, the news of Newman’s death was announced to the Missouri delegation at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday.

Newman would have reveled in Clinton's moment. She wrote in a Facebook post in 2014, "I am so excited for a Presidential run by Hillary Clinton, I can hardly stand it!"

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

With its rich history and symbolism as Kansas City’s black-white dividing line, Troost Avenue is a frequent source of material for artists. The current example is a KC Fringe Festival play by Donna Ziegenhorn, whose Bingo on the Boulevard depicts a diverse cast of neighborhood characters dealing with life’s complexities.

Heartland Health Monitor

Administrators at Osawatomie State Hospital worked to maintain a delicate balance in 2011 as they struggled to cope with rising demand for care and funding that hadn’t kept up.

OSH superintendents had credited the facility’s experienced workforce for pulling it through lean times before, but that key source of stability soon would be diminished.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

A storefront on the corner of Brooklyn and Lexington, across the street from a Caribbean restaurant and a convenience store in Kansas City's Historic Northeast, might be an unexpected location for an art gallery. But The Source Fine Art owner Bill Heineken, who hosts his second art opening on Friday, says more artists are coming to the neighborhood.

Courtesy University of Kansas Hospital

The University of Kansas Hospital will break ground Wednesday morning on a new building in Overland Park.

The new $100 million dollar facility, set to open in 2018, will feature eight operating rooms and 18 patient rooms. It will also include room for 17 additional beds for future expansion.

The facility’s services will include imaging, sports medicine, orthopedics, plastic surgery, ENT and cancer surgery.

Bigstock

A legal challenge to Missouri’s execution protocol brought by four taxpayers has been rejected by the Missouri Court of Appeals.

In a decision Tuesday, the appeals court upheld a lower court’s dismissal of the taxpayers’ claims just days after they filed their lawsuit.

The lawsuit sought to halt the scheduled execution by lethal injection of convicted murderer David Zink. The execution went ahead as scheduled, on July 14, 2015.

Zink had been found guilty of first-degree murder, kidnapping and rape in the 2001 death of 19-year-old Amanda Morton.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

From the outside, Westend Recording Studio is an unassuming building in a quiet neighborhood just across State Line Road in Kansas City, Kansas. But inside, insulated by walls of foam, there's a hardcore noise rock band recording session.

On a Wednesday night, Kansas City heavy band 34 is recording a new song, with producer and sound engineer Justin Mantooth working the mixing console in the control room.

Paul Andrews

The Philistines
The Backbone of the Night (The Record Machine)

I generally subscribe to the nihilistic punk-rock philosophy of “kill your idols,” but not when it comes to The Philistines.

Editor’s note: Heartland Health Monitor partner KHI News Service conducted a months-long investigation into what led federal officials to deem Osawatomie State Hospital a facility too dangerous for Medicare patients and whether officials can rebuild the hospital for a successful future. This is the second story in a series.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

They came north from McPherson and south from Cloud County. East from Hays and west from Topeka.  

From the far-off reaches of Kansas's 1st Congressional District, representatives of the state’s agriculture interests met in a small storefront in Salina on a recent July morning, making history.

“You drove all this way,” says Roger Marshall, “you have to get your photo taken!”

TPPatriots / YouTube

The primary contest for Missouri Attorney General between Republicans Josh Hawley and Kurt Schafer has already been nasty, but some groups are saying a recent anti-Schaeffer commercial crosses a line.

A coalition of Asian-American groups, including the Asian American Chamber of Commerce of St. Louis, OCA St. Louis, the Missouri Asian American Bar Association, and the Asian American Bar Association of Kansas City, joined to condemn the ad. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Kansas City's new streetcar line presents hazards for bicyclists, but an artist named Don Wilkison, who calls himself m.o.i., for the Minister of Information, hopes his "Rail-Bike-Rail" installation will help them navigate this new environment.

Courtesy Mission Village Living Center

Kansas has not made any advance payments under a program that promised financial help for nursing homes while they wait for residents’ Medicaid applications to process.

Nursing homes were told in March that they could apply for half-payments for their Medicaid-pending residents until the state resolves a backlog of thousands of applications.  

But the state instead has used requests for advance payments to prioritize which Medicaid applications are moved to the front of the processing queue.  

Andy Taylor

Dr. Julie Stewart doesn’t want political candidates and elected officials to show up at her nonprofit medical clinic in Coffeyville for photo opportunities, grant announcements or organized tours.

Instead, the Coffeyville physician would like those officials to take a personal interest in the patients who have chosen Stewart’s Community Health Clinic of Southeast Kansas because they have no health insurance options.

Gov. Sam Brownback and the Kansas Legislature continue to be unpopular, and the primary race in the 1st Congressional District is in a dead heat, according to a new survey from the Fort Hays State University Docking Institute. 

With the presidential nominations settled and Kansas races heating up ahead of the Aug. 2 primaries, Brad Pendergast, with the Docking Institute, says it was time for some new polling numbers.

Kansas State Historical Society

Editor’s note: Heartland Health Monitor partner KHI News Service conducted dozens of interviews to chart how Osawatomie State Hospital went from a respected facility to one that federal officials deemed too unsafe for Medicare patients and how the hospital could rebuild for the future. This is the first story in a series resulting from that investigation.

The final federal inspections of Osawatomie State Hospital in 2015 painted a picture of a place where both employees and patients were in danger and low staffing levels compromised care.

Neil Rudisill grows dozens of crops and raises chickens on a small plot in Kansas City's Ivanhoe neighborhood.
Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3

Urban farms and gardens are popping up in cities all over the country, often touted as the key to a sustainable lifestyle, as creating healthy vibrant communities and promoting economic development.

Photo courtesy of Katherine Dumas

On June 30, Governor Jay Nixon appointed Aliki Barnstone as Missouri’s fourth Poet Laureate.

A creative writing professor at the University of Missouri–Columbia, her work has often appeared in UMKC’s New Letters magazine.  

The daughter of Greek visual artist, Elli Tzalopoulou-Barnstone, and American writer, Willis Barnstone, Aliki Barnstone was destined for a life in the arts.

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