Dan Margolies

Editor, Heartland Health Monitor

Dan Margolies is editor of Heartland Health Monitor, a reporting collaboration among KCUR, KHI News Service in Topeka, KCPT television in Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas Public Radio in Lawrence, Kan. Dan joined KCUR in April 2014. In a long and varied journalism career, he has worked as a reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal, The Kansas City Star and Reuters. In a previous life, he was a lawyer. He has also worked as a media insurance underwriter and project development director for a video production firm.

Dan was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and moved to Kansas City with his family when he was eight years old. He majored in philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis and holds law and journalism degrees from Boston University. He has been an avid public radio listener for as long as he can remember – which these days isn’t very long…

Ways to Connect

Courtesy Vicki Hiatt

The Johnson County Election Office went ahead with a vote recount sought by Kansas Senate candidate Vicki Hiatt even though she withdrew her request, citing irregularities and what she described as the office’s lack of transparency.

The election office said on Wednesday that the recount had left the outcome of the District 10 race unchanged. It said Republican Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook defeated Hiatt, a Democrat, by the identical 952-vote margin reported earlier, with each candidate receiving one additional vote from paper ballots.

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The Missouri Department of Corrections knowingly violated the state’s Sunshine Law when it refused to provide records about applicants who sought to witness Missouri executions, an appeals court ruled today.

The ACLU had sued to obtain the information to determine if the department was choosing witnesses impartially.

In response, the corrections department produced heavily redacted records, even though many witness applicants had agreed to produce the information.

Creative Commons-Wikimedia

This story was updated at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday.

In a case likely to have nationwide repercussions, a Missouri gun dealer has agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle a lawsuit alleging it negligently sold a gun to a schizophrenic woman who used it to kill her father.

“The $2.2 million settlement hits them in the pocketbook and makes clear to gun dealers across the country and their insurance companies that they need to act responsibly,” said Jonathan Lowy, director of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence’s Legal Action Project.

Heartland Health Monitor file photo

Vicki Hiatt, who lost her bid to unseat Republican firebrand Mary Pilcher-Cook in the Kansas Senate by a mere 980 votes in the initial vote tally, has requested a recount.

Hiatt, a Democrat who ran for the District 10 seat, which includes parts of Johnson and Wyandotte counties, made the request in a letter today to Johnson County Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker. The letter was prompted by election night tabulation problems in Johnson County that delayed the reporting of results until the next day.  

Courtesy Missouri Hospital Association

Medicaid expansion probably wasn’t in the cards in Missouri before Tuesday’s elections. And now that the Missouri legislature is expected to lurch even further to the right, it appears to be dead on arrival.

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, however, proponents of expanding Medicaid eligibility haven’t given up hope that health coverage can be extended to thousands of Missourians currently going without.

State of Kansas official portrait

This story was updated at 12:04 to include the comments of Kline's attorney. 

Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline has lost his quixotic lawsuit against the justices of the Kansas Supreme Court who suspended his law license three years ago.

A federal judge on Monday tossed the case, ruling that it presented a political question and therefore had to be dismissed.

U.S. District Judge Greg Kays also held that longstanding legal doctrine bars an attorney from challenging the results of a state disciplinary hearing in federal court.

The University of Kansas Hospital

The University of Kansas Hospital is opening an obstetrics and gynecology clinic in the center of Kansas City, Kansas, to address a shortage of providers there. 

The clinic, slated to open Tuesday at 21 N. 12th St., will be the second such clinic operated by KU Hospital in Wyandotte County and its sixth in the metro area.

Over the last decade or so, KU’s OB-GYN clinics  largely have focused on improving access to women’s subspecialty services. The new clinic, however, will seek to meet the needs of women who lack access to basic obstetrical care.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

Updated 3:47 p.m., Wednesday

A “huge influx” of advance mail ballots and voters newly registering or changing their registration before the election combined to delay the county’s election results until early Wednesday afternoon, Johnson County Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker said.

“We were overwhelmed with the turnout of the voters in almost every step of the way in this election,” Metsker said in a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon. “It was almost as unique in Johnson County as it was in other parts of the country.”

Just over half of Kansas voters say they would be less likely to vote for an elected official who favors eliminating state funding for Planned Parenthood, according to a new survey of 817 Kansas voters.

Thirty-two percent say they would be more likely to vote for such an official, 10 percent say it wouldn’t make a difference and 5 percent say they are not sure.

Sarah Mullinax

A University of Kansas scientist has been named one of the first recipients of an $825,000 fellowship for her work in developing a protein designed to thwart antibiotic resistance.

Joanna Slusky, 37, who heads the Slusky Lab at KU and specializes in outer membrane proteins, is one of five inventors nationwide recognized by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in Palo Alto, California.

Redbull Trinker / Creative Commons-Flickr

Federal prosecutors are disputing a judge’s order directing the Justice Department to bear the costs of a special master who is examining whether recordings of attorney-client meetings at the Leavenworth Detention Center were illegal.

Noah Jeppson / Creative Commons-Flickr

This story was updated at 3:10 p.m. to include a statement from the CEO of U.S. Engineering. 

Up to 7,500 people who worked in the Jackson County Courthouse after a retrofit dispersed asbestos throughout the building will be eligible for medical monitoring under an $80 million settlement reached Tuesday night.

The settlement was agreed to after a jury was chosen but before the class-action case was scheduled to go to trial today at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.

A Kansas City, Kansas, home health care agency and its owner will pay $1.8 million to settle allegations that it paid kickbacks in return for referrals of Medicaid patients to the agency.

Best Choice Home Health Care Agency Inc. and its owner, Reginald B. King, will pay the federal government just over $1 million and the state of Kansas $788,220 to resolve the case, according to court documents unsealed on Monday.

File Photo

The state of Kansas incurred nearly $300,000 in legal fees in just three months to defend a lawsuit brought by Planned Parenthood challenging the state’s decision to boot the organization from the Medicaid program.

Invoices obtained by KCUR show that outside law firms representing the state billed it $282,477 in legal fees and $2,725 in expenses between May 29 and Aug. 31.

wp paarz / Creative Commons-Flickr

Frustrated by the Missouri Legislature’s failure to enact a statewide prescription drug plan, Jackson County this week joined St. Louis and St. Louis County in enacting its own plan, hoping it will cut down on painkiller abuse and addiction.

Missouri is the lone state in the nation without a prescription drug database, a tool used to track patients who abuse prescription painkillers and to prevent “doctor shopping” by individuals seeking prescriptions from multiple physicians.

Dan Margolies / KCUR

A couple of years ago, 41-year-old Shine Adams, a recovering alcoholic, started a small nonprofit in Lawrence to help people down on their luck.

Before then he’d been making electric guitars out of cedar wood in his basement and had some cedar scraps lying around. That gave him an idea.

“People would come over to my house and could smell the cedar from the basement and they would always compliment me on it and love the way it smells,” he says.

Jess Gamiere / www.SpecialMaster.law

The Cleveland lawyer appointed as special master to investigate the recordings of attorney-client conversations and meetings at the pretrial detention center in Leavenworth has extensive experience as a neutral third-party.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson named David R. Cohen as special master, or a third-party expert, to examine the audio and video recordings and determine whether inmates’ constitutional rights were violated.

Courtesy Olathe Medical Center

As part of an ambitious $100 million-plus expansion plan, Olathe Medical Center broke ground today on a new $25 million cancer center.

The 25,000-square-foot facility, expected to be completed next year, will consolidate the hospital’s currently fragmented cancer outpatient services in one place.

It’s the latest project in a frenzy of construction at the hospital’s 250-acre medical campus near 151st Street and Interstate 35. The last year has also seen the opening of a new hospice house and the start of construction on a neonatal intensive care unit.

And then there was one.

Lewis Diuguid, a longtime member of The Kansas City Star’s editorial board, will be departing the paper along with veteran Yael Abouhalkah, who was laid off this week.

Diuguid has told friends that he intends to step down on Oct. 7, Abouhalkah’s last day at The Star.

Technically, that would leave The Star’s editorial board with only one member: newly minted publisher Tony Berg.

Joe Gratz / Creative Commons-Flickr

Does a prison’s failure to regard atheism as a “religious preference” violate the Constitution?

That’s the question raised by a former Missouri prisoner, who contended the failure of the Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC) to list “atheist” on prison intake forms violated his First Amendment rights.

The case was filed in federal court in Kansas City more than four-and-a-half years ago by Randall Jackson, a persistent DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) offender who served prison terms from 2006-08 and again from 2010-2014.

Longtime Kansas City Star editorial writer Yael T. Abouhalkah was laid off today, Abouhalkah said in a Twitter posting.

HMN Architects and Pixel Foundry

Children’s Mercy Hospital is partnering with Olathe Medical Center to provide pediatric urgent care and specialty clinics at an as-yet unbuilt facility on OMC’s 250-acre campus at 151st Street and Interstate 35.

The partnership is the first between the two hospitals. It will allow OMC to take advantage of Children’s Mercy’s wide range of expertise in treating children, especially those with complex medical conditions.

Zach Klamann / Heartland Health Monitor

Planned Parenthood Great Plains says it has joined forces with three Planned Parenthood facilities in Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma, giving it a total of 12 health centers in four states.

Formerly known as Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, the organization earlier this year expanded into central Oklahoma and took on its current name to reflect its greater geographical reach.

Bigstock

One attorney said she’d never witnessed anything like it in her 26 years of practice.

Another said it was extraordinary – and painful – to watch.

Both were referring to a court hearing Wednesday in which a federal judge excoriated federal prosecutors for their handling of a drug smuggling case at the privately run Leavenworth Detention Center.

The University of Kansas Hospital and Hays Medical Center announced Wednesday that they have signed a letter of intent to join forces, bringing together the state’s only academic hospital and one of its leading rural hospitals.

The partnership, which was announced at simultaneous news conferences at both hospitals, builds on a relationship established nearly three years ago when the two institutions, along with more than a dozen critical care hospitals, partnered to treat heart and stroke patients in western Kansas.

BigStock

Fallout from the disclosure that the pretrial detention center in Leavenworth had been recording attorney-client meetings and phone calls has now spread beyond Kansas.

The Federal Public Defender’s office in Kansas City, Missouri, recently sought to have one of its clients released from detention as a result of the apparent breach of attorney-client privilege.

Courtesy Nimrod Chapel Jr.

An attorney for the so-called “Medicaid 23” says his clients will appeal their convictions on trespassing charges, even though they face no jail time.

A Cole County, Missouri, jury on Wednesday acquitted 22 clergy members of obstructing government operations but found them guilty of trespassing when they refused to leave the Missouri Senate gallery during a protest in May 2014. The case of the 23rd defendant will be decided later.

Michael Coghlan / Creative Commons-Flickr

New revelations emerged at a court hearing today that the private prison contractor operating a pretrial detention center in Leavenworth recorded phone conversations between attorneys and their clients and turned them over to federal prosecutors.  

The disclosures came atop revelations at a hearing last Tuesday that the contractor, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), had made video recordings of meetings at the Leavenworth Detention Center between lawyers and their clients and turned those over to prosecutors.

Marshall Griffin / St. Louis Public Radio

The trial of 23 people who protested Missouri’s failure to expand Medicaid began today in Jefferson City with jury selection.

The so-called Medicaid 23 defendants include many notable Kansas City clergy members, among them Sam Mann, Wallace Hartsfield and Vernon P. Howard Jr. They are accused of trespassing and obstructing government operations, both misdemeanors.

The unusual mass trial stems from protests the defendants staged in May 2014. They were arrested after refusing to leave the Senate gallery, where they were chanting and singing.

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.

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