Peggy Lowe

Investigations Editor, Harvest Public Media

Peggy Lowe is Harvest Public Media's investigations editor. Her work has been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here & Now, and Latino USA.

Before her return to the Midwest in 2011, she was a multimedia producer and writer at The Orange County Register in Southern California.

Until 2005, she was in Denver, where she was a reporter for the late, great Rocky Mountain News, the Denver Post, KBCO and the Associated Press. Lowe was the Mike Wallace Fellow for Investigative Reporting at the University of Michigan in 2008-2009. 

Ways To Connect

Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR

Marriage equality advocates in Missouri and Kansas rejoiced Friday as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states are not allowed to place bans on unions by same-sex couples.

Ludovic Bertron/Flickr

With the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage pending, many people in Kansas and Missouri are confused about the state of the unions here.

In shorthand, whether same-sex couples can get married depends on where you live. Both states are a marriage mixed bag, with some counties offering licenses and others refusing to allow gay weddings.

To clear up some of the confusion as we await word from the high court, here’s our FAQs on TTK (tying the knot):

Q: Just what is the high court deciding?

Two issues: whether states have the right to ban same-sex marriage; and whether states can refuse to recognize those marriages performed in other states. 

Put another way, to quote SCOTUSblog: “1.) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex? 2.) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?”

Q: Where can same-sex couples get marriage licenses now?

Missouri —  three places: the city of St. Louis, St. Louis County and Jackson County.

Kansas — Johnson County and 60 other counties (out of a total of 105 counties), where clerks or judges decided to honor a federal appellate court decision.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Agriculture officials don’t know just how the massive outbreak of avian flu in the Midwest was spread, but believe the culprits include humans breaking biosecurity measures and the virus going airborne.

Matthew Hodapp / KCUR

The Kansas City Police Department has quietly changed its training for responding to volatile situations, arming officers with something other than a gun: distance, discretion and diplomacy.

Even as the backlash from the high-profile police shooting in Ferguson continues to reverberate on the other side of Missouri, Kansas City has already instituted what’s called “tactical disengagement.”

USDA / Flickr--CC

Susanne Byerly can laugh now, four years later, talking about how she and her husband were trying to eat healthy food when they bought ground turkey for their spaghetti dinner.

Byerly, along with her husband, Jerry, and their two-year-old, Jack, were on vacation with extended family in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. While buying supplies at a local grocery store, they decided to swap ground beef for poultry because they were watching their weight.

Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR

What does the U.S. Supreme Court decision on extending marriage benefits to same-sex couples, expected in late June, mean for Missouri and Kansas?

For months, the hodgepodge of counties where gay couples may – or may not – get a marriage license in both states has been confusing. That’s thanks to numerous court decisions on both sides of the state line. Most of the rulings overturned laws that bar gay couples from marrying, so licenses have been allowed in some counties.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

I had lunch at the Golden Ox just a couple days before the old steakhouse closed in December.

The Golden Ox is set smack dab in the Kansas City Stockyards, now long closed, but which for 120 years churned out billions of pounds of beef.

As the name would suggest, the Golden Ox is not a place of, well, subtleties. There were large aerial black-and-white photos of the stockyards in the entry way, the brass sconces were shaped as cow skulls and the specially-made carpets have a wagon wheel design.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

Doug Bonney keeps the envelope close by, tucked on top of the left side of his desk, about an inch thick and marked with his own handwriting: “Marriage Equality Case.”

Bonney, the legal director of the ACLU of Kansas, keeps it handy because he’s been busy filling it up. Over nearly five months, Bonney has represented two gay couples in their case against the state, who have succeeded, little by by little, in overturning the ban on same-sex marriage.

A grand jury on Friday indicted a Kansas City Police officer on a felony assault charge for the shooting of a 37-year-old man last year.

Elle Boatman

Elle Boatman was scrolling through her Facebook news feed Tuesday afternoon during a break from her job at Wichita State.

There she learned that Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback had rescinded an earlier executive order by former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius that offered protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered state workers. Boatman is a transwoman and said she was floored by the news.

“I was really just devastated,” Boatman recalled on Wednesday.

Ranchers Rebel Over Beef Checkoff

Jan 20, 2015
Courtesy Jill Toyoshiba / The Kansas City Star

NEMAHA COUNTY, Kan. – From their small farms set in the rolling hills of northeast Kansas, two ranchers are raising a few cattle, and a lot of Cain.

David Pfrang and Jim Dobbins turned themselves into activists, launched a shadow corporation, got hauled into federal court and had to hire a lawyer.

All over $1.

That buck, though, divides the beef industry. And may influence what you decide to have for dinner.

Wikimedia Commons

Even the lunch ladies got political in 2014.

KCUR's Harvest Public Media was created four years ago to report on agriculture and food production in the geographic area where the majority of that takes place – the Midwest.

This year, my third of counting the top ag stories of the year, I find that the issues taking center stage were set not here, but in the politics, policies and processes of Washington D.C., state legislatures or the ballot box.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

The Golden Ox, once the center of the Kansas City Stockyards in Missouri and one of the oldest restaurants in the area, is set to close Saturday night.

The steakhouse, a kitschy mix of cowtown and commerce, has been busy for the past couple weeks, in response to word getting out that it was closing.

The West Bottoms restaurant has struggled attracting folks to the area, especially since Kemper Arena stopped holding events, said Mike Holland, the Golden Ox general manager.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

Gay marriage in Missouri is moving in fits and starts, allowed in just three areas and refused in others.

Attorney General Chris Koster has yet to appeal the federal court decision striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban. Koster has said he plans to appeal but has yet to do so. He has until Dec. 10.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

Although gay and lesbian couples are getting married in at least 24 Kansas counties, Gov. Sam Brownback won’t allow any state recognition of the unions.

Brownback said Thursday that he won’t offer any of the benefits heterosexual couples get, such as name changes on a driver’s license or employee benefits for gay and lesbian state workers.

“There is still considerable legal ambiguity on the topic of same-sex marriage,” said Eileen Hawley, a Brownback spokeswoman. “Once that ambiguity is gone, the governor will direct state agencies to comply with applicable laws.”

Equality Kansas

A limited ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court Tuesday opened the door for more gay marriages, yet left in place a patchwork of counties where some judges are approving licenses and some are not.

The court lifted a stay on issuing licenses to same-sex couples in Johnson County, the first county to do so in Kansas back in early October. Chief Judge Kevin Moriarty was "within his jurisdiction" to order clerks to accept applications from and issue licenses to gay and lesbian couples, the high court ruled.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

Updated at 2:34 p.m.

At least six of Kansas' 105 counties issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Thursday, a day after  the U.S. Supreme Court let take effect an order overturning  a ban state officials had feverishly hoped to keep in place.

Flickr, Creative Commons

  Updated 2:51 p.m. Nov. 25

The whirlwind of gay marriage decisions in Missouri and Kansas has left same-sex couples, court watchers and even reporters a bit breathless.

In an effort to keep us all up-to-date with these quick-moving issues, KCUR has pieced together this timeline, which highlights significant legal developments in both Missouri and Kansas in the state and federal courts. The list is not exhaustive but represents our best attempt to make sense of the rush of events while offering a look back at some of our coverage.

Equality Kansas

Kansas’ gay marriage ban went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, where it was promptly kept in place just a day before the ban was expected to be lifted.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued the order blocking gay marriage at the behest of Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who wants to keep the ban in place. A federal court order calling the ban unconstitutional was set to take effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday, allowing same-sex marriages to commence.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

Incumbent Pat Roberts held on to his U.S. Senate seat Tuesday after besting Independent Greg Orman.

It was a surprisingly easy win for Roberts after a bruising battle to keep a place in Washington he's had for three decades.

Roberts made his victory speech at the Republican watch party in Topeka.

"We said for months the road to a Republican majority in the United States Senate lead through Kansas and we did it," said Roberts.

With all precincts reporting, Roberts beat Orman 53 percent to 43 percent.

CJ Janovy / KCUR

A federal judge on Friday did not rule on a case filed by two gay couples who want marriage licenses in Kansas. One of the couples blamed the state's delay on election-year politics.

The case, originally filed Oct. 10, was heard in open court by U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree, who did not say when he would announce a decision.  The couples are seeking marriage licenses, which would, in effect, overturn the Kansas gay marriage ban.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

Beth Hiller has been a member of the GOP since back when it really was the Grand Old Party, as her daughter says.

Hiller is 97-years-old, born and raised on a Kansas dairy farm, and a lifelong Republican. Her mother and father were Republican. Her husband, John Hiller, was the Shawnee County GOP chair, as well as the Kansas delegate to the U.S. Electoral College.

“Voting in our family was always a big deal,” said Cheryl Logan, Hiller’s daughter. “It was an event. We all hopped in the car, we got to the polling place and it was kind of a social event, too.”

Johnson County District Court

The Johnson County, Kan., judge who approved the issuing of marriage licenses for same-sex couples is now the subject of a recall.

Bruce Baumgardner, a physiology professor at Johnson County Community College, on Friday announced that he is trying to oust Johnson County Chief Judge Kevin Moriarty by urging people to vote against him in the November election, according to the Kansas City Star.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

Vowing he won’t be a “silent soldier” for either party, Greg Orman, the independent candidate for U.S. Senate in Kansas, called on others Wednesday to declare their own independence from partisan gridlock.

Trying to close out a campaign in a race where he was once ahead in the polls, Orman addressed the many negative ads his opponent, GOP incumbent Pat Roberts, and other groups have launched as “not about me.”

The attacks from Roberts, who Orman called a “47-year resident of Virginia,” and others in Washington are “the fury of the broken system lashing back,” he said.

Kathleen Kunkler / KCUR

Kansas City welcomed back the World Series Tuesday with a deafening roar after a dream season, only to be disappointed as the San Francisco Giants beat the Royals 7-1.

What had been an electric open quickly fizzled into first-inning fear as the Giants leapt to a 3-0 lead they held onto for the rest of the night. As fans left Kauffman Stadium early, diehards asked them to stay and look at the Big Leagues big picture.

FPAF, via youTube

For a guy not running for election this year, we sure have seen a lot of President Obama in Kansas.

In just one of several ads opposing Independent Greg Orman, black-and-white video of Obama walking down a White House hallway turns to a colorful sunrise above a broad stretch of prairie.

“It’s a simple question,” the ad says. “Do you support President Obama and his liberal agenda? Or do you believe Kansas and America can do better?”

Alyson Raletz / KCUR

The ever-tightening race for Secretary of State in Kansas is also becoming a war of words, as Democratic challenger Jean Schodorf accused Republican incumbent Kris Kobach of lying to the Legislature to get his restrictive voter law passed.

Schodorf, now a Democrat who served in the state Senate as a Republican, admitted during a debate on KCUR’s Up To Date, that she had voted for the 2011 law. But, she said, Kobach either lied or couldn’t implement the law, which has become “government at its worst.”

Kathleen Kunkler / KCUR

Sweeping away 29 years of heartbreak and bringing home an American League pennant to a rejoicing city, the Kansas City Royals clinched a trip Wednesday to the World Series.

Final score after a fast fall game under clear royal blue skies: Kansas City 2, Baltimore 1.

Screaming fans at Kauffman Stadium, on their feet for the ninth inning, counted down the outs until their beloved Royals were in the series.

"Three. More. Outs ... Two ... Strike out! ... One. More. Out ... Sweep! Sweep!"

Eric Blumberg / via Twitter

That astonishing, acrobatic catch Mike “Moose” Moustakas made during the sixth inning during the Kansas City-Baltimore game Tuesday night left him cleats-up in the third base dugout.

But taking such a tumble is nothing new for Moustakas,  who was a two-sport athlete at Chatsworth High School in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, said Eric Sondheimer, a Los Angeles Times sportswriter.

Putting a rush on a ruling, the ACLU on Monday filed a request in federal court for a temporary halt to Kansas’ enforcement of its ban on gay marriage.

In following up on a complaint filed Friday, the ACLU asked the U.S. District Court to force the state to comply with a decision from Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. That ruling, made in June, overturned such bans in Utah and Oklahoma and said a state may not deny a marriage license based “solely upon the sex of the persons in the marriage union.”

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