Sat August 11, 2012
Top Stories Of The Week
The Kansas City-St. Joseph Catholic Diocese released a report on sexual abuse. Kansas Citians voted to raise their taxes – a little. Those and other top stories of the week on the KCUR Saturday News Review.
Sales Tax, Sewer Bonds Sail Through in KC
Kansas City solidly approved a half-cent sales tax increase and in the process gave a resounding vote of confidence to Mayor Sly James: The plan repeals three small property taxes and the city vehicle license tax, but is expected to produce an additional $20 million or so in revenue. The mayor and council say this will add at least $3 million to the budget for parks, boulevards and community centers and $15 million or more for street repairs.
Kansas City voters also approved a half-a-billion dollars in bonds to finance phase one of revamping the aging sewer system. Those upgrades were mandated by the federal government.
Primaries Shift Kansas Politics To The Right
Most moderate Republicans, including incumbents, lost their races in the Kansas primary on Tuesday.
Rep. Jim Denning, who defeated moderate incumbent Overland Park Senator Tim Owens, said it was because the moderates had stymied some parts of Governor Brownback's agenda. Brownback himself had campaigned for some of the conservative candidates. Wichita State University Political Science Professor Ed Flentje called it “a purge.”
Governor Brownback wants to keep cutting taxes, gain power in appointing judges, tighten immigration laws, and change school funding. With conservatives ousting moderates from the state senate, he'll likely get his way.
Conservatives Also Make Strong Showing In Missouri
Conservative candidates racked up big victories in Missouri's Republican primary, too. Conservative Congressman Todd Akin will challenge Democratic US Senator Claire McCaskill. McCaskill said Akin's opposing the minimum wage and government programs for student loans made him her opponent of choice. But some said in Missouri's current conservative climate, Akin still may oust the incumbent.
Missouri voters also overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment that permits public prayer and allows students to opt out of school assignments that conflict with their religious beliefs. The day after the election, as predicted, the ACLU filed a suit challenging part of the law reducing religious freedom for prison inmates. Tony Rothert of the ACLU predicted more lawsuits will follow.
Diocese Releases Sexual Abuse Report
The area Catholic Diocese released a report on sexual abuse and boundary violations. Church ombudsman Jennifer Valenti said though there were 79 suspicious incidents most were either about suspected abuse at home or were very old, and the diocese had already been open about the ones that were confirmed as sexual abuse. Valenti's said her work turned up five confirmed abusers, all already relieved of their duties and three of them now dead.
School Transfers Suit In Hands Of Judge
Five area school districts awaited a judge's decision on their assertion that a Missouri law allowing students to transfer in out of the unaccredited Kansas City district is an unfunded mandate. The districts said as many as 7700 students might want to transfer, and that expenses would exceed compensation.
Sporting KC Wins US Open Cup
Sporting KC won the US Open “Lamar Hunt” Cup in a 3-2 shootout victory over the Seattle Sounders at Livestrong Sporting Park.