Fri August 17, 2012
Top Stories Of The Week
All remaining criminal charges filed against Planned Parenthood by Phill Kline were dropped. The cause of the Joplin mosque fire remained a mystery. Those & other top stories of the week.
“Yes And No” Ruling On School Transfers
Jackson County Judge W. Brent Powell gave a “yes and no” answer on whether a law allowing kids to transfer out of the unaccredited Kansas City school district was an unfunded mandate. He said the transfers into schools in Independence, Lee's Summit and North Kansas City would be an unfunded mandate – but not the transfers into the Blue Springs and Raytown Districts, which couldn't prove they would lose money on the deal. Attorney Duane Martin, who represented the Lee's Summit district, said the decision would likely be appealed, and that there will be no transfers at this time. He says the earliest things could be resolved is next Spring.
Last Kline Charges Against Planned Parenthood Dropped
Phill Kline's anti-abortion crusade in Kansas finally fizzled Friday, when Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe and state attorney general Derek Schmidt dismissed the 32 remaining misdemeanor criminal charges against Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Missouri. Howe explained that Kline, in his capacities as attorney general and district attorney, had used an inaccurate interpretation of the Kansas law. Howe said in order to successfully prosecute on Kline's charges he would have to be able to prove that Planned Parenthood doctors committed malpractice. The district attorney said medical experts consulted concluded that Planned Parenthood had not deviated from accepted medical practices.
KC Council Postpones Vote on Nukes, Billboard and Ballot Measures
Nukes Initiative. Kansas City city council committees postponed votes on three hot button ballot issues because of constitutionality controversies. The hearing on putting an anti-nukes initiative on the ballot went on and on, frustrating temporary temporary chair Jim Glover, who admonished participants to focus on the constitutionality issue. But, that said, he didn't cut off those who wanted to soap box against nuclear weapons or for the national defense. The council will vote next week on whether to submit the initiative to the voters.
Billboard Tax. Jim Bowers of Lamar outdoor advertising was also pretty frustrated by the hearing on a council-proposed 2 percent billboard tax. Bowers protested that proponents were not discussing the issue in terms of the merits of the tax. Bowers said they were focusing on eliminating billboards “from the face of the earth.” He said the industry considers the tax discriminatory and unconstitutional. A vote was postponed till next week.
Petition Drives. The third ballot measure put on hold for investigation of constitutionality was one prohibiting non-residents like rail activist Clay Chastain from collecting initiative petition signatures for Kansas City ballot measures.
Bus Privatization Proposed for KCI Airport
No lawsuit was threatened in this one, but a council committee also postponed a vote on a plan to privatize the operation of the airport parking lot buses. Driver Donald Perkins was one who testified against it. He said he doubted the airport could keep good drivers with reduced wages and an end to benefits. The privatization plan would reduce drivers' wages from $17 an hour to $11. Airport officials say it would save $7 million over a 5 year period.
Cause of Joplin Mosque Fire Still Unknown
Federal and state authorities said they still were unable to pinpoint the cause of the fire that destroyed a Joplin mosque earlier this month. Meanwhile, the FBI and ATF asked the public for leads and stepped up the search for a suspect in an earlier fire at the mosque July 4th.