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Sat December 15, 2012
Top Stories Of The Week
Some public employees were charged with a $300,000 wellness incentives scam. Kansas Libertarians were up in arms about open carry bans. And after many false starts, a Kansas City streetcar project got rolling. KCUR's Steve Bell looks back at those and other top stories on this week's Saturday News Review.
Streetcar Project Rolls Ahead
Only residents of the streetcar district could vote in the streetcar tax election. Only 549 of them did. Mayor Sly James made the announcement on Wednesday that Kansas City would have a streetcar line in operation by 2015..
The 1-cent sales tax hike and 5 percent property tax increase passed by almost a 2 to 1 margin.
Councilman Russ Johnson, the project point man, promised that the starter line was merely the “first bite of the elephant,” and that expansion plans are already in the works.
The day after election results were announced the council chose a firm to finish the planning process, appropriated $3.6 million to pay for that and approved issuing $30 million in bonds to finance construction of the 2-mile streetcar line.
Libertarians Take Shots At Open Carry Bans
Kansas City, Kansas, Lenexa, Prairie Village and Leawood found themselves threatened with a lawsuit over ordinances that prohibit the open carry of firearms. Tim McIntosh, Second Amendment Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Kansas told TV-9 the party's aim was to get the cities to obey Kansas law.
The state law forbidding bans on open carry of firearms was passed five years ago.
Scam Targets Wellness Incentives
Federal prosecutors charged six Kansas City, Missouri public employees and one Jackson County corrections worker with scamming Blue Cross and Blue Shield out of more than $300,000 worth of wellness incentives for healthy living. Things like claiming a one-year-old ran in a marathon. The only defendant who would comment said “she didn't know she was breaking the law.”
More Charged With Phony ID Fraud
The Feds also charged a man who worked in the St. Joseph license fee office with providing fake ID for 100 or more illegal immigrants. U.S. Attorney David Ketchmark said the scheme involved selling immigrants sets of “papers” for upwards of $900. A similar but not identical case involving different employees of the St. Joseph fee office is pending.
Missouri Medicaid Expansion Still Opposed
The Missouri Hospital Association pleaded for a Medicaid expansion, reporting that member hospitals got stuck for over a billion dollars worth of unpaid medical bills last year – and an MU study found that the Medicaid expansion would create 24,000 jobs. But Republican leaders in Jefferson City were not moved. Governor Jay Nixon, a Democrat, wants to expand Medicaid to cover another 300,000 Missourians. Republican House Speaker Tim Jones called that “reckless” and “unsustainable.”
Royals Trade Gains Foster Optimism
The Kansas City Royals got sports fans talking with a six-player trade hat netted the Royals pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis. General manager Dayton Moore said it was a model for the Royals' commitment to a brighter future.
Chiefs Pounded, Receiver Bowe Injured.
The Chiefs; immediate future looked dismal. A 30-7 loss to Cleveland was a double disappointment for Coach Romeo Crennel, who said he would have liked to win the game, if only because he used to coach there. Crennel also lamented the broken ribs of the team's leading receiver, Dwayne Bowe. Bowe was injured in the game and is likely out for the rest of the season.