Digital Post | KCUR

Digital Post

Pete O'Neal

In an interview from his remote village in Tanzania, Kansas City native and self-exiled founder of the Kansas City Chapter of the Black Panthers, Lindsey “Pete” O’Neal, says he regrets some of the actions for which he's been vilified and feared.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Lawmakers may not know for months whether a deal to pump half a billion dollars into schools goes far enough to end seven years of court battles over whether the state shortchanges Kansas children.

If it falls short, the Kansas Supreme Court could call them back to Topeka this summer with yet another ultimatum to send even more money to local districts.

Tanner Martine

In 2016, Simon Fink and his band, Under the Big Oak Tree, performed a holiday concert in their hometown of St. Joseph, Missouri.

One of the songs they played was “The Little Drummer Boy,” which was composed by Katherine K. Davis. As it turned out, she was born and raised in St. Joseph.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

In light of newly passed legislation impacting gun laws and school funding, many college students in Kansas and Missouri may not feel like lawmakers are hearing their concerns. 

Two student lobbyists are hoping to change that.

Joe Gratz / Creative Commons-Flickr

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4:05 p.m. to add a statement from the Shawnee County District Attorney.  

The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday threw out the first-degree murder convictions of a woman accused of killing her ex-husband and his fiancée, ruling the prosecutor had engaged in prejudicial misconduct.

In 2012, a Shawnee County jury convicted Dana L. Chandler for the killings of Mike Sisco and Karen Harkness a decade earlier. Both victims were shot at least five times in a bed at Harkness’ Topeka home.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

As he fights to retain control of Putnam County Memorial Hospital in Unionville, Missouri, Jorge Perez’s woes continue to pile up at other rural hospitals where he was once hailed as a hero.

Last month, in the second of a three-part series, CBS News aired a piece about Empower, a Perez-run company whose affiliates have been involved in many of the rural hospital takeovers orchestrated by Perez and his associates.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

A battle royale has erupted in tiny Unionville, Missouri, over the town’s endangered community hospital.

Trustees of Putnam County Memorial Hospital in the north central community are trying to get rid of the company that took over the ailing institution in 2016 and then ran more than $90 million in questionable lab billings through the hospital.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

(This story has been updated.)

Kansas officials have received a court order Friday to expedite their takeover of 15 financially troubled nursing homes. State regulators say they need to move quickly to protect hundreds of elderly and disabled Kansans who reside in the facilities.

Normally, the state would need orders from 15 separate judges to take control of the facilities, which are scattered across the state. But the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services was granted an order from the Kansas Supreme Court on Friday  consolidating all the cases under a single Johnson County District Court judge.

Funeral services were held in Topeka on Thursday for civil rights icon Linda Brown, the schoolgirl at the center of the landmark Supreme Court case that declared school segregation unconstitutional.

Kaylin Idora Photography / Flickr — CC

To rock or not to rock?

That is not the question this weekend, thanks to rocking bands, rocking comedy acts and rocking mixed martial arts action.

So are you ready to rock? Those paying attention will recognize the previous sentence as yet another unnecessary query. Never ask – just rock!

1. North Mississippi Allstars

Maj Lindström / Music Box Films

Early on in the documentary “Chavela,” a cabaret owner describes the voice of Chavela Vargas: “She wasn’t a little fountain. She was more like a tremendous canyon.… She sounded as if she’d been born with the wounds of life and death.”

Vargas was born in Costa Rica and moved to Mexico at 17 to pursue music. At first, she presented herself as a traditional, feminine cabaret and ranchera singer, but found the style unnatural and uncomfortable.

Scott Canon / Kansas News Service

A push to elbow the judiciary out of school spending by rewording the Kansas Constitution cleared a legislative committee Wednesday.

Yet the effort likely won’t get a full House vote this week and could be doomed on a roll call.

It’ll need two-thirds support in both the House and Senate, something that may prove even harder after Democrats and moderate Republicans swept up more seats in the 2016 elections.

Joe Carson/Courtesy of Bob Hughes Jr.

On Jan. 19, 1968, Chester Owens Jr., and several other Kansas City leaders posed for a photo with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a TWA lounge. King was passing through due to a speech at Kansas State University. The men had been summoned, “really just there to make him comfortable,” as Owens put it on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Scott Canon / Kansas News Service

A roiling debate over how to assess big box stores — their worth when occupied, or their value as vacant properties — could upend property tax systems across Kansas.

At the heart is the “dark store theory,” as critics call the strategy. It contends property valuations should look at what an empty store could fetch on the open market.

That would dramatically cut their property tax bills, forcing county and local governments either to get by on smaller budgets or shift a heavier burden to other property owners.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3 / File Photo

The Midwest has a reputation for being a neutral and accent-free place. But that simply isn't true.

Everybody has an accent and everybody has a dialect, and, yes, that includes the Midwest.

Facebook

Though it's firmly rooted in jazz, The Project H also appeals to fans of rock and R&B.

At the end of March, a flurry of sales briefly placed their new record, "Everyday, Forever" in the top ten of iTunes' jazz album chart; they celebrate its official release on Wednesday.

Johnson County Parks and Recreation District

This Saturday, Antioch Park in Johnson County, Kansas, will reopen its western-themed playground named "Dodge Town."

Complete with a general store, smithy and jail, the township looks less like a playground and more like a Hollywood film set, albeit in miniature.

Scott Wilson, a longtime Kansas City resident and writer, has just one word for how he remembers playing in Dodge Town: escape.

Kevin Collison / KCUR 89.3

With ballots devoid of hot-button issues, Tuesday was a quiet election day throughout the Kansas City area. 

Voter turnout was around 10 percent in Platte, Clay and Cass counties — Jackson County had the highest turnout at 15 percent.

In Kansas City, Missouri turnout was just shy of 8 percent. 

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

The Kansas House has had its say on school finance — putting the ball in the Senate’s court. But Senate leaders say they won’t move forward on increasing K-12 funding to satisfy the Kansas Supreme Court without a deal to prevent schools from suing again in the future.

 

The message from Senate President Susan Wagle and Republican Leader Jim Denning was loud and clear Tuesday: Kansas must amend the state constitution to put an end to the cycle of litigation over school funding.

 

An FBI informant’s account of the investigation into an alleged bomb plot in western Kansas was called into question Tuesday.

Antioch Community Church

A Northland church has lost its years-long battle to keep its digital sign after the Missouri Supreme Court ruled it violates Kansas City’s zoning laws.

In a unanimous decision Tuesday, the court held that the Board of Zoning Adjustment was right to deny Antioch Community Church a variance, or exception, to the city's sign ordinance. The ordinance generally prohibits digital signs in residential neighborhoods.

The University of Missouri-St. Louis is considering eliminating  several academic programs and investing in others as it retools in an era of budget cuts and declining enrollment.

Undergraduate majors that might be dissolved include anthropology and theater and cinema arts. A masters in communications and media studies and doctorate in political science could also go away.

Michael Goodyear / Wikimedia Commons

Two dozen companies recently settled accusations by the federal government that they paid kickbacks in return for referrals. Two of those companies have ties to an Overland Park radiation oncology clinic.

Channy Chhi Laux

Channy Chhi Laux is an American. She earned two undergraduate degrees from the University of Nebraska and a master’s from the University of Santa Clara in California. Laux’s son is an Eagle Scout, and her daughter has nearly finished a doctorate at the University of Southern California.

Her list of American-sounding accomplishments is long, including working as an engineer in Silicon Valley for 30 years and starting a specialty foods company called Apsara.

file photo / Kansas News Service

A report meant to guide Kansas school spending appears to have overshot the mark by more than half a billion dollars.

Elana Gordon / KCUR 89.3

The firing of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin means uncertainty for the VA’s pending $10 billion contract with Cerner Corp. to modernize the sprawling agency’s electronic health records system.

Health Data Management, an industry publication, reports that Shulkin’s ouster came as the VA was finalizing negotiations with Cerner.

file photo

A polarizing debate over the role of faith-based adoption organizations, and their ability to exclude same-sex couples, has tangled an update of Kansas adoption and foster care laws.

A bill needed to revise the rules passed the House without a dissenting vote in late February. But it drew opposition in the Senate this week when a controversial amendment was added.

Updated March 29 with latest details – Missouri’s budget for fiscal year 2019 is now in the hands of the State Senate, with six weeks before it’s due to be sent to Gov. Eric Greitens.

The roughly $28 billion spending plan would fully fund the state’s K-12 schools, according to Rep. Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia.

A key witness in the trial involving three Kansas men accused of planning an attack on Somali immigrants testified Thursday that the group was actively recruiting people to help carry out the alleged plot.

Minda Haas Kuhlmann / Wikimedia Commons

I like to tell people, “be bold.” I also like to tell them, “Eating too many chips is bad for you,” right before I grab their bag of chips and help myself.

Sometimes they don’t fully appreciate the teaching moment and I have to make a hasty exit, preferably without the bag on my head. But what I have to say about being bold especially goes this weekend, with abundant opportunities for both kids and grown-ups to delve into the more daring aspects of their personalities.

Yes, grab the bag! Just try not to be left holding it. Or wearing it.

Pages