Kansas City, MO – Last Tuesday night, President Barack Obama announced he'll be sending 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. The morning after Obama's speech, KCUR's Elana Gordon headed downtown to gauge Kansas Citians' reactions to the surge.
Voices heard were David Hill, Mike Reynolds, Lucy Rios, Gayla Curtis and John Biswell.
Kansas City, MO – A 33 million contract with Motorola for new emergency responder radios sailed through the city council Thursday without a dissenting vote. The council also decided unanimously to take one more week to work out the details of a monitoring commission for the Power and Light District dress code... then turned its attention to getting some major bricks and mortar. KCUR's Steve Bell reports.
Kansas City, MO – For the second time this week a member of the Kansas legislature has announced his resignation. Republican Wichita Representative Jason Watkins has said he'll leave the legislature effective later this week.
Lawrence, KS – U.S. Senator Sam Brownback says the Pentagon shouldn't revise the bidding process for a multibillion dollar aircraft contract. Both Boeing and a partnership between Northrop Grumman and European aircraft maker Airbus are seeking the contract to build Air Force refueling tankers. Northrop Grumman and Airbus want the bidding requirements to be changed and is threatening not to bid if they aren't. Brownback says there's a process in place for contracts like this.
Jefferson City, MO – An environmental advocate is calling on Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster to return a campaign contribution made last year from a company that owns eleven hog farms in the northern part of the state.
Premium Standard Farms is under a court order to make improvements to its operations.
Ken Midkiff with the Missouri Clean Water Campaign says Koster accepted a $2500 donation from Smithfield Foods, which owns Premium Standard Farms, just days before the 2008 Democratic Party primary:
Topeka, KS – A new report puts the total economic impact from the military in Kansas at nearly $8 billion. The Governor's Military Council released the report. It says nearly 170,000 jobs in 2006 were driven by military installations in the state and defense contracts awarded in Kansas. John Armbrust is director of the Governor's Military Council. Armbrust says the impact in Kansas has likely grown in recent years because of more military presence in the state.
Jefferson City, MO – Bills addressing campaign finance reform in Missouri have been pre-filed, just over a month before the start of the 2010 legislative session
One bill would restore campaign contribution limits that were removed in 2007, restored by the Missouri Supreme Court later that same year, and then removed again by GOP lawmakers and former Governor Matt Blunt in 2008. The proposal to again restore limits is sponsored by Democratic Floor Leader Paul LeVota:
Kansas City, MO – African-American clergy protested the way City Manager Wayne Cauthen was fired. The group, called Concerned Clergy, held a news conference Wednesday in the foyer of a Swope Parkway church at which three ministers spoke.
One was long-time civil rights leader Wallace Hartzfield, who said of the way Cauthen was fired, "It may have been legal, but it was wrong.
Hartzfielda continued by saying that Cauthen was treated in an inappropriate and dehumanizing way.
Kansas City – Those on the inner circle may have known Dennis Moore was considering retirement, but for many who watch the politics of the complicated Kansas 3rd district, it was an abrupt announcement that caught them off guard. Republican National Congressional Committee spokesman Tom Erickson called Moore's decision "a welcome surprise." He said Republicans believe Democrats can't win the 3rd District without Dennis Moore, who has held the seat with the help of moderate Republicans and independents in suburban Kansas Johnson County for six terms.
Jefferson City, MO – The board that oversees Missouri's State Employees Retirement System, or MOSERS, is crafting a proposal that would bar employees from receiving bonuses during years when the pension fund loses money.
Earlier this year, MOSERS staff members received around $400,000 in performance incentives, even though investments made by the system lost money in 2008. Democratic State Treasurer Clint Zweifel sits on the board and voted in favor of ending that practice.
Kansas City, MO – In the early afternoon business session on Thursday, the city council endorsed a city study released last week that strongly implies that the Power and Light District has discriminated against blacks and Latinos.
Mayor Mark Funkhouser started the discussion with a strong statement: "In my estimation, civil rights of individuals were violated, and that is not in this city going to be tolerated. We are going to enforce the public accommodations law."
Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser has suspended the city manager.
In a letter to City Council members Thursday, Funkhouser said he was suspending Wayne Cauthen immediately. He didn't give a reason except to say he was exercising his authority as mayor and had asked Cauthen to leave City Hall immediately.
Relations between Funkhouser and Cauthen have been strained for years. In 2007, the mayor said he wouldn't support a city ordinance to extend Cauthen's contract.
Kansas City, MO – Mayor Funkhouser dismissed the city manager Thursday afternoon, and asked him to leave the City Hall immediately. Six Kansas City council members supporting Wayne Cauthen said they were shocked today when they were notified that they'd be voting on his termination at today's council session. Councilman Ed Ford characterized it as a lack of respect.
MR FORD : "Government by ambush, is not the appropriate way for us to make what is probably the most important decision we make, which is the hiring and firing of a city manager."
Kansas City, MO – A city council committee got the financial reports it asked for Wednesday, and it didn't brighten Kansas City's budget future.
The latest, most accurate figures show the city has pared expenses by an actual five percent or so, but the general fund balance trails last year's by about six million dollars and as revenues continue to lag, the prediction is now that at current service levels spending in next year's budget will have to be cut by another sixty to sixty-five million dollars.
Kansas City, MO – Three years of planning against rough economic times have paid off for the Jackson County government. That is the assessment county executive Mike Sanders gave in his "state of the county" address yesterday. He says that without years of belt tightening, county government would have shut down.
Kansas City, Mo. – Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders says his administration will hold the line in 2010 and lower property taxes. He made the remarks in his November 12th State of the County Address.
Topeka, KS – The state court system is facing a $15 million shortfall in Kansas, and courts are scheduled to be closed for several weeks to save cash. The courts will be closed for a total of six weeks between February and June of next year, if lawmakers don't take action to fund the shortfall.
Ron Keefover is information officer for the Kansas Judiciary. He says the courts won't be scheduling cases for those weeks, but judges will likely still be available for some duties like signing search warrants.
Kansas City, Mo. – Only the U.S. Senate stands in the way of making the World War One Memorial in Kansas City the official, national memorial. Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver chose Veterans' Day to note House passage of the measure by a vote of 148 to 1.
Topeka, KS – Last week a group of Kansas budget officials lowered the state revenue estimate for this fiscal year, which will likely mean additional cuts to state government. K through 12 education makes up around half the state budget. This has some school officials concerned education could be facing cuts.
Topeka, KS – William Avery, a one-term Republican governor in the 1960s and former U.S. House member, has died, the governor's office said Thursday. He was 98.
Gov. Mark Parkinson's office said Avery died Wednesday and ordered flags across the state lowered until Nov. 14.
"Governor Avery led our state during a time of tragic loss and national attention. Kansas honors his long life and service to our state. Our thoughts and prayers are with his children and family," Parkinson said in a statement.
Kansas City, MO – A group of economists and policy-makers slashed Kansas tax collection estimates Thursday by $235 million, reflecting signs of continued weakness in the state economy.
The new forecast for the remainder of the state's 2010 fiscal year through next June 30 means Kansas government will have 4.2 percent fewer tax dollars to finance services, including public education, than previously estimated in April. Kansas began its fiscal year July 1.