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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dale Schowengerdt, legal prodigy who opposed Roeland Park anti-discrimination ordinance, will defend the Catholic church in Colleen Simon lawsuit

Posted By on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 12:34 PM

In hot water for discriminating against gays? Schowengerdt is your go-to guy.
  • In hot water for discriminating against gays? Schowengerdt is your go-to guy.
In May, The Kansas City Star's Mary Sanchez wrote an excellent column about Colleen Simon, the former director of social ministry at St. Francis Xavier Church who was fired by the church after a previous Star article had revealed in passing that she was a lesbian. 

Simon has since filed a lawsuit against Bishop Robert Finn and the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, claiming that she was terminated because of her same-sex marriage, despite the fact that the church was aware she was a lesbian when it hired her.

Simon's lawsuit was filed in mid-July. Over the weekend, her attorney, E.E. Keenan, sent over a request for discovery to the lawyer representing Finn and the church. Guess who that is? 

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Audit dings Missouri education department for steering contract in favor of a vendor proposing overhaul of Kansas City Public Schools

Posted By on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 11:00 AM

DESE top administrator Chris Nicastro
  • DESE top administrator Chris Nicastro
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education ignored several conflicts of interest when it directed a contract to CEE-Trust, the high bidder among four prospective vendors that sought to improve underperforming school districts, Missouri auditors say.

CEE-Trust, an Indianapolis-based local education nonprofit, received a $385,000 contract from DESE on August 8, 2013, to study the state's struggling school districts and state legislation affecting those districts, which includes Kansas City Public Schools.

CEE-Trust got the contract, even though it was easily the highest among four bidders and despite that DESE had been in communication earlier in 2013 with CEE-Trust and Kansas City's Kauffman Foundation about strategies to help poor-performing school districts before the contract went out to bid. In fact, DESE seemed ready to hand CEE-Trust the contract outright, without any bidding process, before the Missouri Board of Education raised concerns about the arrangement, according to a review out Tuesday by the Missouri Auditor's Office.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Kansas City B-Cycle expansion going slowly; new stations hopefully by the end of the year

Posted By on Mon, Aug 18, 2014 at 1:25 PM

BIKEWALKKC
  • BikeWalkKC
At the beginning of this year, bike-share program Kansas City B-Cycle announced an expansion strategy for 2014 that would include eight new stations in the Westport and Plaza areas, with more on the way in other parts of the city, like Brookside, Waldo, and 18th Street and Vine.

That has not yet come to pass. 

Sarah Shipley, director of communications for Kansas City B-Cycle, says the delay is due to the usual challenges of nonprofit bureaucracies. B-Cycle is run by nonprofit BikeWalkKC and largely funded by Blue Cross Blue Shield, but is also trying to use federal funds to partially offset the costs of bike-share stations.

"It's a learning curve for everybody," Shipley says of the program. "We've been caught up a little with the Buy American Act, which requires us to have American-made steel on the bikes. And in other cases, the forms required for some of the things we're trying to do don't even exist because what we're doing is a new idea. So we're looking to states where this has already been adopted and trying to bring those practices here." 

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Numbers don't lie: Kansas is far behind most neighboring states in job growth

Kansas is far behind most neighboring states in job growth.

Posted By on Mon, Aug 18, 2014 at 12:07 PM

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Gov. Sam Brownback has tried to brush away the increasingly clear prospect that his Kansas tax experiment is failing by saying that it will just take time for his idea to start working. He has compared it with surgery: Deep cuts in income taxes require a period of healing.

But the procedure seems to show signs of lingering infection.

In order for Brownback's tax plan to offset deep drops in state revenues, new jobs need to start coming to Kansas in large numbers almost immediately. That hasn't happened. What have occurred are steep drops in state revenues, which figure to result in further cuts in state services absent some kind of drastic economic turnaround.

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  • Kansas is far behind most neighboring states in job growth.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Judge Bryan Round will not preside over a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the family of Anthony Bruno

Posted By on Thu, Aug 14, 2014 at 4:33 PM

Judge Bryan Round
  • Judge Bryan Round
Jackson County Circuit Judge Bryan Round will not preside over a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the family of Anthony Bruno, who was shot to death by an off-duty Kansas City police officer last December.

Round, who had been a Kansas City police board attorney for about eight years, was assigned last week to preside over the controversial Bruno lawsuit.

But Round recused himself Wednesday after The Pitch published a story in which legal experts criticized him for comments made during a trial that appeared to be protecting the Kansas City Police Department. Round filed the case transfer order but did not say why he was recusing himself. He also did not provide a statement.

The Pitch reported Wednesday that Round had found Nicholas Rose not guilty of resisting arrest in June but guilty of disturbing the peace and careless driving. Rose and about 50 friends were riding motorcycles and doing stunts on Interstate 70 and U.S. Highway 40 last year and causing a traffic hazard.

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Ferguson rally planned for tonight on the Country Club Plaza

Posted By on Thu, Aug 14, 2014 at 1:37 PM

Tonight at 7 p.m.
  • Tonight at 7 p.m.
Across the United States this evening, peaceful rallies are being held for Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager gunned down by a police officer last weekend on the other side of the state, in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. Kansas City's will be held on the Country Club Plaza, near the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain, at 7 p.m. A moment of silence will be held at 7:20 p.m. 

The situation in Ferguson continues to shock even those of us who were already concerned about the increasing militarization of police departments in America. It appears, at last, that some measure of order may be coming to the situation. Gov. Jay Nixon is now promising an "operational shift" in the handling of the protests (i.e., relieve the reckless Ferguson Police Department of its duties), and President Barack Obama is making statements. We'll see what effect that will have this evening. 

In a video statement, Mayor Sly James urged attendees to keep it peaceful on the Plaza. 

"What I'm hoping that happens is that people make their opinions heard, but do so in a way that allows people to actually listen as opposed to being distracted by the violence that may erupt on the edges," James said. Watch below. 

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Jay Nixon finally clears up his schedule to tend to the crisis in Ferguson, but only after getting a bunch of crap about it

Posted By on Thu, Aug 14, 2014 at 6:52 AM

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Jay Nixon is always traveling all over Missouri, promoting some idea of his or defending his decision to veto some wacky legislation put on his desk by lawmakers.

That's fine. That's what governors do.

Governors also show up and stick around when some part of their state descends into chaos. Nixon did that when Joplin got clobbered by a tornado in 2011. Nixon hasn't done that in Ferguson.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Another poll shows Sam Brownback trails Paul Davis

Posted By on Tue, Aug 12, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Paul Davis continues to surge in polls
  • Paul Davis continues to surge in polls
It's difficult to imagine a more troubling campaign year for Gov. Sam Brownback.

State finances look more grim with each passing month, two credit rating agencies have downgraded the Kansas bond ratings on the account of the eroding state balance sheet, an FBI probe has targeted one of Brownback's closest associates, and roughly 100 current and former Republican officeholders annoyed with the governor have thrown their support behind Democratic challenger Paul Davis.

Those realities and other problems besetting the Brownback administration have turned what a year ago seemed like a glide path for re-election into a real possibility of the former senator's losing a GOP-heavy state to a Democrat from Lawrence.

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Ikea to open Merriam store on September 10

Posted By on Tue, Aug 12, 2014 at 7:48 AM

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The wait for Detolf glass-door cabinets and Billy bookcases is down to about a month. Ikea issued a press release this morning announcing that it will open its store in Merriam on Wednesday, September 10. So put in your PTO now so you can start camping out for the 9 a.m. opening. Seriously. Ikea says customers can start lining up on September 8 for the grand opening of the the 359,000-square-foot store.

And while some (me) may be excited to buy shelving for my book collection a growing collection of action figures, others have been there, done that and are not impressed

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