Top Stories Of The Week | KCUR

Top Stories Of The Week

Jul 13, 2013

Kansas became eligible for federal arts matching funds again. And hundreds of area residents showed up for a forum on whether to replace the 3-terminal system at KCI. KCUR's Steve Bell looks back at those and other top stories on this week's Saturday News Review.

Airport forum draws big turnout

Several hundred people attended the Citizens Association forum on the future of KCI airport at the Downtown Library. Councilman Scott Wagner, a panelist, may have spoken what was on the minds of most of them, when he noted that eventually maintenance issues at KCI will have to be addressed, but those who want a new terminal immediately may have difficulty explaining “why.”

His colleague Dick Davis said the airport was costing a lot of money in upkeep now – $100 million a year, but he stressed that the council is in no hurry and the public will have their say on whether to build a new terminal. “If we spend a billion dollars,” he said, “you don't do that without a public vote.”

Minority groups want larger council

There's no hurry was also the word from the Citizens Association on revising Kansas City's charter. Former councilman Dan Cofran delivered the message to the charter review commission that the group should “take your time and do it right.

Representatives of Hispanic and African American groups were exhibiting less patientce, urging the commission to make the council bigger, the districts smaller, and do away with at large seats. Some said the present concept of “at large” representatives may be unconstitutional because it makes it difficult for minorities to get elected to those positions.

Kansas state board of education asks for $600 million more spending

The Kansas State Board of Education set up a confrontation with the conservative legislature by asking for a $600 million,school funding increase.

Chair Jana Shaver told her colleeagues, “You don't accomplish big things unless you dream big,” in urging them to vote to ask for the legislature to honor past funding promises.

Board member Ken Willard was talking “wake up and smell the coffee.” He called her proposal “well intended,” but said it had no change of getting approval from the legislature and was likely to work against the best interests of Kansas.

Common Core opponents question national testing program

More opponents of the Common Core educational standards appeared before the board. Parent Megan King said the costs of the standardized online tests will be too high. She told the board they should keep assessment a local process, using the tests prepared by the University of Kansas so that moneys that otherwise would be spent on improving technology could go toward classroom instruction.

The department of education said the technology for online testing already exist in most Kansas schools, but it was still possible the state may stay with the KU-produced testing.

Nixon signs bill making it easier, faster for Kansas City schools takeover

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed a bill that makes it easier for the state to take over unaccredited school districts like the one in Kansas City.

The state education department would no longer have to wait 2 years before mandating how an unaccredited district should be run. But if the department retains the local school board, the board has 2 years to show progress, 3 years to regain accreditation.

Telemedicine abortion ban passes but unsigned

A bill prohibiting medicine-induced abortions by telemedicine becomes law in Missouri without Governor Nixon's signature and with no comment from him. Planned Parenthood says telemedicine procedures have not been used in the state, but have been considered.

Kansas regains eligibility for federal arts funding

After being off the federal matching funds list since 2011, Kansas was declared eligible again by the National Endowment for the Arts. Peter Jasso of the state Creative Arts Industries Commission said he was very happy with the decision.

The state lost its eligibility for matching funds when Governor Brownback vetoed state arts spending in 2011.

Kansas could be eligible for up to $560,000 in matching funds this fiscal year.

Diocese settles out of court, but insurance company won't pay

The Kansas City- St. Joseph Catholic Diocese settled a suit by the parents of a boy who killed himself in 1983 after alleged sex abuse by his parish priest out of court. But the diocese's insurance company, Chicago Insurance, said it has no obligation to cover the $2.25 million settlement or a half-a-dozen previous priest abuse settlements.

The insurance company filed documents in court saying sexual abuse does not fall under the covered liability category of “personal injury” and that it is also excluded by a clause that exempts them from paying claims that result from “assault and battery.”

KCP&L seeks end to solar energy rebates

Clean energy groups howled when KCP&L announced that its solar energy rebates have to stop because they are too expensive.

Jeff Risley of Kansas City clean-energy company Britergy said it wasn't fair for the utility to lump the expense all into one year. He said operational costs for coal-fired plants are usually amortized over a 30-year period, so these expenses should have been spread over at least 10 years.

KCP&L said it has spent its allotted funds, and will ask regulators to allow the rebates to end.