Digital Post | KCUR

Digital Post

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

A former federal prosecutor listened to multiple recorded calls between an inmate at Leavenworth Detention Center and her attorneys, documents disclosed at an evidentiary hearing on Thursday showed.

The explosive revelations prompted the Federal Public Defender to file a motion on Friday asking for court permission to disclose the evidence “to the appropriate disciplinary authorities.”

A Hutchinson company helped set the scene in the new movie “First Man.”

The film tells the story of astronaut Neil Armstrong and NASA’s mission to land a man on the moon.

Scenes from the mission control room feature consoles from the Cosmosphere museum in Hutchinson. A team with the museum’s SpaceWorks division refurbished 13 consoles for the movie.

David Hawley

Hundreds of steamboats are buried underground along the banks of the Missouri River. We just don’t know where they are. One of them, however, was recently discovered under a cornfield near Malta Bend, Missouri, about 80 miles east of Kansas City.

That's where Nellie Backes Mertensmeyer grew up on the Backes farm. When he was a child, Steve Mertensmeyer's mother told him about a steamboat residing somewhere on that land. It was part of the local folklore.

"The story was that's why Malta Bend is named Malta Bend: because the Malta sank in the bend," said Mertensmeyer.

file photo / Kansas News Service

Take a look at the Kansas budget and one item looms large, eating up more state spending than anything else.

Schools swallow about $4.5 billion. That spending rose after an infusion of cash by lawmakers earlier this year in response to a court ruling in a long-running fight over whether state government does enough to support public education.

Updated at 10:45 a.m., October 2, 2018: The election is nine months away, but candidates have lined up to replace Kansas City Mayor Sly James when he leaves office in 2019. 

James is term-limited and cannot run when his current term ends next year.

Andy Witchger / Flickr CC 2.0

Surprised?

You can be this weekend, thanks to an assortment of scary, powerful and daring things to behold – unless you’re already into such things as blood drinking, towering rescues and a singularly operatic clown.

Now that would be a surprise!

President Donald Trump’s administration will “unleash the power of E15,” allowing the 15 percent gasoline-ethanol blend to be sold year-round.

The announcement, made public this week at a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, is being welcomed by corn growers and biofuel groups. But it may take longer for farmers like Kelly Nieuwenhuis of Primghar, Iowa, to feel the positive impact of E15 than they would like.

Zenoir/Creative Commons

The tussle between community groups and bar owners in Kansas City over background checks for servers will continue for at least another week.

The city council's Neighborhood and Public Safety Committee has been struggling over various proposals that range from doing away with liquor cards to easing restrictions on who can sell alcohol to not changing a thing.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

You’re rubber ...

Democrat Laura Kelly called baloney on Republican Kris Kobach when he said Kansas can save $377 million a year by denying services and benefits to immigrants in the country illegally. Kobach said there’s no reason an 18-year-old should be forced to get a permit for a concealed weapon. Independent Greg Orman said the state actually needs to impose tighter control on guns. And Libertarian Jeff Caldwell and independent Rick Kloos were happy to be on stage with the frontrunners.

Kenny Johnson

A new ballet with an original score isn’t quite as rare an event as a house falling on a witch, but it is an exciting chance to shape a fresh telling of the beloved story.

L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” set in Kansas, sparked 13 sequels, story spin-offs, and multiple adaptations on stage and film.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

High-stakes low-profile

Democrat and political newcomer Sharice Davids is leading in multiple polls and recent fundraising in her bid to oust Republican U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder.

Not so much in public appearances.

KCUR’s Sam Zeff explores her apparent lay-low strategy to win in a district that covers the Kansas side of the Kansas City area.

Schooling you on the candidates

Yoder and Davids campaigns

In the final month before the November elections, Republicans and some Democrats are asking: where is Sharice Davids?

Davids, a Democratic newcomer, seems to be leading the race against Republican incumbent Congressman Kevin Yoder in the 3rd District of Kansas.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Trumpbach

President Donald Trump came to Topeka Saturday and did what he usually does: Told a thrilled room of supporters how well he’s doing as president.

He also stumped for fellow Republican Kris Kobach in the governor’s race and for Steve Watkins in an eastern Kansas congressional race.

Kobach has said before, and repeated Saturday in Topeka, that he wants to do for Kansas what the president has done for Washington. That, essentially, is the choice in the race between him and Democrat Laura Kelly.

Kansas Historical Society

The federal government recently tore up Debbie and Tony Morrison’s front yard in the small southeast Kansas town of Caney.

And the two are happy about it.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency came in, scraped away contaminated dirt, replaced it with clean soil and spread sod on top.

“It actually looks very good,” Morrison said. “After they put the new grass in, they came down and they faithfully watered and cared for it continually until they felt like it had taken hold.”

StoryCorps

StoryCorps' MobileBooth came to Kansas City to collect the stories and memories of residents. This is one in a series of stories KCUR has chosen to highlight.

For muralists Phil Shafer, aka Sike Style, and JT Daniels, making bold, colorful murals throughout Kansas City is more than just painting outdoors.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

Fresh off a victory that cemented his latest, controversial, pick for the nation’s high court, President Donald Trump came to Kansas Saturday night hoping to transfer his popularity in the state to two fellow Republicans.

Trump arrived just hours after Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court — the most controversial appointment to the court in generations. He was in regular rally form, playing to an adoring crowd of some 10,000 thrilled supporters at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka.

File photo

Sheri Wood, the longtime CEO of KC CARE Health Center, is stepping down.

Wood oversaw the expansion of what was essentially a mom-and-pop health clinic in midtown Kansas City into three locations across the city.  

When Wood began at KC CARE 22 years ago, it had a staff of 18 and a budget of $1.2 million. Today it boasts a staff of more than 150, a budget of about $16 million and more than 700 volunteers.

Bram Sable-Smith

Editor's note: Until recently, Bram Sable-Smith was a health reporter at KCUR's sister station KBIA in Columbia, Missouri. His father, George P. Smith, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday for developing a laboratory technique known as phage display, in which a virus that infects bacteria can be used to evolve new proteins.

Bram spoke with his father for KCUR.

Sable-Smith: When did it sink in that you had won the Nobel Prize?

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

The price of compliments

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts isn’t even running for re-election this year. And he’s from Kansas. Yet he’s become a talking point in one of the most pivotal contests in this mid-term election year.

It seems that Roberts once said the following: “If you want to pick somebody to work in a bipartisan manner and get something done … you ask Claire McCaskill because she does get the job done.”

McCaskill is a Democrat, running for re-election in Republican-dominated Missouri. So those words, from that guy, are campaign gold.

KC Oktoberfest

With a tip of the powdered wig to Thomas Jefferson: None of us are guaranteed happiness, but we are all entitled to pursue it.

Granted, that’s a risky proposition. Trying to be happy and failing is no picnic. Yet here comes an especially action-packed weekend of potentially happy things to do involving uplifting music, assorted festivals, football and the opportunity to get involved in a sport that most people haven’t tried but anyone can take a crack at.

Stray Cat Cinema

A decent-sized group of Kansas Citians will gather on Friday to watch a 1981 Western movie in 3D called “Comin’ at Ya!” The film will include scenes like one in which a boy pours grapes into a basket, but because the movie was shot in 3D, the grapes will appear to be falling toward these viewers.

According to Matthew Lloyd, the grapes have no plot significance. The character pouring the grapes is similarly inconsequential.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

A federal appeals court ruling in Missouri earlier this week significantly escalated the legal battle over abortion rights, reduced the number of clinics performing surgical abortions in the state to one – in St. Louis – and may be the decision that puts abortion rights back in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, where Brett Kavanaugh may or may not be among the sitting justices.

Eric Howarth

Jason Blackmore, front man for 1990s hardcore band Molly McGuire, is back in Kansas City this week. Instead of rocking out, though, he’ll be screening his documentary.

Emma Lou Diemer

Performing music by women is trickier than it would seem.

For centuries, women were discouraged or forbade from composing, their works relegated to salons and home audiences, and rarely published. In many cases, once a composer died, her oeuvre was abandoned and forgotten.

Helping to right that historic wrong is the Midwest Chamber Ensemble, presenting its fifth annual concert of women composers this weekend (the ensemble was founded in 2011).

Susie Fagan / KCUR 89.3

A former emergency room nurse at Lawrence Memorial Hospital has lost her whistleblower suit alleging the hospital falsified patient records to obtain higher Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.

A federal judge on Tuesday ruled that Megen Duffy failed to prove an essential element of her claims, namely that the allegedly false data had an effect on how much the government paid the hospital.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

We hardly knew ye

Well, we do know Steve Watkins is a veteran.

But much of the rest of the biography he’s touted in his race for Congress has come under question.

Last week, The Kansas City Star tore down his claims of building a tiny business into something massive.

Missouri Valley Special Collections

Some Kansas Citians know the area between Cleaver II Boulevard and Stadium Drive as a back way to the Truman Sports Complex, one that allows them to avoid traffic on I-70. But for people who lived in the area, the Leeds neighborhood was more than a home — it was a haven.

“I had the best childhood in Leeds. Because I felt safe,” Earline Bentley told host Gina Kaufmann up on KCUR’s Central Standard.  “I didn’t know we were poor until we moved out of Leeds!”

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Hope and change the seat to blue

Former President Barack Obama continues to roll out scores of endorsements in this year’s mid-term congressional elections, hoping to stick his successor with more Democratic resistance on Capitol Hill.

Sharice Davids is among the more than 300 candidates, all Democrats, Obama has backed.

Update: The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to review Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd's case. The decision leaves intact the Missouri Supreme Court's decision to reprimand the Platte County Prosecutor for his conduct in a child molestation case. 

In a statement, Zahnd acknowledged that his request for Supreme Court review was a long shot.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3 / Senator Claire McCaskill / Flickr - CC

Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill has a clear fundraising edge over her Republican opponent, state Attorney General Josh Hawley, in her re-election race — with about a month left before the Nov. 6 midterm.

McCaskill brought in $22,785,442, as of the July 18 report to the Federal Election Committee, or FEC. In contrast, Hawley had raised $5,320,513.

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