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Jackson County has become the latest government body to sue drug companies and distributors for their alleged complicity in the opioid epidemic.

The suit, filed on Wednesday in federal court in Kansas City, names dozens of businesses, including drug giants like Johnson & Johnson and pharmacies like CVS. It says at least 308 people in Jackson County died of opioid overdoses between 2013 and 2017.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Overland Park has dismissed 200 traffic tickets and refunded $4,000 in fines over an unusual traffic ticket scandal. As a result, three police officers resigned last week, according to Chief Frank Donchez.

What the officers did is a little hard to understand.

“They were writing seatbelt tickets instead of other tickets,” says Donchez.

So even if a driver was speeding or ran a red light, these three officers would just write a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt.

Why?

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

There's good news for a Kansas City elementary school that wasn’t sure how it would continue a successful tutoring program that helps transient students catch up in English and math: a $75,000 grant from the Kauffman Foundation will keep it alive.

Courtesy Shawnee Mission School District

The Shawnee Mission School District is still searching for someone to lead its beleaguered special education department.

The district came under fire last year after the Kansas Department of Education found some students with special needs weren’t getting all federally required services. Students who are gifted also qualify for special education in Kansas.

SMSD Superintendent Michael Fulton sent an email to parents earlier this week announcing Assistant Superintendent Christy Ziegler would be taking over the special education department on an interim basis.

Diane Krauthamer / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City, Missouri, residents north of the Missouri River say they are sick of delays in their trash and recycling pick-up.

Councilwoman Heather Hall, who represents part of Kansas City North, says she’s received thousands of complaints and is suffering right along with her constituents. 

"I've lived in my house 19 years, and (for) 18 years and three months, my trash was picked up every single day like clockwork — exact same time... no problems at all. In the last eight months it's been random to say the least," Hall says. 

Sophia Tulp / KCUR 89.3

President Donald Trump gave a wide-ranging address to the national Veterans of Foreign Wars conference Tuesday in Kansas City, discussing tariffs, foreign policy and immigration and criticizing Democrats.

Trump also attended a luncheon fundraiser for Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, who faces a primary for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in two weeks. 

Rebecca Hange / KCUR 89.3

Domestic violence victims often have a hard time moving to safety because landlords won’t let them out of their leases.

That could soon change in Kansas City.

City Councilwoman Jolie Justus says abusers often live with domestic violence victims or know their address.

Moving might be the only way for victims to stay safe, but some landlords are reluctant to break a lease, Justus says.

So she’s proposed an ordinance to change that.

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

President Donald Trump is coming to Kansas City on Tuesday in part to headline a lunch fundraiser for U.S. Senate hopeful Josh Hawley.

 

It’s good timing: The Missouri GOP primary is two weeks away, and even though the attorney general is widely expected to win the Aug. 7 election, he’s lagging behind Democrat Claire McCaskill when it comes to the money race.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3 file photo

The woman accused of starting a blaze that killed two Kansas City firefighters in 2015 was found guilty of murder, arson and assault in Jackson County Circuit Court on Monday morning.

BigStock

A lawsuit charging Missouri officials have failed to properly oversee the administration of psychotropic medications to children in foster care was certified Thursday as a class action.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3 file photo

The defendant in a murder and arson trial was involved in five other fires for which she collected insurance money, an expert witness testified Thursday.

Updated at 8:40 p.m. July 19 to correct numbers in 2nd paragraph —There are few places better to see the effects of an intensifying drought than a hulking, 200-plus-acre complex just off of Interstate 44 in southwest Missouri.

This is the Joplin Regional Stockyards, one of the biggest in the country, selling more than 430,000 head of cattle in 2017 alone. Usually, they’ll have 800 to 900 cows on the block at weekly Wednesday sales. On July 11, they had double that.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

Clay County Administrator Dean Brookshier resigned Wednesday.

Brookshier will be paid more than $240,000 in severance pay, unused vacation pay and unused sick time. This is despite Brookshier not giving the county the 90 days of notice required by his employment contract. Under his employment contract, failing to give 90 days of notice meant that he wouldn’t be “entitled to any benefits in addition to those afforded him under the law and County policy.”

In a 2-1 vote in executive session Wednesday, the county commissioners waived this requirement.

Secretary of State Kris Kobach got a boost in his run for Kansas governor from Donald Trump Jr. at an event Tuesday night in Wichita.

As the crowd cheered "U-S-A! U-S-A!," Kobach introduced Trump as a man who "needs no introduction."

Westar has reached an agreement with staff of the Kansas Corporation Commission and several other interested parties that would reduce Westar’s annual revenue by $66 million.

For the average residential customer, that will mean a decrease of about $3.50 a month.

Westar's original request was for a $52 million increase.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

A new system for hiring agencies to coordinate adoptions and foster care placements in Kansas will continue to let some groups cite religious beliefs to exclude some prospective parents — including gay couples.

The Department for Children and Families earlier this week had left lawmakers confused about whether a new grant system would extend those religious protections to the agencies taking over statewide foster care and family preservation contracts.

Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio file photo

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson vetoed a bipartisan bill last week because the detailed standards for an online STEM curriculum program seemed “narrowly tailored to apply to only one company.” And that company helped create that criteria, according to one of the bill’s handlers.

Cattle producers in drought-stricken Kansas counties may now cut hay or graze on land normally set aside for conservation.

A federal judge has frozen the assets  of 10 Kansas City-area companies that allegedly ran phony sweepstakes contests, preying mainly on the elderly.

U.S. District Judge Greg Kays on Tuesday also ordered the appointment of a temporary receiver to take charge of the businesses and imposed conditions on their operation.

Barbara Shelly / KCUR 89.3

Lora McDonald says she had to live with mold in her Kansas City, Missouri, apartment for six months before her landlord took any action.

“It is a long time to live with mold outside my son’s bedroom,” McDonald says.

McDonald, executive director of More2 and an advocate for equitable housing, says she took her concerns all the way to the director of the Kansas City health department, who told her that aside from testing for mold and advising the landlord to fix it, there was nothing the city could do.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3 file photo

On the second day of a murder and arson trial in Kansas City, prosecutors sparred with defense attorneys over how the blaze that led to the deaths of  two firefighters began.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The historic Savoy Hotel in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, re-opened Tuesday with a new name: 21c Museum Hotel Kansas City.

“We never dreamed that there’d be more than one when we started,” says founder Steve Wilson, who launched the first 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2006, with his wife, Laura Lee Brown. 

There are now eight boutique hotels in the chain, and each includes curated gallery spaces and site-specific installations of 21st century art.

Screenshot

Tooling through parades in a flag-themed Jeep with a faux machine gun mounted on the back apparently wasn’t enough for Secretary of State Kris Kobach to win over the National Rifle Association in the Kansas governor’s race

The country’s largest and most influential gun lobby on Monday instead endorsed Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer in his Republican primary. That left Kobach claiming that he still has the backing of grassroots gun rights voters.

The NRA said its endorsement reflected Colyer’s “strong support for the Second Amendment and the hunting heritage of Kansas.”

This story has been updated. An earlier version listed incorrect fundraising totals for two candidates.

Republican U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder’s most recent campaign finance report shows him far ahead of challengers in raising funds to hold the seat representing Johnson and Wyandotte counties.

In the race to replace Republican U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins in a district covering Topeka, Lawrence and much of the rest of eastern Kansas, the lone Democrat enjoys a money advantage over Republicans who first must elbow past each other.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

Clay County is pledging $500,000 over two years to build a Law Enforcement Memorial Garden in Kansas City, Missouri, despite concerns over the budget.

The Clay County Commissioners voted 2-1 today in favor of the funding the memorial in a contentious meeting. Critics worried about pledging money before the 2020 budget process and donating to the memorial after reducing funding to the sheriff’s office.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith identified the suspect who died after a violent spree of gunfire in two different locations on Sunday as 25-year-old Marlin Mack.

Smith said officers had identified Mack as a person of interest in last week’s killing of Sarath Koppu, a native of India who was an engineering student at the University of Missouri–Kansas City.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

A revival of rural Kansas can come from drawing businesses and housing to the centers of small cities and by building better highways, gubernatorial candidate Laura Kelly said Monday.

In a plan she says could invigorate rural areas, the Democrat also calls for propping up small grocery stores, expanding Medicaid coverage, reopening state offices closed in recent years and fixing deteriorating housing in those areas.

file photo / Kansas News Service

A restructuring of how Kansas hires agencies to manage foster care and adoptions could allow widespread exclusion of placements with gay parents — a revelation Monday that prompted objections from some lawmakers.

Rebekah Hange / KCUR 89.3

In front of a crowd of hundreds Saturday afternoon, Jason Kander emphasized his political experience in his run for Kansas City, Missouri, mayor.

The former Missouri secretary of state and Missouri representative officially launched his campaign at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, entering the crowded field of mayoral candidates in the June 2019 election.

Helix Architecture + Design, Inc.

The Kansas City Art Institute broke ground on new student housing Thursday across the street from the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. 

"The last time we did this was 1968 when we built that," said Art Institute president Tony Jones, pointing to the current residence hall. "To say that it's a little bit out of date ... would be an understatement." 

The old dorm will be repurposed for academic space, said Jones, and a "brand new living center" will be created to better fit the needs of contemporary students in art, design, craft, and technology.     

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