Top Stories Of The Week
The downtown streetcar plan passed another mile post. A police study raised doubts about red light cameras. And an audit rekindled controversy over the Kansas Bioscience Authority. KCUR's Steve Bell looks back at those and other top stories of the week on the KCUR Saturday News Review.
Brownback Withholds Bioscience Funds
Governor Sam Brownback had requested the audit of the agency charged with promoting Kansas' bioscience industry. And when results criticized the business practices of the KBA's former president and failed to answer some questions about conflicts of interest, the governor suspended $22 million in funding pending a closer look.
Agriculture Secretary Dale Rodman said the KBA board failed to control spending, but board chair Dan Watkins held that the audit shows that the agency is properly handling state money. Watkins also said the KBA has money in the bank and will continue to invest in promising firms, despite the governor's request that it not do so.
Bill Filed To Speed K.C. District Takeover
A Missouri State Representative introduced a bill to do away with the two-year waiting period before the state could intervene in the now unaccredited Kansas City school district. Sponsor Mike Lair of Chillicothe said the district has had enough time.
Getting a Kansas City schools bill passed could be complicated by the demands of some legislators for a single omnibus education bill.
Police Study Questions Traffic Cam Effect
Kansas City, Missouri police released preliminary data showing that accidents dramatically increased at some intersections with the red-light cameras. But they later backpedaled... said their own study was flawed – didn't include data like weather conditions, traffic flow changes and driver impairment. Still the matter remains under study by the police board.
Prosecutor Plans For Trial Of Bishop
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters-Baker said she plans to take Catholic Bishop Robert Finn to trial and personally lead the case against him. Her spokesman, Mike Mansur, said the team will also include an attorney experienced in sex offender cases.
Finn is charged with failure to report suspected sex offenses by clergy. In December, he got a plea bargain deal that avoided trial on similar charges in Clay County.
MoDOT Promotes I-70 Toll Road Idea
MoDOT Director Kevin Keith continued promoting making I-70 a toll road between Kansas City and St. Louis. MoDot says the toll option would not require a public vote, but some legislators question how it would get around a prohibition on toll roads in the state constitution.
Streetcar Engineering Study Funded
The Kansas City city council funded an engineering study on streetcars downtown, and councilman Russ Johnson pointed out that it is the first time any rail or streetcar project has gotten to this stage in modern times. The city is hoping for a $25 million federal grant for the streetcar system.
Missouri Black Homicide Rate Is Highest
For the second year in a row, Missouri had the nation's highest black homicide rate – but some law enforcement officials blamed differences in how states report homicides.
Attorney General Calls “Driveway Tax” Illegal
The City of Mission asked for a clarification after the Kansas Attorney General opined that its new “driveway tax” for street maintenance is illegal.