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Noonletter, Nov. 9, 2018

Crysta Henthorne
Kansas News Service

Worse in Kansas

The foster care load in Kansas is growing faster than the rest of the country. Madeline Fox analyzed fresh national numbers on trends in children put into state custody and found that things are getting worse faster here than elsewhere.

She also found that children in Kansas are getting out of the system — reunited with their families, adopted by new forever families — at a slower rate than they used to and at a slower rate than the national average.

While we’re on gloomy topics

Cops in Kansas are fielding fewer calls about domestic violence. But what they see is more deadly.

Fox looked at a report released by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. It showed domestic violence incidents dropping slightly in 2017, slightly. But the number of those incidents that ended in death doubled from the year before — rocketing to 38 from to 19.

Rapes were up, too, by 8 percent. Four times out of five, the rape victim knew the suspected attacker.

Back and forth

Then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, ordered protections for state workers from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

That was reversed by Republican Sam Brownback when he was governor. He argued such rules should be created by the Legislature, not the governor.

Now Gov.-elect Laura Kelly, a Democrat, says she’ll issue an executive order soon after taking office to reinstate the protections.

If only he’d ...

Obama knew a digital game. McCain ran like he wanted to be president in the ’70s. Trump recognized the power of Twitter. Clinton overlooked Michigan and Wisconsin.

Winners are geniuses. Losers coulda won had they not been such blockheads.

Much the same analysis emerges after every high-profile campaign. It typically puts great stock in the value of the political industrial complex — its consultants, fundraising, ad buys and volunteer organizers. It concedes less to political winds, the inherent qualities of respective candidates or the reasoning of voters.

Still, only a fool would dismiss entirely the power of a campaign organization. There’s a reason tens of millions of dollars poured into Kansas campaigns this year.

The Kansas City Star reports that Kris Kobach’s campaign was a mess — that he was reluctant to trouble himself with the drudgery of calling people to ask for money, that his operation never mustered a respectable door-knocking get-out-the-vote effort and that volunteers waited … and waited … for the campaign to put them to work.

The Star’s story also reveals frustration from establishment Republicans and the local consulting class over Kobach’s maverick ways and the seeming belief that strong language and appearances on Fox News would be enough to win.

Prison news

A riot at the Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility got serious enough earlier this week that the prison called for help from three county sheriff’s departments, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the Kansas Highway Patrol.

The Great Bend Tribune reports the incident ignited about 8 p.m. Tuesday. An hour later, the prison called for outside help. Two and a half hours after that, the facility was secure and there was extensive property damage to all five housing units.

No prison workers were injured, the newspaper reported, and there were no serious injuries to inmates attributed directly to the violence.

The Larned prison had been mostly focused on housing mentally ill inmates. Last year, that changed and it’s become centered on holding young male offenders shortly before their release.

Kansas getting less white

If current trends hold, whites will no longer account for the majority in Kansas in fifty years. A new study from Wichita State University projects the state’s Hispanics will continue to become a bigger portion of the state population, Stephan Bisaha reports.

The study also says population growth in Kansas is the slowest since statehood, rural areas will continue to empty out and by 2066 eight out of every ten Kansans will live in an urban area.

Scott Canon is digital editor of the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. You can reach him on Twitter @ScottCanon.

 Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.

As the editor of a statewide news outlet, I aspire to work with our reporters to give Kansans a clear-eyed view of the place they call home. That means delivering hard-hitting stories that expose those things that keep Kansas from being the most vibrant, healthy place it can be. You can reach me at scott@kcur.org or 816-235-8023.
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