Noonletter: Sept. 21, 2018 | KCUR

Noonletter: Sept. 21, 2018

Sep 21, 2018

Bacon hunting

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran is making a pitch to bring more federal paychecks to Kansas. The state already scored a win in landing the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF, for Manhattan (presuming you’re confident that the nasty germs studied and stored inside that bunker will stay inside that bunker).

Now Moran is trying to leverage NBAF and what promoters like to talk about as the “animal health corridor” — a loosely connected bunch of academic centers and businesses spreading from Manhattan to Kansas City to the University of Missouri in Columbia — to draw in more.

His office wrote a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue  — and a news release saying he wrote the letter — this week touting Kansas for more USDA jobs. He argues the feds should plop Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture offices in Kansas.

It’s another taxpayer-funded R-D division for the farm industry. Last month, a congressional delegation from the Kansas City area pushed to bring the 600 jobs moving out of Washington to that metro (Erica Hunzinger of Harvest Public Media wrote about it then).

Meanwhile, there’s a move afoot to stop the exodus of the offices from Washington, and it’s backed by people who held top Ag Department jobs in previous administrations.

Roses really smell like ...

First, let’s acknowledge that Kansas’ 4th Congressional District, where Democrat James Thompson is challenging incumbent Republican Ron Estes, stops east of Dodge City.

But, still. Dude.

It started with a tweet from Estes saying he was “Safeguarding Social Security. Protecting Medicare.”

In response, Thompson threw shade on the scent that comes with the meatpacking business so important to western Kansas.

Democrats have long attacked Republicans on what they contend is iffy support for programs for the elderly. They bash the GOP for floating ideas about partially privatizing Social Security, for instance.

So Thompson implied in his tweet that Estes claiming to stand up for old people smells like … Dodge City.

Points, perhaps, for using your campaign to make a poop joke. Congrats, you’re now president of your fifth-grade class. But if you’re running for Congress in Kansas, does it make sense to mock how Kansas smells?

Quick listen

If you didn’t catch it on the radio this morning, you can still get the week’s political developments explained to you quickly here by Kansas News Service reporters.

Jim McLean, Stephen Koranda and Madeline Fox give you a concise breakdown of the endorsements tossed around this week, money pouring into congressional races and the ongoing fight for the Kansas governorship.

But, really, why weren’t you listening to the radio this morning?

Making it rain

The big hype for Kansas congressional races this year has focused on the 3rd District, drawing wide speculation on whether incumbent Kevin Yoder can hold the seat for Republicans.

But if there’s a big blue wave sweeping through President Donald Trump’s first mid-term election, keep your eyes on the 2nd District (Topeka, Lawrence and the rest of the eastern fourth of Kansas outside the Kansas City area).

Stephen Koranda tells us that groups operating separate from the campaigns of Republican Steve Watkins and Democrat Paul Davis have already poured $2 million into the contest. U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, a Republican, chose not to run for re-election. That drew a crowd into the GOP primary. Davis was unopposed in his primary, perhaps because he won the district even as he lost his bid for governor in 2014.

The Congressional Leadership Fund affiliated with House Speaker Paul Ryan and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee are the biggest players so far. Watkins’ father also spent heavily through an independent committee in the primary, so more money might yet come from him.

Keeping kids

One of the two contractors in charge of placing children in foster homes, or otherwise finding them refuge, opened a new group facility this month for some of the kids that can be toughest to look after.

Madeline Fox reports that a new St. Francis Community Services facility opened spaces for 18 kids in Sedgwick County. It’s a response to a growing foster population, and one that includes an increasing number of children who are chronic runaways or who struggle with emotional or behavioral problems.

It’s also a bit of a change from a trend of the past 20 years that saw the state move away from the use of group homes — working harder instead to find more foster families. Less than 10 percent of foster kids are now in group homes.

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 back to the original post.