Kansas City Week in Review - Feb 14, 2014





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Published on Feb 15, 2014

This week:
Ex-Grandview Mayor Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud

He resigned a month ago this week. Now we know why. The former Mayor of Grandview appears in court this week and pleads guilty to wire fraud. Steve Dennis had solicited $35,000 in donations from the International House of Prayer to a nonprofit he had created. Instead of the money going to the poor and disadvantaged, he allegedly pocketed the cash.

The New York Times questions Senator Pat Roberts' residency

How important is it to you that your elected leaders live in the areas they serve? Kansas Senator Pat Roberts' re-election campaign is on the defensive this week after a new report questions the three-term senator's ties to his home state.

The New York Times says Roberts does not have a home of his own in Kansas, but is registered to vote at a donor's house in Dodge City. In fact, he pays them $300 a month to stay there. Roberts quipped that he has "full access to the recliner", though he could not tell the Times how many times he had stayed there.

Missouri's execution drug blocked, again...

Missouri is on its third lethal injection drug in less than six months. But this week, a federal judge is blocking an out-of-state pharmacy from providing the latest execution drug used to kill Missouri's death row inmates.

The move comes just two weeks before the state's next execution: Michael Taylor was found guilty in 1989 for the murder of 15-year-old Ann Harrison, who was waiting for a school bus in front of her Kansas City home when she was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and stabbed to death.

Issues central to the gay community top the headlines on both sides of the state line...

It wasn't just a University of Missouri football player by the name of Michael Sam who was dominating the news.

In this same week as Sam's announcement, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon says he wants a re-vote on gay marriage in the Show-Me State. He says he supports repealing Missouri's constitutional amendment and would vote in favor of same sex unions.

The Governor is facing an impeachment effort from a group of state lawmakers unhappy over his order allowing same-sex marriage tax returns. Also this week, the ACLU sues Missouri for not recognizing gay marriages.

In Kansas, a bill allowing service refusal to gay couples passes the Kansas House. Supporters describe it as a religious freedom measure following cases such as the one in Colorado where a baker who refused to make a cake for a gay couple was given an ultimatum by a judge: serve gay weddings or face fines.

Despite swift passage in the Kansas House, the measure has stumbled in the Kansas Senate.

KC'S Jane Chu to lead National Endowment for the Arts?

President Obama has nominated Jane Chu, the head of Kansas City's Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, to lead the National Endowment for the Arts, filling a post that has been vacant for over a year.

Arts groups welcomed Chu's nomination for the agency, which has been a favorite target of conservative groups for its sometimes controversial grants. The Senate must confirm Chu for the position.

Local marijuana debate

States around the country are warming to the idea of legalizing pot. A recent Gallup Poll for the first time shows that a clear majority of Americans (58%) say the drug should be legalized. But Jackson County legislator Bob Spence wants to ensure that never happens here.

Fearing that Missouri might join the growing number of states that have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational purposes, he says it's time for the state to take a stand against that trend. The Lee's Summit Republican is trying to pass a resolution that would put Jackson county on record as opposing any effort to decriminalize pot in the Show-Me State.

Meanwhile in Kansas, this Valentine's Day there's a rally at the statehouse in support of a Kansas Senate bill known as the "Cannabis Compassion and Care Act". The measure introduced by Wyandotte County Senator David Haley would permit the use of marijuana by patients with qualifying medical conditions. This seems like an incremental change to current Kansas law, but even that measure has been bottled up with Senate leaders refusing to give it a hearing.

The Week's News Reviewers:

Steve Vockrodt, The Pitch
Dana Wright, Newsradio 98.1 FM
Ryan Kath, 41 Action News
Dave Helling, Kansas City Star

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