Carjacking suspect dead after chase from Bonner Springs ending in KCK

A chase that started in a residential area of Bonner Springs led police and highway patrol officers into Missouri and then back to Kansas City, Kan., finally ending with the suspect’s death.

The incident started at 8:53 a.m. Friday, Feb. 13, when Bonner Springs police received a call about a carjacking in the 400 block of South 137th Place in Bonner Springs, said Heather Brooks, spokesperson with the Bonner Springs Police Department.

The officers spoke with the victim, who said a man had arrived in a minivan, pointed a gun at him and demanded the keys to a Moxie pest control work truck, she said. It was a 2008 white Ford Ranger truck, according to the authorities.

The suspect had already left in the stolen work truck, and officers gave out a description of the truck and suspect through dispatchers, she said.

The truck was spotted on K-32 by Edwardsville police officers who attempted to stop the suspect, but the suspect fled, Brooks said. Then the Edwardsville police officer pursued the fleeing vehicle, and the Kansas Highway Patrol joined the pursuit and took over. Edwardsville police left the pursuit as it went to another city, she said.

About 9:09 a.m., according to the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department spokesman, the highway patrol joined the pursuit east on Kaw Drive, where Kansas City, Kan., police officers deployed stop sticks.

At 9:14 a.m., one Kansas City, Kan., police officer assisted the highway patrol in the pursuit eastbound on Park Drive from 34th Street, the Kansas City, Kan., police spokesman said.

The Kansas City, Kan., police spokesman said the KCK officers and highway patrol continued the pursuit onto Central Avenue, and then the suspect got on the I-670 highway entrance ramp.

The chase then led into Kansas City, Mo., Brooks said, where officers there joined in the pursuit.

When crossing into Missouri, the Kansas Highway Patrol continued that pursuit, according to the Kansas City, Kan., police spokesman.

Kansas City, Mo., police officers became involved with the pursuit in Missouri at about 9:16 a.m., the Kansas City, Kan., police spokesman said. The suspect attempted to strike a Kansas City, Mo., police officer, and the pursuit continued back into Kansas City, Kan., from I-35 onto westbound Southwest Boulevard, the Kansas City, Kan., police spokesman said.

The suspect then went northbound onto 14th Street and left the roadway at 12th Street and Ruby Avenue, according to the Kansas City, Kan., police spokesman.

According to the Kansas City, Kan., police spokesman, the suspect presented a gun, and officers from the Kansas Highway Patrol and Kansas City, Mo., Police Department then engaged the suspect, killing him.

The identity of the suspect has not yet been released.

This incident remains under investigation by the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division, which is encouraging anyone with information to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477).

Sebelius criticizes Brownback at Dole Institute event

Former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius talks with Bill Lacy, director of the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas, at Thursday night's lecture on women in politics. It was one of Sebelius' first public appearances in Kansas since stepping down in June as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (KHI photo by Jim McLean)
Former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius talks with Bill Lacy, director of the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas, at Thursday night’s lecture on women in politics. It was one of Sebelius’ first public appearances in Kansas since stepping down in June as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (KHI photo by Jim McLean)

Former Democratic governor and HHS secretary covers wide range of topics in kickoff of institute’s 2015 lecture series

by Jim McLean

Former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius didn’t mince words when asked about the direction of Kansas politics during an event Thursday night at the Dole Institute of Politics.

Making one of her first Kansas public appearances since stepping down in June as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Sebelius called the re-election of Republican Gov. Sam Brownback “a low point” in the state’s political history.

“Every time I think it can’t get any worse, it does,” Sebelius said in an apparent reference to the deepening budget crisis triggered by tax cuts and plummeting revenues. “So, I hesitate to say ‘how low can you go.’”

The Democrat, whose final months at HHS were marred by the problem-plagued rollout of the health reform law, was especially critical of Brownback’s recent decision to rescind an executive order that she issued to protect state employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation or sexual identity.

Sebelius said she signed the order in 2007 to “send a strong signal that we wanted a talented and diverse workforce.” She said she had “no idea” what compelled Brownback to repeal a policy that had been in place for eight years and “seemed to be working well.”

“It’s distressing,” she continued. “But I think we need to be clear to people around the United States, this is not Kansas. This is not what the state was founded on. This is not what we believe in. And this is not an acceptable policy going forward.”

In the statement explaining his decision, Brownback said Sebelius’ order inappropriately gave state employees protections not enjoyed by other citizens. Rescinding the order, he said, “ensures that state employees enjoy the same civil rights as all Kansans without creating additional protected classes.”

In addition, Brownback said, decisions to extend additional civil rights protections should be made by the Legislature, not “through unilateral action” by a governor.

Sebelius’ comments about Kansas politics came in response to questions from members of an overflow audience that turned out for the first in a series of lectures on women in politics at the institute on the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence. For most of the evening, the former governor chatted with Bill Lacy, the institute’s director, about her experiences as a woman in politics, her relationship with President Barack Obama and the political and executive challenges she faced during her career.

When technical problems with a microphone delayed the start of the conversation, a relaxed Sebelius quipped, “Kind of the like the website,” a reference to well-publicized troubles with the healthcare.gov website at its launch.

Sebelius said the early days of the rollout and the final days of the lobbying effort for the ACA were among her most challenging as secretary.

“We had a lot of near-death experiences,” she said of the days leading up to the vote in Congress. “There were lots of times when it seemed like it was all going down the tubes.”

Even when the bill’s prospects seemed bleak, Sebelius said, President Obama resisted calls to pare back the bill and compromise to save political face.

“He kept saying, ‘If there’s a chance for a comprehensive bill, this is the time,’” she recalled.

In a brief interview after the program, Sebelius said she believes the ACA will survive because by the time President Obama leaves office, tens of millions of Americans will have come to depend on it for health insurance. In addition, she said, it will be difficult to reverse the changes the law has made in the health care system.

“I think the framework is now kind of in the DNA of the health system in a way that will be very difficult to turn back,” she said.

While making no predictions, Sebelius said, she finds it “hard to believe” that the U.S. Supreme Court will side in an upcoming case with those who contend that Congress intended to make ACA tax credits available to consumers only in states that set up their own marketplaces.

“To have that available only to a certain portion of the population seems ludicrous,” she said.

Kansas is one of several states that declined to establish its own online marketplace, forcing consumers to use one set up by the federal government. More than 80 percent of Kansans who selected plans during the current enrollment period have qualified for tax credits that lower the cost of their premiums, according to HHS.

Finally, Sebelius said Kansas’ refusal to expand Medicaid has deprived tens of thousands of low-income Kansans of coverage they need.

“Folks who are in states not expanding Medicaid are in terrible trouble,” she said.

Brownback and GOP legislative leaders opposed to participating in expansion have said they’re concerned the federal government will not fulfill its obligation to pay 100 percent of expansion costs for three years and no less than 90 percent thereafter.

Sebelius said those concerns are unfounded.

“The bill is fully paid for even if all 50 states come in,” she said.

State officials who continue to have doubts, she said, could protect themselves by including language in their plans that automatically returns eligibility to pre-expansion levels if federal funding dips below the 90 percent threshold.

“Lots of states have said, ‘If the deal changes, we’re out,’” Sebelius said. “And we’ve said from the beginning, ‘That’s just fine.’”

The nonprofit KHI News Service is an editorially independent initiative of the Kansas Health Institute and a partner in the Heartland Health Monitor reporting collaboration. All stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to KHI.org when a story is reposted online.
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Murray running for UG Commission, 1st District at large, seat

LaVert Murray
LaVert Murray

LaVert A. Murray is running for the Unified Government Commission, 1st District at large, position.

“I was one of several candidate-applicants that interviewed with the UG Commission about a year ago to fill this vacant seat. At the conclusion of that process I committed to file for election to the office after watching the Commission dead-pan and deadlock on the matter. I purposefully filed late as I wanted my filing to be distanced from some other very important community matters I was involved in,” Murray said.

Murray, a former UG community development department director, said he believed in being strategic, applying critical thought and innovation in whatever approach is taken to resolve issues. He said one person can make a difference if that person remains rational and independent-minded, practices good stewardship and care about the concerns of other people.

Murray said his skills, accomplishments, experience and familiarity with all sectors of the community sets him apart from all the other candidates. Murray retired after 37 years of service with the UG.

“I have pursued balance and growth for every sector of our community and I can point to hundreds of initiatives from the downtown to the western growth corridor to further illustrate a record of accomplishment,” Murray said.

He added he has a “never give up” mentality that would help his efforts on the UG Commission.

Murray described himself as a fiscal conservative who believes property taxes must be reduced. He also said that development incentive policies should for the most part be revenue-neutral so that they do not add to taxpayers’ burdens.

Murray is familiar with the UG’s charter ordinance, and was a member of the UG’s speakers bureau on government change and key tax issues.

“If elected, I would endeavor to influence the commission to take bold and innovative actions to lift up our community,” Murray said. “Our county is plagued by a negative perception and image that is a result of high crime, high taxes and a high rate of apathy. We must aggressively attack and change these conditions.”

Sustainable jobs would go a long way in addressing crime, he believes. “I believe it can be done if we can avoid the pitfalls of gridlock and each and everyone of us get on the same page,” he said.

Murray believes the UG will be severely challenged by the financial condition of the state and budget cuts.

“While many of the candidates for this position have supported the governor’s policies, I believe we must remain independent-minded and innovative in our approach to responsible fiscal oversight and stewardship,” Murray said. “This is the only way we are going to survive this fiscal crisis.”

Murray previously ran for a spot on the Kansas City Kansas Community College board in 2013 and 2009.

Murray, a 1971 University of Kansas graduate in political science and economics, received the KU Black Alumni Chapter’s African-American Leaders and Innovators award in 2013. The award cited his efforts in helping to develop the Village West area. He is a 1969 graduate of KCKCC.

Murray and others also organized the first Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebration in Kansas City, Kan., in 1984.

He was named Man of the Year in 2002-2003 by the Kansas-Nebraska Conference of the AME Church. He also is a past member of the Donnelly College Board of Trustees. He helped in the opening of the Boys and Girls Club Community Center.