Blog Page 329

Snow was falling Saturday morning in Wyandotte County at I-435 at I-70, as shown in this photo. (KC Scout photo)
Snow was falling Saturday morning in Wyandotte County at I-435 at I-70, as shown in this photo. (KC Scout photo)
National Weather Service graphic
National Weather Service graphic

Wyandotte County is receiving some snow flurries this morning as a winter storm system began moving into the area.

A winter weather advisory went into effect at 9 a.m. Saturday and will remain in effect until 6 p.m. Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. The temperature was 21 degrees at 9 a.m. Saturday, the weather service said.

Light snow will begin this morning and continue into the early evening, the weather service said. A lull is possible tonight followed by another round of light snow on Sunday, according to the weather service. Today’s high will be near 26.

Snow accumulations could total around 2 or 3 inches today and 1 to 2 inches on Sunday, the weather service said, with a total snow accumulation of about 3 to 5 inches.

Travel may be hazardous, especially on any untreated roadways, according to the weather service.

The weather service advised drivers to be prepared for slippery roads and limited visibilities, and use caution while driving, the weather service said.

Sunday’s high temperature will be near 33.

The high Monday will be 37, the weather service said.

Light freezing rain will be possible over parts of the region on Monday night, but its effect is expected to be minimal, according to the weather service.

Isolated thunderstorms and showers will be possible along and south of the Interstate 70 corridor on Tuesday, Election Day, the weather service said. The high on Tuesday will be near 52, according to the weather service.

To keep up to date during the day on the weather, visit www.weather.gov.

This graphic from the National Weather Service shows predicted snow totals for Saturday and Sunday. The forecast was made at 4:49 a.m. Saturday. (National Weather Service graphic)
This graphic from the National Weather Service shows predicted snow totals for Saturday and Sunday. The forecast was made at 4:49 a.m. Saturday. (National Weather Service graphic)

A truck made its way on eastbound I-70 at Park Drive as snow fell on Saturday morning. (KC Scout photo)
A truck made its way on eastbound I-70 at Park Drive as snow fell on Saturday morning. (KC Scout photo)

A view of I-70 at Mill Street as snow fell on Saturday morning. (KC Scout photo)
A view of I-70 at Mill Street as snow fell on Saturday morning. (KC Scout photo)

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Sen. David Haley
Sen. David Haley

State Sen. David Haley, D-4th Dist., succeeded in getting a provision passed in the Kansas Senate that would require cities and counties to fill vacancies on councils or commissions.

His bill to require police to wear body cameras while on patrol was not successful, however. He tried to amend another bill with the body camera provisions for law enforcement, and the motion failed after a lengthy debate, he said. “We got into a Ferguson discussion,” he said.

“I live in a real city, a larger city, and my city, Kansas City, Kan., and the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Department already are moving to ensure we have dash and body cameras,” he said. The bill was “not for the protection of my citizens, (since there are already plans for the body cameras here), I’m concerned about Hooterville and Bug Tussle, Kan. Where a kid is killed under questionable circumstances, I would like to know.”

However, the mandatory body camera provision was opposed by Republican senators who cited its expense and called it an unfunded state mandate.

What remained after Haley’s proposal for mandatory body cameras was removed were provisions that would exempt police dash cameras and body cameras from the open records law, thus closing the videos to the public.

Bill to fill vacant elective positions on municipalities’ boards

At the same time, the bill to fill vacancies on commissions moved ahead.

Senate Bill 10, which would require cities and counties to fill vacancies within 60 days, was amended into Senate Bill 171, the controversial bill to change elections from the spring to the fall, he said. His amendment requires cities or counties to fill elected vacancies within 60 days by appointing a replacement, or else they will have to hold a special election to fill the position.

The provisions for a special election would not apply if the city or county appoints someone to the position within the specified time, or if the city or county had its own provision within its charter for filling a seat within a specified amount of time.

The idea for Senate Bill 10 grew out of the Unified Government Commission’s deadlock on filling the vacancy of the 1st District Commissioner, at large position. After the UG Commission was unable to reach the required six votes for any of the candidates, the position went unfilled for two years. It is now on the primary ballot Tuesday, March 3.

That elections bill passed the Senate, 21-18, with one person not voting, he said. The bill now goes to the House for approval.

Sen. Haley said that Senate Bill 10 had come out of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, but it was too far down on the list to be debated on its own merits as a stand-alone bill.

“In my experience, I sensed it would not be heard,” Sen. Haley said. That meant it would likely have died in the Senate, because of the lack of time to hear it, he added.

“So, after all we had done and worked for to ensure elected vacancies are timely filled, and after all the Elections and Ethics Committee work on the bill, I didn’t want to see that effort die in the bill we crafted,” Sen. Haley said.

He proposed that Senate Bill 10 be amended into Senate Bill 171, the bill changing municipal and school board elections to the fall.

“I was left in an odd position in voting for the amendment to attach Senate Bill 10 to a bill regarding the change of election to the fall that I ultimately did not vote for,” he said.

Sen. Haley said he had been prepared to vote for it, but when it seemed as if it didn’t need bipartisan support, he did not vote for it.

Senate Democrats generally felt that changing elections from the spring to the fall would shift partisan power to nonpartisan elections, which means “Kansas cities, city councils, county commissions, will become more infested with the conservative Republican mindset,” he said.

The original bill would have required cities, counties and school boards to have fall elections at the same time as state and federal candidates. The revised bill changes the city, county and school board elections to odd-numbered years in the fall, while the state and federal elections will be in even-numbered years in the fall.

Sen. Haley carried the amendment on filling vacancies. Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, R-5th Dist., spoke on its behalf.

Sen. Haley said he was a little bit frustrated at the process of getting bills passed this year. He also was working on a body camera bill, a medical marijuana bill and a bill to increase job opportunities.

He said he has to really negotiate some agenda items with his conservative colleagues.

“I don’t have much to negotiate with, I’m in a distinct minority,” he said. “It irritates me as a legislator. And I have to expend so much political capital with my colleagues, so much legislative capital I have to use to get this bill through the system, through the legislative process, because one person or a group of persons don’t believe that elected vacancies need to be filled timely, and further, have worked against it,” Sen. Haley said.

And those persons are using his tax dollars to lobby and work against it as well, he added.

The bill had been opposed in hearings by the UG, which said it would cost too much to have a special election to fill a seat, and also that local control was an issue.

Sen. Haley said he did not like to hear statements by other elected officials that the 1st District, at large, commissioner was not needed.

Candidates now running for the position have said at recent political forums that they agree the district was affected by the lack of representation.

“None have discussed remedies, only commonly held deprivation of representation,” Sen. Haley said.

If he had been running for that office of 1st District at large, he would have discussed the budget, how monies that were set aside for each district were spent, and how that money was expended in the district, Sen. Haley said.

Sen. Haley has said that the people in the 1st District at large deserve to have representation, and he believes the vacancy should have been filled in a timely manner. The UG charter, however, did not state a method for breaking a tie, it did not state a time limit for the position to be filled, and it did not say a special election could be held.

If the UG commission feels there is no need for the 1st District at large seat, then they should get together, open up the charter to revisions and eliminate the seat, he said.

“It’s a dangerous precedent, leaving it vacant two years and telling the electorate we don’t need the seat,” Sen. Haley said.

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Guest column

Sheriff Don Ash
Don Ash

by Don Ash
There is no easy solution to reducing crime in our communities. As your leaders in law enforcement, we do all we can to enforce the law, catch the bad guys, prosecute them, and get them off the streets. That’s our job, and it’s our officers’ top responsibility.

But we also take seriously our responsibility to prevent crime and violence—to get ahead of the problems and to avoid the price victims, the perpetrators, and our communities pay for crime.

This demands we put resources into this effort to help our most vulnerable children and families. Research shows that parenting education can be an important component in supporting and developing healthy relationships between children and their parents, setting the stage for strong families and children ready for school success, and that our communities are safer because of it.

Despite this knowledge and experience, we see our state moving in the wrong direction in terms of these critical investments. We are concerned with the Governor’s proposal to sweep more than $30 million from the Kansas Endowment from Youth and the Children’s Initiatives Fund. And Tuesday, the Social Services Budget Subcommittee in the Kansas Legislature voted to strip all Parents as Teachers funds from CIF. This means that there will not be any funds from KSDE for PAT programs in Kansas. Let us detail two of the most important investments that make our jobs as law enforcement officials more effective.

One intervention we value is high-quality coaching for our most vulnerable mothers and children. Providing this coaching, which is voluntary on the mother’s part, provides the support and guidance that new mothers need. There are substantial health and educational aspects to parent coaching—improving infants’ health though good pre-natal care; children are more likely to be identified at an earlier age if there are health or developmental concerns which leads to referral to school and community services for early intervention; teaching mothers how to read and talk to their children resulting in higher reading scores at Kindergarten, 3rd, and 4th grade; and higher scores in symbolic development, math concepts, written language, and oral communication—that can be achieved through good programs such as Early Head Start and Parents as Teachers. And law enforcement especially values the reduction in child abuse and neglect, and infant mortality that results from some high-quality programs.

Moreover, both the mothers and children who participated in the Nurse-Family Partnership were half as likely to become involved in crime over time as similar families who did not get the benefits of home visiting. The return on investment for this program? More than $17,000 per family after subtracting the costs, with most of that savings coming from crime reduction.

The evidence is quite clear that low-income children who participate in a high-quality pre-k program have significant advantages compared to their peers who miss out on the pre-k experience. Again, like the home visiting experience, there are significant educational benefits, including limiting the education gap between poor and middle-class kids. There are really important social development skills that kids learn in pre-k—like following directions, sticking to task, collaboration, and controlling one’s emotions—that can last a lifetime.

But we in law enforcement value the evidence that shows that high-quality pre-k can substantially reduce the chances that those children become involved in crime. Long-term research in Chicago has shown that children who did not participate in high-quality pre-k were 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime by age 18. Another study shows the return on investment: approximately $5 savings for each dollar invested.

Since 1999, the Kansas Endowment for Youth Fund—which was established by a financial settlement with the tobacco companies—provided the funding to make progress in improving the lives of at-risk kids. This source of funding has been critical to the progress we’ve been making.

However, that funding has been stagnant since 2007, thus making it impossible to maintain the programs it has been supporting, much less moving these investments in kids forward. Despite the full intention of the legislature to support kids, the funds in the Kansas Endowment for Youth have been diverted to other areas.

We ask Gov. Brownback and our representatives in the legislature to carefully consider the importance of maintaining the funding in the Kansas Endowment for Youth Fund. It prevents crime by helping our most vulnerable kids get the right start in life. This investment is of utmost importance, and the gains to our state are enormous. The short-sighted thinking leading to these cuts now will lead to very expensive costs to all Kansans through the criminal justice and jail-incarceration systems later.

Donald Ash is the Sheriff of Wyandotte County and a member of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids.

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