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KC Buzz Blog

Political and governmental news as it breaks

Published: 2007-02-14T18:00:00-06:00


Now, we're moving...


We seem to have solved the technical difficulties with the new platform KC Buzz Blog, so come on over (again) and bookmark: Anybody going to the site should first see a "Welcome" post atop Wednesday's other posts. The "Welcome" post provides details about the new site and explains that if you want to leave comments, you'll have to register. If you registered earlier while we were having technical difficulties with the new platform, you should still be able to use those usernames and passwords. Let us know if you have any more problems. Thanks again for your patience. Keith Chrostowski, signing off again

MO Dems have new party leader


John Temporiti is the new chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party. A St. Louis lawyer who's helped St. Louis County executive Charlie Dooley win election in 2004 and re-election last year, Temporiti is said to be well-versed in the high-tech ways of politics that include micro-targeting of voters. The new vice-chair is Yolanda Wheat, a lawyer and wife of the former Kansas City congressman. Temporiti succeeds outgoing chair Roger Wilson. Western Missouri Dems were glowing in their early reviews of Temporiti. "What John brings to the party is phenomenal organizational skills, fund-raising skills and a real ability to work with all parts of the state at a time when we really need that looking forward to the 2008 elections," said Jackson County executive Mike Sanders. Posted by Steve Kraske

Funny guy Al Franken signs up for U.S. Senate


Comedian Al Franken announced today that he's running for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Norm Coleman. Franken did not say, as his SNL character Stuart Smalley once did, "I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And gosh darn it, people like me." But Franken probably will at least once during the campaign. Go here for an early story. And a couple of questions: Can a comedian like Franken be taken seriously enough to win a U.S. Senate seat? And can he win in Minnesota, a state that has elected a conservative, Coleman, and a lib, Paul Wellstone, in recent years? Blast away. Posted by Steve Kraske

Wednesday open thread


What's up?

Morning buzz


In The Star: David Klepper has a full report on the Kansas Board of Education rescinding science standards that cast doubt on evolution. Matt Stearns details the infighting between Sen. Sam Brownback and Mitt Romney for the GOP conservative base. Kit Wagar reports that a Missouri state senator is trying to revive six projects stripped from a higher-ed bill because research in the buildings could somehow involve early stem cells. Lynn Horsley looks at the KC mayoral candidates' stands on smoking bans. Tim Hoover reports that safety advocates say this could be the year that a proposal passes allowing police to ticket Missouri motorists just for not wearing seat belts. Glenn Rice reports that a wall that has come to symbolize renewed political bickering between two Clay County officials may soon be coming down. Rice also reports that a Claycomo official offered some insight into why village leaders terminated three top officials late last year. Elsewhere: Selections from The Hotline's "Wake-Up Call," ABC's The Note and others. President Bush held his first news conference today since Dec. 20. The Note lists Bush's press conferences by the year: 2001 — 4 2002 — 3 2003 — 4 2004 — 4 2005...

New Demo leaders named to take back MO House


The task of retaking the Missouri House for the Democrats will be led by a St. Louis lawmaker who will be assisted by several from the KC area. State Rep. Rachel Storch of St. Louis this week was appointed chair of the House Democratic Campaign Committee. Also on the committee are several KC-area lawmakers: Paul LeVota, Beth Low, Trent Skaggs and Mike Talboy. The five seats gained by House Democrats in November was their best showing since 1978. And it was the first election since 1986 where Democrats actually gained seats in the House. Posted by Steve Kraske

Logan: Running against City Hall tough trick


Smart guy Fred Logan points out that the decision by Becky Nace and Mark Funkhouser to run against City Hall is a risky proposition. "Kansas City historically doesn't elect anti-establishment mayors," he says in his latest commentary for KCTV5. Go here to check it out. Posted by Steve Kraske

KC mayoral candidate profiles


The Star is profiling the 12 mayoral candidates one at a time. Today: Jim Glover: Glover has a plan and it involves neighborhoods Previously: Stan Glazer: Glazer runs as 'visionary' with entrepreneurial spirit Mark Funkhouser: Ex-auditor says he'll make system work better John Fairfield: Assertiveness considered a key attribute Janice Ellis: Attention to basic services is a priority Chuck Eddy: Councilman emphasizes experience John David DiCapo: 'Give the small guy a chance' Alvin Brooks: A love for the city drives a life of service And here's Jeff Spivak's and Lynn Horsley's summary overview. Also, Horsley provides a summary look at the council races.

Hardball Funk? Larry King Funk?


KC mayoral candidate Mark Funkhouser hopes to bring a little "Hardball" or "Larry King Live" TV to Kansas City, if he's elected. Funkhouser announced today that his administration will hold "town hall" meetings in different neighborhoods each week, plus broadcast a live call-in show each week from City Hall on the city government's Channel 2. This blog's readers can be creative sometimes, so run with it and think up some possible titles: "Meet the Funk"? "Funk Around Town"? Funkhouser says the meetings and the show are ways to improve city communications and openness with citizens. Here's his campaign's press release . Posted by Jeffrey Spivak

Riederer on the air


Albert Riederer is up on over-the-air TV.... with this ad. Riederer takes aim at the Tracy homes scandal (although the reference to "Kansas City tax dollars" is a little askew: the money for the Tracy homes came from the federal government, passed through to the city, which contracted with a private group known as HEDFC to develop housing for the poor.) He also criticizes former municipal judge Deborah Neal, although not by name. UPDATE: Like Becky Nace's ad, though, the production values are good. Posted by Dave Helling

Congressman Norwood RIP.


Georgia Congressman Charlie Norwood passed away today after a long battle with cancer, according to his office web site. He was 65. The Republican won re-election last year. Georgia's Republican governor will appoint a replacement. (Update: Thank you Dickylee for your sweet, gracious correction. District voters will pick a replacement in a special election called by Georgia's governor.) Posted by DeAnn Smith

Transfusion pumps half-pint of much-needed blood Sam's way


End-of-year campaign finance reports showed that Sen. Sam Brownback transferred $575,000 from his Senate campaign treasury to his presidential campaign. The money gives the underfunded Kansan a financial boost as he brings his grassroots campaign to Iowa and other early states. “Mr. Brownback is committed to competing aggressively for the Republican nomination,” campaign manager Ron Wasinger said. “We transferred the resources necessary to jumpstart our campaign in the early primary states, and to start organizing our national effort.” Posted by Matt Stearns

Brownback, Romney campaigns mix it up


Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback unleashed his first attack of the 2008 presidential campaign Tuesday, skewering the campaign of fellow Republican Mitt Romney for claiming Brownback once supported abortion rights. Brownback, a leading social conservative who hopes to position himself as the favored candidate of that wing of the Republican party, accused Romney’s campaign of sending a misleading e-mail to pro-life activists in Michigan. “Just like Sam Brownback, Mitt was once pro-choice but changed his views upon being elected to office,” wrote Stefani Zimmerman, a regional field director in Michigan for Romney. “Sam Brownback used to identify himself with Nancy Kassebaum and rebuffed being pro-life when he first ran for office. Kassebaum was a prominent GOP senator that was known for being pro-choice. When Brownback was elected to office, that is when he also had a conversion and voted with the pro-life movement. The same is true for Mitt Romney.” Rob Wasinger, Brownback’s campaign manager, called Zimmerman’s comparison of the two “absurd.” “Mitt Romney’s flip-flops are enough to make John Kerry blush,” Wasinger said. Posted by Matt Stearns

Iraq trip off


Sen. Claire McCaskill begged off a planned trip to Iraq this weekend so she can attend a memorial service Saturday for the late Harriett Woods, a long-time Misouri Democratic Party stalwart who died last week. McCaskill, who will speak at the service, said the decision to delay her trip was not "difficult." She had planned to accompany several other senators on a five-day visit to the region. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to say 'thank you' to a woman who changed my life and helped shaped Missouri's history," she said. Posted by David Goldstein

Feeling Rumsfeldian today?


Kansas' evolution debate has been a reporter's quote dream. And today, as the Kansas Board of Ed votes on yet another set of science standards, we got this gem from intelligent design proponent John Calvert: "I think this is a subject where being sure may not be the best thing in the world," he said. "If you don't know something and you know you don't know something, you're better off than if you don't know it and you think you know it." Calvert, who said this while addressing the Board this morning, was arguing that students suffer if evolution is taught as a neat explanation for the history and development of life. Posted by David Klepper

Under the rainbow


"Why do we still allow such moronic throwbacks to vote in national elections?" And that's one of the nicer ones. Check out the nasty things people are saying about the Sunflower State on the NYT blog: Read it here. Thanks to Red State Rabble for the heads up. Posted by staff

News flash: Matt Blunt says something nice about Bob Holden!


In his 2006 State of the State address, Gov. Matt Blunt directly criticized Gov. Bob Holden's policies eight times. This was more than a year after Holden left office. During the 2004, Blunt sniffed disdainfully that Holden was a career liberal politician. But now it's 2007. And knock us over with a feather. Cause today, Blunt's offices gives his predecessor credit for something positive. A news release about Blunt's trip to Mexico and efforts to secure an international inland port for Kansas City says, "The benefits of SmartPort are far reaching and nonpartisan. Both Gov. Holden and Blunt have worked to build Missouri's relationship with Mexico and secure the site in Kansas City." Now some cynical folks will say this was a defensive move by Blunt's staff, knowing the Holden reference would come up if they didn't raise it first. But when's the last time a news release out of Jefferson City used the word "nonpartisan"? Posted by DeAnn Smith

Say a prayer for Lefty, too


Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt is back from Mexico, touting his meetings with officials there to move the Kansas City SmartPort link along. But Blunt's support of SmartPort may leave him at odds with some of his conservative supporters. Posted by Dave Helling

Tuesday's open thread


What's up?

Kansas School Board returns to evolution. Again.


Two years ago, any time the Kansas Board of Evolution brought up the word “evolution” you could expect standing room only. Yet today in Topeka, with the board poised to repeal the controversial science standards that cast doubt on evolution, it was just another board meeting. The only reminder of the contention that’s marked the debate were a handful of local television cameras and a thick red rope erected to separate the board from any overzealous members of the public. The board is expected to vote at 4 p.m. today on new standards that return evolution to its former place in the scientific canon. The vote is largely a foregone conclusion, and only a handful of people addressed the board during its public comment session this morning. Still, familiar faces showed up to make their case, one last time. Harry McDonald, a retired science teacher from Olathe and a member of Kansas Citizens for Science, applauded the board for quickly revisiting the science standards. “The time for deliberation has passed,” he said. “It is time to act.” John Calvert was back too. Calvert, an intelligent design proponent from Lake Quivira, was a leading voice in the effort to put more...

Helen Thomas tries to sell her book


Helen Thomas, the White House press corps matriarch who spoke Monday at the Truman Museum in Independence, defended her most recent book, Watchdogs of Democracy?: The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the Public, published last year. The book charges the Washington press establishment of growing timid during the run-up to the Iraq War. “I don’t think they liked it,” Thomas said, after being asked what her colleagues thought of the book. “The Washington Post panned it, a few others panned it, but a lot of people say they liked it. Anyway, I didn’t write it to be liked. I wrote it to get my outrage off my chest and to make a point.” Thomas also seemed disappointed that The Star reporter interviewing her had not read the book. “Well, if would be nice if you’d buy it,” she said. “I’m in the sales department now.” Later she regaled a Truman Museum audience with anecdotes from her career with the White House press corps, which began in 1961. Covering Lyndon Johnson, she said, was strenuous. The walking press conferences that Johnson conducted on the south lawn on the White House, she said, were known among correspondents as...

Morning buzz


In The Star: Mark Morris reports on the strong objections by federal prosecutors to Katheryn Shields' request to release the evidence in her mortgage fraud case. In his column, Steve Penn looks at the Freedom Inc. endorsements in the mayoral primary. David Klepper reports on the corporate tax cut moving through the Kansas Legslature. Tim Hoover covered a Missouri Senate committee hearing on a bill that would make it easier for homeowners to use deadly force. Brian Burnes sat down for a Q&A with Helen Thomas, who spoke yesterday in Independence. Elsewhere: Selections from The Hotline's "Wake-Up Call," ABC's The Note and others. Mitt Romney will officially announce his presidential bid today in Michigan. ABCNews has a preview. As for why he's announcing in Michigan, the Boston Globe says it "can be explained in two words: history and politics." A CBS News poll finds 44 percent believe Congress should pass a non-binding Iraq resolution but that 45 percent believe Congress should not pass it. In House debate today Minority Leader John Boehner will say: "Lincoln could have given up. ... But he didn't." The Boston Globe reports that some liberal congressional Democrats are disappointed to be voting on "a two-paragraph,...

FDA lab update


Earlier this month, The Star reported on bipartisan congressional efforts to save 13 regional Food and Drug Administration labs, including one in Lenexa. (Confidential to Claire McCaskill: That's just over the state line from Missouri.) Now, we're informed by Rep. Dennis Moore's office that FDA staff meetings to discuss the potential closings have been postponed as agency brass respond to congressional inquiries and try to ensure Reps. Moore, Boyda, Cleaver and Graves and Sens. Brownback, Roberts, and Bond (who all wrote various letters to FDA questioning the proposed closings) are happy with the process. No word on when those meetings might be held. At stake: More than 50 jobs in Lenexa. Posted by Matt Stearns

Monday's open thread


Stray thoughts?

KS lawmakers vote to abolish franchise tax


The Kansas House gave preliminary approval to a bill abolishing the corporate franchise tax over three years. The tax brings in $44 million a year for the state. Proponents say eliminating the tax will give businesses an advantage and make Kansas more attractive to new investment. They argue that loses to state coffers will be compensated by economic growth caused by eliminating the tax. The tax, paid by businesses on a percentage of their net worth, would be eliminated over three years. Now, companies are taxed .125 percent of their net worth. Companies with a net worth of $100,000 or less do not pay the tax. The tax is capped at $20,000. In year one, the bill would raise the exemption to $3 million, meaning businesses with a net worth of less than that would not have to pay the tax. In year two, the franchise tax rate would be cut in half. In the third year, the tax would be completely abolished. The House is set to hold a final vote on the bill, HB 2031, Tuesday. Then it moves to the Senate. Read more in tomorrow's Star. Posted by David Klepper