Archive for Thursday, October 29, 2009

Statehouse Live: NAACP wants Otto to remove video; state Supreme Court hears arguments on damages cap; Parkinson wants to open up more trade offices

October 29, 2009, 10:06 a.m. Updated October 29, 2009, 4:36 p.m.

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2 p.m.

The Rev. Ben Scott (left) and Charles Jean-Baptiste speak Thursday during a news conference where the Topeka branch of the NAACP called for state Rep. Bill Otto, R-LeRoy, to remove a video from You Tube. The group says the video is racist. Otto has denied the charge. About 25 people attended the news conference at the Capitol.

The Rev. Ben Scott (left) and Charles Jean-Baptiste speak Thursday during a news conference where the Topeka branch of the NAACP called for state Rep. Bill Otto, R-LeRoy, to remove a video from You Tube. The group says the video is racist. Otto has denied the charge. About 25 people attended the news conference at the Capitol.

Members of the Kansas chapter of the NAACP on Thursday called on state Rep Bill Otto, R-LeRoy, to remove from You Tube his video where he criticizes President Barack Obama while wearing a hat that says “OPOSSUM the other Dark Meat.”

At a news conference, NAACP members said Otto’s self-desribed “RedNeck Rap” was racist, tasteless and inflammatory.

The Rev. Ben Scott and Charles Jean-Baptiste, former president of the Kansas branch of the NAACP, also said they believe Otto’s video was indicative of an increase in public displays of racism since Obama’s election.

Otto has said the reference to opossum was meant as a joke about his hillbilly heritage, and was not aimed at the president.

12:35 p.m.

Attorneys for a Eudora woman whose wrong ovary was removed said Thursday that a $250,000 cap for damages was unconstitutional.

“It’s a fundamental affront to the court and separation of powers,” said Ned Miltenberg in arguments before the Kansas Supreme Court.

But Bruce Keplinger said the Legislature was within its rights to cap damages as a way to help keep insurance companies and doctors in the state.

The cap, Keplinger said, “is vital to the viability of this state. If it goes away, you will be creating the insurance crisis of 2010.”

The dispute focuses on the case of Amy Miller, who in 2002 went in for surgery for removal of her right ovary. Dr. Carolyn Johnson of Lawrence removed her left ovary by mistake.

Miller sued for malpractice and a Douglas County jury awarded her $759,680, which included funds for pain and suffering and future medical expenses.

But the award was knocked down by then-District Court Judge Steve Six to comply with the $250,000 cap approved by the Legislature 20 years ago.

Miltenberg argued that establishment of such a cap violates constitutional rights of trial by jury, and infringes on the constitutional authority of the judiciary.

But Keplinger said the cap was put in place to serve a public good -- keeping health care and insurance available -- and didn’t infringe on constitutional rights.

“Limiting the amount a plaintiff takes home does not affect the right to a jury trial,” he said.

Keplinger also argued that although Johnson removed the wrong ovary, the one she did remove would have had to have been removed soon anyway because it was in bad condition.

But Bill Skepnek, the trial attorney for Miller, said there was no evidence to indicate that was true. “There was no medical justification for removing the left ovary,” he said.

The court took the case under advisement, and didn’t indicate when it would decide the matter.

10:06 a.m.

Gov. Mark Parkinson, who just returned from a trade trip to Taiwan, is going to China next month.

At a news conference yesterday, Parkinson said Kansas should be more aggressive in selling its products to other countries.

Kansas businesses sold nearly $12.5 billion in exports in 2008, a 22 percent increase over 2007, according to the Kansas Department of Commerce.

The Trade Development Division of the commerce department operates offices in China, Japan, Mexico and the United Kingdom. Parkinson said he would like the department to open up additonal offices in Taiwan, Brazil and India.

Comments

ralphralph 5 years, 5 months ago

Otto --- tasteless and inflammatory, okay, and that was on purpose. Racist? Not much more than the usual stuff from the NAACP. If they really wanted to shut up Otto, they'd ignore him, rather than put him in the headlines again and again. They don't want that, because then they'd be out of the headlines too. I have a dream ... and neither side of this one is in it.

Damage Cap --- Sheesh, this is kind of a hard one. If you take out someone's WRONG ovary, you really ought to get popped. Then again, we all have to be able to afford to go to the doc (unless ObamaCare magically funds it all). Maybe it would help if the disciplinary actions against doctors were subject to a little more public release. That's my compromise --- if a doc cuts off the wrong part of you, then you only get $250k, but his face and name go on billboards and websites so everyone knows it.

The Gov --- I kind of like this guy. He seems reasonable, and not a leftist socialite or a right-wing nutjob. Since food is the only thing we're allowed to make in Kansas under the Sebelius-era rules, we should probably get busy selling it to somebody, somewhere. On top of that, I can't blame the guy, since he is cruising through this term with no sights on another, for doing a little world travel on the taxpayers.

Randall Barnes 5 years, 5 months ago

FREEDOM OF SPEACH COME ON.REMEMBER WHEN A WORKER AT THE STATE HOUSE HAD A BUMPER STICKER THAT SAID F_ _K BUSH AND GOT FIRED BUT GOV SEBILIS SAID SHE COULD LEAVE IT ON AND KEEP HER JOB ..... BECAUSE IT WAS A FREEDOM OF SPEACH

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