Archive for Saturday, March 19, 2011

Kansas Statehouse rally protests GOP-run state government

March 19, 2011


— Dozens of people marched Saturday to the Kansas Statehouse to protest potential budget cuts and other policies pursued by Gov. Sam Brownback and fellow Republicans who dominate state government.

Their protests initially were inspired by Brownback’s proposal to move the Kansas Human Rights Commission, an independent agency, under the attorney general’s office. But the governor dropped the plan earlier this week, and speakers at the rally touched on a wide range of issues, including immigration, abortion rights and protection from employment discrimination for gays and lesbians.

Organizers described their events as a civil rights march and rally. The groups involved included the state chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and National Organization for Women, the American Civil Liberties Union, the League of Women Voters and the gay rights group Kansas Equality Coalition.

About 150 people marched nine blocks to the south steps of the Statehouse from the national historic site dedicated to the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education that declared segregated schools unconstitutional. They chanted, “This is what democracy looks like” and, “Civil rights are here to stay.”

“We are standing together,” said the Rev. Ben Scott, president of NAACP’s Topeka chapter. “This is one time we will stand up against the enemies that try to hold us back, because we realize we’ve come too far to turn around now.”

Organizers originally had hoped that hundreds of people would converge on the Statehouse, but the day was cool and overcast, and showers had been forecast. Thunder punctuated the speeches and chanting, and a light rain pelted participants as the rally drew to a close.

Rally participants criticized Brownback’s plan to close a budget shortfall because it includes a 6 percent cut in the state’s base aid to its schools. They also tried to paint Brownback and many Republican legislators as conservative extremists who are attacking the rights of workers, women and immigrants.

“They’re not doing what we elected them to do,” said Lester Shotwell, a Wichita resident disabled by kidney disease. “How dare they try to take away the rights of the people?”

State GOP Chairwoman Amanda Adkins said Kansans’ top priority is creating jobs for more than 100,000 state residents who are without work, then noted strong bipartisan support behind legislative approval of a plan from Brownback to lure people from other states to declining Kansas counties with income tax breaks.

“Kansans of all backgrounds and viewpoints are coming together behind ideas to grow our state,” Adkins said. “That’s the top priority.”

Brownback’s plan to move the Human Rights Commission spurred plans for the rally because the NAACP and other groups feared it would make the commission more partisan and less effective.

The governor argued the commission would be more effective in investigating discrimination complaints with the resources of the attorney general’s office behind it, but also proposed the move as a way to save $231,000 a year. He’s still pursuing the budget cuts.

“The compromise on the Human Rights Commission saves taxpayer dollars and will serve Kansans well,” Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag said after the rally.

Rally participants acknowledged that Brownback had backed off but remain wary of his administration.

“I am honored to be standing with progressive Kansans that know our state can and will be better,” said Pedro Irigonegaray, a Topeka attorney and immigrant rights advocate who represents both Planned Parenthood and Kansas Equality Coalition. “Our country has taken a giant step backward recently, and we cannot permit it to go in that direction.”


Dan Eyler 6 years, 8 months ago

Consolidating agencies and eliminating others is key to reducing government spending. With so many agencies and groups receiving government hand outs it is finally time to eliminate many. Civil rights needs to be managed by the attorney general just as it is in Washington. The Human Rights Commission has become a sound board for Planned Parenthood, Gay Rights and NAACP, etc. These groups have no right to be funded by the taxpayer because they clearly don't represent all Kansans. My rights are as important as those who control the HRC. We all need equal representation and that is best managed by those elected through the democratic process.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 8 months ago

" The Human Rights Commission has become a sound board for Planned Parenthood, Gay Rights and NAACP, etc. "

So your complaint is really that the HRC is doing its job too well, for groups who you think should be discriminated against, to your favor.

That's just super. But so are you, right?

LawrenceAttorney 6 years, 8 months ago

There are so many factual errors here I am unsure where to start. So, I will simply notes that "civil rights" (in this context employment and housing discrimination) is not managed by the attorney general in Washington. Instead, similar to Kansas, the federal government has independent administrative agencies that handle those issues - the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Kansas Human Rights Commission in no way funds any of the groups for which the Commission is a so called "sounding board." The inclusion of Planned Parenthood is particularly bewildering because the Commission's jurisdiction does not extend to issues that Planned Parenthood advocates for.

You are correct in that your rights are important. And, that is why the independent human rights commissions investigates all cases fairly and equally from whichever Kansans file complaints of employment discrimination, housing discrimination, discrimination regarding access to public accomodations, and racial profiling by the police. Stop by the Commission's website to learn some facts about what it does

ThomasWitt 6 years, 8 months ago

Kansasfaithful -

LGBT Kansans are not protected by the Kansas Acts Against Discrimination, the laws the KHRC enforces. Because sexual orientation is not included in the KAAD, your assertion that KHRC is nothing but a "sounding board" for "gay rights" is wildly off the mark. The Kansas Equality Coalition marched with our brothers and sisters in support of the NAACP and others because we believe discrimination is wrong, and has no place in civilized society.

Thomas Witt, Chair Kansas Equality Coalition

tomatogrower 6 years, 8 months ago

Mr. Witt, please don't try to confuse these posters with facts. It just make them rabid.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 8 months ago

Will you ever tire of your little celebrations of pettiness?

thebigspoon 6 years, 8 months ago

I'm sorry you're so bitter. It is, to me, amazing that personal attacks and belittling of others is such a large part of your postings. I understand that you have a diffrerent agenda than I, and many others on this board, but, like Tom and others here, you seem to have forgotten that effective debate elicits facts, not slurs, and answers rather than innuendo. I have serious concerns with the Kansas administration, but also with some of the more radical "Demo-Liberal" trash talk. How about we discuss issues rather than using buzz-words and talking points that address anger rather than issues.

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 8 months ago

This person, like Tom, isn't interested in education, persuasion or any other form of truly effective debate. They are, simply put, what's called a "troll" in internet parlance. In other words, nothing to see here, move along.

tomatogrower 6 years, 8 months ago

So you don't believe in equal rights for all, kubacker?

Progressive_Kansan 6 years, 8 months ago

Why is socialism and Marxism so scary to you? Do you think we are still fighting the cold war? The logic that these people are just asking for tax payer hand out's is seriously flawed. Equal rights are still very much an issue for people of all different backgrounds. Wake up and smell the coffee or go back to sleep dreaming of "Red Dawn".

monkeyhawk 6 years, 8 months ago

Elections have consequences unless they are NOT won by progresso-libs who have agendas that most people could not care less about. Hey, do you LGBT folks care about what concerns me? Didn't think so.


Jimo 6 years, 8 months ago

Aren't you the dude who insists he never has nor never will take any handouts and then a few days later insists on collecting 100% of his handouts?

notsobright 6 years, 8 months ago

“We are standing together,” said the Rev. Ben Scott, president of NAACP’s Topeka chapter. “This is one time we will stand up against the enemies that try to hold us back, . . ."

Thank you Rev. Scott for letting us know your true persuasion. People who disagree with you are now your "enemies?" I see.

jafs 6 years, 8 months ago

"disagree with" "try to hold us back"

Not the same thing.

question4u 6 years, 8 months ago

Why should anyone be worried about human rights in Kansas? Connie 'I Can Tell a Foreigner by the Olive Complexion' O'Brien and Virgil 'Gun 'Em Down From a Chopper' Peck are just members of the Kansas House. It's not as though they represent the people of Kansas.

notajayhawk 6 years, 8 months ago

"“They’re not doing what we elected them to do,” said Lester Shotwell"

You voted for them, did you, Lester?

I'd bet that not a single person who participated in this demonstration voted for a single candidate they were protesting against. Not that this would be in any way unusual, neither side generally protests the ones they wanted in office. I'm just pointing out that Lester doesn't seem to be a member of the "we" who elected them. Perhaps a better way of expressing his complaint would be "The candidates who would have done what I wanted them to do got obliterated, because there were very very very few people who voted the same way I did."

Randy Leonard 6 years, 8 months ago

All that tells us is that the majority of voters in Kansas are regressive and too ignorant to understand that unless they are part of the plutocracy they are voting against their own best interest.

notajayhawk 6 years, 8 months ago

Ah, yes, the old 'If you don't agree with me, then you're not as smart as I am', the typical liberal very-undeserved-elitist response.

Ya' know, bear, when you're in a rather insignificant minority, maybe it's time to start questioning which side isn't bright enough to know what's going on.

Randy Leonard 6 years, 8 months ago

The simple facts are for the last 30 years the top 1% of the population has seen their income and wealth increase due to trickle down economics while the rest of us have seen declining income and wealth. So unless you are part of that 1% maybe you should question your intelligence.

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 8 months ago

The top 1% of the population that controls over 75% of the wealth in this country is not an "insignificant minority". In fact I would consider them a very significant minority. I'm curious to know how many of that minority, like Gates, Buffet and Soros, have pledged to actually give away at least half of their wealth before they die. Come to think of it, nota, would you do that? I highly doubt it.

Bob_Keeshan 6 years, 8 months ago

Fun with numbers:

531,000 Kansans voted for Sam Brownback 515,000 Kansans voted for Barack Obama

490,000 Kansans voted for Kris "I have a mandate" Kobach

notajayhawk 6 years, 8 months ago

Barack Obama working in Topeka now, is he, bobbie?

Richard Heckler 6 years, 8 months ago

Yes WE taxpayers should own all power sources. Why?

Because it is you and me that guarantee construction costs and insurance. Construction costs are famous for their large cost over runs.

Bottom line: It is best for taxpayers and ratepayers to demand termination of all existing coal and nuke plants as both produce radioactive waste and cost billions to replace.

A combination of new energy sources would produce cleaner and more efficient energy. Additionally this combination would not only provide way more jobs throughout the state but also safer employment.

Rebuilding economies:

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