Local Columns

Opinion: When helping others becomes a crime

You might have heard about “ballot harvesting” recently. Kansas politicians are trying to restrict the practice, and some have linked it to baseless suggestions of election fraud in our state. What is ballot harvesting, anyway? Ballot harvesting is a political spin term that some ...

Opinion: Proposed bill could put students at risk

In its current state, a bill before the Kansas Legislature to help at-risk students might actually put at-risk students at greater risk. More opportunities for low-income students who are behind academically are endorsed by nearly everyone. However, problems arise when legislation proposes to ...

Opinion: It’s time to leave Bonkersville and acknowledge that 2 + 2 = 4

It is beyond comprehension that in the most scientifically and technologically advanced nation on Earth a vast segment of the population has shut its collective mind to reason, logic, evidence and facts. Millions of GOP supporters swallowed and continue to regurgitate 2020’s Big Lie about ...

Opinion: Polite disagreements are possible

Last month, I had a visitor to my office here at Friends University in Wichita. I knew who he was — he’s written and called me before — but this was the first time we’d met in person. It was a pleasure to talk with him, even though he was there to let me know how wrong he thought I ...

Opinion: The Upside-Down Kansas Legislature

“Once there lived an Upside-Down, who was the talk of all the town. If he was told to turn to right, he turned left out of spite.” — Alexander Kushner The 2021 Kansas Legislature is Upside-Down-land, filled with lawmakers who focus their attention on nonproblems, while purposefully ...

Opinion: What really happened at Kansas Department of Labor

With the first Republican having now filed to challenge Gov. Laura Kelly in 2022, Kansans are about to hear a raft of claims and counter-claims about the Kansas Department of Labor’s woeful handling of unemployment claims during the pandemic. Most will lay the blame squarely on the governor. ...

Opinion: State scholarship plan is disturbing

Currently proposed legislation for at-risk public school students is an ill-considered mistake. At this writing, part of a bill moving through the Kansas House, if passed in its present form, would set poor precedents for school choice and is fraught with unintended consequences. The existing ...

Opinion: Where’s the beef in voter fraud claims?

I recently wrote a column discussing how baseless claims of widespread and systematic voter fraud hurt democracy in Kansas. Readers statewide sent me thoughtful feedback. Some was positive, like the Republican county clerk who thanked me for defending local election officials. I want to ...

Opinion: History won’t pardon the inciter-in-chief

On Jan. 19 and 20, the inciter-in-chief pardoned 74 people. Many were his clones: swindlers, crooks, grifters and liars. But America won’t pardon him. Not for inciting an insurrection to overturn the constitutional certification of the presidential election. And not for the destruction and ...

Opinion: Why is it so easy to push cities around?

Despite elections and trials and pandemics, some things don’t seem to ever change. The national government pushes around state governments, with mixed amounts of success, and state governments push around city governments, usually with near-total success. It’s consistent. In the former ...

Opinion: Conspiracy theories are hurting Kansas

Conspiracy theories have taken root in Kansas. Reporter Jim McLean discovered this while visiting the town of Protection, Kan., recently for a story. In 1957, this Comanche County community became the first town in the U.S. to be fully vaccinated against polio. Back then, vaccinations were a ...

Opinion: Kansas higher ed meets the pandemic

I arrived in Kansas in 1979, having gone to college and grad school and then taught in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois, states with a single land-grant flagship university. Kansas, I observed, had a much smaller population but two major universities (the University of Kansas and ...

Opinion: Can civics education be revived?

The events of 2020 make it clear that violence, racism, vocal extremism and political polarization have risen to a breaking point. There are multiple currents of people moving within the American public who simply don’t understand the basics of civil society and democratic ...

Opinion: The danger of distrusting elections

Many in the politics industry profit from claiming that fraud and illegality plague our elections. Some probably think that they can push that false narrative with no consequences, at least for themselves. If the tactic works and their audience believes it, then why stop? Undermining the ...

Opinion: The terrible damage Trump has done

Despite his own crazed efforts, President Donald Trump is leaving the White House. His departure comes in the wake of groundless lawsuits, delusional conspiracy theories and a deadly pro-Trump riot that sought to prevent the certification of Trump’s Electoral College loss. The damage he has ...

Opinion: These guys didn’t think we were worth the truth

One can’t be polite about this. Evidence separates fact from BS, truth from the big lie. Evidence is the gold standard of sanity, anchoring knowledge, reason, democracy and the rule of law. Despite the indisputable evidence that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the election on Nov. 3, the ...

Opinion: How our legislative bodies function

The insurrection against Congress this week placed in sharp focus the role — and fragility — of legislatures in the American governmental system. Legislatures rarely require defining. Their composition and activities are straightforward as “a deliberative body of [elected] ...

Opinion: Lives at stake as politicians play games

​Is politics a game? Many seem to think so. Meanwhile, the real work remains undone, while many lives are at stake. ​First there is Aaron Coleman. Only twenty years old, he defeated longtime Kansas City state representative Stan Frownfelter in this summer’s Democratic primary. ...

Opinion: Stimulus for schools won’t solve it all

As a weary world struggles to celebrate this holiday season, the challenges for Kansas schools and the families they serve are monumental. Fortunately, two key COVID-related events bring hope: the promise of new vaccines to protect us from the virus and a stimulus package to ease the nation’s ...

Opinion: Too much democracy for politicians?

Political reform has been on my mind lately. I even considered writing this column about why Kansas should adopt ballot initiatives, also known as referendums or ballot measures. But let’s get real. The Kansas Legislature probably won’t consent to giving average voters — you — that ...