Local Columns

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 ...

Opinion: Why serve in today’s U.S. Senate?

Dear Jerry Moran and Roger Marshall: As you anticipate serving in the 117th Congress and beyond, I’m asking you to think hard about why you have become a U.S. senator, one of 100 members of the world’s most powerful legislative body. The easy answers are (a) that Kansans overwhelming ...

Opinion: Can we function without moderates?

“Whatever happened to the moderate Republicans of Kansas?” That’s a question I was asked this past week, and it’s not a new one. Similar questions have been asked all across America, as we have seen supporters of both parties — but especially on the Republican side over the course of ...

Opinion: American voters have opted for sanity and science

In this presidential election, America experienced a magnetic reversal, a flipping of our north and south geomagnetic poles. The flip was moral, not geological, transporting the country from the Dark Ages to enlightenment. The science metaphor is apt. For the past four years this administration ...

Opinion: GOP won on key issues, but not on all

The dust is beginning to settle on President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, but Kansas Democrats remain glum. Promising U.S. Senate candidate Barbara Bollier was defeated by about 12 points despite record spending, while Topeka Mayor Michelle de la Isla lost by nearly 15 points to state Treasurer ...

Opinion: Silence by our senators has put our democracy in danger

Fresh off his election victory, one of the U.S. Senate’s incoming members, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, pronounced the three branches of government to be the House, the Senate and the Executive. While Tuberville missed the civics lesson that includes our judiciary in the three branches of ...

Opinion: State education board has new voices

Election results showed us what we’ve always known: Kansas is a Republican state. The much-anticipated Democratic Party sweep didn’t materialize despite large scale voter turnout. Except, that is, in the two contested races for seats on the Kansas State Board of Education. Unofficial ...