Local Columns

Opinion: A place for moderate Republicans?

The 2020 elections for the Kansas Legislature could be perilous for moderate Republicans. Their political relevance is at stake, with huge implications for Kansas politics. Most “moderate” Republican lawmakers in Topeka are actually pretty conservative. Most typically vote against ...

Opinion: Leadership failures amid pandemic

It’s been around 100 days since the COVID-19 pandemic officially arrived in Kansas, bringing fears both physical and economic to every corner of the state. What have we learned? On the positive side, we know that the dramatic precautions of closing businesses and schools likely made a big ...

Opinion: Taking stock and looking forward

Sometimes politics meets the personal, head on. This is one of those times. On June 14, I turn 75. On June 22, Michel and I celebrate our 52nd wedding anniversary. Forty-one years ago this month, we moved to Kansas, and one year after that our son was born. Happy 40th, Dakota. Ordinarily, ...

Opinion: Government by Nobody has got to go

What do COVID-19 deniers and protesters of police brutality have in common? The first group tends to be older, whiter and more conservative. The more militant ones confront those wearing masks in public, but most simply choose not to wear masks themselves, despite the clear evidence that ...

Opinion: Educators plan for uncertain future

Help is on its way, but reopening Kansas schools won’t be easy. With the state’s economy in free fall and Kansas COVID-19 cases still on the rise, educators are meeting in school districts across Kansas to plan for reopening schools this fall even though start dates remain ...

Opinion: Foster care revelations raise questions

The Topeka Capital-Journal published a stunning story this week on foster care in Kansas. It prompts the question: Why hasn’t the Legislature prioritized foster care oversight and reform in the last decade? From 2016 to 2018 under Govs. Sam Brownback and Jeff Colyer, the Kansas Department ...

Opinion: County power little noticed until now

Throughout this pandemic, we’ve gotten used to waiting on, listening to and then either criticizing or thanking our elected leaders much more than usual. The reasons for this are obvious: During a public emergency we all, like it or not, depend upon those with governing authority who impose ...

Opinion: There’s plenty for lawmakers to do

The Kansas Legislature will return on May 21 with final, sine die adjournment. In short, the Legislative Coordinating Council decided to pull the plug, despite the huge public health and fiscal problems facing the state. This comes close to a dereliction of duty to the Kansans who elected ...

Opinion: Mayors, the other first responders

Among U.S. governors, Kansas’ Laura Kelly and her advisers rank among the clearest and most decisive in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, governors face limitations. Residents — and viruses — often cross state lines, and Kansas shares its most populated border with ...

Opinion: 2 important revelations emerge during pandemic

Two months ago, on Saturday, Feb. 22, Mike Hughes climbed into his homemade rocket on a launchpad in the desert near Barstow, Calif., and blasted off. His mission? To fly, he said, to the Earth’s “edge of outer space” to check whether “the world is flat or round. I don’t want to take ...

Opinion: Teacher heroes face the new normal

As the battle with COVID-19 continues and we daily thank our courageous health care and essential workers, Kansas teachers also need our thanks. They rose to the occasion and they kept learning alive. With the future still unclear, teachers now are envisioning what will become the “new ...

Opinion: Virus highlights tech issues in state

COVID-19 is reminding us that many mundane aspects of governing actually matter and that leaving unglamorous problems insufficiently addressed can come back to bite us. The information technology problems facing the Kansas Department of Labor perfectly illustrate this. Many Kansans have lost ...

Opinion: Kansas’ strengths, weaknesses in crisis

April, most experts say, is when we will see the coronavirus peak. Does that mean things will gradually return to normal afterward? That is everyone’s hope. But recovering from the costs — both social and economic — of this pandemic will likely vary a good deal across the country. On ...

Opinion: Kelly knows where the buck stops

Missouri’s Harry Truman famously displayed a sign on his Oval Office desk: “The Buck Stops Here.” Nothing could have been clearer. In the end, the president is responsible for the nation’s well-being, regardless of the circumstances. Much the same is true for governors, who exercise ...

Opinion: Voting by mail: Let’s start right now

Kansas needs to start voting by mail immediately. Our democracy may hang in the balance. With the COVID-19 pandemic showing no signs of subsiding, elections may become very complicated this August and November. Turnout may be low. Seven states have already responded to the pandemic by ...

Opinion: ‘We have it under control’; Trump’s disastrous disdain for science

To grasp how fully this administration and its sycophants have abandoned basic science, look no further than the coronavirus crisis engulfing the country. Exhibit 1 is the president, who has rejected scientific facts, renounced medical reality, rebuffed his own experts and tried to sell America ...

Opinion: Virus already has lessons for our state

COVID-19 has lessons for Kansas in handling crises. Citizens and policymakers should use this moment to reflect on how we can protect public health now and prepare for the next crisis to threaten Kansas. First, let’s talk social trust. In surveys, Americans report little trust in ...

Opinion: Diminished democracy in Topeka

In democracies, majorities rule, right? The candidate with the most votes wins the election, and a majority vote in the Legislature means that a bill is passed. In Kansas, the math seems remarkably simple. The candidate with the most votes wins, and the way to assure victory is to attract ...

Opinion: How does funding help at-risk kids?

If you think controversy over school funding ended has ended, think again. A dispute currently brewing is about how the new court-awarded funds are being spent by school districts to help at-risk students and how the Kansas Department of Education is managing the districts. The disagreement ...

Opinion: Previewing 2020: beyond Trump

It’s tempting to label elections as “the most important” in decades, our lifetime, etc. Sometimes, as Kansans discovered in 2010, 2016 and 2018, elections do have real consequences. Moreover, nationally, the 2020 prospect of reelecting Donald Trump makes the election important, to say ...