Local Columns

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 ...

Opinion: Want fewer abortions? Look at facts

Here we go again. The Kansas Legislature is back, and anti-abortion advocates wasted no time initiating an amendment to the state constitution. If approved by two-thirds of both houses, and by voters, it would overturn last year’s decision by the Kansas Supreme Court affirming a woman’s ...

Opinion: Does lipstick on old agenda sell it?

This year will test just how short voter memories are in Kansas. Will Kansans keep rejecting the politics of the Gov. Sam Brownback era? Or, will they buy those politics again, attractively repackaged and reframed? With the Kansas legislative session underway, that test starts now. The ...

Opinion: Legal marijuana and the black market

With Illinois legalizing recreational marijuana, Kansas is increasingly an island of marijuana Puritanism in the Midwest. As more states create legitimate marijuana economies, what do we know about the black market marijuana economy in Kansas? Could legalization tame it? The marijuana economy ...

Opinion: Make 2020 resolutions for lawmakers

Welcome to 2020 and join in offering Kansas lawmakers New Year’s resolutions to guide their work in the upcoming legislative session. Focus on problem solving Many state lawmakers run for office to address issues of concern to voters, such as health care, poverty, criminal justice and gun ...

Opinion: Journalists identify rural areas’ problems

In this holiday season, gifts take center stage for better or worse. We often give and receive gifts that are curious, strange or useless, as well as those we genuinely desire. Sometimes, however, we get a gift that we never anticipated, one that we appreciate in part because it’s a ...

Opinion: Don’t give a bird for a Christmas present

There are only three kinds of birds in the world: little brown birds, big brown birds and medium-size brown birds. So declared a former colleague who studied mammals, most of which are little brown rodents. He’d grouse that the holiday season had become the Adoration of the Aves. It starts ...

Opinion: A political center in gun rights debate

The conventional wisdom says Americans are highly divided over gun rights and gun control. But is it true? Recent data from the 2019 Kansas Speaks poll suggests that there is a political center on this issue after all. Political scientists have argued for years that Americans are not as ...

Opinion: Teachers shouldn’t have to buy supplies

School budgets were tight in the Oklahoma farming community where I grew up, but teachers’ dedication was boundless. Take, for instance, my high school biology teacher, who seemed to live for his students and active learning. To experience dissection, he instructed each of us to bring a frog ...