"I will tell the people what's going on at the statehouse. I'm going to treat the capitol as a borderline crime scene. ... If businesses don't have to pay taxes, the burden should not be on those trying to feed themselves." - The Valley Falls Vindicator & Oskaloosa Independent, March 3, 2016.

Across Kansas the top 1% are looting and on-the-loose, pitting us against each other. Communities in Jefferson County need to democratically prepare themselves for food and energy autonomy.

- MICHAEL CADDELL, Publisher

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

UPDATED: Letter to the Editor: REP. RON ELLIS, TRICK CIRCUS GUN LAWMAKING IN TOPEKA @ Free State Fighting 47th

UPDATED BELOW THE LETTER TO THE EDITOR

DC March for Our Lives, March 24, 2018
Photo. John Grant This Can't Be Happening!


Letter to the Editor, submitted March 26, 2018

Valley Falls Vindicator and the Oskaloosa Independent

Published in the Vindicator, March 29, 2018

My 2016 election campaign demand for free universal background checks with every firearm transaction is now exemplified by the millions of American kids demonstrating against gun violence.

Many Jefferson County people are unnecessarily panicked about losing ownership of their personal firearms. Too many local politicians are feeding this hysteria and like the gun manufacturers and lobbyists are profiting from that fear. Don't be fooled, responsible gun ownership, unlike lawmaking is a learned science, not a fad.

Where is our Rep. Ron Ellis in the statehouse trick circus of gun lawmaking?

He is a member of the House Committee on Federal and State Affairs that sponsored as a whole HB 2789 which mysteriously appeared this week before the Committee of Insurance.

HB 2789 is a long read, but tucked into it are "New Section[s] 4 - 7" which amend pre-existing laws pertaining to Kansas public schools and security. These clauses will allow school boards to secretly approve employees to have concealed firearms on public property. It will prevent them from being sued for any personal injury or property damages to the taxpayers' properties. It will declare insurance companies who refuse to cover those school districts for arming these secret employees as "discriminatory."

There are no stipulations requiring these secretly privileged school employees for mandatory firearm training, law enforcement credentialing or civil liability.

Lawsuits will be filed against this crazy law, if passed, and will make it necessary for government-appointed law firms to spend months and years in court at taxpayer's expense defending the state.

Like the many unconstitutional laws passed in recent years by Kansas lawmakers seeking to regulate and outlaw abortion, law firms will be the biggest financial beneficiaries of the fight. Law firms given a blank check signed by the taxpayers do not represent those needing protection.

The amended sections of HB 2789 are being pushed through for approval faster than the state legislature can avoid public debate on YouTube.

Lawmakers like Rep. Ron Ellis will be pushing the public fear buttons in order to line the pockets of the gun lobbyists and his campaign donors.

He should have been warning us about this irresponsible and dangerous law, instead, he's on a committee that sponsors such gun madness.

Mike Caddell

North Jefferson County




***UPDATE***UPDATE***

VIGILANTE GUN LAW SLIDES THROUGH STATEHOUSE RULES SEWER 


The announcement that the controversial school gun law was being fast-tracked as sponsored by the Committee on Federal and State Affairs to the Insurance Committee leaked to social media observers during the close of the week's House session.

Who was behind the sudden move to have the controversial school gun bill set to go for a floor vote?  


At this late time in the legislative calendar, it could be thrown into a batch to be routinely passed largely without rigorous debate before the Republican super-majorities in both chambers. 


On Facebook and Twitter, the sudden late move from one committee to another traveled fast and tens of thousands learned over the weekend of the sleight to the chagrin of many statehouse insiders.


SHORT BACKGROUND ON OPEN STATE GOVERNMENT IN KANSAS

The ability for the public-at-large to listen and watch committee meetings was a hard win gained by years of pressure during the Brownback administration.  


Foremost among those advocating open government is the Kansas Press Association, the oldest membership group of newspapers in the state, their advocacy of reform to the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) and the Kansas Open Meeting Act (KOMA) came to the public's attention during a scandalous series of clandestine dinners in the early days of the Brownback administration.  The refusal of Brownback who downplayed what was being discussed during the meetings caused more demands for public scrutiny.  

Maverick Republicans like former Rep. Bill Otto, LeRoy, Ks. a four-term legislator who became a dissident among the purged Republicans during 2012 subsequently joined the voices calling for more government transparency. A self-described "Whole Life" Republican he appears every other Monday on Radio Free Kansas helping listeners understand the labyrinthine intrigues under the Topeka Statehouse dome.

Otto was one of the first to point out the installation of audio-visual lines in the committee rooms and expose the secrecies surrounding the insider deals made there.  He also explained the grounds for impeaching former Gov. Brownback after signing an extra-legal contract for the destruction of the state-owned Docking office building and possible improprieties privatizing state offices with realtors in the Topeka business community.

The latest of Republican mavericks was former Rep. John Rubin who aided the Kansas Press Association and most recently the Kansas City Star in a devastating series of articles "Why so secret, Kansas?" published last November. He earlier while in office was subjected to partisan punishment for his criticism of the Kansas Republican Party leadership in 2016.  

After being forced out of a key position the Kansas City Star quoted him on March 16, 2016:


Rep. John Rubin of Shawnee said Wednesday he will not resign his seat in the Legislature, a move he was considering after being stripped of an important committee chairmanship by Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick. 
But he had a few choice words Wednesday about the speaker.
 “What the speaker does is run roughshod over the rules when it suits his purposes,” said Rubin, a Shawnee Republican. “He’s the speaker of the House, not the king of Kansas. He operates the House like a dictatorship.”

Lobbyists, local mainstream news media, and other statehouse mavens knew that the newly remodeled statehouse had many rooms wired for audio-visual capabilities, but was seldom if ever used.

Taxpayers paid for this, but many statehouse insiders delayed the broadcasts, allowing until this 2018 session live audio-streams confined to the Senate and House chambers when in session.  Until this year none of those audio streams, of the Senate and House were archived and made readily available for public listening. 


Another stunning article came out from the same team of reporters who wrote the "Why so secret, Kansas?" series in the Kansas City Star.  This one appeared in the Wichita Eagle, March 30 and updated April 2, 2018, "Lawmakers want more action to bring transparency to Kansas."


... Of the 19 transparency bills introduced this legislative session, nine are stuck in committees with no hearings scheduled. And four other bills have had committee hearings in just one chamber and haven't been advanced.
    Among the bills stalled? One that would ban the "gut-and-go" tactic, in which lawmakers strip the language in a bill that’s usually already passed one chamber and replace it with a totally unrelated measure. Other bills that have gained no traction are those that would require votes to be recorded in committees and on the House and Senate floors.
Mark Desetti, legislative director for the Kansas National Education Association and a close observer of the process in Topeka, said he would flunk the Legislature on transparency progress so far this session.
   “It’s a no-brainer to put the name of a sponsor on a bill," he said. "And they can’t even bring themselves to do that.”
   If lawmakers want transparency, Desetti said, they need to act quickly and decisively.
   The Legislature is scheduled to start its nearly three-week break starting April 7 and return to Topeka on April 26 for its wrap-up session. While issues that appear to be dead can sometimes be brought back through amendments, lawmakers will be focusing most of their attention on budget bills and how to fund the state's schools.
   In January, Kansas House Speaker Ron Ryckman ordered all committee chairs to stop allowing the introduction of anonymous bills. It appears many didn't hear the Olathe Republican's message. ... 


KEEP THE LID DOWN, MOVE THE BOILING POT


The committee meeting room that was originally announced to hold the meeting Room 281-N has audio streaming capabilities for the public-at-large to listen, but inexplicably a generic message announced the morning of the meeting there were no scheduled webcasts and to "stand-by."

We now know that in the hours before the morning of the meeting the location within the statehouse was changed at last minute from Room 281-N to Room 112-N. An audio stream link was available but for the public-at-large, the announcement came too late to monitor. 



Screenshot from the legislature website after the HB 2789 meeting.

A grassroots dynamic news source, Loud Light attempted to live stream from Room 112-N while reporting that "wi-fi disruption" forced them to chop up their Facebook stream

The fascist nature of this law was barely revealed through the process of the hearing where both proponents and opponents were allowed to present their positions.


Tim Carpenter, March 27, 2018, Topeka Capital Journal, "Should public school teachers be armed?" described the meeting, but one opponent of the gun law is worth noting here: 


... Michael Tabman, who served in the FBI for 24 years, said the bill was bad public policy. He was a special agent in charge of the Red Lake High School massacre in 2005 that left 10 Minnesota students, teachers and community members dead.

He said reliable studies and statistics showed the presence of a weapon was many times more likely to result in “unnecessary tragedy than save a life,” he said.

Even highly trained law enforcement personnel have difficulty hitting targets in live-fire exercises, he said. When police officers reach the scene of a school shooting, he said, it would be difficult to recognize the role played by an armed teacher.

“For the money that will be spent arming, training and insuring teachers, we can invest in more police officers assigned to schools,” Tabman said. “Creating more danger to give the illusion of security is not the answer.” ... 

Working Journalist Press filmed HB 2789 being fast-tracked through the House Insurance Committee, Tuesday morning, March 27, 2018. Here is the Working Journalist Press video later uploaded on YouTube.  




"PRO-LIFE" GUN FASCISTS HIDE BEHIND HB 2789

Two of the CHRISTIAN FASCISTS pushing through this bill has since been identified as Rep. Blake Carpenter, Derby, Ks. and Sen. Ty Masterson, Andover, Ks. both are notorious "pro-life" gun supporters.  

Sen Masterson's financial connections to the Alt-Right "libertarian" billionaire Charles Koch is well documented through direct campaign contributions, membership in the national corporate bill mill the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and his off statehouse job as director of a Koch financed pet project on the Wichita University campus. 

Identifying who was responsible for the last minute move to push the bill into another committee wasn't easy.  The bill was identified on the legislature web site as coming from the Committee on Federal and State Affairs. Reporters have been trying to push back against the extreme secrecy under the statehouse dome for years.

Rep. Blake Carpenter, Derby, KS tried to get this law through without his name on it by using a common technique in the rules which allow a bill from a committee "as a whole" to be listed as the sponsor.

Until the Kansas City Star started looking into identifying the sponsor.
"... The Star's November series, "Why so secret, Kansas?" revealed that the state is one of the darkest in the country as far government transparency. Last session alone, 94 percent of the laws that were passed stemmed from committee bills with no named sponsor.  After the series, [Rep. Stephanie] Clayton introduced a bill to change that but her measure has been stalled in a House committee without getting a hearing.  Though the current bill doesn't have a named sponsor, [Rep. Blake] Carpenter said he's the one backing it. But because the time has already passed for legislators to introduce individual bills, he said, it had to be a committee proposal. ..." as the three reporters wrote in the Kansas City Star later in the week.
Until he was discovered and exposed by the newspaper's reporters. 

"... By Monday evening — after The Star asked House leadership about the anonymity — the online site describing the bill had been updated. Carpenter's name was added as the person who had requested that the measure be introduced. ..." Ibid


Carpenter's name added to HB 2789 hours before the Tuesday morning hearing, after the KC Star call.
Screen grab from the Kansas legislative web site. 


Rep. Blake Carpenter is currently backpedaling faster than Laura Ingraham can go on vacation while losing commercial sponsors for her Fox News show after bullying a Parkland "March for Our Lives" student activist.




Carpenter writing during the following Easter holiday break posted on Facebook and commented on the Wichita Eagle newspaper piece written by Dion Lefler.

The article reveals the dirtiest and most fascistic part of HB 2789. 

Wichita Eagle's Dion Lefler has Rep. Carpenter's attention. 

The Eagle article, "Kansas bill: Outing armed teachers could put people in jail", March 30, 2018, describes an overlooked part of the bill and the most glaring authoritarian feature of this rotten law. 


 ... However, Max Kautsch, attorney for the Kansas Press Association and the Kansas Association of Broadcasters, said the way it's written, the bill appears to try to prohibit disclosure of the information that's on the list, not the list itself.
He said that information could be obtained in other ways, such as students observing their teachers. And prohibiting disclosure raises free-speech issues, he said.
"The provision in the bill that criminalizes speech may well be unconstitutional, because it could penalize the disclosure of presumably lawfully obtained information," he said. ... 



Tim Carpenter, Topeka Capital-Journal, has started a podcast entitled what else?   


"... The debut episode of the Capitol Insider podcast with Statehouse bureau chief Tim Carpenter and managing editor Sherman Smith features a conversation between Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, and Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita, on the politics of firearms amid a wave of social protests."


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Ellen Brown: THE WAR ON THE POST OFFICE @ Truthdig


Alexander Marks/Wikimedia


The gangsters in the statehouse for the Kansas plutocrats would have you forget our history.
Better watch out!

The U.S. banking establishment has been at war with the post office since at least 1910, when the Postal Savings Bank Act established a public savings alternative to a private banking system that had crashed the economy in the Bank Panic of 1907. The American Bankers Association was quick to respond, forming a Special Committee on Postal Savings Legislation to block any extension of the new service. According to a September 2017 article in The Journal of Social History titled “ ‘Banks of the People’: The Life and Death of the U.S. Postal Savings System,” the banking fraternity would maintain its enmity toward the government savings bank for the next 50 years.
As far back as the late 19th century, support for postal savings had united a nationwide coalition of workers and farmers who believed that government policy should prioritize their welfare over private business interests.

Read more at Truthdig.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Coming Soon Worldwide: The Real Wichita Shock from Brownbackistan








Zack Helfand: HOW CHARLES KOCH TURNED WICHITA STATE INTO A COLLEGE BASKETBALL POWERHOUSE @ The New Yorker

KANSAS NEWS SERVICE, March 16, 2018

"I shouldn't be scared to get my education."
— Student protester at Lawrence's Free State High School
Kansas' Earthquake Problem Is Getting Better, But Some Say The State Still Isn't Doing Enough
"I would have never thought, in my life, that I'd be selling earthquake insurance."

It's not what you'd expect to hear from an insurance agent in Anthony, Kansas. Earthquakes in the region were once a rare occurrence. Now they happen regularly, and some Kansans believe wastewater injection wells are to blame. Still, the debate about what's causing the earthquakes, and how to prevent more, rages on. Read the full story.
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Students Across Kansas Stage Walkouts Over Guns
The mid-morning walkouts took students to the streets, to the Kansas Statehouse and circling around their schools to mark the one-month anniversary of the nation’s latest mass shooting. Read the full story.
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Kansas Lawmakers Consider Legalizing CBD, And Keeping Kratom Legal
A Kansas House committee on Thursday recommended the legalization of CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabis extract widely used to control seizures and pain. It also voted to remove kratom from the state's updated list of illegal drugs. Read the full story.
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If Sports Betting Becomes Legal In Kansas, MLB Wants A Cut Of The Profits
Currently, federal law bans most states from allowing legalized sports gambling. That soon could change with a bill introduced this week to allow sports betting through the Kansas Lottery. But MLB wants a say in the rules, and a cut of the winnings. Read the full story.
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