Editorial Roundup: Kansas

Kanas City Star. October 26, 2021.

Editorial: Two days in jail? Gene Suellentrop should resign from Kansas Senate after DUI deal

Kansas state Sen. Gene Suellentrop’s plea bargain Monday on drunk driving and other charges is a grotesque distortion of justice.

Suellentrop should resign from the Kansas Senate. If he had any common sense, or shame, he would do so. He has neither, so no, that’s not happening.

In March, the Kansas Highway Patrol tried to stop Suellentrop as he drove down the wrong side of Interstate 70 shortly after midnight. Officers pursued Suellentrop for 10 minutes, at speeds nearing 100 miles an hour.

Court documents later claimed Suellentrop’s blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit. The Republican had “watery” and “droopy” eyes, officers said later, and slurred his speech.

He refused a breath test, and challenged officers — calling one “doughnut boy.” He suggested a fistfight. He ended up in jail.

Eventually, Suellentrop was charged with several misdemeanors, and a felony for “fleeing and eluding law enforcement.” Monday, he had his day in court.

There, Suellentrop pleaded no contest to a Class B DUI misdemeanor and reckless driving. A nine-month jail sentence was suspended: He’ll spend just two days in jail, pay a small fine, and serve a year on probation.

The felony charge was dropped.

The deal seems extraordinarily generous. Suellentrop’s drunken antics threatened lives that night. His plea deal and light sentence weakens the deterrent effect of state drunk driving laws.

It also makes police work more dangerous. Is it a crime to evade police on a highway? In Suellentrop’s case — and, potentially, others — it is not.

The resolution of the case is deeply disappointing on its own terms. But it is beyond outrageous because Suellentrop isn’t just any citizen — he’s a state senator. Had he been convicted of the felony, he would have had to resign his position of public trust.

Dropping the felony charge turns the punishment into a meaningless slap on the wrist. Absent a resignation, or expulsion, Suellentrop will be back at work in January, voting on laws that apply to every Kansan, except perhaps Gene Suellentrop.

It’s an unmistakable stain on the state Senate. It will add to the cynicism of Kansans, who will believe the laws apply to them, but not to Important People. It may encourage additional lawlessness.

Senate Republicans removed Suellentrop, a Wichita Republican, from his leadership position earlier this year, when the charges were pending. They should now encourage him to resign, for the good of the party and the Legislature.

“There are many lessons to be learned from circumstances such as these,” Suellentrop said in court. “I can assure you I’ve learned my share.”

Obviously, that’s not true. If he continues to serve, Suellentrop will have shown he has learned nothing from this dangerous debacle. Kansans, on the other hand, will have learned plenty: that a drunk driver can serve in high office, and escape any significant punishment for his behavior.

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Topeka Capital-Journal. October 22, 2021.

Editorial: Congested supply chain gives another reason to shop local this holiday season. Support your community.

It seems the supply chain is still a bit off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Just look no further than the grocery store and you’ll find interesting outages of product.

Add in labor shortages, and perhaps we have the perfect storm for holiday shopping.

We’ve seen plenty of stores, shipping companies and others saying, “Shop early.” USA Today reports even the White House is warning shoppers about the turbulent shopping season ahead, with press secretary Jen Psaki stating that they “cannot guarantee” that packages will arrive on time for Christmas because of the supply chain disruptions.

USA Today also reported half of Americans have already begun their holiday shopping — and of those, a shocking 70% have run into out-of-stock issues.

This problem isn’t going to solve itself overnight. But we do have a suggestion for holiday shopping this season: Shop local.

We advocate for this often, but it seems like a no-brainer in these ever more complicated times. If you want to ensure there’s something under the tree come December, why not go out and get it on Main Street or downtown?

Shopping local has plenty of benefits beyond the instant gratification of walking out of a store with your purchase in hand.

When you buy local, the money stays local. It supports the community, pays employees and helps raise families and allows business owners to potentially expand their offerings. When we support them, we’re also helping a neighbor pay their bills.

Wonderful and unique shops are all over Kansas. These places offer local flair and color, community pride and uniqueness you can’t find online. They need our support. The pandemic has been hard on everyone but especially small businesses.

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