Editorial Roundup: Kansas

Kansas City Star. August 30, 2021.

Editorial: KCK police try to get around needed city ID program with weaker version of their own

The Kansas City, Kansas Police Department has launched a strange new effort to provide municipal identification cards to residents who lack a driver’s license or other ID.

The department began the program about a week ago, and announced it on Facebook Wednesday. The Community Policing Unit said it will issue free photo ID cards to residents who have problems renting a home, or face other roadblocks, because they don’t have identification.

“Many of our unhoused residents have no form of identification,” said KCKPD spokeswoman Nancy Chartrand. “That creates a huge barrier for them obtaining basic services they desperately need. Our officers see these folks every day.”

We’ve said the lack of a photo ID is a real problem that deserves a real solution. But this is no substitute for the Safe and Welcoming Wyandotte ordinance now gathering dust on Mayor David Alvey’s desk.

The first flaw seems obvious: The police will issue the card. The release says applicants will “provide personal information” and “their photo (will be) taken” by police. Officers then check the information against state records, and if all is in order, the new photo ID is issued.

It’s a pretty safe bet that many who now lack an ID will be reluctant to voluntarily engage with the police to solve their problem. Young people and legal migrants will understandably be nervous about giving this information directly to people who can put you in jail.

Chartrand said the program isn’t intended to help undocumented residents. “The KCPD can only issue ID cards to individuals who are eligible for state ID cards and whose identities can be verified,” she said in an email.

A POLITICAL MOTIVE BEHIND DELAYING SAFE AND WELCOMING VOTE?

Supporters of Safe and Welcoming Wyandotte, on the other hand, say their municipal ID proposal is aimed in part at the county’s substantial migrant population. That’s why their plan also prohibits local police from performing immigration enforcement duties that rightfully belong to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Potential applicants must have some assurance that the ID is safe, or no one will get it.

Chartrand said the department gets a “handful” of inquiries about the program each day.

UG Mayor and CEO David Alvey has refused to allow a Unified Government Board of Commissioners vote on Safe and Welcoming; his November opponent, Ty Garner, supports the measure and wants a vote. It’s a key difference between the two.

That’s why the timing of the police department initiative is suspicious. A proposal to issue municipal IDs in KCK has languished for years, despite similar programs in other cities. Why this, now? Is the new ID program designed to preempt an important campaign issue, protecting Alvey from criticism?

It smacks of interference in the election.

“This effort does seem to be politically motivated to take the wind out of the sails of the Safe and Welcoming effort,” said Rick Behrens, who has pushed the broader proposal.

Chartrand said the program “has the approval” of City Hall. She said it doesn’t interfere with Safe and Welcoming Wyandotte: “This is a situation where more than one program is needed,” she said.

That’s precisely the point, of course. Work on the Safe and Welcoming ordinance must continue, which the Unified Government should consider and pass. What the police are doing cannot be considered the end of the discussion.

Dozens of people have worked for years to finalize the Safe and Welcoming ID proposal. We think it’s the best way to bring thousands of current residents out of the shadows to become full participants in Wyandotte County’s economy.

At the very least, Safe and Welcoming deserves a real debate, and a vote. Any last-minute attempt to circumvent that vote is counterproductive, and should be rejected by Wyandotte County voters.

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Manhattan Mercury. August 28, 2021.

Editorial: Area counties falling short in COVID ranking

We’ve got to do better, folks.

In Thursday’s edition, we reported the the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has started ranking counties by factors influencing their COVID-19 transmission risk.

The news wasn’t good for Riley County. And in fact, it wasn’t great for adjacent counties, except for Geary.

Geary County is No. 6, Riley County is 49th and Pottawatomie County is 95th in the KDHE’s first county ranking report, which considers vaccination rates and per capita cases and tests. That’s out of 105 counties in Kansas.

In this ranking, 1 is good and the bigger numbers are bad, of course. Riley County is worse off than nearly half of all counties in the state? That’s not great. And Pott County, which of course includes Manhattan and lots of people who commute into town for work or class everyday, is near the very bottom.

As we reported Thursday, the rankings are based on three metrics:

Full series vaccination rate of eligible population (12+ years old)

Seven-day daily average number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people

Seven-day daily average number of COVID-19 tests administered per 100,000 people

We think it’s worth repeating those numbers, because we have to do better.

As of Wednesday, the CDC indicated 101 out of 105 Kansas counties are at a “high” or substantial” risk of transmission. So even the top-ranked counties according to this list are not safe from COVID-19.

K-State is back in session, so there are a lot of new faces in town. But we all have to do what we can to keep from spreading COVID-19 in its many forms in our community.

We should be at the top of the chart. Let’s see what we can do to get there.

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Topeka Capital-Journal. August 27, 2021.

Editorial: Sen. Mike Thompson had a lot to say about climate change to gas and oil producers. It was mostly hot air.

Kansas state Sen. Mike Thompson has a lot to say about climate change.

Is it ironic or perhaps poetic justice that his opinions are nothing more than hot air?

Speaking to the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association annual convention in Wichita earlier this month, Thompson — a Republican state senator from Johnson County and chairman of Senate Committee on Utilities — presented a seminar on “The Weaponization of Climate Change.”

He claims that climate change is natural and humans have little agency over it.

“Climate change has been happening since Earth has been around naturally, natural cycles, with stuff that’s more powerful than anything humans can do,” he told those present.

Furthermore he believes the narrative most of the greater scientific community holds to be true about climate change is nothing more than propaganda.

“Science has just become a weapon,” he said. “So we basically turned real science into we’re all gonna die in 12 years, OK. And unfortunately, this is the culmination of the dumbing down of America. People buy this stuff. They hear it on the news. They think global warming is real. We’re all gonna die.”

He added that higher carbon dioxide levels will lead to hardier more drought resistant crops.

He offered up a whole lot more and we’ll spare you the details. But needless to say it was enough to trigger a fact check from The Topeka Capital-Journal.

Here’s the deal, folks: There’s such a thing as scientific fact, and Thompson, a retired television meteorologist, should have the common sense not to write it off as opinion.

United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently issued a nearly 4,000-page report calling climate change “a code red for humanity.”

He and other speakers, including former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, wrote off climate change. Pompeo was busy cracking jokes about Greta Thunberg and Jennifer Granholm.

Their words are dangerous. They imply the dismissal of research by apolitical groups. They imply they know more about our planet, about agriculture. They imply they know more than what trial and error and the scientific method have proven.

Oddly enough, Thompson did present an axiom we agree with. Even though he used it with a different intention, it’s still accurate: “You tell a lie big enough. You keep telling it. Eventually it becomes true.”

You’re absolutely right, Senator. We just wish you’d stop lying about climate change.

END