Tuesday, May 10, 2005
WE'RE JUST NOT SURE WHY THE LAWYERS DIDN'T ALSO INCLUDE VONNEGUT'S MUSINGS ON THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS: When the Kansas Supreme Court takes up the school finance case next week, it might well ponder a futuristic story from the 1960s by science fiction satirist Kurt Vonnegut. Attorneys representing students from the Shawnee Mission district say the story "Harrison Bergeron" shows that a world of forced equality would be a nightmare, so unequal funding of public schools is OK. But in a telephone interview Wednesday, Vonnegut told the Journal-World that the students' attorneys may have misinterpreted his story. "It's about intelligence and talent, and wealth is not a demonstration of either one," said Vonnegut, 82, of New York. He said he wouldn't want schoolchildren deprived of a quality education because they were poor.
IT'S BROTHERS! IT'S NEGATIVE CAMPAIGNING! Mark Fortney says he wanted to oppose the city's smoking ban, not to personally attack a member of the Lawrence City Commission. But a finance report filed Monday shows Fortney's bar as the sole contributor to the organization that sent out postcards criticizing Commissioner David Schauner's education record during April's election campaign. "We're totally upset," said Fortney, president and CEO of It's Brothers Bar & Grill, 1105 Mass. "We would never make any type of attack toward any city official. We work with these people." Fortney said he was told by Mike Capra - an area plumber and frequent Schauner critic who goes by the name 'vitosplumbing' on local online forums - that the $500 donation would go toward a campaign to overturn the city's smoking ban in bars and restaurants.
YES, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE LANDLORDS WITH HEARTS OF GOLD? As the school year nears its end, observers say more than a few KU students and Lawrence landlords will find themselves disputing deposits. It's just one more flashpoint in a year-round tug-of-war. Jo Hardesty, director of KU Legal Services, said landlord-tenant issues were the majority of the department's cases. "It's the No. 1 thing we do," she said. "Somewhere around 85 percent live off campus, and of the students who live off-campus, almost all of them rent. ... That's why we have those problems in the landlord-tenant area."
GOSH. EVEN LAWRENCE HAS A LITTLE BIT OF RED STATE IN IT, AFTER ALL: Enrollment in the Army, Navy and Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps has dipped in the last two years, officials say, though Navy and Air Force enrollments remain larger than before 9-11. KU - one of about three dozen schools nationwide with all three services on campus - appears to be bucking the trend. Officials with the programs on campus say their recruiting has held steady and even increased slightly in recent years.
IT'S HARD TO WIN A DEBATE WITH GOD, AFTER ALL: While Kansas State Board of Education members spent three days soaking up from critics of evolution about how the theory should be taught in public schools, many scientists refused to participate in the board's public hearings. But evolution's defenders were hardly silent last week, nor are they likely to be Thursday, when the hearings are set to conclude. They've offered public rebuttals after each day's testimony. Their tactics led the intelligent design advocates - hoping to expose Kansas students to more criticism of evolution - to accuse them of ducking the debate about the theory.
THE LINES WILL BE LONGER; THE PICTURES WILL STILL BE HIDEOUS: Kansas residents may have a little bit more time to ponder the country's war on terrorism - through longer lines at state driver's license offices. Congress is expected to approve a bill next week that creates tough new requirements for how states are allowed to issue driver's licenses, hoping it becomes more difficult for terrorists to create false identities. It might also be slightly more difficult for ordinary citizens to cut through red tape. "There is every chance of longer lines," predicted Alan Anderson, chief of the state's driver's license bureau.
NOW IT'LL COST AN EXTRA 15 CENTS A MONTH TO KEEP YOUR DORM ROOM MICROWAVE WORKING: Lawrence residents and large businesses soon will be paying more for their natural gas, part of a new $2.7 million rate settlement approved Monday by state regulators. And more energy increases could be on the way. Also Monday, Westar Energy asked the Kansas Corporation Commission for permission to boost electric rates in Lawrence and other communities by 9 percent. The news was enough to make many consumers and business leaders squirm, with gasoline costs already having sped past $2 a gallon and little hope for relief on the way.
THEY FOUGHT THE LAW, AND THE LAW WON: Three juveniles suspected in a Lawrence purse-snatching spree were arrested Monday afternoon after they led police on a high-speed chase along the Kansas Turnpike. Kansas Highway Patrol troopers used spiked sticks to flatten at least one tire on one of the two vehicles driven by the suspects, ending the chase in Kansas City, Kan., said Sgt. Dan Ward, Lawrence Police spokesman. One Lawrence squad car was struck near the East Lawrence turnpike entrance, but there were no injuries in the chase.