The Wichita Eagle, Dec. 11

Kansas AG who joined a bogus lawsuit to overturn the election is part of the circus

This is getting ridiculous.

It isn’t enough that Kansas-congressman-turned-U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo promised a “smooth transition to a second Trump administration” — an absurd suggestion that he chuckled about even as he said the words.

Now Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, so intent on ginning up pro-Trump Kansas voters for a possible run for governor, has signed our state’s name to an embarrassing and baseless lawsuit aimed at overturning the presidential election.

Both Schmidt and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt — a Midwestern Schmidt-show, you might say — joined a Texas-led lawsuit seeking to throw out the election results in four swing states that went for President-elect Joe Biden.

Do we need to say that again?

The certified, recertified and even thrice-certified vote counts in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan went to President-elect Joe Biden.

Texas’ lawsuit is based on voter fraud allegations that lower court judges have repeatedly and soundly rejected. Outlandish stories of ballots being smuggled inside vans, thrown into rivers, hidden under rocks or altered by voting software at the behest of late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez are the stuff of Saturday Night Live sketches, not legitimate legal challenges.

“This election is over,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro wrote on Twitter. “We must continue to stop this circus of ‘lawsuits’ and move forward.”

But here comes Schmidt, along with 16 other red-state AGs, piling out of the clown car.

The amicus brief takes aim at expanded voting rules in the four targeted states, even though Kansas employs many of the same procedures.

According to the brief, extended deadlines by which mail-in ballots may be received provide “a post-election window of time during which nefarious actors could wait and see whether the Presidential election would be close, and whether perpetrating fraud . . . would be worthwhile.”

Kansas accepted mail ballots for three days following the Nov. 3 election. Does Schmidt think our election was nefarious and fraudulent as well?

No, he does not — because the majority of votes here went to President Trump.

The lawsuit is a worthless political stunt with virtually no chance of success. Worse than that, though, it’s a clear threat to democracy, and now Schmidt is using Kansas taxpayers’ money to help fund the circus.

It’s time to move on. Time to recognize Biden as president-elect. Time for the GOP elephants to stomp out of the ring.

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The Topeka Capital-Journal, Dec. 13

Vaccinations could curb prison cases

We need to vaccinate our state’s incarcerated population and corrections staffers for the coronavirus early in the process.

It’s the right thing to do. It’s the moral thing to do. It’s the smart thing to do for public health.

The Topeka Capital-Journal’s Andrew Bahl reported on Dec. 6 that Kansas Department of Corrections said it is awaiting a verdict from the state Department of Health and Environment in the coming weeks as to where these groups will fall in the vaccine hierarchy.

“The fear is that inmates will be out of sight and out of mind as the state and country roll out their vaccination effort,” Bahl writes.

Bahl reported COVID-19 has been a persistent problem in the state’s prisons and jails throughout most of the pandemic. An outbreak at Lansing Correctional Facility even drew national attention. Additionally, since the start of the pandemic, almost 6,000 inmates and staff members have tested positive for the virus. Eleven inmates and three staff members have died because of COVID-19.

It goes without saying the prison system was not designed for social distancing. That is part of the reason it has spread so rapidly within the KDOC system. Members of the general public are at an advantage in this instance because we can socially distance. Those in the prison system cannot.

We need to take care of these Kansans and make it a priority. If not, we could potentially be signing death warrants for the older and at-risk prisoners and prison workers.

We know prison staffing has seen a problem as a result of the pandemic. We believe early vaccination could also help with that problem.

Bahl reported corrections staff have born the brunt of COVID-19. Accessing personal protective equipment remains difficult at some facilities and the rising number of cases among staff members means that personnel shortages are hitting a critical stage. Additionally low staffing has put safety at risk. We believe vaccination could curb this.

In addition, the spread of COVID-19 in our prisons means the spread of COVID-19 in the rest of our communities. Prison staff members exposed at work go on to expose members of their families and other people they come into contact with.

So here’s the brass tacks: Gov. Laura Kelly, KDHE Secretary Lee Norman, KDOC Secretary Jeff Zmuda need to make it possible for the inmates and employees in our prisons to get that shot sooner rather than later.

We understand there’s likely a pecking order for who should get vaccinated. We also acknowledge this may not be an easy sell in the court of public opinion, but we know in our hearts this is the right thing to do.

We’re not saying they need to be first, but certainly not last either. To not do so would be cruel and unusual punishment. That’s frankly unacceptable in Kansas.

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The Topeka Capital-Journal, Dec. 11

Senior care facilities should share numbers

We’ve known for some time that COVID-19 poses a great risk to those in long-term care facilities. Put simply, residents are likely to be older and diagnosed with significant health conditions, both of which can worsen coronavirus outcomes.

The toll has been substantial. The Topeka Capital-Journal’s India Yarborough reported last month that “70% of the county’s coronavirus-related deaths have been associated with long-term care facilities.”

That’s a stunning total. But it aligns with information from across the rest of the country.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has noted that “Nationwide, deaths in long-term care facilities account for 40% of all COVID-19 deaths.” In many states, those numbers are higher.

We know that senior facility staff have been working hard during the pandemic. We can only imagine the stress and strain of attempting to keep residents healthy while working and living in a communal, shared space.

Yet those running these facilities owe their communities attention and details. They must be transparent about their case numbers and deaths caused by the disease. The families of those in the facilities deserve it. If cases are hushed up, communities may not have a full picture of the virus’ toll at any one time.

What’s more, owners and managers set examples and expectations for those who work in the facilities. If workers are sick and still come in to work, they could be putting residents at risk. If proper masking and distancing procedures aren’t followed, they could be putting residents at risk. It may be difficult and expensive to do so, but it’s critical.

Too often, our society dismisses those who may live in long-term care facilities. How often do people joke about sending someone “to the home”? We don’t like to imagine that someday we may be infirm or need round-the-clock care.

But these folks deserve the same care and attention as any family, as any resident of a town. They’re part of our communities, and sources of tremendous experience and wisdom. They shouldn’t just be protected — they should be treasured.

Many residents at these facilities could be among the first vaccinated. That means that their lives could be transformed within the next month or so. But until that point, we should expect clarity and communication from those who care for them.