Local KSN News
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Wichita State University group said a KSN story has inspired them to pursue and form a partnership with a gun range in order to offer gun safety classes for students.
On Thursday, KSN did a story about a Kansas high school that offers an elective class with a few weeks dedicated to firearm safety. After the story aired, the Wichita State Students for Concealed Carry said it wanted to get involved with a similar program.
“One of the major issues with any kind of firearm ownership or carrying a firearm, anything like that, is people not feeling safe around it because they haven’t been educated by it,” said Wichita State Students of Concealed Carry President Cale Ostby.
Beginning July 1, 2017, lawful gun owners will be allowed to carry concealed handguns on all Kansas university campuses and in campus buildings. The change in the law is the main reason Ostby said he is pushing for WSU students to take gun safety classes.
“I’m not 100 percent sure how we can do this yet, but it’s some kind of partnership with WSU and local firearms trainers to just have open sessions where students can come in and learn,” Ostby said.
Ostby said he got the class idea after watching KSN’s Thursday story about Fairfield High School in Reno County offering a portion of a class dedicated to teach students how to handle guns.
“I thought that, that was awesome, something that we wanted to be apart of too,” he said.
Ostby reached out to Range 54 in Wichita. He got in touch with the owner who is also a licensed gun instructor. The two are now forming a partnership in the hopes of educating others on campus. Range 54 has also offered any WSU student with their Shocker ID a 10 percent discount on any concealed carry training course. Eventually, Ostby said he would like to take the training a step further.
“Ideally, if this is an option, I don’t know if it is, is to maybe have a one hour, one credit hour physical education course that is firearm safety,” he said.
Ostby said he’s talking with university officials about what steps he needs to take to make the firearm safety class a reality.
SOUTH HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) – The future of South Hutchinson’s fire department is in jeopardy.
The number of volunteer firefighters is down, and the city needs more to keep the department running smoothly.
Even though South Hutch has a good track record of getting to fires and medical calls quickly, their volunteers are spread thin.
And now, to make matters worse, they don’t even have a fire chief.
It’s a job that’s exciting but demanding, and not everyone can do it.
“Volunteer firefighting is always a tricky game. It’s always a number game, you’re never quite sure who’s going to show up and when they’re going to show up,” stated Matt Stiles, South Hutch City Administrator.
The South Hutch Fire Department has 27 firefighters on the roster some part time, but most are volunteer.
“We do have a lack of people who live locally that can respond in a quick manner, so that puts more pressure on the people that are here,” explained Stiles.
He says they make almost 400 calls each year, and 90% of them are medical. Though the average response time is 5 to 8 minutes, the city must find a way to bring in more people or merge with another department.
“We’ve talked about the Hutchinson fire contract situation, but the council has pretty much dismissed that as an option at this time. So we’re working on building up the volunteer base at this point,” stated Stiles.
Just this week, the city’s fire Chief, Matt Patterson resigned. KSN reached out to him and he did not want to talk on camera, but gave this statement:
“I really enjoyed working there. I think they’re going in a direction that I might not be fit for. I wish them all the best.”
Which now means, city officials are also forced to look for a new department leader.
“I’d like to see a full crew of volunteers, because if we have volunteers from your city they take pride in what they’re doing and they’ll make a great department like it used to be,” said Mayor Pete Murray.
Murray was a volunteer for South Hutch for 26 years, and says something has to change in how they recruit volunteers. Still, he’s optimistic.
“I think it’s going to smooth out and we’re going to have a great dept. again,” voiced Murray.
One solution the city council is discussing is building a new station where firefighters can stay, so they can be available around the clock.
A town hall meeting is scheduled for May 22nd, and the public is invited to come out at 7 p.m. in the community center, and learn more about the situation.
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Beer lovers are celebrating after a recent law Governor Brownback signed into law this week.
The bill reform law allows grocery and convenience stores to sell beer with up to 6 percent alcohol content, currently stores can only sell up to 3.2 percent.
“It’ll diversify the market, so more people have access to our beer, and that’s a good thing,” explained Lance Minor, CEO of Aero Plains Brewing.
More cooler doors will soon be opened for local establishments, like Aero Plains Brewing.
“I would like to have our beer available to as many people as possible, that’s the greater goal to share our product with people, this law will allow it,” Minor stated.
Aero Plains ships an average of 400 cases a month, and with opportunity knocking on their door to expand. The change in the state’s liquor laws could potentially be a brewery owner’s dream.
“It’s going to contact more people that’s not necessarily going into liquor stores. They’re stopping to pick up a pizza and they go down the cooler isle and they see craft beer as opposed to other things, it may expand our reach and our exposure,” voiced Minor.
The CEO says he’s thrilled for the opportunity ahead, but as a business owner, he believes in partnership, and wants to continue to keep his current relationship with liquor stores strong.
“Both businesses can thrive if they’re willing to adapt a little bit and I think in the end, the consumer is going to be happier,” Minor said.
Governor Brownback says the bill reform law will help close the $290 million budget gap by tapping into the Unclaimed Property Fund.
The law takes effect in April 2019.
It may not have been a win on the scorecard. But a 0-0 draw against rival Andover definitely felt like a win to Andover Central.
Ashtyn Brown made several key saves to keep the game scoreless for the Jaguars, who are now 6-1-2 on the season. The Jaguars have a nice mixture of senior leaders and young talent, and they’re excited about what they can accomplish moving forward!
WICHITA, Kan. – Wichita State is back on the road for another Missouri Valley Conference road series this weekend when the Shockers travel to Springfield, Mo., to take on the first place Missouri State Bears. All three games this weekend will be broadcast on KNSS 1330 AM and on goshockers.com with Mike Kennedy and Shane Dennis calling the action. Saturday’s game and game one on Sunday will also be televised on ESPN3.
• Wichita State leads the overall series with Missouri State 62-42. The Bears lead the series in Springfield 25-20.
• WSU is 135th in the April 19 NCAA RPI, while Missouri State is 18th. The Shockers are 1-9 against the top-50 and 3-14 against the top-100.
• Alec Bohm is currently on a nine-game hitting streak, while Alex Jackson is on a six-game streak and Noah Croft is on a five-game streak.
• WSU turned a triple play against Valpo on April 2. It was the first one since 2002.
• Willie Schwanke had his first at bat of the season on April 5 against Oklahoma State and his first since March 10, 2015.
• WSU is 3-12 this season on the road.
• In those 15 road games, WSU is hitting .232 with a 6.56 ERA and .967 fielding percentage.
• On the road this season, Noah Croft is hitting .333, Alec Bohm is hitting .305, Greyson Jenista is hitting .288, Alex Jackson is hitting .273 and Luke Ritter is hitting .268.
• WSU is 5-5 in the last 10 games.
• In those 10 games, WSU is hitting .322 with a 4.87 ERA and .965 fielding percentage.
• In the last 10 games, Noah Croft is hitting .542, Greyson Jenista is hitting .425, Alex Jackson and Alec Bohm are hitting .357, Trey Vickers is hitting .293, and Willie Schwanke and Travis Young are hitting .286.
• The Shockers are just one of eight teams (Alabama, George Washington, College of Charleston, UNC Asheville, Cincinnati, St. John’s, Boston College) to turn a triple play this season.
• WSU collected a season-high 16 strikeouts on March 22 against Sacramento State. It was the most by the pitching staff since 2009.
• WSU collected back-to-back shutouts on Feb. 25 of Grand Canyon. The last time WSU had two-straight was in 2013.
• WSU had a scoreless innings streak of 24.1 from Feb. 19-26. The streak ranks as the eighth longest in WSU history.
• Senior pitcher Reagan Biechler needs 15 more appearances to move into a tie for fifth in the Shocker record book for career appearances.
• Four Shockers have double-digit errorless streaks including Travis Young at 68, Gunnar Troutwine at 26, Alex Jackson at 26, and Jacob Katzfey at 14.
• WSU struck out seven-straight batters in the season opener against Utah Valley. It was the first time with six or more consecutive strikeouts since 2010.
• WSU is 658-276 overall in the month of April.
• Since 1978, the Shockers are 20-9 on April 22 and 21-5 on April 23.
• WSU plays 24 games in 2017 against teams that were in the top-100 in the RPI in 2016. Fifteen of those are games against teams in the top-50.
• The Shocks were picked tied for fourth in the MVC Preseason Poll.
• Sophomore designated hitter Alec Bohm and sophomore utility player Luke Ritter were named to the preseason all-Valley team.
• In 2016, Greyson Jenista was the first freshman to lead the Shockers in hitting since Pat Magness in 1997 and was just the fifth freshman overall.
• The Shockers welcome 13 newcomers in 2017.
• WSU returns seven starters and 15 letterwinners from the 2016 team.
• The Shocker pitching staff returns four starters including Willie Schwanke, Cody Tyler, Zach Lewis and Connor Lungwitz.
• Last season, Travis Young tied the freshman record for sacrifice hits in a season with seven and it was also the 12th most in the single season record books.
• Last season, Gunnar Troutwine had the fifth most assists by a catcher with 59.
• Head Coach Todd Butler is in his fourth season as coach of the Shockers.
• Assistant Coach Brian Walker is the third base coach and Volunteer Assistant Coach Codey McElroy is the first base coach.
GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) — Jessie Munoz says she and her neighbors have been dealing with rust-colored water on and off for years.
“Once every couple of months,” she said, “our water, we’d run it, and it would come out rusty.”
The most recent incident, she says, has been going on for three weeks.
“I know a couple of neighbors have complained about getting sick through all this.”
The city has heard the concerns and responded by cleaning out the neighborhood pipes about a week ago.
“Our water is safe to drink,” said Fred Jones, Garden City’s Water Resource Manager. “A lot of these issues are aesthetic issues, and we like to know about those as well, because we will do everything we can to correct those.”
Minerals like iron build up in the pipes over time. The city disinfects water with chlorine, which helps oxidize the iron and give the water a rust color. The city says running the water will help clear that out and there’s little cause for concern.
That’s not a comfort for Munoz, who has been showering and cleaning dishes at her daughter’s house.
“I won’t touch it,” she said. “It’s still yellow. It looks horrible.”
City officials showed KSN that water coming out of the main looks clear.
In the homes, it’s a different story.
“[A] couple of evenings, I ran it an hour, hour and a half solid,” said Munoz, “and it never cleared up. Something needs to be done.”
Munoz’s neighbors are in the same situation, like Melissa Guerrero’s mother.
“My mother has flushed and flushed,” said Guerrero. “We ran water, and it still has the rust. In the years, it has thickened.”
The city says they’ve worked to clean up the city lines, but if the issue is within the home, there’s not much they can do.
“We’ll work with them on that,” said Jones, “but we can’t take care of their personal plumbing.”
Residents said they want the city to replace the pipes entirely. City officials say they only replace pipes that have broken or have become too brittle.
GREAT BEND, Kan. (KSNW) — One piece of technology is helping fire crews fight fires more efficiently. It’s called a thermal imaging camera. While the tool isn’t brand new, fire departments across the nation are now pushing their crews to start using them more.
When fighting fires, heavy smoke leaves fire crews blind — making it nearly impossible to see anything.
“The way firefighters have been working, for the last 100 years, they’ve been doing everything by touch and feel,” explained John Forristall, captain of the Boston Fire Department.
Forristall worked with Great Bend fire crews for two days, training them how to use the thermal imaging cameras to see through the smoke.
According to Forristall, firefighters usually find victims by bumping into them.
With the cameras, crews can see an image using temperature — something firefighters can’t see normally.
“We can actually monitor the conditions from inside the fire, where we never had the ability to do that before,” Forristall said.
Great Bend firefighters said they appreciate today’s training, and know the camera will be a beneficial tool for them.
“It is something that is a lot faster to find a victim,” said firefighter Tony Leeds.”And also safer for us when we go into a structure.”
The Great Bend Fire Department has had the cameras for more than 20 years. However, the department had only two thermal imaging helmet cameras — costing around $25,000 each. Since then, the price has dropped tremendously. The fire department now has six handheld thermal cameras, which are only $5,000 a piece.
As the thermal imaging cameras continue to advance, it’s important for departments to stay up to date with the technology.
MULVANE, Kan. (KSNW) – Disaster preparedness has become second nature to the people in Mulvane who experienced extreme flooding last August and September.
Much of Mulvane sits low and even below the flood plain, so rain can quickly transition a situation from mild to emergency mode. The staff at Uncle Roy’s Tavern near downtown Mulvane know it a little too well.
“Now, every time the clouds get dark and the skies look angry, we have to consider going into action,” co-owner Shane McCullough said.
McCullough opened the tavern in August 2016 and within 48 hours, there was four feet of water coursing through the bar. Staff, volunteers for the opening festivities and customers were able to escape the waters by using the knocked over Tilt-a-Whirl laying outside on Second Street, which was there for Old Settler’s Days.
Days rain threatens, McCullough and crew get preventative.
“When the time requires, we go out and put sand bags and tarps against the doors, so if the water does rise, it’s ability to actually get into the building is significantly reduced,” McCullough said.
At the city level, city officials are taking action too, sending a letter of intent to FEMA and Kansas Department of Emergency Management for a grant application they would use to build some preventative hazardous mitigation items, like a detention or retention pond.
“To say that we would get grant money and be under construction in six months to a year, that would be unrealistic and overoptimistic. I would say, if we’re able to move forward with storm drainage improvements with KDEM or FEMA funds in the next couple years, that would be pretty quick,” city administrator Kent Hixson said.
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Michael Stratton of Burlington, Kan., pleaded guilty to one count of receiving child pornography.
He admitted in his plea to using a Play Station 3 to chat about child pornography and to trade child pornography.
According to court documents, Sony monitors user activities on the Play Station Network. The network allows account holders to communicate in a way similar to text and emails. A user complained to Sony about Stratton, who was sending messages using the name Susan_14. Sony sent reports to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which identified child pornography that Stratton had downloaded. Sony also determined that Stratton had sent messages to other users including: “u want to see naked kids tonight,” and “Friend Request. Do you have child porn?”
Sentencing for Stratton is set for Aug. 7. The parties have agreed to recommend a sentence of five years in federal prison.
DALLAS (AP) — United Airlines said CEO Oscar Munoz, who came under withering criticism for the airline’s handling of an April passenger-dragging incident, will not be automatically adding the title of chairman in 2018 as planned.
The company said Friday that Munoz proposed rewriting his employment contract to remove the expectation that he would become chairman at next year’s annual meeting of parent United Continental Holdings Inc.
United also said Friday that Munoz received $18.7 million in compensation last year.
Munoz was widely faulted for his early responses to the April 9 incident on board a United Express plane. He first blamed the 69-year-old passenger who was dragged off by airport security officers, but later apologized repeatedly for United’s handling of the situation.
The incident is under investigation by Congress and the Transportation Department. Lawyers for the passenger, Kentucky physician David Dao, have hinted at a lawsuit. And there have been calls online to boycott United.
Airline executives said this week it was too early to know if the widely publicized incident has affected ticket sales.
United’s board of directors has supported Munoz, according to a statement last week from Chairman Robert Milton. United said Friday in a securities filing that management and the board “take recent events extremely seriously,” and will link executive bonuses partly to “improving the customer experience.”
Last month the airline was also criticized on social media and trolled by other airlines after a United gate agent in Denver told young girls they would have to change or cover up their leggings before being allowed to board a plane.
Munoz was named CEO in September 2015, replacing Jeffrey Smisek, who stepped down in the midst of an influence-trading scandal. Munoz had been on the airline’s board while serving as CEO of freight railroad CSX Corp.
He has focused on improving United’s tattered relations with labor unions. The airline has made some strides in improving its on-time performance, canceling fewer flights and losing fewer bags. However, it still generally ranks poorly in surveys of airline travelers.
Most of Munoz’s compensation last year was in stock. The company said Friday in a regulatory filing that about $6.8 million of the total was related to a signing bonus that Munoz was promised in 2016.
SPOKANE, Wash. (KHQ/NBC News) – Police in Spokane, Washington have arrested self-proclaimed “Spokane Spanker” Jonathan Smith.
He is now facing 11 counts of assault with sexual motivation in a string of attacks carried out near the campus of Gonzaga University.
Smith came forward to apologize and turn himself in on Wednesday after several attacks were reported.
During an interview with NBC affiliate KHQ, Smith admitted to slapping dozens of women on their backsides, saying he “saw butts that he liked and slapped them.”
HOUSTON (AP) — A spokesman for former President George H.W. Bush says the nation’s 41st president will remain in a Houston hospital through the weekend while he recovers from a mild case of pneumonia.
Family spokesman Jim McGrath posted Friday on Twitter that doctors will keep the 92-year-old Bush at Houston Methodist Hospital “to ensure a fully clean bill of health.”
McGrath said Bush “feels terrific,” and Bush’s vice president, Dan Quayle, talked with him by phone on Friday.
Bush was hospitalized April 14 for treatment of a persistent cough. Physicians say his pneumonia was treated and resolved. But he has been held for observation while he regains his strength.
Bush served as president from 1989 to 1993. He spent 16 days in the hospital in January for treatment of pneumonia.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Two media reports say U.S. prosecutors are preparing or closely considering charges against the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, including its founder Julian Assange, for revealing sensitive government secrets.
CNN (http://cnn.it/2pINsBT) reported Thursday that authorities are preparing to seek Assange’s arrest. The Washington Post (http://wapo.st/2pJgy4k) reported prosecutors are weighing charges against the organization’s members after the Obama-era Justice Department declined to do so.
Possible charges include conspiracy, theft of government property and violating the Espionage Act, the newspaper said, though any charges would need approval from high-ranking officials in the Justice Department.
The move comes after WikiLeaks last month released nearly 8,000 documents that it says reveal secrets about the CIA’s cyberespionage tools for breaking into computers, cellphones and even smart TVs. It previously published 250,000 State Department cables and embarrassed the U.S. military with hundreds of thousands of logs from Iraq and Afghanistan.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo last week denounced the group as a “hostile intelligence service” and a threat to U.S. national security. And Attorney General Jeff Sessions told reporters Thursday that Assange’s arrest is a priority as the Justice Department steps up efforts to prosecute people who leak classified information to the media.
“We’ve already begun to step up our efforts and whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail,” Sessions said.
Their condemnation of WikiLeaks differed sharply from President Donald Trump’s past praise of the organization. Before last year’s election, Trump said he was happy to see WikiLeaks publish private, politically damaging emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta. He was less thrilled about the release of CIA tactics, which the White House said was different because it involved information about secretive national security tools.
The Post reported that it wasn’t clear whether prosecutors are also looking at WikiLeaks’ role in the Podesta case.
Assange’s attorney, Barry Pollack, told The Associated Press authorities have not apprised him of the status of their investigation.
Assange, an Australian, has resided the last four years in Ecuador’s embassy in London. He received political asylum after skipping bail to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted over a rape allegation. Ecuador’s recently elected presidential candidate has promised to continue to harbor Assange, allowing him to avoid arrest.
Assange has said WikiLeaks acts in the name of liberty and privacy. The Post reported that Justice officials in the Obama administration believed prosecuting WikiLeaks would be similar to prosecuting a news organization for publishing classified information, but they did not formally close the case.
“The Department of Justice should not be treating the publication of truthful information as a reason for a criminal investigation of the publisher,” Pollack said. “Democracy has always depended on journalists being able to inform the public of what their government is doing.”
But Pompeo said WikiLeaks’ activity went beyond the First Amendment, alleging the group was involved in obtaining secret material, rather than just reporting information leaked to it.
WikiLeaks “directed Chelsea Manning to intercept specific secret information,” Pompeo said last week, according to CNN, referring to the case of the former Army intelligence analyst convicted of leaking the hundreds of thousands of documents that made WikiLeaks a household name. “And it overwhelmingly focuses on the United States.”
TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – About two dozen soldiers with the Kansas National Guard were honored Friday morning during a deployment ceremony at Forbes Field.
The Topeka-based helicopter unit is deploying in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S. military intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Capt. Andrew Weber, company commander, said his soldiers are dedicated to their mission.
“We have come together as a unified team during this short notice mobilization,” said Weber, “and, as a team, we look forward to pursuing our mission of saving lives wherever our leadership sends us.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. military says Russian military aircraft have approached the coast of Alaska four times this week, and U.S. fighter jets intercepted them twice.
The military says the latest incident happened late Thursday, and that F-22 Raptor aircraft and Canadian CF-18 Hornet fighters safely intercepted two Russian TU-95 Bear bombers.
Lori O’Donley is spokeswoman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command. She says the incidents all happened in international airspace.
Russia periodically flies into the U.S. air defense identification zone that extends 200 miles off the coast. O’Donley says the last such string of incidents was in 2014.
The incidents come amid heightened U.S.-Russian tensions over the civil war in Syria.
North American Aerospace Defense Command is a U.S.-Canada organization that monitors approaches to North America and defends the airspace.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A San Francisco power outage that stranded people in elevators and left tens of thousands of others in the dark was caused by the massive failure of a circuit breaker that caused a fire at a power substation, a utility company spokesman said.
Power had been restored to less than a third of the 90,000 customers who lost power in the Financial District and other areas of the city, said Pacific Gas & Electric spokesman Barry Anderson.
PG&E said it expected to restore power to remaining customers by late afternoon.
The Fire Department tweeted that it had responded to more than 100 calls for service, including 20 stuck elevators with people inside. However, no injuries were reported related to the outage.
The outage initially closed the Bay Area Rapid Transit agency’s downtown Montgomery Station. People used the lights of their cellphones to walk through the darkened station before service was restored.
People milled on sidewalks, controllers directed traffic manually, and shops were dark. Some buildings had power, others did not. ATM screens were blank.
People were confused about what was going on and what to do, said Pam Martinez, a 25-year-old San Francisco resident and software engineer who was on a train when she heard the announcement that her destination station was closed.
“Even crossing the street was chaotic because the streetlights don’t work and there’s a few ambulances trying to go through the crowds,” Martinez said. “It’s pretty crazy.”
She considered getting a Lyft ride back home but decided that would take too long.
Patricio Herrera sat glumly in his darkened restaurant, Ziggy’s Burgers, at what should have been a busy lunch hour full of people hungry for his freshly ground hamburgers.
“We have lost everything today,” said Herrera, the store’s consulting chef and manager. Six employees sat at tables behind him, chatting or checking their phones.
Employees at a Starbucks were giving out cups of iced and hot coffee in the darkened shop. A worker said that was better than letting the coffee go to waste.
Brent Chapman, who works in billing and reporting for First Republic Bank, told his team to go home after huddling on a sidewalk and waiting for word of when power would be restored.
They had been ready to send out a finished project Friday, one they’d been working on for six months, after some had pulled an all-nighter.
“It’s brutal. This is seriously the worst possible time that this could have happened,” he said. “I do not want to leave. I want to stay and get this done.”
San Francisco has a population of about 850,000.
AP reporters John Antczak and Amanda Lee Myers contributed to this story from Los Angeles.
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Crime Stoppers and Wichita police are looking for the suspects who burglarized Contour Landscaping in the 3600 block of North Topeka.
It happened back on April 8. The suspects forced entry into the business and stole two pickup trucks, both with the Contour Landscaping logo.
One is a white GMC Sierra; the other is a white Chevy Silverado, similar to the truck pictured. Also taken were two trailers. They were carrying five 72-inch riding lawn mowers. The loss is significant. The business would appreciate assistance in locating the stolen items.
If you have any information, we ask that you call Crime Stoppers at 267-2111. You can also submit a tip from any PC or mobile browser by going to Crime Stoppers.
HAYS, Kan. (AP) – A state board has suspended a Hays doctor’s osteopathic license to practice medicine for at least six months.
The Salina Journal reports that the State Board of Healing Arts took the action Tuesday against Kirk Potter, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon.
An emergency order suspended his license in November when it was alleged he’d failed to practice with reasonable skill and safety. The suspension was lifted last month, with restrictions.
Potter’s attorney argued that the emergency suspension should be sufficient discipline. But the board found Potter hadn’t disputed allegations that he violated a 2015 consent order that stemmed from two DUI arrests and the loss of a camera containing patient photos.
Potter can request a judicial review or board reconsideration. He didn’t return a phone call from the paper.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hoping to spur economic growth, President Donald Trump embarked Friday on new steps to dismantle some of the tax and financial regulations established by former President Barack Obama.
Trump signed an executive order to review any major tax regulations set last year by his predecessor, as well as two memos to potentially revamp or eliminate fundamental elements of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reforms passed in the wake of the Great Recession.
“This is really the beginning of a whole new way of life that this country hasn’t seen in really many, many years,” the president said before signing the measures during his first visit to the Department of the Treasury.
The review of tax regulations could give greater leeway to companies looking to shelter income overseas, or simply seeking to reduce the time and money spent on completing personal and business tax filings.
“People can’t do their returns,” Trump said. “They have no idea what they’re doing.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said a “significant” issue to be examined will be Obama’s crackdown on inversions, which are mergers that enable U.S. firms to relocate their headquarters overseas where tax rates are lower.
The review could also touch on overlapping rules designed to stop foreign-based companies from shifting their U.S. profits abroad, another Obama initiative from 2016.
The administration is also trying to pass tax reform that would reduce corporate and personal rates. Trump told The Associated Press in an interview that a plan will be released as early as Wednesday.
The two memos focus on possible adjustments to the Dodd-Frank law, which was designed to stop banks from growing “too big to fail” and requiring public bailouts.
But Trump claims the regulations have had the opposite effect, while also limiting access to credit for many Americans.
“These regulations enshrine too big to fail and encourage risky behavior,” Trump said.
One memo orders Mnuchin to review a component of the law that allows federal regulators to liquidate failing financial firms during an economic crisis if those companies are large enough that their collapse would pose a threat to the economy.
The other memo orders the Treasury to review a process that designates which non-bank firms could threaten the financial system if they fail. Critics argue this process is costly and arbitrary.
Both measures will be suspended while they’re under review.
Mnuchin said taxpayers won’t be left on the hook.
“Let me make it absolutely clear: President Trump is absolutely committed to make sure that taxpayers are not at risk for government bailouts of entities that are too big to fail,” he said.
His report will explore if it would be better to liquidate troubled financial firms through a modified form of bankruptcy.
Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said in a Friday interview with CNBC that there are aspects of the Dodd-Frank law which if taken away would have “potentially serious impacts on the economy, not immediately, but when times get tough.”
“Taking actions which remove the changes that were made to strengthen the structure of the financial system is very dangerous,” Fischer said.
Former Fed chair Ben Bernanke argued in a February blog post that there is no provision for the government to inject money into a failing firm as was done during the 2008 financial meltdown. This means that all losses would be borne by private investors.
Also, Bernanke said his experience is that financial regulators are often better equipped to respond to these emergencies than bankruptcy judges.
Mnuchin suggested Friday that it might be necessary to update bankruptcy laws to accommodate collapsing firms during an economic crisis.
AP economics writer Martin Crutsinger contributed to this report.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration intensified its threats to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to comply with federal immigration authorities, warning nine jurisdictions Friday that they may lose coveted law enforcement grant money unless they document cooperation.
It sent letters to officials in California and major cities including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans, all places the Justice Department’s inspector general has identified as limiting the information local law enforcement can provide to federal immigration authorities about those in their custody.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has warned that the administration will punish communities that refuse to cooperate with efforts to find and deport immigrants in the country illegally. But some of the localities remained defiant, despite risking the loss of funds that police agencies use to pay for everything from body cameras to bulletproof vests.
“We’re not going to cave to these threats,” Milwaukee County Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic said, promising a legal fight if the money is pulled.
Playing off Sessions’ recent comments that sanctuary cities undermine the fight against gangs, the Justice Department said the communities under financial threat are “crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime.”
After a raid led to the arrests of 11 MS-13 gang members in California’s Bay Area “city officials seemed more concerned with reassuring illegal immigrants that the raid was unrelated to immigration than with warning other MS-13 members that they were next,” the department said in a statement.
The federal law in question says state and local governments may not prohibit police or sheriffs from sharing information about a person’s immigration status with federal authorities.
The money could be withheld in the future, or terminated, if local officials fail to prove they are following the law, wrote Alan R. Hanson, acting head of the Office of Justice Programs. The grant program is the leading source of federal justice funding to states and local communities.
Kevin de Leon, leader of California’s state Senate, rejected the administration’s demand, saying its policies are based on “principles of white supremacy” and not American values.
“Their constant and systematic targeting of diverse cities and states goes beyond constitutional norms and will be challenged at every level,” he said.
Leaders in Chicago and Cook County, which shared a grant of more than $2.3 million in 2016, dismissed the threat. So did the mayor’s office in New York City, which received $4.3 million. The Justice Department singled out Chicago’s rise in homicides and said New York’s gang killings were the “predictable consequence of the city’s soft-on-crime stance.”
“This grandstanding shows how out of touch the Trump administration is with reality,” said Seith Stein, a spokesman for the New York City mayor’s office, calling the comments “alternative facts.” Crime is low thanks to policies that encourage police cooperation with immigrant communities, he said.
The jurisdictions also include Clark County, Nevada; Miami-Dade County, Florida; and Milwaukee County, Wisconsin.
They were singled out in a May 2016 report by the Justice Department’s inspector general that found local policies or rules could interfere with providing information to immigration agents. Following the report, the Obama administration warned cities that they could miss out on grant money if they did not comply with the law, but it never actually withheld funds.
The report pointed to a Milwaukee County rule that immigration detention requests be honored only if the person has been convicted of one felony or two misdemeanors, has been charged with domestic violence or drunken driving, is a gang member, or is on a terrorist watch list, among other constraints.
It also took issue with a New Orleans Police Department policy that it said might hinder communication with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That city received nearly $266,000 in grant money through the program in fiscal year 2016. New Orleans has used Justice Department funding to pay for testing DNA kits, police body cameras, attorneys for domestic violence victims and other expenses.
Zach Butterworth, Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s executive counsel and director of federal relations, said the city drafted its policies in consultation with federal immigration and Homeland Security officials. It was reviewing the Justice Department’s letter.
“We don’t think there’s a problem,” he said.
Butterworth said the New Orleans Police Department has seen a 28 percent drop in calls for service from people with limited English since November.
“People are scared, and because of that, they’re less willing to report crime,” Butterworth added.
Other places also insisted they were in compliance. Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, the elected head of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, said the city and county were wrongly labeled sanctuary cities.
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said that community is hardly succumbing to violence.
“Milwaukee County has its challenges but they are not caused by illegal immigration,” he said in a statement. “My far greater concern is the proactive dissemination of misinformation, fear, and intolerance.”
Associated Press writers Michael Kunzelman in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Ivan Moreno in Milwaukee; Sophia Tareen in Chicago; Amy Taxin in Santa Ana, California and Ken Ritter in Las Vegas contributed to this report.