The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on September 26, 1996 · Page 7
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 7

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Salina, Kansas
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Thursday, September 26, 1996
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Page 7
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1996 THE SALINA JOURNAL Great Plains VIEWPOINTS / B2 ALMANAC / B3 FUN / B4 B V CAMPAIGN '96 War of words takes odd twists during campaign Candidates' arguments over stances sometimes turn silly By JOHN HANNA Tlie Associated Press Analysis TOPEKA — Sam Brownback supports abolishing the federal Department of Education. But he is upset that his opponent for the U.S. Senate suggested he actually voted for the idea. Sally Thompson's biggest issue in her U.S. Senate race against Pat Roberts is whether Roberts is a true Kansan. Thompson was born in Spokane, Wash., and lived outside Kansas until 1985. In the 2nd Congressional District race, the Democratic and Republican candidates insist they are going to run clean campaigns. However, they're still arguing about what one is. Is it any wonder that retiring U.S. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum felt compelled recently to publicly decry what she sees as the deterioration of political discourse? She is worried about the state of campaign advertising and candidates' reliance on polls. Her remarks seem particularly appropriate, especially her concern that, "We miss entirely the opportu- nity to pull together a broad, thoughtful discourse." So far, Brownback might have demonstrated the most chutzpah. He is running for the U.S. Senate seat once held by Bob Dole. In his Republican primary race against U.S. Sen. Sheila Frahm, he savaged her in campaign commercials, using a few of the dozens of votes she cast as a legislator to portray her as a tax-increasing liberal. Brownback had a news conference Friday to criticize his Democratic opponent, Jill Docking. She is doing to him what he did to Frahm. And, there was the question of whether Brownback voted to abolish the Department of Education. Docking's claim that he did so is based on a vote on a budget resolution and Brbwnback's sponsorship of abolition legislation. Brownback insists that the only true vote on the issue will come when the House deals with a specific bill — a bill he plans to vote for. In the race for Kassebaum's seat, Roberts and Thompson have spent a great deal of time discussing whether his duplex in Dodge City makes him a resident of that city. He owns it but rents it out when he's not using it, which is much of the year, because congressmen, of course, work in Washington. In the 2nd Congressional District, Republican nominee Jim Ryun said he would run a clean campaign and asked Democrat John Frieden to do the same. Frieden asked about the conduct of conservative groups that will support Ryun, such as the Christian Coalition. Frieden supporters have grumbled about his being labeled a well-to-do trial lawyer. It is, of course what he is; his firm earned $9 million in representing military retirees in their successful lawsuit against the state. BRIEFLY Fuel spill closes highway for a day A half-mile section of U.S. 24, a mile west of Clay Center, was closed to traffic for nearly 24 hours because of a diesel gasoline spill that occurred Tuesday afternoon. The road was opened to two- way traffic at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, said Dale Hershberger, area engineer for the Kansas Department of Transportation. One lane of traffic was opened at 4:40 p.m. Wednesday. The road was closed because soil that was contaminated from the fuel spill needed to be removed to prevent groundwater contamination. The fuel spill occurred when a car pulled out in front of the tanker truck at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday. The truck ran into the car and toppled over on its side. There were only minor injuries and a fire wasn't ignited, Hershberger said. "We were really fortunate," he said. Reporter prevents inmate's suicide try COFFEYVILLE — A reporter .making routine checks at the Coffeyville Police Department was credited with saving the life of an inmate when he noticed the man trying to hang himself and cut him down with a pair of scissors. "I tried three times. I was shaking so much," said Allen Smith, a reporter for the Independence Daily Reporter. Smith saved the inmate's life Tuesday night by cutting through two socks the man was attempting to hang himself with in a jail cell, said Tom Boren, the police commander. "I really appreciate what he did for us," Boren said. "He was a hero behind the scenes." The inmate, whose name was not released, was reported in fair and stable condition at St. Francis Hospital, Tulsa, Okla. Smith had stopped by the police department about 8:40 p.m. after covering a Coffeyville City Commission meeting. He had begun looking through reports when he noticed the inmate apparently trying to hang himself in a holding cell that was out of the dispatcher's view. Dearth of teen boys dampens homecoming PRETTY PRAIRIE — There just aren't enough boys to go around in this town of 600. In fact, two of the four homecoming queens at Pretty Prairie High School will have to share an escort. That's because the school's senior class has three boys and 10 girls. The shortage of boys has left many girld hoping to find dates for the Oct. 11 homecoming dance. There are only nine boys out of 37 juniors and seniors at the high school. "I don't think it's such a bad thing," said Steven Stucky, 17, one of the three boys in the senior class. Just five years ago, the situation was reversed. There were only five girls in a similar-sized senior class, said John Johnson, student council sponsor. "During that year, they had to expand the number of homecoming candidates to five," Johnson said. "Obviously, they didn't want to have only one girl left out. That would be very embarrassing." From Staff and Wire Reports Tomorrow's Headlines 825-6OOQ Category 6006 (Call alter 7:30 p.m.) Jury begins foray into '92 murder Nearly four years after murder, first trial begins in Sheridan slaying By DAVID CLOUSTON The Salina Journal JUNCTION CITY — To the defense, Randall Sheridan was "a womanizer" who pursued a variety of women, no matter if they were married or unmarried. To authorities, Sheridan had been "dehumanized," to the point he was a devil in the eyes of his ex-lover, her brother, her family and her minister, Jerry Rollins. Those were points made for jurors, as attorneys in the case of two Salinans charged with murder opened trial Wednesday with a question: Who had the stronger motive to kill Sheridan? Was it his ex-lover, Dana Flynn, fearful of losing custody of her young daughter? Or was it a jealous boyfriend or spouse of another pursued by Sheridan, described as a "womanizer" by Flynn's attorney, Brent Lonker. The trial for defendants Flynn and her brother, Mikel Dreiling, began in Geary County District Court Wednesday, after nearly a month spent picking a jury. Jerry Rollins, the third defendant charged in the murder, is scheduled to be tried after Flynn and Dreiling. Dreiling's attorney, Lee McMaster, reserved his opening statement until after the prosecution concludes its case. Geary County Attorney Chris Biggs presented the prosecution's theory of the crime to jurors in a two-hour address. He displayed charts outlining the complicated web of individuals and events leading to Dec. 22, 1992, when Sheridan was gunned down by five shotgun blasts as he was jogging on a road near his rural home. The state's view is this: Sheridan was killed by his ex-lover Flynn and her brother, Mikel, because Flynn feared Sheridan would gain legal custody of their young daughter. The state thinks they were also spurred to kill Sheridan by Rollins' prophecies as leader of the Fountain of Life Church in Salina. The timing of Sheridan's death was significant, said Biggs, because the day before he had won "some big victories" in court in the battle for custody of his daughter, Ashley. He was pursuing a motion for a custody evaluation and modification of the custody arrangement. He had gotten permission to take Ashley on a skiing trip over part of the Christmas holiday. Biggs revealed some new details of events preceding the killing during his opening statement. One, a confrontation with Flynn's ex-husband on Dec. 7, 1992, he said, showed her emo- Photos by KELLY PRESNELL / The Salina Journal Geary County Attorney Chris Biggs introduces the jury to a complex trail of events and circumstances during his opening argument Wednesday in the Randall Sheridan murder trial. Defendant Dana Flynn (left) talks with friends and family during the noon recess of the opening day of the trial. Defendant Mikel Dreiling (left) confers with his attorney, Lee McMaster. tional state. Flynn and Dreiling had a confrontation with Steve Flynn outside his workplace in Salina at Blue Beacon Truck Wash. Dana accused Steve of kidnapping their son Jeb because he hadn't returned him to her custody, and Mikel Dreiling spat in his face and said, "I'm going to take you down." Also for the first time, Biggs revealed the state has phone records showing two phone calls placed to the Sheridan residence at 4 a.m. Dec. 12 came from a residence Mikel Dreiling was shar- ing with a roommate. The roommate will testify he did not place the calls, Biggs said. On the second call, Sheridan's wife, Judy, heard the caller utter the words "death" or "die." Sheridan took the phone from her, listened, and said, "Mikey, grow up." "The caller was Mikel Dreiling. Randall Sheridan called him Mikey to be demeaning to him," Biggs said. Also, co-workers at Great Plains Manufacturing where Dana Flynn and Mikel Dreiling formerly worked will testify that they were promised money if they would come forward with alibis for the pair's whereabouts at the time of the murder, Biggs said. Flynn also reportedly told a co-worker who made a consolatory comment about Sheridan's death: "Don't be sorry. He was a wicked and evil man." The most emotional comments of the trial's opening day came from Lonker, Flynn's attorney. He called authorities' investigation into the case "a house built on sand," and suggested there was a rush to judgment from the moment court documents related to the custody battle were discovered in Sheridan's home following his murder. Lonker called Sheridan a "womanizer" and said in one case he obtained a woman's phone number by getting into her car and seeing it printed on a document. "We're going to show that Mikel Dreiling, Dana Flynn and Jerry Rollins weren't even close to the only ones having a motive," Lonker said. "Randall Sheridan was involved in things that can get a man killed. That's what we'll show you." T PROPERTY TAXES Advocates testifying for eliminating property taxes By The Associated Press TOPEKA — Shelby Smith, former legislative and executive branch leader, Wednesday urged the Legislature to abolish the statewide property tax that pays nearly one-third of the cost of public education in Kansas. Another witness before the Legislature's interim Committee on Property Taxation, Byron Patton of Topeka, went farther. He said Kansas should not only abolish property taxes but also eliminate the sales tax, relying exclusively on income taxes for revenue. A third speaker, Cedric Moege of Topeka, representing Kansans for Equal Property and Pension Taxes, said property taxes should be capped at a percentage of appraised value. Until the state gets rid of the 4-year-old school property tax, now at 35 mills, it will cause trouble, Smith said. He said the 1992 law dilutes local control of schools, contributes to an acute property appraisal problem and local option school budgets cause divisiveness. "What we have now is broke," Smith, Wichita, said during a Statehouse hearing. "Something has to be done. Put a stop to the paternalistic approach and cigar box accounting (in financing public education)." Smith served eight years in the Kansas House, 1967-75, the last four as chairman of the House Assessment and Taxation Committee. He was lieutenant governor four years, 1975-79, under Robert Bennett, and served as Department of Administration secretary in 1989-91 when Mike Hayden was governor. Smith, who appeared as a private citizen, proposed: • Repealing the 35-mill statewide proper- ty tax, and reserve the property tax exclusively as a revenue source for school districts and local units of government, re> quiring all districts to levy at least 30 mills and send excess revenue not needed to fund their budgets to the state. • Repealing the school local option budget authority, which he said contributes to disequalization of educational funding for students among districts. • Imposing an "iron-clad" one-year property tax lid on all taxing subdivisions with four exceptions. SUGGESTIONS? CALL BEN WEARING, DEPUTY EDITOR, AT (913) 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363

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