So You Want Government Run Like a Business — No Way!

I’ve heard so many times that some people believe the government should be run like a business. I titter then roll my eyes. Yeah, sure. Like a business. You mean like Enron. Whew! Or how about the Kansas City Star or Time Warner. Bank of America is on my list, too. Of course there’s the case of those party animals, AIG. Or maybe the ethics of IBM.

Nope, I say nay to running the government like a business.

The government is run by people and that means human beings with fallible traits. I want the federal government to be run as the founding fathers meant it to be. I like the U.S. Constitution when it says: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Many businesses have shown a lack of promoting those ideals.

Look at the Enron scandal. In 2001, the misdeeds opened full-fledge and it led to the bankruptcy of the energy company based in Houston. Arthur Anderson, one of the five largest audit and accounting partnerships at the time, also went under.

Enron was formed in 1985 by Kenneth Lay after merging Houston Natural Gas and InterNorth. Several years later, when Jeffrey Skilling was hired, he developed a staff of executives that, by the use of accounting loopholes, special purpose entities and poor financial reporting, were able to hide billions of dollars in debt from failed deals and projects. Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow and other executives not only misled Enron’s board of directors and audit committee on high-risk accounting practices, but also pressured Andersen to ignore the issues.

Enron shareholders filed a $40 billion lawsuit after the company’s stock price, which achieved a high of $90.75 per share in mid-2000, plummeted to less than $1 by the end of November 2001. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission began an investigation and subsequently Enron filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2001. The company’s $63.4 billion in assets made it the largest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history until WorldCom’s bankruptcy the next year.

Many executives at Enron were indicted for a variety of charges and some were later sentenced to prison.

Nope, I say nay to running the government like a business.

Have you had trouble with the Star? Maybe poor delivery service? Maybe the lack of news coverage?

So, what did you do about any problems? Bet you called customer service. How did that go? You got an automated telephone device. Listen carefully because our numbers have changed. And they’ve been saying that ever since dinosaurs traipsed the earth. Ah, with persistence, you finally get a voice, a real voice. Unfortunately, it’s a voice with a foreign accent, as one might hear in the Philippines. You see, the Star contracts out its customer service. Here’s a communications company that won’t hire Kansas City people to do a most important job of communicating.

But that’s not all. The Star is laying off employees, including ones who provide valuable experience in reporting news. Management recently told all newsroom personnel they were eligible to take a buyout. That probably means management wants to fill fewer slots and use contract employees so they don’t have to pay benefits and can fire without cause.

So, covering the news is performed by fewer people.

Then you add the continuing saga of poor delivery service. Some subscribers don’t get their morning paper until long after they have gone to work. Earlier deadlines but later delivery — does that make sense?

Management whines about lower circulation. Doh! Less news, bad service. Why take the paper?

And advertisers see the drop in circulation and decide to take their business elsewhere. That computes to less revenue for the paper. Eh, a vicious cycle.

Nope, I say nay to running the government like a business.

Good ol’ Time Warner. In looking at just the TV service, how do you like the boxes you need to get stations? Do they work just fine? Good for you. Some folks beg to differ.

How is the On Demand service working for you? Have you figured out how they put last night’s shows on the demand list? Good for you. Many haven’t. Sometimes there are no dates when the show was first aired.

What about cost? Did you ever think you would go broke just for all the electronics fees you would be paying!

If you don’t like any of the benefits of TW, you can call customer service. I’ll be darn. You generally get that same automated device and get transferred to what appears to be the same people in the Philippines.

Nope, I say nay to running the government like a business.

Here’s an anecdotal tale referencing Bank of America. A customer wanted to roll over an IRA with a sizeable amount of money from the Mid Missouri Bank in El Dorado Springs. After considerable confusion on how each bank handled the process, the two came together when the B of A employee said she would fax the papers to Eldo.

The customer’s concern was that the rollover needed to be done by a deadline or face a penalty. As the deadline approached there was no update call on the transaction so the customer called B of A and the voice said she was busy but would return the call as soon as possible. As closing time approached, the customer was in the area and dropped by the bank. The customer was told the person handling the transaction wouldn’t be in that afternoon.

Then why in the hell didn’t she say that on the voice mail? Sorry. The customer found out that instead of faxing the papers, they had been turned over to the IRA department and they mailed them. Eldo had not received them. We’ll call you back; they leave the office. We’re going to fax them; they’re mailed.

The customer called off the deal and the mere pittance, in Bank of America’s system, but a sizeable amount of money, remains with the Mid Missouri Bank.

Nope, I say nay to running the government like a business.

Days after American International Group Inc received a federal bailout, management spent $440,000 on a posh California retreat for its executives, complete with spa treatments, banquets and golf outings, according to lawmakers investigating the company’s meltdown.

AIG sent its executives to the coastal St. Regis resort south of Los Angeles, even as the company tapped into an $85 billion loan from the government it needed to stave off bankruptcy. The resort tab included $23,380 worth of spa treatments for AIG employees, according to invoices the resort turned over to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Nope, I say nay to running the government like a business.

A couple of years ago, IBM agreed to pay $44,400 in civil penalties to settle charges that certain of its online job postings preferred foreign workers with temporary work visas over U.S. citizens, the U.S. Department of Justice said. IBM had asked for applications from software developers that contained citizenship status preferences for F-1 and H-1B temporary visa holders.

The posted ads violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which states employers may not discriminate on the basis of citizenship status “unless required to comply with law, regulation, executive order or government contract.”

Nope, I say nay to running the government like a business.

As Fans Moon Over Sweet Sixteen, K-State and KU Check Their Rosters

While the focus for most basketball fans is on the NCAA’s Sweet Sixteen, Kansas State and Kansas are contemplating changes in their rosters.

Told ya so. That body language, those coach’s decisions were just too much to overlook. Kansas State Coach Bruce Weber announced Tuesday through a press release that leading scorer Marcus Foster had been dismissed from the team. In addition, he dropped Tre Harris and said point guard Jevon Thomas would transfer.

No announcements at KU, but speculation continues that Perry Ellis, Kelly Oubre Jr., Brannen Greene and Cliff Alexander won’t be back next season.

K-State posted a roller-coaster 15-17 record and Foster’s erratic play contributed to the wild ride. You can make other suppositions on the reasons why Foster and Harris are leaving and poor grades may have been involved.

Weber’s statement said,  “It is a privilege to represent Kansas State University and there are consequences when players don’t live up to those expectations.”

He said Thomas  worked diligently to succeed both athletically and academically. However, his point guard attributes never really materialized. Thomas wanted to be closer to home, Weber said.

On top of the departures of seniors Nino Williams and Thomas Gipson, K-State is losing 43.5 points per game from a team that averaged 63.8.

The Wildcats lacked chemistry all season. Weber seemed to be in a constant snit while players talked about not being on the same page.

At the beginning of the season, Foster came in with lots of hype as a sophomore. The publicity may have been his downfall as he was thinking hard about being the man, ready to leap into the NBA. As a freshman, Foster led the Cats to a 20-win season and an NCAA Tournament berth. Instead of good stuff, the bad surfaced, so much so that Weber suspended him for three games and didn’t start him down the stretch of conference play. He did finish as the team’s leading scorer, averaging 12.5 points a game. That should tell you just how lacking the Cats were.

After the season, Foster told reporters, “I just didn’t go hard every day like I should have. I tried to go hard late in the season, but it was too late.”

Putting together a whole new roster is never easy. And concocting new chemistry creates more problems.

Two incoming guards are Kamau Stokes and Barry Brown with Stokes a three-star point guard from Baltimore. Weber has more scholarships to give now, so will he go out and find another point guard, maybe picking up a more seasoned player in the junior college ranks?

While Weber commiserates over his losses and calculates on recruits, 16 teams are trying to climb to the top of the NCAA Tournmanet.

While Destiny’s Child has Sweet Sixteen lyrics to address young love, a stanza could fit for the basketball teams:
Slow down
You’re moving way too fast
Sixteen
There’s so much for you to have
Sweet Sixteen
Do you know where you’re running to?
Do you know? Sweet Sixteen

Indeed, do we know?

What about the two remaining Big 12 teams, West Virginia and Oklahoma? How about Wichita State, the Kings of Kansas?

Sports Illustrated on-line analyzed their chances.

West Virginia might have the most disruptive defense in the country. The Moutaineers force turnovers on 28.1 percent of their opponents’ possessions and record a steal on 15.1 percent of possessions, both tops in the country. Juwan Staten (14.5 points per game) and the Mountaineers know how to turn those mistakes into points with the country’s 46th most efficient offense. That formula has helped the program earn Big 12 wins over the likes of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Kansas. Now West Virginia’s ball-hawking defense could be a true threat to the rest of the Midwest Region.

If the Mountaineers don’t force turnovers, their defense can give up shots. They allow an effective field-goal percentage of 52.6 percent this season, 301st nationally. That’s the last thing West Virginia needs against the offenses it’ll face on the way to the Final Four in Kentucky and Notre Dame or Wichita State. The program notched several impressive wins in Big 12 play this year, but its record against top-tier competition could become problematic. They lost twice to Iowa State and three to Baylor. West Virginia won’t reach Indianapolis without stepping up its game against top competition, and first up is Kentucky.

Oklahoma may have been over-seeded as a No. 3, but they’re the highest seed remaining in the East Regional and they have the best defense of any of the four teams still standing. They rank seventh nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency and 11th in effective field goal percentage defense, so they should be able to withstand any offensive droughts.

They are also active on the boards, ranking 22nd in the country—and third among remaining tournament teams—with 38.1 rebounds per game. And should a game come down to free throws, the Sooners will be comfortable at the line, where they shoot almost 74 percent, ranking in the top 40, and have three guards, Frank Booker, Buddy Hield and Jordan Woodard, who are each over 80 percent.

Hield, who was the Big 12 Player of the Year, might be the best player in Syracuse this weekend. He will need to play better this weekend than he did last weekend if Oklahoma is to reach its first Final Four since 2002. He shot just 10-for-29 from the floor, including 4-for-17 from outside, and grabbed only seven rebounds in the wins over Albany and Dayton.

The Sooners are without a victory over a top-10 seeded team and they haven’t been overly impressive in their tournament victories either, winning their two games against non-Power Five schools by an average of 7.5 points. With the increased level of competition, they can no longer get by on talent alone.

Wichita State faces an uphill battle to reach Indianapolis. Coach Gregg Marshall’s team must first face Notre Dame in the Sweet Sixteen. Can the Shockers survive Notre Dame? If they do, they’ll likely face unbeaten Kentucky and the country’s top defense. But Wichita might not even get by the Irish, who have shot 38.9 percent on three-pointers. That’s where the Shockers’ defense really struggles (217th nationally in three-point percentage defense). For Wichita State to reach its second Final Four in three seasons, it might need its best defensive performance against Notre Dame followed by an offensive clinic against Kentucky.

The actions begins Thursday.

More of the Same in GOP’s Budget

The Republicans have spoken and their push to help the rich and damn the poor comes through loud and clear, biased and open.

First the House approved its budget and then came the Senate on its proposal.

Their actions certainly provide fodder for Democrats to chew on. All the elements put forth during the George W. Bush administration are present and we all know what happened to our economy then. From supply side theories to welfare loathing, from hawkish defense spending to Obamacare repeal, the Republicans have charged ahead.

Hillary Clinton, under attack for the handling of her e-mails, went after the Republicans after the House released its $3.8 trillion budget plan that would overhaul the tax code and would attempt to balance the budget in a decade in tandem with deep cuts in social programs. The probable Democratic presidential candidate said on Twitter that the budget failed Americans on investments in jobs and economic growth, would cut college aid for students and undermine President Obama’s health care law.

She continued, “Budgets reflect our priorities. They should help families get ahead, educate our kids, and spark small business growth.”

Her response faulted the budget proposal’s outlook for education, saying cuts to Pell Grants “hold our kids back.” She also warned against another attempt to repeal the health care law, saying it would “let insurers write their own rules again, and wipe out coverage for 16 million Americans.”

The House GOP plan promised a balanced budget in 10 years. But how that would actually be achieved was unclear because the plan provided no details about how taxes — a necessary component to ensure enough money would be coming into the government to keep its finances stable — would fit into the equation.

 

The plan just doesn’t compute.

For example, on Social Security, both the House and Senate documents mislead readers about the state of the program’s finances. The House plan says it  is irresponsible to ignore the program’s looming insolvency while the Senate plan says the program is on a track to bankruptcy. These statements are false and alarmist. The Social Security Trust Fund holds $2.8 trillion in assets, in the form of legally binding debt from the U.S. Treasury. Under current projections, and with no changes to the program, Social Security will be able to pay full benefits until the mid-2030s. Even then it will be able to pay three-quarters of benefits, since it will continue to collect revenue every year.

The Senate plan promises to match the president’s projected Medicare savings of more than $400 billion — but it doesn’t say how they plan to do that. Senate Republicans would dismantle a key element of the president’s cost-containment mechanism. But when it comes to replacing it, they’re vague, proposing congressional committees that would work with beneficiaries and other stakeholders on the best ways to save the system and stave off insolvency.

During the Senate budget markup, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), alluded to a related problem the GOP budget ignores: At the same time that it instructs Congress to come up with a repeal, it continues to count all the revenue that the Affordable Care Act is expected to raise — and which the government wouldn’t collect if the law were dismantled

Even conservatives with concerns about the budget may be inclined to support it because of the opportunity it would give to take another whack at Obamacare. Two Republicans, Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), said they hoped that the Obamacare repeal could be in place during the reconciliation process, which would happen after the budget passed both chambers and would not require 60 votes in the Senate.

The House proposal repeats the Republicans’ draconian plan to dismantle Medicare as we know it, replacing it with a voucher system that would fail to cover the cost of private insurance.

One Republican took issue with the budgets. Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) who said he didn’t think anyone believed the budget would be balanced in a decade because Congress kept pushing off painful cuts. “It’s all hooey.”

President Obama went to Cleveland just after the House budget was released and said the plan offered  a “path to prosperity for those who’ve already prospered” and no path to help hard-working, middle-class people get ahead. He drew a sharp contrast between his approach to the economy and federal spending and that of Republicans.

He accused Republicans of being stuck in the past, wedded to the concept of “trickle-down economics” and proposing tax breaks for the wealthy “like a broken record” while cutting Medicare and other social programs that helped less well-off people get by.

He recalled past dire predictions by Republicans that his policies would ruin the economy and stunt job growth, and noted the steady decline in unemployment from double digits when he took office to 5.5 percent, with 12 million jobs created in the past five years and growth in other areas.

“When we, the public, evaluate who’s got a better argument here, we’ve got to look at the facts,” Obama said. “Reality has rendered its judgment. Trickle-down economics doesn’t work. Middle-class economics does. That’s what we should keep in mind when we go forward.”

Obama’s budget proposal, a $4 trillion plan he sent to Congress last month, would target corporate profits overseas, raise taxes on the rich, spend billions on roads and bridges and reverse automatic budget cuts on defense and domestic spending. He also would spend billions of dollars to cover the cost of community college for eligible students and boost tax credits for families and the working poor.

He said he was going to take a little credit for the economic progress to date but acknowledged that the situation was still far from perfect, with not enough people feeling the improvement in their daily lives. But he said the House Republican proposal wasn’t what’s was needed to keep the trend lines moving in a positive direction. He said it was the opposite of middle-class economics.

The hawks flew in the Senate during the budget committee mark-up of the budget bill. The panel, once again along party lines, accepted an amendment from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) that would increase the Pentagon’s war funding account from $58 billion to $96 billion. The would then receive a baseline budget of $523 billion.

It all boils down to the Republican ideology of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

Shock and Awe and Much More

Wichita State out-toughs, out-plays and out-hustles Kansas. … The Big 12 Conference fails to match the hype. … Jim Woodridge calls to check about basketball coaching job at Rockhurst. … Why is Chris Webber a CBS NCAA Tournament analyst and Greg Anthony isn’t? … Kevin Puryear leads Blue Springs South to Class 5 Missouri state basketball title while his next coach, Kim Anderson, looks on.

Now that’s quite a bit of sports action for one weekend.

The state of Nebraska made more money off Kansans during the NCAA Tournament in Omaha than since the Ak-Sar-Ben Race Track closed in 1995. Fans from Wichita State and KU flocked north to watch their two state schools face each other in basketball for the first time since 1993.

After the Shockers of the Missouri Valley embarrassed KU 78-65, the early Associated Press lead on the internet read: “No wonder Kansas never wants anything to do with Wichita State.”

Lots of revenge here for the Shockers. For one thing, they have felt snubbed because KU wouldn’t play them. Now they can say they’re the No. 1 team in Kansas. Oh, there’s more. Junior Ron Baker, from Scott City, wanted to go to KU but he never got a look from the coaching staff. Sunday he played 37 minutes, scored 12 points and grabbed three rebounds. Evan Wessel, another junior, was always the second banana to Perry Ellis on the high school state champion Wichita Heights teams. Ellis picked KU and Wessel Wichita State. Sunday Wessel played 30 minutes, scored 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds.

Victory so sweet for the Shockers.

Defeat so sour for the Jayhawks. From five minutes to go before intermission to the first five minutes of the second half, Wichita State outscored KU 24-6. The Shockers shot 59 percent in the second half.

Ellis, hobbled by a knee injury, scored 17 points.

This was about the Shockers and standout guard Fred VanVleet’s quote to reporters after the game played to the underdog role: “We don’t have McDonald’s All-Americans, we don’t have guys that have been in the spotlight, and been given that pedestal. We work for everything we’ve got, from managers to coaches to our preacher to, you know, whoever. We’ve scrapped and fought our whole lives.”

KU Coach Bill Self told reporters, “We’d been playing anybody else, it would have meant the same, advancing to the Sweet 16. It just so happens we played an in-state team to go where we wanted to go, and they were much better than us.”

The star-studded Jayhawks had no answers. They didn’t get back on defense when they made a defensive stop. They looked weak scrapping for loose balls. They backed off on races down the court. It was a physical game and the referees let them play, much to KU’s disadvantage.

After Thursday’s debacle when the Big 12 lost all three games — Iowa State, Baylor and Texas — the conference did win three of four on Friday. Then Sunday Oklahoma beat Dayton 72-66 and West Virginia downed Maryland 69-59 to reach the Sweet Sixteen.

The ACC certainly is the leader of the pack, putting five teams — Notre Dame, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Louisville and Duke — into the Sweet Sixteen. The Pac-12 advanced three teams — Arizona, Utah and UCLA, the one so few believed deserved a spot. The Big 10 also has two representatives, Wisconsin and Michigan State. Kentucky of the SEC, Xavier of the Atlantic 10 and Gonzaga of the West Coast round out the field.

The Big 12 lacks the great coaches of the past and now must produce with the likes of Rick Barnes at Texas, Scott Drew of Baylor, Bruce Weber of Kansas State and Travis Ford of Oklahoma State. The RPI had the Big 12 as the top league in the nation, but did the rating factor in these coaches.

Then there’s Coach Wooldridge. He’s been the athletic director at California-Riverside for two years after coaching there for six seasons in posting a 70-112 mark. He certainly fits a Division II mold but at 59 can he still face up to the very big rebuilding job at Rockhurst?

Bill O’Connor coached the Hawks for 21 seasons but recruiting fell off in his later years.

Wooldridge was 131-48 in six seasons at Central Missouri State.

He knows the area, having also coached at Kansas State for six seasons in posting an 83-90 record. He also was head coach at Southwest Texas State and Louisiana Tech. He was an  assistant to Chicago Bulls Coach Tim Floyd for two years. He was born and raised in Oklahoma City.

Webber has a job, as a basketball analyst for CBS analyst. He was on the KU-Wichita State game. Anthony was the top CBS analyst until he allegedly propositioned an escort service woman. Taboo. Now then, the question: Why Webber and not Anthony? You see, Webber was involved in a scandal at Michigan, he was convicted of perjury and banned from any affiliation with the Michigan program until 2013, he was arrested in 1998 and charged with second-degree assault, resisting arrest and possession of marijuana and driving under the influence of marijuana and five other traffic-related violations. He was acquitted of all those charges and paid $56 for lesser violations.

Later in 1998 on a trip back from Puerto Rico, U.S. Customs found marijuana in his bag and he paid a $500 fine. Fila dropped Webber as an endorser but he later was awarded $2.61 million for breach of contract.

The scandal?

In 2002, Webber was charged for lying to a grand jury as part of a larger investigation of a numbers gambling operation, run by Michigan basketball program booster Ed Martin, who was convicted on counts of tax evasion and robbery. He was scheduled to testify on the financial connections between himself and Webber at a sentencing hearing, but died of a heart attack. As a result of evidence admitted during the course of Martin’s trial, Webber pled guilty to one count of criminal contempt for lying about his role in a scandal in which four players, including himself, had accepted illicit loans from Martin. Martin had been giving money to Webber since the eighth grade.

Sex and you’re out. Scandal and other things, well, time must heal all in rehabilitation.

Oh what young people endowed with ability must face, on and off the court. Puryear is looking at a career where he will receive considerable early scrutiny. Is he really 6-7? Does he really weight 235? He certainly looked leaner and quicker this season.

He scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds as South beat Park Hill South 71-57 Saturday in Columbia. He’s headed there next year to play for the Tigers. And Anderson certainly is pleased.

Well, guess it’s time to see how the Royals shape up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Definitely, in Kansas You Can’t Fix Stupid

You surely recall the great Ron White line, don’t ya. Yeah, the one where he says: You can’t fix stupid.

Kansas politics thrives on ignorance. And the pols love it. They want government squeezed to death, except of course when they push laws to dominate teachers and elected judges.

They are pressing for a law now that allows charges to be brought against teachers for “promotion of material harmful to minors.”  Charges could be brought against teachers (public or private) for using materials parents object to, even if those materials were provided by and approved by the school administrators and school board.

That’s right.  A teacher can be charged for promoting material harmful to minors even if the school administrator or board approved it?  Why would it be approved if it was harmful, former Democrat state representative Ann Mah asked? Does the parent have to prove it’s harmful, she wondered?

Then there’s the bill about concealed carry with a license or training. How about that one! You at least have to know how to drive a car to get a license. A gun? Nope.

Now this one:  A bill that allows students to participate in public school activities even if they do not attend the school.  They have to pay any fees applicable, be immunized and meet some other requirements. As Mah noted,  the public school isn’t good enough for your child to attend its classroom, but good enough for an athlete, one that would take away a spot from someone who does attend the school. The home schoolers have a strong lobby with Republicans.

And I wonder how schools cotton to the fast-track block grants enactment? You can be sure that one will get court scrutiny.

Maybe you haven’t read about how Governor Sam Brownback wants to handle freedom of information requests. One of his spokesmen told the Wichita Eagle that the newspaper would have to pay $1,235 to obtain records of e-mail and phone conversations between his office and a former chief of staff who is a prominent Statehouse lobbyist.

Wonder what he thinks about the demand for Hillary Clinton’s e-mails? Hey, Hillary, charge a fee.

The Kansas City Star has done a good job staying on top of the Kansas trail of ignorance. Is the message of stupid getting out there? Who else is spreading the message? Is some other entity staying on top of the situation? Well, yes.

In the March 9 issue of the Iola Register, an editorial noted that the Democrats needed to regroup and settle on new ways to beat back the Republican ideologues.

The editorial read, “Last year’s disastrous election cycle proved if Democrats don’t make some big changes — and fast — Kansas will become a one-party state. We’re almost there. No Democrat west of Kansas Highway 177, on the other side of Emporia, holds a seat in the Kansas Legislature.”

Just think of that. You wonder who votes for these right wing-nuts. Look west, young man, look west. The ultra conservatives live out there in bushels and they want folks in Johnson and Wyandotte counties to know just how powerful they are.

The editorial continued, “Kansas Republicans have earned the right to take November’s election as a mandate to continue the path of slashing taxes despite the harm it is doing to education, social services, prisons, courts and infrastructure.”

The middle class is getting the shaft, the newspaper said, adding that Brownback’s scheme of tax cuts favors the wealthy. “A high sales tax disproportionately hurts middle-income earners, compared with the wealthy. Tax breaks for businesses are great for bosses but do nothing for employees.”

The editorial mentioned that children in public schools are affected negatively, noting, “Most of us don’t have the option of sending Muffy or Winthrop to a private school, where tuition tops any factory paycheck. So when funding to education is cut, it’s teachers and children of the middle class who suffer.”

What many rural residents who vote Republican apparently don’t understand is that certain federal programs are set up to help them. Instead, they fall back on the time-worn “keep government out of our lives.” They may be the same people getting federal farm subsidies. But they cuss the government anyway while driving down the highway that the government funds built so they could live in faraway places with a system of roads that access places where they can do business.

A significant item is their disfavor with Medicaid, as if it were some plague sweeping the plains and outlying areas.

The Kansas-based National Rural Health Association, which represents about 2,000 small hospitals across the country and other rural care providers, says that 48 rural hospitals have closed since 2010, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal.

The newspaper item said, “Experts and practitioners cite declining federal reimbursements for hospitals under the Affordable Care Act as the principal reasons for the recent closures. Besides cutting back on Medicare, the law reduced payments to hospitals for the uninsured, a decision based on the assumption that states would expand their Medicaid programs. However, almost two dozen states have refused to do so. In addition, additional Medicare cuts caused by a budget disagreement in Congress have hurt hospitals’ bottom lines.”

But rural hospitals also suffer from multiple endemic disadvantages that drive down profit margins and make it virtually impossible to achieve economies of scale. The newspaper added, “These include declining populations; disproportionate numbers of elderly and uninsured patients; the frequent need to pay doctors better than top dollar to get them to work in the hinterlands; the cost of expensive equipment that is necessary but frequently underused; the inability to provide lucrative specialty services and treatments; and an emphasis on emergency and urgent care, chronic money-losers.”

For the high percentages of elderly and uninsured patients who live in rural areas, closures mean longer trips for treatment and uncertainty during times of crisis.

Simply put, if the states had accepted the federal expansion, the suffering would have been at least mitigated.

But White was right: You can’t fix stupid.

So why do the people of Kansas vote for these people? Doh!

The Iola editorial noted, “The GOP mantra that benefits to the wealthy trickle down to middle- and low-income workers and help spur spending has more holes than Swiss cheese as evidenced by our budget shortfall.”

Developer Takes a View of Urban Core

When looking at demographics, a plus can become a minus.

The energy, the interest in developing a neo-urban core elates downtown Kansas City supporters. But a twist with a donut can create problems. For 50 years, Kansas City residents have fled to the suburbs, Lee’s Summit, Johnson County, Kansas City North, Raymore and others formed a circle around the urban area to create a population hole.

A shift back is beginning. The millenniums reject yard work, trees and pastoral views. They want proximity to work, access to fine restaurants and cultural activities down the street.

It’s a new trend that produces old problems. When residents fled to the outskirts, they left older homes, many in need of repairs. Run-down or not, they provided shelter for those near or in poverty. Now, what happens to them with the reverse migration? Developers are buying up property and putting up apartments and houses. The condo boom has quieted — but not fizzled as renovated buildings continue to provide access for those who choose downtown living.

Smart builders pace themselves without ripping out multiple square blocks. But the picture of an entrepreneur razing block after block becomes an abstract of poverty in duress. Where do the impoverished go after being forced out?

John Hoffman, UC-B Properties owner, spoke Monday at a meeting of the 40 Years Ago Column Club at the Brio and took a positive viewpoint, saying those who own property would see increased values. But what about those who don’t own the property? Good question, Hoffman said. The inference was that they could move.

A shrewd developer now, Hoffman returned to Kansas City after serving in the Peace Corps and the Army. He joined Dean Witter/Morgan Stanley and stayed there for 33 years. He retired in 2002 to devote full time to rebuilding the urban core.

He’s active in several civic groups and has developed such private projects as 40 Penn Row, Summit at 16th, East Market Row and homes in the 4400 block of Rainbow. He also dared to build on property east of Troost. Dared? Yes. For example, one of the developments is at 24th and Forest, a neighborhood stereotyped as blighted. He’s developing property in the Beacon Hill area — bordered by Troost on the west and the Paseo on the East, 31st on the south and Truman Road on the north.

With the economy turned around, he’s looking into projects between 53rd and 55th on Troost — he jointly owns the entire west side of Troost between 55th to 56th.

He’s proud of the homes he’s building. Darn proud.

After his initial success, he saw omens of a declining economy. It did not bode well financially that the country was in two wars and not raising taxes to pay for them, he explained. In the early 2000s, his real estate ventures had focused on the city market area. The economy rebounded during the Obama administration and he became involved in apartments and houses.  He sees progress.

He’s a developer with a vision. For example, before building a project at 29th and Gillham, he said he stood on the hill and looked down to see Crown Center and the Liberty Memorial and here property was selling at $2 a square foot. Let’s get busy, came the cry.

Precise and patient, he wants to make sure any property he buys will sell, of course. He’s happy now that he didn’t over-build when the economy tanked. He had difficulty selling then, but he wasn’t over-loaded.

He has lessons for those who will listen. He asked, “What happened in the 1950s?” He paused. “Topeka vs. Board of Education.” That put people on the move. He didn’t call it white flight, but that’s what happened. People started moving from the urban core, concerned about integration. Now, he said, the suburbs run all the way to 160th and they could have gone to Oklahoma.

“So what happened in the downtown area,” he asked? “People left. The only ones staying were those who couldn’t leave.”

Lots happened in those rush to the suburbs. So when Hoffman returned to Kansas City, he saw property where he could buy for pennies on the dollar. “Many thought I was crazy buying up that property,” he said.

He studied Denver and Indianapolis, explaining that they seemed to be a little more forward thinking and doing well with their developments.

He foresees more good things for the Kansas City core area. He pointed out that the East Crossroads development will one day spread to 18th and Vine. He asked a question: “Which two areas are unique to the city?” He waited, then answered, “18th and Vine and the Liberty Memorial.”

He shrugged when someone in the audience mentioned the city’s fountains and the Country Club Plaza. After all, so far most of his projects are within view of the Liberty Memorial or 18th and Vine.

Oh, the concern about Beacon Hill, an area with negative socio-economic assumptions. He bought nine lots and has sold all nine houses he built — the price of a couple of new ones built there were less than $200,000.

He repeated that young people just don’t want the suburbs anymore and they’re flocking back to the urban core.

There will be problems but he’s pushing forward. He didn’t cringe when a question from the audience noted the lack of schools in the area. A problem, of course, but he mentioned that the area would be getting two new charter schools.

Parking is a problem downtown. And just one grocery store there. However, his projects are in a more open area, near the core but not smack dab in it. Parking is available.

Hoffman remains positive on the development of the urban core. He sees only good things coming of the trend.

So, here is Kansas City in a period of growing inside out. Does that mean that the more indigent will move to the suburbs? Look around and you can see the results of that happening.

There’s an old country saying that you should keep your eye upon the donut and not upon the hole. Obviously, Hoffman doesn’t believe in bromides.

Having Fun Filling Out NCAA Bracket

Have you filled out your NCAA Basketball Championship bracket all the way? Who you got winning it all? Sure you do. If you don’t pick Kentucky, you are some kind of basketball ideologue.

How far are you going to take Kansas? Can they beat Wichita State? Ooooohhhh, touchy, touchy. Yes, first of all, the Jayhawks need to get past New Mexico State. The Aggies won the WAC. Sis-boom-bah! That and a cold cup of coffee will get you a cold cup of coffee.

So what if the Jayhawks have tumbled to lesser-rated teams, you surely don’t think they will lose the NCAA opener. You’re right, they haven’t been playing well of late. A better question might be: Will Wichita State beat Indiana. Look, the Hoosiers are 20-13 and the Big Ten is one fine basketball conference. Don’t put that one away in the Shocker win column just yet.

The Shockers could be looking past the Indiana game and focusing on what it would be like to play KU. And, believe me, they can beat KU. The Jayhawks have no leadership on the court. The guard play is inconsistent at best. And you can rest assured that the Shockers will be pumped for the game … if it materializes. They’re not as talented as they were last season when they went 35-0 before losing to Kentucky in the NCAAs. But they’re good.

I picked Kansas to beat them — after all the Jayhawks hear all the fan noise, too — but lose to Notre Dame.

What about the rest of the Big 12? Lots of hype for the conference. Is it really that good? The RPI says it is, rating the league No. 1. The conference put seven teams in the tournament, tying the Big Ten in representation.

I scoured the brackets and I think Iowa State has a good shot at reaching the final game. But Kentucky is there and the Cyclones won’t beat them. I think West Virginia has a real chance to get to the regional finals before losing to Kentucky. Oklahoma has a clean path for a bit until running into Virginia in the third game. But the Cavaliers are beatable and I think the Sooners can defeat them.

Then comes my wild and wooly selection. I’ve got Northern Iowa going to the Final Four, beating OU in the regional finals and setting up an in-state meeting with Iowa State. The path for the Panthers looks like this to me: defeat Wyoming, Louisville, North Carolina State and Oklahoma. Hey, why not!

Back to the Big 12. I have Butler beating Texas in the opener. Oklahoma State may not beat Oregon and if the Cowboys do they certainly won’t beat Wisconsin in the next round. Baylor has the talent to go far but the Bears also must face the possibility of facing Wisconsin if they can get by Xavier and Arizona — obviously, formidable tasks.

My bracketology:

First Round

Kentucky, Cincy, West Virginia, Maryland, Butler, Notre Dame, Wichita State, Kansas.

Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, North Carolina, Xavier, Baylor, Ohio State, Arizona.

Villanova, North Carolina State, Northern Iowa, Louisville, Dayton, Oklahoma, Michiga State, Virginia.

Duke, St. John’s, S.F. Austin, Eastern Washington, SMU, Iowa State, Davidson, Gonzaga.

Second Round

Kentucky, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Kansas, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Baylor, Arizona, North Carolina State, Northern Iowa, Oklahoma, Virginia, Duke, S.F. Austin, Iowa State, Gonzaga.

Third Round

Kentucky, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Baylor, Northern Iowa, Oklahoma, S.F. Austin, Iowa State.

Quarterfinals

Kentucky, Wisconsin, Northern Iowa, Iowa State.

Semifinals

Kentucky, Iowa State

Winner

Kentucky

What you think? Look at that second-round possibility: S.F. Austin vs. Eastern Washington. Wouldn’t that be a kick!

SMU vs. UCLA must produce some interesting feelings to Mustang Coach Larry Brown. He left UCLA in 1981 after two season, saying it was too expensive to live in Westwood. There probably were other reasons for the peripatetic coach to search for new venues. Counting his pro coaching career, he has been with 15 teams. His college stints were at UCLA, Kansas and now SMU. Tim Jankovich, an SMU assistant who will take over for Brown when he leaves, played at Manhattan High and Kansas State, where he later coached under Jack Hartman.

Most all kibitzers believe UCLA never should not have been selected for this tournament. Two teams drawing the crying towel award for missing out are Temple and Colorado State.

In filling out your brackets, don’t eliminate a No. 1 seed in the first round. Since 1985, when the tournament expanded to 64 teams, the top four seeds are 104-0 in the first round. For that matter, the top three seeds are 292-20 in round one.

Don’t talk about upsets in the Nos. 8 and 9 seeds, but in looking over internet punditry, three upsets are getting play. No. 12 S.F. Austin over No. 5 Utah is one. Brad Underwood, the Lumberjacks coach who played for McPherson High School and Kansas State and later was an assistant coach for the Wildcats, has his eyes set on the Alabama job, which opened this week when Anthony Grant was fired. The Lumberjacks can shoot, hitting a 56.2 percent clip — 38.1 from three-point land.

Another one is No. 13 Valparaiso over No. 4 Maryland. That also has some Kansas ties with Terrapin Coach Mark Turgeon playing at Topeka Hayden and KU and becoming the head coach at Wichita State. The Crusaders play tough defense, holding opponents to 42.1 percent shooting.

And the third one: No. 12 UC Irvine over No. 4 Louisville. This is the Anteaters first appearance in the NCAA Tournament. They feature 7-foot-6 Mamadou Ndiaye, who could be a difference maker in the middle of the Anteater zone defense. Irvine has held opponents to 42.3 percent shooting. Louisville  ranks just 95th in offensive efficiency, the worst major-conference mark in the tournament.

The last couple of seasons I have been awful in my bracket formulas. But the great thing about this time of year you have a heckuva lot of fun just getting involved.

Cat Basketball Dribbles While Wichita State Sizzles

The NCAA Tournament stands as an embarrassment to Kansas State in more ways than one. The Wildcats are nowhere to be found in the brackets — they didn’t even make the NIT. But here is added fodder for the anti-Cat tale: The fans’ focus is on the possibility Wichita State and Kansas will meet if they win their first games in the tournament. Ouch

The Shockers certainly stole a lot from the K-State banner when they went 35-0 before losing to Kentucky in the NCAAs last season on top of going to the Final Four the year before.

K-State Coach Bruce Weber has a daunting task ahead of him. The cast for the Cats will be without Nino Williams and Thomas Gipson. Returnees have talent but lack court savvy and maturity. The recruits lack star quality. Weber needs to concoct the right chemistry to get the team working more cohesively.

Whatever the problems with Marcus Foster, Weber needs to get them straightened out. Yes, of course, Foster needs to take responsibility. There’s also a question whether Foster will stay at Kansas State. His options are limited because he would lose a lot of college eligibility time if he transferred. And he certainly isn’t ready for the NBA.

As Illinois coach, Weber had trouble getting the most from players. Numerous stories popped up about his ongoing problems with Illini players and his inability to recruit talent-rich Chicago.

While much has been made of Foster’s lack of work ethics, others under-performed. Justin Edwards averaged 6.3 points after transferring from Maine where he led the America East in scoring. Much was expected of 6-7 Wesley Iwundu but he was inconsistent at best.

The Cats really need a point guard. Surely, somewhere, somehow Weber could find one who could run the team, pass the ball, run the offense and not turn it over. Jevon Thomas certainly hasn’t shown he’s the answer. Weber seemed to give up on Nigel Johnson, but should he have?

Then there was 6-11 Stephen Hurt — a complete zero.

They have a void on the inside. Hurt, Malek Harris, Brandon Bolden and D.J. Johnson, who missed the entire season with an injury, don’t appear to be the answers.

Will the recruits fill in?  K-State signed three: 6-9 Dean Wade of St. John, Kansas, 6-3 guard Barry Brown of St. Petersburg, Florida, and 6-10 Dante Williams of Arlington, Texas. Kamau Stokes, a 6-foot guard from Baltimore, has committed to K-State. None of the four draws a lot of attention.

Brown and Stokes are listed as point guards. Scouting services said Stokes always believed he was good enough to play basketball at a high-major school. But coming out of City High last spring, every major-conference college coaching staff apparently disagreed. Without a high-Division I offer, Stokes headed to Fork Union (Virginia) Military Academy to raise his profile. The gamble paid off  when he accepted Kansas State’s offer.

Is there a junior college point guard who could come in right now and provide fill the obvious needs? Weber should have a lot of time to find one without any tournament coaching duties.

St. John is a Class 2A school in a state that goes up to Class 6A. However, Wade surely made Weber smile with a 28-point, 13-rebound performance on the very court he will play on in college. St. John won its second straight state championship last weekend with a 49-44 victory over Central Plains.

By getting Wade, K-State coaches muted some of the griping about losing Ron Baker to Wichita State. Baker has developed into a star for the Shockers after gaining little attention from recruiters while he was playing in Scott City. Kansas State used to thrive on players from smaller schools in the state. From Ernie Barrett and Dick Knotsman to Jeff Simons, Max Moss, Sammy Robinson and Earl Seyfert to Lon Kruger, Steve Henson and Ed Nealy. Shocker Coach Gregg Marshall wasn’t all that sold on Baker, who had to sit out a season as a red-shirt.

Throughout the season, Weber whined and moaned over this and that. The team was tired, the other team was too long and agile, the team had their chances, the other team got the breaks, the team wasn’t ready to play.

The roller-coaster ride mainly was on the uphill side. Still, K-State was good enough to beat five ranked opponents. After losing at Oklahoma State to start the Big 12 Conference season, the Wildcats won four straight — TCU, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Baylor. But consistency was unattainable. K-State lost games it was expected to win and went 3-13 away from Bramlage Coliseum.

What spurred them to play with lots of energy on some occasions and what sapped them on downer games? Is that the coach?

What does all this mean? Well, the Cats need to do a lot of work in the off-season. They need to get in the gym together, work out their physical and mental flaws.

Weber certainly saved his job with the 70-63 home-court victory over Kansas on February 23 but another season like this one past will result in a lot of negative noise.

Becoming a Fan Can Lead to Fun Trip

The weather was nice. But you feel a little bored. You need a little something to do. So, naturally, you decide to drive to Salina and watch a Class 4A state basketball tournament. Hey, doesn’t everybody!

I have cut back on my favorite teams. I thoroughly enjoyed my alma mater, Mizzou, until bad things started happening there with the culmination of moving to the SEC. I liked Kansas State after working in Manhattan and Topeka for several years and developing friendships. You build fan intensity by talking to friends, getting to know players and coaches. My K-State friends are dying off.

Being a fan of the Kansas City Royals and Chiefs has been difficult with all the losses. But I’m interested now.

I’ve always enjoyed high school sports. With friendships, I have developed a like for several boys’ teams in the area.

So on to Salina for Friday’s semifinals pitting Bishop Miege vs. McPherson and Basehor-Linwood vs. Ottawa. About 170 miles. I’ve been out toward Abilene a few times recently but I hadn’t been to Salina for some time. Of course, I had to drive by the Salina Country Club and admire its old course tradition of narrow fairways, lots of trees, bunkers and water. Then I had to tell the others about the homes along the south side being a part of the movie, Picnic.

I’ve always considered Salina a bigger town than 50,000, what with its three high schools, Central, South and Sacred Heart. But it is 50,000. Also, while you may think you have driven a long way across Kansas, this town is in the central part of the state, a long way to Colorado yet.

Manufacturing is the predominant industry in Salina. But as far as I’m concerned it is all about agriculture, mainly wheat. The grain elevators are visible from miles away. Salina lies in the Smoky Hills region of the Great Plains just west-southwest of the confluence of the Saline and Smoky Hill rivers.

The folks are mostly country and proud of it. The cost of living in Salina is relatively low with the median home value $109,700.

Schilling Air Force is just to the southwest. Or what was once Schilling. It’s now closed and the area is rather quiet these days with the civil airport having just one commercial airline, Seaport Airlines. After the military closed the facilities, large commercial airlines used the runways for touch-and-go landings for training.

The base also was known as Smoky Hill Air Force Base. During World War II, the Air Force used the base for training on the B-29 Superfortress. In 1946, the base was one of the first airfields transferred to the Strategic Air Command. During the Cold War, the airfield was home to two B-47 Stratojet Bombardment Wings. It closed in 1965, and reopened as Salina Municipal Airport.

Many of the buildings, including hangars, remain.

There is one building that has remained in Salina and food addicts from all over the country continue to show up. In 1922, Bob Kinkel began frying his onion-laden smash burgers in a tiny space at 108 North 7th Street. Kinkel obtained the concept from White Castle, which opened the previous year in Wichita. The 1930s proved to be successful for the hamburger stand, as it provided an inexpensive meal to Depression-hit Kansans.

In 1960, Kinkel died and the burger joint has changed hands several times. The Cozy Inn is known nationally as one of the last remaining six-stool diners in America. In 2010, USA Today picked the Cozy Inn as the “Best Burger Joint in Kansas.”

As we stood at the outside window to buy our “six-packs” for $6.54 each, a patron approached and said, “Don’t go inside or you will have to go to the dry cleaners to get the hamburger-onion smell out of your clothes. You can go anywhere in Salina after you’ve gone inside and you’ll hear, ‘Oh, you been to the Cozy Inn.’ The aroma follows you everywhere.”

The six tiny burgers were fried on the same grill as Kinkel used in the 1920s. Wow, can you imagine the amount of grease!

Hey, a double-dip hot fudge sundae at Braum’s and you are fit for the day.

There was a little time for relaxation — a dip in the heated pool and a walk to get the Saturday morning papers.

Yes, there was basketball. The games were played in the Salina Bicentennial Center, a 7,500-seat multipurpose building that can seat 7,500.

In 1990, the rock band Kiss performed at the arena. During the show, the band’s enormous stage set overloaded the arena’s power supply causing a transformer to explode outside the building and cutting electricity inside the arena. This abruptly ended the show before the band could complete their set. Band member Paul Stanley phoned a local radio station and promised to return to Salina to make up for the shortened show. This phone call was recorded and played on the air. Kiss never returned.

Some civic leaders want to build a new center but critics say no, adding that renovation would be just fine.

Kiss didn’t return to the center but McPherson High School sure did, as the defending state champions. And they won again, beating Miege 79-68 and Basehor-Linwood 74-60.

We stuck around for Saturday’s games and Miege bounced back with a 77-67 victory over Ottawa for third place. The Stags shot 72.5 percent. No matter what anyone says, third is better than fourth. And not bad either, considering they won only five games last season.

Now here’s something to ponder. How much value is there in playing games close to home? McPherson is 37 miles south of Salina. The team can tap a fan base, can sleep in their own beds and can eat home cookin’.

Hmm, home cookin’! The Bullpups shot 45 free throws Friday and 41 Saturday. Style of play or compliant benefactors?

Basehor-Linwood Coach Mike McBride told the Kansas City Star that he wondered how the officials could call the fouls at one end of the court and not at the other. He wasn’t buying the home cookin’.

Kyler Kinnamon, the McPherson coach’s son, shot 18 free throws against Miege and hit 13 of them on his way to 25 points. His father, Kurt, has now won six state titles.

They just may be the best team in Kansas. Yep, these boys, sporting classic 1950s flat-top hair-cuts, beat Wichita Heights, the Class 5A champion. And Heights beat Wichita East, the Class 6A champion. Without a bona fide Division I prospect, the Bullpups played McPherson system basketball and went undefeated doing so.

Which, by the way, is another sidelight — all four teams in the boys and girls 4A title games were undefeated. Two remained — McPherson and the Miege girls, who beat Paola for the title.

Now that was fun. But you always have the drive back home.

Faux News and Then Some Good Sports Stuff

News Flash! Pete Carroll is leaving the Seattle Seahawks.

Coach Carroll is reported to be near to signing on as a special consultant to the Pope in Vatican City.

The Pope looks to recruit Carroll to be a spokesman for the Catholic Church because he is the first man in history that made 100 million people jump up and yell “Jesus Christ!” at the same time.

Aw, come on now, you can take a joke, can’t ya! No, it isn’t another wrong story posted by Fox News. It’s a joke about his decision late in the Super Bowl, for crying out loud.

——

Michael Beasley is back in the NBA. For how long, who knows.

He’s on the Miami Heat roster for the third time. The Heat signed the one-and-done-at-Kansas-State player No. 2 overall in the 2008 NBA Draft.

He told reporters, “It’s like I never left, honestly. I feel great. I’m definitely blessed and humbled to have another opportunity.”

The Heat needed help with Chris Bosh out for the season with blood clots in his lungs. Beasley knows the Heat’s terminology.

Beasley played in China this season after failing to catch on with an NBA team over the summer. In 37 games with the Shanghai Sharks, he averaged 27.1 points, 10.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.92 steals while shooting 51.3 percent.

His second tour with the Heat came last season. He has fought personal problems most of his pro career while on the court he played well offensively at times, shooting 50 percent from the field and 39 percent from three-point range. But on a team filled with veteran scorers, he was used sparingly and sometimes only as an option of last resort.

Beasley, 26, owns an apartment in Miami and has been training at AmericanAirlines Arena since the season ended in China.

The Heat recently signed Henry Walker — he was Bill Walker when he played at Kansas State with Beasley. Walker had been with the Heat’s D-League team, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, for two seasons before his call-up.

——

Duke transfer Semi Ojeleye has joined SMU, but the 6-8 forward won’t be eligible to play until December 2015; he will have 1½ years of eligibility remaining.

Ojeleye,, a four-star prospect at Ottawa, chose Duke over offers from Arizona, Kansas and Stanford. He averaged 3.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in six games with the Blue Devils.

Before deciding to transfer to SMU, Ojeleye considered Georgetown, Nebraska and Wisconsin.

——

Kansas and Kansas State are gearing up for spring football drills. KU will start on March 24 while K-State will wait until April 1.

The Jayhawks will play their spring game April 25 at Memorial Stadium. They will spread out their spring practice dates over a five-week period spanning the last week of March and the month of April.

Construction at Bill Snyder Family Stadium will provide a chance for Kansas City fans to have a closer look at the K-State team. The Purple/White Spring Game will be April 25 in Kansas City’s Sporting Park, home of the Sporting Kansas City soccer team.

——

Kansas’ basketball team certainly needs Perry Ellis. He has been recuperating from a knee injury. The Jayhawks keep winning but they are not the same team without Ellis.

Kelly Oubre Jr. certainly is doing his part in keeping KU on the winning track. He scored a career-high 25 points as the Jayhawks held off scrappy TCU 64-59 Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament.

KU will take on Baylor in the semifinals tonight. The Bears beat West Virginia 80-70 in an earlier quarterfinal.

——

Is Kansas State’s basketball season? The Wildcats certainly won’t get an NCAA Tournament bid. They could receive an NIT offer despite the 15-17 record. If they were to get a home-court situation, they could be a good draw and maybe play better.

And what about Marc Foster? His confidence is so shaken that he couldn’t even come off the bench late in the 67-65 loss Wednesday to TCU in the Big 12 Tournament. Will he come back next season with a new outlook or even just come back? Stay tuned.

He conceded that he hadn’t given his all during practice time. His demeanor fit the mold of several on the team.

What damning statements that Nino Williams made after the Wednesday loss. He said he and Thomas Gipson got stuck with a bunch of guys who didn’t understand how hard it was to win in the Big 12.

Coach Bruce Weber has taken a lot of heat this season but Williams said, I hate it when people say Bruce didn’t do a good enough job. A lot of guys didn’t buy in. You can’t have two or three guys playing hard and the other people not.”

Then there was Justin Edwards, a newcomer this season who didn’t play up to expectations. He told reporters: “The team was never as mentally tough as we should have been. We didn’t take every game as seriously as we should have.”

——

In May 2011, Maryland picked Mark Turgeon to replace a coach who was later recognized as an ACC legend, inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and honored by state government. Gary Williams led the Terrapins to a national championship, two Final Fours and 14 NCAA tournament appearances. When he resigned after 22 seasons, the hope was that his successor could help the Terrapins reach similar heights.

So Maryland went with Turgeon, a man with many ties to Kansas. He played at Topeka Hayden and KU, then was an assistant with the Jayhawks before getting the job at Wichita State. The Terrapins grabbed him from Texas A&M.

The initial optimism surrounding Turgeon gave way to questions about uneven results on the court over his first three seasons. In 2011-12, Maryland finished eighth in the ACC and won 17 games, its lowest total since 1995-96. Though the Terps improved by eight wins the next season, they turned in another 17-win campaign in 2013-14. The lack of clear progress left the program’s trajectory in question heading into the offseason.

Then this last spring, five scholarship players transferred, including second-leading scorer Seth Allen. A media panel picked Maryland to finish 10thout of 14 teams in its inaugural season in the Big Ten. The Terps are 26-5, with a 14-4 record against Big Ten competition. They registered nonconference wins over Arizona State, Iowa State and Oklahoma State and upended Wisconsin and Michigan State (twice) during conference play.

He should have quieted the critics. The Terps will play Indiana tonight in the conference tournament.