Turn left at the mirror

The titular mirror stands over the corner of 21st Street and Wellman Road, the closest point from the paved road to my new election site: Sarcoxie Township station #2.

Kansas Governor: I promised back in August that if Kris Kobach won the primary, I would vote for the Democrat. Not only did I vote for Democrat Laura Kelly, I put up a sign for her in front of the Kennedy Compound.

US House – 2nd District: Steve Watkins was not my first choice of a GOP candidate; however, Democrat Paul Davis comes out of what I believe to be one of the most liberal Kansas House Districts – the GOP hasn’t fielded a viable candidate in that district in many years. The 2nd, as a whole, leans a little bit more to the right.

Secretary of State: Maybe this is a sympathy vote, but I picked Scott Schwab. One thing’s still for certain: he’s not Kris Kobach, even though his opponent has insinuated that he would be a Kobach clone.

Attorney General: I stuck with incumbent Derrick Schmidt. His opponent, Lawrence-based criminal defense attorney Sarah Swain, was disavowed by the Democrats over a poster she commissioned for her office depicting a Wonder Woman-like character choking a law enforcement officer.

State Treasurer: I promised Marci Francisco that I would not vote against her unless I was running for the same office. I’m still not planning on entering the political fray anytime soon.

Insurance Commissioner: Vicki Schmidt (no relation to the incumbent AG) has the name recognition advantage.

State Representative – 47th District: I picked incumbent Republican Ron Ellis. The Oskaloosa Independent did a profile on him, which indicated he was from the Bernie Sanders school of thought. I am most definitely not in that camp.

Running unopposed in the General are Jefferson County Commissioner Lynn Luck (R) and Sarcoxie Township Clerk Bob Lockwood (R)

We also had seven Court of Appeals judges and two District Court judges facing retention. As far as I know, none are in hot water (and I actually browse the new caselaw every Friday). I voted to retain everyone.

Labor Day weekend on the Marcelline Sub

Usually, Labor Day weekend means that I’m out doing something train related. I decided this year to head out to Camden, Missouri on the Marcelline Sub.

I arrived a little before 10:00 and found that I wasn’t alone – there was another car, and two railfans wearing day-glo orange vests already there waiting on the (late, as is the norm) Amtrak 4. It didn’t take long for the action to kick up.

BNSF ES44C4s 8178 and 6600 lead a westbound intermodal on Main 1 at 1002

Another C4, BNSF 7104, along with Dash-9 4399, bring up the markers on the westbound at 1004.

Amtrak 4 arrives at 1012, led by P42s 151 and 114.

At 1018, another westbound snuck up on main 1 and came to a stop short of the crossing.

We heard the horns of an oncoming eastbound. One of the other railfans predicted that it would be on Main 3 (the NS/Wabash Main). Sure enough, it was an eastbound NS freight on 3 that tripped the crossing gates at 1025.

The charges on this eastbound were NS Dash 9 9823 and a former BN SD60M turned hired gun CBFX 6027.

The tail end of the NS eastbound rolls by the westbound still waiting on Main 1 at 1027. You can certainly see the separation, along with the lower elevation of the NS/Wabash line compared to the BNSF/Santa Fe iron.

The westbound intermodal finally moves west again at 1029. Power consists of two BNSF units and two from NS: BNSF 5479 and 7394; NS 9500 and 9869.After the westbound left, my contemporaries decided to call it a day and/or decided to head to another location. From here on out, I was flying solo. I had a seat in my car and started uploading the first set of pics to social media when…

…my thoughts were interrupted by a westbound “Z” at 1044 with BNSF GEs 5761, 4699, 7974, and 4452 on point.

An ‘away’ shout of the head end of the westbound “Z”

I had just enough time to pick out my shots and updated social media before another westbound intermodal came running ’round the bend

Closeup of BNSF Dash 9 4646

Closeup of BNSF ES44DC 7620

BNSF 4646 and 7620 head ’round the bend at 1103

Coming ‘round on Main 2… It’s gotta be an eastbound “Z” at 1121 led by an ACe.

The eastbound consist contains not 1, but 2 EMDs. BNSF ES44C4 8248 is sandwiched between SD70ACes 8563 and 8521, with C44-9W 4657 on the rear.

Parting shot of the eastbound.

You know that thingamabob you ordered on Amazon? It just might have ridden a “Z” train somewhere along its journey.


Eastbound intermodal number 2 at 1137 with BNSF 7642 and 5113 on point.


Eastbound intermodal number 3 at 1156 with four toasters: 4087, 4413, 6956, and 8091.

The fourth eastbound at 1207 is an appearance by Uncle Pete. UP SD70ACe 8991 and ES44AC 2554 are in charge.

Away shot of the eastbound UP train.

After a parade of four eastbound intermodal trains, it was time for a west man to cleanse the palette at 1214.

Closeup of lead BNSF ES44C4 4279.

27: Norfolk Southern SD70M 2589 trails the two BNSF units on the west man.


I was just about to pack it in and head for beans when the train gods asked at 1224: Think ya got room for one more westbound “Z?” Engines are 7325, 7819, 5173, and 7547.

Grand Total: 13 trains in 2 1/2 hours. Surprisingly, no Tier 4’s showed up.

All photos were taken on Sunday, September 2, 2018.

GOP Primary 2018

As I usually do, I share my election picks after my ballot is in the collection box.

Kansas Governor: Without question, I chose incumbent governor Jeff Colyer. There was no way in hell I was going to let current Secretary of State Kris Kobach anywhere near Cedar Crest if I had anything to say about it. If Kobach makes it to general, I will vote for the Democrat – whomever he or she may be.

US House – 2nd District: Our incumbent, Lynn Jenkins, is not running for re-election. To replace her, I choose Doug Jones of Wellsville.  When I wrote the Kansas congressional delegation, I also sent a copy to Jones, along with the Democrat Candidate, Paul Davis.

Secretary of State: Maybe this is a sympathy vote, but I picked Scott Schwab. One thing’s for certain: he’s not Kris Kobach.

Insurance Commissioner: I picked Clark Schultz. Incumbent insurance commissioner Ken Selzer ran for governor and, therefore, did not run in this race. The other candidate was state Rep. Vicki Schmidt, whom I believe is part of the Kansas house leadership.

County Commissioner: Lynn Luck. Incumbent advantage, ‘nuff said.

Running unopposed on the GOP primary. Attorney General Dereck Schmidt, State Treasurer Jake LaTurner, and 47th District Kansas House Rep Ron Ellis. Schmidt will face Sarah Swain in the general. Swain was effectively disavowed by the Democrats, especially after a picture of a poster she commissioned for her law office made the rounds in the law enforcement community. My current state senator, Marci Francisco, is running for Treasurer on the Democrat side. I will likely vote for her in the general.

Writing my Congressman

It’s been a while since I’ve been truly politically active. My political energy has lately been focused on the restoration and preservation of the Amtrak station (originally Santa Fe) in Lawrence.

Recently, the CEO of Amtrak announced a proposal before a congressional delegation to discontinue a portion of the route from western Kansas to Albuquerque and replace it with a bus. Such a move would, needless to say, negatively impact the utilization of the Lawrence station.

In response, I wrote the following to the entire Kansas congressional delegation.

I support maintaining Amtrak’s Southwest Chief on its present route and oppose the proposal by Amtrak’s CEO to replace a segment of the route with bus service.

As a member of Depot Redux, I have supported efforts to preserve and restore the Santa Fe station in Lawrence, which has culminated in the current renovation project now underway. The proposed replacement of train service with buses will leave this asset underutilized.

I am also a railfan and model railroader. It seems that many consider passenger rail to be structurally irrelevant; air and/or auto travel is always advantageous over railroads. I consider it part of my hobby to counter this viewpoint and promote the advantages of passenger rail.

Passenger rail is an underutilized asset that, if properly developed, could be an important part of the nation’s intermodal transportation network. Amtrak’s proposal to replace rail service along part of the Southwest Chief route would hinder this potential.


Richard Kennedy

Forfeiture (presumably) denied

The Kansas Court of Appeals and Supreme Court typically releases new decisions every Friday morning. This week, we had an asset forfeiture case come before the appeals case.

The case, titled State v. One 2008 Toyota Tundra (in forfeiture cases, the assets subject to forfeiture are named as the Defendant) involved a truck, cash, and marijuana seized in a traffic stop on I-70 in Geary County. The Geary County Sheriff’s deputy pulled the Tundra over for a partially obstructed license plate. While doing the standard license, registration, and insurance check, he asked the driver and passenger about their travel plans. Based on their answer (that they were going from Ohio to Las Vegas) the deputy suspected they were running drugs. After the license check came back, the deputy requested an additional criminal check on the driver, buying him enough time to have his dog, Scooby, sniff the truck.

At this point in the opinion, justice Anthony Powell managed to insert a stealth pun:

At the 8:54 mark, what did Scooby do? Scooby indicated the presence of drugs at the truck’s rear passenger-side corner of the tailgate area.

In the forfeiture proceedings at the district court, the truck’s passenger filed a motion to suppress the stop, claiming that the stop should have ended when the registration check came back, and that the extended background check and dog sniff constituted an unreasonable search and seizure. The district court granted the motion, the state appealed, and the Court of Appeals affirmed the suppression.

Parental Advisory: Case Law

This week, the Kansas court of appeals released This opinion in the case of State v. Guein. In the majority opinion, Justice Steve Leben inserted the following caution before getting into the legal terminology:

We want the reader to know that we do recognize that some of the language in our opinion is vulgar enough that it cannot be used on over-the-air television shows. Yet we have used it in a published judicial opinion. We do so because this language carries a certain force that’s not necessarily apparent if we rephrase it. We must judge the effect of the words said — in this case by a police officer — on the person in handcuffs who heard them. To make that judgment and to explain our decision, we must repeat the actual words used and place them in the context in which they were said.

With that introduction, we turn now to the factual and procedural setting in which these issues are presented. We will then address each of the three legal issues Guein raises on appeal, only one of which is successful.

In a nutshell, two Lenexa PD officers observed what they suspected to be a purchase of illegal drugs. They approached the vehicles and were able to detect an odor of marijuana coming from them. After an initial patdown, the defendant was cuffed and given his Miranda warning. After this is when the proverbial f-bombs started dropping. The Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the officer’s language amounted to a verbal threat of physical harm which “Effectively Negated the Miranda Warning,” and that statements made and evidence gathered after the officer used such language must be suppressed. The court also ruled that use of the evidence in question could have affected the outcome of the case, reversed the verdict, and remanded for a new trial.

The dissenting judge, Kathryn Gardner, disagreed with the notion that the language was threatening and would affirm the trial court. Some of her arguments in her dissent were responded to in Leben’s opinion.