The 2014 Wichita Naughty & Nice List

Written by Joe Stumpe

Dear Santa,
Sorry for taking so long to get this to you. Election years tend to be confusing, with so many people looking at the same set of facts and drawing entirely different conclusions. We feel on safe ground with this official “Naughty and Nice” list. But if we have left out any deserving saints or scoundrels, we’re sure word will get back to the North Pole in plenty of time for you to make those candy cane-or-coal lump decisions.

Nice

Myles Bible, 59, who used his pickup truck to stop an out-of- control vehicle on Kellogg after its driver had passed out. Bible maneuvered his truck in front of the other vehicle and then slowed both to a halt, likely preventing a much worse collision on the busy thoroughfare. The other driver was taken to the hospital. Bible declined media requests to take his photo, saying he just "did what I needed to do."

The Wichita State Shockers basketball team, which thrilled the city by going 35-0 last season before losing to Kentucky in a nail-biter that many called the best game of the NCAA tournament. The love Wichitans have for their team, and vice versa, came through loud and clear in national media coverage. The boys were off to another good start at press time, opening the current season with two convincing victories.

Naughty

Political pollsters, who convinced Democrats that they had a chance in this fall's statewide elections. Turns out a majority of voters liked incumbent Republicans Gov. Sam Brownback, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts and Secretary of State Chris Kobach just fine, returning each to his seat with a comfortable margin (though not quite a majority, in Brownback's case).

National bond rating agencies, who didn't see the wisdom of Brownback's tax cuts. Two key agencies – Moody's and Standard & Poor's – downgraded Kansas' bond rating, saying the state's budget was unsound because the tax cuts weren't offset by spending cuts. The rating drop means Kansas will have to offer lenders a higher rate of interest when it issues new bonds.

Nice

Alton Brown, the Food Network celebrity chef. Brown hit nine different Wichita food businesses while in town for a show at Century II, seeming to enjoy himself as much as star-struck locals who came into with him. Brown claimed he'd gained seven pounds during a little more than 24 hours here, naming the Nifty Nuthouse his favorite and a "national treasure."

The NCAA, which – finally – announced that Wichita would host first and second rounds of the men's basketball tournament. It won't happen until 2018, but that didn't stop city boosters from rejoicing over the news. The games will be held at Intrust Bank Arena, which was built partly with that purpose in mind, and are expected to fill city hotels, restaurants and other businesses with fans.

Naughty

Fracking, as the process of injecting fluid to break up shale rock and release natural gas is known. Many people blame fracking for the uptick in earthquakes in south-central Kansas, including a 4.8-magnitude shaker in November that just about everybody in Wichita felt. Although a connection can't be proved, opponents of fracking would like to see if placing a moratorium on the procedure stops the quakes as well.

Nice

Cancer Center of Kansas President Shaker Dakhil and his wife, Kathie, who gave the Lord's Diner $115,00 for a food truck to feed hungry families in Friendship Park and Hilltop neighborhood. In July alone, it served more than 16,000 meals.

Larry Hatteberg, the Wichita TV broadcaster who announced he is retiring after 51 years on the job. Best known for "Hatteberg's People," a series which has profiled more than 1,000 Kansans since 1974, Hatteberg promised he'll continue to pursue video and photography projects, but without the deadlines of TV news.

Naughty

A 22-year-old Wichita woman who apparently didn't realize Halloween was over and used a Batman mask to rob three southside convenience stores in November. She and an accomplice were arrested after the third heist. Other notable miscreants included the owner of Watson Funeral Home, who pleaded guilty to money laundering in the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars from an elderly woman before her death. The home is now closed and its owner in prison.

Nice

Dwight Eisenhower, the former president and Kansas native, had Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport renamed in his honor, following a petition drive organized by radio personality Jan Harrison. The change becomes effective next year, when the airport's spiffy new terminal opens.

Naughty

Wichita city officials, who badly miscalculated either the substance or selling of a proposed 1-cent sales tax hike. Residents overwhelmingly rejected the measure, apparently feeling the projects it would have paid for – a new water source, street maintenance, public transit and a jobs fund – should have been voted on separately. Then again, Wichita officials weren't alone, with voters in Andover, Valley Center and Bel Aire also rejecting tax increases.

Nice

East High cross country runner Nate Faflick, who stopped near the end of the Boys 6A state final to help a competitor from Lawrence who'd collapsed. Faflick got the other runner to his feet and both completed the race. Faflick wasn't disappointed at all that he'd dropped a few spots in the standings, saying he's called upon to "love even our opponents."

 
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