Jim McLean


Jim McLean is the managing director of KMUW's Kansas News Service, a collaboration between KMUW and other public media stations across Kansas. 

Jim was previously news director and Statehouse bureau chief for Kansas Public Radio and a managing editor for the Topeka Capital-Journal. He has received awards for journalistic excellence from the Kansas Press Association, Society of Professional Journalists and Kansas Association of Broadcasters.


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News of White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s resignation broke in the middle of a town-hall meeting that U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas was holding in Topeka.

The second-term Republican was fielding questions about President Donald Trump’s fitness for office when a man in the back of the American Legion hall reading the news on his cell phone shouted that Bannon was out

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is giving emergency raises to guards in the state prison system, with officers at the maximum-security prison in El Dorado getting the biggest bump.


President Donald Trump and Republican congressional leaders came up short in their initial efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says they’re still working to engineer its failure.

In a recent interview, Sebelius, who spearheaded implementation of the ACA, said she knows that the law isn’t perfect. But she said it would be working better if Republicans would stop undermining it.

“The notion that this law is imploding is just not accurate,” Sebelius said. “It’s being sabotaged.”

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Kansas officials have cleared an initial hurdle in their effort to regain federal certification for Osawatomie State Hospital.

Problems that federal inspectors cited in May have been fixed, making the state’s largest mental health hospital eligible for a full recertification inspection, according to the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services.

That inspection must take place within the next 120 days, according to KDADS Secretary Tim Keck.

Meg Wingerter / Kansas News Service/File photo

One way or another, Tim Keck wants to replace the state’s aging Osawatomie State Hospital with a new mental health treatment facility.

Though he is meeting with some resistance, the secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services is pushing lawmakers to consider privatizing the state-run psychiatric hospital, which in recent years has been beset by operational problems.

On Tuesday Keck will outline a privatization plan submitted by a Tennessee-based company to stakeholders and legislators during a 1 p.m. meeting at hospital’s administration building.

Michael Coghlan, flickr Creative Commons

The head of the union that represents Kansas state workers says he’s pleased that legislators from both sides of the aisle are calling on Gov. Sam Brownback to order an immediate pay increase for guards at state prisons.

Robert Choromanski had backed an earlier call for a special legislative session. But he says he could also support giving guards an emergency increase now, and then revisiting the issue during the Legislature’s next regular session.

“I would be totally fine with that," Choromanski says. "Then we could negate having the special session."

Kansas News Service/File photo

Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer is expanding his staff in anticipation of stepping into the state’s top job when Gov. Sam Brownback leaves to become the nation’s next ambassador for religious freedom.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

With President Donald Trump’s poll numbers sliding into historically low territory, Democrats won’t be satisfied with modest gains in next year’s midterm election.

They’re hoping for an anti-Trump wave that gives them control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Needing 24 seats to gain a majority, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting up to 50 potential swing districts across the country.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Kansas lawmakers had some tough questions Thursday for Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood about staff shortages that recently contributed to several violent incidents at a state prison in El Dorado.

Sen. Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat, took Norwood to task for withholding information about inmate unrest at the prison located just north of Wichita.

“It concerns me that we’re not getting the whole truth and nothing but the truth," Kelly said.

Kansas Department of Corrections

Kansas officials have declared an emergency at the state prison in El Dorado because of staffing shortages.

The staffing shortages are being blamed for several recent violent incidents at the prison, which houses both medium- and maximum-security inmates.

To compensate, prison officials began requiring guards to work 12-hour shifts and sometimes up to 16 hours.

The union that represents state employees filed a grievance, charging that extended-hour shifts could only be required in emergencies.