Author

Clay Wirestone

Clay Wirestone

Clay Wirestone has written columns and edited reporting for newsrooms in Kansas, New Hampshire, Florida and Pennsylvania. He has also fact checked politicians, researched for Larry the Cable Guy, and appeared in PolitiFact, Mental Floss, cnn.com and a host of other publications. Most recently, Clay spent nearly four years at the nonprofit Kansas Action for Children as communications director. Beyond the written word, he has drawn cartoons, hosted podcasts, designed graphics, and moderated debates. Clay graduated from the University of Kansas and lives in Lawrence with his husband and son.

OPINION

Brian Wilson’s Kansas City concert sweeps past and present together into a wistful wave of change

By: - June 22, 2022

No one likes to dwell on getting older, pondering the grand sweep of time that carries us from childhood to geezerdom. Age may be a blessing, but let’s not examine that blessing too carefully, lest we strain our back. On Monday, however, I had no choice. Founding Beach Boy and chamber pop genius Brian Wilson […]

OPINION
Just after a marker commemorating the lynching of Dana Adams was unveiled at Caldwell Plaza in Salina, those in the crowd drew near to read its historical account. (Clay Wirestone/Kansas Reflector)

A Kansas community confronts generations of trauma by marking 129-year-old lynching

By: - June 20, 2022

Time doesn’t heal all wounds. Some wounds fester and spread, inflaming and weakening surrounding tissues. Over time, some of these wounds prove fatal. On Saturday afternoon in Salina, under a sweltering sun, more than 100 community members gathered to bind and disinfect a very old wound. On April 20, 1893, a Black man named Dana […]

OPINION

Uncontested races silence Kansas voters. That means ideologues won’t be judged in November.

By: - June 17, 2022

Democracy doesn’t work without choice. Half of Kansas House races this November will feature candidates running unopposed, meaning that voters across the state won’t be able to make the fundamental choice of who represents them in Topeka. For them, democracy has broken down. Extremists, homophobes and race-baiting ideologues won’t face the judgment of voters. They […]

OPINION
Teri Finneman, associate professor at the University of Kansas journalism school, created the Eudora Times with students to serve a community without a news outlet. (Lily O'Shea Becker)

At Kansas Press Association event, visions of journalism past and future

By: - June 15, 2022

University of Kansas associate professor Teri Finneman doesn’t just research community journalism. She went ahead three years ago and started a community news website, the Eudora Times, to serve the community east of Lawrence. Finneman was the featured speaker at the Kansas Press Association’s meeting on Friday in Newton. The gathering was the first in-person […]

OPINION
A shelf cloud looms over Symphony in the Flint Hills' concert site in rural Chase County on Saturday evening, ahead of a severe storm packing high winds and hail. The annual Kansas City Symphony performance ended early, and about 7,000 people sheltered in their vehicles during the storm. (A.J. Dome)

Symphony in the Flint Hills faces off against massive Kansas storm system, and the spirit persists

By: - June 14, 2022

Symphony in the Flint Hills encountered that dependable adversary of Kansas events on Saturday evening: severe weather. Audience and performers had gathered for the 17th annual celebration — eloquently written about by longtime emcee Dave Kendall last week in the Kansas Reflector — when the bad news came. Organizers were informed at 6:43 p.m. that […]

OPINION
Members of the Kansas news media gather to cover Gov. Laura Kelly's signing of a cut in the state's sales tax on food. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

News media can tell you what’s the matter with Kansas. But you have to do the repairs.

By: - June 8, 2022

The news media won’t save you. The news media — even the opinionated and outspoken parts of it like this opinion section — won’t save Kansas or the United States. I wish more people understood this, because if you want our nation to see a revival in civic participation and progressive values, you have to […]

OPINION

Report on legislators in ‘far-right’ Facebook groups doesn’t tell real story of Kansas extremism

By: - June 6, 2022

By any measure, the Kansas Legislature has a problem with right-wing extremism. Sen. Mark Steffen, a Hutchinson physician, introduced legislation that would give him an exemption for prescribing ivermectin to COVID-19 patients. Sen. Mike Thompson shared in the viral skepticism, while also agitating against wind power. And Rep. Cheryl Helmer spewed a torrent of lies […]

OPINION
The Kansas state Democratic Party is grappling with allegations, published in the Kansas City Star, that its executive director created a toxic work environment. (Getty Images)

Hey, Kansas Democrats: Your internal strife distracts activists when you can least afford it

By: - June 2, 2022

The headline in the Kansas City Star was the kind that no political organization of any stripe wants to see: “ ’He was a bully.’ KS Dems director made toxic workplace, ex-employees say. Party stands by him.” Kansas Democratic Party executive director Ben Meers has been accused by four former employees of creating that aforementioned toxic […]

OPINION
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas gave a commemorative speech about Topeka's Porubsky's deli last week on the Senate floor. (Clay Wirestone/Kansas Reflector illustration from Moran photo by Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector and building photo from Porubsky's)

Closing of Topeka deli Porubsky’s marks end of an era — and earns tribute from Sen. Jerry Moran

By: - May 31, 2022

We live in an age of cookie-cutter culture. Drive around most places in Kansas — and the United States — and you’ll find the same Walmarts, the same Taco Bells, the same Applebees. You’ll see people dressed in the same clothes, driving the same cars, speaking in the same neutral accent. What you won’t find […]

OPINION
A child crosses under caution tape at Robb Elementary School on May 25, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. According to reports, during the mass shooting, 19 students and 2 adults were killed, with the gunman fatally shot by law enforcement. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Another day in America and Kansas: Senseless murder of children and a fifth-grade graduation

By: - May 26, 2022

The same day that a shooter opened fire at a school in Uvalde, Texas, I attended my son’s fifth-grade graduation. The same day that 19 students from that school died, along with two teachers, I stood next to my husband and applauded after our camera-shy son took a certificate from his teacher. The same day […]

OPINION
The Ad Astra statue aims high atop of the Kansas Statehouse on Jan. 24, 2022. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

One group’s not-so-impossible dream: progressive majorities in the Kansas Statehouse by 2026

By: - May 24, 2022

Cast your mind ahead to November of 2026. In that month, in that year, activists in Kansas could well be celebrating as voters send progressive majorities in both the state House and Senate. Wait, you say. What? That’s the ambitious aim of the nonprofit group Prairie Roots, headed up by executive director Peyton Browning. The […]

OPINION

While Ukraine repels Russia, Rep. Ron Estes of Kansas votes against NATO support and $40B in aid

By: - May 19, 2022

As Ukrainians battle to save themselves from Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s war of choice, a U.S. representative from Kansas isn’t helping them.  In two big votes over the last two months, Rep. Ron Estes has voted against supporting NATO and sending $40 billion in military and economic support to Ukraine. In the earlier case, he […]