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.
Widowed Kansas teacher: ‘Pull your head out of your ass’ and get your COVID-19 shot
By: Clay Wirestone - February 7, 2022
Kansas special education teacher Travis Zirkle has a simple message to those who haven’t yet been vaccinated against COVID-19: “Very bluntly, I would say pull your head out of your ass and get the vaccine.” Travis lost his husband, Jeff Wallace, to the virus a year ago. He believes he likely contracted COVID-19 at school […]
This Kansas law makes being gay illegal. Legislators could fix it, but homophobia runs deep.
By: Clay Wirestone - February 3, 2022
State law makes it illegal to be gay in Kansas. That’s a moral outrage, and state legislators can fix the problem by immediately passing a bill in the House Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice. Thankfully, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from 2003 makes the law unenforceable. But as long as it remains on the […]
On this snow day, let’s consider a flurry of worst-case scenarios for Kansas and our country
By: Clay Wirestone - February 2, 2022
With snowfall having closed down the Statehouse and schools in northeast Kansas, my mind turns to happy thoughts. Such as: What will you do when the worst happens? Kansas and the rest of the United States are on the brink of some awful outcomes right now. I wonder if we’ve all spent enough time thinking […]
Legislators have a responsibility to fully fund Kansas public defenders, and here’s why
By: Clay Wirestone - February 1, 2022
Perhaps Kyle Flack deserved that guilty verdict in his death penalty murder case. Perhaps he didn’t. Regardless, the account of his trial shared with the Kansas Supreme Court on Monday sounds like an appalling miscarriage of justice. That matters for anyone in this state who cares about the Constitution. Flack’s current attorney, Clayton Perkins, said […]
Anti-vax death cult rampages through Kansas politics, with Sen. Mark Steffen out in front
By: Clay Wirestone - January 28, 2022
Anti-vaccine forces in Kansas are a death cult, and Sen. Mark Steffen is doing his best to lead them. How else can you interpret the extraordinary events of this week? The Hutchinson anesthesiologist introduced legislation that would allow medical providers to prescribe ineffective — or harmful — COVID-19 treatments without fear of reprimand from officials […]
Kansas legislator: ‘There are very evil people in the world.’ That’s a lousy basis for laws.
By: Clay Wirestone - January 27, 2022
You don’t expect Kansas legislative committees to take up deep philosophical problems. Usually, they deal with the text of proposed legislation or, in their more whimsical moments, rightwing fantasies. Yet the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee looked within and grappled with the question of evil Monday. The panel heard testimony about a bill banning […]
A mystery company wants to invest in Kansas. Thank goodness legislators make us look alluring.
By: Clay Wirestone - January 26, 2022
Hello, mystery megaproject company! I hear you’ve picked Kansas as one of two finalists for a $4 billion production plant that could generate 8,000 jobs and $2.5 billion annually. Who might you be? Amazon? Airbus? Google? GameStop? Whatever the case, we’re all excited around here. You’ll be glad to know that Kansas legislators have been […]
Workers wield newfound power in world shaped by COVID-19. Kansas leaders must adapt, and quickly.
By: Clay Wirestone - January 25, 2022
Businesses wouldn’t exist without workers. That’s been easy to forget in recent decades, as corporations flexed their muscle, organized labor endured setbacks, and CEOs grew ever richer. Within a year, however, the COVID-19 pandemic metamorphosed the employment landscape in Kansas and across the country. Workers are waking up amid widespread skill and staffing shortages. They […]
Like Quantrill’s violent raiders, GOP legislators in Kansas aim to stifle Lawrence progressives
By: Clay Wirestone - January 20, 2022
Republicans in the Kansas Legislature are on the brink of accomplishing what pro-slavery forces in 1863 couldn’t quite manage: Silencing the progressives of Lawrence. Back then, William Quantrill and his raiders set much of the town ablaze and massacred more than 100. Lawrence was a free state stronghold, fiercely opposed to slavery, and its residents […]
5 things you can do if you’re overwhelmed by Kansas COVID-19 news
By: Clay Wirestone - January 19, 2022
The latest COVID-19 wave has swept through Kansas, bringing not only illness but a feeling of beleaguered powerlessness. The last two years have left those of us who take the pandemic seriously exhausted and frustrated. The situation shouldn’t be this challenging, not with the vaccines and treatments we have available. We shouldn’t be battling science-denying […]
This anesthesiologist and state senator spins COVID-19 fairy tales as virus slams Kansas
By: Clay Wirestone - January 18, 2022
Hey, Kansas Board of Healing Arts — you might want to check in with Dr. Mark Steffen, the state senator from Hutchinson and noted purveyor of COVID-19 lies. My predecessor in this opinion editor chair, the incomparable C.J. Janovy, wrote you a letter back in March about Steffen. Unfortunately, it must have gotten lost in […]
Do Kansas legislators understand that we’re all in the middle of a pandemic?
By: Clay Wirestone - January 18, 2022
Does the Kansas Legislature know there’s a pandemic going on? Do Kansas senators and representatives understand that we’re all enduring a once-in-a-century event, one in which millions of people are falling ill and being hospitalized, with thousands dying each day? I ask because last week’s session launch demonstrated that state legislators aren’t just pursuing policies […]