Memorial a place to reflect, remember
Wednesday marks the 48th anniversary of the worst aviation disaster in our state history, the 1965 crash of a KC-135 tanker plane from McConnell Air Force Base. On that very cold Saturday morning, 30 people perished – seven crewmen and 23 residents living in the neighborhood of 20th and Piatt.
I commend Timmi Jackson and original committee members for their work to place a monument at McConnell honoring the victims. After security was tightened and it became more difficult to get on base, some people thought there should be a monument at the actual site of the crash. I was honored to chair the committee that was organized in 2004 to raise funds for the project.
In 2007, the monument was erected in Piatt Memorial Park. I am thankful to the community at large for donations to the monument. I am also grateful to the new committee members – John Polson, Carla Lee, Sonya House, James Arbertha, Jamil Moody and Inga Taylor – for working with me to help make this project become a reality. The survivors and family members of those who died on that tragic day now have a place where they can go and reflect and remember their loved ones.
Piatt Plane Crash Memorial Fund
The Kansas Constitution says that school finance shall be fair and adequate. It also says the state budget shall be balanced. Public policy decides how we meet these requirements.
The people of Kansas elect the Legislature to determine our public policy, which includes taxation policy and spending policy (which includes deciding what is fair and adequate funding of schools).
Judges are appointed or elected to determine how the law applies to a specific set of circumstances. In extremely rare cases, they need to set public policy. But that is only when no policy is in place. It is not the position of judges to overrule or circumvent the public policy established by the Legislature. To do so is to overstep the balance of power.
One cannot accumulate enough research data to determine how much money should be spent on education. There are those who will always say whatever amount is spent is not enough. Others will always say whatever is spent is too much. The data is inconclusive. But the Legislature is in the unique position to determine the public policy balance between these extreme positions.
The judiciary might render an opinion about the fairness or adequacy of school funding. However, the final determination always rests with the Legislature.
Kansas school superintendents need to explain how kids win when money is taken from their parents that otherwise could be used to provide for them. If it is a good thing, why not quadruple the amount? By the way, who ends up with that money? And how have past increases affected student performance? When college tuition is increased, isn’t that then a win for students?
When parents, through their duly elected representatives, decide how tax money is to be used, how is that a public administrator’s or judge’s purview to override?
Who should get to decide, morally or constitutionally, what is best for our kids?
Though I am sympathetic to the Migratory Bird Act, I am more sympathetic to the health and welfare of people. Therefore, something needs to be done about the Canada geese invasion of Wichita’s public golf courses during the winter.
Those who don’t play golf wouldn’t believe the amount of goose poop on our golf courses, particularly MacDonald Golf Course. You can’t take a single stride there without stepping on droppings.
Some nongolfers might suggest that we get used to it or just don’t play, or that the course be closed. But the course is there for people, not geese, and the city should try to find a way to alleviate this gross, unhealthy problem.
One of my golf buddies suggested the city get some dogs trained to stay within the confines of the golf course and chase geese. Another suggested all the ponds be drained in the winter so as not to attract geese. Another suggested that harmless cannons be placed on the course to sound automatically throughout the feeding hours.
Perhaps there are other solutions that would return the golf courses to the people. The city should explore solutions to this messy situation.
Much has been in the news about the SandRidge Energy management group being under fire from a dissident shareholder. In my view, the real news about SandRidge for Kansans is about wealth creation.
SandRidge has paid millions in lease bonuses to residents of southern and western Kansas. In addition, it has spent millions drilling wells and installing facilities in our state, much of which ends up in the pockets of Kansas workers, restaurants, hotels, gas stations and other Kansas-based businesses.
I view SandRidge as a hero to be congratulated and thanked for the economic opportunities it is bringing to our state. I feel the same way about Shell Oil, Apache Corp., Chesapeake Energy and a host of small companies doing the same thing.