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Letters to the editor on deterring metal thefts, vaccination crackdown, renewable-energy mandates, voter law, healthier trick-or-treating

  • Published Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013, at 12 a.m.

Letters to the Editor

Include your full name, home address and phone number for verification purposes. All letters are edited for clarity and length; 200 words or fewer are best. Letters may be published in any format and become the property of The Eagle.

Mail: Letters to the Editor, The Wichita Eagle, 825 E. Douglas, Wichita, KS 67202

E-mail: letters@wichitaeagle.com

Fax: 316-269-6799

For more information, contact Phillip Brownlee at 316-268-6262, pbrownlee@wichitaeagle.com.

Help fight problem of metal thefts

A meeting was held recently by Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett to come up with ideas to spur legislation to help combat copper and other metal thefts. The group included area farmers , electric providers, law enforcement, insurance companies, state organizations and elected officials.

The growing theft problem has had a huge impact on farmers, contractors, homeowners, landlords and utility companies. These thefts ultimately affect everyone. Insurance companies are paying out large claims, the cost of which is passed on to every consumer somewhere along the line. When an irrigation pivot has the wire cut and removed, the thieves get a few hundred dollars from recyclers, but the owner of the pivot has a $10,000 bill to repair the unit. Landlords pass on their losses to their renters, and utility companies pass on the costs to their customers. Even when insurance covers the majority of the loss, there is always a deductible to deal with along with downtime for all those concerned. And with so many more claims, year after year, insurance premiums go up. There is also talk of companies not insuring the irrigation systems for theft in the future.

We would like to invite everyone concerned to help come up with a strategy to spur the Legislature to enact a bill that would make penalties much harsher to help deter this growing problem. Bennett would like to have ideas in the near future, so a bill can be introduced when the Legislature convenes in January. Plans are being made for a meeting with the recycling dealers to see what ideas they have.

Assistant District Attorney Matt Dwyer has researched what has and hasn’t worked for other areas of our country that also have theft problems. If you would like a copy of his findings, along with a rough draft of a bill, please e-mail us at ruth1110@kanokla.net or Dan W. Dillon, media coordinator for the district attorney’s office, at dwdillon@sedgwick.gov.

Please share your thoughts. There has to be a solution to the problem, and we need to start finding that solution now.

TERRY and RUTH JACOB

Sedgwick

Concerned for kids

The article “District: No shots, no school for pupils” (Oct. 20 Local & State) indicated that students in USD 259 would not be allowed to attend school if they did not have updated vaccination records by Nov. 4.

This comes at a time when 58 percent of students in Sedgwick County are part of the free or reduced-price lunch program; many poor families are left without insurance coverage because the state denied federal funds to expand Medicaid, which would have provided an additional 169,000 Kansans with coverage; and KanCare – the new system that put 380,000 Kansans into a network run by three private insurance groups – has resulted in a host of problems, leaving some denied of care.

This also comes shortly after the Kansas Department for Children and Families rejected federal grant money used by organizations to help families determine eligibility and enroll in food assistance programs.

I am concerned that a number of these students will miss out on school because their families have to choose between vaccinations and putting food on the table. While the article mentioned there are clinics that offer shots for little to no cost, there is no telling how many children will be affected by this action and whether these clinics can accommodate them.

Sen. OLETHA FAUST-GOUDEAU

District 29, Kansas Senate

Wichita

Costly mandates

A letter attacking the credibility of Kansas Policy Institute on renewable-energy mandates misstated the facts (“Support wind,” Oct. 18 Letters to the Editor). Our estimate of a $660 increase in electricity costs is comparing the year 2020 to 2012. The 1.7 percent increase the letter writer cited from Westar Energy is only what is happening right now and is actually a bit more than KPI’s model predicted. Utility companies are currently required to purchase 10 percent of their power from renewable-energy sources, but costs are expected to increase as the mandate rises to 20 percent by the year 2020.

The letter writer argues for continued government mandates and subsidies for his favored energy source – wind. He is implicitly asking taxpayers to pay higher energy bills and higher taxes to support something he likes, and claiming benefits for all. There may be disagreement over the amount by which prices will increase due to the government mandate, but there is no question that prices will be higher than if markets were allowed to freely function.

It boils down to this: If wind energy is cheaper, cleaner and better than coal and gas, then it does not need government mandates and subsidies to make it viable. Coal, oil and other forms of energy should not be receiving subsidies or mandates either. Kansans should be free to make energy decisions on their own without supporting cronyist schemes that benefit a select few at the expense of everyone else.

JAMES FRANKO

Vice president and policy director

Kansas Policy Institute

Wichita

Voter law appalling

There are more than 18,000 Kansas voters who registered to vote, but who will be turned away from the polls on Election Day. About 4,000 of these are in Sedgwick County. Can you imagine showing up to the poll to cast your vote and being told your registration didn’t get handled properly, so “I’m sorry, you can’t vote”?

Equally as concerning is the fact that officials in Topeka, who are well aware of the problem, have chosen to sit back and do nothing. It is appalling that similar voter-registration restrictions have been ruled unconstitutional elsewhere, yet this has not raised alarm bells within Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration. What happens to democracy and freedom if we fail to protect the rights of all citizens to cast their vote at the next election?

Do you know if your registration was processed properly? Help get out the vote. Spread the word about voter-registration suspensions and put some pressure on those who have the power to act, but have failed to do so.

STEFF ROBERTS

Wichita

Healthy Halloween

Halloween can be seen as the appetizer to the approaching holidays – and not necessarily the healthiest. So what if we modify the way we think of Halloween, as a way to start the holidays off with activity and treats that don’t leave you with a sugar rush, stomachache and busted diet? Here are a few tips to help make the healthy choice the easy choice this Halloween:

• Start your evening with a full meal. This will fuel your energy and keep you from overindulging on candy. In our house we eat a bowl of chili rich in fiber and lean proteins.

• If you’ll be taking your children out, map where you want to walk. Set a goal for how many houses you want to reach. For added fun, and exercise, put the “trick” in “trick or treat” by creating a dance to do at each house.

• If you’re staying at home to pass out treats, consider an option that isn’t candy. Registered dietitian Vickie James recommends fun alternatives like miniature bottles of bubbles, packages of themed stickers, glow-in-the-dark rings, small bouncy balls, crayons or pencils. Check out the birthday section of the discount stores or dollar stores for inexpensive cool giveaways.

• Once you get home, set aside the treats you just can’t live without and then get rid of or donate everything else.

• Resist the urge to buy leftover candy at the grocery store. Instead, let yourself choose one of your favorite candy bars at checkout.

Making choices around active living and healthy eating aren’t out to scare you. The “trick” is how you “treat.”

AMANDA CEBULA

Program associate

Kansas Health Foundation Fellows program

Wichita

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