Rail service would triple investment
Wichita City Council member Pete Meitzner’s impressive appearance recently before the Sedgwick County Commission produced a wide range of relevant questions about passenger rail service for Kansas. To answer these questions, a summary of facts may help.
A financial impact study by the University of Kansas School of Business projected an economic benefit of $3.2 for every $1 invested in infrastructure for and operation of passenger rail service that would bring trains up from Oklahoma City to Arkansas City, Wichita, Newton, Emporia, Topeka and Lawrence to Kansas City.
The Kansas Department of Transportation conducted an economic impact analysis of expanded passenger rail service. It showed positive numbers on return on investment, short- and long-term job growth, and overall stimulation of the Kansas economy.
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The Oklahoma experience is reassuring. Towns along the route averaged $4 million in expanded economic activity the first year after the train’s arrival.
The Federal Railroad Administration has made it clear that states that work together to establish a regional plan will receive priority for funding.
Amtrak’s financial feasibility study projects an annual estimated ridership of 174,000 passengers for a route with daytime stops in Arkansas City, Wichita, Newton, Emporia, Topeka, Lawrence and Kansas City.
This is an economic opportunity for Kansas with a 3-to-1 payback.
Need open debate
The election coverage dwells on distractions, such as who entered the Sea of Galilee at night naked or who implied that the cry of rape may have different meanings in different situations. Clearly, there are serious issues that need to be discussed in precise, simple terms so that voters can understand what their choices are in November.
Columnist Cal Thomas gave good suggestions on how to force the candidates to explain their positions in one of the rare future debates (Aug. 22 Opinion). Columnist David Brooks also tried to shine light on the all-important topic of Medicare costs (Aug. 24 Opinion).
We have followed the Arab Spring and the current Sunni Islamic battle to conquer Syria. What will happen in Syria if the Islamic forces succeed? We need our government to give us its interpretation of these events and how it plans to deal with the anticipated new governments. This is best done in a debate where the players cannot keep their heads in the sand.
We need to hear a plan for a return to prosperity. This requires an acknowledgment of what is wrong that keeps unemployment high, wages sliding and our world reputation tanking. Time is running out, and an open debate will only occur if the voters demand it.
The brouhaha over comments by Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., should be an eye-opener. The Republican Party has chosen to burn its bridges to Akin for being honest about his opinion and his stand on abortion, even though this is a part of its party platform.
Do Republicans not want the public to know what their true intentions as a party really are, such as to pass a federal personhood bill that would do away with all abortion for any reason and most preferred forms of birth control? Several states have attempted to pass an amendment like this, and each one has been voted down by the public, which realized the baggage that came with such a bill.
Whether or not you agree with abortion, these types of bills bring consequences with them. It is disingenuous at best that a party platform that declares it is for getting government out of our lives and giving the nation true freedom also wants to control our reproductive lives.
The Butler County Commission recently voted 3-2 against the federal sustainable development grant. That means two out of the five counties in the Regional Economic Area Partnership have voted against the grant and three have passed it.
We’re hoping that Reno and Sedgwick counties will reconsider their participation. This movement has its roots in the United Nations Agenda 21.
The more that people find out about REAP, the more concerned they become. People are watching to see how our elected officials are voting on this controversial issue.
Saturday’s memorial celebration for Colleen Kelly Johnston has stayed with me. Every note of the pitch-perfect service continues to resonate. The bagpipes playing “Danny Boy.” The rhythmic steps of the Corry Academy Irish dancers. The young woman tearfully acknowledging a grandmother who encouraged learning and breathed “fire into our fantasies.” The daughter laughing at the memory of her mother in the 1970s scurrying about the bedroom, late for a rally, trying to decide “which bra to burn.” Vice Mayor Janet Miller recognizing that both she and her husband, state Rep. Nile Dillmore, D-Wichita, joined the ever-expanding rings of public service set in motion by Johnston. Jill Docking saying that because of Johnston and her compatriots, Docking had no glass ceilings to shatter, only shards to push away.
Too many stories to recount here. But I’ve been sharing them with anyone who will listen. I’m so glad I heard them. And that this indomitable woman lived them.