Letters to the Editor

December 9, 2012

Letters to the editor on Kansas delegation, Huelskamp, fiscal cliff, U.N. treaty, selecting judges, Kansas politics, Kellogg driving

The Kansas delegates to Washington, D.C., are not looking too good these days. First there was Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Overland Park, who gained national attention for skinny-dipping in the Sea of Galilee.

Kansas delegation not looking good

The Kansas delegates to Washington, D.C., are not looking too good these days. First there was Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Overland Park, who gained national attention for skinny-dipping in the Sea of Galilee.

More recently, Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, managed to get himself booted off the House Budget Committee by the Republican speaker, then lectured everyone on Kansas etiquette for knifing by saying, “Where I come from in Kansas, if you want to stab a guy, you look him in the eye and say, ‘Hey.’”

Most recently, Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., voted against ratifying the U.N. disability rights treaty after having spoken out in favor of it. In doing this, both he and Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., rejected the appeal by Kansas’ most admired political figure, Bob Dole, who appeared before the Senate to encourage ratification.

They didn’t even have the decency to look him in the eye and say, “Hey.” They waited until he was wheeled out of the Senate chamber.

I was born and raised in Kansas, and maintain close ties to it. I am sorry to see the lowering reputation of my once proud and respected native state.


Oak Park, Ill.

D.C. politics

Washington, D.C., politics is alive and well it seems (“Huelskamp taken off ag, budget panels,” Dec. 5 Eagle). If you don’t vote with leadership, you shall be replaced.

No, it does not matter that your constituents sent you there to work for them and vote for something other than the usual Washington policy of increased spending and larger government. The good folks of Kansas and especially the “Big First” district wanted someone who would carry their message to Washington and not only speak their voice but vote their voice. Thus we selected Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, to be what we thought would be our representative and our voice in Washington.

It is evident the speaker of the House had a different view of what is good for Kansas. This action by the speaker and leadership may cause one to ask: Why do we hold elections and spend our money and our time selecting an individual to represent us in Washington?



Shame on senators

Shame and more shame upon Kansas Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran for voting “no” on the U.N. treaty for disability rights. This treaty would have guaranteed that disabled people receive protection around the world, basically the same as they do in the United States.

Veterans groups and groups representing disabled individuals are quite dismayed about the Senate vote, and they should be. This issue is not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue; it is a human issue.

This was a perfect opportunity to show bipartisan support for something all (or most of us) could agree on. To make matters worse, our senators ignored the appeals of our worthy former Sen. Bob Dole, a champion for the rights of the disabled and a driving force behind the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Again, shame. If our senators can’t support a treaty that is worthwhile and would help, not hurt, people, maybe they should both go into another line of work.



First step

We are approaching a fiscal cliff! Sounds ominous, and like something to be avoided at any cost.

But what if we call it what it really is? The first step toward a sustainable, fiscally sound federal balanced budget. Nah – too many words.



Sensible solution

The Republicans’ assertion that raising taxes on the wealthy would be a job killer and undermine the economy would carry more weight if not for the fact that when these rates were last at that level, during the Clinton administration, the country enjoyed the longest, most robust period of peacetime economic growth in our nation’s history. The stock market was at record-high levels, millions of jobs were created, and there were budget surpluses – yes, surpluses.

Nearly every reputable economist says that the only sensible solution to our budget problems is to raise revenue (more taxes), cut spending (including reforming entitlement programs), and grow the economy. This will require some measure of sacrifice from nearly all of us, but it will, in the end, benefit all of us as well.

We can, if we choose, continue to bicker, sign petitions of secession, and point accusatory fingers at each other, or we can choose to be adults, compromise with each other, and make the difficult decisions that difficult times require.



Judges, politicians

It looks like Gov. Sam Brownback will take another run at turning judges into politicians. Instead of keeping a merit-selection process that has worked for 35 years, Brownback has threatened to turn all Kansas Court of Appeals judges into elected positions.

If Brownback’s interest is a stronger judiciary, you would think he could identify a single Court of Appeals judge he believes is unfit for the bench. He hasn’t.

If Brownback’s interest is a more responsive judiciary, you would think he could explain why judges as politicians are better than neutral appointments. I haven’t seen any such explanation.

If Brownback’s interest is a more favorable business environment, consider this: A recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey rated Kansas fifth in the nation for quality of judges. Four of the top five states use merit selection for their appellate judges.

If Brownback thinks the merit-selection process is tainted by the lawyers who vet potential nominees, he doesn’t know how hard it is to get a group of lawyers to agree on anything, let alone who may decide their next case on appeal.

Our system for selecting appellate judges isn’t broken, and it doesn’t need fixing.



Nature of politics

As I leave public service, I leave with a number of concerns.

I am concerned that this past election cycle has changed the nature of politics in Kansas for the next generation or longer. If all you need to do to get elected is to have huge financial backers who will fund a negative campaign against your opponent, that is unfortunate. Lies, distortions, false accusations and character assassination should not be how we get elected in Kansas.

The groups that opposed my re-election in the primary did so not because I voted wrong. I was a dependable conservative vote. They opposed me because I spoke out when I saw things in our state government that were not, in my view, right or in the best interest of the people of the state. It will be sad for Kansas if legislators are afraid to speak out when they see things being done in a wrong way.

During June and July I was very vocal about keeping Judge James V. Riddel Boys Ranch open. This program is important in helping boys who are heading toward criminal lives. Kansas needs to adjust the rates it pays to take care of this population. I hope the Legislature takes care of this issue.


District 26, Kansas Senate


Kellogg science

Regarding “Driving on Kellogg isn’t rocket science” (Nov. 30 Letters to the Editor): In my opinion, the right lane is an access lane. If you are just cruising along in the right lane, you are in the way of drivers who are trying to merge onto the freeway and drivers who want to exit soon and need to move over to the right lane.

I drive 60 mph in the center lane until I need to exit. Those who want to exceed the speed limit have the left lane available. And, really, 65-mph drivers only save seconds, not minutes.



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