Letters to the editor on Martin Luther King Jr., watershed tax, school board

01/18/2013 5:12 PM

01/18/2013 5:12 PM

King deserves our full attention

I scoured The Eagle on Jan. 15 and found no word of that day being the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 84th birthday. Yes, I know that Jan. 21 has been designated Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year and that it coincides with President Obama’s second inauguration. But I fear that with the combination of these events, King will receive less attention than he deserves.

Particularly now, when as talk-show host Tavis Smiley and professor and author Cornel West remind us, nearly 150 million poor and nearly poor Americans of all color are suffering, and when the black and brown communities are decimated by disproportionately high rates of incarceration for nonviolent crimes, we desperately need to hear again and repeat King’s impassioned words.

What would he do? What would he say so many years after his “I have a dream” speech? I feel certain that he would rail, with author Michelle Alexander, against the current form of Jim Crow and the danger of a permanent underclass of black, brown and poor.

King’s legacy as the eloquent fighter against poverty and injustice will live on forever. Let’s give him our undivided attention.

ALICE POWELL

Wichita

Obsolete acts

Residents of east Wichita are being taxed by the Middle Walnut River Watershed District as part of their property taxes. We already pay for Wichita storm sewers, which empty into the Arkansas-Slate, Upper Walnut and Lower Walnut watersheds. According to U.S. Geological Survey maps, if the Wichita storm sewers did not exist, our runoff would empty into the Fourmile Creek-Walnut River watershed, which is part of the Lower Walnut River basin. Nothing indicates direct runoff into the Middle Walnut.

The Middle Walnut watershed extends into parts of four counties, mostly in Butler County. Yet because the tax is based on property valuation rather than drainage area, as Wichita’s is, Sedgwick County residents pay more than $322,000 of the district’s $404,000 budget.

Election of board members is not on the public ballot, where all other representatives are elected, but occurs at one of the board’s regular meetings. Those are held one Wednesday morning a month at 7:30 a.m. at a doughnut shop in Augusta – hardly conducive to public input.

All of this is in accordance with Kansas law.

These obsolete acts need to be revisited to reflect the public’s current demand for openness in government and fair taxation.

JAMES I. MILLER

Wichita

Failed to represent

It amazes me that the very people who have failed to represent the best interest of the children in their districts would have the nerve to run again as Wichita school board members. Betty Arnold and the other members ignored the will of the people, who voted overwhelmingly – especially in Arnold’s District 1 – to support the school bond issue in 2008. Voters in the community supported the bond issue because they were made to believe that the existing schools would be renovated and updated and there would be no more “forced busing.”

But the school board closed five schools, including some in District 1. The closed schools were Northeast Magnet High School, which moved its program to Bel Aire, and Bryant, Emerson, Lincoln and Mueller elementary schools.

Board members chose to do backroom dealing with no transparency. They came out to the community after a deal was made to have a dog and pony show. Now, certain board members seem to believe that folks have a short memory span about the contentious board meetings (where there was opposition to the school closings), rallies, press conferences and letters to the editors.

These board members failed the people who voted for them to represent the best interests of the children in their districts.

MARY DEAN

President

Kansas Justice Advocate

Wichita

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