Letters to the Editor

February 5, 2013

Letters to the editor on judicial selection, packing court, abortion clinic, Maize school assignments, Bigfoot

I believe there are compelling reasons why we need to change from the undemocratic, secretive system of selecting Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeals judges in Kansas to a more democratic and transparent system (“Don’t change courts,” Jan. 29 Eagle editorial).

Judicial selection is undemocratic

I believe there are compelling reasons why we need to change from the undemocratic, secretive system of selecting Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeals judges in Kansas to a more democratic and transparent system (“Don’t change courts,” Jan. 29 Eagle editorial).

Our current selection process relies on a nominating commission with a majority of its members selected by the Kansas bar. The candidate selection meetings are not open to the public. This secretive system provides no accountability to Kansans.

I favor the judicial-selection process under consideration in the Legislature, which would require Senate confirmation of judicial candidates selected by the governor. I like the transparency of open confirmation hearings and the accountability to the people that can be achieved by entrusting the judicial-selection process to elected officials.

The real issue as I see it: Who picks the pickers of these judges? Do we entrust this process to the current nominating committee system that is selected by a few thousand members of the state bar, or to a governor and with confirmation by a state Senate, both of which are elected by the people, with accountability to the 2.8 million citizens of Kansas?

I have been aware of the need for change in the judicial-selection process for nearly 10 years, and certainly prior to the politically charged school lawsuits of recent years.



Packing the court

Gov. Sam Brownback’s call to change the way appellate judges are selected reminds me of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s attempt to “pack the court” with additional judges who would be favorable to his policies. It was a bad idea in 1937, and it is a bad idea now.

How will the Republicans feel when a Democratic administration comes in and proceeds to select judges favorable to its agenda? Leave the selection process alone.



Ignore petition

It is my sincere hope the Wichita City Council will ignore the petition drive and requests from Kansans for Life and its allies to rezone the area where a new abortion provider plans to open (Jan. 30 Eagle). Though it’s obviously not surprising that these folks don’t want to see a clinic open, their insincere concerns about the nearby neighborhood are almost laughable.

Their only concern for the neighbors is that the actions of the protesters themselves will have a negative impact on the area. The clinic would go about its business behind closed doors and cause no problems; it’s the protesters and their loud, ugly behavior the neighbors would find distasteful.

In other words, the people circulating petitions want to save innocent people from the distasteful sights and sounds they themselves will create.

Let’s hope our city leaders recognize this for what it is and drop the matter.



Broken policy

Publicity about USD 266’s preferential school selection illustrates a policy that was broken from the day it was implemented (“Maize parents protest school assignment process,” Feb. 1 Eagle). Unintended consequences, and some intended, were the result.

The original thought was “no rich school, poor school” and “no athletic school, smart school.” However, when both high schools were open, Maize High School maintained most all of the Advanced Placement classes and Maize South High School had none. Also, recruiting for sports is almost out of control. And while a rivalry between schools is healthy, the level of animosity among students goes far beyond a simple rivalry.

These problems started the day the Maize school board – following the recommendation of the administration, as it almost always does – decided it knew better how to select a school than a parent does. Doesn’t a new patron to the district deserve the right to choose the school by moving inside the school’s boundary? That’s how it works in the rest of the state.

To the 24-plus parents whose children did not get into Maize South: Ask yourself whether your child excels in sports.



Bigfoot exists

I wanted to attend the meeting on Bigfoot but didn’t know where to go (“TV show comes to Wichita, in search of Bigfoot,” Jan. 28 Eagle).

I saw Bigfoot in late December 1965 between Pratt and Kingman. I was traveling to Wichita from Dodge City at about midnight when I saw him. He walked onto the highway coming from the south. My headlights were right on him. The closer I got, the bigger he became.

By the time he reached the middle of the highway, I was just about an eighth of a mile from him. He hesitated, then turned around and headed back the same way from which he had come. By the time he reached the south side of the pavement, I passed him. I looked right into his eyes. He was about 8 feet tall and very hairy with a big body. He swung his arms as he walked. He never ran.

I told this story to only a few people because I didn’t think they would believe me. But now so many people have seen Bigfoot that I don’t mind writing this letter. He does exist.



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