Lobbying influence is shameful
A headline in last Sunday’s Eagle, “74% of lobbyist spending on lawmakers unaccounted for,” could have been captured in one word: “corruption.”
There is no better word to define what happened in the successful AT&T lobbying on the bill it wrote, House Bill 2201. Every “obstacle” its lobbyists removed in its path to profits had protected customers. They were even successful in reducing the oversight provided by the Kansas Corporation Commission. Winners: its wealthy investors. Losers: the rest of us.
Ten lobbyists for AT&T in Topeka aren’t enough? It needs 11? The lobbyists get to replace a legislative staff-written amendment with one they wrote? It is the one that gets passed? How is this not corruption?
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To top it off, Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, can say without gagging, “I think we have excellent ethics standards.” For where – the Congo, or Uganda? Unitemized lobbying expenditures amounting to 74 percent of all lobbying expenditures seems to me to spell corruption with a capital C.
Kudos to Dion Lefler and Brent Wistrom of The Eagle’s Topeka bureau for exposing this shameful behavior of Kansas legislators.
Not radical, stupid
H. Edward Flentje’s commentary presented a dilemma for Kansans concerned about our future (“Rural Kansas will pay,” May 5 Opinion). If we support cuts in spending, we are fools against our own interests. If we don’t, we are selfish takers.
The truth is that all Kansans contribute to government through one tax or another, and all are beneficiaries. Responsible Republicans have stressed the importance of limiting the size of government so that it can be affordable, efficient, unobtrusive and responsive. Responsible Democrats have focused on those most in need so that our community will be a good place to live and more citizens can be productive.
Contrary to being mutually exclusive, these goals are interdependent, because a state that is broke cannot be generous, and one that is indifferent to the needs of the poor, sick or disabled can never be truly rich.
I am a bit tired of hearing from Kansans that Kansans are radical or stupid. We are neither. But I wonder if the media and the Legislature are listening to the voices of our people.
Waste of water
I called 911 at 3 p.m. last Sunday to notify the city that there was a water main break near the intersection of Countryside and Parkwood. About one hour later, I called the 24-hour service number for the Wichita Water Department to repeat the notification of a water main break. The gentleman I spoke with responded that, yes, they had been notified and had dispatched a service technician who had determined that, yes, a water line was broken. The repair would be done on Monday.
Monday, I was astonished to read that the city was looking at turning off all water features in the city due to the current water shortage and drought conditions (“Fountains may stay dry,” May 6 Eagle).
Our city has requested residents to help with solving our water “crisis.” It has discussed raising water rates and imposing water restrictions on residents. But apparently the city is not too worried about the water “crisis,” because it can allow thousands of gallons of treated water to drain into the storm drainage system for a day.
It is time for the residents of this great city to speak up and speak out when the city is looking for excuses to raise revenue and even “punish” some of our residents.
During the 1950s we heard a lot about communists who had to be tracked down and arrested because they wanted to “overthrow the government by force.” In truth, members of the U.S. Communist Party wanted changes in the U.S. government but worked, as other groups do, to try to create political support for their views. Nevertheless, many were arrested.
Now Kansans live in a state where the majority of the Legislature has passed a law that requires the arrest of federal agents who try to enforce federal law in the state. Arrests are carried out by police officers, often with guns drawn. The governor of the state signed the law.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has written our governor explaining that this state law is unconstitutional. I think that is a mild response.
Some Southern governors stood against U.S. law during the civil rights movement, and President Eisenhower sent federal troops to enforce the law. To oppose federal law, not through political activities but with the threat of force controlled by government officers, is to threaten civil war.
Those of us who have laughed at tea party tactics need to stop laughing. This is way past funny.
DOROTHY K. BILLINGS
The real story
The Eagle’s May 8 front page had the headline “Politics dominates in Benghazi hearing.” This self-opinioned headline might have been better presented as “Benghazi coverup exposed.”
Many Eagle readers would like to get away from misdirected news stories and just hear the factual truths. Yes, politics was involved in this hearing, but the real story I would like to think is that American citizens are finally hearing from honorable men what really happened. These are whistleblowers who, incidentally, have and are currently experiencing career demotions for nothing more than actually witnessing events and wanting to tell the truth of their experience.
The other story is the arrogance of some elected officials representing American citizens and the non-participation of major news media that won’t report the real story.
Benghazi is not Watergate, and President Obama is not Richard Nixon, no matter how much some politicians and a recent Opinion Line commenter wish it were so.
Let us refresh our memory of the “unindicted co-conspirator”: Nixon. What we call the Watergate scandal is not merely the break-in itself but a full panoply of government malfeasance, secret tapes and outright criminality. Nixon was not “asked to resign.” He was allowed to resign rather than face criminal charges. His attorney general and former law partner, John Mitchell, is the only U.S. attorney general in history ever to serve time in prison.
Benghazi is tragic, but it doesn’t rise to the level of Watergate by any standard.
If we could say there is one need in our culture today, it would be compassion. Many in our community are hurting and are in need of support.
Some consider conservative Republicans “less compassionate.” Some have asked: “Can you be compassionate and still cut the budgets of agencies that help people?” Those types of questions were asked recently at the legislative forum at Derby City Hall (“Several protest KanCare proposal,” May 7 Eagle).
The issue that was the most discussed was the care of developmentally disabled Kansans and the mentally ill. There is concern that, with the climate of perceived “program cutting” in Topeka, the care of loved ones could be in jeopardy.
As a guardian of a very loving autistic adult who enjoys life but is dependent on support from the state, I feel comfortable that the Legislature will do the right thing. However, I do believe it is important for our community to show compassion.
At our church, we have developed an active ministry for the disabled. It is not necessary for us to have family with a disability to reach out. In fact, if we would all develop a “passion for compassion,” we could not only save tax dollars but gain a real “joy” that comes from serving.
MICHAEL O’DONNELL SR.
Grace Baptist Church