Letters to the editor on foster-care contract, water, tax policy, Rolling Stone article, farm bill

06/23/2013 12:00 AM

06/21/2013 5:55 PM

Committed to well-being of kids

Saint Francis Community Services will assume responsibility for the state contract for foster care reintegration, family preservation and adoption in Sedgwick County and nine surrounding counties on July 1. Saint Francis welcomes this opportunity. We also appreciate the confidence shown by the state in awarding this contract, and stand resolved and ready to commit ourselves to the task.

Since 1945, Saint Francis has remained dedicated to a simple, singular idea: Strong families make children’s lives better. From the earliest days at our boys’ home in Salina through this new threshold of responsibility and service, we have been committed to the safety and well-being of family.

Our state’s judges, district attorneys, attorneys and court advocates play a vital role in ensuring that our children are protected and properly served. Saint Francis will continue to work diligently in maintaining strong, long-term working relationships with each of them.

A dedicated staff of qualified child-welfare professionals is also essential to the faithful and competent care of children, so our move into Wichita involves the hiring of some 300 additional staff members – along with securing expanded office space.

Serving Wichita and the nine surrounding counties is a challenging task, but we pledge to provide the best possible service and support for those in our care.



Saint Francis Community Services


Grass or food?

I recently started doing a little research on Cheney Reservoir. The 9,550 surface acre lake has a cumulative water storage of 167,074 acre-feet and a conservation storage (amount of stored water for use) of 151,788 acre-feet, or 49.4 billion gallons. As of June 14, lake levels were down about 5 feet from normal. Conservation pool (percent to normal level) was at 72 percent, making the conservation storage 110,467 acre-feet, down 41,322 acre-feet or 13.4 billion gallons.

One acre-foot is equivalent to 325,851 gallons and is taken to be the planned water usage of a suburban family household, which means the lake is down 41,322 households’ worth of water. But many households with lawn sprinklers use a lot more water.

My personal concern with water usage in lawns isn’t how much is being watered but what is being watered. We have a vast selection of native grasses that want to grow here without our assistance.

Eventually, we are all going to have to ask ourselves: What is more important – grass to mow or food on our tables? Civilization shouldn’t be measured in grass clipping, but rather by our ability to adapt and evolve to our environment around us, using what this immediate environment has provided us to use in a resourceful manner.



Share water?

El Dorado has a beautiful lake. Should we share our water with Wichita? Should we share the rigors of a serious drought with our neighbors?

Ideally, we are all in the same lifeboat and should share and share alike. That sounds wonderful, and perhaps it is the Christian answer. But I do have a long memory. Where was Wichita when our old lake was dry? Our local industries, plus the Santa Fe Railroad, came to our aid – not Wichita. This is difficult to forget.

Also in the past, we built and maintained our community college in El Dorado. Students in Wichita discovered a friendly atmosphere and snubbed their own city to drive over to El Dorado – and later to our second campus in Andover.

We were expanding and needed the money. But Sedgwick County got the Legislature to eliminate the out-of-county payments it was required to make.

I do not know whether we should sell water to Wichita or just hoard it for our safety. I’ll accept either decision from our officials. They should do what they think best. Just remember that in the past we received no favors from our big next-door neighbor. He is a big bully.


El Dorado

Wait and see

Joseph A. Aistrup suggested that the 2012 tax cuts passed by the Legislature were a failure (“Kansas pursuing wrong tax policy,” June 2 Opinion). The fact is, the outcome is not yet known and it is far too early to judge.

These changes didn’t start until Jan. 1, 2013 – fewer than six months ago. I don’t think that is a fair period for evaluation.

The 2012 tax cuts lowered the tax rate for all Kansans. They raised the standard deduction for all. The median Kansas family uses the standard deduction, has annual income of $65,430, and files its income-tax return married jointly with one child. These families will see a state income-tax reduction of $335 in tax year 2013 compared with 2012, an additional $111 reduction per year starting in 2014 when the bottom income-tax rate is reduced to 2.7 percent, and an additional $306 reduction per year when tax relief is fully phased in by 2018, for a total income-tax savings of $752 per year. Starting in 2013, certain nonwage small-business income is exempt from state income tax.

Before we jump the gun to call current tax policy a failure, it would be prudent to at least see what happens.



See our worst

Considering the magazine, Rolling Stone’s portrayal of Kansas politics should not be surprising (“Rolling Stone article says fanatics hijacked Kansas,” June 14 WE Blog excerpts). What is surprising is how easy the article seemed to be for the author to write.

Statements by state Rep. Virgil Peck, R-Tyro, about immigration are a matter of public record, as is the political history of state Sen. Michael O’Donnell, R-Wichita. The absurdities of Topeka continue to bolster the dubious thought that if you run for office as a Republican in Kansas, you will win, at any level, regardless of anything.

As bad as the article makes politicians look, the citizens of Kansas look far worse. Elected officials reflect the views of their constituents. Unfortunately, apathy toward government in Kansas is at an all-time high, leading to dismal voter turnout. It’s hard to cast a vote when you feel it doesn’t matter.

Kansas has a lot to offer. We have wide-open spaces with room to breathe. We work hard, raise our families and, for the most part, have a positive outlook on life. But until we elect leaders who reflect our best, outsiders will never see anything but our worst.



Farm bill facts

An editorial cartoon published last week on Kansas.com showed a farm combine, labeled as “farm bill,” throwing grain into a truck while a mother with her two children, labeled “food-stamp recipients,” ran for their lives.

Here are the facts about the House’s farm bill (which was voted down Thursday): Food stamps and nutrition, $743.9 billion over 10 years. Commodity programs, $40.1 billion over 10 years. Crop insurance, $93 billion over 10 years. Conservation, $56.7 billion over 10 years. Trade, $3.6 billion over 10 years. Energy, $243 million over 10 years. Miscellaneous, about $1.5 billion over 10 years.

Out of the $940 billion pie, the food-stamp program would get 79.2 percent.

Now, I know many will say that the House bill would cut the food-stamp program by $20.5 billion. But if our own government would just stop actively soliciting Mexican citizens to get food-stamp benefits for their U.S. children, the $20.5 billion would not be necessary.

It’s time that the food-stamp program was separated from the farm bill. Let the farm bill be just about farming.



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