Letters to the editor on Schmidt’s silence, government offices, self-reliance, driver’s license office, WSU engineering, cloth diapers

08/04/2013 12:00 AM

08/02/2013 5:28 PM

Schmidt needs to take a stand

We have yet to hear from Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt regarding how the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down Arizona’s proof-of-citizenship law affects Kansas’ similar law enshrined in the Secure and Fair Elections Act of 2011. Though Secretary of State Kris Kobach has stated numerous times that he believes the SAFE Act is not covered by the court’s decision, Schmidt has remained silent. Given that the SAFE Act is nearly identical to the Arizona law, it is incumbent on Schmidt to end his silence.

More than 13,000 voter-registration applications are now “in suspense,” and nearly 2,000 more are being added every month. Legal voters – Kansans all – are being disenfranchised by the SAFE Act’s proof-of-citizenship requirement. This law has not only negatively affected the ability of Kansans to exercise their constitutional right to vote but also has imposed costs and added burdens on local election offices throughout our state.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has intensified Justice Department scrutiny of how proof-of-citizenship restrictions on voter registration violate the Voting Rights Act. These developments cast an even brighter light on Schmidt’s silence.

The stage is set for intense and costly legal battles for the state. Such legal challenges require Schmidt’s attention as well as a public stand on these issues.


Bel Aire

What did I do?

A Sunday Eagle article about another egregious government usurpation of individual rights (“CIA agent’s trial shielded higher-ups,” July 28 Eagle) reported that the public officials covertly ordering the injustice did so because they thought doing “something” was better than doing nothing. Otherwise, why were they needed? The article went on to say that not a “single individual” stepped up and took responsibility for what happened. Cowards.

On the other hand, columnist Cal Thomas reported that most of us – especially younger Americans – are becoming disillusioned with collective action by government and are turning to (and participating in) voluntary organizations as the “best way to make positive changes in society” (“Government isn’t best way to create change,” July 28 Opinion).

Are we realizing (again) that doing what you can with what you have – individually and in voluntary association with others sharing your interest – to address the challenges and opportunities facing you and your neighbors is more productive than wasting precious time and limited resources in a dangerous and unaccountable effort to coerce others to do what you think they should do? Sounds like a return to self-reliance.

This attitude of demanding individual freedom and then taking personal responsibility was the foundation for the republic’s greatness. Its loss, as we have increasingly turned to government, has led only to waste, injustice and inequality.

Maybe we should stop asking “What did Washington do?” and start asking “What did I do?”



Don’t move out

Why are government offices moving out of downtown Wichita? If we describe the core downtown area as bounded by Kellogg, Central, the Arkansas River and Washington, several government entities are moving out.

The federal government is moving Internal Revenue Service offices to North Woodlawn. It already planted the Social Security office into the northeast Wichita hinterlands. The state wants to abandon the Finney State Office Building near the transit center. The library board wants to move the Central Library across the river. USD 259 has expressed an interest, or an excuse, to move its administrative offices from downtown to Southeast High School.

If you think fighting City Hall is tough, try opposing the federal government, the state, the city and the school board all at once.

We need to appreciate the local banks, financial firms, law offices, hotels, Cargill, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Kansas Health Foundation, Wichita Area Association of Realtors, Wichita Area Builders Association, the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, the YMCA and Intrust Bank Arena that maintain a downtown presence, and the many residential complexes that continue to grow. Now, if we can just get our governments to pitch in, we could keep out of the doughnut-hole syndrome and make downtown shine.



Stay open Monday

I join the parade of those who have complained about the ordeal of simply renewing their driver’s licenses. When it came time to renew my license, I traveled across town, only to discover that the office was closed on Mondays. Other state offices are open the regular five days a week, so how was I to know that the driver’s license office works on a shortened workweek schedule?

The next day I made the trip again only to find the line was so long that I returned home. On my third try, the line was again very long, but I decided to tough it out.

What should be a routine and uneventful task turned out to be an extremely aggravating chore.

After a barrage of impassioned complaints, including many letters to the editor, the state relented and the office is working a normal weekly schedule for a few weeks. By all accounts, it has been quite successful.

Now that we know that the five-day workweek is successful in summer, there is no reason that it will not be just as successful in the other three seasons of the year.



Quick renewal

I am a retired airline pilot. My airline transport pilot certificate (license) never expires. However, my flight instructor certificate must be renewed every two years. Renewal of my flight instructor certificate can be accomplished at any Federal Aviation Administration Flight Standards District Office (they are all over the country) in about 15 minutes – less if I complete the application on my home computer before I visit the office.

Of course, pilot and flight instructor certificates do not have a picture of the holder, as does a Kansas driver’s license or a Sam’s Club card. Hey, that gives me an idea. Why not let Sam’s Clubs take care of issuing Kansas driver’s licenses? They can do it in minutes, are open seven days a week and offer tasty samples while you shop.



Long a leader

I’m not entering the debate about the state’s role in funding universities (July 7 Eagle), but I think Wichita State University president John Bardo needs to bone up on the history of the university he heads.

In the early post-World War II years, Wichita University, as it was known then, was ranked in the top 10 of American universities in aeronautical engineering and was one of the few with a wind tunnel on campus.

That wind tunnel was used in research conducted by the school for the automotive as well as aviation industries. The student body in the engineering and technical disciplines drew students from other countries and states. A little later, the engineering department’s research unit did pioneering work on technology adapted on some outstanding U.S. Cold War fighter airplanes.

Research and engineering in Wichita started much longer ago than a couple of decades.



Use cloth diapers

Nowhere in the article “Diaper crisis among poor families” (July 31 Eagle) was the obvious solution mentioned: Use cloth diapers. There are so many reasons to do so no matter the economic level of the family:

•  They are reusable. They can be used through two babies.
•  They are washable, even by hand. My mother did it.
•  They don’t go to the landfill. Think how much of the landfill is composed of diapers, and how many diapers even one baby generates.
•  Using cloth diapers saves so much money.

To me this is a no-brainer solution.



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