Letters to the editor on city pensions, Big Ditch, NSA snooping, right on red, abusive coaches, trashy playground

08/09/2013 12:00 AM

08/08/2013 5:35 PM

Wichita needs to curb pensions

A commentary pointed out that Detroit should be a wake-up call for Kansas (Aug. 5 Opinion). I would suggest that it should be a wake-up call for the entire nation, with Wichita very much included.

The Wichita neighborhoods are already feeling the effects of financial problems in the city with the elimination of the neighborhood cleanups and proposed loss of my neighborhood library. These are the result of the same problems as Detroit – one being the unsustainable pension benefits for public employees. As a former board member for the Wichita Employees’ Retirement System, I have several years of experience attending those meetings and reading the annual summaries presented by independently paid experts.

By making just a couple of changes, such as the elimination of the deferred retirement option plan (DROP) in which employees are given retirement pay while they continue to work for the city, the city could save taxpayers more than a million dollars a year, according to the 2013 annual report. The city currently contributes more than 12 percent of employee pay to the system, up from about 5 percent before 2009. Contributions to the plan are projected to drop below 90 percent (86 percent of actual market value) of the amount needed to cover the current liability.

By simply bringing the retirement plan in line with the private sector for future retirees, we could fund neighborhood cleanups and libraries, improve street maintenance, and ensure the solvency of the retirement fund.



Thanks for ditch

Once again, we have to take our hats off to the citizens who were smart enough to get the flood project approved so many years ago that created the Big Ditch. That channel is raging with rain runoff. If not for the Big Ditch, a large portion of Wichita would be underwater right now.

“Thanks” to those forward-thinking citizens.



Stop snooping

The other evening I read Dick Francis’ “Trial Run.” The novel is set in the paranoid communist Moscow of the 1970s. It has all the trappings of “watchers,” electronic surveillance and stalking typical of Russia at that time.

I couldn’t help but be thankful for the inestimable service that Edward Snowden has performed for us. Snowden revealed the same type of illegal and immoral surveillance of Americans by our National Security Agency for which we used to chide communist Russia.

As Americans, we usually chuckle over the contortions various dictatorships go through to keep their own people within the fences. Now we are discovering our own “security” people are rummaging around in our private and personal affairs like paranoid communists in Cold War Russia.

I am sure my ancestors John Simison and his sons, who fought in the American Revolution, would not be pleased. I know I am not.



Not a game

In the Aug. 5 Opinion Line, someone described witnessing the “miracle” of a driver making a complete stop before turning right on a red light. I, too, watch for those. And I count them; I’ve seen six in the past nine years.

Countless thousands did not make a complete stop. And none of those thousands caused a traffic accident. And yet I know a lady who got a $160 ticket for this infraction.

Still, on any given day, the average speed on any Wichita street is 5 mph or more than the speed limit. The rules must be different for speeding and for creeping carefully around a corner. Are more points awarded for a right-turn violation? It really shouldn’t be a game.



Stand up to abuse

It is not OK to call 16-year-old basketball players offensive and abusive names for making normal mistakes during the course of a game. It’s not OK to use slurs to describe a mistake on the court in front of a gym full of people.

I was appalled last weekend by the behavior of a local coach at the summer Mid America Youth Basketball final in Andover. Coaches get fired for this type of behavior. If parents and organizations do not stand up to these bullies (coaches), they will continue this type of behavior. If you do not advocate for your child, no one else will.

I was the only parent who spoke up, and now this coach probably will not be asked to participate next year.

Do not continue to tolerate this behavior. Stand up for your child.



Pick up plastic

A sign recently was tacked to a tree on the playground east of Robinson Middle School. It tells people that children play there and asks them to clean up after their dogs. All right; fair enough, I guess.

But what about all the litter dropped there? I’ve walked that playground for some time and am amazed at how much trash is there, and it’s almost all generated by the students who use the field. Why isn’t that cleaned up? Why is it OK to leave it there? Why doesn’t that bother anyone? Dog poop at least eventually breaks down and goes away. Plastic doesn’t.



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