Stop putting up voting roadblocks
Some legislators continue to push proposals that would limit the average citizen’s right to vote. First they blindly follow Secretary of State Kris Kobach to require formal proof of citizenship for first-time voters. Then they want to move off-year elections of school board members and City Council members and mayors to the same time and year as state and federal elections, adding the opportunity for these races to become a mess of partisan bickering and ignore real issues facing local communities. Now they want to limit the voting pool before a primary by refusing to allow people to change their party identification within two months before the vote.
I say: Let anyone who is registered to vote be allowed to vote in any primary. Increase the opportunities for advance balloting by mail, on the Internet and in person at selected polling places. Leave local elections nonpartisan and stand-alone. Let actual issues be discussed, not character assassination or lumping all candidates into villain status based on party affiliation.
We wonder why young people don’t vote. We can only point to the roadblocks thrown up on their way to the voting booth.
Values that count
While visiting in San Diego recently, I had the opportunity to attend a boot camp graduation for 301 U.S. Marines. It was overwhelming to witness the pride and discipline displayed by all the Marines. During the ceremony, it was explained how these young men and women will live by a set of core values that will form the bedrock of their character. As Marines, they will serve our nation with honor, courage and commitment.
The 301 Marines made up five platoons. One Marine was selected from each platoon who displayed the highest degree of discipline, proficiency, bearing, physical fitness and basic leadership traits. A Marine from Salina was selected as one of the platoon honor graduates.
It would be great to have as much confidence in our politicians in Washington, D.C., as we have in our military and Marine Corps. Unfortunately, the attitude of our government portrays a negative image of “do as I tell you, not as I do.” Therefore, I recommend we challenge the government to live by the principles and values of the Marine Corps and get the country back on the right track.
I feel very fortunate that we have the Marines protecting our safety and freedom. I wish I could say the same about big government.
JIM McNERNEY Sr.
Don’t repeal RPS
A bill to repeal the renewable portfolio standard was introduced in the Kansas Senate Ways and Means Committee. The bill – ostensibly written by the right-wing, corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council – would remove requirements that Kansas have 15 percent of its energy generated by renewable sources by 2015 and 20 percent by 2020.
Westar Energy has passed 15 percent and is near having 20 percent of its energy generated from wind. Wind farms have created numerous jobs and millions of dollars of income for the state while producing energy without pollution.
Peter Kelly-Detwiler wrote recently for Forbes magazine: “The fact is that wind power is highly cost-effective in many parts of the country. Once the turbines are built, the fuel is free, ongoing maintenance costs are minimal, and emissions are nonexistent…. Even if you then include the production tax credit of $23, you still have a resource that is capable of delivering energy more cost-effectively than any of its competitors.”
TV ads by Americans for Prosperity would have us believe that any increases in electricity costs are due to the RPS, but the Kansas Corporation Commission says the RPS contributes only a very small amount to costs. Both AFP and ALEC are about protecting the existing fossil-fuel industries in the face of justified concern about increasing air pollution and competition from nonpolluting sources.
Proud of Shockers
For those of you who were not able to go to the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in St. Louis last weekend: You missed a tremendous experience. The basketball games were excellent, with Wichita State playing some of its best games this year. The crowd was electrifying and very, very loud, especially on March 9 in the championship game.
There were three experiences that I will always remember. The first happened on March 8 during halftime of the second game. Coach Gregg Marshall came out to sit with his family. When he entered the arena, the response was resounding from the Shocker Nation. Before sitting down beside his wife, he gave her a big hug and kiss – family. The second happened during the championship game when Indiana State player Jake Odum was taken out near the end of the game. Ron Baker encouraged the crowd to applaud, and we did – respect. Finally, after the game was over and the congratulations were starting to subside, Marshall went around the entire arena and stopped at each section, thanking the Shocker Nation for its support and for making the trip – gracious and humble.
All of us are truly proud of and blessed by Marshall, his players and coaches, and the commitment they have brought to Wichita.
JAMES R. JANSON
Don’t text, drive
I recently witnessed the consequences of texting while driving. Traveling southbound on Hydraulic behind a larger Buick, I noted that the driver, a younger lady, was swerving badly over the line. I realized that she was in some way impaired. Her gaze was directed down. She was undoubtedly texting. She paid no attention to the car ahead in her lane waiting to turn left and plowed into it at 40 mph.
That car was demolished. Her car, while damaged, was still running. She made no effort to get out and check on the passengers of the other car, but instead hit the gas in an effort to flee. Her car failed a few blocks later.
I stayed with the passengers in the other car until emergency vehicles arrived. They were shaken, but not hurt. They were lucky. I gave the officer a statement and left.
When will drivers of all ages realize that they risk killing other motorists and pedestrians when they text and drive? Someone texting while driving is more likely to cause an accident resulting in injury or death than someone who is legally drunk. It’s insane and completely avoidable.
Stop and think. Is it worth losing your life, or taking the life of another, just to keep up with your online friends? Don’t use handheld communications devices while you drive.
Share the road
Even though it is 2014, there are still motorists in the Wichita area who harbor a hostility and lack of respect for the road cyclist. But the cyclist they are yelling and cursing at and trying to run over could be their doctor, lawyer, judge, pastor, policeman, teacher, engineer, business owner or neighbor.
Yes, I have cyclist friends in all those categories.
The serious bicyclist bikes on the road because that is where Kansas law says we belong. The Kansas Driving Handbook has no laws about riding bicycles on the sidewalk. Sidewalks are made for – get ready – walking.
Kansas law also says that motorists must allow 3-feet clearance when passing a cyclist. Bicyclists are fully aware that your car is bigger than our bicycle, so please don’t endanger our lives by passing us too closely. And, really, we like motorists, because we have cars, too.
So next time you see a cyclist, give your friend a wave. We will wave back. Bicyclists just want to safely coexist with motorists on our Kansas roads.
Let’s move forward and make Wichita a bike-friendly city.