Letters to the editor on public transit, cab drivers, lack of pride in state, protected species, enforcing laws, concealed-carry

03/23/2014 12:00 AM

03/21/2014 6:55 PM

Long way to go on public transit

Good for the city of Wichita. Rethinking the way the transit system in Wichita operates is absolutely overdue (“Health study leading to changes at bus system,” March 18 Eagle).

Eliminating the two-bag rule on groceries is commendable. The expanded smoking ban area is reasonable. But there’s still a long way to go to improve public transit.

We are a community of faith. Wouldn’t it be grand to have bus service on Sunday? We are a community with some excellent youth programs on weekends. Wouldn’t it be grand if bus service allowed participation by more teens and tweens? People are unable to accept job offers because bus service ends early. Some senior drivers would like to give up driving and take a bus, but the lack of convenient routes gives them pause.

Here’s a challenge to City Hall, staff and elected officials: Depend upon the bus for transportation for four days consecutively, including a Sunday. How would it affect your life and your family’s activities?

DELPHINE SMITH

Wichita

People change

“About 1 in 10 Wichita cab drivers has a felony record” (March 9 Eagle) suggested that Wichita officials put the public in danger at the hands of lowlifes because city ordinances permit felons to pose as respectable cabbies.

The notion that convicted felons, upon release, must be forever barred from gainful employment or else innocent people will be hurt is a prescription for societal failure. And it’s untrue: People can change.

Consider Moses, guilty of faithlessness (Numbers 20:10-12) and homicide (Exodus 2:11-15); King David, of adultery (2 Samuel 11:1-27) and murder (2 Samuel 11:14-17); and Paul, complicit in martyring Stephen (Acts 7:54-60, Acts 8:1).

Condemning ex-cons to the “prison” of unending unemployment likely will produce the very thing such misguided measures aim to prevent – a rise in violent crime. Is that what we want?

The Eagle’s readers have intelligence and hearts alive with love and compassion. Most will see that the article played upon people’s fears without spotlighting the societal changes needed to reduce crime and recidivism. We can create a better world. For God’s sake, let’s stop pretending we don’t know how. Let’s do it.

Rev. DAVID CARTER

First Unitarian Universalist Church

Wichita

Flagging pride

In the summer of 1967 my mother wrote to the Governor’s Office, and I received a beautiful new Kansas flag from the lieutenant governor while I was serving in Vienam. I attached it to a broom handle and mounted it on my “deuce and a half,” and it flew proudly on convoys from Da Nang to the DMZ and all points in between.

When I left Vietnam, I folded my flag and zipped it up in my writing case, where it stayed for the next 45 years, mostly forgotten. Recently I mentioned it to my son, and he expressed an interest in having it framed. I am still proud to be a Kansan but I am not proud of what Kansas has become, and so I wonder if the time is right.

The Kansas I was proud of would not be so easily manipulated by a governor and state lawmakers who seem to care only about helping the wealthy, who seem to care more about the unborn than the needy children already here, who push their religious agenda in our schools when what we need is to produce innovative and creative students with critical-thinking skills, who threaten voting rights, and who are attempting to dismantle the crucial balance of power among the three branches of our government.

I am hoping that come November we will have a new governor and some new legislators who can work together and make me proud again. Then it will be time to display my flag proudly.

MIKE STURGELL

Wichita

Protect species

Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s proposal (Senate Bill 276) to nullify federal protection of prairie chickens is stunning in its hubris and recklessness.

Kobach is already infamous for fearing imagined voting irregularities; now it seems he believes protecting valued but vanishing species could undermine the state’s sovereignty.

SB 276 asserts state officials “have successfully managed lesser prairie chickens.” A new study concludes lesser prairie chicken numbers declined 50 percent in 2013. Wildlife biologists estimate more than 90 percent of the population has now vanished.

Ignore for a moment the overwhelming likelihood that SB 276, if passed, would be overturned in court. Dwell instead on what motivates it: Species loss cannot be allowed to hold up commercial development.

But species loss is the proverbial canary in the coal mine. The human species survives because of the rich biodiversity that ensures clean air and water and healthy soil. When species extinctions spike, it’s a warning that Earth is becoming less habitable.

And spiking they are. Species are going extinct at 100 to 1,000 times the rate they once did, and that rate is rising exponentially.

Faced with such dire warnings, what responsible leader would propose doing away with measures to prevent species loss?

DUANE SCHRAG

Conservation co-chairman

Kansas Sierra Club

Abilene

Enforce laws

Our Founding Fathers’ idea of basic freedoms was set not for personal interpretation but as a way to live our everyday lives. As we have seen in the recent past with executive orders, being able to choose what law will and will not be enforced is the same as feudal systems in history. Once elected leaders stray from preserving our rights and instead selectively enforce laws of their choosing, they have greatly blurred the lines of elected leaders and saving face within that political party.

Our forefathers’ installment of basic freedoms was designed specifically on the idea that every person is entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, no matter the political climate.

Our rich tradition should not only be respected and practiced by our leaders, but it is one that is emulated from abroad. We have set the example of allowing free people to decide their fate. When that is stripped away by selective enforcement of laws, we are the ones looking toward others instead of the country others look to.

Selective enforcement only enhances political agendas and not freedoms and rights.

MATTHEW ROSE

Wichita

Don’t feel safer

It is OK if you want to get a concealed-carry permit and carry a weapon, but don’t tell me that I should feel safer because you are carrying a concealed weapon. Here are just a few reasons why.

George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin for walking through his neighborhood, had a concealed-carry permit. Curtis Reeves Jr., accused of shooting and killing Chad Oulson for texting during the previews at a movie theater, had a concealed-carry permit and is a retired police captain. Michael David Dunn, convicted of attempted murder in the shooting death of a teenager playing loud music, had a concealed-carry permit. Last month in Wichita, a man who had a concealed-carry permit told police he accidentally discharged a firearm inside a bar. Last June, two men in Milwaukee who both had concealed-carry permits got into a running gunfight during a road-rage incident. In Ionia, Mich., in September, James Pullum and Robert Taylor, both concealed-carry permit holders, killed each other during a road-rage incident.

These and other reports of intentional and accidental shootings involving people with concealed-carry permits do not help me feel safe.

Some people say that the training required to get a concealed-carry permit in Kansas should make us feel safer. But after reviewing the approved curriculum for the eight-hour course, I definitely do not feel any safer.

ROBERT JOHNSON

Towanda

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