Letters to the editor on Brownback missteps, due-process half-truths, teacher fee, voter ID, job problem

06/12/2014 12:00 AM

06/11/2014 5:54 PM

Hermanson one of series of missteps

I am rarely rendered speechless, but the antics of Gov. Sam Brownback have almost made me so. The irrationality, tone deafness, outright incompetence and disregard for the good of our state defy logic.

Former state Rep. Phil Hermanson was appointed KanCare inspector general, starting April 28. However, Brownback never asked for a Senate confirmation, so despite the $77,000 salary we were paying him, Hermanson was prohibited by state law from doing his job, which was conducting oversight (identifying fraud) of the $3 billion budget of KanCare.

But the most amazing and troubling part was Hermanson’s total absence of qualifications. Not only does he lack a college degree or any qualifying career experience, his past problems include campaign finance violations and a DUI conviction. Last week Hermanson resigned.

If this were a one-off, I wouldn’t be writing. Unfortunately, it is just one more in a series of similar missteps our governor has taken.

One of many other examples was Rob Siedlecki, a buddy of Brownback from his Washington, D.C., days hired as secretary of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. Siedlecki “transformed” the department (“decimated” might be a more appropriate word) before resigning and heading back to Florida.

I hope everyone will do research before voting. We must be informed voters, or our beloved state will continue to suffer.

GWENDOLYN Y. CLAASSEN

North Newton

Slanted version

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, and fellow liberal progressives have been ranting about how Gov. Sam Brownback and the conservative Legislature have an agenda against education in Kansas. They and the teachers unions have run a smear campaign, only telling a slanted half-truth version of the teacher tenure and due-process hearing changes recently enacted.

Though state-mandated hearings were ended and teacher tenure rescinded at the state government level, the recent education bill did what the people of Kansas have been asking for all along – return vital education issues to the local level.

House Education Committee Chairwoman Kasha Kelley, R-Arkansas City, recently explained that “tenure in the state of Kansas, due process in the state of Kansas, is now a local-level decision” (June 3 Eagle). She said some school boards will choose to keep the hearings, while others might end them. “But whatever they adopt is now between the school board and the local voters,” she said. “And, frankly, I struggle to see where that’s bad policy.”

So, before you take at face value whatever Democrat rhetoric is spewed out this campaign cycle, be sure to research “the rest of the story.”

BRUCE BARTELLI

Frontenac

Rescind teacher fee

The Legislature recently passed a law allowing people with a math, science or technology background to teach in our schools even though they have no teacher training or certification. This was passed apparently because of shortages of qualified teachers in these subjects.

At the same time, if any retired teacher is hired by a school district, that district must pay about a quarter of the teacher’s salary to the state. The district often takes that amount out of the teacher’s pay. How many retired teachers want to go back to work given almost one-fourth of their salary is taken out before they start?

If Kansas really wants to be a low-tax state, maybe it could rescind this fee and get some retired teachers with both subject knowledge and proven teaching experience to fill some of these areas of need.

DAVID HOPKINS

Rose Hill

A big deterrent?

Secretary of State Kris Kobach is right on requiring new registrants to provide proper proof of citizenship to vote in Kansas. The opposition continues to whine about putting an unnecessary burden on voters (“Pastors plan voter drive, slam ID laws,” June 7 Local & State).

Well, consider this: Suppose this same proof of identification were required to obtain free phones, food stamps, free medical care in our emergency rooms and other government “freebies.” Do you suppose this same documentation would be a deterrent?

IVAN “SAM” HUSTON

Hutchinson

Tackle job problem

Some believe that government projects and grants are far superior to the private sector in creating jobs for Americans. But using government tax revenue to resurrect job creation is self-defeating in the long run. As jobs disappear and go overseas, our tax revenues will continue to free-fall, creating chaos.

Are our business leaders waiting for the next tax increase or government regulation to slam into their bottom line instead of investing in their businesses? Are our education systems keeping up with the present needs of our business-owner requirements? There are theories on why our job situation is deteriorating, but not many solutions on the horizon.

I wish I could answer the problem of lack of job growth, because I have grandkids and they will all need jobs down the road. It concerns me greatly.

I wish our political leaders would step forward and tackle this problem with vigor and conviction and in harmony with American business leaders. Being realistic, we all must realize our business leaders will eventually be the first team in creating jobs, and our elected officials will be supportive while being on the second team.

DAVID McCALLA

Wichita

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