Restructure and extend bus routes
As a mobility specialist, and as someone who has used the transit systems of numerous U.S. cities, I have been disappointed for many years that Wichita has provided less user-friendly and less-effective city bus transportation than many other cities.
The bus system's financial problems largely are due to not having enough riders. But when you have a system that discourages people from using it, fewer people will use it. Now the city sees the need to make it even less appealing by raising fares and cutting back service.
When I viewed the Wichita Transit website, I noticed that seven or eight people appear to have administrative roles at the office. I wonder if major fare hikes could be delayed, and Saturday service continued, if the number of such positions were cut in half.
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The bus system discourages potential riders by not having buses available in some areas, by providing limited service times, and by getting people inefficiently to their destinations.
Decision makers need to look at ways to restructure and extend the routes. Large buses that have few riders may need to be replaced with smaller, more-efficient ones, with a few added to fill gaps where people are not being served.
Don't close course
The city of Wichita is considering closing one of its golf courses as a way to save money (June 30 Eagle). This is a terrible idea, as there aren't enough public courses in this area as it is.
There are plenty of other options the city can look at to save money, such as not hiring consultants to study everything.
The city should be looking for ways to increase, not decrease, leisure activity opportunities in this town. Fewer things to do in Wichita will only make us look more backward than we already do.
There is a pattern of discouraging and censoring nonreligious viewpoints within the Kansas correctional system.
The most recent example is Gov. Sam Brownback's newly announced Out4Life program, a "faith-based" (read: conservative Christian) approach for parolees. This is a blatant sectarian effort by the governor and the corrections secretary to use their positions and power to set up a program designed to promote the Christian faith.
Mentoring can be a very positive step. But all inmates should have access to a program they feel most comfortable connecting with, instead of one that involves proselytizing.
If Brownback is concerned about recidivism, it would be far more beneficial to set up a broad coalition that includes employers, nonprofits and various religious agencies to serve as mentors to inmates coming out of the system and needing guidance, instead of once again creating a program that elevates and promotes Christianity.
The state has a constitutional obligation to make every effort to develop a mentoring program that provides every inmate the opportunity to succeed on the outside without imposing religious coercion.
VICKIE SANDELL STANGL
Great Plains Chapter
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
The June 27 WE Blog excerpt regarding the lack of successful teaching of history and other social studies was presented as "beyond depressing." I agree.
Certainly, reading and math are an essential part of our public education. But I believe that history and civics are just as essential for a country in which the people determine the leaders of our government via elections. We the people are in charge, and make decisions every two years that have lasting results. One of those decisions is whether or not to vote.
The cliche "those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it" fits well here, and it is deeply rooted in, well, history. Civics classes, providing the knowledge of how our government works and the duties and rights of citizenship, will produce responsible citizens. Sound thinking based on knowledge rather than emotion will benefit us all during elections.
These facets of public education will produce knowledge, facts and answers to questions. More important, they will produce important questions for the thinking citizen to answer.
Let's give our kids something to help them deal with the debts we are passing on to them.
Baker University professor Gywn Mellinger's commentary about public broadcasting funding ("Public radio, television on Brownback's hit list," June 26 Opinion) also appeared in the Newton Kansan. However, it was not edited quite the same as it was in The Eagle.
In the Kansan's version, Mellinger suggested that the arts supporters in Kansas failed to make a persuasive case for continued support of the Kansas Arts Commission. On the contrary, the Kansas arts supporters made such a persuasive case that the Kansas Senate voted to block Gov. Sam Brownback's executive reorganization order that would have eliminated the commission and its state funding.
It was Brownback's unilateral action that shut down the Kansas Arts Commission. No one in Kansas can make a persuasive enough case to change the governor's mind.
Praying to God
Writer Roy Wenzl's otherwise inspiring story about the Gerleman family had one serious inaccuracy about the Catholic faith, one that is rarely contested even by Catholics themselves ("Family prayed to Kapaun to save girl," June 26 Eagle).
We do not pray to the saints; we pray to God. Nowhere in the printed prayer of Shawn Gerleman does he ask Father Emil Kapaun to cure his daughter. He asks Kapaun to lay his petition at the feet of God. He asks for the intercession of Kapaun. He then asks this for the glorification of God.
This is akin to asking someone to pray for you. If we cannot ask our departed confreres to pray for us, neither can we ask the living to pray for us, as many people do.
Because many assume (see the daily obituaries) that our loved ones are "with God," why would we assume that they cannot ask God for a special favor on our behalf? How many times have we asked someone to pray for us, or told others we will pray for them? Is this not allowed by Protestant faiths?
Catholics have many customs instituted by Christ and by the church fathers He left to continue His mission, which is the glorification of God and the saving of souls. God works through men and women for this purpose — men like the humble and holy Kapaun.
It always amazes me when people attribute unexplained survivals to miracles. Even Avery Gerleman's parents questioned why their daughter survived her ordeal when other people's children died in that hospital (June 26 Eagle). Are you telling me the parents of children who died prayed for their kids any less?
Tragedies occur every day. Some people make it; others do not. It was considered a "miracle" when a few people were pulled from the wreckage of the World Trade Center. But to what do we attribute the deaths of the nearly 3,000 who went down in planes and concrete that day? What makes some people worthy of saving and others not?
Answer: We just don't know.
Prayer is a funny thing. It's fine when one prays for the survival of a sick child, but it's not so good when people invoke God's name just before blowing themselves up or as they picket a soldier's funeral.
If there is a god, I would hope he isn't up there shining a metaphoric magnifying glass on this anthill called humanity, letting some of us burn while others walk away. Only people are that twisted.
His miracles? Let's admit they are few and far between, if at all.