Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor on Westar rates, shell shock, KPERS vote, Martin shooting

Westar request is not justified

As the newly appointed volunteer state president for AARP Kansas, I represent more than 340,000 AARP members in our state. Our members and other Kansans who are 50 and older have told us they are concerned about rising utility costs.

That is why AARP is opposing the latest request by Westar Energy to increase its rates another $90.8 million. Even without the new request, Westar is on track to have increased rates 15 times between 2009 and 2012 – increases totaling nearly $388 million. This latest rate increase, if granted by the Kansas Corporation Commission, would raise summer bills another $6.44 each month for the average Westar customer. That may not seem like a lot of money. But just ask those who live on fixed or tight incomes, and they’ll tell you even one dime more is too much.

A large portion would go to shareholders in the form of a 10.6 percent built-in profit. There is simply no justification to award Westar stockholders excessive profits that will be coming out of the pockets of struggling Kansans, many of whom have been unemployed for long lengths of time or have been supporting family members who are unemployed.

The commissioners need to listen to Westar’s customers and give us a break.



Shell shock

In both world wars, soldiers at the front for extended times began to show psychiatric symptoms initially called “shell shock.” Our country experienced whole trainloads of soldiers returning home in straitjackets. Commanders discovered that when men spent a week behind the lines and were showered, warm and eating cooked meals, there was a dramatic change. They were able to return to the front and be effective soldiers. The fellowship and sharing of experiences was a critical element in their recovery.

What was discovered in the first war had to be rediscovered in the second. Also critical in the healing of those returning to the homeland was the prolonged huddling while awaiting the next troop ship to arrive. From the Vietnam War forward, soldiers were quickly loaded aboard airplanes, along with their mental illnesses, for flights home.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales allegedly perpetrated a horrible, violent crime in Afghanistan and must suffer the consequences. The act plays into the hands of the Taliban, something a soldier in his right mind would never do. However, attempting to wage a protracted war with an inadequate number of fighters will load more stress on our military. Knowing this, our plan to radically reduce our military is a form of national suicide.



Rest of story

“Casino funds could bolster state pensions” (March 21 Eagle) gave the impression that several area Democrats opposed the use of expanded lottery revenue funds for the purpose of reducing the current Kansas Public Employees Retirement System’s unfunded liability. In fact, all of the Democrats who voted “no” on the bill voted “yes” on the amendment that added the use of the lottery funds. Their “no” vote on the bill was in response to a final amendment that added a component for new employees that provides significantly reduced benefits at a much higher cost to the state.

Since the legislation is a House substitute for Senate Bill 259, the House vote sent the issue to a conference committee with the Senate. Democrats who voted “no” on the bill were sending a message to the Senate: While we support making KPERS financially sound, we oppose making that effort more costly to the state and less desirable for employees. That part of the story was unclear in the article.


District 78


Justice for Martin

The nation has become increasingly aware of the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26. All of our hearts should be alight with righteous indignation.

I pray for justice in the case of Martin. I also pray that this nation might begin to understand that his case represents a convergence of two vile cultural attitudes. The first is, of course, racism. Those of us in the Anglo community do not want to admit that racism runs deep in the veins of American history and culture. But it has been there since the 17th century and continues to fester, however hard we try to mask it.

Like racism, the proclivity toward violence seems to run deep in the pulse of American society. We assume that our first response should be “self-defense,” “stand your ground” or “shoot first, ask questions later.” We run away from the disposition toward violence under the shield of the Second Amendment. For many people, that ends the conversation on the radical possibility of nonviolence and genuine and good-faith efforts to create communities of peace and justice.

As a Protestant minister, I repent of my lack of commitment to the vision of the Carpenter for communities of God’s wholeness and the well-being of all of God’s children.


The Hearth