Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor on public transportation, expanding Medicaid, Brownback’s experiment, King Air, Glenn Cunningham, begging mail

Begin rebuilding public transit

“It’s not just a car, it’s your freedom.” This 20th-century slogan exemplifies American’s love with the automobile, which was fueled by cheap oil. As the car became king, many public and private mass transit systems declined, including a trolley system in Wichita.

Many Americans cannot afford a car and all of its associated costs (“Transit system a lifeline to jobs for some,” Jan. 19 Eagle). Public transportation is their freedom: freedom to get to work, the grocery store, the doctor, school and, occasionally, some entertainment. For them, the lack of good public transit throws up roadblocks.

Americans for Prosperity says the government has no business in Wichita’s public transportation. What private entity is going to invest in a mass transit system for Wichita knowing, with the current usage, that it can’t make a profit? Will we abandon those citizens who have no alternative while we wait for the market to respond?

Petroleum is a finite resource. The costs of more complex extraction, including deferred environmental costs, will inevitably force us to adjust our habits. An aging population and a shrinking middle class will further restrict the use of automobiles. When will we wake up and begin rebuilding our public transportation system?



Not the demand

As a former Wichita resident (and current frequent visitor), I can remember when nearly everyone rode the bus in Wichita in the late 1940s. We mostly had one-car families then, and so if dad was at work with the car, mother and kids frequently rode the bus. Housewives and upscale ladies would dress up with hat and gloves to ride the bus downtown to shop and lunch at the Innes Tea Room. Businessmen and professionals would routinely commute downtown.

But Wichita was much more compact then. There probably were no bus routes west of West Street or east of Edgemoor, and maybe not north of 21st Street. Most retail and business and professional offices were in the downtown core area – making for great efficiencies when designing bus routes. I’m not even sure Rock Road was paved then.

Anyway, that was more than 60 years ago, and I probably don’t know anyone who has ridden a city bus in more than 50 years. I certainly would not want an elderly parent of mine to ride a city bus today.

Most folks travel by car, and I’m not sure there will ever again be sufficient demand to warrant a citywide bus system. Can you imagine the costs of running buses from 119th Street on the west side to Greenwich on the east side, and incorporating routes that would connect with all the far corners of the city frequently enough to be useful?



Help Kansans

It’s disappointing to see Gov. Sam Brownback refuse to open a dialogue on Medicaid expansion in Kansas. There are more than 75,000 Kansans who have incomes below the poverty level and are unable to qualify for Medicaid in its current form. A family of three in Kansas cannot qualify for basic health care through Medicaid if their income is more than $7,421 per year. Childless adults with no disabilities cannot qualify for Medicaid no matter their income level.

Expansion would create 4,000 jobs in Kansas (jobs currently going to states that have passed expansion) and inject $3 billion into the state economy over the next seven years, according to a Kansas Hospital Association study. The federal government is paying for the vast majority (never lower than 90 percent) of expansion costs. As it stands, our tax dollars are going to states that have allowed the expansion.

To top it all off, it is quite likely most people’s premiums would decrease with expansion, because hospitals would no longer have to negotiate higher rates with insurance companies in order to make up for losses on uninsured people going to the emergency room.

It’s time for Kansas money to help Kansans.



Not fascinating

I don’t agree that Kansans may observe “a fascinating legislative session” this spring (“Who will set the agenda?” Jan. 19 Opinion). This experiment that our current governor and Legislature have gotten us into is frightening, not fascinating.

To cut state revenue so drastically, to cut funding for education at all levels, and to deny health care insurance coverage to so many working Kansans – and to do all this before substantially increasing job opportunities – is plain mismanagement.

I’ve watched long enough and don’t like what I see.



King Air impressed

As a teenager, I had the chance to occupy the right seat in one of the first production Model 90 King Airs (“Beechcraft marks 50th anniversary of King Air,” Jan. 21 Business Today). I was on a trip to Houston in the summer of 1965 to visit cousins.

I remember the polished metal engine nacelles complemented by a red-and-blue paint scheme on the fuselage. With a pressurized cabin and turbine engines, the aircraft hummed along at higher altitudes very comfortably. It seemed our time en route passed so quickly. Obviously, as a 15-year-old at the time, I never imagined the huge success awaiting the original Beech Aircraft Corp. in creating this design.

I recall the many times I would accompany my late father to the “plant” on East Central. On occasion, I would walk by the production line in the old Plant 1, where the King Airs were assembled, and peer inside. The cabin interiors had that distinctive smell. I remember eyeing the seemingly endless stream of wires routed through the instrument panels and rivets aligned perfectly in the green fuselage skin.

Various models have evolved very successfully over these five decades with stretch versions, larger power plants, winglets and T-tails. But it is the original 90 that will always hold the distinction of introducing turboprop travel to general aviation worldwide. It made a lasting impression on a young traveler who loved airplanes.

I hope that the Beechcraft name lives on for many decades to come in Wichita.



Saved my life

In 1967, I was filling a propane tank on a farm tractor when the vapor release ignited and engulfed me in a ball of fire. My first thought as I jumped from the tractor, on fire from head to foot and desperate for some form of relief, was to run to the neighbor’s stock tank 100 yards down the country road to extinguish it.

In the split second it took to devise that plan, a memory flashed through my mind – of a story I’d read as a youngster about another boy and his brother who tried to run from a fire and paid dearly. The only thing I remembered was to never, ever run when you’re on fire.

Remembering the years of pain and agony that Glenn Cunningham had suffered, I dove into the freshly tilled soil and used it to extinguish the fire. With help, I was able to get to a medical facility and start the long process of healing from the second- and third-degree burns.

Now, nearly 50 years later, prompted by the article “Track star overcame burns to legs” (Jan. 20 Local & State), I can give Cunningham the thanks he so richly deserves for saving another boy’s life through writing his book. Thank you, Glenn Cunningham, for saving my life by sharing yours.



Begging mail

Without exception, I get at least five to 10 letters a day in the mail. Most of them are from organizations or politicians asking for donations. There are some I feel very strongly about and am willing to support.

I have heard that once you contribute to something, your name is sold to others wanting money. It is too late for me; they already have my name. But if you don’t want to be deluged with requests, you should think carefully how much begging mail you want to receive if your name is sold.

Selling your name to other groups seems dishonest. Just think how much money they spend on postage that could be put to better use.