Letters to the Editor

Letters on NBAF, money in elections, attack on schools, trading places, paying for paving, being a dad

NBAF was reached through difficulties

Kansas can add another star we have reached through difficulties.

In February 2007, I challenged the Legislature to lean forward and invest in our state’s research infrastructure to create a new economy for Kansans now and into the future. I asked lawmakers to fight for a new federal laboratory needed to research plant and animal health. I warned it would be difficult, but the merits were on our side.

On Wednesday we will celebrate the groundbreaking of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan at Kansas State University.

It took a huge team effort, but we have earned opportunities to keep our state’s best and brightest working here at home, raising their families and realizing a vibrant future. We have gained opportunities for Kansas to lead the nation in cutting-edge research. And we have created opportunities for us to protect our food supply, our economy and our rural way of life. Ad astra per aspera.


Washington, D.C.

Money, elections

I thoroughly enjoyed “U.S. government is really simple” (May 14 Letters to the Editor). It was a beautiful, clear and correct explanation of what the U.S. government is supposed to be.

Unfortunately, this does not remotely describe the U.S. government we have today.

Yes, we can vote – but only vote for people who are on the ballot because they are in the pocket of some of the very rich. No candidate makes the general election ballot today without huge money. So at election time, we select from a group of pre-corrupted candidates. That is why things don’t change in a meaningful way; we are unable to use our vote to break the cycle of legalized corruption.

Government by the people has become government by very few people – far fewer than you can imagine.

A small number of contributors provide most of the super-PAC funds, and about 90 percent of the time, the best financed candidate wins. No matter whom you vote for, the candidate is already committed to something drastically different from The Eagle letter writer’s explanation of purpose.

Not a single member of Congress is willing to step forward and correct this – but nearly all are willing to vote for ways to circumvent the Constitution to remain in power. This is no longer the America described by the letter writer, and it won’t be until we break the relationship of big money to our electoral process.



Attack on schools

Gov. Sam Brownback and his bobbleheaded legislators have put Kansas public schools on a carefully crafted plan that will lead to their destruction.

First, schoolteachers were demonized as greedy and incompetent. Their state-guaranteed rights to bargain with local school boards were stripped away. This harsh treatment is having the desired effect: Senior teachers are retiring as quickly as possible. Some of the best are leaving Kansas. Bright student teachers are openly discussing their plans to leave Kansas after graduation. And our universities are having difficulty hiring to fill vacant teaching positions.

Second, funding for classroom education has been cut. Required payments to pension plans is not money going to classrooms. Kansas schools are closing and cutting days off the education year. Orders for new textbooks are being canceled. Librarians and nurses are being laid off. And fees for enrollment and activities are going up.

Third, the Kansas Policy Institute (a mouthpiece for local billionaires) runs full-page ads full of figures that distort the actual funding situation for public schools in Kansas.

Next, parents will become frustrated with class cuts, ever-increasing costs and increased property taxes. They will blame local school boards and school administrators.

Then the plan will move forward, as for-profit “charter” schools and “vouchers” are pushed. But private schools don’t have to accept all students, and vouchers offered will not pay all the tuition charged.

This carefully planned destruction can be stopped only if Kansas voters stop falling for phony “policy” reports and political lies, and vote for officeholders who really support quality public education for all our children.



Trading places

A popular theme in movies has to do with people changing places, sometimes even bodies. This gave me the idea for a great movie to be set in Kansas. It would star actors portraying Gov. Sam Brownback and someone I’ll call John Nobody.

The story line would necessitate revealing the leading characters’ backgrounds. Brownback was born into a farming family, attended college, graduated with a law degree from the University of Kansas, married the daughter of a multimillionaire, and eased his way into political life. He makes just less than $100,000 a year.

John Nobody, on the other hand, dropped out of school at 16 to supplement his family’s income. The oldest of six children, he was reared by a single mom who was no longer able to work because of health problems. He later obtained his high school equivalency and married the daughter of a sanitation worker. The two work at Wal-Mart to support their family of six. But because they’re making poverty wages, they must supplement their income with welfare and food stamps. Neither has ever taken a cruise.

Predictably, as the movie progresses the audience will see a remarkable change in Brownback as he loses his sense of entitlement and is humbled. And John? As governor he throws Kansas into a glorious brouhaha as he overturns all the laws Brownback passed favoring the wealthy, replacing them with legislation benefiting the rest of its citizens, especially the poor.

Popcorn, anyone?



Paying for paving

I don’t understand how the city chooses to pave streets or provide sidewalks or sewer service. If you decide you want your street paved or a sewer installed, you have to go door to door in your neighborhood to see if the majority of your neighbors will agree to pay a special tax to pay for the project. However, if you are lucky enough to be near a major road construction project, such as the overpass off I-235 to 13th Street, you sometimes get the street in front of your house or church paved without the special tax. How is that fair?

The city recently put in a sidewalk off of 33rd Street North and Arkansas. Who pays for that? If the city has money set aside for sidewalks, how about paving some of the dirt roads in the city limits? Anyone living in an older neighborhood that does not have city sewer service or paved streets has already paid a significant amount in property and sales taxes and shouldn’t have to pay additional taxes for what should be basic service.



Being a dad

There is much more to being a dad than just having a kid and being male. Fathers are often viewed as stoic, strict and out of touch with modern youth. Either that or bumbling fools (as portrayed in most media).

Though it is true that fathers may not be able to connect on the same emotional level as mothers, dads still play a vital role in raising children.

In this world of broken homes and abusive fathers, it can be easy to forget what being a daddy truly means. A real daddy loves his children for who they are. He teaches them wisdom and knowledge. Dads do not take pleasure in punishing their kids. Instead, they use discipline to protect them.

Fathers are some of the most underappreciated heroes of today. They must be an example to their sons on how to act, and to their daughters on whom to love. Like all parents, dads are rewarded by the legacy they leave, and the reciprocated words, “I love you, too, Daddy.”

Having a child is easy, but it takes a real man to be a daddy.


Bel Aire

Letters to the Editor

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Phillip Brownlee at 316-268-6262, pbrownlee@wichitaeagle.com.