Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor on affordable housing, Century II, LGBTQ protection and alternative energy (Aug. 31, 2019)

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Affordable housing

Coming back to KU for another year of school, paying rent always comes to mind first. This year, I was lucky enough to find affordable housing. But, for many students, rent costs upwards of 50% of their monthly income. Many students accept this systematic fault as living on a “college kid budget.”

A National Low-Income Housing Coalition study shows there is no U.S. state where a worker making the prevailing minimum wage can afford a two-bedroom apartment. Students across Kansas settle for minimum wages in order to continue making money while in school, decreasing the ability to pay rent and secure basic human necessities such as food and shelter in addition to paying student debt and schoolwork.

As we approach our first day back on Jayhawk Boulevard, I urge Lawrence and our U.S. representative, Congressman Steve Watkins, to support H.R. 3211, a bill that helps to ensure basic human rights for students and low-income families.

While I, too, have had my fair share of ramen for dinner, no student should need to choose between a roof over their head and dinner that night.

Cameron Smith, Lawrence

Century II

Century II is our city icon. The aqua roof, fountains and sculptures say, “This is Wichita.” Destroying it would be equivalent of razing the Historical Museum, the Old Sedgwick County Courthouse or the Orpheum Theatre.

Century II was designed in the prairie style of Frank Lloyd Wright — low slung and evocative of the glorious span of the Great Plains — yet it looks forward to the space age. Fifty years later we dare to declare it a malfunctioning hunk of sandstone worthy of becoming a pile of rubble.

Remember, Urban Renewal left us with a bland downtown and little history.

Preserve Century II. Replace the roof, demo the guts and make a two-sided stage. Make half of it for Broadway-style shows and half for acoustically separated stages — Music Theater, Symphony, Theater League, Grand Opera, Metropolitan Ballet and the Tallgrass Film Festival. Outfit each in comfortable seating with knee room.

However, if we do destroy Century II, replace it with architecture that is worthy of our wonderful city. Make it a statement piece that says we're a culturally rich and interesting place to visit.

Don’t be penny-wise and pound foolish. These are projects that will be here for future generations to enjoy.

Kathy Coons, Wichita

LGBTQ protection

How would you perform if you knew a core part of who you are might endanger your safety or financial stability if the wrong person found out? Did you know that Kansas does not protect its LBGTQ residents from discrimination in the workforce? Despite a rich LGBTQ history, we lag behind other fellow states in providing these basic rights. The research is in and when people feel safe, everyone feels safer and becomes more productive!

Kansans can make these rights accessible to everyone. This past congressional session there was a bill (SB 84) that would have given legal protection for LGBTQ persons. Currently it has been sidelined, but it should not have been. Much like laws that protect against sexual and racial discrimination, when workforces have policies that make it harder for LGBTQ individuals to be discriminated against it makes those places better.

We missed the mark this year, but let’s make this a priority going forward. For the rest of the year and until this bill becomes active again, let’s tell our state legislators that we want protection for everyone.

When we protect the vulnerable everyone wins.

Meghan E. Beyer, Wichita

Alternative energy

“We unite to say no to alternative energy…” What? (Aug. 24 Letters to the Editor). Having attended that meeting at the Sedgwick County Commission, I remember it quite differently. The commissioners didn’t say no, they simply recommended strict rules for siting solar arrays near airports.

What’s that, “Denver has solar panels that line the airport’s approach…” Guess what, New Orleans was built below sea level. Anchorage was developed on a major fault line. Pompeii was constructed next to Mount Vesuvius. Care to guess how those poorly planned cities fared. Wichita and Sedgwick County are extremely blessed to have such exceptional leadership. And the Metropolitan Area Planning Department just may be the best in America.

Michael Mackay, Mulvane