Letters to the Editor

Letters on police reform, preventing violence, religious freedom bill, Wagle, Brownback plan, respecting teachers, voting in the bums

Sad about another police shooting

Let me first state that I’m not writing as an “anti-police” person. Rather, I’m a “police reform” person. It saddens me that another shooting by a Wichita police officer has taken the life of another young minority – John Paul Quintero.

As a former police officer and as the pastor of Dellrose United Methodist Church, I found it necessary to speak up and out. It is past time we have police reform, at the local, state and federal levels. We must have new policies, new laws and new mandates to help prevent the killing of unarmed and mentally ill people.

On Aug. 28 we had a community forum discussing this very issue, hoping we would have no more shootings. However, my heart ached when I heard the news of another young minority boy being shot by police.

This must stop. And it starts first with cameras on all police officers, crisis-intervention training, an independent review board and community policing.

As an African-American man, I also believe that minorities need to take accountability and responsibility for our actions. For there to be reform, it is going to take all of us to do our part.

With great respect for police officers, I believe we all – police and community – should be angered and saddened that young people, particularly young black and brown ones, are dying in our streets. All lives matter.



Prevention key

There has been another deadly encounter in our community. The pain of loss sears through those who loved John Paul Quintero, and the officer who engaged him on that deadly evening is under considerable stress.

There is no question that alcohol or maybe drugs were involved in this deadly encounter. In fact, many violent encounters have drug or alcohol involvement. But any public discussion of drug and alcohol prevention seems to be met with yawns by public officials, and funding for primary prevention (preventing illegal first use of drugs and alcohol) is minimal in our community.

There seems to be a consensus that spending $1 million on police cameras is necessary, but spending $1 million on prevention is unspeakable. Really?

Spending $1 million on prevention based on increasing protective factors and decreasing risk factors for illegal alcohol and drug use would transform our community’s quality of life. I could see the faith community involved in such prevention, as well as schools and our robust system of YMCAs.

On Dec. 2 a small group of Marshall Middle School students made a bold public statement to the Wichita City Council, affirming nonviolence and mutual respect as values they are committed to living. In this month when we honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, doesn’t it make sense to affirm the values he stood by?

The problem is violence. The solution is prevention, and prevention begins with the values of nonviolence and mutual respect.



Equal rights

As a Republican, I’m disappointed to hear the reports that Kansas House Bill 2453, commonly referred to as the “religious freedom bill,” may be making a return this legislative session.

It disheartens me that, in this great state of Kansas, this bill would give people a license to discriminate based on sexual orientation. Our gay and lesbian friends deserve the same equal rights and protections under the law that we ourselves expect and demand.

We all know someone who’s gay, whether a son, brother, daughter or friend. This bill will negatively affect somebody you know.

A part of this bill from last session would also give public service employees the right to refuse service to gay and lesbian couples. These employees are paid by tax dollars. A portion of those tax dollars are paid by the very same gay and lesbian couples who could be refused service. That’s not exactly fair and just.

I call on my fellow Republicans in Topeka to focus on the real issues, such as the budget, education and keeping taxes low, and to reject this bill if it chooses to rear its ugly head again. Let’s keep Kansas open for everybody.



Make poor pay

I will consult my crystal ball, as our legislatures do in making economic forecasts. I see higher sales, gas, tobacco and liquor taxes – make the middle class and poor people pay for the “Road Map for Kansas.”



Wagle’s victims

The Eagle’s Jan. 4 humanizing article about Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, was commendable. We should be reminded that “the government” is made up of real people, even “shrewd politicians” who make decisions and then go home to family, friends and neighbors.

Articles should also be published that humanize the victims of Wagle’s decisions. For example, public employees, college students, educators, schoolchildren, poor and middle-class families, the elderly, the sick and the disabled are real people whose aspirations and day-to-day existence have been made immeasurably more difficult by the ideologies and policies of Wagle, Gov. Sam Brownback and their Koch supporters.

The communities we share are more than accidental populations and borders; they are opportunities for all of us to improve our lives and do good things together. Each of us has a story. Unfortunately, more and more of our stories are further and further away from Wagle’s in the service of a handful of privileged stories.

Maybe as we hear more stories from those not so privileged, the communities of Wichita and Kansas can improve those stories also.



Respect teachers

As a retired teacher, I was offended by a recent Opinion Line comment that most of the money provided to schools “is wasted on poor teachers and administrators. Evidence shows that students do not benefit when second-rate personnel receive raises.”

Of course, no evidence was cited.

I came into contact with many teachers and administrators, not only in my professional role but as a parent of three children. As in any profession, there were some who did not meet my expectations, but on the whole I found them to be very competent and dedicated to educating and nurturing students.

I have been appalled at the increasing tendency to paint educators with a broad brush – blaming them for lack of student achievement and high school completion, without acknowledging the multitude of factors that influence these outcomes, including adequate funding.

I agree that high-quality educators are essential to successful students and schools. However, it may become increasingly difficult to attract such teachers and administrators to Kansas schools unless they are offered compensation and respect commensurate to their education and experience, and are provided with the environment, materials and support necessary to carry out their mission of educating students.



Voting in the bums

Columnist Davis Merritt and editorial writers throughout the state are correct in castigating “Brownback and his legislators” for the damage their tax policy will do to our school system (“Do not sacrifice more students to ideology,” Jan. 6 Opinion). But they don’t go far enough.

The real blame lies with the voters of the state who put them into office. The voters had the opportunity in 2014 to “throw the bums out.” But they didn’t. They voted the same rascals, who had done the damage in the first place, right back into office. And the people who didn’t vote are equally at fault.



TV about all ads

For many TV programs, half the time is devoted to ads. They should be paying us to watch.



Letters to the Editor

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For more information, contact Phillip Brownlee at 316-268-6262, pbrownlee@wichitaeagle.com.