Letters to the Editor

Letters on Howell’s abuse of power, transgender bathroom, prairie fire risk, rigged primary system


Howell’s action was self-serving, petty

So Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Jim Howell’s latest issue is with a local public relations firm (“PR firm axed from county project when Howell objects,” April 17 Eagle). And to such a degree that he applied pressure on subordinate staff to remove the firm from work on a county project.

This self-serving action is emblematic of the petty ideology currently driving decisions by the majority on the county bench.

I’ve known the principals of the Bothner and Bradley firm for years. They are consummate professionals. No two people have worked more successfully in this community to walk that fine line between public and private sector priorities and bias, helping forge relationships that have brought numerous good projects and growth for Wichita and Sedgwick County.

I would hate for this vindictive action by Howell to besmirch the long track record of achievements by this firm that always takes the high road in dealing with mature adults in leadership positions, as well as those who rely on visceral prejudices to drive business decisions.

The county’s disconnect with its citizens is not a communications problem; it lies in the actions of its own commission majority.

Al Higdon, Wichita

Howell abused power

Even by Kansas’ standards of illogical, misinformed, ideological and evidence-free governing, Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Jim Howell has managed to move the bar to subterranean levels by abusing his position to unfairly deny a local company from doing business with Sedgwick County (“PR firm axed from county project when Howell objects,” April 17 Eagle).

Howell’s order to his underlings was based solely on his personal dislike of the principals at Bothner and Bradley. Not that it matters, but his reasons for slighting them aren’t based on facts.

This is not surprising, because few decisions made by the commission’s new majority have been based on anything other than personal opinion, bias, ignorance and a scorched-earth ideology that allows for no dissenting views or perspectives.

As a lifelong resident and taxpayer of Sedgwick County, I would like some answers to the following questions:

▪  Since when can an awarded contract be circumvented solely on the basis of a single commissioner’s personal like or dislike of one or more of the principals of the firm?

▪  What is the precedent – in written policy, ordinance or statute – that allows this type of abuse to occur?

▪  Will all bid decisions for county work now be predicated on a political litmus test? On a popularity test? What about a religious test? Will anyone named Muhammad automatically be disqualified? Will all employees of bidding firms be required to swear allegiance to the beliefs of Howell, or only the principals?

▪  Is this political abuse of power being investigated by the proper authorities? If so, by whom?

Denice Bruce, Wichita

Legalizing transphobia

Bills introduced in the Kansas House and Senate struck a bad chord with me and some anti-discrimination activists. Senate Bill 513 and House Bill 2737, the Student Physical Privacy Act, state that students using facilities designated for the opposite sex of their biological sex threaten the psychological and physical safety of others. The legislation also states that public schools, including universities, need to take “reasonable steps” to make sure that people of the opposite sex don’t use what it considers the wrong facilities.

These “reasonable steps” were not outlined. Such vagueness makes a case against a transgender student easier to file. The school would have to pay $2,500, plus lawyer fees and any other monetary relief to be determined by the court.

Even though the bill seems to be concerned about the physical and psychological safety of students, the very nature of it jeopardizes the physical safety and psychological health of transgender students. This bill basically legalizes overt transphobia and open discrimination.

Other states, including North Carolina, Mississippi and Indiana, have passed laws that allow discrimination protected by religious freedom. These states have seen immense backlash from political and business leaders as well as celebrities. Kansas shouldn’t be the next state to be seen as the face of discrimination and bigotry.

Marilyn Morton, Wichita

Wichita State University URGE chapter student leader

While prairie burns

One of the many factors discussed in the article on prairie fire risk was that Kansas is one of the only states not allowed by state law to share firefighting resources (“As cedars spread across Kansas, so does fire risk,” April 17 Eagle). A bill needed to address it failed in 2015, and it hasn’t been revisited since.

Legislators did find time this session to introduce bills on which restroom transgender folks use, and named the official state cage elevator. All this while the state circles the financial drain.

Joan Fox, Wichita

Rigged primary system

Remember “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit”? Similarly, if the voting “will of the people” doesn’t accurately correspond to the number of delegates, the system must be changed – obviously, by the voters. Positive changes occur in all endeavors of life and will help, in this case, to end the Washington establishment stranglehold.

Ray Mengelkoch, Wichita

Letters to the Editor

Include your full name, home address and phone number for verification purposes. All letters are edited for clarity and length; 200 words or fewer are best. Letters may be published in any format and become the property of The Eagle.

Mail: Letters to the Editor, The Wichita Eagle, 825 E. Douglas, Wichita, KS 67202

E-mail: letters@wichitaeagle.com

Fax: 316-269-6799

For more information, contact

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