Down with dogma
I was encouraged at last week’s public hearing for the proposed Johnson County budget, which includes a modest property-tax increase to adequately fund essential county functions such as libraries and parks, which are essential to maintaining our quality of life (7-30, Yael T. Abouhalkah column, “Johnson County must reject GOP’s toxic dogma”).
Comments in support of the budget largely outnumbered the criticisms from the usual anti-government, anti-tax extremists. Supporters recognized the importance of maintaining the aspects of Johnson County that make it a desirable place to live.
Perhaps the failure of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s experiment in shrinking government to “drown it in a bathtub” has exposed the shortsightedness of the “I’ve got mine” tea partiers and their billionaire patrons. Using selfishness as a governing principle does not lead to well-rounded, successful societies.
Let’s hope that in the next election moderates will return true public servants to office, replacing the current crop of anti-government extremists.
What a terrific story of officer Jeff O’Rear’s rescuing that poor little Chihuahua mix puppy from the deadly heat locked inside a vehicle (7-31, A1, “KC police officer adopts dog after helping save its life”).
What I find extremely disturbing is that the couple who owned the dog is faced with a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor? I am totally appalled with that, as I am sure many others are.
When are we going to realize animals are living, breathing, feeling creatures who deserve nothing less than total protection under the law. This has to change to a felony with stiff penalties, and now.
Testing in schools
As a retired educator, I am following the statewide testing movement and the many responses. Testing could be a valuable tool in learning, but that is not how it has been shaped.
It turns out to be rather a punishment for students and for teachers instead of something that teachers can use to improve their teaching abilities.
The results do not come to the school with ideas of how to improve their teaching abilities. Instead, they come with the threat of punishment.
Testing could be a valuable learning tool that might actually help kids learn and create goodwill with parents as well as teachers if done with improvement in mind.
Some things never change. William Allen White of Emporia worded it best many years ago in his famous editorial, “What’s the matter with Kansas?”
“Go east and you hear them laugh at Kansas; go west and they sneer at her; go south and they ‘cuss’ her; go north and they have forgotten her. ... What’s the matter with Kansas? ... We all know; yet here we are at it again.”
White then continued about the choices for political candidates, using such words as “mossback,” “old jay,” “rattle-brained fanatic” and “harpies.”
I wonder what he would write now about our governor and some of our state legislators.
Kansas City, Kan.
Voting in Kansas
Some have written to ask Kansans to stop whining about Gov. Sam Brownback. I agree that if you voted for him or didn’t vote at all, you got what you asked for and should shut up.
Make up for it next time by voting against his policies. Others see his tax experiment as a horribly misguided failure.
I guarantee that he sees it as a huge success and continues to export his message of sunshine and happiness. His plan is simple: Shift the tax burden to the average Kansan and let unfunded, and thus unnecessary, government functions fall by the wayside.
He’s not going to stop, so if you want change, you must act — vote against him.
Steve Rose columns
If The Star is to run any more opinion pieces by Steve Rose, the editors need to insist that he come up with a second idea.
All of his columns, at least the recent ones, can be summed up as follows: Gov. Sam Brownback and fellow far-righters in Kansas outrageously cramp the style of us Johnson County residents who simply want to be left alone to tax ourselves to pursue excellence, especially in education.
We get it, Steve. A lot of us do not support the idea that the well-to-do should cluster in one part of the Kansas City area in order to pool their superior resources to benefit only their own kids.
But we do get it. If your last few columns haven’t convinced others yet, then I doubt that yet another one will, either.
David N. Johnson
Street paving logic
Of the many examples of governmental mismanagement of resources, the street-resurfacing programs of Kansas City and Overland Park boggle the mind. Perfectly serviceable roadways get fresh layers of asphalt based, I am informed, on schedules apparently regardless of the roads’ conditions, and, yes, I know, the money has to be spent within the taxing district and with time constraints.
These are convenient excuses for not exercising judgment.
While streets, curbs and sidewalks crumble into dangerous, unsightly disrepair and add immeasurably to the decline of old neighborhoods, State Line Road and Nall Avenue, as just two examples, get brand new surfaces.
The simplistic excuses of “this has always been the policy” and “there’s nothing we can do” can no longer rule the day. Somehow, common sense and a determination to do the right thing have to replace old excuses for refusal to put scarce resources where the money can provide the most effective improvements in people’s lives.
A little pride can go a long way toward a general attitude of neighborhood rehabilitation. Let people know that they are not consigned to permanent second-class status.
I am shocked by the hypocrisy that I have seen in the willingness of state officials to interfere in local control. Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed House Bill 722, yet some hope to overturn it. The bill strips local government of decision-making abilities.
Every community is unique, and a local government is needed to best assess the interests of the people. Although a state can adequately give a one-size-fits-all solution to some problems, it is not going to know how the needs of one town differ from another.
This is why local government exists in the first place, and I think our politicians have lost the spirit of local government to out-of-state money and corporate influence.
When I vote for political representation, I expect the elected officials to have the people’s interests at heart and to stick to their promises. Intruding into the local government’s job and being bought off by corporate interests should not be in the job description.
We have a language that is common to all humans. When we cry, our feelings are exposed. Crying is part of life.
When we were born, our first cries spoke of life, and mothers rejoiced. In later childhood years, a hurt brought mother to the rescue, and she was our caring helper.
Then we discovered a change. Our crying came from something in our body. We had feelings of sadness, and we cried. Then others in our lives were important, and some of their actions touched our lives to the point of hurting, and it caused tears to flow. And they became directly or indirectly an important part of life.
Does it sound strange that when we are filled with happiness, happy and wonderful tears flow?
When we are filled with joy and excitement during a close game, our exhaustion turns to happy tears. When we see a mother holding and loving her baby, our happy emotions respond.
Crying brings a release from tension, sorrow, depression and anxiety. Crying is a special blessing.
Your crying is an important part of life.