Eric Shinseki’s ouster, insurance redlining, regressive Missouri

06/02/2014 5:41 PM

06/03/2014 2:23 PM

VA chief criticism

Why was Eric Shinseki, the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, being so heavily condemned before he resigned last week?

The administrators of the Veterans Affairs medical centers supervise all the VA hospital departments and approve all the reports made to the secretary of the VA.

I agree that the individual at the top is responsible overall, but that individual may not be aware that wrong information is being provided.

Therefore, audits should be made to determine who is making the false reports and actions taken accordingly.

Mary Coatsworth

Lee’s Summit

Government, prayer

The Supreme Court ruled that prayer before public meetings is OK. Fair is fair, I suppose.

When the Roeland Park City Council meets, I always pray the council won’t raise my taxes again.

Scott Gregory

Roeland Park

Insurance redlining

Last fall, my daughter decided to rent her home in Lee’s Summit and move in with her sister in Kansas City.

This move was to save money because her son was entering his freshman year at college. It also shortened her commute to work, and she does not have to sit in the Interstate 470 traffic every morning and evening.

She moved from zip code 64064 to 64138. Her car insurance increased $568 every six months or $1,136 annually. The company representative told her it was because she is now garaging her vehicle in the 64138 zip code, where there are more accidents.

I am sure there are more accidents. However, her driving record is better, and her commute to work is shorter. Her insurance should go down.

The company representative told her the downtown zip codes are even higher.

You decide. It may not be redlining because of race, but it is redlining. Only five states have laws against using zip codes. Missouri should as well. Everyone can’t afford to live in 64064.

Beth Boerger

Kansas City

Regressive Missouri

It is very clear now what the Missouri legislature has in mind for the middle class in this state.

Over the governor’s veto, state lawmakers passed an income-tax reduction that favors the well-off and thumbs its nose at the rest of us.

Under the plan, a family of four with taxable income of $44,000 would save $32 a year.

A business owner with the same income would get a tax reduction of several hundred dollars. The rich individuals and businesses would receive huge benefits.

But there is more. In the closing days of this legislative session, our elected officials chose to give tax breaks totaling more than $700 million to selected businesses.

Their policy seems to be: If you have money and power, we’ll help you keep more of it. If you are in the struggling middle class, take your $32 and shut up.

Keith Evans

St. Joseph

Abouhalkah columns

Star columnist Yael T. Abouhalkah has twice praised a pending contract to outsource Kansas City ambulance billing and collection to a Florida company that suffered a massive patient-identity theft as a way of saving taxpayer money. Nothing could be further from the truth.

This one-sided contract would supposedly save the city about $770,000 annually, but financial penalties for poor performance only apply if the collections fall below about $15.3 million.

Our maligned city employees this fiscal year collected about $16.6 million, about $1.3 million more, so the city would have to pay the private company about $700,000 in commissions for collecting less money. How does risking $1.3 million in revenue to potentially save $770,000 in expenses equal a good deal for taxpayers? It’s a risky deal at best.

Of course, this company claims it will increase collections by millions, although that’s not in the contract. But this is the same company that Dallas dumped in 2012 after projecting it would collect $21.7 million from ambulance billing but collected only $13.79 million.

John A. Sharp

Kansas City Councilman

Kansas City

Fearlessness counts

Why is it that we sometimes tend to procrastinate when it comes to doing something we’re passionate about? It almost doesn’t make sense.

I often ask myself that when it comes to writing papers for my classes. Then I become ashamed of myself because I know it’s possible that (subconsciously) it is because of fear.

Fear of being judged, fear of failure, fear of success — because Lord help me if I do super well because then I’ll have to keep it up, right? Fear of being looked down upon if I don’t do something the way I feel others expect me to do, which is completely ridiculous in the first place.

Is that being fake or is that just being too deeply observant? Regardless, fear isn’t healthy.

FEAR as an acronym could be False Evidence Appearing Real. The bottom line is just do the darn work and enjoy.

Marlayna Olson

Independence

KC needs pro team

When will city leaders step up and show interest in getting Kansas City a National Basketball Association team? We deserve a pro team in the Sprint Center.

The people of Kansas City stepped up and voted for the funding to build it with thoughts of getting an NBA team.

The people of Kansas City should wake up. You can bet if the Sprint Center were in Johnson County, it would have a National Hockey League team or an NBA team.

We continue to subsidize the Power & Light District. Couldn’t we try something different? If we had an NBA team, that would eat up 40 dates of activity for the Power & Light District. With the additional revenue generated from that, the Power & Light District would need less of a subsidy from the city.

Timothy Jones

Kansas City

ALEC, education

The American Legislative Exchange Council’s agenda to defund and dismantle public education is a real concern for all school districts. This back-door activity is at least unethical if not illegal.

What do elected officials have to say about this?

We must ask ourselves why so many legislators have worked so many hours and years destroying public education. This is not what they are paid to do.

It seems to me when operational expenses are reduced year after year, any department or business will begin to realize difficulties in achieving its goals.

Why do elected officials intentionally want to destroy public education?

Public education has for decades been a government success story, in reality a best bang for the tax buck.

Richard Heckler

Lawrence

High gasoline prices

Are gasoline prices too high? In 1948, the cost was 30 cents per gallon for ethyl. So, at $3.50, it’s 11 times higher today.

Or is it?

I was making 55 cents per hour in 1948. On the extremely rare occasion that my dad allowed me to drive his metallic blue ’48 Buick Roadmaster convertible straight eight with dual spotlights, power top and an AM radio, it got eight miles per gallon.

So for my hour’s labor, I was able to drive 16 miles.

Today, a kid making $7.25 an hour drives his dad’s Buick Regal eAssist that gets 29 miles per gallon-regular. An hour’s labor buys 60-plus miles. Or, should gas be $13 per gallon?

But I was a wowser in Dad’s Buick at the drive-in movie. I cannot find the words to describe how lucky I was.

Those were the days, my friend. We thought they’d never end.

Bill Emerson

Kansas City

Cheers for hospice

Thank you to the many volunteers who support hospice patients and their families.

My aunt was recently a patient at Kansas City Hospice.

A volunteer brought us a lovely bright pink blanket that was made by another kind and generous volunteer. We had just arrived and had not had time to move any personal items.

This kindness was appreciated more than words can say.

Deborah Hays

Leawood

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