Letters to the Editor

Readers share views on student journalism, body cameras and Gov. Sam Brownback

Student journalism

As a former journalism teacher, I sympathize with the Harrisonville High School editors (2-16, A4, “Dispute pits student journalists against Harrisonville principal”).

All of us in newspaper work, current or past, are caught up in the First Amendment guarantee of press freedom. But a school paper is unlikely to fall into the category of a free press.

In nearly every case, it is subsidized in whole or in part by the school system hosting its publication.

That revelation may not change students’ desire to publish with freedom, but it should help explain why school administrators believe they have the right to impose limits.

Norm Ledgin

Stanley, Kan.

Lens on politicians

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio recently said that “body cameras are one of the ways to create a real sense of transparency and accountability.” Really?

If that is the case, I have another use for body cameras. Let’s require all our elected officials to wear them — all the time. That includes members of Congress and the president.

I want to know what they talk about in their offices, in caucus sessions and when the CNN, MSNBC and Fox cameras are turned off.

I want to know who is and who is not willing to compromise.

I want to know who has the best ideas and really tries to reach across party lines.

Most important, I want to know who is giving us the best value for the tax dollars we spend on the salaries and benefits of our elected officials.

Make elected officials wear body cameras, and then let’s see how their behavior changes. We might finally see some transparency and accountability.

Jerel B. Stevens

Mission Hills

Sexual orientation

I’m writing in response to the Feb. 15 letter in which the author defends Gov. Sam Brownback’s edict to again legalize discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender state employees. The author’s description of discussing sexual preferences in public misses the mark and is tainted with bias.

Only the most inappropriate individuals of any orientation would discuss sexual exploits in the workplace. However, does the author have a photo of his spouse on his desk at work? Then his sexual preference is on display.

Has he ever mentioned a dinner out with his significant other to a co-worker? If you are an LGBT state employee and take part in any of these ordinary activities, you could be fired or harassed with no recourse.

This is not special treatment for a class of people; this is equal treatment for human beings. Thankfully, “rabble rousers” like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the marchers at Selma fought for equal rights.

Sadly, it is again necessary to fight to end legalized bigotry against the LGBT community in Kansas.

Of course, this will hurt our state. Any time hate and harassment are condoned and sanctioned against any group, we all suffer.

Amy Kelley

Overland Park

Low-pay workers

I sympathize with fast-food workers demanding a pay raise to $15 an hour. But when I order a 10-piece box of chicken and arrive home and find only seven pieces in the box, as I did last night, I question whether some of those minimum-wage workers should have stayed in school.

Eddie L. Clay


Profiting from poor

State Sen. Jason Holsman, a Democrat, supports Republican efforts to make life harder for those who need help (2-15, A4, “Welfare restrictions advance”). His stated motivation is to prevent the safety net from becoming permanent and to turn it into “a bridge to prosperity and independence.”

It is hard to understand how a safety net can be turned into a bridge to prosperity by those who have fallen into it. Is a part-time, minimum-wage job Holsman’s definition of prosperity?

It is even harder to understand how kicking people out of the net faster is the way to do it. One is left to conclude that Holsman has turned Republican on this issue not because he genuinely has the best interests of needy people in mind, but for some other more selfish reason.

One expects to see Republicans attempt to score political points by picking on those least able to object. But to see a Democrat choose the easy target is especially distressing.

Rev. Steve Hatfield


Foster care, GOP

Will those married, non-smoking, non-drinking, chaste, churchgoing, stay-at-home foster parents get even more money from Kansas if they promise to raise those kids as Republicans (2-11, A4, “New foster care tier is proposed”)?

Allen Maty


Charlie Hebdo

Questions: Why was the maker of the video blamed (incorrectly, as it turned out) for triggering the horrific attack in Benghazi arrested for alleged probation violations but the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was defended and celebrated after the horrific attack in Paris? And why haven’t the news media raised the same questions?

Jim Bowen


Kansas’ troubles

Gov. Sam Brownback, in his inauguration address, focused on family values, but he failed to address the real issues facing Kansas families. For example:

▪ Brownback opposed Medicaid expansion, leaving 150,000 Kansans without health insurance.

▪ One in five Kansas children lives in poverty, but Brownback cut services that provide food to hungry children. Child poverty has increased every year on Brownback’s watch. For the first time, close to half of Kansas schoolchildren qualify for free or reduced lunch.

▪ Brownback approved the largest cut to public school funding in state history, which has threatened the quality of education in Kansas. Class size has increased, schools closed and test scores have dropped.

▪ Brownback lowered or eliminated income taxes on upper-income Kansans, businesses and his political supporters while middle-class and lower-income families struggle to make ends meet.

▪ While the nation is experiencing job growth, Kansas is lagging behind. The Missouri side of the Kansas City area has had more job growth than the Kansas side.

Businesses don’t bring jobs to a state that doesn’t invest in education, infrastructure and working families.

Gov. Brownback is a hypocrite to discuss family values while his failed income-tax experiment has hurt Kansas families.

Jane Toliver


Care for mother

Our healthy, energetic, independent 90-year-old mom died with her boots on, as the cowboys of her home state of South Dakota would say.

She went to her 95th and Mission Road neighborhood Price Chopper after playing bridge late one afternoon. As she walked in the front door, her heart stopped and she collapsed. We were told that a nearby shopper, a nurse, took her pulse, and there was none.

Our family talked to Ms. Pat in customer service that night. She said everyone stopped what they were doing and many held hands and prayed for our mom.

We weren’t ready to lose her but were thankful she was surrounded by such love and concern. We received a note from a man named Ted Thomas.

The note, in part, said, “I held her hand and cradled her head in my hand; she didn’t seem to suffer and she was not alone.”

We are hoping you see this, Ted. We knew everyone involved was respectful and caring, but your note was especially appreciated by our family.

Thank you all so much, from the family of Helen Carol Taylor.

Sharon Harmon

Overland Park

Thanks, Chick-fil-A

Our heartfelt thanks go to Jeff Rouse and his staff at his Chick-fil-A restaurant in Olathe for honoring our son, Officer Michael Kern, on Monday. Some thought our family had solicited this. Not so.

Jeff did this through the goodness of his heart. Michael and his traffic buddies had lunch there weekly.

We thank Jeff, our Olathe Police Department family and all customers for your generous contributions for our grandchildren. God bless you all.

Kathy and Marvin Kern

Climax Springs, Mo.