In the dark
The Jackson County Legislature has funded three consultant contracts, two task forces and a grand jury investigation over four years to decide what is wrong with the Jackson County Detention Center. Many tax dollars have been spent to get much the same advice repeatedly.
Our local political wonks wring their hands, pass resolutions and insist we all keep our eyes on a major building commitment while convincing their constituents that simply having the sheriff run the jail would make it all better.
Jurisdictions across the country are improving public safety, building stronger communities and improving financial viability using legislative reforms and corrections programs already proven effective in reducing crime and recidivism, yet we stick with the same a brick-and-mortar approach.
We expect respect for law and order to flourish, yet during the past year, a sitting sheriff has resigned in shame and the previous county executive was sentenced to prison. Now the current county executive (according to him) failed to supervise his own staff members, allowing them to excise critical sections of an expensive report on the jail’s medical and mental health services. (March 3, 1A, “Jail report has extensive omissions; White’s administration cut over half of report detailing issues at Jackson County facility”)
Ironic? Foolish? Dangerous? Yes, all that.
When I went to work, my employer provided a handbook stating the expectations of my employment. If I fail to follow these rules, I become a former employee and can no longer identify myself as an employee of this company.
As a Christian, I have a handbook that gives me instructions, guidance and rules to live by. It’s the Bible. I don’t always like all the instructions, especially those about forgiveness. But I am called to follow them, as they are what is best for me and those around me. If I choose not to follow the Bible, then I can’t identify myself as a follower of Christ.
Recently several men holding the title of pastor have stated that they don’t follow all of the Bible’s instructions in regards to homosexuality. Adam Hamilton, pastor of Leawood’s Church of the Resurrection, has asked, “Can we recognize that there are faithful Christians … who read this scripture differently … and can we make room for them?” (March 3, 3A, “Resurrection pastor addresses congregation after anti-LGBT vote”)
Leviticus 18 in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible reads: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” How can that be read differently?
Men in leadership who don’t follow the book they are prescribed to? Disappointing.
A story in the Sunday Star describes how Kansas lawmakers are considering a bill to ensure that wealthy Kansans and corporations do not incur any additional state taxes because of changes in federal tax rules. (2A, “What Kansas lawmakers have (but mostly haven’t) accomplished so far”) The story also describes how 150,000 Kansans could obtain health care if a law expanding Medicaid access in the state is passed.
Some of our lawmakers say that Kansas can’t afford to expand Medicaid access. So we can afford to reduce taxes on the wealthy and corporations, but we cannot afford to ensure all Kansans have access to health care?
Medicaid expansion would provide a healthier population and workforce and would stimulate the economy. It would clearly add much more to the greater good of Kansas than reducing the taxes on the wealthy and corporations.
On their backs
The story Monday about a drop in international students at Kansas universities gave the impression that it is just the Trump administration’s negative comments that are discouraging overseas learners from coming to the United States. (4A, “Many Kansas universities see drop in international students”)
In reality, the most important barrier keeping international students from coming here is the greatly reduced number of visas allowed for them. In the next five to 10 years, we could lose many small colleges because we are blocking so many international students who want to come here for college. Ten years from now, it will be too late.
If your alma mater has no more than a few thousand students, it could go bankrupt soon unless more international students are allowed to enter the United States. Remember that they pay full out-of-state tuition and are, in effect, subsidizing the U.S. students who tend to get all the scholarships.