Front Page » Monthly Archives » Archives: March 2011

COUNCIL GROVE, Kan. - I wrote the following piece six years ago in response to an election outcome. I chose to include it this month because it seems once again to fit the context of our times - relegating a group to second-class status through the instrument of government. The piece is bad polemics but good therapy for the writer. It was published in The Council Grove Republican. Here it is:

I've been doing some serious soul-searching during the last few days as to the error of my ways. This inner journey -- intense, agonizing, and profound -- was prompted by the recent passage [April 5, 2005] of the Kansas Marriage Amendment. Seventy percent of Kansans and 77.25 percent of the citizens of Morris County voted to add to the state constitution a ban of gay marriages and civil unions. And, yes, I admit it, I was one of the 438 unenlightened out of the 1925 in Morris County to vote NO on this measure.

MCDOWELL CREEK, Kan. - We burned pasture last Thursday. The breeze turned jumpy in the early afternoon. There were a few tense moments -- but in the end, the fire stayed where it was supposed to. There was even a gentle rain that evening that washed away the smoke. We felt so fortunate! Having lost our house to a prairie fire a few years back, we count our blessings when a burn goes well.

Yesterday we had snow, giving us an unusual sight -- blackened prairie covered with snow.

We watched the snow come down with a group of friends who had gathered in our living room to talk about books. Our friend Paul has started on a quest to read famous classic works that he missed in school. We and several others volunteered to keep him company on this journey, and yesterday was our first gathering.

Fighting Back Against Big Banks

the-almightier.gifWICHITA, Kan. - As the very talented Ms. Stein recently wrote, major U.S. banking firms such as Citigroup and Bank of America despite making huge profits pay nothing in Taxes.

Bank of America received a $1.9 billion tax refund from the IRS last year, although it made $4.4 billion in profits and received a bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department of nearly $1 trillion.

Citigroup last year made more than $4 billion in profits but paid no federal income taxes. It received a $2.5 trillion bailout from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury.

And of course we all heard in the debates leading up to bailout bills how all these banks were too big to fail and had to be saved. Even current Speaker John Boehner almost broke down and cried over the prospect that the TARP Bill might fail.

We know that the Big Banks gave themselves huge taxpayer funded bonuses, after crashing the economy and making millions. All this while millions of homeowners face foreclosure.

Jump Start Democracy

TOPEKA, Kan. - Many of us, living in a democratic republic, understand how important it is to vote every year. Most fail to go any further.

Last month I was part of a protest on the steps of the Capital in Topeka.

A cold rainy day, was brightened with warm spirit (and I'm not talking liquor), and fiery people. It was democracy in action.

Nation Building, Then and Now

COLBY, Kan. - Perhaps a short history lesson on the birth of this wild experiment of a United States (tribal?) and how it was to be organized is in order. We were tribes, some from the same ethnic backgrounds, but definitely from different religious loyalties and doctrines. Even though the English background was dominant, we didn't have the power to face the west, with its hostile entrenched residents, and the East, with the mother country that didn't want to relinquish parental control. The basic Christian philosophy was dominant but quite fractured in absolute theology.

Open opposition to the British colonial power surfaced about 1765. This led to open rebellion and the war of independence began in 1775. Total independence was finally achieved in 1783.

A brief and short lived attempt to survive under the loosely organized Articles of Confederation (1777) resulted in the calling of the Constitutional Convention (1787). And, finally, George Washington was inaugurated as our first president in 1789. We look back and discover this whole process took 25 or 30 years.

TOPEKA, Kan. - In response to yesterday's posting on the efforts by the telecom industry in Kansas to undo the Kan-ed program, I received the following statement from Bradley S. Williams, M.S., CIO & Executive Director of Kan-ed. It outlines well the programs and services provided by Kan-ed to the people of Kansas:

I am reaching out to you directly today because Cox Communications (Wichita), who is a Kan-ed Authorized Provider, has elected to lobby against Kan-ed members and their funding. Cox Communications has asked House Speaker Mike O'Neal (R-Hutchinson) to introduce House Bill 2390 to eliminate Kan-ed effective July 1, 2011. The Speaker of the House indicated yesterday he is supportive of the bill and we also know that Representative Joe McLeland (R-Wichita), is also pushing to dismantle Kan-ed as he has done every year since Kan-ed inception.

If Cox and the Speaker are successful with HB 2390, then all Kan-ed connections and services will go away. That includes all network and video connections, Renovo Video scheduler, licenses, and servers, MCU, (homework Kansas), Empowered Desktop and LS test builder, EMResource (hospitals ER database) and E-rate support just to name a few... all gone.

Kris Kobach's Birthday FIESTA!

kris-kobach.jpgWICHITA, Kan. - Secretary of State Kris Kobach has an agenda. That agenda consists of creating road blocks to legitimate voters within the state of Kansas and the creation of racial profiling bills targeting Hispanics. Secretary Kobach's status as an illegal immigration super hero and GOP voter suppression rock star are side gigs that Kansas citizens can ill afford to fund during this time of budgetary crises. A less elaborate Missouri Voter ID bill was budgeted at a cost $14 million in three years time.

While Kobach's immigration legislation was tabled in the committee process, we anticipate seeing the re-emergence of this through the use of dubious back door legislative maneuverings via Rep Lance Kinzer either this session or next. The state of Kansas cannot afford the expensive court cases that the passage of this legislation would surely guarantee.

Kris Kobach turns 45 this Saturday and The Sedgwick County Democratic Party can see no better way to celebrate this milestone with a celebration of Hispanic culture.

student-laptop.jpgTOPEKA, Kan. - Last week, on March 14th, at the request of the Speaker of the House Mike O'Neal (R-Hutchinson), the chair of the Kansas House Appropriations Committee, Marc Rhodes (R-Newton), introduced HB 2390 that would abolish Kan-Ed and transfer all remaining assets to the state's general fund effective July 1 of this year. Internet access would continued to be administered by the Kansas Universal Service Fund, that is overseen by the Kansas Corporation Commission, but other services provide by Kan-Ed would expire.

Kan-Ed was created by the Kansas Legislature in 2001 and administered through the Kansas Board of Regents. The purpose of the program is to expand the collaboration capabilities of Kan-Ed's member institutions: K-12 schools, higher education, libraries and hospitals through the use of technology.

As such, it provides services including hospital ER databases, provides libraries, schools and hospitals with affordable and high-speed Internet connectivity, the ELMeR videoconferencing network, research databases (including all K-12 databases and Heritage Quest), Kan-Ed Live Tutor (Homework Kansas), and more.

antiwar-6.gifWASHINGTON - How many more protesters or how much resistance to arrest would it have taken for the confrontation to have escalated.

Were the police who made the arrests armed? Would there have been casualties if the crowd had reacted with physical or armed resistance?

Obviously the event didn't get that big or confrontational.

But, what if it had? We had a civil war because a significant number of people objected to Federal Policy.

I'm sure most all of us will say, "Don't let the situation get out of hand."

"Nip it in the bud before full scale mob protests get started."

At what point in time do we call out the National Guard or bring in full scale military presence?


COLBY, Kan. - What are we getting into?

I can't verify this quote but here is what Quadafi supposedly ask our President. "What would you do if you found them controlling American cities with the power of weapons? Tell me how would you behave so that I could follow your example?"

Does anyone in our group or any of our commenters want to answer that question?

welcome-to-kansas.jpgTOPEKA, Kan. - This afternoon, Thursday 17 March, in Topeka the House Judiciary Committee is once again going to take up another xenophobic law that the right-wing extremist Kris Kobach is trying to force on the state of Kansas.

Today the Judiciary Committee Chair, the right-wing extremist Rep. Lance Kinzer, is going to force a vote on Kobach's anti-immigration bill HB 2372. Modeled on the now notorious Arizona legislation that Kobach authored, should this legislation pass, Kansas will face spending millions of taxpayer dollars defending legislation that is nothing more than the race laws passed by Nazi Germany.

While I am a fourth generation Kansan, born and raised in Marshall county, from 1982 - 1998 I lived and worked in Italy. The first four years I lived in Italy, I did so as an undocumented worker. Thus I know well what it means to be an immigrant and why HB 2372 is a morally corrupted piece of legislation.

unemployment2.jpgEditor's Note: This is the 4th column written by this author for her series, "Decreasing the Deficit." The first three include: The Truth Behind Entitlements, The Defense Budget, and, Earmarks, Pork and the Golden Fleecing of America.

WICHITA, Kan. - Listen, my children, and you shall hear about what really constitutes a fair taxation system. To be simplistic, it is a system that involves taxing those whose income is larger than they need to provide for themselves and those for whom they legally are bound to provide. Such a system leaves those who live under the poverty standard untaxed allowing them to get on their feet financially, at which time they too would enter the tax rolls.

In the United States today, in fact since about 1986, the disparity between middle and upper income earners has grown. Today the middle income is being crushed into the poverty level. Anyone who tells you differently is lying to you and if you accept their untruths, you, gullible American that you are, are accepting the blarney they are trying to cram down your throat.

Who Is Responsible?

COLBY, Kan. - I just read a long article in the New York Times (pg. A1 3-13-11 by Danny Hakim) about the horrible state of affairs in our system of taking care of the elderly, physically handicapped, and mentally impaired. Regardless of your religious identity (or non), partisan politics, liberal, conservative, etc. etc., it has to make you ashamed to be a part of the society that allows the most vulnerable of our minorities to be subjected to such abuse and neglect.

Too much government, not enough government, organized worker unions, professional employees and management; all have been blamed by each other. The truth is: it's us, you and me, that must shoulder the shame and blame. We are the ones who establish the morals, ethics, and culture of our communities.

LAWRENCE, Kan. - With the sudden onslaught of political attacks on the arts, women's rights, unions, children, schools, gays, the poor and the elderly, both nationally and in right here in Kansas, it's hard for a progressive to know what to do.

Which protest do I attend? Which causes do I have time to support, even though I'd like to support them all? Where do I send my hard earned money? And for we writers: Which editorial do I write?

Where do I even start?!?

education.gifThugs! Parasites! Bloodsuckers! Mediocre slackers! Class warfare against the rich!

WICHITA, Kan. - It's in the air everywhere -- unionized public workers are the cause of all the ills of the world, if not the universe. All those once trusted public servants, teachers, police officers, fire fighters, social workers, prison guards, health care providers, cafeteria workers, among others, have now become Public Enemy #1. Public sector workers, people who go to work every week day and sometimes at night and on weekends, are now, according to anecdotal reports, earning out-sized salaries and ruining our economy with their demands. They're taking taxpayer money (otherwise known as salaries) and using it to support corrupt unions. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and 18 Wisconsin senate Republicans think so poorly of unionized state workers that they voted to end collective bargaining rights. Is this opprobrium against public workers spreading throughout the country?

Earmarks Are Parlimentary Problem

pigs-by-fence.jpgCOLBY, Kan. - 'Pork Barrel' and, the recently named, 'Earmarks,' have been a part of the legislative agenda since the very beginning of our nation. Our congressmen have been doing their job of representing their own electorate. Isn't that the idea of the 'United States'? To do for the people what they cannot do, efficiently, for themselves?

By combining the resources of the nation, we can provide services that local areas cannot handle. We depend upon our representatives, in the congress, to assess the requests for national assistance to accomplish local projects. If those requests are legitimate needs, then they should be met.

Are the needs of those in a slum neighborhood in New York City any less a concern for me than the needs of impoverished areas or communities in Kansas?

WICHITA, Kan. - Politico's Simmi Aujla reported in December that Hal Rogers (R-KY) was elected to chair the powerful House Appropriations Committee. Rogers has been named the Prince of Pork for his co-opting millions of taxpayer dollars for his own district's projects. In total Rogers has taken U S taxpayers in the amount of $246 million in earmarks over the past two years. One of Rogers' earmarks passed millions in our money to a reservation in Namibia for the preservation of cheetahs for whom his daughter works.

In January Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) castigated President Obama for pledging to veto any earmarks that came across his desk as part of another bill. Reid waved a small copy of the Constitution and declared, "I'm going to fight as hard as I can against President Obama on these earmarks."

That was after Reid decided to abandon a 1,924-page catchall spending measure laced with home state pet projects, or earmarks.

The Funeral and the Crazies

TOPEKA, Kan. - I've written a couple of stories about Freddy and the gang that calls itself Westboro Baptist Church, and in the last one I stated my intention to refrain from ever writing about them again and thereby giving them what they most crave: attention. I'm sorry, I can't help it. Just one more time. I was in Topeka a few weeks ago for my father's funeral, and as I was walking out to the car to get something, some one pointed out to me a crowd of demonstrators with placards about a block away and indicated that it was them, Topeka's own little tribe of weirdos.

PhotobucketTOPEKA, Kan. - On Saturday February 27th, approximately 1500 Kansans joined with hundreds of thousands of others across the United States to protest the war on the middle class that is being waged by the Republican Party and their corporate billionaire backers.

Joining with voices echoing the need to return government to the people, working class Kansans from teachers to correctional officers spoke out against the extremism of Sam Brownback and the Koch Brothers.

We heard from Aaron Fowler of Wichita, a member of the American Federation of Musicians union, who emceed the rally. Then, Teresa Molina, a Wichita teacher, Greg Winfield a correctional office at the Lansing State Prison, followed by Jane Carter, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, Emilio Ramirez of the United Steel Workers; Rep. Paul Davis, House Democratic Leader, and Senator Anthony Hensley concluded.

EMPORIA, Kan. - Sorry I haven't posted in awhile folks but I've been busy with a city council primary race. The primary is tomorrow and if I'm fortunate enough to get into the general on April 5th I'll have even less time to keep writing but I'll try.

OK, so why am I running? Simple enough. The current city council is out of touch with the pocket book issues of the average voter.

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About This Page

This is an archive page containing all stories published in Kansas Free Press in March 2011. These are listed from newest to oldest.

February 2011 is the previous archive and April 2011 is the next one.

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