Front Page » Table of Contents » Archive: Politics: March 2010

Why You Should Answer the Door

OSKALOOSA, Kan. - I know many of you out there are like me in that when someone that looks like they want something comes knocking at your door, you treat them like a Jehovah's Witness and sit very still not to make a sound and hope they go away. Being someone that has walked many a neighborhood in the past few years, I can say that those who come a knocking aren't all bad.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Today's Wichita Eagle mentions the latest SurveyUSA poll sponsored by KWCH, Channel 12. According to the poll results, only 23% of Kansans approve of the job done by the Kansas Legislature, and Republican U.S. Senator Sam Brownback's job approval rating is only 50%.

Considering that the Kansas Legislature is dominated and controlled by Republicans in both Chambers, this bodes well for the Democrats picking up House seats this year. The State Senate is not up for reelection until 2012. And Senator Morris, the Republican President of the Senate, seems to be more sensitive to public opinion than
House Republican leaders.

President Obama has a higher approval rating (37%) and a lower disapproval rating(61%) than the Kansas legislature. 65% of Kansans disapprove of the Kansas Legislature.

And Senator Brownback? For a 16 year Republican incumbent to have an approval rating of 50% suggests that his quest to switch from Washington, D.C. to the Governor's Mansion this year may be more adventurous than he had hoped. 42% of Kansans disapprove of Brownback's job performance.

Last Train to Crazyville

They could have called, or written an email, or even stopped by to talk. But instead, they decided to throw a brick through the window of Sedgwick County Democratic Party Headquarters.

WICHITA, Kan. - If one would have asked me if the Republican Party has gone completely off its rocker I would have to say no, At least that true for the majority of rank file members. Recent events however test that resolve, verbal racist slurs at Congressmen John Lewis and Andre Carson, protesters spitting on on Kansas City Congressman Emanuel Cleaver.

Then apparently egged on by self styled Militia leader Mike Vanderboegh, of Pinson, Alabama,.calls for a modern "Sons of Liberty," to smash windows at Democratic Party offices. Vandals broke out windows at several Democratic party offices in NY, and Arizona and here in Kansas.

ELLIS, Kan. - First, I would like to clearly state my premise and reason for writing this piece. I believe it is always irresponsible to forward, publish, or publicly declare material that one knows to be malicious, false, and inflammatory. I further believe that it is also irresponsible to disseminate material that is inflammatory, even if the specific facts contained therein are technically correct, if by omission of some facts and over-emphasis of others, there is clear intent to arouse others to unjustified anger and potentially unjust action. I believe that a weak "small print" disclaimer accompanying such dissemination does not relieve one of responsibility.

A few years ago, at a Memorial Day observance at the Hays, Kansas, VFW, a local dignitary presented a "keynote" speech, in which he declared that we (the United States) had been "at war with Islam" for, at that time, 33 years. He cited a litany of events over the 33 years to "prove" his point.

TOPEKA, Kan. - On March 16, a crowd estimated to be 1,000 parents, teachers and students rallied at the east steps of Capitol in Topeka to protest potential future cuts in education funding. Demanding that schools get "what's right, not what's left," and "SOS - save our schools," the crowd's chants echoed in down the halls of the Capitol. Photobucket
AYF rally particpants

Following the Montoy lawsuit in 2005, funding levels substantially improved educational results and programs across the state. Kansas children were learning more, were achieving high academic standards and graduating from high school ready to contribute to our state.

Still the funding never reached the levels ascribed in the Kansas Legislature's own cost study (2001 Augenblick and Myers). This study found that funding needed for Kansas schools - now nine years ago - ranged from $5,811 per pupil (large districts) to $8,541 per pupil (small districts); with additional costs for: special education: $7,400-$12,000 per pupil; at-risk: $1,900-$2,600 per pupil; English Language Learner (ELL): $1,200 to $6,000 per pupil. In order to be a "Successful School," the average base cost of $4,547 per pupil was proposed.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - The Kansas Constitution provides for six statewide elected offices:
Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner, Secretary of State, and State Treasurer.

With the appointment of Democrat Chris Biggs today as the new Secretary of State, this leaves only Republican Sandy Praeger, our Insurance Commissioner, as the lone Republican constitutional statewide elected official. And we could do a lot worse than Praeger. Right Wing Republican Eric Carter tried to unseat her three years ago by telling audiences: "She's not a Republican." He lost.

Republicans love to point out that all five Democrats were appointed, as if it was sinister. But the Kansas Constitution gives the Governor great power, and having a Democrat Governor these last seven years has made these appointments possible.

TOPEKA, Kan. - Citing his experience, professionalism and dedication, Governor Mark Parkinson today named Chris Biggs as Kansas' Secretary of State.

"Chris has been in public service for more than twenty years, demonstrating an unwavering commitment to our state, our citizens, and our future," Parkinson said. "Chris will bring his forward-looking vision to the Office of Secretary of State while increasing the efficiency and participation in Kansas' elections."

Prior to today's appointment, Biggs, also served as an attorney in public service, including 14 years as Geary County Attorney. Biggs is a graduate of Kansas State University and KU Law School.

Paying for Access

HUTCHINSON, Kan. - The Speaker of the House for the Kansas Legislature, Mike O'Neal, just doesn't get it. He doesn't seem to understand how his actions look to the ordinary citizens he is supposed to represent.

For those who haven't heard, he is accepting money from workers compensation funds, the Kansas Bankers Association, the Kansas Realtors Association, and Speedy Cash to sue the state. These special interest groups have every right to lobby the legislature. But make no mistake about it, they try to influence legislation. And when Mr. O'Neal accepted money from these groups it sure looks like he is charging for access to his office. O'Neal may not consider this paying for access. But I do. And many other Reno County residents do.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Sometimes, somebody just tells the truth. It's usually a child, like in the "Emperor With No Clothes." Everybody knows the truth down deep, but then someone just blurts it out, and there is a sense of relief and embarrassment.

Johnny Carson once said the only people who really tell the truth are the very young and the very old. There is some truth to that, but sometimes a middle aged person says what everyone knows to be true but is afraid to say.

Governor Mark Parkinson had such a moment last week. Discussing the Kansas legislature's 20 year "tax-cutting binge," Parkinson mentioned that the tax breaks have generally gone to the wealthy and corporate interests. "What have we done for the average person? Virtually nothing. The public has got to understand, they are being left out."

How true.

VALLEY FALLS, Kan. - On Sunday, March 7, our next governor, Tom Holland, spoke to a group at The Barn Bed and Breakfast Inn, Valley Falls. I think Sen. Holland is precisely who we need to lead our state through the difficult times we are in. Don't write him off. That was the mistake made by the last two Republicans he ran against. Both were incumbents; first in a state House race, then a state Senate race. Both districts were conservative. Sen. Holland is a very pragmatic and formidable candidate who will pull no punches in the race against Sam Brownback.

MOUND CITY, Kan. - In 2002, Tom Holland said that he ran to represent his neighbors in the Kansas House of Representatives, "because our schools were facing severe funding shortages."

He explained, "Year after year, I watched my kids' classroom sizes get bigger and important programs being cut. I knew how to solve problems for businesses, and when I saw the problems facing my kids' schools, I decided to lead. I set out to share my vision with other Kansans. The critics said I had no chance. But, I went on to beat the established candidate, a four-term incumbent, and the chair of the House Education Committee."

Living in Kansas full-time, Holland raised four children: Thomas, a Kansas University graduate; Derek, a Baker University graduate; Brandon, a Kansas University junior; and Louisa, a South Junior High eighth grader. All four attended Lawrence schools during a tumultuous time when public schools faced severe funding shortages.

Dems Are Alive

GEM, Kan. - Thank you, Marty Keenan, for your post, Kansas Democrats Aren't Benchwarmers. The assurance that the Kansas Democrats are alive and kicking is great news. Those of us out here in the far west are a little isolated from the few rallies we here about in the eastern part of the state. For instance, I'm not going to drive 100, 200 and 300 miles to get in on a 1 or 2 hour rally. I also understand that it is hard for state wide candidates to justify the great traveling distances to rattle the bushes in western Kansas.

Especially when the candidates know there is only a handful of Democrats with the gumption to speak up when they are surrounded by dyed-in-the-wool Republican parrots who repeat, over and over, the falsities espoused by the right wing talk show hosts, especially the Sarah Palin-Rush Limbaugh types. Our newspapers are fed the political news from Republicans, who basically lay out the Republican agenda and point out all the good things they, as our reps, have accomplished.

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Circular firing squads are stupid. There are so few Democrats in Kansas that it is important that we stick together, and not shoot each other. 2010 was my seventh consecutive trip to Topeka for "Washington Days," the annual Kansas Democrat gathering. But this was the first one where I felt some overt dissension among the party faithful.

The major complaint: Kansas Democrats have no "bench." But the thing is, we have so many "starters" holding statewide office, we have a great lineup right now.

Democrats need to count their blessings. Eight years of a Democrat Governor has done wonders for the Kansas Democratic party. Governor Sebelius and now Governor Parkinson are both extraordinarily talented. And a lot of new political talent came forward over the last 8 years due to Democratic control of the Governor's Mansion.

WICHITA, Kan. - My father's father was a pioneer in Kansas and much given to teaching essential lessons by using old folk sayings. One of his favorites was, "Always keep your word; without honor you are nothing." I have held that memory in my mind all of my life. We were taught to never make a promise we couldn't keep unless we apologized in person for not keeping our word.

Frequently I have been reminded of his words, especially in politics. In 1976, my husband was a candidate for Udall delegate to the National Democratic Convention. I counted votes and he was a little short so I approached the leaders of the Kansas Young Democrats, suggesting they support my husband and our contingent would give our second votes to their supposed delegate. After discussion, the two men told me that was agreeable. They would trade votes. Unfortunately, they reneged on their commitment. One of the leaders came to me later and apologized; the other just smirked at me. I have never forgotten his failure to keep his word and to this day will not trust him.

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This is an archive page containing all of the stories posted to Kansas Free Press in one particular topic in a particular month. These stories were published in the Politics: March 2010 section.

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