The Hays Daily News from Hays, Kansas on June 7, 2006 · Page 4
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The Hays Daily News from Hays, Kansas · Page 4

Hays, Kansas
Issue Date:
Wednesday, June 7, 2006
Page 4
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A4 THE HAYS DAILY NEWS OPINION WEDNESDAY, JUNE 7,2006 Editorial Vine traffic Exit 159 on interstate congested enough to merit consideration of options P eak travel season means peak traffic jams all around the Interstate- 70 and Vine Street interchange in Hays. Gridlock creates danger, and that is all the more reason for the city to consider ways to relieve the worsening congestion here. Try turning left onto Vine, across traffic, from either of the two entry points immediately south of 1-70 — from the Holiday Inn on the west or McDonald's on the east. It is a veritable nightmare. That goes for whether you are pulling your fifth-wheel across country making a pit stop in Hays or a local trying to run a Saturday-morning errand. You wait. And wait. Then an impatient weekender pulling his fishing boat to Cedar Bluff whips around you and makes a run for it. Eventually the most cautious of drivers has to make a move, too — saying a prayer first. It has been a longtime traffic problem, but it is only getting worse as commercial development continues to pack into the interchange area. So, what can the city do? First, it needs to look seriously at traffic remediation strategies here. Clearly the frontage road design proved to be bad design. The city fortunately changed its approach when it designed a Vine Street reconstruction project north of the interstate that instead provides for reverse-access roads, which route traffic farther back, behind retail frontage. It would seem too late to do that south of Vine, but the city should bring in some engineers to consider the options. Maybe Vine should be made six lanes and the frontage roads eliminated. Or maybe the access points should be reconfigured, possibly closed off or moved in some places. Maybe entry should be right-in-right-out only except where stoplights can regulate traffic. We make that last suggestion with remorse, because right-turn-only intersections can drive a motorist crazy in metro areas. But we can see the logic of it right here in Hays. No doubt many people would have an opinion on this problem. What the city should do is hire a traffic engineer to give the city some options. Beyond that is a bigger-picture approach the city needs to take with commercial development. And that is a more progressive approach to developing interstate interchanges. Specifically, the Commerce Parkway interchange should be made developer- ready by extending utilities to all four corners. And, as experience shows, it would not hurt to have a road development plan. An idle interstate interchange is economic opportunity wasted. Besides which, it is getting to the point when Vine Street simply cannot handle much more commercial development. The traffic is going to strangle it. Commerce Parkway is perfect for a travel center, restaurants, motels and other traveler services. Developing that would relieve pressure at Vine Street. Continuing to take a deal-with-it- when-it-happens approach to the Commerce Parkway interchange is like, well, building roads for country traffic rather than for high-density commercial development. Editorial by John D. Montgomery The editorials represent the opinion and institutional voice of The Hays Daily News but are signed by the author (or the reader's information. Guest editorials are from other newspapers and do not necessarily represent the views of The Hays Daily News. Other content on this page represents the views of the signed columnist, cartoonist or letter-writer. The Opinion Page is intended to be a community forum. Guest editorials and syndicated columnists are selected to present a variety of opinion. 5 Who says there's never any good news in the paper? Why, just the other day a federal judge and jury found Enron executives Kenny Boy Lay and Jeffrey Skilling guilty of a dazzling number of corporate crimes — conspiracy, insider trading, wire fraud, bank fraud, securities fraud and just plain fraud. The varlets undoubtedly will appeal but the chances their convictions will be overturned are about the same as the Kansas City Royals' shot at winning the World Series. Sentencing awaits them, so more good news is sure to follow. I know, the glee I'm feeling is a classic case of schadenfreude, German for taking malicious pleasure in the discomfort of others. Is it possible I'm being petty, that I'm allowing class envy of the rich and powerful to dilute my natural, liberal sense of compassion? Nah. Make no mistake about it, Lay and Skilling are guilty, not merely of the stated crimes but of a cruel betrayal of Enron investors and employees, people who gave them their trust and lost everything as a result. Both men — Lay the chairman of the board, Skilling the CEO — argued that they didn't know what was going on. While this argument has had some success in other, similar prosecutions of corporate brigands, the Enron jury wasn't buying it. Lay and Skilling were paid tens of millions of dollars to run their company If they didn't know what was going on, the jury reasoned, what was all the money for? In truth, Lay and Skilling lied and cheated their way to the top, deliberately inflating Enron's worth with crooked bookkeeping, then tried to cash out before the whole thing crashed. They didn't make it. Special congratulations should go to the team of career government attorneys who prosecuted the case. They went against the best lawyers money could buy and won. They deserve our admiration and thanks. Elsewhere on the legal front, official Washington was shocked recently when FBI agents, flashing a search warrant, stormed into the offices of Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., and seized papers, records and computers. Jefferson is the fellow the FBI caught in a sting operation recently and the Donald Haul COMMENTARY raid presumably was related to that. (He was passed a $100,000 cash bribe, $90,000 of which was later found in his freezer. He says there are two sides to every story and I'm dying to hear his.) You would think that Congress would be pretty pleased at this turn of events, wouldn't you? They certainly talk tough on crime during election campaigns. But pleased they're not. Our solons erupted in outrage over the FBI's action and demanded that Jefferson's records be returned. Law officers, you see, aren't supposed to search congressional offices. It's unconstitutional. "We need to protect the division of powers in the Constitution of the United States," said Speaker Dennis Hastert, his eyes raised heavenward. (Or was that a television camera he was looking at?) Don't you love it? This Congress has nodded off while the administration embraced torture as an interrogation tool, asserted the right of eavesdropping without warrant on citizens, arrested and jailed people without charging them and declared the right to attack another nation pretty much any time it felt like it. But let the FBI search the office of a crooked congressman — with a warrant, yet — and the yahoos on the Hill suddenly discover that we've got a Constitution and they're sworn to uphold it. Who's writing their script, Woody Allen? It looked for a time like President George Bush was going to cave in to Congress (and Dick Cheney) and order the FBI to send Jefferson's records back. But Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, of all people, as well as his deputy and the head of the FBI threatened to resign if he did it, so he temporized by ordering a 45-day hold on the material. Excellence and integrity in a Republican Justice Department? What is the world coining to? I don't know, maybe the Royals will win the Series. Donald Kaul is a retired Washington columnls( for The Des Moines Register. He covered the capital for 29 years. It was just an empty wheelchair For months it sat in my garage. Ever since last July, when my husband, Don, died, I squeezed past his wheelchair every time I got into my car or took out the trash. I had asked friends if they knew someone who needed an oversized wheelchair. Most people probably don't know that wheelchairs come in different sizes. Don was a big man, and he was miserable trying to squeeze into a normal-size wheelchair. Finally, through special order, we got a wheelchair large enough to fit him. Even the few friends who knew someone who needed a wheelchair would just shake their heads when they saw how big his chair was. So there it sat in my garage. Then a few weeks ago, I saw a flyer at church about Wheels for the World. This organization collects used wheelchairs, refurbishes them and distributes them to individuals in developing countries. WFW was founded by a woman named Joni Eareckson Tada. In 1967 a diving accident left Tada a quadriplegic in a wheelchair, unable to use her hands. I was familiar with Tada's story and her remarkable career as an artist. During two years of rehabilitation after her accident, Tada learned how to paint with a brush between her teeth. Her finely detailed paintings have been reproduced on Christmas cards and are popular with art collectors. She has written a book about her life and has appeared on numerous TV talk shows. In 1979 she founded Joni and Friends, a not-for-profit organization committed to "providing opportunities for disability awareness and... assisting persons with disabilities in their progress toward independence and fulfillment," according to her Web site. WFW is part of that ministry According to the site, www.joniandfriends. org, "Through Wheels for the World, over 30,000 wheelchairs have been collected nationwide, refurbished by inmates in 17 correctional facilities and then shipped and donated to developing Linn Ann Huntington f> LOCAL VOICES nations where ... therapists fit each chair to a needy disabled child or adult." One of those therapists is Debbie Breeden of Hays. Debbie and her husband, David, are volunteers for WFW. On June 17 they will be joining a team of 11 other volunteers and WFW staff from across the United States who will be traveling to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with 200 wheelchairs. Debbie said this is WFW's first time to distribute chairs in Brazil, a trip that has been two years in the making. Debbie, an occupational therapist with Hays USD 489, will be one of three "seating specialists" who will be fitting 100 individuals with wheelchairs June 20 to 27. She said the other 100 chairs will be left so that local individuals in Rio de Janeiro can continue to fit individuals with just the right wheelchair. Two of the chairs that will be making the trip to Brazil were donated by two Hays girls, Angela Rogers and Madison Lisman. Debbie explained that when Angela and Madison outgrew their wheelchairs they decided to donate them to WFW. Last October, WFW and Hays Good Samaritan Center worked together to collect used wheelchairs. Debbie said the correctional facilities in Norton and Ellsworth both refurbish used wheelchairs. All of the chairs being taken to Brazil were refurbished in Norton. Debbie said she first met Tada when she attended a religious broadcasters convention with her husband about six years ago. David is the general manager of KPRD 88.9 FM. Tada was one of the speakers at the convention. Then two years ago, Debbie and David decided to become volunteers for the organization and help with wheelchair collections in western Kansas. "It is a faith-based program," she said. "Every person who receives a chair will also receive a Bible in their own language." While Debbie is helping fit individuals with just the right size chair, "David's responsibility will be to capture the stories through pictures, interviews and news stories," she said. David and KPRD also will be involved in a WFW fundraiser this fall. On Sept. 9 and 10, the radio station, again in conjunction with Hays Good Samaritan Center, will have the "KPRD 500 Ride," a two-day motorcycle ride covering 500 miles in central Kansas. "We'll be doing live broadcasts and have wheelchair collection sites along the way," David said. It takes about $150 for WFW to refurbish and ship a wheelchair, so monetary donations are very much appreciated too, he said. Details about the KPRD 500 and a map showing the motorcyclists' route are available on the station's Web site, Meanwhile, the Breedens still are raising money — about $3,000 each — to cover their trip to Brazil. Individuals wanting to contribute to that effort may send donations to Joni and Friends, Box 3333, Agoura Hills, CA 91376. It is important to note which volunteers the donor wishes to assist. The Breedens also are happy to answer questions about the trip and about WFW; individuals may call them at (785) 628-0315. My husband's wheelchair won't be making the trip to Brazil. First it must be refurbished. But after Debbie and David loaded it into their SUV last week, we all said a prayer that whoever sits in that chair in the future will know that it was once filled by a big man with a big heart. I hope the recipient also will know that a lot of love accompanies this gift. I don't want it to be an empty wheelchair any longer. Linn Ann Huntington is a longtime Journalism educator who lives and works in Hays. in r.rn •.••.•.a .•;•.: > • I ,V/O(!il HOY I:),'. (K,'l .1(11.'.! <!'(<:(> .' !<•!• i't'yefit.' It 'JOT {)t>J varlT 'JJJ.YilOuMel MI'*';-,' 11 ' r. " WHEN 1TCOMES TO COUATERM. DAMAGE, THERE'S A KISHT WY AND A V/RONS WAY.'" Unspeakable tragedy, unjustifiable game So now you, too, can shoot up Columbine. Like Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris seven years ago, you can roam the hallways with explosives and guns, bring a bloodbath to a high school in the suburbs. All from the comfort of your desk, all just by booting up your computer. Point, click, shoot. Super Columbine Massacre RPG is the name of the game, available for free online. It was created last year, but first came to media attention in mid-May. The game is the creation of a 24-year-old Colorado filmmaker, Danny Ledonne. And if you want to know what in the world would possess him to make such a monstrosity, well, he says he can identify with Harris and Klebold, though he doesn't justify their actions. He says that at the time of the Columbine massacre, he was a S-foot-2-inch high school kid, an outsider, constantly picked on. He says lie had many of the same dark fantasies of revenge that drove the two Columbine students to kill 13 people. He says he created the game in order to foster discussion of why these tragedies occur. He says a lot of things. Indeed, in a long, sometimes thoughtful, always self-justifying essay on his Web site, Ledonne assures us that his goal is commentary and critique of a "deeply moribund" society that embraces simplistic answers to complex questions. It's a criticism many Observers would echo. Where they would part company with Ledonne is in his claim that putting you and me behind Leonard Pitts Jr, COMMENTARY the trigger at Columbine will cause our understanding of that tragedy to be "deepened" and "redefined." Bull. I should say here that I tried to take a look at Super Columbine Massacre, but it would not initialize on my computer. Perhaps the machine has better taste than I. However, we know from news reports that the game features photographs of Klebold and Harris, excerpts from their written rantings and primitive graphics. We also know the game is unwinnable: No matter how many people Klebold and Harris manage to gun down, the ending is always the same, meaning the police close in and they commit suicide. Evidently, this is meant as the moral of the story. But the real moral, it seems to me, lies in the very fact of turning a slaughter into a video game. I say this as someone who likes video games. Video games can be challenging and fun. But they also have a way of depersonalizing violence, of creating a false disconnect between the act and its effects. That's bad enough when you break someone's arm in Tekken, the martial arts game, and he or she gets right back up, ready to rumble. It's worse when the "victim" is real. Consider JFK Reloaded, a game that, for a $9.99 download, allows you to be Lee Harvey Oswald and try your luck at assassinating John Kennedy The creator of that game, like the creator of this one, professes a high-minded objective: To interest young people in history and prove that Oswald was the lone gunman. Both creators either don't know or, more likely, don't care, that they trivialize murders whose effects are still extant, create emotional distance where none should exist. Bang. Kill John F. Kennedy. Bang. Kill a Columbine kid. Bang. Feel nothing. That's scurrilous. It is indecent. Not simply because of the disrespect it shows the dead, but also because there's more than enough emotional distance, more than enough feeling nothing, in our lives already without encouraging more. Other people are not objects. Other lives are not abstract. Other feelings are not trivial. These are truths that should be self-evident, but they seem less so all the time. Remember the exchange between Klebold and Harris as they committed mass murder? "How many did you get?" "1 got three." Keeping score. Like it was a video game, even then. Leonard Pitts is a columnist tor The Miami Herald.

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