The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 25, 2001 · Page 7
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 7

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Salina, Kansas
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Wednesday, April 25, 2001
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THE SALINA JOURNAL WEDNESDAY. APRIL 25. 2001 Kl, Tom BeU Editor & Publisher Opinions expressed on ttiis page are tliose of ttie identified writers. To join ttie conversation, write a letter to the Journal at: P.O. Box 740 Salina, KS 67402 Fax: (785) 827-6363 E-mail: SJLetters® saljournal.com Quote of the day "We cannot allow our rich and vibrant quality of life to be eroded by reckless out-of- state hog factory farm." Gov. Jim Hodges governor of South Carolina, calling for the Legislature to impose a moratorium on any new factory- style hog farms In his state. T COMMENT Eyes on the skies IWISfllE Weather safety THEARGUMOyr There are limits to our technology W e have Super Doppler radar, trained storm spotters, weather radios, outdoor sirens, and The Weather Channel. Mother Nature has the wind. Sometimes, it's no contest. It has been widely reported that : the only person who died in the horrendous tornado that struck Hoisington Saturday night was sitting in his living room, listening for sirens that never sounded. Setting the irony and the tragedy aside, it may seem odd that such a mammoth storm could fall upon any town, so utterly unannounced. But Nature has her own ways, of doing things. They do not conform to the laws of man, the eyes and ears of our technology, the expectations of a society so drowning in information that we expect every important nugget to be served up for us at just the right time. Even if the National Weather Service, or the spotters, had seen the tornado before it pounced on Hoisington — and they didn't the sirens would not have been heard throughout the city The power was out. That sometimes happens in Kansas thunderstorms. Besides, as emergency preparedness officials hasten to remind us at every opportunity, those outdoor sirens are intended to be heard, well, outdoors. They are not intended as the only, or even the primary, way to warn people who are inside, perhaps with the windows closed, the air conditioner blowing and the TV and radio bothon. But the fact that we have to be reminded of these facts should make us aware that the man who died cannot have been the only person in town who thought he would be warned by the sirens. It is a common misconception. We trust that state and local official will review what happened in the hours and seconds leading up to the Hoisington tornado, and see if there was anything that could have been done differently. But no matter what they find, technology is not enough. We have to be aware of the skies. — George B. Pyle Journal Columnist • POINtOFVIEW Bush doesn't do green These days, even anarchy just isn't what it used to be W ell, now, that was a fun garth Day, wasn't it? Our president observed it by staying upwind of the tear gas in Quebec City. That was only sensible, as was his mission there — to establish hemispheric free trade and to tie it to democratic governance. No juntas, or Castros, need apply All of that was to the good, the loopiest of the protesting demonstrators to the perverse contrary notwithstanding. (How is it that supposed anarchists, the violent minority among the demonstrators, have taken to demanding economic nationalism and more government regulation? Even anarchy isn't what it used to be.) It was the week's run-up to the Canadian venture that was the most amusing, as George W. Bush's handlers tried to quick- coat him green before sending him off to spend Earth Day out of town. The paint job couldn't cover the fact that in just three months the new president had run up an anti-environmental record that would be the envy of even the most dedicated despoiler. He came to office palpably lusting to drill for oil and gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and his administration was soon hinting it might go after the Rockies. Bush scrapped new limits on arsenic in drinking water that had been 10 years in the making; the mining industry hated them. Though he had pointedly pledged as a candidate to control carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, he recanted in office and, to boot, took the United States out the Kyoto Accords meant to control greenhouse gases. That probably kills the treaty internationally; the other industrial states are Historic District caugiit in tlie Critics don't know what the Heritage Commission has to deal with A few months ago Jerry Hinrikus, general inanager of KSAL radio, interrupted the Friendly Fire radio show to call me and my fellow Heritage CommissiCiners "dope-smoking hippies." Following in the same journalistic tradition, ' Tom Bell, editor of the Salina Journal, has ^ " how called us "callous." ROB His name-calling would PETERS have more credibility had j^g^the he gotten his facts straight saiina journal by talking with us before # writing. Contrary to Tom's assertion, I am deeply symipathetic withtthe Stratmans' concern for their son. My wife, Karen, and I are expecting our own child in July, and we live in a house that may also have lead paint. There is no question that a child's health comes first. The good news is that the Stratman boy's lead levels have fallen significantly from a year ago. At that time, during renovations, the back wall of the Stratmanlt house was dry belt-sanded. This created a lead-paint dust that sent the child's blood lead-levels to 30 micrograms per deciliter (mg/dl), a dangerous level. Since then, the dust has been cleaned up and the child's levels have fallen nearly two-thirds, to 12 mg/dl. This is much below the level considered "lead-poisoned," but is still higher than normal and cause for concern. Both the Stratmans and the heritage commissioners wished to ensure that lead paint remaining on the house did not threaten the child in the future. So we researched how to make the paint harmless. I personally volunteered more than 20 hours calling, experts around the country According to state standards, approved methods of rendering the lead paint harm- • LETTERS TO THE JOURNAL furious. (The Republican right simply doesn't believe in global warming, as if that were an option, as with, say, fairies.) The administration is developing a new national energy, policy, using a task force that has been meeting in secret, though in knowii, intimate consultation with oil and other industrial executives. You are welcome to believe, if you wish, that it is a coincidence that the oil and gas industry put $1.8 million into Bush's campaign and $23.8 million into other GOP funds last year. Democrats got a widow's mite $6.6 million. Bush is proposing to cut funding for natural resources and environmental programs 7.3 percent. Thus it was with urgent trumpets that the White House announced last \veek that the administration will uphold a rule limiting lead emissions and another extending wetlands protection and will sign an international treaty banning 12 lethal chemicals. Presto: Bush as instant environmentalist! But note that with the lead and wetlands rules, the president was not doing anything for the environment, only posturing for declining this once to doing something to it. And the chemical treaty bars substances so poisonous even the chemical industry agrees they should be banned. Most haven't been produced in the United States in years and are already forbidden here. The next time Bush's people try to paint him green, they might try something stronger than watercolor. It washes off too easily in the acid rain. TOM TEEPEN Cox News Service • less include wet sanding and painting, installation of new wood siding, encapsulation with a plastic paint-like product, or vinyl siding. The Stratmans wanted vinyl siding because it would not require maintenance and because they believed it would be cheaper over a 20-year product life. The Stratmans' desire for vinyl put the heritage commissioners in a difficult position. The city and state guidelines that we are required by law to follow are very clear — vinyl siding is prohibited on contributing properties in the historic district. One irony is that I, personally, have little philosophical objection to vinyl siding. If it were up to my wishes, I would gladly have approved the vinyl in our first meeting with the Stratmans, and I told them so. But, as commissioners, we are sworn to put aside our personal opinions and make decisions according to the city guidelines. Ultimately, the Heritage Commissioners decided to approve vinyl siding out of concern for the health of the child and because the Stratmans were convinced that painting would be too troublesome and too expensive. My exact words at the commission hearing were "because your child does have elevated levels, because time is of the essence ... we have to give discretion to the homeowners." I encourage anyone who wants to see what I really said — as compared to what was reported incorrectly in the Journal — to watch the hearing on the public access channel. During the commission's review process, we worked hard to be fair, compassionate and thorough. We spent days on research, contacting health and abatement experts around the country Because the Stratmans wanted a speedy decision, we scheduled special meetings of the Appropriateness Committee and the full Heritage Commission within a week of each other Although this story has a happy ending for the Stratmans, it underscores a major problem with the Historic District. The city can tell homeowners in the district that they can't put on vinyl siding, but it- can't pay them the difference between, vinyl siding and more expensive alterha-- tives that meet guidelines. ; This is wrong. Salina desperately needs ' a tax-incentive program to compensate ; homeowners for extra expenses due to historic guidelines. Just as people living in the economic development area in the • north of town get a tax break for renova- . tions, so should people living in the His-., toric District. Take the Stratmans, for example, who are the kind of people who are good for the district. They love old houses, they've done a great job fixing up their home, and . they've told us that they would be happy ; without siding if it were not for the matter of their son's health. I believe that this entire controversy could have been avoided if the city could have said, "Please remove the paint and you will be reimbursed the. extra cost." The care and diligence shown by the-Heritage Commission in deciding this case demonstrates the high quality of citizens who volunteer for this and other city commissions. In his eagerness to lambaste us for supposed heartlessness, Tom Bell missed the real news story The story isn't about an unfeeling commission. It's about how the city urgently needs a fair tax-incentive program. Without one, historic guidelines and home-owners will continue to be needlessly pitted against each other, and the Heritage Commissioners will be caught in the middle. • Rob Peters, Salina, is a member of the Salina Heritage Commission. • Editor's note: Journal newsroom managers have reviewed the broadcast tape of the meeting in question and stand by the Journal's previous reports on comments by , Heritage Commission member Rob Peters. Formula for campaign finance reform A formula for viable campaign finance reform: Less tax equals less government speilding equals less special interest equals, less unethical congressmen equals moral governing body equals trust in pi*!- vate sector equals involvement in politics equals government of people by people for people. Is it so hard to understand this simple equation? Yes, taxes (a.k.a. moolah, dinero, lettuce) are at the heart of the majority of corruption in American politics. Hypocrites and idiots are the only ones who fail to see it. By the way, U.S. congressmen make ^145,000 tax dollars every year, and find their way to work only if they have a vested interest in that day's particular work. Every day the House and Senate floor are empty but for a few self-interested parties. Only when high-profile politics such as abortion, gun control, tax cuts, etc., are under the spotlight do our public servants crawl out from under their rocks to "haar- rummph" their hypocrisies. That is disgusting, don't you agree? — FORD JORDAN Caldwell Tomorrow may be too late We all know the story of the U.S. Navy EP-3E surveillance plane that was hit by a, Chinese fighter plane yet landed safely on China's Hainan Island. That was indeed a miracle. United States citizens are proud of the safe landing of the damaged plane with the crew of 24 heroic people aboard. There are many accounts about the plane collision, but the one person who stands out was Lt. Jeffery Vignery from Goodland. On NBC "Meet the Press," Tim Russert asked Lt. Vignery what he was thinking after the collision? Lt. Vignery replied, "I prayed to ask Jesus to save my soul and to prepare to die." His life was not only spared, along with the other 23 crew members, but also he personally accepted Christ as his Savior. They were both miracles. His life was not only spared but was converted to Christ. Sometimes God uses circumstances to bring people to Christ. In Acts 9:3, Paul was blinded by a great light that got his attention, then later he accepted Christ in his life. The Bible states in Mark 8:36, "For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul." Lt. Jeffery Vignery was making sure that, if he died in the plane crash, he was also prepifirinig to live forever in Heaven with Christ. By siorviving, he was also preparing to live. H£ STILL HAS ID 6ET OVER 7W£" RMOR. wiRE AWD PAST TM£ MACH 'A /e CUA/. THE rt -'PR5Me COURT IS flA ^'Ne IVF oo&i HI J socfc. Jesus said in Revelation 3:20, "Here I am! 1 stand at the door and knock: if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me." This invitation was accepted by Lt. Jeffery Vignery Each one can make that choice today. Why delay? Tomorrow may be too late. — ELDON K. NOEL Abilene Let those who care show it Writer Norbert Hermes, in his letter of April 16, indicated an acute awareness of the needs of women who seek abortions. Among those needs are "advocacy, medical care, legal assistance, food, clothing, housing or rent money education or employment resources, and other needed services." This could be translated into a 23-year health and support plan for the mother and child, or perhaps, into adoption for both. (The 23-year plan applies, because there have been health plans that covered dependents that long if they were in college.) If every church in the state volunteered to financially back one of its member families in such an activity, perhaps the entire issue could be put to rest indefinitely This would be a "faith-based initiative." By just DOONESBURY mentioning an apparently lucrative enterprise called the "abortion industry," the writer might serve as an inspiration to start another lucrative enterprise called the "adoption industry" ; It may be that the concern of such individuals is what we need to truly drive Christian love and mercy into action. This is the land of the free, the enterprising and the compassionate. Let those who care prove it. • — DUANE NELSON Minneapolis We deserve a break I suggest strongly that Kansas citizens contact their state legislators to request that the state sales taxes on food (excepting prepared foods) be eliminated, whether or not the general sales tax rate is increased, For years, Nebraska has had no sales tax on food, other than prepared. Don't we Kansans deserve the same break? — MAX L. GOHEEN Downs Lettens to the Journal must include a^.^* daytlrne telephone.number for ' • confirmation. - • By G.B.TRUDEAU foov-mms-mx [CUISMAVSBmi <^ Mexico ^\ 44»

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