The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 1, 2001 · Page 5
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 5

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Tuesday, May 1, 2001
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THE SALINA JOURNAL TUESDAY, MAY 1, 2001 AS Tom Bell Editor & Publisher Opinions expressed on this page are those of the identified, writers. To join the conversation, write a ietter to . the Journal at: P.O. Box 740 Salina, KS 67402 Fax: (785) 827-6363 E-mail: SJLetters® saljournal.com Quote of the day "I don't know that I'd be going into a . post office for a few days." Sister Helen Prejean death penalty opponent, worrying that the execution of Timothy McVeigh might lead to more escalation In the cycle of violence. Who you gonna call? THE ISSUE Department of Health and Environment THEARGUMBUT It's hard to tell good guys from bad guys P erhaps you've seen the movie "Ghostbusters," where the heroes try to rid New York City of ghosts and goblins by capturing the spooks' essence and storing them in a special device. A bureaucrat from the Environmental Protection Agency decides the Ghostbusters are operating an unlicensed waste storage facility and orders the trap shut down. Evil spirits are unleashed on the cit, havoc ensues and the good guys risk life and limb to save the world. It is another one of those movies featuring a zealous government bureaucrat as the bad guy. The reality, it seems, may not be far from that fiction. Consider events in Hoisington last week after a tornado swept through the city, killing one, injuring dozens, destroying 141 homes and damaging hundreds of others. In the past 10 days thousands of volunteers joined residents in cleaning up the destruction. But apparently officials with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment did not like the way city officials handled a site for burning wreckage from the tornado. They wanted only trees and brush burned at the site, with construction debris, furniture and appliances taken to a landfill. According to news reports, cleanup efforts were slowed recently until city officials and the KDHE could reach a compromise agreement, which includes a Kt)HE demand that construction debris be hauled to a landfill instead of the burn site. Anyone who has seen the aftermath of a tornado recognizes the unreasonable nature of KDHE's demands. The tornado didn't separate trees from houses as it destroyed one fourth of this small town. It left heaps of wreckage, with parts intermixed so that separation is laborious and time-consuming. Bulldozers are the clean-up tools of choice, helping residents clear lots so they can rebuild homes and their lives. It is not an implement known for discernment. Nonetheless, KDHE has ordered a separation of debris, so that is what city officials andvolunteers must do. Clearly KDHE officials should be concerned with long-term effects of waste disposal. But there comes a time when common sense should take priority over regulations. This is one of those times. Perhaps KDHE officials should spend their summer somewhere else, and let Hoisington residents concentrate on repairing their community — Tom Bell Editor & Publisher I'VE »<E«:!;^'ytf s^^^ SroPPEP AT W.LTHE STOP 1 b \ IVE'DONE. PRETTV T VISIONS OF KANSAS Two Methodists riding reform circuit Brownback and Clinton share the Midwestern desire to do good things 'learned something about Sen. Sam Brownback from an unlikely source: HiUary Clinton. In a recent chat, the Kansas Republican told me that he had expressed his regret to the rookie senator from New York for the political * and personal vitriol she and her husband endured the past few years. Brownback added that Hillary Clinton agreed to join him in trying to bring more civility to the Senate, which was torn by bitter partisan and ideological divisions for most of the 1990s. "What is this about?" I thought to myself. "A staunch social conservative Republican and a liber- 1 al feminist Democrat seeking peace and harmony in Washington? Come on..." Then it hit me. "Of course, they are both Methodists." Indeed, though on opposite ends of the political spectrum, Brownback and Clinton exhibit that strong moralizing personality common among middle-class Midwestern Methodists. If I may test the bounds of ecclesiastical correctness, I would even say each has a bit of the self- righteous fervor — stemming from a passion to do good deeds — that I remember T POINT OF VIEW DAVID AWBREY for the Salina Journal from the Methodist Church of my baby- boomer childhood. I like them. I like people who want to make a difference in the world, who want their lives to mean something, who want to serve causes higher than merely getting and spending. Somewhere deep in their hearts — maybe picked up from Methodist Youth Fellowship — Brownback and Clinton seem to share a sincere commitment to help other people, and both seem motivated by deep spiritual forces. I doubt, however, that restoring senatorial courtesy would do much to alter Congress' image of venality. That's because few Americans beUeve that today's politicians have any agenda other than personal power and catering to special interests. And most politicians don't. Brownback and Clinton have first-hand knowledge of how sleazy behavior and obsessive money-grubbing are destroying public faith in the nation's highest elective offices. In light of former President Clinton's disgraceful conduct and blatant vote selling by Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts and other members of Congress, it's easy to see how societies, like fish, rot from the head. 1 asked Brownback during our conversation whether he understood that the corrupt example Congress sets in its campaign-finance system gives greater license to'the smut merchants in Hollywood whose movies, television shows and music he so vociferously attacks as threats to American morality After all, when Congress daily trashes honor and decency, why wouldn't pop culture go vulgar? The senator understood. "We have to be good role models," he said. Unfortunately, Brownback voted against the McCain-Feingold measure that would help clean-up campaign fund-raising. He cited a provision 1 also am uncomfortable with that would restrict individuals and specials interests during election campaigns. Even with the provision, Brownback was wrong to vote against McCain- Feingold; the goal is to move reform along and let the U.S. Supreme Court decide constitutional issues. Can you be a moral person in an immoral institution like the U.S. Congress? Perhaps, but it's incredibly difficult and it's getting even harder as huge sums of money continue to pour into campaign coffers. Kansas Rep. Jerry Moran, for example, raised more than $700,000 last election cycle, and he didn't have an opponent. Moran also opposes campaign-finance reform, apparently part of a Faustian bargain the once-idealistic western Kansas congressman has made with his conscience. A personal issue for Clinton, Brownback, Moran, Roberts and everyone in politics is how much they prize their own integrity and by which virtues they want to live their lives. An issue for the country is whether principles of fairness, equality and justice have a place in a political system dominated by money and mercenary values. Now, maybe if the Congress had some Wesleyan reformist fire from two Midwestern Methodists... • David S. Awbrey, editor of Ad Astra magazine, can be reached by e-mail at awbrey@salJournal.com. What can we expect from a leader? Sure we want our leaders to be good people, but perfect in every way? E LETTERS TO THE JOURNAL SJLetters@saljournal.com [School districts need ability to plan The state Legislature is deal- ling with funding education in iKansas — again. The debate centers around money — where do we get it, what can we afford to spend, and what the governor proposes versus our party's or oixr lobby's stance. And every year, when it gets down to the wire, they arrive at some sort of compromise funding, with a promise that it will be fixed next year. The reality is that today is the day that local school districts are required to send a notice of non-renewal for any teacher who is not to be employed by the district for the next school year School boards liave to decide how to spend the "per-pupil" money they are allotted, with a projection of how many students wiU be in attendance on Sept. 20. Currently, the Legislature has not made a decision on the amount of money they will commit to education this year. This means that there is no time to "plan" the needs of the students, and ultimately the future of the teachers, with the monies the Legislature has appropriated. Kansas is currently in the middle of a 10-year highway improvement plan. A commit- P.O. Box 740, Salina, KS 67402 ment was made to improve the roads in our state, and funding is being met for those improvements, in the face of declining revenues. A similar plan needs to be implemented for our schools. Our state has made a commitment to stringent testing of our students, and rating the performance of our schools. There is, however, no commitment to long-range "planning" of the funding that drives this performance. Presently, districts "plan" education one year at a time, with nothing assured for the next year but more debate and financial juggling. A long-range financial plan is essential to long-range results. Long-range financial commitments would give boards and administrators the ability to effectively plan programs, hire and retain quality teachers, provide transportation and ensure the success of oiu- children. Please contact your legislator and ask him or her to make a long-range commitment to the future. — PATRICK MIKESELL BeUeville • Patrick Mikesell is vice president of the USD 427 School Board and chairman of the executive board of the Smoky Hill Education Service Center. veryone expects the best from leaders. Whether that leader is a teacher, the pope or the president, we expect them to be good people. That's perfectly reasonable. People in power should be thought to be upstanding citizens with a positive influence. Ideally they shouldn't sleep around, but I will get to that later. I want those in leadership positions to be solid, upstanding citizens, but I don'texpect them to be perfect. "Many people in the United States seem to differ from that view. They seem to expect that once you're in a public office, you must be perfect. How can anyone live up ^ to the expectation of being perfect? News flash: No one can. Don't expect them to. Realize that they're human like everyone else and they make mistakes. If they do things that seem to be selfish or for the good of "big business," they are just looking out for themselves. Who doesn't do that? Who doesn't want the good KRISTIN CONARD for the Salina Journal things for themselves? The voting public not only wants someone who will fix everything that's wrong with the nation, they want someone who doesn't seem that smart. Deny it all you want, the American public doesn't want to elect anyone who seems too smart. Once again we are teaching our children that to be accepted in society you can't truly be yourself. You have to be smart, but you can't seem like it (I learned about that issue from Mr. Hauptli, teacher at Salina Central). President George W. Bush is expected to be perfect. He promised to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but he didn't. Well, great. Since there is a lot that we can do about it now, I suggest that everyone who is ticked off because of this to continue complaining about it, because that will do a lot of good. He also promised other things that he is going to go back on. And for those things he should be kicked out of office and deported to Pakistan. How do we know Al Gore wouldn't have gone back on promises? Oh, we don't. How many people from Salina, Kansas, have been president? I'm going to go with none, and say don't expect him to be perfect. You wouldn't be if you had the' office, so back off Not only is "Dubya" expected to be perfect in his poUcies, he has to be perfect in everything else. So he screws up words once in a while. Once again, he should be deported to Pakistan because everybody who's anybody never makes mistakes when they talk. People accuse him of being stupid. Yet, those same people want him to fix all of the United States' problems. If he's so dumb, he couldn't possibly do anything to help with anything, but ... I don't know, that confuses me. Bill Clinton was, hke any person, anything but perfect. He was a very popular president. He was very intelligent, but he didn't seem that smart. He had the common touch. (Again, thank you Mr. Hauptli, now you know I've been paying attention in class.) As smart and lovable as Chnton was, he did some not-so-very-good things. That's because he's human. I don't believe his actions were correct or admirable, but he is only human. Clinton was a popular president despite his actions. Bush has done nothing, that we know of yet, that is immoral or unethical. Cut him a break. He hasn't been in office that long. And for those of you who are wondering, I have no party affiliation. I'm an independent. I just think that we need to realize that nobody's perfect. • Kristin Canard is a senior at Salina Central High School who is writing for the Salina Journal Viewpoints page as a part of the career intern program. DOONESBURY FLASHBACKS By G.B. TRUDEAU THAHS I UUNA7IC

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