The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 15, 1997 · Page 10
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 10

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Salina, Kansas
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Thursday, May 15, 1997
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•2 THURSDAY, MAY 15, 1997 THE SALINA JOURNAL George B. Pyle editorial page editor Opinions expressed on this page are those of the identified writers. To join the conversation, write a letter to the Journal at: P.O. Box 740 Sallna, KS 67402 Fax: (913) 827-6363 E-mail: SJLetters® saljournal.com Quote of the day "We have taken a historic step closer to a peaceful, undivided, democratic Europe for the first time in history." Bill Clinton announcing a pact with Russia pact that will allow NATO to expand by inviting Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to join. OPINION By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Salina Journal Smoke gets in your eyes THEKSUE Selling tobacco to minors THE ARGUMENT Kansas laws need to keep their teeth S ome members of the Kansas House know what they meant to do. Many members of the Senate don't know what they did. And Gov. Bill Graves has until, well, tomorrow to figure out what the Legislature really did and whether he should stop them. Unless he can sort it all out clearly, and quickly, Graves should get out his veto pen and allow the Legislature to clean up its own mess next year. It is the strange case of Senate Bill 87, which started out to be a relatively minor measure cleaning up the state's laws against tobacco being sold to or possessed by people under 18. Somewhere along the way the bill was amended to make a more significant change in the way the state polices tobacco. And many folks who devote themselves to keeping young people and cigarettes apart don't like it. Today in Kansas it is against the law to sell cigarettes to someone under the age of 18. If such a sale is made, there are criminal penalties both for the clerk who made the sale and for the store owner who holds the state license to sell tobacco. The House, urged on by Rep. Michael O'Neal of Hutchinson, decided it was wrong to impose criminal penalties on someone who might not have been in the country, much less in the store, when the illegal action took place. So it voted to remove the criminal sanctions from store owners unless he or she personally made the illegal sale. O'Neal says this was no eleventh hour stealth. The House fully debated the measure and was well aware of what it was doing. But after the bill also passed the Senate — by a 40-0 vote in the hectic final week of the session — anti-tobacco activists suddenly noticed what had happened. They said they had been bamboozled and surmised, logically, that the Senate had, too. Supporting this theory is the fact that, for example, Salina Rep. Carol Beggs remembers voting to remove the criminal penalties from store owners, but Salina Sen. Ben Vidricksen does not. Anti-smoking activists say the problem is not just that store owners will escape criminal penalties when their employees make illegal sales, but that the interconnected nature of state law means that state officials will also lose their ability to penalize those owners through administrative fines or by suspending their licenses. O'Neal, deeply offended by the idea that he has done a favor for the tobacco industry, said he is surprised to learn that, by removing one constitutionally suspect penalty in the tobacco wars, he might have inadvertently removed all of the state's other weapons as well. Just because you think hanging is too extreme a penalty for pickpocketing doesn't mean you think it should be legal. The Legislature needs to take another look at this matter and decide just who it will hold responsible for controlling the sale of tobacco and how it will enforce that decision. And, despite O'Neal's concerns about being too harsh on innocent store owners, the state may well want to consider a clear policy that makes selling cigarettes so legally risky that many store owners wi\l decide to stop doing it. • OOV. B4LL GRAVES - Statehouse, Topeka, KS 66612 Ptwna: 2964240; Fax: 296-7973; E-mail: govemor9ink.org •«N. BIN VIDfltCKSEN-24th District-R-Sal!na Room 143-N, SUtehouse, Topeka, KS 66612 Phon* 286-7390 • MM. 4AM* Hi -,3*h District - D-Kerwington R^40M,6«a*^,Top«ka,KSti6ei2 '• •UPP. JOf WJfl - 67th CteWct - R-BrookvlMe Room 182-W, Statahouw. Topaka, KS 66612 Phon«: 296-7648; E-mail: ikajr«)ink.org ,Ot|NAH<»tT-69th District-R-Sattna », Topeka, KS 66812 , Room 4S1-N, Statahouat, Topeka, KS 66612 PUsm: 286-7683; E-mail: cteggs0tok.org • NT CtARK IHUUTZ - 73rd District - R-Undsborg Room 171^, Stotehmiaa, Topaka, KS 66612 ). Does the new Budget support '" early clfxildKooA st\mulatiorv f wAicln researeK shows to he. so crucial ? A* Sort of rj rr Uf TO LETTERS TO THE JOURNAL SJLetters@saljoumal.com School board should have courage of its convictions Let's discuss hypocrisy. When I read "Tax quandary," the news article that appeared in the May 8 edition of the Journal, I was reminded of "The Wizard of Oz." You know the story: The Lion has no courage; the Scarecrow has no brain; the Tin Man has no heart. For years, all we've heard from the school board is how "others" lack the responsibility to do what's right for the children in this poor, beleaguered school district. The people won't pass the local option budget. The Legislature won't give the board authority to "do what's right for the children of Salina." We would act, but others are holding us back. We lack the money to maintain our buildings, we are told. We must cut staff because the Legislature has conspired to keep us on the bottom rung of the economic ladder. We don't have money for computers and other necessary technology. Well, even if we put the most charitable face on the May 8 "Tax quandary" article and believe what we read, we know now it has all been a political shell game, with everyone more concerned with posturing for the next election. Leadership and responsibility begin at home, with the officials openly elected to demonstrate the political courage to act. The members of the school board should dedicate the next board meeting to a study of the "Tax quandary" news article. If there's a visionary in the lot, an ounce of leadership quality among them, they'll be so embarrassed they won't be able to show their faces in public. Where's your heart, board members? Where's your brain? Where's your courage? I'm reminded of the cliche: Be careful what you ask for, or you may get it. The board asked — begged — for the authority to raise the money required to work on the district's problems. Now the board has that authority. So what do we hear? We hear the gnashing of teeth. We hear the sound of feet running for cover. And where does the board hide? Behind a committee called, of all things, Creating The Future. Who's kidding whom? If the 400 members of that committee are truly interested in creating the future, they'll stand and say with one voice: Go for it, and we'll back you 100 percent! If they're afraid to do that, they're part of the ruse, part of the deception. Nothing less than the credibility of the school board is on the line. Bemoaning past injustices of the school finance system will be meaningless if the board has the authority to act but takes political refuge behind how people "might" react. If you must, explain in detail what you will do with the money, then place trust in the public's good judgment. Many — indeed most — probably won't applaud you if you raise their taxes. Some would cheerfully crucify every board member, if doing so weren't against the law. But they weren't elected to anything. If the board has told the truth, if more money is essential if they are to meet the educational challenges of this school district, then the board must face its responsibilities within the latitude of existing authority. Above all, board members, demonstrate the courage of your often-expressed convictions. — TED JONES Salina Voters should have a say on school budgets "The no-public-vote local option budget." Food for thought. You know, democracy is the most cumbersome and inefficient form of government. A properly run dictatorship is much more efficient and a properly run monarchy is even more efficient. It appears his high-ness Graves has appointed himself a king and decreed that homeowners have no voting rights when it conies to raising taxes on their homes to pay for local option budgets. When I went to school (Kansas school system) I was taught ours is a democratic government. What is democratic about placing a tax on homes without the homeowners' vote, then placing the burden upon the homeowner to submit a petition to even have a say on the subject? I am a believer in a good education for our children. However I do not think the financial burden for education should be placed so heavily upon homeowners. As I so often hear, education is everybody's responsibility. So if it's everybody's responsibility, why isn't school funding taken out of the general funds? That makes more sense to me. It is my understanding that the reasoning behind the state funding per student for education is to establish equality for education throughout the state. If this is true, the LOBs are providing a means to go back to the previous unequal situation. Why did we need to change in the first place? I believe the no-public-vote concept is unconstitutional in principle and must be overturned. — GUY W. REINBOLD Salina Helping in the schools is good for everybody Regarding the letter to the Journal from Kay Snyder ("Schools need more support," May 2): Hooray for the much-needed attention to volunteering in our schools. I have been a long time resident and advocate for the schools. Unfortunately the apathy level in this town is pathetically high. Most of our community believes apathy exists only in the less privileged areas of Salina. After the closing of Glennifer Hill School, where I had been a room mother for two years, I was the PTA president for two years at Hawthorne Elementary. During the time I was serving at Hawthorne, I also served as room mother at Heusner Elementary, due to my children's special education needs. I have learned that money has nothing to do with apathy. The majority of people just don't care. Please don't get me wrpng, we have many involved in the schools, just not what there could or should be. Although we need everyone who has children in our schools to volunteer, we desperately need the members of the community who don't have children in our schools to help, too. Volunteering can be a simple task, such as field trips, school events (carnivals, playdays and fund-raisers), reading to a class or baking a dozen cookies. Volunteering does not mean we are doing something for free so our schools don't have to iii P.O. Box 740, Salina, KS 67402 pay someone to do it, just as volunteering does not mean our tax dollars will be lessened. Volunteering means we show our own children and other children that we want to be an important part of their lives and that their education is important to our entire community at any cost. Remember that if we all volunteer, we set this as an example to our children, that they may learn to volunteer and be active members of our community as they mature. Have you seen or can you remember seeing the child's eyes when a parent volunteers or a visitor comes to class? They are so proud. The small part I have played in my children's classes not only benefits my children, but I benefit as well. I can't walk through K-Mart without a child coming up to me with the biggest grin just to say, "Hi, Ms. Alkire. Remember when...?" Let's look a little deeper now into the community. Although Salina has many businesses that volunteer and donate to the schools, the numbers are still significantly low. I am a small business owner. My employees have children. I have found that my employees choose to stay with me because what little benefits my small company has to offer them outweighs the bigger companies, in that the best benefit that I can give is time off to visit their children's school, drive a car load of kids to the museum and pick them up an hour later, be there for their children's Terrific Kid award, go home and get the instrument that a child forgot. I do believe that irresponsibility shouldn't be rewarded and that responsibility is a two- way street, but I also live in a world where bedtimes and mornings aren't always organized and smooth-running. This can't work for all businesses, but I'll bet it can work for most. I get a good feeling knowing that I have caring employees and they are doing everything they can to raise productive citizens for me and mine to live with in the future. — SHER1 ALKIRE Salina Pit bulls don't deserve their bad reputation I am a proud owner of a pit bull and I feel it is an injustice to the breed to have them banned. The last attack was by three rottweil- ers and before that it was a Doberman pinscher. When was the last known attack by a pit bull? I have a magazine that states times and places that attacks have happened by Rottweil- ers, Doberman pinschers, Labradors, German shepherds. Some of these dogs are considered family pets. So why aren't you trying to ban other dogs that have attacked people? I know there are some pit bulls out there that would cause a threat to the public. But it should be the owner's responsibility to have a dog of that nature contained. If anything there should be a law stating that dogs that the public says are a threat should be walked with a muzzle on and chained up or put in a pen at the house. Some of us pit bull owners are feeling that this is happening because of the pit bull reputation that it had 30 to 40 years ago. Back then I would agree. But in most cases it isn't like that anymore. — CHRIS STONE Salina By G.B. TRUDEAU , «a»«houM, Topeta, KS 66612 7|iO; E-m»l: Ifncckjra9ink.org tOOK, CHAS&, FROM THE MW£ NOAPJUS7M&05 TO MY PHYSICAL APfeAK-

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