Archive for Wednesday, March 14, 2001

Letters to the editor

March 14, 2001

Election observations

To the editor,

I almost don't know where to start.

First of all, I want to say congratulations to those who were selected as our candidates during the primary election. As any American knows, our right to vote is powerful and should not be taken lightly. Although it may seem as if we have little impact on the federal outcomes, our local elections are in our direct control. Our vote counts. With this in mind, I have a hard time believing that ANYONE would think that they wouldn't need to vote during the primary and simply expect that their candidate would make it to the general election. This is about support, folks. This is about voicing our opinion and making it count. I can only suggest that if you didn't make it out to vote, you simply didn't have the level of conviction and desire for your candidate that others had for theirs. I voted and I'm happy to say that the results of the election strongly mimicked my choices.

Secondly, I have to express my disappointment towards our toppled regime. To suggest that anyone should continue their campaign as a write-in after coming in last during the primaries is ... well ... sad. I have a hard time believing the weather is what diluted results. Often, it's difficult to accept our defeats in life but, as we all know, we grow stronger for it and we learn to walk away when it's in the best interest of everyone concerned. For those of us that are serious about the welfare of our city we voted and we were counted. True to form, however, the current powers refuse to listen to the citizens and feel that they know best. I agree that the position of mayor can be difficult and time consuming. But to suggest that one of two college educated professionals couldn't handle what one high-school graduate with a hot-rod hobby managed ... well, it's absurd. Granted, a degree isn't everything, but it goes a long way towards developing the skills necessary to hold public office. We're talking about crisis management, group communication skills, negotiation and the professionalism that's honed from years of interaction with other professionals. Why is it that Stan (Krysztof) feels so much more qualified to meet the needs of our city? I feel that our city has spoken and the majority feel that almost ANYONE would be better qualified.

Lastly, I want to comment on the "coalition." Although I have already determined what my selections will be during the general election, I won't say that I couldn't be swayed. I have to admit, however, that the fact that our hopefuls are meeting and discussing and generally supporting each other doesn't bother me. I mean, we do realize that's all that's happening, right? They are supporting each other. They are endorsing each other. They're saying, "Hey, if you like me, you'll like this guy." That's about as pushy as a Blockbuster ad. Do we really think that we're being undermined any more than we already have?? I can think of numerous incidents in the past four years where I felt information was withheld from the citizens. And these "newcomers" are doing it out in the open. I would think that if they were trying to form a secret group, they'd do it a little less publicly.

You know what? We all have to make our own decisions. We have to look over the past and look towards what is being offered for our future. We have to vote with our heart and our mind, because I'm one that loves where I live and there isn't any hope that I could get involved without emotion. I want to feel I can trust the people we elect. I want people in there that have a lot to lose. People that, in my humble opinion, listen to us when we talk about our city.

Sincerely,
Annie France
Baldwin City

Try 'SpeakOut' online

Residents of Baldwin City:

It's been great to see some of the conversations that are taking place on the Signal's "Speak Out" Forum. You don't have to just be interested in the upcoming election to find something interesting to talk about. Are you frustrated with your Internet server? If you check out "Speak Out" you'll find plenty of us are frustrated too. Are you concerned about stray and unleashed dogs wandering around town? Are you irritated about your electric rates rising? Have any opinions on events at Baldwin High? Want to support your local team? All these topics have recently been addressed in the "Speak Out" section. I can't tell you how much fun it is to read what my fellow citizens have to say about all these issues. If you enjoy reading this Letter to the Editor page you'll love "Speak Out." It's easy. Log on to www.signal.baldwincity.com . See for yourself and enjoy the conversation!

Diane Wagner
Baldwin City

Hobson answers

To the Editor:

At least, the attention has been gotten by all with this election coming up. People are paying attention to the upcoming election. First, I want to say that the statement of "cleaning house" was incorrect. I myself made the statement to Mr. Paine that we were going to "clean the slate." I said it on my own and no candidate even knew I had said it until I told it. That is the thought of some of us.

Okay, on to other issues. I think it would be very stupid to get rid of our light plant. It could be made to pay off. Some of the candidates should check with Gardner or even go to Fayette, Missouri, to find out how to make it pay. It would not be a disgrace to find out how other towns make things pay off instead of costing us. Fayette's small town makes enough electricity to even sell their excess and lower their customers' rates. Also, it takes burning fuel to make electricity and I don't believe Baldwin has a pollution problem.

Also, concerning the recreation area, the old lake would be ideal. Baldwin owns the property and utilities are already out there. It could have a lot of things done with it, from nature trails to ball fields. If more land was needed, some surrounding land could be bought from private citizens. Traveling to the old lake for recreation sure would be closer than parents having to take their children to Ottawa or Lawrence.

Also, the taxes need to be tackled. One should think of us property owners who pay taxes when others don't. It's a shame that our property taxes are as high as they are compared to others around us. So think about us property owners that foot the bill on property taxes.

Also, the candidates that are not in office, can talk among each other, until they would be in office. It's not against the law for private citizens to converse with each other. Also, if the new gets in and they don't think of the property owners, who pay the bill with taxes, they can be removed in time, too.

Let's realize that grants are tax money. You don't get them free.

I state that no candidate said anything of clearing house, as far as I know. I am the one that sent the message that we were going to "clean the slate."
Phyllis Hobson
Baldwin City

Politics at work

To the editor:

It is an old tactic in politics. If you can't convince people to elect you, then convince them the other guy is worse.

Unfortunately, it appears such tactics are being employed in the wake of the primary election. With all due respect to my opponent, Gene Nelson, his letter last week in the Signal was inaccurate and created false impressions. The suggestion that I would support a "merger" of the city, USD 348 and Baker University is too deliriously farfetched to even take seriously.

The facts are these. Several candidates and myself have met several times to talk about our ideas and what it would take to run for office, something none of us has done before. The discussions were informative and at times entertaining, but never ended with any conclusions nor did we seek them. This is reflected in the fact that our campaigns are completely independent. We are bound merely by our common desire to see a positive change in city government.

Mr. Nelson did accurately state that private meetings have no place in city government. He is right that elected leaders cannot and should not do so. But I would ask him, then, why he took part in the council's secret decision to reject Baker University's offer of land for a recreation center north of the high school? If I had been on the council, I would have insisted the offer be discussed in a public meeting and that the public's input be sought.

That is the real difference in this election. Mr. Nelson represents a continuation of the status quo. I offer an opportunity for change, including better communication with residents, good working relationships with schools and community groups, more positive planning for growth, and a rejection of the business park proposal.

It's time to look to Baldwin City's future with new leadership.

Todd Cohen
City council candidate
Baldwin City

'Watchdogs,' etc.

Citizens of Baldwin:

There are only 20 days left in this campaign and then what will we have to talk about? I would like to turn my attention to Mr. Gene Nelson's comments on March 7. I am not nor would I be the ringleader of a secret coalition, bent on merging the school district, Baker and the city. This is quite frankly absurd and insulting to most peoples' intelligence. You go on to state that teamwork in government is bad. That elected officials should be "watchdogs" over each other and not work together. And that elected officials should "think for themselves." Teamwork is always a bonus whether it be in government or in sports. One must work together to achieve anything worthwhile, democracy is structured so that groups must work together. And as far as thinking for ourselves, I have observed your actions in city council and looked over your voting record. It is clear who you follow Mr. Nelson. As to the watchdog role we should take as politicians, most "watchdogs" make a lot of noise, annoy the neighbors, are a drain on food supplies, fertilize the lawn, and accomplish very little else.

Now on a more informative note, Mr. Slade Dillon while at the Baldwin High School forum on Friday, March 9. Announced that he would like to raise our sales tax to pay for infrastructure improvements by 1 to 1.5 cents per dollar. Let's clarify this, Dillon for higher taxes would sum it up nicely. We are currently smothering under the mill levy that was brought about from the actions of the current council. Baldwin City is currently 1 cent higher on its sales tax than Lawrence. Now under the leadership of Dillon we will want to raise that another 1 to 1.5 cents? The results of this increase will drive more people to shop for cheaper prices in the surrounding community. And will in effect kick the pins out from underneath private businesses in our city.

My position is to hold the line on taxation and maximize the tax dollars we collect. Taxation in a higher form is the less imaginative approach to solving the cash crunch. Remember voters, Dillon not only wants your votes, but what's in your wallet as well.
Ken Hayes
Mayoral candidate
Baldwin City

Criticism leveled

To the Editor:

My letter to the editor of March 7 has drawn some criticism from people who have chosen to make their comments on the phone, without the benefit of identifying themselves. Unfortunately, the lack of identity precludes the opportunity for civilized discourse. More importantly, however, I have also received comments from others in the community who support Mayor Krysztof's re-election as well. These individuals, as well as myself, would like to offer our assistance in providing transportation, for those in need, to the polls on election day. If you would like a ride to the polls, please call me at 594-7078.

Obviously, others in the community felt compelled to offer their opinions in last week's paper, regarding the election. In his letter to the Signal last week, Mr. Hayes attempted to "Clear the air." Mayoral candidate Hayes wrote that he had no intention of cleaning house, but that if an underachieving employee were "presented" to him, that employee's position would be in jeopardy. I can only assume that Mr. Hayes is unfamiliar with the City of Baldwin's City Administrator form of government. Thus, employees are not "presented" to Mayor Nero for execution. There is a chain of command to follow, in which the mayor and/or city council may be asked to serve in the case of a hearing for an aggrieved employee.

Hayes further opined that he, as a developer, had nothing to gain if he were to be elected mayor. I found this statement curious. Why would one answer a charge against which no claim had been made?

The story on the front page of the Signal on March 7 by Valerie Wolf described the charge that Hayes, Cohen, McCrary and Wagner have formed a coalition and were meeting behind closed doors. This story states on page A3 that this team "has proven not to be the coalition that some have described," although the evidence to the contrary, including the admission by some of the candidates themselves that they have had meetings, would lead one to believe otherwise. I have no problem with the individual candidates that are running for city council, however, I do have a problem if they run in tandem and plan to ram decisions down the collective throats of the residents of Baldwin City.

Some of the candidates have stated that we need to fix the relationship between the city and Baker University. However, an article in the Baker Orange quotes Dr. Dan Lambert, saying "I think that the relationship has always been perhaps better than some people might have thought in the last three years because of the difference of opinion on recreational facilities."

Tamara Starkey
Baldwin City

Ask the candidates

To the Editor:

Up to now we have heard quite a bit about the challenges our city faces, but not very much about proposed solutions. If we are to make intelligent decisions in the voting booth on April 3, we need more information.

1. Most candidates have disapproved of our relatively high property tax rate. What solution has your candidate proposed?

2. Some candidates have recommended disposing of our back-up electrical generation facility. Some have even proposed that we sell or give away our electrical distribution system to a large utility company. What does your candidate think about this? How would he or she make up the lost revenues and pay off the electrical system debt?

3. Some candidates have recommended walking away from our option to purchase 160 acres on the southwest side of town for recreation and green space. What does yours say? Does he or she have a position on recreation and green space? How does he plan to pay for it?

4. Some candidates feel that we should locate our new ball fields in some other location than the southwest side of town. Where would that be?

5. Some candidates feel that we should lower the connection fees for new utility hookups. This cost would then be born by the existing rate payers. What does yours think about this?

6. Some candidates have called for new sidewalks and curbs and new water and sewer lines. If yours is one of these, how does he or she plan to raise the money to pay for these improvements?

7. Some candidates feel the need for substantial new recreational facilities well beyond ball fields. What does your candidate say we need to add? How would he or she finance these improvements?

These issues are clearly more important to most of us than the personalities involved in the election. Sometime before the election, we need to hear how each of our candidates would deal with each of the above issues.

Gene Nelson
voter and candidate for city council

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